Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Unassailable Aunts

"Aunt Margaret told me that if I lived my life as a nonreader, I could experience seventy or eighty years of the world, but if I read, I could enjoy three thousand years of the world's most enlightening thoughts and stories. "

--Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia

Reading Pipher's reflections on extended family brought to mind Miss C's spectacular Aunts, as well as my own incredible and incredibly diverse Aunts. 

More gems from Aunt Margaret to her young niece,

You need to read all of Pearl S. Buck, though her later books were inferior to her earlier ones.

You should live in Paris, Rome, or New York in your twenties.

Never trust anyone who uses the word 'frankly.'


He had an interesting life, but he is not an interesting person.

About unnecessary pennypinchers, Aunt Margaret quoted Oscar Wilde:

He knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Pipher's lesson from this Aunt:

"I learned from her that no one's ideas were unassailable.  I heard her assail my father's and my uncle's opinions almost daily. "

All quotes are from Pipher's memoir Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Question of the Day: Discretion Advised

Here it is.

The NCAA tournament is in full swing.

You are watching a game. 
You notice that the opposing team is playing dirty and not being called on it. 
You go to your twitter account and you energetically tweet that the other team is:

"playing dirty & can kiss my team's free throw making a—"

Now for the question.

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the response tweets include calling you:

a cunt
a whore
a bitch

telling me to suck a two-inch dick

If you are a man and you tweet this, will the responses include threats of rape?

Who is permitted to have passionate feelings about sports?

Ashely Judd, apparently, crossed the invisible line and received a tsunami of tweets letting her know she had gone too far

Here is her assessment:

I love March Madness so much that even now, what I really want to talk about is how Sunday's strategy did not, in fact, work. I really want to talk about a deeply distressing dream I recently had that UConn beat us in the finals, in which we scored a scant 49 points, not to mention the oddity of why my awful dream featured UConn and not Wisconsin.
Instead, I must, as a woman who was once a girl, as someone who uses the Internet, as a citizen of the world, address personally, spiritually, publicly and even legally, the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else.
What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually.

Here is the op-ed she wrote about this, where she bravely discusses her own history of sexual abuse, and why the backlash of threatening tweets are pulling her forward to speak, instead of be silenced. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Barbie Spy: Coming Soon (or take 10 seconds to sign a petition )

I was in Trader Joe's last week and I saw that they had peanut butter with chia and flax seeds mixed in

And peanut butter with the jelly already swirled through.

And some kind of peanut butter that had cookies in there too. 
Or maybe it was just liquid cookies in a peanut butter jar.

There are people whose job is to sit in a room together and create. 
To think of something that does not yet exist, and then commission it to be made. 

It makes me marvel at the awesomeness of creativity, and also makes me wonder if the chia and flax seed camp had a heated argument with the liquid cookies camp.

Making up new things in the US is a vastly supported venture.

But sometimes, creators and companies suck make bad choices.
And we have to remind them to cut the crap make more ethical decisions on how to make money without taking advantage of 5 year olds.

In the US, there are no regulations which limit marketing to children.
I've posted about this before, when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood drew our attention to the fact that Scholastic was joining forces with the American Coal Foundation (see here and here), and when Fisher Price was selling the iPad Bouncy Seat (see here).

And now, CCFC has brought attention to more nonsense:

A Barbie.  That talks to your kid.  And records what your kid says.  And stores all that information in a cloud.  And uses that information to market to children more specifically.

To a teenager with this idea, we might say, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

To a creative and entrepreneurial 12 year old we might ask, Do you think that is a good thing to do?  To take advantage of your little sister by giving her a doll that records her private thoughts and musings and then uses them for your own profit at a future date?

The company might say, But Fisher Price is doing it!

And we can say, If Fisher Price were jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you jump too?

Or, I can cease all these analogies where I compare terrible company decisions to parenting conversations and we could just sign a petition. 

The good news is that: these things work.  Companies don't like to upset their customer base, and so sometimes, they listen. 

Here's a synopsis of Hello Barbie.

Here's a link to sign a petition.   (I'm signature 1675!)

Make interesting peanut butter, not data-recording cloud-storing Barbies. 

Let's remind Mattel to make good choices.

Image result for trader joe peanut butter chia