Tag Archives: Consumerism

Filipina teenage actress allegedly has Botox for role

That’s… taking things a bit far. OK, it’s taking things WAY too far. Teen actress Charice has “anti-aging” treatments including Botox, WHY?
The encouraging of young girls as young as toddlers to wear makeup, when makeup is designed specifically to make you look YOUNGER, that’s a marketing scam worthy of note, and people have noticed it.
So the notion of injecting Poison into your skin to look like a Teenaged girl, understandable in somebody who’s much older than teenaged, seems kind of redundant in a child.
Imaginary Conversation in The Sandbox “yes, dahling, this makeup takes years off my appearance, now instead of looking 18 months I look like a newborn, only, you know, not as tiny. However, the diet regimen my beauty counselor has me on will take care of that part as well”
“Oh, yes, I can see the results… that one over there, though, she’s 4 and looks 5… perhaps she could use the benefit of your counselor?”
Our society is SO screwed.

The whole scenario is like something I saw on Alfred Hitchcock long ago, where a lady is having a home beauty treatment (although from the plot “lady” wouldn’t be the proper word, “bitch” seems more appropriate) and the beautician, who has been abused by her for years, assures her that the treatment will keep her looking young forever.

Tetra-ethyl lead, the ingredient in Gasoline that nobody uses anymore, toxic, people who can remember back that far or watch a lot of older TV shows remember “Regular or Ethyl?” then it became Regular (with the lead) or Unleaded. Yeah, people used to pump your gasoline for you at service stations.

Also a preservative once used in mortuaries. Beautician wasn’t lying about that part, by the time she got around to telling the Extra-Abusive client she was already paralyzed from the lead.

Who is that on the back of the poor?

JUSTICIA, Western Goddess of Justice, by Danish sculptor Jen GalschiotHere’s a Christmas gift for your favorite First Worlder. Let them affix their mug behind the face of “Justitia,” the Western Goddess of Justice, carried by the laboring poor as she seeks to right inequity without relinquishing her station of privilege. Who is the bloated First World hypocrite — but you! This statue by Danish artist Jen Galschiot is also known as Survival of the Fattest. Global elitists can celebrate their face on this 8-inch cardboard cutout as it depicts their naked supremacy.
 
For COP15, Galschiot installed this life-sized statue in the water next to Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid. Climate talk delegates who ventured to see Copenhagen harbor’s famous tourist attraction saw a grotesque figure straddling her carrier, whose head struggled to stay above the water.
 
Picture frames are popular Christmas gifts for those of us who lack nothing, except more frames to decorate pictures of ourselves and our stuff. How’s this for framing an emergent identity?

The war on Christmas they worry about

Rise above itWhat it’s going to take to revisit 350ppm, to reverse climate change, is not carbon trading, wind turbines, miraculous scientific leaps, or a COP15 conference. The anti-technology has been known to us since sustainable times, when mankind didn’t have to transcend his wants, because it was challenge enough to seek for his needs. Conservation.

The consumer goods Killer App -KILLED

A consumer goods bar code scannerFinally a real KILLER APP. A free iPhone application called the Good Guide lets you scan the barcodes of (eventually) every consumer good to learn immediately its goodness rating on a scale of 0-10. No more Consumer Report printouts, mental notes or improvisational evaluation. The Good Guide score is the synthesis of three criteria, the ratings for which are also shown: health, environment and social. How healthy is this item? How environmentally friendly? And how socially-responsible is the producer? Notably missing is a ranking for price, sidestepping the inescapable real world cost vs. benefit compromise.
 

UPDATE: FALSE HOPE ALARM. So far the products itemized by the GoodGuide are the General Mills variety, all of them rank highly. There’s a sugared cinnamon cereal that gets a 10 for health. Hoho.

According to an article in Grist, GoodGuide emerged from a project called TAO IT, created by Dara O’Rourke, associate professor at UC Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Management and Policy. Goodguide’s aim sounds like a watchdog function better administrated by a regulatory agency. I can already see industry lobbyists setting up offices to influence the GoodGuide analysts.

A lot will depend on the transparency of the GoodGuide benchmarks and the objective distance they can keep from market interests. For example, the PR budget of one conglomerate alone could create a faux ratings mechanism to usurp GoogGuide as consumers-aid du jour. A recent processed food industry Smart Choices badge comes to mind.

The GoodGuide evaluation policies do give a good impression.

GoodGuide aggregates and analyzes data on both product and company performance. We employ a range of scientific methods – health hazard assessment, environmental impact assessment, and social impact assessment – to identify major impacts to human health, the environment, and society. Each of these categories is then further analyzed within specific issue areas, such as climate change policies, labor concerns, and product toxicity. Currently, GoodGuide’s database has over 600 base criteria by which we evaluate products and companies.

Health Performance
As an example, for health performance, GoodGuide’s system takes into account both the impacts of a company’s operations on its workers and local communities, and the impacts of using a specific product on your health. Our team has gathered data on important health hazards such as:

• Cancer risks
• Reproductive health hazards
• Mutagenicity
• Endocrine disruption
• Respiratory hazards
• Skin and eye irritation

Our research currently uses a simplified health hazard assessment process that allows us to rate thousands of products along standard criteria. It should be noted that while these ratings are not risk assessments of products or chemicals, they do highlight potential hazards associated with the use of these products.

Environmental Performance
For environmental performance, GoodGuide is aggregating data on the life-cycle impacts of products, from manufacturing to transportation to use to final disposal. For companies, impact categories include:

• Environmental emissions and their impacts on air, water, land, and climate
• Natural resource impacts
• Environmental management programs

GoodGuide uses these categories to generate overall environmental performance ratings for companies.

Social Performance
For social issues, GoodGuide aggregates data on the social impacts companies have on their employees:

• Compensation
• Labor and human rights practices
• Diversity policies
• Working conditions

In addition to impacts on employees, Social Performance ratings consider impact on consumers and communities. The social scoring system also brings together information on corporate governance, disclosure policies, and overall practices.

OUR RATINGS

Types of Information
Different types of information flow into GoodGuide’s system: absolute measures, relative measures, and binary measures. Absolute measures describe measurable activities of a company or product. For example, the pounds of toxic air emissions released per year, the CEO’s salary, or the amount of money a company donated to charity. Relative measures are scores, such as a numerical grade of “6.5 out of 10” or a textual grade of “bad” to “excellent.” Binary (or Yes/No) measures indicate whether a product or company does or does not have specific characteristics. For example, a product may or may not have earned an environmental certification, or a company may or may not test its products on animals.

The GoodGuide Rating
These measures are then used to create GoodGuide’s ratings. To calculate a single rating for a product or company, we convert all of the existing measures into a 0 to 10 score. In GoodGuide’s system, a score of 10 is the best and a score of 0 is the worst. Products and companies are rated relative to the performance of similar products or companies in the same industry.

The initial ratings are based on a set of selected criteria from a broad pool of data available within the GoodGuide database. We think these criteria are some of the most representative and understandable. As this is the first time all of this data has ever been aggregated in the same place, we are currently working to assess the consistency and comparability of measures across our many data sources. We would love to hear your suggestions on the relative importance of these various measures of product and company performance.

GoodGuide recognizes that even the most quantitative assessment of environmental, health, or social issues requires value judgments about the relative importance of various issues. For example, rational people can disagree over the relative importance of animal testing in evaluating a product or company. We have used our best scientific judgment in building our current ratings, and in future versions we will flag issues where personal values and preferences are particularly relevant. We will then enable people to create personalized ratings based on their own concerns.

In order to facilitate your ability to assess the data, we will also be providing an assessment of data uncertainty, completeness, and quality. These assessments can be used to weight the existing data within the GoodGuide database.

Incomplete Data
In some cases data is unavailable for a company or a product. This may be because we have not yet identified a credible data source for a given issue or topic. It may also be that the data is not publicly available because companies have not disclosed critical information. One goal of this project is to work collaboratively with key stakeholders around the world, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, private research firms, and companies to promote the quantity and quality of disclosure of important data to the public.

Learn more about GoodGuide’s methodology.

I knew Black Friday, and You Sir, are no Black Friday

Robinson Crusoe illustration by OffterdingerIf this year’s “Black Friday” fails to pull retailers out of their red ink, should the dubious protologism retire its presumption to speak for consumer confidence? I think it should. Wasn’t it really just an economist’s “for the Gipper” meme –putting the solvency of the market on the shoulders of Christmas shoppers, rallying them to pull the economy into the black, regardless if it meant spending themselves into the red? I hate it when emotion-charged phrases are usurped by pretenders. Hiroshima was “Ground Zero” before the WTC, the “Homeland” was Nazi Germany, and “Black Friday” was Robinson Crusoe’s, well, Man Friday.

“Black Friday” in general has represented whichever awful event befell that day of the week of recent memory. It may be a wonderful anti-racism step to appoint a rare positive attribution to the word “black,” but I object to its use here to exacerbate affluenza, targeted against the best efforts of sustainability educators to reframe the day-after-Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day. If you are a booster for consumerism, black is an accounting concept meaning profitability. But how disingenuous to expect that those outside the balance sheet should share the enthusiasm. For example, it’s not everyone’s Good Friday just because Notre Dame wins that day. Good Friday, by the way, is also called Black Friday, as is any Friday that falls on the 13th.

Below I will list history’s Black Fridays, lest nocturnal Wikipedia cobbler elves continue their PR visits to bolster the retailer claim to the term. According to “Wikipedia” the earliest citation for a shopper’s “Black Friday” is 1966. But in actuality, the expression came from Philadelphia bus drivers and policemen referring to the traffic congestion created at their city center on the busiest shopping day of the year. But Philadelphia retailers objected to the negative connotation. Perhaps as a result, the “black ink” angle surfaces, attributed to a store clerk, offering a more upbeat, chamber-of-commerce-friendly spin. Hmm.

Many people think Black Friday recalls the Stock Market Crash of 1929. It does, and they’re right to be confused about which day of the week it was in particular, because the first day of the crash became known as Black Thursday, followed by Black Friday, then the next trading days, Black Monday and Black Tuesday.

What other occasions in man’s history have warranted the dark coloration? Let’s begin with Black Sabbath:

Black Saturdays
Sept 10, 1547, disaster for Scottish defenders at Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Scotland
Aug 6, 1621, Mass hysteria caused by dark stormy night confirming Armageddon arrived with Episcopacy, Scotland
Dec 28, 1929, Massacre of Mau demonstrators by NZ police, Samoa
June 13, 1942, Disastrous UK Battle of Gazala against German Afrika Korps
June 29, 1946, UK Operation Agatha against Zionist terrorists in Palestine
Oct 8, 1962, height of A-bomb scare, Cuban Missile Crisis
Dec 6, 1975, Beirut massacres which started Lebanese Civil War, Lebanon
July 31, 1982, worst road accident in French history, (on annual “Black Saturday” when entire of population takes to the road for vacation)
July 14, 1984, Honk Kong exchange rates fall to all time low
Aug 20, 1988, worst day of Yellowstone Fires
Jan 20, 1990, January Massacre of Azeri demonstrators by Soviet Army, Azerbaijan
Feb 7, 2009, brush fires, Victoria, Australia

Black Sundays
Feb 14, 1926, bush fires, Victoria, Australia
April 14, 1935, “Black Blizzard” over Dust Bowl, the Great Plains of US and Canada
Feb 6, 1938, fatal waves on Bondi Beach, Australia
Nov 8, 1942, Nazi extermination of Jews in Staszow, Poland
June 11, 1944, disastrous Canadian battle against German Panzers, Normandy, France
Sept 24, 1950, sunlight blocked by forest fires, Pennsylvania
Jan 2, 1955, brush fires in Southern Australia
May 2, 1982, Exxon canceled shale oil project in Parachute, Colorado
Nov 24, 1991, extreme right party ascension in Belgium
May 1, 1994, San Marino Grand Prix death of Ayrton Senna
April 26, 1998, DIA inter-terminal subway fails, Denver
Jan 21, 2001, Direct TV purged viewers who were pirating signals
Feb 18, 2001, Datona 500 death of Dale Earnhart
Dec 28, 2008, Detroit Lions finished 0-16

Black Mondays
Easter, 1209, English settlers massacred in Dublin, Ireland
April 14, 1360, Easter misfortune during Hundred Years War
Feb 8, 1886, Pall Mall Riot, London, UK
Dec 10, 1894, Newfoundland bank failure, Canada
Oct 28, 1929, Stock Market Crash, 3rd day of trading
May 27, 1935, US Supreme Court overturns National Recovery Act
Sept 19, 1977, Shutdown of Youngstown, Ohio steel mill
Nov 27, 1978, Assassination of Harvey Milk
Oct 19, 1987, global stock market crash
Oct 8, 1990, Temple Mount Massacre by Israeli IDF, Palestine

Black Tuesdays
Oct 29, 1929, Stock Market Crash
1967, brush fires in Tasmania, Australia
Oct 20, 1987, global stock market crash, because Monday is Tuesday in Australia

Black Wednesdays
Sept 16, 1992, when UK withdrew currency from European Exchange Rate Mechanism, suffering a devaluation of 3.4 billion pounds.
Nov 3, 2004, John Kerry concedes 2004 election immediately after promising to challenge polling irregularities.

Had not the US Stock Exchange been shut down on Tuesday, there would have been a Black Wednesday 1929 as well.

Black Thursdays
Feb 6, 1851, brush fires, Victoria, Australia
Oct 24, 1929, start of US Stock Market Crash
Oct 14, 1943, disastrous US-UK bombing raid over Schweinfurt, Germany
Dec 16, 1943, disastrous UK bombing raid over Berlin, Germany
Aug 24, 1995, Moscow Interbank credit market collapse, Russia
Feb 8, 1998, Black World Wide Web Protest
July 24, 2003, Guatemala City riots, Guatemala

Black Fridays
Sept 24, 1869, collapse of price of gold.
Oct 14, 1881, Eyemouth Disaster, Scotland
Nov 11, 1887, Haymarket hangings of innocent anarchists, Chicago
Nov 18, 1910, Police assault of suffragettes, London, UK
Jan 31, 1919, George Square Riot, during strike for 40hr work week, Glasgow, Scotland
Oct 25, 1929, second day of Stock Market Crash
Jan 13, 1939, bush fires in Victoria, Australia
1940 movie starring Boris Karloff
Sept 18, 1942, Bombing of Dartmouth, Devon, UK
Oct 13, 1944, Disastrous Canadian raid, Battle of the Scheldt, Belgium
Feb 9, 1945, Disastrous UK air raid, Battle of Sunnfjord, Norway
Oct 5, 1945, Hollywood Warner Brothers union riot, led to Taft-Hartley Act
May 5, 1950, Red River Flood, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Oct 7, 1977, Phillies lost to Dodgers, game 3 of National League series
Sept 8, 1978, Massacre of protesters in Tehran, led to Iranian Revolution
May 31, 1985, US-Canadian Tornado outbreak
July 31, 1987, Edmonton Tornado, Alberta Canada
March 12, 1993 Bombay Bombings
Aug 12, 2004, suppression of protests, Male, Maldives
Sept 30, 2005, Students protesters killed in Meghalaya, India
Oct 3, 2008, EESA Wall Street Bailout
–AND–
Nov 28, 2009, the first day of the Christmas shopping season, when America’s retailers balance sheets are brought out of the red.

It fits right?

The Red-listed fishy

Greenpeace is urging consumers to check whether their grocery stores are carrying red-listed seafood. These are species from fisheries endangered by depletion and susceptible to pirate fishing. Greenpeace’s idea? Report your grocer for stocking contraband.

Try as you might to peruse their red list, you have to sign in with Greenpeace to download their survey toolkit. We’ve posted their list here.

RED-List Seafood Species

Alaska Pollock
Atlanta Cod or Scrod
Atlantic Halibut (US & Canadian)
Atlantic Salmon (wild and farmed)
Atlantic Sea Scallop
Bluefin Tuna
Bigeye Tuna
Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian Toothfish)
Greenland Halibut (aka black halibut, Atlantic turbot or Arrowhead flounder)
Grouper (imported to the US)
Hoki (aka grenadier)
Monkfish
Ocean Quahog
Orange Roughy
Red Snapper
Redfish (aka Ocean Perch)
Sharks
Skates and Rays
South Atlantic Albacore Tuna
Swordfish
Tropical Shrimp (wild and farmed)
Yellowfin Tuna

Are there any fish which are not red-listed?! Is a fish absent from this list because it is still plentiful and a sustainable commodity, like Pacific Salmon perhaps, or because it is not commercially available anyway? I can think of Haddock, for example, or Hake.

The Advent conspiracy

Advent ConspiracyConsumerism allows people to create the illusion of giving without having to sacrifice anything personal. Buying loads of useless or unneeded crap, wrapping it up in mountains of toxic paper and ribbon, presenting it, often by mail, to recipients we rarely see seems a requirement for anyone who isn’t Scrooge.

Let’s try something new. Give presence this holiday season. Give time and attention, spend creative energy, become less fractured and manic, more unified and peaceful. Refuse to spend your useless gift quota ($450,000,000,000 spent each year in the U.S. divided by the American gift-buying population — that’s your required outlay). Donate part of the money saved to Living Water International, an organization working to provide water wells to undeveloped countries.

A lack of clean water is the leading cause of death in under-resourced countries. 1.8 million people die annually from water-born illnesses, nearly 4,000 children every DAY. It’s estimated that $10 billion would solve the world’s fresh-water crisis. $10 billion. Our national priorities are beyond fucked up.

Walmart trampling is Black Friday PR

Walmart blitz line“BLACK FRIDAY” BREAKING NEWS- What do you make of the trampling of a Wal-mart worker by crazed bargain hunters at Long Island super center first thing on the day after Thanksgiving? Crazy shoppers, or beguilingly crazy bargains? Which most aroused your curiosity? Savage crowd behavior, that’s nothing new. But maniacal consumer behavior in the mist of a darkening economic crisis –that’s PR whitewash.

iN line for the iPhone

As one who doesn’t like to leave the house, I am a big fan of the internet. In truth, I can hardly speak a negative word about it. The web has given us unfettered access to news and information, consumer goods, visions pleasing to the eye, sounds pleasing to the ear, easy communication one step removed. I can’t say I miss a single thing about the “good ol’ days.” Except waiting in line for concert tickets.

I love live music. I’ve been to zillions of concerts. In fact, I am going to a 2-day concert event in Denver this weekend. The headliners are Tom Petty and the Dave Matthews Band (woot! woot!). Over the years I’ve seen the Stones, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Michael Jackson — the list goes on and on. And, so I don’t date myself too closely, I’ve even seen ‘N Sync and James Blunt.

Raised in an environment of easy internet access, my poor darling children have never had to stand in line for anything. Until last week when the new iPhone was to be released. After I made the big mistake of describing the many reasons I was considering an iPhone purchase, they decided that their future health and happiness was predicated on having 16GB iPhones. With no advice from me, they decided that they had to get to the store very early or risk failure.

They got to the AT&T store at 1 a.m. They were 22nd and 23rd in line. By the time Eric and I arrived shortly before 8, there were 100 people in line. There were camping chairs and coolers, even a gas grill. Decks of cards, pop cans and water bottles, fast food litter. I imagine there were a few dead soldiers (uh, empty beer containers) although I didn’t see any. The atmosphere was convivial. The camaraderie palpable.

They allowed people into the store 6 at a time. As each lucky buyer emerged, a bright orange AT&T bag signaling victory, their fellow consumers clapped and yelled in celebration.

We (read: they) left with our iPhones at 8:30. I later read that they’d sold out in 40 minutes — many campers went home empty-handed. But my two lucky ducks were thrilled with their phones, made all the more precious by the procurement experience.

Living better at the expense of others

SURVIVAL OF THE FATTEST by Jens GalschiotPerhaps you thought it couldn’t get worse. Colorado College hosts speakers who deny global warming, or dismiss the “one or two degrees.” They have speakers who champion imperialism by debt. Coming up, on February 26th at Packard Hall, CC has asked Wal-mart VP of public relations Ray Bracy to address economic development. I kid you not, his address is: “Saving People Money So They Can Live Better: A Global Perspective.”
 
Do you almost want to hear this pitch? Materialism to live better. Exploitation the means to an end. A global picture of happiness? Now that’s going to take balls.
 
In the meantime, consider the bronze statue Survival of the Fattest, and this WTO lament, for Art In Defense Of Humanism:
I’m sitting on the back of a man
He is sinking under the burden
I would do anything to help him
Except stepping down from his back.