Sunday, February 25, 2007

Our playground in danger

If this scenario ever comes to pass, the biggest part of the internet, the part with regular people who don't control media empires, will dry up and disappear.

Please pass this video along, however you can. For more information, go to Save the Internet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

For Our Kids

A society is ultimately judged by how it treats it weakest members.

A recent UNICEF report shows the the Unites States and the United Kingdom are at the bottom of the list for child welfare among rich countries. This is disgraceful. While we can spend billions of dollars on a pre-emptive war, while ignoring the hunt for Osama bin Laden, funding for children’s programs are being cut left and right.

What to do? If we end the war and restore funding to children’s health, safety, and educational programs, will everything turn out alright? No. The countries at the top of the list spend less money on such programs, and even poorer countries have higher scores than the US and Britain. Money is a component, but if we are to rise to the top of the list, maybe we should also take a look at what other countries are doing right.
One of the key things is that the role of government is important, but the entire society must have at its heart the idea of improving child well-being.

The Netherlands spends a smaller percentage of their GDP on health care than the US, but as a culture they focus on quality of life ahead of profit.

Sweden has the strongest welfare system in the world. Although their taxes are high, the citizens support such a system because the benefits to the overall quality of life are worth it.

We can take lessons from smaller countries, if we ever decide to value quality of life for all over profits for the individual. That almost sounds communist, doesn’t it? The problem with communism in the real world is the emphasis on the system at the expense of the people involved. It seems like an intelligent society could find a way to help the vulnerable without abridging individual rights. Maybe countries like the Netherlands and Sweden have ways worth examining. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Can I rant about boys please?

Not generic, smelly, slightly goofy teenage boys, but twenty-two year old chaps who one employs in ones company.

Chaps who are very, very good at the creative and technical side of what they do, but are GOD AWFUL CRAP at communicating what they've actually done or what they are actually doing during the course of a day working at home.

Chaps who seem perfectly prepared to speak to your co-director stroke co-manager stroke husband about stuff; but who seem to think that it is fine to ignore your own emails or text messages or voicemails.

I am starting to think that it's because of the gender thing.

That perhaps I am less worthy of respect because I don't go out and lift boxes and load and unload trucks but do more of the organisational back-room stuff that isn't that obvious.

Stuff that could, perhaps, be undervalued by a recent graduate who has never actually worked in an office situation or for a proper company and doesn't understand all the ramifications of team-work.

A chap who gives off a vague feeling of resentment when I ask him politely, for the umpteenth time, to acknowledge my communications.

Perhaps he thinks that I don't really do anything very much. That my husband is the driving force behind the company. Maybe he thinks that because I am pregnant (I haven't mentioned that here by the way, although I have on my own blog - yay!), my brain has suddenly turned to mush and I am no longer part of the company.


I am ticked off.

And I need to have a conversation with him about it - but it's kind of difficult, as we are running a virtual office situation and he is at one end of the country when he is not out on jobs and I am at the other. And it's the kind of conversation that you need to have face to face.

So. How informal can you be in this kind of work situation with young men? How do you make them realise that although it's a relaxed working environment, it's still a deadly serious business? And how do I get him to take me seriously without a) sounding like a hysteric and b) putting his back up - if it isn't up already?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Etiquette Questions

Some things I've been wondering about lately.

If a family member gives your child a gift-- say an article of especially ghastly clothing-- are you obligated to have your child wear it? Do you have to take pictures to show to said relative? Is this just pandering, trying to make said relative feel appreciated? Or is it trying to teach your child good manners by showing that you appreciate all gifts, and you can't say "yucky" to an otherwise appropriate gift that just happens to be, um, yucky?

If the answer is yes to the first 2 questions above (wearing and photographing the wearing), do you have to do it more than once, just so you don't show them 5 pics of the darling creature in the ghastly outfit, all obviously taken on the same day? I mean, are you obligated to make said relative feel all that appreciated?

What if the gift is a toy that you child does not appreciate, enjoy, or use? You wouldn't feel obligated to show the relative pictures of the child playing with it, would you? Why is this different from the hideous garment?

What if it was a toy that you did not like? Are you obligated to let the kid even have it? Well, you are the parent, you can choose, right? But it was a gift, given freely and not given to you, dear parent.

Can you go through gifts ahead of time, for example if a big Christmas box arrives in mid-December? Say you are not consulted, as some families are kind enough to do, but instead your family chooses to send gifts that they think your kid will like, without consideration of whether or not you allow certain types of dolls or weapons or glitter or especially noxious arts and crafts in your home? Can you go through and veto, in advance, any toys that do not meet your standards of social acceptability?

If you can and do cull the herd ahead of time, do you have to replace the toy in question before the event? If your mother sends a gruesome item for your child, and you toss it into the Goodwill pile and replace it with something wholesome and good and filled with light, what do you do about the thank-you note? How do you coach little Kumbaya to write a good thank-you note without mentioning the lovely gun that grandma gave her? It's not like you can replace it with a kinder, gentler gun, so either you replace it with another gun and she can write "thank you for the gun" or you replace it with a knit-your-own-peace-sign kit and all the child can say is "thank you for the present" which is sure to get grandma's hackles up. She wasn't born yesterday, you know.

Finally, what do you do with ghastly objects that are given to your child in person? They are always thoughtfully chosen and of the sort that children dearly love, by which I mean they always have lots of lights and sounds and repetition of songs that make you want to rip your ears off your head before the evening is over. Your child adores it, your relatives know that your child adores it, because they saw her play with it nonstop and with such glee for hours on end. After you have removed the batteries, dismantled the speaker, and otherwise rendered it impotent, how do you deal with both the child and the relative? Especially next time they are all in your home, expecting to have a happy reunion, relative, child, and hellacious toy all.

And just for the record: no, these are actually not my personal issues for the most part (though we have gotten a few noisy toys that have subsequently entered the witness protection program, one of which prompted a call to the sending friend to ask what I had done to make her mad at me). These are mostly things I've heard other people gripe about and which are knocking about in my head tonight. Really. I promise.

I imagine this is all eclipsed in the teen years, when it is your child's friends that you can't stand. That seems a mite more complicated.

Labels: , ,