Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mickey Mouse: Crack Dealer?

How is it possible that back-to-school shopping has become a threat to your child's health?!? I am absolutely amazed that Disney has this warning on its website. Here I am looking at Tinker Bell backpacks and trying to comparison shop for these expensive items, check if they are milking you by charging for the lunch tote separately and so on ... and what is the disclaimer I run into?

WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Is this a joke? Are they kidding me? Tinker Bell lunch tote? Same thing. Ariel is no better. How is a behemoth corporation like Disney getting away with selling things to our children that has this warning as part of its item description -- for something you are going to pack lunches in for G-d's sake?!?!? No apologies, no consequences, just the warning (at the bottom, of course, where maybe not as many people will scroll down and actually read all of the fine print).

So, again, that leaves us moms (and dads and grandparents and whoever else loves kids and is shopping for them) left to lobbying for legislation ... because selling poison to our kids is something that would naturally be allowed unless we otherwise protest, right?

Luckily, there are groups like MomsRising.org and resources like the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) that are trying to organize the efforts. Seems California has been paying attention (http://www.ewg.org/node/26468) but there has also been national outcry regarding baby bottles (http://www.chej.org/BPA_Website.htm) and PVC in so many of the products in our homes and schools (http://www.besafenet.com/pvc/) and triclosan which is in a lot of antibacterial products (http://www.ewg.org/reports/triclosan or also see http://www.idealbite.com/tiplibrary/archives/weird_science_bust_a_myth_week/). And let's not forget the fun lead recalls at holiday gift giving time (http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/shopunshop/10GreenToys.cfm).

Of course, everything is open to interpretation and there are lots of voices on the other side pushing back that everything is fine and the levels are not high enough to really do any harm (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120277954938660931.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_marketplace) or (http://www.mercurynews.com/healthandscience/ci_9542075?nclick_check=1) just for example.

The point is to just be more aware, educate yourself and decide for yourself -- we all make judgment calls and that should not change, everyone has a different set of criteria, a different comfort zone. But consider finding ways to take small, quick actions that can make a difference for your kids and everyone else's (using one refillable water bottle rather than buying cases of bottled water -- don't ask me what the damn thing should be made of because that is still not clear to me with all the plastic concerns, I have read stainless steel and some other options like aluminum or neoprene or some such thing(http://www.reusablebags.com/store/sigg-traveler-classics-reusable-bottles-p-207.html) but I am still not sure on this one myself (http://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/cms/File/TOTB_institution_pledge.pdf) .
And then they wonder why people throw their hands up and do nothing, I know, I know ...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

wait, I think I missed a season ...

I can't believe my last post was in March ... I can't believe it is June ... I can't believe a lot of things lately and what else is new? the world continues to puzzle and mystify me

so I am still unemployed and looking for regular work; the search has taken me on two interviews (not a great track record if you're keeping score at home) and a seriously draining ongoing examination of who am I, what do I want to be when I grow up and why does life have to be so damn hard? not that my life is actually hard by virtually any standard but a heat wave mixed with PMS, the end of unemployment benefits and the dangerously close, big bad stretch of summer (a/k/a no school for kids) makes one prone to self-pity and having snacks of raw cookie dough, followed up with some doritos, and maybe washed down with a nice cold coke!

aside from stress eating I have been following news of the economy (it still takes a minute to realize that the unemployment figures on news radio refer to me) Valiant Hillary finally stepped off the path to 1600 (still don't think it much matters, Iran invasion coming soon to a world theater near you, no election ... or illegal anointing of McCain for the Bush/Cheney third term ~ they're on a roll since 2000, why stop now?)

I have been thinking a lot these last couple of days about language. Maybe it started when I realized that "coverage" has become a completely normal term to be used in relation to one's children (i.e. "can't have lunch that day, I have no coverage for Little One ..." or "how can I take this job when I have no coverage for the kids after school?")

coverage?!?? the dictionary definition is as follows:
noun, 1. the extent or degree to which something is observed, analyzed and reported. 2. the extent of protection afforded by an insurance policy. 3. the amount of funds reserved to meet liabilities.

nice! society now speaks about its young like risk profiles, just more of our "anesthetization nation" -- obscure the real meaning, blunt the hard edges, candy coat it so it goes down easier ...

a message from Senator Chuck Schumer today referred to "victim-activated explosives" ... figured that one out yet? I must have signed some petition about the US signing some land mine treaty or some email campaign about the cluster bombs in Lebanon killing innocent civilians (otherwise known as mothers and children but that's too graphic) and this email from Schumer's office is the standard response.

I've noticed that politicians have gotten much more targeted in answering these things and instead of (or in addition to) getting a receipt (thank you for your email, due to the large volume of communication, we cannot promise a response blah blah) I get a written letter (most often from my Representative Carolyn McCarthy, or my favorite, from the White House : ) or these new emails from Chuck and Hillary with some policy position spelled out and why I'll be glad to know they share my concerns and have co-sponsored some legislation or take my comments very seriously and will do everything in their power to represent my interests.

It all seems so hopeless sometimes. But, it's a nice day and time to pick up, dust ourselves off and maybe go to the park and have some ice cream. That always makes things look better!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March Madness indeed!

What a wacky month this has been ... and it's not even close to over! Hillary snatched her campaign back from oblivion, and the Democrats continue to self-destruct as we march toward President McCain (if there were an actual election held in November ... see http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/06/7525/ for a taste of why I often refer to no election occurring).

We had a St. Patrick's Day overshadowed here in NYS by the swearing in of David Paterson, our new, history-making, blind, black governor who ~ are you ready for this? ~ cut right to the chase and revealed that he and his wife had a rough spot in their marriage and both have had affairs. Now can we move on to the budget? (Gov. Paterson apparently lived on Long Island! All anxiously await the magical transformation of the state budget and its beneficial effects on this fair isle!)

Oh, don't overlook the threesome news from N.J. Another fallen state gov, Mr. McGreevey, is not only a gay American but a fan of the French when it comes to menage a trois (the wife, the chauffeur and the gay governor ~ can't make this stuff up).

I mean, it's no wonder I have a hard time making this an actual daily dose ~ who can keep up with this nonstop tabloid that passes for news in this country?!?!? I had a funny idea for a post: the letter of the day is W (after hearing that an economist predicted a W-shaped recession -- no, I cannot explain that, I failed econ at my Ivy League college and had to change majors -- and how hysterical is that since we have W himself to blame for this sorry state of affairs???) Clearly, that became irrelevant as soon as the number of the day became 9 around here and we had to suffer through days of The Fall of the Prince Elliot Spitzer. Which quickly dovetailed with Ms. Geraldine Ferraro (who I spoke to at Spitzer's inaugural party at the Waldorf when he became AG ~ thus the segway) daring to speak about race and Obama. And let's not even get started with this pastor flap poor Barack is addressing in my old stomping grounds of Philadelphia. And Bill is on Fox talking to Greta? but Michelle Obama refuses to appear? has the campaign released a statement on this? because it really matters to the average American who can no longer afford to pay for gas, milk and health care in the same month, let alone week -- and did you hear that Bear Stearns went under?

I mean, who has the stamina for this? It's endless and exhausting and oh so entertaining if you can find a way to chime in every 10 seconds with the latest breaking "news." Oh, forget it ... I'm just going to rush over to my local AT&T storefront and have myself a merry little Madness-mas(TM) ~ what's that? you haven't heard? the NCAA tournament is now a holiday and you can connect with AT&T! bracket tracking, exclusive video highlights and up-to-the-minute score alerts. C'mon, it's your patriotic duty to stay informed! Cinderella and the dance and all that. Repeat after me: alternate reality ... corporate profits ... smoke and mirrors ... you are getting sleepy (but not enough to prevent you from placing a bet on that bracket!) Now get out and go shopping!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Women's History Month

yes, folks, March is Women's History Month ... it is better known for March Madness (college hoops are so much fun!) and green beer and an early Easter this year ... but let us not forget that International Women's Day is March 8 (www.internationalwomensday.com) and that this entire month is devoted to women's history.

The National Women's History Project explains (www.nwhp.org) about this year's theme:
"To honor the originality, beauty, imagination, and multiple dimensions of women’s lives, we have chosen Women’s Art: Women’s Vision as the 2008 theme for National Women’s History Month.
The history of women and art is quintessential women’s history. It is the story of amazing women’s accomplishments acclaimed at the time but written out of history. Join us in ensuring that their accomplishments are never forgotten.
This year’s theme provides a special opportunity to discover and celebrate women’s visual arts in a variety of forms and mediums that help expand our perceptions of ourselves and each other."

But today I am inspired to compile the women's news I have come across in just a few hours on this first Monday in March ... I call it "Mommies Mommies Everywhere!"

**two women got into a physical fight at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party outside of Boston, Mass. (another Fox News special, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334571,00.html). Hey, have you ever been to one of these places? Have Mukasey look into this since he won't do anything about waterboarding.

**14-year-old mother and her infant in the news here in NYC/LI because three people apparently tried to leave the baby girl at a firehouse, misunderstanding the safe haven law ... lots of trouble now for the livery cab driver who tried to drop the baby off because he made up a story as to why (false "hero" alarm). Yes, let's focus on this man just trying to make a living and do the right thing by an innocent baby. Let's not start talking about what the hell a 14-year-old is doing as a mother and how on earth she is supposed to cope with this.

**which brings us to the tragic death of three young children (6, 5 and 1), drowned by their mother here in Nassau County last week. This is opening up all kinds of trouble for the county and investigations into the Child Protective Services agency and a lawsuit by one of the fathers and accusations that "the system failed." Apparently, the mother had a history of mental illness and possible drug addiction.

Trouble is when these stories are reported, it is always with the implication that the mother is horrible. How could she? How could a mother do this to her own children? Do not misunderstand me: I am not condoning abuse and abandonment and murder. I am simply stating that there are underlying reasons for people's behavior, there is context and history and factual narratives that cannot be condensed into the 45-second spot on the local news. The 2-year-old got out of the house to find mommy at the laundromat and wandered across train tracks. The infant was left sleeping in the car and suffocated because the mother had no childcare but had to show up for work. Andrea Yates.

We all know the stories, we all feel sick to our stomachs and our hearts ache for these children. But where are the journalists to go one step further and examine what facts underlie these tragedies: the lack of childcare and the brutally high expense of it, the dearth of part-time work with health benefits that might allow for better balancing of work and family, the absence of paid sick days, the false promise of family-friendly anything, the ignorance about postpartum depression and the shame and stigma still associated with mental illness of any kind. Not to excuse the women but to explain reality and move society toward finding remedies for these issues. That's always the funniest part to me: motherhood is sacred in this country but there are no policies in place to prioritize the work of raising a family ~ not even for the daddies. (Now those could be family values people could rally around, not the moral righteousness peddled by the right wing)

Mothers are supposed to make it all better, we are idealized and expected to fulfill society's fantasy of maternal perfection (until it's the mother's fault for how the kids turn out, just ask Lynne Spears). Which brings me to my favorite item of the day (so far):
Susan Shapiro Barash has a brand-new book, Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie. I saw it reported in the Post (um, NY not Washington, hello) in the context of this woman on that lie detector show on TV getting caught for cheating on her husband and still loving her ex. We'll leave that aside for now.

The interesting tidbit from the book mentioned in the article by Susan Edelman is that "50 percent harbor 'mixed feelings about mothering.' One told Barash, 'I look at these children and I crave sleep and free time. They wear me out and make me jealous of working women who have no children, no husbands."

Gasp! Horror! Say it isn't so! I don't know whether to cheer that someone spoke the truth or be sad that the other 50 percent stuck with the cover story (you know the one: oh, motherhood is wonderful, I love it, everything is great) Things are complicated people! Shades of grey. Not everything can be boxed neatly (in Tiffany blue) and tied up in a fabulous white bow ... certainly not mothering. And admitting that all is not roses and peaches and cream all the time does not lessen a mother's love for her children or erase all the other moments she is filled with boundless joy looking at her kids ... admitting these truths does nothing other than open an honest dialogue that women who become close might have but are loathe to admit to each other otherwise. Women are complicated, too ...

Just ask Hillary ... won't it be ironic if her historic campaign ends during Women's History Month (not that we're having an election in November so this whole Democratic primary thing is besides the point ... again, another post). The coverage of her crying and the rage over saying Chelsea was being pimped out ... it's all so sexist. I'm not saying I bought the tearing up as 100% genuine (any politician is capable of calculation) -- it may very well have been -- but who cares? Did we agonize over tears in Mitt Romney's eyes when he was on Meet the Press? (you may not have heard about that one, here is one article for reference http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1207/7415.html)

One writer posited that Hillary actually won women back when defending Chelsea because it finally showed her as a "strong mother." But she can't get all mama bear on us because that would not be commander-in-chief-like ... it's all so ridiculous. What if, as Sally Field suggested at the Emmys last year [in what could have been a fantastic speech if she hadn't gotten all "I'm trying to pass off a rehearsed diatribe as a spontaneous show of emotion" (see http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2007/09/the-emmys-reall.html)] mothers ruled the world? Would there really be no more war?

Maybe one March years from now my daughter's generation of women will have figured some of this out ... maybe my son and his peers will have helped (look at how much more our husbands do with the kids and the house than their fathers did -- c'mon you know they do, even the men who do "nothing" are doing more than their fathers were doing, I think that is a fair statement for the most part) ... all we can do is wonder.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

it's come to this?!?!?

first I get an email from the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation telling me that killing baby geese is acceptable ... see, here on Long Island, there is a major problem with Canada geese and all of their droppings all over our playing fields and beaches (soccer moms do not like goose poop all over their shoes and those of their children!)

so NYS DEC issues a press release about how to deal with this problem ... there is a brand-new late-winter hunting season authorized if you live further upstate; for others, "egg-addling" might be the way to go (this is where the killing babies part comes in). I quote:

"Egg-addling includes various techniques of treating goose nests or eggs so they will not hatch, including coating the eggs with corn oil or puncturing the eggs with a small skewer. These techniques prevent further development of the embryo without causing the adult birds to immediately abandon the nest. The geese will eventually abandon the nest when it is too late to re-nest (usually by mid-May), so there should be fewer goslings produced and the adult birds may leave the area for the remainder of spring and summer."

Lovely, right? I mean where are the pro-life people? the PETA people? I have to admit that I am one of those who cannot fathom the passion (and compassion) humans have toward animals ... all of the homeless pet things from natural disasters, saving wolves in Yellowstone, whales in Japanese waters ... it all leaves me a bit cold ... I sign a petition here and there but I truly do not understand people's connections with their pets -- or the animal kingdom at large.

But reading about how to kill goslings?!? It made me nauseous. Now, don't get all carried away! You need authorization to do this egg-addling murderous stuff ("Property owners, local officials, homeowner’s associations and others may addle eggs so long as they have authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and DEC.") Consider yourself warned.

not to be outdone, the FOXNews.com home page (yes, amazingly enough, my home page is set to the evil Murdoch empire courtesy of my Greta-loving husband; I decided not to fight it, partly out of my noble desire to know what "the other (dark) side" is saying and thinking ... same reason I read the New York Post, although I have really come to love that paper, especially its new Page Six magazine! FAB!) has this gem: If you spank your kids, they will have sexual problems later in life. Yup, 80 years of spanking research and a report presented today appears to be the first to link spanking and sexual problems such as masochistic sex ...

I am endlessly amazed at how people spend their time. I'm sure it's all helps to make the world go 'round, but seriously? (yes, I was affected by Grey's Anatomy) I just shake my head in wonderment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

same old same old

I caught most of the CNN debate tonight between Hillary and Obama ... what amazes me is that I had no idea it was scheduled to happen. I am plugged in all day to news -- radio, Internet, TV -- but am not loyal to any cable news outfit ... so was CNN the only place to learn there was a debate on CNN tonight?? it's almost as if they didn't want people tuning in. and there was not even much of a reason to, it's not like the candidates got to explore their differences or explain themselves to the public. it's all packaged and pre-tested and pointless. very discouraging

and the most important question that needed to be asked was of course ignored: why were both Hillary and Obama absent, failing to vote on the bill that just came out of the Senate including retroactive immunity for the telecom companies in relation to the FISA revisions ... McCain was there, voted the wrong way, but he was there. They should be asked to explain why they were not and how they could allow that to happen on such a vital issue (that gets zero attention so people don't know anything about it and if it isn't covered on TV then it must not really be important -- THAT is the false logic I am compelled to combat ... the media is not covering anything other than what makes money for the shareholders, it's a business, a corporation, not the check on government it was intended to be ... forget about the warnings on cigarettes and Chantix and everything else, TVs and any other electronic device that people use for news should come with a huge caution sign telling people that they cannot rely on them for information -- do NOT get your news here! (what if something actually happened when you had no service on your Blackberry??)

oh and I realized that I wrote about Chez getting fired from CNN but had not specified why ... for writing a blog : )

I'm baaaaack!!!!

hey, throw an 'r' in there and I'm Barack : )

anyway, my posts mysteriously fell off just before the dreaded Valentine's Day. I think I fell out of love with the idea of keeping this blog. I mean who really cares what I think anyway? I haven't even told many people I started this.
But then I read last night about Chez Pazienza who was just fired from CNN (with no severance, I might add, which makes my termination less monstrous to me)

and why not be inspired by his example? why not try to amplify my voice and vent a bit and if someone reads it and is inspired to act or even just thinks more because of it then all the better ... we are in need of another revolution, after all.

but I can't rally at the moment, I have two young children home from school on the Presidents Day break and lots of noise ~ environment not at all conducive to intelligent thought ... hard to focus on big picture topics like the Constitution and Kosovo declaring independence and what it means for Bush to be in Africa when all I can hear is incessant whining and fighting interspersed with a stuffed duck that chirps nonstop and the ever present nagging calls for "Mom!" (are they actually referring to me? and who are they anyway?) all against the lovely backdrop of Nickelodeon or Tom and Jerry cartoons. It makes the head throb.