Late Night Thoughts on a Middle Eastern Union because why not

Some other night at 3am while browsing YouTube videos when I should have been sleeping or writing, I came upon the above video and watched it multiple times in a row. Each time I watched it, this feeling in my chest grew. At first I thought it was love and laughter, but then it turned into sadness and worry.  I will call this feeling a Peace-in-the-Middle-East-itis that ultimately left me with a low opinion of myself, one that described me as a naive and ridiculous person. Because you know, that inexplicable desire for global peace, the one all beauty contestants are mocked for expressing? Yeah. That. It’s so silly to even think about these things as it is far outside my area of expertise… but I went with it, as a thought exercise. How could the West effectively help solve the “ongoing crisis” that is the Middle East? What I came up with was a Middle Eastern Union.

I realize Israel probably won’t go for a plan like this, but let’s suspend disbelief and pretend they would.  Actually, no, let’s just keep them outside of it for now, as well as Egypt.

The MEU could work like our democratic system with two “houses,” one house where every country gets one vote (representative, etc), and one where every country gets votes (or representatives) based off GDP. (Think “bicameral” like parliament or the US congress) The MEU doesn’t even need to be bicameral, they can just do this GDP thing. Countries with higher GDP get 2 votes, as opposed to lower performing countries who get 1 vote. (The map below is from 2007 and very out of date, and does GDP per capita… but I am using it because it is a good visual aid for you dear reader. Nominal GDP map of 2014 is here, GDP per capita from 2012 is here)

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Michelle Obama’s Tracy Reese Dress Sells Out in Less then 24 hours…

…on ModCloth, the online retailer and my guilty pleasure.  On the Tracy Reese website  all sizes but 4, 6 and 12 had sold out by 3:30 am the early morning after they went on sale. By 10:45 pm however, it looks like Reese ordered a new batch of dresses for production as now the dress is available in all sizes from 0 -14.

ModCloth, however, is still out of stock.

michelle obama dress out of stock one day

The official name of the dress, according to the Tracy Reese website is “Pink Wallpaper Combo Frock.” Really boring, and borderline horrible of a name, if I must say.

ModCloth went with “Best of Luxe” which is infinitely better. Pink Wallpaper Combo Frock may be more practical of a name but it lacks imagination and means nothing to me, a woman who would want to buy this dress. Well, actually, it does say something: it says you are wearing a combination of  wallpaper as a frock.  “Best of Luxe” does not evoke “you are wearing wallpaper.”

michelle obama dress out of stock one day2

Luxe, a word I had not seen before, means “the condition of being elegantly sumptuous.”

Best of Luxe is a rayon/silk mixture though, so not really the best of “being elegantly sumptuous.”  Despite the exaggeration of luxury, the ModCloth name implies that while wearing the dress, you then become the best at being elegantly sumptuous. Which again, is better than wearing wallpaper.

The addition of rayon into the fabric, which diminishes the luxury, is clearly an economic choice.   Read the rest of this entry »


Insightful YouTube Top Comment on the 2012 Election

 

found on this YouTube video, “P-P-P-Paul Ryan (Music Video)


Let’s Create a Factory Ranking System for Fashion Designers So I Can Finally Buy Pretty Clothes, Please

How do you know you have made it?

I am here to tell you that I’ve made it. My standards are pretty low though, so don’t get jealous: As a working writer, I can finally afford clothes that are not Target, outlet or thrift store prices. This has been cause for some mental celebration.

Check it, I am now one of those ladies looking to invest in her wardrobe with a few choice pieces. How bourgeoisie of me, I know, at a time of high unemployment and the Occupy movement. I already feel guilty, made worse as I survey the market of fancy designers before me and wonder where their products are made, and if this has anything to do with why the product costs so much.

I am a consumer, a despised thing in some philosophies, but at least I desire very much to be a knowledgeable consumer. (A knowledgeable consumer is better than a vapid consumer, is how I reason with my reactionary self.)

Mock me all you want (this is me still wrestling with my reactionary demons), but one of the reasons why I despise Apple products is because of how they are made. Now that I have money to invest, I want to make sure my purchase isn’t  harming anyone.

Which brings me to the fantastic designer Tory Burch. No I really mean that compliment; I can see myself wearing everything on her site.

Except, the price isn’t right given the lack of information. The price more than “kind of” rubs me the wrong way.

I want to get a neutral sweater, and Burch’s clothing is beautiful so I want her to be a part of my budding personal collection.

The two sweaters in the running are both 20% angora, 70% wool and 10% nylon; the tri-mix means the color won’t fade, the wool will keep me warm during Chicago winters and the angora ensures a supersoftness my friends and boyfriend will insist on petting. A mighty fine sweater… and it will cost me either $275 or $495.

The more expensive one, with its cute and irrelevant fox emblem, is enticing me so hard while I write this. I can dress the sweater down with jeans, or up with pearls and a fitted red skirt. I can’t make the purchase though, because the sweater as a whole is not as unique as the cheaper one. I can’t even click the buy button for the $275 one, because neither product description lists where the sweater was made.

(Why is the sweater $495 when a gold-plated bracelet is $195? This high price annoys me more when I learn something made of real gold – and not just “gold plate” – is $130. But the fashion designer’s high price prerogative is something for another post, I suppose. )

I can talk myself into paying $275 for a sweater made in the United States, or if the sweater was made in an overseas factory paying families fair wages –  which include overtime-  in normal work conditions with more than one toilet. I can’t do it for anything less.

You know what would be really helpful?

If there was a global human rights council that went around rating the factories, and designers were required by international law to display this ranking prominently somewhere on their site and by the checkout registers in their stores.

Can you help a sister out and make this a reality pretty please? Because until then, I’ve set up these barriers to buying your product. In the event I overcome my sense of morality and ethics and buy your product without knowing where or how it was made, I really don’t want to feel guilty about it later.

Googling revealed Burch utilizes factories in China, and just this June her purses were found to have “nearly 200 times more lead than the limit permitted by the legal agreement with the Center for Environmental Health.”

I’d also like to not be poisoned, but I realize I can’t have my cake and eat it too.


My favorite closing night RNC content on Twitter.

I kept tweeting, and RTing tweets about this election year’s RNC, and then thought instead of annoying my followers who aren’t into politics, why don’t I just make a Storify? Enjoy!


The Urban Soundscape (and why we should care about poor people’s shit)

Bernie Krause’s New York Times Op-ed “The Sound of a Damaged Habitat” gave me chills it was so good a (short!) read. Somehow, Krause gets away with describing the sounds of birds and bugs as an “orchestra,” and it doesn’t come off as cheesy. Damn! As a writer I am impressed.

What freaked me the fuck out, however, was how important sound – noise, din, the daily racket, whatever you want to call it-  is, to things that are living.

Rereading that sentence makes me want to go “duh:” it should be a no-brainer that animals don’t like loud noises and we can tell a lot about a habitat by the sounds we hear in it. As Krause pointed out, however, “too little research has been done in the field of biophonics” so running around saying “duh” to the research that has been done wouldn’t be encouraging to any scientist, I suppose.     Read the rest of this entry »


Balancing the Budget is Easy

Will Congress balance the budget? Will there be a government shut-down? Are we going to rob from the rich to give to the poor, or are we going to rob from the poor to give to the rich? Are we going to become communists? Are we going to become corporate fascists? Are we all going to die? 

Every time I feel myself getting sucked into the media hysteria that is the budget deficit, I go back to an interactive deficit puzzle  created presumably by the New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt in November of last year.

This interactive deficit puzzle has soothed me many times, and each time I begin the puzzle, I am reminded of how simple and effective it is. I can balance the budget without hurting the elderly or the poor, and upon balancing the budget, I am left feeling joyful. My euphoria only lasts for a few minutes though, because in completing Leonhardt’s puzzle, I am left wondering why the budget has taken months to balance when I can balance it in less than five minutes… has every member of Congress sat down and used a tool like this?

I know all those fogies in Congress probably don’t remember anything from their last economics class, so maybe a puzzle/tool/application like Leonhardt’s  would be most helpful in getting these elected officials to think about budget deficit concepts in terms of money and not social agenda.  Leonhardt’s project breaks down US spending and tax areas in concise and understandable language, and with its point and click format, even new computer-using Congressmen can understand how to solve the deficit.

Can’t the Speaker of the House and Joe Biden send out a mass e-mail to all Congressmen demanding everyone use Leonhardt’s interactive puzzle before the next session? That mass e-mail should close with a line something like… “Any elected official that refuses to use Leonhardt’s puzzle because it is on the New York Times site will be barred from the floor.”

Lucien Moore House in ruins

^^ If the rest of the United States looks like this, I just might move to Canada. Collecting firewood is only fun the first couple of times… ^^

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