Thursday, January 7, 2010


Huh. So I kind of think that, outside of electronic and medical uses, plastics should be banned completely.

As I say this, pretty much every one of the fifty-or-so items on my desk is composed of plastic, so make no mistake - I am a giant hypocrite. But change was never supposed to be easy, and radical change is sometimes really, really necessary. Screw fabric bags, Vancouverites - those are a token solution. Unless we as consumers stop purchasing items composed of, or wrapped in, plastics, the Pacific Garbage Heap of Doom will continue to grow, albatross chicks will continue to die, and eventually, we will live in a Wall-E type dystopia where human life is impossible and only cockroaches and adorable robots have survived. Do you want that future, as cute as it may possibly be?

Plastic is made of oil, oil is expensive (and in itself a giant environmental and societal hazard), and the remnants last forever. But these baby chicks paint a picture much more vividly than I can. Enjoy. Or, cry. Environmental punditing over.

The above pictures were shamelessly stolen, along with the following text:

Message from the Gyre

These photographs of albatross chicks were made on Midway Atoll, a
tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The
nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar
out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food
to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year
tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation,
toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, none of the

plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated,
arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the untouched
stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote
marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Angry Me of the Day

Me of the Day: Ivy, are you tired? You look tired. Which is to say, you look awful. You look like something that a large woodland creature would regurgitate. That is what you look like, right now - just, ew. You must be tired. Are you tired?

Mood: Not tired, just pissed off, and apparently very ugly.

Opinionated thought of the day: I kind of touched on this one before, but as John Stewart thoughtfully reminded me, people who tend to speak of the 'good old days' in endearing tones are generally  referring to the time when they were approximately six years old, at which time life was fairly rosy, precisely because they were approximately six years old. (America, and North America, usually think of the 'good old days' as the 1950s, precisely because that baby boomers, who make up a large percentage of the opinion-touting media, were children during that decade and look back upon it with fond naivety.)

Another addition to this charming thought is this: everyone I've ever heard speak nostalgically of the past (as in, "I wish I could be alive fifty to a hundred years ago, instead of today,") has been white, male, able-bodied, and fairly well-off. Likely, they haven't had any severe health impairments, either.

And if you're white, male, healthy, and rich, maybe it would have been good fun for you to have lived fifty years ago, or a hundred years ago. You could have owned a profitable coal mine responsible for the extinction of seven species of local fish, and no one would have batted an eyelid. You could have hired children to work in your coal mine, for a very reasonable price. You could smoke without judgement, bet on dog fights, drink and drive (a car or carriage), and if you had a rough day, go home to beat your wife in peace. Or visit your toddler inside an iron lung. Ah, the good old days.

So, pardon me, but...fuck you, rich healthy white men. Society's worth is based on how it treats its most vulnerable (according to Gandhi), and I happen to believe that the progression towards equal rights and opportunities among all human beings is in everyone's best interest, including your own. For the vast majority of the population, a hundred years ago meant almost guaranteed oppression, discrimination, and possible death.

We haven't achieved all we need to in society...not even close. But at least today we have some awareness of the injustices that have, and continue to, occur. At least we have the knowledge and space to discuss the problem.

So, gentlemen, and anyone else, if you feel inclined to believe that the world is going downhill, fast, just ask yourself this: Did I lynch any black people today, photograph the dangling body, and send the photograph to my friends as an amusing novelty postcard??

If the answer is "No," then you're living in slightly better times, for yourself, and for that black person, too.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Up in the Air

Every couple of years, there’s a movie - a romantic comedy, really - which tells us that being alone is pretty great. There’s money, and there’s prestige, and there’s a touch of class that makes the reek of baby vomit incomprehensible. “I like my life, and I’m happy,” says George Clooney, to the obnoxious, brown-nosing girl, wearing glasses, who seems to lack any social grace.

“Aren’t you lonely?” She asks, and a cliche is born.

George Clooney discovers, slowly, quietly, that this girl might be correct. He is lonely. He is alone. And he longs for something more.

“Sell me marriage,” the former, contented George Clooney asks of his bright-eyed, bushy-tailed companion. “How many functional marriages do you know?” Flustered, the girl mentions love and, when that fails, she mentions not dying alone.

“We all die alone.” ...Yes, George Clooney, we do.

This movie provides some nuance, and doesn’t give our charming George the happy ending we expect and he deserves - there is no promise of family bliss and little feet and consumerist joy that is the American Dream. Instead, he is released into an abyss of uncertainty that is every life, void of momentum. (This is a cliche, too.) George spent the first half of the movie firing people, winning them over, and letting them know it would all be okay - a fresh start, a new dawn, a chance to go back and rethink and recover. When you take away the office, the title, the routine, you have to ask...what really matters? What makes me happy?

Is it achievement? Is it family? Is it someone to keep you warm at night? Is it writing “George Clooney was here” upon a plane, and letting something outside of you live on, when you inevitably die, alone? Is it marriage, a cure for loneliness, or is marriage little more than a status symbol - something to check off a life-list of things you expect yourself to do?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - a Russian novel expositing the fact that we really don’t matter and will be forgotten, and how that sucks - seems strongly evoked in this feeling I’m left with.

Damn it, George Clooney, you’ve never before left me with such ennui. Life, it seems, is very lonely. Come sit with me, let's be lonely together.