Where is my damned scribe?

Most days, I wish I had a scribe running around behind me. I have so many thoughts I want to write about throughout the day — some big, some small — that I can’t remember a fraction of them to start with. Even when I can, by the time I sit at a computer and have time to type them out, I’m no longer interested in exploring that thought. If I had that damned scribe kicking around while I’m driving through town or getting dressed after a massage, I could simply verbalize a whole post and just come back to edit it before posting it online. Damn, that would be easier.

Another option would be a voice recorder. Actually, I think I have one of those. But then I’d have to listen to my own voice and transcribe the words, and I wouldn’t like that. Listening to yourself speak is only slightly better than seeing video of yourself — anyone who is not a delusional narcissist will wince at both of those things. It’s a terrible thing to see the way your mouth twists to one side when you speak, or hear the tiny lisp or annoying sing-songy cadence in your voice. I find that stuff horrifying.

So I don’t know what I’m to do. I mean, today alone, I had at least three, maybe four things I wanted to write about. What were they now? I don’t know. I think one was about how we should be forced to see both the upstream and downstream costs of everything we do. For example, if you buy a car, you should have to sit through a seminar that details the destruction and waste caused by each step of the cars construction (like the mining of the metals and fabrication of the plastic moulding), as well as the destruction and waste associated with drilling for and refining gas and oil so that the car can run, and also the amount of pollution that car will puke forth in its lifetime, and so on and so forth. I think the same approach should go for everything else, too: the food we eat, computers and phones we use for a few years and then throw away, the cheap clothes made by slave labour that we wear, etc. People in the first world should be forced to confront the vast waste and destruction we are responsible for, and we should feel guilty and miserable for it. We deserve it.

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Buy chocolate, and you are responsible for rampant deforestation in the Amazon — animals are literally going extinct because you have a sweet tooth. Sleep well.

And that’s just one of the gems I thought about today that I DIDN’T have a scribe to write down for me!

Now it’s a few days later (I’m writing this in fits and starts), and today while I was on a run, I thought of something I wanted to write about. But when I got home, I couldn’t remember the damn thing. I retraced my steps and remembered other things I thought about during other portions of the run, but couldn’t remember the thing I wanted to write about. If only I had a damned scribe with me then. Fear not, though, dear readers — while laying on the floor doing yoga after my run, I spontaneously remembered the lost idea so I jumped up, dashed to the computer, and jotted the basic premise down. I will be delving into this latest masterpiece soon.

But my point is I need a scribe, stat. I can’t keep working like this. I’m hamstringing myself, like Michelangelo being forced to paint the Sistine Chapel with crayons. It’s insanity.

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I’m just goofing around. I know I have more in common with this Michelangelo.

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There is no excuse for sweatshops

I don’t like the pro-sweatshop labour argument that it’s a necessary step all developing countries must go through on their way to eventually attaining ‘first world’ status. I think that would only be true if we didn’t know better, if we didn’t know that countries can develop without utilizing inhumane and destructive practices for generations, and that us regular folks here in the first world have indirect control over the fates of those in the developing world.

As it stands now, it’s common knowledge that sweatshops in poor countries are guilty of horrible things like forced labour, deadly working conditions (eg, structurally unsafe buildings, excessive heat, long shifts with no breaks, direct exposure to known toxic chemicals), and a total disregard for waste and pollution.

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The 2013 Savar building collapse in Bangladesh is a great example of what I’m talking about. The eight-story building was declared unsafe when cracks in it were noticed, yet garment workers (making stuff for Wal-mart and Joe Fresh, among others) were forced back to work. The building collapsed soon after, killing 1,134 people — all so we could buy cheap clothes.

So what’s the solution for the abysmal working conditions in places like Bangladesh? The answer is easy: we, the consumers, have to stop supporting the systems that perpetuate the harm. We have to look at everything we are buying and ascertain whether that product was made ethically, if the company behind it cared about every step of the production process and not just their bottom line. If we tell companies, “sorry, I won’t buy your stuff if it’s made in a sweatshop,” they will stop using sweatshops, because they’ll do whatever they need to continue selling you stuff. It’s really that simple.

It costs companies more money to do their due diligence, to make sure that everyone below them on the food chain is being ethical and being paid fairly, and we consumers will see that increase in the prices we pay for things. Yeah I know, no one wants to pay more for that cute top or whatever, but if you can afford to buy a cute new top, you can probably also afford to do your part so that people in Bangladesh aren’t being marched into a sweltering building where they are then crushed.

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“Nice top!”
“Thanks, I had a bunch of starving, sickly slaves in a rat-infested shithole make it for me before they were killed!”

I think the pro-sweatshop labour argument is primarily made by people who stand to personally profit from the continued use of the system, either at the top of the food chain (like fast fashion owners and investors) or the middle (shoppers who want continued access to cheap things), and that personal profit is why they attempt to continue to justify its existence.

But I don’t believe there is any excuse for the old sweatshop model anymore. We know what is needed to make them extinct, and it is absolutely do-able: people in the middle of the food chain need to give just a little bit more of their time and money to ensure that the people at the bottom aren’t being killed, enslaved, or poisoned to make the stuff for us.

i forgot that i tried to join the peace corps

this morning, i woke up and took a glance through an issue of national geographic laying around the house. i read (i actually just looked at the pictures and read the captions) about a tribe of primitive people in peru when all of a sudden, i remembered something from 15 years ago that i had completely forgotten about: i used to want to go to africa and do relief work. you know, help build schools, treat sick people, get some running water to a dust bowl village.

first things first: i can be incredibly dense sometimes but i know that peru is not in africa. it was just something about the living conditions in the pics that sparked that old memory.

anyway, this memory blew me away because i had been pretty serious about accomplishing it. for maybe a year, i looked into and applied to a few peace corps-ish groups but alas, i was 21 or so at the time and was too old to be eligible for any of the programs i was interested in.

i was really bummed it hadn’t worked out because i thought it could have been a powerful, positive experience for me. i imagined i would be a better person for it. and i still think that now — my values haven’t changed in that regard. but somehow, the memory of my efforts to make it happen clouded over or had other memories stacked in front of them, and i totally forgot i had tried to actually do it. i think that’s really weird. what if i hadn’t seen those pictures in national geographic today, would i have ever remembered this stuff? i wonder what other relatively recent memories are hiding in my mind.

i sort of wish i was sure and could say i had all of my memories, but then again, if you don’t know you’re missing something you can’t be upset over it, so i guess the missing ones don’t really matter.

ignorance is bliss.

*edit* just moments after writing this, i remembered a part of my dream from this morning which may have helped spark this memory. in my dream, some pals and i were setting up to record music in some weird place. my pal riley was warming up or practicing something he had written recently or something, and it involved some of the most ethereal, fantastic 80’s synth tones, a long sample of the sound of winds blowing across plains, and ri whispering, “africa…africa,” with inimitable gravitas. i’m sure i don’t need to say it but it was fucking sweet as all hell and obviously the most remarkable part of the dream. so maybe that has something to do with my old memory bubbling up to the surface.