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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You can’t trust anyone who is trying to sell you anything

Over the last year, I’ve noticed a lot more misleading marketing than I have in the past. There are two specific types of hoodwinking that I’m talking about.

The first is when an item has a big sticker or American flag logo on the tag, with big text that says, “proudly made in the USA.” But in small print underneath that it quietly adds, “with domestic and imported components.” In other words, “most of these components were made by slave labour in China, and then it was assembled by machines here in the US.”

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The only thing this is a sure sign of is questionable marketing ethics.

The above graphic actually takes the deception a step further and uses ‘global’ as a euphemism for ‘imported’ — clever. Insidious.

Similarly, I’ve noticed a lot of food products now say stuff like, “made with NATURAL ingredients.”

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That’s absurd. Virtually everything in the world can be called natural — I mean, coal and asbestos are natural, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for people — so it’s really a meaningless term. As such, there’s no regulation on the term ‘natural.’ You can put it on any food product you want, like Big Macs and Twinkies, and there is no regulatory body who is going to contact you and say, “wait a minute, that food isn’t natural.” Labeling food as ‘natural’ is just a way for companies to intentionally mislead the public into thinking their product is healthy, organic, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, etc. Once again: total bullshit.

Basically, everyone who is looking to make a buck is willing to bend the truth as much as legally possible to make you feel better about buying their trash. Trust no one who is trying to sell you anything. They’re all shysters.

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 want to buy ‘ethical’ clothing but i’m having a hell of time with it

jenn and i watched a fantastic documentary called ‘the true cost’ a few months ago. it’s about the ‘fast fashion’ industry and illustrates the myriad harmful effects of buying super cheap clothes — unregulated pollution and full-on slave labour are the aspects that really bothered me and made me start caring about this. i like good deals but not at the cost of other people and the environment, so since seeing the film i’ve been hunting for ethically made clothes. unfortunately, my hunt is going terribly.

my first problem is that there aren’t many places around here that sell ethically made clothing.

second problem is that the places that do sell it don’t have much in the way of normal guy clothes. there’s lots of sashes and weird fucking hippie pants and panchos but not a lot of plain t-shirts, socks, and underwear. there’s even less in the way of ethically made flip flops, which i desperately need now that my sweat shop specials just bit the dust after only a month of use.

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no thanks.

third problem is that looking online, the shipping costs are prohibitively high.

fourth problem is the online sources are almost as bad as the local stores for not having plain jane, regular person clothing. most of the stuff is gross hippie shit, and even most of the ethical t-shirts i find either have stupid fucking designs on them or are v-necks, and i HATE v-necks.

i just want some fucking plain t-shirts, socks, underwear, and flip flops that aren’t made in god damn sweat shops. i guess i’m going to have to start my own ethical clothing company that caters to men who care about how we treat each other and the planet, but don’t care about what they look like.

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like this, but ethical.