Saturday, April 30, 2005

Once again we see how powerful the celebrity presence is. ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History is a new campaign backed by people like Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz and a whole list of others. Aid groups such as Oxfam, EveryChild, World Vision,, Water Aid and tons of others have finally band together to form a voice to take on the issues of poverty, starvation and AIDS.

These epidemics have been fought agains for a long time and though much progress has been made, the amount of damage surpasses the recovery by tenfold and the situation is getting out of hand. You can go to the website above to see the TV ad and read up on what the goals of this new campaign are as well as find out who the partner organizations are.

I know many of you have or seen the yellow Lance Armstrong "Live Strong" bracelets that donate money to cancer research and raise awareness for the cause. ONE has come up with similar bracelets that are plain white and say "ONE" on them, as you see in the picture above.

I'm ordering 20 of these to give to people who want to raise awareness for this cause. If I run out I'll order more, but until then I thought I'd start with 20 to see if I'm successful.

There won't be a set "selling" price for these bracelets but rather a donation of whatever you're able to give. I'll forward the proceeds to Oxfam International who will use the money for aid.

Please let me know if you're interested in getting one.

In the meantime do your part by writing a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin (apparently Bono wasn't as persuasive, so maybe we can help the process along):

The Prime Minister
The Rt. Honourable Paul Martin
80 Wellington Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Fax: 613-941-6900

Write to President George W. Bush

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Fax: 202-456-2461
E-mail: ( I doubt he knows how to spell email, but hey it's worth a try...)
Write to Prime Minister Tony Blair

The Rt Honourable Prime Minister Tony Blair
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
United Kingdom

E-mail Form
Sunday, April 24, 2005
This is one of those stupid-funny type of things...but funny nonetheless (though I do feel sorry for the guy)

No, not a computer world, but a politically correct one. More and more we find ourselves always aiming to do the right thing and say the right thing, and many time it isn't because we intend to be good or virtuous, but rather it's because we don't want to offend someone by doing otherwise.

Our social etiquette has shifted to concentrate on what is politically correct and what isn't. It's not longer appropriate to say "policeman" or "fireman" because women are able to work in these occupations too, so we switch to "police officer" or "fire fighter". As well, it's not acceptable to say someone is the "worst" at something - rather they are "least best".

I can see why we would switch words like policeman to police officer, just to be fair to both genders, but a lot of terms seem to be over the top and unneccessary. It coule be just to save from being to harsh, like calling someone vertically challenged rather than fat.

Euphemisms are a part of our daily lives, so much that we seldom recognize them. Some are easier to recognize than others. “Administrative assistant” is a euphemism most recognize as really meaning “secretary.” Although “administrative assistant” sounds more prestigious than “secretary,” the job isn’t any more glorious, and a fancy title seldom means more pay. A euphemism is “a way of describing an offensive thing by an inoffensive expression,” or as “the act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive.”

The problem I have with the usage of some euphemisms is that they are often used in an effort to be politically correct. Don’t confuse my dislike of euphemistic language with an overall dislike of political correctness, but “politically correct” could be seen as a euphemism for politeness and sensitivity.

But in euphemisms, I think the effort at sensitivity goes a bit too far.

The problem I have with some euphemisms is that they assume the replaced word to be “harsh, blunt or offensive.” For example, I know somoene who is paraplegic and has been referred to as “differently-abled,” or “handicapable.” She hate these words.

She wonders why people think she'd be offended if someone had referred to me as “paralyzed,” “disabled,” or “handicapped”? These are all the truth, and to me, none seem harsh, blunt or offensive. The inability to use one’s legs is a “handicap.” We also both agree that she is certainly not “differently-abled.” (until, of course, she perfects her so-called telekinetic abilities...that'll be the day Olivia). The only people this euphemism actually applies to are Stephen Hawking and the guy the movie “Rainman” was based on. They certainly are “differently-abled.” But beyond Dr. Hawking and a savant, this term applied far too often.

The use of euphemisms is not only limited to political correctness, but extends to all sectors of our society.
Before World War II, the U.S. “Department of Defense” was known as the “War Department.” “Department of Defense” sounds far less hostile and gives the impression our military will only be used for defensive purposes.

Maybe they should change the name back.

The government likes to use euphemisms to bolster support for certain programs or strategies. Some of our missiles are called “Peacekeeper” and “Patriot” which are both ironic because anything named “Peacekeeper” should hardly be an instrument of war, and the “Patriot” missiles cannot always distinguish between incoming missiles and American planes.

The substitution of a euphemism for a more “harsh” term can sometimes lessen the impact of the term to the point that it loses its intended effect on the reader.
In World War I, soldiers were “shell shocked” by their experiences in battle. By WWII, the same condition became “battle fatigue,” and eventually evolved into “post-traumatic stress disorder” during the Vietnam era.
It seems obvious to me that “shell shock” gets much closer to the heart of the issue than does “post-traumatic stress disorder." As George Carlin said, “Maybe if the term had stayed ‘shell shock’ more of the Vietnam soldiers would’ve gotten the help they needed.”

An examination of euphemisms Americans use can give a fairly accurate portrayal of where our values lie. We are a society that values youth and thus says a person is “moving on in years” or “getting up there,” as opposed to saying the dreadful “O” word.

People in this country don’t get fired, they get “a pink slip” or are "let go". We don’t have unemployed people, we have “displaced workers.” Like either of these euphemisms is going to make you forget you no longer have an income.

Regardless of one’s personal beliefs about the effectiveness of euphemistic language, one element remains true: these words are used as social gloss – words and phrases we use in order to either not address an issue, or pretend there was never an issue to begin with.

I think part of the value of free speech is the ability to be direct in that speech, and not have to fill it with superfluous language.

But then again, when speech is free, words can be cheap, and who am I to tell you how to spend them?
Thursday, April 21, 2005
I'm trying my best to tackle that mountain of a list of things-to-do-while-out-of-school. Some of them I mentioned a couple posts ago. I've also begun to catch up on my reading habit. I've always been an avid reader since I was tiny. I read anything and everything and sped through novel after novel. A lot of the times I read while I was supposed to be sleeping by using a flashlight in my room until I fell asleep with the book in my hand. I read everything from the ever popular Babysitters Club (they were actually good!), a little bit of Sweet Valley High, (though I never got into them like the other girls), RL Stine (remember him??) to less extreme science fiction (best on to date, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle), Roald Dahl, classic literature (Jayne Eyre, Pride and Prejudice) and on and on...

What I never really picked up was non-fiction of any kind, other than what I used for school research. So my new thing is to read biographies. My guilty pleasure is reading celeb gossip...sad (very sad), but true. Though, for the record, I've never bought magazines, I read articles on the internet a lot of the times. So I figured to deter this ill-conceived habit, I'd turn my attention to more influential people than Lindsay Lohan. I've made a list of all the people I've wanted to learn about and plan on reading their biographies. My first is The Autobiogrpahy of Malcolm X, and though I'm only 8 pages in, I'm amazed at his life (or rather, what I've read about so far).

Here's my list of to be read biographies:
Che Guevera
Queen Noor
Pierre Trudeau
Nelson Mandela
Yasser Arafat
Mother Theresa
Martin Luther King Jr
Dalai Lama
Pope John Paul
Albert Einstein

Any other suggestions?
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 I was thinking about getting into family law in the future (since divorce rates seem to be escalating by the minute :S) and figured I could use this as an ad too...:P
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
'C' is for cookie - and calorie count, too?

I thought this article was pretty amusing but sad. It turns out that Sesame Street is now jumping on the band wagon and has begun promoting healthy eating and living habits. Though I'm all for a healthy lifestyle, it's a sad day when the Cookie Monster has to start singing about how cookies are "sometimes" foods and carrot sticks are "everyday" foods. He's the Cookie Monster! The word cookie is embedded in his name so regardless of what he's eating, they can't change what he stands for - cookies!

It's not the cookies that get me worried, it's that kids these days seem to be more and more beyond a parent's control that television shows have reverted to teaching children what is good and bad. I understand that parents are busier these days - pressure adds up from all ends of life and certain things get put on the back burner. But teaching children about healthy living habits seems pretty fundamental to me. I'm not criticizing any parents out there and not being a parent myself, I don't have a right to. But things like diabetes, ADHD, child obesity, and other preventable illnesses have become accepted in our society these days as being inevitable, where really the root of the problem can be stopped before it starts.

Kids will always like junk food over broccoli. That's just an innate feature they come with. My sister will always choose Cheetos over an apple when given the choice, and at the tender age of 6, she really doesn't have her mind on healthy eating. But, we've found that if she sees us eating an apple, carrots etc, or we've explained that oranges are as much of a treat as a lollipop, she seems to cave and go with the healthier choice. Whats better is that when we're eating better, she is quick to imitate.

The "secrets" from the article I thought were hilarious - but I didnt figure out it was made up until I read the one about American Idol (I really thought that Queer Eye... thing was true!). But what if this all comes true?? To be honest I don't think it's that far off. Ever since those two ladies in the US sued McDonald's and other fast food places for being the cause of their obesity, I believe pretty much anything. But what I didn't want to believe was that the Cookie Monster was no longer going to eat cookies. One day Cookie day you'll have all the cookies you want...
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
"In this day and age, when everybody wants to be different, when everybody wants to be a revoluntionary and do some crazy thing that no one has done before, normalcy is a true revolution"

I am not sure where I read or heard that. By normalcy I mean "things that are normal for a person under his/her circumstances". I do realize its a relative term - what may be normal for me may not be normal for anybody else. But, I am just not a big fan of changing things drastically in one's life for the sake of shocking people or because there is a big void in one's life and they want to fill it up with the cheap thrill for the attention they would get by being "different", but mind you, wanting to go skydiving does not come under the latter. I've never wanted attention (period) so this wouldn't be the time to start. The hope of going skydiving is just to experience something different and to step out of the norm that limits my life - I'm not looking to get some sort of epiphany (but always welcome them whenever and wherever).

It's the same reason I'd like to travel the world and learn to do all sorts of things. I want to
learn sign language
become more fluent in French
learn Spanish
learn to drive an standard car and a motorcycle (any volunteers to help?)
take up photography
take up painting
write a book
learn to knit...properly (I've had a 3-inch section I've been working on for like a month)
learn to play the drums (again, volunteers?)
learn to play the piano (messing around with Shoeb's keyboard has got me nowhere)
go rock climbing
work for the UN
be a hospital aid in Africa
find out how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar
learn to skate (!!!!), and
save the world (ok, so this one might get me some attention :P)

I've got lots more to add but it only makes me uneasy because I know I dont have the time to do it all because somewhere along the way I've got to finish law school and so on. Now under some circumstances, one has to break the norms and sometimes you just need to do "different" things to learn more about yourself and experience life in different ways. But at the same time you have to stay within given limits and maintain stability in your life, so how exactly do you keep a balance?

The quote at the beginning doesn't make sense anymore though. If everyone wants to be different, then maybe that is part of our self-exploration journey to want to be different and in the end this quality becomes the norm.

I have no idea how many tangents I've gone off on in this post and whether it makes sense at all....but then maybe I'm just not normal and that's how it's going to be ;)
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Standing in the A&P staring down at the selection of stirred yogort for the 11th straight minute I realize that it's not my indecisiveness that's making me stand there that long, it's that there are too many choices. I ran into the same problem while trying to pick out a shampoo - I think I went back about 2 times to change what I'd picked up. Then in the dairy aisle when trying to select the most health-conscious margarine. But when I finally picked up all my purchases and made it to the check-out counters, I was able to use this idea in a more deeper context. Maybe the reason why we find it harder to be happier and more satisfied these days is because we've got so many more choices to follow and mold our life from.

It's obvious that having some alternatives to a choice is good. But when we're faced with too many options we're either too wrapped up in what we should choose or whether we've made the wrong choice or even how we can do better. Choices we make from a restaurant menu or even in the shampoor aisle (I went with the no nonsense Pert Plus in the end) won't play any major role in how my life turns out, yet with all the different routes I can take it's no wonder why I find myself indecisive all the time. So you can only imagine the extent of my anxiety attacks when I'm faced with a major decision. Fear stricken and dazed I try to do the old pros vs cons bit but usually end up with an equal number of points. Sadly it's the lawyer in me that ends up debating each side and making a good case for both (I'm still trying to figure out if that's good or bad..)!

When narrowed down to more relevant things choices turn out to be more conflicting. If you're searching for a prospective husband or wife, you have many people to choose from - and thanks to online meeting places the choices keep growing. It's sad to say that people have turned into option A, B or C's but it seems that's what it's boiled down to. You compare notes on each person and choose the one you're most compatible with and go with them. If the cons out-number the pros then you move on. But it could be that the very idea of having different alternatives makes us not want to settle down as fast. We keep hoping for someone better or more of our ideal and know in the back of our mind that if one thing doesn't work out, another will.

Choices also seem to make us unsatisfied with what we already have. It's not enough that we have a large screen tv, but now you need a large screen, plasma, slim model t.v. because the boxy screen one just won't cut it anymore. I thought I was doing well enough with my simple mp3 player but now that iPod's are out and "in", I was told that I had to have one and a regular mp3 player wasnt as good. That's just our problem! We're rarely ever satisfied...we always want the next upgrade to our computers, we need to supe up our cars, and get the latest trend in whatever. Once we get that coveted item, we're off gazing at the next. Maybe if we didnt have the endless amount of choice, then we'd be fixated on what we do have and not feel unsatisfied and be more happy. I know that if there weren't a million different shampoo types out there, I wouldnt have the urge to buy 3 different products just to reassure myself that my original choice was the best (I only did that one time...and I figured out which one I like so it was sort of worth it in the end, dont you think? I am not obsessed with shampoo...really). Now I know it's seems silly to apply this rule to things because regardless people will always go after what they dont have. The bigger problem comes in when this rule is applied to people.

No matter how much I realize this, I still can't make a decision to save my life. Ironically, I think if I ever had to actually make a decision to save my life, i.e. if someone held me at gunpoint screaming "your money or your life" I may actually weigh out my options! I mean say his gun wasnt even loaded, or didnt go off...or someone arrived in time to save me and my money or I fought back and he ran away? Then I'd be alive and still with my money...right?

God help me...