Category Archives: Zeitgeist

The one-person revolution

Whenever people talk about social change beginning at home in the U.S., it generally begins with recycling – something you can make part of your daily life that is good for the planet. The effectiveness of this has been hotly debated (I like Cecil Adams’ take on it), but it remains widely embraced as one way to to at least reduce the beating the environment is taking.

For the more personally committed, organic food and hybrid cars were the next step in living responsibly. I was amazed enough that finding organic baby food was simply never a problem – when I saw Organic Rice Krispies at my mother-in-law’s house, I realized how mainstream this message had become. (If you’ve watched The Future of Food, obvious consumer demand for organic food does feel like a victory.)

Then yesterday, I read this: Vegetarian is the new Prius, and I wondered how far I can take things. Ever since my pregnancy, I have tried to buy more meats that promised no use of antibiotics, free range chicken, organic milk and greater use of soy as a protein. I’m not al that structured about it. I buy cheaper butter, my nearby grocery stores do not always carry the eco-friendlier choices and sometimes organic products are just really damn expensive. I figured as long as I was making some effort, it was better for my body and the earth. Now I’m seriously wondering if what I’m doing is enough.

And while we’re at it, in the spirit of movies like Blood Diamond and steaming cup of fair trade coffee here’s a story about products to avoid because of the violence and exploitation they foster.

VH1 is also airing a documentary that looks really interesting this week: Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds and Hip Hop.

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Conservative babies

Well here is an interesting read. Apparently it is the second study to report that insecure toddlers and children who feel the world is out to get them are more likely to grow up to be conservative adults who are “uncomfortable with ambiguity.”

If you look at the way Republicans spin their identity and agenda in the media, this is a natural. I’m consistently amazed at how well they make themselves look like the underdog, no matter how much power they wield. I find it dishonest and irritating, especially when I see otherwise thoughtful people buy into the seemingly endless Republican persecution complex. We live in increasingly weird times, when journalistic attempts to hold public officials accountable for their actions are written off as “liberal” and “personal attacks.” In a time when the balance of power has allegedly been tipped by Christianity, it seems like honesty is the last thing our culture values.

What’s interesting to me is how an article like this will be discussed in exactly that prism, without any service to the gray areas, because we are living in conservative times. Plenty of people who would never pull a lever for a Republican don’t even seem to see this. I know some who are as politically left as left can be who still use terms like “politically correct” even though that’s been one of the best operating tools for Republicans for about 15 years. I know people who appear to think that repeating the mantras of Fox News pundits and conservative radio hosts makes them an independent thinker.

The oddest thing is that the behavioral definition of liberal in this article implies that a child has the confidence to be independent, question things, and not take it personally if they are questioned. Those are qualities I would want my child to possess. Aren’t they the qualities most people would say they want in a leader?

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Daddy mogul, baby critic

Daddy mogul
Originally uploaded by tzt.

Due to his father’s strange adventure on the Judge Judy show and a visit to my father’s house for Thanksgiving, Declan has made his way to Los Angeles and Manhattan at the grand old age of six months.

He’s wandered through the Getty Center, MOMA and even The Aldrich in Connecticut.

Suffice to say, he has an appreciation for minimalist and abstract painting that his father and I may never develop.

He shrieks with joy when he sees bright orange or yellow.

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Hey, it’s “for women”

Since we’re on the subject of “Unsolved Mysteries,” here’s a question I’ve pondered for years now:

Why is that show always always on Lifetime, the alleged “TV for women.” According to the network’s schedule, reenactments and stories about women disappearing into the night after their cars break down on freeways or as they lay peacefully in their beds merits two hours of its daily schedule.

I have never understood why so much of “women’s” programming is centered around tales of random acts of violence, infidelity, injustice and thievery. Mind you, while some of Lifetime’s movies are cheese-filled homages to real-life women who have overcome obstacles, there are plenty where the women simply don’t survive, or we just watch them getting repeatedly brutalized by men, the justice system or cultural circumstance. It’s like one long PG-rated snuff film, shot entirely in soft-focus with a cast clad in angora sweaters, pink blush and hair scrunchies.

When I saw an ad promoting “Betrayal Weekend on Lifetime” several years ago, I knew that the network, functioning behind the wispy veil of consciousness-raising, had completely run amok.

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When he could be killed

We were channel surfing a couple of days ago, when we stumbled upon People Magazine‘s newly-named sexiest man alive in one of his earliest roles.

Lo and behold, there was a very young Matthew McConaughey, being ruthlessly shot by some crazed maniac in a dramatic reenactment on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. I doubt we’ll see another death scene from him for a while.

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Where are the saints?

So, I wanted to write about things like the ways people inadvertently insult new parents, Declan’s first experience in a swimming pool and the beauty of news fasting this week, but I’ve been unable to pull myself from the news about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Not to mention thoroughly disgusted with the leadership of this country and the callousness of many of its citizens. If I hear one more person say that criticizing the elected leader of the country’s impotent response to this horrible disaster is nothing more than “hatred,” my head might explode….

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In a funk

Declan’s been having yet another little growth spurt this week, demanding food pretty much constantly. The bigger he gets, the harder it is to breastfeed while typing. At nearly 15 weeks, he’s almost doubled his birth weight. (And yes, this is one of those facts that’s really only meaningful to fellow moms and doctors.)

All things seemed strangely equal at mom and baby yoga yesterday. Whatever each woman’s political ideology, everyone was excited when one of the babies rolled over by himself for the first time during the class.

Afterwards, on my way to lunch, there was a car accident right in front of me. It happened while I was sitting at a stoplight. One car just slammed into the side of the other, but neither driver was hurt. What are cars made of these days? I was maybe 25 feet from the collision, and it barely made a sound.

And I can’t stop watching the coverage of New Orleans. When things didn’t seem quite so awful late Monday, I thought about how resilient the city seemed to be when I spent time there a few years ago, and how willing it’s always been to cope with dark times by embracing them. But this is just sickening and tragic – there are no words.

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Antithetical Asanas

I always thought that post-college life was like a second adolescence because, for the first time, you no longer have a ready-made social environment. For some people, the workplace becomes the primary source of new friendships, but it seems that jobs so rarely reflect a person’s passions or conscience. And since I’ve spent more than half of my career as a freelance writer, working out of the house, that hasn’t really been an option for me anyway.

After many years where I’ve taken trips to bookstore cafés during the day just to have some human contact, I thought one of the fringe benefits of having a baby would be the opportunity to meet other new moms. To some degree, that seems to be true, and it’s particularly exciting that there are now so many others in their 30s.

But then I went out to lunch with some women from a mom and baby yoga class the other day and was reminded how different mothers can be. One of the moms in the group mentioned that she had quit her job at one of those fake pregnancy crisis centers when her baby was born. It’s one thing to be pro-life, another to work in a place that purposefully deceives and emotionally manipulates young women. I sat there quietly and nodding dumbly, wondering how she might react if she knew that I started doing pro-choice work when I was about 16 years old. I even had a work-study job as a student organizer for reproductive rights in college.

Maybe I did visibly shudder at her revelation, which could be why she then explained that she was an abstinence educator. I was raised by a woman who was once the president of a Planned Parenthood chapter, so this didn’t strike me as a particularly more ethical line of work.

Did I miss an opportunity for dialogue and learning by keeping my mouth shut, or did I manage to duck a confrontation?

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