Charter schools. They are a bad business model for education. Let’s pretend for a minute that I have no ideological, ethical, or professional investment in keeping education free from the marketplace paradigm. It’s an awfully big suspension of disbelief, true. Let’s pretend that the nation is on the same page about getting our kids an education, and we are deeply honest about looking for solutions to a broken system. In true problem-solving mode, then, everything should go on the table for exploration. That includes evaluating charter schools openly from within its own framework. The argument supporting charter schools depends on the analogy that education isRead More →

“Make it Do” is better than recycling, International Buy Nothing Day, and homemade Christmas presents all put together. Our daily infrastructure makes it so hard to recycle. It’s better not to buy in the first place. The Baton Rouge Recycling Office has an excellent link to the Center for a New American Dream. The Center promotes anti-consumption, with loads of resources about cutting down on trash. The actual link about “reducing junk mail” is buried on the site. Someone at the Recycling Office is very clever. The Center’s clear anti-capitalism message will turn folks away and their junk mail will continue to clog Baton Rouge’sRead More →

This week I received many Facebook messages urging me to tell my friends “where I like it” in my Facebook status. I’ve seen my friends post such mysterious statuses as “I like it on the chandelier” and “I like it on my car seat.” This morning I posted, “I like mine without pinkwashing.” Many people didn’t understand my status or why the meme makes me so angry. I have two simple answers: 1. I hate pinkwashing. 2. This is nothing but Facebook slactivism. Put differently, I do not believe that if I post an “I like it…” status on Facebook, I have done something significantRead More →

In Tampa last week, I saw the movie “Food, Inc.” at the Tampa Theatre.  The film made me feel sick to my stomach. After seeing it, I don’t want to eat anything ever again. Sort of like I don’t want to /buy/ anything ever again. Of course, I -will- eat, and I -will- shop, but I’m guilt-ridden about it. Food, Inc., was produced by Eric Schlosser, of Fast Food Nation fame.  The film is about corporate farming, the food industry, and its effects on animals, humans, and then environment. I learned some harrowing things about the food industry by watching this film. For instance, 1.Read More →

I got to thinking about Sweet Honey in the Rock the other day when I was donating my clothing, and I wrote about the politics of second-hand clothing. In learning about what actually happens to donated clothes, I was left with a sick feeling about my own consumption, and how easily I succumb to buying things. I regularly feel guilty about going to Wal-Mart despite full awareness of why shopping there is so utterly wrong. I haven’t reflected on this problem the way I used to in women’s studies classes — the hopeless, “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” feeling you get when your consciousnessRead More →

Cleaning I’m making good progress on my 40 days/40 steps program for cleaning up my office. For a while, I was on a roll, and so I extended the program to include my bedroom and the rest of the house. In actuality, then, it is more than 40 days and 40 steps. But that’s what I’m calling it and I’m sticking to it! Today, I cleaned out several drawers (which allows me to cross off several steps on the list). I found five pairs of Christmas socks, which I couldn’t wear over Christmas since they disappeared. I was excited. This might sound mundane, but itRead More →

My relationship with money is very strange. I’m constantly comparing myself to other people to see how I’m doing financially, and I’m never satisfied with my status. I live in a shoebox of a little house, I drive a low end car, most of my “stuff” is low end (computer, phones,mp3 player, coffee, groceries, etc.). I’m never happy. I always marvel at how other people can afford SUVs, and private school tuition. According to all the stats I’ve read, we are at the upper end of income in Baton Rouge. I know I don’t live in an exceptionally rich part of town, but I lookRead More →

I liked but didn’t love the movie Wall-E. The message about the environment, consumption, and technology was apparent. It’s a message that a six year old, and maybe even a four year old, would get. But Frank Rich of the NYT waxes rhapsodic about the movie in the context of this year’s political campaign. He writes: One of the great things about art, including popular art, is that it can hit audiences at a profound level beyond words. That includes children. The kids at “Wall-E” were never restless, despite the movie’s often melancholy mood and few belly laughs. They seemed to instinctually understand what “Wall-E”Read More →

Walmart is “going organic.” Wow. Wal-mart is actually breaking into the organic food market. Good or bad? The kid’s organic vegan food is expensive, but Wal-mart is also the devil incarnate. The rub is that Wal-mart violates many of the principles of organic farming. People from the organic foods movement fear that Wal-mart will “greenwash” its products. Also, major food brands are working on developing their own organic products. This is one of those cases where a movement has successfully changed public consciousness, but at great cost to the movement’s principles. Is it a bad thing to want cheaper organic food? From the New YorkRead More →

This article reports about a survey that reveals the biggest time wasters at work. The list is unimportant, but the survey itself suggests that our Protestant work ethic is kicking into hyperdrive. The article recalls something Susan Willis once wrote (at least I think it was Susan Willis) about how academics think of themselves as having it easy because we don’t have to work the way most people do, when actually what we should do is question the Protestant work ethic roots of the U.S. that unfairly demands so much from all workers. Right now it’s spring break and I should be in the UKRead More →