Saturday, June 19, 2010

The World of the Undead

It seems that all you have to do to make something successful these days is add vampires, werewolves and zombies. The whole world seems to be in a Twilight and Everything Zombie craze and while this franchising juggernaut of the world of the undead has been popular in its time, the current trend suggests something more significant happening today.

While the cool factor of the undead remains vibrant with memories of Michael Jackson's Thriller, the success of Thriller was probably another good example of the indulgent, glamourous and fantasy-driven culture of a period where times were good and the sky was the limit for any creative mind. The time of the supermodels, crazy fashions, heavily competing soda pop companies and a consumer culture that was appealing to younger and younger audiences, flush with allowances, there was no sign of economic collapse or the political jadedness which characterizes our current times.

Most popular culture is driven by a desire for the opposite of what's happening in the world. So most depression eras are characterized by super happy carefree forms of entertainment that can be so wholesome and cheesy that it makes people cringe. This is one of the reasons why the Sound of Music was so popular in its time. Think also about the charleston and other frenetic dance crazes. Most people need popular culture to remind them of the things that they would rather think about, rather than the things happening around them.

Good economic times: gritty films with darkness and edge, soul destroying music. Bad economic times: super happy pop tunes and feel good escapist films.

While there is an escapist appeal to the current zombie and vampire craze, there's something else more subtle happening, a desire for something that we seem to be missing.

Take the Twilight example. While there are scores of teens and tweens who are pouring money into this franchise, the majority of the readers appear to be women in between the ages of 20-50. Why are so many women from this mature and generally independent age frame enthralled with a teenage romance?

Most women nowadays are raised to be independent, to go to school longer, be well educated and go out and get the best jobs. They face enormous pressure to be smart, well-dressed, thin, outgoing without being aggressive, ambitious without being calculating, nice without being submissive, serious without being overbearing, and cool without being an asexual frat boy. That's a lot to handle, particularly in a society which is constantly throwing out conflicting images of what ideal women should be like and what their romantic expectations should be. The films directed at women are generally so mean to women that they're borderline misogynistic and those are supposed to be the 'romantic' films that we enjoy. And we aren't kinder to our own kind, either, with women shows literally yelling at us to be better.

To add to all that, romance itself is, by and large, considered dead. Nobody respects it, nobody honours it and nobody seems to value it. The most romantic thing that most women can expect is to have their man bring them a sandwich from the kitchen when he takes his half time sports break to make one for himself. Furthermore, women who do want romance get labeled as 'sappy', 'soft' or just plain stupid, when there's really nothing stupid about wanting to have someone show them some consideration. This doesn't mean that romance has to be flowers and candlelight, because many people are over this.

And yet, there's a part of us deep down that craves romance or expressions of romantic love. But because we're so cynical, self-absorbed and scared to look stupid, we need to fill this void with nonsense like Twilight because it masks itself as literature. We call it escapist and fun, but really, it's filling in a void that society has made for us and has made unacceptable for us to have.

Twilight, for all its silliness, is very romantic. It's the basic, classic love story with a colourful cast of characters that happen to have supernatural powers as well. As if we need to have vampires and werewolves as romantic stand-ins for the men that we don't have. There seems to be something ok with Edward expressing a desire to love Bella until the end of time because he's not a real man, but a vampire man. Give me a break.

Let's face facts, people. We love to love. Love brings meaning to our lives. We can't resist a good love story or an epic tale of unrequited love. We are not too 'smart', 'educated' or 'cool' for it. It's time we started believing in real love again and not Twilight love.

Of course, while it's not really cool for us to love each other, it is socially acceptable for us nowadays to love our things. A lot of ads blatantly try to sell you love by promising that you will fall in love with their products. What kind of backwards society finds it laughable for you to love a person and finds it acceptable for you to love your cell phone?

In the classic Romero Dawn of the Dead film, the last stand of the zombie apocalypse takes place in a shopping mall. This is a deliberate statement to the fact that consumers are very much like the living dead, sleepwalking through life in the pursuit of useless things that ultimately don't matter once the end of the world actually takes place. Ironically, zombie culture has since taken off from its original fringe cool and social commentary to become a billion dollar franchise based on its cynical humour and gore appeal.

But I think that the rise of the zombie culture stems from a deeply embedded saturation with commercialism and superficiality. I think deep down, we're so sick of being told to solve all of our problems by buying things and being solicited everywhere we go, that the appeal of the zombie world is that it's one completely oblivious of things. Furthermore, it gives no value to things. In the zombie world, things are only valuable if they can be used for basic human survival. Food, water, shelter, protection.

I think a lot of us are attracted to these post-apocalyptic images of the world because it's such an uncomplicated world. Yes, it's crude and violent, but it's raw, real and so alive. Nobody sits back in their recliner and contemplates the meaning of their lives, because the meaning is life itself, to live and survive. And all the things that we value or that get in our way in life, money, objects, jobs, position titles, neighbourhoods and houses, do not matter. This crazed world of survival has no race, no gender, no class. And to think that's the world without brains.

We love love because we are loveless in our society. We love the undead because we are soulless in our society. I think our zombie and vampire obsessions are indications that our society is sick, but it's sicker than most people would assume. Especially since the zombies and vampires seem more alive than the rest of us.

Maybe it's time we wake up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canadian Fox News

It appears that Fox-style news is finally making its way to Canada and there are several thoughts that come to mind:

-At last. I was getting tired of thinking and was hoping that someone would do that for me

-Anything that's good for the U.S.A must be good enough for Canada, eh?

-Finally, some competition for Global News as the most ego-centric, silly, trivialized panic-for-nothing broadcast

Fox News. Out of all the things that you could export. It appears that this is the thanks we get for timber and maple syrup. I have to say, though, it does have that distinctly American stamp to it. There are few exports that are so uniquely culturally specific as this.

I've seen Global News on occasion and it currently comes the closest to Fox News, which makes a lot of sense, because it's the most 'American' of Canadian cities. It's big, busy, self important and obsessed with making money. The people are generally blase, not easily impressed and they follow the trends and line up for lattes at one of the hundred Starbucks in the city. They're generally dressed well in expensive clothes that are strategically chosen and love to talk on cell phones.

Toronto, unlike some of the big bad cities out there, is pretty safe. In general, you can walk around and not really be bothered. You might see a photo shoot, a few broadcasts, maybe a film being shot somewhere. But if you watch Global News, you'd think that there's a gang war on every corner. Every night, the focus is around the yellow tape and cop cars and reports of yet another murder with yet another non-white suspect.

Of course, they often forget to add that this murder occurred at some unholy hour like 3 a.m. outside some seedy strip club by gang members who know each other.

But even for the nice typical hard working middle class family, there's a lot of other things to be worried about, right in your home. Hence, the painfully long segments devoted to the amount of lead that's contained in toys from China, and then reports of the general evil of China and the fact that the Axis of Evil, as they're famously known, are still 'out there.' There's always some enemy lurking in the shadows with a leery eye and a tinny laugh.

And now that Fox style news is making its way to Canada, we're going to have a lot more enemies lurking in the dark. There's nothing to fear, after all, but fear itself.

It appears that this alternate model of news is being introduced because the current Canadian news is condescending and boring. Condescending, of course, being another word for informed. And we all know how much we hate wordiness when it comes to getting information. We'd rather have our news come towards us with big words like when we see an ad for a blockbuster film or a sale at the Brick. Rock music and cheerleaders would also be cool. And maybe some special effects, so I know which news is REALLY important and which ones are just so-so important for me to know.

And they should cover celebrity news, too. There's not enough of that, either.

Hang on to your tuques, Canada. We're about to have news-tainment.

Jesus has been Smote?

Check out this news clip:

MONROE, Ohio - A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said.

The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.

The sculpture, 62 feet (nearly 19 metres) tall and 40 feet (12 metres) wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signalling a touchdown in a game of football.

It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.

The fire spread from the statue to an adjacent amphitheatre but was confined to the attic area, and no one was injured, police Chief Mark Neu said.

Travellers on Interstate 75 often were startled to come upon the huge statue by the roadside, but many said America needs more symbols like it. So many people stopped at the church campus that church officials had to build a walkway to accommodate them.

The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.

(end of article)

Wow. Jesus has been smote. And not just broken, but struck by lightning. Wasn't that God's way of punishing people or symbolic of some sort of bad omen of things to come? It's ironic that not only did this statue break, but that it was broken in this way. Perhaps a football-loving Jesus wasn't exactly the image that God wanted for his only son?

Leaving aside all of the possible plague implications and the fact that it's unclear what Jesus could have done to deserve to be smote in such a fashion, the note about the statue's origins are also interesting. What kind of nondenominational church workships Jesus? And is Bishop really this guy's name? It doesn't sound religion neutral to have a guy named Bishop from a church create and finance a large lifelike statue of Jesus.

It is admirable in some ways that this couple took it upon themselves to create a symbol to inspire and give hope to people. And it's a shame that their symbol's broken now. At the very least, the presence of their statue probably did get a lot of people talking and thinking about Jesus, maybe more as a figure of what we should try to be like rather than a religious sign. It's got to be better than all the cigarette billboards that you see on the interstate in the U.S. We should all think more and smoke less.

This statue will probably be repaired and reinstated in its place of honour, since it was touched a lot of people and the U.S. likes their Jesus. Hopefully, it will all be done in time for the next Superbowl Sunday.

Friday, June 11, 2010

O Scandinavia

Canada is a great country in many ways, but it could be greater. What a Canadian thing to say, so modest and so nice, shyly acknowledging that we kick butt, but admitting that we're not perfect and like a lot of people, we could use improvement.

Canada generally looks great because it's compared to its neighbours in the South, being the US and Mexico. But while it's easy for us to be great on our own continent, we should take a long good look at some other happier countries and see how good we are then.

One look at the happiest countries to live in will show you that Denmark, Sweden and Norway have us beat. Their high tax rate is balanced by a high satisfaction rate with social services and free education. Their sense of civic duty is solid at a higher than 90% voter turnout for their elections. And although Canada is a pretty accepting group of people, we're light years away from the openness of these countries to their gay and lesbian communities.

That's a lot of clear thinking from a country that gets very little sunshine.

On the other hand, Canada is plagued with a crippled health system, voter apathy, sky high university tuition rates and a re-opened debate on abortion and same-sex marriages that many of us considered closed. Taxpayer's money is regularly mismanaged by frivolity or corruption and infighting from Canada's political parties have made the government ineffectual.

The concept is pretty simple: if a government takes care of its people, its people will be interested in government and not mind paying high taxes because their standard of living is vastly improved by the things that the government provides. If the government benefits from a good amount of tax dollars that are responsibly managed to improve the quality of lives for their citizens, they will be entrusted to keep governing. Everyone stays happy for a long time.

This doesn't mean that a socialist economy works everywhere. Offering too many services can backfire if the tax base fails to keep up with the peoples' demands. Such is the case with France, where abuse of services is rampant and unemployment rates are high. As well, too much state intervention can lead to dependence and a weak economy. And businesses must be able to thrive, even within a socialist context.

But you only need to look at Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden to know that this is all possible with the right balance. Sure, these countries do have their own problems and may lack the glitz and glamour of a rich elite who drive ridiculous cars. But they're a remarkable success story of how social responsibility can ultimately lead to a happy state.

Sun Storm

As if you didn't have enough to fear in the world, it turns out that the sun may be gaining strength to unleash sun storms, the likes of which would devastate the planet more than Hurricane Katrina. Reports from meteorologists, space scientists and satellite specialists indicate that the sun could unleash an attack that may knock out our satellites in space and disrupt the earth's ionosphere to the point where it would trigger harsh reactions in our weather patterns leading to natural disasters.

So if you follow the news, not only do we have to beware of other people who may be terrorists, climate change which is taking out glaciers and wildlife, but we also have to fear space. And not in the form of alien invasions, but in the form of the sun itself.

But let's not forget all of the satellites out in space that we're using to communicate and entertain ourselves. They're one of the primary targets of the sun and are likely to cause more than just static disruptions on earth should this kind of disaster strike. So now you have to add your electronics to the list of things that you should fear right now.

There's no clear indication as to how this disaster will unfold or what the warning signs will be, but my guess is that if your PVR decides to suddenly make toast and your toaster starts to boss you around, well, maybe it's time to start unplugging a few things around the house.

All of the threats to life on earth, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, reminds you of how fragile our earth really is and how tenuous our existence on it is. We've been earth's tenants for millions of years, but the planet has had many other species come before us and who's to say it won't have more after us? Many scientists have predicted that despite all the damage that we've done to the earth, it will continue to exist without us, just as a vast wasteland, another rock in the Cosmos. We would do well to remember that when making decisions for the future.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Let the Taxpayer Buyer Beware

It's one thing to buy something stupid. It's an entirely different thing to buy something stupid with someone else's money.

We all have our weak moments when we buy something that is entirely unnecessary or we get sucked into thinking that we need something that we will cleary never use or we just simply make a bad purchase that doesn't fit our needs or lifestyle. We all make mistakes. Look at the Slap Chop and the Sham Wow. I'm sure some of us have been bedazzled by the fast-talking demonstrators on speed and ended up convinced after 20 minutes that our lives will never be the same once we have the said product. It happens and it's entirely forgiveable.

But let's say that your spouse, child or close friend gets a hold of your credit card one day and then goes out and buys something ridiculous for themselves (oh, and you can use it too). Most of us would be pretty upset.

So why is it that the government doesn't understand why taxpayers are upset that their dollars have gone towards the funding of a fake lake for the G20 summit? Surely, just like the Slap Chop that is bought with our money against our will by some well meaning friend or other, we should be able to forgive this and move on. Except for the fact that the purpose of the Slap Chop is to chop food without using a knife or a food processor, and the purpose of the fake lake is to promote tourism and create a good photo opportunity.

Wait, what? Don't we promote tourism with videos, photos and commercials where people sing about Ontario? How does a fake lake promote our country? We're not exactly a nation rich in the fake lake industry. We have real lakes for that. So what are we building some fake replica for?

Apparently, the government wants people to capture the "feeling" of cottage country with a fake lake. Can't we just give them a cold beer and spray them with the hose?

And then there's the photo opportunity. Of course, because people want to take photos in front of something which is fake and pretty which is why they hire buxom blondes to show up for just about every event in LA. That makes sense. But wouldn't it have been cheaper to just pay the blondes to show up? How much could they have cost? Surely less than the price tag on a fake lake.

And while we're on the topic of a photo opportunity, why not choose a site in Toronto where the G20 Summit will be held? We know that Toronto isn't exactly the prettiest place in Canada, but surely there's at least one site where a photo opportunity for a bunch of world leaders will still look pretty?

Then there's the cost issue again. Original estimates put the lake at $1.9 million. The government has since lashed back, stating that it, in fact, only cost about $50,000 or so and that $1.9 million was the total cost of building this cottage country pavillion. Wow.

So that's like finding out that someone in your life took your money to implant fake boobs for a photo opportunity to look pretty and then have them defend themselves by saying it only cost $25,000 per boob and not the original $100,000 price tag you thought that they had shelled out to make themselves beautiful, and that, as a matter of fact, the $100,000 went into the whole package, meaning it also paid for their spa time and wardrobe.

So I would like to conclude this post by saying that every politician's significant other and their children should do just that. They should grab their credit card and get a bunch of costly, useless aethetic services and then claim that it was beneficial for all and not as expensive as they thought. I'm sure that they will come home and be livid; and they will know how the rest of us feel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Desperate Want to Be Housewife

Read the following tidbit on a woman from Ohio:

ALLIANCE, Ohio - An Ohio woman spent three days in jail for calling the police emergency line five times seeking a husband.

The dispatcher was flabbergasted by the requests and asked Audrey Scott, of Alliance, "You need to get a husband?" The 57-year-old Scott responded, "Yes."

Told that she could face arrest for misusing the emergency call line, Scott responded, "Let's do it."

Scott was convicted last week of improper use of the emergency system and was sentenced to the three days in jail, which she had already served since her arrest, according to The Review newspaper. Seven other days were suspended if she stays out of trouble for a year.

After her release, Scott blamed the case on alcohol. There is no phone listing for Scott, who could not be reached for additional comment Wednesday.

Of course the woman blamed the case on alcohol. Who in their right mind would admit to doing this kind of thing sober? It sets the stage perfectly. You get this lonely Ohio woman, sitting at home, downing a bottle of something or other, listening to country love songs and having those fanciful firefighter daydreams and OF COURSE the ONLY logical outcome of this scenario is to call 9-1-1 for a husband.

And not only did she call once, she called 5 TIMES. Because persistence is the true key to getting what you want out of life, so when the first 4 dispatchers hung up, she knew that it was just a matter of time before one compassionate person who understands what it's like to be a lonely woman at home downing a bottle of something or other feels like when their firefighter dreams take over and true desperation sinks in.

Granted, this woman is no spring chicken. Lots of states across the US dictate that you're done at 30, and in some polygamous states, you're actually peaked at 14. So it is somewhat understandable that she considered this to be an emergency. There are even stats out there that show that a woman over 30 has less chance of getting married than she does of getting hit by lightning. But 30 is the new 20, so I guess we can bump this up to 40. Still, that puts her 17 years over the line and I guess I would be getting pretty upset too by that time.

Let's put aside the fact that calling 9-1-1 is a disturbance, a felony, and prevents emergency assistance to those who are in actual dire need. This is obviously still a cry for help and as a society, I think we are responsible to help this person out. Maybe there are some girl guides out there who need their helping someone badge and they can all truck over to her house to do the following good social deeds:

-give her a makeover- My knowledge of most American social problems all boil down to the fact that everyone really needs a makeover and that this is the solution to most of America's ills. A haircut, some colour, nails, waxing and a soul-satisfying cleansing should do it. Then a trip to the mall for some new clothes and a whole brand new you for just $999.

-set up her E-Harmony account. Look at how freaking happy Joshua and Tanya Lee are. They're all kissy, hugging each other and looking dreamily into each other's eyes as they talk about their first date and owning the store together and how the site did all the work for them and got it so right. After 5 hours of compatability tests, the right one has to come out. It just HAS to. 5 hours of testing can't be wrong.

-buy her a firefighter calendar. These things are usually for charity, so you can't possibly argue with that! This way, instead of dialing 9-1-1 and bothering dispatchers, she can just flip to February and look at that for awhile. That would go perfect with a bottle of something.

Yes, we all get sad, lonely, drunk and sometimes we drunk dial exes out of a sense of desperation. We all have our moments. But we have to keep things in relativity and know that being unmarried and older does not make us less of a person. Too bad that society doesn't seem to think the same way.

Come Together Right Now

The World Cup, like the Olympics, is another example of how peace is possible for human beings. Sure, they're also huge opportunities to make money and promote multi million dollar athletes who hardly need more promotion, but there are huge positive aspects of this month long tournament that comes around every 4 years and they're not just for soccer. They're for everyone.

On the one hand, it inspires. Soccer is one of those democratic sports where almost anyone can get involved, as long as they have a ball, some shoes and a few friends. It gives people dreams and teaches them about practice, discipline, hard work and athleticism. On the other hand, it brings people together to enjoy the spirit of competition, leaving aside bad feelings, history and bias for at least a brief period of time.

Bringing people together to enjoy the beautiful game is part of what makes it beautiful. It's great to see countries come together for something which isn't a crisis. The joy of the game and the pride of the nation really come out, and soccer riots aside, it's a healthy expression of those feelings. It's great to see people cheering, dancing, chanting and rocking out stadiums. You know how people always talk about how people only get together for weddings and funerals? We only ever mourn or celebrate together when it matters and celebrating is always better.

It's a shame for us Canadians that we aren't represented in the World Cup because of our poor showing in the sport. At least our grass will be in South Africa. And we'll cheer on our favourites, either because they're our ancestors off the boat or because of international superstars who we love to look at. And like we needed another excuse to grab a beer and celebrate?

England and Spain are heavy favourites going into this World Cup. Italy will be defending its title, but even though they should cruise through their group, there's no promise that they'll make it much farther than that. There may yet be some spoilers as well in this tournament, with Cote d'Ivoire getting its star player back, Greece may have another miracle in them and it would be mauvais to count out the French.

Now if we could just all learn the Diksi dance in time...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Koreas

I don't understand anything about the two Koreas. Sure, I know a bit about the history, I was born on the Southern side somewhere, I've seen a few films and documentaries and have a pretty good handle on its delicious food. But I don't understand it.

Korea is one of those smaller Asian nations that throughout history has had a tendency to be swallowed up and taken over by various larger Asian nations, such as Japan. The Japanese influence in Korea is probably the most lasting of these, and you can see traces of it in their food and some crossovers with names. But don't tell this to a truly Korean or a truly Japanese person, because they will likely both want to kill you.

Korea's history of outside oppression seemingly caused a fracture between the North and the South, where, in a strange reversal of most Southern-Northern rivalries, the North opted for a conservative government based on a highly agrarian economy and the South opted for a more liberal government based on a highly Western based free market economy. Traditionally, the South sides opt for the conservative model, but since Asia is technically the other end of the world, we can expect it to work the other way around.

South Korea has embraced its Western stance to the point of knowing pop culture better than they know their Northern neighbours who share the same continent with them. Their hearts and their minds are a whole world away in North America, despite the fact that they are generally 10 years behind. They say that if you go to Seoul, you will see more white people on billboards than exotic Asians. That's kind of sad, but it's definitely a mark of where their loyalty lies.

North Korea has embraced a Cold War communist era stance where everyone who is not them is the enemy and everything that goes wrong in their society is conveniently not their fault, but the fault of the enemy who is constantly at the gates of the Northern Korean Republic. This would generally be ok. Most people would let go of the fact that the state is run on a paranoid system of blame and propaganda, if it weren't for the fact that (a) they're killing their own people by making them live in a destitute state where they're cut off from the rest of the world and (b) we think that they have nukes.

Since the North is generally ignored in the global marketplace and has only ever had worldwide press when they were part of the infamous Bush-era named Axis of Evil, it's getting attention in the only way that it knows how: by beating on its Southern counterpart.

When the two Koreas fought in a war that divided the country to what we see today, it never actually signed an armistice, so technically, it's still at war. There are bases lined up near the frontiers where propaganda still plays over loud speakers and anyone who tries to cross the line from one to the other is shot dead. As such, the armies on both sides are ready to go to war again if they have to. And it looks like they're headed in that direction, with the North running out of options.

The North has no real economy to speak of and plays such a minor role within the global marketplace that it has to do something to make it relevant and generate some form of revenue for itself. So it's doing that in the worst possible way: by causing trouble and making an international incident. It's going to provoke, attack and goad the rest of the world into fighting it. Why? Because war is a major economic engine and it will help boost their productivity, distract their people from the deplorable conditions in which they currently live, give the current regime something to do and make sure that the world knows that they're alive and kicking, even if it's just kicking everyone in the shins.

And then if the world wants to take the high road and ignore them? There's always the good old-fashioned threat of a nuclear warhead for that.

You see, I don't understand anything about this. I don't understand why a country which has been beat up for so long under the thumbs of everyone else within their continent over hundreds of years, would want to fight themselves. I don't understand why the shared history of oppression didn't bring these two sides together. Haven't the people suffered enough? Aren't they tired of always having to fight all of the time? Wouldn't they be stronger together if they reunited and created a strong country that took care of its people and reminded their people to be proud for having survived cultural genocide?

You'd think so. You'd hope so.

At least I do.

But I don't really understand.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mental Health Is A Public Safety Issue

Every day in the news, there's always someone going on a rampage, a shooting spree, or randomly attacking people with knives, machetes, bows and arrows, hammers, or syringes. These attacks are happening everywhere, in China, in Britain, even in Ottawa and there's generally one line in the story which admits that the person is unbalanced, undiagnosed, or a person suffering from a disorder who may not be taking their medication.

It's horrific. You have no idea who may be suffering from a condition and what might make them crack, if anything. It's not something you can predict, control or prevent. Much like terrorism, this isn't something that you can know with any certainty who is going to go from muttered threat to terrible action.

I think that mental health is a public safety issue. We're always talking about religious fanatics and extremists taking up arms for causes. What about those people who have no cause? What about those people who need treatment and can't seem to get it? Instead of putting in place lots of unnecessary safety measures that make it impossible for us to bring cream on board planes, maybe we should be focusing on a much bigger problem and prioritize mental health issues and appropriate facilities and treatment. Just a thought.

We need to start taking better care of people. We need to recognize their needs and work on getting proper diagnosis and treatment for people. And not just for our safety, but for themselves and to improve the quality of their lives. How can anyone feel good about themselves when they're in such a detached state that they would rather attack school children with a hammer rather than live a free and balanced life?

I think we need to make this issue a priority and focus on dealing with mental health issues with proper funding for research and training, as well as infrastructure to support treatment facilities across the country. More important than the foreign wars which are draining our ressources, I think we need to focus on what could become the wars at home if this problem remains undiagnosed and we start to see people hacked to pieces while going about their daily business.

Don't forget the Greyhound beheading. Better early intervention and treatment could have prevented such a tragedy from unfolding. And it's fair to say that most of us don't ever want to see something like that happen again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Good Cause, Bad Coffee

Today's Tim Horton's Camp Day, which is a really good cause, so I encourage everyone to go out there and buy some bad coffee. All of the proceeds go to support sending kids to camp and this can be a really positive thing for kids who may otherwise not get the chance to go or get into trouble otherwise.

The coffee is below the calibre of real coffee served elsewhere which shall remain nameless, but unlike the other coffee places, it does charity right. Other organizations will donate to causes, but they will generally donate 10 cents from every purchase, which is better than nothing, but not by much. These companies could be shelling out more, since a day's worth of business won't hurt their bottom line that much and will create a lot of great PR to boot.

It's always a bit hypocritical of companies to do something for charity and then reveal that they're only giving a token to the cause. The Body Shop has also been guilty of this exercise in the past, waving big posters that support causes and only outline in very fine print that they're giving up 10%.

Everyone likes to feel good about the things that they buy because it's a really simple way to make a difference which doesn't ask us for a lot. We don't have to give up our time, our energy or a big cheque. That's why we try to go green at stores and buy their line of energy savings non carbon foot printing products and those reusable bags. We can also feel really socially responsible by associating ourselves with the stores that associate themselves with awareness, aid and eco-friendly living. It's all good and it's all win.

But when it comes to charity, companies can afford to be a little more generous and do things like Camp Day. Either go big or go home. We need more causes like this and we need more companies willing to give 100%. It makes us all want to do a little more and can only spread from there.