Category Archives: Economics

Obsessions : Kantha (Part 3)

I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for more Kantha, after writing about it in my 2 previous posts. 

Online searches through Google and Pinterest will produce thousands of visual examples of this beguiling artform. But where can I buy my own Kantha quilt, I hear you say.

EBay and Etsy are good places to start. But if it’s ethical or collaborative businesses you’re looking for, where you know the company is paying a fair wage to the Indian women who sew these beautiful cloths, and that the money is being used to help preserve the tradition and make the lives of those women better, or better the lives of the entire village, then your search should include words such as “faif trade”, “ethical”, “artisans”, “sustainable”, “collaborative”, “collective”. 

Exploitation of anyone, for their skills and expertise, in the name of profit and greed, is to be avoided at all costs. 

Here are just a handful of online businesses I’ve found, that appear to meet the criteria. I am in no way affiliated with them, nor am I endorsing them, and I cannot vouch for their ethical claims. They are simply what I’ve found on the Internet. There are many others out there like these, if you care to search for yourself.

Bowerhouse

Connected Goods

Kantha Collection

Shop Dignify

Hand & Cloth

When thinking about my next Adventure in Sewing, I love the idea of restricting myself to using only the running stitch. And also the idea of upcycling vintage or preloved bedlinen/tablecloths/pillowcases/etc into scarves or wraps, thereby giving them a new lease of life.

Before I go, just a few more examples of beautiful Kantha embroidery, (from Pinterest, of course).

I am a Post-Consumerist

…as in, I no longer Consume indiscriminately, for the heck of it, or because Advertising makes things too attractive to say No to. No, I do not need a new iPhone 7, though I suspect I’m very much in the minority here. 

Yes, I’ve learnt my lesson. I used to buy Stuff because it was cool. I mean, everyone else was doing it too. I bought into The Consumerist Dream. I saved up for that holiday, and then spent the rest of the year paying back the credit card bill. I was a real sheeple and did not realise it until much, much later. It takes great misfortune and near bankruptcy for the scales to fall off one’s eyes. 

These days, I buy food to feed my fine furry, feathered and finned friends, because they can’t do it thrmselves. I don’t go on shopping sprees buying fashionable clothes – I simply don’t have the means. My clothes come from thrift stores, or I make them myself. I still have too many pairs of shoes that I don’t wear, a harkback to my days of wanton waste – those shoes will be rounded up soon and destined for the thrift stores for recycling. Yes, I still buy too many books and have not enough shelves. 

These days, I buy things that have the potential to be turned into other things, or which can be used in conjunction with others to produce something different and useful. I’ve learnt to be more discerning as a consumer, and hopefully more discerning about supporting the major conglomerates that control consumables. 

And here’s what I would like you to learn too:

We have been lied to all our lives. We are constantly being bombarded by images, products, stuff we Have to buy to make us thinner, prettier, fitter. Lies, all lies and meant to turn us into automatic consumers who literally BUY into the whole idea of Money making the world go round.

We have been brainwashed into forgetting our true Humanity. We have turned Money into our God and are so consumed by its pursuit that when we have no Money, we panic and start clutching at straws, like a drowning man. In Society’s eyes, No Money = No Status = No Voice. Nobody gives a shit what you think or say if you have no Money. But, if you have billions of $$$$$ then suddenly you’re a presidential candidate and people love you. 

Funny old world, this. 

Here are a couple of images showing just how screwed up our priorities are nowadays:

Still not convinced? 

The Cannabis Game

I don’t normally read women’s magazines, but recently I was having a coffee and cake at a local café, and as I’d already read the day’s papers, I decided to flick through the Marie Claire magazine lying on my table. 

It was the July 2016 issue, hardly new. As I riffled through the pages filled with ads for perfume, handbags, shoes and make up, I was suddenly very pleasantly surprised by these (photos follow, please zoom in to read the text):

Worth a read, and I hope you Did read those pages. I’m not sure why Marie Claire decided to publish this article, because of its contentious and illegal (in some countries) content, but my guess is they wanted to write about women succeeding in the business world, and the subject took a backseat. I’m a firm supporter of freeing the weed for medicinal purposes, more than for recreational purposes, but I’ll also support whatever it takes to Free the Weed. 

Here’s a close up of one particular paragraph that struck a chord in me. Jack had wanted give a talk in his class about growing Hemp as a sustainable crop, but his blinkered teacher said “No, you can’t talk about Hemp as a sustainable crop! It’s silly, and everyone will laugh at you”. 

Well, who’s laughing now?

Dog Enrichment Toys

Since I’ve recently become responsible for providing Enrichment Toys to some of our more needy dogs at the Refuge, I seem to have developed an interest in researching different types of Enrichment Toys for dogs.

Enrichment Toys for dogs, cats and other pets come in different styles and levels of “difficulty”. I use the term “difficult” very loosely, because really it’s not fair to compare a dog’s ability to a human’s. Dogs lack opposable thumbs, for one, and only have their snouts, mouth and paws with which to open or close anything. Whereas we as adult humans would think nothing about twisting the top off a jar of pasta sauce, or using a peeler to peel carrots.

So, what “difficult” means for dogs in the context of Enrichment Toys would be more akin to “How long does it take the dog to figure it out?” As in, how quickly can Rex learn to push the treat dispenser in such a way that the kibble within falls out so he can eat it. Or, can Rex figure out how to use his nose and tongue to push the treat along the maze until it emerges so he can gobble it up.

There are many, many different types of Enrichment Toys, also known as Puzzle Toys, Slow Feeders, Activity Toys, Boredom Busters, Enrichment Dispensers etc. Some are very simple, consisting of one piece only, such as the ubiquitous Kong:

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(Image: Google Images)

Others are complex and contain many different parts, and require the dog to stand on levers to release the treat. There’s even an ambitious one that works using centrifugal force…you put kibble in the middle of the flying-saucer shaped dispenser, and when the dog nudges or rattles it around, the kibble within spin out. An example is shown below, designed by a Swedish woman named Nina Ottoson. You can read about Nina’s personal story here, and check out her many products for “activating” pets (her own term for it) here.

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(Image : Google Images)

You only have to Google “dog enrichment toy”, or “dog activity toy” to find hundreds of examples of both manufactured and homemade DIY versions of such toys.

At the Refuge recently, we had 2 of these funky flying-saucer treat dispensers. One was given to a dog named Wolfie, whose technique was to chew on it. I tried the other out with a greyhound named Pi, and he amazed me by thinking outside the box. Instead of nudging the dispenser around, like I was expecting him to, Pi’s technique involved stamping down on the side of the flying-saucer disk, and making it flip over and over, so the kibble dribbled out. Clever Pi!

Quotes on Why We Need Art

Yesterday I wrote about why we need Art, especially in this mad new world of ours, where Money is God.

As I did my online research, I discovered many quotes on why we make Art, and why Art is important to us all. So today I thought to myself, why waste a good opportunity to share those quotes here with yourself.

(The following images are curated from Google Images):

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What would You do?

What, oh what would You do, if you won the US Powerball?

Punters in Australia got all hot under the collar when they discovered they were able to purchase tickets online for the supermassive US Powerball, for a chance to win AU$2.15 BILLION (US$1.5 BILLION).That’s the amount at the time of writing, it would’ve gone up by a helluva lot more by the time you read this. Also, by the time you read it, someone, or quite a few someones, would be millionnaires.

And before you ask, Yes, the Powerball was open to Australians. (Yes, sadly the draw is over now) Tickets could be purchased through a third party company called Lottoland. So maybe we’ll see some winners on this side of the pond? I hope so!

http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/wealth/record-us15-billion-powerball-draw-now-open-to-australian-punters/news-story/721f7559c04f39ccd61787fcc80dc303

My question to you is not How Much you think you’ll win, but What you’re going to do with your windfall.

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I’ll tell you my plans. They’re very simple, really. Let’s say I had a “modest” win of $30 million after taxes. Now, what would I do with all that cash?

Here’s what:
1) Split the winnings equally between myself and my ex. We are after a technically still married on paper, and he has been financially supporting my son and I, so it would only be fair to share my winnings with him. By the way, if anyone is jumping up and down yelling “But you used HIS money to buy the ticket, so technically it’s HIS win and it’s up to him whether he gives you anything or not”…actually, I used my old UK card that’s attached to my UK bank account, so technically I used MY own money, so it’s up to ME whether I give him anything or not. 😄

2) Then my ex and I can finally afford to go separate ways. I know he would love to visit his many Filipina girlfriends in their country. He’ll be hardpressed deciding which one of them loves him the most and is deserving of sharing his newfound wealth. And for sure he’ll be setting up his own music studio, so he can spend all his time making the electronic music he so loves. Maybe he’ll even hook back up with that American Cougar from 2013-2014, she’d love to share studio time with him. Oh, I’m not bitter about it, I’m actually merely stating facts. I’ll buy the ex out of the house, and pay off all our joint debts. And I’ll continue living in the property, after updating it (the electrics are as old as me!).

3) Once all that’s out of the way, I should have about $15 million left. I’ll put $10 million into several managed funds for Jack, that he can access only once he’s turned 21. Meanwhile, he will only have access to the interest accummulated from only one account. That will take care of Jack’s education and set him up for life, hopefully.

4) That leaves me with $5 million. Now perhaps I can finally make my dream of running a Dog Sanctuary come true. I envision acres of land, fenced off, of course, where the dogs can run freely and intermingle with each other to their hearts’ content. They need only go into kennels to sleep and rest. My inspiration is Sasha Pecic, who must be the happiest man in Serbia. Sasha has rescued 580 dogs from the streets on Nis, Serbia, and now they all run freely at his Sanctuary. I’d dearly love to visit his Sanctuary to ask him how he does it.

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And that’s it. In a nutshell. Remember a few days ago I mentioned a Big Dream of mine? Well, that Dream is running my own Dog Sanctuary.

I want to not only give homeless dogs a place they can call Home, I want to give our homeless humans the same. In return for helping look after the dogs, they’ll get food and lodging, and education and training in the care of animals.

And as for the dogs themselves, I intend to rehome them, or if not, rehabilitate them to become Service/Assistance/Therapy dogs. So that they may serve the needs of Humans and show them that they are capable of rising from the ashes of being abandoned or neglected, to being useful members of Society.

And that is all I wish for. I wanted to find a kind and generous benefactor/business partner, someone who is willing to undertake this Dog Sanctuary project with me. Someone who shares the same Vision and is happy to work with me achieve our mutual goal. Stereotypically this would be a man with the necessary financial means. In reality, though, this person’s gender or sexual inclination does not matter at all. He/she would have to 1) love dogs and animals, 2) be focussed on the welfare of the dogs and not on romance with me 3) not be obsessed about sex, because although I do like companionship and cuddles, my higher sense of Purpose supercedes everything else.

Is that too tall an order? I’m open to offers, the question is – are there any takers out there in the Universe? Surely there must be someone out there, amongst the 7 billion human beings in this world, who has the same Idea and is just looking for someone like me to share it with?

I’m still waiting…but maybe my chances are better of winning the lottery than of finding that Other Person (or persons) to share my Big Dream with?

Follow Your Passion – Part 1

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Jack and I are regulars at our local McDonald’s restaurant. I’m up at the Dogs’ Refuge volunteering 3 times a week, and it’s become our little routine to stop at Macca’s (that’s how the Aussies call it) for breakfast, before I drive him to school and then park my car at the station and catch the train into the City. From there, it’s a short walk and another bus ride to the Refuge.

It means getting up at 6am, running around making sure the cat, chickens, Japanese Quail, budgerigars, cockatiels (weiros in Aussie slang), Japanese Koi, tropical fish and dogs have all been fed and watered, and I’ve had my shower and changed into fresh clothes, Jack has had his 5th prod to wake up and get dressed…all in order to get out of the house by 7am so we can have enough time for breakfast.

It may sound like a lot of hassle for nothing. Yes, and no. My mantra for my animal menagerie is “Guys have water, guys have food, guys are happy, guys are good”. That’s how I like to leave them, happy, fed and watered. I enjoy our Mother-Son bonding time over breakfast and on the ride to his school. I don’t mind the long hop-skip-and-jump commute, as it means I get to read my books on canine psychology and behaviour.

I don’t get paid as a volunteer at the Refuge, but I’ve found my Passion in animals, and I’m sure as hell going to follow my Passion no matter what. This may seem ridiculous, impractical, unrealistic, naive, silly… after all, we’re unfortunate enough to live on a giant Monopoly boardgame where Money is God. Those with money flaunt it but hold it tight for fear of losing their status. Those without money either try their best to get their hands on it, or don’t.

Money, however, doesn’t make you a better person. Sure, externally, with your snappy suits and polished shoes, with that genuine leather briefcase and ubiquitous cup of coffee in your other hand, you look for all the world like a Great Success. But behind the facade, you’re stressed beyond belief, with a large mortgage, perhaps a family to look after, you’re working 60 hours a week or more, your boss is a bully, you’re constantly being reminded that you need to achieve those statistics or else there’ll be no Christmas bonus for you this year, or the next, you’re popping pills and paying to see a psychiatrist, or even a lawyer because your marriage has broken down because you’re never home and even when you are, you bring your work home with you.

Happy now?

Yes, of course you have that huge big house by the seaside. You have that big garage full of luxury cars. Your children go to the most exclusive schools. You get to go on those long holidays to exotic locations. But then again you never see your house in daylight, because you leave for work at sparrow’s fart, and you’re only home after sundown. You only get to drive your flash car on weekends…and then they’re sports models so you can’t take the kids with you. You don’t see your kids anyway because they’re still in bed when you leave for work, and they’re back in bed by the time you get home at night. You work long and hard to save up enough money for that holiday…and then you overspend anyway and resign yourself to working extra hours next year, to make up for it.

Countless books have been written exhorting readers to “Follow Your Passion, and the Profits will Follow”, or “Follow Your Passion and Make Lots of Money!”, “Turn Your Passion Into $$$!”, “Passion Into Profit”, “Turn Your Passion Into Your Dream Job”, “Make Money From Doing What You Love”. To be honest, when I see titles like these on the bookshelves, I can’t help but think the people who write and read them are not in it for their Passion, but for the Money.

They’re not following their Passion. They’re just trying to like their job enough to justify carrying on doing it; their real pursuits are Money and Profit. Their real aim is not to discover and nurture their Passion, but to make their work bearable enough while they figure out how to get as much Money out of it in the least possible time, and then let’s get the hell out of here! I don’t think for one moment that these people will even contemplate staying in their jobs once they’ve accummulated enough dosh for their Great Escape, or once they’ve struck the Lottery. It’ll be more like “Hasta la vista, baby!”

If you’re truly Passionate about something, Money should not figure in the equation. Or, if it did, it’s as a means to an end, a secondary perk, not the Purpose of your Passion. If you’re truly Passionate about something, you’d happily do it for free. You do it for Love.

(Part 2 tomorrow)…😊

Infographic: How We Waste Food

Found this interesting infographic on Google while researching the topic of how much supermarket food goes to waste, and why.

So I’ll just put this here, for your information. This one’s about Australia. Be sure to click on the link!

http://m.lunchalot.com/foodwaste.php

And this one, by comparison, is the infographic on America’s food wastage:

http://visual.ly/21-shocking-us-food-waste-facts-statistics

Food for thought, right ;). Waste not, want not.

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Waste not.

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Want not.

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Waste not.

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Want not.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

…is the title of British Russell Brand’s independent movie, which premiered in Australia today, June 11th 2015. It’s filmed by Michael Winterbottom, and is a documentary featuring live action in the streets of Britain with Russell Brand, along with video clips of long-archived UK and worldwide news footage.

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No, despite its name, the film has nothing to do with the fashion industry. Or the fairytale. Rather, it is Russell Brand’s own way of inciting a British People’s Revolution against the giant, crushing cogwheels of the world’s Banks; it addresses the issue of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, by comparing the wages of top bankers and company CEOs against that of the man in the street.

For part of the film, Russell, armed with a megaphone, is in the front passenger seat of an advertising van, with a giant billboard on both sides exhorting the British public to “Shop The Bankers”, with large photos of high-level bankers beneath. It’s Russell’s way of naming and shaming these people, for drawing huge salaries in the millions of £££, while workers struggle to survive skyrocketing costs of living on hourly salaries that don’t even cover the cost of a cup of coffee these days.

These bankers pay themselves 7-figure salaries PLUS bonuses each year. The figures vary from a paltry £4 MILLION to more than £7 MILLION. Meanwhile, the average British worker’s wage is around £7 an hour, with an average yearly salary of just over £22000.

“Does that look or sound fair to you?” Russell asks a group of 100 primary schoolchildren, as part of an experiment in the film. He gets a resounding “NO!” from them.

Yes, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Top Shop get (dis)honourable mentions too, for TAX EVASION. Apple was very recently dragged to court in Australia for not paying enough taxes. Also read this article.

How does Apple justify its claim that it makes very little profit? Why, by making sure its money sits pretty in tax havens, or is shuffled between countries with lower tax rates. Its CEOs and top honchos pay themselves handsomely, jet about on holidays everywhere…while its slaves in China get paid something ridiculous like $2 a day (or was it 20 CENTS??!) and work for up to 18 hours a day.

DOES THAT LOOK OR SOUND FAIR TO YOU?

I had to go into the City to watch this film, as it wasn’t ever going to make it to the big screens of my local cinemas. One, owing to the contentious and hotly debated subject, two, because it doesn’t star a bunch of A-list celebrity actors and three, because it’s not an Action movie that caters to the lowest denomination. You have to have your brain switched on to watch this film.

The only cinema showing The Emperor’s New Clothes in Perth CBD was Cinema Paradiso in Chinatown. I’m sad to say that, in a cinema with a capacity of 300, I was THE ONLY ONE watching the film. Boo, Australian humanity, with your ignorance and insistence on staying asleep! Yeah, sure, when it’s The Fast & Furious 7, the cinema is booked out, but when a film (and an excellent one too) requires thinking or reflection, and a call to real action, action that will impact your lives and the lives of future generations, suddenly you have no time or inclination.

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How The Rich Get Richer…

…and the poor get poorer.

It’s not like they haven’t already got millions in the bank. Big mansions in different parts of the country, even in different countries. Maybe they even own a private island. Or two. Jets, yachts, personal groomers and trainers, housekeeping staff, someone to raise their children for them while they’re out making more millions.

And yet, some of these rich and famous people (not all, I must say) still feel the need to make their names even more of a household commodity, by marketing themselves as a brand even more aggressively than ever. It’s almost as if they can’t stand to be normal, but instead have to push themselves out there, parading and strutting their stuff to gain attention. They’ve gone so far past normal that normal looks alien.

Back in the good old days, it was Quality that counted, not Quantity. Nowadays, though, with advances in technology, everyone’s a writer, artist, musician, fashion designer, interior decorator, etc etc. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good or not, there’ll always be an audience for you, someone will buy that CD of yours, your book can become a bestseller on some obscure online-only list, your music can become a hit on some indie station in Timbuktu. You can delude yourself into thinking that fingernails-down-a-chalkboard caterwauling of yours is the bees’ knees and that you’re the best thing since sliced bread…because people are just too polite to tell you otherwise.

And don’t worry, if you can’t do it yourself, simply hire someone else to do it for you.

Celebrities are quick to get in on the game and cash in on this trend. They’ve been doing it for years. No names here, you’ll know who I mean. Not satisfied with being a famous footballer? What, your millions in the bank are dwindling at an alarming rate due to the upkeep of your terribly lavish lifestyle? Why then, simply start your own line of men’s underwear. The ladies will love it. You don’t even need to know a boxer from a Y-front, the experts will take care of that. Just sign your name here. Oh look, the famous celebrity wife has followed suit with her line of sexy lingerie. The men will love it. She can’t draw, but that’s no deterrent, someone else will do the designing for her, all she has to do is give her OK. Still not satisfied with the insane amount of money you’re getting just by putting your name on undies? Why not visit some parfumier in France and concoct your own bottled farts fragrances? Now Everyone will love to smell like you. Endorse, endorse, endorse, baby! Kaching$$$!!!

So, in this terrible world we live in today, the rich are busy creating new products carrying their brand name, to peddle to the poor. The poor, who fantasise about becoming rich some day, (while spending money buying stuff they want but don’t need) live under the false impression that if they dress like their favourite celebrity, wear underwear signed by them, smell like them, carry handbags or wear sunglasses “designed” by them, then hopefully all that obscene wealth will rub off on them and make them rich too.

It’s easy when you’re already a famous name. Your products don’t have to be the best, they don’t even have to be ethically sourced, the hoi polloi won’t know if your dresses are really made by slaves in sweatshops in Indonesia. Your Marketing team will handle all that, polish everything up to look super shiny and bright. And the masses will fall for it and give you their money.

And once you get started successfully on one product, the rest is easy. That’s how the rich can wear so many hats…not just because they can afford to, but because once you’ve established a successful line in consumer products, you can then claim equal success as a cook, baker, author, fashion designer, interior decorator, artist, hell the world is your oyster and you can eat it too.

For the rest of us, poor fools who have no financial backing, or famous name or breeding, no matter how hard you try, you never seem to get there. These days it’s not what you know, but who you know.

The other day, I was waiting for my son at the mall, and the huge display of perfumes on the glass front of a chemists’ caught my attention. Upon closer scrutiny, I counted more than a dozen “celebrity fragrances”. I’ve been a perfume connoisseur before (read traipsing through the streets of Paris visiting independent and commercial parfumiers, testing out and buying my favourite scents, and collecting free samples. I highly recommend Paris as a travel destination, by the way). I was obsessed with a book on perfumes and macarons then, and when my Paris trip came up, I took the opportunity to indulge in both.

So, I know that most of these “celebrity fragrances” have cheap, synthetic bases, and are made from more chemicals than natural ingredients. The scents won’t be as longlasting as fragrances made the traditional, time-tested way. They might even leave a nasty lingering smell on your skin, or stain your clothing. Sure they look attractive, in their sparkly bottles and pretty boxes, but that’s just the Marketing and Advertising company doing its job.

Never judge a book by its cover.

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