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Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Don't Like Football 

Now I like it even less.

Not the European variety, but North American football, which has recently decided to pimp itself even more.

Much like why I dislike the Olympics--corporate sponsorship destroying pure[ish] sport--I'm growing greatly opposed to football's corporate bondage.

Now, Canadian universities' national football championship, the Vanier Cup, is sponsored by Desjardins.

BC's high school football championship is now titled the Subway Bowl, which is a rather smart idea since Subway exists in more than a few food fairs [formerly, cafeterias] in at least Coquitlam schools.

Subway is even sponsoring the season's awards night for players; I wonder if they'll get to eat subs. The best players even get to be Pepsi Provincial All-Stars:

"If you are selected as a Pepsi Provincial All-Star or a Scholarship Winner you will be notified by your coach at least one week before the banquet. The entire Pepsi Provincial All-Star Team, and Players of the Year, will not be announced until December 1st."

Hurray for "amateur" sports!
Finis

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USA Trapped in the Pleasantville Vortex 

I saw Pleasantville for the first time last night. Boy, have I been missing out.

It was stunning to see how much post-9/11 Mairka is pummelled into fear and trembling much like the Hitler Youth Monochromes were toward the end of the movie.

It's sad to see Mairka take part in an anti-post-modernist backlash of reborn conservative, fundamentalism. With a crazy world after the relatively easy Us vs. Them of the Cold War, now it's Mairka versus all sorts of "folks" [to quote w.Caesar referring to the evildoers]. And since there is no easy enemy to spot, it's so tempting to act in fear and run for the security of the John Wayne resolute president...to elect him for a second four years of fear and loathing.

And it hit me after the movie last night just how much conservative Mairka is embracing "tradition". The TV show American Dreams is a classic example of how much they yearn for the good old days when they didn't have to be self-reflective [just like their philosophically self-alienated president]. Inasmuch as that show deals with social and political upheaval of the 1960s, it starts from a perspective of the good and wholesome god/family/country silliness that posits evildoers as satanic/anti-family/unpatriotic if they criticize the modernist, consumerist, pre-feminist delusion of decades ago.

No wonder w.Caesar won the popular vote. No wonder Fox News is actually accepted as "Fair and Balanced" by so many who are yearning for the plausible deniability that the world is not monochrome that comes from someone in authority [government, media] telling them that yes, being coloured and self-aware is evil.

The PATRIOT Act is thus our salvation.

Finis


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Blogger.com's Spellchecker Doesn't Include the Word "Blog" 

I just don't know what to say about this beyond "REVEL IN THE IRONY!"

I had to actually add it to my user dictionary. Wow.


Finis



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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Real Soap, "Real" Beauty, "Real" Feminism? 

Dove soap's Campaign for Real Beauty is very interesting to me. I've seen the billboards and I appreciate their attempt to legitimize beauty beyond what we're brainwashed with in Maxim, Playboy, Baywatch and the like.

But I'm not so sure about Dove. I'm not so sure that even if their soap products, etc. are stupendous that I respect them co-opting a legitimate debate for corporate ends. True, they may be spurring some to expand their sense of beauty, but underlying Maxim, Playboy, Baywatch and Dove is the consumerist necessity of defining for us what we want so we can buy it from one company, as opposed to the other.

So cynically--or perhaps realistically--Dove is merely engaging us in clever market segmentation: they are the soap for people who don't wish to recognize any legitimacy in stereotyped constructions of beauty. How post-modern of them.

Then there's the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, that helps "girls all over the world to overcome everyday beauty pressures." Right. Again, Dove may be god's gift to women's dermitological health, but do we really want Dove being in charge of this dialogue? They sure want to be in charge of it. Great viral PR [we're encouraged to invite friends to the website]. In fact, instead of them actually having to advertise to you about how great they are in funding socially-conscious projects, we end up seeking that information from them. It'll stick to us better that way because we want to know about them. The cosmetics and health products industries are prime culprits in destroying women's self-esteem. How ironic--or socially healing?--of Dove to try to rectify this. Either way, they will probably sell more soap.

Happily for Dove, 2 of the 5 items listed as success stories for the Self-Esteem Fund are photo exhibitions they created themselves.

It may be terrible to rub this in, but Dove is even doing market research on us as we navigate their site. In providing information about their motives [thoroughly altruistic sounding, of course--remember, they're on our side!], they ration the information so that we need to click to further screens for elaboration. They end up with a good sense of just how much each of us is interested in various depths of information. This information about us can be combined with a log of all pages we visit on their site [including the time we spend between clicking through pages] to give them a pretty wonderful sense of how much we care to know. Heck, even I track my access logs to examine reading/clicking habits on my site [anonymously, though, because I collect nothing about yall but IP numbers]; I've got to believe Dove does it too. Worse still, if we actually log in and supply demographic data when we create our profile on the site [assuming a certain percentage of those signing up are not lying], they get an even broader sense of us, despite their claim that they only collect navigation data anonymously and in the aggregate. And what is our benefit from all this? Better soap? Better self-esteem through Dove products?

Even more cynically, perhaps, how many of the people taking part in the definition of beauty discussions on that site are Dove lackeys spinning conversation in defined PR areas? If I were running this campaign, I wouldn't leave the discussion board completely at the mercy of regular normal people without having my branding agents subtly making it all worthwhile.

So then I dug through my hard drive to find the August 1992 update of the soc.feminism faq that defines various flavours of feminism to see which ones would support Dove's campaign and which ones would condemn it. The updated faq of Different Flavours of Feminism is more useful.

Applying each flavour to Dove's campaign will require great thought: more than I can accomplish without a few more days/weeks of mental meandering. [Maybe in the meantime I'll write something in here about the disaster of w.Caesar's election. Or not]

For now, until you follow the link to the full faq with descriptions of the flavours, here they are, listed:

Amazon Feminism
Anarcho-Feminism
Cultural Feminism
Erotic Feminism
Eco-Feminism
Feminazi
Feminism and Women of Color
Individualist, or Libertarian Feminism
Lesbianism
Liberal Feminism
Marxist and Socialist Feminism
Material Feminism
Moderate Feminism
'pop-feminism'
Radical Feminism
Separatists

Men's Movements:
Feminist Men's Movement
Men's Liberation Movement
Mythopoetic Men's Movement
The New Traditionalists
The Father's Movements


Finis

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Who Are Our Corporate Rulers? 

Well it turns out that the Trilateral Commission wasn't just some 1970s paranoid conspiracy theory. Neither is the global trade triad of the EU, USA and Japan that account for most of global trade.

But who runs the world's most powerful corporations and what kind of incestuous relations do they partake in?

TheyRule.net presents a nice interface to examine the overlapping neo-feudal aristocrats. They use a kind of six degrees of Kevin Bacon search engine to connect what is nebulous to most of us. But their description of themselves is more useful.



Finis

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The SFU Car Lot 

Update! See below!

O bliss! On Tuesday, November 9, 2004 some marketing students turned SFU into a GM car lot.

They even got some advanced press about it with a truly absurd analogy from business prof, Colleen Collins-Dodd:

"We have a business school on this campus. I don't think we need to apologise for that," she said. "In biology they go out and examine bugs and birds and animals and plants. In chemistry they look at chemicals in the lab . . . this is no different - this is students doing a business project for a business course on a business. That's what we do in the faculty."

Without going into a large rant on how post-modern business faculties generally aren't, it is way too much of a stretch for me to accept that bugs, birds, animals and plants have as little feedback effect on the social structure of post-secondary education as bringing a car lot onto campus. Corporate commodification is more pronounced than flora and fauna.

And then, I just couldn't keep my opposition to myself.

Flashy cars and sold souls

Stephen Buckley

I want to send a big thank you out to the students of Business 448 - Sales and Promotion Management. Thank you so much for reminding us all that we are consumers, not citizens or students. Thank you for turning our campus into a General Motors car lot on November 9. Thank you for reminding us of the value of corporate growth, profit, marketing, and the capitalist core that should underwrite all university activities. Thank you for adding to the corporate commodification of learning. You are now in the good company of corporate-sponsored classrooms at the Harbour Centre campus and the new market condos on the hill that do not rate as affordable student housing.

Thank you for setting up your corporate co-optation freak show near the Terry Fox statue, just to let us know that you have no sense of irony. Thank you also for perpetuating the myth that corporations care about suffering, poor humans (who, oddly, are minimal consumers) by bribing students to sit in your little red car with food for the food bank, when you marketing students could have instead just designed a campaign to support the food bank without littering our campus with shiny brand-new cars. Thank you also for e-mailing the entire SFU Greens e-mail list with the surreal request that they advertise for you, again missing the irony of soliciting support from a group that contains members who are against consumerism and automobiles themselves. In short, thank you Business 448 students for reminding us that public-private partnerships (P3s) suck, and that being citizens before consumers takes a bit of work every day.


Update!

Someone replied to my letter to the editor!


Finis

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Welcoming American Immigrants to Canada 

I understand how tempting it is to be an American wanting to move to Canada. I'm not, of course, refering to the 59 million who voted for w.Caesar, but the rest of them. They're welcome here. Some of my favourite people in the world are those who were displaced from the land of the free during the Vietnam "conflict".

But it seems there are good reasons to stay in Mairka and fight the good fight. Here are ten of them.

Update: Canadian towns recruiting Americans! Read about it here.

Finis

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Holy War: Evangelical Marines Prepare to Battle Barbarians 

Unit, Corps, God, Country. God, Country, Corps, Unit. God, Corps, Unit, Country.



Holy War: Evangelical Marines Prepare to Battle Barbarians is a fascinating article about the religious zeal of Marines about to take on the anarchy in Fallujah. In April, w.Caesar pledged that they were not going to leave the gong show in Fallujah AS THEY WERE BUGGING OUT!

Meanwhile, the human truth of this occupation exists. While Mairka won't keep track of the Iraqi civilians they kill, IraqBodyCount.net does. CNN's keeping track of US casualties [dead soldiers] in Iraq.

I'll remember them tomorrow, Remembrance Day in Canada, Memorial Day in Mairka, but I won't remember the value of their deaths. It's lacking.


Finis

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