Stop Shopping and Start Thinking

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-acosta-lisw-cht/stop-shopping-and-start-t_b_788568.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=121410&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily+Brief

Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT

December 14, 2010 09:04 AM

A while back a friend told me about a graffiti artist in New York City who’d been covering subway and building walls with a simple declarative statement: Stop shopping and start thinking! This is particularly interesting since we are now approaching the season to shop and shop and shop and shop. It also made me wonder what he was suggesting we actually think about. And perhaps more importantly, what we were doing instead of thinking.

So, more than half-way across the country, I went into town and I spent a day watching people. I observed them on the street, in stores, in restaurants, on television, at gas stations. A typical group of young people (anywhere from approximately 10 years of age to 20) walked in much the same way a school of herring swim, in a huddle, somehow sensing one another’s movements, veering left, then right without much in the way of verbal communication because every one of them was either wearing an iPod or had a cell phone planted on one ear.

What I noticed overall, regardless of age group, was that the more crowded the environment and stimulating the situation, the less interpersonal the interaction between us. People distracted by brightly lit window displays or by robotic massage chairs or hundred-foot long displays of plasma television screens had very little to do with one another, even if they were “together.” Many walked about with glazed eyes and slightly open mouths, trance-like. I am not aware of any research to validate or refute this observation, but it is what I saw.

So, the graffiti artist who bade us to start thinking must have been seeing more or less what I saw — a world rapidly becoming disconnected and insensate from the onslaught of stimulation that is part and parcel of modern life.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-acosta-lisw-cht/stop-shopping-and-start-t_b_788568.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=121410&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BlogEntry&utm_term=Daily+Brief

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Gendering Toys is Good for Nobody

From Ms Magazine: http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/12/09/gendering-toys-is-good-for-nobody/

by Emily Rosenbaum

December 9, 2010

I wasn’t surprised when my son, Zachary, was teased for bringing My Little Pony in for first-grade show-and-tell. After all, I had been following the story of Katie, a first-grader in Evanston, Illinois, who had been mocked for choosing a Star Wars water bottle. Katie’s mother, Carrie Goldman, blogged about the incident, and her post quickly went viral, with over a thousand women Star Wars fans leaving Katie supportive comments. Having read Katie’s story, I had a sense of what might be coming when my son showed up in the kitchen holding Twilight Sparkle and announcing, “This is my show-and-tell.”

Frankly, anyone who has been inside a toy store lately has seen the extraordinary gender division. There are girls’ toys and there are boys’ toys, and there isn’t a whole lot in between. You’ll know when you are in the girls’ section by the bright pink glow and the predominance of kitchen-related items. That’s also where you’ll find My Little Pony, in all her sparkly, pastel magnificence. If, however, you’re looking for the boys’ section, just head for the dark toys featuring building supplies and weapons. That’s where the Star Wars merchandise is shelved.

Toy marketing has become increasingly gendered over the last decade and a half, according to Lyn Mikel Brown, co-author with Sharon Lamb of the books Packaging Girlhood and Packaging Boyhood. Although initially related to the anti-consumerist Riot Grrrl movement, girl power resonated with girls and so became fodder for the marketers. “Suddenly, we saw in the mid-nineties everything being called ‘girl power’,” says Brown. “Crafts, makeup, shopping–everything traditional ‘girl’ was given this new edge, but the message was the same.” That message? Girls need lots of pink, fluffy toys.

But kids can still play with whatever they like, right? It’s not that easy, unfortunately. “We rarely see girls and boys in the same commercials,” explains Brown, or in the same section of the toy store. “Toys are heavily marketed through stereotypes. It’s all about making it simple to sell products to little kids.”

Continue reading at:  http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/12/09/gendering-toys-is-good-for-nobody/

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UK: NHS Medway suspends IVF funding

Austerity for the poor and channeling money upwards to the rich hurt more than just the students in the UK.>  NHS to no longer fund SRS?

Appeared in BioNews 588 <http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_83860.asp>

By Marianne Neary

13 December 2010

NHS Medway, Kent, has joined several other trusts in suspending funding for new referrals for IVF until the new financial year when the decision will be reviewed.

The PCT is making cuts in a number of sectors, including savings of over £5 million in staffing by 2014. On top of this and other measures, new referrals for bariatric surgery (morbid obesity), gender reassignment and IVF have all been suspended. The PCT said it would consider providing IVF if a patient should reach the age of 40 before 1 April 2011 or there exists another compelling reason for treatment not to be delayed.

The PCT currently serves 280,000 people with a budget of £441 million for 2010/11. Acting Chief Executive, Helen Buckingham, said demand for services and costs are increasing at a rate of about four percent a
year, in part due to Medway’s growing population, but that NHS budgets will only increase by approximately 0.1 percent annually for the next three years.

SOURCES & REFERENCES

Press briefing with Helen Buckingham, Acting Chief Executive, NHS Medway  <http://www.medwaypct.nhs.uk/NetsiteCMS/pageid/360/newsarticleid/166/News.html>
NHS Medway | 19 November 2010

© 1999, 2010 BioNews

http://www.bionews.org.uk/page_83847.asp

US southwest could see 60-year drought: Study

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/southwest-60year-drought-study/

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 13th, 2010 — 7:23 pm

WASHINGTON — A worst-case scenario devised by US researchers shows that the American southwest could experience a 60-year stretch of heat and drought unseen since the 12th century.

Researchers at the University of Arizona examined studies of temperature changes and droughts in the region over the past 1,200 years and used them to project future climate models in the hope that water resource managers could use the information to plan ahead.

An examination of the past, through human-kept records but also via rings in the cores of trees that can show periods of wetness or drought, showed that dry spells of earlier centuries were much worse than any we have seen in modern times.

“Major 20th century droughts pale in comparison to droughts documented in paleoclimatic records over the past two millennia,” the researchers wrote, noting that high temperatures coincided with lengthy dry spells in medieval times.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/southwest-60year-drought-study/

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