Archive for category Rants

No toys for Wei Ping

Lynn and I went looking at toys to finish up Little Carter’s registry last weekend, and not a single toy in the entire baby department was made in this country. Or outside of China even.

All kiddy clothes are made in China. Not 100% fine, but they wash. All furniture. Not optimal, but there is a slightly higher grade of crap available if you spend the time looking for it. And it mostly airs out.

But I absolutely refuse to allow my son to chew on the toxic garbage produced in that hell hole. China has the world’s worst record of human rights violations, and the manufacturers there have absolutely no qualms about using dangerous substances in the production of the trash we buy from them. In some cases they refuse inspection outright, and yet we still buy their cheap crap. Yes, they provide cheap labor. But it’s at the detriment of human life that our precious baubles are so inexpensive. The all-powerful Chinese government has no regard for human life–theirs or ours–and so many people suffer from their production practices. Is it China’s fault? No. It’s true that their bureaucracy is as crooked and corrupt as any good communist regime should hope to be, and that their fervent cries of anti-Capitalism don’t stop them from doing any nasty, underhanded thing to make a dollar, but we wouldn’t be in this mess if not for good old-fashioned corporate American greed.

No, we shouldn’t curtail free enterprise in this country. That’s not my point. We should instead demand quality merchandise from our retailers. Free enterprise, when truly free, cannot exist when the masses refuse to purchase their wares. But most humans suffer from acute stupidity, so I don’t see much protesting of the constant import of Chinese garbage.

OK, so here’s my point: we love Little Carter, and we know you do too, but we won’t be accepting gifts of toys made in China. Stuff made in the U.S. and Canada and parts of Europe (France, Germany, GB… any place where sane people live) is fine, but anything else is going back to the store or getting sold on eBay or whatever. No offense, but there it is.

There IS good stuff out there. Lynn and her mudder found some excellent non-toxic wooden and rubber toys from an online vendor of environmentally friendly goodies. But it’s kind of a pain, so don’t worry about trying to buy safe toys. Daddy Eugene would be just as happy with a big old wedge of celebratory cheese. U.S.-made, of course.

, ,


Toolbags, Unite!

It’s amazing how many “progressive thinkers” there are on college campuses these days who either can’t make an argument without using terms like “nut case” or “braindead neocon,” or don’t want to listen to anything outside their own tightly defined (and quite possibly screwed up) world schema. It’s not necessarily evil to close one’s mind–in fact, the majority of folks do it, and not just those pesky conservatives… uh… I mean, neocons–but proclaiming openness to alternative viewpoints doesn’t automatically make you open. In fact, if there’s no follow-through, it makes you… well, in the words of a brilliant young man at Middle America State University, a toolbag.

No Comments

Unabashed Whateverism

I ran across the blog of a one-time best friend today. Interesting stuff, really, but it’s quite clear that we don’t have a whole lot of common ground anymore. Or, rather, that we most likely never did. Except the Linux thing, I guess, assuming he’s still into it as much as I am. He’s probably the one that got me so nutsy about it in the first place.

For years he felt the need to hide a particular “trait” (yes, one that has sparked religious, political and homicidal controversy for millennia), but that’s a whole unfortunate story unto itself. I was there the last few years before his “unveiling” ever came about, and so well hidden was this “trait” that it completely blindsided me when he finally told me the big news.

After that moment in the park when he told me about it (just him and me parked in the dark) he went through some turbulent months as his life turned upside down: friends and family freaked out and condemned him to hell; doors and minds closed; doors and minds opened; new philosophies awaited his embrace; old philosophies awaited the rubbish bin. I should probably point out that I was really supportive of him during that time, and even went to a few meetings for friends and families of people of his “trait,” but I doubt that’s something he remembers now. But that’s really fine, I don’t mind. The whole point of lending a hand–or, what should be the point of it–is to help at that moment and not expect praise for it for the rest of time. And anyway, I’m sure there’s plenty from that era that he’d just as soon not remember.

Before the Great Transformation he portrayed himself as a stereotypical right-wing nutterbutter:

  1. He argued passionately in favor of flying the Confederate flag, and for all the right reasons (none of which included any sort of discrimination, bias or class promotion).
  2. He kept a handgun in his apartment long before I was comfortable with the idea of doing it myself, and he knew how to use it.
  3. He was an avid (and often rabid) Pat Buchanan fan. This is the issue that I had trouble with… I mean, come on!!! Pat Buchanan, who attracted attention (mostly in the form of hate) from lefties and true righties alike??!? The political stuff was probably the area where I came the closest to seeing the seams in my friend’s mask. I didn’t really buy it at the time, but I had no reason to suspect he was trying to hide something. I certainly had no clue that it was just a ploy to hide the “trait.”

His nutterbutterism was fine with me, though. It was just a part of a very close friend’s life. But then, after the Great Transformation, it was quite a different story:

  1. He became an activist for those with the “trait,” began participating in benefits for the disease associated with the “trait” and hung out exclusively with “traited” others. Note that I’m merely pointing out his abrupt change of focus here, and not condemning the “trait.”
  2. All of his jokes became explicitly “trait” oriented, and their frequency increased whenever I asked him to back off because I didn’t identify with them.
  3. He became a proud Democrat, and one of the subtags on his blog now actually reads, “Unabashed Liberalism…” as if we had a surplus of abashed Liberals in this country. 🙂

Again, nothing wrong with his identifying with Liberal politics either, or practicing whatever privileges he might have (mostly because as a free-range American I don’t have to agree with them 🙂 ), but there was something fundamentally wrong about the fact that he had come out of his chrysalis a completely different person than the one I knew and loved. I don’t mean to paint his “before” as any better or more preferable than his “after” (because I certainly disagree mightily with certain aspects of both!) but some of the changes happened much too quickly to have just been a result of maturing ideals. It was like he was suddenly living from a playbook, because one day he started rejecting many of the concepts he had claimed to embrace only months, weeks and even days before.

It was clear that the guy I had come finally to accept (which is no easy process for me – just ask Perry!) was only a contrived projection who didn’t really exist at all. I can still remember some of the character inconsistencies of that contrivance after all these years, and how moody my friend would become if I picked at them. All the facts were there, I realize now… I just had no reason to review them.

I wish I had, though, because maybe then it wouldn’t have hurt so bad when my friend disappeared so long ago. I realize now how unhappy he must have been during that time, and I feel bad that I didn’t do more… reach out more… something. At the same time, though, I know that I would only have been helping to kill the man I knew and birthing one I didn’t.  Who knows… maybe someday we’ll meet again under different circumstances… and maybe both of us will have gotten past some of our respective misconceptions, flaws and insecurities. If that time comes and the wind is blowing just right, there’s no reason not to get to know him again. I certainly don’t hold anything against him… I just still very much miss the person I thought he was, even something like 8 years later.

But for now I say, “Whatever.” And I’ll stick to that like a pit bull on a Michael Vick trading card.

No Comments