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Writer's Block: Black Friday Steals & Deals

Nov. 24th, 2009 | 09:00 am

Black Friday is known for its deals and steals. What items are you hoping to find in the stores this Friday?

I have never responded to these "writer's block" prompts before, but this one caught my eye. I just had a bit of a conversation with my boyfriend about this very subject. He asked me why Americans have holiday sales on "black friday", when in other cultures that phrase usually refers to a day on which some terrible tragedy happened.

I tend to think that our black friday is actually a tragedy that reoccurs every year. It may not be a tragedy that is as immediately obvious as something like a terrorist attack, but it's tragic nonetheless, and perhaps a bigger tragedy in the long run.

I remember seeing video last year of a wal-mart that was opening its doors for the beginning of the shopping day. A huge crowd of people were waiting outside and rushed in as soon as the doors were opened. Apparently a few people were trampled by the crowd. I believe one or more may have actually died from being trampled to death. It isn't the first time something like that has happened.

The tragedy lies in the fact that our culture is so concerned with meaningless bullshit that people completely ignore the other human lives around them in pursuit of something as petty as a television that is on 40% discount.

But it's not as simple as that. It's not just the loss of individual human life which makes it a tragedy, though that's obviously a very important and concerning point. I think black friday is just a symptom of a larger problem in society, a problem that, if left unmitigated, will have dire consequences not only for "western" culture, but the entire human species, and life on earth as we know it.

We have been so concerned with consumption for so long and with such total disregard for the long term impact of our actions, that we are quite literally killing the planet that sustains our life. We are blinkered and concerned with little beyond the bubble of our own lives and families and homes and possessions. The sixth mass extinction is underway. We can stop this. We CAN change the way we live. But will we? Will we realize the error of our ways before it is too late? Some nations have taken dramatic steps to reduce their impact on the natural environment, but they could do more, and nations like the US have done essentially nothing.

My boyfriend and I were looking at some headlines in the science section of the BBC News website the other day. The two top stories were one about how a portion of Antarctica (which was formerly thought to be stable) is rapidly losing ice. Beneath that was a headline with a photo of Darwin, celebrating his work. The juxtaposition between one example of our utter stupidity and another of the greatness we are capable of made me sad, and I wondered what the man would be thinking if he were alive today. We've made so much scientific progress in the past few centuries. We are capable of such excellence. We could, theoretically, create a utopia of this world, if we don't destroy it first, and ourselves in the process. We could go on to explore new worlds and achieve wonderful and beautiful things. But we are in this fucked up limbo, and it could go either way. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry at how stupid we can be.

So, to answer the original question, I think it's pretty obvious that we won't be hoping to find anything at the stores on friday, because we'll be staying the fuck home.

Fuck you, Best Buy.

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This comment on a news article the other day really spoke to me

Nov. 21st, 2009 | 10:12 am

Just to make it clear, I DID NOT WRITE THIS. I just felt the need to re-post it here.

I'm 24 and almost two years out of University. Last January I ended a mature and caring six year long relationship with a girl I still miss, and recognise as someone I am lucky to have known. I regret the decision, but I also know it was the only option given the situation, living again with our parents and struggling to earn enough money to buy some independence, having no privacy and between work, volunteering and further training, we had almost no free time to see each other. Our relationship became impossible because of situation, not because of either of us, or how we were as a couple.

This article does well to highlight some of the issues for university leavers. I know graduates with exceptional intelligence and the results to prove it, in arts, classical and practical degree types. We are all unemployed, we are all living at our parents houses', we are all in debt and we have zero incentive to work the jobs that are available.

All this education and investment of time and money, and all we find is a night shift job at Tesco's at the end of the rainbow. We are over qualified and under-paid. Meaningful jobs that have a positive impact on society and, closer to home, our own communities, are almost non-existent. Those that do exist are poorly paid and only the courageous manage to make them work. Paper pushing, telesales and shelf stacking seem to be our future, with little or no hope of owning our own space, away from our parents, before the age of thirty.

The poorly educated innercity kids who abuse the law to survive do not see a future for themselves, this is not a new revalation. But the University educated 'young adults' are also apathetic towards the values of todays society and do not see any great long term prospects. Very few young people have any convictions, and those that do, cannot find a viable avenue to channel their efforts. Almost all my friends, and their friends, and their friends, have dropped out and are trying to avoid the 9-5 grind. Not because they are lazy, but because they are not interested in worthless employment and being part of a society that is rotting from the inside.

Give us a community, and give us real reasons to get up in the morning and you will see some real conviction. Nobody gives a crap about meeting sales targets. Until then, a significant proportion of people will continue to live on the edge of society, only making forays into 'life' to get enough to survive.

Of course, there will be a number of entrepreneurial types who will go out and make money, but I tend to think, the more money you have, the more morals you've left by the roadside.

I won't blame all of this on the economic downturn, I think the general attitude of young people is a reaction to the state of society and what it values as important. A lot of us can see through it, but there doesn't seem to be any choice but to go along with it.

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Aug. 25th, 2009 | 11:19 pm

bye ted kennedy.

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So, that letter I wrote to President Obama...

Aug. 8th, 2009 | 11:18 pm

About a month ago I received a letter in response, which opens with this sentence: "Thank you for your letter urging action to end the genocide in Darfur"

Thanks for ENTIRELY missing the point, White House interns!

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(no subject)

Apr. 17th, 2009 | 08:15 pm

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Three things ...

Apr. 17th, 2009 | 10:10 am

1) Habeas Corpus

2) Warrantless wiretapping

3) Indefinite occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan

Remind me again who is president?

Where's the fucking change?

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My letter to President Obama

Jan. 24th, 2009 | 11:10 am

I didn't vote for the guy, but I think he may be willing to listen to us more than the last fuck. Here is the letter I mailed yesterday. I didn't spent a whole lot of time on it, and I wanted it to be focused on one particular issue .... so here it is:

Dear Mr. President,

You have stated several times that you want to show the United States’ willingness to work together with the international community, to repair relations and restore our image with our allies abroad. This is a stark contrast to George Bush’s “my way, or the highway” attitude, and the American people quite clearly support this change.

Regarding the International Criminal Court, you said, “The court has pursued charges only in cases of the most serious and systematic crimes and it is in America´s interests that these most heinous of criminals, like the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur, are held accountable. These actions are a credit to the cause of justice and deserve full American support and cooperation.”

I fully agree with your statement, but I believe the United States should cooperate with the ICC on more than just foreign matters. Heinous crimes have been committed in our name as well, and to allow them to go unprosecuted would be unacceptable. As President, George Bush withdrew the United States’ agreement to cooperate with the ICC, so I am urging you to restore that commitment as soon as possible, to allow any officials or other willing participants in War Crimes to be held accountable for their actions. Please sign any treaty to allow us to cooperate more fully with the ICC.

Much thanks from a concerned citizen of the United States and of the World,

Yours Sincerely,

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