Reality Check

 I was pretty disturbed by something I saw on MSNBC this morning.  A Providence man named Jonathan Stark was interviewed about his Jonathan’s Card social experiment, where total strangers have been donating money to his Starbucks card, which other people can then use to buy themselves a cup of coffee. He describes it as a “take a penny, leave a penny” idea, or similar to the Italian caffe pagato tradition. He also described it as a beautiful example of people doing something nice out of the goodness of their hearts.

This experiment started with Mr. Stark trying to solve the problem of having two phones and one Starbucks card. He had the Starbucks My Card app on his iPhone 4, and was successfully visiting Starbucks several times a week. He ran into a slight snag when he installed the Android version of this app on his Nexus S, since Starbucks only allows the card information to be on one phone at a time.

He solved this problem by taking a screenshot of the card’s barcode and e-mailing it to his Nexus, so that he doesn’t have to waste precious minutes in the morning figuring out which phone to bring with him to Starbucks.

This worked and, being pretty excited about buying coffee with a picture, he posted all this on his blog and encouraged others to use the picture of his card to buy a cup of coffee.

Which they did, of course, but he was surprised to find that some people also put money on his card. MSNBC’s interest was piqued because this has caught on and there has been over $10,000 given and spent in less than a month via Mr. Stark’s Starbucks card.

Now, I’ll admit to being something of a Luddite. I use dollar bills whenever possible, prefer to write with a pen and paper, and still use a cell phone from 2006. I am currently learning how to make my own rugs, clothes, and blankets. I’m actually getting my hobby ideas from the Amish.

Some of my friends will wet themselves over exciting new technology, but I usually shrug and say that my life was just fine before that new-fangled thingy came along and I don’t really need it now that it has. And then I secretly worry about the technology-induced apocalypse or dystopia that is surely going to come about, a la The Matrix, Terminator, and Uglies.

It isn’t that I don’t care about computers and phones and virtual commerce; It’s not that this isn’t a cool experiment using social media; what really bothered me about seeing this interview on the news was the way that Mr. Stark described it: As being an inspiring and stimulating movement of strangers selflessly giving to strangers, something that some people have told him has renewed their faith in humanity.

Is it super neat-o that people can use a new technology to buy coffees for yuppies with smart phones? Absolutely. Is it a grand experiment showing the true communal love and solidarity that Americans have for others? Not really.

We are lucky to live in a country so rich that most people can spend $3.00 a day on a cup of coffee, and they can even spend another $3.00 buying one for someone who can afford to buy it for herself. That’s nice that we have that much money. I’m sure the phones and the apps for them are nice, too. But it’s pretty sad that we live in a country that is so entitled and insulated that we think buying an over-priced luxury item for well-off people qualifies as humanitarian action, rather than just being a fad where people with too much money and time get to play with new toys.

If you have money to give away and you want to do something nice for others, there are a lot of people in the world who need basic care. There are people who can’t afford housing. There are people who can’t afford food. There are people who have no access to clean water or medical care. In Somalia, according to an article in today’s Providence Journal, “hundreds of thousands of people face imminent starvation and death,” but there are also people begging on the streets of your nearest city.

It should go without saying, but a person who has a smart phone and drinks Starbucks coffee does not qualify as “someone in need.” If you do happen to notice that there are people out there who are in need, probably coffee is not what you should give them. It’s a nice gesture, but if they’re starving to death or suffering from Malaria, it’s not going to help much.

I’m not trying to tell people to stop spending their money on luxuries (although they should). I’m too much of a black pot myself to be pointing the finger at all the kettles out there. I’m just saying to quit fooling yourself. If you have “a little extra cash burning a hole in your pocket,” want to be “super cool,” or “enjoy massive karma points” you should be giving your money to the Red Cross, Oxfam, Unicef, your local food bank or soup kitchen, or any of dozens of other reputable organizations that really are geared toward helping people in need. Starbucks cards are not the way to go.

I'm All Riled Up.

Feminism is like my crack.  Or my religion.  My "opiate" of not-the-masses-but-just-me, shall we say.

One of my friends posted something on Facebook about abortion (pro-choice) and it started a huge discussion, like it always does.

Which I love.  I love to argue, and arguing about Feminism gets me all adrenaline-y and I sit there on the edge of my seat, refreshing the page every 90 seconds.

But I work a desk job.  And the anti-choice came out of the woodwork and got me all riled up with nowhere to go.  And it was someone with whom I'm actually Facebook friends!

I can't sum up everything that was said, since it was 30 comments in 15 hours, and a lot of different things were mentioned.  What really got me was how one person started talking about fathers' rights, which I respect, except his whole point was that a man's feelings trump a woman's right to her bodily privacy. 

His argument, as far as there was one,  was that women are hormonal and lack judgement, and should not be allowed to make such an important choice as to whether or not a child enters the world.  Then he wrapped it up with a "don't knock-up femi-nazis" and, bafflingly enough, a "I'm for humanity."

I'm sorry, when did humanity become (I guess I should say "return to") just being made up of men? 

Why is it still okay to denigrate women by implying they're at the emotional and decision-making level of a two year old having a tantrum in the sugary cereal section of the supermarket?
Warrior Spirit

Musings on the Nature of Reality. And Stupid People.

Why is that there are grown adults who can't wrap their heads around the concept of reality?  A reality that exists outside their heads and will not change, however much they'd like it to.  How does one get to the age of 30-something without understanding this? 

At least once a day, I get a call from a patient who wants an appointment at a specific time.   Sometimes RIGHT NOW. 

Okay, sure, everyone has a life and commitments and responsiblities.  But GUESS WHAT?  There are other people.  And those other people already took the appointment time you want.

Over and over, someone will want something specific, like 3:00 tomorrow, and then want to know why on earth can't I accomodate him or her.  Well, gee, cause I can't manipulate space and time.  What, do you think there's a 3:00 B appointment time I can offer you?

What really kills me is when parents with sick kids won't accept an offered appointment time, even if it's the only one available.  And when I say "only one available," I mean, all of the doctors and nurse practioners are either out of the office or have double-booked schedules. 

My kid has been throwing up everything for two days.  He won't even keep down Pediasure.  1:15?  That's his naptime.  I think he really needs his rest, don't you?  3:00?  No, that's too late.  This is serious.  I want a morning appointment. *

When did naptime become the new Jesus?  If your kid is sick, I doubt naptime trumps doctor visit. 

And don't you dare drop the E-word on me in an attempt to get me to cough up an appointment time I've been hiding from you.  If you had a real emergency, you'd be on your way to the hospital, not bitching at me on the phone.

At least, I hope you would.  I've gotten some pretty stupid phone calls lately and I'm starting to think common sense is about as common as a freaking unicorn.

*Actual conversation.
  • Current Mood
    working working

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Have any of you, other than folkrockergrrl, heard about the CraigsList Experiment?

I live in the dark cave that is the New York City Undergraduate Life, so I didn't, until last night, when I decided to read Savage Love before bed.

A man, Jason Fortuny, aka rfjason, posed as a submissive woman looking for BDSM sex on CraigsList, and then posted the 177 replies back online, complete with PHOTOS and NAMES and ADDRESSES.

This is getting so much attention that there are videos on YouTube of the newscasts, and Mr. Fortuny was apparently interviewed by the New York Times. At least one person is suing. His LJ post about it got 669 comments.

Now, the reason I'm telling you all about it, is that this is a primo chance to actually read the LJ of a sociopath. I mean, usually you read about these types of people in a novel, or true crime books. But seriously? This guy? Fits the profile. Really intelligent and completely amoral = scary as shit.

Not to mention that a majority of the people who commented on his LJ find his randomly sadistic impulses to be highly amusing.

Who says gladiator sports went out of style with the Roman Empire?
  • Current Mood
    depressed depressed

This is going to be a Long-assed, You Don't Really Care Post

I really just want to lacerate someone with sarcasm right now, just lay it right in front of them that I think they are a hopeless fuckwit and the best thing they could do to make the world a better place right now is jump off the bridge.

Can you tell I'm a little pissy tonight?

My History lecture had a Surprise!recitation, and of course I was signed up for the one that I couldn't go to: 5-6 pm, when I go to work at 6 pm, 5 nights a week. I emailed one of the TA's, and told her I couldn't make the one I was signed up for. She emailed me back to tell me that was fine, I can just go to the 3 30 pm session.

Then I get an email telling me, here is where the 5pm session is, here is the assignment, etc.

I email her back, saying that I was going to be going to the 3 30 pm session, where is that, what's the assignment?

She responds, telling me that I'm signed up for her discussion and if I'm also signed up for another discussion, then I need to get that straightened out.

I email her back, to the effect: "Hey, are you slow? We already talked about this? Two weeks ago? I can't go to your session."
To be sure to cover my bases, I emailed the TA who is leading the discussion that I'm switching into, telling her that I'm switching, and asking her the same questions about the place and assignment.

She emails me back: "If you're signed up for the 5 pm session, you should direct your questions to the TA who is leading that session."


This is a Chris Tucker in Rush Hour moment. "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?!?"
  • Current Music
    Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins

(no subject)

I finally got that other job I was looking for, again, on the recommendation of a friend. Apparently, I am completely unable to get a job under my own power. Time for me to make Powerful Friends who can set me up later in life.

Anyway, this job? Fucking fantastic food. Today, I ate a sandwhich with brie, honey, apples, and mixed greens. They heat it, and the brie melts and eeerrrrrrnnnnn. Incoherency rapidly ensues.

The girl I was training with today, Paola, asked me for dieting tips. As in, "You're so skinny. I'm always trying to lose weight." (fyi: she's probably 10 pounds skinnier than me (btw: what a weird foray into Girl World. Both of us are looking at the other and thinking that she looks better. Weird Shit, man.))
  • Current Music
    Idaho - Nerina Pallot

(no subject)

I think I have PTSD from last semester, straight up.

Everything is way too stressful right now. And there isn't anything to be stressed out about. I'm just getting stressed out anticipating being stressed out, which is kind of stupid, since I don't even know yet whether or not I'll be stressed.


I feel like every endeavor is too much. Trying to get up in the morning (ok, ok, the afternoon) and clean and read and go to work seems like too much to ask of myself. And it really shouldn't be.
  • Current Music
    Don't Speak - No Doubt

(no subject)

I'm super irritated right now.

I was supposed to go to the dentist's today, cause I haven't been in two years and I'm starting to suspect that I have a cavity.

And then 1/2 an hour before the appointment, I get a call, and they're telling me that they can't find my insurance info. So, they ask me for the number on the card, etc. etc., and about DeMarco's. And then I tell them that my insurance isn't under DeMarco's, it's under my father (it didn't occur to me, when the secretary was asking me about my employer, that she was asking because she thought my insurance was through them).

They need my father's social security number, in order to make sure that I'm covered, and that I don't need to shell out $300 at the end of the visit. But my dad works nights. And is asleep right now.

I'm now 80% sure that I have a cavity, and I've never had one before, so I just want to get this all over with, and of course this was only a "pre-visit," because I'm not a regular patient. Why the fuck do I need a pre-exam exam? I just want the motherfucker to check out my teeth. I'm not marrying him.

On a completely different note:
I finished Atwood's Edible Woman last night. It was pretty good. Very different from her other stuff, but it was written pretty early in her career. Funny, and strange. Great ending. I HIGHLY recommend her to ALL of you.
  • Current Music
    Hell's Bells - AC/DC

(no subject)

I studied for the GRE all day yesterday.

Be proud of me.

Except I think it made me dumber. More dumber than I was to start.

So it goes.
  • Current Music
    Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighter

(no subject)

I'm imagining your frame
Every angle
And every plane
I'm imagining your smell
The one that mingled with mine
Once upon a time
Thoughts of you are picketing my brain
They refuse to work such long hours without rest
In unstable conditions at best
They're out there every day
Holding up their signs
And thoughts of no other man but you
Could possibly get through
The picket lines
To enter into my mind

I'm imagining your laugh again
The one you save for your family and your very close friends
I'm imagining the way you say my name
I don't know when
I'm going to hear it again
My friends can't tell
My laughter from my cries
Someone tell this photograph of you
To let go of my eyes

I'm imagining your frame
I'm imagining your smell
I'm imagining your laugh again
  • Current Music
    every angle - ani difranco