Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.

7.01.2008

A different perspective.

Every now and then, I like to pick up a news weekly. I used to subscribe to TIME Magazine, but dropped it because I was feeling guilty over the mass amounts of non-recycled glossy paper stacking up in my house. It was like I could hear the trees screaming.

I do like magazines, though, for more in-depth looks at current events than I usually pick up from the wires or the average internet crawl. So, yeah, sometimes I pick up TIME or Newsweek or USNews. Sometimes I like to get The Economist for a more global, less America-centric perspective (The Economist is based in the UK). This week, that's exactly what I did. I hadn't flipped through an issue in probably a year, and so I thought I'd broaden my view a bit.

I'm not through it yet, but already a couple of stories have hit my buttons. First, let's talk about models:
IT'S not often that fashion models are paired with IT workers, except in the lurid fantasies of computer geeks. But because of a decision made back in 1990 they must compete for the same over-subscribed H-1B, a temporary work visa for specialised occupations. Until 2004, when the government lowered the cap on the number of H-1Bs it issued, it didn't matter so much. But now demand has far outstripped the limited number of visas available, and many foreign models are being denied the chance to sashay down America's catwalks.

Oh, the poor, poor models! You can't see this, but right now I'm playing "My Heart Bleeds For You" on the world's smallest violin.
Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman, wants to fix this tragic glitch. He has proposed a bill amending the rules so that the models will be reclassified into their own special immigration category.

...

Steve King, an Iowa congressman, thinks the bill should be called the “Ugly American Act” because it implies there are not enough beautiful people in the United States.

Well, shit, we all know that's true. If there were enough beautiful people in the U.S., our media wouldn't be saturated with ads for expensive crap to make us all prettier. And wow, in a world fraught with natural disasters and systemic oppression and economic disparities on a shocking scale, is the lack of foreign models allowed in the country really something we classify as a tragedy? Is objectification of women a noble enough pursuit that it merits a special category for issuing visas?

My favorite part:
Luckily though, supermodels like Gisele B√ľndchen are in the clear. They are eligible for O-1 visas, given to those with “extraordinary ability,” like Nobel laureates.

Yes, because supermodels are *just* like Nobel laureates. UGH.

And now, on to genes and clutter:
Are humans, then, hardwired to cling on to their possessions? If so, this primordial instinct joins a lengthening list of maladaptations to modern life. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have suited a nomad, because the itch to wander off led to serendipitous discoveries of food and mates. The ability to store food as fat was handy if food was sometimes scarce.

Wow, is this an international publication tacitly admitting that fatness is genetic? And not controlled by "calories in - calories out"? Really? That's sort of interesting...
The fat, the impulsive and the untidy are genetically normal, but they are equipped for yesteryear. The thin, the focused and the neat are freaks—but they are cut out for success. For modern life disapproves of clutter, almost as much as it scorns obesity and fidgeting.

So, wait...normal people with normal genes are fat, impulsive, untidy, and destined for failure? What the fuck? Who the fuck decided that this is what "modern life" is, and is not? Doesn't sound like anything I'm interested in.
If you want to keep up with fashion, in handbags and iPhones, it is constantly in with the new. Modern life demands that the old should go out at the same time.

Oh, right, I see now. Is this the same "modern life" that's, oh, killing the planet?!
Yet where nature creates a problem, the market provides a solution. What Ritalin is to ADHD, and liposuction is to obesity, the personal-organisation industry can be to clutter. These professionals offer not just order, but also sympathy. America's National Association for Professional Organisers speaks of “Chronic Disorganisation”; hoarders everywhere will take comfort from those capital letters.

Wow. I love that the fucking Container Store is being compared to liposuction. One will sell you a rack to hold all your shoes, the other is a medical procedure that could, I dunno, kill you and stuff. Totally the same kinda thing.

Plus, since when is being a clutterbug a mental disorder (which is how I read a label like "Chronic Disorganization")? Obviously, there are extremes that aren't exactly healthy...but there's a big difference between being untidy, and being a hoarder.

So...The Economist - while providing interesting political insights and information about a much broader range of topics and geographies than many American sources (for example, I found this piece about the challenges faced by Europe's Roma populations really interesting and educational)....seems to miss the boat (for me) outside politics and economics. A perspective that equates a closet organizer with lipo, and a supermodel with a Nobel laureate, isn't really all that different from the mainstream American media.

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