Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Reading

From the New York Times regarding toys:
Perhaps it’s time to rethink the decision to allow the unrestricted advertising and cartoon promotion of toy lines that has produced year-round marketing and piles of plastic toys, bought and soon discarded. After all, we ought to be just as concerned about the impact of character licensing and toy advertising on our children’s psyche as we are on protecting them from ingesting leaded paint and magnets.
Amen. The gist of the article is that many of these toys lack any value in education, encouraging play or imagination. It's a good read. I've decided for Christmas, we are going with building blocks (unpainted) and sporting goods and books. All made in US, or at least not made in China.

From The American Conservative on corruption in Iraq:

Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, has a no-bid monopoly contract with the Army Corps of Engineers that is now estimated to be worth $10 billion. In June 2005, Pentagon contracting officer Bunny Greenhouse told a congressional committee that the agreement was the “most blatant and improper contracting abuse” that she had ever witnessed, a frank assessment that subsequently earned her a demotion.

Halliburton has frequently been questioned over its poor record keeping, and critics claim that it has a history of overcharging for its services. ...

... Responding to complaints, Halliburton refused to permit independent auditing and inspected itself using so-called “Tiger Teams.” One such team stayed at the five-star Kuwait Kempinski Hotel while it was doing its audit, running up a bill of more than $1 million that was passed on to U.S. taxpayers.

It's a pretty easy guess that there is some corruption going on in Iraq, but the depth of it was pretty shocking and something we should be aware of. I just want our soldiers home, safe, soon. I pray for that. What a lousy situation for them to be in.

From The Nation is a video and essay on monitoring "food miles:"
But something very strange has happened to food in the richest country of the world. We can get a bad tomato just about any time of day in any season. We eat out of paper bags and drink the magnificent beverage of coffee out of Styrofoam cups. While we are drinking the coffee, we worry about the possibility of nuclear war over oil. We eat alone. We eat while driving. We eat but there is nothing sacred or beautiful or slow about it.
I am reading (slowly) Barbara Kingslover's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which she states that for every one calorie of non-local food we eat, 87 calories were used to produce and ship it. Since we have started down our eat local path, we have reduced our grocery purchases to one-third what we used to buy there. I never had a number to attach to the fuel savings, though. It feels pretty good to know that saves a lot of wasted energy. We haven't sacrificed a bit, either. In fact, we find it harder and harder to eat out because the food we get is just so much better than even a fine restaurant. And, that is good news.


Her Grace said...

Though we were well on our way, Kingsolver's book really put things in perspective for me. It's a great read, and I hope you enjoy it.

Can someone explain to me why my 4-year-old, who doesn't even watch Disney movies, immediately goes for the toy with the princesses on it? It's going to be tough, but we're going the non-licensed, non-plastic, non-China made route this Christmas too.

The Expatriate Chef said...

The whole Princess thing defies logic. It keeps me up at night, sort of, because I am not a princess kind of girl myself. Fortunately my kiddo doesn't seem swayed by the princess thing yet. Keep my fingers crossed!