A Dragon Slaying Quest

Keep Calm Slay Dragon

What if I told you our entire Congress were being held hostage by a fire-breathing dragon?  That all of the issues that you most hold dear, like wealth inequality, climate change, gun control or healthcare could none of them be resolved until the dragon was slain?  Wouldn’t you want to do something?

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah’s getting on her political soapbox again, here we go.  Minimize! Show me another video of a cute puppy to get this divisive bile out of my mouth.”  But seriously.  If you’re Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, I really want you to hear me out.  Because it’s affecting all of us and it’s an issue we can all of us, as the “little guys” get behind and band together on.

US Distribution of Wealth

I personally began to notice the issue when my documentary addiction started.  You name it, I’ve likely seen it.  I started to notice a trend in documentaries about healthcare, food democracy, water conservation and, most of all, the economy.  All these issues boiled down to one huge problem:  big corporations and funders were bullying consumers, small businesses and, worst of all, our elected officials into doing things their way.  And their way meant that our health, wealth and happiness (and that of people all over the world) could all be sacrificed in order to maximize profit.

A few months ago, I was having a boisterous, but familiar conversation with some TSX co-workers, the subject of which was “What would you do if you had a billion dollars?”  My answer?  I’d buy a Senator.

superpac_game_500

If that sounds hypocritical, let me explain.  You see, because we’re all inherently good, I think most of us answer a question like that by exploring the ways in which we’d help others.  (One of the most common responses?  “I’d buy my Mom a house.”)  But for me, the biggest way to help the largest amount of people would be to replace our current elected officials with ones that aren’t being bribed.  (Oh, wait.  That’s unfair of me to say.  Bribery is illegal.  They’re being “contributed” to).

Bobby Jindal DragonSlayer

“But, Sarah…what if your perfect candidate is corrupted?”

Excellent point you make.  For example, the dragon slaying knight Bobby Jindal in the graphic receives campaign contributions from multiple Political Action Committees whose interests are very likely less than stellar.  That’s why, through Senatorial contributions, if I had the money I would turn myself into a lobbying force to repeal Citizens United vs. the FEC: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec/

If I sound like a conspiracy theorist, I don’t mean to.  I’ve been mulling this issue over for a long time and it just all makes sense to me.  And every day, I get more and more disgusted at how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Did you know all media in this country is under the control of only six corporations?  Most of the food we buy is being sold by only a handful of companies.  Most of the farms making the food are being forced to plant seed from one GIANT company.  And all of these companies are stuffing the pockets of our elected officials to make them vote in a way that maximizes their profits and minimizes your future.

It is infuriating.  It is likely an issue you are already aware of.  But because “they” are so big and “we” feel so small, doing something about it seems insurmountable.  But it’s not.  If we come together.

on.ted.com/Lessig

Now.  I know the video listed above is crazy long (18 minutes) for a blog post.  (I personally saved it for the 25 minutes I spend on the elliptical and it was the perfect companion!) But Lawrence Lessig has a way of breaking down the issue in a way I never could.  (Maybe that’s why he got invited to the TED conference and I didn’t).  His speech inspired the website http://letsfreecongress.org/, which is the perfect place to go once you’re on board the Dragon Slaying Quest and ready to get your friends on board because it has a ballistic amount of statistics on the big Funders who are, essentially, running our country.

Thoreau quote

Once the dragon is slain, we can go back to fighting over the issues.  And maybe then…we’ll all have a fair shot at being heard.

Want to act?  One of the first steps you can take is to support the Anti-Corruption Act, which proposes putting $100 in the hands of every American to support the political candidate of their choice.  In all, that would add up to $30 billion citizen dollars.  What a great way to start slaying the dragon!  http://anticorruptionact.org/

 

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How to find a Hipster

My sister asked me the other day what exactly a “Hipster” was.  In answering her, I discovered my thoughts on the matter were a rabbit hole much deeper than a Facebook “reply.”

It seems every ten to twenty years, in modern civilization, we see a Counter Culture FigureHead that defines a generation.  The 20’s had the Flapper.  The 50’s had the Rebel Without a Cause.  The 60’s & 70’s had the Hippy.  The 90’s had Grunge.  And now…we’ve got the Hipster.

Wikipedia defines the Hipster as a “subculture associated with independent music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility, liberal or independent political views and alternative spirituality and lifestyles.”

When I was in a sorority, I remember having entire chapter discussions on how we didn’t want to be like all the other sororities, who were all, in our minds, “cookie-cutter” images of the same hair-flipping, tote-bag carrying Co-Ed Naked Stepford Wife, conglomerated into one big finger-snapping army.  My favorite movie back then was Fight Club, who touted the idea that “You are not a unique perfect snowflake.”  And it’s true, they weren’t.  But were we?  I think of this when I think of Hipsters.

For the Hipster, individuality is key.  Living in a world of Walmart Eye Doctors and Starbucks on every corner, the Hipster has raged against such commercialism by finding the most obscure market choices possible and getting, like, totally into them.  The Hipster looks at mainstream, consumer driven culture and asks “What’s the place you’d be least likely to shop?  Cause I want to shop there.”  Behold, the rise of Trader Joe’s.

When looking for the Hipster in their natural habitat, it’s important to keep an open mind.  The male hipster is much more recognizable than the female, with his staple skinny jeans, his idiosyncratic facial hair and, perhaps most adorable of all, his puffy little knit cap.  The female is a bit more difficult to peg; I’ve seen hipstresses in ballet tutus paired with Keds, and I’ve seen others dressed like Little House on the Prairie, so it’s pretty much a crap shoot.  Androgynously speaking though, plastic rim glasses are common, as are suspenders, hoodies and oh, so many scarves.

Hipster Bingo

Parenthetically, I have a small theory that it’s entirely possible the skinny jean is the Hipster’s antagonistic response to Sagging.  Wikipedia places the origins of Sagging (http://www.wikihow.com/Wear-Really-Low-Baggy-Pants-Without-Losing-Them) as being adapted into men’s fashion from the US prison system, which prohibits belts.  Sagging was, in itself a rejection of mainstream society.  And now the Hipsters are rejecting it.

And hence, more and more of the things you were told were low-rent or un-classy in your youth are now popular.  Pabst Blue Ribbon is experiencing a big comeback thanks to the Hipster.  Beards are no longer the mark of the lazy and unhygienic, but an incomparable opportunity for self-expression.  Thrift stores are the new Malls.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes

Perhaps moreso than most of their identifying characteristics, Hipsters are defined by their taste in music.  The Hipster’s favorite band is Mumford & Sons.  Well, actually…you’ve probably never really heard of the Hipster’s actual favorite band, but Mumford & Sons is also, like, totally legit in their eyes.  But if you’re YouTubing Marcus Mumford right now, you’re barely scratching the surface of the Electric Bluegrass-roots twang-a-palooza that is the Indie Folk Movement, brought to you by the Hipster.

If it sounds like I’m making fun of them…maybe that’s true.  But it comes from love.  Hipsters are getting stuff done out there.  They’re giving life to a struggling small business sector and encouraging the progress of DIY.  But my favorite thing about hipsters?  They’re destroying the idea that you have to wear or own something with a label in order to be cool.  Anyone can be a hipster.  I’ll try to remember that 20 or 30 years from now, all our teenagers are having Hipster Parties.

Hipster Trap