What’s She Buying? Who Knows?

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

That quote is pretty much what the government of the People’s Republic of ChinaYoung Asian woman  holding her nose because of a bad smell is telling its citizens, and the citizens aren’t buying it.

Literally.

It appears that for years, fish sellers in China have been labeling rainbow trout as salmon.

And for consumers, it does not smell as sweet.

“I am SO not buying that 拉屎,” said one 20-year-old woman, who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

qinghai-mapThe story broke awhile back after the Chinese state media recirculated a video profiling a freshwater fishery in Qinghai province.  The company, according to the video, supplied one-third of China’s salmon.

Other media outlets smelled something fishy (you know I had to say that) because, as you can see from the map, Qinghai province is nowhere close to the ocean, where salmon spend most of their lives.

And that freshwater fishery?  It’s a rainbow trout farm.

Outraged, thousands of people took to social media, including #RainbowTroutBecomesSalmon, protesting the deception:

Twitter

So recently, various authorities – including the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, an industry group affiliated with China’s Ministry of Agriculture, as well as 13 commercial fisheries – offered this comforting thought:

“Salmon and rainbow trout belong to the same family.”

Well, so do my brother and I, but we’d both be pretty annoyed if someone suggested we were the same person.

The authorities also said that markets and restaurants must list the species of the fish and its origins.  So you might see a label that either says:

Salmon (Atlantic salmon)
or
Salmon (rainbow trout)

Can’t you just see that labeling logic applied to other products?

Label Says

You Get

Gov’t Response

Fresh chicken (chicken)
or
Fresh chicken (buzzard)
Buzzards They’re from the same family.
2019 Nissan (Sentra)
or
2019 Nissan (from 1982)
nissan_02  

They’re from the same family.

Thoroughbred horse (horse)
or
Thoroughbred horse (donkey)
donkey_01  

They’re from the same family.

Then there’s the matter of freshwater parasites that could infect humans if the rainbow trout is eaten raw.  If an unaware resident of China orders (raw) salmon sushi, how does she/he know if they’re getting salmon, or freshwater rainbow trout that may contain parasites?

salmon_01 Salmon or rainbow trout?  Only the Chinese government knows for sure! trout_01.jpg

Oh, right.  Just look at the label.  Though I personally have never seen sushi served with a label.

I’ll close with another quote, this from an unnamed ancient Roman who was hip to deceptive labeling:

Let the buyer

(Let the buyer beware.)

Movie Review: It’s A Shame, Amy Schumer

Release date:  April 2018I_Feel_Pretty

Review, short version:  All thumbs down.

Review, long version:

When I started this blog I decided, “I’m qualified to do book reviews because I read a lot of books.”

Can I extrapolate that and say, “I’m qualified to do movie reviews because I watch a lot of movies”?

I can.  I will.  I do.

The movie is Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, released earlier this year.  I was interested in seeing it because I think Amy is frequently funny, and I admire the courage and persistence of people who do stand-up.  I especially admire comediennes because they haven’t had an easy time breaking into the very-much-old-boys’ club of stand-up comedy.

And though I think Amy is frequently funny, I didn’t find anything funny about her 2015 movie, Trainwreck.

amy critics choice award 2016
Amy won a Critics Choice Television Award in 2015.

But give her movies another chance, I thought.

Amy is, after all, not just a comedienne and movie actress; she’s made numerous TV appearances, released albums, videos and a book, is the recipient of many nominations and awards, is currently on a national tour, Amy Schumer and Friends, and she can be funny.

Sometimes.

But once again, not – in I Feel Pretty.

I knew the premise going in – Amy plays Renee,

A woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis.  After suffering a fall, she wakes up believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet.

There is no verbal explanation for Renee’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, but the reason is immediately obvious:

Renee doesn’t look like an anorexic, therefore, she is overweight and incapable of being successful at anything.

This message is loud and clear in multiple early scenes:

  • While checking in at the gym and getting shoes, she lies three times about her shoe size, and then cringes at asking for “nine, double-wide.”  Even her feet are fat.
  • In the gym everyone has a buff body but Renee.  She’s body shamed without anyone having to say a word.

    amy at gym
    Everybody’s buff – but Renee.
  • At home she surrounds herself with fashion magazines, the covers featuring perfect, thin women – something Renee will never be, which equals failure.
  • She goes shopping and is totally humiliated when the saleswoman assumes Renee is looking for a gift – there are no clothes in that store for her horrible body. “You could probably find your size online,” the saleswoman suggests.
  • At home Renee undresses in front of a full-length mirror.  She’s wearing Spanx – a skintight ribs-to-thigh body shaper – something no magazine cover model would ever need.  As Renee looks at herself she tears up and turns away from her reflection.

All this humiliation happened just during the opening credits.

Amy I've always wondered cropped
Renee, before her head injury:  “I’ve always wondered…”

In case you haven’t gotten the message yet, Renee is ashamed of her body.

Not too much further along, in a store Renee encounters a (thin, perfect) woman from the gym.  After a guy tries to hit on the woman – but not Renee, whom he calls “Sir” –Renee says,

“I’ve always wondered what it felt like to be undeniably pretty.  And just have all those parts in life that just open up to you, that you only get to experience when you look like you.”

Renee finishes this self-inflicted self-shaming with, “I’ll just pray for a miracle.”

Renee’s “miracle” comes in the form of a hard hit to the head, after which she sees her hopelessly awful self as something entirely different:

amy i'm beautiful
Renee, after her head injury:  “I’m beautiful!”

Slender arms.  Slender thighs.  Slender all over.

What she’s always dreamed of being.

Again Renee looks in a mirror, but this time says, “I’m beautiful!”

This belief transforms Renee’s life, and the meaning is clear:  Thin equals beautiful.  And not just beautiful; desirable, charming, amazing, fascinating, admirable, fun, happy, successful, and capable of anything.

At this point I wasn’t even half-way through the movie, but I’d had enough.  And I knew where the movie was going:

Through another knock on the head or some other means, Renee will realize that she isn’t thin.  At the end she’ll give a boringly predictable speech about how her body is the same, but now her attitude about herself is changed!  She can reach for her dreams in spite of her weight!

spanx_01No more Spanx for her!

I was sickened by the movie’s body-shaming message, but more sickened that Schumer would make a movie with this message:

You must be thin, or at least believe you’re thin, to be beautiful, to succeed and be happy.

Now, once upon a time, Amy Schumer may have been thin, but she isn’t now:

amy thin_04 amy not thin
Amy then… Amy now.

She wasn’t thin:

In 2016 when she

  • Was nominated for a People’s Choice, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards.
  • Posed nude for the cover of her book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

In 2017 when she

amy-schumer-chris fischer_02
Amy married chef and farmer Chris Fischer on February 13, 2018.
  • Was nominated for two Grammy Awards.
  • Filmed I Feel Pretty.

In 2018 when she

  • Hosted Saturday Night Live.
  • Was nominated for a Tony Award.
  • Married Chris Fischer.

Amy Schumer’s life sends a positive message:

You can have a great life without having a thin body.

Why couldn’t her movie have said the same?

To sum it up, after watching enough of this movie…

I Feel Pretty…

Nauseated.

money back 06 cropped

We Pay People More To Entertain Us – Than To Educate Us

The cover story of the September 24 issue of Time focuses on teachers.

The article was of interest to me, as I have the greatest respect for teachers – I Touch the Future Croppedknowing I could never do that job, that I would never have the endless patience, endurance, and dedication that so many teachers demonstrate every day.

Having known many teachers in my life – in classrooms and, later, in friendships – I consider teaching both a profession and a vocation.  The difference:

vocation croppedProfession:  a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.

Vocation:  a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.

I think of teaching as a higher calling, not in a religious way, but in a selfless way.

Nobody goes into teaching for the glamour, unless you consider dilapidated schools,crowded classroom_04 overcrowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and threadbare supplies glamorous.

And nobody goes into teaching for the money; according to the Time article, “Annual pay for America’s public school teachers has barely budged in three decades.”

Teachers have impacted my life in many good ways and a few bad ways, and I prefer to focus on the good.  With that in mind, I’ll share one story, from one year in school, when…

A teacher changed my life forever in fourth grade.

That teacher was Mrs. Snyder.  To my nine-year-old eyes she was old-looking, older than my mother, more like a grandmother, slightly stout, with short, graying blond hair and ordinary clothes.  Nothing special about her, I thought.

How lucky I am that I was so wrong.

Mrs. Snyder quickly took control of all 50 of us – that’s 50 nine-year-old kids in little house teacherher classroom.  How did she do it?  The same way any savvy teacher would:

She bribed us.

If we were good – and I mean very good – 15 minutes before lunchtime Mrs. Snyder would stop teaching, and read to us.  Read to us?  No teacher had done that before.

Not much of a reader, I didn’t know what to expect.  She started with the first in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and soon I was caught up in the story about a girl who shared my first name.little house books

If we were super good, and we were – all 50 of us – Mrs. Snyder would read to us again, for 15 minutes before the end of the school day.  For 30 minutes a day I lived in the Little House in the Big Woods, followed by Little House on the Prairie.  Then Mrs. Snyder began the next book, On the Banks of Plum Creek.

And then, the school year ended.

Oh, no!  No more Laura and Mary and Pa?  No Mrs. Snyder to read to me?  I was really sad.

Nightstand_01 cropped
Meet my nightstand – this stack should hold me…for awhile.  Thank you, Mrs. Snyder!

So Mom took me to the library, helped me get a card and now I could follow Laura’s story myself.  And so I did, follow Laura’s story, and the stories of thousands of people all captured between the covers of books.

Reading became one of my greatest pleasures – and necessities.

That’s how my life changed forever in fourth grade.

Mrs. Snyder didn’t teach me to read.

She taught me to love it.

Perhaps someday, someone will help me understand why we pay people more to entertain us – than to teach us.

Teachers
Rosa Jimenez, Teacher
Los Angeles,CA
Salary $73,000
Hope Brown, Teacher
Versailles, KY
Salary $55,000
NaShonda Cooke, Teacher
Raleigh, NC
Salary $69,000
Floyd_01 Cropped lionel_messi_photo_josep_lago_afp_getty_images_664928892_resizedjpg cropped conor_02 cropped
Floyd Mayweather
Boxing
Salary $275M
Endorsements $10M
Lionel Messi
Soccer
Salary $84M
Endorsements $27M
Conor McGregor
Mixed Marital Arts
Salary $85M
Endorsements $14M

Book Review: Life’s A Bitch When You’re Rich

Publication date:  June 2018book

Review, short version:  One rose out of four.

Review, long version:

As I was reading Those Wild Wyndhams the word esoteric came to mind.

Esoteric:  Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

The author, Claudia Renton, describes her book as “a project that has taken some eight years from inception to publication,” and that’s a lot of time on a book that, in my view, only a relatively small number of people would appreciate.

Readers need to be interested in:gilded age _01 cropped

  1. England in the 1860s to post World War I, including The Gilded Age (1870s to 1900).
  2. England’s upper class, particularly women of the upper class.
  3. Big books, and this one weighs in at 458 pages.

Since I could check all three, I was in.

Unfortunately, only as far as page 153.

And it wasn’t as big a book as I’d thought.  From the total of 458 pages, subtract

  1. 71 pages of notes8 years cropped
  2. 10 pages of bibliography
  3. 25 pages of index

No wonder this took Renton eight years.

My problem is that, ultimately, the main characters just weren’t that interesting.  For the most part they were just – silly.

And rich.

I know it’s not fair to judge people who lived 100 and more years ago by current standards, but I found it impossible to find empathy, and difficult to find sympathy, for people who were so rich that the parents give their eldest daughter and new husband a house as a wedding gift.

And not just any house; this house:

stanway
Stanway House comes complete with its own church – nice wedding gift!

These were people whose preoccupations included spending money, “bemoaning the impossibility of finding good staff,” moving in the right circles, marrying well, having children, having affairs, and having children with whom they’re having affairs.

And then giving some of those children names like Alfred and Edith, then nicknaming Alfred and Edith “Boysie” and “Little Woman,” and then giving the nicknames nicknames:  “Bosie” and “Wommy.”

Clouds_House.JPG
Another Wyndham home:  Clouds House  was completed in 1886, burned in 1889, and rebuilt by 1891; 25 bedrooms for family and friends, 13 bedrooms for the staff of 30, and a “brushing room, dedicated entirely to brushing dirt off woolen clothes.”

In the not-quite-half of the book I did read, I also got a bit weary of the Renton’s word usage.  I’m all for an expansive vocabulary, but I found these a bit much:say what_01 cropped

Page 27:  It is not too tendentious to extrapolate from this fundamental elements of her character.

Page 66:  Mary and Arthur’s obvious mutual attraction, however, was not beclouded by the bavardage of “flirtation practice.”

The book’s title mainly refers to the three Wyndham sisters – Mary, Madeline and Pamela – who had plenty of drama in their lives, very little of it interest to me.  But there was one good thing:  The 10 feet x 7 feet painting of the sisters by renowned American artist John Singer Sargent in 1899, featured on the book’s cover, above.

I guess, in the end – well, by page 153 – “Bosie,” “Bets” and “bavardage” just did me in.

woman collapsed_03.jpg

Meet Mr. Integrity

sheep feeding belt_02 croppedWhenever I see a politician speaking to a group of people, it seems like there’s always a herd of people behind the politician, as well.

And I always wonder, “Who are those people?  And why are they crowded around the politician like sheep around a feeding trough?”

  • Are they tourists who wandered by and are waiting for a selfie op?politician
  • Are they the politician’s close personal friends, promised cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres if they’d hang around and look interested?
  • Are they staff from the politician’s office who were told, “Attend this and look enthused or you’re fired”?

Well, now I have the answer to why one of those people was standing behind one of those politicians.

Meet Tyler Linfesty, a young (17) man with no ax to grind.  He’d simply heard that President Trump was coming to Billings, MO on tyler croppedSeptember 6 to speak at a rally, and Tyler wanted to see the President of the United States.

No story there until…

There was an incident at the rally.

It involved Tyler.

In interviews after the incident Tyler comes across as an articulate, informed guy – so informed that he lost me when he talked about a “Democratic Socialist” vs. a “Socialist Democrat.”

Or maybe it was the other way around?

Anyway, because Tyler was clearly tuned in to politics and had formed some opinions, he wanted to see the president up close and personal, so he got tickets for himself and two friends.

Tyler had no idea how up close and personal he’d get.

The morning of the rally, says Tyler, he got an email saying that he’d been selected for VIP status, which meant that he’d get to meet the president and have access to premier seating.  Tyler says he hadn’t applied for the status and figures he was chosen by chance.

Rally day arrived and Tyler happened to be wearing a plaid shirt.  His VIP status entitledTyler face circled him to take a quick picture with the president before the rally.  As long as he was on a roll, Tyler asked organizers whether he and his friends could sit together behind the stage.

Rather than simply behind the stage, they were put right behind the president.

Now, Tyler is a guy with integrity, so when the organizers instructed the crowd to clap and cheer, Tyler knew he’d clap and cheer only when he agreed with the president’s remarks.  He wasn’t there to protest or even be noticed, but he wasn’t going to perform on command, either.

Tyler eyes wide croppedOr, as requested, wear a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat, like several others did.

Tyler didn’t realize that his position on stage put him directly behind the president’s shoulder – and directly on camera.  If Tyler smiled or nodded – on camera.  If Tyler looked skeptical or baffled – on camera.

Viewers noticed and quickly dubbed Tyler the “Plaid Shirt Guy.”

At some point someone somewhere made a decision, and a woman sidled over to Tyler and told him she was taking his place.  Tyler looked confused but left the stage without argument.  Shortly afterwards, his friends were replaced, too.

secret service agents cropped
You don’t mess with Secret Service agents.  And no, this isn’t Tyler – no plaid shirt.

Local police and Secret Service agents walked Tyler over to a chair outside the arena, told him to sit and asked to see his ID.  After 10 minutes they asked Tyler to leave and not come back.

“I had to be honest to myself,” he said in one interview.  “I wasn’t going to change my views just to please the people at the rally.”

And somehow – because this is what we do – video of Tyler and the president went viral.  There was a veritable Twitter storm, with new fans of “Plaid Shirt Guy” from the U.S. to Canada, Australia and Europe:.

Twitter_01

The media clamored for interviews.  Tyler took it in stride, knowing that Internet fame is fleeting, indeed.

Tyler Linfesty did not have an agenda.  He was not “making faces” as some media claimed, or “trolling,” which was also bruited about.

Tyler and news guy

Tyler is just a kid who hasn’t learned to prevaricate, dissimulate, and dissemble…

Prevaricate cropped cropped Dissimulate dissemble cropped

Like we adults do.

My takeaway?

If you’re going to cluster around a politician, best be prepared to perform regardless of what you believe.

sheep feeding belt_02 larger cropped

Sometimes, Just – Don’t Do It

pantyhose_04 croppedRemember the good old days when the bad guy would just snap a pair of pantyhose over his head before he robbed a store?

Today, apparently, that would not be considered his “dress for success” look.

Though he might need to rob a store to afford that look.

And here it is:  the Nike X MMW balaclava:

image

Yes, this is the latest in criminal headgear, at least according to myriad people who took to social media to denounce it in August:

“This is a disgrace,” tweeted one.  “Disgusting gang culture for profit.”

Another wrote, “Hey @Nike what are you thinking with this image on your website?  You’re not allowed to be this stupid.”

From yet another tweet, “Endorsing gun and knife crime, as well as enforcing racial profiling.”

And on Facebook, “Absolutely menacing…quite inciteful.”

Here’s where I get confused.  In the image above the model is wearing the Nike balaclava, and appears to have something slung around his neck and hanging over his shoulders.  Many on social media likened it to a holster for carrying weapons.

However, on the Alyx Studio website, which includes the item in its offerings, a different model wearing the same balaclava appears to have no holster as part of his ensemble:

Model final.jpg

And while the product description says it’s “Equipped with a pocket for small items,” it says nothing about a holster.

So I guess Nike “dressed up” the model with a holster to…what?

Nike isn’t saying, but they did respond to the social media storm by saying, in part,

pantyhose_03
Dude, hang onto those pantyhose!

“We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture,” and removing the balaclava from its website.

It’s sold out on the Alyx Studio website.

So I guess the bad guys will have to hang on to their pantyhose – it may be awhile before they can dress for success.

But if you think Nike is embarrassed – I have to deal with my embarrassment at not knowing what a balaclava was, when my husband read the Nike article and queried me about it.

I are a wordsmith, after all.balayage_01 cropped

“Balaclava is that hair coloring stuff that’s supposed to give you a blended, natural look,” I said confidently.

He disagreed, saying that didn’t make sense with the rest of the article.  I went online for verification:  Whoops, the hair coloring stuff is balayage.

balalaikas-romanian-balalaika-bass-1263770206249_grande cropped“Then it’s that Russian stringed instrument?” I said less confidently.

Wrong again.  The Russian instrument is a balalaika.

More research revealed the meaning and origin of balaclava:

Headgear worn originally by soldiers serving in the Crimean War (1853-1856), named after the village of Balaclava in the Crimea.

So now I know better.

I hope Nike does, too.

Don't Do It

Meet Sockless Phil

Phil is happy.

Phil gets to go to work without socks.happy-at-work2

Phil’s office is so big he can ride a bike in it.

Phil is head of a company that will make $125 million this year.

Phil says after 40 years he “Still loves the business” and wakes up “every morning anxious to go to work.”

Because Phil is so happy, he has lots of advice for those of us who don’t head million-Unemployment Linedollar companies but do wear socks:

Phil:  Most companies will keep you employed for…as long as you bring value to the company.

Me:  The 8.7 million people who lost their jobs during the Great Recession might disagree.

When Phil isn’t riding his bike around his office – sockless – he’s apparently writing important stuff on his website, including his (get it?) PHIL ▪ OSOPHY 101:

piles-of-paperwork“About half of your waking life will be spent working, so it’s paramount that your work be something you can be passionate about, that you enjoy, that brings you not just financial rewards and security, but a sense of pride, accomplishment and fun.”

Yessiree, I go to work especially for that “fun” part.

In a different article Phil said he’s in the 10% of the workforce “who wake up in the morning eager to go to work.”  That’s Phil in the red area below.

Phil then took the remaining 90% and divided it into three levels:

Phil stats final with title cropped.png

Translation:

The 40% who “like their jobs, sort of, but they’re very happy when Friday rolls around.  That’s when they get to do what they really want to do with the rest of their lives.”

Then there’s “the next 40%, the ones who say, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s only Wednesday?  This is the longest week of my life!’”

Finally, there’s that “bottom 10%…who exclaim when that alarm goes off, ‘Please, please, please don’t make me go to work today!’”

My estimate is a bit different:

my stats no drones larger cropped

But no worries – because, of course, Phil has advice for us:

“I believe life is too short to merely tolerate your job.  So prepare yourself and go for the top 10%!”

That’s SO helpful, Phil.  Now I have some advice for you:

Buy some socks and…

sock in mouth_02 cropped