Category Archives: Commercialization

Awesome Catalog

Thursday mail brought the new Syracuse Cultural Workers catalog to my door. I love looking through this. I guess it is what some people feel when they peruse shoe magazines or other merchandise, but I am drawn to the ideas of my leftist world made real in posters, books, calendars, and more. I could buy almost anything in this catalog and be happy. Peace, understanding, love, anti-bias, wisdom, it is all in here.

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Put a Sock in it.

Scene of the dyeing

I finally got around to the sock dyeing project that has been sitting, amongst all the other neglected ideas, in the dust-gathering piles in my office. I had the socks, the dyes, the bottles, the soda ash, and the rubber bands all ready.

Finally, with my departure Sunday afternoon for a week-long trip, the morning opened up as prime project time. I soaked socks and explained the process to my daughter. I did forget to get her gloves, so she declined to get her hands multi-colored though she did try squeezing a dye bottle for one pair of socks. She directed how she wanted the socks to be colored, and enjoyed the process. She tends to want to watch a new experience before trying it out herself, anyway. Next time I will have gloves and she may want to do more.

After one washing

The net result are some fun socks that lack the branding and mandatory pink and glitter that girls' socks have these days. They are also clothing that my daughter had input into the creative process for making them, so hopefully she will be excited about them.


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Filed under activities, Commercialization, Gender

Birthday Presents

My daughter is turning four. We have managed to keep her alive, healthy, and for the most part happy for four years. While the party this weekend will feature many of her friends, it is also a celebration of doing our job as parents.

And it is a chance to continue parenting. Birthday presents are a wonderful/terrible thing. I remember getting birthday presents and that being one of the highlights of the year for me. I have seen the excitement that a large gift giving ignites and the consequences afterward. I think there is a place for this in children’s lives (and adults’ lives, too).

The excitement is less a concern than the gifts themselves. I recently finished Rethinking Popular Culture and Media and am currently turning my last set of notes into digital objects. Some go to GoodReads on my lists, others to Delicious as bookmarks. Still others get added to Pandora as a new station.

One of the articles in the book, however, merits inclusion in this blog. Many, actually, were that good, but this one is especially pertinent to me. “Miles of Aisles of Sexim: Helping students investigate toy stores” describes Sudie Hofman’s college course assignment which led her students to look at toy stores with a critical awareness of gender. The results are not surprising, yet they are striking.

Some quotes:

  • Madison Avenue now encourages violence during playtime in the name of peace and justice.
  • The girls’ area…is well stocked with vanity mirrors… The focus is on being popular with boys. The shelves are overflowing with Mattel Barbies and endless paraphernalia, including Barbie’s scale, set at one weight: 110 pounds.
  • The girls’ section does not have many board games that stimulate creative thinking or require higher-order reasoning.
  • (for boys) science-based toys are solitary and don’t present opportunities for verbal or social development. Packaging hints at being the best or creating and building superior models or designs.
  • Toys for girls implicitly urge them to find husbands in order to get their dream lives. Girls are taught to compete with each other for male validation… Girls’ toys promote unattainable physical perfection and materialistic values and typically strengthen the cultural messages of inferiority and second-class status
  • twice as many toys for boys than girls

It is this that makes birthday presents so challenging for me. For many, these concerns are at best hogwash and at worst an example of crazy liberal plots to take over the world. I just don’t want to inundate my daughter with more negative messaging about her body, her role in society, and her worth.

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Food for Thought

Making sushi today for kids' snack.

Two very different items that fall under the “Food for Thought” title:

Item 1:

healthful 10 grain bread from Arnold:

whole wheat flour, unbleached enriched wheat flour[flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], water, wheat gluten, wheat fiber, yeast, sugar, cellulose fiber, inulin (chickory root fiber), polydextrose, sunflower seeds, wheat, rye, molasses, wheat protein isolate, salt, ground corn, cultured dextrose and maltodextrin (a natural preservative), raisin juice concentrate, buckweat, datem, monoglycerides, brown rice, oats, triticale, citric acid, barley, flaxseed, millet, calcium sulfate, grain vinegar, stevia extract (a natural sweetener), soy lecithin, calcium carbonate, nuts [walnuts and/or hazelnuts(filberts) and/or almonds], rice protein, whey, soy flour, nonfat milk.

Bread I baked today:

Bread flour, water, whole wheat flour, molasses, butter, salt, oats, yeast

I particularly like the cellulose fiber in the first list. Cardboard? Also cultured dextrose and maltodextrin being the natural preservatives.

Item 2:

On another front, I recently passed this article on to faculty at my school. I really liked it not just because it critiqued the massive marketing that is happening around the Lorax movie, but it also critiques the book, something I had not really done before. It jumped out at me again as I bought a new bottle of Seventh Gen dish soap.


Filed under Commercialization, Food

I Want/I Don’t Want

Billions of dollars are being spent to make me want things. I don’t want to fall prey to these huge corporations to fill their coffers, and I don’t want my thinking molded by their ads. I don’t even want my thinking to be molded by the many terrible personalities portrayed in media. I kid myself in thinking I can isolate myself from the influence that surrounds me much as the Atlantic Ocean surrounds a lone fish.

I seek to build resistance to these same influences in my children. The same culture, however, is filled with critical thinking even if it, too, is a fad at times. The recent food movement, part of a cyclical pastoral movement, is no exception. I have read Omnivore’s Dilemma and Farm City among other books on the topic. As a child, I lived through the last surge of food consciousness and spent countless hours tending the fairly large garden in our backyard. All of this push back from mass-produced food and popular culture creates a culture of its own, and that culture is now being fully merchandised and promoted. One of the several toy stores near our house has a display in its window of a whole collection of Playmobil farm themed figures, equipment, and buildings. There are very few farms or farmers nearby, so this offering is about make believe just like the pirates and the castles. Yet, I am drawn to this particular set, and in this I am swayed by the billions of dollars that did research to see what types of adults live in this area and what they would purchase for their children. But, golly, I want it!

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Filed under Commercialization, Toys