Filtering by Category: 2008

Your Money or Your Health

Added on by PS Cat02.
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Posted by Mimi.

My friend Corie went to the vet today because her tail was sore and swollen (she got bitten by a dog). She needed surgery, and luckily her big one had $500. Imagine what happens to people who don't have health insurance. (believe me - human being surgeries don't cost "only" $500!)

Healthcare is a right. Yet 47 million Americans are uninsured and millions more are underinsured. 18,000 people die every year because they are uninsured. People with insurance are bankrupted when they have a serious illness. People want universal healthcare and physicians want universal healthcare. We cats don't understand why American people still don't have universal healthcare. Watch this video!

>> Health of the Nation – Coverage for All Americans <<

In the video, the panelists discuss problems with the current health care system. Seems like everyone is dissatisfied with the current system.

Currently, about 60% of the U.S. healthcare system is financed by the government (taxes). These funds pay for Medicare, Medicaid, the VA (Veterans Administration), and coverage for public employees (including police and school teachers), elected officials, military personnel, etc. About 20% is financed by the people directly through out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays, deductibles, and insurance premiums. About 21% is financed by private employers. Under the current system, the poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for healthcare than higher income individuals.

In fact, American people can have universal healthcare at essentially no additional cost. A universal public healthcare system can be funded by savings from eliminating administrative wastes under the current system (at least 30% healthcare costs). People may pay a little more in taxes, but this would be more than offset by all current out-of-pocket payments. For the vast majority of people, the cost would be less than the current system. See Physicians for a National Health Program: http://www.pnhp.org.

Shouldn't a government take care of its people? Is it more important to save lives (for no additional cost) than to save Wallstreet (for $700 billion)? We would've been very sad if Corie had died today because of a stupid little bite.

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[ note from Bunny: Mimi is a practicing physician and before that worked as an economist. ]

Everything Has a Spirit + I Can Hear Gandhi

Added on by PS Cat02.
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Pinky & Bunny are busy audio recording today so I'm bored and blogging.

First thing I want to say is "Everything has a spirit." I have no proof of this, but I think it's totally okay to write diary entries about things that are not yet proven as facts but maybe fall under the big category of "beliefs". Question though - how can something like this be proven? I have no idea and I don't really care. When I was younger I could hear almost everything talking to me, even fruit and staplers. Everybody thought I was crazy, even Mimi. Or they said "She's just a kitten." It's not just cats who like to pretend that we are so unique in the spirit-world, I notice human beings are the same way. Actually, deep down I think lots of people want to believe everything has a spirit but if they stop and think about it using the officially approved thinking methods, then they make conclusions, "No, only we are so special to have a spirit" which to me is totally ridiculous. But as I said earlier I have no proof. This is funny though - if you put fake eyes on a picture of anything suddenly people will say "Hey look at that talking stapler!", no problem.

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Related topic: Here is a very, very rare audio recording of Gandhi. Everybody's heard of Gandhi but almost no one has heard his voice before. Maybe you saw a movie about him but that's not the same thing.

Come to think of it how do we know this is really Gandhi's voice? Unless you were there and made the recording yourself, why would you believe me that this is Gandhi? Do you believe me just because I showed you an old album cover?

I think it's very unpredictable what we are willing to accept as proof of something on a day to day basis.

Posted by Kim

1:1 Relationships

Added on by PS Cat02.
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You ever get the idea that your life is trying to teach you something? Recently I've had a bunch of separate things happening to me that, taken all together, is making me rethink what I value about relationships. I won't bore you with all the details of the individual occurrences, but still, I think I'd like to write about it a little if you don't mind, so I can figure it out a bit.

The past couple of years Bunny and I have put a lot of effort into trying to make The Pinky Show more popular. Especially this last year, we've spent an enormous amount of time writing e-mails or talking on the telephone with people making working relationships that we think will help get the word out. We think our message is important so we want a ton of viewers. (I hope that doesn't sound too arrogant, I just mean that we have an important job to do and we take it very seriously.) Recently we went over 6 million PS episode views, so it does look like something is working, but one of the things that I've been thinking about more is this: Are we approaching relationship building the right way? What kind of relationships do we want?

I ask this now because I've noticed I've been feeling weirder about people as our project gains popularity. It's not that people are becoming weirder (I'm not crazy - I do realize it's not everybody around me that's changed...), I just think the problem is I'm spending way too much time communicating with people I don't actually know. As our project has gotten more popular, Bunny and I find ourselves spending more and more time doing 'relationship building' with people we'll probably never meet. I'm sure most of these individuals are perfectly nice and in real life they'd be wonderful to chat with over coffee. But to be realistic, for 99.9% of the people we communicate with, we'll probably never have a chance to meet them face to face.

I know having allies is really, really important. We have common political objectives and I realize we all need to work together to achieve specific goals. But I also think I haven't thought enough about 'working relationships' via the internet and how that's connected to how I'm put together emotionally. Bunny, Mimi, Kim, and I are actually very private and introverted. We're not un-friendly but I know we all tend to like relating to less people more deeply, instead of a ton of people just a little bit (or not at all). And the latter is exactly the direction that our lives have gone in the past couple of years! My gut feeling is I think that's some kind of problem.

The bottom line is I think it's really important for me to keep 1:1 relationships the center of my life. Considering the nature of our work, I'm not really sure how I'm going to do that, but I think it's definitely a good idea.

I'm going to try to make it a priority to strike a better balance in our relationship-building activities. We're not going to stop working to increase our audience, because that really is a basic requirement necessary for the success of our project. But I also think I need to fundamentally change my mindset about how I interact with others. I need to be more picky-choosy about who we spend our time working with. I think it's okay if Bunny and I approach our work as if we are making all this stuff for ourselves and each other, and oh, by the way, it just so happens we have a few million people watching. Something like that.

Every day we get a ton of e-mails from people and a good number of them want something: can you do "X" for me/my organization, I need an answer regarding "Y", make an episode on subject "Z", and so on. It only occurred to me this morning that we don't really have a way to ask these people something simple like: "Who are you?"

~ pinky

Day 2 of Not Blogging!

Added on by PS Cat02.
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Okay, I know just yesterday Bunny said we're not gonna blog so much anymore and here I am making a diary entry for the second day in a row. (sorry?) But I wanted to post this very interesting YouTube video titled An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube. It's kind of long but also very fascinating. I think everybody intuitively knows that YouTube is somehow a very important social and cultural phenomena, but most of us don't really understand what it is, who it is, and why it is. So if that's you then here's a useful video.

Thank you to Lynette for telling me to watch this!

Okay I think I'm going to go to sleep early tonight. Goodnight everybody. ~ pinky

Blogging vs. Videos; Young People Doing Good Things

Added on by PS Cat02.
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A couple of weeks ago I launched our Teacher's Survey to help us collect data about what people think about our videos, our website, and other stuff. One of the things that quickly became apparent when we started analyzing the data returned from the survey: people really like videos. Nearly all the surveys we got back told us that they consider the videos on our site - not only videos we've produced but also videos by others we've re-presented - to be extremely useful, which I guess is very good news. This blog, on the other hand, received only a 'somehwat useful' rating from most site visitors.

Pinky and I had been assuming that people like this blog because the blog pages actually receive a lot of visitor traffic. But now that we have data to look at, we realize that a lot of people might be reading this blog without finding it too useful! And since we are all about doing work that others will hopefully find useful, I think it makes a lot of sense that we should spend less time writing in this blog and more time making or finding good videos for people to watch and use.

We'll probably just keep this blog on the website because there are a lot of times we just feel like writing something with no intention of further developing it into an episode. It's a relatively quick way to get an idea out there. But since neither of us are fast writers it does take time away from other things so probably we should use our time more wisely.

So! On that note, tonight I will post a nice YouTube video here that made me feel really good when I watched it. I know some of you think we (cats) are really down on human beings for all the stupid things they do, and to a certain extent I guess that's true, but I am also very impressed with some human activity from time to time. Like these people in the video, for example. They are young people who are taking the responsibility to make their life's work all about helping the planet. When the majority of people decide to make the majority of all their waking hours count - instead of thinking of service to humanity, animals, and the planet as some kind of spare-time activity - then I think this planet will survive. Thanks to Life of the Land for the video.

When the Anna Rose talked about her response to seeing the coal ships on the horizon exporting climate chaos to the rest of the world, I almost choked. Can't be that she was the only one to see that - which makes me wonder: Why is it that, presented with disturbing or otherwise challenging information, some people will change their lives in order to fight for change, while others will continue on, business as usual? Pinky and I have been trying to figure this one out for a few years but still have no real explanation.

Bunny

Educator's Survey

Added on by PS Cat02.
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We've created a new survey for teachers/educators.

Feedback is very important to us - it not only helps us to understand how people are using our work; positive quotes and testimonials are also very helpful when we submit grant applications. So if you do any kind of teaching - at a school, university, community center, your living room, or anywhere else for that matter - please help us to make a difference by taking a few minutes to fill out a survey.

So if you know any teachers that use/love/hate The Pinky Show, please send them the above link. Or, if you know any teachers who don't already know about the Pinky Show project, please introduce them to our website. We don't have a budget for advertising, public relations, or marketing - everything is 'word of mouth'. Thank you!

For those of you feeling left out, don't worry. We'll be coming out with a student survey in the near future.

Hey America! Why Not Visit Runit?

Added on by PS Cat02.
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Runit is a small island in the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Where are the Marshall Islands? Here's a tiny reference map to orient you.

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And why would you want to visit Runit? Well, for one thing, Runit is home to a very impressive concrete dome built there during the late 70's. After seeing the photo below, I'm sure you'll want to see it in person:

Spectacular, isn't it? The concrete cap is 18" thick and 350 feet wide. The tiny dots on the dome are people. So yes, it's big.

The dome was kind of like a gift from the United States to the people of the Marshall Islands. Why? Well, after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were both engaged in an unfriendly game of nuclear oneupmanship. As part of this competition the United States used various sites in the Marshall Islands from 1946-1958 to test nuclear weapons. Of course this resulted in enormous amounts of radioactive contamination to the environment and all life forms in the area, but fortunately 20 years later the U.S. was kind enough to scrape up some of the contaminated everything and dump it all into one of the atomic bomb craters. Then they poured concrete on the whole thing. The dome has developed lots of cracks in its surface and it's leaking toxic stuff into the environment, but the U.S. government says it has "no formal custodial responsibilities for the site", which I can only assume means that it's safe. So the next time you feel yourself desiring a tropical island getaway, don't forget Runit.

- Bunny

P.S. Almost forgot - here's a short excerpt from a recent news story about the legacy of atomic testing in the Marshall Islands (The Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 18, 2008). You might want to read it.

Later I meet Lemeyo Abon. She - like 90 per cent of the children from her island of Rongelap who were exposed to radiation during the test era - has cancer, in her case thyroid cancer.
She vividly describes the morning of March 1, 1954, when a flash of light eclipsed the sun and white powder drifted down from the sky.
"It was fallout from Castle Bravo, the largest nuclear bomb the US ever detonated and one of the world's worst radiological disasters," says the 68-year-old grandmother.
Her warm, weathered face speaks of a life lived but not of the anguish. "First, there were lots of miscarriages among the women," she says. "Soon afterwards came the deformed babies - the 'jelly babies' or 'octopus babies' we called them.
"The birth defects have passed down the generations. My own granddaughter was born with a tail," she says, as if this were scarcely out of the ordinary. "She was medevaced to Honolulu for surgery and now she's 14. Sue's her name ... what a smart girl."

Read the whole story here.

First Peek: PS installation at AAC

Added on by PS Cat02.
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Exhibition curator Rex Weil sent us a snapshot of the Pinky Show section in the Picturing Politics: Artists Speak to Power exhibition at the Arlington Arts Center going on right now.

The vitrine on the left has Pinky Show zines and stickers in it. It's a bit weird to see something like zines encased behind plexiglass but if it wasn't probably the zines would walk away very quickly. The shabby Pinky Show poster ('laminated' with packing tape) on the left is the poster we usually have in our office - we take that poster with us every time we do a workshop or go somewhere to speak, so it's pretty beat up.

The only thing that concerns us about the installation is the apparent lack of wall text for the two large pieces. I wrote some text to be placed next to them - from the picture it looks like it wasn't included. (I wrote to the curator to ask - he wrote back to say that he wasn't sure it if was included or not; he's checking) It bugs me when museums don't include information that help explain the objects on display. If a context is not provided, I think it becomes too easy for the museum visitors to think of the art work only in terms of what it looks like.

~ pinky

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[ Bunny: The wall text that was supposed to be placed next to the art work is below. Anyone who wants to see the images more close-up can see them in our Commons Gallery - just click on the On Native Land series icon. ]

 
 

I'M ON UR LAND..., Version 2.0
Pinky & Bunny
Giclée on canvas, 24 x 30 inches
2008

Pinky notes: Among other things, maps are a fundamentally important instrument of conquest. In the case of the "New World", the mapping of native peoples and lands helped settlers conceptualize and orient themselves to their new and unfamiliar surroundings.

This image references John Smith's well-known map of the area now commonly referred to as Virginia. Comparisons with later maps of the same area clearly illustrate the extent to which settlers have succesfully erased Native people from the land - via displacement, forceful removal, introduction of diseases, and outright killing.

As you can see, there's not many English language place-names on this map. It's not unusual for documents to live multiple lives - at one time a useful tool to be utilized in the service of conquest, and now a document that helps to dispel commonly held settler myths - for example: "When we arrived, the land was vacant; there was hardly anybody here. There was no genocide."

Bunny notes: Looks like the native guy's quiver is made from the front half of a dog! lol

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On Native Land triptych (left-side panel)
Pinky & Bunny
Giclée on canvas, 24 x 36 inches.
2008

Pinky notes: This piece is the left-side panel of a triptych (approximately nine feet across) titled On Native Land. Together the three panels name imperial culture, militarism, and occupation as basic structuring elements of the United States of America, currently the planet's most powerful settler state.

This image, with its huge columns and the D.C. Mall in the background, is a reference to how imperial culture and symbolic form are deployed to shape popular narratives and provide the empire with a strong sense of identity.

The middle image (not included in this exhibition), a nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site, refers to militarism and direct use of force (sometimes just the threat of force will do) in the service of building and maintaining an empire. The right-side image, a photograph of Arlington National Cemetery (also not included in this exhibition), is a reference to the seizure and use of native land by settlers for settler interests.

Of course there are other aspects of empire that warrant discussion, but we think talking about how these three mechamisms work together is a useful starting point.

The triptych may be viewed in its entirety at the Pinky Show website (www.pinkyshow.org) in our Commons Gallery.

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[ Kim: Wow that sucks that they didn't put your text next to the paintings! Isn't it ironic that the show's title is "Picturing Politics 2008: Artists Speak to Power" and here they are limiting what you can show and what you can say? That's too funny! ]

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[ Pinky: Kim, I don't have any information if the wall text has been included or not, if it was intentionally excluded, or what. As of today (8/29) I'm still waiting for a reply. ]

Beautiful Death From the Sky

Added on by PS Cat02.
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The other night I was searching the internet for information on nuclear warheads when I came across this pretty photograph:

The first thing I thought was "Wow, that's beautiful... what is it?" Turns out it's a long-exposure photograph showing the descent of multiple warheads from a nuclear missile. I'd never seen a photograph that actually shows the warheads falling to Earth before. This particular photo is of a test of a MX intercontinental ballistic missile (a.k.a. LGM-118A Peacekeeper missile - yes, that's what they actually named it) over the Marshall Islands. Each one of these missiles can carry up to 10 warheads, with each warhead carrying the destructive power of 25 Hiroshima bombs.

I'm sure it's not easy to design a machine as complicated as an intercontinental ballistic missile. I mean, think about it: a large, multi-stage rocket that's somehow able to shoot far up into the sky, so high that it skims the very edge of space, then maneuvers itself into position so that it can then rain 10 warheads down on 10 different cities, thousands of miles away, each nuclear explosion killing millions. In seconds. It's amazing. And it's not only a marvel of science, it's also a marvel of logistical planning. Someone had to coordinate the work of literally thousands of scientists and technicians, just to get the decades-long, enormously complicated project to move forward!

And actually I think that's the part that keeps me up at night. It's one thing to lay awake in bed, thinking of all the people and animals and plants that will be destroyed by the awesome destructive power of these weapons. But what really haunts me is the question of how so many smart people would be willing to completely give themselves - their minds, their hard work, their enormous creative potential - over to a process of developing weapons of mass destruction.

It seems so weird to me that if any of these people were acting alone, or maybe in a small group, to make a bomb to blow up a few dozen or even a few thousand people, everybody would say "Oh my goodness these people are terrorists, they need to be caught and executed!" But since these scientists are working for Lockheed Martin or Raytheon and they are trying to figure out how to incinerate millions at a time, this is respectable work. Is it the degree from MIT or Stanford that makes it okay? Or do we need these weapons simply because there are people in this world who deserve to be mass murdered via nuclear explosion and fallout?

I wish Bunny & I had enough time to walk around and ring the doorbell of every scientist that works for the so-called 'defense industry'. I want to plead with them to please reconsider and maybe try to use their knowledge and talents for something less totally insane.

~ pinky