Showing posts from January, 2017

Voting with my wallet

Our choices as consumers are implicit choices to support a business (not to mention its value chain). There are times, however, when a company’s behavior is unacceptable and consumers withdraw their support. Expect those instances to increase; a Forbes blogger wrote in December to expect, “consumer boycotts [to] become pervasive on both sides” of the political divide. (To be sure, some analysts warn that boycotts often come with enough consumer counter-action to offset any drop in sales.) To make matters more complicated, it’s often hard to identify the true owner of some brands and the true behavior of some companies. Today, I downloaded the Buycott app. With Buycott, I can join specific campaigns, like “End animal testing” or “Stop Koch Industries.” Then, I can scan UPC codes in a store, and the app will let me know about the brand’s behavior against those campaigns. I also downloaded the DoneGood browser extension for Chrome. This extension will help to identify the websites of e

Asian-American professionals

Identity is complex and fluid; it can’t be explained by demography or genetics. See my friend David Berreby’s book Us and Them if you really want your mind blown. For me, Asian-American has always deeply been part of my identity. Yet it has not been a deep part of my civic life. I suspect I’m not alone; just last week, an Economist article’s headline read, “Chinese-Americans are becoming politically active.” Today, I signed up to get updates from the Boston chapter of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals . Truth be told, I would have joined as a member. But their website does not seem particularly up-to-date so I’m concerned that they’re dormant. Since I don’t yet know the organization very well, I’ll reserve judgment and hope they have meaningful programs and events in the near future. I’ll get more involved should real opportunities arise.

Immigration challenges

My father emigrated to the United States in 1950, fleeing China in the wake of the Communist Revolution. He was on the one of the last, if not the last, transport ships to leave China bound for the US. Judging by this wikipedia page , he may have been on the same transport as the US Consul General from Shanghai, “who a few days earlier had hauled down his flag, the last flying over a diplomatic post on the Chinese mainland.” The featured image is the ship’s passenger manifest (my father’s name is at the bottom of the page, so it doesn’t appear in the cropped photo). Two days ago, an executive order was issued that restricted entry of all refugees for four months, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry for for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. This New York Times article annotates the details of the order. It hits close to home for me, echoing the Chinese Exclusion Act that restricted immigration based on a particular nationality – Chinese – until it wa

Swamp Revolt training on non-violent action

A week ago, an organization called Swamp Revolt provided training to attendees of the Women’s March in Washington on “nonviolence and active bystander intervention.” This was not anarchists giving their Battle in Seattle advice for surviving tear gas and remaining anonymous. Rather, they sought to teach how to de-escalate hate speech and harassment in public spaces. I didn’t attend that training. But Swamp Revolt makes their training material available here . So today, I read the material and watched their training videos. It was really interesting to read about method to intervene in public – and the necessity of that first person to step up. I feel better prepared should I witness, for example, harassment on the subway. I won’t be a bystander and I hope you won’t be either. For a flavor, check out the video below. But I encourage you to jump in and review all of Swamp Revolt’s material. [youtube]

Namastay sober

Addiction is an insidious disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the global burden of disease attributable to alcohol and illicit drug use at 5.4% of the total burden of disease. In the US, an estimated 21.5 million adults suffer from substance use disorders, costing $200 billion in healthcare, criminal justice, legal and lost workplace productivity. Today, I made a small donation to NamaStay Sober , a modest organization that aids those recovering from addiction with  yoga and fitness memberships. (“Namaste” is a traditional greeting in India and Nepal. Get it.) The idea is to shift addicts in recovery into safer lifestyles, with a built-in community dedicated to wellness. Why donate now? The organization dedicated this month as “Sober January” to raise awareness about addiction. Consider my awareness raised. I’m also supporting my friend Carolyn, who is helping to spread the word. She’s one of the  Good Ones .

Doomsday clock

Today, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight. That means we’re closer to a nuclear armageddon than we’ve been since 1959. I made a small donation to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Here’s hoping we can all turn back the clock.

Democracy downgraded

The Economist Intelligence Unit released its Democracy Index 2016 today. In a chilling development, it writes, “The US has been downgraded from a ‘full democracy’ to a ‘flawed democracy’ because of a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there.” So much for America as the shining city on a hill. Following up on the Women’s March on Washington’s “10 Actions for the first 100 Days” campaign , I wrote two post cards to my elected representatives in Washington, decrying the failing state of democratic institutions and the inability of Washington – both parties included – to govern.

Azimuth Climate Data Backup

There’s a stranger-than-life, but actually very real, risk that the US government’s climate data, from NASA and other agencies, could be scrubbed from government servers, just as all mentions of “climate change” were deleted from the White House website. Indeed, just today , the Administration banned the EPA from any communications, be it press release or social media. So there’s an effort underway to back up US government climate databases and arrange to store it in the cloud (hah!) for posterity. Today, I made a small donation to the effort, through this Kickstarter page . You can check on the project’s progress here .

Writers Resist

Writers have the ability  to influence or transcend political discourse and focus public attention on, as the Writers Resist organization says, “the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.” Today, I signed up to participate with Writers Resist. I missed their day of action, on January 15, but I suspect that won’t be the last time Writers Resist organizes. I’m looking forward to demonstrating how mighty the pen can be. 

Isle of Dogs

I support the arts, in particular, cinema. I made donation today to the Film Foundation, which is dedicated to the restoration of film. Film – the physical medium – doesn’t last forever. This important foundation is dedicated to preserving older films, maintaining the legacy of seminal filmmakers and making films available for exhibition. You can read what Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, Wes Anderson and others say about the Film Foundation on their website . This donation came with a bonus: Through this Crowdrise  page, my donation earned me entries in a raffle. The grand prize in that raffle is the chance to travel to London, meet Wes Anderson – and record the voice of a dog in his upcoming film, Isle of Dogs . How cool is that?! But I wouldn’t have entered had I not believed in the mission of the Film Foundation.

A moment in history

My journey began today when I joined the Women’s March in Boston. The turnout was grand – I’ve seen estimates from 100,000 to 125,000 – and I totally believe them. [ Edit: The Boston Globe reported 175,000 attended the rally. ] The Boston Police say it was the largest gathering in Boston’s recent history. It was history in the making and I was proud to be there. Boston Police say #BostonWomensMarch likely the largest gathering in one place in city’s recent history. No incidents reported. #NBCBoston — Elysia Rodriguez (@ElysiaNBCBoston) January 21, 2017 Judging by my social feeds, I had to have known at least 50 people at the march. I never found any of them, so I ended up marching alone. It was also so crowded that I never heard any speeches or saw any dignitaries. (Happily, Boston featured politicos rather than celebrities.) But you know what – it was amazing. To see so many people moved to act was inspirational. Will it make a difference? Whether this was