Monday, April 23, 2012

I Only Bought it for the Hunger-Strike App

I finally bought an iPhone. I know. I’m the last one on the planet. Even the toddler next door has one. And he just got his first tooth. I really only wanted it for directions and a few apps like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and ones that tell me what products have GMOs, pesticides, corporate greed and other neuroses-forward information. And when I heard about the iCouch app, I figured if I could fire my shrink, the iPhone would pay for itself.

The final straw was when I realized in order to be an effective food activist, you need the proper tools. I mean, where would Gandhi have been without his white sheet and sandals? That bright, pre-Monsanto Indian cotton was a beacon of light to the rest of the world. But today Gandhi would probably be sitting at a Starbucks in his hoodie, starting a petition on and using a weight-loss app for his hunger strike. One that monitors his calorie deprivation and dehydration levels, and then automatically downloads them to Twitter. Old-school Gandhi is hard to fathom. I don’t know how people starved themselves back then. Why did I wait? I’ve broken it down to the following 12 reasons:

1. I didn’t want to be a slave.
Isn’t checking email, Facebook and Twitter enough on a laptop? Do I need another gadget and more pings to induce new Pavlovian responses? Won’t I get all those pings mixed up and fetch my Frisbee when I’m supposed to be playing dead? How many masters must I answer to?

2. I didn’t want to be a slave driver.
The idea that I would be contributing to slave labor in a Chinese factory really put a worm in my apple. But since Apple hired the Fair Labor Association to audit the working conditions there, I don’t feel as bad. Now all my guilt is being directed at Siri. The way I order her around and tell her what to do? I picture her in a Chinese factory making 3¢ an hour while she Googles the nearest bagel for me. I can see her whole family in a cave, sharing a Top Ramen noodle.

3. Who needs brain cancer anyway?
Isn’t there a price to pay for all those electromagnetic rays swirling around your head like a swarm of warm bees? The ones that are left, anyway (see Colony Collapse Disorder). But there I go, projecting the future. Why can’t I just live in the high-frequency now like normal people?  

4. I didn’t want to be a party to the Tea Party.
Credo Mobile has sent me thousands of emails and direct mail solicitations telling me that AT&T and Verizon are the devil, contributing to extremist right-wing causes. And I believe them. Yet after all of Credo's offers for free phones (everything but an iPhone), I’m still an Apple girl. So If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it on my terms. Or so I thought. Turns out it’s on AT&T or Verizon’s.

5. Must we know everything about each other?
Do you really need to know that I’m at Target buying toilet paper? I don’t care that I get some kind of points for announcing it on Facebook from my phone. Single or double ply is my business. And gentle reminder: not so interested when you’re buying yours either. Especially that brand that cuts down virgin rainforests.

6. I couldn’t commit to a two-year relationship.
I can’t commit to a dental appointment a month in advance. Yet for the next two years I’m supposed to pay for this thing that could fall in the toilet? What if I decide to go live off the grid in Siri’s hovel? Hopefully she’ll still get paid her 3¢ an hour for the next two years. That is if she didn’t drown.

7. I didn’t want to be a professional eight-year old.
You know how annoying it is when people are playing with their smartphones in meetings, including the managers? What happened to the days when you got in trouble for chewing gum in class? Of course, now that I have one, I find myself playing with it to subtly broadcast: Here’s what I think about your freaking time-suck of a meeting. Maybe I’ll finally get that promotion.   

8. I fear the new Darwinian order.
I see the future of man, and it’s not pretty. We’re hunched over, looking down with giant thumbs. Not only do we revert back to apes, we’re pretty much extinct from having crossed one too many streets, looking down.

9. Why should a phone be smarter than me?
Doesn’t it make you lazy and codependent for your phone to have all the answers? Actually, in the smarts department, Siri is not much of a threat. She rarely knows anything I ask her. Am thinking it’s malnourishment from sharing that noodle.

10. I can’t face FaceTime.
What if someone with an iPhone wants to videochat with me before I’ve combed my hair or brushed my teeth? Shouldn't that be illegal? I hear plastic surgeons are making a killing from FaceTime. I’m sure the new iJob or iLift isn’t far behind. And now that I’ve accidentally seen all my chins in that two-way camera, I’m thinking of suing Apple for pain and suffering.

11.  I didn’t want to make a decision.
Verizon, AT&T or Sprint? Voice, data plans, texts, sexts. It’s too much. How do you know how much sexting you’ll do? And is the sexting free between other sexters on the same plan, and can you see the sexters if they have an iPhone too? And let’s not even mention that two-way camera.

12. I didn’t want to know how many calories I was eating. 
I was perfectly happy living in denial until that night I ate a whole 3.5 oz. organic fair-trade dark chocolate bar and the next morning my pants wouldn’t button. That's when I said, "Get me that hunger-strike app ASAP." 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is the Gefilte a Sustainable Fish?

Net-trawled gefilte from the waters of Boca Raton, Florida

I've often wondered about the sustainability of that favorite Passover fish, the gefilte. So I decided to do a little research by consulting the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. Their pocket guides, web site and mobile apps help people make choices that promote healthy oceans by recommending which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives” and ones to avoid. Listed in alphabetical order between the Flounder and Halibut, the Gefilte disappointingly merits a "Feh" (equivalent to a "Meh" if you're a Gentile).

Store-caught gefilte from the Albertson's in Boca Raton, Florida

Why the “Feh or Meh” rating? Whether net-trawled or store-caught, each method of gefilte fishing has sustainability problems. With the trawling method, the gefilte nets are dragged along the sea floor, uprooting the gefilte’s habitat, leading to the expulsion of the gefiltes from their homeland. The nets also collect everything in their path, including unwanted species like shellfish, which are not kosher and contaminate the gefilte. And while many gefiltes have been relocated to a contained area in either jelled or clear waters in Florida, store-caught gefilte season peaks in April, leaving store shelves empty the rest of the year.

To combat these issues, scientists at Monsanto are working on a genetically modified gefilte that has been engineered to reproduce year-round while repelling shellfish. By inserting flounder genes into the gefilte's DNA, it is said the new Geflounder® will be approved in time for next year's Passover festivities with no further testing. Gefilte fishery executives are hoping this will at least upgrade the gefilte from a “Feh or Meh” to a “Bleh.”