Another 5 for Friday

Two weeks ago I did a 5 things for Friday post, some things that had caught my attention and been on my mind during the week.  It got a lot of positive feedback, so I have decided to make it a regular feature.  Here’s another five things that have had me thinking over the past few weeks…

1. Inspiration Porn

Hannah from Stickman Communications forwarded this link – an opinion piece on how the use of images of people with disability as a source of inspiration is degrading to the disabled themselves.  The piece is a point of view which I am ashamed to admit I had never considered.  But it does address something that I have often thought about – how it feels when someone says “you are an inspiration.”

The piece AND the comments are worth reading. 

I have a lot of empathy with the points of view expressed, like how strange it seems when a person is just getting on with life but is held up as an inspiration.  As Hannah puts it so well in her post, going for coffee or to Tesco are just average everyday things for ANYONE so when someone with a disability is told that they are inspirational for just venturing out it can come across – on face value – as very degrading to the recipient.  I mean, how would you feel if someone just came up to you in a shop and said “you are inspirational” – and then walked off without engaging further?  Is it odd to applaud people simply for seeking to live life? 

The part of the discussion I identify with the most is in the comments section, a posting from Blue Tongue:

“Being a source of inspiration takes nothing from you and costs you nothing, so why should you resent it?”

I’m still thinking about this article. It has definitely challenged my perspectives.

2. The Future of Oil

I know, random right?  For me not really.  Since I was about 9 years old I have been interested in energy – from school trips to dams and nuclear power stations to a summer course about the future of energy, something about its production and availability has always interested me.

One of the big topics in energy is whether or not the world has actually reached “peak oil” – or the maximum possible levels of oil production from all oil fields, globally.  Peak oil from a production sense puts a cap on how much energy can be produced from oil.  It is the supply side of the energy policy equation, driving thinking and government decisions about the urgency to find alternatives to oil based energy.

Recently a report was released by Harvard which states that due to developments in technology (the extraction of oil from shale rock) we are nowhere near our peak.  This report was refuted by scientists in the UK.

I don’t know what “the right” answer is – all I know is that energy cost and use has been one of the significant themes of my lifetime (I was born in 1970 so was a toddler in the Oil Crisis years of the 1970s).  And with the debate on “the right answer” still so divergent it leads me to think that there is no way that policy consensus on what a country should do or how a country should plan for the future can be developed.  Meaning that we all probably face a volatile and costly future.

3. Maytag, Customer Service, and Diversity

Somehow I started following Veronica Armstrong, both her blog and on twitter.  I love her photography and she writes with intelligence. 

Earlier this week one of her tweets caught my eye.  Veronica announced that Maytag coincidentially had blocked her on Twitter after she sent a series of messages asking how they had chosen the bloggers for their current campaign, leading her and others to believe that the company was “hiding something” about how it conducts marketing and the aims of the company when it comes to diversity in those it associates with.  (Forgive my précis, which is probably not very precise – you can read Veronica’s story here.

I walked away with a few thoughts from seeing this unfold (and reading all the chatter on Twitter, Facebook, and Veronica’s blog). 

First, if companies choose to be online through social media forms like Twitter, they need to have a thought through way to respond to queries – not blocking tough ones, or leaving legitimate questions unanswered.  It is not too tough to set up an auto-DM asking people to redirect their DM to the customer service email, right?

Second, the root of Veronica’s question was about how the representatives in the campaign were chosen.  The basis of this was to seek if diversity of contributor was represented.  I think
this is a valid question – I for one want to associate with clubs, companies and brands that are all about accessibility for everyone (not just showing one type of person, one type of face, or one point of view).  That I am proud to be associated with. 

It is sad that we have to think about this still, today, but it is reality.  And until diversity is no longer something to work toward but such an automatic that lack of diversity is the outlier, I will hold both myself and organisations to account.

4. Sugar

If you watch the BBC you have probably seen or heard of the show “The Men Who Made Us Fat”.  One of the features of this programme was exploring how the food industry has increased the use of industrial processed sugars in our foods since the 1950s.

Now the more I learn to cook at home, and the more things I branch into making (like ice cream) the more aware I become of how much sugar goes into the food I consume – in particular the ready made supermarket foods. 

But one things I hadn’t thought about was THE QUALITY of sugar.

This article on The Foodie Bugle is fantastically well written – and explores the subtlety of taste and importance of high quality sugar. 

Reading this made me want to take the whole cane sugar sticks I got at the Vietnamese supermarket (for making pho), mill them up, and try a vanilla cake with milled cane – just to see the flavour difference.

And yes, I know.  There are those who say that sugar turns on addictive centres in our brain, causes cancer, and is unhealthy.  I think that the same three things can be said about many things in our life, and although I appreciate that eating sugar is not particularly healthy, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a treat now and then, especially if you are making your own from scratch.

5. Humour

And finally, I love this little diddy from The Daily Mash.  You know I love a good cupcake.  But I also love a good laugh and I love strong sarcasm. 

The “article” was a perfect reminder to never take yourself and your habits too seriously – and to remember to laugh!


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