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Common Threads – July 2013

  • The Charity-Industrial Complex – A great critique of how philanthropy maintains structures of inequality: “The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over…. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.” What we need, he says, is systemic change: “It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.”
  • On questioning the ‘economic common sense’ – We can’t imagine a different type of economy when we’re trapped by thinking taxes are bad and investment and speculation are the same thing.
  • Who framed the asylum seeker? – A good article from Australia on the framing of asylum. Why’s it always discussed as a ‘problem’?
  • Keith Joseph smiles and a baby cries – Jim Coe on single-issue campaigns: in a world of austerity, are we in a zero-sum game? How do we go for the structural changes we need?
  • Paths to climate action survey – Aberystwyth researcher Rachel Howell is doing some research into motivations behind climate change action and she’s after survey respondents: can you help?
  • Targeted advertising in doctors’ surgeries – Seriously?! And this one’s seriously creepy: A newly developed transmitter can send advertising messages to sleepy commuters who rest against the window, so sounds appear to come from inside their own heads…
  • Childish mistakes – Experiences, particularly those that are repeated, shape our values by telling us what is ‘normal, possible and desirable’. What are we learning about ‘equality’ as children (and adults)? “If a teacher tells you in media studies … that Page 3 and similar images are airbrushed and photoshopped and therefore unrealistic, but the boys in your school compare you to them every day, then once again the experience is likely to win out over the facts. Add to this the fact that if anything is repeated often enough it eventually takes on a kind of truth of its own, whether or not it started out as a lie or a joke or ‘just a bit of fun’. The act of repetition legitimises things, as advertisers know very well. In this way images such as the Sun’s page 3 effectively ‘advertise’ to viewers the wares on show and make them seem normal and desirable.”
Richard HawkinsCommon Threads – July 2013