Saturday, January 26, 2013

FLASH FICTION: A Word From S.C.H.O.O.L.S.


What is Flash Fiction? It is a quick, short, piece of fiction meant to be written and read quickly. Sometimes, Flash Fiction is based upon a photo or image, other times, just a collection of words. Now, for your reading enjoyment, "Unforgettable Loan Sharks."
 


                We will return to Insomniacs’ Theatre after a few words from our sponsor…
                Do you want to make more money? Sure! We all do! But, unless you are a Mafioso or part of the Yakuza, you may find it difficult to make massive amounts of money with minimal effort while simultaneously preying on the fears and failures of others. Have you thought about being a loan shark, but your clients simply forget about their debts? Well, look no further! Here at SCHOOLS, the Stupendous Collegiate Home Of Outstanding Loan Sharks, we have boiled down the proven methods used by loan sharks throughout the ages and put them in our 42-DVD correspondence course to complete at your leisure.
                Once you complete the course, take an online exam, and print out your SCHOOLS diploma, none of your clients will be able to forget you. Follow all of our 15,080 easy steps and you, too, will be able to swim in a pool full of money like Scrooge McDuck.
                With our 42-DVD SCHOOLS program, you learn valuable lessons like:
·         Finding Clients and Gaining Their Trust
·         Bribery
·         Correct Brass Knuckles Procedure
·         Hiring the Right Lawyers
·         Proper Baseball Bat Techniques
·         Intimidation
·         Interest Rates: When Are They Too Low?
·         Networking With Local Bookies and J.P. Morgan Chase Loan Officers
·         Repossessing On Title Loans
·         Investing Your Earnings Back in the Community
·         Hiring Thugs vs. The Hands-On Approach
·         Paying off the Police
·         Payday Lending
·         Buying Juries
·         And Many More!
                Just listen to what our satisfied clients have to say!
                Having a judge in my back pocket was quick and easy, and I would not have been able to do it without the SCHOOLS program. Thank you, SCHOOLS, you have saved me years in prison.
                Before SCHOOLS, I only lent money out to friends and family, and at little or no interest. Now, I own a string of very profitable Pay Day Loan stores and am about to break ground on my Money Silo. Thank you, SCHOOLS!
                My city league softball team really seems to appreciate my new bat-swinging techniques. We ended the season undefeated! Thanks, SCHOOLS!
                Easy payment plans are available! No credit needed, just a very low 75% per month interest rate. Operators are standing by for your call.
                Be unforgettable. Be rich. Be a loan shark. And now, back to Insomniacs’ Theatre.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Slavery is NOT dead

No one in the US today is in slavery, right? That's why we fought the Civil War--to free the slaves... right?


Wrong. Today, slavery is more prevalent than in any other time in history.

Modern-day slavery takes many forms. From the sweat shops in Malaysia making our cheap clothing to diamond mines and even the cocoa fields in Northwestern African countries, slaves touch nearly everything we in the "civilized world" do every day.

Abolitionists today are working just as hard as their 18th Century counterparts to abolish slavery. However, the world economy is built on supply and demand. When we in the industrialized world demand $5 t-shirts and $10 jeans, the owners and managers of the off-shore factories that produce our clothing will do what they feel they need to in order to make that happen.

Those tactics include going to poor villages and promising a better life in the city or another country for their children, and then paying parents for the opportunity to take their children--usually girls. These girls are usually sold to brothels or other forms of sexual slavery. The lucky ones get to work in the sweat shops. When they outlive their usefulness--many of the girls being HIV-positive--they are simply thrown out into the streets.



So what can we do?

1) Educate yourself. Slavery is real, it ruins lives, diminishes us all, and it is alive and well in the industrialized countries. There are upwards of 27 million slaves worldwide today, more than there ever was "back then." Do your research on manufacturers before making large (or small) purchases to see if they have a reputation for hiring slaves.


2) Buy responsibly. Many are sold into slavery as children, by parents who either believe the slavers will give them a better life, or are so desperate to feed their remaining children. When you can, buy Fair Trade items. Certified Fair Trade products only gain international certification after someone sees the working conditions and speaks with the workers. There are many companies online that sell certified fair trade.

3) Share your knowledge. Spread the word. When someone comments on your unique jewelry or the new leather jacket, tell them the story behind it. Tell them that you are providing a living wage for someone with your pruchases.

4) Contact your government officials. Human trafficking is quickly becoming the most lucrative illegal activity in the world. Contact your representatives to encourage them to create harsher punishments for those who are caught trafficking.

Human trafficking  and modern-day slavery affects everything we do. With all of the opportunities today for informing ourselves and purchasing humane products, I do not think we can close our eyes to the reality of our times and still call ourselves "civilized."


Here are some resources for more information:

Slaverymap.org This website gives information on documented incidents of slavery around the world, including in North America.

http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/ CNN's Freedom Project.

www.notforsalecampaign.org/ Not For Sale Campaign. This is the modern-day Abolitionist movement.They also have a fair trade store.

www.indigenous.com/ Want to find fashionable, organic, fair-trade clothing? Go here.

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/ Ten Thousand Villages provides certified fair trade products for home, garden, office, and other aspects of life.

http://www.enditmovement.com/ The End It Movement website gives many ways ordinary people can help end modern-day slavery.

Many religious organizations, as well, have ministries that provide good living wages to their workers, allowing their workers to not only refuse the human trafficker's offers for their children, but even buy their own children back! Two of these include:

http://www.edenprojects.org/ Eden Projects works to plant trees in deforested areas in Ethiopia, Madagascar and Hait, reviving not only the local economies but also the land.

http://landofathousandhills.com/ Land of a Thousand Hills is a coffee company that not only provides a living wage for their workers, but also has worked on reconciling Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda after the genocide in the '90s.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year's Resolutions



New Year's is a time for starting over, a time of reflection. The slate is somewhat clean. The whole year stretches out before you. It is a good time to add new things to your life, remove old things, or just keep things the same. The point is, you can choose which direction you want your life to go in.


The problem with choosing what you want is that there are so many things that make life what it is that are so far beyond your control that can so quickly derail our lofty goals. Some New Year’s resolutions are completely unattainable on your own. Resolutions like “Be less stressed” or “Be a better person” are some of these types of practically-unattainable goals. Other resolutions seem easy on the outside, but are, in fact, horribly difficult—“Write a novel” or “Quit smoking/drinking/etc.”

Less difficult are resolutions over which you have complete control. Resolutions like “Eat healthier,” “Exercise more,” or “Spend more time with my kid(s)” are those that, with a little extra planning or scheduling are very doable. Two of my resolutions are “Read more,” and “Write 250,000 words” (Check back during the year to see the bar to the right rise). Both of these are very doable—if a bit difficult—even in the hectic life of a writer mom. But, what things in life worth doing/having have not had a measure of difficulty to them?


We are told to don’t sweat the small stuff, but I contend that it is the small, every-day stuff—more than the large things that we are supposed to sweat—that make life what it is. When our New Year’s resolutions revolve around the small stuff, we will become less discouraged and be able to feel better at the end of the year.