Saturday, 22 January 2011
Time of scandal: Sunday 19 November, 2000
* (when you see this it means it is not mine)
They are the ultimate status symbols for sports stars and street-conscious young people. With their trademark three stripes, Adidas clothes cost a small fortune to buy and are promoted by world-famous names such as England skipper David Beckham, Olympic heptathlete Denise Lewis and Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova. But the company will this week become embroiled in controversy when the European Parliament hears of the barbaric treatment of employees in Indonesian sweatshop factories supplying the German conglomerate.
*(this means that it has ended)
The Parliament will be told that clothes for Adidas were made in two factories using child labour, forced overtime and sexual harassment. Representatives of workers in two Indonesian factories supplying the German company,will tell Euro MPs that in the Nikomax Gemilang and Tuntex factories, in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, children as young as 15 were:
• made to work 15-hour days;
• expected to do at least 70 hours a week and punished for refusing to do overtime;
• paid less than $60 a month, rates below the International Labour Organisation's demand for a living wage;
• penalised for taking leave during medical difficulties and had illegal deductions taken from wages as punishments for minor misdemeanours.
Sports goods companies have been criticised for exploiting workers in the developing world before. There was a storm just before the 1998 World Cup, after footballs bearing the Manchester United club crest were being made by child labourers in India, working for as little as 6p an hour. Cricket ball manufacturers were also criticised.
A report by Christian Aid revealed that children, some as young as seven, were regularly used in the production of a wide range of sports goods in India. Most of the £13m worth of goods went to Britain.
Last year a worker from a Bangkok factory for Adidas claimed that for less than £1 per day she worked 12-hour shifts seven days a week, producing sportswear, shoes and replica kits for the company.
She claimed conditions were poor in the Thai factory and the management acted brutally to meet large orders within a limited time, often denying workers statutory rights such as holidays and sick pay. The accusations are similar to those made by the Indonesian workers.
The woman was eventually sacked in 1998 along with 23 others after they formed a union in an attempt to win more rights. The factory management claimed she was a disruptive influence.
Most Adidas goods are produced in Third World countries, particularly Asia, with orders awarded to locally run factories. Many orders are sub-contracted at local level, leading to claims that the companies have little idea of where and how their goods are produced.
Adidas denies ignoring workers' rights for the sake of profit, claiming they have strict labour codes and constantly monitoring wage levels and conditions to ensure a good working environment.
Adidas spokesman Peter Csanadi countered the allegations: 'We have factories where the conditions are very good and we take this whole issue very seriously,' he said. 'We know we have had problems, and we had to terminate some contracts because we saw that the management were not interested in good working conditions.
'We work closely with factory management and demand that they ensure good conditions for workers. We also have a team of our own people who go to factories to sort out problems.'
Adidas, whose football shirts sell in a British high street store for more than £50, have admitted problems at the two Indonesian factories and have recently increased pay and taken steps to ease overtime demands. Copies of the labourers' identity cards are now held at the Nikomas factory to ensure that no under-18s work there.
The company admitted that at the Tuntex plant quotas were set too high. Workers complained of being fined for coming to work five minutes late. Adidas confirmed that women who took leave when menstruating, as legally entitled, lost an attendance bonus of 6,000 Rupiah (50p) and that a manager had been sacked for sexual harassment.
Pay at the Nikomas plant was increased to more than 9,000 Rs (75p per day) following the campaigners complaints, Adidas said.
The campaigners hope that the publicity surrounding the hearings next week will force states to become involved in the regulatory process.
Ingborg Wick, who oversaw much of the research, said that government involvement was crucial.
'There has to be some overview of voluntary codes that companies sign with campaigners. There also needs to be an institutional framework and legal monitoring to ensure social standards in Third World production,' she said.
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
I don’t hate horoscopes. I hate people who read and therefore believe in them.
“Part of the appeal [horoscopes] is, of course, entertainment. Horoscopes are about everyone’s favorite subject: ‘me’, and therefore they generate an undying appeal. Newspaper astrology is dynamic – it keeps offering new stories for readers and it is always, always comforting. In an ever-changing world in which many people have become less than a number, horoscopes offer a personal touch, something in which they can immerse themselves, something with which they can feel comfortable.” – Michael White, “Superscience”
The quote being so great I don’t feel the need to add something about the subject of popularity in horoscopes.
I must say, however, that even if horoscopes are done with great caution, they can’t be right. Contrary to popular belief, there are 13 signs of Zodiac, not 12; one – Ophiuchus [the snake-holder], between Scorpio and Sagittarius – was and still is ignored thus making a sign for each month. Normal people enjoy simple things like having everything in order, and number 12.
In a paragraph following, M.White gives yet another reason for horoscopes being so popular:
“And, like many aspects of the paranormal, astrology is also undemanding. Real science, the sort that moves civilization forward, the sort that has made all our lives infinitely better than it was for our ancestors is, to many people, hostile, frightening and difficult. To understand the universe via science requires either traditional training or the dedication to read books. Astrology is an easy route to what some feel to be an enlightened view, it is thought to bestow ‘mystical secrets’, which many people believe to be the real ‘keys to the universe’.”
I find it hard to believe that some people these days, when science has explained a lot of things, and none of it contain words like ‘miracle’ or ‘God Almighty’, still believe I them. Only explanation I can some up with is that they are ignorant to knowledge they don’t want to understand. It is easier to believe some God created the universe rather than figure out the might of the anti-matter.
Some believers, however, if they are truly deep believers, find horoscopes insulting to their religion (horoscopes can’t be done without stargazing, and stargazing requires a telescope, which is science), though some admit having guilty pleasures in reading them. (And I doubt most people, especially religious ones, would want to live without gears like computers or telephones. Try sending a post-dove these days.)
Even then, it is a soft option => reading Bible does not make you a believer, thus using a telescope to figure something out does not make you a scientist. People can be misleaded by more accurate gears than telescopes.
Bible was written by people who said the Earth was flat, and Pope has just recently agreed that it is, indeed, not the centre of the universe.
To avoid getting headache from too much thinking, have a comic strip about God:
(And I’ve never heard about dinosaurs being mentioned in the Bible. It must have been just another mad idea of Galileo, or Newton.)
Thursday, 6 January 2011
“Gimme gimme some of that vampire money, c’mon” – My Chemical Romance
Remember the times when vampires meant danger? Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, the terrific Nosferatu of 1922? However, most of the kids these days (and not even kids) hearing word ‘vampire’ think about none other than ‘OMG EDWARD’ (separate article about him coming later). Vampires have become an object of desire and popularity, and popularity sucks.
The truthful statistics
One post wouldn’t be enough to express my hatred for Twilight. Stephenie Meyer not only managed to ruin once feared name of vampires, but also (as this statistic shows), murder an entire literary genre.
Vampires in other popular literature I liked:
Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling's one and only vampire in person (read also: Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart) appeared in sixth book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - even his name, Sanguini, had a meaning (as most of them did, actually) - Sanguis in Latin means 'blood', as some of you may very well know - and in those three lines Rowling managed to describe a better vampire than Meyer in more than four books (the so-called Twilight saga, "Midnight Sun" (same Twilight from Eddiekins point of view), "The Short second life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse novella", etc) (yes there are way more).
Salem’s Lot: Stephen King’s novel about vampires. Vampires we are used to (were used to) hearing about; they do suck blood (human’s blood for that matter), can come to people’s houses only when invited and the most important, are scary (something Meyer forgot about vamps). No sign of sparkling detected, too.
True Blood: according to the author, Charlaine Harris, when human is transformed into vampire, he/she doesn’t become pretty (or sparkly; I could go on and on), but they have the ability to glamour they victims into believing they haven’t done anything to them and forget they have met the vampire (top that, Meyer). Three seasons of TV series based on the books were already released. True Blood may not be best piece of literature ever, but the story is well-thought, makes sense and vampires behave like vampires, not overgrown fairies.