Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Morning news with my coffee

First, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just printed an opinion piece listing NFNF as the number one agency to pledge to help. This is great publicity! (So long as Ashton Kutcher doesn't show up on our doorstep ready to be a "servant" to President Obama.)
Then I heard — and really listened to — President Obama's call to remake and rebuild our country together. It reignited that spark: What needs to be done and how can we help?

I decided it might be easier to partner with an established local charity or nonprofit and make a commitment to help out for a set amount of time each month with my children. There are dozens of worthy organizations in town, but it helps to call a few that match your interests and ask what sort of work their volunteers do...Think about the activities that appeal to young children, such as arts and crafts, playing with other children and visiting new places.

The list
I've narrowed my list to these 10 organizations and plan to choose one, with my children, that we can commit our time and resources to this year. It's another chance for my own children to believe we can change our small piece of the world.
1. Nurses for Newborns, 7259 Lansdowne Avenue, No. 100, Shrewsbury • 314-544-3433 •

Second, the NYT today analyzes statistics on food stamps and TANF (welfare assistance) in every state. Unemployment and food assistance seem to outpace monetary relief. This could mean many things: the system is inadequate or too strict, people think of TANF as a last resort, or people successfully move from TANF to jobs quickly. What you think seems to depend on whether you work for the liberal Brookings Institute or the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Here are Missouri's stats. From 2007-2008: unemployment increased 1.1%, food stamps recipients increased a whopping 11.1%, but welfare enrollment decreased 8.8%. Go figure. My first impression is that even employed people can get food stamps, so of course more would be enrolled there.

Lastly, here's some analysis of the all-important Super Bowl commercials. Most were pretty disappointing, but Pepsi has been getting my attention with their catchy new campaign. They've always marketed themselves as the soda of the hip, young generation. The soda of change and innovation vs. stodgy Coca-Cola Classic. So this year they have shrewdly adopted an Obama-esque circular logo and the slogan "Every generation refreshes the world." TV spots travel through stereotypes of the decades, showing flappers, greasers, hippies, and punk rockers clutching their rebellious soft drink. There' s just one problem with this "master narrative" of progress and protest.
A commercial by TBWA/Chiat/Day, featuring Mr. Dylan and, rewrites history by presenting Pepsi-Cola as the choice of peaceniks, hippies and other youthful rebels. In reality, the Pepsi-Cola parent, PepsiCo, was led at the time by Donald Kendall, a friend of Richard M. Nixon’s, and the soft drink was considered the Republican soda. (Ads That Pushed Our Usual (Well Worn) Buttons.)
Oh shoot, Pepsi execs. Maybe you should have done some research first. That's what you get for perceiving history as a chain of inevitable progress.

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