17 September 2014

making faces :: think outside the palette

remember back when i was talking about summer collections and i got a little frustrated because i couldn't get nars' "tropical princess" eyeshadow duo to work the way that i wanted? no? it's ok, you can read about it here.

we've moved headlong into fall collections [even though i continue to support some kind of law that stops cosmetic companies from selling seasonal collections until that season actually starts, or at least until the month when the season actually starts, because it's like being able to go to the future to buy makeup and do absolutely nothing else, which would be lame, although since we're somehow in mid-september i have to admit that it's probably ok to talk about fall and should get back to what i was doing], but before i rush into the latest that nars has to offer [and i will], i wanted to work a little harder to get something going with this beauty that just never seemed to come together for me.

after my previous experiments and some reflecting on my journey through seasonal colour analysis, it occurred to me that part of the problem was that, while the colours have an iciness to them that i should be able to support, there isn't a huge level of contrast. on a lot of people, that wouldn't be a problem, but wasn't one of the things that i discovered that my particular complexion seems to demand an exceptionally high contrast level? [spoiler: yes, it totally was.]

so with that in mind, i thought i'd try to introduce a little more "zing" to the whole look by combining "tropical princess" with some other shades i have at my disposal. and the results?

15 September 2014

mental health mondays :: marketing insanity

and you should feel lucky for a warm place to stay
a few days ago, local employment service grenier aux emplois posted a link to this article, detailing the excuses that unproductive employees use to justify their behaviour. as i read it, i was trying to control myself from screaming out loud at the computer. i rushed to their comment thread to show my ire and was gratified to see that at least a half dozen others before me- most of them small business owners or managers- had had much the same reaction. score one for conscientious employers in quebec.

but what i find fascinating is that someone at praxis- who are ostensibly trying to provide some sort of training for young entrepreneurs- wrote this up, got cutesy graphics to go with it and published it on line without realising what a complete piece of tripe it was. people proofread this. people greenlit this. and it's about the best example of how workplace psychosis functions that you could find outside of a large-scale study.

i've already written about the widespread phenomenon of burnout and its costs to society in general, so maybe i'm approaching this backwards. because the real issue may not be burnout at all, but the depraved way in which employers are encouraged to adopt increasingly sociopathic tendencies. think i'm exaggerating? let's look at some of the "unproductive excuses" targeted by the agency wanting to train the leaders of tomorrow.

points 1, 4 and 9 all demand that the employee's needs be subjugated to those of the corporation. the employer is entitled to receive more than what they are paying for [point #1- stated clearly]; benefits to the employee are not as important as those to the corporation [certainly arguable, since the whole must function well in order for everyone to benefit, but there is no distinction made between refusing to work towards the benefit of everyone and reluctance to work at something that will benefit only those at the upper echelons- even questioning that is grounds for dismissal]; and finally, the employee should never be allowed to feel that they have earned something- money, respect, benefits- everything is to be deemed a courtesy that needs to be justified by the employee through their hard work. and who judges when the work has justified the investment? why the investors, of course. any sense on the part of the employee that they are deserving of something is to be deemed "unproductive" and therefore dangerous.

one of the hallmarks of the sociopath is their inability to feel empathy for others and a sense of entitlement. the points above are all about entitlement- to an employee's loyalty, hard work in excess of the reward offered, to the employee's very sense of dignity. it's not important how these people feel about being exploited, what's important is that they always believe that they are at fault, that they are undeserving. thus does the sociopath get what he or she wants from others- by pretending [constant dishonesty is another hallmark of sociopaths] that they will some day be able to rise to the level of the deserving underling.

SO MUCH MORE TO EVISCERATE...

14 September 2014

won't someone please think of the drunks?

in just a few short days [all days are the same length -ed.], scotland, country of at least some of my ancestors, will decide whether or not it wants to end over three centuries of union with england and become a fully independent country. pundits from around the world have weighed in on the subject, especially since the gap between "yes" and "no" support has fallen to nigh on nothing.

source
as you can see, the unionist cause has been in the process of destroying their comfortable lead for several months, with the two latest polls indicating either an eight-point lead for the separatists or an eight-point lead for the federalists. those are strange results, given that both polls are about the same size and both results are outside the margin of error. i think that the biggest takeaway is probably that scots like to fuck with people and that no one has any idea what's going to happen on thursday, possibly not even the scots themselves.

despite the dire warnings emanating from "no" side proponents, including all three parliamentary leaders of the [for now] united kingdom and corporate heavyweights british petroleum, who took time out from their busy schedule of gross negligence to warn that the oil revenues so crucial to the nationalist financial plan are a short-term boon, the nationalist cause appears not just tenacious, but burgeoning. and just today, the predictors of financial doom and gloom were dealt a serious blow when international bookmakers standard and poor determined that an independent scotland's financial prospects were actually pretty good.

the "no" campaign has been heavily criticized for its scare tactics in the lead-up to the referendum and i can only guess that no one among them ever bothered to look at how such tactics have worked for others. as a "survivor" of such a campaign, my advice to david cameron et al would be to invest in some diapers for the big night, because you are likely to spend several hours shitting your pants while the results trickle in. not only has the "yes" cause shown themselves to be more practical in their financial planning than the quebec nationalists who came within a sigh of winning their battle, but now they have similarly been able to co-opt the spirit of positivity that has been shown across nations to be a powerful motivator at the polls.

my own personal concern is that no one is taking into account the needs of my particular demographic: the international consumer of scotch whiskey. i don't know if scottish first minister alex salmond is taking this as seriously as he should. scotch is, after all, the country's second biggest export and ties into other industries like tourism from people who dream of a land where hot and cold single malt run from the taps. [reality check: they don't -ed.] we are all great appreciators of your independent spirit[s], but when representatives of the industry start going on about possibly crippling increases in manufacturing costs and delays in access to some foreign markets [which ones, mr. salmond- which ones?????], we get edgy. and no one seems to be taking our needs terribly seriously. it's all well and good to say that things should be fine, but i'm far from convinced and if someone like me who grew up hearing about how the evil english basically drove my family from their idyllic homeland, is skeptical of your argument, well, others are going to be in a panic. and international supporters of scottish independence aren't reassuring us.

in fact, scotland is in an extremely advantageous position when it comes to plans for separating: it's highly unlikely that they would be denied entry into the european union and the short-term ability of england to restrict scotland's usage of the pound sterling is questionable at best. while it might seem like the country would lose a lot of influence being a tiny fish in the european pool as opposed to a partner in one of its great whales, one of the lynchpins in the nationalist cause is that scottish politics, more progressive and left-leaning, has a lot more in common with that of europe than it does with increasingly conservative england. so they would be trading off a minority role in a union with whom they had profound disagreements for one in a group where they felt more comfortable. do you know what that means to me? europe gets first dibs on the scotch. if the e.u. lets scotland join them [and really, there's no reason for them not to, especially since it would piss england off and none of them really like england to begin with], they will collectively be scotland's best friend plus they're going to want to do everything they can to help scotland's financial prospects just as a way of telling england "haha, we were right and you can kiss our continental butt cheeks". avid scotch consumers on other continents are going to be afterthoughts in this equation and you know what that means? we're screwed.

the referendum in scotland is certainly of interest to other european separatist movements, since it may provide a blueprint for their eventual secession in favour of a larger european "parent"- an affiliation rather than a subjugating nation- but the fact is that none of them has scotch, so their future plans aren't going to impact my life one way or the other.

having an ancestral claim doesn't entitle me to vote in the scottish referendum, because as of yet, they haven't gone the israeli route and invited all their tribes in diaspora to make their way home, so i'm hoping i can count on some member of the clan of keppoch to speak for my interests: as destabilizing as separation could be for all concerned, i suspect from what i've read that it could work and though your current level of independence would be envied by other minority cultures, i understand the pain of being a european state trapped in the current political climate of the uk [most quebec residents do]. all i ask is that you consider the needs of your poor cousins who were exiled from the country for no other reason than that we fought for your fucking independence before it was cool. if you keep the pipeline open [not that north sea shite; you should be looking at renewable energy anyway], we will support your noble cause. interrupt the flow and we will end you with blood and fire.

ahem, i mean, good luck with that decision on thursday. i'd like to think that you'll take into account your international obligations.

11 September 2014

more like space greatest hits :: the other 9/11

this is a post from back in 2007, as the insanity that was the bush era was falling down around our ears and it seemed like the end of the world was surely nigh.

remembrance is important. there's not enough of it. or at least, there's too much of it concentrated in specific areas, which means that some incidents get over-analysed and distorted, while others are forgotten entirely.

so here's a remembrance of a post i wrote about remembering something that wasn't [and still isn't] being remembered properly.

*

i've been making my way, with some lengthy breaks, through noam chomsky's latest, "failed states". it's by no means his strongest work, but it does touch on a number of interesting issues, including events surrounding 9/11.

by 9/11, i mean september 11, 1973, when an american-backed coup overthrew chile's salvador allende and replaced him with general augusto pinochet. because we've heard so much about that later 9/11, i thought it would be interesting to share a few facts on the original:
  • approximately 3,200 people died according to official figures (which are widely viewed to be understated by as much as half).
  • adjusted proportionally to population, that is roughly equivalent to between 50,000 and 100,000 americans being killed at once.
  • there were 30,000 cases of torture in pinochet's chile, according to an official inquiry. (adjusted proportionally to population again, that would be the equivalent of 700,000 americans.)

augusto pinochet remained the darling of both ronald reagan and margaret thatcher throughout his reign of terror, something neither has ever bothered to admit was wrong and a travesty of the ideals they purported to defend.

funny, you never hear about that 9/11 nowadays. i wonder why? no, i don't, really. i know.

10 September 2014

making faces :: novel ideas

years ago, like many aspiring writers, i gave thought to trying to write romance novels for money. after all, it would be a way to get in print and it would provide me with enough income to pursue the writing i really liked. nothing could possibly go wrong. well, except that i'd never actually red a romance novel [unless you count gone with the wind], so i had no f**king clue what i was doing. oh, and my usual writing style is the sort of thing that wilts the blossoms of romance faster than a blow torch. "he stared deeply into her eyes and thought "i'll bet she was a pretty girl before her head was cut off and used as a polo ball"" is much more my style.

and so i never did manage to swing that secret career in romance writing. i couldn't even get started because as soon as i'd start, what i was trying to write [in so far as i understood it] would reduce me to fits of giggles almost immediately.

i thought about that experience when i saw mac's new fall collection, entitled "a novel romance", because the self-consciously lurid imagery and colour offering are at once reminiscent of the feeling of trashy romance, but there's something that doesn't quite seem to connect. not that everything has to relate to a theme, but if you're going to choose one that has such obvious visual reference points and then use those visual reference points in your marketing materials, i think that you do build the expectation that there's a through-line somewhere. it's a tiny quibble and probably one that most people wouldn't have.

the collection is rather huge and rambling, which romance novels [the trashy kind sent up in the visuals] tend not to be; it has a regular colour portion, its own group of nail polishes, a new type of eye liner in several shades and a gaggle of metallic eye shadows in a cream formula. some elements look typically fall-friendly- deep lips, murky neutral eyes, wind-kissed cheeks- all of which are found in the colour collection proper. others seem more general and the cream eye shadows seem almost futuristic.

for the sake of my sanity, i figured i'd focus on the regular colours and picked up one of the three available eye shadow palettes and a single lipstick. i should add that, to my eye, the palettes and lipsticks look like they're by far the most interesting parts of the whole shebang. all three palettes have an interesting assortment of shades that are original [well, except the ones that have been offered previously] both individually and in the way they're grouped together. i was tempted to pick up all three, but rationality prevailed and i stuck to the one that i felt was most different from what i already have, the eponymous "a novel romance".

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