Oops! They did it again. WestJet has brought their surprise giving antics to a sunny, impoverished village in the Dominican Republic.
Last time around, the Canadian airline won the internet when it surprised a bunch of unsuspecting passengers with Christmas gifts. This year they dug deeper and brought warmth to a place largely devoid of first world problems—the community of Nuevo Renacer, near Puerto Plata.
The airline apparently does a lot of other charity work behind the scenes, and I'm not about to judge another person or company's efforts to be altruistic. At this time of year, every bit helps.
"I'm sure there are people who poo-poo the idea that this is just another marketing 'trick,' said commenter Sandra Watson. "You know what I say to that...then let them play more marketing tricks like this one!"
Today in senseless tech comes an exciting new product called Hush. These fancy earbuds manage to shut out all that extraneous noise keeping you up at night, except of course for those vital smartphone alerts. Because, really, who wants to miss a friend's drunk 3 a.m. text?
Hush - the brainchild of three U of California engineering students - guarantees you'll never miss a thing. The wearables, which are totally compatible with smartphones via both iOS and Android apps, are fashioned with sound-eliminating foam to shut out outside noise "without cutting you off from your customized digital alerts." God forbid you were truly cut off, even for a nanosecond.
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"Hush is a sleep wearable that directly attacks the heart of the problem of noise, perhaps the most significant deterrent to sleep," said Daniel Lee, one of the creators, without the faintest trace of irony.
At the risk of coming off all curmudgeonly around the holidays, products like Hush bring out the Grinch in me. What we need are un-hearing aids. Because the world is way too noisy. And adding yet another gadget is part of that pollution, not part of the solution.
We need to put the computers, and all their dancing blue disco lights, to bed at night. We need to mute the sound—yes, all the sound. Even that insistent little bleep reminding you there's a new version of Angry Birds ready for install...
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But clearly I'm in the minority in dissing this so-called 'smart' technology because the Kickstarter campaign has already raised three times more than its goal of $100,000 with weeks left to go.
Early backers can snag Hush for $115 in May 2015, and everyone else can get it for $149 from June onwards. Of course, you could always just pop into the local drug store and bag a pair of earplugs for a couple of bucks and enjoy a deep, uninterrupted sleep. But that wouldn't be half as cool.
Have you heard of Kristina Pimenova? I hadn't, either. Woman Daily Magazine called her "the most beautiful woman in the world." The Russian model's Facebook page has more than 2 millions likes. Oh yeah, and did I mention she's nine?
Krisitna is pretty in that wide-eyed way that nine-year-olds are. Her angelic face is popping up everywhere—from Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Benetton, Roberto Cavalli and on the cover of Vogue Bambini. The fact that she is modelling isn't my beef. I once had a friend whose children held lucrative modelling careers before they could walk. (Let's face it, some people are just born with glorious genes.)
And while it was kind of weird to see them on Johnson & Johnson commercials (with a mom other than their own), they seemed to be having fun, or at least they didn't seem to mind much. And at least, unlike everyone else's kids, they were set with a plump college fund by the time they hit puberty.
But—and here's the three-letter deflator—unlike little Kristina these kids didn't have "fans." They didn't have a social media presence that caused otherwise sane people to slobber all over their keyboards. After all, the modelling isn't the problem. The professional shoots tend to see Kristina fresh-faced and sporting clothes suited to her age.
Even though her mother Glikeriya Shirokova - Russian model in her own right - screens her daughter's Facebook account, and promptly deletes anything "inappropriate," it's still a rather gross affair. It's her mom, after all, who posts the photos of her daughter that have child advocates freaking out.
Kristina's adoring masses on Instagram (around 329,000 them) gush at every picture mere seconds after posting. Guys lust after her Lolita-style, while gals long for a prepubescent look they have scant hope of achieving.
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"There is something very wrong—and creepy—going on when fashion has become so divorced from reality that a flat-chested, prepubescent, hip-less young child is a style icon," writes Amber Robertson of Essential Kids. "I do wonder what messages it sends to young girls, that to be an icon all you have to do is be pretty... When do these little child models get a chance to dress down, hang out with kids their own age and have fun?"
As I said: gross.
Kristina's mom clearly can't hit 'delete' quick enough to remove wishful comments about her daughter having a future with Victoria's Secret one day.
The possibility for abuse of these images is monumental based on their appeal and sheer reach. If people think otherwise, I'd suggest they're deluding themselves. Kristina's social media pages are a slice of pedophile heaven, and as one Instagram user pointed out, what's primarily disturbing about that is the fact that her own mother seems to be running the show.