Thursday, April 24, 2008

torching the wooly jumpers

I’ve been in a quandary about the torch relay. I was tempted to go to Canberra to show my face as an Australian who does not support China’s actions against the Tibetan people. But it is more complex than that.

I’m not into sport (that is perhaps an understatement, I loathe most sport and I’d rather poke my eyes out than watch it) but I do respect that others don’t feel the same way. I do know people who’ve taken part in previous Olympic torch relays and it has been one of their lifetime highlights. Do I have a right to bugger it up for them? Do they have a right to put their ego ahead of doing the right thing?

So how do I show my distaste for a country at a time that it wants to shine internationally?

A few weeks ago, while pondering this question I came up with the answer. Til the Olympics are over – I will attempt to boycott all goods made in China. No discretionary spending dollars to be spent on products originating from that vast, manufacturing land.

Two weeks down the track I’ve discovered that finding a stylish winter sweater is quite a challenge. Brands like David Lawrence outsource all it’s garment making to China and still charge a premium for its products.

I know it is a futile protest. There is absolutely no point in telling a young shop assistant why you are leaving a store empty handed after turning their clothes inside out to inspect the labels. Not buying a jumper isn’t going to bring freedom to the Tibetans, nor prevent another Falun Gong follower becoming an unwilling organ donor.

Yes it is just another symbolic act, like the Earth Hour that I have previously mocked.

And at the end of the day I am still angered over China’s horrendous history of human rights atrocities.

I have lost respect for a government that makes a public display of telling China it doesn’t approve of it’s recent actions but instead of stopping the torch relay, forks out over $2 million of taxpayers dollars to allow it to go ahead. (Oh, and the blue-tracksuited Chinese security thugs will stay on the bus, right Kevin).

And I’m still not fond of sport.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

home improvements

Just when you thought a little Billy Bragg was enough on the thinking woman's crumpet front...

My Friend the Chocolate Cake

But then again - if you put the words sex and chocolate cake together - this might be more to your liking...

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I am wondering if it is just a little obscene at a time of increasing awareness about global food shortages, to be spending so much time writing about the joys of eating.

So I am going to take a moment to give thanks for having adequate personal resources to be able to shop each week at a plentiful market. Sure I shudder at the price of organic fruit most days but at least I have the choice to shop elsewhere if eating conventionally is better than having no fruit at all. What a luxury.

There has been a flurry of media activity this week, as a result of the IMF meeting last weekend, warning about global food shortages. Sure diverting land once dedicated for food to crops for biofuel is a large part of the problem. It is such a typical quick fix reaction to try to solve one problem by creating another. Global warming is already impacting on food costs in Australia where drought and floods are affecting production costs, so too the high cost of oil to cart the stuff around this vast land. Increased wealth in countries like China, creating a greater market for meat, coupled with a looming recession and inflation in the west are shooting prices up around the world. But can’t we take a step back from the hullabaloo and think holistically for a change? This article on the rising cost of food in India looks at not only the problems,
Already, about half of India was not eating full meals; going through days without food. With the price rise, I can see about 70 to 80 per cent of India will be pushed into hunger and starvation
but provides broader analysis of the real problems and appropriate ways of finding a solution.

In the meantime, I give thanks for the ability to put food on my table and support organisations like Oxfam and world food programs through Chez Pim’s ingenious annual Menu For Hope.

I’ll get off my soapbox now but first I ask all of us food oriented folk to spend a moment contemplating the issue and see what other ways we can find to make a ripple of change in the global food shortage crisis.

First posted on confessions of a food nazi

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

nostaligia for the young Mr Bragg

I still have a soft spot for Billy Bragg. Sure he’s a little older and greyer (aren’t we all?) Still, he maintains the rage and updates his lyrics. Particularly love this version of Great Leap Forward on the Henry Rollins show made relevant for the US audience (talk about maintaining the rage – ever seen Rollins live? He doesn’t draw breath, ADD or speed, who knows but he’s got a fine head on his well muscled shoulders).

Though it’s the younger Bragg who’ll make my heart skip a beat. The one who I swear said, at a concert in Wellington in early 1987 “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink – but I love fucking” – it made me all weak at the knees, it did.

So a whimsical Billy Bragg clip to brighten up a dull day.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

radical thinking

When I woke up this morning, before my eyes could barely open, the Not Boyfriend said "I think we should follow that proposal you made". A little confused, a myriad of possibilities crossed my mind before asking which brilliant idea of mine was he referring to. In the height of summer I suggest we have a break from the TV.

Our living area is tiny and his big old monster of a box tends to dominate the space. We have a smaller TV in the spare room, it isn't connected to the outdoor aerial so it's a struggle to mindlessly watch it but it is connected to a DVD player. Quite surprised he wanted to give it a go, today has been spent seizing the moment - moving the beast to the shed, swapping over the DVD players, cleaning up a discarded wing chair we picked up from the roadside a while back (very comfortable but hideous, worn orange fabric in need of recovering), re-homing the lovely hand made TV stand an ex made by hand for me - now a beautiful bedside table...

Just one small thought creates a ripple of action.

I'm sure my digestion won't miss watching the news while we eat. Many of my favourite ABC programs I already vodcast and so what if we have to wait til Doc Martin and East of Everything come out on DVD to see the rest of the series.

I look forward to streaming KCRW and other foreign radio stations more often, curling up in the 'new' armchair with a good book, doing even more sudoku, communicating without distraction, memorizing the weekly schedules of Radio National and RRR - and all the other delights of a life without the goggle box for a while.

...of course there is always Youtube!

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Monday, April 07, 2008

artist date #3

Each autumn I head to Werribee Park for the Helen Lempriere sculpture prize exhibition. There's something about a blue skied day, once the heat of summer has passed, that reminds me of this long standing event.

The work this year didn't grab me as much as previous ones but a few pieces stood out, without having to scream for attention.

Here's a snippet:

detail of Tim Spellman - Arts Ripple #2

detail of John Nicholson - Extended frequency (Fallen)

Nerine Martini - Life Boat/ Thuyền Cứu Rỗi

My pick: Guy Bottroff - A Model family (MCMLVI). A most amusing and well executed piece.

The exhibition closes 31st May. Werribee Park (and Mansion) is operated by Parks Victoria and an entrance fee applies.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

wife sues husband over lost virginity

This has got to be the headline of the day.

So, just how much do you think your virginity is worth?

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


How will a mega-tunnel save the Melbourne public transport crisis? State taxpayers have forked out $5mil for a report, which was finally submitted this week. The Eddington report has concluded that 2 massive tunnels under the inner suburbs is the major cure-all for the city’s transport woes. But they’ll throw in a railway line as well. While paradoxically the report acknowledges that carbon emissions will rise unacceptably without fixing and expanding the public transport infrastructure, it still thinks siphoning more cars and trucks through the city is the best fix.

Wake up people! The Eastern freeway once had plans for a tram route, wouldn’t that relieve some of the pressure? Of course the $20 billion worth of roads will be another “public-private partnership” – and as anyone who has travelled at peak hour on the upgraded Tullamarine or the Monash Freeways know, you pay a heavy price to sit in a car park parading as a major arterial.

Melbourne has the opportunity to take a visionary leap to a city that relies less on cars and more on mass transport. Want people to leave their vehicles at home? Make trams and trains free – after all we are propping up the private operators to the tune of millions each year as it is.

But more big tunnel to create less traffic jams? Go back to the drawing board Rod.

See Edington’s grand plan.

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it's getting a bit chilly

Maybe it is time to get a new sweater?

The Sydney Mail, April 1938

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