Monday, January 30, 2012
I have never been to Africa and truth be told, it is not really that high on my list of places that I want to visit. My mum went to South Africa a number of years ago and though there were aspects of her trip that were beautiful and once in a lifetime kinds of things, there were a lot of scary, dangerous things that happened to her that made her so thankful to step foot back on Australian soil. There are things that I would love to see, a safari with native wildlife and what not. I have seen lions and elephants etc in open plain zoos but there would be something about seeing them in the wild that would be amazing I think. But then I weigh up that enjoyment against all of the things that I know I wouldn't enjoy - the abject poverty, the blatant discrimination, the intolerance for people of my lifestyle choices - and I think maybe just going to the zoo would be safer.
Random and completely unrelated thought, though it makes me chuckle - when I pretend to throw the toy for Saba at work, she bounds off like a Gazelle then stops and looks around at me once she has worked out that I haven't thrown it. *chuckles*
Friday, January 27, 2012
I know its not the same place, but when I read this I cannot help but be reminded of the day I spent in Mauthausen-Gusen during the contiki tour I went on a number of years ago. It was one of the most significant days of the tour, yet one you couldn't really say you enjoyed. Seeing the concentration camp turned into a museum, a historical sight of remembrance for the suffering of so many people... It is hard to find the right words to truly explain the effect being in such a place has on a person. To stand in a room, knowing that literally thousands of people had been gassed to death simply for being 'different', leaves you irrevocably changed.
And yet there are times that I find myself looking at the world today, and wondering 'have we really come that far from how we used to be?' Are our intolerances really that different today? Indigenous people are called Abbo's or Coons (or Niggers if you're in America). Homosexuals are called fags and dykes. Muslims are automatically viewed with a feeling of fear and intolerance, and quite often referred to as 'towel-heads'. I do not, for one second, condone or accept or sanction any terrorist act, or any taking of innocent lives such as those despicable actions taken on 9/11.
But I do wonder, from time to time, if we have truly changed all that much, or if we have simply become better at masking our intolerances. Are we not so 'in your face' like monsters (and I do consider such men monsters) like Adolf Hitler.
It is certainly not my intent, with this post, to give any impression of acceptance of terrorism in any of its forms and I hope no offence has been taken. I simply find myself reflecting on the odd occasions when I look back on some of the places I have been and the things I have experienced, whether or not we have changed all that much - have we learned from history or are we simply going to repeat the errors of the past in different forms?
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
But beyond that, I was left in absolute awe when faced with the realisation of just how much that woman accomplished for the UK and the adversity she faced during her record 11 years as PM. War, recession, seemingly insurmountable economic and employment disaster, not to mention just the fact that she was a woman branching forth into a 'man's world' at a time when society was not so open minded about such things as women in politics. She was and is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest political leaders Britain has ever had, and I would wager, in her own uncompromising way that she was one of the greatest and fiercest leaders in the world.
It made me think about a conversation had hours earlier, especially in light of political debates occurring both in the US and here in Australia, about what politics was in the era of Lady Thatcher's leadership compared to what it is now. The thing that stood out most for me, the thing I found myself awed by and in utter admiration of, was the fact that she said what was on her mind, she said the things no one *wanted* to say but that had to be said. She stood up and got to work and got the job done instead of simply sitting there and whining and complaining about her lot in life and how crap everything was and how the government of the time etc etc were failing. Like one of her colleagues had said to her, "if you want to change the party - lead it. If you want to changed the country - lead it." She did just that and the UK was changed forever, and in my mind, for the better.
I see politician's today and it is all about telling me what the other side is doing wrong, what they have 'lied about' or what their bad decisions are. I am not interested in being told what someone is doing wrong or what is a bad tax etc. Don't sit there and simply point a finger at the government and say "You're wrong. You shouldn't be running the country." Instead how about you tell me what you intend to do to fix it, what you think is a step in the right direction. And I don't mean some wishy washy glossed over side remark. Really explain to me how you see a solution to whatever problem has arisen. You want my vote? Don't waste my time sitting there pointing fingers and playing the blame game. Just tell me what you would do to correct the situation and why that should entitle you to my vote. The minute you turn it around on the other side and start picking at their faults and fuck ups, you lose my vote.
Lady Thatcher may not have always done things the easy way, and certainly it would seem not always the popular way. But she was uncompromising. She saw problems and she had solutions. Sometimes those solutions were not popular but to her, running a country wasn't a popularity contest, it was about putting the needs of the country first. Sometimes, though we may not like it, the tough decisions are the best ones for us.
It was an amazing film, a superb portrayal - and an absolutely inspiring and admirable woman.
If only there were more leaders like you, Lady Thatcher. You are truly remarkable. This movie is a must see, if for nothing more than an appreciative look at the accomplishments of a strong, proud and determined woman, who will always have my utmost respect.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
So I was sorely tempted to blog tonight about the blackout on wikipedia but then I decided, after reading an email I received that I would pick a different topic instead.
I have a very close friend, family in a way, whom I have asked to help me with some jobs around the house that need a handyman touch. Because he looks at me a lot like an adopted daughter he is not at all comfortable with taking money from me. But I am not talking simple jobs like hanging a picture, or assembling a cupboard (which I can do on my own). I'm talking installing a new kitchen, extending a carport etc. If I were to hire a handy man it would cost me a pretty penny so my integrity will not allow me to simply utilise his relationship to me to get it done for nothing.
It made me think of those people who would take advantage of this sort of predicament if they could. I recently caught up with a very good friend. We went on a road trip in my car because she chose not to hire one for her visit. I didn't mind using my car but I felt a little disappointed at the end of her trip when she didn't even make the offer to fill the car (since we burned through a whole tank). She was very quick to say paying separately for lunch that day but just as quick to say nothing when she sales lady assumed I was paying for both movie tickets a few days later.
I have to admit I felt like my hospitality was taken advantage of. It wasn't about her paying for something or giving me money. It was about making the offer, giving me the chance to say it was not necessary. I just would have appreciated that she thought it appropriate to make the offer, regardless of whether I took her up on it or not.
It seems to me, and I am sure I have been guilty of it, that it is easy to take advantage of people you care about or are close to. I don't really understand why that is but my gut tells me it shouldn't be that way. Perhaps it is just human nature? Perhaps we are all just inherently selfish individuals and that selfishness takes over some times? I don't profess to know but it is something I am going to make an effort to be more aware of.
now to just figure out a compromise so that I don't insult my friend by paying for his services but so that I don't let my own integrity be questioned/diminished by succumbing to his desire not to take payment. How to insist without insisting?!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The comments on this thread then spiralled into why tax payer dollars were being spent on having troops in the Ghan when the locals don't want us there. And of course there was the remark about the tax payer dollars that fund methadone programs and other such treatments for addicts. I don't really presume to know the full circumstances of this Sea Shepherd thing, but I cannot help but hope that were I ever in a situation, even one of my own making, that my government and my country wouldn't simply look at me and go "tough shit, you did this to yourself. You're on your own!" most especially if the situation were serious and/or life threatening.
I agree with our government's stance on ransoms and hostages, because to submit to the demands of terrorists and to pay ransoms leaves us open to all sorts of threats both foreign and domestic. I believe our government, in those circumstances, does everything within its power to secure the safe return of citizens held against their will without endangering national security on a broader scale.
It often baffles me, though I must admit it rarely surprises me anymore, when people jump onto the 'Bring our boys home' bandwagon over the war in Iraq/Afghanistan. Really, there are a very small few who are privy to all of the facts as to why we are there. I am not one of those few, as are most people who demand we bring our troops home. Should we have gone in? I cannot honestly say because I am not aware of all of the facts and therefore cannot make a truly informed decision. Whether we should have gone in at all or not is largely, in my opinion irrelevant. The real motivations for the war - well some people say it was a response to 9/11, some say its about controlling the oil. I don't really care one way or the other now. Why we are there, why we went in.....those reasons have long ago lost their significance. The fact is, we are there. We have made a commitment to freeing the Afghani people from the oppression of terrorist regimes, from the dictatorship they have for so many years lived under. Is it easy? No. Are there casualties? Regrettably so. Does that mean we should just abandon a people, after having swooped in and upturned everything they have known and lived by for so long? Most certainly not. I do not believe that the local people do not want us there. Certainly there is an element of them that don't. They are called the Taliban. They are the very terror driven dictators we are combatting. They are the oppressors who seek to control a population through fear and intimidation. Of course they do not want us there because we are showing the very people they seek to control that there is another way to live, a way free of everything the Taliban represents, everything they stand for. I believe, and I am sure any soldier you speak to who has had the supreme honor of serving in that environment, that the locals whose lives we are positively changing want us there. They need us there. Whether we should have gone in or not, we are there, we have made a commitment to these people - we must see the job through until it's done.
As for such uneducated, ill-conceived remarks such as why tax payer dollars go towards Methadone programs and the like. I honestly hope those people who believe this to be an unacceptable allocation of funds never find themselves battling an addiction. Whether its a Methadone program or Alcohols Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous or some other form of rehabilitation, I truly hope these people are never told: "Sorry, we know you want to quit drinking, we know you need help but we think helping you is a waste of tax payer dollars so you're on your own!"Where do you draw the line? Who decides what is an acceptable program and what is not? Methadone - not acceptable but Lifeline or Kids Help Line is? AA not acceptable but helping people with depression is? Where do you draw the line? Depression - not a serious enough mental health issue but schizophrenia is? Whether its quitting illicit drug addiction or alcohol, or even giving up smoking - do we not, as a society and a community have a responsibility to help those members of that community that need that assistance, if the ability to render it is available? Who am I as an individual to say someone, who needs my help and who I have the ability to help, is not worthy of that time or resources?
Yes there are going to be those people who make you think, "why are we paying for them to come home - they brought their circumstances upon themselves!" but I challenge everyone, when they have that thought, to think of how many other people who did not create their own circumstances that would be denied this very assistance if we were to arbitrarily decide that certain issues were not worthy of government/taxpayer assistance.
The next time you want to call a drug addict a wanker who brought their addiction upon themselves, try thinking about the unborn baby who enters the world addicted to cocaine, or the young child who grows up with alcoholic parents as role models and subsequently develops an unhealthy addiction to alcohol at an early age, or the small child who was unlucky enough to be born in Afghanistan instead of the multicultural, tolerant, democratic society we have in Australia - are they not worthy of our help?
Alright - beat my midnight deadline....just! Sorry was off at the cricket =)
Peace out until tomorrow those of you out in the interwebs who, for whatever reason, have chosen to stop by today and read what it is I have had to say!.
Monday, January 16, 2012
So, this article isn't filled with any great pearls of wisdom. I admit I had never heard of this group before stumbling across them in a random wiki search, and whilst I had a momentary thought of downloading their music so that I could see what it was all about, I managed to stay the urge.
However, thinking about this group did lead my mind to wander to thoughts about contest based groups or talent shows. By this I mean shows like American/Australian Idol, Eurovision, Australia's Got Talent, Young Talent Time and so on. Granted, there are the rare occasions when such shows successfully create recording artists. I mean, who can forget 1974 Eurovision (even though I wasn't born yet) and ABBA winning. Not to mention our very own Olivia Newton John as a finalist. Shows like Young Talent Time yielded talent like Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena. Then of course there is the Spice Girls - annoying but highly successful. I do believe even NKOTB were a 'made' group and were quite successful.
But of late, are these talent contests really a brilliant step into success? I didn't see the likes of Lady Gaga, Pink, Rhianna or Adele winning a talent singing contest. I didn't see Michael Buble` (though I may be wrong) winning any talent contest. The only American Idol winners I ever hear anything from, or who have seemingly cracked the international market, are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. The rest of them just seem to disappear. Much could be said about those that win here too. Often, it is the runner up who is more successful. Sometimes, winning can in its own way be a curse. Jessica Mouboy seems to be doing quite well for herself, having lost to Damien Leith. And if you ask me, it wasn't until Guy Sebastian shed his Australian Idol success that his music became something worth listening to.
Do these shows unearth real talent - I believe that they do, or at least that they have the potential to. Are they operated properly? Of that I am not so certain. These contests seem to be less about talent and more about popularity. Granted I understand that the public are the people who buy the albums in the end, but when your host uses such phrases as "if you want to save your favorite you must vote"....when did it become about favorites more so than about the person who nailed the song, who entertained the crowd the most, who displayed a vocal ability unmatched by the others? When shows stop playing on the 'poor me' sad story of the contestants and focussed instead upon their natural talents and abilities, I will cast a vote. Until then, I boycott voting on any of those shows, for those very reasons.
This topic could lead me into my thoughts on reality tv shows like Biggest Loser - but that's an entirely different rant.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Extrasolar planet! Not only an extrasolar planet but the first planet ever discovered outside of our solar system. The planet, apparently is over 4 times the size of Earth.
Just the mere fact that planets outside of our solar system have been discovered leads you to consider life in the universe other than our own. Now, I have always been a believer in extraterrestrial life - aliens and all that. I don't really subscribe to the hollywood commercialized perception, though you can't really discount people's apparent accounts of contact.
We don't even know how big the universe is. I dare say we will never really know. There will always be undiscovered areas, undiscovered solar systems and planets, life forms that are created and move through their cycles to extinction without ever coming to our attention. To presume we are the only intelligent life in the universe, or even really in our own solar system, for my mind is completely arrogant and egocentric.
While I don't think it will eventuate to be quite like the "Star Trek" we are all familiar with, I would like to think that in time (long after everything I am and know of is dead and gone) society will have advanced its exploration of space, its discovery of new things and its acceptance of those things that seem so fantastical.
What an adventure there is yet to be had!
So instead I decided, since I am really not at all that talented cooking wise (and I wouldn't want to simply jump onto the tail coats of my fabulous friends who are kitchen whizzes), that I would simply create my own little opinion corner.
Each day (unless life gets in my way and I get swamped) I will blog about something random, an opinion I have on something specific or just my thoughts on life in general. To start with I intend to use the random search functions of wonderful things like wiki and google to prompt my posts (and hey, I may just learn about something interesting I didn't know about before hand).
So welcome to my little soap box. I hope you find the read entertaining, enjoyable and illuminating in some way.