Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WAGS - or it's AFL finals season

Here in Australia it's the finals season for Australian Rules Football with the AFL Grand Final next weekend. This means, of course, that it's also time for the annual awards. For Aussie Rules the big national award is the Brownlow, which is awarded to the player who accumulates the most points given to the fairest and best players after each game over the season by the officiating umpires.

For a long time the Brownlow Medal presentation ceremony was a black tie, male only event but those days are well gone - and so they should be. The wives and girlfriends make considerable sacrifices to support their menfolk and to shut them out would be churlish.

That said the Brownlow Medal presentation ceremony has become more and more of a fashion event with players showing off their partners on the red carpet before they go inside for the real business of the evening, the counting of the votes. This is all good but with the red carpet comes competition with fashion designers vying for their chance to dress these women - and the majority of them do a great job providing flattering, glamorous gowns.

But - and you knew there was going to be a but, didn't you - there is a growing tendency for a certain percentage of the women to wear more and more outrageous dresses. They are certainly not gowns. With plunging necklines and backs and splits up to the thigh they seem to be chosen without any thought of whether they are flattering or not, only how much skin they can expose. Now don't get me wrong. I have no objection to a bit of boob or leg showing - or both - as long as they enhance the appearance of the wearer. The trouble is these don't. The number of sagging, droopy or flattened breasts that posed on the red carpet was ridiculous. As one twenty something said to me 'If you've got sagging boobs, why wouldn't you want to have a decent bra to improve things?' and she's the same age group as these women.

The thing is it isn't bare skin that makes a garment sexy. It's how a dress emphasises the wearer's best points and minimises the others. Sometimes less really is more.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Spring - lovely to look at but...

it's also one of the worst hay fever times. This means that for most of this week I've been struggling to to get a reasonable breath on top of whatever this bug is that I've picked up. Yes, there are always antihistamines but they make my eyes dry and uncomfortable, not to mention how after a week or so that they start to lose their effectiveness, so I try to avoid them as much as possible.

Because I've been feeling so wretched I've been spending much of my day in bed watching subscription television. This consists of an inordinate number of repeats of pretty much all programs but the good thing is that this doesn't matter when it's a cooking show. Whenever I'm sick I find that, once I'm starting to feel a little better, I get obsessed with cooking whether it's in books or on television. Don't know why because I don't feel even slightly like eating. As a result, though, I've been glued to shows featuring Nigella Lawson, Rachel Koh and Yotam Ottolenghi among others.

Whether this will translate into enthusiastic cooking once I'm better I'm not sure - but Pisces is very hopeful. Still, I now have a whole pile of recipes for snow peas, silverbeet and rainbow chard, all of which are in glut in my vegie garden at the moment. Now to find something other than tabbouleh - which is lovely but I really don't want it every day - for the parsley since that is also running riot.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Consent - and a Cup of Tea

Consent seems to be a hard thing for some people to grasp in sexual matters. I think it's simple. No means no, yes means yes and if someone is incapable of articulating either yes or no that means they can't give consent so there can't be any action. That seems perfectly clear to me but apparently it's not to everyone. That's why when I found a post on Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess' blog a few months back where she uses the analogy of tea to make the point that it is not complicated I was very impressed. It's clear enough that anyone should be able to grasp it. I was even more impressed when I found recently that she had put an animated version of it up on YouTube. You can see it here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Biosecurity - It's Important

Here in Australia we take biosecurity very seriously. We enforce strict quarantine for animals coming into the country from places where there are diseases that we don't have here. As a result we are free of rabies and a number of other diseases which are endemic in other parts of the world.

So when actor Johnny Depp and his wife, Amber, brought their dogs, Pistol and Boo, into the country, without permission and avoiding quarantine, there were consequences. Depp and his wife were given 50 hours to have them removed from the country. This was actually quite generous as they could have been seized and put down immediately.

When the inevitable uproar around anything to do with a celebrity broke the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, had a few characteristically blunt words to say and I have to say I think in this case he was completely right. The dogs were sent out of the country and a summons was issued for Depp's wife to appear in the Southport Magistrate's Court last week. She did not appear and the case has now been adjourned until 2 November.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of ten year's jail and/or a fine of $102,000.

Now I wouldn't have bothered to blog about this - I'm not much interested in celebs - but for this interview with Johnny Depp that aired a few days ago. I'm not going to comment on it but see what you think after watching it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Home by Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a Somali born poet now living in the UK and her poem, Home, about the experience of asylum seekers and why they leave their home, turned up in my Facebook newsfeed today. The written words are compelling enough but her reading of it is heart wrenching. With the current mass displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East and the way some are portraying them as economic migrants we need to be reminded that no-one leaves home unless they are driven to it. You can hear her reading Home here.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Animals - and how we relate to them

There was a documentary airing here a while back where British actor Martin Clunes was examining human beings' contradictory relationship with domesticated animals. Clunes has a small farm in Dorset where he raises cattle and sheep for the meat market and and is a happy carnivore but, at the same time, he is intrigued by the fact that he can bottle feed and hand raise an animal then happily ship it off to slaughter.

The documentary takes him to Nepal where the cow is a sacred animal but is still kept for vital dairy and waste products (and treated with great respect and care), to Japan where cormorants are used to catch fish, to Thailand where domesticated elephants are used to carry tourists and to Ko Yao Noi, also in Thailand, where trained monkeys are used to harvest coconuts. He's been taken by how most of the people treat their animal workers gently and with kindness. While I'm sure many - even most - do, I'm a little more sceptical because obviously these people know they are being filmed and have been carefully selected by the team putting the documentary together. That seems to me likely to put them on their best behaviour. But still it does give us some insight into how animals are used to work with people and the partnerships that can develop between them.

I'm happily vegetarian but it seems to me that if animals are treated as the Nepalese cattle are we are living in harmony with them and I have no problem that. The thing is people in general really can't or won't put themselves in the place of the animals they interconnect with and, as a result, often with the best of intentions, they make terrible mistakes. Take dogs for example. Most of us like or love dogs if the number of pet dogs is any indication but that doesn't equate to understanding them and that's where human/dog relationships often fail. This is no doubt why the people seen recently by Virgo walking their puppy thought a prong collar was a good idea. Puppy had no idea of how it should behave - hello, puppy, why would it - and was being jerked back whenever it strayed. That puppy is learning only one thing - that people hurt it and has no idea of what it is doing wrong or why it is being hurt. Just a little thought by its owners would tell them that but, although I'm sure they think they are doing the right thing, they haven't learned how puppies think and act. It's sad because they are all missing out.

I share my life with animals and I always have. When I lose one of my furry friends I mourn them deeply and while they live with me I try to make their life as pleasant as possible. I don't see them as belonging to me, more as a different kind of family member. This does not, I hasten to add, mean I think of them as substitute humans. They are themselves and of their own species but they are still part of our family unit. It seems to me that this is the way it should be. We share our world with animals and whether they are like the cows in Nepal or my house pets we need to treat them with respect.

Saturday, September 05, 2015


Today I came across a video of a performance by Beijing based Hanggai, a band comprising of ethnic Mongolians and Han Chinese who play a mix of Mongolian ethnic music mixed with metal and punk rock among other influences. It's hard to describe but it features traditional Mongolian overtone singing (otherwise known as throat singing) as well as more modern vocals and traditional instruments along with electric guitars, computer based music, banjo and bass. Definitely a unique sound and style.

You can see the video here and if you want to find out more about the band, their Wikipedia page is here.