Thursday, 30 November 2006

World Aids Day

Tomorrow is World Aids Day and I thought I'd post some excerpts from Kofi Annan's speech.
"In the 25 years since the first case was reported, AIDS has changed the world. It has killed 25 million people and infected 40 million more. It has become the world's leading cause of death among both women and men ages 15 to 59. It has inflicted the single greatest reversal in the history of human development. In other words, it has become the greatest challenge of our generation."
This year's theme is "accountability", and never has accountability been more important in the fight against Hiv and Aids. Governments and people lucky enough to remain free from infection need to do more to assist those peoples and countries that are bearing the full brunt of the epidemic. Many countries in Africa are suffering from massive rates of infection, such that almost no one is left untouched. But in the Asia Pacific region too, Aids is wercking havoc in those coutries least able to combat it. Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and PNG are suffering generalised epidemics (more than 1 per cent of the population over 15 years infected), and more must be done to ensure that universal access to treatment, care and prevention reaches these vulnerable peoples.
"But accountability applies not only to those who hold positions of power. It also applies to all of us. It requires business leaders to work for HIV prevention in the workplace and in the wider community, and to care for affected workers and their families. It requires health workers, community leaders and faith-based groups to listen and care, without passing judgment. It requires fathers, husbands, sons and brothers to support and affirm the rights of women. It requires teachers to nurture the dreams and aspirations of girls. It requires men to help ensure that other men assume their responsibility — and understand that real manhood means protecting others from risk. It requires every one of us to help bring AIDS out of the shadows, and spread the message that silence is death."
In recent years the infection rate in Australia has been on the rise again, mainly in the gay community. People have become blase about the risks, especially now that anti-retrovirals are so accessible. This complacency is deadly and while we can't afford it in Australia the world can afford it even less.

So make a donation, buy a ribbon, but most of all raise awareness.

Melbourne - Advice Sought

I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Melbourne. I have only been there a few times (since I lived there at the ripe old age of 2) and even then only for a couple of days.

I do intend to remedy this situation one day soon, but this Sunday I am actually carrying on my tradition of flying visits. I am flying up to Darwin to visit my Mum and my (cheap) flights have me arriving in Melbourne in the morning and not flying out again until around 8pm.

I am planning to get the Skybus into town and have a little look around and I thought that I would seek the advice of any Melbournians (or fans of the city) as to what I should do during my extremely brief visit.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

top 100 greenies

The British Environmental Agency has released a list of the top 100 green campaigners of all time. The people considered (by the agency) to have made the most positive environmental impact on the planet.

Topping the list was Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, the book that most people agree kicked off the modern environmental movement.

The rest of the list includes the usual suspects:

David Attenborough (4), William Morris (8), Al Gore (9), Vandana Shiva (13), Ansel Adams (14), Fritjof Capra (15), George Monbiot (23), David Bower (31), David Suzuki (35), and Stephen Jay Gould (78).

History gets it's fair share with Mahatma Gandhi coming in at 81, Charles Darwin at 87, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge at 95.

Religion makes an appearance too. St Francis of Assisi ranked a respectable 47, the Dalai Lama at 89, and his inspiration, Siddartha Gautama Buddha came in at 47.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a surprise inclusion at 29, but his recent green turn might have had something to do with it (apparently he has even sold his humvee).

Two of my favourite entries were number 100: Father Christmas, for carbon-free delivery; and at number 55: the people of Bougainville, eco-revolutionaries.

While the list might seem a little naff, I think we could do with more of these positive associations. It's good for people to see that you can be recognised for doing something good for the environment.

I would have put David Suzuki above the Governator though.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Safely in Vientiane

I'm here. Nothing seems to have changed dramatically in the last 10 months or so. A few new buildings here and there, but essentially exactly as I remember it.
 
The new airport in Bangkok, though, is a whole other story. The place is just enormus and doesn't seem to be running smoothly just yet. There were tired and dispirited lost people everywhere you turned, and they were just the staff!
 
Things seemed to be just holding together - like everything might just fall apart any second.
 
Despite the size of the place there were huge cues everywhere, and while business class travellers (as I am lucky enough to be when jetting around for work) are shielded from most of it there is still a palpable sense of confusion in the air.
 
No digital camera here, as C is taking it on her trips while I'm away, so no first re-impression pictures have been made. I'll get some film for the SLR and make a few shots at some point though.
 
More from me as time permits - most likely in the sad and lonely evenings... (boohoo).

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Bye bye

P just got in a taxi and was driven away to the airport. He has to go to Laos for work and he'll be there for the next month.

I will miss him. I hate it when we are apart. It just doesn't suit me.

To counter the home-aloneness I am going to spend the next week in Sydney with my Dad and then fly up to Darwin to visit my Mum for a couple of weeks. Somewhere in there I also plan to keep working on my PhD.

For now, I will just hope that P has a safe and comfy flight, and I will try to distract myself by doing some (dodgy) knitting.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Buy Nothing Day



Not to rain on C’s parade (and you should definitely make an exception for White Ribbon Day), but today is Buy Nothing Day.

Started by Canadian organisation, Adbusters, the day is organised every November to counter the shopping frenzy that Americans throw themselves into on the thanksgiving day long weekend.



The Ad Busters blurb goes like this:

Every November, for 24 hours, we remember that no one was born to shop. If you’ve never taken part in Buy Nothing Day, or if you’ve taken part in the past but haven’t really committed to doing it again, consider this: 2006 will go down as the year in which mainstream dialogue about global warming finally reached its critical mass. What better way to bring the Year of Global Warming to a close than to point in the direction of real alternatives to the unbridled consumption that has created this quagmire?

Excellent, I say.



While the day started with a definite US focus, it has spread in recent years and is now celebrated by increasing numbers of people in far flung places who are concerned about the US-led direction the world is striding in.

So, buy nothing tomorrow if you can, but more importantly, think about your level of consumption generally and explore areas where you can cut back. Every little bit helps the planet and, contrary to what neoliberal economists would have you believe, won't destroy the world economy.

You can even download these groovy posters, and others too, at the site and spread the word

White Ribbon Day


Tomorrow is White Ribbon Day, so today would be a good day to go out and buy one. They are selling them at the Body Shop and Harvey Norman, plus there may be people at your office who will make them available.

Wearing a White Ribbon makes a difference because:

  • it is a visible sign that the wearer does not support or condone the use of violence against women or children;
  • most men do not use violence. Most men treat women and girls with respect. But a minority of men treat women and girls with contempt and violence, and it is up to the majority of men to wear White Ribbons and help create a culture in which this is unacceptable;
  • men, as community leaders and decision-makers, can play a key role in helping stop violence against women by speaking out and stepping in when male friends and relatives insult or attack women,and demonstrating their support and by wearing a White Ribbon;
  • women can show their support for men and their commitment to working in partnership with men to end violence against women by wearing a White Ribbon.
Information from the White Ribbon Day website.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Vegan Chocolate Pie

This was such a simple recipe that I didn't really have very high expectations, but I must say this pie was simply delicious!




Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • water
  • 500g silken tofu
  • 150g dark chocolate (preferably organic and fair trade)
Instructions
  • Mix flour, almond meal and oil together and add water until you get the right consistency - it should stick together without being sticky.
  • Press the pastry evenly into a pie dish or a shallow cake tin with the pastry and bake in oven for around 8 minutes on 180 celcius. (I placed some chickpeas on the base for the last few minutes to stop it from rising up too much)
  • Melt the chocolate and then combine with tofu in a blender.
  • Blend the mixture together and pour onto baked pie crust.
  • Place in fridge for at least two hours while it hardens.
  • Serve with strawberries or other yummy fruit.
  • EAT - mmm yum.



Just life's essentials: water, electricity, the net...

Apparently the internet is now as important to business as water and electricity. It's great that the primacy of information (and access to it) is beginning to be more widely recognised as essential to business development as other infrastructure needs.

Still have a ways to go on convincing most people that it's also an essential part of human development. Small steps I guess.

Nuclear is green power: report

But only if we’re talking about the glowing green of radiation poisoning from cartoons.

The lofty taskforce appointed by the PM to explore the idea of Australia going nuclear has concluded that, yes, going nuclear would indeed reduce our emissions, but that it will cost a bucket more dosh to produce an equivalent amount of this "clean" energy.

The thing I really don’t understand is why is no one talking about the waste issue? How can we call nuclear energy clean when it produces massive amounts of highly dangerous chemical waste that has to be securely stored for thousands of years?

At least Mr Gore gave it a passing mention when he was in Victoria last week:
Even if you set aside the problem of long-term waste storage and the danger of operator accident and the vulnerability to terrorist attack, you still have two others that are more difficult [...] Nuclear power plants are the costliest to build and they take the longest time and at present they come in only one size — extra large [...] For eight years when I was in the White House, every problem of weapons proliferation was connected to a reactor program.
While the economic issue is certainly of concern (particularly among highly geared "middle Australia") it pails in comparison to the other issues Gore mentions. People seem happy to talk about issues of terrorism and weapons proliferation (particularly if those producing the weapons are North Korea and Iran - but apparently not the US and Israel), but the issue of waste seems to be off the agenda.

When will we learn?

Weekend-y stuff

This weekend P and I had planned to go to the cinema twice, to go out to dinner at least once and to generally get out and enjoy the world. The thing was that we just didn't end up being in the mood.

Instead, we basically stayed around the house being very domestic. The priority was trying to further the process of transforming my study into a nursery, and to that end we hung some beautiful embroidered pictures that we were given for our wedding.






Then we went out and bought some cute fabric to cover over some ugly pin boards and make them more fun for a little person.

We had borrowed a staple gun for this project, and by the time we were finished I was looking around wistfully hoping to find something else that I could staple. They are fun!


On the Sunday, we went out to P's sister's house and took home a hoard of baby clothes. At the rate that we are going, we may not have to buy anything for our munchkin except nappies, and these we will be ordering online from here.


We also acquired another bookcase for our bedroom, since we had run out of places to put our books. So far the top shelves are covered in books that we plan to read soon, while the lower shelf is supposed to be for our photos albums etc. but may get invaded if we make any new purchases...


And, finally, we printed and hung some of our photos in the living room. We have been meaning to do this since we moved in (in January), but somehow we never quite got around to it.


All up, we were extremely boring this weekend. But, I must say, it was really quite satisfying.

I love APEC outfits



Of course, the big question is: What are we going to make them wear next year?

Possible options:
  • Stubbies, work boots, and a white singlet (AKA beater)


  • Speedos and thongs


  • Dry-as-a-bone, Akubra, and RW Williams boots


  • or we could be really cruel and make them wear Ken Done shirts.
Any other suggestions?

Monday, 20 November 2006

A step backwards for Women's Rights

"The Nicaraguan president, Enrique Bolanos, has signed a bill banning abortion even when a woman's life is endangered."

Under the old law it was permissible for a woman to have an abortion only if her life was at risk (and three doctors had certified to this fact), so this change was a specific decision to elevate the lives of unborn feotuses above those of living women - nothing more, nothing less.

Bastards. I find this really disgusting.

Imagine the abortion debate if men got pregnant...

[Personally, I doubt that we would even have one - a debate that is.]

US pours scorn on international greenhouse tax proposal

Of course they do. No surprises there. What was surprising, however, was that Howard, who presented the US's "let's not really do anything about global warming at all" as his own "balanced approach", has claimed "strong and unanimous support".

The definition of "strong and unanimous support" appears to be that the US, Canada and Singapore all cried "yay", while no one else said anything.

The fact that on one else said anything, I imagine, is far from a silent accepting agreement that the superior white folks know best. Rather I expect it was of a symptom of being sick and tired of arguing around in circles and repeatedly banging ones head against the stupidity of the Bush/Howard position.

As the UN Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi shows the rest of the world is quite happy to move things along in the face of continued US-Australia hostility.

Despite increasing isolation we're still pushing the "technology will save us" line. Technology most certainly has a role to play (and this is openly acknowledged by the Kyoto signatories), but without some serious and rather speedy changes in the way we think about the world and our place in it things are going to get hotter and hotter.

Saturday, 18 November 2006

What's wrong with America?

I'm not sure, but this just about sums it up for me.

At least there have been student protests at UCLA since Wednesday.

Unbelievable. Not that I think Australian police would behave any differently.

Via Jena.

*Update: the first link is now fixed so you can view the horror.

Friday, 17 November 2006

Chinese eggplant and greens

We made a yummy dinner the other night and so I thought that I would share the recipe with you.





Chinese Eggplant
Ingredients
  • 1 whole eggplant chopped into cubes of about 5 cm2*
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or veg oil)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or Bragg's)
  • Water
  • Sprinkle of sesame oil to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
*[Several chinese eggplants would also work here if available]
Instructions
  • Heat a heavy-based pan over medium high
  • Add oil, chilli and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds
  • Add eggplant and stir so ingredients mix well
  • Allow the eggplant to start to brown, add soy sauce and stir.
  • Add sesame seeds and stir through.
  • Add a small amount of water, and stir as the water steams off and then add some more.
  • Repeat several times allowing the bitter juices to evaporate.
  • Add a small amount of water, turn down heat to medium and cover with lid.
  • Remove lid every now and then to stir and make sure that it is not sticking.
  • Remove from heat when mixture is goey (but still has some shape).
  • Sprinkle small amount of sesame oil to taste.

Greens
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Small bunch of shallots, diced (remove ends)
  • 1 small red chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • Ginger, finely sliced
  • Button mushrooms, chopped in half or quarters
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or Bragg's)
  • Asparagus, chopped in thirds (remove botton end)
  • Snowpeas, chopped in half (remove ends)
  • Baby buk choy, chopped coarsely (remove base)
Instructions
  • Heat wok to medium.
  • Add oil, shallots, chilli, garlic and ginger, stir.
  • Add mushrooms and stir until lightly brown.
  • Add soy sauce and stir through.
  • Add asparagus and snowpeas, stir.
  • Add buk choy and turn off the heat.
  • Stir ingredients together and serve.


Serve over brown rice.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Tony Abbott finally comes clean

"I won't be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated, maybe that's because I'm a cruel, callow, callous, heartless bastard but, look, I won't be."
Can you image if Gardasil was for prostate cancer? I find it very difficult to believe that a vaccine for a predominantly male disease would not have immediately been placed on the PBS.

[Quote from the Daily Telegraph via The Wo! Front]

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Australia among biggest polluters

The Climate Change Performance Index 2007 has been released and Australia has come in at 47 amongst the 56 biggest polluters (1 being the least worst and 56 being the worst worst). Not a bad effort for a country of 20 million.

The full results are available here, and if you're interested in the way the index is calculated you can find more info here.

Oh, and UNEP, Greenpeace, WWF and others are promoting an international climate change symbol. It's quite cute:



And can be downloaded for use, here.

Gold, pure cartoon gold



From The Guardian's Steve Bell

Lunchtime Pitta Pizza

Not sure of what to have for lunch today, I decided to make a quick pizza on pitta bread. Since it turned out to be quite yummy, I thought that I would share it with you.




Ingredients:
2 x pitta bread
2 large tablespoons of tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 small red chillies, diced
5 sprigs of spring onions, diced
150 grams of firm tofu, crumbled
teaspoon of Bragg's
teaspoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 tomato, sliced
A few slices of red capsicum
4 button mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to about 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Fry half of the garlic, chili and spring onions in olive oil for about a minutes over medium heat before adding crumbled tofu. Let it brown and add Bragg's and nutritional yeast (optional, it would be yummy, but I had run out and didn't use it). Set aside.
  3. Spread tomato paste evenly over the two pitta bread pieces. Top with remaining garlic, chili and spring onions - spread them around.
  4. Cover based with baby spinach, top with mushrooms, olives, tomato, and capsicum (I only used this on P's - I am not a capsicum fan).
  5. Sprinkle tofu mix on top and put into the oven for around 8 minutes.
  6. Slice into quarters and serve.



Can I just add that the little one in my tummy appears to like the pizza very much. S/he is kicking up a storm right now...

Monday, 13 November 2006

U.S. Vetoes Security Council Resolution Assailing Israel for Attacks

John Bolton (please Democrats kick him out now) told the Council that the resolution "does not display an even-handed characterization of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace."

But of course they vetoed the resoultion condemning Israel. They always do.

Actually, this is an anniversary of sorts for the US, this veto marked the 40th resolution against Israel they have vetoed since 1972.

Now that's a record to be proud of.

And more presents for C

First Rumsfeld, now it looks like John Bolton, the US Ambassador to the UN, will be the next head on the chopping block. Bush has been trying to get Bolton, a close family friend (of course) confirmed in the position for almost two years, but has been blocked by a Republican Senate. Word on the street is that now that the Democrats are taking over Bolton hasn't got a hope in hell.

Bolton has been anti-UN for years and rather vocal about it. Two of my favourite quotes are:
The [U.N.] Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference.
and
There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world and that is the United States when it suits our interest and we can get others to go along.
Way to be inclusive.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the way Cheney and Bush see the world and it's a measure of just how far right they are that the majority of Republicans senators don't agree with them, on this issue at least.

Oh, and speaking of Rumsfeld, it looks like he might be facing a lawsuit as the first hurdle of his retirement. The US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights is filing charges against Rumsfeld; the Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales; the former CIA director, George Tenet; and several other senior figures in the Bush Administration. The charges are due to be filed in a German court as they have laws that allow for the prosecution of war crimes committed anywhere in the world.

It looks like C's birthday presents might be getting better and better...

Other birthday presents

As well as the perfect picnic basket and rug, I got a bunch of other great presents for my birthday:


Non-political presents also included:
  • A gorgeous pair of silver earings from Laos;
  • Two prenatal massages (vouchers, actually);
  • Frank Brennan's new book;
  • A cute teddy bear book;
  • A box of pachyderm paper (yep, made from elephant dung);
  • Two beautiful vases;
  • Two bunches of flowers;
  • A jade plant;
  • An embroidered hanky;
  • A salad spinner; and
  • A jar of almonds.


I am thinking of asking for a sewing machine from my parents (for Christmas too). Trouble is that I don't know what kind to get. Any suggestions?

Home again

Wednesday
  • Arrived in around 7:30am and got a bus to Canberra (after clearing customs). Paul was waiting at the Jolimont Centre and we went home for snuggles.
  • Went out for a walk to explore the new Canberra Centre. It wasn't really finished yet.
Thursday
  • Woke up at 7am one year older. P tried to trick me into believing that he was going to work. He failed miserably and thus I missed out on my surprise picnic. Still got presented with the most perfect picnic basket in the world and taken out for coffee (decaf).

  • Received calls all day from family and friends - including one from Dad in southern Timor Leste.
  • P's parents dropped around and gave me a jumbo picnic rug and cooler bag - now thoroughly prepared for summer.
  • Met a far-flung LPer for the first time for coffee at Parliament House.
  • Purchased a large plastic container for paper making from our newly local Big W. Browsed our new local Borders (for ideas of what to order elsewhere).
  • Met another friend who was visiting from Laos for cake (actually, I am not sure that she was visiting just for the cake).
  • Went home for roast vegetable pizza and more snuggles.
Friday
  • Began clearing out study in order to put in a new desk and create a nursery. House resembled a bomb site and I got so overwhelmed that I went to bed for a nap.
  • Went out to Au Lac for a combined birthday dinner with 'the girls' (sorry Steve). Ate too much. Joined them at Trinity and Knightsbridge but stuck to cranberry juice. Went home smelling like cigarettes and looking forward to 1 December.
Saturday
  • Got up at 7am to go to the Farmers Markets with K&P. Bought tomato and herb plants for the balcony as well as the usual array of fruit and veggies.
  • Spent the morning making little cup cakes and sushi.




  • Headed down to the lake for a birthday picnic with family and friends. Everyone brought yummy food and drinks (and icy poles!) and the weather was perfect.

Sunday
  • Finished with our destruction of the study and then headed out to Fyshwick with P's parents.
  • Sold a couple of boxes of unwanted books and got $93 credit in fabulous bookshop. Already plotting next trip.
  • Purchased a new desk, filing cabinet and bookcase from Ex-Government Furniture shop.
  • Went somewhat crazy in Bunnings and bought paint, gardening supplies, hammer, and paint brush.
  • Returned home to disaster zone and finished the job. (Well, I actually napped while P did most of the work).



Monday
  • AHHH! Must do work now.


Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Haiti most corrupt in 2006 - oh, and take that GW

Transparency International has released the Corruption Perception Index for 2006. The least corrupt countries weren't a surprise, with Finland, Iceland and New Zealand coming in a tie for first, and Denmark, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, Norway, Australia and Netherlands rounding out the top 10.

The US came in at 20, tying with Belgium and Chile.

While Laos tied 111 with Vietnam, East Timor, Albania, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Yemen and Zambia.

Haiti came in last (163rd), just ahead of Burma and the world's newest "democracy" Iraq.

You can check out the whole index, here, and search for countries of particular interest.

Speaking of the US and Iraq, it looks like the Democrats have won the House and are neck-a-neck for the Senate (which is down to Virginia and Montana - both of which are too close to call). The elections were largely seen as a nation-wide referendum on Bush and Iraq and the people, it seems, have spoken, and what it seems they have said is "F*ck you George Bush".

Well, it's about time they caught up to the rest of the world.

(sorry for the bad language, I just got a little carried away in the moment)

*The map is from the Transparency International site - the darker the red, the worse the corruption.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Senate passes stem cell bill

The Australian senate today passed a bill that (if it passes the house) will overturn the ban on human embryo cloning for therapeutic purposes.

I'm a bit ambivalent about cloning in general and not a fan of using this kind of technology to augment ones looks - not that this is what the current law will allow by any means.

I'm half inclined to say we should develop better methods of harvesting and storing the organs and body parts of deceased humans rather than growing new bits, but the issue of rejection looms large here.

It's certainly a tricky issue and I commend the Australian senate for giving it serious thought and not simply ruling it out on dubious religious grounds (ala the US).

Stern translation

The Guardian has published a summary of the Key findings of the Stern Report to save you reading the whole thing to get to the crunchy bits.

The summary includes a summary summary, which, if you're in a rush or lacking the attention span, will give you the greatest hits:
Main points

· Carbon emissions have already increased global temperatures by more than 0.5C

· With no action to cut greenhouse gases, we will warm the planet another 2-3C within 50 years

· Temperature rise will transform the physical geography of the planet and the way we live

· Floods, disease, storms and water shortages will become more frequent

· The poorest countries will suffer earliest and most

· The effects of climate change could cost the world between 5% and 20% of GDP

· Action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the worst of global warming would cost 1% of GDP

· With no action, each tonne of carbon dioxide we emit will cause at least $85 (£45) of damage

· Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should be limited to the equivalent of 450-550ppm

· Action should include carbon pricing, new technology and robust international agreements

Monday, 6 November 2006

Focus on your world

I've just stumbled across this, and it's made me wonder what I'm doing working in an office when I'd rather be out making amazing pictures of incredible things - and helping others to record the details of their daily lives and communities on film.

Ah, the pleasures of dreaming away a slow office afternoon.

One of these days it'll all come together.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

Vegan Lunch Box

OK, so I mentioned this in my last post, but it was somewhat buried in all the ranting about hormones etc. so I thought that I would mention it again - just in case you missed it.




Jennifer McCann, author of the fabulous blog Vegan Lunch Box, has been writing a recipe book based on those amazing lunches that she put together for her little one every school day last year. I, like many other people, have spent the year drooling over the photos and feeling very inspired by her creativity. Anyway, her book is finally ready for sale and will be available for to be posted out from 15 Nov.

Australian fans will be pleased to know that you can order it locally from an Australian site - Lunchmatters. [I was actually so pleased, well excited really, that I ordered two copies...]

I have to admit that I find this book particularly exciting because P and I are planning to bring up our little one as a vegan and anything that will make that easier for us is a real blessing. This book will ensure that we can give our little one the coolest lunches at school rather than having them feel left out because they aren't eating dead flesh or drinking another mammal's milk. However, I really think that this book will appeal to people who are omnivores or vegetarians, because the lunches are really so fun that they would suit any child.

Of course, I am well aware of the fact that our little one is actually not yet born and thus won't be eating school lunches for quite some time. I have a couple of things to say about this:
  • P and I eat lunch too. [Yes, I do work from home, but still...]
  • HORMONES!

Actually, on the subject of lunch. It is worth checking out these great images of vegan bento lunches on this flixr group. [Thank you to Kristy for the link]

Above image, obviously, from veganlunchbox.blogspot.com.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Walk Against Warming, a huge success

I'm totally buggered, but it was a great day. The Walk Against Warming drew an estimated 2,500 people in Canberra (which is a good turn out for this city), but the real crowds were in Sydney where an estimated 50,000 people walked.

The Canberra event was really fun. There were people from all walks and stages of life and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

The ABC has a web update on events from all over the country, here.

No photos unfortunately as C has the camera in Manila, but there were plenty of people snapping away, so I'm sure to get hold of a few at some point.



There's also a bit of a wrap up on the website too, and there's bound to be more info in the next few days.

Friday, 3 November 2006

World university rankings

It's Friday afternoon and I'm sleepy. To help pass the time I've been reading a few work-related websites and stumbled across a couple of (not so work-related) global university rankings.

Intrigued, I decided to see where my various alma maters and was pleasantly surprised by their results - not that I'm attributing any of their success to myself.

Three of the four universities I have attended in my time were ranked 22, 38 and 64 on the Newsweek Top 100 Global Universities ranking for 2006 and all four were ranked in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2006 Top 500 World Universities, coming in at 17, 54, 151 and 321.

Okay, so 321 isn't so good, but the others aren't too bad...

Hormones ahoy

I think that I might be going just a little crazy.

As you may know, I am currently in Manila doing some fieldwork for my PhD. I have been running around interviewing tons of people from NGOs, government, private business, the World Bank, urban poor communities, etc... and trying to gather information on the impact of the privatisation of Metro Manila's water supply on the right to water. The research has been really interesting - if also extremely exhausting and challenging, and would normally be dominating my thoughts.

However, last night I could not sleep because my brain was busy listing activities for children's birthday parties, decorating our non-existent nursery (Loobylu may be responsible for this), planning fun vegan lunchboxes for our unborn child (VeganLunchbox is just about to come out in print - so at least this has a basis), and planning a menu for a Christmas party that I would like to host for friends before family madness begins...

I can only put this down to pregnancy hormones, but it certainly feels very odd.

Fortunately, today is my last day of interviews so I won't have to run around like a mad thing after it is over. First, I have a meeting with the team leader of the water team from the Freedom from Debt Coalition, then I am meeting the NGO liaison from Manila Water to go on a tour of an urban poor community that they work with. Should be very interesting... I must try not to think about baking gingerbread.

At least it'll be artistic...

Yesterday the Federal Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, announced that the government is thinking of putting "shade cloth" over parts of the Great Barrier Reef in order to protect it from the effects of global warming enhanced sun bleaching.

Apparently the coral that is currently protected by natural shade is much brighter and healthier than coral that gets the full force of our ozone depleted sun.

I kind of like the idea, it brings out my artistic side. Perhaps we could get Christo and Jeanne-Claude to come over and do a permanent installation, like this number from Japan:



Still, it’s sad that we’re relying more and more on technology to save us from our inability to prevent our own excesses.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

100 million sites and nothing's on...

Today marks a milestone of sorts for the internet, which has reached 100 million individual websites. That's a considerable number, especially when there were less than 20,000 at the end of 1995.

While net nerds celebrated net leaders were discussing the future at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens, which wrapped up today. The four key agendas for the conference were security, diversity, openness and access.

The forum was borne out of the World Summit on the Information Society meetings, the last of which was held in Tunis - that bastion of free expression (where people are regularly imprisoned for speaking their mind on the net - and you wonder why the talks were a resounding failure).

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, addressed the forum, saying:

With more than one billion users world-wide and still growing dramatically, the Internet has outgrown its origins as a network run by and for computer specialists. Indeed it has become too important, for almost every country’s economy and administration, for Governments not to take an interest. The challenge therefore is to bring two cultures together: the non-governmental Internet community, with its traditions of informal, bottom-up decision-making, and the more formal, structured world of Governments and intergovernmental organizations.

Just how that might happen is still much debated.

Amnesty International and other human rights NGOs held an alternative forum concurrent with the "real" forum, attempting to bring to light the abuse of human rights (particularly freedom of speech) some governments are engaged in and how this can be facilitated by the internet.

Steve Ballinger from Amnesty told BBC reporters:

"The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is concerned about free expression online and willing to stand up for it" ... "People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an email or a website. Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information."

So, while the internet is an incredibly useful tool that can facilitate communication and close gaps between peoples, it can also be used as a tool for circulating propaganda and monitoring the movements, thoughts and actions of people who disagree with the state.

One can only imagine that the 100 million sites of today will be a tiny proportion of those in another 15 years, but this leads me to wonder, if only a tiny percentage of today's sites are worthwhile and contain useful information, just how much trash will there be in the ether by 2031?

Wednesday, 1 November 2006

Well, this sucks

The ABC announced yesterday that it's axing The Glasshouse.

The bastards.

The show will see out its season (four more episodes) and then be relagted to the history books.

Will Anderson has been quoted as saying the show will "go out with all guns a'blazing".

John Howard has said he didn't ask the ABC to axe the show, but made no pretense of thinking that freedom of speech was a good thing in this particular case.

*Photo from the SMH

Climate change? Can't do.

According to The Washington Times, a group of 12 UN Ambassadors (ours among them) met with Bjorn Lomborg, self-confessed climate change sceptic, over the weekend.

The discussions were about deciding which of the UN's many goals were actually achievable and creating a ranking for each.

The diplomats decided that "preventing HIV/AIDS and improving the distribution of micronutrients and vitamins would deliver the most cost-effective results".
"There is this tendency in the United Nations, in government, the private sector, everywhere: You want it all," said Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which seeks to support the Millennium Development Goals by prioritizing resources.

"But you have to force yourself to say, 'If I can't have it all, what is first, second, etc.' For the developing [nations], it's really about better health, better food, more clean drinking water and sanitation."
I don't know about you, but I'm always comforted by the distinction between what developing nations can hope for and what developed nations can have. The "us" and "them" mentality has really worked out well for the world to date, hasn't it?

The Times says that fighting malaria and malnutrition, improving access to clean water and sanitation and improving basic education all placed high on the cost-benefit analysis. While improving financial stability in poor nations placed toward the bottom, along with climate change.
When you spend $1 on climate change, you're getting back as little as 25 cents. It's expensive, and the benefits come far out into the future.
Thanks Bjorn, that's great, let's just think about right now and not worry at all about the future. Again, a strategy that's done wonders so far.

While a certain level of prioritising is important, and while not all the UN's goals will be met at all, let alone on time, simply writing things like climate change and carbon trading off seems rather idiotic to me.

The UN may be overly bureaucratic and tragically inefficient at getting things on its agenda to happen, but at least when they are on the agenda they have a chance.

PNG tells Australia: we will stop your aid

Oh bugger.

This might make life interesting...

Small crimes against the planet

Just flicking through today's Guardian and came across this story, which made me giggle and cringe at the same time.

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