Tuesday, April 28, 2009

These things come in threes

I should have guessed that strange things would happen today when I saw a dog peeing against the corner of a building in Flinders Lane in the city this morning. I have never seen a dog do that in the CBD before. Mind you, I thought it was funny so I didn't expect to encounter anything horrible over the day.

I was on was on the number 5 tram to Malvern this late afternoon, making my way along Swanston Street from Carlton to Flinders Lane to use the City Library when I heard a public announcement asking for passengers (and tram staff) to look out for an elderly person aged about 93 wearing a tan coat and with two walking sticks - the police and tram authorities were looking for him as there were concerns for his health and safety, and I think he was a bit lost. I only really focussed my thoughts on the fact that the person making the announcement didn't clearly specify that it was a 93-year-old man they were looking for.

Now these things never happen to me, but just as I got off the tram outside the Town Hall on the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets I saw the man in question standing at the tram stop! I had a moment's doubt, but he fit the description. So I called the cops, as the announcement had requested. Meanwhile another person (from the same tram I was on) approached the man to check he was okay. While it took me ages to relay all the necessary information to 000, a Yarra Trams official had come across the road from the Collins St 'superstop' in response to some the Yarra Trams announcement as well. When I was sure the the woman from Yarra Trams was going to stay with the elderly gent, and the cops were on their way and didn't need me, and headed off to cross the road to come here to the City Library (where I'm posting this).

While waiting to cross Collins Street, I saw a terrible accident - a young woman seemed to be hit by a tram that was leaving the stop and making its way up the Collins Street hill. It all happened so fast, I can't say for sure what happened. I only know that there was a large knot of people standing in along the tram tracks waiting to cross the street, including some people carrying some large pieced of wood, and I heard a loud crack or whack, saw pieces of a broken signal light falling - presumably from the tram - and then I saw a young woman crumple sideways to the ground! She looked like she was in a great deal of pain and distress. The people crowded around her came to her help and supported her, and called 000 for an ambulance.

It was quiet distressing, but it seemed that there were enough people around to help her so I wasn't needed. I hope she is okay. And I hope that elderly gent made his way safely home with police help.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Help Save Reconciliation Victoria!

I just want to quickly share the news of this very important campaign. I got this call to action via email from ANTaR Victoria, and because I believe that the work of organisations such as Reconciliation Victoria is so important, I want to urge you all to help by taking whatever action you can:
Reconciliation Victoria (Rec Vic) is currently facing the possibility of forced closure, having received no future funding commitment from the Victorian Government for the coming financial year.

ANTaR Victoria is supporting Rec Vic in its cause, calling on the Brumby government to provide ongoing and increased funding, as a key aspect of its closing the gap strategy. In addition to this, ANTaR and RecVic are asking for your help to put pressure on the government, as it is only through organisations such as RecVic that the hard work of changing community attitudes can happen to make Victoria a culturally safe place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Learn more about how you can help save Reconciliation Victoria.

I'm taking a quick break from a terribly busy time at work, so apologies for a lack of details. When things settle down, I'll provide an update on the campaign and share why I think such organisations should be supported.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Boys' toys

Boys' toys, originally uploaded by Mark Lawrence.

It was my birthday on Thursday - guess what I'd got? I enjoy helping my son make is robots and other creatures, and often said I wanted one myself! This year, my birthday fell on a full moon - is there a rule that it had to be a total stress day? More later.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hanging by a thread

We began this week with the news that the Wilkins Ice Shelf was at astonishing risk of breaking off the Antarctic continent. The European Space Agency has been tracking the progress of the disintegration of the land bridge that connects the Wilkins Ice Shelf to the rest of the continent. Its splintering increases the possibility of the ice shelf shattering into a thousands icebergs, blocks and shards of ice in the southern ocean.

It is more evidence that humans are heating the planet at faster rates than scientists had predicted, with increased risk that ocean levels with also rise faster than projected. When – not if – the plug of the Wilkins Ice Shelf finally breaks away, the continental ice it was holding back with crash into the ocean much faster, and flood more fresh water into the ocean – water that has been locked into the ice for probably centuries.

Ironically, the other iceberg of human ingenuity – the global financial crisis – is drawing from us a response that is directly inverse to the one required to deal with the increasingly urgent threat of global warming. Instead of curtailing our unrestrained, debt-fueled consumption of stuff and the resources required to make, cart around, sell and operate this stuff – especially fossil fuels – the most compelling thing our governments are asking us to do is spend – spend our way out of the economic crisis that, it strikes me, greed and over-spending got us into in the first place.

We are expected to trust our governments as they urge us to spend, spend, spend at a time when we need to tighten our belts and learn to sew on buttons, patch holes, and reuse, reduce and recycle to conserve fossil fuels and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. After all, who needs another of what Laura Carroll last Saturday so insightfully called in her essay 'Inconspicuous Consumption' in The Age's A2 supplement a piece of "billion-year-old carbon frozen in the humiliating form of a large, green Incredible Hulk doll".

I'm currently reading a collection of Kurt Vonnegut's non-fiction writings, A Man Without a Country, which includes various recent addresses and speeches on the war in Iraq and climate change. In a piece on fossil fuels and climate change, Vonnegut tells us:

We are all addicts to fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.
And all for the sake of keeping the gunky wheels and cogs of the economy rolling and chugging along. I sincerely do appreciate that Rudd's stimulus packages are to inject more consumption cash into the market to keep businesses going and keep peoples' jobs.

But when the ice of Antarctica is about to go crashing into the ocean at unprecedented rates, I really wonder if we are being so short-sighted and have lost sight of what's truly at stake – and consequently are not thinking deeply and creatively enough about what we need to do. If anything, we don't need to slow down or speed up the nasty treadmill of the neo-liberal economy. We need to get rid of it and build something else. And preferably something that works.

[Image is from the European Space Agency (ESA) website]

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Wild things to come

Apple has the trailer for new film, Where the Wild Things Are, online. It's based on Maurice Sendak's children's picture book.
I learned about it via Barista, who says the trailer is "a corker". Which it is. They also made it at the giant move studio at Docklands. The one that isn't getting used much anymore.

I wonder which one of these children's books, especially the picture books, will be as enduring as Sendak's book, and get turned into a movie.

Personally, I'm a big fan of Shaun Tan's illustrations and stories, but one of the things I love about them is the intimacy of seeing them on the page and holding the book in my hands. Don't know if I'd want to see them larger than life on the silver screen. Though I'm happy to change my mind. After all, my kids and I have been enjoying the kids' animated TV series based on Graeme Base's Animalia.

And I will be going to see Where the Wild Things Are.

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