Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Walk Through White Night Melbourne

Last night was White Night Melbourne and it was excellent. Colourful, chaotic and crowded (and probably a hundred other words starting with "C") but so very, very Melbourne. Happy people, bright lights and a real sense of carnival.

Sure, there are opportunities for improvement. If you're going to bring the whole city into the event, you need to try and INCLUDE the whole city as well. Too many stretches where nothing was happening, too many streets where the only activity was walking in the half-light.

And the amenities could surely be improved. I remember the portaloo-cities that sprung up for RunMelbourne; they wouldn't have gone astray last night! I'd also love to see renewable power utilised in a big way, given the electric nature of the night and the myth that renewables can't work in the dark. But maybe that's just me.

But ultimately it was a great night, spent in FABULOUS company. It was just after 2am by the time I hopped on my tram home (another excellent initiative, the public transport kept running all night) and it was an evening very, very well spent.

So here is a selection of my happy snaps for the night. It doesn't cover everything we saw, or everywhere we went. But it does show off some of the wonder that descended on Melbourne's White Night.

(click on each pic for an enlargement)

While the night was still young.

After dinner, the crowd had swelled and the light shows had really begun!
Flinders St was brilliant.

An indication of how many people were roaming Melbourne last night.

We headed down for a walk along the Yarra...

There was a kaleidoscopic mound at one point, with bone-juddering sub-sonics blasting out every which way. We couldn't get too close because of the vibrations!
All very "Lord Of The Flies" if you ask me.

This pic doesn't do them justice... but the faces over the Yarra were a highlight of the night.
And they moved!

The source of the lights that pierced the evening sky.

Tattooed City was fantastic. Not sure I'd be comfortable seeing myself up there!
Constantly changing, this was great.

Ah, Flinders St station. You never looked so good.

Flinders Lane was pretty awesome, to be honest.

Loved this. :)

 .,,,and back to Flinders Lane.

A peek behind the scenes... one of the many, many lighting rigs around town.

We stumbled upon this exhibition at the Scots Church while heading to the State Library (which was a disappointment to be honest but that's because we were tired & didn't go inside. Oops.). Morbid and calm at the same time. Loved it.

And that's all I have to share. White Night Melbourne, take a bow... sure, you can lift your game for next year (and I'm sure you will) but for 12 hours last night...

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Dummy's Guide To Male Feminism

So you’re a guy. A nice, decent guy; you’ve got your head screwed on right. And you want to talk about feminism.

Look, it’s understandable. You’ve got all the feelz, all the opinions, and the sexist behaviour of some of your fellow men just makes you sad. Heck, some of your best friends are women.

But bro, there are a few things you’ve got to realise before you open your mouth.

You are not a feminist. This may come as a shock but there it is. Deal with it.

You are not a feminist. So important, I’m saying it again. That thing between your legs counts you out.

You’re barking up the wrong tree. It isn’t feminism that men should be talking about; it’s sexism. Let’s face it, the only reason feminism exists, the only reason it NEEDS to exist is because men have been sexist since day one.

It’s not about you. I mean really… what do you think you can add to a debate about feminism that hasn’t already been covered by, you know… females?

It’s really not about you. Hate to labour the point but here it is. Any guy who publicly stands up for feminism is looking for validation that they are not sexist. Simple as that.

It’s really, really not about you. Seriously bro, you need to understand this. Don’t hold yourself up as proof that “not all men are bastards” because the only people you’re proving it to is other men.

Zip it. The absolute best thing you can do. We blokes have been telling everyone what to do for so long that we don’t know how to stop. And the best of intentions don’t make it any less AAAARRRGGHHHHH-worthy. So shut up.

Pay attention. This is the tricky bit. Forget about sharing your feelz and try listening for a while. Mull it over, chew on it for a bit, see how it tastes. Chances are it’ll taste bitter for a while; it should.

You are not a feminist. I know, I’m repeating myself but this can take a while to sink in.

There’s a bunch of other stuff I could say but that pretty much sums it up. It’s not rocket science, gentlemen.

Want to talk about feminism?

Leave it to the experts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Australian Solution

Enough. This has gone on far too long, and it's time to say ENOUGH.

Australia's handling of refugees, of asylum seekers, of boat people, is a shameful chapter in our history that is still being written on a daily basis. Labelled "illegals" by our politicians, dehumanised and demonised, the tiny fraction of our world's displaced that try to reach our shores have been treated not as people, not as human beings, but as a problem that needs to go away.

How have we, as a nation, fallen so low?

Australia, the land of mateship. The lucky country. Home of the "fair go" for all. And above everything else, a country populated almost exclusively by immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. We are a disgrace.

Sadly, I guess the writing was on the wall years ago... when you look at how we've treated our indigenous population. For decades they, too, were a problem to be swept away, and in the eyes of many, still are. "Dehumanised and demonised" are words that certainly apply here as well.

Make no mistake, this is nothing more than the politics of fear and desperation. Governments desperate to find a new enemy, latching on to the vulnerable in a post-9/11 world and howling about the peril at our doorstep. And we, the Australian public, have been swept along.

It's not enough to say you don't support it. I don't support it. Yet it's here, and it's my shame as much as it is yours.

The Pacific solution. The PNG solution. The Malaysia solution. Christmas Island. Manus Island. Tampa. Children overboard. Multinational security firms. Tent cities. Deaths at sea. And now deaths in custody and security breaches endangering thousands of lives.


It's time we stopped being afraid. Time we stopped screaming at the monsters beyond our borders, who are no more monsters than you or I. Time we stopped listening to the politicians who have built their careers on fear and hatred and pain.

It's time to grow up.

Nothing our government is doing right now will stop the boats coming. Nothing. The same goes for the government before them, and the government before them. The focus is, and has always been, on stopping the boats FROM REACHING OUR SHORES... not on stopping them leaving in the first place.

And we spend billions, BILLIONS of dollars maintaining this horrendous state of affairs. Detention centres, security firms, logistics companies, naval involvement... it's a massive cost. This from a government that can't find the money to keep jobs alive.

If we truly want to stop the boats, forget about the Pacific solution, or the PNG solution, or the Malaysia solution. Forget Nauru. Forget Manus Island.

We need an Australian solution.

We must walk away from offshore processing, from detention centres and tent cities. Operation Sovereign Borders must be shut down, immediately.

In its place, we must double our humanitarian intake of refugees.

We must embark on a massive funding program for UNHCR assessment of refugees in countries that are gateways to Australia, countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Get them moving, make it happen. Make the boats redundant.

And we must build the infrastructure HERE, in THIS country, to receive, process and integrate refugees into our society. I say "integrate", not "assimilate" because it needs to be done right. Much of the racist short-sighted fear prevalent in our society is driven by poor integration and support structures... that must not be allowed to continue. We all deserve to hang on to our culture, our beliefs and our way of life; and despite hysterical claims to the contrary, we can do all of that and more as a society.

The money is there. Shutting down our current xenophobic practices will free up more than enough funding to make this a reality, with change left over.

What is lacking is the political will.

So tell them. Tell our politicians what the reality really is. Tell them you won't stand for it any more. Tell them the deaths of the innocent are on their hands, not ours. And tell them it's time to change.

It's time Australia became once more a beacon of hope in the Pacific.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Welcome to Chocolategate.

By now it's old news that Prime Minister Tony Abbott, while in Opposition, promised $16 million to Cadbury to "overhaul" their factory in Tasmania. This decision has come under increased scrutiny since the Federal Government started refusing subsidies to other producers and companies such as Holden and SPC.

Well, things just got a little more interesting.

This report was published in today's Fairfax media. Written by Health editor Amy Corderoy, it tells how a new food rating website was launched by the Federal Government, only to be pulled down hours later with little explanation. Accusations are being leveled at the government that they have bowed to pressure from the junk food industry.

Corderoy writes:

"Fairfax Media has been given evidence that Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash and her chief of staff, Alastair Furnival, personally intervened to have the site pulled down - despite it being approved through a Council of Australian Governments ministerial council."

And later:

"Mr Furnival last year acted as a spokesman for Kraft/Cadbury. He is also the former chairman of Australian Public Affairs, which is listed on the lobbyists register as representing the Australian Beverages Council and Mondelez Australia, which owns the Kraft peanut butter, Cadbury and Oreo brands, among others."

That's a strong connection indeed between the government and Mondelez. I wonder if it had anything to do with Abbott's decision to support Cadbury?

Welcome to Chocolategate.