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Posts Tagged ‘TheGuardian’

2-Jan-2016 It’s time to stop giving a damn

Saturday 2 January 2016 Leave a comment

Great article as always in the Guardian [link here]:

Drowning in commitments? It’s time to stop giving a damn
The key to beating stress is to care less – and if that means wearing your pyjamas to the corner shop, so be it.

If you’re like me, you’ve been caring too much about too many things for too long. You’re overextended and overburdened by life. Stressed out, anxious, maybe even panic-stricken about your commitments. I was almost 30 years old when I began to realise it was possible to stop caring so much, but I was nearly 40 before I figured out how to make it happen.

Little by little over the next few years, I stopped caring about small things that annoyed me. I unfriended some truly irritating people on Facebook. I refused to suffer through another reading of friends’ plays. And I stopped getting dressed up just to go to the grocery store behind my house (pyjamas are the new black). Little by little, I started feeling better. Less burdened. More peaceful. I hung up on people calling from call centres to sell me things; I said no to a weekend trip with toddlers; I stopped watching season two of True Detective after only one episode. I was becoming my true self, able to focus more on people and things that actually made me happy.

… and more at the article: [link here]

 

4-Nov-2014 Melbourne Cup

Tuesday 4 November 2014 Leave a comment

Call me un-Australian or whatever but I don’t care about the Melbourne Cup and never have. Sorry. A large percentage of people in the city use it as an excuse to bludge off work and drink to excess and I don’t think any one really cares about the racing.

I don’t like gambling. I do take part in the office sweep where refusal offends. This year I put bought one $2 ticket – options were $2, $5 and $10. I won $10 but it won’t change my opinion.
Horse-racing is not good for the horses either – on a variety of levels – this year two horses died in the Melbourne Cup alone!
No I didn’t have any alcohol.  I had a normal lunch (plain fresh tomato soup today) and went to the gym after work. They are more my sort of people !
I love this cartoon in the Guardian (click to make it larger):

7000:

30-Oct-2014 Latest Russell Brand

Thursday 30 October 2014 Leave a comment

I know Russell Brand seems very wacky but I really really like what he says … his politics are pretty darn good and a well-needed dose of cold water over the shower of s….e that passes as the political establishment in the UK and even more so, here in Australia.

A couple of articles:

Me, mayor of London? No, there’s a comic in the job already, says Russell Brand
Comedian denies he may try to succeed Boris Johnson: ‘If you want a daft comedian running London, leave things as they are’from the guardian.

and

Russell Brand Must Be Doing Something Rightfrom the Huffington Post.

And of course this video:

2-Oct-2014 War on the living world

Thursday 2 October 2014 Leave a comment

George Monbiot is one of the best journalists around today – he writes an uncomfortable truth, well-reasoned, not necessarily shouting slogans from rooftops. Luckily he has a great platform – a prime gig on the wonderful Guardian newspaper. His stuff is linked here.

Today he posted a great article here and of course it’s best to click the link and go read it on the Guardian as you get great pictures as well.

It’s time to shout stop on this war on the living world

Our consumption is trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce

This is a moment at which anyone with the capacity for reflection should stop and wonder what we are doing.

If the news that in the past 40 years the world has lost over 50% of its vertebrate wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) fails to tell us that there is something wrong with the way we live, it’s hard to imagine what could. Who believes that a social and economic system which has this effect is a healthy one? Who, contemplating this loss, could call it progress?

In fairness to the modern era, this is an extension of a trend that has lasted some 2 million years. The loss of much of the African megafauna – sabretooths and false sabretooths, giant hyaenas and amphicyonids (bear dogs), several species of elephant – coincided with the switch towards meat eating by hominims (ancestral humans). It’s hard to see what else could have been responsible for the peculiar pattern of extinction then.

As we spread into other continents, their megafauna almost immediately collapsed. Perhaps the most reliable way of dating the first arrival of people anywhere is the sudden loss of large animals. The habitats we see as pristine – the Amazon rainforest or coral reefs for example – are in fact almost empty: they have lost most of the great beasts that used to inhabit them, which drove crucial natural processes.

Since then we have worked our way down the foodchain, rubbing out smaller predators, medium-sized herbivores, and now, through both habitat destruction and hunting, wildlife across all classes and positions in the foodweb. There seems to be some kink in the human brain that prevents us from stopping, that drives us to carry on taking and competing and destroying, even when there is no need to do so.

But what we see now is something new: a speed of destruction that exceeds even that of the first settlement of the Americas, 14,000 years ago, when an entire hemisphere’s ecology was transformed through a firestorm of extinction within a few dozen generations, in which the majority of large vertebrate species disappeared.

Many people blame this process on human population growth, and there’s no doubt that it has been a factor. But two other trends have developed even faster and further. The first is the rise in consumption; the second is amplification by technology. Every year, new pesticides, fishing technologies, mining methods, techniques for processing trees are developed. We are waging an increasingly asymmetric war against the living world.

But why are we at war? In the rich nations, which commission much of this destruction through imports, most of our consumption has nothing to do with meeting human needs.

This is what hits me harder than anything: the disproportion between what we lose and what we gain. Economic growth in a country whose primary and secondary needs have already been met means developing ever more useless stuff to meet ever fainter desires.

For example, a vague desire to amuse friends and colleagues (especially through the Secret Santa nonsense) commissions the consumption of thousands of tonnes of metal and plastic, often confected into complex electronic novelties: toys for adults. They might provoke a snigger or two, then they are dumped in a cupboard. After a few weeks, scarcely used, they find their way into landfill.

In a society bombarded by advertising and driven by the growth imperative, pleasure is reduced to hedonism and hedonism is reduced to consumption. We use consumption as a cure for boredom, to fill the void that an affectless, grasping, atomised culture creates, to brighten the grey world we have created.

We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly. Yet the extraction of the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution commissioned in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce. The loss of wildlife is a loss of wonder and enchantment, of the magic with which the living world infects our lives.

Perhaps it is misleading to suggest that “we” are doing all this. It’s being done not only by us but to us. One of the remarkable characteristics of recent growth in the rich world is how few people benefit. Almost all the gains go to a tiny number of people: one study suggests that the richest 1% in the United States capture 93% of the increase in incomes that growth delivers. Even with growth rates of 2 or 3% or more, working conditions for most people continue to deteriorate, as we find ourselves on short contracts, without full employment rights, without the security or the choice or the pensions their parents enjoyed.

Working hours rise, wages stagnate or fall, tasks become duller, more stressful and harder to fulfill, emails and texts and endless demands clatter inside our heads, shutting down the ability to think, corners are cut, services deteriorate, housing becomes almost impossible to afford, there’s ever less money for essential public services. What and whom is this growth for?

It’s for the people who run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the mining companies, the advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the weapons manufacturers, the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks, the country estates, the offshore accounts. The rest of us are induced to regard it as necessary and desirable through a system of marketing and framing so intensive and all-pervasive that it amounts to brainwashing.

A system that makes us less happy, less secure, that narrows and impoverishes our lives, is presented as the only possible answer to our problems. There is no alternative – we must keep marching over the cliff. Anyone who challenges it is either ignored or excoriated.

And the beneficiaries? Well they are also the biggest consumers, using their spectacular wealth to exert impacts thousands of times greater than most people achieve. Much of the natural world is destroyed so that the very rich can fit their yachts with mahogany, eat bluefin tuna sushi, scatter ground rhino horn over their food, land their private jets on airfields carved from rare grasslands, burn in one day as much fossil fuel as the average global citizen uses in a year.

Thus the Great Global Polishing proceeds, wearing down the knap of the Earth, rubbing out all that is distinctive and peculiar, in human culture as well as nature, reducing us to replaceable automata within a homogenous global workforce, inexorably transforming the riches of the natural world into a featureless monoculture.

Is this not the point at which we shout stop? At which we use the extraordinary learning and expertise we have developed to change the way we organise ourselves, to contest and reverse the trends that have governed our relationship with the living planet for the past 2m years, and that are now destroying its remaining features at astonishing speed?

Is this not the point at which we challenge the inevitability of endless growth on a finite planet? If not now, when?

13-Sep-2014 City Day Out

Saturday 13 September 2014 Leave a comment

It’s pretty obvious, to me at least, that a day out in the city is a weird thing for me to do, given I am there Monday to Friday and that I hate shopping, but it was a family thing. Chelsea was going to work and Kody was with friends at the Cronulla Spring Festival.

It was Dawn’s birthday on Monday and she wanted to get some clothes and things and Jazmin wanted to go also, so I tagged along. yawn. I really don’t like shopping. especially clothes shopping and even more especially when none of it is for me! However it was nice to be out with family, so that was good. They both got quite a few things so it was semi-worthwhile…

After we got back I went for a short run to Jibbon and along the beach and had a swim. The water is not quite as icy, but not really warm in any known description. Lots of bluebottles also but I went along the beach to the tucked on corner so missed them, thankfully.

imurderedmylibraryOn the train I started and finished reading a Kindle Singles book (ie very short, cost $3) : I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant. I found it from this article in the Guardian.

What happens when you begin to build a library in childhood and then find you have too many books? From a small collection held together by a pair of plaster of Paris horse-head bookends to books piled on stairs, and in front of each other on shelves, books cease to furnish a room and begin to overwhelm it. At the end of 2013, novelist Linda Grant moved from a rambling maisonette over four floors to a two bedroom flat with a tiny corridor-shaped study. The trauma of getting rid of thousands of books raises the question of what purpose personal libraries serve in contemporary life and the seductive lure of the Kindle. Both a memoir of a lifetime of reading and an insight into how interior décor has banished the bookcase, her account of the emotional struggle of her relationship with books asks questions about the way we live today.

I really enjoyed it and it resonated with me … I have been reading since I was about 5 years old and have had many many books, and am finally trying to part with them. I too use my Kindle a lot more now (actually the kindle app on my phone).

19-Aug-2014 Half of a Yellow Sun

Tuesday 19 August 2014 Leave a comment

book-halfyellow

As I was away for a while in England I got behind on the latest book club book “Half of a Yellow Sun” by by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I finished it today.

At first it started off like an end-of-empire book about privileged whites and Africans but it quickly dived into the history surrounding the emergence of Biafra and the war for independence in the 1960s when it broke away from Nigeria.

I don’t much about Africa really (never been to Africa) but it was a great read and I really enjoyed it. I feel quite inspired to want to go there now. One of the people at book club, Michael, lived in the area in the 1960s and really rated the book. Quite fascinating.

You can check out the book at Amazon, and a review in the Guardian – and extract here:

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, takes its title from the emblem for Biafra, the breakaway state in eastern Nigeria that survived for only three years, and whose name became a global byword for war by starvation. Adichie’s powerful focus on war’s impact on civilian life, and the trauma beyond the trenches, earns this novel a place alongside such works as Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and Helen Dunmore’s depiction of the Leningrad blockade, The Siege.

Adichie takes her time in reaching the privations of war. Covering the decade to the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-70, the novel first develops its characters in a period of peace and – for some – plenty after Nigerian independence in 1960. Among the protagonists are Odenigbo, or “the Master”, a radical maths lecturer at the University of Nsukka – in what became the secessionist Igbo land – and Ugwu, the village teenager who becomes his houseboy, but whom he enrolls at the university staff school. A novel that descends into dire hunger begins with Ugwu’s devoted creativity in the kitchen, confecting pepper soup, spicy jollof rice and chicken boiled in herbs. Beer and brandy flow as he serves the Master’s friends while absorbing snippets of intellectual debate in the era of Sharpeville, de Gaulle in Algeria and the struggle for US civil rights.

Ugwu’s domain is encroached upon by Odenigbo’s lover, Olanna, the London-educated daughter of a “nouveau riche” businessman in Lagos, and the household is later disrupted by its links with Olanna’s periodically estranged twin sister Kainene and her English boyfriend, Richard.

Ethnic differences are signalled between the mainly Igbo protagonists – whose persistent switching between English and Igbo languages is wonderfully conveyed – and those such as Odenigbo’s Yoruba colleague, Miss Adebayo, and Olanna’s ex-boyfriend from the north, the Hausa prince Mohammed. These differences assume lethal significance after the ostensibly Igbo-led 1966 military coup, which becomes a pretext for anti-Igbo pogroms after the counter-coup six months later. As Olanna and others become caught up in the violence, the novel captures horror in the details of “vaguely familar clothes on headless bodies”, or corpses’ “odd skin tone – a flat, sallow grey, like a poorly wiped blackboard”.

As Biafran secession “for security” brings a refugee crisis, a retaliatory Nigerian blockade and all-out war, and the world (bar Tanzania) refuses to recognise the fledgling state, the focus is on the characters’ grief, resilience and fragmenting relationships. Tending her adopted daughter, Olanna endures the descent into one-room squalor, food-aid queues and air raids without self-pity. But there is anger at the “bleakness of bombing hungry people”, and the deadly kwashiorkor, malnutrition that afflicts children, dubbed “Harold Wilson syndrome” for the former colonial power’s complicity. While Ugwu’s forced conscription involves him in an atrocity whose legacy is lasting shame, the issue of forgiveness between the twin sisters subtly echoes that of warring political groups.

A history of colonisation is alluded to, not least in the tragicomic figure of Richard’s anglophile servant Harrison, who prides himself on serving roast beef and rhubarb crumble, but adapts in wartime to roasting lizards and bush rats “as though they were rack of lamb”. While Richard identifies with Biafra and intends to write the history of the war, it is Ugwu who takes up the pen and the mantle. As Richard concedes, “The war isn’t my story to tell really,” and Ugwu nods. “He had never thought that it was.”

There are other quiet revolutions in the novel. Odenigbo, the “revolutionary freedom fighter” with endless certainty and self-belief, succumbs to drink and despair, while the seemingly compliant Olanna draws on profound strengths. The master-servant relationship is upended, as the “houseboy” returns with fondness and irony the Master’s way of addressing him as “my good man”.

The novel’s structure, moving in chunks between the late and early 60s, is not without blips. At times I wondered how far Ugwu’s omnivorous reading was reflected in his development. But these are quibbles in a landmark novel, whose clear, undemonstrative prose can so precisely delineate nuance. There is a rare emotional truth in the sexual scenes, from Ugwu’s adolescent forays and the mature couples’ passions, to the ugliness of rape.

Literary reflections on the Biafra war have a long and distinguished history, from the most famous poet to have died in the war, Christopher Okigbo, to Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi and Flora Nwapa. Born in 1977, Adichie is part of a new generation revisiting the history that her parents survived. She brings to it a lucid intelligence and compassion, and a heartfelt plea for memory.

The author’s own website is here.

21-Apr-2014 Bad neck, shoulder, arm

Monday 21 April 2014 Leave a comment

I was up approx 10am today, and did some chores around the house,  althpugh Dawn was home so did squeeze in a coffee on the back deck after we’d moved all Jazmin’s bike parts. Although my neck, shoulder arm still hurt in bed, they are ok running. So I went running with Dawn to Maianbar and back along the spit with a wade & swim then a longer swim at Hordern’s beach. My arm was still dodgy though so didn’t swim much.

Then I made dinner for the kids tonight, had breakfat (at 3pm !) then went with Dawn to the nursery at Taren Point and on to yoga. I really couldn’t do some of the poses at all due to my injury – even laying on my back on the floor (savasana) was very painful. At home the kids had eaten dinner and barely left enough for me so I made some more including for lunch.

I read this great article in the paper ( http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/apr/19/change-your-life-stop-being-busy ):

There’s only one viable time management approach left (and even that’s only really an option for the better-off). Step one: identify what seem to be, right now, the most meaningful ways to spend your life. Step two: schedule time for those things. There is no step three. Everything else just has to fit around them – or not. Approach life like this and a lot of unimportant things won’t get done, but, crucially, a lot of important things won’t get done either. Certain friendships will be neglected; certain amazing experiences won’t be had; you won’t eat or exercise as well as you theoretically could. In an era of extreme busyness, the only conceivable way to live a meaningful life is to not do thousands of meaningful things.

“Learn to say no”: it’s such a cliche, and easy to assume it means only saying no to tedious, unfulfilling stuff. But “the biggest, trickiest lesson,” as the author Elizabeth Gilbert once put it, “is learning how to say no to things you do want to do” – stuff that matters – so that you can do a handful of things that really matter. Our only hope of beating overwhelm may be to limit, radically, what we’re willing to get whelmed by in the first place.

There is definitely more I could do on this, I keep doing extra things and the get frustrated. Days like this long weekend are perfect, not doing a lot, a run, swim, hwalthy food.

Also saw this great pic on facebook :

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