Monthly Archives: May 2010

A little bit more…

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I spent the last few hours organising my blog which now includes another three pages on my photography, writing and public relations experience (some of which still needs to be updated, but it’s 12:50am and I’m at my limit for the night).

Just a little bit more to satisfy your curiousity…

ūüôā

Attention lovers of all things retro or photographic

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Wee Man

I have a new toy!! Well not really, it’s a new addition to my favourite toy, which is my iPhone (and for those who don’t know why I love my iPhone perhaps you should head here first).

I discovered it through a chick I went to high school with who, to be honest, I haven’t spoken to since, but am friends with on Facebook. She had posted these AWESOME photos and I just HAD to know how she took them. Well, I was very excited to find out it was an iPhone app and of course, downloaded it straight away.

The app?

Hipstamatic!

It’s an awesome app that lets you take analogue photos with your iPhone camera. For a mere $7.55 (got my bill today) you can download the whole package, which includes 8 films (some retro, some black and white, and some with the faded edges), 6 lenses and 6 flashes. You can mix and match, with or without flash, or give your phone a shake for random creations. From old school, faded, yellowish 60s to washed out 90s, or grainy black and white it has everything you could ever need to make retro photos. Of course, being on your iPhone the clarity isn’t great, but remember, photos back in the day often weren’t either!!

Somewhere in Spotswood

So here are a few of my favourite creations. But I warn you, if you’re anything like me don’t play with it when you need your phone. I’ve had to charge my phone 5 times in the last 3 days because it eats through the battery. But it is OH SO MUCH FUN!!!

** If click on the photo it will tell you what film, lens and flash I used**

On the way to Scienceworks


Small Man

How do you parent?

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*If you’re not a parent or aren’t currently interested in talking about children, tune out now. Or maybe you’d rather go here or here or here instead.

** I say all of this with no judgement, knowing that everyone has their own parenting style. When I say “how can they do that?” I mean that in the sense of “how does that not drive them mad?” Just clarifying. ūüôā

Of all my friends I am the only one who has children. Strange, because I’m not young (anymore). At 28 I thought more of my friends would have kids by now. But nooo, they’re to busy doing other things. Like building a career. Making a home. Having a life. You know, all those crap things no one wants to do.

I’ve recently become close with a friend of a friend who has a daughter, so it’s good to have finally found someone to bitch compare notes with. But I also realised I have a whole resource of lovely mums (and dads) out there of various ages and stages of life and I thought who better to ask!! Let’s open up a discussion on parenting, what you guys do, what you don’t, how far you let them push you. Even things like bed times, disciplining and what you feed them. I’d love to hear other people’s practices!

My boys
I have two boys, a 4yo (Small Man) and a 17mo (Wee Man). Small Man is kind and caring and compassionate, even if he has trouble listening sometimes. Wee Man is cheeky as hell. If I tell him to stop doing something he’ll give me this incredibly defiant look that says “what are you going to do if I don’t?” My first impression of this cheeky, defiant and stubborn personality was demonstrated at just 4 weeks of age on an incredibly hot night. I was going to the beach with my girlfriend and Wee Man. Wee Man was in one of those baby seats that faces backwards for the first few months, then forwards when he’s older, so he was a tad small for it, and often ended up slumped forward in the chair (sounds bad but really wasn’t). My friend tried to straighten him up, to which he replied with a grunt, slumping forward again. My friend tried again, and was promptly greeted with a louder, more defiant grunt (the kind of grunt that goes with the words “dooOOoon’t”), and then he proceeded to slump forward again. Clearly all done on purpose.

Bedtime
Night time is hubby and I’s time to relax, so I try to get them to bed as early as possible; 7-730 for Wee Man, and 7-8 for Small Man. But I’m constantly surprised at the number of people I know with kids (my neighbours, the people over the road) whose kids, ranging in age from 3 to 10, are still up at 9, 10 or even 11pm. NOT because I’m judging, but because my GOD. Don’t you parents crave peace and quiet??? I would go absolutely BONKERS if I didn’t have a couple hours at night to wind down, child-free, before bed. Am I mad? My neighbour says her kids don’t go to bed before 9pm, but I’m wondering, “ummmm, can’t you MAKE them? Aren’t you the parent??” How old are your kids and what time do you make them
go to bed? If you don’t have kids, what time WOULD you be putting them to bed? What is a reasonable time for a 4yo to stay up? I remember being in primary school and having to go to bed by 7pm. I remember very clearly thinking how crap it was that I had to go to bed while it was still daylight in summer!

Food
Does anyone else get the guilts when they can’t be bothered making a nutritional meal and end up giving their kids 2 minute noodles for dinner? Sure, I throw in a grated carrot to ease the guilts, but for some reason it really bugs me when I do that. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with the food I feed them. I practically survived on 2 min noodles when I was a kid and I was perfectly healthy. What about you guys? What’s your “lazy night” food to feed the kids? What’s your opinion on junk food and maccas? What about soft drink? How old should they be before they’re allowed to drink it? I try really hard to limit my boys sugar and processed food intake. However, some dear family members decided that I couldn’t avoid soft drinks forever and so made the decision of when Small Man would have his first soft drink for me. I was NOT HAPPY. But am I being too…strict? I KNOW I can’t avoid it forever, I’m not naive. It’s just, why not avoid it for as long as I can? I know that once they start school a lot of it will be out of my hands, but in the meantime am I really being unreasonable to not let them?

School
This school one is REALLY doing my head in. Did anyone have criterion that schools had to meet before you enrolled them? How did you choose the school your kids would go to? I firmly believe that kids need to go to schools that suit their needs, skills, strengths and likes. This is from personal experience, as I was sent to a private school that focussed on academic achievement: hence I did not do well there.

Pushing buttons
This is a question I really want to hear other parents’ feedback on. How far will you let your kids push you before you snap?
Do you snap at all, or are you a patient Mary Poppins? See, I have a bit of a short fuse when it comes to children. Never been a fan of them. My own are ok, but others…yeah I’m not real big on children. And one of my pet loathes is having to repeat myself because someone isn’t listening. Whether friends, hubby or children, it just does my head in. So there’s a little problem I have with having to say something more than twice. Twice I can deal with. Just. After taking a big breath. But any more than that and I start getting a little miffed (read: extremely pissed). Then I snap. It’s the not listening that bothers me the most. So my question about that is how do you cope? How many times do you have to ask for something to be done before you start boiling over?

Discipline
Ahh, the juicy question. How do you discipline your kids, if at all? I have tried many different forms of discipline and bribery. Smacking simply doesn’t work in this family, unless it’s over something incredibly dangerous or incredibly naughty. Most of the disciplining issues in this house revolve around not listening, so I don’t think it’s fair to smack a child for not listening, considering children are like that naturally. And also the fact that I would just constantly be smacking. So I’ve had to come up with other forms of discipline. There was the rule that if I had to ask something more than twice then I would take a favourite toy away. But as Small Man has soooo many, it never made a dent in the toy collection. I then tried sad face/happy face chart where I would draw a sad face for every naughty deed, and a happy face for every good. If there were more happy faces at the end of the day then Small Man would get to have dessert. If there were more sad faces then I would take a toy. Again, not very affective. Now, the bribery has turned to money. If Small Man does what I ask him straight away, or close to, then he gets 5c (he is already very savvy about what money is and what it does, and understands, if not entirely, the value of having money). If he does something extra good, like eat all his dinner without mucking around or complaining then he gets 20c. So this is more about rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad, and I have to admit it is working the best so far. Although, the fact that I’m bribing him still niggles me. So tell me: how do you discipline you kids? Do you believe in smacking? Or are you a pacifist? Do you bribe? How do you get your kids to do things?

So there you have it. These are my major parenting issues. These are the ones that make me wish more of my friends had kids. WIth no one to ask for advice, bounce ideas off and get objective suggestions from it makes it very hard to know if I’m a complete parenting spazz or if I’m actually quite tame. Not that I care what people think, really. But it’s good to know where I’m located on the crazy scale.

A call for professional advice…

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A writer...

I’m having a dilemma so I was hoping some of you very wise people out there might be able to help.

Work is really starting to pick up for me. I’m getting more writing, PR and photography gigs. I’m also starting up alternative therapies (crystal therapy and Reiki), as well as meditation workshops.

These two aspects are two very important sides of me; the writing, creative person, and the healing, spiritual person. I’m a big believer in a holistic approach to life, and in remembering that we are not just made up of physical particles but of energy as well, which is JUST as important.

...An alternative therapist...

So, my question is this. Being that these two sides- the writing/PR, and the spiritual/healer- make up who I am, do I split my services into two business cards or do I, like I would rather do, have one business card that has the writing/PR stuff on one side, and the alternative therapies stuff on the other?

You see, I want to have both things on one card (writing, photography & PR on one, Reiki, crystal therapy and meditation on the other) ¬†because that’s me saying I am one person who does all these things. There is the spiritual side, and the physical side, and I am made up equally of both. I don’t want to split who I am into two business cards, that just seems wrong, like I’m denying myself or hiding parts of me.

...A photographer...

But there is the argument that a PR person may not be interested in an alternative therapist’s card and vice versa (although to say they are mutually exclusive is rubbish), and that it may be off-putting in that many people are of the opinion that no intelligent, smart and competent person can be into alternative therapies and other such “airy-fairy nonsense”.

So, I need some professional advice from you lovely people out there, particularly those of you in the creative/communications industries who don’t have much knowledge or interest in the alternative therapies and spirituality; would this put you off hiring me? Would you be intrigued? Would it help me stand out? Or would you think of me as some wishy-washy, unreliable hippie type?

Because the thing is, you never know when, as a highly stressed magazine editor, you may pull out that card to hire me as a freelance writer, only to discover that I also do meditation as well. And having a well balanced life is one of the keys to happiness!

Tonight I danced naked under the waxing moon

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The three faces of Hecate

Not really, but it got your attention just a little bit, that heading, yes?

I haven’t properly introduced you to my spiritual side, so for many of you this will be your first glimpse into my alternate world, or perhaps your first glimpse into any world such as this. But I ask that, like any belief, you don’t judge, but rather you read keeping an open mind.

So, although I didn’t dance naked under the moon, I did attend my monthly Goddess circle. And although I’m sure that’s what many people think we do (my husband anyway), it’s not.¬†So, for those of you who don’t know I will explain. A Goddess circle is a celebration of femininity. It’s not about man bashing or feminism, just about enjoy being feminine, and harnessing our feminine powers. Each month we focus on a different Goddess, from any pantheon, but mainly from the Roman, Greek or Egyptian pantheons.

Tonight we focussed on Hecate. Most of you will probably know her from Macbeth, whom the three witches call upon. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of the crossroads. Her energy is especially good to call upon when you are at a point in your life where you’re not sure which direction you need to go, or if you’re beginning a new direction and you need to let go of your past ways.¬†Hecate is also great to call on for divination, meaning the use of tools to help you tune in to your intuition, such as tarot cards, crystal balls, pendulums or scrying mirrors.

The World- Rider Waite Tarot

The great thing about Goddess circles is that you don’t need to be Pagan or Wiccan or whatever to go. It is as simple as embracing the different feminine aspects that every single woman has, from the nurturing mother to the wise woman, the huntress/protector to the wild woman, and acknowledging that each aspect is a part of a whole.

Get inspired with some vision boards

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Original vision board made at 10thousandgirl workshop

I was writing up this post on Sunday when what do you know, Jaded Vixen is having the same thought process as me, and pops up a post about vision boards too! However, when I’m busy it can take me a couple of days to finish a post, so here is my post, finally.

I did my first vision board at the 10thousandgirl workshop I attended in February, which was the most productive 8 hours of my life. A vision board is basically a collage of all the things you want and all the things you aspire to acquire in your life, whether that be money, love, family, a house etc etc.

The philosophy behind it is that you need to get what you want on paper. As long as thoughts of what you want remain in your head they’ll never really begin to manifest in the real world. Now I have a nice pile of magazines and five vision boards. My first one, created during the workshop, is up on my wall which is the last thing I look at when I go to sleep at night, and the first thing I see in the morning; kind of like an affirmation of sorts. The others are in my sketch pad. Since I’m hopeless at drawing I fill it up with pretty pictures instead.

Lots of travel, lots of nature and a nice house is top of my list

The thing I think is most amazing about a vision board is it allows you to articulate what it is you want in your life without words. So if you have trouble being able to verbalise what you want, as in, there are so many things you want, that you actually feel confused, a vision board allows these things to be expressed with clarity. It was for this reason that I got hubby to create a vision board the very night I got home from the workshop. He’s always had trouble verbalising what he wants in his life, saying “I don’t know,” whenever I broach the subject. But after an hour of cutting and pasting (far more riveting than it sounds) from his large, albeit not very diverse, pile of magazines (I’m surprised he found any non-semi-nude-women and non-car pics at all) he had tangible evidence of what it was he wanted in his life staring out from a white piece of paper. It was very eye-opening (for him, at least. There was nothing on that paper that surprised me.)

Also desirable is lots of books, a nice cottage type place, and some fine dining

Vision boards are the shit. Sorry about my lack of eloquence there, but they really are. There is something unexplainably motivating about seeing all your dreams right there on paper. I think it has to do with being able to see and therefore better visualise in your mind what your desires are. We get confused because we want so much, that with something on paper you can look at and say “I want THAT” it really cuts out that confusion and gives you a sense of clarity that is otherwise pretty damn hard to achieve.

It’s also lots of fun for to do as a family. My 4yo loves cutting and pasting and has a pile of random pictures cut out, ready to paste. Included in this are some strange and wonderful things (bottles of perfume, because they’re “pretty”, a Maserati, a Thomas toy and some lady’s feet- don’t get me started there).

Even these vision boards I’ve done don’t say it all, as my stockpile of mags (at least, the ones I’m happy to chop up) were also quite limited, being frankie, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as my food, photography and spirituality mags are not for chopping. But it was still fun to do and I still get a little burst of inspiration every time I look at them.

Chop chop people!! XO

Some lovely interior decorations, and lots of greenery

and more...

The shit that goes down in China town

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Imagine living in a country where news such as thousands of people getting sick from dodgy flu vaccinations, or several attacks on children at schools and in nurseries that have lead to deaths, is being swept under the carpet.

That’s what it’s like living in China.When I read about the stuff that’s happening in China I really feel grateful for the society we are actually quite lucky to live in. We whinge about censorship and freedom of speech when people get in trouble for tweeting certain things about the Logies, but dudes, there are faaaar worse situations out there. You think we have censorship problems? HA!

Just have a look at China. The poor Chinese people cannot whinge about a government official farting without getting their sorry arses carted off to jail on some propaganda bullshit. Now I’m no expert at Communism, but I get the jist of it. I also understand that people are free to have whatever sort of dictatorship leadership they feel is right to run their country with, but I completely disagree that it should be at the expense of, I don’t know, 1 billion people.

Now if you don’t really understand what’s happening, let me try and fill you in. Because China is a communist country, the government doesn’t like being represented in an unfavourable light to other countries. They’re like really strict parents, where you get into deep shit if you step out of line. They’re not at all democratic, in that the people get no say in what happens to their country. China is pretty much run by a bunch of people who make all the rules and decisions themselves, and punish anyone who disagrees with them or tries to get the truth to the outside world.

In the recent weeks there have been two issues in China that the government is desperately trying to censor. One, is the contaminated flu vaccines that have been reported to cause thousands of people to become seriously ill. These poor people, whose children (or, more likely, child) have become sick after being vaccinated, have no one to turn to, no government group or health organisation to get help from,because the government is too busy trying to cover its own ass by denying there is anything wrong. Well known investigative journalist and Chief Reporter at¬†China Economic Times, Wang Keqin, did an expose on the dodgy vaccinations. But rather than do anything to resolve the matter,¬†The Age says that¬†“His (Wang’s) story and the victims he interviewed were treated as a threat to China’s social stability rather than an urgent health issue”. Imagine living in a country like that!!! Wang’s expose was summarised as:

“Wang published his latest expose- this time of how health officials and business interests had colluded to create a monopoly on the province’s vaccination sustem worth 60 million yuan a year”

So what this is saying that because of the governments business interests, they are attempting to sweep this issue, this massive issue of thousands of people getting sick- thousands of people who are supposed to be able to rely on the leaders of their country to look after them- right under the carpet.

The second issue they are trying to censor is that of the large number of attacks by lone males on children since March. I don’t know if you heard, but this week a 48 year-old man broke into a nursery- that’s right, a NURSERY- and KILLED seven toddlers and two adults by hacking them to death with a cleaver, as well as wounding 11 other children. He then killed himself. If that’s not bad enough, that is the NINTH assault on children since March. That is the NINTH assault by lone men on young children in 6 weeks. And once again, the government has taken this news off its internet and not said anything about it because, I don’t know, some excuse about copycat killings (which I guess plausible) and not wanting to cause widespread panic. Panic? These poor people, most of whom only have one child? Panic? NO!

Then there was the tainted milk scandal, the Falun Gong issue, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. All this censorship in the name of “social justice and balancing interests”.

It’s no wonder people are so miserable over there. If they have a problem with their government, with ANYTHING, they have to just shut the hell up about it.

It makes me sick. THIS is the type of thing that I think is wrong. This is BILLIONS of people being affected!! THIS is a massive human rights issue that should be solved.

But I am only one person. So all I can do is blog about it and try to enrage you too.

Sorry if I have babbled. But once again it is late, and I am tired. I just wanted to vent my rage about this social injustice. And reiterate just how bloody grateful I am that we live in such a beautiful, free, wonderful democratic country.

Here is the full story of the flu vaccination expose:

http://www.theage.com.au/world/something-sick-in-the-system-20100513-v1o5.html

Something sick in the system

JOHN GARNAUT, BEIJING

May 14, 2010

Li Baoxiang with his son Li Zhikang  in Beijing Children's Hospital.Li Baoxiang with his son Li Zhikang in Beijing Children’s Hospital.¬†Photo: Sanghee Liu

May 14, 2010

Li Baoxiang with his son Li Zhikang in Beijing Children’s Hospital.¬†Photo: Sanghee Liu

Bao has now been removed, but has no regrets. ”If I hadn’t published your report, I wouldn’t have been able to feel peace again for as long as I live,” Bao wrote on his blog after his dismissal. ”Even if I pay a price for this, it will still be worth it.”

ON MARCH 19, Shandong farmer Li Baoxiang consented to his only son being vaccinated for swine flu. That night, eight-year-old Li Zhikang said he felt sick. By the morning his body was trembling all over. Yesterday the father stood with tears streaming down his face at Beijing Children’s Hospital as his boy struggled for life inside a crib in the intensive care unit. ”He’s my only child,” Li said. ”My own mother is sick and I cannot bring myself to tell her why we have come to Beijing. I’m such a trivial and ordinary person. I know I can’t fight against the government.”

Li’s family tragedy has become a conflict with the Chinese government because no official would investigate his claim that a dodgy vaccination had made his child sick. He tried the town, city, provincial and central governments, and various departments within each of them, only to be told each time that his problem should be taken some place else.

The person who did listen was Wang Keqin, chief reporter at theChina Economic Times. Wang had earned a reputation as one of China’s leading investigative journalists after exposing how mafia groups controlled Beijing’s taxi industry, how mafia henchman had gunned down farmers at the village of Dingzhou after being called in by its Communist Party chief to resolve a land dispute, and also how collusion and cover-ups with blood transfusions in Henan province had caused a horrendous AIDS epidemic among the poorest peasants who lived there.

Two days before Li’s son’s vaccination, on March 17, Wang published his latest expose – this time of how health officials and business interests had colluded to create a monopoly on the province’s vaccination system, worth 60 million yuan ($A9.8 million) a year.

He told how vials were left in sweltering conditions in order to stop the government’s quality assurance stickers peeling off, while complaints were ignored. Wang linked those grossly mishandled vaccination vials with the deaths of four children and the illnesses of 74 others.

But his story and the victims he interviewed were treated as a threat to China’s social stability rather than an urgent heath issue. Complainants were systematically rounded up, detained, and escorted back to their home villages. Wang was warned that his life may be in danger if he returned to Shanxi.

Another renowned Chinese journalist, Qian Gang, who now works at Hong Kong University’s China media project after being pushed out of the¬†Southern Weekend newspaper, described the ”chill” that Wang’s report sent through China.

”I first read Wang’s report at the web portal QQ.com at 9.20am on March 17, where it was featured prominently at the top of the news headlines. Just half an hour later, the headline was removed and the report buried deep among run-of-the-mill news stories,” he said.

At the same time, the government moved to control the agenda. A news release from Xinhua News Agency carried the response from provincial health officials in Shanxi, who denied the allegations in Wang’s report, saying, ”Shanxi province has never received any report indicating mass adverse reactions as a result of vaccinations.”

On Wednesday morning,¬†The Age went to the¬†China Economic Times headquarters in Changping, in Beijing’s northern suburbs, to learn more. Wang opened his office door looking agitated. ”I have some new information for you,” he said. ”We’ve just had a meeting and our chief editor has been removed.” Bao Yueyang, the chief editor, publisher and Communist Party boss of the newspaper, owned by the State Council’s Development Research Centre, had paid the price for commissioning and doggedly defending Wang’s report.

Meanwhile, a Shanxi Health Department whistleblower on the story, Chen Tao’an, said he had witnessed the gross mishandling of vaccine vials, even after numerous complaints. He said he knew of about 150 Shanxi families who had complained that their children had been sickened by the vaccinations.

Bloggers likened the tragedy to the recent milk-powder scandal, where hundreds of children died and thousands were made ill due to a similar pattern of government-business collusion and cover-ups. Distraught parents were intimidated against pursuing their complaints and lawyers were punished for representing them. The enormous security and propaganda system that trammels the Chinese media, and society more broadly, is designed to protect the Communist Party. But distinctions between the interests of the party and vested interests of individuals within the party are often hazy.

Sensibly, Wang declined to answer questions about which particular officials or business interests might have been upset by his story. Chen, the whistleblower, said the company involved had a ”complicated government background ‚Ķ I feel the power on the other side is quite strong.”

Wang said there were no signs that health officials had investigated complaints from distraught parents. Rather, they had been systematically harassed, detained and gagged. Our interview did not last long. Wang was interrupted several times by parents anxious about their sick children.

A colleague of Wang’s received a text message from the farmer, Li, at Beijing Children’s Hospital with his eight-year-old son.

”The doctor just told me he has to use immune protein, which requires about 10,000 yuan,” Li wrote. He had already spent 170,000 yuan, mostly begged and borrowed from friends and family. ”I’m useless. I can’t even save my own child. What am I living for?”

A fortnight before Wang’s newspaper report, Premier Wen Jiabao had told the nation: ”Everything we do is to make people’s lives happier, more dignified, so that society becomes more just and harmonious.” He spoke of ”creating the conditions for the people to monitor the government”.

Wen’s work report to the National People’s Congress had been negotiated and approved by China’s leadership group. There remains a chasm between the government’s stated aspirations and the realities of power and incentives on the ground. But Wen’s words – repeated and strengthened since – provided a signal for Chinese editors like Bao to be more adventurous. Chinese scholars were emboldened to publicly warn their leaders that their approach to ensuring ”social stability” at all costs was dangerously destabilising.

In April, a team of Tsinghua University sociologists led by Professor Sun Liping submitted a remarkable report, with a lengthy extract published a fortnight ago in the popular¬†Southern Weekend newspaper. ”Without fundamental resolution of the question of mechanisms for social justice and balancing interests, blindly preventing the expression of legitimate interests in the name of stability will only accumulate contradictions and render society even more unstable,” the report said.

It detailed how ordinary people needed channels to express their grievances and the capacity to negotiate to protect their interests, including collectively. It said institutions of civil society had to be promoted, and government must allow transparency so that members of the public could view their own files and mitigate their suspicions.

And the government must step out of the way where it is not required and step in where it is needed, as the maker and arbiter of law. The failure to provide such channels and institutions fosters more corruption, inequality and worse.

”Stability work tends to become an instrument to maintain the interests of unscrupulous companies and contractors, a tool for maintaining the interests of developers [in carrying out] predatory evictions and relocations,” the report said.

Government must ”provide institutional channels for venting social discontent ‚Ķ and forming social mechanisms for conflict resolution,” it said. ”In modern society, the most fundamental rule is law.”

These warnings have taken on a new significance after a 10-week spate of gruesome schoolyard killings. The details of most cases have been tightly suppressed. Most Chinese newspapers failed to mention Wednesday’s meat cleaver massacre at a kindergarten in Shanxi province, which reportedly involved a man’s frustration at a property dispute.

Judging by comments from the scholars chosen to speak in the party’s propaganda outlets, one of the party’s main priorities is to make sure people don’t talk and think too much about what social or institutional problems may lie beneath.

Professor Yu Jianrong, a lawyer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has pioneered China’s new debate on social stability. ”The constitution should therefore guarantee a fair opportunity to take part in and to influence the political process,” he wrote last month. And if not? ”Great social upheaval may thus occur, and the existing social and political orders are likely to be destroyed.”

Since then, Yu has penned an opinion article in the Southern Weekend about how to implement democratic reforms. And last week, another famous scholar, Yu Keping from the Communist Party School, gave a lengthy interview to Phoenix Weekly on the same subject.

The fact of these debates is progress, but they remain academic. On Wednesday at China Economic Timesheadquarters, we were shown a text message received by one of the Shanxi complainants named Wang Mingliang. His nine-month-old son had died during the Beijing Olympics, shortly after being vaccinated.

The SMS message is dated March 19 – two days after the¬†China Economic Times report – and reads as follows: ”Don’t guess who I am, my boss told me to contact you. Let me make it clear to you, don’t make any more trouble with the vaccine issue. Once you stop, my boss will give you 100,000 yuan. You can give me your bank account number now. If you are determined to make trouble, it’s very easy for my boss to find someone to cut off your leg ‚Ķ You are, after all, an ordinary person. But my boss is not.”

Scholars such as Yu Jianrong and Sun Liping, and journalists like Wang Keqin and his editor Bao Yueyang, believe too much is at stake for their country for them to buckle under to these threats.

Wang Mingliang, seeking justice for his deceased baby son, was shadowed by Shanxi police as he travelled to Beijing. Wang Keqin, the journalist, sheltered him in his family home. The next night, editor Bao Yueyang put him up in the newspaper’s guesthouse. Wang wrote on his blog at the time that Bao was under enormous pressure ”from many sides” but showed no fear. ”We will fight till the end for the safety of more Chinese children,” Wang recalled Bao telling him.

My name is Mel and I’m addicted to…

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*Update: by the time this blog was posted it was 0106 (that’s 1:06am to you non-military people)

Inspired by Kerri Sackville’s post on Mamamia I thought I’d take the plunge and admit to you all that I, too, am suffering from an addiction. As you can see (or not) I am sitting here at 0045 (that’s 12:45pm to you non-military people) blogging, when I should be in bed because my Small Lad (4yo) and Wee Lad (16mo) will wake me cheerfully at 0630 (that’s 6:30am to non-military peeps). But I am not, no I am not in bed, and why is that?

Because my name is Mel and I’m addicted to social networking.

Phew, that wasn’t so bad! (as in, I’m only twisting the tissue furiously in my hands rather than shredding it into tiny pieces).

I’ve been addicted, on and off now, for about 3 years, but lately it has got much worse. I took a 12 month break because it had become far too unhealthy, in that I was constantly composing 140 character thoughts in my head. After 12 months of virtual cold turkey I thought I’d broken my habit. Until about a fortnight ago. I tentatively rejoined the Twitter and blogging world after having been to a Williamstown Literary Festival session called Literary Blogging, with Lisa Dempster and Angela Meyer (of Literary Minded) and was inspired to get blogging again.

Big mistake.

Well, not really, because I do love to blog. And tweet. But now it has taken a shady turn. Now, I’m blogging in hopes of increasing my employability, as a way to market myself. And, to increase this employability/marketing scheme, I thought I’d join a few other social networking sites too. Now I obsessively check my stats, update my websites, and jump every time Tweet Deck makes that little tweeting noise.

I think I may have taken too big a leap, because here I am blogging when I should be sleeping. I update my Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (actually, Facebook is crap now), and Flavor.me. Then I blog. Then I read blogs. Then I go to bed and I dream blogs and photos and 140 character sentences.

But I don’t really have a problem, because I’m not, like, whoring myself or neglecting house or family duties (looks dodgily from side to side).

So there you have it. I am addicted to social networking. What’s your addiction?

“You’ll never look at dinner the same way again”…

Standard

I’m supposed to be reading the paper, but instead I have been completely distracted by this…

Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry For Change?.

Reading The Age Epicure (so I was reading) I stumbled across this article about an American farmer, Joel Salatin, who is part of Daylesford Macedon Produce Harvest Week who is waging war against farming with the use of chemicals, hormones etc. The article mentions the movie Food, Inc., which I guess is somewhat similar to Fast Food Nation and created by the same guy, Eric Schlosser.

“When you go through a supermarket there is an illusion of diversity…so much…of our industrial food…turns out to be…rearrangements of corn…” (cue list: tomato sauce, cheese, twinkies, batteries, peanut butter)- Food,Inc. preview

I’ve been becoming more and more obsessed with the food I and my family eat, very aware of how most of what we put in our mouths is somewhat (if not wholly) unnatural and unhealthy for us. We all know it’s happening; chickens being pumped with growth hormones, vegetables growing four times their size but with no flavour whatsoever, and of course, thanks to Jamie Oliver, all the other terrible things that are happening to our food. You can read more about my rants of unhealthy food here.

I just want to create this awareness that it is something we can control. We are giving these huge food companies the power to do this to our food. Instead of buying at big supermarket chains, we can buy from places like this, Aussie Farmers Direct. They’re exactly like the old fashioned milk man/ green grocers!! On Tuesdays and Thursdays they will deliver bread and milk to my area for FREE (delivery, that is, not produce), and on Fridays they deliver meat, fruit and vegetables! And, they are all Australian produce, so we would be supporting Aussie farmers, while sticking it to the man!!!

Come on people!! Let’s stop shovelling shit down our throats!!