Archive for October, 2011

1 in 7 people in the world don’t have enough food. (That’s about 925 million people).

22,000 children die every single day due to poverty.

Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

The poorest 40% of the world’s population accounts for 5% of global income. The richest 20% accounts for 75% of world income.

Happy Halloween – enjoy your candy!
(Ok, that was mean)


Poverty Facts and Stats @ GlobalIssues.org
2011 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics @ WorldHunger.org

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I think this is a really cool election poster. The wordplay on “richer”, the cute (Maori?) kid in the green shirt, the idyllic but not tourist-y natural green setting.

Well played.

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Today I read about quite a cool new initiative called Unconsumption.

As Chappell noted on Etsy: these days “we are overly branded” – we live in a branded world! So Rob Walker, author of Buying In: The Secret Diary Between What We Buy and Who We Are, has been looking at our addiction to brands and how this could be used to work for sustainability, without churning out more things for people to buy. In the same Etsy article, Chappell quotes an interview with Walker:

Branding has been one of my main subjects as a journalist, and for a few years I’ve pondered if there’s a way to borrow some of the tools of brand-making to advance an idea, but without actually creating products.

On the Unconsumption tumblr homepage is a quote from Allison Arieff

Making sustainability a trend has minimized its relevance and stymied its progress. Climate change, declining resources, peak oil — these aren’t passing fads. “Green is the new black,” “eco-chic,” “eco-fabulous,” … All that marketing-speak has done little for sustainability except validate old behaviors. It’s a notion that you can go green by buying more stuff.

Controversial? Yes! But true? I would say absolutely. We take along a flimsy designer “reusable” bag to put all our pre-packaged purchases in to alleviate our guilt about all the stuff we get all the time. It’s an ongoing challenge for all of us to walk the walk in terms of making real changes towards less consuming in our lives.

One solution that Rob Walker came up with was to found Unconsumption and develop a logo (designed by Clifton Burt) which can be used to rebrand reused and repurposed items instead of simply buying new ones to replace them. From Chappell’s article,

In exploring how to build excitement around repurposing our old belongings, Walker realized that, for now, branding is the way we add value to our objects. In other words, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The result is the cute Ms. (or Mr.) Cart, a wee upside-down shopping cart who is empty and happy.

(She’s saying, “Look, no stuff!”)

Unconsumption encourages you to borrow, use and even remix this logo and use it to rebrand existing (noncommercial) products which you use or reuse instead of buying new ones.

Something inside me is repulsed by the blatant greed and consumer mentality of brands, but I like the way that this appropriates the function of branding while at the same time it emphasises the rejection of the fundamental concept behind capalist brands. Ms. Cart is the new “I’m a paper bag”. It’s showing people that you’re not wearing this shirt from the op-shop because you’re too poor or lazy to buy new flashy clothes, you’re wearing because it’s a good shirt, and you’re deliberately not buying new stuff at every opportunity.

by Diane Gilleland from 'the Uncollection'

On the Unconsumption page titled ‘Why “Feeling Like Part of the Solution” Matters’, the author describes listening to a radio show called “Climate change and behavioral change: What Will It Take?”

One of the ways in which people cope with what they could well believe is an apocalyptic threat, and maybe that will be the reality, is that they want to do something about it, they need to do something about it. And I think it’s terribly important that they take some kind of action. And that action might not have a direct spin-off in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but it’s psychologically very important. It’s motivating, validating and they can feel they are part of the solution as well as part of the problem, so it’s a very important way of coping with climate change.

 I think that this is really true and it’s easy for us to scoff and say “oh, that’s just a way for middle-class capitalists to ease their guilt…” but I think the point is that even if you’re just doing it to feel better – at least you’re doing it. We want to train ourselves to feel good about anything that lessens the harm we do to the environment. We want to normalise the idea of conserving, reusing, utilising things, and understand that endless consumption is unnatural, abnormal and totally unsustainable.

By Chelsea Conway (from the 'Unconsumption' Facebook page)

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I admit that I haven’t been watching too much of the TV coverage of the earthquake diaster in Turkey. Having experienced it here, it’s so distressing to see others on the other side of the world going through the same thing (on a much larger scale).

However I was really happy to hear about the rescue in Ercis of three ladies from the same family. I say ladies – the first to be pulled out of the rubble by rescuers was tiny Azra, only two weeks old.

For two days she had been held by her mother, both of them trapped under the crushed concrete and metal of their collapsed 5-storey apartment building.

The young family reportedly live in Sivas in central Turkey, and were visiting the baby’s grandparents in Ercis when the earthquake struck. Azra’s father is still lost, buried in the rubble, from which there has been no signs of life.

But her mother Semiha (above) and grandmother Gulsaadet (below) were rescued a few hours after Azra was freed. The women were huddled together and managed to survive the freezing conditions. After being taken to a hospital in Ankara, little Azra was declared to be in good health. 

Rescuer Oytun Gulpinar reportedly said of saving the women

Bringing them out is such happiness. I wouldn’t be happier if they gave me tons of money.

 That rush of watching clamouring rescuers in bright orange extract a person from the rubble and the elation of hope that it brings was painfully familiar from the days following the Christchurch quake, but with these three women from the same family all saved in one day it really was an extra special moment.

(Visit Daily Mail Online for more pictures of the rescue and of Azra)

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fleurs de printemps

Yesterday was a great day: it was a public holiday, the All Blacks had won the World Cup, it was warm, sunny and I went for a walk. 

Blossoms. They are spring. On a sunny day, they just look so delightful and fun, like they’re giggling. And they’re so ridiculously frilly. I feel like they should be a little bit embarrassed to be so over-the-top frilly and poofy.

I love trees. I love trees and I love leaves. I love sunlight shining through them. I love the shadows it makes on the surface of the leaves and on the grass, and the way they play as the wind moves them.

Then you turn your face up and let the pillow of light feathers touch your skin, and it almost feels like nothing. It’s soft, but cool.

A single blossom looks so different to an entire branch or a whole tree. Their beauty is different.

Sun + Leaves = Happy

Blossoms = Spring

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 Time travel! It’s the stuff of movies! One of those movies is Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga.

To be honest, I’m not much one for science-y, nerdy time machine movies. However Source Code isn’t a nerdy time machine movie. It’s less about time travel and more about people and relationships and identity. I don’t always like “thinking” movies at the end of a long day, and although any film with time travel in the plot is going to require you to pay a certain level of attention, Source Code drew me in and got me thinking about the story and the people involved, not just the mechanics and plausibility of the thing.

Another film with close parallels to Source Code is Deja Vu, the 2006 movie starring Denzel Washington. I enjoyed them both, and think they do well as two films from the same genre which are both interesting and worth watching in their own right. (Minor spoilers ahead!)

‘Source Code’ (above) and ‘Deja Vu’ (below)

In both films the ability to see or travel through time is developed and accessed through computers, and the nature of the time travel is quite interesting. In contrast to the traditional idea of a time machine that can just travel freely through time without limitations, in each of these films the window of time that can be accessed has very specific restrictions.

In Deja Vu a “time-folding” computer program called ‘Snow White’ allows a small group of computer scientists to see the past, but only a very specific point in the past, about 4 days before the present. Supposedly one can’t “travel” to that time, but you can view it like a movie, and you can move around in space, within that point in time.

In Source Code a soldier is sent back in time using a “time loop” computer program called ‘Source Code’ to also live through a very specific time: the 8 minutes preceding the bombing of a commuter train. However unlike in Deja Vu the soldier can be sent back to relive the same 8 minutes over and over ad infinitum, despite dying each time the train explodes.

Colter Stevens in ‘Source Code’, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (above) and Doug Carlin in ‘Deja Vu’, played by Denzel Washington (below)

Although technology is used in each film to facilitate the time travel, in each case it is an amateur outsider who has to navigate the journey through time. This is a great cinematic device because it means that the protagonist is figuring out everything at pretty much the same time as the audience.

Christina Warren in ‘Source Code’, played by Michelle Monaghan (above) & Claire Kuchever in ‘Deja Vu’, played by Paula Patton (below)

Despite all their similiarities, however, the films are both different, and leave you with very different feelings. Deja Vu is all action-y and Doug has to race through time and space to save the beautiful stranger, Claire. There are lots of chases and explosions and shooting and crocodiles and stuff. While Source Code does have some of each of the above (except the crocodiles), it is a much more introspective film. I think this reflects the closed loop of time that Colter Stevens finds himself trapped in.

With echoes of Avatar, Colter Stevens, a marine fighting in Afghanistan, finds himself sitting on a Chicago train in someone else’s body. After dying in the explosion he wakes back in his own body, but trapped in a metal pod with no way of getting out. An airforce captain appears on a video monitor and tells him he must find the bomber on the train, and sends him back in time with another 8 minutes to do so. In both places/times, Colter struggles to find and stop the train bomber, and also to figure out why he’s trapped in the pod and how he can escape.

Source Code is a much more psychological film which causes the viewer to be more concerned with Colter, his experiences, and his increasingly desperate search for an escape. Time travel isn’t a gimic that the film is based around, but a device which facilitates the telling of an unnerving human story.

Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

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Remember how I said that trying to imagine Adam Kleeberger without his beard was sad? Well, it is sad no longer!
A few days ago Kleeberger shaved his 30cm long beard (which he’d been growing for about 8 months) off to raise money for charity. I was so touched to hear that the Canadian rugby player did it to raise money for prostate cancer research and for aid for Christchurch in wake of the earthquake!

Through the shave Kleeberger raised $3700 for Christchurch – somehow it just feels personal when someone you don’t even know acknowledges something that affected your life in such a huge way, like a random act of kindness.

Sport24 reported Kleeberger describing his wildman beard

“Somebody said to me the modern-day beard is the urban antlers. I like that one,” said Kleeberger, who described his bearded look as “lumberjack.”

The beard became iconic for Kleeberger in the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC), and it made the talented player easy to spot on the field.

“The beard definitely became bigger than me. It gave fans something to identify with. Even non-fans were drawn to rugby as a result.”

Photo: The Canadian Press

The stylist shaved and shaped various styles as the beard slowly disappeared, including the oh-so-dainty moustache above.

Afterwards, Kleeberger said his bare face felt “cold”, and his head also felt “lighter”, as Stuff reported

“It feels cold. But I don’t have to worry about eating ice cream or saucy foods anymore, so that’s a plus.

Very practical – and saucy. 😉

Thanks, Kleebs! You are an awesome guy.

(P.S. 7 hours ’til the final – GO ALL BLACKS!!!!)

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