Sunday, November 29, 2009

herstory - a contemporary tale...

i worked yesterday so was looking forward to a quiet sunday morning to just ease into a lazy day - me and the gang had the place to ourselves last night and so far today it's just been us, so how else would we spend it but quietly relaxing!!!!... but alas, 'quiet' is not to be had around st kilda apparently... i was 'rudely awoken' this morning around 7 am by fucking helicopters buzzing and hovering overhead - it's after 10 now and they're still there - the noise is deafening... i'm pissed off - so's shadow (he's not going outside) and allie is already deaf or she'd be 'freaking out' - noise pollution to the max!!!!

i'd had plans to read today - but it's soooooo hard to concentrate with such surround sound noise - so i did a bit of 'surfing' to discover it's the great australian run today and it's being televised - far out, the residents of port phillip have to deal with a lot of disruption over spring and summer - cycling, running, car racing, festivals - and as part and parcel of these 'activities' there are planes, jets and helicopters - so many road closures and re-routing of public transport, so much noise, so many tourists...

but i guess because of the cacophony i've immersed myself in cyberspace and discovered an interesting event just over the yarra - an 'herstoric' occasion...

the women's circus turned 18 this year... their aim is 'to inspire and empower through contemporary circus', with a "strong focus on creating a safe, supportive and stimulating environment in which participants can extend their skills, build confidence and have fun, and in presenting engaging, high quality public performances of social relevance."

"The Women’s Circus began as a project of Footscray Community Arts Centre in 1991. In 2003, the Women’s Circus became an incorporated, non-profit organisation and remained at Footscray until relocating to the Drill Hall in West Footscray in September 2006." you can read more here... or just have a wander around their website...

if you've got some time between now and december 6, you might like to check out "Herstory", their major production for 2009 at the Living Museum of the West, Pipemakers Park on the Maribyrnong River - which, according to an article on "will take the audience on a wild ride from the Circus’ own birth to her coming of age" - sounds grouse!!!!

or maybe you've always wanted to run away and 'join the circus'??!!

oooh, it appears the noise has abated, so now i might just try and get into my read of the moment...

'the fire' by Katherine Neville... i just 'happened' upon this when i was doin' some shelving at work... it was released in 2008 - it's the sequel to a book i read over 20 years ago(!!!) - "the eight" - one of the most memorable novels i've read... part historical fiction, part medieval mystery, it's an action packed thriller, a tale full of suspense - it has two storylines set centuries apart, spanning from 1790 to 1972 - the fates of both major characters - Mireille, a novice nun at montglane abbey at the time of the french revolution, and Cat Velis, computer expert and 'dabbler' in mathematics and chess - are intertwined as they both try to unravel the mystery behind the montglane chess service, purported to have once belonged to charlemagne, a gift from the moors - a chess set that holds the key to a game of unlimited power... interested??? sorry, not giving anymore away except to say it's rivetting and well worth the read - and having only read a couple of chapters of 'the fire' so far - there's more suspense, cryptic riddles, secret societies (the carbonari) and 'players' such as shelley, byron and keats - a tapestry of historical references - it certainly holds the promise of a worthy sequel!!!!

and later on today i might watch "the puppy mill" - "a documentary that explores the domestication of dogs and how our demand for the ultimate family pet has led to increasingly inhumane treatment" - i received my copy only 3 days after ordering it online (see my last post 'how much is that doggie in the window') so my day is sorted - no doubt it will be a heart-wrenching film to watch and the tears will flow...

Monday, November 23, 2009

how much is that doggie in the window??

no doubt we’ve all thought at some time or other when walking passed a pet shop "ooooh, how cute" ... tiny wee bundles of fur that you just want to take home and lavish love and affection on...

but where do these cuties come from??

definitely not from a caring, loving, affectionate environment - the reality is that their mothers gave birth to them while surviving horrendous conditions in total misery in puppy factories / farms / mills - these poor girls produce litter after litter after litter for the greed of humans, and then are 'disposed' of after 4-5 years - that's if they have survived that long from intensive breeding, cruelty and deprivation.

I seem to re-visit this topic each year at this time, but as it's possibly the major commercialized buy-buy-buy time of the year in this capitalistic society, with pets being popular (easy) 'presents' to obtain, it seems appropriate - and unfortunately change is a long time in happening - the cruelty continues, so i feel compelled to mention the horrors of this heinous industry yet again until we no longer see animals as commodities to be bought, sold and treated appallingly...

"Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight"... Albert Schweitzer

Debra Tranter, animal liberation activist and rescuer, says "to look into the eyes of a confined dog and into the next and the next and the next and the next makes you feel like you’re on the edge of your sanity. Their eyes scream a silent agony of despair, their spirits broken. I can’t pick up 400 dogs put them in my car and leave, all I can do is film they’re suffering and get the footage out there because the truth cannot be changed until it can be seen. " the following is some of that footage... (my old girl allie only just survived one of these death camps...)

australian filmmaker William Wolfenden has created a documentary "The puppy mill" and you can view the trailer here - according to the australian website Where do puppies come from - "William Wolfenden has created a documentary that every animal lover should see. This is not an extremist animal rights film, but a realistic look into the world of the domesticated dog and where we are suddenly going wrong. Buy it, share it with your friends, have a think, have a cry and know that by watching this film you are making a difference."

if it's a gift giving time for you this december, why not give a gift that may help save lives - you can order a copy of the documentary here (i've just ordered mine!!!) 20% of the sales go to PetRescue, "a not-for-profit organisation that finds new homes for lost and abandoned pets. We believe every homeless pet deserves the chance to find a new loving family, but with rescue groups across the country struggling to feed and care for animals, many pets miss out on homes simply because nobody knows they are available." They have the largest online searchable directory of rescue pets in australia - if you're not looking for a companion you can always make a donation!

According to Death Row Pets "250,000 healthy, but unwanted cats and dogs are killed in Australian pounds each year" and they have 5 ideas to stop this slaughter that they'd like to see turned into a reality:

  • Restrict the sale of cats and dogs to ethical regulated breeders, pounds and animal shelters

  • Stop all sources of mass production of kittens and puppies for profit i.e. stop puppy and kitten farms and backyard breeders

  • Achieve widespread desexing of all pets

  • Increase the re-homing rate in pounds and shelters via better low-kill policies

  • And of course educate everyone on responsible and caring pet ownership...
not unrealistic goals... you'd think it would be easy... why not visit the lead the way website and sign the petition to support the Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill - if it's passed in new south wales (Clover Moore keeps trying) then the precedent is set which gives a greater chance of change throughout australia... it's time to take a stand... go on, stand up and be counted - spread the word - help educate to eradicate this industry!!!!

please, visit the sites mentioned - people really need to know what's going on and to what extent...




“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."... Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Friday, November 13, 2009

the language of fear...

an abnormal fear of the number 13

paraskevidekatriaphobia (wouldn't want to have to say that in a hurry)...
an abnormal fear of friday the 13th...

are these fears inherently misogynistic?

the number 13 is closely aligned to the moon and the menses - it's the number of lunar cycles, the number of menstrual cycles, in a solar year... a number intimately connected with womanhood...

christian fear of pagan female deities, fear and hatred of the female body, and the persecution of strong, independent women created an anti-pagan, anti-woman fervour, hence the original word for the fear of both friday and 13...

from Frigga (Norse goddess associated with Friday) + triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13)

"Frigga (also known as Frigg, The Beloved) was the goddess of love, marriage, and destiny. She was the wife of the powerful Norse god Odin, The All-Father.

A sky goddess, responsible for weaving the clouds (and therefore for sunshine and rain and the fertility of the crops), she was also responsible for weaving the fates. She was known as a 'seer', one who knew the future though she could never change it."
the goddess gift website

"Friday is Frigga's Day. Frigga (Frigg) was an ancient Scandinavian fertility and love goddess, equivalent to the Roman Venus who had been worshipped on the sixth day of the week. Christians called Frigga a witch and Friday the witches' Sabbath." the skeptic's dictionary

"When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week..."

according to the article "The church, a witch, sex and satan: oppressing witches: symbolic of oppressing women's sexuality" "the christian concept of "evil" has long been synonymous with sexual desire and the rejection of women in general and women's sexuality in particular."

from an article entitled "hammer time: portrayal of witches, witchcraft and medieval christianity" "it is amazing how celibate men became obsessed with the sexuality of women. as it is stated in malleus malificarum: all witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is, in women, insatiable."

the infamous 'malleus malificarum' (the witches' hammer) became the torturer's bible, and Nancy van Vuuren in "The subversion of women as practiced by churches, witch hunters and other sexists" states "...the women's sex organs provided special attraction for the male torturer".


black cats have long been associated with friday the 13th and the feminine - they were seen as the familiars of witches - wise women and healers - but the rise of christian 'hysteria' introduced the concept of witches' pets as evil, and agents of the devil

the number 13, religious intolerance, persecution, and fanatacism, the subversion of women - fascinating topics which deserve to be explored more thoroughly... but that'll have to wait for another day...

hope you had a wonderful friday the 13th!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

dissention in the ranks? or just good old fashioned common sense?

i came across some articles this week on a couple of topics i'm passionate about - marijuana and vegetarianism... could there possibly be a move to a more 'enlightened' attitude on these subjects from countries australia tends to 'follow' (albeit usually quite a lot later - the (very slow) 'trickle-down' effect??)...


on the marijuana front...

"UK drug adviser fired after marijuana comments"
by Raphael Satter, Associated Press Writer – Fri Oct 30, 2:57 pm

LONDON – Britain's top drug adviser was fired Friday after saying that marijuana, Ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.

David Nutt's comments have embarrassed the British government, which toughened the penalties for possessing marijuana earlier this year over the protests of many prominent British scientists...

In later comments to BBC radio's "PM" program, Nutt accused British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of making "completely irrational statements" about the dangerousness of marijuana.

"I'm not prepared to mislead the public about the harmfulness of drugs like cannabis and Ecstasy," he said...."
read more here


"Push to Legalize Marijuana Gains Ground in California" by Jesse McKinley, October 27, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — These are heady times for advocates of legalized marijuana in California — and only in small part because of the newly relaxed approach of the federal government toward medical marijuana.

State lawmakers are holding a hearing on Wednesday on the effects of a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate the drug — in what would be the first such law in the United States. Tax officials estimate the legislation could bring the struggling state about $1.4 billion a year, and though the bill’s fate in the Legislature is uncertain, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has indicated he would be open to a “robust debate” on the issue." read more here


and this makes very interesting viewing on the issue...


on the vegetarian front...

"Climate-Change Authority Advocates Vegetarianism" by Heather Moore, from the Care2 Causes & News page

"It might take a while for Al Gore and other noted “environmentalists” in the U.S. to branch out from giving “safe” advice like "use energy-efficient light bulbs" and "recycle"—and American politicians may not even be all that quick to promote an official meat-free day—but one of the top climate chiefs in the U.K. is taking the lead. Lord Stern, the author of the 2006 Stern Review on global warming, recently told The Times, “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.” read more here

Heather Moore is a freelance writer and a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and you can read more of her articles on animal welfare and climate change here.


I stumbled upon this great banner from LOBSA, a non-profit buddhist vegan abolitionist organisation (now that's a mouthful - and no, i'm not buddhist - but i can definitely appreciate the sentiments expressed!!!)...


and these two buddhist prayers from the same source - for all the suffering animals...

even though i've been a vegetarian for ages - i stopped eating and wearing dead animal over 3 decades ago - i still eat organic, animal rennet-free cheese, free range eggs and drink organic milk - i really need to take that 'final' step and remove them from my 'table' - as much for my conscience as the welfare of the supposedly (hopefully) more humanely treated (but still enslaved) animals in those industries... once i achieve that therein lies a whole 'other' dilemma - my canine and feline companions are carnivores, so how to feed them because they're unable in this society to hunt for themselves??? ahh, another quandary to ponder...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

a world away...

what child didn’t love Noddy, Big Ears, Tessie Bear, Bumpy Dog, the Golliwogs and all the other Toyland friends??

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

and with the arrival of television in the 50s and 60s we even got to see our favourite storybook characters magically come to life (mind you, it was new technology so we pretty much saw all telly as magical!!! )

who could have known that by the late 80s Noddy, Big Ears and the Golliwogs would become so controversial – infamous even...

(the following excerpts from "Noddy, older and wiser?" in The Scotsman newspaper)

there were accusations of homosexuality (hey, i was a kid and we understood friendship - we didn’t understand sexuality – and what difference did being gay or straight make anyway??? – let’s not forget, we’re talking wooden dolls here!!!!)

the fact that Noddy and his top chum Big Ears – without whom, let's face it, he'd probably still be wandering around the woods in the buff – would cuddle up in bed together with a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate has been the cause of much sniggering for many years... Blyton's liberal use of the words 'queer' and 'gay' was deemed 'inappropriate' and in 1989 all use of the words was taken out, and Big Ears was banished to his own bed”

there were accusations of racism (i thought the golliwogs were grouse – they were rag dolls, we all knew that! i had one, it was friend and companion – i was totally unaware of the concept of racism...)

“Golliwogs were popular toys at the time of Blyton's writing, but by the 1980s they were seen as promoting negative black stereotypes. The golliwog characters were airbrushed out in 1989, some erased completely, while others were replaced with goblins.”

even librarians hated noddy...

“Children may have loved Noddy, but librarians loathed him. Described by one as "the most egocentric, joyless, snivelling and pious anti-hero in the history of British fiction", poor young Noddy was on the verge of being blacklisted. There was a movement in the 1960s to ban Blyton's books – and in particular Noddy tomes – from libraries, because of their supposed limited vocabulary, but it did not last long, with many finally recognising that Blyton's ability to get children to read in the first place was far more important.”

Enid Blyton didn't live a conventional life for the era apparently... according to author Kate Forsyth from an article entitled Enid Blyton, Shoddy Noddy and the Infamous Five..

"Blyton's own life has been a source of continual fascination, perhaps because she so unfailingly represented it as bathed in perpetual sunshine. The Channel Four series Secret Lives recently probed the dark, secret shadows of her life with great relish - Blyton's frigid relations with her own family her affairs and bitter divorce, her intense friendship with Dorothy Richards (Bi Women on the Web, a resource page for bisexual women, lists Enid Blyton as one of its heroines, along with Josephine Baker, Simone de Beauvoir and Sandra Bernhard).

Most tellingly, Blyton has finally been the subject of an in-depth critical analysis, published last month in the UK as Enid Blyton and the Mystery of Children's Literature. David Rudd, a senior lecturer at Bolton Institute, has examined the life and work of Blyton, with particular emphasis on the fact that, despite the storm of adult negativity, Blyton remains the most popular children's author ever.

"Why does a writer accused of being ... middle-class, snobbish, sexist, racist ... continue to fascinate in our multicultural world? To fascinate not only in France, Germany and Australia, but also in Malaysis, Russia and Japan, and in languages such as Catalan and Tamil?" Rudd asks.

To begin with, Rudd examines the primary criticisms of Blyton's work and concludes that many "are based on glaring misreadings, sometimes not even drawing on Blyton's own original texts."

The accusation of sexism, for example, is one that has always troubled me. Of all the thousands of books I read as a child, it is George of the Famous Five that remains most vivid in my memory - the tomboy who refused to let the boys push her around, the girl who could out-swim, out-climb and out-wit anyone. The critic Bob Dixon has described George as "a very bad case of ... penis-envy', yet she was a powerful role-model for literally millions of young girls.

Blyton's books are filled with passionate, independent girls who fight desperately against being straitjacketed in normal gender roles. Even Anne, normally dismissed as the typical domesticated female, has her own power, which often takes her brothers by surprise. And as Rudd points out, without the contrast of Anne, George's behaviour would not appear half so subversive."

so why write about Noddy now?? because the young lad is making a comeback in the first classic Noddy tale to appear in 46 years - “Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle” with illustrations by Robert Tyndall, who has drawn the series since 1953 - minus the golliwogs of course, and big ears will be confined to his own bed (no more snuggling up together) – it’s written by Sophie Smallwood, the granddaughter of Enid Blyton... i heard it mentioned the other day and was transported back to my childhood - a world away...