Don’t Ban The Can

September 25, 2009 2 comments

There’s a bunch of stuff I should probably blog about but I’m going to drip through it slowly (if I can be bothered at all, been terribly lazy and there’s still The Zeitgeist Politics and all that). There’s also my very late entrance into the world of Gossip Girl. Yes people, 2 and a bit seasons later, I’ve finally found the time to watch it… and get addicted. Season 1 Ep 5 right now, getting there getting there. Oh yeah and there’s that study thing…. but anyway….

Went to an interesting event the other week, Don’t Ban The Can in Croft Alley. The organisation is basically based around promoting legitimate street art and graffiti and trying to prevent it from being banned or criminalised (or reversing bans & criminalisations where they are). The event went down in Melbourne’s Croft Alley, the rubbish-strewn, smelly alley many people know as home to The Croft Institute.

The event included live painting, tutorials, a DJ, a sausage sizzle, Croft-sponsored Coopers & lots of good times. Here are some happy snaps of some of the artists in action:

The day was awesome but because of all the people milling around and all of the unfinished (partly finished, nearly finished, in the process of being finished) works of art, Lainie & I decided to head back the next day and see how it all looked without the people and the weed smoke in the air. Here’s the product of that excursion:

So the can has not yet been banned, a dark, smelly little alley has been transformed into a dark, colourful, smelly little alley, and after all that, I’m sure that smooth but dangerous surgeon, Doctor Croft is laughing even harder

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Kickstart with Steppenwolf

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Time to kick-start this baby again after having shifted over to my dedicated Politics (with a middle eastern focus) blog at Zeitgeist Politics (check it out if you haven’t already).

To be fair, I’ve been doing considerable amounts of interesting stuff lately including the Don’t Ban The Can Festival on Saturday, street art spotting, interesting book reading, gigs, movies, new cafes, shopping, etc. There’s also been lots of cool stuff on the net lately that I’ve discovered. Bah I need an outlet for these things, especially since my license was suspended starting from Sunday last (thank you Victoria Police) so I’ll be… having more free time on my hands to blog I suppose.

So yeah:

Upon reading Steppenwolf (note the delectable popular penguins copy I have… sigh), a multitude of thoughts came to mind. Am I the Steppenwolf? I certainly share Harry Haller’s disdain for bourgeios society (though not to the same degree, i still enjoy many of the things he loathes and mix with the bourgeois on a regular basis) and have a tendency to get depressed at the pointlessness of it all (though no suicidal tendencies, thank God)… I have that lone wolf thing in me and I also have the intellectual superiority complex going on a lot of the time. So what of it?

It appears the book was met initially with disdain for its liberal attitude to random sex and recreational drug use, and then later embraced as part of the ‘free love and drugs’ movement of the 60s. It is also seen as a damning indictment of the bourgeois, though I don’t really personally see how. In fact, it does little condemning of the bourgeois and seems to be a broader condemnation of intellectuals and the Western ego-centric point of view, far more steeped in Eastern philosophy and far more lamenting the Steppenwolf’s (and there are many among us) inability to derive pleasure from life, always concerned with inevitable things like war, death and self:

Of course, there will be another war. One doesn’t need to read the papers to know that. And of course one can be sad about it, but it isn’t any use. It’s just the same as when a man is sad to think that one day, in spite of his utmost efforts to prevent it, he will inevitably die. The war against death, dear Harry, is always a beautiful, noble and wonderful and glorious thing, and so, it follows, is the war against war. But it is always hopeless and quixotic too.

Hesse’s use of duality and multiple aspects of personality and consciousness were fascinating, as well as what could be called an early dose of magic realism, surrealism and dream sequences. It’s a book concerned with the psyche, the human condition and the myriad possibilities that yet remain unexplored to most of us. Certainly worth reading.

Presenting The Zeitgeist Politics!

June 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve decided to start a blog dedicated to global politics with a focus on The Middle East

Titled: The Zeitgeist Politics

URL: zeitgeistpolitics.wordpress.com

Please head over there for all that political analysis you crave!

This will henceforth be my personal blog for all non-political endeavours 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized

Amazonfail

April 13, 2009 Leave a comment

This has been reported by several blogs and it’s all over twitter, Amazon has decided to remove “adult” content from it’s rankings, unfortunately this “adult” content more or less includes everything and anything to do with homosexuality and LGBT fiction and non-fiction. Wtf? From the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy:

“American Psycho” is Bret Easton Ellis’ story of a sadistic murderer. “Unfriendly Fire” is a well-reviewed empirical analysis of military policy. But it’s “Unfriendly Fire” that does not have a sales rank — which means it would not show up in Amazon’s bestseller lists, even if it sold more copies than the “Twilight” series. In some cases, being de-ranked also means being removed from Amazon’s search results.

I’ve read American Psycho and I can tell you now that there’s a pretty good reason why the book is sold in Borders covered in shrink-wrap.  Explain to me why a book sub-titled as “Why the gay ban undermines the military and weakens America” should be lumped in the same category? It’s ridiculous, this is not adult fiction, it is a blatant attack on homosexuals in America, worlwide and on the internets.

Since then the hashtag #amazonfail has risen to number one on Twitter (in the space of an hour, reportedly, this is why I love Twitter). Twitterer @duncanriley reported that the top Amazon search result for homosexuality is “A Parents Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” and that’s by “relevance” search. Wtf?

Amazon must be destroyed. Yet another reason for Melburnians to buy books at Readings. Boycott Amazon, support your local bookstore, they can order books in for you anyways.

UPDATE: (Thanks Jacket Copy):

As the Amazonfail fiasco continues to grow online and people continue to question wtf is going on, Amazon has no decided that it was a “glitch”. Um. Yeah right. Jacket Copy:

Responding to our initial post, Amazon Director of Corporate Communications Patty Smith e-mailed Jacket Copy. “There was a glitch with our sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed,” she wrote. “We’re working to correct the problem as quickly as possible.”

We wanted to know more. We asked for further explanation of the glitch, which has removed the rankings of gay-themed books such as Paul Monette’s “Becoming A Man,” Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando,” and others.

And I asked Patty Smith this:

From a layperson’s perspective, this glitch does seem to have affected certain types of books more heavily than others. In fact, only one of the top 10 books in your Gay & Lesbian section continues to have a sales ranking (the Kindle version of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”). No other section is similarly affected. Can you comment on that?

The reply:

Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment further.  We’re working to resolve the issue, but I don’t have any further information.
I smell panic & bullshit.

If the World was a Village of 100 people

April 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Many AIESECers would have seen powerpoints and cool vids depicting global demographic data framed under the concept of if the world was a village of 100 people, what would it look like. Toby Ng Design has taken these statistics and converted them to really interesting, simple but beautifully designed pictures. Check these out, and if you haven’t seem them before, they do make you think.

It’s interesting to see that Christians are still the dominant religion, I would’ve thought Islam would probably be more dominant by now but I guess if you lump together Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, etc then you’d have a sizeable amount. What I find misleading is the Atheists/Others category, I mean that includes Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, Jains, Sikhs and many other fairly prominent religions, so how many atheists are there really in the world?

 

 

This is another interesting one. 6% of the world’s population apparently control 59% of the world’s wealth and they’re all from the States? Again considering how many billionaires there are in non-US countries these days, that is somewhat surprising (Carlos Slim anyone?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also I find the language one interesting, unsurprisingly Chinese rules the roost but by that much? Damn. And Hindi second at 8%? Russian scored pretty highly up there as well. I would’ve guessed differently but I guess demographic statistics for this kind of thing are pretty hard to agree upon.

 

I’m not sure what the source for the stats are but I’ve definitely seen them before, either way I think the design is really cool and check his website for more of it.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

3 Cool Cafes in Melbourne

April 10, 2009 5 comments

Some of you may be familiar with my previous post about 5 Cool Cafes in Europe. The fact is, I’m a coffee fiend and can think of few better ways to spend my time than lounging around in some cafe reading something interesting, having a good conversation or just chilling.

Melbourne is my home city and it’s a city with a thriving coffee culture parallelled by few cities in the world (few that I’ve been to anyway).  This means that this cafe post will be much more rigorous than the last one which was a bit random and far from exhaustive. Melbourne also has such a wealth of cool cafes that I’ll probably do a follow-up post at a later stage. So first up here goes:

1. Brother Baba Budan

359 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9606 0449

Almost a hole in the wall but big enough for a few counter tops & one communal table at the front, BBB seats around 20 people max. it’s a corporate a favourite with offices nearby but people come from all over the city and surrounding suburbs to enjoy their famous locally roasted coffee. BBB is probably the best coffee in the CBD (Central Business District) if not Melbourne. It’s run by the guys who used to own St. Ali’s (though the relationship between the two is a bit murky for me) in South Melbourne (see post below). Truly an amazing cup, run by friendly and very capable baristas, try ordering the ‘Magic’… that’s an insider’s tip 😉

2. Switchboard

11 & 12 Manchester Unity Arcade
220 Collins St., Melbourne, VIC 3000

Switch really is a hole in the wall, though they do manage to provide good toasted sandwiches along with the coffee machine that takes up half the space in the aforementioned hole. Run by two great guys, Switch has a back alley outdoor area covered from the rain and a cosy little room to sit in also. It’s located in a historic building and is a bit difficult to find (as most of the best places in Melbourne) but the coffee Switch serves up compares only to BBB in terms of quality (as far as cafes in the CBD that is). Oh yeah and the guys at Switch, the bloody lucky bastards, close the place up at 3-4pm most days so get in early if you want some of that goodness!

Photo Credit: 51 Mondays

3. St. Ali

12-18 Yarra Pl
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
(03) 9686 2990

Located in a small laneway that runs parallel to Clarendon St., in South Melbourne, St. Ali has had an excellent reputation for coffee for quite some years now.  St. Ali was also one of the original cafes to start the explosion of quality micro-roasting here in Melbourne. It’s a pretty big place and, as usual, attracts many of the office works from the surrounding offices (a fact of life in Melbourne is that often to survive as a cafe you need to bring out the corporates… but yet another reason why white collar work in Melbourne has its perks).

Not only is the coffee excellent but they also have a pretty decent food menu and St. Ali is therefore a great place to go to for brunch or lunch, not just for an espresso hit. The cafe also engages in some really interesting coffee-related business, including St. Ali’s customised tampers (for your machine) and a even a coffee project in Nicaragua. You can get more info on everything St. Ali related on their blog, but maybe just dropping by is also a good idea 🙂

Categories: Melbourne Tags: , , , ,

Vikas Swarup – bad writer and rather ignorant, it seems.

April 3, 2009 8 comments

-WARNING SPOILERS BELOW-

Ahhh Vikas Vikas. What will we do with you? Why did you try to pack in as much crap as possible into one little narrative? Now I’m aware that the format you have chosen for your book, the random questions from a gameshow coinciding with events from the kid’s life in no particular order, allows you lots of “creativity” but why does your “creativity” have to have such lame and even ignorant results?

How did you manage, by page 168 (not even halfway) to incorporate film star pedophiles, Australian diplomats-cum-spies and even a Haitian voodoo practitioner (who apparently also is really good at sex, yay!) into an already eventful few chapters? I think just the regular poverty/crime/mafia/domestic violence/killing/slum-dwelling would have been more than enough to keep people entertained, dont you? I mean I would’ve thought that ridiculously philosophical 10 year olds with amazing vocabularies was enough implausibility

And on the topic of Haitian voodoo, get an education man! All I needed to do was look at wikipedia to know that all that black magic and voodoo dolls crap is bogus! It’s a myth! A MYTH! And it makes about as much sense as an Australian spy (honestly WHY would the Aussies want to spy on India, cricketing tips?)

I can clearly see why Danny decided to ditch like 75% of the book:

Mr. Swarup allows himself the occasional grimace in talking about the numerous changes in the script. But, ever the diplomat, he says the screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy, and the director, Danny Boyle, stayed “faithful to the central narrative structure.” [NYTimes]

The occasional grimace? Faithful to the central narrative structure? Dude, the man (and his scriptwriters) turned a lousy book into a decent film! You should be pleased with how many copies of an otherwise dreadful novel you’ve been able to sell!

The novelist Salman Rushdie savaged the novel as “a corny potboiler” and “the kind of fantasy writing that gives fantasy writing a bad name.” [NYT]

Say what you want about Salman but the man has a point, I’d say “corny potboiler” is actually rather mild in comparison to what the book deserves. Vikas, in turn, never skipping a beat replied thusly:

Mr. Swarup was certainly stung by the criticisms, but said he understood the strong reactions.

“Indians are sensitive to the way their country is represented, but the film was not a documentary on slum life,” said Mr. Swarup. “Slums provide the backdrop to the story of the courage and determination of this boy who beats the odds.”

Oh dearie, he was stung. Vikas mate, I don’t think it’s the slums that are the issue… I think it’s more… you know… the Haitian voodoo maybe? Wtf?

More ranting about the book here if you missed my earlier post. Looking forward to more good times as I approach the halfway mark, lol.

Categories: Literature Tags: , , ,