27 November 2008

"Children are Sacred" - Let's Be Sensible


Nick Hornby wrote in recent years that if Jaws was made today, the movie wouldn't be about the shark, but the little boy it eats early on in the film; his death, the community's reaction to it. That's how much times have changed, to place children at the very pinnacle of society.

In fact, things have gone too far, leading to a sort of mass hysteria regarding the welfare of children. The latest beat-up, led - do I even have to say it? - by the Daily Telegraph is the DOCS mix up. A DOCS worker arrived at a primary school to take a child to a medical appointment. A staff member at the school office confused the child with another girl with the same first name and similar surnames,and fetched that child by mistake instead. The "wrong" child questioned what was going on, the DOCS worker realised the error, and the whole thing was soon sorted out. No harm done and that should have been an end to the matter, right?

No. Apparently the parents of the "mistaken" child are "distraught". (Once distraught used to mean something truly horrendous had occurred. It would be an understandable reaction if your child had been injured in a car crash, say, but over a simple and rapidly resolved mix up?).

The parents in this case are just starting to make a fuss. Already in full swing are the parents of Uriah Vollmer, who was locked in his childcare centre alone after staff went home for the evening. The staff attributed it to a mix up. A regrettable incident to be sure, but no harm was done.

Except that the boy's father, Tim Vollmer, is a journalist at the venerable Telegraph. Again, the term distraught is being thrown around. Once there was a time when the parents would have been annoyed, then come to laugh it off - perhaps shared the story at dinner parties. But Mr Vollmer wants heads to roll. He's demanded to know why DOCS did not immediatley return his calls - this for a child not in any present danger! - and
is calling for judicial reviews. Over a mix up? Have you ever made a mistake at work, Mr vollmer? And I'm sure you're not as overworked and grossly underpaid as a childcare worker.

The pendulum seems to swing the other way though when it comes to parents placing their own children in danger. Cases of parents propping the pool gate open and placing their toddlers at the end of an unprotected wharf at night leading to the deaths of children (and in the latter case, also the father who jumped in to save them) are occasions for "outpourings of community grief", not judicial enquiries. Apparently anything parents do to their own children is okay, but no one else is ever allowed to slip up. Just look at "corporal punishment". In Australia, parents - and only parents - are allowed to use "reasonable force" in disciplining their children. If smacking is such effective punishment, why aren't carers, babysitters, teachers etc allowed to use it?

We expect other people to take better care of our children than we do ourselves. A sign of that lack of responsibility in modern society? It's all very strange. But surely some sense is in order here. Things go wrong. Even parents don't have to become "distraught" about it all.

24 November 2008

Serious Blog Fail

  • You know you're in trouble with the serious blog stuff when you come to reflect on Kevin Rudd's first year in office and all you can think is, "Did Michael Jackson convert to Islam because he thought his 72 virgins would be young boys?"

  • So George W. Bush plans to open his Presidential library. Could this be the first presidential library to feature pop-up books?

  • Watching the Australian Idol final last night made me realise how bad the economic situation is. They couldn't even afford the fee to get inside the Opera House. I had been going to wander down and see the show, but I've been putting off organising my teatowels for so long, I tackled that last night instead.

  • Speaking of Rudd, the general consensus from Daily Telegraph readers is that Rudd is doing a bad job. Of course, these are people who think interest cuts are wonderful news, not a sign the economy is in bad shape. They also fail to understand that huge budget surpluses are bad economic policy - the Government is not meant to be a national saving bank. I'll reserve my opinion on Rudd for now.

  • I'm forced to do so because I've been on a diet. My brain, deprived of the usual nutrients of Tim Tams, cheese, pizza, fries with aioli dip (I must stop now), has not been working at full capacity. I've forgotten why I started this stupid enterprise and every time I see my lunch I lose a little more of the will to live, but goddammit I'm sticking at something for once and I've lost 8kg and that's all that matters.
  • 18 November 2008

    Eye on Sydney


    Newtown Festival



    Fountain, CBD

    Fake Bus Stop

    This last one is in the grounds, not of a pre-school, but of a nursing home. I found that inexplicably sad.

    12 November 2008

    What are they Doing at McDonalds?


    Recently re-reading Morgan Spurlock's Don't Eat This Book, I was left with a horrified feeling of "Wow, McDonalds is even more evil than I thought". Because even reading about the disgusting things that go into McDonalds food, the terrible effects it has on the body, and the fact that there's now a McDonalds restaurant at Dachau, I couldn't stop thinking, "I'd really like a Big Mac".

    On the face of it, I'd be the last person you'd expect to eat McDonalds. I love good food, and I love cooking. My idea of a great dinner is oven roasted salmon with a delicate sauce. I've eaten at great restaurants. I love the artistry of cooking a risotto, or carefully flavouring a recipe I'm making up as I go along. I also worry about what goes into my body, and know that McDonalds is about the worst thing possible. It's not just that it's high in fat - it's dehydrated, frozen, reheated Frankenfood - the stuff doesn't even rot! What is it doing inside your system?

    Then, of course, I'm opposed to big multinational corporations that do all those horribly evil things we hear about, like destroying the rainforest, swamping local culture, exploiting workers, and creating a bland McWorld of conformity.

    So why then do I regularly get urges for McDonalds food? Before I went on a recent diet, I'd give in about once a fortnight. I'd always hate myself afterwards (I'm now at an age where food repeats on me) but I can't deny I would enjoy it while I was eating it. Even now, enjoying salads and fruits - and I really am - I get cravings for Big Macs. I actually enjoyed Burger King burgers more, but I never developed the cravings I get for McDonalds.

    My theory? McDonalds lace their food with addictive chemicals. Why wouldn't they? Think about it. 70% percent of McDonalds patrons are what they themselves define as "heavy users" - people who visit the store once a week or more. There are another 22% of "super heavy users", who eat McDonalds food 4-5 times a week. They're hooked. I once didn't eat McDonalds for two years. Whatever I was hooked on was after a while completely out of my system. I'd rather have rummaged through a garbage bin for food than obtained it from the Golden Arches. Then a coworker, unasked for, bought me a chicken caesar deli choices roll for lunch. I ate it (the alternative was throwing the thing away), and sure enough, the bastards had me once more.

    Now I must live with the consequences of my addiction. I'm going cold turkey - if I break my diet, I'm determined it won't be over McDonalds. Damn them though.

    05 November 2008

    03 November 2008

    Sunday in Sydney


    Iberian Plaza


    The Chinese female swim team wants to know what steroids this guy is on.




    I wish this was still in style - this outfit would be very flattering to my figure.


    From the Art Gallery of NSW


    No Obeject Implies the Existence Of Any Other - Except for Xander and I.



    Polaris


    Hyde Park

    Doomed to spend eternity vomiting into a fountain. I said I wanted to come back as a turtle; maybe this is to be my fate.





    Woolloomooloo

    You might like...