Friday, February 17, 2006

Here today and GM tomorrow

Genetically modifed crops were introduced secretively to agriculture with such indecent haste that one could only wonder what on earth was going on. Why the rush? Why the push? Why the aggression? Why the corporate paranoia?
There are many things to be said in favour of gene technology. Very many things. Their promise is immeasurable.
But there is something worrying about the way the agro biochemical mobs went about trialling their crops, about the very politics of the process and about their extraordinary hostility towards other parts of agriculture, especially the organic.
I had cause to do research on all of this some years ago and the results were disturbing, to say the least.
The big biochem corporations have won their battles. GM crops now are ubiquitous in many parts of the world.
There has been hope that we could hold out here and keep our crops green as a niche market. But, thanks to a former agriculture minister, one Rob Kerin, a former ag-chem salesman, the biochems were given a secret door into our landscape. I do recall the way in which he dismissed me as some sort of ignorant little woman when I asked him about the benefits of GM-free crops. He told me it would be impossible. It would cost too much.
We have had a holding pattern of sorts, a ban under a GM Crops Management Act. But it expires next year. The Democrats are trying to have it extended - and good on them.
It turns out that the Japanese are prepared to pay us premium prices for GM-free canola that we are growing on the wilderness environment of Kangaroo Island - proving that GM-free status is a lucrative niche market.
Japan is scouring the world with its wallet open looking for GM-free products. Europe, too.

But politics and corporate handshakes are a law unto themselves.
They are used to having their own way - buying their dominance.
Wait for the campaign to demean those who promote the idea of GM-free as a market advantage. Watch the barrage of the old hate invective....greenies, hippies, tree-huggers.
Politicians' interests are short-term. They would rather feather their nests with cosy arrangements with their biochem buddies than leave a clean future for their children. It just makes one so very, very sad.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Water, water, everywhere...

The cult of drinking bottled water is turning into an environmental catastrophe. The springs are being sucked dry to satisfy the thirst of those who wish to pay large amounts to have their water designer labelled. And then there are all the plastic bottles that become the wasteful by-product of their indulgence. What a consumerist farce.

I have always found those water-sucking trendies rather farcical. Their obsession with hydration is such that they can't move without their bottles. They take them to work, they take them shopping, they take them to the theatre, for heaven's sake. Now when it our metabolisms change so much that we were unable to go 90 minutes without fluid? When did we begin to require constant top-ups?
It is all marketing. People are slaves to fashions, cults, theories, advertising. They don't stop to ask how logical is this absurd excess. They believe, like some new religion. They mimic each other, terrified of being left out.
And they are suckers not only of water, but of the current myth that it is an essential lifestyle accessory.

Sssh...don't 'tell 'em. Some naughty water companies are selling them tap water. It seems designer water drinkers can't tell the difference.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Gunning for Cheney

Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face. Apparently, he mistook 78-year-old Mr Whittington for a quail.
Big men out shooting tiny birds with broad-spreading shotgun pellets. Hunters! Great white hunters. What fun for them. How brave they are. And, to make sure the big men do not miss the little birds they must have lots of shot. Enough shot to cover a man from head to chest. How sporting. How skilful.

How approximate do you have to be to be a good shot, I wonder? I hear Cheney is very experienced. But does this hot shot take his pot shots for the pot? No, I'm sure that the little birds would not be worth eating when they are peppered with shot. So what reason could there be for rich, powerful men to spend their time and money on inefficently killing tiny wee birdies which can barely fly??

I guess they have to shoot them because they are an environmental issue. Nasty little quail ravaging the delicate ecosystem. Thank heavens for Republican environmental activists such as Cheney and his ilk. Ridding the landscape of evil little birds.

Poor Cheney's bag count must have gone down with that accident. Well, at least he hit something, even if it was not a tiny little bird.

Dontcha love big strong men with guns?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Camping @ Brokeback

Brokeback Mountain is running full steam ahead towards the promise of Oscars. Everyone is gushing about it. A bit of censorship controversy did not hurt it at all - and one can always wonder if it was engineered in any way. Ang Lee is one of the great directors. No arguments. It is Heath Ledger's finest moment. No arguments. But why is everyone getting so carried away?
Because it is a gay movie. Which, people seem to keep trying to deny. How odd. It is is gay movie! It is about two handsome, uneducated country men who fall in love and spend the rest of their lives having clandestine assignations at the place where this great love was born. The place, of coourse, is Brokeback Mountain. Gay men of the 60s tended to marry to protect themselves from the stigma of homosexuality, for that is how it was then. And, fortunately, Annie Proulx, in writing the story on which this film was based, and Ang Lee, in making it, have allowed the damage wrought upon women to be portrayed. Of course, it is not the big thing of the male love story. It is incidental collateral damage.
I know women who married gay men, not knowing they were gay. I find this deception callous and self-interested. I can't feel the sympathy I am supposed to feel. It is not a moral judgement about gayness, since that is not an issue for me. It is about honesty and integrity. It is about fidelty and trust.
Here comes a movie which attempts to justify the brutality of this misuse of women in the name of a greater love between men.
It might come as a huge novelty to the ingenuous American cinema public and the equally ingenuous but ever good-cause-driven Hollywood crowd - but not to this little black duck.
However, I am putting my two dollars into the tipping cap - since for those reasons alone, just to show how broad-minded and enlightened they all are, they will vote Brokeback to the trophy top.

But, of course, the dividend is that all those men who like to go fishing and camping out in the woods with the blokes are now going to be highly suspect. Camping out with the boys now takes on a much camper meaning.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who put the slam in Islam?

The responses of Islam are always worrisome. It is a faith which keeps us in line with quite fearsome discipline. One word out of place and we are fair game for the most violent and vindictive retaliation. It is all pretty unforgiving.
It perplexes me, since I know some very gentle Muslims and in my readings about Islam over the years, I have found is creeds to be kindly and rational. Islam, whence came the sciences. Islam, which respects Christianity's "son of God" as a prophet. Islam, which welcomes the wayfarer and will never let a beggar be ignored.

Where has the break occurred that spawned this other form of Islamic fury wherein the world must walk on glass for fear of inciting vengeance?
Those Danish cartoons are mainly offensive in their complete lack of humour. They are lousy cartoons. Gratuitious. But, I understand the paper had a competition going and they are not "proper" cartoons by cartoonists of distinction. Which makes it all the sillier. Plain dumb.
Blind Freddy could have told them that Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is never to be portrayed as an image. From the West, it is a common courtesy to respect this. The Danes did it as an idiot provocation and it worked.
Now we are all in the middle of an emotive kerfuffle and Islam has an excuse for yet more fury at the rest of the world.
I never did work out what the Buddhists did to earn those ancient giant statues being destroyed in Afghanistan. I am sure it was nothing as terrible as drawing rude images of Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Luminous, luminous, all is luminous

Every so often a word erupts from the pleasant world of general expression to have its beauty and relevance ripped to pieces by overuse. Of the moment, "luminous" has emerged. It is one of the lyrical words which had its place in the language. But now its place is all over the place. The last straw was hearing some Hollywood type thanking her "luminous daughter" for being in her life. We now have luminous people! As well as luminous days, luminous events and even luminous meals. And thus does luminous go the way of serendipity and matrix, paradigm and parameter, awesome and resonate...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Proving climate change

Just as old-timers say that they feel the weather changing in their bones and their old wounds are like barometers, I say that I can discern climate change with my hair.

These many long years, my longish hair has stayed smooth and tidy with the usual 3-day wash-and-blowdry routine. When I am in Adelaide where the air is clean and dry.
If I go to Bali or to New England or Georgia, or sometimes even to Sydney, I am in bad-hair-day territory. The humidity makes my hair unruly. I have to tie it up, wear caps, hairclips, copious lotions...

Until this summer, I have never had to do any of these things in Adelaide. My wavy hair accepted its straightening discliplines and maintained a constant, ever-recognisable style.
Now it is rebellious, day after day. Even if I were to do the blow-dry treatment every morning, I'd be lucky to have it tidy by lunchtime.

This is a basic and major change. It is something I can observe. And that means it is evidence. How much do I have to reiterate this in argument against the naysayers who insist that the dewpoint is low and that it is really not humid? What is wrong with their powers of observation? It is Blind Freddy department.

Our climate has changed! It is different. Humidity has come to the driest city on the driest continent. It is not as it was. Why can the climate curmudgeons not be convinced of this? Bald obstinacy, I'd call it.