Friday, August 14, 2015

TPPA Day: Public protest may be hazardous to your health!

Trending and apparently news to some politicians - the US Consulate regularly warns citizens in foreign countries about large organised political actions. I've received a generous handful of these in recent years. I worry very little about it.

This is the country that invented "those warnings" on product labels.
  • On a hair dryer: Do not submerge in water. 
  • On a bag of peanuts: Contains nuts.

In the latest example I received, gone viral in the news:  [translated loosely]

The U.S. Consulate General in Auckland alerts U.S. Citizens that [TPP march is happening] [Lots of scary people][Stay away or you might hurt]

[We care about y'all. Be careful out in those foreign places]
Contrary to popular comments, it's not an indication of an organised police backlash or terrorist action. At least, it wasn't the 6 times before when I got a warning about dangerous protests. But it is beyond hypocritical.

Is it the cop or am I the one who's really dangerous?

The New Zealand police are no angels. But let's get real. For 2015 so far:
  • 8000+ US gun deaths
  • 700+ US people killed by police
And they're sending us a warning?

I reckon I'll be pretty safe today, even should I be in the middle of Queen St in today's protest, dressed in a prescription drug costume (or draped fetchingly in a new flag design) and waving a big banner with TPPA GO AWAY!

Society and culture finalist: Fairfax photojournalist Lawrence Smith was on the front line when protestors from Auckland Action Against Poverty rushed the police barricade at Sky City, in Auckland, where Prime Minister John Key was announcing sweeping budget changes.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother Nature Sends a Pink Slip

Destroying Mother Nature by William Orihama
In honour of Mother's Day, here's a little gem of a poem by Marilou Awiakta that deserves a wider audience.

 To: Homo Sapiens
 Re: Termination

    My business is producing life.
    The bottom line is
    you are not cost effective workers.
    Over the millennia, I have repeatedly
    clarified my management goals and objectives.
    Your failure to comply is well documented.

    It stems from your inability to be a team player:
        * you interact badly with co-workers
        * contaminate the workplace
        * sabotaged the machinery
        * hold up production
        * consume profits
    In short, you are a disloyal species.

    Within the last decade
     I have given you three warnings:
        * made the workplace too hot for you
        * shaken up your home office
        * utilized plague to cut back personnel
     Your failure to take appropriate action
      has locked these warnings into the Phase-Out
      mode, which will result in termination

                             No Appeal.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vegan burger at McD's - Lest we forget

News flash on the local Auckland vegan network: you can get vegan burgers from McDonald's now! In some very limited outlets, you can use a touchscreen to create your own gourmet burger. Guacamole, mushrooms, tortilla strips, lettuce, tomato and tomato and chilli relish - sounds delicious!

So is this news to be celebrated? Is this a step in the right direction for vegans everywhere and time for a stampede to try the new offering to support McD's vegan efforts?

Yeah, nah. Time to watch (or re-watch) McLibel.
  • Remember how crappy McDonald's is as an employer to vulnerable young and poor people. Anti-union barely begins to describe it.
  • Remember how awful they are to their own franchisees.
  • Remember how they target children in their advertising.
  • Remember how they pressure their way into neighbourhoods and globalise the food economy, with their power undercutting business from local food outlets where the profits support local families. 
  • Remember how they consistently resist accountability from their animal product suppliers to be humane, sustainable, or even sanitary. 
  • Remember how their business and food philosophy is as anti-compassion as it is possible to get.
(Source: McSpotlight )

Lest we forget

Yes, I have taught my daughter to boo when we pass a McDonald's. I can't forget what I learned during the McLibel case. Yes, they are worse than other fast-food restaurants and supermarkets, if only because their size allows them to be.

No, I wouldn't cross the road to get FREE vegan food from them. Corporate criminals like Nestle and McDonald's bank on most of us forgetting their crimes. They're right.

Yes, it matters where you spend your money - you are voting to support that business's growth. There are lots of other nonvegan restaurants where you can already celebrate vegan options that have been available for years. Hooray!

Obquote from The Princess Bride

In the words of the (apparently) immortal Westley: "My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy?" McDonald's head-jiggle may be in the vegan direction, but they're still McDonald's.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The RH John Kreepy's new twist on Dirty Politics

(Who can I credit for this?)
[The scene - a popular Antipodean cafe. Somewhere important people go. Middle-aged Kreeyp and his first wife are regulars here.]

J Kreepy: I'm bored. I'm So Booored! When is that coffee coming? Do I have to talk to my wife to pass the time? Bored, bored, bored....Oh Look! A young perky waitress. And she has hair. I like hair. I like hair a lot. Especially long silky hair in ponytails like That Hair. I'd be so not bored if I could touch that hair. How can I touch that hair?

I know! I'm a jolly important guy who's lots of fun. I bet that woman would love it if I went and played with her hair. Who wouldn't like me playing with her hair? I'm just playing, and playing is fun.

Look! I did it! I pulled her hair (not hard of course, cause I'm just playing). I was right, that was fun.

Bet she liked it as much as I did. Hope I see her again.

[The scene - the same cafe, a few days later.]

J Kreepy: This is totes my favourite cafe now. I can get coffee and play with that really fun waitress who loves it when I pull her ponytail. Oh look, there she is!

That's so cool. I pulled her ponytail again - still really fun. She looks a bit grumpy; how cute! Bet that attention from an important guy like me made her feel happier. She knows I'm only playing. Smile, honey!

[The scene - you guessed it.]

J Kreepy:  About to make my favourite girl's day again. Sorry, no, that's not you, wifey. Where's that tantalising ponytailed charmer of mine? Looking, looking...just like an Easter Egg hunt. Can't see...oh, there she is, over on the other side of the cafe. That's OK, I've got time to go over to her - she'll appreciate that I remembered our game.

Got her! Woohoo! Whoa, she looks a bit mad. She must be having a bad day with her customers.  Hey, hon, it wasn't me, it wife who pulled your hair. Yeah, my wife, isn't that hilarious! Cheer up, it's not that bad. I will see YOU later. Ciao!

[The scene - I bet we're all wishing we were somewhere else by now, but no, the same cafe.]

J Kreepy:  Where's my waitress? I...I mean, my wife wants to pull her hair again. We all have such a lovely relationship - just like family! Looks like the ponytail is serving someone else. I'll just sneak up, slowly, slowly...TUG! HAHAHAHAHA! My wife loves pulling your hair and just can't stop!

Oops, my wife seems embarrassed. She says I should stop. Sweetie, where's your sense of humour? Actually, nobody really cares about having their hair pulled.

[The scene - seriously? How long can this go on in the same cafe?]

J Kreepy:  Do you think she sees me coming? Funny how she never serves us anymore. Oh well, it's a small cafe; she can't run forever, the little minx. Look, she's backed against the wall, that's quite exciting actually.  Aaaaaaand....gotcha!

Wow, what's with all the NOs? And what's security got to do with this?

Wifey says I should leave the poor girl alone? Self-righteous jealous moo. Why doesn't she grow a ponytail?

Hey, you over there, she really doesn't like me pulling her ponytail? What's that about? I'm a really nice guy and lots of fun! Everyone says so. Who do you think you are anyway?

Here, have some wine. Maybe it'll help you relax.

[Seriously, for the record and for when the headlines fade. This is the story involved. Key's hair stroking habit may very well be a fetish, but that can only be speculation. Without doubt, Key is abusing his position as a public figure to create an artificial intimacy he hopes to benefit from, in a manner which does not request permission or allow avoidance from his target.]

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bee my Valentine!

Don't bee shy! (the camera loves ya)
This post will be short and sweet, like its main characters. But it won't bee a quickie.

On our driveway, two bumblebees are celebrating Valentine's Day in the best way they know how: making the bee with two backs.

So as naturally nosy primates, we took some photos. (Also available on video.)

Try another angle - beeautiful.
While Valentine's Day in New Zealand was yesterday, I prefer to beelieve there may have been extended courting - some special nectar and pollen, perhaps - and foreplay.

Clearly they have adopted the theme song "Why don't we do it the road", by the Beetles. A bit of research shows bumblebees mating on the ground is normal, but they can continue for 10 to 80 minutes!  One observer reported mating bumblebees can bee moved, so I did.

While much of the public concern over bee populations highlights honeybees, we need all pollinators much more urgently than honey.

So I hope you'll join me in wishing the happy couple a much longer and fruitful...coupling...beefore they buzz off.

Further bee puns may bee left in the comments.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Obesity: Supporting satisfaction instead of surgery

Hot news from down under - a couple of surgeons who perform bariatric (stomach-stapling) operations would like to perform more of them on us, and would like tax money to fund their work. The media is running their advertisement as if it were a public health statement.

I've battled weight problems for my adult life, and I know there is no magic bullet for maintaining a healthy weight. Neither is there a magic scalpel. Cutting open your body to reduce your stomach capacity and all that could mean for your future is not a tenable general treatment.

Battling obesity en masse

New Zealand is, like most developed countries, guilty of more reporting than acting on the growing obesity problem. While this is always a sensitive subject, a recent longterm study showed that while there are obese healthy people, they are much less likely to remain healthy over the years.

So is it true that "Surgery still remains the most capable strategy for inducing robust and long-term weight loss"? May I see the source please? The (US) National Weight Control Registry research does not mention surgery at all in their summary of how most of their participants lost long-term weight.

But I am even more interested that New Zealand's tax money supports industries that support obesity. Fatty cholesterol-rich foods like beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and dairy. "Added-value" processed foods, which take natural raw foods and package them for the highest profit and shelf life instead of fiber and nutrients. Food technology trumps food quality.

Calorie density

Why does this matter? Jeff Novick, RD, MS explains in this article and this video presentation, but in short, calorie density reigns supreme in how much people eat.

Steak doesn't fill you up like oatmeal. Potato chips won't fill you up like potatoes.

Where the money goes

So if we're going to tweak our economic contribution to solve the obesity epidemic, let's not psych everyone into thinking we have to catch up with the Aussies in dangerous life-altering surgery rates.

Let's at least stop being part of the problem, and remove tax funding from those industries harming our national health. Restrict their advertising which often reports positive health benefits or just plain fun...and often arrives in our schools to advertise to our children.

Help make healthy food cheaper, more available, and more acceptable instead.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Secondhand Smarts - community works!

I haven't posted a Secondhand Smarts update for a while, but rest assured I get so many bargains from secondhand shops, TradeMe, etc, that I can hardly keep up.

An extra special nod must go to the bargains I got at last year's school fair. OK, I put in a lot of hours at the White Elephant sale where I got the goodies, but it was a great community event and raised much needed funds for the kids' school. And hundreds of people went away happy with their bargain finds!

Community and charity work can seem thankless at times, but as well as the reality of the help you're providing, you are also making connections that can sometimes reap more tangible rewards. Sometimes you need something and someone else already has exactly what you need. Like these...

Stepping out...

The boy needed some shoes. Look what I found!

Tevas. Good as new. In the right size. For a couple of dollars!

Yeah, this attachment!
I love making frozen banana ice cream. It is pretty hard work for the S-blade on the food processor though, and we've heard that juicers and mincers do an even better job on the frozen bananas. I don't want another whole gizmo in my kitchen, but I have idly considered buying the mincer attachment for our mixer.

I almost let this amazing coincidence at the White Elephant Sale pass me by. I'd even shelved this box and moved it around a couple of times. But it wasn't until a customer said "there are bits missing from this" that we both realised it was an attachment, not a standalone machine. Just exactly what I needed for the machine we have at home, and luckily the customer didn't! $5, for an attachment retailing new for £38.

I can confirm that the banana ice cream product from the mincer is far superior - it can take the totally frozen banana chunks without strain and produce a really really cold treat instead of one that melts almost as served.

The icing on the cake

And cookies, and vegan cupcakes for the Vegan Society stall, and...

My sister's a decorating ace with all the equipment, but sometimes there's no chance to go borrowing. There were a couple of icing sets in the sale, and I knew I wanted to go home with one.

This one was pretty and compact, so it won the toss, and at $4 was quite the bargain. Especially when later at home, I found this was a collector tin retailing for $70.

Yes, there were even more bargains we got at the fair, but enough already! Secondhand is totally smart shopping.