Archive for July, 2007

Guide Dogs Victoria

The month of July has been Top Dog month, a fundraising event organised by Guide Dogs Victoria. I have friends with guide dogs and these dogs are wonderful. It takes many years to train one but they enhance the mobility of the vision impaired, improving the quality of life as well as improved independence.

Its still not too late to be involved in being a member or sponsor a puppy.

Recommendations for the Film Festival (MIIF)

betc.jpgOkay, so technically I only have one that I’ve actually seen, but my sweeping generalizations should be enough for all of you.

The one I’ve seen is The Bet Collector. It’s a film from the Philippines that follows a grandmother who works in the illegal (but everybody does it) numbers game. It’s engaging and an interesting look at Manila, if nothing else. Some might find it a bit slowly paced, but I really liked it.

Something I haven’t seen, but comes recommended is Zoo. I’m actually going to let you find out about this movie for yourself – possibly kids come to this site. It’s the baby of a guy who writes for The Stranger (a Seattle alt newspaper), and did quite well at Sundance and at the Seattle Film Festival. Its subject matter is… controversial.

I’ve also read good things about Lady Chatterley and the tickets for the Hamlet are selling quick. Kid’s movie Azur and Asmar is also selling fast (and has been compared to Spirited Away).

Have patience with the MIFF site – it’s running pretty slow and with a few bugs (waiting for these links to load so I can paste them in is quietly killing me).

Mini-passes (which get you into 10 night movies with a bonus 3 daytime screenings) are selling fast – the concession ones are already sold out. It’s a pretty good deal actually. I also recommend booking sessions you really want in advance.

I’ll update here once I’ve seen some other films. Anyone else have any recommendations?

Let’s Fly Jetstar

Call me thoroughly impressed. After completing a nine hour Jetstar flight to Bangkok, I can by far say that this is one of the best airlines I have flown. Jetstar has had a cheap reputation since it started. Having non allocated seats may work on buses but was obviously a nightmare on a plane. The company quickly learned and brought in the traditional seat allocation system.

So what sets this airline apart?

And we are warming up.

The word on everyone’s mouth is that winter is making an early exit and spring is coming to say Hello.

We have been having much less chilly temperatures over the past days that it does seem like the brunt of winter is done for.

Oh well. We will know for sure when the little leaf buddies start peeking at us from their archs up in the trees in a week or two.

Soaring dollar, but things aren’t changing?

The Age brought it up, with regards to technology related items – soaring dollar, yet things are really expensive. Read more at Retailers fail to pass on exchange rate bonus. Don’t go that far – go to your local newsagent, and pick up a foreign magazine, say from the US. If it costs USD4.95, it somehow still costs us about $13 to read the magazine.

So has the rising dollar really helped you, yet?

Melbourne International Film Festival

melbfilm.gifIt’s that time again.

The Melbourne International Film Festival opened today and runs until August 19th.

There are hundreds of films from heaps of different countries at bunches of different venues, so there’s something for everyone. I would recommend trying out some different narrative styles – maybe checking out some films from Latvia or Kurdistan (which isn’t technically a country, but whatever).

The main site has lots of useful info, but if you’re in a rush, the programme page has the offerings listed by category, date and country. You can also ring: (03) 9417 2011for info.

Apparently tickets sell out fast, so buy in advance (or go to some afternoon screenings if that’s an option – likely to be more tickets).

Melbourne International Film Festival
[25 July to 19 August]

Coles Plague hits the Inner East

I had a fun little adventure trying to locate cold&flu tablets last night.

At about ten o’clock, i drove down to my closest supermarket (a Coles) in search of “day and night” type tablets, preferably with some sort of anti-histamine. They had a whole stack of cold&flu related products – and every single one of them was a herbal remedy.

Now i know that herbal remedies are not to be automatically written off (after all, it’s where aspirin comes from). But i also know that there are a lot of people making a lot of money selling people things that do not necessarily do anything (beyond the placebo effect). I have a very strong suspicion – based on the kind of stuff they even sell in pharmacys now – that medication in Australia is not under any requirement stronger than “make sure it isnt poisonous”. And considering i am less-than-broke at the moment, i did not want to spend my money on something i have no confidence in.

So i drove to the next closest supermarket, and discovered that it was also a Coles. They had exactly the same range. And not a single cold and flu product containing pseudoephedrine (or anything that looked like it could be an antihistamine… or anything that wasnt prepared by being “ground up”…).

So i moved on to the next closest one.

Guess which brand of supermarket that was?

Once again, they were stocking exactly the same range.

So i went to bed, snuffly and sneezy. I didn’t get to sleep until about 4-5am, for the third night in a row. The whole thing left me with a few bitter-old-man thoughts.

“It should be illegal to own the only competition in a few suburbs radius… grumble grumble … this is exactly why those media ownership laws are evil… grumble grumble … do we even have any regulations about whether medicine has to be empirically proven to work? … grumble *cough* … stupid rich inner city suburbs only providing demand for silly herbal cures… grumble grumble ad nauseum…”

Gates of Hell (- consumed).

An anonymous couple left their photostrip in the Laneway Commissions ’07 artwork, Gates of Hell by Heather B. Swann. This art is on Degraves Place, off Degraves Street, between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.

Pets in cabs

Different from my pets in trams rant, but a pet rant nonetheless.

How many of you have had bad experiences with cab drivers who refuse to take you just ‘coz you have a dog with you?

A driver recoiled in fear and disgust when Toby hopped into the back seat. He had stopped for us just seconds before and was all cheery and smiley until the hopping bit. You should have seen the look on his face – he looked like he saw a ghost. White as a sheet.

“NO DOG IN HERE! NO DOG GET OUT!” he exclaimed.

And yes, he’s Muslim. The songkok on his head was a dead giveaway.

I seriously need to find a dog-loving Muslim in Melbourne. Three years in here, and I have yet to meet one.

Ageing in Australia

In this country we’re lucky enough to have a fairly comprehensive welfare system (though it does fluctuate with governments). In the last few years, a decent bit of scaremongering has been going on, with people such as our treasurer (Peter Costello) claiming that, because people are getting older on average, we’ll soon have a very top-heavy population, with lots of oldies soaking up all the welfare money. (On this basis, he wants us to work for longer and to all have more children while thinking of him; “One for mum, one for dad, and one for Peter”, or something along those lines).

Naturally, in line with his political proclivities, options such as changes to tax and immigration do not pop up as potential solutions. Trawling through the ABC Radio National website today, i found an interesting download of an interview with Sol Encel of the Social Policy Research centre in NSW, and he tells us that the “Ageing Population” crisis is just a lot of politically motivated arm-waving.

I thought it might be worth taking a look:
The “Life Matters” program download page:Life Matters: The Cost of Ageing
General Radio National Downloads:
Abstract of Sol Encel’s report: A critique of the inter-generational reports – if anyone can direct me to a full-text copy of this, i’d much appreciate it…

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