Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mutilation or Beautification?

WARNING: Content contains words and themes that may offend. Do not read if you are slightly prudish or easily offended.

A few nights ago I was up late baking scones for Anzac Day celebrations and found myself watching a documentary on vaginas. No, I am not kidding. It was made by an English woman who was appalled by the rise (up 300 percent in 2 years in the UK) in cosmetic surgery to the most sensitive part of the female anatomy.

Apparently women, and girls as young as 16, were responding to pictorials in magazines that portray these 'bits' as tidy, neat and almost invisible to the eye, found they were not identical to the pictures so they set about changing that. Several were taken to a sculptor who does plaster casts of women's genitals (don't ask) and they were shown the 40 already done. What they found was that everyone is different and the pictures we see are not actually realistic or 'normal'. Many changed their mind about having the surgery but a few did not. Going through the process with them and hearing about the teasing they received before the op from sisters and friends was truly heartbreaking and made me wonder about men and their own need to fit in physically.

A bit of light research later and I have the answer. Apparently men are lining up for procedures as bizarre as pec implants and fake 6 packs, not to mention the extensions, enlargements and other 'essential' surgery on their nether regions.

While I found the documentary fascinating, it was not the subject matter that stayed on my mind later on (thank goodness) but rather it was the fact that women and men are finding their own bodies appalling and strange. To feel like your own body is alien to you must be an awful thing to go through. This is not the same as those who undergo gender re-assignment because they feel they were born the wrong sex, this is about what we consider to be beautiful and the unrelenting pressure to conform.

Almost all of these women featured felt embarrassed and ashamed. Those are feelings, not facts. Once shown that most women are different they were astounded. Their view was that they were the only one who looked different and everyone else must surely look like the pictures. It seems that with the advent of a more liberal society we have neglected one facet in our children's education. Body image.

While sex education is necessary and justified, body image in relation to the parts of you not readily visible, and those which are, should not be part of sex ed. It is not at all sexual in nature to question your appearance. None of these women were getting the procedure because of a man, or for a man. A completely different method of teaching is required for this. One which focuses on encouraging children to celebrate their differences and be empowered in that knowledge. I am not a teacher and have no ready answers for how it could be achieved but it is absolutely essential that this subject matter be taught. Teenagers also need to see women and men having these procedures, the pain they go through afterwards and the long process to recovery so that they are not unrealistic in their views of cosmetic surgery. If the pubic area is too much for schools I think the same results can be achieved watching breast augmentations and pec implant procedures.

When we have teenagers paying out large amounts of cash to have someone mutilate their bodies we all need to take a good look at the 'why' and find a way to get them to question these procedures or better still to not consider them at all.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Demolition of the Construction Industry.

All of us living in the Cairns region are aware of the lack of real work available in the construction industry right now and the chaos that some families are going through due to the closing up of several large construction companies in the region.

The work available along the Cassowary Coast is great but is not putting any dent in the bills for most people in a precarious position. Once the travel costs of getting to the Yasi affected areas are accounted for, and the rate of pay being the same as that of a Council labourer/gardener (around $42'000) there is little left over for mortgage bills AND food AND utilities AND insurances. This has also left many families in the undesirable position of having a parent work quite a distance away and in many cases, staying at the site overnight, putting strain on relationships.

A huge chunk of those working in the area are well behind in payments on loans already, due to being owed small fortunes by liquidated companies. This money will more than likely never been seen and for those owed thousands it will take a long while before they are no longer in danger of losing everything they have left.

The BSA has left these small business owners and contractors in the lurch as they have not responded to many calls for help and at no time did they step in and suspend trade or contact companies who owed the money on behalf of those making complaints. I am well aware that complaints have been made as I have letters reporting those facts from some members of our community who are at breaking point. Complaints were filed as far away as December last year and none were followed up, not even a simple reply to state the complaints were received.

One letter writer has given their permission to pass their story on but asked to remain anonymous and I will respect that request, while printing just a portion of what was in the letter.

'I have just been off the phone to our solicitor, who has told me that we are just one of many small to medium businesses ( Construction ) in Cairns that are owed money. He said that one of his drawers where filled with claimants. And they are one of many law firms with the same situation.'

'The CRC is too late with their lifeline. Not only is there bugger all work out there, but we are like dogs fighting for scraps, with many undercutting each other to get by, but when we do work, we are not getting paid. So many families are being ripped apart, with husbands having to travel for work. I really don't know if we will still be around in a few more months. The situation that we are currently in has pushed us to the wall.'

In another letter the family suggested that the situation was so bad we will soon have construction workers who are forced to squat in houses they are building as the banks will have taken their own homes.

It seems that while we spend our time feeling bad that another company has folded and thinking it's high time we diversified, we may well have forgotten all those who are suffering as a result of those closures. The work on offer in Tully and Cardwell is keeping some of those affected afloat and the Government should be applauded for ensuring that locals got the bulk of the work available.

It won't last forever though and we need to start thinking about the next step in recovery of the industry. Large scale development has stagnated in Cairns due to repeated consultations and studies, with no results. It's time we sped that process up and got some of the projects started immediately.

In Edmonton, the Leisure Centre and the GP Super Clinic will employ some. In the city, the Entertainment Precinct will supply a big chunk of work. The building of the new highway will supply even more but starting those projects will just be the start. Having that development, in all areas of Cairns, actively begun, will increase investment in the city which will of course, bring more work. There is no confidence in the industry at present and the Council, along with the general public, need to be aware that the problems within the industry are far greater than they imagine. It's time to act.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Liberal Thinker v's The Conservative Thinker

The recent study into the brains of liberal thinkers and conservative thinkers has raised some interesting theories. There is chatter regarding the results on almost every forum and in every newspaper I have looked at in the past week. Are the results true? What do they really mean?

For those of you who are unaware, the study found that liberal thinkers are hopeful, brave and open to change. Conservative thinkers are fearful, scared and wary of change. Sounds intriguing but how does that affect current politics and what is the result indicative of?

Essentially, what it says is that those who are conservative are pessimistic and those who are liberal are optimistic. This can be roughly applied to all policy that is currently on the table in Federal and State politics. The Cairns Post stated that this is true of most politics but does not translate when it comes to the most controversial of topics, climate change.

The argument is that those who believe in climate change, mostly liberal thinkers, are effectively pessimists for holding that belief while conservative thinkers are optimistic as they choose to align themselves with the 5% of scientists who disagree with the theory. I disagree, strongly.

As far as I am concerned, believing in climate change is realism. That does not fit into either category. If something is proven and it's proven by most of the great minds in the world, you would have to be slightly foolish to disagree. The optimism comes in believing. Only if you believe in climate change can you be hopeful that we have the power to undo some of the damage we have done, or at least halt it. It takes a large degree of optimism to focus on the positive change that can be made for the betterment of our world.

A pessimist, by ignoring the facts, is essentially admitting to themselves that they believe the problem is too large and cannot be reversed. Andrew Bolt's interview with Tim Flannery is a perfect example of this. He was asking questions about the immediate results of a reduction of carbon emissions. He knew the answer before asking the question. The answer was given by someone optimistic about the survival of the planet in the long term. Andrew's questions portrayed a man only interested in the future of the world....while he is still in it.

A positive thinker will look beyond themselves to future generations as they are not scared of what will come next, they choose instead to believe that they have the power to make changes now that will be felt in 100-200 years because they know that they will probably have relatives around who will benefit from the decisions they make today. These are the ones who donate to Amnesty International believing that human rights can be achieved in every country, while the pessimist gives to the stock market believing that they only have the power to affect their own lives.

It's not true you know. We all have the power to make positive changes in other people's lives. Sometimes the journey is long and the results may not be seen by our generation but that's no excuse not to try. It doesn't mean that the pessimist (conservative) is a bad person, just afraid. It doesn't mean that the optimist (liberal) is always right either, sometimes it pays to have a little cynicism so you don't go blindly into tomorrow.

The fact is we probably need both sides in order to effectively run the country and create stable communities. I have professed many times over to be the leader of the optimism party and proudly admit to that. The balance is achieved by having that healthy dose of realism I mentioned earlier. It's essential, regardless of which way you lean.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jetstar.........now what?

This is part of one of the e-mails sent to Jetstar on Sunday morning. This may not be the best representation of our region, but it's certainly better than what was previously printed. I am putting out the call to all of my readers to e-mail them yourself with your own version of what makes Cairns a great destination for a holiday. E-mail me too, I'd love to hear your ideas. Right now, the site is blank under the heading 'Introducing Cairns' and I sincerely hope they take the advice of locals and the many tourism leaders before deciding on what will go in that space.

Here was my suggestion;

Introducing Cairns.

One of the only places in the world where you can travel for thirty minutes in any direction and completely immerse yourself in a new environment, the city of Cairns is at the centre of it all. Catering to those with an adventurous spirit with spectacular diving, white water rafting and even bungy jumping, Cairns also has the ability to sooth the soul with Award winning eco-lodges and spas, located deep within the surrounding rainforest. Take a tasting tour of the Tablelands and try the gourmet local produce on offer from coffee and tea to chocolate, cheese and wine. Learn about the indigenous culture at Tjapukai and afterwards, take a trip to Kuranda via the multi-award winning Syrail cable cars. Enjoy a walk in the early evening along the beautifully designed boardwalks of the Esplanade. Also on the Esplanade, the stunning Lagoon is a haven for locals and tourists alike, a great place to spend a relaxing day. The sights and sounds of Cairns are unique and diverse and this city prides itself on having a vibrant nightlife, allowing every visitor the opportunity to have a memorable holiday, whatever your motivation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Climate Change....it's so hot right now.

The carbon tax is polarising our nation. Some are unconvinced that global warming is real. Some are opposed to any taxation. Some are worried about the price rises that will result from the tax. Some are convinced that the tax is a great initiative and essential for the future of our country.

So, the climate is changing? The seas are heating up and the polar caps are melting. Apparently the main cause of this is our carbon dioxide emissions. Really?

Lets pretend for a minute that this is actually a cyclical thing that has occurred since the beginning of time. That the cyclones, floods and droughts are simply repeating themselves every 30-50 years (ish).Forget for a moment that science is saying that global warming is real and just take a moment to think about what we all know for sure. Most households in Australia have an air-conditioner (or 5), large t.v's, dishwashers, dryers, computers, internet connection, two cars and many other appliances and conveniences. All of these items use electricity or petrol to use and most are manufactured using both.

Fifty years ago there were none of those items in any household, except the car. Is it really possible that we can be using all of those things while having absolutely no impact on our surrounding environment? No. Not a chance.

Is it likely that global warming is a myth and the truth is we are going through the usual repetitive process that has always existed here on earth? While it is likely that weather patterns can explain much of what is happening every year, it's also feasible that those patterns are getting stronger and lasting longer. The fact that our polar ice caps are melting and the sea level is rising will have little affect on the weather so lumping all global factors together is not going to get anyone a clear picture of what is going on.

It's also an extremely slow process and will be even slower to recover. Does that mean we shouldn't worry about it? I mean, it's not going to affect us...or our children. Should we care about what happens to our Great-Great-Grandchildren? We won't be around to see it.

The fact is, we are not doing our environment any favours. So, what should we do about it? Simple answer.....develop much better power sources and fuels. More efficient, safer for our environment and less toxic manufacturing processes.

The easiest way to do this is to encourage those with the most money to spend some of it on research and development. Lets say we FINE all big polluters in this country. We give that money to the rest of the population to cover any cost increases that result from the fines. This makes the Government no money. It costs the taxpayers no money. The companies paying the fine then start to look at ways to avoid paying it. The easiest way, pollute less. So, companies then invest in research and development of more sustainable and eco friendly fuel sources, that research produces products that the entire country can use, our carbon emissions are reduced and the fines are no longer required.

Take this example, remove the word FINE and replace it with Carbon Tax.

This message is not being understood. People are completely bamboozled by what a Carbon Tax is and what it's purpose is. Nobody seems sure about much of anything anymore....especially when related to the environment.

Is it a Green issue that has become a Labor issue because of the nature of a hung Parliament? Maybe. Do we really care where it came from? No. What we want is a simple explanation of the Tax and we want it repeated until the message is clear. Once the point has been made effectively (note the word, effectively) then the people can decide if they support it or not.

Right now, there is no clear message about this Tax. There is no concise, simple statement that explains what it is or what it's for. Most of us are not accountants, we are not environmental scientists and we are not big business. What we are though, are taxpayers. As such, we deserve to know what affect this Tax may have on our incomes and outgoings.

Much of what the Government has reformed, added, dissolved and proposed during the past year has been lacking the explanation, any explanation. Instead, we have been treated to a he said, she said diatribe that has done neither party any favours and left a hugely confused population in it's wake.

The job of Prime Minister is not to defend every quote, decision or hairstyle. It's to present the Australian public with a clear view of what is being done for us in Canberra. At the moment, that's not happening. Has Julia become obsessed with keeping her job and forgotten that there is an entire country that needs to be informed?

As for Tony....what is he doing? Apparently his sole purpose is to knock down and squash every single thing Labor. He appears to see this as the best way to force Australians back to the polling booths, as soon as possible. He also seems to have forgotten that there is an entire country out there who are confused about much of what is going on in our country and he is not offering any assistance to fix that. His priority is to outdo the Prime Minister in the insult department, which is a race he is winning by the way.

Time for them both to pull themselves away from the mirror and take a good look around. We, the people are out there, waiting. What we are waiting for is information. Time for some real Governing of this country.......any day now.......maybe......