{ Under The Bluegums }

A personal blog with craft tutorials, reviews of books, films, and music, parenting advice, and opinions on society and politics.

October 29, 2010

Am I wrong to be offended at celebrities asking for money?

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American tennis player Serena Williams attends  Burberry  Spring/Summer catwalk show at Fashion Week in London on September 21, 2010.   UPI/Rune Hellestad Photo via Newscom
29 October 2010

It never ceases to amaze me when famous people appeal to the general public to help raise money for something, be it orphans, starving children in Africa or people stuck in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The latest campaign is called "Buy Life", and features the likes of Willow and Jaden Smith, songstress Alicia Keys, E! presenter Ryan Seacrest, rapper Usher, actress Katie Holmes, DJ Swizz Beats, socialite Kim Kardashian, sports star Serena Williams and many others, who have all modelled t-shirts as part of efforts to raise money for children living with HIV/Aids and provide necessities such as shelter, nutrition, education and basic needs.

These people must be some of the wealthiest people in the world. They spend millions on their homes, their beauty products, their pets...

But they want normal people around the world, making normal salaries, to help raise money.

Let me put this into perspective:

Celebrity Values (estimated, according to celebritynetworth.com ):
Katie Holmes: $25 million
Alicia Keyes: $35 million
The Smiths: (Jaden Smith $8 million + Will Smith $188 million + Jada Pinkett-Smith $20 million) = $216 million
Swiss Beatz: $8 million
The Kardashians: Kim $12 million + Kourtney $4 million + Khloe $4 million = $20 million
Ryan Seacrest: $75 million
Serena Williams: $85 million
Usher: $50 million
Jay Sean: $2 million

Altogether, just these celebrities are worth $514 million. And they're just a handful of celebrities.

Sure, I understand that this is just net worth (ie. they might not literally have this much money in the bank), but they sure do have a hell of a lot more than the normal guy on the street, to whom they are now appealing.

Am I judging them unfairly?

October 28, 2010

Wish you could remember your dream? You might be able to see it!

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Composite of Ears
28 October 2010

Ever wake up groggy with a strange feeling that you wished you remembered what you had just been dreaming?

I have, and it might be possible soon to be able to see what you dreamt!

Scientists have been given an insight into the human mind: volunteers had electrodes implanted into their brains, and so far, the scientists have been able to "read" their minds by interpreting the electronic data.

The volunteers were able to, on cue and with practice, control the appearance of images and make a particular image fade in or out.

Imagine being able to see what you were dreaming? It would take dream interpretation to a whole new level! :)

Via Mail Online

October 27, 2010

Racy Calvin Klein ad depicts assault?

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27 October 2010

There's a great controversy going on in the fashion world currently as a result of a Calvin Klein advertisement stuck on billboards across Sydney, Australia.

The controversy comes as the image seemingly portrays sexual assault of one woman by a bevy of muscled and denimed men.

The supermodel was wearing practically nothing, while the men seem to be roughing her up a little.

The billboards have been taken down, after the Australian advertising standards bureau deemed the image to be demeaning to women.

I found the comments the best part of the article.

One person said that people who had never had rough sexual contact before were missing out, while another person said, "But all of those men are gay". Obviously the latter statement alludes to most men in the fashion industry allegedly being gay.

What do you think?

Via TheWeek.com

We're blinded by fame

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Singer Performing in Front of Adulating Crowd
27 October 2010

My husband and I were watching SA's Got Talent last night. I find this show more entertaining than "Idols", simply because the talents are so much more varied than just singing.

It was the second semi-final last night, and I found myself gaping at the audience. Harold Hendricks took to the stage with his rendering of the eighties track "Footloose". He started off relatively well, I'd say, after an introduction to say that he believed that performers needed to have a personal connection to their music.

However, once he started dancing, that was it for me. Standing and singing is one thing, but if you try dance and sing without the training, then your performance just fails dismally.

But still the audience screamed and pelted Harold with praise!

This led me to consider to myself why it is that people in South Africa love these types of shows? Why acts like U2 come to South Africa and tickets are practically sold out before they even go on sale?

It's because South Africa loves Hollywood. We're so mesmerised with the entire idea of Hollywood that we love stages and anything that remotely resembles the VMAs, the Oscars and any other show that puts normal people on a pedestal of style and wealth.

I pity us, because we are so easily blinded by fame.

The only way to save our heritage?

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27 October 2010

It's so sad that the only way we can protect our heritage is to put the animals in a zoo.

Where they'll never get to see the open veld ever again.

October 19, 2010

The most eerie UFO footage I've ever seen

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19 October 2010

On 16 October, three days after reports from New York about UFOs in the sky, unidentified objects were seen to enter into the atmosphere above El Paso.

These objects clearly have intelligence, as you can see the single light split into three. A fourth appears, and the object align to create a pyramid - a pyramid practically exactly the same as one seen in New York.

Whatever they are, they are trying to communicate with us.

There are people who say that they are spiritual entities, and others think they are spacecraft. Many think that disclosure, or the governments' revelation that we are not alone in the universe, is upon us.

What do you think?

Learning by example is the best way to learn new things

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19 October 2011

This can be said of anything, from sports to photography.

Steve Berardi is a great natural photographer - he knows how to use his camera to its utmost advantage, from shutter speed to post production. He is giving away a short version of his new book, for free. And we all know I love free stuff!

Here's the link, and you can also look at his website.

Via LightStalking

October 18, 2010

I love that all people are different!

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18 October 2010

Just as an example of this, The New York Times' Opinion Pages did a photography feature in a residential community in Detroit.

Although all the homes shared the basics, such as a floating staircase and the same general layout, everyone's home is completely different - from colour to design.

It's wonderful! Why not celebrate your creativity, because everyone is creative in their own way!

Via DesignObserver

The Happy Meal that lasts forever!

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October 15, 2010

Now hippo poaching?

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Hippo with scars in river, Africa
15 October 2010

Just when we think we're getting somewhere with the rhino poaching, the latest news reports that a butchery of hippo meat, skin and skulls was found in KwaZulu-Natal.

The meat was hanging over a plastic bath, while the skin would be used for sjamboks.

I think the biggest problem with poaching is that it has an international consumer base: tourists.

Tourists want things from Africa to take home with them, and Africa has become known as a place where resources are never-ending. Tourists want skulls to display, feet to use as footrests, skins to drape over their couches.

We need to perhaps educate tourists to Africa about the dire situation that we are facing in Africa. Our animals are being killed for nothing, for their mythical properties: rhino horns for their youth-restoring properties, lions because tiger's are endangered, hippos for the tourism industry.

October 14, 2010

I worry about the ethical decline of the human race

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Angry Businessman
14 October 2010

I worry about the ethical decline of the human race.

I don't know where it started, though my husband surmises it might have been when women decided that they could be promiscuous just like men.

I tend to agree in a way, because it is true that women are what hold society and sanity together.

Slowly but surely, women have forgotten that it's not important to be sexy, to be liked, to be popular..but to be examples.

I believe though that the media is one of the biggest culprits of the change in a society that is filled with the rape of young toddlers by men and even boys, where pornography has skewed the viewers' sense of what constitutes a fulfilled sex life, where the age restriction for "Eyes Wide Shut" prevented me from watching the film when I was 17 ten years ago has decreased to allow children of 13 to capture full frontal images.

However, I truly believe that the error also lies with some parents - I say some because I do not wish to generalise. Some parents truly do not care what their children are watching on television as long as they're out of their hair. Some parents drop their children off at malls with wads of cash just to keep them busy over the weekend. Some parents get horribly drunk in front of their children, swear, and smoke, and expect their children to grow up with good morals when they had no example to look up to.

One could speculate forever about the reasons for our society's demise, but I don't think you would come to a conclusion or a solution.

It makes me sad sometimes to think that I am part of a people who don't appreciate their environment, who don't slow their car down to let a pigeon pass them in the road, who swear and gesticulate simply because you take too long to get out of a parking space.

It is the little things that count after all, and it's the little changes that we could make that would make all the difference.

Think about the little things you do that could change one person's life for the day in a GOOD way and do that.

Hard-hitting advertising

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14 October 2010

These are some great adverts... Really hard-hitting

This is my favourite!

Which one's your favourite?

UFOs over New York - in daylight

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14 October 2010

Several UFOs appeared over New York on 13 October, and New Yorkers busied themselves on Twitter speculating over whether they really were UFOs or not.

However, a solitary tweet to The Huffington Post said the lights in the sky were just balloons. Balloons that did not move in the wind?

Anyway, the sighting comes on the day that a retired NORAD general said UFOs would hover over cities in the US.

Take a look at the video and decide for yourself.

October 11, 2010

Do petitions and charities really work?

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11 October 2010

Someone said to me the other day that petitions and charity sites and all those publications and societies aimed at alleviating abuses of animals, humans and so on are simply a means of distracting us and giving us a false sense of achievement and contribution.

Once we've signed our name to a petition, do we ever really check to see that the petition indeed fulfilled its aim?

Do we ever find out if the charity organisation we have donated to has really made your contribution to the cause, or has only 5% of your charity been used for what you intended?

What I'm trying to say is that perhaps these things are only meant to make us feel better so that we don't make a real difference?

Banksy's Simpsons storyboard

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11 October 2010

Street artist Banksy has taken his commentary to the television screen, with his own storyboard on American sitcom and satire The Simpsons.

As a child, The Simpsons was one of my favourite shows. We would make sure dinner was prepared by half-six in the evening so we could get our weekly dose of laughter.

I didn't realise until much later that the sitcom was a satire of American or Western life, much as South Park is. It is a place where the writers and artists can make comments about society and what is wrong with it.

Although I was not familiar with Banksy's work until recently (I tried to enter a competition revolving around using his artwork as inspiration for an image), his storyboard for The Simpsons strikes a note with me because it touches on the Asian sweat market, and thus everything that America represents.

The show itself is drawn by dozens of factory workers, who pass their animation sketches to a little boy, who in turn dips it into toxic sludge to develop it. AS we follow the sequence further underground and into the darker areas of "slavery", we see merchandise being created to fulfil the mass demand of the Western world. The "slaves" blatantly make use of animal parts as they go about their business, from using a dolphin's tongue to close up the boxes, to de-furring small creatures to use their fur as stuffing for Bart dolls.

Asia is known for its disrespect to the animal world, but this is drawn sharply into perspective, because it is demand, and, seemingly, Western demand, that is fuelling their misuse of the world.

Take a look at the clip. Please comment, I would love to know what you think!

China City burns

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11 October 2011

The only reason that I though this was significant enough to blog about: we almost went there this weekend! Strange that we decided not to go...

October 4, 2010

Leopard shot at Skukuza for...being a leopard?

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Leopard Relaxing
4 October 2010

This is so sad really.

Apparently over the weekend, a leopard wandered into the Skukuza camp in the Kruger National Park. There seems to be mystery about how the leopard managed to find its way into one of the guestrooms, but it then jumped onto another guest house, apparently following the monkeys that sneak into the camp.

Although the leopard seems to have posed no risk at all to the humans inside the camp, the game capture team decided they would rather shoot the leopard. It was trapped in the courtyard and then euthanised.

A spokeswoman for the park said that if the leopard was captured and released nearby, it would have returned to its favourite hunting grounds. I ask, if the camp was its favourite hunting ground, why had no one noticed it before? I understand that the animal is dangerous, but the fact is that the park is a nature reserve. Surely the entire point of having a game reserve is to preserve the life that lives within it at all costs!?

I would also like to mention that every person who enters the park does so at their own risk - that there are wild animals in the park goes without saying, and if we truly want to preserve the life that lives within it, I really don't think that euthanasia was an option at all.

Do the rangers at the park not have tranquilizer guns? Surely this would have been a more intelligent option?

I just get so frustrated because the whole purpose of the preserve is to save life. Aargh.