Monday, April 28, 2008

What is wrong with Demon China?

Those of you that have read my blog or writing in the past, know about my stance on China's treatment of Tibet, and while we do have to fight to make sure that Tibet gains independence, I think it's time to examine how this problem pans out from the Chinese perspective.

One of the key complaints of the coverage of the Olympic Relay from the Chinese end is that western media is often quick to cast China as the villain in the piece, and for once, I agree with them.

It's very easy for western media to think of themselves as the fourth estate in civilized liberal democracies while casting China as an oppressive force, totally opposed to lofty ideals such as 'independence', 'free-will and 'capitalism'.

China sees western media coverage of the Olympic relay as bordering on the racist, and it's not hard to see why.

Take the Paris leg of the relay for instance. While new agencies reported violence from pro-Tibetan supporters, the full extent was not reported. For example, the story of Paralympian Jin Jing highlights the disgusting conduct of the pro-Tibetan crowd.

To put it bluntly, she was abused from all sides from pro-Tibetan supporters, who didn't seem to care that she was disabled. These scenes of violence had been reported, but the extent of it wasn't. The irony being that the while the Chinese had been accused of shocking violence and the absolution of human rights, it was the pro-Tibetan supporters beating down on a disabled woman.

The problem is, that this type of biased reporting validates the notion that 'the west are against us' in China's eyes.

When the call goes out for China to take a more active role in the international community, it's easy to see why they would decline. They have western democracies telling them what to do, how to act, where to invest and capitalist companies greedily eying up its citizens as a market.

All of a sudden, you have western democracies trying to overturn centuries of tradition and thinking to get China on 'their side'. No wonder the Chinese are wary.

Respect, is paramount in Chinese culture (I know this from talking to international students), and when governments at first chastise them heavily, then western media casts them in a negative light, it points to a lack of respect for China and their policies.

Now, I am pro-Tibetan, but some of the conduct from protesters go against the teachings of the Dalai Lama. Indeed, he's threatened to step down if violence in the region does not stop. This puts pressure on China, and Tibetans to force a diplomatic solution to this crisis.

It seems that while pro-Tibetan supporters have lost their way and resorted to violence, the leader of the exiled government is one to see reason in this quandary. I wouldn't expect anything less.

Listen, China does do a lot wrong, and I'm the first one to point that out. China is fueling conflict in Darfur, silencing media outlets in China and oppressing the Tibetan people, but violence is not the answer.

China is a proud nation, and it is not through violent acts that it will heal itself. It is not through casting China as the villain that will make steps toward peace in Tibet. It is not through directives that China will change.

It is through accepting China as an equal and through dialogue on equal terms that will effect change.

Yet, heavy handed pro-Tibetan supporters seem to think that the negative attention directed toward China will change the country. It may, but for the Olympics only. Once all the tourists go home, it will be business as usual in China.

What we need is a long lasting peace, not an angry band aid.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What is wrong with time?

I just don't seem to have enough of it these days.

One of the things that irks me when I tell people about how I have no time is their response. "But you're just a uni student aren't you?".

'Just a uni student' seems to be a pretty common comment these days, and it points to a lack of understanding about the rigors of the uni student. Consider if you will, my schedule. I have to put in 16 contact hours a week, which involves an hour commute each way on public transport. No biggie?

Now consider that I, like many other students have a part time job to meet the demands of increasing inflation rates, rental prices and exorbitant petrol prices across the country. At the moment, this takes up 15 hours of my time.

So all together, I'm working solidly 31 hours a week, but that still lags behind the minimum hours needed to classify a full-time job, which stands at 38 hours a week. So it would seem on the surface that being a uni student is easier than having a full time job, but as we head deeper you can begin to see this isn't the case.

You see, the full-time worker gets to go home after a long day, and do nothing. I do concede this is become less frequent with the popularization of the internet leading to working at the office and home, but for the vast majority, home time is their own time.

Not for uni students. We have on average 7-8 hours of reading, homework and assignment work per week on average that takes place off-campus. It's even worse for journalism students because you have to fit in around other people's schedules for interviews and such.

Another key area is the competing attentions of five different disciplines. Uni student in this country usually have four units per semester, and a part time job, which makes focusing on any one thing detrimental to the others.

Full time workers on the other hand, have one area to focus on, their jobs.

All these competing demands and rigorous wok loads for uni students is probably why you see the pulling bucket bongs in their precious spare time.

Now, you may be asking if I've worked a full-time job from up here on my high horse, and I'm here to say yes, yes I have.

Whenever there's a semester break, I work a full time rotation. I need to if I want any cash to do things like buy a car, move out or buy the services of high class prostitutes. 'Dem ho's don't come cheap you know.

It's hard work, to be sure, but at the end of the day I'm able to go home, and do whatever I want, not constrained by the deadlines of academic pursuits.

So before you call somebody a 'lazy ass student', just consider the points above.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What is wrong with subbing?

Mainly, the abuse I get on a weekly basis.

Recently, I've been subbing some articles for the uni journalism paper, and while it has been a great learning experience, it's one that has left me drained.

My role exactly, is to check the spelling and grammar of articles before they are uploaded onto the website/bulletin. This mainly involves correcting a few grammar gremlins, and there's no harm in that. However, some of the stuff that I get to sub is absolute drivel.

It makes me weep for the future of journalism in the state (That's not entirely fair, there's Curtin to consider) if this is what's going to be served up. I admit that my articles haven't exactly been mind-blowing Walkley Award winning journalism either, but they've made three out of four section heads so far. If my drivel is getting section heads, our little thing is in trouble.

This is third year journalism, and I'm getting people who on one end of the scale use language befitting art mags in a general news story, and on the other end I'm getting people making rudimentary mistakes that a fifth grader wouldn't make.

I understand a few typos here and there and lord knows I'm guilty of that, but sometimes it beggars belief that these people were allowed into third year journalism at all.

Now, I could send feedback along the lines of "you suck, don't EVER become a journalist", but I bite my tongue. I tell them what is wrong, but I suggest ways they could improve their writing. Most people really appreciate the high level of feedback I give and have said so, but every week, without fail I'll get an email saying that "ur really unfair nd mean!".

I usually reply to these emails by clarifying further some of the criticism I leveled at them, and sometimes this works, but most of the time I just get abuse.

Forgive me if I go into ranting territory, but I sure as hell hope this isn't the treatment subs get out there in the real world. I really hope that professionals are able to get over the sting of criticism and analyse the feedback, take it on board and not do it the next time.

I should qualify this post by saying I'm getting less now then when I started, so maybe word is getting out about my subbing style and people are getting less offended, I don't know.

Again, I apologise for the messy structure of this post, but I felt the need to get this stuff of my chest in a somewhat constructive manner.

I've tried to walk on eggshells, but some people just need to be told that their work in unacceptable, after all, my name is going on this publication, and any bad journalism or writing is going to associated with myself when prospective employers look at the bulletin.

Anyhow, my rant is over, and to end it, I'm going to list the top five mistakes I've seen while sub editing.

1. its/it's - Seems like they would've sorted this out in primary school, but no.

2. plurals- I'm not immune from this, and it comes up time and time again when people write about a band/group. For example, 'RATM are touring' is technically incorrect. You'd write this as 'RATM is touring'.

3. too much colour- I suspect this is from people thinking they're the next Oscar Wilde and cluttering their copy with metaphors, similies, personification and all sorts of bells and whistles, while the crux of the article suffers.

4. flowery language- People don't seem to think that writing journalism is any different from writing an academic essay sometimes.

5. judgments- When people write about a subject and seem to think they need to be an expert on the subject, so the make snap judgments. For example 'this technology is the best type ever!' indicates that the journalist is an expert has the necessary qualifications to make a judgment like that. They fucking don't. Just present the facts and let the reader make up their own minds.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What is wrong with Lord Kevin?

Only a year ago, Australia's approach to the Prime Minister was 'Bugger Off', Kevin Rudd's recent overseas trip has highlighted somewhat of a policy shift.

He began by earnestly promising that 'Australia would be a strong voice in the international community', and that made us all feel important. It harks back to the days where politicians would promise to 'put Australia on the map'.

But the 'Ruddster', the 'Ruddinator', or the 'Kevin07 express' (I don't think the media has settled on a nickname yet), has been flaunting his new government to anybody who would listen to him.

During his trip to the US, he 'jokingly' saluted George W Bush (I'm sure they enjoyed a 'short and jocular conversation' too) and the next day spoke at a progressive politics summit with Bill Clinton in attendance. I'm sure that I don't need to explain the irony.

Next, he was on his way to London, talking the weather with the Queen, where the fleet street press treated him as a shiny new toy to rave about, and he was reported to receive a 'rockstar' reception at an economics school. The fact that the majority of the audience were ex-pats went somewhat unreported by the media.

Next, he was off to China to face up to the Goliath of the 'Tibet issue', all while speaking Mandarin (OMG! He speaks Mandarin!). He was portrayed as the only world leader able to stand up to the Chinese on the Tibet issue. The fact that the Chinese were unmoved by his expert diplomacy was kinda...glossed over. The point was that he tried dammit! The Mighty Queenslander stood up to the Colossal Hu Jintao!

It seems that the honeymoon period for Kevin Rudd is far from being over. The media seem to want to worship him as their personal messiah, and the opposition hardly rate a mention in the daily news (You know, apart from Dr Nelson being Mr Popularity).

My question is this, when does the honeymoon period end? When does the current government stop blaming the actions of the Howard government for the current financial position Australia is in? It's an old trick in transitional government, but the media haven't picked up the Rudd governement for exploiting it yet.

I'm by no means a Howard fan, and I'd love to tell him where to shove that crystal bowl he got from the Evil Conservatives Club that Eat Babies. But, the ride that Kevin Rudd has gotten so far remains a joke.

So how long does the media plan on extending his honeymoon period? One year, two years, until he dies from too much arse-kissing?

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What is wrong with being a third wheel?

Okay, hear me out. This isn't going to be one of those mushy "OMG I met a girl!" type of posts, but some background is needed to tell the story.

I was finished up shooting some footage for TV Journalism when I came back to the campus to wait for my next appointment which was two hours away. In my wanderings about campus, I met somebody I knew and we got chatting. She had to meet some friends in the tavern so I decided to tag along.

So she didn't find the friends she was talking about, but found a friend, drawing. She wandered off, but I decided to stay and ask him about what he was drawing. We got to shooting the breeze, killing time when a friend of his came up and sat by us.

Then, another friend of the friend sat by us. The first two left, leaving me and an extremely cute girl to talk. As I said, this isn't going to be one of those "OMG I'm in lurv!" kind of posts.

She had strawberry blonde hair, was an english/journalism major, was into Harry Potter and Vodka Cruisers. We talked Shakespeare and feminist authors in Australian literature. As far as first conversations went, I thought it went pretty damn well, and I was so close to asking her out on the spot, but something stopped me.

Now, I'm not one of those guys who can ask a girl out cold. I've got to work myself into a state of zen and then pump myself up for days to get the nerve to ask a girl out (Yes ladies, I'm one of those cute guys who you hate because they won't make the first move).

But what ultimately made the decision not to ask her out for me was the fact that I was a random. I wasn't looking the best either, but I was just some guy she was meeting for the first time, and her friends were all about.

I guess my question is, can you ask a girl out if you're a random to her? Do you need at least a two conversation minimum to take the relationship to the next level? Is it perfectly acceptable in today's society, within an hour of meeting a girl, to say "Hey, I think you're cute and I'd love to take you out some time"?

I'm of the school that you do, but then again, I'm a pretty shy individual, despite my bravado. But what do you think? Is it polite to ask a girl out within an hour of meeting them?

P.S- I'm hoping to 'bump' into her again

P.P.S- If by any billion to one long shot you're the girl I'm talking about, come and find me. I think you're cute and would love to take you out some time.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What is wrong with birthdays?

Well, they don't make sense.

I recently turned 21, and the hoopla surrounding my 'coming of age' was quite confusing. Everywhere I went I got comments of '21 eh? That's the big one!' and 'going hard eh?', when they knew that I do not celebrate birthdays.

I haven't celebrated my birthday since I was 16. I just don't see the point of assigning a specific day to celebrate...uhh...what exactly are we celebrating when we celebrate birthdays?

Are we celebrating a certain person's existence and what they mean to us, or are we just celebrating the fact that a certain person has avoided death for a year? If we are, can't we just celebrate these achievements in our own way every day of the year?

Why do we feel the need to put all adulation aside to a specific day? I'd much more rather loved ones said "You're special to me and don't forget it" every day of the year than an overblown party on my birthday.We all need to feel special once in a while, and I don't exclude myself from this.

I've posed a lot of questions so far, but I feel I don't have the sociological background to begin to answer these questions.

For example, we all know that the birthday party is an important social ritual, but why is it? How exactly am I participating in the social order by attending or hosting a birthday party? It's just all so confusing for me, and this is why I can't bring myself to celebrate a birthday.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still wish people a happy birthday, because it's polite, but on my 'special' day, I don't want anything. No presents, no cake (the cake is a lie rofl etc.) and no parties.

Aside from the celebratory aspect of the birthday, the birthday is seen as a cursor in life.

Think about it. In the Jewish faith, once a boy hits 13, he is a man. In Australia, once we hit 18 we are an adult. Once a woman hits 40 they're over the hill.

Why do we feel the need to structure the achievements of our life around the framework of the birthday?

I for one think it's a social yearning for structure that leads us to celebrating and reflecting on certain milestone birthdays, as if we need guidance as to what to do next with our lives.

I've met plenty of 18 year olds that can not be classified as adults, and plenty of 40 year olds that can not be classified as 'over the hill', and I'm betting that you have too.

If this is the case, then does the milestone collapse on it's own flimsy structure?

In my opinion, yes dammit!

I tend to think that age can not be defined by numbers or the passing of the moon, but rather what you feel. This whole age thing is a construction of social invention, and the birthday is society's way of reinforcing this idea.

So before celebrating your next birthday, think about what you're doing, and what you're playing into by acknowledging it.

P.S- Thanks to Mel for promoting the blog, and keep on reading!