What constitutes “news” these days?

I honestly fear for our collective intelligence every time I hop on a “news” site. I regularly scan a few popular sites during my lunch break (or during boring meetings) and every day I am disgusted by what constitutes news.
This morning on news.com.au we have headlines like:

  • “CORPSES HANG FROM TREES”: Super Typhoon bears down on cities. This is a nice change – it is actually NEWS, in spite of the sensationalist headline
  • Sonny Bill Williams‘ new girlfriend. For those not in Australia or New Zealand Sonny Bill Williams is a talented sportsman with strengths in rugby league, rugby union and even boxing. He is celebrated in both Oz and NZ, although I personally question his values – he seems to just follow the money. NOT NEWS.
  • 12 fingered typist can’t get work. Appealing to our curiosity in all things different, this clearly was just an excuse to get a picture of a 6 fingered hand above the fold. The journalism itself is woeful. It’s impossible to ascertain whether the man is an Indian man in India or in Australia. Only that he plans to use his extra digits in the UK.

And even better tonight – JFK’s affairs wins feature article, then we have something else happening to some other rugby league player, another sensational headline about the typhoon tragedy, and of course (model) Megan Gale announcing she is up the duff. Can you believe that this publication lives under the URL news.com.au? It’s shameful. It really should be illegal.

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One of Sydney’s most popular papers, The Sydney Morning Herald, fares just a little better… Tonight we have the green light on Packer’s new casino as the feature, more on Billy Slater (previously mentioned League player), a murder that has been sparked by a love triangle (what else?) and finally something on the rescue effort in the Philippines. The headlines seem a little less sensational (although perhaps the journos were just having a bad day) and the articles generally more parochial due to the local nature of the title. Still, it hardly attacks the issues of today. And to make matters worse, they have now placed a pay wall on the site, so you can read X number of articles per month before you need to pay for the privilege. Fair enough, but where does that leave the general public? Back at news.com.au and their local rags.

Or do I have it wrong? Are the issues of today JFK’s affairs or Megan Gale’s womb?

What hope do we have but the dumbing down of our society when our newspapers publish such rubbish?

Hello, I’m back

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I haven’t written anything in a while. I was working on something, however the topic became painfully insignificant the moment I found out about a good friend’s passing. How ironic that my last post before that sad day had been about grief… I guess I jinxed myself.

My musings on everyday life just seemed so trivial, so inconsequential, even frivolous in comparison to big ticket items like Syria, like the bushfires, and my friend’s passing. How could I go on commenting on such stupid things when there were such big things going on in the world? When little girls are losing their mother, and good good men are losing the love of their lives?

I was a bit shy after that. I guess I just needed some time to work through the loss, and to realise that my little things are important after all. My little observations are the way I process the world, and by and large, are what I use to stay smiling. I am not the first person to lose a friend, and this will not be the last time it happens. Life goes on.

So after a break of a few months I think I’m ready to get back into it. I might even be able to write about the grief soon. Not today, but soon. Watch this space.

Grief is a funny thing. Except it isn’t.

To date I’m pretty lucky in that I haven’t lost many close to me, however I know some pretty special people who have. Being once removed means that you do feel the sadness and loss, however for me half the tears are for my friends. My heart aches for them, I sob for them and I think about them long after the dust settles. As an outsider I’m not sure whether it’s right to reach out to let them know I’m still thinking about them in case I upset them more. For those that have love and lost, please know that there are people that would love to be there when the grief overwhelms. We’re just quietly waiting in the wings.

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You can go for days, weeks, months with no episodes. You are back to life as usual, feeling like you did the hard work to adjust to your new normal. Usually this new normal is a rearranged normal, a normal that for a time at least, is meant to cover a gaping hole in your life. A deceased mother or father. A failed marriage, perhaps.

And then, suddenly, usually in a very inconvenient and unexpected place, grief washes over you as a wave.  Almost a literal wave, because you’re knocked off guard and it’s just there. Over you, under you, holding you down. You have to remind yourself to breathe.

It sounds a bit melodramatic, but I think if you’re a person who feels deeply (and even if you’re not), chances are grief strikes in similar fashion. It’s one of the great equalizers. CEOs and factory workers may live in…

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Random question: What is infidelity?

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A couple of weeks ago a was chatting to a friend of mine about infidelity.  I’m not certain how it came up really, but this friend and I often end up in some pretty deep philosophical discussion. I think we were talking about break ups in general and then somehow we came to cheating and what that actually means.

Where does the cheating actually start? Is it when you start thinking about someone other than your chosen partner? When you start flirting together? The first time you kiss? Or is the line sex?

It seems I might have a pretty “relaxed” view on cheating, most probably due to the fact that I have never been cheated on, nor have I cheated. Having not suffered as a result of infidelity I tend to take quite a clinical approach to the definition.

I, like pretty much the rest of the world, draw a hard line at sex and other sexual activity. I don’t care if the other person didn’t mean anything. We all know that lust is more likely to be the trigger of infidelity than love. I don’t care if it was only oral sex, or if you had your clothes on or if it wasn’t in missionary. It’s sex with someone who is not your partner, so unless you have a specific agreement, it’s all cheating and therefore it’s all wrong.

Kissing is also a definite line, although I have to admit that, for now, that line seems to be just slightly lighter. It’s a definite betrayal, and I’m sure that if this kiss came to be I’d be devastated. But for some reason, I can kind of see how an “accidental” kiss can happen. You know the story: guy and girl having a drink at a work conference or something. They’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company, they’re drunk and flirty, they look into each others eyes… By no means am I excusing the kiss – it’s NOT okay. Ever.

Flirting can be quite innocent – it’s often opportunistic and can just be a bit of fun. However beware if you’re emotionally available and attracted to the other person – flirting could be the start of something bigger. It’s when the flirting continues, and morphs into a relationship that the line starts to get fuzzy. The relationship could still be innocent, right? We all need friends and confidantes. But is it okay to confide about your marital issues to someone you’re attracted to? Maybe. Maybe not. What about if you start to lie to your partner about seeing that person, or you start to hide the evidence? I’ll give some points to the offender(s) for having the self control not to take it to the next level. However even if there is no physical contact, it’s a slippery slope to betrayal.

The physical stuff is pretty easy – lines drawn. It’s the non-physical stuff that is harder – flirting, flirty texts and emails, internet relationships. These activities don’t fall into your traditional definitions of cheating, and although at this stage I’m putting them in the not cheating pile, they may not entirely be free of fault. Depending on circumstance and emotional state these actions may mean more trouble than physical adultery. It’s when love can form.

What I learned about myself watching my first fight night

The other night I attended my very first live fight…

Anyone who knows me would think that was out of character – I’m not your average blood sport kinda gal. But I was there to support a couple of (unrelated) mates who were part of a reality type internet show called Wimp2Warrior.  You know the type, where they take your average Joe from off the street, train them in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) for 6 months or so, and then set them out to fight against each other. And from hundreds of applicants from all around Australia, I happen to know two! How could I not go?

I can honestly say I was a bit apprehensive. I had seen a few snippets of fights on TV (as my bro is your average blood sport enthusiast) and it was a bit gory for my liking. The sound of a punch hitting skin is not really one of my favourite sounds, and these nutcases are so determined not to “tap out” that quite often broken and dislocated limbs are the only things that stop the fights. And having to watch two people you actually know stepping into the cage… That’s just a different story. Luckily for me they weren’t fighting against each other, despite being in the same weight division.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself hoarse after the first round from yelling –
“Go Adz!”
“Kick him!”
“Elbows!”

Adz in the ring

Adz (blue) in the ring

Granted I’d had a beverage or two, but there I was bellowing at the top of my lungs, telling a friend to hurt someone else! And it didn’t end there. I screamed my support right up until the point he tapped out (guillotine move apparently), then picked 2 strangers to go for before cheering my little heart out for my other friend, Vaughan (who also lost in a split decision by a single point). It was thrilling, it was stressful but I was having a grand old time.

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Vaughn (left) waiting to hear the points decision

After we left the event my hubby and I were discussing how weird it was that I had gotten so into it. Maybe it was the personal connection? No, that wasn’t it because it took me no time at all to find some strangers to support. Maybe I’m just a sports supporter – I love watching a bit of rugby, a bit of tennis, and I’ve been known to yell a few words of support. But “kick him”?! Or maybe I was a blood sport kinda gal…

I started thinking about the ancient Roman gladiators. I always thought it was disgusting that people would go and watch people fight to the death. Sometimes they had the power to affect whether the gladiators got to live or die, and it was not uncommon for them to vote for a death. Would I have been one of those people, one who would get so caught up in the atmosphere that I’d vote for an execution? I can be so self-righteous sometimes, and I like to think my values and ethics are first class. I had really caught myself out.

I still can’t explain the inner blood nut that I seemed to awaken the other night, but I guess I knew that they’d never let anyone get really hurt – if anyone looked like they were in serious trouble the trainers would throw in the towel. Despite the production value of the Wimp 2 Warrior finale, and the fact that I personally knew two of the competitors, being there live actually felt more disconnected than watching it on TV. You’re further away, you can’t hear any of the noises going on in the ring, and you have a cage between you and the fighters. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So for now I’ll take comfort in the fact that I still get grossed out by watching MMA fights on TV. Surely that means that the ancient Roman Cat didn’t get caught up in the hysteria and send gladiators to their death!

NB: I’d like to give a special shout out to Vaughan and Adz. I cannot imagine how hard you boys trained for those 6 months (although I’m about to see on the show!) and how much courage it would have taken for you to step out in that ring knowing that no matter what you’re going to be hurting the next day. Well done – absolutely incredible stuff.