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confessions of an economic hitman

Submitted by Dax on Wed, 2009-03-18 22:06

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about this book and a good friend finally tipped the scales when she insisted I read it. I’m glad I did, it’s very interesting and I learnt a lot, but I have to say it was frustrating. When you read about all these things going on, blatant abuses of people who can’t defend themselves, you want to do something but there’s very little you can do.

I watched The Bourne Ultimatum this last weekend. When you watch a movie like that, they always unfold some top secret government plot involving assassins and other highly illegal and immoral activites. In the movies, the good guys always manage to break the story to the press and the baddies end up in court or ‘off’ themselves.

This book, is a true story about those highly illegal and immoral activities, but there is no happy ending. The perpetrators have gotten away with it and continue to get away with it. It’s very frustrating.

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fourways green market opens

Submitted by girlsprout on Mon, 2009-02-02 14:19

fourways garden pavillion green marketfourways garden pavillion green marketSaturday proved to be the perfect day for the launch of the Fourways Garden Pavilion Green Market in Johannesburg, as a week of torrential rain finally gave way to some sunshine.

After struggling to find parking in the busy Leaping Frog Centre, I was greeted by a wonderful, bustling little produce market in the nursery, with stalls selling all sorts of delicious goodies. This was the first market of its kind that I’ve been to in Jo’burg, and I found it to be an incredibly relaxing little slice of all things natural in the middle of the busy city.

The organisers wanted to keep things simple for the launch, but the variety of things on sale was very effective. There was a stall selling a wide variety of organic veggies grown on a nearby farm in Fourways, and a baked goods stall providing a host of delicious breads, croissants, brownies and other treats, which I’m told can be ordered in wheat- and gluten-free varieties.

review: fast food nation by eric schlosser

Submitted by Dax on Sun, 2009-01-11 13:55

Fast Food NationFast Food NationFast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a great book. I know it is now a documentary, but I find the book has a lot more information than a documentary generally does. I wouldn't mind watching the documentary as well, actually. My expectation of the book was very different from the reality, but I much preferred the reality (not that I wouldn't have enjoyed having my expectations met, otherwise I wouldn't have bought the book, obviously). I expected the book to focus on the usual anti-fast food themes, ie. damage to the environment, promoting unhealthy food, exploiting workers, etc. While the book does cover some of the usual issues, it spends more time addressing other issues and does a very good job of it.

The book is not an emotive tirade against the evils of fast food. It is more a well researched and factual representation of the effect of fast food on the country (America), its people and the World. The first section of the book looks at how fast food started. It's well researched and he seems to be trying to demonstrate that the intentions of the 'founding fathers' of fast food were good.

the shock doctrine by naomi klein

Submitted by Dax on Wed, 2008-12-03 17:02

I've been reading quite a lot of books lately, as with the documentaries I choose to watch, they are mostly about globalisation, consumerism and the abuse of corporate power. These things underlie most of the problems we face today, eg. poverty, pollution, hunger, climate change and waste.

While each of these books is interesting and informative, seldom do you find one book that is brilliantly written, engrossingly interesting and thoroughly researched. The Shock Doctrine is that book. I read Naomi Klein's first book, No Logo, a while ago. No Logo is widely considered to be the activist's bible and it whet my appetite for more material on the topic of the effect of corporations on our lives, as well as other related topics. No Logo is the reason I have 10 books in a pile next to my bed, waiting eagerly for their turn to be read.

What has been really interesting is how the books that I have been reading have tied into each other. Through reading books like Confessions of an Economic Hitman and Globalisation and its Discontents, I had developed an idea of what has been happening around the world in the last 50 or 60 years. However, it was The Shock Doctrine that spelled it all out plainly and simply. In fact, Naomi Klein quotes from several of the other books I have read, that is how closely linked they are.

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boiling point review

Submitted by turbosprout on Thu, 2008-11-27 17:47

Hendrik HesselmanHendrik HesselmanLeonie Joubert's new book, boiling point: people in a changing climate, gives climate change a face. Her previous book on global warming, Scorched, was also a captivating read, but with boiling point we are invited into the lives of those South Africans who stand to be most affected by our changing climate. It underscores how climate change is the most important issue of our time as it will have far reaching effects, and society's poorest will be most harshly affected.

In Red tea tales, the first chapter, we get to meet 71-year-old Hendrik Hesselman, or "Oompie Hen", who lives in the Suid-Bokkeveld, rooibos country on the West Coast. We learn how through an organic fairtrade initiative "rooibos may be his ticket to gaining the one thing that has evaded his family - a title deed." And how his livelihood is threatened by shifts in long term weather patterns.

boiling point charts the stories of West Coast fishermen (and fisherwomen!), Free State maize farmers, the Limpopo Muti queen

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a convenient truth documentary review

Submitted by Dax on Thu, 2008-11-13 12:34

This was an amazingly uplifting documentary to watch. A Convenient Truth is about a city in Brazil called Curitiba, which is one of the most livable cities in the world. They look at various aspects of the city and show how they made them not only environmentally friendly and people friendly but also without using much money. Their ideas have since been used in various cities around the world.

I won't go into great detail but here is summary of some of the things I remember. The public transport system uses buses, which have their own dedicated lanes. This results in a bus stopping at the bus stops every minute (in the CBD). It's the quickest way to get around so 60% of the people travel only by public transport. The municipality pays people who live in the favelas (like our townships) for their (separated into recyclable and non) refuse with bus tickets. This has resulted in the whole city being cleaned up by people collecting refuse to hand in for bus tickets. They also employ homeless people to sort the recyclables which are then compacted and sold. The money is used to pay the homeless people and provide them with education and training so that they can find proper employment.

superfoods raw food course review

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-11-10 13:25

I recently attended the Superfoods Elements of Health Raw Food Course after wanting to do it for some time. We've been juicing, sprouting, and making smoothies, on and off for a while now, but I was interested in taking it to a new level, and to see whether we can add more variety and interest to what we eat. There is after all only so much one can do with muesli, surely...

The course is not a cooking course, but rather an introduction to a whole new approach to doing food. If you have an interest in nutrition, want to improve your health, and still eat delicious food then this is the course for you. In short it is a mind expanding, consciousness altering kind of course - it will change the way you think about food. Peter and Beryn's positivity and passion for their subject is infectious, and because everyone attending the course has a shared interest, it makes for a great weekend of learning and interaction.

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earthlings documentary review

Submitted by Dax on Sun, 2008-10-26 23:46

This documentary has affected me. I am torn between telling people to watch Earthlings because it's important for them to know this stuff, and telling people not to watch it because it is genuinely disturbing. I closed my eyes during many scenes in the movies and I wish I had closed them more because I am haunted by the images I saw.

This movie looks at the five things we use animals for: Pets, food, clothes, medical reseach and entertainment. It then goes on to show how each of these aspects causes massive amounts of suffering for the animals which have done nothing to deserve being treated like that.

We think that keeping animals as pets is good because the animals have a good life, but for every pet that has a good life, there are many more that suffer tremendously. The conditions which puppies, etc are 'manufactured' for pet shops are appalling. Many pets are badly treated by their owners, others are abandoned. The lucky ones are euthanised, the rest are killed in less humane ways or suffer along until they die from exposure, accident or illness.

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