Posts Tagged ‘China’

The marvel of the life-giving cabbage roll.

June 6, 2017

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It seems the privilege of the old to shamelessly bore endlessly the young with tales of the past. We already know of my parental desperations when claiming not to know ‘where on earth did Gerard come from?’ It is of little consolation now that my little boy search for my real parents by scanning sea’s horizon did not bear much results. No boat with my real parents ever appeared. I just had to reconcile myself with going home with wet shoes and accept the ones who at times seemed to disown me.

Another one of those memories refusing to lay down are those of a more edible kind. The war-time cabbage. I am here now because of the humble cabbage. Towards the end of the war it was the most covetous food item in my birth-city of Rotterdam. Even today, when I try and light the gas stove, the smell of the escaping unlit gas reminds me of war and my mother’s search for food. About the only food that could be had, if one was lucky, were cabbages.

It was during pensively resting in my fauteuil yesterday that one of those fleeting memories came to the befuddled fore. Heaven knows why they appear? I decided to try and make cabbage rolls. Helvi too became quite enthusiastic.  Some month ago there was a rather elaborate Baltic & Polish food sale on at Aldi’s. We discovered a huge jar of pickled cabbage leaves and a culinary inspiration got to us suddenly. We took it home and put the jar to rest amongst the Dutch Herrings and Italian tinned tomatoes. Occasionally I would stare at this jar of cabbage leaves and would proffer to make something of it, but both decided to relegate this delicacy for consumption to a future date. The cabbage leaves all looked so pale and withered all drowned in the vinegar.  I was happy to notice that the vinegar was an honest marinade and just that, and not the dreaded Balsamic version. The best thing it had going for it was the fact it was imported from Macedonia. Macedonia has such an exotic almost melodic ring to it. All those vowels.

Of course, cabbages is what used to make the world go round. From China through Russia and Europe, including Great Britain. What would England be without their beloved cold cabbage, consumed while standing up in a draft? The Koreans make the five-star Kimchee. A soul food if ever there was.

One only has to visit the old Eastern European towns and cities, where through the centuries of cabbage-food cooking, the very stucco, bricks and ancient cellars of the streets are impregnated with this pungent smell of the cabbage. Who has not walked through old Vienna or Budapest not to smell this delectable vegetable permeated into the very soul of these so musical societies. The very waltzes of Johann Strauss were  conceived after generous ingestion of cabbage.

So, yesterday I finally opened this large jar. Helvi remembered she made the humble cabbage roll many years ago. It is made from raw minced beef mixed with whatever one wants to mix together with a handful of boiled rice. She urged me not to overdo it with spices. ‘Just try and be a bit subtle this time, don’t muck it up,’ she urged kindly, but with some authority and deep husband knowledge.

I followed her urgings but when I momentarily and in a latent fit of wild adventurism thought of Kimchee I chucked in a small quantity of chilli flakes. The whole mixture was then kindly wrapped into the jar-released cabbage leaves. It filled the entire baking dish with two neat rows of nine each, totalling a rather large quantity of eighteen rolls.  With its red-coloured tomato marinade it looked very beautiful and enticing. Enough for an entire Austrian regiment.

After baking and allowed ‘to rest’ I made a nice dish of mashed potatoes and spinach. It was a nice dish but the chilli made the rolls too hot and spicy. I should not have added it. Helvi heartily agreed that I had mucked it up a bit.

‘When will you ever learn to contain yourself and not overdo things?‘ She said, adding. ‘Where do you come from?’

 

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Violins and French Polish

January 2, 2015
Cupboard after French Polish.

Cupboard after French Polish.

A good violin player knows his/her instrument better than he does his or her toothbrush. So does the French polisher. It seems a ridiculous statement, but let’s examine it. Of course, the latter does not necessarily play a musical instrument but applies art just the same as the former. There are more details than just intimate knowledge of their toothbrushes that are similar.

The violin produces sound by vibrations caused by the bow made of horsehair striking or moving across strings suspended above a wooden soundbox. We all know that. However, the sound produced by horsehair strung across the bow needs a certain ingredient called ‘rosin’. This gives a certain resistance when striking across the strings of the instrument. You would be hard pushed to get a sound out without first having ‘rosined’ the bow’s hairs. Note the verb ‘to rosin’! Rosin is a solid substance mainly obtained from the resin of pine trees. I am fairly sure that a musician, especially a good one, knows how to direct his wishes onto the instrument just as much as being obedient to the instrument after sound has been produced. As always, a give and take in the kitchen of any creative act.

It seems odd that despite the violin being such a great and popular instrument, most of the great 19th and 20th composers have written just one violin concerto for this instrument. e.g, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Chaikovski, Dvorak, Elgar, Sibelius, Bartok. ( From Wiki)

Personally, I think Sibelius violin concerto the greatest piece of music ever written. I know it is a bit heavy and like most of his work, steeped in all things Finnish. You can indeed see the frozen sixty thousand lakes skirted by birch and spruce laden with snow. The melancholic and endless winter nights, but also the warm springs and loganberry filled summers, the simple and all artful that is Finland.

Here it is:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbrRAgv1b4

Let’s now go to the French Polisher and his art. I rattled on of resin for the bows of violins and other similar instruments. The French Polisher also uses a kind or resin called shellac. It also comes from trees but is actually produced by a beetle which deposits its excrement onto trees. Typically it is only the female beetle that does this. I don’t know why, perhaps it is supposed to lure the male. I would not be surprised seeing how many females stop at nothing to get a mate, even if it means the poor old male gets stuck on the resin and cark it. Anyway, this resin deposited on trees by the female lac bug in India, Thailand and China produces the major ingredient for shellac. Shellac when mixed with spirits is mainly used for French Polishes and food glazes.

Like a good violin player giving direction and responding to the instrument so does the French polisher direct and respond to his pad soaked in shellac. The shellac gives it the sheen but applying it makes for a certain drag or resistance like the rosin on the violin’s bow. It is an art of getting a ‘feel’ of just enough pressure on the timber surface, enough drag to leave behind the desired honey coloured sheen. Not enough or too much pressure and it fails to glorify. Applied too fast or too slow and it will not happen either, at best giving a mediocre result. It does need a bit more than experience to obtain a feel for this form of art. I suppose it is like that with all things creative.

A feeling and expressing it, giving it form.

I am not sure about the reference to toothbrushes. I am no Violin player, but can do a bit of French Polish.

IKEA aided by the generous sprinkling of the humble Umlaut

July 18, 2012

We had heard rumors that IKEA at Tempe near the airport was magic. Friends of ours told us via Face-book they had bought an entire kitchen there. He had loaded up his large SUV vehicle with 6 trolleys of flat-packs and that it even included the hexagonal Allen key. He confessed he was exhausted afterwards. It had been a big day.

We needed a lamp shade after having bought one from Aldi. The Aldi lamp shade came also in a flat pack and with a tiny Allen key as well. It was made of stainless steel tubing that would slide into one and other to form the stand. On the picture it showed a lovely curved shade that would, because of its curved steel tubing and shape, hover over the reader and his or her book while its stand was modestly kept behind the chair or, as in our case, behind the comfy settee. After assembly on the carpeted floor it looked a bit strange and the curve was far greater than anticipated. Also, because of the canter-levered construction, the lamp would totter and hesitate, could hardly keep itself upright and threaten to topple over at any moment. To counter this, I put a small piece of wood under the stand. It now tilted the opposite way.  After looking at it for a few weeks we thought it was too ridiculous. Hence our plan to visit that Mecca of interiors, the IKEA store at Tempe and buy a ‘good’ one. It would be Swedish and therefore good.

We left Bowral on a bright sunny day. We had driven past this IKEA some months before and had even flown over it. You could not miss its blue and yellow, so sternly Swedish with hints of Ingmar Berman’s ‘seven seals’. The position is perfect on a busy highway and right next to the airport. The import of flat packs (from China) could almost be parachuted right to the front door or even onto the roof. The over- flying aircraft are so close you can see the rivets in their metal coverings and stroppy standing passengers hauling their luggage from the over-head compartments.

When going to its entrance one is already greeted by the first umlauts and strange Swedenised Anglo words. The shopper softens up, bulging with pride being introduced to a foreign language.  After entering a massive cathedral like entrance space we half expected a moody Max Von Sydow to greet us. No such luck though.

There were young girls handing out oversize and brightly coloured yellow bags. The large bag had us stumped. What was this for? We felt a bit silly. We noticed everyone going up the elevator all had those large empty yellow bags. Surely it would not be possible to put a bed or chair in it. Once upstairs we joined a throng of other shoppers going through a vast maze like area of endless beds, settees and completely fitted out rooms with a décor of items all ladled with umlauted names and price tags. There was so much of it, a dizzying choice. I felt overcome but noticed many of the comfy chairs had already been taken up by elderly people like myself, overcome and freaked out. (With and umlaut)

We shuffled on hoping to see a suitable lamp stand. At what price a well lit reading enjoyment? This Tempe IKEA is so large and so full of Sweden and its China produced umlauted articles, it must be tempting not to book the hotel next door and take a couple of weeks to see it all.

With dehydration setting in and a spell of agoraphobia we needed to make a quick resolution. Out! Of course with the planes roaring overhead ever thirty seconds or so counter blasted with equally loud music, many shoppers just get on with the business of filling those yellow bags. It transpired there are many kinds of objects that one is tempted to buy. Tea-light candles for example. Two hundred for just $ 4.99. Who can resist? Put them in the bag. Packets of Swedish tissues or napkins put them in the bag. Tea-pots with a name dual vowelled and umlauted; in the bag!  Swedish embroidered shopping bags, 6 for $ 19.90; in the yellow bag!

We found, after an exhausting two hours our lampshade, all in a small flat pack; in the yellow bag. We made it to the exit, emptied our yellow bag. I noticed IKEA catered for the exhausted shopper. There was a huge eating area. They were selling frankfurters on a roll for just one $1.-

I was dragged away. Back to Bowral. I sat on the carpet and assembled our new shade stand. Perfect! Thank you Sweden. (China)

Idealism in Chaos ( A Greek Tragedy)

May 15, 2012

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Another big fall in world markets, billions will be wiped off and Greece is tottering on the brink of total economic collapse. Good morning!

Some European countries which were supposed to be examples of how society ought to distribute wealth more equitable are now being lined up to fall like a row of dominoes set up on the dining table of good and well intentioned but un- equitable sharing of the rich Euro baked pork dish with crackling good social security till the grave.

What went wrong? Was it the apple sauce?

The answer might well come from the dining table itself. The excessive ladling out of all those goodies without balancing it to an equal generous increase in taxation revenue was always dodgy. The expenditure didn’t match the income. A classic case of economic delusion that one can live beyond means was always a premier lesson at the kindergarten of economics. If you keep scooping the sand out the sandbox will finally be empty.

The lure of getting more with less income seemed to have overtaken the world of capitalism. Election after election the sound economic principles of setting expenditure to income was eroded away. The voters swallowed it like marsh-mellows on a stick held above the fire of greed and avarice. Right wing governments took over with the promise of more for less and we were all seduced by this ugly Judas kiss. And look at us now? Will there be blood on the streets once again?

With Portugal and Spain queuing up after Greece with youth unemployment at a staggering fifty percent it seems to be hovering on a similar precipice into economic collapse.

In Australia we keep rubbing hands together with glee in how we seemed to have escaped the GFC turmoil with our scooping up of mineral resources. In the process we seem to forget that this is due to luck much more than sound economics. Take out China, and we too would be lining up at soup-kitchens.

Are we too taken in by the lure of more for less? Notice the upheaval in the suggestion of raising taxation on our resource mining companies. Notice how the Three hot headed Musketeers of our resource companies have taken on Australia and its citizens daring to utter getting paid a fair share of the economic resource pie. Notice too, how the principal of taxing those that defile our environment is fought against tooth and nail. Millions are being spent in advertisement opposing this very sound and principled way of making the environment spoilers pay for it. We too are cruising for a bruising being taken in by the fairy floss of more for less.

At least in Europe there seems to be a return to the left with new governments willing to find a solution in bringing the rich back to the kitchen table of give and take.  In France, the rich will have to pay much more tax and many are questioning how anyone should have more than they can possibly need. Capitalism has gone berserk and the masses are paying for the sins of the rich. The poor, for too long have been denied a share for which they have worked just as hard as the rich, which, in the majority of cases inherited the wealth enabling them, with the regimes of lower and lower taxation, to keep on exploiting handy taxation loopholes and fattening themselves on the pork crackling of lenient taxation laws.

It is not for nothing that the collapsing economic capitalist world is looking anew at Scandinavia. They were always looked at askance and with suspicion. How could a taxation regime of over fifty percent continue to thrive giving its citizens a world of social welfare that would sooner or later end in total collapse and disaster? Well, the Scandinavians did not and now seem to own the only beacon of light and insight in perhaps having a solution for those countries on the brink of economic disaster.

We should perhaps look anew at those prophets of lower taxation being the only way forward. Just look how, with the new budget, we have delayed Foreign Aid? We have the top three wealthiest in our society owning over 30 billion. Or is it 40 billion now?

How just is our society and how moral when we can’t support foreign aid anymore and at the same time support not raising taxation for the obscene wealthy?

Our nocturnal history.

May 3, 2012

Strange horizontal habits.

Oddly enough, in the evening there is that same reluctance but in reverse to return back to the horizontal position. It must be sheer laziness to get changed. I often wonder about the ritual of changing uniforms just in order to close eyes and have a nocturnal rest. Surely our eyes don’t depend on a change of clothes in order to sleep. The word pyjama comes from the Persian word پايجامه (Peyjama meaning “leg garment”), and was incorporated into the English language during British Raj through the Hindustani which was the progenitor language of modern-day Urdu and Hindi.

Apparently the pajama or pyjama originally was just a loose fitting garment with a draw string at the front, worn by both sexes and used during the day as well as during the night. When they speak of the ‘good old times’, I do sympathize with at least that very sensible and handy mode of dressing. Can you imagine just sauntering into your boudoir, lie down and sleep soundly, without the tediousness of undressing one mode of fashion and then dress up again into the other one? It is strange, especially considering it will be dark and no one can see you.

I have always felt a reluctance to get undressed and then dressed again just in order to go horizontal. I am only having these thoughts because of my previous few words about how so many mattresses end up on the street. There is obviously something going on in our cultures related to sleep or other activities that calls for horizontal positions. In the past everything was so much more sensible but nowadays all is geared towards consumption. We do not re-use bottles or nappies for instance. We use things once and then chuck it. Perhaps that’s how it has become with mattresses. After every move or new partner we just chuck out the old one and buy another mattress.

In those olden times and especially in cultures more sensible than ours, pajamas were often worn as comfort wear with bare feet and sometimes without underwear allowing all to be aired and swing around free range. Even more sensible was that those garments became fashionable statements and even today, especially in China, it is not unusual to see, in the afternoon and evening, entire families wearing their pajamas in public going shopping, dining out etc.

Of course, in censorious UK, the Tesco supermarket started to ban pajama clad families from shopping and a local Dublin branch of the Department of social security also banned pajamas. It was just not regarded proper attire when attending the offices of ‘social welfare’ for family assistance.

This all brings me back to one of our own social habits now steeped in distant history. It was the phenomenon of the ‘curler habits’. Do we still remember those days whereby everyone, especially women, used to wear curlers before going to bed? They were plastic rollers that hair used to be wound around and the many protrusions on those rollers made sure the hair remained tight. A plastic bag would then be placed around the head and plugged into electricity which resulted in hot air being blown around inside the bag and around the many rollers and hair.  Love making was strictly verboten while the hair was subjected to this hot air treatment and many a husband would get the message when the ‘curlers came out’. On the way to the Locomotive Work Shop, next morning, Bernie would ask Ernie; ‘did you get any last night?’ ‘No, curler night’ was the curt answer as he heaved a big sigh.

It was a bitter historical period much better forgotten

The safer Chinese Umbrella

April 2, 2012

It is rather intriguing why we would feel so happy to have America’s defense force positioning itself inside Australia’s territory. It seems bizarre and frightening to have a nation’s armed forces, much better known for guns, warring and fighting than for peace, within our borders. I have yet to learn about China’s involvement in any wars around the globe. Where is the rationale that we should fear the East, while America’s drones are flying around bombing terrorist suspects at random?

I am surprised that no article has a yet appeared on the ABC’s Drum questioning the wisdom to do so. There almost seemed to be an air of jubilant acceptance about it. A nice strip on a Cocos Island has been eyed off for drones to be used. It was all taken in our stride. Could we not have stayed out of this alliance involving troops and drones on our soil? What will our neighbors think of us? They might well close the curtains even tighter.

I know that China is economically invading the world but we are not against that at all, in fact we love to sell them anything we can dig up. No probs. There seems to be an accepted belief that America will forever be the savior of the world, a kind of almost omnipotent force of good and benevolence. The evidence coming from the locals in Afghanistan is less lofty in their praise for America’s spreading of sweetness and goodness…

Surely, the best option is not to have any foreign troops on our soil. But…, if we must, would it not be more logical to invite the Chinese to grace our shores with their presence. Surely, with their proven record not to get involved so easily into the world’s trouble spots it would serve us much better. There would be less chance of us getting involved in useless fighting at the drop of a hat.

America has an obsession with safeguarding the world from itself, and at the same time ensuring that our soldiers continue risking their lives in areas too far for our own good. What threat has Iraq or Afghanistan ever posed to Australia?

We now are almost incapable of looking after the casualties of all that fighting. A report on our treatment on refugees could not be starker in how we failed even in providing the most basic care. Over five hundred children in detention. What have they done? We are lucky that no one has mentioned ‘The Hague’ yet. There is still time though.

The UNHCR has often mentioned our inhumane treatment of refugees and the indigenous. Last week Chris Bowen was trying to bumble his way through Emma Alberici questioning of our appalling and dreadful treatment of refugees. He was still defending it. Even Asio admitted that identity checks can be done in most cases within a few days. So, why detention for over a year?

The reason it seems: so that the message will go back to those refugee countries. “Think twice before coming here”. “We will detain you and treat you so badly that you’ll rue the day your leaky boat ever landed near Australia.

Australia has now achieved that dubious distinction. It is the last country of choice by refugees. Some distinction, isn’t it? We finally achieved it. How utterly devoid of humanity we have become.

No, I think we should invite our friendly China to consider landing to our North. I am sure they would in no time develop it into a very lively, friendly and prosperous part of our continent. With all that water about, the NT would soon be a food basket for the hundreds of millions surrounding us. That’s right; we could, with Chinese ingenuity become the bread basket of Asia.

Food instead of drones.

The Rage of a Man

February 26, 2012

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Now that millions have watched the video clip of ex Prime Minister K. Rudd exploding in not finding the right words to translate something in Chinese, we might try attempt understand why men seem to lose the plot so much more than women. I am talking about this uncontrolled Nikita Khrushchev-like blind desk thumping rage, not the kind of nagging anger that perhaps some women are better skilled at.

Is it all due to sex and hormones?

No-one expected him to be perfect at his job, but that so ‘losing it’ over such a seemingly trivial matter is not all that uncommon by men. The travel by men away from wife can’t be easy on the marital conjugals, can it? Can we still not remember Fraser and his early morning wandering around the American Hotel lobby sans pants some years ago? What a plight he found himself in! What a sweet story that was. Still, he never was caught having a blind rage. He made amends ever since, not least by having resigned his Liberal Party membership. Which ex Australian PM can boast that achievement?

This blind rage is why, they, us men, wage war. War is nothing much more than massive lemming-like collective going totally over the board raving nuts by fruitcake men. How can killing make life better?

Now, women generally don’t make war and rarely suffer from blind desk-thumping rage. However, it is not uncommon that just prior to their monthly hormone changes they can get quite stroppy and are known to even have committed murder. Indeed, a defense on those hormonal grounds is sometimes still taken in consideration. There have been cases where PMS has proven to have turned women in behaving like raving mad animals. Part of the acquittal of a woman of a serious crime was that she had to undertake a strict regime of Court ordered progesterone treatment. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/previous%20series/proceedings/1-27/~/media/publications/proceedings/16/easteal2.pdf

One woman had stopped taking the Court ordered hormonal medication and within days hurled a brick through a window. She again used her hormonal imbalance successfully to be acquitted once again.

While men are at the mercy of producing millions of restless and angry sperms every second 24/7, (year in and year out), all of those millions of aggressive squirming desperate sperms are meant to get ejected outside or inside somewhere, let’s not forget women are just as subject to their physical and hormonal proclivities as well. Are they also not held at ransom by their, just as volatile, ovaries?  However, the business of ovaries is only monthly and during pregnancy even gets a bit of a well earned holiday. While with men it is often vented through blind raging Victa-lawnmower pull starting fury and hopelessly losing the plot.

We men can’t just make wars or stand above the hand-basin wanking day and night, can we?

My poor rich Country

February 24, 2012

 

There are riots in Greece and a ruckus in the Ukraine, terrible events in Syria, a possible overthrow kept at bay in the Philippines. The tribes in Yemen are getting restless; the € euro is wildly gyrating at the mercy of Merkel. Will she kiss or just shake hands with the obstinate Nicolas Sarkozy? Europeans are all bleary eyed, keyed up with tension and Common Market constipation, millions suffering intermittingly serious bouts of intestinal hurry. Some desperate Italians are said to be holed up in caves sitting on hoards of gold.

But, where are the problems in Australia?

Are the butchers running out of T-bones or have the rules of cricket been changed. Don’t tell me the Friday night bingo has been scrapped, the meat raffle banned, cows off their milk? All of a sudden, with not as much as a single seething university student or a hyped up history professor, Australia has gone terribly hormonal. When everything is rolling around in total peace and everyone happily tucked in bed, an ex PM decides at midnight’s hollow chime to chuck it in and go for the Government’s jugular. The bells are tolling, heads are rolling, and tongues are wagging. We are having a serious political breakdown and the whole nation is gone troppo with all the excitement of a coup d’état at the Dungog local ladies bowling club.

This country is, according to almost everyone in the rest of the world, the prime example of a well run economy. Our treasurer even won an award for being the best. We are whooping it up as never before. Mountains of iron ore, together with shiploads of the top few hundred metres of the Australian continent is scraped, sold, and shipped to China. We are all getting rich without even having to be on the boat to China and risk sea sickness. Isn’t it nice to be so well off? Our McMansions are the biggest in the world. Anyone visiting us can’t get over our lovely acreages of rolling suburbs stretching out over those enticing blue hills into the ‘never never’. The Rosella circuits with triple garages to boot, all dress- circled around those flowing round-a-bouts are the envy of the world.

Could it possibly be a personal vendetta that is now holding our sweet nation of Australia at ransom? Have souls been so deeply hurt, almost irreparably, that forgiveness can never be achieved without first hurling wreckage at an entire nation? How could this ever happen to a country known for its people being easy going, tolerant and full of bonhomie? Why the vindictiveness and allow the screaming of the indignant cries of having been personally wronged overpower all and obliterate all the previously achieved good-will and public achievements? How can the personal be put so above the good for the country. Where is the common sense in all this? Is this what power finally does to the person?

No matter how we look at it, Australia has achieved milestones since the last election. Acres of Legislation have been passed, mountains moved and all was going well. Are mere egos now wrecking a political party? How far are politicians willing to go to pursue their narcissistic ambitions above those of their party and constituents? Of course, the media, as ever sniffing around for blood, has been shoveling manure to the max, holding a knife at our Nation’s throat while doing the bidding for those large overfed mining moguls with the help of the shock jock’s blood hound expertise. Has anyone seen the headlines? An orgy of self destruction, and to what end and where are the benefits for this rich and poor country of mine?

How far are any of us from being a Bashar al-Assad?

 

They work till they drop.

February 8, 2012

They stand until their legs swell and they can’t walk, and they perform repetitive motions on the production line for so long that some permanently lose the use of their hands

According to the New York Times, that’s what life is like for people working at a factory in Shenzhen, China, where Apple manufactures iPhones, iPads and other devices. To cut costs, managers even make workers use cheap chemicals that cause neurological damage.

Apple is hyper-conscious of its brand and reputation — so after this unprecedented international scrutiny, they’re scrambling to persuade the world they care about their employees. There’s never been a better time to demand Apple look after its employees.

Mark Shields, a self-described member of the “cult of Mac,” started a global petition on Change.org demanding Apple exert its influence on its suppliers to improve working conditions — click here to sign Mark’s petition right now.

Conditions are so bad, that there has been a rash of suicides at the Foxconn plant, and 300 workers recently threatened to jump off the roof over a safety and pay dispute.

In short, as one former Apple executive told the New York Times“Most people would be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.”

But Apple knows it can play an important role in ensuring safe and fair working conditions for the workers at its suppliers, like Foxconn. Since 2005, the company has performed hundreds of audits of their Chinese suppliers — exposing numerous violations.

But that’s where Apple’s commitment falters: the number of supplier violations has held steady year to year and Apple hasn’t consistently publicly stated which suppliers have problems or dropped offending suppliers.

Click here to sign Mark’s petition demanding Apple change the way it does business.

The bottom line, Apple executives admit, is that they’re not being forced to change.

One current executive told the New York Times that there’s a trade-off: “You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories,” he said, or you can “make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards.

And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.”

That means public pressure is the only thing that can force Apple to ensure its suppliers treat workers humanely. If enough people sign Mark’s petition — and tell Apple they care more about human beings than they do about how fast the company can produce the next generation iPhone — the company could be convinced to make real change for the workers at Foxconn and other factories. Sign the petition now.

Thanks for being part of this,

Nick and the Change.org team

A furtive glance at Socialism

April 13, 2011

A furtive glance at Socialism

 

.May we just ponder what Trotsky said back in 1937 and Quote:

But all those for whom the word ‘Socialism’ is not a hollow sound but the content of their moral life – forward! Neither threats nor persecutions nor violations can stop us! Be it even over our bleaching bones the future will triumph! We will blaze the trail for it. It will conquer! Under all the severe blows of fate, I shall be happy as in the best days of my youth; because, my friends, the highest human happiness are not the exploitation of the present but the preparation of the future.”

— Leon Trotsky, ‘I Stake My Life’, opening address to the Dewey Commission, 9 February 1937 [60][61]

We know that the Socialist-Communist system of workers getting a fair share of the pie didn’t quite work out. The pie grew fatter and richer but the portions were still unequal. There wasn’t any tom- sauce with it either. Some did not get any pie.  The mean Stalin and his gulags with Siberian winters and the Babushkas wheel barrowing the frozen bodies of sons and husbands out of trenches were not the rewards that Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) promised the world’s peasants while he was roaming around London during 1902-1906. Nor did the highly idealistic Trotsky envisage coming to his end with an ice pick embedded in his brain many years later.

The failure of communism has been expanded upon by many historians, writers and students of political science. The general idea was that Russia would get rid of its Czars and that its long suffering peasantry would rise up, change and revolutionize the status quo. The poor would gain their share and the rich lose much of their share. They would finally chuck off the shackles of the Czar’s imposed grinding poverty, be given plots of land and everybody would share. The hammer and sickle, a symbol of the alliance of workers and peasants finally bringing riches and tickets to freedom.

 The idea was noble but the execution of it was marred by wars and power struggles between those that meant well and those that didn’t. The result was the inevitable implosion of the ideals matched with an equal rise of opportunistic tyrants. The whole sorry saga of its failure was due to infighting and relentless squabbling by those seeking power and control. The counter revolution against the proletariat was taken over by power hungry future proletarians. And so it went.   

In another part of the world, freedom of expression and the right to rewards for individual efforts were being trail blazed by T-ModelFord,Socialism,cowboys on horses and cowboys behind the wooden steering wheels of T-.Model Fords. Westinghouse fridges soon followed. Everybody was also given the freedom of a gun to protect all that hard-won glorious liberty as well.

 God bless America. Land that I love, Stand beside her, and guide her…To the oceans, white with foam…My home sweet home

. And so on… And America kept on dreaming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Bless_America

 Millions still believe that today, but many more are getting a bit skeptical as well. Despite its Constitution enshrined freedom and the protection of that by gun and law, there are more prisons in the US than universities, more incarcerations per capita than anywhere in the world. America’s poverty is growing, expressed by the millions living in the over 35000 trailer parks and even more millions of sick and disabled without a health insurance.

Can we still say that democracy and capitalism is working in the US and other developed countries? Is it still the success it was so enthusiastically touted many years ago, today? Globally, there are signs that the promised wealth is getting bigger but into fewer and fewer hands. Somewhere I read that some individuals are so rich, they own as much as the GDP of entire countries. In fact, many probably own entire countries.

The level of poverty in many undeveloped countries is as bad as ever. Millions still have to walk for miles to get a bucket of water or scrape together enough food to keep their children from dying. The idea of rewards for individual efforts doesn’t seem to have spread to those.

In Australia the richest man now owns more than he could possibly ever spend or use up, even if he ate stone crabs at $60.- a claw, for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a 1952  Grange Hermitage  (at $ 12.500 a 375mls bottle) and drove a brand new Ferrari every day.

 What’s more, his riches have come compliments of resources that I thought belonged to Australia and therefore to all of us. How can that be right? This single individual could supply Australia’s entire Mental Health budget at present about 100 million a year for the next 40 years. That’s just one individual’s wealth against tens of thousands of sufferers with Mental Health problems for forty years. How did the spreading of goodies pan out in such an unfair manner>.

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3164029.htm

Let’s not be jealous, but the top 10 wealthiest in Australia now have a kitty of over $27 Billion. Could we reflect also, that the richest man was also the most vocal in opposing the resource tax not long ago? A bit rich, don’t you reckon?  The latest sad news for the majority of those on wages and paying fair taxation is that there is a promise in the air by the present Government for the big companies to even pay less taxation in the future. Hoorah, I can hear the top ten richest roar in unison; pop the champagne once more…

Is there an answer to this seemingly endless inequality in sharing that which we all own?

 The second largest economy, China, seems to have propelled its population to a better life for hundreds of millions astonishingly fast. Yet, it has achieved this as a Communist country with a Communist Government. The people seem happy; they talk on mobiles, wear jeans and go to nightclubs. Sure, there are issues of human rights. We have our human rights abuses as good as anywhere. The unresolved, year in year out struggle we have dealing with boat people at detention and ex-army camps, the plight of indigenous people. The UNHCR points this out repeatedly. The US was no saint with the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the ongoing Guantanamo Bay detention camp with over two hundred people still languishing without trial for years. We are on shaky grounds if we cast stones or call for black kettles to Communist China on that ground.

Perfection is elusive, none more so than in political ideologies. In our own domestic world, the greens no doubt will offer some hope for a better future world. The liberals are hell-bent on sending the world into an environmental death throe.  Labor will have to make up its mind to lead or dither.