aisha tyler, deconstructed

Wow. When I'm next having a "I feel fat and frumpy" day – and it usually happens after seeing a  female celebrity looking flawlessly glamorous in a magazine or on TV – I'm going to revisit this post.

The impossibly gorgeous Hollywood actress Aisha Tyler volunteered to let a magazine pick her apart and show us what really goes on when an image is photoshopped.

"Even though I knew what I was getting myself into, I was still floored when I got the before pictures from the retoucher. They were covered in notes," she confides.

You can read the article in more detail here and here, but here is the before and after shot. And we wonder why women feel so much bloody pressure to be thin and perfect!

diamonds are forever

I may be a little behind the 8-ball here, but I just learnt that engagement rings didn't always sparkle with rare, glittery diamonds. Instead, it used to be much less expensive coloured gemstones that filled the fourth-finger ring – until an advertising genius convinced the world that "diamonds are forever"...

"One of the biggest advertising ideas of the last century was the idea of using diamond rings for engagements. Precious stones were used in the Victorian era. But the idea that it had to be a diamond came from an advertising guy who worked for N.W. Ayer, who happened to be connected to the Oppenheimer family, of De Beers," explains Steve Hayden – the mastermind behind Apple Computer’s “1984″ ad, and vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide – in a 2005 news article.

"He had an idea: Let’s make the diamond ring the engagement ring of choice for the world. They started off with Anglophone countries, and then moved to Japan and China and everywhere else. It increased the value of that market billions of times."

Steve Hayden

Isn't that incredible – that one man, with one idea, completely revolutionised the way we "put a ring on it" for the rest of time? I think that's remarkable. Also remarkable - Steve Hayden! What an interesting brain he has. If you have a spare 10 minutes, the article that blew open the engagement ring conspiracy for me, also gives an eye-opening insight into workings of the advertising industry over the last few decades.

childcare costs - the great debate

There's a whole bunch of headlines being generated at the moment (and even more interesting comments) about childcare costs in Australia. The debate is raging on all sides...

  • Childcare costs are rising. One commenter on this news story said their childcare costs had increased from $59/day in 2008 to $89 today. That's a decent hike – a 50% increase in four years!

  • This is partly because childcare centres want (need!) to attract more/better staff. That means they need to offer higher wages. Two of my friends are early childhood educators and their wages are ridiculously low. One is a group leader, and she still earns less per hour than an average waitress. That's not to say that those in the hospitality industry don't work hard for what they earn, but really – shouldn't we pay people who are responsible for the safety and comfort and growth of our children MORE than we pay people who serve us food?

  • Childcare workers are not babysitters. Of all of the issues surrounding day care, this is comment that gets my back up the most. One of my close friends, Monique, is an early childhood educator (Lila is lucky enough to have a spot in her Family Day Care centre) and I'm offended on her behalf. She follows an educational framework and plans each day to include learning and play activities, including painting, crafts and baking – they're even growing their own veggie patch!

  • Some are calling for the Childcare Rebate (or Benefit - I get confused) to be means tested. I understand the reasoning behind this – why should a family earning $200k combined get any $$ back? They can afford it! But, means testing the rebate will be a huge disincentive to mums re-entering the workforce. When Lila started daycare, she was 12 months old, and we were living in Bondi in Sydney. Her daily rate at the centre was $126! For those parents needing full-week care, the cost was around $600/week. After the $7,500 rebate, that means a mum needs to earn around $30k gross simply to break even on childcare costs. After tax, she needs to earn $40k just to have $100 in her pocket each week. Means testing makes these calculations even more woeful.
It's a hugely complex issue and I'm glad I'm not making any of the policy decisions. It'll be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next election...

the science of sand

Wowsa! Been a while since I blogged. I've been massively busy with moving and working and parenting and... writing my first book!! Due for release next month!! Very exciting times indeed:)

I've also been learning. Have you ever given much thought to the precise ingredients in sand? Neither had I. It's pretty freaking amazing. Enjoy.

from idol to indie

A few days ago my husband played me a song, "Brother", and I was utterly captivated. It was haunting and powerful and I couldn't resist humming along to the beautiful melody. 

So I was super surprised when he told me that it was Matt Corby singing. 

"Matt Corby, from Australian Idol?" I asked. 
"No, it must be a different Matt..
"This guy is buff and in his 20s! 
"Matt Corby is 12!"

Turns out Matt Corby is all grown up, and his music is absolutely brilliant. It's such a blessing in disguise that he didn't win Idol – who knows what damage the curse of celebrity would have done to his impressionable 16-year-old psyche. It just goes to show that sometimes, not getting what you want can be the best thing that ever happened to you.

blue sky mine

In the course of researching an article tonight for work, I ended up reading a little about the town of Wittenoom. It's site of "the world's greatest industrial disaster" and the inspiration behind the Midnight Oils song, "Blue Sky Mine".

Firstly, it made me really nostalgic. I remember watching the song's fabulous film clip (below), along with other 90s chart-toppers like "Remember the Time" by Michael Jackson, and "Stay" by Shakespeare's Sister, when I was little – gosh I loved Saturday mornings when I was 8, dancing away to Video Hits without a care in the world!

But it also made me sad. It made me think about corporate greed, and the lengths people will go to for money. The company directors behind the mining of Wittenoom reportedly knew of the dangers and filthy conditions they were sending their workers into, but onward they marched, with an eye on the bottom line. How do people reconcile that? Pursuit of profits, when a person's life is at stake? It boggles the mind. It's too much for me to dwell on at 9.30pm on a school night, so instead, I'll leave you with this classic film clip. My apologies if it gets stuck in your head...

"who's gonna save me!"

keep calm and...

You know those 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters? I was first introduced to them through our friends Bindi and Simon, years ago – they had an original print, framed in a beautiful big, old, chunky gold frame, mounted on their impossibly cool wall of artworks and knicknacks in their impossibly cool inner-city pad in Sydney. I thought it was fabulous.

These days, the posters are kind of everywhere, along with dozens of witty knock offs like 'Keep Calm and Eat Cake'. This one seems to sum it up nicely!