Nelson Mandela Passes Away, Aged 95

Nelson Mandela on Day After ReleaseFormer South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela has died peacefully at his Johannesburg home after a prolonged lung infection.

His contribution to the world was immense, becoming the first black South African President and a key figure in ending the brutal apartheid regime that had ruled the country since 1948.

After becoming a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for anti-government activities and, with the ANC leadership, was charged with treason several times between 1956 and 1961 although never convicted. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Becoming ANC President, Mandela published his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and led negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory.

He was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to diffuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. His administration also introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. He declined to run for a second term, preferring to focus on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

He received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For the full list of books about or by Nelson Mandela click here

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution

Steve Jobs had told Google that if it included multitouch on its phones, he would sue, and true to his word he sued the Nexus One maker, HTC, a month later in Delaware Federal District Court. More noticeably, he began seeking out public opportunities to attack Google and Android.

A month after the Nexus One was released – and days after Jobs announced the first iPad – he tore into Google at an Apple employee meeting.

“Apple did not enter the search business. So why did Google enter the phone business? Google wants to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them. Their ‘Don’t Be Evil’ mantra? It’s bullshit.”

In Dogfight, Wired’s Fred Vogelstein tells the unseemly history of your treasured/ hated smartphones and tablets. It’s a whistle-stop tour of the astonishing technological revolution that makes the pre-iPhone world of 2007 seem so very long ago, and also an insight into the future of media: who will control content and where it will come from.

Featuring testimonies from the inner circles of two of the world’s most influential companies, it is a fascinating, damning document for anyone enthralled by The Social Network or Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs.

There’s business bravado, corporate hair-pulling and screaming matches between engineers frazzled from all-night coding sessions. One Apple employee slammed the door to her office so hard that the handle bent, locking her in – it took colleagues an hour and some aluminium bats to free her.

Have a read and you’ll never look at your phone the same way again.

Click here to buy Dogfight from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Stephen Fry Calls On Great Britain To Boycott 2014 Winter Games In Russia

Last night Stephen Fry posted an open letter on his blog to David Cameron, Sebastian Coe and members of the IOC, asking them to boycott the next Winter Olympics, due to be held in Russia in 2014.

Fry’s comparison of Vladimir Putin’s current stance on the LGBT community to Hitler’s treatment of Jews during the 1936 Berlin Olympics is terrifying. As he states, “…the notorious Berlin Olympiad…provided a stage for a gleeful Führer and only increased his status at home and abroad”.

Putin’s stance on Gay Rights is utterly disgraceful, and Stephen Fry has once again used his intellect and influence for betterment of society, hopefully to some effect. Let’s hope the UK government listen, and let’s hope the Australian Government do so as well. Continue reading

Author Mel Campbell Makes An Appearance On The Today Show

Melbourne-based writer Mel Campbell appeared on The Today Show this morning, having a chinwag with co-host Lisa Wilkinson about her great new book Out of Shape: Debunking Myths About Fashion and Fit.  

Challenging our perceptions of fashion and debunking myths about size and fit, Out of Shape reveals how, when it comes to clothes, the past and present are cut from the same cloth.

Mel Campbell examines the tensions that have always existed in clothing between our cultural ideals and our own bodies.

Continue reading

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table by Shanaka Fernando

“When money loses its value,
the goodwill and kindness we extend
to each other will emerge as the ultimate
and most sustainable currency of exchange.”

——–

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table

by Shanaka Fernando

Shanaka Fernando is often hailed as a modern-day revolutionary. As the founder of the Lentil As Anything community restaurants in Melbourne that feed thousands every week, he advocates a unique business and life perspective.

Entrancingly honest and refreshingly candid, Shanaka’s memoir hints at the roots of his early social awakening with tales of a 1970s childhood in Sri Lanka. From his upbringing within an eccentric extended family living in a residential compound populated with a throng of memorable characters, we accompany Shanaka on his travels from Australia to Asia to South America and back as he explores new ways of living his life.

Shanaka’s example of what can be achieved based on an inclusive ‘people-first’ philosophy will inspire, challenge and provoke insights and questions that are undeniably worthy of attention.

“Fernando is one of those rare pioneers who are prepared to live by their convictions, flaunt social convention and challenge the status quo. The story of his lifelong quest for meaning – and the ‘experiment in generosity’ that became Lentil as Anything – is inspiring and challenging in equal measure. Few autobiographies are likely to evoke the senses and soul quite as much as Fernando’s tale of global travel, self-exploration and cultural innovation”

- Dr Wayne Visser, Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and author of “The Quest for Sustainable Business” and “The Age of Responsibility”

About the Author

Shanaka Fernando is a revolutionary. For many years he has been well known in Melbourne, Australia, as the pioneer of the Lentil as Anything pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants, and in recent times he is becoming influential as a public speaker and motivator.

He leads a simple, modest life as he continues to inspire and challenge perhaps millions as he advocates an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of his fellow man.

The socially responsible Lentil as Anything restaurants feed thousands every week, and set an example for other restaurants and businesses to follow – an example which illustrates what an inclusive, ethical approach to business, and life, can achieve. In the Lentil as Anything restaurants it is people that qualify life, not property. ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else.’

Shanaka is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative, a new way of living that is not based on consumerism, profit or greed.

Review: Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law (Review by Catherine Horne)

I first became acquainted with Benjamin Law’s writing in the pages of frankie magazine several years ago and he has since become one of my favourite Australian writers. So when a copy of Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East turned up at the Booktopia office I acted like a deranged fangirl and declared that I must – MUST! – review this book. And, unsurprisingly, my instincts were proven right. This book is an illuminating exploration of an issue that does not normally get a mention in discussions of Australia’s engagement with Asia, and Law provides some valuable insights into the nations he visits.

In Gaysia Law becomes our enthusiastic guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) experience in seven countries: Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and India. In each chapter Law generally focuses on one or two specific examples from the country at hand (for example, gay conversion therapies in Malaysia or a beauty pageant for transsexual women in Thailand), and uses this to explore the wider issues of gay acceptance in that country. This approach works well as Law is able to gain great insights from the people he interviews, and this makes for a very warm and engaging work. To his credit, Law does recognise that his approach does not encompass the totality of LGBT experience and he cannot provide a sweeping analysis of homosexuality in Asia. The work does not suffer because of this; the greatest strength of the book is its focus on personal stories as this provides an opportunity to engage with people who, for the most part, would have otherwise remained invisible to us.

Each nation Law takes us to throws up a different set of issues, and he makes clear the ways in which the social, cultural and political norms of a particular country influence the ways in which queer sexualities are perceived and experienced. For example, Law discovers that gay personalities are everywhere on Japanese television, but are expected to behave in a way which essentially renders them as figures of entertainment; they are drag queens with wicked senses of humour, or super-camp gay men with biting social critiques (basically think of the campest gay stereotype that you can, add a vat of glitter, and you’ve got what Law is describing here). While the visibility of certain types of queer identities is positive in that it at least shows a superficial acceptance of homosexuality, the absence of others, particularly lesbians, hints at a deeper lack of acceptance or understanding of LGBT issues in Japanese society.

In stark contrast to Japan is Myanmar, a country struggling with an exorbitantly high HIV infection rate for gay men (where they are 42 times more likely to contact HIV than their counterparts in any other country) and woefully inadequate resources to cope with the crisis. Further, the grinding poverty, lack of education and geographic isolation prevalent among Myanmar’s citizens means that many may never gain access to the life-saving drugs they need. The contrast between Japan and Myanmar not only demonstrates the varying challenges that people of different backgrounds in Asia face; it also gives the reader a valuable insight into the society and culture of each nation.

For me, Gaysia did not only provide a fascinating insight into the experiences of LGBT people in Asia, but into the broader social and cultural structures of each country. In the chapter on Malaysia, for example, Law provides a sense of the multiplicity of religions, their regional concentrations and the roles they play in Malaysian society. This ability to ground each chapter in a broader context really strengthens the work and provides yet another reason why this book is so valuable. Law recognises that in each country deeply ingrained historical, cultural and political factors influence the ways in which queer sexualities are regarded, as exemplified by gays and lesbians marrying each other to stave off parental pressure in China or the existence of a ‘third sex’ in Thailand. Law demonstrates the unique circumstances, and difficulties, that each nation’s gay population faces in their struggle to find a place in their societies.

Gaysia is an absolutely fascinating book, and I have gained so much from reading it. There are many heartbreaking stories of familial rejection, of hiding identity and, overwhelmingly, of feeling invisible. Yet there are also stories of resilience, happiness and love. Gaysia is a book with human experience at its core, and these stories are wonderfully brought to life through Law’s vivid documentation of his quest through the queer heart of Asia.

Review by Catherine Horne

Click here to buy Gaysia from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

COMING SOON: Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace (Just so you know, I want this for Christmas)

‘I felt that writing books fit me like a glove; I just started and I just kept going’

Neil Young is a singular figure in the history of rock and pop culture generally in the last four decades. Reflective, insightful and disarmingly honest, in Waging Heavy Peace he writes about his life and career.

From his youth in Canada to his first band’s travels across the US seeking fame and girls, through Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, to his massively successful solo career and his re-emergence as the patron saint of grunge on to his role today as one of the last uncompromised and uncompromising survivors of rock ‘n’ roll – this is Neil’s story told in his own words.

In the book Young presents a kaleidoscopic view of personal life and musical creativity; it’s a journey that spans the snows of Ontario to the LSD-laden boulevards of 1966 Los Angeles to the contemplative paradise of Hawaii today. pre-order here

“Young has consistently demonstrated the unbridled passion of an artist who understands that self-renewal is the only way to avoid burning out. For this reason, he has remained one of the most significant artists of the rock and roll era.” Eddie Vedder

My Favourite Neil Young Albums:

1. HARVEST


2. ON THE BEACH


3. LIVE RUST


4. EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE


5. GREENDALE


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