Vol 26 No 7

11 April 2016


 

  • AUSTRALIA

    What does $20 billion worth of subs look like anyway?

    • Frank O'Shea
    • 22 April 2016
    18 Comments

    What is the biggest number you can visualise? You can probably picture a crowd of 100,000, either because you were once part of such a crowd or have seen shots of a full MCG on Grand Final day. But what about ten times as many, or 1000 times ten times? Now we are talking billions, and your mind has likely gone into what computer programmers call overflow. So when we read that the cost of replacing our six subs with 12 new ones will be $20 billion, it means little to us: it's just a number.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    When parents play favourites

    • Jen Vuk
    • 22 April 2016
    5 Comments

    As a parent you learn to shore yourself against those uncomfortable questions from your offspring, but not all uncomfortable questions are created equally, and right up there with 'Mummy, where did I come from?' is the question: 'Am I your favourite?' Last week, US research published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that 70 per cent of mothers admitted to favouring one child over another. Whatever my usual protestations, do I do this too? Unfortunately, sometimes, I think I do.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Sad story of a tragic opera wannabe

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 21 April 2016
    3 Comments

    Socialite and amateur operatic soprano Marguerite cuts an intriguing and tragic figure, devoted to her craft but oblivious to her lack of talent. Yet the joy she gains from believing she is a great singer doesn't depend on the reality or otherwise of that belief. Is it right or wrong for those who care for her to allow her to continue in her delusion? The question echoes the concept of a life-lie, invoked by Henrik Ibsen to argue that human beings are sometimes better off living in at least partial ignorance of reality.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Depp dog stunt distracts from real ecological violence

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 21 April 2016
    15 Comments

    In the face of the increasing environmental destruction legally occurring within Australia's borders, chasing actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard for bringing their undeclared dogs into Australia in breach of biosecurity laws comes across as a curated media stunt. Like everywhere in the world, Australian environmental law is at a crossroads. On one hand government regulations that permit violence against habitat increase, and on the other, legal challenges against this destruction rise.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Making a meal of the body politic

    • Barry Gittins
    • 20 April 2016
    1 Comment

    When you make a meal of body politic you've got to crack the whole thing open, season to taste with bestrewn flakes of policy offal and prejudged bakes ... serve offshore detention? Just add water, salt to taste and erase border. Grind those grubby unions, peel any sign of party donations and extractions from sorbeted cosseted carapaces. Stop the gloats, straighten up and get flyers Right ... Serve pre-heated post May's entree of budget salad.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Sniff the rot in Australia's wobbly democracy

    • Justin Glyn
    • 20 April 2016
    9 Comments

    Last week, a member of Parliament, Jenny Leong, allegedly faced racist and sexist abuse by police from at least four separate commands. This abuse was linked to her opposition (in accordance with her party's stated policy) to the use of drug sniffer dogs without a search warrant. Whether or not one agrees with Green party policy in this regard, the treatment of Leong ought to rankle. Such ill-treatment at the hands of the executive is, unfortunately, not an isolated phenomenon.

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  • CARTOON

    The age of entitlement

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 20 April 2016
    6 Comments

    This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.

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  • RELIGION

    Crossing boundaries with the wire-cutter Pope

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 19 April 2016
    15 Comments

    Lesbos is famous for crossing boundaries. It was the home of the poet Sappho and the tender, delicate lyrics dedicated to the woman who was her lover. More recently it has been the home of refugees who have crossed from the murderous conflict in Asia. Pope Francis is also as famous for crossing boundaries as we Australians are for patrolling them. He is reinventing the papacy as a one-man barbed-wire-cutting team. So it is not surprising he decided at short notice to cross into Lesbos.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Serfs sucked dry in the kingdom of banks

    • David James
    • 18 April 2016
    11 Comments

    Three finance-related events are currently gaining great attention in the media. One is the so-called Panama Papers. Another is the proposal to have a royal commission into the banks. And a third is the furore over the unaffordability of homes and the debate over negative gearing. On the surface they would seem to be quite separate issues. But all three issues demonstrate yet again that banks are, if not the most malign organisations on the planet, then certainly among the most dangerous.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Budget for a post trickle down theory world

    • Fatima Measham
    • 18 April 2016
    10 Comments

    People are sensitised to government-enabled corporate excess and doubt elected officials are capable and willing to serve their interests. The lesson from the 2014 federal budget is that there are non-negotiables around the function of government: to provide the conditions that ensure the flourishing of all citizens. Yet in terms of future-proofing living standards, the Coalition has so far presided over an ideas bust rather than boom, unless boom is the sound of something spontaneously combusting.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Patrick Dodson's Senate mandate

    • Frank Brennan
    • 15 April 2016
    21 Comments

    The royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, which signed off on its final reports 25 years ago this Friday, definitely improved the systems for supervision of persons in detention, reducing the risk of deaths in custody. It also led to better coronial procedures. But it failed to reverse Indigenous imprisonment rates and it did little to counter the underlying causes of Indigenous imprisonment. Back then, Patrick Dodson saw police as the main problem. Now, he thinks it's the legislators.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Homeless Persons Union holds state to account

    • Ellena Savage
    • 15 April 2016
    2 Comments

    When we talk about the 'housing crisis' we are often referring to the plight of young working people and migrants struggling to tap into a property market that has been made a prestige market. This has been incentivised by tax breaks for investors, and is symptomatic of the culture of hoarding family wealth for the purpose of passing down class privilege. The Bendigo Street occupation reminds us that the 'housing crisis' is one and the same as the homelessness crisis; not a crisis of scarcity, but of policy.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Singing and subverting White American history

    • Tim Kroenert
    • 14 April 2016
    1 Comment

    The show's implicit subversiveness runs deep. It is embodied in the fact that its cast consists of mostly Black and Latino performers portraying White characters, using a vernacular and musical styles popularly associated with these cultural groups. It thus stands as a riposte to the history of black/brownface and whitewashing in popular entertainment. Crucially, in a show about 'founding fathers', it is the story's women who not only provide its emotional core but are also the most fundamentally heroic.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Sulphur sunshade is a stupid pollution solution

    • Greg Foyster
    • 14 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Geoengineering means intervening in the Earth's climate to offset global warming. It's hacking the planet on a monumental scale. The most widely studied proposal is spraying sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight, cooling the planet. The idea comes from huge volcanic eruptions, which can blast millions of tonnes of sulphur into the stratosphere, creating a kind of chemical sunshade. After decades of being taboo, this outlandish scheme is now being taken seriously.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    New radicalisation on display at fundraiser protest

    • Lyn Bender
    • 13 April 2016
    27 Comments

    The chants were thunderous and sustained, as the suited and elegantly coiffed guests began to arrive for the Liberal Party fundraiser at Docklands. Initially there did not seem to be a significant police presence, as if the need for security was not considered high. As the chanting rose to a crescendo, chaos ensued. The mounted police arrived; but there seemed no plan of crowd control. It was a small protest but it was locked into a contained area with only one entrance. Then the wounded started to emerge.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The tyranny of the clock

    • Darby Hudson
    • 13 April 2016
    3 Comments

    Thinking my jadedness of the nine-to-five was vindicated, I crossed the road at lunchtime where this tow-truck was waiting its turn at the lights. The trucker had 'Born on the Bayou' by Credence blasting through open windows. Thought he had an amazing sound system. Then realised he had a drum-kit set up on his dash and was going for it with his sticks in time to the tune. He made his day job look easy — and all of a sudden I felt like a small little angry man. He made my week.

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  • CARTOON

    What's the hold-up?

    • Fiona Katauskas
    • 13 April 2016

    This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.

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  • RELIGION

    Pope promotes radical tenderness

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 12 April 2016
    10 Comments

    By the standards of papal documents Amoris Laetitia is a baggy elephant. Many in the developed world hoped the document would break new ground in allowing communion to the divorced and adopting new attitudes to gay marriage and gender issues. They will be disappointed that it works within traditional definitions of marriage, gender and discipline. But Francis' insistence on going out to people where they are with full respect for who they are demands an even more radical change of heart.

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  • RELIGION

    Pope's tips for building a marriage

    • Michael McVeigh
    • 12 April 2016
    16 Comments

    As Pope Francis was releasing his long-awaited response to last year's Synod on the Family, my fiancé and I were taking part in a marriage preparation course, where we were told: 'Statistics tell us that one in three of your marriages will end in divorce ... while only a third of you will have a happy marriage.' If love is a type of craftsmanship, as Francis writes, then our hope is that day to day, with small and large acts of love, we can help each other become masters of our craft.

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  • RELIGION

    Life beyond Pope Francis

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 April 2016
    19 Comments

    As Francis begins his fourth year in office, questions are raised as to whether the changes he has brought to the church will last beyond his time in office. Some argue that because he has made no significant changes in governance, his changes will not survive him. His successors and the Curia will be free to restore former expressions of church life. This argument highlights the need to embody vision in institutional structures. But good structures alone do not ensure the continuation of vision.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't fall for Humpty Dumpty politics

    • Justin Glyn
    • 11 April 2016
    10 Comments

    We got a lesson in the art of language from the Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, whose redefinition of the word 'detention' was reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty's remark in Alice Through the Looking Glass: 'When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.' We are social creatures who make real decisions based on the representations of others. Once we know we cannot expect the truth from each other, especially those who govern, society can no longer function.

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