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Future shock is the new normal

23 July 2015 | Brian Matthews

Shocked manThey are ‘coming to get us’, warns our Prime Minister, adapting the ‘bogey man’ mode of our childhood fears to the contemporary narrative of terrorism and violence. The effect of related intrusions on our daily lives is being gradually dulled. The neoliberal dispensation under which we now live both relies on, and encourages, new episodes of normalisation that go far beyond what we've known in the past.

Zen and the art of wealth amassment

16 July 2015 | Ellena Savage

There is a suburban myth about migrant families. The first generation toil, the second become professionals, and the third artists. Like all dynasties, the Rineharts are destined to one day represent the crusty relics of former glory. That's fine. I mean, why would the beneficiaries of other people's obsessive toils and struggle work, if they didn't have to?

All deaths great and small

25 June 2015 | Brian Matthews

Cover of 'A Small Death in Lisbon'Many deaths of course are not small deaths. They evoke distinction, achievement, leadership, innovation, creativity or, in some cases notoriety, quixoticism or eccentricity. Yet placing some names above many, some in a class of their own, others in a ruck of the scarcely memorable, one indispensable criterion unites all the characters and places them beyond our imaginative, intellectual or descriptive reach: they are dead.

There's hope for mediocre women

18 June 2015 | Ellena Savage

Corporate womanI have a friend who tells me she loves seeing what she terms 'mediocre women' at the top of their fields, especially in public, because it shows that feminism is working. Some women have made a success of themselves as men have always done, through acquiring privilege and seizing opportunities with a sense of entitlement, rather than by the myths of brilliance and sacrifice. I like this perspective. 

The snob who snubbed Australia's Indigenous imagination

30 April 2015 | Brian Matthews

George Herbert CowlingMrs Cowling was formidable. Her significant physical presence was accentuated by a commanding mien, impeccable English enunciation, and an impressive depth and breadth of literary reference supporting rock-firm opinions. All these years later, I wonder just how burdened she was in teaching literature to Australian students, which she continued to do into her 80th year, by her husband's notoriety.

Australia's friendship with Indonesia is bruised but should not break

30 April 2015 | Emily Mitchell

Stained Indonesian flagToday, the relationship between Indonesia and Australia — the 'most important relationship' espoused by our Prime Minister — is aching. People are saying we must boycott Bali, that we must not go to Indonesia. While I understand these sentiments, I do not think this is the answer. To stay within our borders would only maintain the status quo. Instead we must embrace our neighbours and rekindle our friendship.

The ignorant courage of the anti-vaxxers

26 April 2015 | Jen Vuk

VaccineWhen my friend Lena told me she wouldn’t be vaccinating her newborn son Sammy, I admit I was fascinated but not surprised. Lena was always going to do motherhood her way. There are many like her who decided with a clear vision and level-head. But I can no longer accept these decisions. Since having my own precious boys, my world view has shifted and I am less ignorant.

Europe's more humane approach to on-water matters

23 April 2015 | Ellena Savage

North African immigrants in SicilyAustralian references to 'boat people' is simplistic and offensive. 'Queue jumper' inaccurate and moralising. Even the term 'asylum seeker' has become politically complicit. European coverage of this week's Mediterranean boat tragedy describes the victims and survivors simply as 'migrants', which is an open description of a person on a boat crossing borders.

Cricket's assault on Australian racism

26 March 2015 | Brian Matthews

Frank WorrellDuring the West Indies 1960-61 tour of Australia, Frank Worrell and his predominantly black team transfixed Australians from coast to coast and, without any missionary intent, struck a resounding blow at the White Australia Policy, which was still in place. This jubilant, exciting story prompts questions about today's masses, who enthusiastically support harsh, and arguably racist, treatment of asylum seekers.

Inside the head of an IS martyr

19 March 2015 | Ellena Savage

Jake BilardiThe language of martyrdom is being used to recruit young Australians to brutal stateless warfare. Because martyrs are morally superior to suburban burnouts. IS propagandist Abu Ismail described Melburnian Jake Bilardi as 'a lion on the battlefield although he was at a young age and with a weak body'. So, Bilardi was a weak young lion and therefore ripe for battle. How obscene!

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