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How Phillip Hughes' death moved the nation

04 December 2014 | Brian Matthews

Mourning Michael Clarke on cover of The AdvertiserGreg Chappell has already made the comparison with the response to Princess Diana's death, but it goes back further than that, to John Donne, for example, in 1624: 'No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main'. Death haunts the newspapers and the airwaves. Just? Not at all. Every now and then, we cower and weep before Death's undiscriminating might.

Shock of the new bourgeois reality

27 November 2014 | Ellena Savage

San Francisco bourgeois houseThe need for artists to exist inside an economy regulated by middle class tastes and preferences restricts the possibilities for their work. But when our present is rocked by the incredible injustices we are watching unravel in Ferguson, artists are called upon to drop their aspirations for class mobility that is tethered to the material, and instead draw light on the immaterial, Emerson's 'secret'. 

David Cameron's shirtfronting impotence

06 November 2014 | Brian Matthews

David CameronSome aspects of the English/Scottish independence referendum confrontation rang interesting bells for Australia. But British PM David Cameron has had to tread cautiously on foreign policy to avoid adding grist to the 'Yes' campaign's mill. Not so Tony Abbott, for whom strutting the world stage works a treat to lift the pall of governmental confusion and unpopularity.

Looking for depth in the selfie

30 October 2014 | Ellena Savage

Young woman taking selfieI take a lot of selfies. Some of them are silly, coquettish, dramatic. Others are just my face looking into my computer, sitting where I work, dressed in work clothes. They mean more or less nothing. They’re just an inane collection of data on my laptop, or too easy self-portraits. Nothing means nothing, but it says something about the culture. 

The enemy in my kitchen

09 October 2014 | Brian Matthews

Pizza OvenI have always prided myself on my capacity to do some heavy labouring in my spare time, but a serious back injury put a stop to most of that. Michael doesn't mind though. I point at the pizza oven and its need for removal. 'Well, mate,' he says, 'it's dressed in black and it's totally masked and unidentifiable. It wouldn't be allowed into Parliament would it?'

Best of 2013: Transformed by a boring Brussels Mass

06 January 2014 | Benedict Coleridge

Yawn covered by fistThe coughing is getting worse; it sounds like the pew behind me is hosting a cardiac arrest. English theologian James Alison described mass as 'a long term education in becoming unexcited', a state that allows us to dwell 'in a quiet place' that 'increases our attention, our presence'. In Brussels, becoming 'unexcited' seems important.

School sport's level playing field under threat

29 September 2013 | Michael Mullins

Five of Sydney's prestigious GPS schools have boycotted competition with another member of their association, The Scots College, because it is accused of undermining the spirit of competition in school sport by offering inducements to lure students with sports star potential. This undermines what the GPS code of ethics calls 'the spirit of the amateur' that promotes character, resilience and teamwork ahead of winning.

Pope Francis' field hospital

22 September 2013 | Michael Mullins

Pope Francis says in his recent interview that the wounded won't come to God if their pastors throw the rule book at them. Likewise the federal government will do nothing to increase employment participation if it chooses to demonise people through its punitive Work for the Dole Scheme. It's cruel and pointless to condemn people for not being able to walk up stairs while refusing to build a ramp.

Julie Bishop's opportunity to press PNG on death penalty

15 September 2013 | Michael Mullins

PNG flag

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill has resolved to see the death penalty handed to the murderers of two porters killed during last Tuesday's attack on a group of Australian and New Zealand trekkers. Australia's incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop needs to remind PNG that Australia opposes the death penalty, and that it will curry no favour with Australia by executing criminals who harmed Australians. 

The moral point of difference between Labor and the Coalition

08 September 2013 | Michael Mullins

There was cause for celebration on Saturday night for both the Coalition and Labor. The Coalition was able to claim a decisive victory in the Federal Election, and Labor defied expectations and remains viable. But not so for vulnerable people overseas who will lose their Australian foreign aid lifeline so that the Coalition can fund its election promises.

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