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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    School reunion cracks the amber of middle age

    • Barry Gittins
    • 06 November 2015
    6 Comments

    I never thought I'd do the whole high school reunion thing. Yet here I am, nametagged and ready to face the music, along with 50 of my fellow 1985 alumni. I recognise some straight off. Others mystify. Teenagers trapped in the amber of middle age. High school was genuinely hard for many of us. Some have died. Some entered Boggo Road's then-penal walls. Some are still paying for decisions made back in those mid-80s. Memory propels the sail of our union and we've left safe harbours.

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  • ECONOMICS

    Rising from the ashes of bad media business

    • David James
    • 19 October 2015
    7 Comments

    For those who believe, as G. K. Chesterton quipped, that the popular press is 'a conspiracy of a very few millionaires', the decline of mainstream media may not seem such a great loss. But the thinning of journalistic ranks is not good for democracy. In the world of business, old habits usually do not die at all — it is rather the businesses themselves that experience terminal decline. What journalism that does emerge from the ashes of the existing mainstream media businesses will be very different.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Data regime will see us funding our own surveillance

    • Leanne O'Donnell
    • 09 October 2015
    5 Comments

    Back in March Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio: 'The only thing the data retention law is requiring is that types of metadata which are currently retained will be retained ... for at least two years.' In fact the laws, which come into effect next week, include an obligation on service providers to 'create' data that falls within the data set to be retained, if they don't already collect it. This isn't nitpicking. The more data that is created, the more the scheme will cost, and the greater the risk of privacy breach.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Ode to the demise of hard rubbish

    • Sally Cloke
    • 23 September 2015
    11 Comments

    Our local council has announced the end of hard rubbish. As an adult, my enthusiasm for what the council calls 'scavenging' has become the source of many beautiful and useful items. But my objections are philosophical as well as practical. Ugliness has its place, and at clean out time, we literally bring to our doorsteps what we would rather put of sight and mind. Hard rubbish symbolises the costs of our throw-away consumer society while going a small way towards recouping some of them.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Bringing 'boogeyman' Iran in from the cold

    • William Gourlay
    • 22 September 2015
    4 Comments

    Canny politicians know it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. This must be clear to Obama in the wake of the nuclear deal reached with Iran. As he heralded the accord as a harbinger of a 'more hopeful world', Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a 'stunning historical mistake'. The deal is a result of 18 months of hard diplomatic negotiation, but for the naysayers it means Iran is off the leash.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Asylum seekers are people like us

    • Kerry Murphy
    • 11 September 2015
    2 Comments

    Some refugee advocates will almost deify the refugee, and take away their humanity by making it seem that the refugee is always right. In reality refugees make bad decisions, tell lies and exaggerate, just like the rest of us. But that does not mean they're contemptible. Recognising their humanity makes it easier to feel empathy with them, and less likely we will fear them. 

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  • ECONOMICS

    The IMF has failed Greece

    • David James
    • 01 July 2015
    6 Comments

    International Monetary Fund prescriptions have a long history of failing, and countries that ignore them are often the ones that do surprisingly well. Few have been asked to be more servile than the Greeks. When the IMF came in with what is amusingly referred to as its austerity 'plan', the Greek economy was expected to grow at over 2 per cent. After the 'plan' had taken effect, the country’s economy had shrunk by a quarter.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Royal Commission hatred is childish

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 June 2015
    30 Comments

    In my early years of secondary school there was a fine footballer in the senior team of another school. I had never met him, but I hated him with a passion. This memory returned in recent weeks when reading of the vilification of Adam Goodes, and some of the opinion pieces on the Ballarat sexual abuse. Hatred avoids questions by trying to obliterate those whose lives pose them to us.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The tyranny of career

    • Ellena Savage
    • 22 May 2015
    3 Comments

    The expectation to enjoy the labouring part of your life, or find it 'rewarding', is a relatively new one. Australia's boon in tertiary education in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the post-industrial nature of postmodern work means that for many, labour is immaterial, and jobs are not necessarily protected or stable. 'Career management' is therefore a key concept that rules life decisions.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Australia's 'stop the boats' policy as iconic

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 21 May 2015
    18 Comments

    The world is gazing with astonishment at our single-minded way of dealing with people who come to us for protection. It is iconic, now that nations in the region have adopted it. The modern understanding of icons as embodying qualities people desire differs from the Byzantine approach in which traditional religious icons do not impress us with their dominance over their environment, but draw us to their eyes.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Australia's low road to the Security State

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 30 April 2015
    33 Comments

    Only extremists regard Muslims as enemies. But if a populist and incompetent government were to scapegoat them and declare them to be enemies, as was done to asylum seekers, it would be a short step to build on the laws already introduced with further discriminatory legislation. That in turn would lessen the protections under the law that other groups would enjoy. Of course, this could never happen in Australia. But that is what they once said in Germany, Chile and South Africa.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    A wedding and an execution

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 29 April 2015
    19 Comments

    The last days of Andrew Chan spoke more powerfully than words can about the meaning of execution. On Monday he married Febyanti Herewila. On Tuesday he was taken out and shot. In the wedding service he may have heard the words, 'What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.' A few hours later men had sundered man from both wife and life.

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