Tuesday, 26 October 2010

In summary: Tips; Afghanistan; Immigration; Political Zombies; Charity(?); Gridiron Fail; Murder(?) Abroad; Schools Funding; Banned; Geopolitics-Asia

For the last week or so...

1. Tipping is one concept that is disproportionately difficult to understand. A quick look at the US and you can see that hourly wages (including tips) for waiters etc is about the same as Australian hourly wages minus tips. So is there really a need to tip in Australia? Probably not, unless you get exceptional service…usually a rarity. As for 'bribing' instead of tipping…my usually luxury-free travel style means that I have never encountered the incidents that that the author writes about.

2. Afghanistan…and Alexander Downer…a strange combination, and interesting to see a former Foreign Minister of Australia (1996-2007) writing this piece. As Foreign Minister, did he contribute these ideas at the time of Australia's initial engagement? The cynic in me cannot help but think that he might be playing a game of tremendously subtle politics.

3. Still on Afghanistan…Greens Leader Bob Brown. Surprising to see that he thinks we should withdraw from Afghanistan because: "We have to remember we didn't go there to assist women, children, families, farmers and education institutions." While he may be correct, what is our mission now? Surely assisting the people of Afghanistan get their country functioning again is a good cause, though a quick look at the history of Afghanistan and you wonder what 'functioning' would mean. His interview on the ABC's 7:30 Report did not inspire confidence.

4. I honestly find it difficult to form an opinion on Australia's involvement in Afghanistan, but with all the politicians and experts going about policy and implications I am far more moved by the following account.

5. This is a piece with a different viewpoint about immigration and the issues that currently surround this topic. What the author could also focus on is the issue of refugees, especially those from war-torn countries. This harrowing tale of a refugee family from Sudan should be included in the debates about refugees in Australia – if Australia accepts more refugees then caring for their mental health has to be a priority.

6. On a solely NSW matter (and a little risqué) does this show us the real Labor Party? Why bother voting for an ALP candidate if the party machine wields all the power?

7. Did you know there is a charity that pays drug addicts to get sterilised so that they will not have drug-addicted babies? Well, there is. It started in the US and now has plans to enter Australia. How does paying a drug addict, for whatever reason, help them?

8. A piece of free advice to Todd Stordahl, chair of the Washington Officials Association (gridiron referees): by disciplining the referees who helped a breast cancer charity raise money and awareness you are doing damage to the association that you represent. This was a perfect and free PR opportunity that you somehow managed to ignore. Rules are important but they should not be set in stone.

9. As with most news stories, there may be more to the following account of alleged murder (officially suicide) of an Australian in Portugal, but the story so far does not inspire much faith in the Australian Government should you be a victim of crime while overseas…

10. Schools funding…after the insulation debacle, I wonder what Garrett has in store for Australian education…

11. Hilarious, but for the real-world ramifications…another news story that tells us that the nanny-state is becoming the norm and not the exception. This time: what can/cannot be done/worn in an Italian town…

12. Finally, a quick intro into the geopolitical landscape of the future: Japan, China, India, the Middle East. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

In summary: Abortion; Heritage Listing; Truth in Advertising; School Funding; Andrew Bolt; Censorhip; Taxpayer-subsidised AFL; Uniform Costumes; War

Another busy period and so here is another collection of links:

● Is abortion legal or illegal in Queensland, Australia?
Cairns, Queensland, 2010 – yes, this question is still up in the air, apparently. I have to say that for a leader, the fact that Premier Anna Bligh says she would support the removal of the law that makes abortion illegal but will not actually do anything about it speaks volumes.

● Heritage Listing means ….?
Saw this article a little while ago and while I have to admit I am not the least bit familiar with Melbourne, it makes you wonder what Heritage Listing really means.

● Australian election ads – Truth in Advertising?
Let's see if the current Labor federal government in Australia follows through with this push for truth in political advertising because the Advertising Standards Bureau does not seem to be capable of looking into any allegations of lying. I wonder if politicians will actually legislate to prevent themselves and their parties from lying or deceiving us…

● School Funding – It's all just spin, isn't it?
While I really have no immediate interest in Australian school funding, it makes me wonder how long the plainly inequitable funding model that we have at the moment will continue. It is not so much a private vs. public debate as more a "well-resourced, elite, private group" vs. "everyone else". If you want public money, then be open and accountable, it is that simple. Otherwise become 100% private. The government has certainly missed an opportunity to make the system more open.

● Andrew Bolt…not a big fan, but freedom of speech is important.
I have to agree with Luke Walladge, Andrew Bolt is offensive, but surely we can take his crass comments for what they are and move on with our lives. This whole case reminds me of what former PM Howard failed to say when he defended that very famous red-headed Queenslander in 1996 and thus, in my opinion, implicitly agreed with her views.

● When will censorship end?
I thought this article by Guy Sorman was informative, and it definitely looks like censorship of the internet will be with us for a while. Sorman, however, states that entrepreneurs are greedy and that is where I have to disagree. He paints all entrepreneurs with the same brush and that is not fair. Entrepreneurs by definition are taking a risk to devise or implement new ideas or services and usually bear most of the financial liability. Greed is wanting money for money's sake – at least in what I believe to be the general definitions of these words.

● Is it worth owning an AFL Club?
$2.7 million says it is. Granted that this a state issue in Victoria, but it appears that the Collingwood AFL Club has been able to claim $2.7 million dollars for "community benefit" that included operating costs such as wages and running costs. I guess the fact that the money that the club used ended up keeping the local economy moving is a form of community benefit?

● The Third Reich is fashionable again?
What with Prince Harry photographed in a Nazi costume a few years back and now a Republican candidate in the US doing the same (although from what I gather the wearing of the uniform is not a recent incident, the appearance of the photo, however, is) it makes me wonder why Nazi costumes are worn at all. If we are to condemn people who wear Nazi costumes, then let's condemn people who wear Stalin, Mao, Amin (did a quick search on costumes for this last one and was surprised at what I found…) and whatever other similarly tasteless costume.

● War – what does it mean?
Whatever your views on the war in Afghanistan, the campaign against the prosecutor in the case against three Australian commandos would be trivial were it not such a serious matter. Personally it is a difficult topic to form an opinion on but one thing is clear: war means innocent people will get killed. That is something I think everyone should remember, whether it warrants a case or not is a matter that I leave to the experts.

● And finally: Cyber Wars….the way of the future? Sphere: Related Content