Society & Culture

Tensions Grow as Australia Recalls Ambassador to Indonesia

Following the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia on Wednesday, 29 April 2015, Australia has recalled its ambassador Paul Grigson from Indonesia. While some commentary has suggested such a political move is unprecedented, this is not wholly true. Talking to the 7.30 Report, former Australian ambassador Philip Flood noted that such a move has occurred twice before: “It’s unprecedented for us to recall an ambassador from Indonesia. We’ve done it twice, recalling an ambassador. We did it in the case of French nuclear tests in the Pacific and it was hardly noticed at all. We did it in the case of Fiji and that really did more damage to us than it did to Fiji. I hope that the ambassador’s only recalled for a short time.” Whether this has any real political clout or diplomatic impact remains to be seen. It is, however, a rather thorny issue overall. ...

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Anzac Day – Politicians Hands Off

25th April 2015, Anzac Day. The pre-dawn world is dark. No hint of the sun yet to rise somewhere to the East. There’s a certain silence to it all. Rather fitting given the solemnity of the day. People move about the streets. More than normal in a time which is normally the preserve of the few early risers and late workers. Hurriedly they move and file in. Cram into and close ranks about the memorial site. Those of age and those distinguished are given seats. Most stand, almost still. In the dark waiting. The odd child stirs, shifts and murmurs. Some are placed atop shoulders to better see in the gloom. Others are held closer. Urged into silence. Each here is a part of the centenary of Anzac Day. That we remember those before us is the request. That we do not repeat past mistakes is understood and need not ...

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Japanese Artist on Trial for Vagina Art

Paddle Your Own Kayak A 43-year-old Japanese artist, Megumi Igarashi, has recently faced trial, in part for making a kayak. Wait for it, modelled on her vagina. It’s a bizarre case of not knowing which is weirder: getting charged or making the kayak itself. Megumi Igarashi, who also uses the artistic moniker Rokudenashiko, was initially arrested in July last year, and arrested again in December 2014. The arrests related to her offering digital details to people to 3D print her vagina in exchange for donations to help fund her vagina kayak artwork. Though there was public outcry following the initial arrest about her right to the freedom of expression; the second arrest pertained to the Japanese penal code and public obscenity laws. Her defence counsel is quoted as saying: “Even if it were constitutional, the defendant’s work is not a precise reproduction of the vulva and does not cause sexual ...

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Should Beaches be for Locals Only?

The Beach, Is Vying for territory, it’s nothing new. Animals do it. Humans do it, even if it’s often wrapped up in ownership and contract law. Yet it extends beyond that, whether it be the notion of personal space or that specific people have the right to a space. Which leads to the argument of whether beaches, or at least some of them, should be for locals only. For Locals The argument for beaches for locals only, is along the lines of that locals tend to respect their environment more than the tourists who will do things such as leave their rubbish on the beach, or may come in and clean out almost the entire rock platform of its shellfish in one day. In contrast with some of the locals who will actively pick up the rubbish and clean up the beach, along with conserving the environment. Though this is only ...

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Don’t Feed the Ducks Bread

Londoners have been given a simple request: Please don’t feed the ducks bread. The Canal & River Trust are the ones currently making this request. With it comes a warning as well. Apart from the estimated six million loaves of bread annually entering London’s canals and waterways, it’s being warned that bread is like “junk food” to ducks. Suggesting that the diet for the ducks would better include handouts of lettuce, peas and corn, oats, seeds, and rice. Grapes are apparently also acceptable. Portion control and varying the places of feeding is encouraged as well. Much like the path to hell may be paved with good intentions, for ducks it may be paved with bread loaves. Which has nothing to do with Hansel and Gretel because it’s not just breadcrumbs. Although it is about fatted ducks of sorts. Problem is, the bread that is housing itself in the waterways is ...

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The Wisdom of March Madness?

Sporting Chance It builds like a fever. Sweating. Excitement. Slight discomfort. The prospect of Spring. Things are thawing, heating up. It may begin with the NCAA college basketball tournament. Where 68 teams play sudden death matches. The loser leaves hopefully a good sport; the winner progresses to the next round of elimination. Filtering through to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and into the Final Four teams. Semi-finals, then the final match with the winner found. Unlike the NBA tournaments where the basketball teams play the best of seven games, in the March Madness games, after the initial play-ins remove four of the lowest ranked teams, for those remaining 64 teams a single match is all that stands between climbing the ladder or being benched for the rest of the tournament. Skill and luck both have their roles to play. A minor mistake may end it all. There’s no best of ...

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Thailand Bans Underboob Selfies, Just Don’t Panic

Legal Shades of Grey The underboob selfie. Yet another variant of the selfie, and maybe quite the tie-in. Which although probably not requiring a selfie stick, is nonetheless being taken to with a stick. With Thailand authorities having banned the underboob selfie. All of which because such images may violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act 2007, Section 14, regarding computer data which may “damage the country’s security or cause a public panic” and related to computer data “that is publicly accessible” in addition to that which “involves the dissemination or forwarding of computer data”. So provided everyone remains calm and no-one panics, people sharing underboob selfies may escape prosecution provided the images aren’t a security risk and don’t disclose state secrets. Somewhat strange the actions of the government compared to the perceptions of the country. Irrespective of any legalities, it’s not exactly like Thailand is unknown for its sex and drug ...

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Closing the Gender Pay Gap, Not So Fast?

Pushing Against the Glass Ceiling With the 8th March marking International Women’s Day, it’s a time to consider and celebrate all that women have done for the world. Names, but some amongst many, are called to the fore. From science with Marie Curie. To matters of state with Angela Merkel, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Janet Yellen, Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, and Queen Elizabeth II. To business and industry with Sara Blakely and Gina Rinehart. To those who’ve done their best to make the word a better place, such as Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa. To those that entertain us, such as Oprah, Ellen, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore. The list of women who have achieved both greatness and public recognition in their respective fields is not a small one by any means. And any such listing must ultimately be incomplete. Equally though, we should also acknowledge those whose stories ...

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Bigfoot vs. Nessie

Cryptozoology, is the study of, and the search for, secret, hidden animals with a yet unproven existence.  Rumours, hearsay and conjecture are often where it begins.  Sometimes legends.  A few hoaxes may be in there as well.  Blurred photos are optional, but are generally recommended. Two of the more famous examples are the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as it is (or they are) otherwise referred to, was purportedly first seen in the year 565 (which requires more than a small bit of interpretation of Chapter 28 in the Life of St. Columba).  Making its home in Loch Ness, Scotland; it has been searched for, but never found.  The most recently claimed and majorly reported sighting was in 2012.  Perhaps meaning that Nessie either swims in the Fountain of Youth, or there are many of the creatures.  Neither claim has been proven though. Bigfoot, or Sasquatch (as its ...

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Is Calling Someone an “Ape” Racist?

You’re an “Ape” The Australian Football League (AFL) Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes, stopped midgame at the MCG to point out the 13-year-old girl (apparently a Collingwood supporter) after she called him an “ape”.  Security staff subsequently escorted her from the grounds. Goodes, is both a dual Brownlow medallist and is considered one of the AFL’s most decorated indigenous players. “To hear a 13-year-old girl call me an ape … it was shattering,” Goodes said.  Amidst the rest of his statement he also said that girl needed support and education.  Adding that:   “I’ve got no doubt in my mind she’s got no idea what she was calling me last night.” The girl had later called Adam Goodes to apologise. In an interview, she also said:  “I didn’t mean it in a racist way and I’m sorry to the club and the AFL.” What About Context? This raises the question, that whilst the ...

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