Showing posts from June, 2006

Getting off at Richmond

From the New York Times today : Women Have Seen It All on Subway, Unwillingly It is a hidden reality of the New York City subway system, and perhaps mass transit systems everywhere since the first trolley car took to the tracks. It begins with a pinch or a shove, someone standing too close. But it can be much worse. This week, as the Police Department announced the arrest of 13 men charged with groping and flashing women in the subways, women around the city nodded. Yes, they said, this had happened to them. Yesterday. Last month. Last fall. Twenty years ago. "Every girl I know has at least one story," said Barbara Vencebi, 23, a studio photographer standing outside the No. 6 train station at 116th Street in East Harlem yesterday. It is a crime abetted by the peculiar landscape of the underworld that is the subway system, by the anonymity of a crowded car where everybody is avoiding eye contact. And by the opportunity for a quick escape at the next stop, to disappear

ABC Mission Creep

A piece of mine has just gone on-line at Online Opinion (as rejected by several opinion page editors): Top stories from June 16: Britney says “back off” Britney Spears' string of unfortunate encounters with the media is taking its toll on the pregnant singer. She's told US television her biggest wish is for the paparazzi to "leave her alone". Married to the job Hollywood actress Renee Zellweger has warned fellow Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman to call off her wedding to country music superstar Keith Urban. Renee's told a friend that Keith's too much of a workaholic. Delta ditches mum as manager Aussie songstress Delta Goodrem has dumped her mum Lea as her manager, to sign on with boyfriend Brian McFadden's management instead. She says the break was a mutual decision. Want to have a guess at who put these stories top of the agenda? One of Rupert's tabloids? The UK gutter press? The National Enquirer? Nope. It was your ABC. Or more precisely, its

Be a searcher

I haven't read the book yet, but Michael Duffy's excellent review of The White Man's Burden seems to suggest that both he, and the book's author William Easterley, share the sentiments that I do on the fruitlessness of aid rather than the development of markets in helping the developing world. From Duffy in the Sydney Morning Herald : PERHAPS the most important question of our time is why the West's efforts to help the world's poorest people have been so disappointing and even counterproductive. In the past 50 years, we have spent $US2.3 trillion on foreign aid, to disturbingly little effect. An important new book suggests this has had a lot to do with the arrogance of the "big push" approach favoured by many development economists and organisations such as the World Bank and the United Nations. William Easterly is a professor of economics at New York University. He used to be a believer: for 16 years he was a research economist at the World Bank

Sophie's Choice

The tradition of married women taking on the surnames of the husbands is an archaic and chauvanistic one, and one that says much about the submissiveness expected of women. It's symbolic of a man's ownership of his wife and her lack of an identity independent of her husbands. Thankfully, however, the tradition is gradually on the wane as more and more women refuse to accept their status of second-class citizens within a relationship. Not, however, Sophie Panopolous. Despite ten years in the public spotlight, the Member for Indi has decided to take on the surname of her new husband, Greg Mirabella after their marriage last weekend. Sophie Mirabella, MP That someone of Panopolous's standing would chose to sacrifice something as fundamental as her own name for the sake of her husband makes it clear that the feminist project still has a long way to go. It also says plenty about Panopolous's own brand of white-picket-fence conservatism. Note the constrast with Ann

Reporters trump bloggers

New York Times flame-thrower Maureen Dowd had an interesting column on the relationship between blogs and 'old media' which was republished in The Age on Thursday (insert rant about Times-Select and information hoarding here). One quote that really grabbed me was not from Dowd, but from Markos Moulitsas, of Daily Kos fame: Moulitsas assured me he didn't see himself as a journalist, only a Democract activist. "I don't plan on doing any original reporting - screw that. I need people like you," he said, agreeing that since he still often had to pivot off the reporting of the inadequate mainstram media to form his inflammatory opinions, our relationship was, by necessity, "symbiotic". He's spot on, and ironically confirms my suspicions on why blogs are a far-from-perfect substitute for real news and real reporting. Us bloggers are a bunch of armchair experts, mouthing off at whomever and whatever we like from a safe distance. By its nature

Prahran: A Letter from Clem

Although politics in Australia is becoming increasingly presidential, with a centralised campaign focusing on a strong leader, there are come candidates who are rediscovering their own backyard. This has been the strategy of Liberal candidate Clem Newton-Brown. Though he's a candidate for state office, he has no problem in getting involved in very local issues. So local, in fact, that they are issues that are not the responsibility of state government at all, but are instead in the hands of the bunnies in Town Hall. Perhaps it's a throwback to his days on Melbourne City Council. The first issue for Newton-Brown was the life-or-death issue of the opening hours of the local pool . With a high quality postcard delivered in the midst of summer heat a few weeks back, NB identified it as (quite literally) a hot-button issue. With the cute kids on the front and the simple but effective argument on the back, it was hard not to sympathise with the cause. Saturday 6pm... 38 D

Review: Mannix

Although we might be acutely aware of it now, religious conflict is nothing new to Australian shores. In the days before the waves of immigration that shaped Australian society in the second half of the twentieth century, the major source of ethnic and religious tension was sectarian. Animosity between Catholics and Protestants has deep roots, and in Australia the conflict was shaped by tensions between the Catholic Irish and Protestant British. One of the most vocal participants in this sectarian debate was Archbishop Dr Daniel Mannix, a fiery Irish minister who came to Australia soon after Federation and spent the next six decades as either an amoral irritant or the voice of the oppressed, depending on one's perspective. The life and times of Mannix is the subject of a new one-man (or, more accurately, one-Archbishop) play by the same name. The play is the product of an unlikely creative marriage: the writer is veteran Rod Quantock, a man whose extensive biography includes

Prahran: Two Dapper Gents

The battle is on. It's smart suits and well-gelled haircuts at 50 paces. Election day might be six months away, but the candidates are out in force to win the hearts, minds and wallets of the denizens of Prahran. Lining up in the red corner is Tony "Talk to Me" Lupton, the sitting Labor MP. Lupton has earnt the epithet through his frequent appeals through the mail for constituents to, er, talk to him. Fair enough, too. Lupton was elected in 2002 and has done plenty to get on the good side of voters. He's smooth talking, decent to look at, and seems to be well-respected as part of a new generation of Labor MPs wh connect with capital as well as it does with labour. His bio reveals a nice 'by the bootstraps' success story, which saw him commencing a motor mechanics apprenticeship in Albury before leaving school, only to later return to Melbourne, study law and become a barrister. "Talk to Me" Tony and CNB The challenger in this intriguing battle i

Prahran: Poofs and Millionaires?

This post is the first in an occasional series following the battle for Prahran in the 2006 Victorian State Election. I have no affiliation with any party, and am simply a concerned local citizen and slightly bored blogger. Follow the progress of the series on the right-hand side of the blog (no political bias intended). It's good to feel wanted. For all of my adult live, I've lived in the bluest of blue-ribbon electorates, both state and federal. My neighbours and I were considered the sort of rusted on supporters who required only the most minimal of electoral campaigning to remain loyal and unwavering, kind of like a dependable chihuahua whose owner knows will never stray too far from home. My Federal electorate was Kooyong, a seat which has boasted such luminaries as Sir Robert Menzies and Andrew Peacock as its occupants, and which generally elects Liberals on primary votes alone. Ditto the state seat of Hawthorn, with its sitting member Sir Ted Baillieu. Nowadays,