Showing posts from February, 2012

Same Sex Marriage - A Rebuttal To Kevin Andrews

I've never seen an argument against same sex marriage that made me think "hmm, you may have a point there". Arguments against are usually filled with historical inaccuracies, shoddy reasoning, half-truths and evoking a time that never existed outside of the hazy memories of conservative columnists. So it is with  this piece by Kevin Andrews  in today's Sydney Morning Herald. As can be expected, the former Howard government minister is against it. Also to be expected, the arguments he uses aren't exactly robust: The one thing that is studiously avoided by the proponents of same-sex unions is the purpose of marriage. Historically, marriage is about the protection of children. Historically, marriage is about the protection of property, specifically a man's property. The woman he married became his property; his worldly goods would pass down to the legitimate sons who bore his name. Marriage originated in order to secure distribution of assets. Today there is anot

Cross Streets - The Real Crisis In Emergency 000

Cockatoo Island is one of my favourite places in Sydney. The former ship building yards have been left largely intact - a rarity in this litigious age - with thoughtful historical signage directing the visitor to points of interest and advising on safety. "In the event of an emergency, call 000 and advise the operator you are on Cockatoo Island." I dread the day someone has to make use of this information. The 000 operator will most likely tell them they can't send an ambulance without the name of the nearest cross street. We accept that working repetitive jobs means switching your brain off somewhat. For some it was never really switched on - I was saddened but not surprised to have my requests at McDonalds for a bag of apple slices met with repeated shakes of the head and mumblings of "sorry, what?" by the girl at the counter, until her manager translated that I was asking for a fruit bag (she couldn't have worked out that a bag of apple slices might be ca

The Breastfeeding Wars

Is there any aspect of parenthood which is as emotion-charged, divisive and angst ridden as breastfeeding? Just mention breastfeeding on any parenting forum and the responses pour in - often highly emotive. If someone publishes an article on the benefits of private schooling, no one replies "we can't afford to send our kids to private school, so you shouldn't print stuff like this; it is cruel and hurtful". But mention the benefits of breastfeeding, and the will be a barrage of such responses on how people desperately tried to breastfeed and were unable to, so it is unfair to write of the benefits of breastfeeding. Perhaps, perhaps. Given that 90% of Australian women at least make an attempt to breastfeed, maybe more information on the benefits of breastfeeding is not what we need to increase breastfeeding rates. What is the answer then? Do we need as a society to be more understanding of the idea that breastfeeding is not for everyone? It seems like heresy to go agai

The Beauty of Newcastle

 The figs may be gone, and have left a scar on the city, but anyone who says the only beautiful thing about Newcastle is gone is wrong. Newcastle may have a strange brutal industrial beauty, but it's still one that breaks my heart.

Screwing It For The Kids

As a society we have an unfortunate tendency to get all worked up over nothing - then elect them. People elect Coalition governments hoping they will make everything better, then act surprised that they act like Coalition governments. The conservative side of politics doesn't have human interest as their main concern; they never have. So far in their just over ten months in office in NSW, the O'Farrell government has failed to do much of anything. Sure they inherited a dysfunctional public transport system from Labor, but they really should have made some progress by now; things are getting worse, not better. The NSW economy continues to tank. And this week, they have been responsible for three acts of incompetence and heartlessness affecting vulnerable kids. First, children with disabilities were left without assisted transport to school after the government failed to reach an agreement on funding for the scheme. Then it looks likely that school support services for students

Figs Fury

The sorry saga of the Laman St  figs in Newcastle has been dragging on for years - Newcastle City Council wanted these beautiful trees, an iconic symbol of Newcastle and one of the few pretty places in the CBD, to be removed, as the story goes, in order to construct an underground carpark under Civic Park, so they rushed through a proposal to remove them based on flimsy evidence they were a danger to public safety. The many supporters of the trees, outraged such pointless environmental vandalism could take place, fought every step of the way. I was horrified by the idea - posting  back in September 2010  about how beautiful the trees were, how much they meant to me, and how they must not be destroyed. Laman St Newcastle, September 2010 Yesterday, though, it was all over. At 5am (breaking their own noise regulations), Council sent in the chainsaws, and despite furious protests apparently necessitating the presence of the riot squad, by the end of the day substantial portions of the tree