There aren’t many television shows worth watching but I would urge everybody to go out and buy the five season DVD box set of the American drama Friday Night Lights. This critically acclaimed and largely unwatched program is ostensibly about the tribulations of a high school gridiron team in the fictitious Texan town of Dillon.
It is in reality a show about life itself, and the good and bad judgments which people make while growing up and as adults, and the ramifications those decisions have on their lives and the lives of others.
The star of the show is the intense but big-hearted Eric Taylor, the coach of the Dillon Panthers, whose determination to win is tempered by his compassion for the young men under his charge.
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It’s good to be big. But being big doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing good things.
Think what people mean when they refer to Big Pharma, Big Liquor, Big Tobacco, the big supermarkets - and talk about the big banks.
Brace yourselves - we’re entering the age of Big Social.
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Emmanuel Jal was around seven years old when he was recruited as a soldier for the Sudanese Liberation Army. He’s now become a hit musician. But how did he get from one to the other? He explained his story to The Punch.
Can you describe for us how you were recruited to the Sudanese Liberation Army, and how you felt at the time?
I was 7 years old and I had been sent to a refugee camp in Ethiopia by my father to receive schooling and to leave the war behind. Whilst I was at the camp, under the UN’s nose SPLA commanders were rallying the children and young people together.
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On very rare occasions, having an incompetent rabble on the Treasury benches can be a blessing in disguise.
Those of you with long memories will recall that in the early days of the Rudd Government, the then Education Minister Julia Gillard promised that by 2011, Australia would have a national curriculum for Maths, Science, English and History.
Shortly thereafter it became obvious they weren’t going to make it and so the deadline was pushed back to 2012, then to 2013 and now it seems we’ll be lucky to see it before 2014.
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The week started with a kerfuffle about pokie machines and footy – something that’s likely to flare up again as the Ultimate Footy Weekend cranks up. Women got the go-ahead to fight on the frontlines and Andrew Bolt lost his court case. Here on The Punch, Geoff Lemon poked fun at Australia’s standing in the world, Lucy produced some really detailed reportage from the Upper Hunter about coal seam gas, the Angry Cripple filled us in about a system that denies people basic justice and Emma Jane sparked a fire with her column on absent dads.
Kevin Rudd made an embarrassing Freudian slip, another group of nerds stirred some controversy in Adelaide, the benefits of bitching were made clear and Ben McKelvey labelled a Jimmy Barnes endorsement a working class sham. I reported on an Australian “oath of loyalty”, the PM turned 50 and got a dog that Tory explained just isn’t a dog.
We’ll have an open thread devoted to the footy this weekend as well. I’t's Friday! Happy long weekend (if you’ve got one)!
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Hybrid vigour? I call bullshit. These designer dogs are just mongrels with a ludicrous price tag. Keep your bullshit special-purpose cross breed, your genetically manipulated bundle of non-shedding joy.
Keep your Labradoodles and Shegroodles, your Foxyhuahuas and Afghanitas, your Bullalutes.
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It’s easy to defend free speech when you support a speaker’s views. It’s harder when you oppose them. Now, after the ruling in the Bolt case, free speech champions – even those who dislike and disagree with Andrew Bolt – should be speaking out.
They line up, to the right and to the left, the self-appointed arbiters of political and societal fashion, the media commentariat. From their pulp pulpits they lay down how we ordinary Australians should think. Their words today are the gospels of tomorrow, regurgitated in dozens of accents and emphases throughout workplaces, bars and coffee shops as well and re-broadcast by phone, email and Twitter.
The best known is Alan Jones, motor mouth of the airwaves, syndicated nationally on commercial radio, hard-core conservative. But there are a dozen or two others, in newspapers and on radio and TV, of various political shades. Most of the time, the harsh pronouncements wash us by, grating and irritating in equal measure on either side of public debate. But occasionally they hit the mark, roughly on target: a surge of public opinion forces focused governments to respond to what appears to be the will of the people.
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When UK expat and young mum Jessica Green stood up at her Australian citizenship ceremony at Sydney’s Petersham Town Hall a few weeks ago to sing the national anthem, something quite bizarre happened.
It didn’t have anything to do with her singing (although she says she hates singing). A few “suggested videos” popped up on the big screen near the new Aussie citizens when the YouTube clip playing the national anthem finished. One of which was the Nazi national anthem.
“Everyone was staring at it, like: are you serious?” Jessica laughs. “That was slightly awkward.”
Otherwise, she says, it was a really nice ceremony. People of all backgrounds, many dressed in green and gold and some draped in the Australian flag, pledged their allegiance to Australia. In ceremonies like this year-round, people who have successfully completed the mountains of paperwork and passed the test required to become a citizen take an oath of loyalty to Australia. And now a prominent Gillard Government minister has floated the idea of getting kids to take the same pledge of citizenship at school.
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To become a member of the Geelong Football Club you need a name, a birth date and an address.
In March 2007 my wife Rachel was in the family way. Thanks to an ultrasound, a planned caesar, and a stable household, for yet-to-be born Harvey I already had the three pieces of information. So with Rachel twenty weeks pregnant, Harvey became a member of the Geelong Football Club: in utero.
He is, to this day, officially the youngest ever member of the Cats.
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In a New York nursing home, a bunch of 80-year-old women are sitting around in cliques, bitching about each other.
They’re also hogging the communal television set, saving seats at the dinner table for “certain” people and bossing each other around during the leisure activities: That is not how you play bridge, Ethel, so you can’t come anymore!
I’d like to think they’re wearing hair nets, knitting for their grandkids and drinking copious cups of tea with lipstick smeared on the cup,while they’re doing it. But the point is they’re doing it – mouthing off about each other, just like a bunch of teenagers.
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