There are countless stories about millionaires and their pampered thoroughbreds at this time of year. This is not one of them.
This is a story about a 74 year old bush harness racing trainer, an 84 year old owner and the slow, hopeless horse they wouldn’t send to the knackery, despite the fact it had raced 85 times without winning.
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Three more Australians are dead, and seven injured, in Afghanistan. It’s even more tragic because it appears the killer was an Afghan soldier, a colleague. Follow the news at news.com.au. Nathan Mullins spent time with the Australian Special Forces in Oruzgan, and this is his perspective on the many questions that beset Australia about our role in Afghanistan.
What are ‘we’ doing in Afghanistan? People ask me whether we can win the war. That’s not the important question. The question is whether we should be trying to ‘win’ in the first place. But before that the question is: who’s ‘we’? We the Coalition, we the Australian Army, we Australians, or indeed, we the western world? It’s a long way from Melbourne to Afghanistan, both geographically and figuratively, but when I had the chance to fight in the hills and valleys of Uruzgan with the Australian Special Forces, I did it. I needed to know if ‘we’ should be there.
When I decided to go I thought I represented the Australian Army. While I was there I realized that the people of Afghanistan feel isolated from the rest of the world. They didn’t see me as an Australian soldier, or an Australian really, they saw me as a citizen of a world that was so foreign to them as to barely exist.
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Matt Granfield is a typical Gen Y guy with a social conscience. He joined his friends in protesting at the Occupy Sydney movement. His Uncle Barry was shocked to see him on the television. The Vietnam war veteran doesn’t understand what Matt’s generation could possibly have to complain about. While Matt thinks his Uncle, with his Medicare assisted health care and addiction to consumer goods, should question what he hears on the news every night. Below is a copy of their email exchange.
From: Barry Granfield Sent: Sunday, 30 October 2011 10:20 AM
To: Matt Granfield
Subject: Occupy Wall Street Protests
Dear Matthew, I saw you on the news last week. I have to say, I’m most disappointed. This Occupy Sydney thing is a farce. I know you’ll say it’s hypocritical of me, but back in the 70s we were fighting against The Vietnam War and a government who locked people in jail for refusing to be conscripted. We had a good reason. This is just silly. What on earth are you protesting against? And since when did you learn to play the bongos?
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Here we go again – time to dig out the fascinator, grab a six-pack of Bacardi Breezers and wobble off on impractically high heels to Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.
At any other time of the year, the races are likely to be associated with dodgy bookies, the barbarism of jumps racing and problem gambling. Around this time, however, we start referring to it as the “sport of kings”, an elite, glamorous cultural event.
But how glamorous is it really when, for every one expensively-preened Fashions on the Field entrant, there are five young men wearing that consistently hilarious combination of tux and Aussie flag boxers? You can bet that while Lillian Frank or Peter Jago praise the young ladies present for returning to the modest and elegant trends of the 1920s, most people won’t go home without seeing at least a dozen women clutching a pair of vomit-speckled stilettos.
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Welcome to Monday y’all. While most of Australia spent the weekend in a bad mood after missed flights, delayed holidays and spending two days in crappy interstate hotel rooms, there was a good news story. But you have to be a romantic at heart to appreciate it.
Victorian barrister David Moen asked the solicitor sitting next to him at the bar table during a criminal trial to marry him. Yep, during the trial. Here’s how he described it: “The environment was right, the feeling was right and I just spoke from the heart. It wasn’t a prepared speech, I was just speaking to someone I love. Luckily, the prosecutor didn’t object.”
Luckier still was the woman in question, solicitor Melanie Hrvatin replied immediately with: “Absolutely, Your Honour”. Doesn’t that bring a tear to your eye? If that’s not among the most unusual marriage proposals you’ve ever heard, we want to know what is. So share it here. Or bang on about how much Qantas stuffed up your weekend.
Oh, and happy Halloween, although that seems a strange greeting.
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Somewhere in California a student is having a laugh. His name is Alan Joyce and he holds the Twitter handle @Alanjoyce. A number of people, of whom I am one, wrongly added that name to tweets on the grounding of Qantas (If you’re so proud of taking the “hard decision” how about making one about your pay @alanjoyce ? #qantas).
Fellow tweeps pointed out the error and corrections were quickly posted. I even apologized to Mr @alanjoyce, somewhat pointlessly as the Stanford student understands full well that he does not run an airline any more than the former Hawthorn coach (Alan Joyce) does.
The reason my @alanjoyce tweet got a life of its own was that so many people apparently agreed with the sentiment and retweeted it. Some did not agree but retweeted it too.
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You really have to wonder how spectacularly insecure or under-endowed a bloke must be if he chooses to demonstrate his masculinity by shooting a majestic animal such as a giraffe or a hippo.
Yet these are the very people which the self-styled hard man from North Queensland, Bob “No Poofters” Katter, has surrounded himself with as he builds a support base for his fledgling Australia Party.
It is tempting to write Katter off as a harmless nut or an amusing novelty on the political landscape who will never exert any influence over policy. The polls suggest however that his party may poll strongly in his home state at a federal election.
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I don’t have any huge vested interest, but I do enjoy a $20 flutter with Mum every couple of months. So what is all this fuss about pokies reform?
Will punters like me be affected? Will proposed changes really help the nation’s 95,000 pokie-playing problem gamblers (and a million other Aussies affected by the ripple)? And will the deal struck between the Gillard Government and Independent Andrew Wilkie decimate our pubs and clubs – indeed our way of life?
Number 1: The changes will have ZERO impact on the average recreational player. Most of us (88 per cent) spend less than $1 per button push. The mandatory pre-commitment cards proposed as part of these new reforms relate only to “high-intensity” betting of more than $1 per spin.
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Despite what Tony Abbott would have us believe, the striking thing about the build-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth was not division between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. It was the way they worked together.
The two rivals put differences aside to try to ensure that CHOGM is a success. And they will consider it a success if the Commonwealth leaders leave Australia with smiles on their faces.
That’s what it’s all about. Keeping all of the 53 delegations happy. Because folks, behind the talk about strengthening the Commonwealth’s commitment to democracy and human rights, the Gillard Government is approaching the summit as a $60 million PR exercise.
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The naturalist Charles Darwin observed that when confronted with a hostile and unliveable environment, organisms would mutate into strange new species never before seen on the planet.
While controversial when it was first published, this theory does at least explain the existence of Northern Territorians.
It is fitting that the city which bears Darwin’s name is also the home of a new master race that spends most of its waking hours trying to figure out how to keep beer cold.
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