Dear Peaceful Inhabitants of an Ancient Island,
There are several things you should know about the hordes of young Australians visiting you this week who are collectively known as “Schoolies”.
The first thing is, some of them actually own shirts. Sure, they haven’t worn them much this week, but they do own them.
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Humanity is facing a crisis of moral leadership - men and women of character who can choose wisely and well in the difficulties, dilemmas and complexity of contemporary business and government.
One of the biggest risks we face today is an assumption that because people share or subscribe to our corporate values, that they in fact share our moral perspective. Enron, LIBOR, AWB, unanswered questions at Note Printers Australia, and any number of examples would indicate immediately that is not the case.
The public travails of St John’s College and its students throw into stark relief the need to ask questions of potential employees to gain an insight about their moral outlook. It would be foolish of any organisation to assume that academic prowess equates with sound character.
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I went to Sydney Uni, fell in love with a girl who attended one of the residential colleges and married her 10 years later. Our courtship didn’t start smoothly. One night, just as things began to get steamy for the first time, a vomit competition started up in the hallway outside her room.
Yes, a vomit competition. On the hallway carpet. A projectile vomit competition, to be precise. Don’t ask me how the contest worked. Maybe it was a distance thing. Maybe it had something to do with the ratio of carrot chunks. Either way, those competitive vomiters embodied (or should that be disembodied?) everything that is wrong with the old communal colleges in the sandstone universities.
This week, Sydney Archbishop George Pell announced he would step in and try to fix the ongoing mess at Sydney Uni’s St John’s College. His intervention comes after years of shameful incidents, including the near-death of a female student after an initiation ritual gone wrong. It’s a good move by Pell, but I’ve got a better one. Disband the colleges altogether.
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A primary school in Western Australia has taken the eminently sensible move of handing out detention to a 12 year old student who hugged a classmate, in a major victory for behavioural and education standards.
As revealed by the extremely huggable journalist Chris Paine on news.com.au today, Bunbury’s Adam Park Primary School has a longstanding ban on hugs, yet the girl cynically thumbed her nose at school rules, and has been punished accordingly.
The incident shines an overdue spotlight on the scourge of hugs at a time when school playgrounds are awash with numerous less serious transgressions which attract far more attention from the useless, myopic media.
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I was given tickets to hear former Prime Minister John Howard give an address at Adelaide’s Elder Hall recently. Curious as to what he might say in the current political climate and given that I had been promised Hungry Jacks afterward, I went along.
As he got up to speak, a heckler stood and started decrying Mr Howard as a war criminal and a liar. Sure, it was a bold move in a room full of people I assume – judging by all the pearls and popped collars – were Liberal Party members, but I couldn’t help thinking how unbelievably stupid this man was.
I’m not sure what outcome he had in mind. Perhaps he hoped that by shouting abuse in a public forum that Mr Howard might exchange email addresses with him or set a meeting to flesh out the issue at a more convenient time.
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This piece offers a different perspective to the Chris Urquhart column we’re running today on The Punch. Yep, we’re all for balance here.
If you missed it, on Monday the NRL team the Canterbury Bulldogs were coping the heat after allegedly verbally abusing a female television reporter during Mad Monday celebrations.
The alleged comments included; “there are some ladies here to stick their heads in your pants,” “s—- me off you dumb dog” and “I want to go and punch you in the face.”
Most of us are not surprised that footballers act like idiots, particularly after watching the NRL Grand Final where a fight broke out and one player bit another player’s ear.
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US Celebrity news website TMZ has a deliciously succinct three word poll today. It reads, quite simply: Harry. Awesome? Disgraceful?
After tens of thousands of reader responses, “Awesome” is winning by a ratio of around 70:30. This confirms something Australians have felt instinctively for some time, which is that the day of the stodgy royal is over. We don’t want beefeaters, we want beefy young blokes with lusty appetites.
The world has changed since the merest sighting of a begloved royal sent us into apoplexy. We still want them to reign over us, or some of us do, but we want them real. When Harry is done inspecting the royal guards and helping the victims of landmines, he’s perfectly entitled to have a nude romp in Las Vegas. In fact, many of us expect nothing less.
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Not for a minute am I suggesting young Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic is immature. That said, it’d be better if he took his anger out on his bathtime rubber duckie instead of the immaculate turf of Wimbledon.
Seriously, far be it for a balding suburban slob like me to suggest a 19 year old isn’t entitled to show some raw emotion. It’s just that, well, you’d love to see some of that aggression channelled into smashing his opponents instead of his own racquets.
Look, clearly Tomic has grown up of late. Everyone around him will tell you that almost as as eagerly as young Bernie himself. And y’know, you’d almost be inclined to believe him if it wasn’t so damned obvious he’s wearing a huge nappy under those oversized shorts.
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I love Wimbledon, not for the tennis, not for the spectacle and not for the strawberries and cream. I love Wimbledon for the fact that, once a year, the world’s best players lob into London and prove that you don’t have to spit to play sport.
Spitting has become synonymous with some sports. Modern soccer players dribble as much with their mouths as with their feet. It’s foul but not a foul.
AFL, Union, League and even cricket have become mouth-watering for all the wrong reasons. If you’re watching these sports then you’re watching players spit. And if you’re doing so on Foxtel then you’re paying to watch players spit.
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On Saturday night, Robert Lui will take the field for the North Queensland Cowboys, even though his previous NRL club, the Wests Tigers, tore his contract up.
Late last season, Lui was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He’ll appear in court on March 21.
Like any person with a matter before the courts, Lui is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But that doesn’t mean the sporting code which registers him should be powerless to intervene in his affairs.
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Poor old Wayne Swan! He may be the world’s best treasurer but he can’t get the big banks to be nice to consumers.
It’s a bit like the world’s best dad asking a family member to behave or be nice to the other members of the household. And that’s the point. We have four big banks that, despite being valued members of society or the Australian “family,” are being self-centred and not very nice to consumers or the Australian household.
We then have a federal Treasurer and PM who are supposed to be guardians of the Australian household or economy being ignored by the big banks. And that’s after the federal Treasurer has been so nice to the big banks.
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Ten years ago, I drove cabs for a living. I’m pretty much done telling taxi stories, but there’s one I’ll share today, as it’s more or less in the spirit of Christmas.
It was the Friday before Christmas and I was working the area around Coogee/Maroubra on Sydney’s eastern suburbs beaches. It was a favourite spot to work as the fares were regular, and I stayed out of the city traffic.
So in the early evening, I pick up three young guys in South Coogee. They’re 18, maybe 19, and they get in the cab carrying brown paper bags filled with booze. They say “hey driver, can we drink this in here?”
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This all started when a bearded, talentless big mouth couldn’t handle a spot of criticism. So instead of flinging a few well-aimed barbs at his critics, he decided to shoot the messenger. What a tough guy.
Let the record show that Kyle deserved the derision. His show contained, among other mind-numbing stupidity, a segment where he felt a guest’s boobs. The ratings didn’t lie. They rarely do. An initial audience of 1.3 million shrunk to a paltry 200,000 within minutes.
Afterwards Twitter went into meltdown canning the show. Enter numerous entertainment reporters and bloggers who duly recorded the Twitter mood. One of them was news.com.au’s Alison Stephenson. Ali is capable of excellent colour writing on her day, but on this occasion, she wrote a completely straight, unremarkable account of the Twitter reaction.
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We have no TV. We’re not weird. We’re not above TV. We’re just victims of appliance violence.
The guy who helped install the screen just a few weeks ago was called back. He couldn’t confirm whether the damage was from a projectile or a head butt.
All he could confirm was that I could use the warranty to wipe away my children’s tears. And with that our life post-television (PTV) began.
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Talented, graceful Gold Coaster Sam Stosur has won her maiden grand slam title against probably the most ill-tempered so-called sportsperson ever to play any game.
Stosur beat Williams 6-2 6-3 in an incredible display of power tennis, launching blistering forehand after forehand, as Serena Williams resorted to umpire abuse in a vain attempt to disrupt her opponent.
Incredibly, on America’s day of national mourning, the Williams antics backfired and the New York crowd turned against one of its own. The Big Apple knows a bad apple when it sees one.
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Child psychologists everywhere will hate me for what I am about to say but I hope they take a good long hard look at what’s going on in England and think about how they’re teaching modern parenting.
In light of the riots in England, stories about the evils of smacking are a load of bunkum.
I’m old fashioned when it comes to raising my child. I’ve smacked. I admit it.
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The mere thought of taking a small child to a supermarket makes me tense. I twist up like a pretzel. One is bad enough, passing through the turnstile with two or more is basically extreme sport.
I watch in awe when I see an adult with a veritable litter in and around their trolley. I try not to stare when the adult agrees to: a fistful of Wiggles toothbrushes; the laxatives that their two year old is convinced are a chocolate bar; and a Disney torch, just to keep the peace, just to keep moving.
Then, and only when the trolley is half full, the one year old has commenced imitating a car alarm and the two year old is opening the laxatives, I overhear the four year old make a most compelling and specific case for locating the bathroom instantly.
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The bad manners of the internet are now turning up on the air waves and on the street to create one of the rudest political debates Australia has seen.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is being hit by the type of public nastiness which would have embarrassed and horrified most people a decade ago.
She has been called a liar to her face by a woman who constantly referred to the Prime Minister as Julia; Sydney radio figure Ray Hadley this week called her an imbecile; at anti-carbon price rallies she appears on banners as a witch or even a bitch.
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Tony Abbott once said that his written words carried more weight than his off-the-cuff utterances. This week, words of both varieties played their part.
Barnaby Joyce’s unqualified promise that under the Coalition, income tax cuts and pension increases granted to sweeten the new carbon tax would be taken back, will probably haunt the Coalition later this term assuming the Government gets its tax through.
But the coldly re-stated promise, delivered this week with all the electoral sensitivity we’ve come to expect from senators, was lost for now in the furore over a cat-calling incident.
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Here’s a game: Pretend you’re famous and the public is interested in the minutiae of your life.
What would the media dig out? How would you be presented? For many of us that’s a frightening thought.
Did you inhale? Have you ever said something inappropriate? Any bitchy ex-colleagues or schoolmates lurking around? Did you ever drink too much, sleep with the wrong person, or get close to someone bad?
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Are you 32 years of age or over? Are you having trouble sleeping and starting to worry more? Are your grocery bills getting bigger? Do you find yourself tuning into to daytime soaps with alarming regularity? Or turning in early so you’re fresh for the morning? Are you scolding people around you for leaving socks on the floor? Do you write thank you notes?
Don’t panic. You are not losing your mind. You’re just entering the stage of life Hallmark calls “mum-metamorphosis.”
By definition: an “inescapable stage of life” starting at 32 years of age where people are most likely to start inheriting maternal mannerisms, behaviour and in many cases, repeating their mum’s most favourite spoken lines.
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