Actor Johnny Depp is afraid of clowns. He says it’s because their smiles make it impossible to know “if they are happy or if they’re about to bite your face off”.
There is something irredeemably frightening about evil lurking behind a cheerful smile. This cheery rainbow-striped ski mask is creepy even before you know its back story. It’s as creepy as a clown’s face.
It’s not just the empty eyes or the terrifyingly inane smile (and what it hides); it’s the poisonous lure of the bright colours. This is the mask that Paul Douglas Peters was wearing when he broke into the Pulver family home and strapped a fake collar bomb to 18-year-old Maddie’s neck.
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Fear can be a powerful motivator but it eventually wanes, unless you can find a new bogeyman.
Take Australia’s retail sector, where it is fast becoming clear that we have a case of too many shops and not enough customers.
Despite our solid growth, there’s been a structural shift in behaviour away from debt-fuelled demand towards frugalism. The change has exposed a lot of small and medium businesses and if RBA Governor Glenn Stevens is right, the old days will not be back.
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A month or so ago an electrical storm over Melbourne had my 2.30pm flight from Sydney in all sorts of trouble. After two bouts of circling, a diversion to Canberra and a compulsory park on the tarmac long enough to watch a film, we finally disembarked at 9.20pm.
We had just spent the equivalent amount of time on that plane as a flight to Jakarta.
You can perhaps put this down to the normal vagaries of flying. But when you add in an industrial campaign and a twitchy company, it is fair to say that recently Australian flyers, or at least those who frequent the flying kangaroo, have tapped a rich vein of material for their almanac of aeroplane war stories.
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Winston Churchill once said a lie can get halfway round the world before the truth has a chance to put its boots on.
That’s what we’ve seen over the last few months when it comes to the Government’s carbon price.
While the government has sat down with industry and business, unions and community groups to painstakingly sort out the details of the carbon price, how it will work and who will be compensated, fear campaigns have been able to dominate the agenda.
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Is it un-Australian to be scared of the ocean? If so, I’m a traitor of the worst kind.
As New Year’s Eve countdowns by carefree, salt-encrusted water rats echoed around our beach resorts, I was thinking of the Poseidon Adventure: “... five, four, three, two, one, Happy New… Oh, Christ, a tidal wave!”... and the passengers who are having the most sex, drinking the most, laughing the loudest and having all the fun die horribly.
Aussie surf champ Stephanie Gilmore considers the sea a refuge from nutcases with iron bars - but really it is a cold and forbidding place.
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