There’s a very simple reason why watching other people confess their sins never fails to be fascinating – and that’s because they’re other people’s sins.
There is no worse feeling than the gnawing, tight, gut-wrenching sensation you experience when you know you’ve done the wrong thing, and realise that only you can fix it.
And it’s becoming impossible not to keep searching for some sign of that feeling among all the photos of Lance Armstrong this week.
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Lance Armstrong, the biggest drugs cheat in sport, is having a friend over this week. The pair may compare inspiring quotes - both have spawned industries in them - and talk about the spiritual enlightenment that grows in adversity.
There will be a confession - or so says the press release - and there may be tears and a hug. Armstrong may even try telling the truth for the first time in a decade or two.
But let’s not get carried away. Armstrong has had five months since he was outed as a slimebag to practise his best version of honesty, the one that is least likely to lead to lawsuits and most likely to spark the first flickerings of public support.
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Parenting’s surprisingly easy when you’re not a parent. I’d never let them watch television, they’d be outside running around pretty much all the time, I’d never get angry and I’d NEVER lie to them and tell them Father Christmas is real.
Piece of cake. Well, piece of organic apple, maybe.
It must be much more fraught when you’re embedded with the real thing, where not only are you forced to make decisions while sleep deprived, but every move you make puts you in the firing line of the judging hordes.
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Struggling to get a handle on where the economy is heading? Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re facing an uphill battle. Nobody tells the truth about the economy.
All the main sources of economic information - politicians, business people, economists and even journalists - are hopelessly conflicted when it comes to talking honestly about the economy. Let me lift the veil a little.
It shouldn’t shock you to learn politicians often bend the truth, particularly on such a hot button election issue as the economy. The political Punch and Judy show over government debt is a good example.
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Bill Kelty’s awkward syntax and mumbled diction have always been a bit of a paradox. For 17 years to 2000, he was the influential head of the industrial wing of the labour movement - a crucial ideas generator for the most successful ALP federal government in our history.
He was also a gifted communicator, there being few people who could pack more meaning into so few words.
It makes for a startling contrast with the current crop of politicians who rely on workshopped lines and regard not being trapped into revealing what they actually think as the mark of a successful interview.
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Research released this week by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR) shows that 95 per cent of people are unable to correctly identify safe alcohol drinking levels.
This suggests that only a small minority of Australians is aware of or concerned about short- and long-term harms associated with excessive and prolonged drinking.
Not only are people ignorant of the risks, they are reluctant to be honest about how much they drink – with themselves, their family and friends, and with their doctor.
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The campaign tactics of all major parties in the NSW election proved we live in an atmosphere where truth is negotiable and lying is routinely accepted as a political necessity.
The result is widespread public cynicism that often masquerades as humour - but is, in fact, an excellent form of crowd control.
We do not expect our politicians to amount to much, so we are neither surprised nor particularly upset when they don’t. Rather than demand reform, we tell cynical jokes and are bemused by their brazen immorality.
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American celebrity culture and Australian politics don’t often make for useful comparisons - but then, it’s not every day that Charlie Sheen comes along.
Sheen is a highly amusing egomaniac but - unlike most Australian politicians - he also tells the truth. “I believe in the truth and that’s what rules me”, Sheen said in an interview with Andrea Canning for the ABC network in America. He certainly does.
When asked to describe the last time he used drugs, Sheen said, “I probably took more than anyone could survive… I was banging seven gram rocks… that’s how I roll. I have one gear—go.” It’s the answer no one else would’ve given even if they had’ve banged seven gram rocks (which I assume means consuming a lot of cocaine).
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The dodgiest place to go for information used to be Wikipedia.
In 2006, its burlesque unreliability was parodied on the satirical web site The Onion which suggested the on-line encyclopedia was celebrating 750 years of American independence.
This fake news story said that, according to the Wikipedia database, America was 212 years older than the Eiffel Tower, 347 years older than the earliest-known woolly-mammoth fossil, and a full 493 years older than the microwave oven.
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