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Showing posts from July, 2012

Night Time Violence? Blame Alan Jones

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As the world reels from yet another gun massacre in the US, many Australians are expressing their relief that apart from rare horrific exceptions, such tragedies don't happen here. Whether it's because of our gun laws - the stricter gun laws enacted in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre are about the only thing I'll give credit to John Howard for - or some other factor, we don't face random shootings in public places on a regular basis, and for that we can all be grateful.

It's hard to say that it's because we have a less violent culture than the US. With the funeral yesterday for Thomas Kelly, killed in a senseless act of unprovoked violence on his first visit to Kings Cross, there has been much discussion of alcohol- and drug- fuelled violence. Our streets aren't safe at night, the narrative runs; because of slack policing/an oversupply of venues serving alcohol/kids these days having no respect for authority, there's an epidemic of brawls, assaults …

Fair's Fair In School Funding

Conservatives claim to believe in equality. I'm sure they honestly think they do; it's just that they seem a little confused about what "equality" actually means. To them, it means literally providing the same opportunities to everyone. Take the issue of school funding.

Conservatives see nothing wrong with the government giving money to already wealthy private schools (not all private schools are wealthy, but the wealthy schools get their share of the booty). To them, the government providing annual funding of, say, $20,000 per student - whether that student attends The Kings School or Walgett Primary - is completely fair and equitable, because everyone's getting the same. It's so far from the truth.

The idea of equity is to redress the balance. Within reason, all kids should have the same opportunities to do well at school. The problem with funding every school child at the same level is that some kids start life at a huge disadvantage; they need more - more f…

Novocastrians: Just A Little Bit Different

Let me just say right now, I love living in Newcastle. Love love love it. I love getting anywhere in twenty minutes, love walking from Nobbys to Newcastle beach, love the lack of pretension, love the awesome community I've slipped into. That said, there are some things I've noticed about Novocastrians and there ways that are just a little...different. I didn't really notice when I lived here before - it was just how things were, I knew nothing else - but after five years in inner Sydney, the cultural differences stand out, and they can be a little jarring.

Mind Your Ps and Qs
In Sydney, with thousands of people wanting to be everywhere at once, queuing is grudgingly accepted as a fact of life. Not here. Unused to it, Novocastrians can't, don't, won't queue up for anything. Witness three people approaching an ATM at once. Rather than forming a queue based on rough order of arrival, people will approach, stop at an oblique angle to the machine, and stare at a fixed…