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Celebrating Change

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During the month of Elul, our minds turn to Rosh Hashanah, and we reflect on the year which is drawing to a close. We have many different units for measuring time – seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years – and each serves a different purpose. To paraphrase Marc Levy, if you think a hundredth of a second is a short amount of time, ask the person who won the Olympic silver medal in the…

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Using Facebook – Baby Boomers vs Millennials

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I stumbled across a wonderful article that deals with the intersection of two of my favourite topics: intergenerational issues and the impact of social media on society. It analyses the starkly different ways that Facebook is used by Baby Boomers, as opposed to Millenials. It comes from a web site called The Cheat Sheet, which is “dedicated to providing audiences the information they want in an approachable, entertaining way”. But looking at the content and the…

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Superbowl LII Preview

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Another Superbowl, and like a bad rash, those Patriots just won’t go away. OK, that was a little cruel, but I think many people are waiting for this dynasty to end, and even predicting its downfall, yet time and again the Pats find ways to win, especially when it really matters. And that’s what goodgreat teams do. Having attended last year’s Superbowl, I was awestruck witnessing the most amazing comeback ever. Games like this affect…

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Can we de-politicise Australia Day?

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I’m sick and tired at the increasing frequency that big issues are politicised, and the regular straw-man arguments that often serve to reinterpret opinions as extreme and thus polarise us further. Most of us sit in the 80% of grey space in the middle, rather than the 10% at the extremes. Yet many of us are too easily caught up in those extremes, and have lost the ability to conduct nuanced debate in that grey…

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Same-sex marriage: right or social change?

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Disclaimer: some of these arguments regarding same-sex marriage are specific to Australia. The same-sex marriage debate continues to hot up in Australia as the Liberal party stumbles around, torn from within and without. Plebecite? Postal vote? Parliamentary conscience vote? But all of this is a side-show to the core debate. As a quick aside, it’s worth noting that anyone who uses the term ‘marriage equality’, rather than the neutral ‘same-sex marriage’, has made up their mind….

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Looking for justice in all the wrong places

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We have a criminal justice system, but how often and under what circumstances is it able to deliver just outcomes? To understand this, let’s first consider the  important features that make the system work: an independent judiciary, the assumption of innocence until proven guilty, that both sides of a case are heard, a trial before a jury of ones peers, and the due process surrounding all of this. These are the essential ingredients to reaching…

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The Language of Mistrust

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Language constantly evolves, and we coin new words and phrases to fit the zeitgeist – the dominant set of ideals and beliefs at any time. While usually language and pop culture are reflections of this zeitgeist, features of said culture can be hard to identify because we are deep inside of it. However, by studying the new words that have been coined, we can get a greater insight into the trends around us. I’ve noticed the increased use…

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Run-off vs Two-candidate-preferred

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The recent French Presidential election highlights the differences in voting systems between the run-off and the two-candidate-preferred system used (but not that well understood) in Australia. The outcome of the election process is to determine which (one) candidate is the choice of the people, and therefore has a mandate to rule on behalf of the people. When there are exactly two candidates, this is easy: one candidate would usually have more than 50% of the vote, and the…

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The Real Problem with Pauline Hanson

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Another week, another audacious and controversial statement by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. The recent terrorist attack in London prompted her to repeat her proposal for a “Muslim ban”, and present her own hashtag #Pray4MuslimBan instead of the sympathetic #PrayForLondon. Her statements temporarily reignited the debate about Muslim immigration and how we ought to respond to terror attacks – threatened and actual. But yet again, the debate was superficial and highly polarised, and quickly fizzled. Hanson’s statements are inflammatory and…

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On Gay Marriage, Polyamory, Slippery Slopes and Straw Men

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It started when I read recently that Cory Bernadi “equated gay marriage with bestiality“. Did he really do that? It sounds absurd! Before I go any further, an important disclaimer: this article does not take a position on gay marriage. Rather, it looks at the way it is debated and reported. In the current world of “media stories with dubious connections to reality” (which beats the now meaningless term “fake news“), I felt obligated to investigate further before commenting,…

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