Vol 26 No 24

04 December 2016

Wise men present iPhone to bemused Holy Family. Cartoon by Chris Johnston


DOWNLOAD PDF


EDUCATION

Christmas encounter with an unremembered student

9 Comments
19 December 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Kalamata post officeI have no idea how many students I've taught in two countries. I remember, usually, the high achievers and their troublesome and often troubled opposites, but most are a blur: the human memory has its limits. On the other hand I think I can name all the teachers I ever had: this, of course, is much easier to do. There was more evidence of this today. I was in the Kalamata post office, waiting my turn and clutching a fistful of cards bound for Australia, when a bearded young man asked me a question.


INTERNATIONAL

Guilt edged smartphones an unhappy Christmas gift

22 Comments
18 December 2016 | Francine Crimmins

Cartoon by Chris Johnston shows the three wise men presenting an iPhone to an appalled Holy Family.A few years ago I woke up on Christmas morning to see a small, neatly wrapped gift under the tree. The size and shape were familiar and I was excited to see my name on the gift tag. I'd wanted a new phone all year ... one with one of those touch screens everyone else seemed to have. A few months later I could no longer feel pride for my phone, instead just guilt. I'd sat down and watched a documentary about how phones just like mine were manufactured.


ECONOMICS

Financial literacy programs need to get real

8 Comments
15 December 2016 | Rachel Kurzyp

young boy stacking coinsStudies have found that in Australia, groups with the poorest financial awareness and skills are those under 25, those with no formal post-secondary education, those on low incomes and working 'blue collar occupations', and women. While it makes sense to provide these groups with financial information on home loans and super, this wouldn't have helped my mother when she had to decide between, say, buying groceries for the week or getting the car serviced.


INTERNATIONAL

Fall of Aleppo caps off wretched 2016

12 Comments
15 December 2016 | Jeff Sparrow

Donald Trump gives peace signAssad's victory epitomises, in a sense, the reactionary tide prevailing just about everywhere in this, the Year of the Donald. The hopes raised during the Arab Spring have, it seems, been crushed, with the Syrian regime consolidating its grip over a nation it has oppressed for so long. Yet Aleppo also illustrates how little the Right's victories have actually settled. The Right's biggest asset is often the Left, with progressives seemingly determined to validate all the smears levelled against them.


AUSTRALIA

Christmas story trumps the games that power plays

11 Comments
15 December 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Cover illustration for TS Elliot's 'Journey of the Magi'TS Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi' ends with the ambiguous line, 'I would be glad of another death'. If we set alongside one another the birth of a new and sour political order and the birth that is central to the first Christmas story, we are challenged to resolve the ambiguity. We may give up our hopes for a just and peaceful world, retire from it as gracefully as we can, and accept the victory of power and brutality. Or we can return to the Christmas story and to the hope that is central to it.


RELIGION

My mother's burqa: an irreverent history

2 Comments
13 December 2016 | Irfan Yusuf

Woman in NiqabSome of my South Asian 'aunties' are very much opposed to wearing any religious head covering. Mum has only recently started wearing a tiny Egyptian number she picked up during her last Haj. Like many South Asians, she has become a bit more religiously observant as she gets older. She grew up in the Indian university town of Aligarh, some 140km South East of Delhi. Aligarh was a very conservative town, and her father, a professor at the local university, was a rather conservative chap.


REVIEWS

Ten movies that really got to us this year

3 Comments
13 December 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Still from AnomalisaAmid the noise of Batman battling Superman, the Avengers turning against each other, and middle aged fanboys whingeing about the Ghostbusters franchise being revitalised with an all-female lead cast, 2016 has actually been a pretty solid year for movies, both in and outside of Hollywood. We haven't had time to see them all (we have a magazine to publish, after all) but nonetheless here is a list of our ten favourite films reviewed in Eureka Street this year.


AUSTRALIA

Moderates must realise whiteness rests on oppression

7 Comments
13 December 2016 | Neve Mahoney

Brown pawn faces array of white chess piecesIf the political trash-fire of 2016 has taught us anything, it's that white moderates are more than willing to throw minorities under the bus in order to preserve the status quo. It comes out in their tone policing. It comes out in calls for 'respectful' dialogue without considering how socio-political power structures mean minorities are always at a disadvantage in those kinds of conversations. Whiteness has always been a moving target and has more to do with power and privilege than skin colour.


Christmas blighted by child detention obscenity

7 Comments
13 December 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Children in detentionThis year International Migrants Day has called for children to be released from detention. It is appropriate that an event held in the shadow of Christmas should advocate for children. For they lie at the heart of Christmas. The insistence in the Gospel stories on the obligation to respect and nurture children is not exclusive to Christians. It is echoed in the attention to children and concern for their growth into responsible adults shared by other religions and cultures.


CARTOON

Hark! the climate sceptics sing

2 Comments
12 December 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Santa, his sleigh sunk in North Pole slush, assures his reindeers that Malcolm Roberts et al say they have nothing to worry about. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


ECONOMICS

Hollowed out labour market stymies equal opportunity

5 Comments
12 December 2016 | Veronica Sheen

Woman corporateOver the last two decades we have seen a process of job polarisation. There has been growth in high end jobs, but mostly in low end jobs, the outcome of which has been the hollowing out of middle level jobs. This hollowing out of the middle also relates to greater wealth polarisation, as French economist Thomas Piketty has brought to light. The labour market is under a lot of pressure from many angles, so what does this mean for the project of women's equal opportunity in employment?


CREATIVE

GOMA's summer of frivolous art

5 Comments
12 December 2016 | Sarah Klenbort

Colourful pompomsI will always remember the first time I saw Giacommeti's statues in in Europe. They were grotesquely thin, elongated people. Giacometti explained how he tried to make people with more flesh, but after World War II and the six million, it was impossible. And so those statues reflect the time he lived in. Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art, on the other hand, is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and has chosen fairy floss and rainbow fuzz to reflect our current society.


INTERNATIONAL

Theresa May's disingenuous Saudi stance

7 Comments
11 December 2016 | Daniel Read

Theresa MayThe British Prime Minister is many things. Depending on which side of the political spectrum you're on, she's either a trailblazing female politician set on reclaiming Britain's independent role in Europe, or just another callous, career orientated Conservative ill-suited to the challenges at hand. One quality she does appear to possess, however, is a degree of honesty, particularly when it comes to Britain's controversial take on human rights and foreign trade. Or does she?


CREATIVE

Mekong coconut workers

11 December 2016 | Brendan Ryan

Splitting coconutWatch the man in his stained shirt barefoot under the palms. Adrift from younger workers he manages a rhythm, a cigarette-dangling-from-the-lip focus. His lined face belies the strength of his forearms, thrusting each coconut onto a metal spike that is his altar. Seven days a week he splits coconuts with the precision required to not sever a wrist in a country with no health insurance. Upriver, in the seamy heat of the Mekong Delta, it could be the 19th century. I don't know where to look.


INTERNATIONAL

Behind Trump's 'Happy Gilmore' moment with Taiwan

2 Comments
08 December 2016 | Jeremy Clarke

xxxxxTrump's phone call with Tsai Ing-wen is to diplomacy what Happy Gilmore's slap shot was to the Pro Golf Tour. It defies all convention, is appallingly out of context, and should not even work, but it might just augur a new way of doing things. That conversation disrupted previous norms, some of which resulted from decades of delicate, often secret, negotiations. In the midst of the confected outrage it is worth considering the event within the context of contemporary US-China relations.


AUSTRALIA

Elderly tourists on border control hit list

22 Comments
07 December 2016 | Catherine Marshall

Old woman with suitcaseWhat does it take to secure room at Australia's inn? For the refugee, it's virtually impossible, with a fraction of the many millions of displaced people in the world granted entry into this privileged country each year. Those who immigrate here, like my own family did, must engage in an expensive and convoluted process. But the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has now subjected a third group of people to its program of suspicion and inhospitality: elderly tourists.


INTERNATIONAL

When we give ourselves permission

12 Comments
07 December 2016 | Fatima Measham

Racist posterIt is hard to overstate the sort of things that become permissible when the dominant political culture appeals to our darker nature. Take the cascade of brutality in the Philippines, or the stream of hateful incidents in the US. In Australia, white supremacist groups staged 'victory rallies' after the US election, and posters appeared last weekend at Melbourne University telling 'dunecoons, shitskins, niggers, chinks' to get out. This permissiveness isn't just about Trump, though he is a catalyst.


AUSTRALIA

Bond notes bode ill for Zimbabwe's currency calamity

2 Comments
06 December 2016 | Tariro Ndoro

Zimbabwe currencyLast week, the much dreaded bond notes were released into the economy, in a move hoped to alleviate the cash crisis. Most citizens are negative about the move, with good reason - the last time Zimbabwe had its own currency was 2009, when inflation was so high the currency had to be dropped to salvage the economy. Most Zimbabweans remember that time well: every other month citizens had to drive to Botswana to put food on the table because the country's own shops were empty.


REVIEWS

Kids bear the bite of fractured family foibles

06 December 2016 | Tim Kroenert

Families can be sites of great love and nourishment, and also of pain and trauma - often, all of these things, to varying degrees. The Family Fang focuses on the lives of adults bearing the mental and emotional ramifications of what can fairly be described as an abusive upbringing. It provides an illuminating counterpoint to Little Men, in which the close and sincere friendship of teenage boys comes under strain from their parents' 'grown-up' problems.


AUSTRALIA

The wild, normal diversity of the modern family

6 Comments
05 December 2016 | Ann Deslandes

Still from Gayby BabyI'm a 36 year old white Australian who grew up middle class in suburban Adelaide. I can count on one hand the number of households in the streets I lived on which were always-already made up of a mum-dad-kids scenario. The research on children's attachment, development and resilience shows kids need meaningful, culturally appropriate relationships with caring and competent adults in order to thrive as human beings. These adults can be pretty much anyone as long as they fit that bill.


CARTOON

Stumped and Trumped

05 December 2016 | Fiona Katauskas

Santa laments the difficulty of writing a 'naughty' list in the post-truth era. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


CREATIVE

Tips for surviving Christmas angst

5 Comments
05 December 2016 | Barry Gittins

Kid in Santa hat looks out rainy windowCricket games, feasts, the origami orgy of Christmas present wrappings rent asunder ... the underlying truth in all of this, for many of us, is deep emotional pain and loneliness that's gone unheard, unnoticed, all year. Family is both a lodestone and a millstone at Christmas. It's a truth magnified by aspirational love. As Pope John XXIII once said, cutting close to home, 'Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.' It's a big ask that carries a price.


AUSTRALIA

Watching the 'mixed bag' Senate cross bench at work

4 Comments
04 December 2016 | John Warhurst

Derryn HinchTo say the Senate cross bench is a mixed bag is an understatement. All that is really lacking is an extreme left senator unrestrained by Labor/Green discipline. Amid all the controversy I've grown comfortable with their place in the Senate and appreciative of their collective presence in an otherwise party dominated chamber. They each have their flaws, but they make a generally positive contribution to public discussion and to ultimate legislative outcomes. We are better off for their presence.


CREATIVE

No vacancy at the inn (or anywhere else in Australia)

5 Comments
04 December 2016 | Marlene Marburg

No Vacancy signPlease god of the fit and strong, forbid we should become 'the un-lucky country'. Help us to conjure the nerve to say, There is no room for you here in Australia. No vacancies. All full up. You will be turned away while you are trying to give your family respite from poverty or war. We have no room for you. We are using our space for shops. And Christmas trees.


MEDIA

Religious media cuts undermine harmony

21 Comments
04 December 2016 | Kasy Chambers

John ClearyThere has been a slow trickle of news outlets in Australia winding back their coverage of religion over recent years. Some might argue that this is a good thing in a secular democracy, and that discussion of religion creates division. This however flies in the face of the overwhelming good that religious belief, and religious-based organisations, do in this country. Not to mention the fact that religion and ethics are a major part of the narrative of society, of how we live together and how we form a community.


RELIGION

Why the seal of the confessional should remain in tact

18 Comments
04 December 2016 | Frank Brennan

ConfessionalOne distinctively Catholic practice is personal confession in which an individual confesses to God their sins and seeks forgiveness in the presence of and at the hands of a priest. Some groups and individuals are proposing to the royal commission that the seal of the confessional no longer be inviolable. I was quoted in The Australian saying, 'If a law is introduced to say that a priest should reveal a confession, I'm one of those priests who will disobey the law.' Being also a lawyer, let me explain.


ENVIRONMENT

How to relieve poverty in India without endangering the planet

9 Comments
01 December 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan delivers Tata lectureNeither India nor Australia can go it alone when confronting a global issue such as climate change. India cannot disregard the effects on other nations when it adopts laws and policies for alleviating the poverty of the poorest of the poor. Australia cannot disregard the effects on other nations when it considers restricting the availability of resources for export such as coal which might help provide electricity for the world's poorest citizens.


INTERNATIONAL

Khmer stories illuminate our world's present brutality

3 Comments
28 November 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Writing for Raksmey by Joan HealyI spent some summers in the border camps around the same time as Healy. This was life-changing: it made me subsequently look at policies from the perspective of those affected by them. But on reading these stories told by from the perspective of the Khmer people I recognised how much of their life I had not noticed. This gap between perception and reality may be pertinent to reflection on how we are to respond to the startling recent shifts in our world and to the brutality that runs through them.