I haven’t had much chance to write much over the last couple of weeks. This has largely been to do with the birth of my daughter, which has had a profound impact on my life. As a corollary of this, a fair amount of my thoughts and observations may shift to the new topic of parenthood. I’m not planning on stealing from Sonia Kruger’s playbook and use the phrase, “as a parent,’ to make claims with no factual basis, but parenthood is a complex and fascinating area so I will be making a few comments about my experience of it on a separate page.
I never expected to hear grown adults crying about their access to balloons.
The growing problems of plastic waste and pollution are increasingly well known and it is good to see councils, governments and corporations beginning to take notice. We should all be trying to reduce our use of plastic at an individual level. I don't suggest we can easily avoid this ubiquitous material completely, but where there are easy alternatives to plastic, we should take advantage of them. Accordingly, the decision by Kingborough Council to not use balloons at their events to reduce their environmental impact seems a no-brainer.
So I was both surprised and disappointed by the reporting of the decision and commentary on social media. I will never truly be surprised by inaccurate or hyperbolic reporting in the Mercury (or any other Murdoch paper for that matter), but I am surprised, as why would grown adults make such a fuss about balloons?
I have little skin in the debate but Sunday’s gathering to protest the Mt Wellington Cable Car development can only be described as an overwhelming success. Some will try to downplay it by saying 5000 out of 500000 Tasmanians is only 1% off the population, but this is snide and disingenuous reasoning at best. Given that this is a local issue to Hobart, using the population of Tasmania as a whole for comparison purposes is unfair. Moreover the metrics of protests is that for anyone moved to attend a rally, there are probably ten times as many people who may not rally but still agree. This is also a risky path to go down for cable car proponents as it begs the question of how many supporters they could muster to a rally in favour if the development. It would be surprising if they could match or even manage half of last Sunday’s rally. Does that mean less than 1% of Tasmanians want a cable car?
I actually am not against a cable car outright. I could certainly be convinced to support a proposal such as this under the right circumstances.
Maybe I’m a product of my generation and the drug safety education programs I experienced, but my instinctive response to arguments for the legalisation of cannabis tends to be sceptical. But that is only my emotional response.
I have to also recognise that I have no compelling reasons to support such a way of thinking other than gut feel. Maybe some exist, but I haven’t come across them. I am just uncomfortable with legalisation as a harm-reduction strategy.
But in the face of evidence-based arguments in favour of legalisation, I have to recognise that clinging to an instinctive prejudice without any kind of evidence for my position is not justifiable with logic. Which means my discomfort has no weight in a debate about the merits of legalisation.
I just wasn’t strong enough yesterday.
I set out on a run with a very specific target pace in mind. As part of my build up to my next race I have a number of benchmark runs I want to do and this was one of them, so I was ready to put in plenty of effort and put up with a bit of pain in the attempt. After a long warm up, I picked up speed until I reached my target. I then stopped accelerating and just attempted to maintain my speed. It was a speed I thought I should have been able to run, but on this occasion I began to struggle early.
After only a couple of kilometres running fast my pace was dropping and it was taking continual surges of additional effort to get it back to where I wanted it to be. I fought on pretty bravely for a few more kilometres, but eventually (still five kilometres from the finish) I had to accept I was not going to achieve today’s goal.
Wow. Gratitude towards others is really powerful.
Combined with a sense of feeling valued and cared about by those around you, it makes for an uplifting and emotionally nourishing experience.
Prompted by the warmth and generosity of my colleagues last Friday- thank you Campbell Street Primary- I have spent the weekend reflecting on a number of unprompted acts of kindness from many sources over the last few months.
I would usually describe myself as having the emotional range of Mark Zuckerberg, but I have to admit I have been genuinely moved and humbled that so many people had shown such care.
I dare not try to name everyone, for fear of forgetting someone, so I will just say thank you to EVERYONE that has reached out with support, kindness or affection in recent months. You have all had a significant impact on me.
Is there such a thing as a bad goal?
Personally I find goal setting an incredible powerful and rewarding aspect of my life. Not only is it central to making the most of my opportunities in life, there is also a feeling of exultation when I finally achieve a long-held goal I have worked for that is hard to experience any other way.
I have been following an interesting and robust online discussion about an aspect of goalsetting that I thought was worth some thought and elaboration.
Many goals we set for ourselves are specific actions or achievements (running a certain distance, lifting a specific amount or even reaching a specific weight, etc), which I will call target-focused goals. To reach these goals we often commit to significant changes to our lifestyle- as most worthwhile goals come with some kind of cost- and a long incremental journey towards our target.
In the conversation I was following, the statement was made that we often undervalue the effort it takes to make these lifestyle changes in striving for targets we may not reach. And that often making a positive and enduring lifestyle change (or transformative goal) is arguably a more significant achievement than any single target-focused goal.
This stimulated a fairly lengthy debate about the relative merits of target-focused goals and transformative goals.
Please stay strong Mr Storer.
It is dumbfounding that the Coalition would even be attempting to pass another 68 billion in company tax cuts whilst funding to important programs all over the country is slashed or frozen. If you are one of those people who like forwarding poorly spelt memes about how we can’t afford to support immigrants or refugees (never mind that offshore detention is by far the most expensive way of dealing with them) because we have homegrown issues with homelessness etc, then you should be equally outraged that the government thinks it can sacrifice tens of billions of dollars in lost tax revenue that it could spend on education, infrastructure and other vital sectors (I would like to say homelessness, but we know the Coalition has no interest in supporting the poor or disadvantaged).
I’ve not quite sure how I feel about Cameron Bancroft and the Australian cricket team being engulfed in a cheating scandal.
I’m not in any doubt that they cheated. That seems pretty cut and dried. And I don’t disagree it’s not a good look. Neither was the stunning lack of self-awareness during the press conference after the charges were announced, where they showed little understanding of how their behaviour would be perceived.
So yes, they cheated, but I’m a little at odds with the sense of national outrage that seems to be dominating the news cycle and social media today. Maybe I’m in a minority, but I even feel a bit sorry for Bancroft and, while I am not going to defend his or Smith’s actions, I can’t quite reconcile the torrent of condemnation these young men are receiving.
Even those who were happy to see the Hodgman government returned to power at the recent election must (or at least should) have felt some sense of disquiet about the immediate announcement that they would be tripling the budget of a lobby group that had fought so vociferously to get the government re-elected.
Perhaps wisely, given how much attention it would have drawn during the election, the government waited until it was safely returned to announce millions of dollars in extra funding to the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, replenishing their coffers after an expensive election campaign. But it is still a terrible look.
Well the Tasmanian election is finally over and the Liberal Party won- or was it the Federal Group who won?
Having been strongly in favour of poker machine reform legislation, obviously I’m not real happy about the result, but neither am I entirely surprised.
After an election of big promises from both major parties (although a notable lack of policy to tackle homelessness and the shortage rental property available), The Hodgman Government was re-elected with an outright majority. Having ridden the wave of Tasmania’s economic boom, largely as a result of factors outside their control, the Liberals managed to run a disingenuous but effective campaign narrative which, compared the positive aspects of Tasmania’s current circumstances (and conveniently ignore congestion, homelessness and a long period of energy uncertainty) with the situation under their predecessor.
Mental health awareness and acceptance has certainly come a long way in a last few decades. The freedom with which people now speak about it- both in open conversations and in seeking help from others- is a very positive development. For all that, it still remains so difficult to properly understand, let alone treat, and the almost chronic nature of some battles can be truly heartbreaking.
Ben Hirst is a passionate and tireless advocate and champion for mental health. His own site, Run for Mental Health, shares not only his running journey as he embarks on ever more unbelievable challenges, but also positive messages and advice about maintaining mental wellbeing. Because while Ben’s incredible courage and sheer running capacity is truly inspiring for me, there is something about him that I think is even more important. He doesn’t just run for mental health, he also walks the walk- honestly and openly showing others how he deals with his own difficulties.
You would have thought after last year, public figures would stay well away from any perception of exploiting ANZAC Day for your own political purpose. But you’d have been wrong.
In a televised advertisement for the gambling industry, Glenorchy RSL President, John Chivers, recently claimed that a ban on poker machines in pubs would mean the end of ANZAC Day in the Glenorchy area.
I have said previously that a ban on poker machines will not be without consequences so Mr Chivers had a number of possible consequences to scare us with. Some of them might have even been true, or at least plausible. But he chose ANZAC Day deliberately, wanting to maximise the impact of his words.
It’s no secret that Hobart traffic can be an issue at times. For the first time in my memory it is being spoken about as a major state election issue in the lead up to the March 3 vote, but the increasing problem has been readily apparent and much-discussed in the last few years.
There is also no mystery to the fact that when students go back to school this Wednesday congestion at peak times is going to increase further.
Both of these things are known (as is the high number of road works being carried out throughout the city), but I have no doubt the next month will see the usual upsurge in breathless discussion and almost indignation at our traffic woes through various media, with calls for tunnels, bypasses, light rail, ferries and all manner of other ‘solutions.’
Now some of the suggestions people will make to ameliorate congestion may make some sense, but most will require significant time and money to implement so let’s not hold our breath (although I would have thought making Macquarie and Davey Streets clearways would be a comparatively easy first step).
Aside from the painful chest beating, politicians artificially inflating their accomplishments and the vacuous uncritical coverage in the local media, what really annoys me are the sudden spending promises. Every election year there is a sudden change in the economic narrative that enables economic largesse and pork barrelling as both the Liberals and ALP compete to see who can promise more money. It would be less galling if you felt money was being splashed around where it was most needed, but we know it is being promised strategically in the way parties think will earn them the most votes.
If you’re still upset about Triple J’s decision to move its Hottest 100 Countdown by a day, get over it. That was announced last year so surely it is time to stop living in the past, right?
Alright I make that comment a little facetiously, as I don’t think we get to decide what others find upsetting or that there is really a timeline on how long something can be upsetting for. But if you have asked Indigenous Australians to get over their opposition to a national day of celebration on the 26th of January, then perhaps you’ll appreciate the irony.
Judging from social media, there are plenty of people out there who haven’t just gotten over Triple J’s decision (it turns out getting over things isn’t actually so easy when you’re the one who has to do it), so it is little wonder that a number of radio stations and the Australian Conservatives are all having their alternative (cheap knock off) music countdowns on Australia Day.
The Tasmanian election hasn’t even been called, but the campaigns sure have begun. The Labor Party’s announcement that if elected, it would implement much needed poker machine reform started the de facto election race without any need for a formal starting gun. Perhaps aware that for many people, their policy is highly unpalatable, the Liberal Government seems content to let their donors/shareholders in the gambling industry prosecute much of the attacks on Labor’s policy.
Instead, the pre-campaign campaign (that’s not a typo) from the Liberals focuses a lot of their messaging around Tasmania’s economic upturn. A radio advertisement I heard recently asked me to compare the record of the Hodgman Liberal Government to that of the previous Labor Government.
So in the past week I have seen and heard a number of stories in both print and radio media exclaiming with some shock about the amount of money spent on social welfare. Comparing Treasury data on the cost of government welfare with employment data, it is possible to make unsophisticated assertions about how many hours a week the average Australian worker is working to pay for it. And from this we get the deliberately evocative headlines and sound bites that the average Australian worker works three hours to pay for social welfare programs.
Now admittedly some of the assumptions of this process are highly open to interpretation, but I'm going to be generous and treat the claim as largely accurate; as even if this is the case there are several points that need to bee considered in this context.
The producers at Triple J must have known they were going to get some serious heat for their decision to move their Hottest 100 Countdown to the day after Australia Day. The easier choice would have been to shirk the issue for a few more years until public support was absolutely overwhelming, but they made the tougher and better choice. Kudos to all involved.
And cue the outrage. The aggrieved commentary came from all angles including Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield (I'll come back to him later) and any number of critics, many of whom may not have actually cared much about the Hottest 100, and probably didn’t listen to it, up until now.
It takes a fair effort for David ‘Hypocrisy’ Leyonhjelm to find a human being more repugnant than he, but he hit the motherlode when he found Milo Yiannopoulos lurking in some dark corner of the internet. I thought we might have seen the end of Milo as an alt-right posterboy after his paedophilia scandal, but I underestimated (for want of a better word) the alt-right. These extremists will pretty much ignore anything when it suits them, including child abuse, as we are seeing with the case of Roy Moore.
So I guess in hindsight it is no real surprise to see Milo creeping back into the public spotlight. And the fit with Leyonhjelm is obvious. A self-titled provocateur and a self-styled champion of freedom of speech. So you can be sure what they have to say is going to be both revolting and disingenuous.