RSPCA raids Parliament House.

The Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) has carried out raids on Australia’s federal parliament in response to repeated reports of animal cruelty.

The animal welfare organisation carried out the raids in Canberra after mounting evidence linked the destruction of Australia’s wildlife to the actions and policies of politicians.

“Australia is killing its native animals,” stated a spokesperson for the RSPCA “This is the direct result of decisions made by politicians from all sides of politics.”

“Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, despite the fact that non-indigenous Australians have only been here for about 230 years.”

The raids uncovered deliberate policies and gross inaction from the major political parties which have contributed to the decline of native animals across the country.

Documents, archival records and electronic communication revealed that native animals are disappearing due to the presence of feral animals, the climate crisis, bush fires, reliance on fossil fuel, land clearing and drought.

Feral animals such as cats, foxes and cane toads have wiped out many native animals, and feral horses continue to cause widespread ecological damage in alpine regions, despite decades of requests from numerous groups to have the brumbies removed.

Feral and domestic cats are still the most destructive introduced species in the country, but domestic cats are still allowed to roam freely day and night, and cat breeding is still a legal and lucrative business.

The climate crisis was also discovered to have detroyed many of the county’s native animals, and Australia has played a large part in this ongoing disaster.

“Australia has the highest per-capita carbon footprint in the world,” explained the spokesperson, “…and scientific evidence tells us that this is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels and traditional agricultural methods. Despite this, politicians from both parties insist on opening new fossil fuel projects and neglecting renewable energy.”

The RSPCA is itself heavily involved in the rehabilitation of native wildlife which suffered due to the most recent bush fires, and found that a comprehensive plan to prevent further destructive bush fires has still not been developed.

“Habitat loss is another major contributor to native animal deaths, and some experts believe Koalas could become extinct in the near future. Despite this, politicians are drafting new laws to allow more land clearing, or failing to enforce existing laws which prevent land clearing.”

The raids also uncovered gross incompetence and corruption in the management of water resources in the world’s driest continent, particularly along the Murray-Darling basin.

“The Murray-Darling debacle has caused yet more native wildlife to perish, and this network stretches across various states. For this reason, we will also conduct raids on state and territory parliaments in the near future if the country’s water resources, and other natural resources, are not properly managed to give native wildlife a fair dinkum chance to survive and prosper.”

In response to the raids, Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a photo with a wombat.

I Spy…

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘A'”

“Australia”

“Yes, it’s something in Australia, but be more specific.”

“Australian animals”

“No”

“Angophoras”

“No”

“Asylum seekers”

“No”

“Androids and Apples”

“No”

“AAP”

“AAP?”

“Yeah, Australian Associated Press, the news service providing objective, balanced news to media networks in Australia and overseas.”

“No”

“ABC”

“Your ABC?”

“That’s the one.”

“No”

“Activists”

“No”

“Activism?”

“No”

“Anti-Adani laws”

“No”

“Aged care residents”

“No”

“Altruists”

“No”

“Atheism”

“No”

“Academia”

“No”

“Academics?”

“No”

“Artists”

“No”

“This is really hard.”

“Keep trying. You’re close. It’s related to all of the guesses you’ve had so far.”

“I know, AUTHORITARIANISM”

“YES”

Image: http://www.smh.com.au

La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Mexico is unique. It boasts its own distinct cuisine, its own colloquial language and its own liquor. Musical genres such as Banda, Musica Nortena, Narco Corridos and Mariachi originated in the country and Charreria belongs to the state of Jalisco. It stands to reason then that Mexico would possess its own Virgin Mary.

How is La Virgen different to The Virgin?

La Virgen de Guadalupe has dark skin. In contrast to the white-washed version of Jesus, Mary and Joseph which dominates contemporary conceptualisation of the holy Christian family, Mexico’s sacred mother bears the skin tone of the mestizo people of her homeland.

La Virgen also took physical form in Mexico. Mary immaculate, according to accounts in the Bible, only existed in body in the Middle East, but La Virgen is authentically Mexican.

The popular account told to every Mexican child is that La Virgen appeared to St Juan Diego in 1531. St Juan Diego was apparently an Aztec who converted to Christianity and saw the apparition of La Virgen on Tepeyac Hill. Juan Diego is believed to have seen the apparition of December 9 and again on December 12, and on one occasion La Virgen requested that a shrine be built on that site in her honour.

As with any report of a miracle, religious authorities at the time demanded proof from the witness. Juan Diego was ordered by the Bishop to provide proof of La Virgen’s presence before they agreed to build a shrine, so she told the young man to collect roses. Juan Diego then fronted the bishop and opened his cloak to reveal dozens of roses which fell to the floor, and, more importantly, an image of La Virgen on the inside of his cloak.

The famous image now appears in the Basilica of Guadalupe which sits on Tepeyac Hill in modern-day Mexico City.

Visiting the Basilica of Guadalupe is a pilgrimage of significant importance for many Mexicans and a cultural experience for foreigners. Many locals, and even tourists, speak of the transformative experience of entering the basilica to witness the unveiling of the image of La Virgen.

I visited the Basilica. I’m reluctant to share my thoughts and reaction to the experience of viewing La Virgen because every person will react differently to a site and an image of such revered religious, spiritual, historical and cultural importance.

The experience should be personal and reflective.

El dia de la Virgen is a celebration and veneration held on December 9 and December 12 in various locations in Mexico City. Why are there two celebrations for La Virgen? Firstly, because La Virgen appeared to Juan Diego twice. Secondly, because It’s Mexico.

The influence of La Virgen is evident in daily life and explains why so many Mexican women are called Lupita. Thousands of Mexican women are christened Maria Guadalupe in honour of the virgin, and are known affectionately as Lupita, even into adulthood. It’s impossible to travel through Mexico without eating at a ‘Tacos Lupita’, ‘Loncheria Lupita’ or a stall selling pozole, enchiladas, burritos or sopitos prepared by Lupita.

Christmas has Santa Claus, and Easter has chocolate eggs and a bunny, so the site of La Virgen at Tepeyac Hill must also succumb to the inevitable lure of commercialisation. Visitors can buy religious iconography in the form of crosses, statues and rosary beads, but also take home pillows, key rings, T-shirts and other paraphernalia bearing the image of the virgin.

A visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe can be a spiritual transformation, a patriotic obligation, a glimpse into history or an immersive observation of contemporary Mexican culture. Whatever the motivation, it is a worthwhile stop on any visit to Mexico.

Nigga, why did you lose?

“Nigga, why did you lose?”

The athlete stared in disbelief.

His hulking, dark-skinned frame slumped on the barriers separating the journalists from the media. Muscles bulged from every limb under his USA team kit and sweat dripped from his face, down his neck and over the sinews and protruding veins of his finely-tuned physique.

Did he just say that, read the expression on his face. The sprinter glanced from right to left to scan the reaction on the faces of other media in attendance and confirm what he had just heard.

Maybe he’d misheard. Maybe the physical and emotional exhaustion of an Olympic semi-final had caught up with him. Maybe the disappointment of failing to qualify for a final that he was good enough to win, and the realisation that years and years of training and sacrifice had amounted to nothing, caused him to misinterpret the question from the Chinese journalist.

But no. He had not misunderstood the question. The American (whose name I don’t remember) would leave the Beijing Olympic Games with bad memories, and this would be one of them.

The local reporter hadn’t meant to use the N word. He hadn’t intended to question a black athlete by using the word which has accompanied years of racism, oppression and discrimination throughout the world, especially in the country whose flag sat emblazoned on the athlete’s singlet.

The N word he had used was “NaGe” or “nage”. This Chinese word translates as ‘that one’ into English, and is used to connect sentences or phrases, or to fill a pause in conversation in everyday Chinese communication. It serves the same function as ‘um’ or ‘like’ in English. It is used a million times a day by Chinese speakers and has absolutely no racial or offensive meaning in English, because it has no meaning in English.

Unfortunately, when it is pronounced in connected speech, it sounds exactly like the N word, and that is what the athlete heard from the reporter. It was simply a very unfortunate example of a word being lost in translation.

It's hard to be subtle in a second language.

The second mistake the reporter made was asking a blunt and direct question to a visibly upset Olympian.

The meaning of the question was appropriate, the wording was not. The journalist was tasked with gauging the athlete’s response to his poor performance. The reporter was supposed to find out how and why the athlete performed below his usual standard and thus failed to qualify for the final.

The reporter could have asked:

“Tell us what happened out there”

“You would have expected a better result, can you explain what happened?”

“Obviously that’s not what you hoped for, is there a reason for your performance?”

Maybe the athlete was ill or carrying an undisclosed injury into the race. Maybe he was excessively nervous or had over trained in the days leading up to the event. We might have found out why, but not by using the words the local reporter used.

To be fair to the local journalist, he was not actually a journalist. By his own admission, he also didn’t know much about sport, let alone Athletics, which is the most prominent sport at multi-sport events such as the Olympic Games. The local reporter was a university lecturer, in a subject far removed from sport (Engineering from memory) and had somehow landed the role of mixed zone reporter in the Bird’s Nest.

After the incident, I tried to explain to my colleague how that word is problematic, but a lifelong habit is hard to break in a day, and he was not the most receptive of the local staff.

I couldn’t help thinking, how can a country of more than one billion people not find a handful of reporters who understand sport, understand the media and have a firm grasp of English or other languages?

Other reporters eventually leapt in and steered the interview towards an explanation for the unexpected performance, then the athlete slumped off to the changerooms to commiserate.

What did the athlete say in response to the unfortunate question?

Nothing

Image: Chau Cedric

Run for Your Life.

“Corre!”

“Corre!”

They screamed

“Run, run.”

The crowds fled in mass panic up and down the narrow cobbled streets of Taxco. Terror gripped their faces and adults grabbed children before rushing them in to any hidden space which offered even the semblance of safety, because what followed the screams of ‘run’ came the most dreaded word in contemporary Mexico,

“Narcos!”

Drug traffickers had infiltrated the annual Easter parade in the small, colonial mountain town of Taxco. Now the attention of the people lining the streets to witness the religious devotees file through the town was gripped by the true rulers of Mexico – drug traffickers.

“Narcos!” they yelled and the word rippled through the town.

“Disparos,” muttered others.

Gun shots had been heard.

My heart instantly leapt a beat and I was swept along in the mass hysteria. I ran up the street towards the main square before colliding with people rushing away from the main square. I discarded the bag of snacks I had prepared for the anticipated night-long Semana Santa parade and I followed a large group of petrified locals running…somewhere.

I can’t get caught.

What will they do to me?

The we stopped.

Startled onlookers were now fleeing towards us, scanning the street for danger and safety. At the same time, religious devotees plodded up the streets praying and whipping themselves or carrying life-sized crucifixes. The blood streaming down the backs of the men shouldering heavy bundles of thorny reeds served as an omen to the people now attempting to outrun the most dreaded force in Mexico.

The macabre imagery incited even more panic in the minds of the crowd and they sought refuge wherever they could find it.

I knew I had to stop running and that I was too far from my hotel to make it back to safety, and simultaneously wondered why I thought my hotel room was safe. Narcos baulked at nothing to win their turf wars and protect their profits.

I then noticed people ducking into buildings, any building they could reach, before closing the door rapidly behind them and imploring their children to hush and avoid detection. No one wanted to become another statistic.

A slither of light shone on the darkened street and I saw a door left ajar for a fraction of a second. I dashed towards it just before it was closed and ducked into a dimly lit room occupied by numerous families and frightened locals.

Murmurs and whispers surrounded me and the one word which surfaced in every hushed utterance was ‘narcos’. A tense conversation then began between two people disagreeing over whether to leave the light on or to plunge us into total darkness. In the dim light I detected white powder on the floor and some of the benches, and I was immediately reminded of the white powder which fuels the drug wars and the narco terrorism throughout Mexico. Except this was a different white powder. I was in a bakery.

The discussion then turned to whether anyone else should be offered refuge in the tiny room. If there were a dozen people packed into the bakery, it was definitely a baker’s dozen.

The overcrowding heightened the tension. A sentry of sorts peered through the faded glass window onto the streets and attempted to update us on the situation. He struggled to distinguish between the hectic scene before him, which was still nothing more than a blur of screams, shouts and rapid footsteps.

The only discernible figures, which even the rest of us could make out from our hiding spot further into the bakery, were the slow-moving shapes. The devotees lugging the crosses and flagellating themselves in a public display of piety, splitting apart their blood-stained skin in acts of self harm.

Cofradias wore long cone-shaped hoods which have been appropriated by the KKK. Barefooted women bent double with horse hair clothing and barbed-wire-like belts pricking their skin.

Shirtless, faceless men cradling crosses ambling through the streets with their feet chained to the rest of the gang had no hope of outrunning ruthless and nimble drug traffickers. Perhaps this is why they didn’t bother, why they continued their holy pilgrimage, perhaps in the surety that a death at the hands of evil during a holy display of devotion would ensure entry into heaven. Perhaps this was the ultimate proof of their faith.

And to think, only moments before, the most incongruous sight on that evening in Taxco was the young women in short skirts tottering past the devotees in high heels ‘al rumbo a la fiesta’.

The participants clearly believed their acts of devotion would please the lord and persuade him to save them from the insidious and indiscriminate crimes of the ‘narcos’, because they trudged on wards through the streets shielded only by their prayers.

Did they know that Narcos would administer pain far worse than anything the devotees could inflict upon themselves – and send them to meet their maker much sooner.

Chaos reigned outside the bakery until one of its prisoners suggested we leave. He claimed we were no safer in here than on the streets, and that being crammed in like sardines made us an easier target. This sparked another tense, hushed discussion but noone moved. Children became visibly more anxious and petrified parents did their best to calm the young ones, while all of us wondered what kind of carnage had been perpetrated on the streets.

A young man forced his way into the bakery. A frenzied look covered his face and most of us instinctively raised our hands.

Take our money, take our watches, phones, whatever you need, but just leave us unharmed. Leave us alive.

“Esta bien, no soy narco,” he reassured us, and we lowered our hands.

We were comforted by his clarification that he was not a narco, but the children were startled anew by the mention of the word and parents blasted the young man for his insensitivity. Everyone was on edge.

I don’t know how long we sheltered in the bakery, but at some point the mood changed. Screams and shouts became conversations outside. Footsteps sounded measured and the sound of prayer filled the air once again.

Hesitantly, one of our party squeezed the door open and surveyed the scene. It was safe. The streets had returned to normal and we filed out of the bakery slowly, wishing each other good luck and good night.

I saw the parade continuing. The mood had changed but the piety remained.

I wandered up towards my hotel and asked a passer by what had happened. Where were the narcos, who had been shot, where were the dead bodies?

“Fue una chispa en las cables de luz,” he explained.

There were no narcos, no shots fired and no dead bodies.

An electrical surge had caused sparks to fly from an overhead electrical cable. Nothing more.

Dios Mio!

Image: Luis Villasmil

Pizza…with garlic bread and a heart check.

I was starving. I wasn’t very happy either. I’d just hopped off my second crammed, smelly, humid bus ride after returning to Chengyang from Qingdao where I’d tried to renew some paperwork.

Hours and hours of sitting and waiting in noisy government offices, being herded from one counter to the next and trying to understand the officials with my rudimentary grasp of Mandarin had taken its toll on me.

All I wanted now was some food.

I walked towards a local restaurant bursting with noise, locals and cigarette smoke, then past another and another offering the same menu and the same atmosphere. After my battle with officialdom and my lengthy, arduous bus rides, I couldn’t quite face a noisy, smoke-filled restaurant and more exposure of my linguistic shortcomings.

Pizza

I saw the sign and settled on this venue for lunch. China might not be known for pizza, and Chengyang is more famous for Korean BBQ than for Italian fine dining, but my mood demanded something familiar and filling.

I poked my head through the door and was welcomed by the friendly owner and the sight of some locals enjoying a hearty meal.

This’ll do, I thought

I gestured and pointed my way through my order and had communicated to the owner that I desired garlic bread and a supreme pizza. Exactly what constitutes a supreme pizza in China I wasn’t quite sure, and I didn’t care. I was hungry.

The garlic bread arrived and disappeared simultaneously. I didn’t register its taste or texture, just its journey to my rumbling stomach.

With my appetite partially sated, I surveyed the small restaurant and observed a primary school child struggling through her homework, a young couple exchanging loving glances and another young couple glued to their phones. The remainder of the patrons were locals happily devouring their pizza and chatting to the amiable owners.

Just before my pizza arrived, I noticed something odd. Something I’d never seen at a pizza restaurant, or any restaurant. One of the owners, and a middle-aged couple, were locked in a serious but amicable conversation, which ended when the couple appeared to give their consent.

I was intrigued.

The owner moved toward the kitchen with a determined posture, and disappeared. He emerged a few minutes later with a contraption of some sort. Obscured by the comings and goings of the restaurant I couldn’t quite make out what he was carrying, and only noticed the diners roll up their sleeves.

I then saw the owner attach his contraption to the arm of the husband. It was a blood pressure monitor. Exactly the same as the ones used in doctor’s surgeries. The owner was measuring the couple’s blood pressure.

Why?

I wasn’t expecting gourmet pizza and I wasn’t expecting a Michelin hat at a local restaurant on the outskirts of Chengyang, which is on the outskirts of Qingdao. Still, I didn’t expect this couple, and subsequent diners, to be having their blood pressure checked, AFTER they had finished their meals.

What was it about this pizza?

Before I could contemplate this conundrum any longer, my pizza arrived.

It looked OK, but should I eat it?

Does it induce heart flutters, high blood pressure, a stroke?

Why were the owners testing the blood pressure of people in a restaurant. Do they do this every day, is it part of the service?

My mind was racing so fast that it made me hungry. It seemed I had no choice.

I took a bite and it was…edible. Very greasy and cheesy, but edible.

I managed to fit in mouthfuls of pizza between moments of doubt, and I clearly lived to tell the tale.

I wasn’t, however, offered a blood pressure check.

And I didn’t order desert.

Image: Chad Montano

Walking the Other Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon Walk in the Blue Mountains of NSW is certainly less grand than its famous name sake, but the hike is a rewarding walk through beautiful bush land which ends with a stunning view.

The walk snakes its way along the base of the canyon after descending from either of the two starting points near the mountain town of Blackheath.

Beautiful native vegetation, ancient trees, waterfalls and the river are on display throughout the walk, and native wildlife is slowly returning after the destruction of the most recent bush fires. Lush green plants juxtapose with sandstone cliffs. Slim, pale eucalyptus trees are dotted along the trail and the cliff tops and water falls dance in the sunlight.

Walkers can start from Evans Lookout and complete the walk at the Neates Glen car park, or walk in the opposite direction. Starting at Neates Glen car park rewards hikers with the stunning vista from Evans Lookout at the end of the hike – a great spot for a drink and a well-earned snack.

Whichever direction hikers take, they will start the hike with a staired descent and finish with a hike up some stairs. The steep stairs which bookend the hike explain the advisory on the official NPWS website which recommends 3 – 4 hours to complete the journey. Hikers with a reasonable level of fitness can finish the walk in about 1 hour at a steady pace, even after stopping to take photos and admire the scenery.

Photographers are rewarded on this trail and its worth taking a snack and stopping at the bottom of the trail in one of the rest areas to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife, as well as the peace and quiet on a weekday.

Early in the morning or late afternoon are the best times to enjoy the Grand Canyon. Early mornings in winter can be very cold, but can treat the hiker to mountain mist or sharp, blue skies. Mornings and late afternoons are also the best times to watch the sun bounce off the stunning yellow sandstone cliffs for which the Blue Mountains are famous.

At present, the hike is restricted to the Grand Canyon walk. The cliff top walk from Evans Lookout to Govett’s Leap Lookout is unfortunately closed due to bush fires, as are the longer and more challenging hikes which branch off the main track. Most long hikes in the region will apparently be closed for the rest of 2020.

The Grand Canyon walk is reachable by train. From Blackheath station it is about a one hour walk to the trail head, either walking back along the highway and turning left at the big brown sign to Evans Lookout, or by walking though suburban streets to Braeside fire trail, then towards the starting point.

Tony Abbott: ‘Let Drug Addicts Die.’

Former Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott has demanded that all drug addicts in Australia be refused medical treatment or rehabilitation and be left to die.

Abbott made the comments after also calling for an end to COVID-19 restrictions, which would likely result in the deaths of many elderly Australians but would open up the economy.

“Nobody is forced to take drugs,” Abbott announced from London, where he is set to advise the UK government on matters of trade.

“Anyone who is proven to have taken illicit drugs, or even taken an excessive amount of prescription medication, should be left to die. We should stop offering medical treatment and rehabilitation services to these people because they are damaging Australia.”

Abbott then explained why he had taken this stance, even after attracting a lot of criticism for his comments regarding elderly Australians.

“People take drugs by choice and they put themselves in a position to die or fall seriously ill, and it is their fault if they die. Admittedly, some people may turn to drugs after experiencing significant trauma, such as fighting in wars which politicians instigate, but you can’t tell me those young kids popping pills at music festivals are suffering trauma.”

“Illicit drug use and the drug trade cause enormous damage to Australian society. Taxpayers fund rehabilitation, training and housing services for addicts, so letting them die would boost the nation’s economy. Drug use tears families apart and takes food off the table. What’s more, we know drug addicts can often be found in prison and on the unemployment lines.”

Critics of Abbott’s proposal pointed out that letting drug addicts die would leave some children without parents, to which he replied,

“Addicts are rarely good parents.”

The former national leader also claimed that refusing to provide medical treatment to drug addicts would free up ambulances and hospital beds for other people in need of these services, including the victims of drug-related crimes or accidents.

“Refusing to treat drug addicts at medical facilities should reduce our overall health budget and allow us to spend money in other areas.”

“As a nation, we devote so much time, money and effort to rehabilitation services, but we know that most addicts don’t quit taking drugs.”

Abbott would not be drawn on whether he supports the decriminalisation of illicit drugs. Proponents argue that this would reduce the crime associated with drug dealing turf wars. Drugs would be decriminalised but rehabilitation services would be scrapped entirely, and the money currently spent on rehab would be redirected to extra police in order to combat the subsequent rise in crime from drug addicts desperate to fund their next hit.

It is not clear whether Abbott suggested the move in order to help reduce the world’s populations, as overpopulation is the biggest problem currently facing the planet. As a conservative politician and staunch capitalist, Abbott would generally favour a large population which contributes to continued economic growth.

The Australian government has so far distanced itself from Abbott’s comments, and this latest controversy may explain why he was sent to England.

Image: Mark Nolan, Getty Images

Dad, how could you?

The try line opened up in front of me. I was just 10 metres from glory and my first ever try in rugby league, plus a chance to send my team into the final of the Sydney Metropolitan U/6 round robin tournament.

I fixed my eyes on the prize and tucked the ball under my right arm. I gritted my teeth and charged for the try line when I saw a shape emerge from my left. It grew in size as it approached with zest and I knew it was aiming to cut me down. Through pure instinct I stuck out my left arm and produced a fend which belied my size and strength and sent the opposing halfback tumbling to the ground.

The elusive prize was still within my grasp and with growing confidence and eagerness I tore towards the opposition line as fast as my skinny little legs could carry me. I was nearing the line and the white chalk shone more brightly against the scuffed green grass and stud-marked mud. I was adamant that nothing would stop me from claiming the four points and the resultant hero status.

My eyes bulged with excitement until I felt another presence looming up on me. This one approached from behind on my right and I knew it had to be the opposing team’s speedster who had scored two of their tries with his blistering pace. Through intuition alone I anticipated his lunging tackle and stepped deftly off my left foot to leave him grasping at air. The try was still on.

No more than five metres separated me from victory and I lowered my head and charged towards the intersection of the try line and the touch line, as I knew this was the only way to evade the approaching cover defence. 4, 3, 2 metres and I had to keep charging and commit to the corner. The ball was cradled firmly within my arm and I made my final push. Smothered by two opposing players I crashed into the corner and was trampled into the mud, legs buckled under the two tacklers and arm outstretched to plant the ball over the try line with downward pressure. I had face planted and eaten dust and mud and grass and chalk and I knew I would be sore all over for days. I didn’t care. I was elated. I had scored the winning try which would propel my team into the grand final and a chance for metropolitan glory at the tender age of 5, when winning any game felt like winning a world cup.

I heard a muffle of screams and whoops and claps and groans as both teams reacted to my victorious lunge. I felt my team mates simultaneously jump on me and drag me off the ground and all pain subsided in a rush of joy and adrenaline.

On the way up from the ground, it happened.

I caught a glimpse of the linesman.

I knew I was close to the corner. That was deliberate. That was my only chance to score. I knew I had made it. I was sure I had landed within the field of play. I was pretty certain I had made it. I was confident. Surely it was a try.

Or was it?

As I regained my feet and was revelling in the adulation of my teammates and supporters, I saw it. Through flailing arms and back slaps and high fives I saw the flag. The linesman’s flag left his side and slowly, in a painstaking, slow motion arc, rose from the his hip up to his chest, beyond his chest, to his shoulder. Up, up it went. Up, up higher. Not Up, Up Cronulla, but up, up above his head until it was a mere extension if his outstretched arm.

The try had been disallowed. In the commotion, we had not heard the final whistle. We had lost. Elation turned to despair. The knock-out comp had knocked us out. It was all over.

I looked despairingly at the linesman.

How could you Dad?

Image:www.backyardfootyposts.com.au

Australian Students to Study Nothing but Marketing.

The Australian government’s attempt to de-clutter the school curriculum will see Australian school students study nothing but marketing from 2021.

The move comes at the behest of the current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and has won support from coalition members from every Australian state and territory.

“Marketing is all one needs to know in order to succeed in this country,” announced a press release from federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

“Look at the prime minster. He rose to the highest office in the land through nothing but public relations spin, and was only inserted into the role when our party re-branded itself after the Turnbull era.”

“Such is his reliance upon marketing spin that he earned the nickname ‘Scotty from Marketing’. Of course, he prefers his official nickname, ScoMo. In fact, assigning nicknames is one of the first modules students study under this exciting new curriculum, before they delve into ‘The Art of the Slogan’.”

State and territory governments traditionally set the specific curriculum for their jurisdiction in Australia, but the massive overhaul will see the introduction of a national curriculum. Conservative ministers believe the new curriculum will de-clutter and simplify teaching programs and allow teachers to get ‘back to basics’.

The Back to Basics call is made before every major election and allows politicians to pretend they will improve students literacy, numeracy and thinking skills through the explicit teaching of times tables, spelling, punctuation and grammar. This time, politicians can promise to instil in young Australians the one life skill through which the Liberal National Party survives.

As a result of the changes, students will no longer study traditional subjects such as Maths, English Literature, Physics, Geography and Biology.

“The current government has proven that accurate scientific knowledge is simply redundant in the modern age,” explained Tehan, before outlining more details.

“Humanities subjects such as History will be wiped from the curriculum, because this subject breeds bleeding heart, black armband lefties who insist on re-writing history.”

“Environmental education will certainly be scrapped, because our current policies will ensure Australia has no natural environment to study in 20 years time.”

Students will be provided with world-leading instruction on public relations and will learn to devise and use slogans such as:

“Less activism, more marketing”

“Spin to win”

“Rort your Sport”

“Manage the mainstream media”

“Dictator Dan”

“Murdoch and Me”

“Deny and Deflect”

“Bogans love Slogans”

Some elements of the old curriculum will surface in the new marketing curriculum, however. Creative writing is necessary for the creation of slogans, press releases, policy announcements and speech writing, while artists are needed to create the ‘look’ and ‘sound’ of any re-branding exercise.

“Mathematical knowledge helps us to doctor figures which highlight the failures of our party, and to blame any economic failure on Labor.”

“Sport and physical education subjects will remain, because politicians gain enormous public relations benefits from pretending to support sporting teams. Furthermore, the promotion of militarism cannot continue at its current pace without fit, healthy young Australians to join the defence force.”

Furthermore, every school in the country will study Christianity, regardless of whether students or families adhere to a different faith or no faith at all.

“We’re sure the students will love the rock music during church services,” affirmed Tehan.

Image: Element5Digital