Merry Christmas

Thanks perhaps to a couple of big presents this year, our small aging plastic Christmas tree looks more Christmassy than usual (yay rampant consumerism!) — though a lot of the lights have stopped working, and need to be replaced.

Hope everyone’s had a good year… have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Christmas tree 2013

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The whole idea of state-sanctioned racism, treating non-whites as second-class citizens by law, seems ludicrous now, yet it lasted into the 1990s in South Africa.

It was always a ludicrous concept, of course. No wonder The Goodies parodied it as “Apart-Height” in one of their episodes.

As a kid growing up, there had often been news from South Africa, of violence in the townships.

Some of my (white) English relatives actually lived there for a time, and in 1984 my mother visited them. While it appeared my relatives treated people well, my mother came back with amazing photos of Whites Only signs in public places, and stories of the segregation of whites and others, entrenched by an inherently racist rule of law.

Nelson Mandela
(Pic from: South Africa The Good News, published on Flickr.)

I’ve had to look up the date — 11th February 1990 — but I remember it was a Sunday night in Australia. I was 19, and I stayed up watching television. On-screen for an awfully long time was a shot of a driveway outside the prison where Nelson Mandela was being held. Those present, and the many of us watching on television, were waiting for him to walk out to his freedom.

The ABC was taking a feed from the South African Broadcasting Corporation. When the SABC went to a commercial break, the camera man would take his camera off his shoulder and point it at the ground, or swing it around randomly. The commentators noted that he obviously hadn’t been told his shots were being relayed around the world.

Eventually, Nelson Mandela appeared, in a suit, walking out into the world, to the cheers of onlookers.

Over the years, as South Africa has transformed, I’ve often thought of that night in 1990, and I did so again on Friday when news of Mandela’s death came through. That night was just one remarkable moment in a wholly remarkable life.

And who remembers this song — the iconic Free Nelson Mandela by The Specials?

And this one, not nearly so iconic: Sun City by just about everyone (even Peter Garrett’s in there somewhere)…

Vale Paul Mees, 1961-2013. A great loss.

My time on the PTUA committee only overlapped with Paul’s by about a year or so. I was newsletter editor in his final year as President. But I remembered him from my days as an “ordinary” member in the 90s, and in my time as Prez and afterwards, I encountered him regularly around the traps. There were few more passionate and articulate about public transport than he.

Paul died last night from cancer, aged just 52.

As late as last week he was still contributing to the debate, with this video that he sent along to the packed Trains Not Tollroads public meeting.

Over more than 25 years, he made a huge contribution to the transport debate in Melbourne. It must have been tough work in the 80s and 90s, when public transport was being neglected and patronage was on the decline. By the time the new century clicked around, patronage was climbing again thanks to a booming CBD and growing population — making the political sell for improved services easier.

Paul will be sorely missed.

RIP Comrade. Thoughts with Erica and family.

Last night’s AFL match result – nowhere to be found in The Age paper edition?

I get The Age delivered on weekends. On Saturdays in particular it’s good to lazily read its numerous sections in the morning.

So I picked it up wanting to know who won the football last night: Richmond or Fremantle? I just want to know if I tipped it right.

Sometimes they have the score on the front page. Not this time.
The Age front cover 27/4/2013

OK, so I flick to the Sports section. Not on the cover of that either.
IMAG0639

Then I flick through the entire Sports section (not something I do very often, I confess) looking for an answer. It’s not there. Any number of other football-related articles, but not the result of last night’s game.

It seems that while the printed version that landed on my doorstep sometime around 6am doesn’t have it, a later edition (including the Digital Edition) does have it, on page 4.
Age Sports section cover, later edition 27/4/2013

Now, I know the game was in Perth, so would have been a couple of hours behind a Melbourne Friday night game. But it was three-quarter time when I went to bed around 11pm last night, so surely they could have got a result into the paper to be delivered about 7 hours later?

I eventually went back to the Footy Tips web site to find it. I correctly tipped Freo.

And they wonder why the mainstream media is in trouble.

Was it in the Herald Sun delivered to homes?

Some ANZAC Day thoughts

Passchendaele

This report from last night’s ABC TV news is well worth watching: Western Australian students visiting Passchendaele, and taking on the roles of real WW1 soldiers for a day.

The emotional moment in the story is as the connection with their forebears is really nailed, when late in the day, they learn of “their” soldier’s fate.

Video: WA teens relive Anzac journey

Radio version with transcript: Belgian museum recreates the horror of war for history students

Deductible

ANZAC badgeI’m certainly not knocking it, but does anybody know why ANZAC Day badges are a tax-deductible donation, when most payments to charities where you get something in return (such as a badge or raffle ticket) are not?

As the ATO says, the donation must “truly be a gift”.

Examples of payments that are not gifts include:

purchases of raffle or art union tickets
purchases of items such as chocolates and pens

So is there some specific exclusion for ANZAC Day badges?

Update: See comments. An item which is purely for promotional purposes is excluded.

Why remember?

A great piece from John Birmingham:

[ANZAC Day] doesn’t celebrate men and women who were somehow different to us. It merely pays homage to those who were, and remain, just like us but who, through the disadvantages of history, were called upon to do things all but beyond our comprehension.

Satire

If you missed it, check the opening sketch from last night’s Mad As Hell, which did a great job of satirising football games on ANZAC Day.