I once worked in a call centre where a few of the interviewers would be regularly rostered to do phone surveys about female incontinence products. Asking strangers whether they lost a teaspoon, a tablespoon or more in volume per occasion is a tough gig. Then again, the horror of the role was somewhat less visceral than that experienced by a worker I’d once represented who had to manually slit the throats of chickens at a poultry factory. At Centrelink he had listed his occupation as ‘killer’.
If you follow the A9 road long enough, you will end up in former Tamil Tiger territory. I say ‘former,’ because the Tamil Tigers were soundly defeated by the Sri Lankan military in 2009. As many know, the Tigers maintained a de facto state in the North with its own military, police force, political infrastructure and even postal service. The Tamil Tiger state, however, now lies in ruins.
If you drive on the highway from Australia’s capital Canberra to its largest city Sydney, you pass a sign that seems strangely out of place. ‘Welcome to Sydney’, it declares. Yet all around are trees and fields, with hardly a suggestion of human habitation, let alone of the imposing architecture of a global city. It looks like a practical joke, similar to those signs they erect up in the middle of nowhere pointing the direction and distance to London, Rio, Paris and New York.
Jim Shepherd recently passed away at the age of 80. It is appropriate to consider his contribution to Australian popular culture. For the past 25 years, Shepherd had been sole owner of Frew, the company which published The Phantom comic book in Australia.
It’s an article of faith on the Right that progressives obsess about political correctness, that lefties can’t take a joke and get uptight about trivial matters.