29 April, 2015

Chan and Sukumaran: the hunt for blame

The response to the impending execution of "Bali 9" pair Chan and Sukumaran has been charged with emotion, fuelled by intense media coverage. It is certainly a tragedy that two young Australians have been executed in a foreign country. However, in what appears to be a hunt for blame, some important aspects of this case have been either overlooked or ignored.

As the planned execution drew closer, the "human interest" coverage has been immense - stories about their families, and the efforts made to advocate on their behalf from all circles and at all levels. Most of the stories had all but forgotten why they were in this predicament in the first place. They were elevated to hero status, with an entire country going into bat to save them, and grieving for their terrible situation. After they were killed this morning, the front page of the online Age showed their photos and years of birth and death, in obituaries fit for a head of state!

26 March, 2015

After the Royal Commission - Stepping Back from the Precipice

The Jewish community is reeling after the recent case study as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. From the perspective of an ‘insider’ who personally knows almost all of the people involved, it’s especially painful. I am related to victims, to people accused of abuse, and to people in senior positions in the community. That’s the way things work in close-knit communities: there are many overlapping and complex inter-relationships, and the way such a community is portrayed to the outside world is often a grossly simplistic narrative that conveniently ignores the many sub-plots that lurk below the surface.

Many people in our community knew of cases of child abuse (both domestic and sexual), knew of attitudes and cultures of the time, and knew of the governance failures. Having all this on display for the world to see was like ripping a bandaid from a festering wound, in super-slow motion. The suffering of some victims who bravely chose to tell their stories in public was heart-rending, and brought home fully the impact of these crimes on the lives of victims. Those who thought we could “handle these things internally” were proved very wrong. The actions of those who sought to protect the memory and honour of the late Rabbi Groner OBM led to the very opposite. And the perception by some of leadership as a life-long privileged appointment from on-high was shattered forever.

01 February, 2015

Hird's lawyers going on "well-earned" family holiday

James Hird's senior legal advisors - lawyer Steven Amendola and barrister Peter Hanks QC - today announced they would be taking extended leave from legal practice to enjoy a family holiday. "Through this whole legal battle, and with all the work we've been doing, Peter and I and our families have become very close", said Amendola. They have hired the 54m luxury yacht Maridome equipped with ten crew including a Michelin star chef and will be travelling for three months around South American and the Carribean.

When asked to comment, Hanks said "I'm exhausted. We've been putting in 120 hour weeks through the case, the injunctions, the appeal, and the second appeal, and we're really run up our ... umm ... stress levels. We just figure it's a well-earned holiday".

Superbowl XLIX preview

The first big question about this year's Superbowl - "why isn't it called Superbowl IL?" - is easy to answer. As should be obvious, the subtractive principle for Roman numbers has these restrictions: You can only subtract a power of ten, and only from the next two higher "digits".

The second big question - who will win - is a little harder to answer.

25 January, 2015

Favourite Single Malt Whiskies

Have been thinking about whisky a bit lately, and it makes sense to put a list of my favourites on this blog. There are actually several lists, because a whisky collection isn't just about the collector, it's about the guests they share it with. This page is a work in progress, and will be updated regularly.

Personal Favourites
  • Caol Ila 12: favourite hands down. This whisky has changed the views of many people who say "I don't like smoky". It's remarkably smooth and gentle, but with enough of a smoky finish to make it interesting. Also check out Caol Ila 1993 Distiller's Edition, which is a bit harder to find, but it this and a lot more.

22 January, 2015

Patriots had cheerleader push-up bras overinflated

The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots' 12 cheerleaders had their push-up bras inflated significantly above the NFL's requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday's AFC Championship Game told ESPN.

The investigation found the bras were inflated to a DD cup, well above the standard C or D cup required by NFL regulations during the Pats' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources. "We are not commenting at this time," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of cheerleader dress standards.

30 November, 2014

Of Dead Cricketers and Dead Shul-goers

The national outpouring of grief following the tragic death of cricketer Phil Hughes after being struck by a cricket ball on the field has been quite overwhelming. Every day there have been several pages in the daily newspapers as cricketers around the country and the world deal with the tragedy. A huge campaign of people putting their cricket bats out as a public expression of grief - it was even featured on the Google search page, and has spread as a viral social media campaign dubbed #putOutYourBats.

03 November, 2014

#breakingItTogether (satire)

After the failure of the global Shabbat Project to usher in the Messiah, organizers have had an urgent rethink of their strategy, and released their startling new initiative.

Tradition tells us that if all Jews keep just one Shabbat, then the Messiah would come. This was in fact the secret agenda of the Shabbat Project organizers, even though they are not affiliated with Chabad. South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein admitted in a candid interview that despite his Litvish affiliation, he too believes in the coming of the Messiah, and pines daily for his arrival, as expressed in much of the prayer liturgy. "When I conceived the original Shabbat Project in 2013, it was just about uniting our community, but after its success, I figured if we went global it could just be the trigger to bring the coming of the Messiah", he said.