Friday, June 14, 2013

As a fourth generation white Australian, what’s my culture?

The writer below seems to have the odd idea that because something is shared by more than one culture it is therefore not part of either one's culture.  Strange.  For instance, both Australians and Britons like fish and chips a lot.  So that cannot be part of Australian culture?  Australia and Britain both have distinctive cultures but for historical reasons there is a large degree of overlap between the two.  What problem that poses I have no idea.  Enthusiastic fish and chip eating is still part of Australian culture, like it or not.

And what about the English love of curry, which rivals their love of fish & chips?  Can there be an English weekend without curry these days?  Is that not part of English culture because curry is originally Indian?  You would have to leave out a large part of what is characteristically English behaviour to argue so.

The distinctive part of Australian culture that is most obvious  is our slang.  The distinction between a nong and a galah is one that only Australians can make or recognize.  And someone described by Australians as a drongo has real problems.  Sadly, however, the influence of movies and TV is tending to replace Australian slang with American slang, particularly among the young.  Australian slang is much more vivid and varied as far as I can see so that is a real loss.

The author below has a good point, however, in saying that we can be proud of what we are not.  That we have ditched 90% of the idiotic English social class system, for instance, is a huge and honourable distinction.  I would be happy to argue that that alone makes Australian culture superior to English culture  -- JR

"How can you have a clash of cultures when you're playing against a country with no culture?"

This was retired English cricketer David Gower's response to a question about the upcoming Ashes series as being a "clash of cultures."

And you know what? I kind of agree.  We Australians might have plenty of cultural festivals, the yoghurt range at most supermarkets is superb and our beer is based on some of the finest yeast cultures on the planet.

But nearly every country I've visited features traditional dress, music, food and architecture.

As a fourth generation white Australian male, what's my culture?

A pie with a side of steak and prawns cooked on a barbecue, with pavlova for dessert?

Well pavlova is from New Zealand, and the rest of that meal has existed well over two hundred years.

What about my traditional music, dance or clothing? A singlet, board shorts and thongs, drunkenly swaying to Crowded House or ACDC. Bands whose key members aren't Australian either.

Even if that was traditional, it's not something worth re-enacting at the airport to welcome visitors. But if that job were going, I'd gladly take it.

A couple of years ago I went travelling through parts of Europe and Asia, instead of seeing what my culture lacked, this time I saw the advantages.

We might not have any typically Australian food, but you can get just about anything here, and in terms of quality ingredients, our food is admired on a global scale. For example, most visitors agree that our McDonalds and KFC are the best.

Unlike other countries, the Australian accent doesn't easily reveal the town or city or often even state you're from, and nobody gives a stuff about your family name, who your parents are, where you went to school or where your grew up.

Our rivalries have been forged through battles on the sporting field, not actual battles.

To me, Australia is a place where if a hand is offered you shake it, if someone needs help you give it, and you're free to believe whatever you like as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

Also, I reckon there are a few traits that mark me as distinctly Australian.

Such as knowing my football club song, how to fill out a box trifecta and a good price for a kilo of prawns, but not knowing every word of the national anthem, the date of the Queen's actual birthday or where my name is "from", and being equally proud of all those things.

Along with understanding the logic behind drive-through bottle shops, believing that insulting friends or family is a sign of respect, and despite our efforts to capture typically Australian on film, I think this was best done by a bunch of drag queens in the desert.

Really though, the idea of "Australian" is very much a work in progress. We're so diverse and have been together as a group such a short time, that any definition is still up for negotiation.

Which is actually an amazingly privileged and unique position.

Compared to more established and less-diverse countries, we have nowhere near the baggage. Through our actions and decisions, we all have a pivotal role in determining what it means to be Australian.

Our history is our future. Our culture is what we decide. Please, let's not stuff it up. We are the lucky country.


Must not probe Julia Gillard's unusual living arrangements

Julia's live-in companion is a hairdresser who does seem rather effeminate at times.  There is therefore a widespread presumption that he is bisexual.  Apparently, you must not mention that, however

RADIO presenter Howard Sattler has been taken off air for being "disrespectful and irrelevant" in quizzing the PM over her partner's sexuality.

On Sattler’s Drive show yesterday, Ms Gillard was asked about the recent offensive menu saga, if she ever wanted to be a teacher, her lack of religious belief and the topic of same-sex marriage.

After discussing topics for 12 minutes, Sattler then asked Ms Gillard if he could address some of the rumours about her partner Tim Mathieson's sexuality.

“That’s absurd,” she said to Sattler.

Sattler prompted her further: "But you hear it, ‘he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser’."

Ms Gillard refused to be drawn on the controversial comments.

“I mean Howard, I don’t know if every silly thing that gets said is going to be repeated to me now,” Ms Gillard replied.

“To all the hairdressers out there, including the men who are listening, I don’t think in life one can actually look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say ‘gee we know something about every one of those human beings'.”


Australian jobs 'near-shoring' to NZ as companies cut costs

The suddden proliferating of Whittaker's chocolate in Woolworths arises from their lower labour costs in NZ

Thousands of Australian jobs are being shipped across the Tasman to New Zealand as firms chase lower wages and less restrictive labour laws.

Off-shoring - or 'near-shoring' - positions to New Zealand has intensified as firms realise they can get the same quality output for at least 30 per cent lower cost.

Last month ANZ announced plans for 70 jobs to be transferred across the Tasman.

Auckland-based Telnet has so far lured four Australian companies in a range of industries from media to cosmetics and aviation to join its ranks.

The ASX-listed film-streaming business Quickflix is among them.  "We have an opportunity to help them achieve that," Telnet managing director John Chetwynd said.

With an unemployment rate at an 18-year high of nearly 8 per cent, Wellington is welcoming Australian businesses with open arms.

Melbourne-based CallActive has secured three floors of commercial real estate in central Wellington for what will become a 1,000-seat call centre.  "The company tax rates are lower, salaries are a little bit lower, superannuation is only 3 per cent ... utility costs are a little bit cheaper," CallActive's Justin Teippett said.

Contact Centres Australia opened its first New Zealand call centre earlier this year.  In April, Unity4 also announced plans to transfer jobs to New Zealand.

New Zealand's finance minister Bill English says call centres are not the only Australian industry setting up shop in the country.

"What we are finding is that the effect of off-shoring is not just in call centre jobs, but in high tech jobs and in IT jobs," he said.

Fairfax media began off-shoring last year with 40 production jobs, earlier this year it announced another batch of editorial jobs as well as most of its call centre work would shift to New Zealand.

Some businesses making the move argue the New Zealand lifestyle is a key selling point for those workers given the opportunity to relocate.


Aggressive anti-vaccination nuts

The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), which is actually anti-vaccine, is fighting an order to change its name.

It claims to be a lobby and support group that promotes health choices.  But the New South Wales Fair Trading Department says that is misleading because it is, in fact, an anti-vaccination group.

New Zealand father Ian Williams has become the latest vocal campaigner in favour of vaccination.

He and his wife had not vaccinated their children, but then their son got a cut on his foot, and the situation became very serious.

"It took a stay of 24 hours in hospital for them to diagnose it was tetanus, because the spasms started getting worse and worse," he said.  "It's a terrible thing. Your whole body arches, your arms go up in the air."

Mr Williams says the vaccine controversy is difficult to navigate.  "It looks like, when you go into it, there's a whole lot of pros and cons, and there's a 50-50 argument," he said.

In reality, almost 100 per cent of doctors are pro-vaccine.

The Australian Vaccination Network sounds like an organisation that would agree with Mr Williams' views that vaccination is a life saver, but it does not.

In fact, it actively promotes the link between vaccination and autism, a theory that was debunked by the medical world 20 years ago.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading has ordered it to change its name, but the AVN is resisting the order in court.  The parties will be back in court on Friday.

New South Wales Opposition health spokesman and paediatrician, Dr Andrew McDonald, says the AVN's name is a serious problem.

"This is all about false advertising. The Australian Vaccination Network, a vehement anti-vaccination group, who are doing whatever they can to keep their name near the top of a Google search," he said.

"They're number two on a Google search if you use the words 'Australia' and 'vaccination' and that's why they want to preserve their name to keep it there."

Journalist Jane Hansen has been heading up a recent campaign at Sydney's Sunday Telegraph designed to raise vaccination rates.

"Anyone who criticises the AVN - and this is journalists, politicians or even parents that have had sick children who have gone public with their views on vaccination - very quickly find themselves on the end of some pretty vile attacks," she said.

"They pride themselves on this all natural approach but there's no peace, love and lentils if you criticise them.

"They come at you, criticising you of being on the payroll of 'Big Pharma'."

Dr McDonald has also felt their sting.  "We've had the police around our office following and they've investigated threatening emails to this office," he said.

PM has contacted the founder of the AVN, Meryl Dorey, to respond to those allegations.

Dr McDonald says it is time for doctors to educate the community about the consequences of non-vaccination.

"The tragedy is that we are now seeing as much whooping cough as I did 30 years ago," he said.  "We've just had a major epidemic of measles in Campbelltown.  "Unless we improve our immunisation rates, we are at risk of future epidemics."



Anonymous said...

"a theory that was debunked by the medical world 20 years ago."

The problem isn't the vaccination per-se, which is medial science at its best, the problem lies with processes of manufacture, and the various adjuvants that vaccines carry. I would argue that there are maybe too many vaccines being advocated in too short a time frame, with too many foreign substances (such as Mercury for one) being used in the production process. It has been claimed by some that the wave of soft tissue cancers that our generation is seeing (breast, prostate etc) is a consequence of early vaccine manufacture and the comparatively high level of impurity (presence of unknown viruses in the culture etc). Don't know really because its impossible to find any science at all, even to debunk. Dr Mary's Monkey is an interesting read on the subject.

Paul said...

Oh, and the personal Gaydar turns up a big fat (Lodge life HAS been generous) zero. I think he's just a bad actor sent to make her look less nasty, and he'll be (even more) irrelevant soon. We know she isn't (or wasn't) thanks to the AWU scandal. Looking at the company she surrounds herself with now though I'm starting to wonder again.