Friday, October 31, 2008

Video Directions

I just got back from spending a wonderful day at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. We leave tomorrow for a two-night stay on Stradbroke Island.  AND I have yet to finish marking those honours theses.  

Check out the following video, made by one of my colleagues when she should have been marking theses as well.  This must be a first-of-a-kind way of giving directions to someone's house!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Yesterday I attended the annual Teaching and Learning awards ceremony for the SBS Faculty (a division within the university that includes the schools of psychology, journalism, etc.).  Several deserving colleagues won awards for best lecturer, best tutor, and a citation for outstanding contributions to student learning (despite the name of the ceremony, there doesn't seem to be an award for the best learner). I believe that later in the week the university will announce the university-level teaching and learning awards. Presumably, these university award winners compete for 27 national learning and teaching awards, including the Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year. Earlier in the semester there was an equivalent round of awards for Research. Recipients of these university awards typically learn of their good fortune prior to the awards ceremony, but are not allowed to let others know that they have won. Thus, there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the "big reveal" of these awards, which are highly valued when it is time for a promotion.  This got me to thinking about what other Australian awards I might try for...

The Australian Swimmer of the Year Awards were held last night in Sydney.  Among the winners was Grant Hackett, who won the "prestigious" Swimmers' Swimmer Award, and Stephanie Rice, who won Swimmer of the Year.  Other major awards included the People's Choice Award, Coach of the Year, Discovery Swimmer of the Year, Open Water Swimmer of the Year, Swimmer of the Year with a Disability, and Open Water Coach of the Year.  These awards were preceded a month ago by the Australian Football League awards (including the AFL Rising Star, the All-Australian team, the Coleman Medal, Goal of the Year, Mark of the Year, and Norm Smith Medal) and Dally M Awards for the National Rugby League (including the Daily M Medal, Rookie of the Year, Top Tryscorer of the Year, Top Pointscorer of the Year, and Toyota Cup Player of the Year). And, of course, there are awards for cricket (e.g., the Allan Border Medal for outstanding cricketer of the year, the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year), the Netball Australia Annual Awards, and awards for sailing. If someone misses out on one of those awards, there's always a chance that he or she could win one of the 2008 Australian Sport Awards, which includes awards for Sport Executive of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and National Team of the Year.  

If sport isn't your thing, there are plenty of awards in the arts, literature, and entertainment.  There are the Logies (television), the ARIAs (music), the Helpmann Awards (theatre), the Archibald Prize (portrait art), the Margarey Medal for Biography ("awarded to the female person who has published the work judged to be the best biographical writing on an Australian subject"), the Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction, the Miles Franklin Literary Award (the most prestigious Australian literary award), the Max Afford Playwrights' Awards, and the Thelma Afford Theatre, Stage, TV or Film Costume Design Award.

In science, engineering, and medicine, there are the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes (e.g., Ethics Research, Science Teaching, Environmental Journalism, Sleek Geeks Science Prize), the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, the Life Fellowship of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards.  Of course, there are also the Australian Business Awards (e.g., Best Eco-Friendly Product, Marketing Excellent, Best Value) and the Real Estate Institute of Australia National Awards of Excellence.  There are also the Walkley Awards in Journalism and the Australian Commercial Radio Awards (e.g., Best Salesperson, Best Newcomer Off-Air, Best Newcomer On-Air, and Best Station Produced Commercial).

Most of the awards that I have mentioned are given at ceremonies involving lavish dinners at fancy venues.  The awards in sport are often televised.  Newspaper and magazines feature photos of the nominees (and their glamorous partners) strolling down the red carpet, much like the Academy Awards.  This doesn't happen for the awards in academia, however.  It's probably because, as a group, we're just not that photogenic.  

The grandest of all awards in Australia, however, has to be the Australian of the Year award. The federal government actually gives out awards on Australia Day in January each year to the few, but highly-deserving. I don't quite understand all the rules, but I believe that winners at the federal level have usually won at the state level earlier (e.g., Queenslander of the Year). And, just like all the other awards here, there are several subcategories as well. There's the Young Australian of the Year, Senior Australian, and Australia's Local Hero. In fact, Chris Lilley created and starred in an Australian mockumentary about the competition titled "We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year." It follows five Australians (all played by Lilley) who have been nominated for the award. Phil Olevitti, a cop from Brisbane, is probably my favourite character, as he is so obsessed about winning the award (on the basis of his saving nine children when their jumping castle crashed into a power line) that he ends up lying to his family when he doesn't make it to the finals, but tries to sneak into the final ceremonies anyway.  

Give me a few years. I might not win any of these awards, but, like Phil from Brisbane, that won't stop me from trying to crash the party anyway. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Look Down Here!

I'm here.  That's me, sitting at the bottom of an enormous pile of work that threatens to topple over at any moment.  While trying to stay focused on reading all these honours theses, I also find myself absorbed with the machinations of the presidential elections back in the States, worried about the consequences of this economic disaster for everyone I know, and more protective of my little family here in Toowong.  It's a great comfort knowing that my friends and family in California, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Georgia, and Australia are still checking in at my blog.  Things should lighten up in another week and I hope then to resume blogging more regularly.

I saw a t-shirt last night that I would love to get:  Procrastinators: Leaders of Tomorrow. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Father Time

A new unpublished study was reported in the Australian news today, which found that Australian fathers spend on average six minutes alone with their children from Monday to Friday. Yes, this means that the average Aussie father spends about a minute a day alone with his children. He may spend more time with them on weekends, but the author of the study, Dr. Lyn Craig, states that a father is more likely to spend time with his children only as a family unit. Compared to the U.S. and many European countries, the gender disparity of alone-time with children is the greatest here in Australia. You see, Australian mums "spend almost three hours a week purely looking after children (without counting child-related housework such as making their beds, cleaning away toys or doing their washing)," according to the article.  
Dr. Craig says, "it's a reflection of the fact that childcare is a family and leisure activity for men."

First, let me state right away that I am certain that Dr. Craig is correct in asserting that there is a great disparity in Australia between men and women in their childcare responsibilities--much like there is in most countries in the world. One of the only countries I have visited where I didn't see such a disparity was Denmark, where I regularly saw mothers and fathers sharing all aspects of child-rearing. Dr. Craig even mentions Denmark in her article.  

However, I have a few methodological questions about Dr. Craig's study.  How were the data gathered?  Did both men and women contribute to the data?  Did participants keep daily diaries?  Did the number and age of children have no bearing on the results?  How was divorce and subsequent custody arrangements taken into consideration? 

I tend to dislike reading generalisations about men and women (e.g., "it's a woman's job and a man's hobby"). Social scientists who study gender rarely seem to have problems making such statements, even though stating the same sorts of things in terms of  religion or ethnicity, for example, would be completely unacceptable (e.g., "childcare is a family and leisure activity for Blacks"). Such simplifications are usually part of an agenda where the researcher is striving for social change. I am all for the social change, but I worry about the effects of sending a perception that one gender is more at fault than the other.  

In my specific case, I easily spend at least 14 hours alone with Will on weekdays, which includes "feeding, bathing, and ferrying him to and from childcare." And I work full-time. V. is able to spend more time with him, but she also works half-time.  But, according to Dr. Craig's study (if the data are as solid as one would hope), the typical Australian child only gets a total of 3 hours (mum) and 6 minutes (dad) alone with their parents. The fact that it's just 186 minutes should be getting as much attention as the disparity between the genders.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Can you figure out what this is?

Thanks to a tip from Dan, this is one of several amazing photos of the sun found in this article at, the home of the Boston Globe. The caption reads:
Image of an active solar region taken on July 24, 2002 near the eastern limb of the Sun. The image highlights the three-dimensional nature of the photosphere when seen at these large angles. The structures in the dark sunspots in the upper central area of the image show distinct elevation above the dark "floor" of the sunspot. The height of the structures has been estimated by Dr. Bruce Lites of the High Altitude Observatory to be between 200 and 450 km. The smallest resolvable features in the image are about 70 km in size. There are also numerous bright "faculae" visible on the edges of granules that face towards the observer. (Prof. Goran Scharmer/Dr. Mats G. Löfdahl/Institute for Solar Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences)
Here's another.  Be sure to check out all 21 pictures on the site.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fast Food Fighting

Student elections at UQ are going on this week.  I don't remember this kind of strong campaigning for an election at any of the other universities with which I have been associated in the past 25 years.  I believe there are just two parties, Fresh and Now!, which are running for control of the student-run UQ Union.  Unlike most universities in the U.S., there isn't a student-run newspaper here, like The Daily Iowan or The Emory Wheel, which might provide more information about what's going on in students' heads.  My colleagues have told me that the national political parties back these student groups because they want to promote their own agendas, particularly those having to do with whether compulsory student fees will ever be reinstated. (These were abolished on July 1, 2006, under the Howard government, which led to a great curtailing of student services on Australian campuses).  One of my colleagues informed me that Fresh is backed by the Liberal party (the party on the right) because they want to keep the fees voluntary, but most UQ students are unaware of this affiliation.  All week, both Fresh and Now! have had huge teams of supporters wearing yellow and blue shirts passing out fliers all over campus.  

A member of Fresh asked for a few minutes to speak to my class on Tuesday to tell my students why they should vote for her party.  Her main message appeared to be that Fresh has been working hard to get Subway on campus, whereas Now (made up of Greens and other progressives) doesn't support this action.  Yes, this seems to be a central issue in the campaign this year, as you can see in the banner below.

Sure, I occasionally went to Subway when I lived in the States, but I usually preferred going to local shops for my sandwiches.  I rarely encountered any sort of line when I did go to Subway, so imagine my surprise at seeing long queues nearly every time I have come upon a Subway here.  Australians just go mad about Subway.  Since my arrival, I've been to shopping areas full of quaint food stands and quick eateries that were serving original, delectable dishes, but the only place with any kind of line was Subway.  They always seem to be busy.  I can't explain why Subway is such a huge phenomenon here, nor why it's such an important issue to UQ students. And vegemite isn't even on the menu.  Then again, I don't understand pickled beetroot on hamburgers either.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Good Week for Voting

I have had a pretty good week:  one of my manuscripts was accepted for publication, I got my first Australian research grant, and my PhD student, Michael, was 'confirmed' with flying colours. And the cherry on top was being able to mail our U.S. election ballots this morning. And it's only Thursday! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


If you're feeling bored (reading this a good sign that you are), you might give this website a try.  You too can discover the real you with a little photo manipulation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Exam Trees

It's springtime and the jacarandas are blooming.  Here are some pictures that I took this morning on the UQ campus as I walked from my car to the office.  Jacarandas are so plentiful here in Brisbane that I thought they were native trees.  But, according to the ever-trusty Wikipedia, they are not.  I used to see a lot in Southern California and in Florida, and it is from the Americas where these trees have emigrated.

In the Wikipedia entry there is also an interesting description about the importance of jacarandas to UQ students and other Brisbane residents:
The city of Brisbane in Australia has a local reputation of having a significant population of Jacaranda trees. The University of Queensland in the city's inner west has a very high concentration of the tree, and due to the impressive display of purple flowers in mid-Spring, which wind up littering vast sections of the suburbs, local folklore claims that "one won't start studying for exams until the jacarandas have molted". At Sydney University there exists a similar expression "by the time the jacaranda in the main quadrangle flowers, it's too late to start studying for exams".

This has led to the slang name "exam tree" being attached to the plant. At the University of Queensland students even maintain a joke superstition that if a Jacaranda bloom falls on their head during exam time, they will fail an exam. The bad luck can be broken by catching another bloom before it hits the ground.

The reason for the Jacaranda's proliferation in Brisbane is often attributed to the thirties and forties, when new mothers leaving the maternity hospital were given a jacaranda sapling to plant.

Jacarandas in bloom have become closely associated with Brisbane and South East Queensland. The Brisbane City Council have used jacarandas to line avenues, and commercial developments in some areas, particularly along the Brisbane River have incorporated jacarandas into their landscape design. The trees are common in parks throughout the city, most notably in a long curved avenue in the inner city New Farm Park, in Goodna, and in private gardens. Brisbane's hilly geography allows views of the city and suburbs in which the brightly coloured flowers can be easily seen for miles. The jacaranda has become so much a part of the city's identity that contemporary art, particularly of streetscapes, often incorporates the flowering jacaranda, despite the fact that it only flowers for approximately six weeks from September through October.
Exams don't start this semester until November, so I guess that means bad luck for everyone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life at 1, 2, 3...

I am currently swamped at work. It's nearing the end of the semester, so I've been editing my honours students' theses, marking papers for one of my courses, and trying to complete a lecture on neuroeconomics. I haven't had much time to watch TV, but I wanted to alert you to a fantastic program that the ABC aired in the past two weeks, called "Life at 3." It's a documentary-style series about a group of eleven 3-year-olds who have been followed since birth. They are the public face of a much more comprehensive, longitudinal study of 10,000 Australian children that is being conducted by an excellent team of scientists. I have been a fan of the older British Up series, "7 Up," 35 Up," etc., which has followed a cohort of people since the early 1960s. There's also an American version that started more recently. But this Australian series is different in many ways. It is really focused on both increasing our understanding of, and teaching the public about, a wide range of developmental issues. For example, V. and I watched last week's episode on "Bad Behaviour." While that episode was telling the story of 5-6 children who differed in the ways they were handling stress in their lives at the age of 3, the narration was peppered by findings from the greater longitudinal study about individual differences in resiliency and what psychology knows about risk factors for later problems. Personally, I was gratified to see that our son is doing well by comparison, and that the form that his occasional tantrums takes is amazingly similar to that of some of the kids on the show. Unfortunately, it looks like the producers are only managing to put out two episodes a year (where's some big American money to produce another 20 episodes?!), so I will have to wait until next October for something more. In the meantime, you can watch the episodes on the ABC website.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Come Walkabout

In conjunction with the December release of Baz Luhrmann's new epic film, "Australia," starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the Australian Ministry for Tourism (yes, that's an official government agency) is releasing a new ad campaign. Here's the 'Billabong' version that features an American in New York who is dreamily invited by an indigenous Australian boy to come walkabout. I think the message is a bit obscure for the average tourist, but I'm also in the minority who liked the "Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" campaign.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Stranger

Today I gave a lecture on attachment and relationships in my Social Neuroscience course. I covered a few new studies of the brain areas that appear to be involved when people first fall in love. To point out the challenges inherent in scientific studies of love, I presented the lyrics to "Love as a Stranger" by the Eurythmics, which I have always thought captured the maddening complexities of love very nicely. Picture me standing in front of my class of 110 students while I played a few minutes of the song, revealing the lyrics one line at time:
Love is a stranger
In an open car
To tempt you in
And drive you far away

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It's an obsession

Love is a danger
Of a different kind
To take you away
And leave you far behind

And love love love
Is a dangerous drug
You have to receive it
And you still can't
Get enough of the stuff

It's savage and it's cruel
And it shines like destruction
Comes in like the flood
And it seems like religion
It's noble and it's brutal
It distorts and deranges
And it wrenches you up
And you're left like a zombie

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It's an obsession

It's guilt edged
Glamorous and sleek by design
You know it's jealous by nature
False and unkind
It's hard and restrained
And it's totally cool
It touches and it teases
As you stumble in the debris

And I want you
And I want you
And I want you so
It's an obsession
So, yes, I imposed my love of early '80s music on those poor students today. It was for their own good.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Aussie Musical Brilliance

Check out this video for "Walking on a Dream," which we have been watching on "Rage" for the past two months. The duo, known as Empire of the Sun, released their first album on Oct. 4th and were featured in an article in The Weekend Australian. The shirtless guy will look familiar to those of you who know PNAU's "Baby."

Sunday, October 5, 2008


schadenfreude |ˈ sh ädənˌfroidə| (also Schadenfreude)
noun.  pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.

We like to believe that the world is just.  Good things happen to good people, and bad things, eventually, will happen to bad people.  This belief, known as the just world hypothesis in social psychology, even guides our attributions about why some people are homeless, for example, and others successful.  We tend to believe that people deserve what happens to them because the world is just.

Well, in contrast to most people, I tend to find disconfirmation of the just world hypothesis all the time.  It seems like just the opposite is true:  good things happen to bad people--they rarely seem to get caught or face any negative consequences for their actions.  Therefore, the news yesterday that O.J. Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery was a complete shock.  Then there was the NY Times article titled "Top Psychiatrist Didn't Report Drug Makers's Pay" that really surprised me.  Charlie Nemeroff, a prominent research psychiatrist at Emory University, appears to be guilty of quite a few violations of federal and ethical guidelines regarding conflict of interest:
In one telling example, Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline to comply with federal rules. But on that day, he was at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., earning $3,000 of what would become $170,000 in income that year from that company — 17 times the figure he had agreed on.
I have never met Nemeroff personally, but I have known many people over the past decade who have.  For several years he has bragged about his consulting relationships with the major drug companies while supposedly conducting bias-free research on various treatments for mental illness.  He has told audiences that he didn't have any real conflicts of interest because he accepted consulting fees from all the major companies.  The problem, of course, is that it would be difficult for any normal human being to ignore the luxurious perks and the hefty consulting fees that such companies provide.  This is exactly why the federal government wants institutions like Emory to insure that their investigators are not unduly influenced by private companies while supposedly doing research for the public at large.

Everyone who is been in Nemeroff's sphere of influence has known for years that he received a lot of drug company money, and, as I said, he also publicly acknowledged it.  There was an arrogance about the way he believed that he was above it all.  In the Times article,  an except of a 2000 letter shows how he vaguely threatened Emory when they started to question his activities:
“Surely you remember that Smith-Kline Beecham Pharmaceuticals donated an endowed chair to the department and that there is some reasonable likelihood that Janssen Pharmaceuticals will do so as well,” he wrote.

“In addition, Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals has funded a Research Career Development Award program in the department, and I have asked both AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Meyers [sic] Squibb to do the same. Part of the rationale for their funding our faculty in such a manner would be my service on these boards.”
It's clear that Emory's School of Medicine and its Department of Psychiatry have benefitted enormously from Nemeroff's dubious activities, and it probably explains why they tolerated what he was doing for as long as they did.  I guess that Emory's officials had long known that Nemeroff was receiving more than $10,000 a year from GSK, but chose to look the other way because of their own conflict of interest.  Really, the Emory community is small enough to find these things out with just a few questions. 

But what gave me particular pleasure in this case was the fact that this arrogant academic bully has finally been caught.  He (with help from his cronies, who I hope are next on the list) has run his area of psychiatry like a mafia drug lord.  His 850 publications include many in which he had absolutely no role but being the chair of the department.  Stories of his interactions with students, colleagues, and training fellows that I have heard over the years have always been laced with instances of bullying, arrogance, and sexism.  Simply put, he has been an enormous jerk whose influence over other people's careers has been unchecked. 

In an update to the Times article, I see that Emory has announced that Nemeroff has “voluntarily step[ped] down as chairman of the department, effective immediately, pending resolution of these issues.” My guess is that Emory will eventually receive some sort of sanction from this, and Nemeroff will have to leave the university for good. And on that day I'll have a private toast to the fact that there is one less a*hole in academia to make our lives miserable.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bush Doctors

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia provides "services to improve the health of people living in the bush."  On our honeymoon in 2003, our train journey across Australia included a stop at Broken Hill, NSW, where we visited the Broken Hill Flying Doctors Base.  My wife, V., watched The Flying Doctors TV series back in the UK when she was younger, so she was quite excited about seeing an actual base where specially-equipped planes departed several times a day to fly to remote places in the Australian outback to conduct clinics and provide emergency health services.  At the souvenir shop she bought a rain slicker with the Royal Flying Doctors logo, but, ironically, we have yet to find that jacket since moving to Oz.

Anyway, as you might know, V. is a child psychiatrist working in one of the Brisbane hospitals.  She was recently asked to provide occasional video consultation services to mental health workers out in the Queensland bush. One of her first consults was with a clinician in a remote town in Queensland (over a 10-hour drive from Brisbane), whose patient had to travel 100 miles across the bush to go to the nearest town for services. Because there are just a handful of psychiatrists available to serve a region about the size of Alaska, these videoconferences are vital for the delivery of mental health services. We're not sure whether the Royal Flying Doctors ever fly psychiatrists out to the bush, but I'm pretty sure V. would volunteer to do it without hesitation, if the opportunity arises.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Robot Love

I spent a large part of yesterday at the local Indooroopilly Shopping myself.  I desperately needed to expand my summer wardrobe.  After spending way too much at Myer, I headed over to Target (which isn't the same as the American store) to find some really cheap clothes.  I found a nice display of $25 denim jeans that were sorted by metric size.  My iPhone's unit converter rescued me here, but I was then horrified to see that these jeans didn't independently vary in length.  That is, they are designed for some "average" man's body where the waist and length perfectly correlate.  I happen to be an outlier on this little regression line, so I had to go for a slightly smaller waist in order to get some pants that were slightly too long.  Everything was fine in the changing booth, but I discovered this morning that I couldn't put anything in my pockets because the jeans were too tight! (Wasn't there a "Seinfeld" episode like this?) Awwwww!

So, after several hours of agony in this rather limited 
Australian retail scene, I was really missing all those huge stores back in America.  Do you know the kind--where you have to drive across a giant parking lot just to get to the next store over? And then you have to consult a map near the store's entrance to locate the specific items you're seeking?  And everything always seems to be on sale.  Well, due to the melancholy brought on by these memories of gluttony, I decided to take a break and watch "WALL-E," which opened up in Australia just a few weeks ago.  I spend a lot of time watching Pixar films (over and over) with Will, so it was a pleasure to get the chance to see a new one.  I think it's another masterpiece.  And, interestingly, it really is another example of the speculative fiction genre that I wrote about earlier.  Briefly, the future of the Earth depicted here is one in which there has been so much pollution that the population has had to leave the planet (around 2100) while robots are left behind to clean up the mess.  The story in the movie begins 700 years later, in which WALL-E appears to be the only robot still working on the mess.  The descendants of the original humans who left the planet on a gigantic cruise ship are now all rolly-polly and incapable of getting out of their floating lounge chairs.  They just eat and drink and lay about all day long.  Meanwhile, back on Earth, we see many shots of enormous mountains of trash interspersed with views of vacant humongous box retailers where the trash was originally purchased.  Yes, exactly the same stores that I was missing back in the States just moments before I went into the theatre were now shown as one of the causes of an apocalyptic future.  The message about rampant consumerism leading to our eventual demise is abundantly clear in this movie, and I soon felt guilty about my own wasteful ways.

What is also interesting about the movie, however, is how America-centric it is.  That is, the film suggests that Americans single-handedly destroyed the Earth with their pollution, and it was only Americans who fled in their cruise ships.  Moreover, it's an American captain 700 years later who comes to realise that "the humans" need to go back and take care of the planet. In fact, the later re-habitation of the planet starts in New York with a bunch of Americans.  Not one other nationality is ever mentioned in the film.  Now that I live abroad, I am particularly sensitive to this American-centrism, so maybe I am over-analysing things here.  Indeed, another blog I found talks about the gender, racial, and anti-fat aspects of the film, but neither the original post nor the comments that follow it mention anything about the Americanism of this film. But, perhaps it is intentional.  Maybe the film's creators were trying to speak directly to Americans because they are such huge polluters compared to everyone else.  Then again, it does seem like the future of our planet shouldn't be determined by one country in particular, although many films, including "Independence Day," have depicted America saving the day.  Often we Americans get to play both the villain and the hero in these narcissistic fantasies.  It's pretty easy then to understand why some people elsewhere in the world might resent us--they only get to play the extras. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Plague

A lead story on today's Courier-Mail web page:

Plague of Yobs Hit Schools
AN alarming spike in student suspensions for being aggressive, disobedient, taking drugs and wagging school is plaguing the state's classrooms.
A few translations for my non-Aussie readers:

yob is short for yobbo, "an uncouth person"
wagging school means playing truant

And plague and plaguing are favourite words of the Aussie tabloid 'journo,' indicating "panicky sensationalism of an ordinary social problem."