Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Market forces

Leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, has announced that a future Labor government will provide $25 million to establish an AFL team in Tasmania. If this is such a good idea, and it is questionable that it is, it should be the AFL's responsibility to fund it. Since when is it the government's business to finance sports teams?

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Suave man about town

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2008-0276, Hans Heinrich Lammers.jpg
Hans Lammer (1879-1962) in SS uniform
Today is the birthday of famed German fashion designer, Hugo Boss (1885-1948). Boss was a member of the Nazi Party, When the Nazi regime took power in 1933, his company designed uniforms for the SA, the Waffen SS, the Hitler Youth, the postal service, rail employees and later the Wehrmacht.

During the Second World War, he used forced labour in his factories. After the war Boss was tried and fined for his involvement with the Nazis. Years later, the company apologised for its Nazi past.



By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2008-0276 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Link

Friday, June 29, 2018

Piece in our thyme

The source of this image is unknown. It is a picture of former British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), whose entire career was overshadowed by his ill-fated September 1938 peace agreement with Nazi Germany. A year later, Germany invaded Poland, and Britain declared war on Germany. The Second World War broke out. The agreement turned out to be not worth the paper it was written on, not entirely unlike this picture caption. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Banks of the River Clyde

For those of you who take note of such things, sometimes a group or solo artist has two songs in the top forty at the same time. Del Amitri achieved this rare feat on this day in 1990, with their singles, Kiss This Thing Goodbye (20), and its follow up, Nothing Ever Happens (24). Their musicianship was impeccable.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The past does matter

This is concerning. According to new research from the Centre for Independent Studies, younger generations, some of whom appear to be historically illiterate, have a favourable and romanticised opinion of socialism.

If this research is accurate, most Australian Millennials have a poor awareness of some of socialism’s most infamous historical figures Of those polled, more than half (51%) didn’t know who Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong was. Only 21% were familiar with him. Not only was Mao perhaps the most important leader in Asia in the past century, he was also responsible for between 37-45 million deaths during the famine associated with his Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. 42% of Australian Millennials weren’t aware at all of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik revolutionary, father of modern communism and the first leader of the Soviet Union. While more people (34%) were familiar with Joseph Stalin, Lenin's successor, who was responsible for the deaths of up to 43 million people, approximately two-thirds either didn’t know him or were not familiar with his bloody history.

This causes me despair. As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Monday, June 18, 2018

Let each man search his conscience

On this day in June 1940, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill gave his famous "Finest Hour" speech in the House of Commons. It contributed much to lifting British morale during some of the darkest and most uncertain days of the Second World War.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Mobile Library in Kabul Brings the Joy of Learning to Afghan Youth

This is good news:

Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, has a history of violence. The nation has been marked by unstable governments and other violent groups, many of which plan attacks in the city of Kabul. Parents tend to keep their children behind closed doors to keep them safe.

Afghanistan also has a very low literacy rate, with only 36 percent of the population being able to read, and among women, this figure drops to 17 percent. Between three and five million children in Afghanistan are estimated to miss school this year, 85 percent of whom are young girls.

Freshta Karim, a public policy master’s graduate from Oxford University, saw this as an opportunity to help children in Kabul begin to learn and have fun. Karim grew up as a refugee in Pakistan, then returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after the fall of the Taliban. She says that she missed out on some childhood experiences due to the violence in the region and the inability of many to attend school. She recognized the importance of providing a space where children could be children and learn and grow as individuals.

With the help of a group of young educated volunteers, Karim launched the mobile library in Kabul in February 2018. The library is named Charmaghz, the Dari word for walnut, which in Afghan culture is associated with logic.

Mobile Library in Kabul Receives an Overwhelming Response

The library offers free access to more than 600 books in Dari, Pashto and English. In addition to books on many topics, there is access to board games, poetry, and music that allows children to learn about Afghan culture. Charmaghz stops at parks, schools and orphanages around Kabul for a few hours at a time, making two to three stops per day to provide access to as many children as possible.

In the first three weeks of operation, the library had more than 1,000 visitors. The library now draws approximately 300 people per day and has many regulars. Children come to learn, read and play with their friends, adults bring snacks and tea and volunteers come to lead sessions with children to discuss stories.

“It is beyond our beliefs and expectations how people love our program. We are humbled by their response. They appreciate and support it,” Karim said of the individuals who visit the library. Charmaghz was started to help a younger generation learn to read and broaden their horizons, and it seems the public is responding well to the new addition.

The team operating Charmaghz would like to ultimately expand. Currently, the mobile library in Kabul is financed by donations from Afghan professionals, and small donations from anyone who can afford to give anything. With this support, Karim believes expansion to other areas of Afghanistan, and providing more services, such as documentary screening, would be possible.

What started as a small effort to bring reading and learning opportunities to children in Kabul has become a staple of the community, encouraging children to grow and continue learning despite difficult circumstances.