It is my Friday lay day blog – a recent institution designed to give me more time for other things. This week, an Australian author, Richard Flanagan, won the 2014 Man Booker literary award for the best book of the year. It was the first year the prize has been extended to all English language literature published in Britain. That is, it included American writers this time. Previously it was confined to that curiosity collection of nations called the Commonwealth, a residual from the British colonial days plus the Republic of Ireland. The book recounts his father’s experiences on the Burma railway during World War 2. The author has caused a stir back here after he told the press after receiving the award that he was, in fact, “ashamed to be Australian” because of the Australian government’s approach to climate change policy and coal. Our Prime Minister has said recently that “coal is good for humanity” and his Government has scrapped taxes on mining and carbon emissions, as a sop to its rich benefactors in those sectors.
There are many reasons to be ashamed of being an Australian. Yes, I am also accepting the usual E-mails from those telling me that if I don’t love it then I should leave. Go where? is the obvious response. Idiot follows soon after.
Not content with his “coal is good” remarks, the Prime Minister told the world press this week that he was going to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin, when the Russian leader was in Brisbane next month for the G20 Summit.
He thought he was being politically crafty by aligning mindless aggression with the national sympathy for those who were killed in the Malaysian flight brought down over the Ukraine a few months ago.
For those who are a little puzzled as to what he was proposing to do to the RUssian leader, here is a short explanation.
Australia has its own code of football – Australian Rules Football (AFL) which is a fairly robust game. I like it a lot by the way, and am, tragically, a Melbourne supporter (those who know will know!).
The term “shirtfront” comes from there and describes the deliberate front-on attack by one player on another – that is, a straight on charge aimed at the chest (the “shirt”) of the player being attacked.
The game is played at high speed and the players are strong and when they hit they hit. Often, the “shirtfront” is applied in a cowardly fashion when the player is running at high speed and doesn’t see it coming.
Here is a classic example from the past.
The Fairfax press offered this summary – Shirtfront explained: What Tony Abbott has vowed to do to Vladimir Putin – this week and provide other video examples:
It is usually performed in an aggressive manner, often with the aggressor leaping into the air to forcefully collide with an unsuspecting and unprotected victim.
Sometimes the victim will have his head down trying to gather the ball when he is suddenly hit.
The effects or injury of the illegal act can be significant for the victim, while the aggressor gives away a “free kick” during the game and also runs the risk of being suspended for multiple games by the AFL tribunal system …
So now you know how this Government engages in international diplomacy.
Why do we elect these characters? Answer: we are like them. That is something to be ashamed of. It is the same reason we have accepted the neo-liberal economic policy regimes – we are too stupid to know better.
Send those E-mails.
The Saturday Quiz will be back again tomorrow. It will be of an appropriate order of difficulty (-:
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2014 Bill Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.