All posts tagged: giving

My Two Cents Worth on the 2014 Federal Budget: Entitlement & Opportunity

“The age of entitlement is over. It has to be replaced, not with an age of austerity, but with an age of opportunity.”  Treasurer Joe Hockey in his budget address on Tuesday night. “Yes!” I wanted to bellow from my lounge-chair arena, like some footy head on a Friday night.  At the risk of opening a can of worms here, I will say that it’s been real interesting listening to the roar of dissent from different corners of the community. It was going to happen. No budget satisfies everyone. And we all have our bugbears, our causes and our unique circumstances. Those key words again… Entitlement. Austerity. Opportunity. If we would believe Hockey’s bold words, handouts are kaput, not to be replaced with any kind of severe governance but rather to uphold opportunity as the individual and corporate way forward. Sounds good. But cutting Australia’s aid budget by a whopping $7.6 billion over five years sure makes me uncomfortable. That means that cuts to aid (1.2 per cent of Federal Government expenditure) will provide 20 …

Earworms… and an Indian Orphanage that Needs Your Help

“Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because I’m happy… Clap along if you know what happiness is to you…” And so on.  It’s in your head already, isn’t it? That catchy ‘Happy’ tune by Pharrell Williams, or “earworm” as psychologist Lauren Stewart called it in a recent article for The Sunday Times, has certainly enjoyed a l-o-o-o-ng popularity. “The song’s success tells us a lot about the way in which certain melodies can burrow into our brains and stay there long after the music has stopped,” Ms Stewart wrote. She explored how the use of repetition, gesture (hand claps), long note durations, gospel-style harmonies and simple rhythmic phrases result in “a cerebral high that can be as potent as any highly anticipated reward”. It explains a lot. Forgive the offense if Happy is your all-time favourite tune, but I find the lyrics to be rather trite. I get that it’s a celebration of joy and happiness, which really is admirable, but it’s the song’s carefree, toe-tapping tone of positivity that makes it …

Give to the Poor and Lend to the Lord

We put the Christmas tree up a little late this year. So much going on, and we wanted to do it properly. So, last Friday night, before the wee one went to bed, we played carols, poured ourselves a gin and tonic and set about adorning the tree with tinsel, baubles and lights. When it was done, the tree laden with festive colour, we switched on the lights and stepped back to admire the result. Meanwhile, Master Nearly-Two stepped forward and tried to blow out all those twinkling little lights that so resembled candles! And we laughed till our sides hurt. I love the spirit of Christmas, those moments of love, joy and peace. They are achievable, believe it or not, when we allow ourselves time to soak in the reason behind our traditions. In one of the recent Feast magazines, Hobart foodie Matthew Evans said, “All of us need a wake-up call to get back in touch; to give for giving’s sake; to invite and be invited; to host and be hosted. To feed and be fed.” To …

Legacy of a Legend: Bryce Courtenay

Australia lost a man of determination and character when Bryce Courtenay died, aged 79, about 10 days ago. I was saddened to hear of his death, but looking into his life and achievements, you couldn’t wallow for long. This was a life to be celebrated. Something like one in every three Australians have one of Courtenay’s 21 books in their homes. He sold more than 20 million copies of his novels – and he only put pen to paper in his 50s. Courtenay’s strategic approach to writing – churning a new book out every six months, on average – demonstrated an enormous self-discipline that stretched beyond the page. He ran more than 40 marathons, mostly aged 50-plus. When I heard of his death I was immediately reminded of an interview I had with the man they are calling a “latter-day Charles Dickens”. I was a smidge nervous about interviewing such a well-known author, so my questions were ready, voice recorder and notepad at hand. What I wasn’t prepared for was when I had exhausted my questions (with enough material …