Converse and convert

I stumbled upon an interesting website this week. In the wake of the failed plebiscite and planned postal vote on same-sex marriage, there’s so much noise around the issue that it really wasn’t hard to run into The Equality Campaign. Titled Having a conversation about marriage equality, this particular page struck me because it was so, well, familiar. “[R]eal life conversations are incredibly powerful. They’re what … Continue reading Converse and convert

Australia: Not the place I thought you were

The other day after work, I was flowing with the peak hour crowd down Anzac Parade, when I witnessed something awful.

An Aboriginal man was heckling and shoving an East Asian man. The Indigenous guy was yelling obscenities and things like “Go back to where you came from!” to the suited up Asian guy, who was trying, literally, to shake him off. That was Awkward thing Number 1.

People just watched. And did nothing. That was Awkward thing Number 2.

By people, I mean mainly Asian people. The University of New South Wales appears to be predominantly Asian, even the law faculty – a contrast with the College of Law at my own alma mater. That was Awkward thing Number 3.

And I did nothing because, frankly, I’m both Asian and female. I actually thought I might get hit. That was Awkward thing Number 4.

It made me think about how Australia is not the place I thought it was when I was little. Continue reading Australia: Not the place I thought you were

The problem with American

Last week, on my flight from New York back to Sydney, I binge watched Season 1 of The Newsroom. It’s a series created by Aaron Sorkin, the guy behind The West Wing, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, an anchorman on cable news.

In the opening scene of the series pilot, Will is on a panel with a Democrat and a Republican at a university, when a student asks the panel: “What makes America the greatest country in the world?”

The question triggers an epic and rousing outburst from Will, who dresses down both major political parties and rails about why America is no longer the greatest country on earth.

“But it could be”, he then says in softer tones.

That first season of The Newsroom aired in 2012, before Donald Trump ever campaigned for president, promising to “make America great again”.

Coincidence? I doubt it. Continue reading The problem with American

Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

A politician who keeps his word? Who would’ve thought! But after a whole decade as Ecuador’s head of state, Rafael Correa is stepping down. Like, actually. Unlike his buddy Evo Morales, who felt a fourth term to be far too tempting to give up that he tried to change the constitution to make it legal for him to continue as president. Correa’s chosen heir, Lenin* … Continue reading Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

My love-hate relationship with reality TV and the concept of marriage

Commercial TV is an evil genius. I don’t watch much of it these days, but somehow I got suckered into Married At First Sight. It’s just, y’know, I’m making dinner and my housemate likes to unwind in front of the box. So there I am, innocently frying my fish when she begins hooting with laughter. So I get drawn away from the stove (I am a walking fire hazard) and find it’s that show the boys were talking about the other day. The one I made fun of them about.

When they refer to the battle for the watercooler, this is exactly what they’re on about. Commercial TV has perfected the art of balancing the ridiculous and the relatable, the beautiful and the ugly, attraction and revulsion, to create programs like this. Shows you love to hate on and hate yourself for loving. Shows you can’t help but talk about.

Like I’m doing right now, on the night of Valentine’s Day, incidentally. Continue reading My love-hate relationship with reality TV and the concept of marriage

Re-entering the darkness

I wasn’t procrastinating – I actually wasn’t planning on ever reading the book. It was going to be one for the mantelpiece, to adorn the bookshelf. After all, I spent a year working for the organisation founded by the author, so I didn’t just know the content – I was living right amongst it.

It was a surprise, then, how much the opening chapters of The Locust Effect moved me. Two months back on board with International Justice Mission (IJM), now in Australia, and we’ve talked on a number of occasions about vicarious trauma. I’ve shared with my colleagues some of what I went through that year in Bolivia. They’ve shared about how advocating against cybersex trafficking has had a toxic personal effect on them. Continue reading Re-entering the darkness

How libre is your Cuba?

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of a good cuba libre. Or two. Or three. But despite it being my drink of choice, I never really thought much about the name of this basic cocktail until Fidel Castro died.

There was something about the festivities on the streets of Miami that felt wrong. Tasted sour. It’s a cuba libre, dammit – let’s reserve the sourness for pisco, whiskey and amaretto. Continue reading How libre is your Cuba?