Husband and Wife Holiday

Are parents who holiday kid-free selfish?

An article has been doing the rounds on social media again, and it’s whipping parents up into a frenzy about whether it’s “right” or “wrong” to go on holidays without your children.

Though the article was first published on Kidspot earlier this year, it’s started circulating again in the lead up to the September school holidays.

It’s all about a family who were planning a holiday, and their kids’ grandparents offered to have their 2-year-old for the week while they take their two older children on vacation.

They’re planning to hit up a waterpark, theme parks and the beach – all places that a 2-year-old would enjoy. But let’s be honest… it’s not so much fun for the parents to take their toddler to these types of places!

Ask any parent who has travelled with an ankle-biter and they’ll tell you: going on holidays with a toddler is not a holiday. It’s simply a transfer of goods from one location to another.

You schlep an endless supply of nappies, wipes, clothes, toys, snacks and other essentials to a new location, and you endure the journey – whether it be via plane, train or automobile – to get there.

Yet when these parents dared to suggest that they might enjoy going on a holiday without their youngest child, the internet was aghast. Aghast, I tell you!

Comments on the original post (which has gone super-viral) included, “Couldn’t do this, sorry. Baby will miss you so much!”, and, “You’re a family. You made a choice to have a baby who is now two. I’d hate to have a family holiday leaving out a member of the family. Sorry, I do think it’s quite selfish.”

Putting aside the fact that we’re all so ridiculously judgemental these days, I wanted to point out the glaring hypocrisy of this.

It frustrates me that as women, we constantly say things like: We’re all about supporting one another! Let’s lift each other up!

And my favourite: Gosh mums do it tough! They really deserve a break… Then when the opportunity to support and lift and encourage a break comes up, parents are quick to judge and tear down instead.

Plus, how come dad isn’t “selfish” in these debates? Why is it always all on the mum?

It really grinds my gears. But what do you think – are parents who take kid-free holidays (whether it’s leaving all kids at home, or just one child) selfish? Or are they living the dream?!

Australia Post

Australia Post complaints top 1 million per year

I am officially joining the list of one million Australians who have a serious bone to pick with Australia Post.

I try to be a positive person, I really do. I’m the first to give people and organisations the benefit of the doubt. But my recent experience with Australia Post has sent me into a bit of a rage spiral.

In their defence, they’re giving the concept of customer service a red hot go. They texted me to tell me my parcel had been dispatched. The texted me again to let me know to “expect delivery tomorrow”.

At this point I was given 3 options:

1. Leave at your address if there’s a safe place.
2. Someone will be home.
3. Take to Post Office if not home.

I chose number 1. I was also home when delivery occurred, giving me a massive chance of receiving my delivery – right? Wrong!

I made the sinful error of keeping my gate closed. There is a doorbell installed for such occasions, so I remained confident in my assessment that my delivery would soon be in my hot little hands.

Instead, the Australia Post delivery driver did not ring the bell.

Did not pop my parcel behind my waist-high fence.

Did not leave the parcel behind as instructed.

Did not deliver my parcel to me, despite me being at home at the time.

Instead, I got an annoying ticket in my mailbox asking me to drive 15 minutes to the allocated post office to collect my parcel.

Heads up Australia Post: if I wanted to drive to a retail outlet to collect my purchase, I would have bought them in a shop in the first place! I have children to ferry to and from school, activities to drop them to, playdates to attend, and in between all of that, I run a business and have a job. The added errand of popping into the post office unnecessarily is one I don’t need.

I can now understand why more than one million people every year lodge a complaint with the company.

Money Paris

Getting ripped off when travelling to Europe

I’m heading to Paris in the next few weeks. I’ve never been to Europe before, but through a beautiful stroke of luck mixed with a surprise work opportunity, I’m going to spend 10 glorious days in the City of Lights. I am mind-bogglingly excited about the trip.

I’m also getting a little bit cautious – because the cost of my trip is going to be mind-boggling, according to recent reports.

The cost of basic food and drinks in Europe are ridiculously high, I’m told. Factor in the language barrier, and it’s going to be a recipe for financial disaster.

I should expect to pay around AU$10 for a coffee, for instance. That’s a pricey hit of java.

One friend recently returned from a five-city tour throughout Europe, the fiscal standout of which was purchasing two soft drinks and a bag of crisps from a convenience store. She was charged 15 Euros – or about $AU25.

If you think that’s expensive, you’ll be gobsmacked by the next story…

A tourist recently ordered two coffees and two bottles of water in Venice.

The cost? An eye-watering 43 Euros – around $AU67!

It translated to around $AU18 per coffee and $15.50 per bottle of water.

According to a spokesperson for the café, it was the “experience” they were paying for, not the beverages.

“If they just want a coffee they can have it at the bar for €1.25 ($1.95),” the spokesperson said. “If they want to sit outside and enjoy the music of the orchestra, look at the bell tower and the Basilica of St Mark’s, then they are paying for an entirely different experience.”

We should consider it an entertainment or service charge, then?

This is not the only report of tourists being bilked for food and bev.

Last year, a group of four Japanese tourists were reportedly charged over 1000 Euros for four steaks in Venice. That city seems to be a repeat offender, as there was also a British family of three who were charged over 500 Euro for a seafood lunch, which included 20 oysters at 5 Euro a pop, which the family never ordered.

I guess I should be grateful I’m not going to Venice?! And I better have a handy translation guide on my phone…

Have you ever been ripped off on holiday, and how did you handle it?

Serena Williams

Serena Williams cartoon draws on long and damaging history of racist caricature: The Conversation

In the aftermath of the dramatic US Open women’s final between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight sketched a cartoon of Williams that has drawn opprobrium worldwide.

Critics such as writer J.K. Rowling and basketball player Ben Simmons have denounced it as racist and sexist.

However, the Herald Sun’s editor defended Knight, saying the cartoon had “nothing to do with gender or race”.

But whether Knight and his editor realise it or not, the cartoon draws on at least 200 years of racist and sexist caricaturing of African and African-descended women.

Early cartoon caricatures

In the United States, the tradition of racist caricature began as slavery came to end. This was not a coincidence.

The first place to outlaw slavery in the newly formed United States was Vermont in 1777. Over the next 50 years, northern states abolished slavery at different rates.

Then, in 1861, the nation went to war over slavery, and with the Union’s victory four years later, this dark period of the nation’s history officially came to a close.

Read more:
This is bigger than Serena Williams: lessons from the 2018 US Open tennis

But wealthy whites’ desire for cheap labour did not end.

In order to maintain a permanent underclass of workers, new and pernicious forms of racial classifications emerged.

These were designed to keep black people “in their place,” or prevent them from becoming “uppity.”

The 19th century also saw the solidifying of now-discredited forms of science that pegged races to a so-called ladder of civilisation.

White people, in this logic, had ascended to the top of the ladder. In the United States, African-descended people were at the bottom. (In Australia, white people pegged Aboriginal people to the bottom rung.)

Alongside such ideas came new ways to represent – or misrepresent – groups of people in imagery.

Racist and sexist caricaturing became a staple of newspapers and pamphlets, which were circulating ever more cheaply by the decade.

This was “racism’s visual vocabulary”, to use a phrase coined by American professor Martha S. Jones.

American cartoonists exaggerated the features, clothes, speech and deportment of black people.

The effect, as in Edward Clay’s famed “Life in Philadelphia” series, was to suggest that African Americans would never fit into city life as free people.

Such stereotypes helped undermine free black people’s claim to citizenship and to rights as fundamental as the vote.

Life in Philadelphia etching.
US Library of Congress

Stereotypes of black people took several forms. Zip Coon was a dandy who imperfectly mimicked modern city ways and never earned an honest dollar; the “mammy” existed only to take care of white people; harmless “uncles” or “sambos” were not very bright and good only for menial labour.

Cartoons often infantilised black people into odd-looking, overgrown “picaninnies”, similar to Knight’s depiction of Williams in his cartoon.

Aunt Jemima advertisement from 1909.
US Library of Congress, CC BY

Damaging stereotypes of hyper-sexed black characters emerged too, including the “buck” and “Jezebel.”

These served as yet another way to control black lives and labour.

Minstrels and film

Caricatures also extended beyond cartoons to what was fast becoming the most popular form of entertainment in the 19th century United States: blackface minstrelsy.

Audiences across the country, and eventually all over the world (including Australia) revelled in this new comic form.

Sharing a laugh by making fun of black people became one way that white Americans united with large new groups of immigrants.

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In Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, language is power

The idea that African-descended people were somehow less human or less advanced also enabled white people of different classes to feel united and superior to black people.

This feeling of superiority is what black intellectual and activist W. E. B. Du Bois called “a psychological wage”.

It helped wealthy white people suppress alliances between poor white people and black people who had been enslaved, or their descendants.

Racist caricaturing was so useful to those in power that by the end of the 19th century it was everywhere.

Consumer goods, an ever-expanding market, were sold with images of caring Aunt Jemima and benign Uncle Ben (the latter is still on grocery shelves in Australia today, albeit with an updated image).

Such caricaturing continued to demean African Americans into the 20th century.

Some of the very first short films and feature films in the United States centred on black characters who were stereotyped as lazy, thieving and/or stupid.

The Jazz Singer, the first “talkie” released in 1927, featured Al Jolson in blackface singing a song called “Mammy”.

Right into my childhood in regional Australia, racial caricatures could be seen on TV’s Bugs Bunny, while more recent examples include Eddie Murphy’s donkey in Shrek (2001) and the Lion King’s hyenas (1994).

The purpose of racist caricature of African Americans is no longer to maintain a cheap workforce.

It is also vital to note the ways African Americans have resisted, negotiated and minimised harm wherever possible.

But such images do continue to perpetuate racist myths about black people’s natures and capabilities, with other deleterious effects.

They have had a long, damaging history, and it’s time that 21st century media outlets such as the Herald Sun let them go.

WRITTEN BY: Clare Corbould, Associate professor, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation


ATO scammers on the prowl

My friend’s aunty, Rachel, was frantic by the time she reached the post office. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) had been on her case for days about an overdue tax debt that she didn’t even know she had, and if she didn’t send them a cheque for $7,500 today, huge financial penalties would be added to her bill.

She shared as much with the Australia Post counter staff – and fortunately, they smelled a rat.

“The ATO don’t usually ask you to pay by sending a bank cheque made out to ‘cash’,” the staff member told Rachel. “Are you sure you’re not being scammed?”

Rachel called the ATO immediately on her mobile phone, and that’s when she discovered she had almost sent $7,500 to a scammer.

She didn’t owe the ATO anything.

These types of rip-off schemes are becoming so prevalent that the ATO has issued a warning, as scammers are ramping up their activity in September.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says the latest method to swindle unsuspecting taxpayers of their funds involved a three-way telephone conversation, between the scammer, the victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim’s tax agent.

“One recent example had a taxpayer unfortunately thinking the telephone conversation was legitimate, and ended up withdrawing thousands of dollars in cash and depositing it into a Bitcoin ATM, fearing the police had a warrant out for his arrest,” Anderson says.

It’s the time of year that tax scammers get the most active: during July and August, the ATO has received over 7000 scam reports, and almost $190,000 has been paid to scammers. That’s only the funds that have been reported, too – it could be double that amount, or worse. Some people may have sent funds off not even realising they were swindled.

Part of the problem is that these scammers often originate from Asia or India. Australians are so accustomed to organisations and departments like the ATO outsourcing their call centre functions to these cheaper economies, that it doesn’t raise any red flags to hear from an accented caller.

Anyone can fall victim to these scams, so protect yourself from these dodgy operators by asking if you can call them back. If it’s a legitimate call from the ATO or a similar party, then they would have no problem with you hanging up and calling back. Importantly, they would also never get aggressive or pushy with you, the way a scammer would, so if their attitude shifts, this is a sure sign of immoral intentions. More information on how to protect yourself is available here.