This Week #6

We made it out of the house sans-kid twice (!) this week thanks to various wonderful friends who took him off our hands for a few hours. First for an absurdly decadent dinner at Cutler & Co., a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try since we moved to Melbourne. It was absolutely delicious. Highly recommended if you have a few hundred dollars burning through your pocket (or a gift voucher in our case). Then we made it out to MIFF to see Ella, a documentary that follows Ella Havelka, the first indigenous dancer to join the Australian ballet. I left fairly happy that my life choices didn’t lead me into a field as gruelling and unforgiving as professional dance. We ran into Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in the foyer buying popcorn for his kids, making it the third time this year I’ve run into him (last time he was buying a meat pie in Ballarat).

A close friend of ours is, tragically, almost certain to lose her hearing sometime soon, and so we’ve started learning Auslan together so we’ll be able to talk to her when that day comes. The amazing thing is that classes are conducted entirely in silence — no talking allowed. So far it’s actually that Lexi has started learning Auslan and has been teaching me and Felix — it’ll be my turn in a few months. It rather amazing to see how quickly Felix picks up signs, we’re only a few weeks in but it feels as though having a visual hook is accelerating his grasp of language development in general.

We did the census. Three days late in the end after their website was brought to crashing halt by the mass of people who were asked to visit it. Despite tens of millions of dollars paid to IBM and other companies, it seems as though some of the most basic of things weren’t implemented or were implemented poorly. The whole debacle, along with the casual dismissal of privacy concerns, has eroded trust in one of the most important Government institutions. The irony in all of this is that, once I could actually get into it, the census website was easily the best digital-thing that the Australian Government has produced. The form was straight-forward, easy to use, and (relatively) smart about not making you repeat yourself. A completely different world to the user-experience hell that is Medicare and Centrelink.

Speaking of incompetence: in an attempt to prove they’re both stupid and corrupt, the International Olympics Committee has banned GIFs featuring anything out of the Rio. This sort of short-term thinking is perhaps why I’ve felt less than enthusiastic about the whole games this time around.

Not to say there haven’t been some great moments. Simone Biles is amazing, Katie Ledecky is ridiculous, Anna Meares is a champ, and the Australian Women’s Rugby 7s team are Olympic champions. The most impressive thing I’ve seen so far though is Almaz Ayana’s run in the women’s 10,000m. In only her second competitive 10,000m race she lapped half the competitors and broke a 23 year-old the world record by 14 seconds. Here’s hoping there’s nothing sinister going on.

A couple of things for your long-reads-list:

Okay, I’m going to say it: The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.

Don Winslow write about America’s heroin epidemic and Mexican drug cartels. I read Winslow’s The Cartel a few months ago and couldn’t put it down. Though it’s a novel, the book is apparently a fairly accurate portrayal of the way the drug trafficking and the war to prevent it has torn Mexico apart.

Supposedly, the best way to master a foreign language is to fall in love with a native speaker.

And Lauren Collins learns to love in French.


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