Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Long Con

In preparation for parenting, I played out a few scenarios in my head before having to experience them in the fullness of time. I am still waiting for the call from the local constabulary to pick up one of my offspring from temporary confinement. I've got a great line for that occasion... and I know that Mom has no witty comeback prepared - so I dearly hope that my number is first on their speed dial...I stand ready.

One of those moments which requires forethought is the first evening when your son or daughter brings home their report card. How should one react? Should you make a big deal of the event or brush it off as insignificant? Over a decade of such reports coming home I have chosen a consistent path; I only look at one item on the report and I give praise and encouragement based on that single number which typically appears towards the top the document. Days Absent.

In a world where 90% of your success is determined by "showing up"; I remark on their progress in this key metric. "Mackenzie, I see that there are 10 absences on this terms report".... "Yes, well you see father I had cholera for a week and was asked by my school to spend 5 days in Bora Bora swimming with the dolphins"..."Sorry kid, I don't care, 10 days away is 10 days away... we are what we do repeatedly, better luck next term" ... My nonsensical approach to school reports has become a tradition in our house much like pumpkin pie at Halloween or filling out an NCAA bracket in the first week in March; there is comfort in continuity.

But for me it also serves a more symbolic purpose; your ability to attend and persist is far more important than your score on a few arbitrary assessments. A's are fascist and C's likely mean you were challenged but either way they are not worthy of loosing your cheese over.

The assessment dance was reprised just last week with my son coming home sheepishly with a report full of A's and B's and more importantly only 2 Days Absent!; Yet he declared that his friends who had snuck a peek at his report card worried about what might happen to him when he got home, as his first term, grade 11, B's were going to limit him from attending University. For a moment, I sensed that Malcolm may have felt that my obsession with attendance at the exclusion of all other indices may have been shortsighted. I had to assure him that it was not.

Even a cursory analysis of the shrinking global demographic trends leads to the logical assumption that the million square feet of post secondary real estate in Baltimore is more likely to be a barren wasteland in the near future and colleges will have to become creative marketeers in order to keep classes full. In the world of supply and demand today's students should be asking for free haircuts every Thursday in their enrolment contracts and if you can't get it at Morgan State there will be someone at Johns Hopkins with an enrolment quota to fill and a sharp pair of shears at the ready.

Yet this obvious fact appears lost on all those that perpetuate the misery that education has become for so many adolescents. We herd these teenagers like early morning cattle, exposing them to a creativity sucking curricula and an archaically inflexible schedule and we wonder why they act strange. All the while we perpetuate the myth that college life will elude their grasp if they do not participate and if they fail they can expect a life of loneliness, searching for answers, wondering what might have been. Believe me it will be there, if indeed - you want it.

The collusive conspiracy that is education is boggling. It involves parents, teachers, administrators and from what I can gather.... planet earth. The result is a treadmill to nowhere that has left adolescents broken, disillusioned and defeated by age 17, instead of strong, confident and invincible. But hey it was good enough for my generation so it's good enough for you...

I am convinced that there is a day of reckoning coming for higher education when Gen Y parents (an overall sensible and thoughtful group) don't let their children play this harmful and divisive game. You can develop skills anywhere / anytime so the con will be exposed, it's only a matter of time. But I have to hand it to the Danny Ocean like confidence man that hatched the conspiracy and launched a kazillion dollar industry. The size of the sector makes education too big to fail and it's associated myth that the only way to gain competency is through the privilege of spending every Tuesday afternoon with a grey haired Calculus teacher is flawed but difficult to shake. Still, disruptive innovation is coming and if it can happen to the music industry higher education is not immune. Open Universities, and alternate pathways to accredited studies are on the way. Have faith.

But beyond that, I would simply like the world to re-frame the entire issue of adolescence. From age 12 to 24, there is a tremendous opportunity to tap into the worlds greatest unused source of humanistic exuberance. Put it to use! Under-estimate it at your peril! Stop playing this ridiculous con game that calls for mid semester grades and mandatory logarithms. You are exploiting human frailty to fill your coffers or raise your ego. And while you can fool most of the people most of the time, their is a new wave of wonderful young men and women; in fact they are the best collection of generational talent I have ever seen, and they are about to call your bluff. So for those of you who perpetuate the current education paradigm, wake up to the new enlightenment, cut your losses and stand aside, cuz that house of cards you've been hiding in at night, it's coming down.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Friendly Skies

If you take the scenic route long enough you are bound to run across your fair share of airports. As a public service I shall review a few of the ones that have left an impression on me in my travels. It's not a top 10 or a "good,bad,ugly" it just is. Enjoy?

  • Kuala Lumpur - Real good, swanky clean and efficient. Great food and shops, though souvenirs cost 100 times more at the terminal than in the city. By far the best place to get a cheesy elephant statuette (sorry Malcolm). Would be #1 on my list if they actually placed the airport in Kuala Lumpur or in Malaysia for the matter. The 1 hour (plus++) no rules taxi ride to the city must be taken with your eyes closed, just trust me.
  • San Francisco - Likely the best in North America, super clean and everything works! Wifi, baggage handling, you name it, it all happens. Nice place to hang for a layover which I intended to do about a year ago when I arrived with the family from Sydney, unfortunately we were re-routed to Los Angeles ... good old LAX, which is the complete opposite to SFO in every way. Try customs at LAX sometime after a 14 hour flight from Sydney and I dare you not to cry.
  • Dallas - I like the cowboy hats (worn by all the info booth helpers and such), I like the big Texas feel and it's the only place where a person can order brisket at an airport and be optimistic. You hardly realize how unusual Dallas is when you judge it by the airport. The same goes for Portland, officially the weirdest place on earth, the airport is downright normal, in fact last time I almost bought a tiny little Oregon duck stuffed animal...almost. San Diego is the reverse, super city, below average airport with the most ridiculous system for rental car procurement, it's so close to downtown that you almost feel as though you are landing on an aircraft carrier in the bay, which actually - would be pretty cool.
  • Atlanta - You can find this airport on both best of and worst of lists, for me it wins me over with the rental car monorail, I'm a huge fan. The signage is nails and I have a suspicion it was designed by the same mob that built the Tampa airport, an altogether underrated place, with a handy rental car area and a superb monorail to the terminal, Tampa also has a perfect collection of shops that I have used as last minute "get out of jail free cards" on my way back to the family after an extended absence ;)
  • Toronto - Look, I'm a patriotic guy and every time I get to Toronto I feel Canadian, everything is overpriced and over-regulated...Ah, I'm home! But the three terminals (beautiful as they are; are no where near each other and I always go the wrong one! And if they ever host the Olympics in Toronto they should set the marathon at Terminal 3 - what I'm saying is ... it's a hike...and a half. While I am talking about Canada my friends and family will be waiting for me to "pay out" Vancouver,  my least favorite city in the northern or southern hemisphere, but you know what, it's pretty good, very organized (Canadian), the odd native painting (Canadian) and everything there almost works (Canadian), Alas. Vancouver used to have a program whereby they charged travelers $20 to leave the city, to wit I once replied to the attendant; are you kidding me I would have paid $100!
  • Detroit - there is a PGA superstore there, which almost makes up for everything else. And speaking of dreary I don't recommend the post apocalyptic landscape around the Denver airport to anyone but I would literally make a connection in Denver just for a taste of the sirloin steak at Elway's restaurant.
  • Sydney - Sydney is great in theory but nothing actually works there. The duty free area is outstanding but super intrusive if you were in a hurry. Australians cannot operate a line, god love them, so things like customs and baggage claim have no operational sensibility. It all works well when there are no people but it's as if the operators get surprised every day when the folks arrive. Most of the other airports in Australia are glorified bus stations. Same can be said about a connection from Montana, sorry people - I take comfort in a glass and steel monolith, flying out of a lodge just doesn't inspire confidence.

Happy Trails

Monday, June 30, 2014


My son has been damaged by a recent documentary about the rock band "Rush" detailing their Southern Ontario roots from the 1970's. It was an hour of mullets and heavy glam rock that left the poor boy shaking from head to toe. The styles, the music, the ambiguous sexuality of it all was too much to take. When he woke up the next morning he asked me how anyone from the era could have seen this as interesting, desirable or in any way sensible.

I smiled. Though I reminded him that maybe, just maybe he would look back 40 years from now with similar disdain for the current cultural and fashion trends. Then he uttered the most innocent and misguided proclamation - Tell me one thing from my generation that I will look back on with shame?

My dear child!
  • Tattoos - the only socially acceptable reason for having a tattoo involves warfare or some similar bonding experience that compels one to place the insignia of their platoon or honored group on their left arm. A 20 inch depiction of a spider growing out of ones buttocks just because it looks cool, makes you only one thing - a victim to fashion
  • Flat top baseball hats (pictured) - It is a look that is pretty difficult to pull off, the best at it is Ricky Fowler and he looks ridiculous. Gas station "snap backs" that say HORNY on the front will never come back in style - trust me
  • Over-sized sun glasses - ladies, it's just not working. Not sure what look you're going for here but I am here to inform you that you look like a gigantic bullfrog eyeing up a tse tse fly. I imagine that they must look different in the mirror and through some strange optical illusion you believe you look normal, news for you, you don't
  • Yoga Pants - They are leggings people, not pants, other than a few athlete type, they're not for you - this is a public service announcement intended for the 1 million women currently running errands around the city of Vancouver wearing lulu gear
  • #loser#pretentious#getalife#enoughalready#stopit#thisisridiculous#whatthehellareyoutryingtosay#Idon'tunderstand#hash#tag#hashtag
  • Falsies - no not those, I'm talking about empty eye-glass frames - a word to those 20 something year old athletes that wear them; how about I rock a pair of non supportive crutches because I want to be cool like a 40 year old ex athlete that hobbles around life without the use of their ACLs
  • Twilight -the novel, the sequel, the movies - "vampires" Transylvania meets Pennsylvania, that's a thing? - what were you thinking
  • Home ownership - if some can convince me that home ownership makes any sense whatsoever in today's market, please enlighten me. It worked for the baby boomers when they retired with household incomes worth 5 times their initial mortgages but if you think that your going to purchase that $400,000 dream home because you'll be pulling in a cool $2 million a year when the calendar hits 2035, you've been hoodwinked, duped, run amok, bamboozled, swindled, ....., #trustme.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yes, and...

1. When the jaywalking hall of fame is built, I propose that it be constructed in Baltimore somewhere in the the middle of a busy intersection.

2. My favorite baseball team is in first place and the world seems brighter. Yes, that is as sad as it sounds.

3. I am forcing my son to grow tomatoes in our backyard, who am I?

4. The Canadian consulate in Canberra, Australia just sent a message to all Canadian residents alerting them to the location of poutine in the city #thatreallyhappenned

5. As a resident, Australian political discourse is sublime, as an outsider looking in, ridiculous. The latest scheme is to try to tax dead students. You can't make this stuff up!

6. Baltimore is extremely green, its summer soundtrack is set to the hum of a lawnmower.

7. Four months in Baltimore without cable or satellite TV and dodgy wifi; I feel like we're living on Bonanza.

8. One day we were looking for a 5 bedroom 3 bathroom house to buy, the next we signed a lease on a two bedroom condo. Sorry Mackenz - the guest room is a closet.

9. I caught myself singing a Bob Dylan song in the shower morning, where do I go from here... (see #3).

10. What! Pountine will not spell check in America!, it better work on my scrabble edition or else - us Canadian's have burned down the Capital building before you know...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


A bit of a dandy. That's what they would have said about young "Anigo" as I he pranced around his Spanish castle, festooned in mock armor, polishing his aristocratic sword and yearning for the battle that would transform him from a young boy into an honored soldier. Soon, even the name became too colloquial and he would adopt the moniker "Ignatius", as when you are the youngest of 13 siblings you'll do anything to stand out. Picture a cocky young Chris Pine in the movie version. "Hello ladies...."

Thirty years in the making his soldiering days came to an ignominious end as his leg caught the wrong end of a cannonball. Broken in three places, he was confined to bed-rest to recoup, a career in ruins. recuperating in his family's palace, not so young Ignatius would have been unbearable to attend to. "Fetch this, Fetch that, Got anything to read..."

According to his loving sister whose task it was to care for him, the only book written  in Spanish at the entire Loyola homestead was a volume entitled "Jesus of Nazareth"... hehehehe... I bet she was lying. But with only one novel to read and months of bed rest ahead, Ignatius became captivated by the main character of the text. Jesus, the ultimate peaceful warrior who would expose himself to the world and while bleeding to death on a cross only ask forgiveness for his persecutors. Frosty.

Soon Ignatius would rise with his life's mission changed from fighter to street preacher. The next step was to attend University studying the great works and scripture. "What did you say, I need to know Latin, you're kidding right." Apparently not. Now the scene changes from drama to farce as a Spanish nobleman pretends to be a 15 year old Grammar student in an attempt to pass the entrance exam. The guy has spirit. The University of Paris takes notice.

It was in Paris that Ignatius became the leader he was meant to be, and along with a handful of idealistic comrades they form the "Society of Jesus". They begin counselling each other, graduate to fellow students and soon hit the streets chatting to anyone in need of help. Their flock expands. Soon the self proclaimed, Society of Jesus, adds seminaries where young people can study scripture, these informal gatherings become what would be known today as schools. Afterwards the Jesuits were being called to take all manner of children into their seminaries and found a multitude of schools. Ignatius visits the Pope to see if it was all right to do so, "Sure boys, just don't get into any kind of trouble..." was the reply.

Today the small society begun at the University of Paris in 1534 and officially formed in 1540 upon the Pope's blessing, has been responsible for starting schools in dozens of countries with 28 college and universities in the United States alone. In many ways the foundations of the modern school system was brought to mankind by the Jesuits. A fantastic legacy.

If there is a moral to this story it has likely escaped my mind, but I am struck with how often in history a person develops skills in one area, but then changes course simply by listening to what they are being called to do. It is a voice we should listen to more frequently. No?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A cold day in March

I met him 16 years ago. He was in a huge hurry that night - moving way too fast for his own good. I waited by his side as he rested and gained control of his breathing. As he settled in for the night I made my way home for a quick sleep. I knew we would catch up again the next morning.

The clock in my car put the time well into the wee hours of the morning. I drove to the first stop light on my way home. The roads were abandoned. Was it supposed to be this cold in March? Positively freezing if you ask me! Perhaps I'm just not used to sitting in my car at 3 am in the morning... The light turned green but I did not move. In fact, I put my car into park. I just sat at the light. Moments flew past, I could not drive. I kept thinking about the new friend I had made - hoped that I'd be worthy of his friendship. Three or four green lights went past before I put the car back into gear and headed home. I drove slowly.

The next morning I introduced Mackenzie to my new friend and she fell in love. It is a reaction that I would come to appreciate as the years flew past. His is the singular ability to charm. Over the years, at various points in time he has reminded me of friends and relatives, but he always grows past the stereotypes. His own man.

A few years ago, I had the occasion to travel with him to New Zealand. My how he had grown. Tall, lanky and a fast climber with grace that could only be interrupted by approaching puddles. How did you not see that! For the most part it was a great trip full of laughter and good spirit but it wasn't without its challenges. And when there are troubles you want your best friends beside you. He was there.

It has been a privilege to watch him grow over the past decade and a half. He has only averaged 4 inches a year, but the cumulative effect has been startling. Those who know me realize that my friendship comes with a cost; I am so profoundly drawn to change that those closest to me must always be ready for a new adventure. But like a true friend he has risen every time to meet my needs and exceed my expectations.

Today officially marks the longest period of time that the two of us have been apart since that chilly day in March 16 years ago. As I forge forward, I have left him behind to clean up in my wake, responsible for all that I hold dear.

A few more weeks and we'll be together again; laughing and scratching the way we always do. I'm looking forward to catching up again, my friend. It's been a positively frigid March down here, the coldest I can remember in 16 years - but the sun will shine strong again soon. Oh - and the picture, that's the first place we're heading.

Happy Birthday

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Belle Epoch

The Belle Epoch is the name given to an era centered in Paris between 1870 and the commencement of the first World War. The influence of that period is underestimated and misunderstood. It was merely a 45 year span, a virtual pittance in the annals of human history, yet it marked a change in thought that is interesting and significant.

By 1870, what is commonly known as the Industrial revolution was 50 years in the rear view mirror... and thank god for that. I would argue that it was the most dreadful time in the history of human society. Plague, disease, death, hazardous work conditions, and a total breakdown in family relations were the "victories" associated with this prolific era. Those that argue its merits were obviously involved in some kind of viscous arbitrage opportunity that profited from the labors of broken men. A few escaped to North America, or died trying.

But by 1870, European Society had been given time to understand the impact that technological change would have on their lives. Perhaps if the puzzle of technological change could be solved and harnessed it could be done for the betterment of mankind, not its destruction. A new philosophy was emerging that pondered the center of all things. It speculated what would be left if we cut down all of the layers that muddied the picture, and how could we find beauty and meaning in all facets of everyday life. It is when the wistful natural art of Monet ceded to Van Gogh's realistic portrayals of saloons and the people that frequent them. Gauguin painted a bowl of lemons (for crying out loud) and made it look noble.  It was a golden age of the aesthetic; real household objects could be beautiful and precision mattered. It was a hopeful time that postulated that the scientific principles governing economic progress could be applied to the social sciences such as psychology, anthropology and education. It was the era of Rudolf Steiner and Carl Jung. The age produced some of the finest novelists of any generation; Henry Miller, T.S. Elliot, James Joyce, D.H Lawrence, E.M. Forster, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lewis Carroll; writers who felt that the world was a riddle and through mysticism, logic or scientific trial, the human condition could be improved.

All of the men and women that I mention above were members of, or were influenced by a new doctrine, Theosophy. Founded by Maria Blavatsky in 1875, Theosophy was an attempt to unify mankind by finding common ground among the worlds spiritual traditions. In essence, a search for the truth. Misguided or not, the agenda was bold and those that garnered inspiration from Helena's writings make up a select and distinguished group of visionaries.

And it wasn't just Europe - in 1907 the Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, himself interested in the Theosophical Society conspired with a husband and wife team of architects, Walter and Marion Griffin (also society members) to build an entire city around theosophical principles. The city was Canberra and it was to be the capital of Australia. The drafts were presented in 1913, the last year of the Belle Epoch, as war loomed on the horizon. I can assure you that elements of the design were indeed incorporated into Canberra's cityscape... I've been there.

I often wonder what may have become of the world had war not intervened at that time. Between 1870 and 1910 the world saw the greatest improvement of all time in human living standards. You cannot escape the era in your life today; electricity, petroleum, iron, steel, rail, advances in machine tools and paper-making, marine technology, rubber, bicycles, automobiles, telecommunications and an explosion of applied sciences such as metallurgy and chemistry are directly born from that era.

In 1907, while Lord Deakin was wooing the Griffin's a British activist, writer and orator named Annie Besant, became the President of the world's Theosophical Society. An ardent supporter of India's independence she gave her first speech to a crowd gathered in London, and in the audience that evening was a 37 year old woman who had just begun a school in San Lorenzo Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori. Annie was a powerhouse and an inspiration, she soon moved to Madras (in India) and worked hard to end the conditions of British rule in favor of Indian independence. She passed away in 1931 and the leadership of the theosophical society fell to George Arundel. Mr. Arundel met Dr. Montessori in Holland in early 1939 and invited her to India to run a training course. The timing was perfect. Maria and her son Mario accepted the invitation and began to develop the program in Madras. It was there that Mario and Maria completed the cosmic curriculum, today a staple of any Montessori elementary classroom.

Just like the technical innovations born from the era, the thoughts and ideas still remain today. Mostly they exist in a scattered context, but the embers are there. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the world stands now at the precipice of another Belle Epoch. A short period between the cold war and whatever may come next. A world that is ready to successfully integrate the ideas born from disruptive technology to our benefit.

Please do not misinterpret, I am not advocating a return of Theosophical doctrine, and whether or not Elvis Presley carried around the complete works of  Maria Blavatsky  in his overnight bag (as any quick check of the Internet will attest) interests me less. It's just that tonight I feel hopeful and I think that the period between 2001 and 2050 might just stand for something some day and the Belle Epoch Part Deux...why not.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I have been ordered to report to Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland and am currently "hold up" awaiting a suitable time to make my first appearance at the institution. An exciting proposition as I am to be the Director of Montessori Studies at the University; which hopefully involves me attempting to inspire future educators by elucidating the transcendent ideas of the single most visionary educator of the 20th century, Dr. Maria Montessori. All that lies ahead.

But my thoughts this week, have me looking back to where I have come from, Australia, the country I have called home for the past 4 years. In 2009, I was given an amazing gift; the opportunity to travel from Canada, the only home I had ever known to Canberra, the capital of Australia. I did it to continue my journey in education and to explore new adventures with my family. I thought that travel would give myself and my children a unique perch from which we could explore new cultures and new ideas. The experience would allow us to travel around Australia and journey to New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand and Malaysia - locations we scarcely believed we would ever be lucky enough to enjoy. Mission accomplished.

For those that wish to know my impressions of Australian geography and nearby destinations, peruse through my previous 4 years of blogs and you'll get a sense of Noosa, Sydney, Melbourne, the South Coast and assorted locales. However this post, my last before I embark on my new adventures in the United States, is not intended to be a recap of the Rice family's ramblings. Instead, I am aware that I gained something far more profound these past 4 years. It is only when I reflect on my entire Australian experience that I can articulate what I have learned. Learning is the essence, as a four year dalliance will sadly soon fade in my memory, but what I am positive will not wane is the spirit of Australia - something that was a curiosity to me in the beginning and now is a valuable part of my world outlook.

I spent a great deal of time explaining to people the similarities between the Canadian and Australian cultures. The likeness is obvious. A Commonwealth past, an internal struggle in dealing with the treatment of indigenous people, a free and stable democracy and a beautiful landscape that can belie an unforgiving climate. At first I chose to see the differences in the two nations as superficial, perhaps expressed by the price of coffee or the way they spell tire "tyre". Once those initial observations became mundane I sensed a few differences in perspective between Canadians and Australians, but it was very difficult to put my finger on the subtleties  because of the inherent similarity in values. However the test is in decision making. There were many times when I sat in meetings amongst my industry colleagues in Canberra faced with a decision that would impact thousands of students and teachers across the independent school sector. Often in those meetings, I would propose solutions to problems that were not understood. At first I thought it was a reaction to my non linear (polite way to say scatter-brained) approach to problem solving and therefore nothing alarming. However, I came to realize that there was an inherent bias in my approach that I did not recognize. Many times I would quickly default to a compromise solution - perhaps it was not a resolution that would be perfectly fair but by any calculation it was an optimal solution for the majority. Canadians, Australians and indeed Americans all value equality. In saying that I recognize that all three of those nations and people with in them have often strained against that virtue. I don't mean to suggest that any of those countries have collectively solved all moral dilemmas or have some kind of master's license on ethical behaviour. Train wrecks are inevitable. But the sense that equality is a virtue to be respected and is deeply rooted in the nations highest aspirations is something that I believe is entrenched in the American, Canadian and Australian experience. Yet the approach to equality in the three cultures are significantly different. Americans feel that liberty is the path to equality, while Canadians champion compromise to reach the same end (just count how many times the average Canadian says "I'm sorry" in a day...).  Both of these approaches lead to tremendously positive outcomes and of course when taken too far lead to unintended tragic consequences such as the issue of gun control in the US or the failing universal medical scheme in Canada. After all, the things we love too much kill us in the end, as our values become the hills that we die on.

In Australia, the path to equality is always seen through the lens of fairness. The National Anthem of the country is titled "Advance Australia Fair" and there is a sense that everyone in the nation must be given a "fair go". With that as a context it shouldn't have taken me four years to pick up on the difference but there is an interesting sub context to all debate in the country which follows from this national belief. I clearly remember the evening that we had a few Australian friends over for dinner and my daughter and I were lampooning the latest headline in the newspaper in which two politicians were championing the fact the next election would be won be the man that the Australian people felt was more "fair dinkum". I was relating the headline to our Australian friends hoping they would see the humour in the line, after all, I was envisioning a Saturday Night live skit - or a Nordic nudity contest - yet when I relayed the story to our friends their response was a stoic - "yes, I would agree with that analysis."

A culture dedicated to fairness above all is one that should be highly regarded. In comparison to Canada, a compromised solution is not appropriate if it's outcomes, even if optimal, are not fair and in reference to the United States  - freedom is of little use if it does not lead to fair outcomes. It is why I had such a difficult time in understanding the Australian approach to excellence, it is enjoyed but never celebrated, there is something unfair about lauding one's achievements over others. Yes, Australia has much to teach the world, it is a time capsule of a nation, so remote that it has been allowed to develop a unique culture and set of norms. As it's challenges get more complex in the next century, its value of fairness will be tested and indeed will lead to rocky times ahead (evidence the recent national debate around refugees), but I for one will always appreciate and be respectful of the Aussie point of view. It was a privilege to have called it home.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie ... oi, oi, oi!