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Everything posted by Graeme

  1. Colin, I don't know the ins-and-outs of the legal system, but I'm aware of someone whose boyfriend was prohibited from having contact with her children for a year because he smacked one of them once. The boy in question complained to his father, and the department of human service put in place an order to prevent him from being near the children. Emergency orders can be placed at short notice, but then require a follow-up session with a judge to continue them. Emergency orders are usually for short periods of time, generally not more than two or three weeks. After a court appearance, the order can be cancelled, modified, or extended. Please note that the child in question does not have to be a ward of the state or previously seen by child protection services. If the department of police believe a child is at risk, they can act to get an emergency order in place.
  2. Graeme


    I've just finished reading some of his stories at nifty, so I'm interested in seeing how this one progresses. His other stories tend to wander a lot, with occasional bouts of drama, but one of the things I like is how he has a significant number of straight characters. Not everyone turns out to be gay
  3. Yes, it's very different One of the consequences with the different sporting structure that I learnt about while researching my Lilydale Leopards series is that the professional teams in the USA tend to not put a lot of focus on development. They're expecting the colleges to do that development work and they want to receive someone who is already ready (or close to it). The equivalent Australian professional teams, on the other hand, have a lot of focus on development and not only do their own, but work with others to help keep a stream of promising youths coming through. I don't know about New Zealand, but I believe it's similar. They have a smaller population base, but they also have a smaller landmass, and I believe those two factors balance out. There are a lot of sporting ties between the two nations (last year I was on a flight with an Australian teenager who was flying to New Zealand to compete in a tennis tournament), so I suspect the sporting structures are similar. I found out the hard way when I went to the UK. I stopped playing basketball in Australia (naturally), but I expected to find a team to join in the UK to play with while I was there. I learnt otherwise, with no structure competitions in the area I was living in for the standard that I played. There were higher standard teams, but I knew I had no chance of joining them. That was one of only a myriad of small but important cultural differences I discovered in my year in the UK. Speaking of beer, even that's different in the UK. The beer/ale culture in the UK is quite different to Australia, with a much broader range of what we call microbreweries, and a much more refined view on what drinking options are available. There's a beer in Australia called Victorian Bitter that was marketed in the UK as Victorian Beer because it wasn't considered to be a bitter there. Australian pubs generally don't have real ales, either. They predominantly only have what one Englishman I met called 'chemical lagers'.
  4. Well, firstly most secondary school graduates don't go to university. They get jobs instead, and that allows them an income to allow them to move out of home. Before that, the main breakaway is another cultural difference from the USA, and that's out of school activities. In Australia, most schools educate (or try to) and that's it. Other activities are not tied to the schools, but are run independently. The major one is sporting activities. While the schools certainly have sports and there are interschool sporting events, the vast majority of sporting focus is in external sporting organisations. Football (AFL, Rugby, Soccer), Netball, Basketball, Athletics, to name just a few, have organised junior and adult competitions that are not related to the schools in any way. An up-and-coming sportsperson will be much more interested in their external competitions than anything to do with their schools. Indeed, some may not play for their school because of the risk of injury that would stop them from playing in what they see as their 'main' competitive organisation. Because of this, and because these external organisations generally span ages from very young, through to young adults and even old age (and no, I'm not defining that term), these external organisations provide the environment for youth to expand away from their parents. For example, I played competitive basketball from the age of 8 through to my early 30s , and I only stopped then because I was going to the UK for a year for work. Another example is my eldest boy is a member of a dirtbike club that goes riding once a month. The members again range from the very young (eg. five-year-olds) through to people in their 40s and 50s. He only rides for fun, but a lot of members are also members of motocross clubs that compete. I take my son each month, but once there he's on his own. I usually sit back and relax and let him do whatever he wants with the friends he makes there. That's true of a most of the parents who go (though rather than relax, a good number of them are off riding on their own bikes). In short, most Australians wait until they have a job before they leave home. Before that happens, they usually establish their independence through clubs and groups that they grew up with.
  5. Technically, numbers 6, 7, and 9 are not cities, but regions. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are popular tourist areas south and north of Brisbane. The Gold Coast can be treated as a single city as it's a contiguous strip of development from Tweeds Head up to the theme parks (one of the reasons it's a popular tourist area) at the north end. Similarly for the Sunshine Coast, though the development there is not as contiguous or dense as it is along the Gold Coast. Newcastle and Maitland are two cities in New South Wales, located about 35 km apart. The Wikipedia article where you got the list is actually showing something other than cities, as described at the top of the article. They're definitely metropolitan areas, but most people wouldn't consider either the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast to be cities. Canberra-Queanbeyan is a different situation, as they're more one city spread over two states/territories. Another example of that is Albury-Wodonga (number 19 in the list) where you have one "city" that's partly in New South Wales (Albury) and partly in Victoria (Wodonga).
  6. The population distribution difference is one of the reasons why Australian culture is so different to the USA's. With the vast majority of the population being urban, rural drivers (such as the use of guns for pest control) are a lot weaker here. It's also why our college culture is different. With the major universities located where the populations are found, most students live at home, not in dorms or other student-based accommodation. This means that things like fraternities and sororities don't really exist, because there's less pressure for students to band together. That's just two of the differences in culture that result from our different population distributions.
  7. I've just spent the day reading it. I hadn't stumbled across it before, much to my sorrow.
  8. Thanks, Mike. When I lived in the UK, we missed a White Christmas by one day. It snowed on the 26th...
  9. The fine for not voting in Australia without a valid excuse is $20. If you don't pay, it goes before a magistrate who can assign a larger penalty, if required.
  10. Thanks, Colin! In Australia, the electoral rolls are maintained by one non-partisan organisation: the Australian Electoral Commission. They maintain electoral rolls for not only the federal elections, but also the state elections. The states can vary their rules for state elections if they wish, but there is one set of rules enforced by the AEC for all federal elections. Without something similar (which may require a constitutional amendment to create since it's taking power from the states), I just can't see nationwide compulsory voting taking place in the USA.
  11. Introducing compulsory voting the USA would probably require either changing the date of the election to a weekend, or passing legislation that requires employers to grant employees time off to vote. On the plus side, it would stop the gimmicks currently used to suppress certain demographics from voting since those efforts would be useless -- suppressing the vote would be meaningless. Hopefully, that will mean more polling stations and simpler rules. Having said that, I can't see it happening. Voting laws in the USA are at the state level, so compulsory voting would have to be voted for in each of the 50 states, along with legislation to form the appropriate regulatory basis for fining people who failed to vote. Each state would also need to work out the details on how to ensure people enrolled to vote, too, since that would also become mandatory. As an aside, there are some exemptions to voting allowed here in Australia, including a religious exemption for certain sects. It works in Australia because we have the national infrastructure in place to support compulsory voting. A patchwork of infrastructure in 50 states to do the same would be a potential nightmare.
  12. Thank you! No, the story concept is not new. It was inspired by two SF novels, one had the survivors in an underwater city, and the other had them in an orbiting space station. Both novels explored the psychology of the survivors as well as the technical challenges. What I wanted to do was look at the impact on modern rights: gay rights and women's rights. Can they survive when placed against the survival of the species?
  13. I quite liked the beginning, though I thought that the story would end up being his exploration of all of the options, not just one. However, I'm satisfied with the way it turned out though I'll admit that I thought Ted would turn out to be a Halloween ghost...
  14. I agree. This is a fun story of a teenager's first job. A dream job, in fact. I wish I could have had a job like that!
  15. Colin, young kids are great. if you adopt, you'll be prepared, unlike Alan and Peter. I don't want to put you off the idea of adopting a younger boy
  16. Well I've just finished all the stories, and I loved all them! Some surprises, some tension, and all fantastic stories. If you haven't read them yet, please do so To make things easier, here are the links to the stories: Halloween Engagement by Cole Parker Greedy by Graeme 31 October 2011 by Pedro My First Job - A Halloween Story by Chris James Human Child by Bi Janus A Creepy Clown Halloween by Colin Kelly Blue Fire, Devil's Ire by Cynus
  17. Thank you! Yes, outside circumstances can throw our nice, comfortable lives upsidedown so quickly....
  18. Thanks, Pedro! I'm working on something, but I can't make any promises. I've got an idea for a spin-off novel, but it'll take time to gel, especially as I have another novel I'm currently working that starts posting next weekend.
  19. Alan Thrush and Peter O'Gorman are a gay couple in their mid-twenties who have the support of their friends and families. Their comfortable lives are turned upside down, however, when Alan's sister and brother-in-law are involved in a serious accident, leaving the young men as the guardians of two small boys. Temporary Dads will start posting on Saturday 22nd October 2016.
  20. A little bit of background... The plebiscite idea was put forward by the conservative members of the political party in power (Liberals in coalition with the Nationals) as a way of deferring the topic until after the federal election. It was originally put forward by the previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who was very much against same-sex marriage. However, between that decision and the federal election, the Liberal party voted Tony Abbott out of his position of Prime Minister and put in Malcolm Turnbull (this is not an affront to democracy, as some American commentators said at the time, because the electorate don't vote for the Prime Minister -- they vote for a political party and the party always decides who is their leader). Malcolm Turnbull replaced 'Toxic Tony' but he didn't have strong support from within his party. To keep power, and to give the party a chance of winning the upcoming federal election, he had to agree to keep most existing policies, including the plebiscite. This is despite Malcolm not only having previously made comments in favour of same-sex marriage. Indeed, his electorate in Sydney covers the major gay area of Darlinghurst. He was also the first Prime Minister to attend the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade (he had been attending for many years, but this year was the first time he did so as Prime Minister). That's where the idea came from and why the idea was pushed, even though I'm sure the Prime Minister doesn't think it was a good idea -- he inherited it and couldn't get rid of it without putting himself out of a job. After the federal election, his coalition has a one seat majority, so any defections will mean he could lose power and be unable to pass legislation. Regarding any possible future legislation, yes, there will be a religious exemption. That's the situation now -- churches have the capability of refusing to marry couples if they so wish. For example, Catholic churches refusing to marry divorcees, Orthodox churches refusing to marry couples unless both are Orthodox, etc. That's not new. However, I sincerely doubt that will extend to related industries being able to refuse service to gay couples. Currently Malcolm Turnbull is refusing to say if he'll allow a vote on a same-sex marriage bill in parliament. To me, that's saying he wants to, but he's going to need to tread carefully to make it happen politically. One member of the National party has already said he'll withdraw from the coalition if there's a vote to legalise same-sex marriage without a plebiscite. If he carries out histhreat, the government's position is in jeopardy, though I suspect they'll simply continue as a minority government with the help of one or more of the independent/minor party members of parliament.
  21. Try this one: Don't Sneak I think we've had this one here before. It certainly looks familiar EDIT: Yes, we have - posted almost a year ago: Saint of Dry Creek
  22. The USA Today editorial board didn't endorse Clinton. Indeed, their editorial pointed out a number of concerns they had, but none of those concerns were at the level where they were willing to say she was unfit to be president. They certainly didn't say she would be a good president -- just that she was capable of doing the job if she were elected. They also suggested voting for a third party or write-in candidate instead, if that's what the voter wants. It was only Trump that they declared to be unfit. The editorial explains why they consider him unfit, and it's not just temperament. It's a number of factors, including national security.
  23. Such a simple idea, but it has the potential to be very powerful. I hope it takes off!
  24. A few months ago I considered Donald Trump to be a wildcard but not necessarily a bad potential president. He would be unpredictable, but he's not someone who fits the usual political model, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the longer this campaign goes on, the more I realise that I was wrong. I now agree with the USA Today editorial board who have declared Trump unfit to be president -- the first time in the 34 year history of the newspaper that the editorial board has taken sides in a presidential election.
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