The Frequent Footslog.

Well. I have never in my life used the word ‘footslog’ and probably am unlikely to do so again. I mean, finding links once a week is hardly a slog, really.

Anyway. We’ve got two weeks left of summer holidays and suddenly we seem to be running out of time to do everything. It always seems like that at the beginning of a long break, doesn’t it? You imagine all these things you’ll do, and then time gets away from you. But I think the children are looking forward to going back to school, and I am too – in the nicest possible way, of course! It’s exciting to start a new school year. Before then, though, we’ve friends to see and icey poles to eat and long summer afternoons to enjoy.

Have an excellent Sunday, everyone!

Where does free speech end and hate speech begin? French comedian Dieudonne, often accused of anti-semitism, was arrested last week. Perhaps everyone – even, or especially those commenting on our culture – needs to take a step back and pause after such an event. Black humour is one thing, but vitriol is another. As Emmanuel Pierrat points out, we need to consider what it is we’re saying. Blasphemy may have been outlawed in France, but in a world where the boundaries for everything (including humour) are being pushed, it’s important to think carefully about what we allow. And quite possibly, knee-jerk arrests from the police are not that helpful, either.

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Our national news radio station is partners with some stations in other countries, and one of those is the BBC World Service. While getting our fortnightly takeaway, I often listen to it in the car, and last week, I heard a programme called Outlook, where a young person who had been an orphan in a Romanian institution was talking about his life and what he has done since leaving the state welfare system. Very inspiring stuff, and illuminating, because we’ve often been very quick to judge the state-run orphanages in Romania, and Visinel Balan points out that given his home environment, the institution was quite possibly the better place for him to grow up. In fact, the interview which came afterwards is also really interesting, and I’d wager that the whole programme is worth a listen.

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Yesterday on the way home from visiting my parents, I stopped off for fuel, and noticed that the price of petrol was 27 cents less than it was last time I got fuel. In some large cities, fuel is hovering around $1 per litre – prices we’ve not seen for about 10 years. While many are obviously delighted about this relief to their weekly budget, spare a thought for those in Venezuela. Food shortages are becoming acute, and there is growing unrest and fear of violent protests. As oil becomes more scarce, what does that mean for countries like Venezuela, where oil comprises a staggering 96% of their exports?

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Alan Kohler muses about the future of our workplaces, if artificial intelligence continues along its current path. I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the self-serve checkouts that have been rolled out at various business recently. If I’m in a hurry, I quite like them, because I get to scan and pack everything myself. But I also worried about the possibility that it will make the cashier jobs redundant. Kohler makes a point I’d not really considered – are these the kinds of jobs we should worry about going? After all, they’re really not the most enjoyable: long hours stood up, and it’s repetitive and dull work. Why shouldn’t we give these jobs to machines? But what will those people do, who are currently working in such positions?

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