My email to the Salvation Army, regarding their statement on Safe Schools

This email was sent to the Salvation army (nsc@aus.salvationarmy.org) on 5th December 2016. Since their statement regarding their non-support for the Safe Schools programme was made in public, I’ve decided to make mine public as well.

Dear Salvation Army email reader,

In these straitened times it’s hard to work out where an engaged citizen should send their charitable donations, and so I want to thank you for making that decision easier.

I have previously donated to the Salvation Army in recognition of your homeless outreach work, but that decision will be changed having read your public statement regarding Safe Schools.

safe-schools-logoIn this statement you make clear that the organisation does not support the programme on the grounds that it discriminates in favour of LGBTIQ children*: a baffling argument given that you simultaneously acknowledge that these children experience higher rates of bullying, self-harm and suicide in the previous paragraph.

To argue that an anti-bullying programme is inadequate because it helps the people disproportionately affected by bullying is a bizarre and inconsistent argument, and looks awfully like discrimination against people based on their sexuality and sexual identity.

It’s one thing to hold that opinion privately, but it’s quite another to make a public statement on the matter.

Clearly, the organisation wishes the public to take their position seriously and to make decisions on that basis, or you wouldn’t have issued a statement to this effect. And so I will respectfully take you at your word.

Therefore, I will no longer be supporting the Salvation Army.

There is nothing remotely Christlike about putting children at risk – an especially bad look, given the revelations in September of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with regards your organisation’s historic failure to protect children.

I urge you to reconsider your position, but in the meantime I will be putting my resources toward organisations that do not put conditions on which children are worthy of love, respect, and protection.

Yours in disappointment,

Andrew P Street

*The statement declares “We believe the availability of support services for every vulnerable student including those identifying as LGBTIQ is vital. We also believe the provision of a government approved anti-bullying program needs to consider all high risk student groups.” Thus the criticism of Safe Schools appears to be that it doesn’t deal with other high risk groups – which the statement neglects to identify – in favour of the one high risk group which it explicitly acknowledges.

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Come to our live Double Disillusionists thing! Also, other stuff!

Dear the Internet,

If you’re wondering whether the US election result is a bad thing or an absolutely catastrophic thing for Australia, then you’re definitely going to want to come join The Double Disillusionists – myself and Mr Dom Knight – at Giant Dwarf next Thursday (23rd Nov)!

The excitement of live entertainment!

Thrill to the excitement of the Double Disillusionists LIVE!

That’s where we’ll be unpicking the election in forensic-yet-hilarious style with two experts on the political game: Fairfax’s Jacqueline Maley and BuzzFeed’s Mark di Stefano! There’ll also be copies of Mark’s new book What A Time To Be Alive and my books as well, which will make Xmas shopping INCREDIBLY EASY.

(Speaking of my book, here’s a review of it!)

It’s one of the last things I’ll be doing before hunkering down for the arrival of li’l Chewbacca Smashmouth, so do come and say hi.

There’s also the Double Disillusionists podcast on Omny and iTunes, which ought to get you in the mood for the show, and also ROMANCE!

In other news: I’ve had a very writerly sort of a time of it lately. I’ve started serious work on book #3 (the music-related one that got pushed aside when Curious Malcolm began), so that’s going to take me merrily up to… um, whenever it’s done. I’ll probably have loads more for it than I can shove in the book, so I’ll start dumping leftover gems on this very site. Honest.

There’s been a bunch of non-column things lately too, like…

And here are the last few Fairfax columns as well, in case you’ve missed ’em:

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Supermoons aren’t that special – but the Moon absolutely is

Dear The Internet,

Want to know a secret about supermoons? They’re not that rare, not that special, and not obviously different to normal moons unless you’re really familiar with what they look like normally.

But here’s a secret about the Moon: it’s FREAKIN’ AWESOME and any excuse to make people go outside and look at it is a good one.

"There's a moon in the sky / It's called the Moon". You nailed it, B-52s.

“There’s a moon in the sky / It’s called the Moon”. You nailed it, the B-52s.

The Moon is unique because it’s made out of a bit of Earth that was blasted off and congealed in orbit. No other moon in our solar system appears to have been created that way.

Generally moons are made of bits of detritus from the formation of the solar system that clumped into vaguely spherical bodies around bigger planets (which is how most of them were probably formed), or captured asteroids (Mars’ tiny moons Phobos and Deimos, which will eventually crash to the surface) or cometary bodies that got trapped by gravity (everything orbiting around Pluto, and Neptune’s moon Triton orbits in the opposite direction to  the planet’s many other moons because it was an interloper that passed too close, which is incredibly weird and great).

Our Moon was created in a catastrophic collision between the newly-formed Earth and (we now think) a small protoplanet that was moving very, very fast about four and half billion years ago while the solar system was still forming.

What’s even more awesome is that it’s basically the reason you exist.

Earth has nice predictable seasons because the Moon’s gravity stops Earth wobbling wildly on its axis the way that, say, Mars does, meaning that life had a chance to get going without the entire place becoming encased in ice as a hemisphere turned away from the sun or burned to a crisp from millennia of direct sunlight.

That might be the reason there doesn’t seem to be life teeming all over the universe: maybe those first replicating chemical processes develop easily enough, but most planets don’t have stable temperatures that would let complex molecules develop long enough to establish that early foothold for life. After all, life started on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago but didn’t get more complex than bacteria for around three billion years. So life would appear to have needed things to be stable for a good long while in order to get its act together down here. And the Moon provided that.

Also, those dark bits that make it look like a face: that’s ancient lava flow. The Moon used to be geologically active. That’s goddamn amazing.

Oh, and by pure coincidence you’re fortunate enough to live in the only period in history where the Sun and the Moon are the same size as seen from Earth: the Moon used to be much closer and is slowly moving away from us (an echo of that collision that created it), but right now it’s the perfect size to completely block out the Sun during a solar eclipse. Seeing a total solar eclipse might be one of the rarest experiences in the universe, and Earth gets to do it every year or so.

The Moon: it’s incredibly fascinating and crucial to the existence of every species, including us. Our ancient civilisations weren’t crazy to worship it.

So it’s definitely worth a glance now and again.

Yours ever,

APS

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The Top 10 Names I Have Falsely Claimed To Be Calling My Forthcoming Child

Dear The Internet,

You know it makes sense.

You know it makes sense.

One of the simple joys about impending fatherhood, aside from hoping that my child will be born independently wealthy, has been responding to questions from friends, family and impertinent strangers as to whether or not we’ve settled on a name.

These have been the standard answers thus far, generally made while maintaining unblinking eye contact.

  1. Smashmouth
  2. Chewbacca
  3. Optimus Steve
  4. !!!
  5. Doctor Professor
  6. Voyager 3
  7. Cthulhu
  8. [The Full Name of the Person I’m Speaking To]
  9. Gough
  10. Andrew P Street II: The Streetening

At least three of them aren’t necessarily jokes. Can you guess which ones?

Yours ever,

APS

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Some events and updates and things

Dear The Internet,

Look, it’s been a busy few weeks.

First up, The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat is out through Allen & Unwin, on shelves and being bought by people. It was launched last week at Better Read Than Dead in Newtown and it went very well, thank you.

Every home should have this wall.

My columns are still columning away at the Sydney Morning Herald, trying to make sense os what the hell is going on in politics and the nation.

The Guardian very kindly included The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull in their round up of the best books of the month, along with excellent pals and colleagues including Holly Throsby (whose novel Goodwood is magnificently quirky and fascinating), Clementine Ford (whose Fight Like A Girl is deservedly already a bestseller) and Lee Zachariah – who, as it happens, appears on the new episode of the Double Disillusionists podcast, which is up at Soundcloud and iTunes!

Dom and I talk to Zachariah about his simultaneous coverage of the election campaign and the collapse of his marriage, as illustrated in his very entertaining book Double Dissolution. Which you should read. Also, he’s very funny (so you should listen to it right now, frankly).

On a completely different note, I also fulfilled a lifetime dream of writing a cover story for Rolling Stone – an extensive interview with Jimmy Barnes. It’s in the current issue, andI can’t tell you what a thrill that was. He was a fascinating gent.

Anyway, there are some events coming up this week!

First up, on Friday 14 October I’m speaking at Stanton Library at 1pm: you can book a spot here, and it’s actually filling up remarkably swiftly.

Then on Saturday 15 October I’m speaking at Littérateur: A Festival for Word Nerds at the Old Fitz, talking about the art of politics writing with the Guardian’s Gareth Hutchens. It’s the very first session of the day at 10am, so I’ll understand if you’re hungover.

And there are more events to come. Updates will follow.

Hope to see you at them, if you’re about.

Yours ever,

APS

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I HAVE THE BOOK IN MY HANDS IT’S A REAL THING!

Dear The Internet,

In late February 2016 I finally convinced my editors at Allen & Unwin that I should absolutely write a follow up to The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott, on the grounds that a) things were clearly getting very interesting and weird in federal Australian politics, and b) this seemed like a lot more fun than the book I was actually working on.

There ain't no feeling like here's-that-book-you-wrote feeling.

There ain’t no feeling like here’s-that-book-you-wrote feeling.

“More fun” is, of course, a relative term because – at the risk of ruining the tantalising romance of writing – trying to research and write a book on politics, as it’s happening, while also holding down a five day a week column is whatever the opposite of “fun” is.

Still, five months of frantic, occasionally painful effort later, I’m now gazing at my new 90-something-thousand word baby and thinking “OK, when do we start on the next one?”

Yes, it was a close run thing since The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat goes onto shelves on Monday, but now I have my own copy and feel genuinely relieved that I don’t have to photocopy a bunch of them for the launch.

Which, incidentally, is WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER at Newtown’s Better Read Than Dead – it’s free, but you’ll need to register here and I’ll be signing whatever anyone wants me to sign: my books, other people’s books, small animals, slow moving vehicles, whatever. Please note that there will also be wine.

Said launch will be hosted by my friend and fellow Double Disillusionist Dom Knight – and, speaking of the podcast, we did a new one just the other day with the amazing, entertaining and wonderfully gossipy Alice Workman, BuzzFeed’s Canberra-based politics wrangler.

I really hope you enjoy the book. I’m genuinely proud of it.

Hopefully see you at some book-related thing soon, friends.

Yours ever,

APS

PS: Why not read a little excerpt from the book all about the plebiscite?

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The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull is ALMOST HERE!

Dear the Internet,

If you have been looking at the current nightmare of bad policy, internal discord in the Coalition, Liberal backbenchers openly contradicting their leader amid upper- and lower-house embarrassments and thinking “how the actual hell did Malcolm Turnbull manage to go from record high popularity to… well, this… all in twelve short months?” then I have some good news!

9781760294885-1The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull: the Incredible Shrinking Man in the Top Hat is mere days away from release, once again through the good people of Allen & Unwin!

It lands on shelves on Monday 26 September, which is… good god, that’s soon. Very soon.

And you can order it from Booktopia RIGHT NOW if you fancy it: here’s a link! Also, how beautiful is that cover? Robert Polmear, you’re a staggeringly talented human being. I think we should run off some posters and/or beach towels.

And if you’re thinking “heavens, APS, how did you write 85k words in the space of a few months while also holding down your regular column and that other writing you seem to do?” then know it’s because I love democracy, this nation and, most of all, you. And also because I’m a bloodyminded bastard with easy access to caffeine and a playful disregard for living a balanced life.

ALSO! There will be an In Conversation event happening in October at Gleebooks on Tuesday 11 October, where I shall be chatting away with the charming and erudite Rebecca Huntley, she of Radio National and the ABC and book-writin’ and generally being an exceptional brainbox. I shall put details up as we get ’em.

I’m really proud of this book (and the last one, I should add). I hope you enjoy it too – or whatever the equivalent of “enjoy” is when you’re getting more and more frustrated about parliamentary inaction and find yourself yelling “seriously? What say you just do your damn job, you muppets!” at a book.

There’ll be more events, hopefully in non-Sydney locations, that I’ll rattle off as we lock ’em down.

Please pop along and say hi. I’ll write something illegible in your book, if you like. It needn’t even be one of mine, I’m not fussy.

Yours ever,

APS

Posted in Announcement, Politics-Related Things, The Curious Story of Malcolm Turnbull | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment