Nothing particularly new – reports about Australians in the UK have said that people are now using as a chance to extend their professional skills and build up their savings before, but Why pulling pints is passe for the new breed of Aussie overseas is still a reasonably interesting read, particularly on returning expats:
“But knowing people who return to Australia is a different matter. Last March, based on a 2003 study by researcher Graeme Hugo, a Senate inquiry concluded that 30 per cent of expatriates were undecided on whether to return to Australia.
More contemporary research also shows that expats are staying put. The head of the Menzies Institute for Australian Studies in London, Carl Bridge, says growing numbers of Australians (particularly heterosexual couples) indicate they will never return.”
I wonder if they thought to ask homosexual people whether the Australian governments’ shocking record on gay issues puts them off returning.

Yes, blah blah blah, I’m even getting sick of hearing myself crap on about it. But how do I reconcile my travel bug with my hippydom? Is going by rail or road where possible, and flying less and staying longer really enough?
“Travel educates and broadens the mind, and connects us to the rest of the world – which is especially important for Australians.
But how can we do it without being environmental vandals, especially as poor nations are expected to suffer the most from climate change?” Age

This is just… I’m not sure how to describe it. Suddenly this technology is serious, it’s being used to save lives instead of just showing apartments for rent or where photos were taken on a map. And FWIW it could just as easily be Yahoo or another map with a public API.
“Google is playing an unlikely role in the Iraq war. Its online satellite map of the world, Google Earth, is being used to help people survive sectarian violence in Baghdad.” BBC

This article is old but since David Hicks is still in Guantanamo I think it’s worth posting. It’s also a fantastic example of the power of the arts.
“In June an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 76 of Australia’s top legal minds (including four former Supreme and Federal Court judges), urged Mr Howard to take immediate action on Hicks’ behalf to secure his rights under international law.
He is an Australian citizen and as such it was the Australian Government’s duty to protect his rights; his incarceration was illegal, they argued; and Hicks, whether innocent or guilty, at least deserved a fair trial. The Australian Government’s refusal to act, they said, has profound implications for the nation.

Even the British Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, whose own government is an active participant in the war on terrorism, condemned the goings-on at Guantanamo, describing its procedures as “unacceptable” and calling for its closure.
To all of this Prime Minister John Howard, speaking on our behalf, responded: “We make up our own minds about these things.”
Theatre director Nigel Jamieson has also made up his mind on certain things. One of them is that what is happening to David Hicks at Guantanamo is unconscionable – whether he is innocent or guilty.
“If he were an axe murderer he would have rights,” Jamieson says. “He would have a lawyer, he’d be free from physical and psychological abuse. David Hicks, as an Australian citizen, has rights. That’s the first thing. But the second thing is that this is a country that defines itself by the belief in things like trial by jury, innocence until proved guilty, the Geneva conventions, the Declaration of Human Rights, those incredibly important documents. We were part of forming and forging these documents.
“These were things we thought incredibly important, the things we thought to be the bedrock of our civilisation and which defined our system,” Jamieson says.
“What troubled me about the whole Hicks thing was that if we were going to accept a system which threw away a lot of those things, got rid of those safeguards, surely we owed it to ourselves and to the country to have a look at what that means.
“Not to have a look, not to have a debate, but just to quietly acquiesce, that really seemed shocking to me.”

“My imagination is primarily a visual one,” he says, “and when the project was first put to me, I was left with a strong image in my head of this human figure spinning and turning in a void.””
Doing the Guantanamo shuffle – it’s really worth reading the rest of the article.

Social justice vs the environment vs all a Guardian readers’ issues in one complicated bouquet in this BBC article.
To me the easy answer is ‘don’t buy out-of-season flowers’. Ok, I know it’s not that simple, but it doesn’t seem like European or African flowers are entirely ethical and green, so maybe buying flowers like this just isn’t realistic anymore.
In other news, I think I just saw a robin in the garden. I’ve never seen a robin before!

I went on a tree planting holiday with Treesponsibility on the weekend. It was too snowy to do any planting on the Saturday so we went for walks instead, but on Sunday most of the snow had melted, and the sun even came out. It was lovely to get out of London, and even nicer to do something proactive for the environment. Treesponsibility are based in the Upper Calder Valley but it would be ace if similar projects were available all over the UK.