United States

4 November 2004



Give Like Mad

Baobab trees in Madagascar (not edible)

While you’re waiting for something other than a bag of snails to appear on the front page, let me draw your attention to the Madagascar aid appeal. Tropical storms there in recent weeks have severely worsened food shortages caused by previous storms, drought, and the political unrest of 2002.

If you’ve ever looked in vain for some kind of tip jar or wish list on Speedysnail, please consider donating those hundreds of cents or pence to the UN World Food Programme instead, specifying Madagascar in the drop-down menu on their individual donations page. In some areas “almost 80 percent of rice fields were covered by floods”, and the Malagasy need a lot of rice.



One Big Polite Refrain

Germaine Greer has written this year’s traditional expatriate Australia Day article for the UK press, and the Australian press have continued the equally venerable tradition of reprinting it and berating its author. The ripples spread as far as Metafilter, where the debate turned to other prominent expatriates and their “abandonment” of their homeland.

But what can a high-profile expat do? If there are one million Australians living outside the country at the moment, the number who have any kind of public profile is relatively minute. These few are ambassadors for their native land whether they like it or not. They will, like anyone taken by circumstances away from their homeland, have mixed feelings about those circumstances, their home, and what it all means to them; and yet they’re supposed to put all that aside and speak as impartial witnesses to the true Australian experience? They’re just speaking for themselves, as Greer made clear. It’s not their fault that the UK press grab the Aussies they’re familiar with every time they want a column on the subject; it’s not their fault that the British are, obviously, unfamiliar with Australians who have never had a high profile in Britain. Are they supposed to pass up every opportunity to make a few quid?