Tomorrow, April 25, marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in 1915. Their aim was to assist other Allied forces in taking Istanbul and knocking Turkey out of World War I.
It was the first major battle for the newly independent countries -- and it was a failure. To the surprise of the Allies, the “Sick Man of Europe” proved to be no push-over and more than 100,000 men on both sides died, about 12,000 of them ANZACs, before the invaders retreated.
This defeat is at the centre of the commemoration. “The One Day of the Year” has had its ups and downs over the decades. At the moment, defying cynics, it is definitely up. In today’s MercatorNet Rowan Light – who is at Gallipoli right now – discusses why every hamlet in Australia and New Zealand will be celebrating Anzac Day with immense pride and patriotic spirit.
Next Tuesday oral arguments begin in a Supreme Court case which may decide the fate of same-sex marriage in the United States. Apart from hearing the parties in the cases, the nine justices on the Court can also consider briefs written by “friends of the court”. More than a hundred of these have been filed, from supporters and opponents. There is a mine of excellent material in the opposing briefs and we want to put some of it before you over the coming days.
National Vital Statistics Reports show a noteworthy correlation between same-sex marriage and decreasing fertility rates. As of 2010, five of the seven States (including Washington DC) with the lowest fertility rates all permitted same-sex marriage (or civil union equivalents). In contrast, none of the nine States with the highest fertility rates allowed it before 2010. And while the fertility rates in both groups of States decreased between 2005 and 2010, the percentage decline was almost twice as large in the states that allowed same-sex marriage or its equivalent.
Last time I checked, we had performed 1,123,955,381 acts of greenness for the planet. Congratulations! I think that we can all afford to feel pretty good about ourselves. But lest we be complacent, the Earth Day Network reminds us that there are 876,044,619 left to go. So please keep this in mind as you celebrate Earth Day today.
Another way of celebrating would be to read Deputy Editor Carolyn Moynihan's very instructive reflection (see below). As she points out, the universally-accepted idea of protecting the natural order implies that there is a natural order, that things have natures... even human beings. And if ecological disasters happen when we monkey with nature, human disasters happen when we try to change human nature.
It's amazing what some academics get up to. For instance, the organisers of the World Hobbit Project want you to fill in a questionnaire. At first I thought they were investigating the history and habits of hobbits. But in fact they are seeking to learn whether you liked the Hobbit trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson.
Much as I would like to praise films directed by and made by New Zealanders, I have to say that I can't. I found them tedious and unimaginative -- exactly what other academics argue in today's article on the films (see below).
I realise that I may be treading on sacred ground and I hope that I have not offended anyone, not too much, anyway. But what do you think? Is the trilogy bloated and exploitative, or an exciting visual treat? Make sure that you post your comments.
When I read in our interview (see below) with American drugs expert Kevin Sabet that a former Microsoft executive is aiming to create the Starbucks of marijuana and “mint more millionaires than Microsoft” I suddenly realised how dangerous legalisation really is. Dr Sabet fears the emergence of “Big Marijuana” – a huge industry whose business model is to feed an addiction.
Is this plausible, or just scaremongering? I’d say it’s plausible. The founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, knows a good thing when he sees it. He got in on the ground floor with Facebook, Lyft, and Spotify. What’s his latest investment? A multi-million-dollar investment in Privateer Holdings, the first private equity firm devoted exclusively to the legal cannabis market, a company which recently raised US$75 million. These guys are serious.
A funny thing happened to me just now when I tried to watch a video of top-flight marriage defender Ryan Anderson on the Washington Post site where he was sympathetically profiled a couple of days ago. It wouldn't play. I am always prepared to find that there's something wrong at my end when the internet won't deliver its goods to me, but in this case I very much suspect that there is mischief afoot. There are people who don't want Ryan to be heard, especially not in the maintsream media. Just watch what happened here on something called the Ed Schultz Show a couple of weeks ago. Shut up! the "host" explained. And read in Michael Cook's piece what happened when Ryan's old school posted a link to the Wapo article.
Anyway, nothing can stop this guy speaking. He is all over the country at once. Robert P. George, his former professor, calls him "a force of nature" and that sums up the Ryan Anderson effect perfectly. I would go so far as to say that he has done more than anyone else in America to explain the case against same-sex marriage -- and that's saying a lot, because there are so many people people in the US doing a brilliant job on this front. Thanks to all of them.
Just checked the video again - no luck. If you manage to see it, let me know. If not, you could always watch this one again.
Two of our bloggers pounced on a news story this week about a scheme in Holland (and a few other places) to give university students free accomodation in resthomes in return for spending some time with the elderly residents. Since the bloggers in question, Tamara Rajakariar and Marcus Roberts, are two of our younger contributors, for whom university days are more than a dim memory, if they think this is a great idea it must be -- at least from a student point of view. From a more advanced point on the age spectrum I can imagine it being attractive in one's declining years as well.
Speaking of university, Kevin Ryan has his own solution for solving the accomodation problem, as you can discover in his piece today.
As a sport, golf baffles me. My career ended long ago on a drizzly day when I took a divot out of a green and it was agreed that I should retire early. However, I admit that there can be a lot of human drama in golf, like Jordan Spieth's splendid win in the Master's earlier this month. At 21, he is the second youngest to win the Master's, behind Tiger Woods.
There's a back story to Spieth's accomplishment, which is illustrated in the video on MercatorNet's home page today. Check it out. He has an intellectually disabled 14-year-old sister, Ellie, who is his biggest fan and his inspiration. He has already launched a philanthropic foundation to help kids with special needs.
“Ellie certainly is the best thing that’s happened in our family,” Spieth told one newspaper. “It helps put things in perspective that I’m lucky to play on tour and to compete with these guys, it’s been a dream come true. I definitely attribute a lot of that to her.” The attention given to Jordan and Ellie by the media is certainly welcome. Far too often the disabled are seen as burdens. But, like Ellie, they help us reach higher as we try to help them.
Although her first campaign video is a propaganda jewel, Hillary Clinton must be the most peculiar family values candidate ever. Most family-values politicians have photos of themselves with their immediate family, but there's not a sign of Bill and Chelsea here. But then again, as Carolyn Moynihan points out below, Mrs Clinton has a most peculiar view of the family, one that many, if not most, voters with families do not share.
Same-sex marriage is a headline issue, but if there is a contest for advancing the decline of traditional marriage, co-habitation clearly takes the trophy. In many countries, more young people are living together "without the benefit of clergy", as they used to say, than are walking down the aisle.
Is "try before you buy" really a good idea?
Dr Patricia Lee June, of the American College of Pediatricians, says it isn't. In a stunning article below, she shows that life as a cohabiting couple is shorter, poorer, unhealthier and unhappier than life as a married couple -- even if the man and woman later marry. It is a sombre message which young people need to hear.