The political power of children. It was no accident that President Barack Obama invited a group of kids to the White House earlier this year to watch him sign a series of executive orders on gun control. For politicians, in Australia just as much as in the US, children are in. As a US political consultant put it to NPR, kids are synonymous with innocence. And that innocence can also be a useful tool, says Pippa Seichrist, president and founder of the Miami Ad School. “Anything bad that happens is worse if it happens to a child because they’re fragile and they don’t have control over anything,” she says. “They’re at the world’s mercy. So we have this feeling to protect them and to want to make something better.”

If there are any regular readers of this column they will have noted the attention I have been paying to this phenomenon of children as political props. Both Australia’s major parties are making it a regular feature of their campaigning. And the reason? Republican political consultant Steve Green says kids also make an issue less abstract. Children make any controversy become real and relatable:

“Once you get to know someone’s kids, all of a sudden now there’s a personalization that takes place. In gay rights and in immigration, I think so many Americans didn’t know anyone personally. All of a sudden, now — Oh, there’s the gay family. But they have a kid. And the kid plays with my kid. And, hmm, there’s really nothing wrong with them. And, in fact, I kind of like them.”

That’s a message Finance Minister Penny Wong (pictured with her daughter below) clearly understands.


My animal story. If Rupert Murdoch keeps telling his editors to feature more animal stories because readers like them then that’s good enough advice for me. So, courtesy of Mother Jones, I bring you this question: Why have a goldfish when you can have a GloFish?

These zebrafish, genetically engineered with a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish gene and going by descriptions such as Electric Green, Starfire Red and Sunburst Orange, will brighten up any home aquarium. And while on the subject of tinkering with animal bodies, little silicon balls known as neuticles are used as a cosmetic device to replace the ones snipped out in neutering. Mother Jones added to that news the observation that a study of Australian dog owners found that men are twice as likely as women to believe neutering alters a dog’s “maleness”.

When you are hot and when you are not. In Friday’s paper Wayne Swan was delivering the golden egg — funds to air-condition the Townsville Convention and Entertainment Centre that would enable the Townsville Crocs NBL basketball team “to fire on all cylinders”.

And this morning’s Townsville Bulletin?

News and views noted along the way.