Friday, July 4, 2008


I saw a commercial recently for a documentary about Schapelle Corby. She's an Australian who's a few months older than my little sister.

Corby went to Bali--a popular tourist destination for Australians. They found 9 lbs of Cannabis in her bags.

Drug laws are strict in Indonesia. She's serving a sentence of 20 years. Her release date is 2024. That's bad but not as bad as what happened to another Australian. Van Tuong Nguyen.
He's dead; hanged in a prison in Singapore.

Nguyen admitted to being guilty. Corby does not. She insists she is innocent.

I don't know if she's lying or telling the truth.

But I think death and/or twenty years in prison is a bit harsh. Okay a lot harsh. And honestly. I'm kind of terrified to go to any of those countries that have strict drugs laws. I'd be so scared that someone would secretly put drugs in my bag.

Yeah. Drugs are bad. But so is McDonalds. I'd like to see a country where they behead you for carrying a Big Mac. And what about alcohol????

Whether they are guilty or innocent, I feel very sad for Corby and Nguyen. Maybe they do deserve to be punished, but I don't think the crime fits the punishment.

And there was another time-in another country-where the crime did not fit the punishment.

Let's go back to Great Britain in the 18th century. The country was crowded. Some people were desperate and stole a few things here and there. Usually, nothing big. From what I've read, I kind of it picture it being like the guy from Les Miserables. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family.

I come from the philosophy that if someone steals some bread, they must be really hungry and you give them the damn bread. If they come back later to steal more, than you give them two loaves of bread and a job.

But that's not how it went in this United Kingdom. There were lots of people in prison. No one knows what to do with them. Some get executed. Others get sent to the colonies out west. But minor problem with that! The colonies declared their independence and won.

They don't want to pay British taxes, and they don't want accept any more British convicts.

Then a solution is found.

And I think most of us know how the story goes.

Prison ships were sent away. And the man who stole the bar of soap said good-bye to his family forever. You gotta remember this was all before we had email and Facebook. Good-bye really was good-bye. Their sentences weren't usually for life, but most of these convicts couldn't afford to sail back to the UK.

They got stuck in this awful land far far away.

But they got the last laugh.

Sydney Australia (where the prison ships first landed) is now considered by Mercer Consulting as being the 10th best city to live in. London? It's way down at number 39. (And for you ethnocentric Americans. None of our cities are mentioned until #27. Honolulu.)

I don't need statistics to convince me though. I've been to Sydney. For me, it's the most wonderful city in the world. It's so funny to walk around the harbor and think.....this was once a punishment.


  1. 1. Yes, give 'em the damn bread.
    2. Wow, before facebook goodbye really was goodbye. Like forever.
    I'm so 21st century-- it's almost impossible to imagine.

  2. I saw something about her recently too - but I can't remember where. I feel so bad for her. The article I read said something about her not wanting to be extradited back to Australia. But I didn't read enough to really know what all was going on.

  3. Dad and I went to Port Arthur in Tasmania in January (or Feb or some time around then - it was so long ago I can't remember), which was a convict prison, and that was amazing.

    Sydney is alright, but I prefer Melbourne, because I like Aussie rules footy mate, and Sydney is more into that thug's game rugby league.

    Also Melbourne people are not so into 'success', and are a bit nicer in my opinion, although Sydney's natural features - primarily the harbour - are beautiful.

    Melbourne has a much nicer CBD with a vibrant culture of restaurants and bars tucked away throughout the city's numerous chic laneways and streets, whereas sydney's laneways are still nineteenth century, and the bars and restaurants are about getting the cash out of the patron and that's about it. Sydney is very touristy, which means they don't care about being nice to get return business, they just want to get your cash (IMHO),

  4. Tex,

    The Melbourne vs. Sydney thing sounds a lot like our Los Angeles vs. NYC. There's a lot of competition.

    And then there's snobbery back and forth from the other cities/states towards Los Angeles and NYC. The LA and NYC people look down at the others. And a lot of people in the smaller towns are anti-big city.

    I found the same thing in Australia. People from the smaller town/cities sometimes had negative things to say about Sydney-mostly about being rude.

    I used to live in NYC and loved it.
    I love Sydney--tourists and all. I thought people were nice. BUT it depends on where you are. People didn't seem too friendly in the CBD. They looked busy--rushing to work.

    Other parents though--at the playgrounds and stuff. They seemed very friendly.

    Haven't been to Melbourne yet--one day.

  5. Ah yes the Melbourne Vs Sydney thing LMAO.
    The first Federal Parliament was in Melbourne but the debate over where to base it perm. got so heated they created Canberra just to shut the argument up ;)
    And there's nicknames for people from each state,too but they're not often meant in a derogatory manner ;)

  6. Jayne,

    I haven't heard the nicknames yet.....

    Now I'm curious!