Saturday, 5 December 2009

Fireworks and Christmas Lights - two big light ups that really get me down

If there is one thing that Christmas and New Year have in common, it's big lights, both of which I generally find really annoyingly expensive and a waste of money and energy. Yeah, I'm the New Year and Christmas Grinch, rolled into one.

I saw an article on the news recently about this Australian house thta has about a million household lights and decorations outside it. The darn thing looks garish and it makes me sick. What I find repulsive about this is a) the expense and b) the wasted energy.

I'm not a rampant greenie by any stretch of the imagination, but heck, why do you want to blow out your bill like that? What's even more stupid is the way I bet you that Today Tonight will run one of those feel good stories abotu how much Christmas Cheer this guy has - it would be un-PC to suggest anything else - and then pretty soon afterwards run a story abouthow we can all energy save around the house. Tip No. 1 - turn off all those bloody lights!

Then the guy admitted that he spent $100,000 on Christmas decorations. What? He could have bought another house for that much and instead he opted for some tacky light-me-up talking reindeer?

But $100,000 on decorations is a drop in the ocean compared to NYE fireworks. Fireworks have to be the biggest waste yet. I can't see the point of them, the best place to watch them is on your TV screen and that being the case they ought to hire some graphic designers to do a cool display using CGI or something and save a whole heap of money.

No, instead we have to spend millions each year stringing stuff up on the bridge that gets blown up in a few seconds and goes up in pretty colours and then disappears. Its only use is to attract people in droves outdoors so they can piss and get pissed and leave broken glass and urine all over the place. Not to mention that fireworks are rather dangerous too.

Later on someone will complain about how we don't have enough money for this or that and you can go back to those pics you have of fireworks on NYE and watch how those millions of dollars got blown up. Wouldn't it be nice if the govt could say instead they were going to do something actually useful with the money, like we decided to buy books for schools or donate it to research or looking after a museum or something instead of blowing it up over a bridge?

And if they did announce that, it's very likely people would whinge about the Mayor not having the right New Year spirit.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Karate Kid Remake

I'm really sorry I can't share the pics of this remake with you, you'll have to go to the website to see them, but I have just found out they are remaking the movie The Karate Kid.

The classic cheesy original featured Ralph Macchio as Daniel-san, who even though he was in his twenties, played a teenager (he's a bit like Michael J. Fox, he just never grows up), who moves into a new neighbourhood in America. He gets bullied by these local guys and is surprised one day when a local maintenance guy, Okinawan-born wise old Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) jumps the bullies. Mr Miyagi becomes his karate mentor and teaches him techniques unconventionally, as well as about honour and self control etc. And so he ends up one-upping the bullies by the end of the movie.

Most of us watched the movie and remember classic lines like "Wax on, wax off" and Daniel trying to do the crane stance, or catch a fly with chopsticks, or Mr Miyagi being able to mend his leg by rubbing his hands together, or giving the silent smile through the crowd and the nod.

Anyhow, I read about this remake, and I naturally read plenty about people being angry as hell that their original was to be 'tarnished' with this idea of a remake.

Here's the set up. Will Smith has pitched the idea for a remake, to star his nine year old son, Jaden as The Karate Kid. There's been talk of calling it The Kung Fu Kid, possibly partly to update it and partly to not offend people who are extremely precious about The Karate Kid.

A mother, for work reasons, goes to live in China, her son Dre (Jaden) is attacked by bullies and needs to learn Kung Fu. A master of kung fu teaches him both kung fu and how to speak Chinese. The kung fu master is played by Jackie Chan.

A lot of blood is being spilled on the message boards. Some claim that people who are against the movie are only against it because they are racist, and don't want to see a black kid learning kung fu. Others say they aren't racist, others say yes, they just don't think a black kid is right for the role - it just does not fit well in the story. It doesn't portray the ethnic issues realistically and they can't relate to it, and anyway, everyone thinks of the Karate Kid as white nowadays.

Other objections brought up are that:

1. Jackie Chan is the wrong actor to step into Pat Morita's role. He's too young and too flippant and funny. In fact you didn't even need a really good martial arts actor to step into Morita's role - what was more important was that the person had the right warmth and chemistry, because Mr Miyagi teaches more lessons about self restraint and less kicking ass in the movies, that's what he's really about.

2. It doesn't matter that Jaden is black, but it does matter that he's nine years old. No one can relate to a nine year old getting beaten up; you don't believe he really needs martial arts lessons, not serious ones. You feel that more at his age he is just likely to get into a few scraps and be teased. The film is a coming of age story and Jaden is not the right age to give that any real meaning.

3. A lot of posters just hate the idea that Jaden got the movie through his Dad - the nepotism, stating that he's untalented and wouldn't have got it if it hadn't been for Will.

This objection ... well I can understand the resentment, but it's basically born out of jealousy, hell we'd all do it if we could, we just didn't get the chance. If we had a rich and famous father who could give us opportunities or 'legs up' we'd take them (not necessarily in showbiz but in some other way) and not think twice about it. Most of us have this already and don't think twice about ti, taking it for granted. Many of us live in houses, get pocket money, went to certain schools, got Christmas presents, had parents of certain intelligence who may have given us advice, some might have parents who helped us with a loan or said they'd babysit our kids for free ... WHATEVER.

All that is help, but if you mention it to many of these same people and say it's getting help from fortunate parents with resources, they cite it as "different" from getting your big rich Daddy helping you put you in a Hollywood film because all the help they receive is 'normal, regular help', but getting a film is "unusual".

Actually, it just means that you're used to it. There are some people who would look with envy at your level and say "I hate those rich lucky bastards who get pocket money and can go whingeing to their parents every time something goes wrong and can dump their kids/dogs/parcels at their parents when they need a break ... spoiled brats!"

It's just a matter of degree. And some people are sure they can pick what degree is "acceptable", trying to convince others it's generally acceptable, when what they really mean is "acceptable ... to me". And that level is usually "Up to as many opportunities as I get, is acceptable for others to have too! But don't go too much further than thaaaat!"

4. Another poster suggested that a better remake, if one had to be done at all, would have been to put an aging Ralph Macchio into the Pat Morita role and have him teach a small Japanese kid the way of Karate ... that is, if it's possible for Ralph Macchio to age.

I'm not particularly looking forward to this Karate Kid myself, but then I never saw the Next Karate Kid. I only saw the ones with Daniel-san. The original and the best!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

An Even Darker Side of Mary Poppins

Earlier this year, I suggested that Tim Burton direct a Mary Poppins film, which would show the darker side of Mary Poppins.

This was suggested to me in a dream and I'm still convinced it could work.

It seems that I'm not the only person who has a Poppins fantasy, or the wish to see Poppins' dark side. I was reading a movie message board today, and in a thread on suggestions for remakes of movies, a poster suggested a remake of Mary Poppins by Quentin Tarantino ... a really dark side to Mary Poppins.

Now, let me see, how exactly would it work?

I'm picturing Jane and Michael and the twins a little older now, and both are pot-smoking, cocaine-doing hired guns.

The scene should probably open at a cafe ... no, let's make that an upside down tea party on the ceiling, where Jane and Michael indulge in some badass gangster chat that is lightly disguised as philosophy about something totally pop culture irrelevant to the story, and use dirty language as much as possible.

Something like:

Jane: You see, Michael, I got this theory.
Michael: What's the f*ing theory?
Jane: You know that f*ing carousel we was riding on with the f*ing ponies?
Michael: Yeah?
Jane: Well, that is actually symbolic for child molestation.
Waiter: What'll it be today?
Michael: Can't you see we're f*ing floating on the ceiling having a private conversation? Come levitating later when I look like I'm ready to have my upside down jams and scones replenished.
Waiter: (sarcastically) Yes sir.
Michael: That's what's wrong with this country. You can't get no good customer service. he must've been molested by a f*ing carousel pony as a child and it messed with his sh*tworthy brain.
Jane: I was telling you about my theory. It's like, the carousel's spinning round, and the ponies are bobbing up and down, and the kids are being put on them by their parents, up down up down up down and this is just like being sexually molested, you know what I'm saying?
Michael: I hear you. Oh, shouldn't we be robbing that upside down cashier right now?

In the new Tarantino version of Mary Poppins, that spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins advocates probably costs thousands and has to be smuggled in over the border, but it really gives you a high!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Making of A Legend: Gone With the Wind

One of the great things about being unemployed is that you can sit back and watch TV shows you wouldn't be able to watch if you were at work. (I can't watch TV much at night as my Dad dominates the telly with his endless reruns of Law and Order.)

Today I saw a show I'd taped, The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind. I'm an official Gone With the Wind junkie (see the link on this site to the GWTW Forever site).

I have the DVD of the feature film, I just hadn't realised how much had gone into making it.

I knew, of course, that GWTW was the only book Margaret Mitchell wrote. Scarlett was initially called Pansy, and the book was not initially written for publication. Then a publisher read it and was interested, but didn't like the name Pansy, so Margaret Mitchell agreed to change it to Scarlett.

And then David O. Selznick secured the rights for $50,000 to produce GWTW.

I watched the show as they showed the search for Scarlett. It seemed they had an easier time deciding on Rhett Butler - the public demanded they choose Clark Gable. The only problem was that Gable was with MGM and Selznick wanted to do the project alone. It wasn't for ages and after lots of money and negotiations that he made a deal with MGM - they would let him 'use' Gable, and they'd also lend some money to fund the project, so long as they got half the profits of GWTW for the next 7 years.

Then it turned out that Gable didn't particularly like the deal, as he didn't want to play Rhett, so they 'sweetened' the deal for him by giving him ... $50,000 so he could pay off his wife and get rid of her and a weekend off so he could marry his new girlfriend (an interest payoff!)

Anyhow, I watched a lot of the auditions with the different Scarletts and Ashleys. After seeing what Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard can do - especially Vivien Leigh - watching the different screen tests is like watching a series of Australian Idol auditions, you just feel how wrong they are and you want a nasty judge to pop up and give them a gong and tell them they're absolute crap.

It was amazing to see how much work went into creating - or destroying - some of those sets. They decided one way to make a set was to burn down an old set and then rebuild. An idea they had was to burn down the old set and then film it as the burning of Atlanta. At the time they hadn't got Leigh and Gable working yet so a stunt double is what you see when you see the horse and carriage driving through burning Atlanta at the time. And they really did just burn down a whole set, film it, and then rebuild a set.

Then some sets were only partially built - for instance some of the big houses were built without roofs - it was less expensive - then an art director comes in later and "draws in" different style roofs later to make the different places.

And the scene in Atlanta with the soldiers all lying wounded ... well while they called in many extras to lie there as wounded men, but they didn't have enough so they put in some dummies as well and instructed extras how they could pull a string on the dummy so the dummy could move a little so it looked alive. (Apparently Margaret Mitchell's husband said when he saw that scene that if they'd had that many soldiers, they would have won the war!) I know, I know, I guess they cheated too because those extras, they only pretended to be wounded. Many of them weren't really shot or anything at all. They only pretended to be shot. And int he scene where Dr Meade is supposed to amputate the leg - I think he doesn't amputate it at all. It's all faked!

So much work went into the recreation, it was amazing, especially when you consider there was not the advantage of the special effects that we have today.

I watched in amazement as every detail of dress was attended to ... the only thing I think I could compare it to was watching This is It when I watched the perfectionism that went in to making the Michael Jackson tour show. How many people actually put the time and effort and research into their shows any more. It's immense and it's amazing.

By the way I still love Scarlett's green barbecue dress - it must be her most famous - but now I've really taken a fancy to that little light blue jacket and white dress she wears to the store when she's caught with Ashley.

Friday, 13 November 2009

You can rely on me

I may have mentioned before that I'm really utterly failing on this Get a Job thing. And in our society, success is so often tied up in being employed and having lots of money. If there was an award for the most Successful at Being a Failure, I would apply.

What has irked me so often is this thing about being overqualified to do work thing. Employers don't really try to find out anything about you, they make assumptions like if you are overqualified for a job you won't be very dedicated as you'll be very ambitious.

Well, let's just see. I have three tertiary qualifications and I haven't got much experience except in junior administration, do I look like the ambitious type? Please, these idiots really don't think very hard do they?

What I would like to say right now is that I would be a very reliable worker in almost any job, even low level, so long as people weren't totally beating me up every day, just because I HATE INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITERS. I can't stand them. I resent this whole process I am going through every damn day I do it.

I wouldn't try leaping to another job very fast because it would mean having to do ANOTHER STUPID INTERVIEW.

You'd have to be paying me a darn lot to make me take that jump quickly. A small pay rise or a new desk would not cut it. I would probably still sit there screwing tin lids on Cheesybite containers unless I got 300% payrise or something because I hate interviewing so much. It really is annoying the crap outta me!

There! You can rely on me, more than those not-so-bitter trainees who would jump for an extra $100 and a larger cookie jar in the shared kitchen.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Good luck to my tote bag!

Just the other day I was on my way to an interview with a recruiter.

I was standing at Gordon station when a very non-obliging bird decided to swoop down UNDER THE SHELTER mind you and drop faeces on me.

On my tote bag, that is.

I checked carefully and it didn't get my clothes, and the only bit of me it got was my hand (the hand that was placed on my tote bag).

Yelping, I made my way to the station toilets, swearing "shit shit shit". I felt that at least I should use appropriate language for the moment. Then I tried using the only available accessories (toilet paper, water and soap) to rid my bag of birdy-poo. Oh, and my hand, too.

I missed that train but caught the next and I decided not to regale the recruiter with this amusing story of birdy-droppings at the interview.

However, I have heard the old adage that if a bird chooses to drop its droppings on you, it's good luck! Is this meant to be an omen? Will I get a job with this recruiter? Or does it simply mean I will get no more bird plops?

Or does it mean that my TOTE BAG is to receive the good luck? Will it be a very lucky and fortunate tote bag, that has lots of happiness and longevity in its toting life?

I'm a little confused, but very optimistic!

Monday, 2 November 2009

'Tweaking' (aka lying) on your resume

It's a tough world out there, but someone's got to live in it. Like alive people. And lots of us have to work in it, or try to. But sometimes it's not that easy to find a job, or get into an industry we like, or some people just hate the job we're doing but can't think of a way out. Or some people are just plain lazy. Whatever it is, we have a system where for the most part a resume is a big slice of how to get a job, or even just to get an interview, but is it ever ok to lie on your resume?

Here's a discussion of that very topic.

Some people would say you have to be totally upfront on your resume, some would say it's ok to lie on your resume, and others would point to a middle ground - it's ok to tell white lies, to exaggerate, to 'tweak' a resume, but telling outright lies is just wrong. The problem with this is that where exactly do you draw the line on tweaking? And won't you be mad if you draw the line differently from someone else and that other person gets the job!

In the link above, many of the objections come from someone who wants to outright lie on their resume, and also because the motivation seems to be because he's bludged around a bit, and has decided he wants to lie because he knows a bit about some things, but doesn't have the certificates, and he wants to get a job that "doesn't totally suck" without doing the hard menial yards that most people have to do to get there. His idea is that he will try to walk straight in to a more comfortable position.

Whereas most people either have to do the hard yards either in a university/TAFE, or spend a few years doing low-level crappy work to get their foot in the door. I remember some producer at Channel Nine telling me she got there by taking on a crummy job filing tapes in the library for less than $18 000 a year in order to become a TV producer. And she had to badger them like crazy to get that job.

But is it EVER ok to lie on your resume? The arguments on the forum are that if you lie on your resume, it helps you not because you wouldn't have the skills if you didn't have the qualifications/experience. Others say that if you weren't prepared to work hard to get the qualifications and experience, then you cannot be the kind of person who would work hard to learn on the job, so the "I would work hard to learn on the job" argument is invalid.

But there are certain arguments for tweaking your resume.

Employers are notorious for skimming resumes and jumping to conclusions based on them, and key words leap out at them. What if the job you did recently, if you were to honestly describe it, would not really contain any of those key words, yet you know you gained the requisite skills. It might be easier to use the vague and industry accepted terms just to get your foot in the door, rather than be very honest.

What if an unusual situation occurred on your job that did not majorly affect your career progression, that could either be glossed over or covered up by a white lie, or look awkward on a resume that could put you slightly behind someone who had a more 'conventional' career path, or would take a 500 word exposition to explain that no one would bother to read? Many would choose the 'white lie'.

The trouble is, at what point do you distinguish between the white lie and the dirty big fat black lie? Everyone has their own standard.

If you say you have "lots of customer experience" and you really worked for two weeks in a boring old quirky shop where you might have been lucky to serve one person every two days, and simply took their money and gave them a receipt, is that just "slight embellishment" or a lie?

If you are misleading - for instance - write that you "attended" a course but don't point out that you mean that you turned up for the first half of the first class, but never studied the subject and certainly never passed any of the tests or assignments ... is that a lie?

And what about lies by omission? What if you omit that you have certain qualifications because you don't wish to look overqualified for a position, or interested in other areas of study which may make them think you are a less stable employee?

My resume is edited, embellished and tweaked, I must admit. It is not a bland setting out of my educational and work history to date. But I regard that as a necessity - I just don't know whether my own version is anyone else's "too far".

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Reclaim the Roads!

I read this article by Miranda Devine just recently and was a bit sceptical that she could be serious as it was so outrageously weird, but then, this is Miranda Devine we're talking about.

The article is about cyclists don't belong on the road and the whole idea that "the road is there to share" is wrong - the roads are there for cars (and by extension of that, vehicles in general - buses, vans, trucks seem to come under that generous definition). But not for pedestrians and cyclists who are let on the roads by the "good graces" of cars and shouldn't feel entitled to touch a road.

According to Miranda, the "road is there to share" idea actually does non-car-types a disservice because it creates in them a false sense of entitlement that they can use a road, which is naturally in Miranda's world, wrong, and this causes their deaths. Whoops!

Now, I've no doubt that Miranda is correct in that some cyclists, and also pedestrians behave badly and this can cause accidents. There is also cyclist rage just as there is road rage and there are pedestrians who get mad as hell too. But picking a clip of a mad cyclist or a bad cyclist and using this as evidence to support that your whole argument is correct is just not really presenting a good argument. It's not bad "journalism", though :), as far as journalism has taken us through the ages.

It seems to me that the sense of entitlement that car-drivers may be endowed with by Miranda's and the like's huffing and puffing may equally be responsible for deaths on the roads. "Shove out of my way, I'm allowed here, you aren't!"

When it comes down to it, all sorts of people use the roads - that's a fact. Vehicle users of all kinds. Bicycle users. And pedestrians. We use them in all ways. Not only is it a fact, but it is something that in the community we should face up to and allow for, because we value it. I'm sorry Miranda, but much as certain people may love their little cars, it's also a fact that many valued people cannot drive cars - and some of these people are very valuable people - and that it is valuable to a community that at least sometimes even people who could possibly drive cars, walk or cycle to their destination.

Let me give some examples:

Certain politicians such as Premier Bob Carr can't drive.
A whole lot of people who hold voting power such as the elderly and disabled are not able to drive.
A whole lot of people who are considered valuable to the community can't drive - such as schoolchildren.
The lamentations about obesity make it popular that people are encouraged to actually walk to places, or cycle.
If you're only going for a short distance, it would be considered a good idea that you not drive there - after all, it would cut down on the traffic and the parking spaces that a community had to supply. Imagine if everyone who usually popped out to go 100m down the street for a cup of coffee or the newspaper DROVE THERE.

And yet often these people use the roads. They walk or cycle beside them. They cross the roads.

They need to be given some rights on the roads - to be encouraged to use them and for their own safety. To say "Shit, yes, you toddle off to get your newspaper each morning but you are allowed on the road with my good graces only!" is equivalent to saying "If I feel like it I can and will knock you over and I have no responsibility for that. None!" and therefore, what right minded person would walk across a street?

The key here is that everyone is given rules and everyone has responsibilities. The whole thing about entitlement, and believing that your entitlement is greater than another groups, whether you be a car driver or a bike rifer or a dog-walker, engenders the feeling that you don't have to obey the rules or be responsible. You are above the others. And that's where the real problems start.

All of us should feel that we are allowed on the roads AT THE GOOD GRACES of everyone else in the community, and only so long as we obey the rules. Those rules may be slightly different depending on whether we drive a bus or walk a dog, but that has to do with level of appropriateness, not with level of superiority (You worry about the number of maximum passengers on a bus and designated stops, but you don't need to scoop up its poop or keep it on a leash). Being a allowed to use the roads should be dependent on whether you respect other people's safety and the general rules regarding your own use of the road, not whether you drive a lorry or use a skateboard.

This whole "my group is so much better than yours thing" ... sheesh, it's so vehicle-ism. It really is.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Stating the frikkin' obvious

"Breast cancer is an issue close to the heart."

I saw this today as a motivational message to do something about breast cancer. Are we supposed to be motivated to do more fot those with cancer of the left breast than those of the right?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Credit Card Whingers!

I saw this whinge about credit cards in the paper recently, and while I'm usually not a huge fan of credit card companies, frankly, why can't some people accept they are the idiots?

From the reporting, it seems that while the perfect day might have been ruined it might have been because certain people weren't that smart. Maybe it is a good reason to take a credit card away from them.

Jeremy Bath went off to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend and wanted it to be a surprise. The article states that he bought half the ring on one card (CBA) and the other half with a Citibank card. The surprise was ruined because Citibank rang his girlfriend and asked if she had made any purchases at a jewellery store recently on her Citibank card, and she figured out what was going on. The credit card company maintains they do this for security reasons - check on unusual spending habits. And some other commenters say they've been caught out too.

The blog-writer says that this is surprise ruining, over the top and cites it as a reason not to go with Citibank - at least, if you're thinking of buying engagement jewellery - because the jewellery was bought near the place of residence, and had not reached their credit limit or anywhere near it.

Now, in my opinion it's just good practise. Hell, if someone had nicked off with Jeremy Bath's credit card, had only got as far as a nearby jewellery store and had purchased a piece of jewellery and Citibank hadn't said a peep I bet some people would say that they were slack, saying "Jeremy doesn't buy expensive jewellery as part of his weekly routine, how could they not notice that's a bit unusual?!"

As many people pointed out, if you want to make it a surprise ... why the heck would you use a credit card that the recipient of the surprise jointly owned ... d'oh! It seems from the article his girlfriend was a joint owner of the card. If, of course, that is not true, then it may well be an invasion of privacy to let a non-owner know about your expenditure.

There may be some whingers who say that they would have no choice - they don't have their own card, and can't afford one, they can't afford to pay in cash so can't make a secret cash withdrawal ... what does that add up to?

You can't afford a surprise expensive piece of jewellery, then, or you take your chances! Maybe someone will blow your surprise or not. I don't think there is a rule that says that a surprise expensive ring on a holiday, along with a proposal, is an entitlement. Some people make do.

I remember Mr Coffee telling me he bought a few items in succession that was a little unusual for him, and his credit card company calling him immediately saying they had noticed and just wanted to make sure he really made them. He assured them he did and he was impressed with such good service. I'd want my credit card company to be that diligent, should I get a card.

I wouldn't want them to wait until the card was chock-a-block full of expenditures in another city over my credit limit till they clued in it might have been stolen or misused.

When I lost my wallet my bank debit card apparently had been attempted use within minutes (unsuccessfully, it got chewed up by the machine according to the bank) within a hundred metres or so of where I'd been having lunch that day; if I'd had a credit card I'm pretty sure they would have tried the same trick on in the same vicinity within minutes, and it's very possible they would have brought random goods from the department stores nearby. It would be good to know that a credit card store would have seen that it was unusual before it hit anywhere near the credit limit and alerted me.

Just because things didn't work out for these people ... and believe me, I'm sorry they didn't ... they look for someone to call an idiot, but for one time I don't think it's the bank necessarily that's the bastard here. Just, like many of us, it seems it's just doing its job.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Blackface comedy. I hope I am not offending anyone here. If so, apologies in advance.

Recently, on a Hey Hey it's Saturday sketch, a group calling themselves the Jackson Jive got verbally stoned by Harry Connick Jr for being racist because they used blackface comedy. The host Daryl Somers, apologised for any offence caused, and I too, would like to apologise for any offence I may cause in discussing this obviously sensitive issue.

This meant in the sketch, five of them turned up using black face paint (representing themselves as "Afro-Americans", also known by some people as "blacks", I hope that's not too racist. Another appeared wearing white makeup, satirising Michael Jackson who was an Afro-American who bleached his skin so it looked more of the pallour of those who are "Anglo-Saxon" or "Caucasian" or otherwise known as "white", hopefully that isn't offensive. Michael Jackson also recently "passed away", that is also otherwise known as "died". I hope that isn't too offensive either.

Now, I'm not "black" nor "white", not that it would matter if I was either. So I guess I don't really understand the fuss about blackface comedy, and whether it is the blackfacedness or the comedy bit that is really tasteless, or is it the combination?

Is it just plain offensive to make fun of blacks, or Afro-Americans, because it's racist? Because there goes the comedy material for about a third of those big budget Hollywood movies that are in production right this second.

Or is it smearing black face paint on that's just disgusting? Personally I don't like the look myself, I've usually thought the shoe grease should stay on the shoe though I haven't always been that successful. But what about all those disgusting, non-really-black actors who were trying to play Othello? Hung, drawn and quartered, ought they be?

A clue might lie in this where a guy says that blacks do not have pitch black skin, and that is why they are offended by that sketch. It is an interesting objection - one of the devices used by comedy is exaggeration - which is why clowns and mimes trying to hide behind a blank face use white makeup and exaggerated red lipstick which doesn't look anything like a real white human being. Hold the golliwogs!

To be perfectly accurate, most blacks aren't black, they're more browny, most whites aren't white either, they're kinda pinky-creamy-light-brown and I'll be damned if yellow skinned people look that yellow to me.

And anyway, why stop at racism? What I want to know is if black people can get on their high horses about blackface comedy, why should women stand for this crap either? Some idiots dress up INACCURATELY and EXAGGERATEDLY trying to imitate a DOWNTRODDEN group in the name of humour ...

I really don't know why we put up with Barry Humphries, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, or John Travolta at all, who've all exploited women and dressed up in drag and put on caked up makeup in stupid looking outfits that look nothing like what I'd wear - I don't know anyone who acts or looks like Dame Edna Everage - just for satire. It's insulting, it's sexist, and I think I give them a zero. What's more, they degrade women's plight further by going on to earn a fortune out of their huge man-in-women's boobs act than many women who have real or at least only slightly modified by a very discreet surgeon's boobs, make because their own boobs have hit the glass ceiling!

I think all women should stand on their high heels, jump on top of their 'Tootsie' and 'Mrs Doubtfire' DVDs and make it clear that if Mr Harry Connick Jr can get the weight of America behind him, we should at least get a portion of it too!

Unfortunately, I feel that no matter how much I jump up and down, the race issue will always propel American s far more than the gender one. After all, they voted in Obama, and not Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

It's all in the victim ...

2DAY FM Vile Files ... they have "been accused of routinely exploiting children and the disadvantaged for ratings" ... blurts the Daily Tele ...

which is where I ponder, if you 'exploit' a middle aged, able-bodied, white, rich guy, is he even exploited? Or is he unexploitable ...?

Terrible Movie Marketing Strategies

I recently watched the movie Miss Congeniality (Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Candace Bergen) and I then did as usually do - checked out what a whole lot of other people thought about it on IMDB.

I came across an interesting discussion on one of the discussion threads, where some guy complained that the movie title was the worst marketing decision ever because "Miss Congeniality" was such an obscure word and no one he knew used the word "congeniality" in fact he didn't know what it meant, it was the stupidest marketing decision ever.

Naturally this thread had been started before Kraft had started the iSnack 2.0 campaign.

Well, of course some people leapt on him and told him to go spread a little dictionary on his toast, stupid, "congeniality" wasn't exactly that obscure a word. Exactly which bit of it didn't he get? It wasn't helped by the fact that his short posting was peppered with spelling mistakes.

What was odd was the fact that he likened the title to "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" - an ill-thought out title, a bad marketing decision because it used an obscure title that no one understood.

Umm, well I don't think it really hurt Harry that much, and I'm a little confused about the comparison. Which bit of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone doesn't he get? Does he not understand the word "Stone" or "Potter" or never heard of a "Harry" before? I'm totally confused. It wouldn't matter if you didn't understand what a "philosopher's stone" is but understood the word's separately - any dolt understanding the English language would be able to tell you if you've come across the word philosopher and you've come across the word stone, a philosopher's stone simply implies "stone of or belonging to a philosopher" and then of course the movie explains the significance of that to you.

Of course, there are some movies like "Snakes on a Plane" which use nice simple words and is ... well ... self-explanatory. But many of the movies that have been extremely popular are a little on the obscure side and have used words that are longer than one syllable. Like Superman, for instance, or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (What the heck is an Indiana? Anyone? Anyone? And help me if I know what the Temple of Doom is!).

It could have been after reading this discussion board that it was decided to switch from two syllable words to one syllable words to increase popularity, and Batman was remarketed as The Dark Knight. 'Batman' was possibly considered just a bit too difficult for the attention span of some of the movie regulars nowadays.

One of the movie titles that has always baffled me is Die Hard. The fact that I have never quite understood the title hasn't stopped me enjoying the film though. Die Hard? Where in the movie is it about dying hard, as opposed, I suppose, to dying easy or dying soft? Or is that supposed to be a reference to when Hans Gruber dies, and he falls out and lands on the ground, which I suppose is quite hard? Then the next movie is called Die Harder, but I don't think anything could be much harder than splattering your brains out on concrete like that, and I don't think it even shows it to be ...

It's totally confusing. That is obscure.

Message clipped before the message

I just got a very long short message from The College of Law.

That is, it was an auto-forward from my College account, and instead of creating a group to email to, they decided to put our names in separately. The email message was so long, my Gmail account clipped it before it got to the end of the 'N's. I had to press "View Entire Message" just to read the rest of the recipients ... let alone the message itself!

Was the message worth the wait?

No pardner, not really. The suspense was really just building up to a letdown, sorry to say.

Ageism Moans

Let's see, I've ranted about racism, I think I've tried sexism, now let's talk about ageism.

I have my head too stuffed with ageist remarks to rant about them all (I read the Daily Tele Letters page, you see).

However one bit that always irks me as that bit where "oldies" go on about how young people of today are so selfish and lazy, they can't stand on their own two feet, they can't do this, they can't do simple tasks to keep house or whatever it is. You will hear these people moan and chuckle simultaneously like how it's a disgrace you don't keep your room in order or only cook simple meals out of a packet or can.

Then you hang around the house a bit and the same oldies whine "Hey, can you fix my computer for me? Show me how to clear the messages on my phone! How do I change the picture-thing on my Foxtel? Why isn't the printer working? How do I book tickets online?"

And when you do these things for them patiently - and even go through the steps patiently with them, knowing full well that the next time they'll whine to you, please do it for me, they can't remember what they did last time ...

... they aren't that grateful and they still go in for the young 'un bashing later on. They don't really think of it as a skill they ought to learn just to get on in life, but if it isn't done they whine.

Oh yes ... I do know there are some very technologically capable older people out there. There are also some extremely capable younger people who clean their rooms, can look after their car, hem a skirt and cook meals. But it doesn't seem to stop the generation bashing!

Lots of output and no input

And no, this has nothing to do with computer programs.

Recently I tried to make employment a priority. That is, specifically, me trying to become an employed persona, and recently meaning ever since I became an unemployed persona, that is, since mid-June of this year. I will admit that immediately after I lost my last job, I was a bit lax about finding employment, enjoying a week or so off, and a few weeks here and there have been a bit too crammed with other things to do concentrated job hunting. What's more, jobs have been terribly scarce so if you're like me and you try to get your jobs online, even if you try searching the web fairly often sometimes nothing turns up.

NOW maybe someone much smarter, someone more EXPERIENCED, someone more SUCCESSFUL, someone more EFFECTIVE, or someone just who's just got a NUTTIER or WACKIER idea that doesn't involve lifelong damage to the human body (mine or others) or great expense may give me some practical tips on what I could do to possibly land a job, because so far it hasn't been that good. In fact it has been disheartening that I put more time into writing an application than some companies do into reviewing it - the rejection comes back so fast it makes me really annoyed and I feel like sending it back along with their formulaic rejection notice about 'carefully considering' all applications with a sneer and saying 'REVIEW AGAIN YOU COWS!'. Others take so long and never get back to you that you feel like going after them with a cattle prod.

And I'm not sure why all the cow and cattle terminology is coming into play here.

1. Yes I have a resume
2. I have been going for a fair number of different types of jobs. Office jobs, which I am most used to doing, except for that time when I was in High School, where I have some experience in selling hot chips.

I tried calling a recruitment agency, but the lady on the other end of the phone told me politely that recruitment agencies only handled people with quite a deal of experience who also matched the job requirements and I wasn't suitable. I looked miserably at my scatty resume which is a patchwork of a couple of months or weeks or days here and there and it didn't look like any recruitment agent would be jumping for joy to see me. The agent said nicely it would be a very good idea to approach the employer directly.

It seems a lot of emphasis is point on experience in terms of time instead of quality. Really! I mean, I might have only had two days of work at this particular firm, but they were a VERY GOOD two days, I thought, as I tucked in my resume. How shallow can a person be? It's like buying a painting because of its dimensions instead of its artistry or a book because of its length!

Then I remembered how I thought I was getting ripped off in a store recently because a very interesting-looking but slim book was a buck more expensive than a book-I-knew-nothing-about, but the latter had 150 more pages, so maybe hold that thought.

Anyhow, I keep sending enthusiastic-sounding letters to people, telling them that I will type, juggle coffee for them, write reports, file, whatever.

I also assure them that I am excellent at communicating in writing and in speech, that I love working teams and I love working alone too, that I am a workaholic who also will fit into their culture of work-life balance, and I'm a person with great leadership qualities who can take orders and I follow strict processes with lots of flexibility and I have great attention to finer details while obviously focussing on the big picture. All the usual stuff you have to say.

What the heck else do they WANT?

Friday, 18 September 2009

A Man's Head on a Woman's Shoulders

Recently I had a rant a bit about racial discrimination, so now I'll switch to the old one, gender discrimination.

I was reading an article in a print newspaper which I unfortunately can't put a link to because they don't seem to have published it online. That's why they make you get the print copy, for gems of 300 words like that.

Anyhow, the writer was telling of how insurance premiums were higher on his car than they were for his wife, even though they both have a clean driving record and are both the same age, and the reason was because he's male. He asked the insurance company and they said this was because men made more claims than women. He asked if they discriminated based on race too, and they said no, because they didn't collect any data on that.

He said this was annoying as gender was one of the things you can't change. Age relates to experience. But you could get older, in fact you usually did. Or you could move to a different geographic region. But you didn't change gender.

Obviously he hasn't investigated certain operations you can do, but never mind.

Anyway, the poor bloke seemed put upon, and this was one of the terrible things about being a bloke. That and I just don't know how men live with a bobbing Adam's Apple. Doesn't it ever feel weird having a round thing bobbing at your neck? It looks weird on some of you. If I had one I would be thinking it was very strange. Especially since I'm a girl.

But I don't think it is all one way. For instance, in some cases, women pay more for just being a woman. For instance, I passed the hairdresser's and a Lady's Basic Cut, the cheapest was, more expensive than the most expensive Men's Basic Cut (they have a slight range based, I think, on length of hair).

Now that is outrageous. I have seen men with tangly long mullets and women with little bob cuts and still the women are probably paying more. Grrr!

In fact it annoys me more than the car premium thing, because I've got hair. I don't have a car. Your hair grows on you, man. You need to CUT IT to get rid of it, ok some people's just falls out. Whereas if you don't want to pay for insurance on a car you can choose to not buy one in the first place. Easy peasy. So in that way I think it is even WORSE.

I have thought sometimes that I should go into a hairdresser dressed in a suit and tie with a m moustache drawn on my face and talk in a deep voice and despite having past-the-shoulder length hair and wanting a side part with it nicely layered etc, I would demand bravely to have a men's cut! See if they would dare question my ... errrh ... balls!

They've changed it now - And now it is happily gender-unbiased - but they used to have two different specials at the Belgian Beer Cafe - one was half-price mussels for males on Wednesdays, and for ladies it was a free beer if you wore red. (They've changed it now so the mussels deal applies to everyone and the beer special has disappeared.)

But at the time it annoyed me because I don't drink beer and I like mussels! And dammit ... What do I have in my wardrobe that's red? Too much planning!

On the other time of course one uses the feminine advantage to every extent they can when the guys who are selling fruit at Paddy's Markets make their comments about throwing in an extra few apples into your basket "for the lady".

I'm not sure if we should jump up and scream about all this disgusting, awful, gender discrimination, or accept it will balance out in the end, and/or accept which gender we are and what tricks and advantages it gives us and use them to gain the best advantages where! It sounds pathetic and very cliche but I do think some people might help me more because I'm a pint-sized female, if something falls, if a stupid ticket machine won't work and I start growling at it I think there is someone who is male/taller/wider/more authoritarian looking who delights in coming up and trying to help out, more so than if I were a big tall, large male with tattoos all over me.

Of course there are some areas in which gender discrimination/abuse/unfairness is quite serious; on the other hand when it comes to a little freebie given or not given here or there, a small slant in prices, a slightly different treatment, should it be something we worry about overly?

Or is not worrying about them being lazy, and silently condoning or making way for the bigger abuses, or contributing to them? Is that person whom you let get away with dividing man's chores and girl's chores and you don't mind her emphasising it because you'd really rather not clean the car or put the mulch on the garden or re-tile the roof ... is she the next one who'll be giving disgustingly different pay to males from females or refusing to employ certain people based on gender and part of that is your fault?

And you could be one of those victims!


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My First Holiday in a Long Time

It may sound strange to some people, but I haven't had a holiday in a long time. I mean a holiday out of Sydney, not a holiday from work. As a member of the unemployed ranks at the moment, you might say I'm constantly on holiday, although I'm studying. Kinda. And even then I had a mid-semester break just last week.

I also had my first holiday out of Sydney for what seems like a long time. I was just sitting around when my sister invited me to go to Canberra for two days because she was driving out there to meet someone for a chat, and would I come along? We could go in the morning, she'd go meet the lady while I spent time wandering about, we'd share a hotel room for a night, spend the next day looking around, then leave that evening. She'd do the driving. I can't drive. No way.

It seemed a good idea to me, and it was fun, but different from what I expected.

First, Sunday morning we headed out and we decided to use the Tomtom to navigate. We were out on the highway and we were gone about an hour and a half when we decided to take a rest break. We stopped, ate a piece of fruit and my sister had a little snooze, and then when we started up again ... yes, the darn TomTom wouldn't work again!

It's amazing how you rely on that silly lady's voice telling you to "turn right here". We panicked!

Eventually we decided we should keep going, after all we still could remember which direction to go on the highway and apart from that there wasn't too much else that could go wrong. But we kept squealing about "Oh darn, does this mean we'll have to find a MAP? Not one of those things!" like we were contemplating taking on a bucket of dead rats.

Finally - oh joy, I fiddled around with the TomTom enough that an hour later it jumped back to life and we both sighed with relief and swore that we would never do anything to cause it harm or want to leave us, ever, ever again. Precious baby.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do when we got to Canberra. Mel had to go meet her church-friend, and I was dropped off in Canberra, not daring to do anything too ... well, daring. I didn't dare catch a bus. I'm bad enough at navigation as it is, I was finding myself lost as I walked around, and I had this horrible vision of myself catching a bus and being stranded out in the outer suburbs and not knowing how the hell I'd got out there and how the hell to get back and my sister calling me and wanting to know why I wasn't back at the designated meeting place when we agreed.

So I crept carefully. I followed a sign saying National Film and Sound Archive.

Now, I don't know where they hide that place but I couldn't find it despite the signs or the strange directions people gave me. "Past the white building there's a place with a big dome on it" ... heck, I couldn't see a dome, or if that's your idea of a dome, you and I need to have talks. Big talks.

I ended up wandering around the ANU and admiring the grounds for a short while.

Then I checked out a few shops and bookstores. I can't help myself checking out bookstores.

After a good browse through the books, I managed to get myself to the Canberra Museum and Gallery where I saw a few really cool collections. The funniest was a great collection of record covers. It's hard to say what's so cool about quirky record covers, except you've just got to see it. Sometimes the names just speak for themselves - like "I fell in love with a prostitute" Sermon by Rev. Jasper Williams. Others, well the artwork was so "interesting" I just had to laugh.

But best of all, for me, was the children's activity table. There was a table with a bird chart and some coloured pencils and a bird picture book nearby, and a sign that said "Read the picture book and write your own bird story" with some little blank booklets provided.

Naturally I did as instructed. I don't think I draw as well as Julie Vivas (illustrator of the supplied picture book) but I rather liked my story. If I can improve my pictures I may be onto a hit picture book. And all that in just a few minutes of inspiration!

Later, I saw another smaller Art Gallery and some more bookshops before I was picked up and went off to church and dinner with my sister.

The next day went like this ....

I lay in bed thinking, gee, it's all dark, I think I must have awoken early, I won't get out of bed yet, specially as my sister isn't awake yet. I don't know how long I was thinking this.

Then I heard a maid knock on the door and say "HOUSEKEEPING!"

My sister drowsily called from her bed "Umm, later!"

I asked what the time was. My sister said quarter past seven. I replied, "Gee, that's early for housekeeping."

"Sorry, I mean it's almost ten," said my sister.


With checkout having to be eleven, this rather changed things.

We managed to get out and go to the National Gallery and it was fantastic, except that I think I may have walked in on a few tours. It's one of those disconcerting things about tours in galleries, you have all these groups being shown around by tour guides and if you're there by yourself and you want to just inspect a piece of art by yourself, you feel like you're getting in the way when you have a group of fifteen standing around in a semicircle with a guide marching in front of the painting pointing out features and explaining history and symbolism and stuff and you just want to have a good peer.

Still, peer I did!

I don't know, I don't mind some of the "modern" art there but I usually really prefer wandering in the sections where there are portraits of ladies or landscapes rather than huge canvases of solid colour with a few simple geometric shapes on them. I guess it's all a matter of taste.

After that we planned to go to Cockington Green, the miniature Village ... but my sister wanted to have a nap for twenty minutes before she drove ... and that twenty minutes became two hours ...!

So instead we drove straight back home ...

and right in time for dinner!

It mightn't seem like we did a whole lot but in fact it was just nice to get away for a couple of days, look at some beautiful art, have a wander, and not feel pressured to dash from place to place under time constraints. I enjoyed it!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

How to Mark a Birthday

Today marks a very special day and not just because I turned one year older today. In fact it's a funny way of putting it, because I feel like I just did turn one year older today, you know, for a year I wasn't turning any days older and today - 365 days hit me like that! It was a growing experience.

Quality people are born on and around this day, I would just like to mention I share this birthday with the illustrious poet and blogger TimT and also that I also almost share it with Roald Dahl and my cousin's little daughter, who was born just two days ago. That is, my cousin's little daughter was, Roald Dahl was born a little earlier than that years-wise but on the same day as the little one, in case anyone was a little confused about that.

I'm in good company!

Anyhow, today started out well. For one thing, I slept in. That's a nice way to start a day. Good bout of sleep!

Nextly, I went to visit Mr Coffee, who had got most of the day off work.

I had recently made a bet with Mr Coffee that I could learn basic vi (an editor for programming) methods in the last week or so. I have not won a bet with Mr Coffee yet. The last one he won and I had to buy him a slice of cake at the Citrus cafe in Newtown! And he has been shying away from bets ever since so I couldn't win it back.

But today I proved my basic vi skills and won my cake! That is a VERY good way to have a birthday! CAKE and to get the betting score back in balance ... what more could a girl want?

I had chocolate meringue. It's a good start to the year.

I have read some very nice SMSes and blog comments and emails saying happy birthday ... thank you very much for remembering and saying hello ... and keep reading!

Unfortunately there are some little downers to birthdays. For instance I had to go to my computer classes and it's my annoying lecturer teaching Tuesday class, and he was not being any more competent this class than any other. He told us all that in our last class test the grades were so low in general that they would have to be all scaled up. I don't think he has considered that it could be because he is an incomprehensible teacher and writes rather confusing tests. After all I doubt it is all because we are incompetent dolts - it is a class where you have to be a graduate to make it into the class, and apparently a good proportion of the class has a computing background (though not me).

Still, stuffed full of meringue and with a nice doze-in I feel a very satisfied birthday girl!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

HSC Debate

Right here, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney criticised the HSC ranking system (UAI) as being a too-narrow system that favoured elite (think "private" and "selective" school) students and didn't always get the best students into Universities.

Now not all agree with him. Certainly not the head of James Ruse Agricultural, but then they always do the best in the HSC in NSW so what do you expect?

I'm just wondering though, if the head of the Uni of Sydney isn't in favour of the UAI as a way of selecting people who can get into his Uni, then why not make a different entrance criteria for the University of Sydney? Something more in line with what he considers allows the brightest students to have a chance in his Uni? Auditions, applications, resumes, interviews, whatever? And let other Universities use the UAI if that's what they want?

Then if the Uni of Sydney starts producing all these absolute wonders in comparison with the mediocrity of everywhere else everyone will start following in their footsteps and maybe the UAI will become redundant or unimportant ...

Sounds like a great idea to me!

Monday, 7 September 2009

My Aspiration to Work at Google

Recently someone started in on me about how cool it was to work at Google and what a great work culture they have there.

I have no doubt that this could be true, but I'm not sure what use they'd have for a once-paralegal whose ambition is to write a really cool book about witches.

I did think about working for Google, and what possible skills I would have to offer such an organisation, and there is about only one thing I could think of.

I think would like, and would be good at, coming up with different ways to write "Google". You know, the way the Google logo changes. Sometimes the two "o"s look like eyes or something. But I reckon I could come up with some really creative ones. One could be a blue eye and one could be a green eye!

That's called INNOVATIVE.

I'm sure someone is in charge of that, it doesn't just change by itself. In fact there is a bit of a fuss over the second "o" now so it's not like this logo changing means nothing.

I, in fact, envisage a whole team of about 6 people whose job it is to come up with different ways to write "Google". One in charge of each letter.

One who walks around saying "I'm the "first "o" man" and another saying "I'm the "l" lady!". That would be their title. Their day would be filled with nothing but "o"s or "G"s or whatever letter they would be assigned.

Wow. It's just a great idea. I think I could do that. I don't know, I think an "o" would suit me fine, but really, I'm just happy to be part of the team. I'll take any letter. Really.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Please give generously

The other day I was at home rather late, still in my tracksuit that serves as good nightwear. Not exactly in a see-other-people mood, I'm trying to work on one of my computing assignments and get it in by Father's Day, the deadline. My terminal is labelled "Cygwin Bash Shell" on the shortcut on my laptop, and I sure as hell feel like bashing its shell sometimes when I see those errors pop up.

Anyhow, I hear a knock at the door and I decided to answer it despite my non-people-ish mood. After all, if it's a competition that I wasn't aware I'd entered and I'd just won a year's supply of Nudie Juice or something, it might brighten up my day. And if it were a member of my fa,ily who'd forgotten their keys and I refused to answer, I'd never hear the end of it. Not worth not answering!

So I went to the door, answered, and it was a lady from World Vision who started off on her obviously rehearsed spiel,

"Hi, I'm from World Vision, I don't wish to put a dampener on your day, but a child dies in this world every 3 seconds ..."

She got about as far as "I don't wish to put a dampener on your day" when the first thing I thought was "Is she apologising for coming to the door, because yes, that did put a dampener on my day. I'm in my trakkies turn pjs! And if she didn't want to put a dampener on my day, why did she knock?"

While there may be some people who absolutely jump with joy at the sight of a charity collector aproaching them, I'm not one of them, and I don't know anyone who's confessed it's one of their little happinesses. On the other hand I realise that charity collectors really believe in their causes and want to collect money for them, and they choose something which they know - or a pretty sure - will get a strong emotional reaction. For instance, dying children.

We all feel strongly about dying children. Or people with terminal cancer. Or ... well there are plenty of other things that get us sad, emotional, or angry at the state of the world.

I'm envisioning a new kind of sales approach,

"Hi, I'm Dorothy, I don't wish to put a dampener on your day, but a charity collector harasses someone for money at least every three seconds on average around the world, and I'm sure you'll agree that's totally unacceptable. We've had a wonderful response in relation to that from your neighbours, and if you'll just sign here it's totally tax deductible ..."

Friday, 28 August 2009

Is Humiliation the Answer?

A guy is wearing a humiliating sign because he got caught cheating. That's his punishment. He's walking around wearing a huge sign saying "I CHEATED THIS IS MY PUNISHMENT".

Now, there's some speculation this could be a stunt, for TV or something, but then some blog commenters went on to say things like "humiliation isn't the answer, she just wants revenge, but it won't fix their marriage, it's stupid, he'll hate her for it and do it again" blah blah. While others said "Good on her."

Anyhow, the whole sign thing isn't new. I've seen this kind of punishment before and I remember a spoof of it done in a tv show called Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David is accused of stealing a fork from a restaurant, and is sentenced to walk around wearing a big sign saying "I steal forks from restaurants" or something similar.

But if the whole humiliation thing wouldn't work for a relationship, does it mean it doesn't work at all or is a relationship just a special case?

I mean, if the reasoning given by some is the case, would it be fair to say that revenge is never the answer, and Larry would become an embittered fork-stealer, after he wore the sign he would not learn his lesson but hate society for making him wear the sign and go out and steal forks for the hell of it, just to get his revenge? He would haunt restaurants and take a fork, slip it into his bag and say, "SCORE ONE FOR ME, that's for making me wear that sign, SUCK ON THAT you AMERICANS! Swallow that for every one of you who supports that stupid law that made me where that sign! I've got my FORK now! And next time ... I might up it to a spoooooon! Or a splade! I'll be the cutlery king and my palace shall rock with my silverware in my vengeance!"

Or perhaps he would see a fork and go crazy. He would see it, remember the sign and how the fork symbolised the sign and how it made him feel and he would go dizzy, and you'd have to call the paramedics.

Same could be said of this man and his cheating, except it wouldn't be forks. Well, maybe it was forks. I won't presume to know too much about his sex life.

I don't know whether vengeance and humiliation is an effective tool in rehabilitating a person, or fixing behaviour. But as some pointed out .. it probably makes us feel good for a while, and for some people that's all that matters.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Effective Ticketing

(Warning All! I am gong to write about public transport. I was told once in a TAFE class by a fellow student that this was a boring crappy subject to write about. If you are of the same opinion of that lass, please stop reading now!)

I read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald about ticketing on public transport in Australia. According to the report when it comes to short trips in particular we commuters are paying some of the highest fares in the world - and I think a lot of people would say we aren't exactly getting the best value, what with complaints about safety, cleanliness, accessibility, on-time running blah blah.

For some of the longer trips, we are getting a better deal though.

Anyhow, what to do about it, if anything? Is this cool? I know a lot of people get all het up when they hear tickets are going up - again! Especially when you find services seem to be just the same or worse.

I always think it's an absolute rort that the way to make train stats better is just to change the definition of what "on time" is - like "within ten minutes".

Hey, why don't we passengers change the definition of "paying full price for a ticket" while we're at it so our stats for travelling legally look better? You IDIOTS. It seems all they have to do is fiddle with definitions but not serve up more, but the customers are meant to serve up more, and that's when people get very crappy about their fares going up.

Well, people get cranky about fares going up whenever, but especially when the service is not going up.

Anyhow, how to make fares fairer?

I remember a friend of mine said she believed in fully subsidised public transport. Naturally, this would probably mean a tax hike because money to run transport comes from somewhere, realistically. Either a tax hike or a decline in facilities elsewhere. But instead of a user pays system, a tax-funded system. Wold this deliver a better service to customers? In some ways it would do without the need for ticketing and it could be more efficient. It could also coax people into using public transport more. On the other hand, would it be economically viable, and could it also lead to a run-down system where only the minimum to sustain it would be delivered ... on the other hand, is that much different from what we're getting now?

I also remember some talk about different kinds of fares - at the moment we have different classes of fares. Adults pay full fare, there are concession tickets, pensioner tickets, school children get free school passes, and there are also special other passes for people who are veterans (I think)or who have certain disabilities. I'm not sure about other types of tickets.

Anyhow, sometimes when prices are hiked they are hiked in certain areas, others across the board, and I know some people have talked about inequities in these areas.

For instance, at a time when the pensioner daily travel pass was more than doubled, school children continued to ride free. It was suggested by some that it would be more fair if the pensioner travel pass was reduced by less and school children had to pay a fee (paid by parents), a once-off fee each school year for the privilege of holding a school pass. Or they could choose to not have one and pay a child's fare each time they travelled.

On the article I posted, a commenter mentioned that she thought a ticket based on time woudld be more appropriate than one based on distance. In that way it's really user pays. On the other hand this leads to several problems, and objections, including difficulties in estimating time - would you be fined if you bought a half hour ticket and got stuck on a slow bus? Surely you should be allowed to simply pay up extra at the other end, not be fined for carrying an invalid ticket.

And it hopefully wouldn't encourage your service to be excruciatingly slow in order to squeeze money from you. Would a breakdown in the middle of peak hour, forcing thousands of commuters to hang around for four hours and top up as they left, be a godsend to CityRail? many would argue no, as it would be a bad marketing strategy for them, but considering many of us have no viable choice but to catch public transport to the places we wish to go, and there aren't major competitors in the area, they don't worry too much about sweet-talking us.

Evidently, as the past over ten years has shown us.

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Dancin' Kid

Here's a story about a new kiddy craze, and for the life of me I can't follow the logic of the objections in the story - just the sentiment. Maybe someone can help me out.

Well it's about this new fad, where in Oxford Street, people can bring along their kids and have them hit the dance floor. Kids can dance around and groove to flashing disco lights and wear feather boas and drink organic apple juice at the 'ultimate dance party' where they will be heavily supervised by babysitters, while their mothers can go upstairs and relax with some champagne.

It sounds like a cool business concept except some people, like the head of the Australian Childhood Foundation Dr Joe Tucci, said that kids were growing up too fast and it seemed to be phrased as an objection in the article:

"As a community we are pushing children into an adult world at a faster and faster rate," he said.
"We need to realise that childhood development is a phase in itself and it shouldn't be shaped by adults and what they see as important."

Now let's assume it was in response to the Baby Loves dancing place, and I'm assuming it because of the context of the article, which also said the event was expected to be divisive.

Now, I'm just wondering what 'growing up too fast' means (leaving out any comments about I thought everyone grew up at the same rate). Basically first of all the doctor says that we shouldn't shape childhood development by what adults see as important.

On the other hand it seems to me he sees childhood development as important, and not pushing children into an adult world too fast as important (inferred by his first sentence) which kinda contradicts his first statement logically if taken perfectly literally as "adults should impose no values about childhood development whatsoever".

The other thing is, what counts as an adult world anyhow, is it adult simply because adults think of it as one, and that's because adults see flashing strobe lights and think of that as "ooooh, that's what I look at and think of as adult-ish!" After all, I can't think what makes dance lights inherently adult-ish, it's what we project upon them. And again, this is another thing about adults imposing values on their kids' development.

It starts off as a weird argument:

1. Children should have their childhood, free from what adults think is important.
2. However, since adults think something like running around nude or bopping to rock music or wearing a feather boa looks like it is adult-like-play (a symbol that is important to adults but truly, probably doesn't usually mean jack to a toddler)
3. Then we should remove it from our child's development and in this case, remember what we think is important. Like what our symbolism means to us or what our neighbours think or whether we think our child is going to grow up to be dysfunctional because later they'll be an adult and it will become important to them THEN we assume because it's important to us NOW.

I'm not saying I think kiddies should necessarily indulge in 'adult' pursuits; and indeed some pursuits could be classed as inherently adult, that is, children are legally prohibited from doing them or their bodies cannot cope with them or are not able to perform certain functions. Others are possibly more projections of society - say wearing makeup. Nothing prevents a toddler boy from putting lipstick on, physically, it's just that our expectation is that it's mainly for people of a certain age and gender.

I'm just trying to work out how these arguments run. Possibly it could have been done better. Maybe people should come right out and say "I am sick of seeing kids dressed in little boob tubes and g-strings, it gives me the heebie jeebies! Get them back in the dungarees and jumpsuits where they belong!"

Begging, the Dole, or an Honest Day's Work?

In the Daily Tele just the other day, there was this story about a guy who can earn $400 a day begging. Apparently he's not the only one. Slow days are when he clears about $75 or $150, but he's "disappointed" when he clears only $250. That's his standard.

He says he puts it in a bank account and he's saving for a friend who needs a liver transplant.

Now this story provoked outrage, plenty of people answered with declarations that they weren't going to pay the guy another cent, he was a leech and an idiot and he should get a job and why couldn't he pay rent and get off the streets.

My guess is many people were so mad because they felt they have been conned by him or others like him before, and they're mad because they don't clear money like that by what they think is 'easy money'. Though if you think sitting in shabby clothes on your bum in the street is fun, I'd think again.

And if you think it's easy money sitting around for 16 hours doing nothing ... well I can assure you it's not. My last job at the Industrial Relations Commission involved me sitting around doing nothing for long periods. I found it physically taxing and I wasn't earning $400 a day. I resigned and have less income than even there but it's a relief to be out of the sitting-on-butt business. Truly - sitting around all day isn't that great! I couldn't do it myself.

Others expressed the view that the guy should be paying tax, or that 'at least it was better than going on the dole'.

Anyhow, I don't know about tax, because if you're just giving him a bit of a donation, I don't know about that. Either way I wouldn't be paying tax if I could avoid it. I wonder if he has evaded birth and death too?

As for the guy being a leech on society, it seems that many people have forgotten that begging means that you choose to give someone something - albeit for nothing, or some might say, because they have inspired you or injected you with a feeling. It's a vague contract you make with them except they use guilt as a lever and don't give anything back that's solid except relief of that guilt. Or maybe self-image, or whatever.

Cake-sellers give you a cake in exchange for your bucks, but beggars just make you feel like you've done the right thing. Neither forces you to give anything. If you want them to die on the streets (or go bankrupt, whatever) just let them alone!

The last comparisons were the comparison of begging to the dole and to an 'honest job'. Not surprisingly, most people thought it was better for a person to 'get a job' than beg, not for his own sake but as if it were obligatory for him to do so. Many said it was 'good he wasn't on the dole' but some also talked about 'poor pensioners' who were taken in by his crap ... so there seemed to be a discrimination between pensioners and those on the dole (or different people feeling very differently about those on welfare, with the dole having bad connotations, but pensioners not having such a bad connotation. It's a lesson as to how to describe yourself if you're on welfare.)

It's also a lesson as to how to describe yourself if you've got a job. Remember, it's an honest job.

I'm not exactly sure what the heck a DIS honest job is. Professional liar? Working in advertising and political speech writing?

Anyhow, while we can parade our honest jobs, or some people can, I'm not exactly so sure why it's so great to have an honest job rather than to beg. Apart from the fact that you are obliged to pay taxes.

In both cases, someone agrees to pay you money. And when you think about it, some so-called honest jobs are pretty useless in function. Probably as useless as if you sat on your bum in the street. It's one of the reasons I've been disillusioned about many of the jobs I've read about, I feel like I am going to file files in a drawer that noone is ever going to look at again, shuffle paper off in a drawer that won't be seen again, pass paper to Mr B from Ms A which could have been passed directly from A to B if they had taken two seconds longer to do it, blah blah. It's boring boring crap!!!!!!!!


And yet that is what a lot of clerk like jobs are like, in my head I reason the main difference between them and not doing the job and letting the office run itself is someone actually pays you if you agree to do it. I didn't exactly feel like I was contributing to society at all. I just felt like someone thought I was.* And that was the reason to do the job.

Oh and someone will say you have an honest job and you are not a bludger.

So is the distasteful thing about people on the dole and begging is that they are collecting money and not only are they not doing anything but they also have been found out that they aren't doing anything?

As for begging and not being a dole bludger, basically, what's so great about saying at least you are not one but you are the other?

When you beg you play on someone's conscience or their image or their feeling of obligation or whatever. Many would call it a con. However, it depends on the day as to how much you are likely to get, and no one is obliged to give you a cent. There is however no cap on your limit, and you make a direct 'contract' with your contributors.

With a dole your claim is made to the State, not individuals in the street, and it's based on principles that assumedly Society agrees to/regulations that we agree to be governed under. And everyone's entitled to claim, but you have to make a disclosure under them and your receivable amount is capped.

Is it so much more principled to try one and not the other, and which one? I guess it depends on your principles.

*By the way I write this believing that many people who go on about their honest jobs do boring jobs that have very little impact on the world, like mine. On the other hand there are people whose jobs do have an impact on other people and if they don't turn up to work everyone gets frantic, or if they hadn't done their job ever, we'd be living in a world made of Stilton Cheese Towers and sipping funny green mucous speaking in beeps. Those people we have to thank for making the world we live in today possible. Not that a cheese tower wouldn't be interesting, for a holiday anyhow.

Saturday, 22 August 2009


This was my word verification a few days ago and I thought it was such a cool word I'd try to figure out what it meant.

A quick Google search gives the meaning for QUIETISM

1. A form of Christian mysticism enjoining passive contemplation and the beatific annihilation of the will.
2. A state of quietness and passivity.

While there seem to be some references to quitism on the web, I can't find a definition of one so ...

The first thing that popped into my mind was:

QUITISM - a pithy phrase or set of phrases used by someone who claims they are trying to quit a habit. Usually lame and reassuring.

"It's ok to have one of these chocolate biscuits because they're small. After I've had three I'll stop. Actually they were very small, weren't they, make that four."
"If I walk the long way to the kitchen from this dining table I can have extra ice-cream."
"It's bad for me to give up cigarettes all at once. I could die. Anyone got another pack?"
"I know shopping this much is bad for you. I have to buy some equipment to help me stop the cravings."
"I will stop tomorrow ... tomorrow is another day."
"I will give this up when all the people on this Earth have the right to free health care and transport ... umm because that's being principled as well as quitting."
"I have tried quitting many times but I quit quitting."

Friday, 21 August 2009

Been wrestling with fiddly equations in my computing course and ...

If there's one thing I don't need to not see, it's another double negative.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Weight Loss Schemes that Really Work

Whenever people moan about weight loss and how really hard it is and how people should sympathise with certain large people because their body shape is just not the type suited to weight loss, so it's cruel to go on about how they're overweight, I think WHAT ROT!

The trouble with people who moan about this and try these silly diets like the fish one day and chocolate the next diet is they want weight loss to be easy. They like fish and chocolate. Then they feel like they have achieved something cool by telling everyone that they have fish one day and chocolate the next instead of having both every day and this makes them real martyrs.

Of course if you really want to lose weight it is very easy and you don't need experts in nutrition or whatever to explain how:

You can chop off a limb.
You can cut yourself and leak a lot of blood.
You can go without food at all for a very long time. Like years on end. There are all these experts who will go on about how this will actually work against you because it will slow down your metabolism and switch you to food storage mode and you'll stack up more weight. ONLY IF YOU GO BACK TO EATING AGAIN. DO NOT BE FOOLED.

However for all people go on about desperate dedication to losing body weight, it seems many are not ready to really take the plunge. They would rather be alive and have all four limbs than be light.

It seems these moaners are lacking commitment to the cause. Let them whine!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Kyle and Jackie O, the continuing story

Apparently Kyle and Jackie O have become embroiled in another scandal! Last time it was one where Kyle insensitively questioned a teen girl on air about her sexual experience when she was doing a lie detector and it was revealed she'd been raped.

Now here's the next scandal and in my opinion, it's pretty mild and seems to be an attempt to capitalise on people's fury at Kyle and Jackie O.

The story this time is that Kyle reneged on a personal pledge of $35 000 made to a family. And that's not all. A woman named Wendy Koman appeared on air and was encouraged to discuss the plight of her four year old boy Josh, who's paralysed. Kyle personally promised $35 000, and people called in to pledge money. She was encouraged to sound emotional to get more money.

But when the family came to collect the cash, instead of handing over the money, the station handed over the names of the people who pledged the money. Kyle also reneged on his personal pledge after several callers made pledges of of $20 000. Wendy Koman complained that she felt like a debt collector, having to go after the people and collect the money pledged.

Basically, I think this is a pretty pathetic whinge.

Except for the part about Sandilands going back on his word, which is probably something you can get him for, even if he did help you raise the rest of the dough, but gets lost in the rest of the whinge.

It seems rather silly to whinge that you were prepared to go on radio, tell your story, want to get a whole lot of people to donate money to you, but then didn't want to feel bad about taking that money from them. Sorry, I just wanted it handed to me, I didn't want to actually either do the hard work or feel that I was taking it off them. I am happy to take the money from them, I just don't want the psychological stain, which is what calling people up gives you.

For $150K, I think there are plenty of people who would be happy to call around and collect the money. I would.

It seems to me that no matter how upset Koman is, she hasn't come out so morally outraged at Sandilands and principled that she would not touch the disgusting money that the terrible antics of these people has brought her. When she hands the money back to all those people who donated, or gives it to the station or to a charity or something then perhaps she will be more convincing.

Yes, probably the station could have been very much nicer about it. They could have been greeted at the door with a red carpet and a cake and a little funny clown could have been sent over to Josh and someone could have sent flowers over every day and the money could have been done up in little bundles tied in pink ribbon and a photo could have been taken of them receiving it and it could have been framed and sent over to them and Kyle and Jackie O could have become their best buddies forever too and then personally added an extra several ten thousands on top of that as a "bonus just because you're so darn cool".

Everything could have been very much nicer. However, should you reasonably expect it? It seems some people think they are almost entitled to extreme niceness - and often because they feel sorry for themselves. Then when they get less they get outraged. This can be something like what Ms Koman received, or it can be something very simple like someone not publishing your outraged letter to the Editor in the newspaper or not commenting on your blog article. How could they possibly think my original heartfelt wonderful story about this topic and my opinion on it is not worth publishing/reading/comment!

Anyway, I would be happy to go on 2DAYFM and get $150K myself but I have learnt from this lesson.


I have a very sad story and I would like you to raise a whole lot of money for it, say over $100K would be nice. However I have some conditions on this, I will sound impassioned on radio however I don't want anyone to say I am milking it. I want a heap of money but I don't want anyone to say I am cheap or selling myself. I want other people's cash but I want to feel that they are giving it freely and I am entitled to it not that I have to take it from them. I want to be able to collect it easily, so please get some of your staff to collect it from those people should they prove difficult to collect from, or better still, please give me the money straight from your coffers, and then you can refill your coffers at some later time with any pledges that you will naturally do all the work to collect and if anyone doesn't pay up, not my problem."

Yours Sincerely,


P.S. By the way this blog article is so darn relevant and my opinion is so darn right I feel entitled to at least one comment and I will feel outraged if I don't get one. If someone else doesn't do it I'll do it myself!