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!

Laughter in a Can

I am ok with canned condensed milk, canned peaches, canned tomatoes, canned soup. What is really getting to me is canned laughter. I avoided it at the supermarket last week even though it was on a three for two special. Just didn't want those giggles grinning up at me on my shelf.

I read on a noticeboard some guy saying that he didn't really like the canned laughter on a show, but then he didn't find shows without a laugh track funny. Now, I'm not sure whether that meant that the laugh track made them funny or whether he had looked around at the shows on offer without laugh tracks and none of them had been funny so far to him.

Anyhow, I'm generally not a laugh track person, and I'm really going off them. There have been some cool comedies with laugh tracks, and they were in vogue at certain periods so some of those older funny comedies really worked. It seems that actors really actually knew how to work with the laugh track then and didn't look like they were hanging around waiting for the joke. I watched a lot of The Golden Girls last year, and Fawlty Towers, which always make me life, and the laughter didn't intrude but seemed to be scripted and acted in beat with the track. Seinfeld also works well with the laughter from the audience.

On the other hand, I really prefer most comedies now that let you laugh when you want to and don't cue when to laugh. Like The Simpsons and Futurama, Scrubs and The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I was introduced to an American sitcom recently called The Big Bang Theory, and it must be voted having the worst laugh track ever. I don't particularly like this show but it might be more palatable if it didn't have such an intrusive track and it's made me hate canned laughter even more. Some say it's studio audience and they are just laughing themselves and it's just because the show is hilarious, if so, I say the audience is being tickled or has the worst taste ever.

That, or there is something going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. Maybe they are getting to watch Seinfeld.

Some people will say I just don't get the geeky humour of The Big Bang Theory. Fair enough. Everyone has their taste.

But really, the show will open and there are two guys sitting in a cafe and one will say something like, "Have you seen my microscope?" or "Now, there's this idea about time travel ..." or something similar and right after that one line which is delivered in a very ordinary way, the whole audience will go hysterical and crack up and the laughter will go for ages. Am I missing something? What was so darned witty about that?

Someone told me that the canned humour makes you want to laugh, but if someone keeps laughing hysterically at boring and unfunny bits in a piece, it makes you irritated and less likely to laugh at the actually funny bits. Well, that's what it does for me.

As for the rest of The Big Bang Theory, it has quite a following, but I'm not that into it. The premise is a couple of very stereotypical nerds who live across the hall from a non-nerdy girl and the nerds don't do very well socially. There's a lot of geek humour, and people go on about how the geek humour is so great, but it's not very clever, in that it's geek humour aimed at making fun of geeks to people who aren't geeks - which isn't very innovative. There are a few jokes that involve a bit of science but the main ones revolve around many things that the average non-geek knows about, and also enjoys making fun of geeks for - basic science, jokes about time travel, Dungeons and Dragons and Star Trek and stuff. I dropped all science studies in 11th grade and I get it.

They also need to lose the little segue which involoves seeing the Earth from outerspace with a funny whizzing sound - it interrupts continuity and makes it look like a skit show and just looks like they are trying to push more and more "Hey, this is a scence-y geek show!" WE KNOW!

It also uses all the basic geek stereotypes - geeks dress badly, talk in funny voices, are socially awkward and have trouble getting laid. But they desperately would love to. It's a little bit like the movie Weird Science - the geek sees the gorgeous girl, his hormones go crazy but he just can't figure out how a normal guy manages to get the girl. Oh to be the normal guy!

It's a pity from my point of view that no one ever paints a geek as either quite able to use his own geeky skills to get what he wants - even socially, or not getting a girl but not giving a shit. Damn you all, why do I care about women? I have my hobby telescope.

Of course that wouldn't be that funny to anyone to actually have a well-adjusted geek now would it - especially a well-adjusted geek and some socially inept jocks?

Now, there's this theory about canned laughter ...


Sunday, 16 August 2009

If junk food companies really cared about our health ...

I read an article in the paper today which was about how doctors had urged junk food companies to downsize the size of their portions, because larger portions contributed to obesity. If they didn't do so voluntarily, perhaps the govt should be forced to make them do so.

Some companies would do so, but then they would chop off ten percent of their chocolate bar and sell it to you for the same price as the original bar. Then customers felt ripped off. The manufacturers explained that ten percent reduction in price didn't really mean a reduction in cost to the manufacturer, which is why they don't change the price (The thing is, if it does mean the customers get pissed off and turn away, then it might be worth it to reduce the price just to keep the customers. Or you can have lots of choccie bars or no or smaller customer base).

Anyhow this is all very nice, junk food manufacturers caring for our health, but what would happen if they really cared for our health? I mean, like, what would they really do?

1. Warning labels on packaging

This huge Chocolate Bar will turn you into a giant socially unacceptable fatty boomsticks. If you are at all concerned about your health or your social status, drop this and go to the fruit and vege section. Have a nice day!

or more to the point;

I am made by a giant corporation that is headed by a big fat cat pocketing millions of dollars because of your ill-made decisions each time you buy these products. And the fat cat is laughing his ass off. Think again.

2. Exercise Regimes which burn off fat BEFORE you get to the chocolate bar!

Have the chocolate bar positioned on a shelf in the supermarket beneath treadmill. You aren't allowed to grab a chocolate bar unless you've done an hour of jogging. Is that clear?

3. Power-Testing Packaging

Plastic packaging on junk food so tight that you need to do muscle-building exercises at the gym just to get it off.

Actually, I think some companies have installed that idea already.

4. Specially repellent flavours

At one time every hated brussels sprouts, so perhaps brussels sprouts choccie is an idea. But really, what's so horrible about brussels sprouts? They're not too bad. I wouldn't mind a Brussels Sprouts Bar if there was one around. No, it's not repellent enough. You need to go a step or too further.

Chocolate bars that smell of farts
Dung flavoured chocolate bar (should be easy to make, they're both brown)
Boogie flavoured Bar
Cardboard flavoured Bar
Styrofoam flavoured Bar

After these have flooded the markets, it's a good chance people will go back to nice healthy Brussels Sprouts. The real thing, not the Bar.

5. I guess they could all just pack up shop, leave, or start selling fruit or seafood or jogging shoes or something but would that be too simple?

Could someone please explain Quidditch to me?

I was reading the paper about a week ago and some guy was writing in to complain about a poor game of football or something somewhere which really annoyed him. He was really annoyed because one team had won, they had scored only one try but they had got a conversion, I think some other points from things that were like whatevers, field goals or special kicks or whatever the terminology in this particular game was. I'm afraid I don't know too much about the game to explain.

The thing is, the other team had got more tries and LOST. I don't think the margin was great but they lost.

And it really annoyed the man and he thought it was a stupid game and really, it took all the fun out it and just was boring and not worth watching.

This brings me to the well-known Rowling-invented, Harry Potter game of Quidditch which I'm afraid I just don't understand and maybe someone can explain it to me.

Apparently it's a riveting game and everyone loves it, everyone magical that is, so there must be something to it, or could wizards and witches just have terrible taste?

But basically it involves two teams and and they beat balls into goals and get ten points per goal, with a defence goalies on each side too, that makes sense.

The bit that doesn't make sense is The Golden Snitch, which is worth 150 points of caught, and ends the game. Apparently it is the only thing that ends the game.

Now, given that the catching of The Golden Snitch is worth 15 goals, it makes sense that you have to get 16 goals to make it worth your team not catching the Snitch. That seems to me quite a few.

Here's some questions:

a) If you were a Beater, or in fact anyone other than a Seeker (the guy/gal who goes after the Golden Snitch), wouldn't you feel a bit useless on the team?
b) If you were the team Captain, wouldn't it make a lot of sense to spend more time just working out strategy that involved sabotaging the other team's Seeker's efforts so your team's Seeker could get to the Snitch fastest, rather than bothering with trying to score goals?
c) Since the Snitch is worth 150 points AND ends the game, not only does it make sense to make the Snitch a priority, but wouldn't it also make sense to work out some kind of signal system so that if your team is trailing by more than 150 points, your Seeker doesn't actually catch the Snitch, but instead puts his/her efforts into stopping the other Seeker from catching it? And that you only actually catch it when you are winning or are less than 150 points behind?

How come there are games when someone has caught the Snitch but they've lost anyway, you'd think professionals would do better than that!

I think I am really missing something. I would be very grateful if someone could explain what all the fuss about Quidditch was. Since the Seeker was so powerful in relation to everything else, disproportionately so, I felt it actually took away from the game. It lacked real suspense and drama.

At any rate I'm sorry but I could never get that excited about Quidditch, I guess I am too nerdy to even be really into sports :)

Accidentally turning your Child into a Question Time Monster

Sue Dunlevy wrote this article in the Daily Tele about the difficult issue facing parents on the issue of teen drinking. And I'm not talking about my precious orange juice either, which seems not to be nearly as controversial as I thought it was.

Parents didn't always want to let their kids drink alcohol, preferring them to stay on the wholesome sugar-not-alcohol infused options as long as possible. At least it just kept you up all night watching cartoons and dancing rather than spewing in the toilet. You got fat rather than dizzy on overdoses of juice, Coca Cola, and really big home made chocolate milk shakes.

Anyhow, keeping them off the juice - I mean the alcohol, which for some reason is often nicknamed juice - for as long as possible, was desirable to many, but it also meant possibly getting put down by your kids.

Ms Dunlevy said that none wanted to experience the withering put down Frances Abbott gave her father, Tony Abbott:

“What would you know, you’re a lame, gay, churchie loser,” Frances Abbott told her Dad when he offered her some advice.

"Clearly she is a young woman who has learnt her parental handling skills from watching Question Time." - wrote Ms Dunlevy

There, I think, Ms Dunlevy has a good point. What the heck are pollies thinking at Question Time - except maybe a bit of nostalgia from school years when they got to call others name and brawl a lot. "Mr Speaker" is just another name for "teacher"?

Politicians often have families and children. They're often mouthing off about family values and lamenting the lack of courtesy and respect in the community and in certain generations. Then they go and put on a great display in Question Time when they blast all that away.

OK, yes, sometimes it's funny, in the same way reality TV is funny, but basically it's also hypocritical, so if you really think about it, it's a matter of 'do as I say, not as I do' or mainly 'Yes, I lament the loss of certain things in our community and I believe that those values should be there in the community, but not for me, not at this time, because I'm privileged.'

That probably isn't an easy one to explain to some younger children and I would treat my Dad or Mum with quite a bit of contempt if I caught them at that contradiction. Maybe that's why Question Time is not on till quite late/early and isn't shown with kids' cartoons. Pollies' children cant' risk that their children might see it and ask 'awkward' questions.

Anyhow, honestly I wouldn't mind seeing Question Time being more civilised. I wonder what it would be like if people tried to conduct it in a more civilised manner. Would they have anything to say? I don't know that heckling adds that much to Question Time but is there much else to it and do they have much else? Maybe they would be stumped for words and end up walking out?

Most of the heckling seems to be name-calling, booing and yelling which seems quite inane to me, and childish, if there was some subtle mind and wordplay, clever humour and wit and interesting psychological manoeuvrings used, it would probably show some class. The fact that it seems to be "whose voice is louder" is a bit stupid. If they called it "REALITY TV: WHOSE VOICE IS LOUDER: WHO WILL LAST THE DISTANCE?" and played it with some judges' commentary over the top and a number to call for each politician, everyone would go on about how it was tacky and what a bunch of common no-talents they are. People probably still think that now, it's just the lack of a good phone no. and a catchy name and a "nasty judge" that keeps their mouths shut.

I wonder if they weren't heckling whether it's possible they would concentrate less on booing and trying to stave off booing, and more on trying to make intelligent, conscientious decisions about issues affecting the populace.

Or is that too much to ask?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

6 tiny cups of full cream milk in every 3rd of a cup ...

Mum has this problem at work - there aren't many employees, and that makes it difficult to have milk at work without it all going to waste. Specially as Mum only likes a small amount of milk in her tea, once a day, and the creamier the milk the less the amount. If it's the skim or Shape milk she can take a tiny more but if it's cream just the slightest, and it's the cream that you can generally buy a bit more flexibly in terms of amounts.

Anyhow, Mum hit on this idea to buy a crateful of 200 individual serves of milk. You know, those tiny little serves of milk which are sealed at the top and are in plastic containers. You have to buy minimum 200 at a time. Mum agreed to share them with the one other employee at the work - the boss just wasn't interested. by Mum's calculation, if they each had one tea/coffee per day, that would mean they'd all be gone by the expiry date, except 40 serves, which could account for the few days they might have two cups. Or they could risk wasting 40 tiny little serves.

Mum has three weeks to go and she has brought home a HUGE number of little containers. Apparently the other colleague hasn't been keeping his end of the deal too well, the little containers were too fiddly so he just went off and bought himself a coffee with milk all the time and stopped using the containers. Mum's carted home a big supply of milk and ordered us to try to use it up before the use by date. if we have a coffee or a tea, please use a container. Please.

But there's so much there it's a tough ask and dad got in trouble the other night for sticking milk from the bottle into his tea instead of that from the container.

Mum made some little cakes today and topped it up with milk from containers.

I had a third glass of milk today at lunch just for the heck of it and stuck in 6 tiny little sachets. What the heck.

Maybe we'll get through it. It just takes determination.

See, everyone, I don't have a life

I read an article in this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald called See everyone, I do have a life by Hilda Qiroga.

It was about the clutter and little trinkets and photos and things that people put on their desks at work - you know, plants, toys, photos. probably you have an assortment of stuff, whatever you choose.

Ms Qiroga went at length to discuss obvious favourites, such as pictures of loved ones and people posing with celebs or on holiday, and said looking at desk adornments said a lot about a person. "You will discover who they love, what they love, hobbies, political leanings, hopes and aspirations". Then she started to theorise why people do this - do they want to show off that they actually have a life to other colleagues? Or does it make them feel warm and fuzzy just to be near the things you love? And as she pointed out, whichever it is, it's standard practice to have stuff on your desk and you are meant to comment.

On the other hand there are people who choose not to decorate, and Ms Qiroga's tone seemed not to be nearly as 'nice' towards these! While they could be those who just are there to work, and she does theorise that perhaps these people work harder because they aren't distracted and only work - well, it didn't seem like this was something you should admire in them, from the way the article was written, but more like, who is this freak? But then, they aren't the norm, so I guess they would be a freak. She suggested that perhaps they live to work, perhaps they have no time to put up anything, or they have no life outside work. or maybe they are so smug they have no need to display 'annoying snaps' to people in the office. "So smug and self-confident are they, so private and mysterious, they have no need to reassure you that, yes I have a life".

(This leaves out those who might have a work policy against happy snaps. I don't know about any office that has a work policy which says you HAVE to have a goofy pic of yourself on the wall but that could be interesting.)

Anyhow, what type are you?

Personally, I'm one of the no-mess types, one of the freaks, but Ms Qiroga hasn't quite nailed my motivations. Yes, I prefer the lack of mess on the desk because it does get a bit in the way. Also I don't feel the need to show everyone pics of myself. I look terrible in photos anyhow, I don't travel and I don't have celebrities I've met. In fact I can't think of one interesting picture I have of me. I don't even like my graduation pictures. And I just think it's plain stupid to put your passport photo on the wall, it's like having a mug shot there.

One of the things that I don't like about pics and trinkets is a) people do start commenting on them and b) they start touching them. I have trinkets on my desk at home. I'm not too fond of the idea of bringing in something made of glass and somebody says "Hey this looks interesting" and picks it up and then whoops, they've dropped it and now you have shards all over your desk to clean up, and I'll bet you they don't pay for it either. And the fact that they start commenting on them isn't a huge plus to me because hey - see the post on jobs below - I took the personality test and I am a SIT IN THE HOLE AND DON'T DISTURB ME type.

My motivation is I'm an antisocial freak moreso than a smug and self-confident freak.

Other reasons I have never been eager to bring in stuff to work is:

a) paranoia that the cleaner would steal anything valuable
b) If you put all this stuff on your desk at work what it really means is you have to remove it all when you get sacked or resign which with me, is a good chance it will be within a few weeks. I keep it at home, I have had my own bedroom for years and it's less hassle. When I resigned from the last job it was a relief that I had very little to organise to move.
When my brother was made redundant from his last job they wouldn't even let him return to his job for security reasons so they cleaned his desk for him and returned by mail all what they considered to be 'personal belongings' - that is, stuffed them in an old cardboard box and got an Aussie Post Courier to dump them outside our house when noone was home. This included valuables like an iPhone. I find this pretty irresponsible and wouldn't want complete strangers doing that for me - just say they missed something nice or crapped it up?

antisocial, paranoid, and not very good at staying employed freak.

Anyhow, what that really says to me is "don't take anything to work and leave it there that you actually like". And then I think if I don't like it, why do I want it on my desk at all?

Then I end up with nothing, except a novel to read during lunch which I take home with me each day so I can keep reading it on the train and bus home.

Life Outside Work

By the way I guess I don't really try to convince anyone that I have a life outside work but I would say this is a lack of imagination rather than smugness. I tend to say "errrrh nothing really" when anyone says what have I been doing on the weekend. What do others do that's exceiting on weekends that's worth saying, does "Yes I had a most exciting weekend, I woke up on Saturday, read the paper, moved my bowels, searched the fridge for leftovers, searched every channel for something to eat, picked at the fridge again, had a shower, tried the fridge yet again, tried the papers again, played Solitaire for several hours ...." well you get the picture. that tends to be what some of my most exciting bummy weekends might end up sounding like.

Perhaps I should have some made up stories - you know those 'lies for the general good of everyone' tucked up my sleeve.

"Oh everyone, I had a smashing weekend! I had my first ride in a rocket ship, I discovered a new species on Venus, I'm naming it after my mother who inspired me to become an astronaut, on the way back we almost ran out of fuel but I was rescued by a very handsome creature from another galaxy who time-hopped into our Solar System and is actually several million years ahead of us time, and when I got back to Earth I decided to splurge on a facial, get a tattoo and start a new cult!"

I'd better have a few of those. The next one can be something about how I took over a small country and learned how to communicate with hamsters using nose-wiggles. Or something.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Alien and Ripley

I watched Alien the other day with Mr Coffee. Ellen Ripley was voted 9th on the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time List (compiled by Empire Magazine), the highest placing female on the list among only a handful of females, beating out Mary Poppins who trailed her in 20th position.

Basically, I thought Ellen was an ok character, but nothing to write home about. I wasn't that amazed by her and the guys who beat her out - Tyler Durden, Darth Vader, The Dark Knight, Han Solo, Hannibal Lecter, Indiana Jones, Captain Jack Sparrow etc deserved their position. I even think characters who didn't beat her such as Vito Corleone, James Bond, John McClane and yes, Mary Poppins, were more deserving.

Ellen's character was the typical gung ho person who starts off looking a little baby-faced and soft but then turns out to be a survivor. Kind of like Sarah Connor in the terminator Series except give me Sarah Connor any day. I thought she was better portrayed and the transformation was done better, and she had more of a sense of purpose, sometimes menace, and a bit of humour.

Female characters don't feature strongly on the list, not, I think, because, as some people mused, that women are incapable of portraying memorable characters or don't get meaty roles written for them. Or that Empire is basically sexist.

Some of those things might be true but I'd say the main thing is a trend that is evident in the voting: that voting on this list went in favour of action/adventure/sci-fi, and also you were more likely to get your face on the board if you were in a series or a set of sequels. People thought more of your character then. It seemed a lot of voters went "I liked that movie, what was the best character in it?" and voted, or "that character was really memorable as I've seen them in a series of movies" (which sticks in your mind more than one movie). Actions, adventures and sci-fi generally lend them more to a format of sequels, and tend to have stronger male characters in them, with a tendency to cater for more of a male audience.

Another way of thinking whether a character is good is to try to concentrate on the character regardless of whether the film was not that good - or not our favourite - and try to use criteria like whether the character was well-portrayed and evoked, and whether it was a great concept and did he/she stick in our mind, even if it was a one off film. For me many characters in comedies, romances, histories etc are characters like that. I personally would have voted in both Harry and Sally from When Harry Met Sally as fantastic characters.

Note that the listing is different for the Premiere magazine list, done in 2004 though.

Anyway, back to Alien.

At times I felt this movie was, errh, kind of boring. Maybe it's the passage of time but there was a lot of waiting around for things to happen and also a measure of predictability. I sat there thinking "Kane's going to spew a monster!" He didn't, it burst out of him but it was close enough for it to not be that exciting.

The scene here the black guy does was annoying me because he sacrificed himself for the woman who was too petrified to take the sacrifice as a good opportunity to save herself. his sacrifice was for nothing! That annoys me. At least one of them could have made it out of there and neither did. Oh damn!

Oh and that stooooopid cat! Please, I would have LIKED that alien to get the cat!

This is not meant to be a review but a vent.

To be fair, the movie is dated, like Ellen Ripley's hair. Sigourney Weaver does a fairly good job of transforming what seems to be an in-the-background Ripley to begin with to a force to be reckoned with, and does not miss out on the human touches. Unfortunately, that did mean going overboard with a cat. It's a cliche, now, having a silly pet that leads you to danger. I'm never quite sure why they have people on ships who would not breach quarantine to save their crewmate who's been attacked by an alien, who would watch their crew die, but would risk death to follow a ... cat and rescue it! And that always annoys me.

There is enough clang and action to make this still exciting towards the end, however I still feel it takes time to warm up and there are too many quite dull moments. It's amusing to watch the movie now and say "Ooooh, how young John Hurt and Sigourney Weaver look now!" but as the start is quite slow that's about all the fun you get for the first quite a few minutes.

The alien still looked pretty grotesque even now, to me - but heck, I am scared of everything. I felt it was a suitable amount of 'horror' - not gratuitous, but sent the message clearly and put more emphasis on the action, sci-fi and interaction (and breakdown) of the crewmates which is really how I prefer these movies to be constructed, rather than indulging in long shots of explicit damage to corpses and aliens eating up bodies and lots of blood and exposed organs, flesh, etc etc

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What's a Mouse's Unlucky Number?

Recently, we've been having a bit of a Mousy problem at our house. It started with my sister spotting a mouse in the kitchen. My Mum is deathly afraid of anything she classes as pests (cockroaches, snakes, lizards, mice, me) and has been petrified ever since.

Dad invested in a small mousetrap which did bugger all until we decided to haul in the big guns, and invest in the bigger, the more expensive trap.

Then we caught Mouse #1. We've naturally been sealing everything in the pantry and we always wash every piece of crockery and cutlery thoroughly before we eat from it, in case micey paws have been scampering across it.

Soon later, though, someone said they saw Mouse #2, and my Dad set a trap, and again we caught the second mouse.

It wasn't till a while later someone thought they saw Mouse #3, and just the other night, we caught him. Fat bastard, too, I think we've been feeding him too well.

Mum has been growing more and more upset, but we assured her that should be the end of it, till we were eating dinner last night and my brother said, "Hey, I saw a mouse!"

No my brother is known for his practical jokes, but I turned to look anyhow and I saw a mouse too, making a dash for the pantry, cheeky thing! And just when we'd caught his mousy mate the day before!

So we're after Mouse #4 now, and my mother got all mad and wanted to buy some new pest control gadget but Dad wouldn't let her. It's called Pestrol but it claims to drive pests out from their hiding places. It doesn't say anything about killing them.

"What happens if we drive them out and they get driven into tyour bedroom, will you like that?" he asked. "At least we know they fall for the mousetrap!" ... even if it is slow!

Unfortuantely, the mousetrap is a slow way of killing them, and we can't figure out how they get inor whether they're breding or they are sitting around in a mousy colony somewhere laughing their heads off. I hope their heads are rolling off, it might work for us.

I asked my Dad what Number Mouse he thought would be the last, what his lucky number was. "Lucky Number 5" he said. I'm glad his lucky number wasn't 7, 198 289 or something.

Anyone got some better ideas of how to get rid of mice. I don't have anything against mice per se - just against mice in the kitchen (or indeed anywhere in the house).

Dad doesn't want to use poison in case it poisons the humans as well - they're in our pantry among food and food equipment.

Any other ideas, folk?

(By the way we are using mousetraps with cheese. It's a boring cliche but it seems mice fall for boring cliches just as much as we humans do.)


My throat feels funny. My voice is strange. It sometimes sounds like Maria but then sometimes it goes growly and deep. I can't quite control it. It's all 'throaty'.

Either I'm getting a bit of a cold or I'm turning into a man.


I applied for a job yesterday, online.

I pressed the button the website and it led me to a form where I filled in a couple of basic details and then it said to submit my resume.

That's it. No personality test, no references, no academic transcript, no background check and no need for a drivelly cover letter where I go on predictably about my excellent communication skills, my love for working in a team, my ability to prioritise and multitask and handle high pressure environments and my ability to work BOTH independently and in a group and my great computer and office skills.

Now I should have been glad not to have to go through all that predictable crap per usual but for some reason without it I felt lost! I sat there for a few moments and thought "HEEEEEEEEEELP!"

Then I had to remind myself, "Hey, this is a good thing!" and remember to attach my resume and submit!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Ode to a Blank Keyboard!

TimT of WillTypeForFood fame was so moved by my blank keyboard dream that he penned a poem in honour of it, and I'm honoured to blog it, right here ... oh you've outdone yourself this time, TimT!

Did I dream? Did I work? Was I dreaming of work?

I sat down to type but the keyboard was bare.

The subconscious is really a bit of a jerk:

I searched for the letters: I searched everywhere.

I searched high and low; I searched here and there:

Was this a design fault? Some curious quirk?

The letters weren’t there. They weren’t anywhere –

Did I dream? Did I work? Was I dreaming of work?

Just what did it mean, this niggle, this irk?

I tried to start working, but I could just stare

Down into my mind, the dim, dark and mirk –

I sat down to type but the keyboard was bare.

I picked up the phone. I needed to share

My problem with IT. I spoke to a clerk

Who knew of my problem – was already aware.

The subconscious is really a bit of a jerk.

Just who was this clerk, and why did they lurk

In the gloomy dim depths of my cortex – somewhere?

Just to think of these questions could drive you berserk.

I searched for the letters. They weren’t anywhere.

And why dream of work, instead of some perk

Like chocolate or champagne? It just isn’t fair.

When I sit down to work, my mind often shirks

And daydreams of buttercups. Does it even care?

Did I dream? Did I work?

Who's to blame?

Every so often you hear the government telling people to get out there and get more enthusiastic about finding a job, and maybe don't be so picky, we all have to do our bit, we can't be so picky in these times blah blah. Of course they want us to do any old job, unemployment is bad for stats which reflect upon them.

And (certain) employed people often tell unemployed people to get off their butts and get cracking and find a job, any job, you can't wait around to find a dream job. (It's more rare for an unemployed person to go on like this to other unemployed people.)

But while the onus mainly falls on unemployed people to change the state of unemployment in Australia (that is, make unemployment lower, not greater), let's have a look at who else could be helping out here. I think we can point our finger at many who are just not helping and they aren't us unemployed people:

1. The employed, in fact the OVER-employed

Working hard? Earning good money? You disgust us. While you pontificate about how unemployed people should be getting jobs, every time you work overtime or multitask, think about how you are taking a job away from an innocent unemployed bum who could be earning a slice of your salary. Are you writing an email while talking on the phone and does it cut into your designated lunch break? Do you think about how to manage that project while you are pressing the buttons on the photocopier?

Shame on you.

2. Animals

There's always a whinge about how immigrants take the jobs of hardworking Australians, but what about animals who take the jobs of potentially hardworking humans?
Every time you train a horse, or get a guide dog, or run a rat through a maze, that's something a human could do. Probably pretty well, though maybe a little slower at first, and not look as cute. But we have to make allowances.

3. Employers and their silly, self-indulgent ads

Really, how about writing ads that actually sound attractive for once and say something about the job? So we can apply? I am very sick of reading an ad that's a page long and goes on about this globally recognised company and then when you get to the bottom of the ad you realise it said nothing about the job position. Damn, am I going for CEO or sandwich trolley lady? I wouldn't have a clue. Do I write about how darn cool I look in a suit and what fantastic leadership skills I have and how great I am at wooing Japanese businessmen, or how great I am with slapping turkey and lettuce between slices of rye?

It's a mystery.

Every time someone puts out one of these ads it's seriously a waste of time for the whole economy because unemployed people waste their time reading it and trying to figure it out, possibly waste their time writing a misguided application for it which gets nowhere, when they could have been applying for ones in line with their skills and getting a job.

4. Recruitment Agencies who put out Sham Ads

Frustrating and again a waste of people's time and money. You know who I'm talking about, Gemteq Executive.

5. Recruitment Websites/Agencies who File Ads Improperly (or their filters don't work)

It seems some people have worked the filters so their ad appears everywhere, and filters don't filter it out. So their luscious ad for being a Manager for Whoop Whoop company needing a degree in Engineering and five years experience, based in Perth appears even if you put on the filter NSW - Sydney - West and want only Media - Performance jobs or something.

Yeah, sure, you want your job out there, but the reason people put these filters on is because when they say Sydney, they are not interested in Perth. At ALL. So you're wasting your time, annoying people and making everyone's search slower and more difficult. Pains in the Asses.

6. People who don't yank the ad and the position has been filled 3 months ago.

I can forgive a delay of a couple of days, things are busy and your newbie has been occupying your time. But it is very annoying and another waste of time to have an ad sitting on a website (or anywhere) saying you want someone, and then you go to all the trouble of applying and find out that the position was filled - over a month ago. Thanks a lot.

Monday, 10 August 2009

These Ageist OLDIES are Really Getting Up My Nose!

Recently Kyle and Jackie O, 2Day FM Presenters, were hauled over the coals and then suspended from their show following a controversial incident involving questioning a 14-year-old girl on air about her sex life.

I'm not going to analyse that one. Plenty of others have already. It's enough to say that Kyle Sandilands especially has a pretty bad rep already so this incident didn't exactly do him any favours.

I read a whole lot of letters to the Editor in newspapers, mainly from people older than the teen and young twenties audience that 2Day FM targets, and the letters mainly condemned Kyle and Jackie O, calling them names like Vile and Tacky O (interestingly, the same handles that were used in the article several weeks ago by The Tele itself - who's impressionable?) and saying that they were disgusting, the world was better without them, but also saying things like Kyle got what he deserved and he only appealed to the "impressionable teen" audience, which really needed better guidance.

It's derogatory comments like this, written from the superior platform of older people to younger people, increasingly, that really annoy me. Sure, Kyle, appealed to younger people in general, but why because you don't like him suddenly lump all teens as "impressionable"?

There have been tacky, sensationalist and questionable presenters who have appealed to older markets. Mike Munro is well known for his style of trying to coerce tears from his interviewees (I met him and he thinks it's funny that some people think it's tacky, for him it's part of the job to get people going) to boost ratings. Alan Jones and John Laws were hauled over the coals for their dubious Cash for Comment involvement where the whole idea was to comment on products and impress their comments on their audience's mind (and the premise that this would work).

Yet no person from these generations, when these scandals came out and said, as I recall, "The presenters did it because they know as an age group that we are an impressionable lot" or something to that effect.

They are quite happy to tar teens with that brush, however.

Then I went to look up jobs and I found a job ad ... it said at the bottom:

No Agencies
No Gen Y Losers

Despite the fact that some might see this as a joke, and hopefully it comes out that way ... it again goes back to the age thing. Gen Y losers. What's the assumption here? That if you are from Gen Y you are a loser? That we would take an older person who is a loser, but if you are from Gen Y and a loser, sorry, goodbye?

Basically, there seems to be a perception that if you are of a certain age group you are more likely to generate certain loser-ish traits that you have to work harder to overcome, whereas the foibles of Gen X or Baby Boomers are acceptable. And let's face it, we've all got foibles.

And since Gen Y is directly linked to age, then this means that you could argue that if you are of a certain age and someone has these prejudices, you go into a job ion the back foot already. Someone is already thinking you are loser potential, and it colours what you say and do and how you learn and how you are treated, in a way they wouldn't think or treat you if you were 10 years older. Ba boom.

Anyhow, here's an article that I read today in Heckler. I don't quite get the author's argument. Firstly the author says we shouldn't give 16 year olds the vote. But then he goes on to say "Age isn't the best criterion by which to measure merit, maturity or voter eligibility."

OK, but certainly if you don't want to give 16 year olds the vote, you are endorsing age as some criterion, aren't you?

The author says that teenagers lack perspective, perspicacity and proficiency. That's an absolute statement he makes, rather than looking to the individual. Then he puts out a dubious test which filters who should vote (one which I assume would allow him to vote!) and also says that the state of his friend's 16 year old's bedroom leads him to believe that 16 year old's lack the organisational skills to choose a leader.

That's a great sample selection, by the way, mate.

The point here is not whether 16 year olds should vote or not or even whether voting rights should be conferred by something like age or a test like whether you know enough about the government.

The point here is the derogatory and stereotypical way in which teenagers are treated i the article. Assumptions are made - yes, the author does say he doesn't want to see idiots or non-knowledgeable vote, but then also jumps straight into saying that all teenagers as a necessity fall into that basket.

If one teenager's room is messy, then he casts all teenagers as being disorganised. I've seen junkyards of houses kept by thirty, forty, fifty year olds, and I'm sure many people in this age group would dislike the idea of saying "I've seen a my friend's forty-year-old daughter's place and it's a junkyard, I don't think forty year olds should get the vote." Not only would they think it's an insult but they'd say it didn't make any sense. People are different.

However when it comes to teenagers, many adults seem to have some idea that "you've seen one, you've seen them all".

It's like they don't have individuality or a soul.

But of course they do.

Are you ... no actually, I'm not?

One of my big problems with job ads is I take them very literally and I am too damn honest.

Honesty is supposed to be considered a good point with employers, that is, like don't steal from petty cash.

But you're not supposed to be too honest, like honest about what you really think about yourself, otherwise only the egomaniacs would have jobs out there, considering the way jobs are written.

Unfortuantely, I go through these weird dialogues in my head when I read job ads. Or maybe they should be called monologues because I am playing the job ad as well. (By the way my general lack of enthusiasm for writing job applications comes into play a lot here, I won't pretend that's not the case.)

Case #1

Do you have a PASSION FOR TAX and LAW ???

Ummm no. Who in their right mind does? Scratch that. Move on.

Case # 2

Good with numbers? Then ...

I think I found a number that didn't like me once. It was a thirty one. I said nice things to it and but it just didn't do anything I wanted. I don't know ...

Case # 3

Talented All-Rounder Wanted!

All around what?

Case #4

You must be a team player!

That reminds me of Mark who hated me on that fourth grade team, and the time I busted that group up at school, and how I didn't make the netball team, and fingerpainting in kindy when no one wanted me on their group because I wanted to do a red background, and how I prefer playing solitaire ...

I don't make the cut.

Case #5

Do you want to be part of our huge internationally respected firm?

(gulp) Actually I'd just like to know which firm it is, whether it's near a cheap sushi bar and a bus stop, whether the manager is a control freak or a nice persoon and whether there is a "free cookies" jar in the kitchen. Why are you hiding the important stuff? What is wrong with you. this is suspect. I don't care whether someone I don't know in Texas respects me. Why should I? Are you blabbering on about this irrelevant crap because you are hiding the fact that you supply those cheap black biros that never work to all your colleagues? I KNEW IT!!!!

Case #6

Must enjoy interacting with our large client base and working with colleagues!

Only if they aren't idiots, slackers, assholes, or arrogant bastards.

Case #7

Are you the FUN LOVING TYPE ???

I resent being called any type actually. Stop stereotyping me. It's demeaning. If I am fun-loving it's just because that's me not because I am a type. Don't insult me. Move on.

Case #8

If you're looking to build a career in law ...

I'm not looking to build a career in anything. I just want a job. Honestly, the thought of a career hasn't crossed my mind! One step at a time!

Case #9

Calling all PARRALEGALS!!!!!!!!!! Attention to Detail

Hahaha spelling mistake. Do they mean paralegals, or paralegals to work in Parramatta, or ... ho ho ho, I wouldn't work for such incompetents in a million years. maybe i should show them my attention to detail by sending them a copy of their ad with a big red circle around their "parralegals". Scratch them, move on.

Case #10

Are you flexible?

Let me see if I can still touch my toes. Damn!

Case #11

Cheerful, friendly graduates, we want you!

I haven't found a job yet. Not feeling too cheerful. Oh dear.

(Of course all this is just a really great procrastination technique, but it's never too early to begin procrastinating.)

Hell is a Blank Keyboard

This was last night's nightmare, folks.

I had a terrible dream last night that I started a new job (that wasn't the terrible bit but it could have been) and I had a blank keyboard. I mean, people, there were no letters or things on the keys. I decided to wing it and tried to type anyhow but I wasn't very good. I got madder at the keyboard and started pressing every bloody key combination harder and harder to no avail, faster and faster. No result!

Anyhow after very coolly making lots of mistakes and not knowing what the hell I was doing for about four hours I decided to cave in and ring tech and they said "MARIA! We've been waiting for you! Why haven't you called us earlier?"

I said, "How did you know I was going to call? By the way I've got this silly blank keyboard and it doesn't work and I don't know what keys do what ..."

They said, "Didn't you know that whenever you press one of the keys on those keyboards it automatically sends an email to tech saying "My keyboard is one of those blank ones that doesn't work, I will call you soon requesting a proper keyboard, please wait for my call?" We've been waiting all day for you to call!"

This is probably how tech at many workplaces works. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Flexible on the Job

Now I'm all for multiskilled lawyers. And being a paralegal comes with more than just legal research and court work and legal admin, sure.

I've been there and done that sort of thing. Made plenty of coffees, ordered food, written ads for wineries, even babysat for grandchildren. Flexibility on the job. All for it.

But now, out of work as I am, I searched MyCareer for a law job and limited my search to Legal - Law Clerks/Paralegals NSW, and here's one job ad that came up:

JUNIOR Lawnmowing. Must be fit, reliable & willing to work. 0417 249 309


That's a new one. I didn't take up Lawnmowing Law as my elective, but it's a possibility.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Review: The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose

Harriet Rose is no ordinary teenager. In fact, she doesn't even go to an ordinary school. I don't know of many high schools that have taught philosophy for three years, but then, I'm from Australia and this was set in England. The culture is different. I guess we do something like economic studies or drama or something instead.

This book has been compared to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and Bridget Jones' Diary. I'd say that's a bit of a stretch, except that the lead character is English and annoying. As the book opens, Harriet is a somewhat arrogant 14 year old whose father has died, and she has a claim on philosophical thought. She wants to give money to charity for her birthday, and she bounces around words like "metaphysical" and "epistemological".

Her Nana and mother decide to give her a special present - they publish for her a book of her philosophical thoughts in memory of her father, and suddenly she's a superstar author. There's also a subplot involving a romance with a cute French student, first year philosophy.

Now, the book wouldn't be so bad if Harriet wasn't so annoying. There are moments of humour but too many seem forced and Harriet can make you feel like you're being forced through them.

Why, then, do characters like Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones work so well, and they're equally if not more annoying? Adrian is more blinded, more arrogant and less personable than Harriet. Yet I laughed out loud with him and wanted more.

During the whole of Harriet's experience, I felt that the author, though pointing out Harriet's foibles, desperately wanted us to take Harriet's side. Despite the fact that Harriet was an idiot, she deserved the best, and we were urged to love her and feel sorry for her when things went wrong. One obvious device used here was Harriet's father's death. Others were her 'horrible' friend, and her 'mean' headmistress, and the unfailingly supportive family, but of course Harriet really deserves to get the guy, to win in the end. Doesn't she? Yet I felt like bashing her head in, often. And I didn't really think her philosophical ravings were that interesting.

The ending of the book is not bad, and I think is much better than what I expected. It lifts it up a few points. If you get a fair way in, even if it dulls off, i would suggest hanging in for the ending.

As many pointed out, this book is not well-placed as to what it wants to be. It is not like a Harry Potter or the Simpsons where people say it can be enjoyed on many levels. Instead, I think adults interested in philosophy will be sadly disappointed, adults who will understand the broad jokes will find the school references and adolescent humour difficult to relate to, and children may find the philosophical meditations a bit boring, and not quite get all those references. Perhaps for some older teenagers or some adults indulging in a bit of nostalgic teen reading. very much a book for the females.

If you aren't particularly sure and want a very good laugh, and characters blinded to their own foibles appeal to you, I would suggest reading any and all of Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole series rather than Harriet Rose. They are far superior in style and content, and commentary.

This all sounds pretty harsh on the author, Diana Janney, and in fairness, there are some nice bits of dialogue and some cute bits of humour, but altogether they didn't come together as smoothly as I like. There were some lively character depictions, especially that of Nana whom I felt I knew better than Harriet by the time the book was done. I felt that it was a good attempt but could have been put together better; I wouldn't dismiss this author at all. But i would not be rereading this book.

Harriet may be a philosopher, but she doesn't really open a window on the soul nor does she find much time for contemplation, and her book doesn't really make you care to contemplate either. She walks about with a T-shirt saying "Why?" but when I finished the book, I was not asking about the life, the Universe and everything.

I was wondering "why?" this book did I really pick up, and what will I pick up next.

I chose "The Harp in the South" by Ruth Park. I'm preferring it.

P.S. Before reading The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose by Diana Janney, I read a debut children's book called Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye. A very different book. it was an adventure fantasy involving talking mice. However all up I preferred Ms Janney's book.

A Resistible Post.

I was at the train station the other day and I found out I missed my train to the city and I would have to wait another 15 minutes for the next one.

Then a train arrived to travel in the opposite direction.

I had this resistible urge to catch it and travel in the wrong direction, just for the heck of it, just 'cos, hell, at least it turned up. Unlike the trains to the city.

I say resistible urge because, yeah, I resisted it. I stayed on the platform and hummed and hahed for 15 minutes or so till my city train turned up.

I think resistible urges are very much underrated. We hear about irresistible urges all the time, irresistible cravings, blah blah. Also the 'almost irresistible urges' which is actually just a category of resistible urge just they don't like to admit it. It's an image problem.

On the other hand, there are plenty of resistible urges out there, from the strong resistible urges which sometimes get called 'almost irresistible' because they can't bear to be called 'resistible, it's like someone saying they are 'almost achieving an acceptably smaller body size for me' or 'almost employed' instead of saying they're a plump bum,

... to the easily resistible urges, where you might have a small urge to do something but easily dismiss it which happens all the time especially when you realise that your urge was going to kill you like that urge to cross the road and then you see that a bus is about to turn the corner in front of you. Whoops. Or those mild tweaks as you walk down the street that say "hmm, it'd be nice to buy x" except you don't end up indulging in every single thing down the road, otherwise you might end up sampling about fifty kebabs, 100 cupcakes, 60 stale sandwiches and 40 types of sushi each morning.

Anyhow I think we should celebrate the resistible urge more. There is no reason to think that it holds less staus than the irresistible urge. They are urges of equal class, and one shoudldnot be given more rights than the other, or made to feel superior than the other. Recognise your resistible urges and be proud of them!

Monday, 3 August 2009

The silence is frustrating me

I don’t mind sitting in a car, or in a room, when the other person doesn’t talk or doesn’t make conversation. Some people find this unnerving or awkward but often, especially with someone you know well, it can be quite comfortable and pleasant. My mother feels the need to fill every silence with words. I don’t.

But what is really frustrating the heck out of me is the lack of output from the computer. Computers should have to give output. Even if that output is “Sorry, I have nothing to say on this topic.” It should be a rule. Otherwise, how do you know whether they’re sitting in quiet philosophical contemplation or whether you should return them for a warranty, or use the Maria-method (a good swift kick)?

I’m starting a computer course now, part-time, which is two subjects, Principles of Programming and Database Systems. The second is far better, maybe because we haven’t got any assignments to do from it yet. The first one is very annoying. I try to write commands in the system. Some are really easy and that is fun, like when you type in a command to see the date and it prints out today’s date. On the other hand I already know what today’s date is. But it would be very helpful if I had sudden amnesia and my computer date in the corner of my screen went haywire but I did remember the command prompt for the date. And of course it makes me feel smart, like I can do something right. So I tested that about seventy times before doing anything else, just for my ego.

Then we got our assignment, had to be done in less than two weeks, gosh almighty I spent several days trying to decipher the assignment.

I have four programs to write for an entirety of ten marks. That seems a bit stupid to me, it’s my first time writing a program and I can hardly do anything besides write “date” in a command prompt. And I am going to have to get my head around writing programs, and if I do only one it will be for a lousy 2.5 marks!

They are all mathematical puzzles where you have to find solutions, that is you have to get the computer to find solutions. So I start to write one of the programs and I am barely writing the first bit when I decide to check it to see if it is ok (like running a spell check only on a program) and it spits out at me 34 errors!

I didn’t know I had written 34 things.

It’s a real shame because I thought it had looked very cute.

After a while I thought I was getting the hang of things so I decided to see if any results could be found for the first part of the first puzzle. Only the first part, thank you.

Nothing. Blank. Caput.

Now, I think this is unfair. I don’t know if the computer is saying “there are no answers” or “you wrote this all wrong” or “I am having a deep thinking session about this interesting, nay, amazing dilemma you put before me” or “Gimme some time while I make myself a cocoa” or “Sod off, I hate this puzzle, I’m going to sulk”.

Computers should have to explain what their silence means. It should be a rule.

Because I sat there glaring at the blank screen, but then I found out, that nobody can out-stare like a computer can. They really win in the out-staring match. I gave up. I ended up sulking and making myself a big glass of Ribena.

This is so uncool.