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?