Explaining the term ‘defunct’…

…to a kid. Objects that everyone thought would be amazing, and dominate the industry. And then became obsolete. All of these share one thing in common – they’re all hopelessly over-engineered.

Mini disc

Lexcen winged skateboard

Applicator tampons (I believe you can still buy these)

Standby, more to come……

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Heat

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To understand Australia and Australians, one must understand heat. Heat is more than just a temperature range. Heat is a cultural regime. There are right ways to talk about heat, right ways to understand what it means to be really hot.

I’ve now lived in Australia for a long, long time, in Sydney, Newcastle and the south coast (of NSW). Here are some random observations about heat.

There are two types of hot – Normal and Hot Days.

Normal heat is just that – everyday, regular heat. People sleep under cotton honeycomb blankets – the type New Zealanders only ever experience in hospital. By 10am it’s pretty hot and probably time for a swim if we’re being honest. If you haven’t gotten shit done by 11 it’s not going to happen. 4pm is when people start emerging again, falling into the ocean for a swim or surf and then home for cold beers and multiple cucumbers. This heat is sometimes referred to as ‘disgusting’ or ‘revolting’.

Also, night-time temperatures become an issue – they’re even reported in the news – because if kids aren’t sleeping, no-one’s sleeping. This feeds into the pervasive, slightly sexist cult of the suburban family, which is something else I’ve noticed in Australia. There is a lot of talk about family and kids here. I’ll perhaps look into that another day.

Generally though, life carries on as normal. People go to work, kids play in the playground, dogs lie around and pant. Only the greetings change, from, ‘Morning’ or ‘How’s it’ or Gidday’ to ‘Warm enough?’.

Hot Days, on the other hand, are fairly rare. Anything upwards of 40c is actually hot. People remember how many Hot Days there are every summer. This is our second summer without any ‘Hot Days’ (so far). The summer before last, however, we had three or four Hot Days.

People also remember what happened on those days. Examples include;

– The top of the avocado sacrificed all its upper leaves

– there was a bushfire up behind XYZ

– James’ new girlfriend made him mow the lawn in the middle of the afternoon, because her parents were coming for Christmas, and he spent the next three days close to death.

– The thrust bearing on the Pajero let go somewhere near Braidwood (Braidwood’s climate oscillates between Cryogenic Death and Anvil Of Sun. Best avoided under any conditions).

– Auntie Michelle went into labour

I remember one particular Christmas/New Years in Newcastle when the temperature got to 47 a couple of days in a row. We drove to the beach with ice packs under our armpits, worrying that the car would catastrophically overheat (it didn’t). A fire broke out behind Newcastle, and we bobbed up and down in the waters of Stockton beach, with about a thousand other people, wondering whether the dirty orange glow had consumed our houses.

There’s a kind of dull panic that sets in around 40 degrees. The streets go quiet. Blinds go down. Animals and birds fall silent. People start checking the ‘Fires Near Me’ app. Plants shrivel and tomatoes literally cook on the vine.

In coastal NSW, days above 40 are fairly rare. This is because the main cause of hotness – westerly winds bringing heat straight from the desert, is usually kept in check but the coastal sea breezes that relegate it to the unmentionable western suburbs. Sometimes, though, the flow is strong enough to push the heat through to the coast.

The other type of real heat is homegrown – simply a lack of air movement. Sydney especially suffers from this, the heat island effect cooks the city from the ground up.

Every used car in Australia smells like B.O. All of them. People sweat openly, they stand in the post office or supermarket, the perspiration pouring off their chins and down the back of their calves. Everything slows down. Sometimes there are flies. And when there are flies, they are everywhere – on your face, climbing up your nose. Babies hate them.

For me, it’s not hot until I feel that first bead of sweat running down my belly.

I like the heat. I chose to live in Australia, and I knew what I was getting into. Now, where’s my beer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

We never had water like this under a Labor government.

We’re currently experiencing a king tide.
This morning ABC radio interviewed a meteorologist about the rising water levels.
“Yes, it’s about the distance from the sun. So we should be seeing the water recede nearer the end of the week. There’ll most likely be some water dropping into the weekend”.
Most likely? Should be? Ahhh, this isn’t actually meteorology.

Is 2018 The Year of the Mandal?

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It’s holidays, and we’re in the midst of the annual migration of well-laundered baby boomer men. They’re at The Beach, enjoying Leisure with their Family.

At a certain age, men wriggle out of the last vestiges of their adult form and return to a pre-pubescent larval stage. They begin to wear children’s velcro sandals.

Initially scientists assumed this was due to the Mandal’s superior level of comfort and versatility, however this theory was quickly disproved. Unlike children’s velcro sandals that roughly follow the child’s footprint, Mandals extend at least three centimetres beyond the toes, providing a large footbed that frequently trips the wearer, compounding the their lack of proprioception due to chronically swollen feet. Congestive heart failure is a tricksy beast.

Initially it was assumed the wearer had simply purchased a sandal that was too large – exhibiting the boomer’s deep and unremitting fear of any level of discomfort, no matter how minor, in everyday life. However, closer inspection reveals that the Mandal is in fact designed to extend out the front of the foot. The sizing is correct.

Perhaps the explanation is cultural; the large, frontal extension resembles the suburban verandah? Or maybe it serves to maximise one’s footprint, a literal expression of the baby boomers moral purpose? Perhaps it is a boomer expression of ethnic identity, referencing a nostalgic time when Australia was cleanly divided into skippies and wogs. Australians of southern European extraction would not be seen dead in velcro fucking sandals.

The only threat to the Mandal is the burgeoning trend of NormCore, where hipsters are busily inverting the inherent ugliness of 90s Boomer-Dad-fashion. If you can’t buy their houses, gently mock their footwear.  Take that!

Errant rubbish

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Radio National is being gutted, apparently. And frankly, if yesterday’s lunchtime sample is anything to go by, perhaps a filleting might do it the world of good.

Yesterday I heard The World Today’s ‘story’ on Australians who are spending $555 million on ‘useless study’. Apparently many students obtain qualifications they don’t use when they leave university.

We were treated to the damning example of the person with a degree in tourism who then got an entry level tourism job. We were told;

‘The boss is unhappy because the employee lacks everyday customer service skills and the employee is unhappy because their degree, which covered things like management and policy) is unused’.

The interviewer, Linda Mottram responded with the theatrical gravitas of a home shopping presenter,

“How much would you expect to pay for this useless education?” she shrieks. “What’s the cost?” sotto voce – to the taxpayer

Perhaps if Ms Mottram had undertaken a useless degree in journalism, she would have instead asked questions like;

 – What is the time frame on deeming a qualification useless? How many of those with ‘useless’ qualifications go on to use them later?

 – Does the tourism grad expect to start working in the industry at a lower level, and work their way up, therefore using their degree later? 

 – If the tourism graduate is short on customer service training, how does this negate the value of their other tourism qualifications?  One thing does not lead to another, or as we simpering morons without extensive customer service training would say, this is a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy

 – If a student forgoes their tourism degree for a qualification in customer service, and then ends up running the company, do you deem their original qualification useless? 

 – You said that employers were using a bachelor’s degree as a ‘filter’, choosing candidates who had a degree. It seems to me that if a degree makes you more likely to get a job it doesn’t fit well with the definition of ‘useless’. Or are you saying that employers are so stupid they need to be told who to employ?

 – How did you judge useless? If, for instance, the student develops self discipline, or perhaps basic literacy during the course of their degree, is this deemed ‘useless’ to their entry level position? 

 –  Let’s talk about the broader context. SkillsIQ is a government research body. The Liberal government actively supports private training organisations which provide ‘skills training’ in areas like customer service (ingratiating servitude), or using a cloth and breathing at the same time. How do you respond to the claim that this is simply another example of the government attempting to undermine the university sector in favour of their well-heeled donors, the private training sector? 

And finally, perhaps the most important question;

 – Given that the university sector is currently under pressure to limit the amount of the everything it currently offers that isn’t Vice Chancellor’s reimbursements, can you tell us how this isn’t just some made-up, bullshit study intended to appeal to Liberal voting Murray and Janice who always knew that young people’s degrees were useless and students would be better off just working hard like they did in the 1970s, and also aren’t young people annoying and full of themselves?

These are just a few of the gaping holes in the four minute interview. How on earth Radio National can be considered a serious broadcaster beggars belief.

 

Tidbits

Every day I find out something astonishing and new at the moment.

To wit;

– Sheryl Sandberg’s husband died after losing his balance and hitting his head whilst using a treadmill in Mexico (Lean Out)

– It’s impossible to find out background levels of lithium in Australian groundwater/drinking water.

– Olivia Newton-John’s husband faked his own death and then turned up 12 years later in Mexico, apparently

– Jackie Lambie believe that she isn’t eligible for British citizenship because her father came from Britain to Australia as a child. Good luck with that, love.

– There’s now a shingles vaccine, despite the fact that having shingles doesn’t render you immune from getting shingles again – because you never actually ‘get rid’ of the virus itself.

Racism for some but not others

This morning the ABC had a cracking good joke – an English woman rang in and told a hilarious story about how her son, who is married to a Kiwi and lives in New Zealand came across a car crash in which the two occupants of the car were critically injured. When the son opened the door the critically injured driver (tee hee wait for it) kept asking about his pit rit. Guffaw! Critically injured!

The announcer sounded a bit tired at this point.

Oh yes, she continued, he actually meant his pet rat! It was loose in the car and caused the crash in which the two people were critically injured! Hilarious!

Imagine if someone called the ABC and told the same joke about an Indian with a funny accent. Or a muslim.

I’m not particularly fazed by the NZ jokes thing – aggressive nationalism will always be mocked – it’s bloody good sport. However, I think it’s worth noting that this English lady obviously thought she was in good company, slagging off the New Zealanders. There was something quite smug about it. Or perhaps this is lateral violence, where the Poms can only take so much before they pass it on.