After 45 years of daily drinking (alcohol that is), I’ve suddenly stopped cold. Why? I don’t know, but first some history. When I started university in the early 70s, I was a residential student at Monash University and the orientation day involve the consumption of copious quantities of alcohol, all for free. Naturally I made full use of this and paid the penalty many hours later. It wasn’t the first time that I’d had alcohol, but it certainly was the first time that I’d had it in such a large quantity, at a continuous pace and in such a short period of time. I suspect that those days may well be over at universities, given the nature of today’s environment where all such things tend to be frowned upon and litigation just waiting around the corner. Were such orientation days appropriate? At the time I thought nothing of it and even today don’t have any issues with such activities, though I suspect many would frown upon such thoughts.
As I wrote in ‘The Nanny State‘ there seems to be a never ending push by government/s to control our lives, egged on by government funded entities (food Nazis) trying to make themselves relevant and justify their continued taxpayer funding. It hasn’t been completely government driven, as there are other groups pushing their own wheelbarrows filled with personal agendas, such as PETA, that wants everyone to become neurotic vegans and live in mutual misery. And given how they behave, it certainly appears to be a miserable life. However, a new entrant has entered the scene by way of The Lancet, who has now declared their own set of rules as to how the world (notably the western world) should, or must, live in order to save the planet from every perceived misery, including the mandatory climate-change baggage-carousel. These professional misery merchants seem to be appearing everywhere with the intent to force people into lifestyles these same misery merchants invariably never have to live themselves, given their positions of wealth.
My wife recently came home with a box of children’s books that she picked up from our local op shop; books dating back to the last century and ones that you’d likely never see published again (not in this lifetime anyway). Both of us find something enjoyable about these old books that come from a more innocent era when they were written with no offence intended, no double meanings and written for pure joy and entertainment. It was a time when boys could be boys and girls could be girls, living adventures that they found within these books when televisions were few and far between, mobile phones weren’t even imagined and computer games non-existent. I wrote about this some time ago and this collection of books made me revisit that story with a short update and some new thoughts.
Being a dog owner for nearly 40 years and having grown up with dogs since a toddler, one of the things that always amuses me are articles extolling the latest research where intrepid scientists breathlessly announce that their research shows that dogs are not very intelligent. Their view is that we are anthromorphising when we treat our dogs like furry kids and insist that they understand us emotionally as well vocally (or verbally). I’m pretty much convinced that these ‘scientists’ have never owned a dog (more likely a cat) and have some sort of aversion to dogs to come up with these sorts of ‘scientific’ results. Everyone that I know who owns a dogs, or has owned a dog, can tell stories of how their dog shows clear and unambiguous understanding of not just words, but of emotions, and can even anticipate the actions of their owners. Some of this may of course be a Pavlov’s Dog conditioning case, but in my view there’s a lot more to this than what many would admit.
The other day I received a comment (which I deleted) stating that my blog wasn’t compliant with Australian human rights legislation and that it wasn’t compatible with screenreaders (it certainly was with the ones that I’ve tested). What bothered me was the tone of the comment, an ostensibly threatening tone citing Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, rather than taking a conciliatory approach more clearly explaining the issues. That it came from a gmail account was warning. I suspected that this was a spam comment, though this one must have had a human behind it as it passed the CAPTCHA test. As it turns out, this was indeed another instance of spam, as it appears that it’s being sent to numerous other websites, with exactly the same wording, same name and apparently originates in the US. That’s by the by, as it does raise an interesting point and gave me an opportunity to investigate anti-discrimination legislation and discuss its real world applications and implications in our electronic age.
As the transgender debate rolls on and society comes to grips with the concept that men can be women and women can be men, and everything in between, the world of sports has also had to adjust to these new social norms. As a result, transgender men are increasingly featuring in all manner of competitive sports traditionally associated with people genetically disposed as women, up to and including the Olympics. Now the Olympics is the pinnacle of world sporting events, so lately there’s been an extra level of scrutiny and science applied when it comes to women who were traditionally men and wishing to enter the various competitions. However, that’s not the case with many other sporting events at lower levels of competition, so things can get a little difficult when it comes to sorting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. This has caused some consternation.
I can still remember a row of shops in Footscray, where I lived as a kid in the late 50s, early 60s, that had a milk bar, green grocer, butcher, fish and chip shop, newsagent etc. Everything that the family needed was walking distance away and I can’t remember a single supermarket back in those days. I do remember the Footscray markets where we often went to get stuff that wasn’t available in our local Australian shops. The Footscray markets back in those days was predominantly run by Italian migrants, before the Greeks took over and then the Vietnamese, who still appeared to have a strong presence. But a fire in Dec 2016 gutted the market, though as with everything, it now looks like becoming housing. I can’t even remember the first supermarket that arrived in our area or where, but over the decades, the big two supermarkets Coles and Woolworths (nee Safeway) and then 711, slowly destroyed every single corner shop, be it a milk bar, green grocer or butcher in Melbourne.
I visit a variety of science and technical websites each day/week just to find out what’s going on around the world in science and technology (a habit brought about by my last job before semi-retiring) and I just like science and technology. There’s a particular website that I check on daily and it struck me one day how ridiculous (or perhaps bleeding obvious) are some of the headlines that are presented in the website. There’s an entire group of specialists such as physicists, chemists, biologists etc that specialise in various areas of research and scientific endeavour and then there seems to be an amorphous group of people called ‘scientists’ that do everything else. It kind of led me to think of changing the headlines to see how much better they would read and also be far more catchy than what is currently bland and in no way informative. Obviously this is completely irreverent, but as I’ve noted before, sometimes I think you need to take the Micky out of stuffy organisations and the like. I’m not going to add any text to this story, but just show some screen shots of what has caught my eye, replaced with a minor wording change.
When we moved into our rural abode seven years ago, the place wasn’t in too bad a shape, but there were some things that beggared belief and, to this day, I can’t understand how these things passed council approval, if they ever did. The veranda was one aspect (which I still haven’t quite finished), but vastly more significant was the retaining wall along our front driveway. Absolutely no building regulations could have been followed with this pretend retaining wall and the fact that there had been no serious accident (as far as I know) prior to us moving in, is amazing. That retaining wall was constructed of 200mm x 50mm treated-pine sleepers with no concrete foundations, but simply a few 200mm x 50mm sleepers pushed into the ground to hold it up, with a horridly narrow dog-leg in the driveway to make things even more dangerous. I was truly fearful that a car would go too close to the edge and roll over into the not too minor drop below. That was the first thing that needed to be repaired and many thanks to Rob from Evison Concreting and Chris from C&D Earthworks for a great job in fixing this abomination (and for letting me observe and learn something new).
As should be evident to anyone that’s been reading my blog, I love cooking, whether it’s at home, in the bush or even eating out and watching someone else cook. I’m always looking for different ways to make meals enjoyable as well as easy to prepare, so I often watch various food shows on TV and will watch the Food channel on SBS quite frequently. It’s not that I watch all the shows, there are some that I simply dislike, with baking shows being my least favourite. And what person created Cup Cake Wars? I also don’t like pretentious food shows where the host/s use obscure or difficult to source ingredients that require far more skill to prepare than indicated. And I generally dislike any food show that involves competition. I used to enjoy the latter, up to a point, but My Kitchen Rules killed that pleasure after around the third show with their ever increasing emphasis on personality fights rather than cooking. Imagine how pleasant a show it could be if it pitted contestants in good-natured competition.