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 enough. 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.
As someone that likes to build and fix things, there never seem to be enough tools in the shed; you find that you always need something that you don’t have. Now I do have plenty of hand tools and power tools that I’ve collected over the last 40 or so years, but I’ve always been lacking some tools that are very common in any handyman’s (that includes the handywoman’s) workshop. A drill press is one, but I’ve managed to do without so far, though thought long and hard about getting one. I’ve always had a vice, bench grinder and hand grinder, and another great tool is a linishing machine that I got after many years of putting up with the bench grinder, hand grinder and hand files. But everyone is most likely aware that these tools and similar are very handy and almost essential for the handyman’s toolchest, but there’s a another tool that I’ve found to be at times indispensable and less known.
I’ve posted previously that I love cooking and experimenting with different styles of food and cooking methods. Some can be simply quick and dirty meals for the sake of convenience and others are for real enjoyment and taste. I’ve also covered some of the utensils that I’ve had for some time when it comes to food preparation, but if there’s one thing that stands apart from all of these it would have to be what I actually use to cook my food. Now for some (many?) the latter is a microwave oven when preparing those delicious meals from packets and whatever, or it might involve a non-stick pot or pan. While our kitchen does have non-stick pots and pans, my favourite cooking implements are cast iron pots (camp ovens), pans, woks and similar. As far as I’m concerned, nothing beats cast iron.
When I was a kid and in later life, I used to be an avid reader of books and novels, especially science fiction as well as related non-fiction and such (I was always interested in science, technology and what the future might bring). But in my later years I haven’t been reading books much at all, as what I Iike to read is difficult to get hold of and my favourite authors no longer write (many having passed away). I now really enjoy my own writing (whether it’s good or bad) and reading and researching for things on the internet, which can take up a lot of time. On the other hand, my wife is an avid book worm and fills our book case (and other places) to overflowing, having to do a spring clean every so often to make space for new books, Most of what my wife reads comes from the local library, but she often picks up novels and books from the local market or op shop, which leads me to this story.