Thoughts filed in: Humour

A blood pledge to never vote for Tony Abbott

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This is a pledge in blood this man will go.
This is a pledge in blood this man will go.

Two weeks ago, the Gillard government succeeded in passing legislation for a new carbon tax through the lower house of the Australian federal parliament. Shortly after, opposition leader Tony Abbott made a "pledge in blood", promising that: "We will repeal the tax, we can repeal the tax, we must repeal the tax".

The passing of the carbon tax bill represents a concerted effort spanning at least ten years, made possible by the hard work and the sacrifice of numerous Australians (at all levels, including at the very top). Australia is the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emitter in the developed world. We need climate change legislation enactment urgently, and this bill represents a huge step towards that endeavour.

I don't usually publish direct political commentary here. Nor do I usually name and shame. But I feel compelled to make an exception in this case. For me, Tony Abbott's response to the carbon tax can only possibly be addressed in one way. He leaves us with no option. If this man has sworn to repeal the good work that has flourished of late, then the solution is simple. Tony Abbott must never lead this country. The consequences of his ascension to power would be, in a nutshell, diabolical.

So, join me in making a blood pledge to never vote for Tony Abbott.

Geeks vs hippies

The duel to end them all. Who shall prevail?
The duel to end them all. Who shall prevail?

Geeks. The socially awkward, oft-misunderstood tech wizzes that are taking over the world. And hippies. The tree-huggin', peace-n-lovin' ragtags that are trying to save the world, one spliff at a time.

I've long considered myself to be a member of both these particular minority groups, to some extent. I'm undoubtedly quite a serious case of geek; and I also possess strong hippie leanings, at the least. And I don't believe I'm alone, either. Nay — the Geekius Hippius is, in fact, a more common species than you might at first think.

I present here a light-hearted comparison of these two breeds. Needless to say, readers be warned: this article contains high level stereotyping.

Kosher and the Land that G-d forgot

Per the laws of kashrut, the Jewish religion prohibits the consumption of meat from many animals and birds. Islam's laws of halal enact very similar prohibitions.

Australia and New Zealand are two countries located very far from the Middle East, the home of Judaism and Islam. Their native wildlife is completely different to that found anywhere else in the world. Of course, since European settlement began, they've been thoroughly introduced to the fauna of the wider world. Indeed, these two countries are today famous for being home to some of the world's largest sheep and cattle populations.

However, let's put aside the present-day situation for now, and take ourselves back in time a thousand or so years. Artificial transcontinental animal transportation has not yet begun. The world's animals still live in the regions that G-d ordained for them to live in. G-d has peppered almost every corner of the globe with at least some variety of kosher birds and mammals. Every major world region, bar one.

My fellow Aussies and Kiwis, I'm afraid the verdict is clear: we are living in the Land that G-d forgot.

On and off

English is a language bursting with ambiguity and double meanings. But the words "on" and "off" would have to be two of the worst offenders. I was thinking about words that foreign-language speakers would surely find particularly hard to master, when learning to speak English. And I couldn't go past these two. From the most basic meaning of the words, which relates to position — e.g. "the book is on the table", and "the plane is off the ground" — "on" and "off" have been overloaded more thoroughly than an Indian freight train.

Non-Shelbyville Sydney map

A work colleague of mine recently made a colourful remark to someone. "You live in [boring outer suburb]?", she gasped. "That's so Shelbyville!" Interesting term, "Shelbyville". Otherwise known as "the 'burbs", or "not where the hip-hop folks live". Got me thinking. Where in Sydney is a trendy place for young 20-somethings to live, and where is Shelbyville?

I've lived in Sydney all my life. I've almost always lived quite squarely in Shelbyville myself. However, since the age of 18, I've gotten to know most of the popular nightlife haunts pretty well. And since entering the world of student share-houses, I've also become pretty familiar with the city's accommodation hotspots. So, having this background, and being a fan of online mapping funkiness, I decided to sit down and make a map of the trendiest spots in Sydney to live and play.

Map of non-Shelbyville Sydney
Map of non-Shelbyville Sydney

The Net, ten years ago

Internet access is available anywhere these days — even on tropical islands in south-east Asia. Several weeks ago, I was on the island of Ko Tao in southern Thailand. Myself and several of my mates were discussing our views on the price of Internet usage. Most of us were in agreement that the standard Ko Tao rate of 2 baht per minute (about AUD$5 per hour) — which was standard across all of the island's many caf├ęs — was exhorbitant, unacceptable and unjustifiable. One bloke, however, had visited the island ten years previously. He thought that the rate was completely fair — as he remembered that ten years earlier, the entire island had boasted only a single place offering access; and that back then, they were charging 60B/min! Nowadays, the standard rate in most parts of Thailand is about ½B/min, or even ¼B/min if you know where to look. This massive price difference got me thinking about what else regarding the 'Net has changed between 1998 and 2008. And the answer is: heck, what hasn't?

Room to swing a cat

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There are plenty of weird proverbs in the English language, but this one would have to be among the weirdest. Seriously, who swings cats? How does someone know that there's no room to swing a cat? Have they tried? Join me as I seek the answer to these and other questions.