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Showing posts from December, 2017

The Inexplicable

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I meant to end the year on a funny note. I mean, funny as in humorous, not funny peculiar or funny as in the kid in the choir finds his voice suddenly breaking, something a childhood spent watching The Brady Bunch led me to believe happened a lot more in real life than it actually does.

But last night I found out someone died, and it occurred to me that I've gotten used to the weird feeling when someone dies. It's definitely the worst thing that's happened for me this year.
Death has been kind of drifting around in the past year and a bit. My confirmation sponsor, a long time friend of the family, died of a sudden heart attack on holiday in New Zealand. That was horrible and sad, and I realise now that 59 is really fucking young to die, but it's...somehow you can place it in the course of life events. It's dreadful, but believable.
The others...I can't even begin to understand.
There was Cindy, who was in my year at school when I transferred to the local high s…

Spoiling non fiction for everyone

Sad to see the last episode of the First Tuesday Bookclub on the ABC but I've now got years worth of books I've seen on the show, thought "Mmm, I'll have to check that out" then never actually done so to get through, so that's nice*. I've long given up even trying to be current, but Jennifer Byrne assured me that I'm ahead of the curve in one regard: it is the year of non-fiction, judging that two of the best sellers in 2017 were The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck and The Barefoot Investor.

I admit it is a little dispiriting that those best sellers are a leftover from Oprah's Living Your Best Life Self Help series repackaged with a hot orange cover and "edgy" title, or investment advice from a guy who predicted in 2011 that the house prices were going to start falling. There is however a tonne of fascinating and readable non-fiction out there - if us lovers of fact weren't constantly reminded that someone else had read it first. It&…

A safe bet the IPA are dangerous idiots

An astonishing 76% of non-casino poker machines in the world are in Australia, a it was revealed this week. What was even more astonishing was the reaction of the IPA to calls for a ban. It's not so surprising that the far right/libertarian IPA are against a ban, but what was weird and creepy here was the logic of IPA policy director and former Young Liberals president Simon Breheny:

“Yes, it might mean it solves the pokie problem, but it doesn’t give them the tools they need to solve the issues that might come up in their life down the track,” he said. “You’ve got to give people the mental tools to manage those risks themselves.”

Apparently the billions of dollars poured into poker machines each year is a valuable learning experience and if we take them away people will never learn to sort their own problems out.

Of course problem gambling using poker machines disproportionately affects older people and those from socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Maybe what they need is m…

Toxic masculinity makes me want to stay fat

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It's been so long since I started this blog, back then Mark Latham seemed like a hopeful choice for Australia's future, if you wanted a new ringtone you'd SMS Jamster Mobile for $4.95, Kim Kardashian was only on her first marriage and besides you'd never even heard of her, and I was thin. Really, really thin. It couldn't last though.

As an author, Nick Hornby is brilliant at bringing the stagnant corners of the human psyche to a humorous light, but he gets it way wrong in classic angst tale High Fidelity when he says ageing from 25 to 35 is not life's most fattening journey. I'm sorry if you've not fully crossed that threshold of life yet, but yes it is. Youthful metabolisms slump to a crawl, social (or regular) smoking habits are abandoned, exercise routines (and sex lives) get pushed aside in the service of mortgages and small children, and the next thing you know, you wake up one morning and you're a fat bastard. A 35 year old fat bastard.

Add i…