Thursday, 25 August 2011

Odd things I don't like

Do you have certain things in life that just rub you the wrong way? Even if it's not exactly rational? Words, numbers, animals, people, social norms, etc, etc? Here are some of mine:

Prime numbers - stupid, non-conformist numbers that don't look good on anything. I secretly hated turning 23 and was so relieved to make it to 24. 29 coming up in the next few year though. Yikes.

Sloths - possibly the creepiest, slow-moving, alien creature on planet Earth. Why don't they have an obvious head shape? It just looks like an extension of their neck. And wolverine-style claws? I'm so glad I can't accidentally come across them in Australia.

Sticky date pudding - looks chocolately, smells chocolately, but isn't. Disappointing on all levels.

Bureaucracy - "Excuse me, you need to re-do this form, you signed slightly outside the box". Get out of my life, please.

The term 'preggers' - As in "Did you hear that Jodi is preggers?" Please don't cheapen the situation by using such a tacky word to describe it.

'Parents with Prams' special carparks - I hesitate at this one because not having a child myself I can hardly judge how difficult it is to cart kids around a shopping centre. But the pram is on wheels and provides a handy place to hold heavy shopping items. Unlike me with my hands dropping off walking 10 kilometres to my car. I'd rather see the priority parks go to the elderly or disabled.

The 5-day working / 2 days off standard week - So much for work-life-balance.

Being asked to give money as a wedding/engagement gift - Getting married? Here's a cash prize. Seriously though, it feels sterile, boring and unthoughtful. Let people be creative!

What rubs you the wrong way?

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Pointless Products We Think We Need

We are an all-consuming society. But some products are just useless and unnecessary, but are marketed as if we need them. We don't.

Dettol No-touch Hand Wash System
The ad for this product claims that there are millions of evil Hitler germs left on normal soap pumps and this system prevents the spreading of germs by eliminating the need to touch the pump. But wait a minute! Isn't the purpose of hand wash to clean your hands anyway? So after you touch the soap pump, you literally wash your hands of any germs transferred onto your hands anyway. Dettol targets the clean-freak psychos of society with this one.

Bottled Water
In the first world, where tap water is hygienic and completely drinkable, bottled water is an unnecessary and expensive product. People will readily complain about the cost of petrol, but currently petrol is a mere $1.50 a litre in comparison to $2.50 for 600ml of bottled water. Yet people still buy it. Maybe because it gives them the false sense of health superiority over the others who buy sugared drinks with their lunch. "That's right everyone, I'm health conscious and drink bottled water". Too bad they don't realise they're being rorted out of their money for something that's free out of the tap.

Internet Fridge
Ok, so most people saw through this monstrosity. Not sure where they connected the concept of a fridge and the internet. Steve Jobs must have had a good ole laugh at this one. Excuse me while I lie comfortably on my lounge with my $600 iPad while you stand in the kitchen and browse the internet on your $15,000 fridge. Enough said.

3D Television
If 3D television did what you see in the picture above, I'd be impressed. Unfortunately for this so-called 'revolutionary' television experience, all you get are the images sitting a couple of inches off the screen. People seem to forget that we actually view television in 3D anyway. When you watch a film, you're not seeing an old Super Mario-style 2D picture. You can see depth. When 3D television starts making me duck out of the way of explosions on screen, then they can call it 3D. In the meantime, the current technology is just a gimmick.

Does anyone have any other examples of products that are just unnecessary?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Why religion and politics don't mix

Illustration: Reg Lynch

Last week, Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic Party in Australia wrote this drivel about his campaign to remove the option of ethics classes in New South Wales' schools.

Quick background for those unaware:
  • NSW state (and apparently secular) schools have religious education classes to teach, more times than not, Christian beliefs and the bible.
  • If parents wish for their children not to participate, up until 2010, it was prohibited for the children to receive any instruction while they did not attend scripture. 
  • Due to popular demand, a draft curriculum for an ethics-based class as an alternative to religious education was prepared and trialled in late 2010. 
  • State Premier Barry O'Farrell made an pre-election promise to keep the ethics classes and since then Fred Nile has used his parliament voting powers to threaten to block O'Farrell's legislation moves unless he scraps the classes.

The option of an alternative to scripture in secular schools makes so much sense, I can't see how anyone could oppose it. If anything, in secular public schools, ethics classes should be the norm and religion classes optional, not the other way around. Or even the study of all major religions in an informative and educational way, not in a factual and converting way. Parents have the option of sending their children to religious schooling if they want or attending church in their own time. This should not be the role of the public school system, particularly in a multicultural country such as Australia.

Some quotes from Fred Nile's on the subject:
"I have not sought to blackmail the NSW government. I simply reminded them: before they reject my Ethics Repeal Bill, they should remember they need our votes to pass their controversial industrial relations legislation." - possibly the best definition of blackmail I've ever heard. 
"I agree with the teaching of ethics in NSW schools, colleges and universities, provided it is based on history's greatest teacher of ethics, the Lord Jesus Christ." - excuse me while I vomit into my lap.
Now, this is not an anti-religious post. Fred Nile and everyone else has every right to practice whichever religion they like. However, his role in politics isn't to indoctrinate every child into his chosen faith by banning all other educational options other than scripture. Even representatives within the Catholic and Anglican churches have backed the option of ethics classes.

He has even gone on to say that secular ethics is the philosophy that lead to Nazism and WWII and is therefore 'dangerous' for our children. Wow . . . way to throw the hardest, most irrelevant card on the table for sake of shock value and scare tactics. We all know what you're up to here Fred. You don't want possible converts being 'wasted' in ethics classes when they could be on the path of Christian enlightenment.

I think these actions from Fred Nile demonstrate the need for ethics classes for our young people, so the next generation don't end up just like him.
"So kids, imagine you are a politician who wants to pass an unpopular bill through parliament. What would be the most ethical way to approach the problem? Yes, Johnny?"
"Um,  threaten to withdraw support for another bill until everyone votes for yours?"
"Hmm . . . . " 
Last week, 11 year old Charlie Fine, a public school student, explained his sentiments over the drama in this article and gave some insight into what the ethics classes involve. I encourage everyone to read it.