new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Nightmare Draws Closer

I'll say it up front. My worst political nightmare is Tony Abbott becoming Prime Minster of Australia. The current Prime Minister, and the man she replaced in a backstabbing party room coup,former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, will go head to head tomorrow in a leadership ballot which will determine whether Ms Gillard continues to lead the party and thus the nation, or whether K Rudd 2012 resumes control of the good ship Terra Australis.

Since the infamous betrayal of Kevin Rudd which was supposed to save the Labour Party and restore the confidence of the people in the federal government, the Australian Labour Party has continued to disappoint everyone but themselves, and their most ardent and severely vision impaired supporters. They have made the act of shooting oneself in the foot, an artform, and in the process delivered a wealth of material for the ultra negative, twister of truth, policy vacuum, leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott. He has been lapping it up and spitting it back in the government's face.

Julia Gillard is now less popular than Kevin Rudd was when his party dumped him as a leader. If you believe the annoyingly frequent polls, K Rudd 2012 has the backing of the people as preferred Prime Minister. If the polls are all that matter, and our politicians are merely populists then we are to be pitied. If we have an incompetent government, and a potentially worse alternative government waiting in the wings, then who can we blame but ourselves.

I expect so much more than I get from our political leaders.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Man the Dishwashers Boys!

Some people would wonder why I bother. Seriously. Even I wonder why sometimes but there are occasions in life when you simply have to stand up for what you believe in. Regardless of the cost, the potential ridicule and the likelihood that you efforts will be exactly like attempting to resist the Borg: futile.

The current television ad for Finish Powerball, that's dishwashing detergent not the lottery, offends me. There I said it. I find it so disturbing that I have written to the company to complain. The ad suggests that only women use dishwashers. That crowd of enthusiastic Finish supporters at the end of the ad is comprised solely of mums. No dads, no singles, although there may be a few single mums, just mums. However, mums are not the only ones who use dishwashers. Everyone in my family uses the dishwasher and I am solely responsible for the choice of dishwasher detergent. All I'm asking for is a little credit.A little respect.

I clean the shower but I've never seen a man cleaning a shower in an ad for some too-good-to-be-true cleaning product. I'd like to see them use that stuff on a real bathroom, an old one, a dirty one, instead of a showroom version, but I digress. Am I the only man who washes the shower? No way. Am I the only bloke who cooks and cleans? Fat chance. So where are the men in the ads doing the business with the toilet brush, or scrubbing, spraying, wiping, chopping, dicing and cooking(celebrity chefs aside)?

A recent survey showed that an increasing number of women are becoming the household breadwinners. Househusbands are on the increase. Is this really happening? Or are women doing even more than they have traditionally done, that is, just about everything, and men doing even less? Whether it be childcare or housework, shopping or cooking, I don't think it is at all unusual for men to share the load at home these days.

That's not what I'm seeing in advertising though. Advertising, which targets particular demographics with particular products, reinforces cultural stereotypes as it serves its master and searches for sales. To the companies who use these discriminatory ads to promote their goods and services, I say...beware the slighted househusband. Ignore us at your peril!

To my fellow househusbands, and all those men, who may eschew that title but nonetheless pull their weight at home, and do so willingly and modestly, and even enjoy it, I say...bravo. I love you all. Man the dishwasher boys!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I believe in thongs

I'm talking about footwear, not underwear.They are variously known as flip flops, plakkies, clam diggers, jandals, chinelos or go aheads,depending on where in the world you are. I believe that thongs are simple in design, comfortable to wear, convenient, generally inexpensive, and extremely popular.

They offer some degree of protection for the sole of the foot but are otherwise not a safe form of footwear. They don't come in steel capped versions, they don't block UV rays and if you step on a nail, you will know about it. They are comfortable to wear although the cheaper brands may cause extensive damage to the area between the big toe and its next door neighbour: at least until they are worn in.They keep the foot cool by not incarcerating it within leather or canvas, but anything that is going to fall or spill on your foot will hit the foot directly. They are easy to put on and remove, although under pressure, for example when running or climbing, they can remove themselves. Thongs are also renown for going M.I.A. Widely accepted in a plethora of casual situations and gatherings, they are frowned upon at formal engagements and in the workplace.

Everybody believes in something. We all have some religion or philosophy or code of ethics by which we live. We either inherited it from our parents, subscribed to it because it was cool at some stage, discovered it for ourselves, or assumed one by default. Nobody lives without a belief system of some kind. It might be mainstream religion, a cocktail of religious beliefs or a homespun philosophy. Whatever it's called, whatever it looks like, however it operates, it's influence is unmistakable and irresistible.

You could believe in thongs if you won't to because most religious/ethical beliefs and especially practices are not too dissimilar to thongs.Religion and ethics will provide some protection for your soul but they won't provide salvation. They are comfortable because they can be adjusted to suit your circumstances or your feelings. Ever heard of moral relativism or situational ethics? They allow plenty of freedom, the rules are flexible. They work in easy, casual circumstances but when faced with tragedy and suffering, they fall apart and leave you defenseless. They cost nothing at all, they make no demands on you, they don't force changes in your life or call you to sacrifice.

If you like the comfort zone where faith is cheap and undemanding, where you won't make waves by offending people, where you'll fit in, then design your own belief system. Take the bits you like from wherever you can find them, and build a religion that suits you. Personalize it. Never mind about the truth. You believe in thongs.