28 June 2010

Lateralist Relocation

The threat to move to Canada is one of those things that people like to espouse when disappointed with his or her nation. It's a fine threat, but not one that I'd like to see attain any greater prominence in Australia.

The threat to move to Canada really ought be left to Americans. Should we in Oz feel sufficiently dissatisfied with things at home, then our flight of fancy should see us en route to Antarctica. It is far more appropriate geographically, and would certainly indicate to all and sundry that we are seriously bothered about something.

The only other option I can see is even more extreme, and one which ought to be left unuttered for all but the most serious of grievances; namely, the threat to up stumps and make for New Zealand. Mind you, I don't know if I believe that things here could ever get that bad. Call me an optimist, but that's just the way I am.

Cold Weather and Gobal Warming - A Lateralist Connection

It's been quite ridiculously cold in Perth these last few mornings. Frost on the ground. Frost on Windows. Frost on pets and duvets, for crying out loud. And I've been finding it hard (well, easy suffused with irony) to reconcile the rather overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming dangerously, with the tinkling sound emanating from underneath all of the brass monkeys in the vicinity of the metropolitan area.

And I've come the following conclusion: any speculation regarding climate change ought to be made illegal for anyone stupid enough to try and establish a connection between a shift in the entire planet's weather patterns with a short burst of unusual conditions.

It is a simple enough trap - we live on the earth, and therefore assume we understand it. It's actually more logical to deduce, from having a body, that one understands medicine. (That is, overwhelmingly not very.) It is the deferential "science" of personal experience, rather than quantifiable evidence. It is fundamental to our various senses of self that firsthand experience equates to knowledge, understanding, and even wisdom, and it is axiomatic in our modern age that other people are either stupid, or have an agenda of some kind with which they are trying to screw us. In an age where scientific specialisation is inherently necessary to better understand our world on an increasingly complex level, such illogical deductions are unhelpful to the point of being harmful.

We need to get comfortable with the idea that other people know more than we do about a great, great many things. That's hard enough, but that's only half of it: we also need to trust in the intentions of other people. Why? Because the survival of any society - never mind a global one - requires some degree of cohesion and co-operation. It would be a shame if mistrust turned out to be the secondary cause of environmental disaster.

To that end, it is hereby decreed that ill-informed opinions ought to be - if not banned outright - at least not considered to be of equal value to those which have been shaped by decades of objective research. If we can't come to accept that there is a quantifiably different degree of intrinsic worth between these two perspectives, then frankly, our species is in trouble.

Now if you'll excuse me, the cat needs defrosting.

24 June 2010

Lateralist Politics - A Division of Self

Earlier today, the co-founder of this site posted a blog which - I can only assume - had its origins in the rather extraordinary political events that unfolded in Canberra earlier today. (We talk often, but our relationship is hardly telepathic. The only thing about which I know he is thinking is in regard to his fervent wish that one day soon, he may legally be able to ride his scooter.)

I don't blame him for posting, and I don't disagree with him, either. Up to a point. To put it more laterally, I partly agree with him. And that pretty much cuts to the chase of this particular blog. Mind you, that's not what I'm about to do, quite just yet.

Today was an incredible day for Australian politics. It was an incredible day for Labor supporters, too - of which I am one - but I hardly think that partisan politics should be the singular lens through which today's events are viewed. The circumstances may not be ideal with regards to one's ideal vision of history, but nothing should detract from the fact that after more than a century, a woman is Prime Minister of Australia. To any one who thinks this is anything other than wonderful news, I cordially invite them to join us in the twenty-first century, just as soon as they learn to walk without dragging their knuckles.

That a change of national leader can occur without the direct input of the entire nation would be cause for concern if it were not actually cause for celebration. Our system of goverment, whilst all too inevitably reduced to a cult of personality, is actually a system of Party, rather than personage. We choose to elect a particular group of people to run our Governments, not a single figure. The group of people we elect subsequently get to choose who gets to lead them. If one has issues with the process that has recently occurred, then their gripe is surely with those who drafted our consitution, rather than with those who enacted its rights. And really, those same disgruntled souls - if they are students of history - have had more than enough precedent upon which they could have acted by now.

Given that we have a Prime Minister, rather than a President, that which has occurred - whilst exceptional - is hardly abnormal, let alone unconstitutional. What's actually of more interest are the factors that lead to the demise of - at least for a short time - of one of Australia's most popular leaders.

When Kevin Rudd was elected in November, 2007, I was elated. I made no attempt whatsoever to hide the fact from the friends of mine who happened to be over the night he was swept to power. (It was coincidentally the night on which I celebrated my birthday.) Other than ridding Australia of a large number of unnecessary firearms, there was nothing about John Howard that I could stand. I, like many others, pinned considerable hopes upon the Premiership of Kevin Rudd.

I now wonder if, from the outset, we hoped for too much. In little over two years, he achieved some great things. (And if you don't think saying sorry to the Stolen Generations was a great thing, please don't whine when I set fire to your Australian Flag; because, after all, symbols don't matter.) He also navigated through the GFC, and via his intensive focus on matters global, enhanced Australia's position on the world stage. But he had a worrying habit of alienating people whilst he did these things. Always loquacious, the eloquence he displayed during the campaigns - and early in his term - quickly gave way to terse verbosity. The man of the people - in his fervent desire to get on with working for them - seemed not to have time for them. At least, not in the opinion of the media. And once he lost them, he was, to quote a great Australian film-maker, Warren Perso, a shot bird.

And so, he's been ousted. I genuinely do not believe that an Australian Prime Minister has ever been held to a higher standard. I'm not sure it's a sky-high moral standard to which he's been held, but that's small potatoes, really, now that he's been replaced. The fact is, though, now matter how much his detractors may carp, no one in their right mind could call Rudd corrupt or lazy. Those from the other side of the aisle might call him misguided or irresponsible - as is their right - but then exercising the right to govern as one sees fit is a right that comes with the new postal address, and in fact, not to excercise that right is to fail to govern at all. And anyone who thinks Rudd failed to give it his best shot is either blind or stupid, as far as I'm concerned.

But the Labor Government will press on, and the electorate will decide which Party - and yes, which leader - it wants in charge of things. And it is here that I differ somewhat from my colleague. I do believe there is a divide between Labor and Liberal; and that divide is ideological. It is not the traditional divider, but one that is even more profound; it is a divide between optimism and pessimism.

I've lived on this earth for long enough for young people to call me old, so I've got enough years under my belt to say with some authority that I'm yet to meet a person who considers themselves a Liberal supporter who doesn't fit the stock-standard definition of a pessimist, a cynic or a would-be elitist. (Some hide it well, but it's always there.) Liberal voters expect the worst of people, and think the best approach is to try and guard against their version of the world going to hell in a hand-cart by undermining the most suspect people in society; namely, the disenfranchised. They speak glowingly of the restorative (if not inspirational) powers of the free market, without giving a moment's pause to consider the contradiction in the term. It is a edict of self, and those who espouse it are all the poorer for doing so.

In contrast, the Labor side of politics still has the ability to put ideals back into ideology; which is far, far harder than espousing the rhetoric of ruination. Tony Abbott has mastered the negative sound-bite. He's the bitterest fortune cookie you'd could ever have the misfortune of picking. An irony, given Rudd's incomprehensible statements of hope, expressed in grammatically perfect Mandarin. (Abbott probably eats them - mandarins, not fortune cookies - prior to donning the smugglers - or maybe shoves a couple in the smugglers - but that's about it, I'd reckon.)

It may sound like I'm suggesting that the Labor side of things is perfect, but I'm not. The sooner Labor manages to break free of Unionist influence, the better. But that's a fight from within, not from without. And we'll win it, too. Why? Because I say so. And that's the crux of this post and its title; optimism and pessimism extist as potential drives within all of us at all times. I choose to believe. All genuine ideology loses traction in the mire of reality, but you choose to keep going, or you don't. To quit should be to forfeit the right to complain, but instead, it's called the Liberal Party in its present state. To expect anything else than for there to be struggle between dream and reality is to forgoe ideals for delusion.

There is, I believe, a desire to move forward with progressive (rather than regressive) change that is embodied by the Left of politics that has always - and will always - elude the Right. (The Labor/Green debate is for a different blog, but I'll get there one day.) I have always seen Labor as the Party of Attack, and Liberal as the Party of Pre-Emptive Strike. And if you understand the difference, then chances are, we'll get along. Frankly, I don't have the energy to devote to living my life with the kind of paranoid, defensive, insular, wowserish, coin-obsessed despair it seems to take to be a Liberal loon. And I never curse when I blog, but thank I FUCK for that.

And to that end, I raise a glass to the Kevin Rudd and say, I'm sorry things ended this way, but I am proud of the dignity with which you've departed. And I hope you stick around. Some choices you made still rankle - ETS flip = WFT? - but you had a red-hot crack, and I defy anyone to say they could have done better.

To Ms Gillard, I proudly toast you, our new Prime Minister, and I offer the hope that you and Mr Rudd can work together. If you can demonstrate to the Australian people that in spite of some destabilising bumps along the road that you can cohere for the good of the Government and the nation, then you are the living embodiment of a consititution that all too readily gets barely acknowledged.

Gillard noted on the 7:30 Report - to Kerry O'Brien's amusement - that today was a great day for redheads. She'd been PM for six hours.

Let's give this woman a chance.

Is this it?

There was time when I thought the Sydney v Melbourne argument was the most inane in Australia. It's not. Without question, the most inane argument in Australia (and yes, I include Holden v Ford in the pantheon of Great Australian Arguments(TM)) is what is loosely referred to as the Australian political system and the Labor v Liberal divide specifically. Yes, you can vote Green but in the words of Kang (or Kodos); "Go ahead, throw your vote away."

I lean to the left, you already know this. Lean?; Christ, I've nailed my feet there, but in Australian politics there is no left. And while I can appreciate liberalism as a philosophical/political standpoint, liberalism in Australia doesn't exist. And it sure as hell doesn't exist in the Liberal Party; not by a long shot.

The problem with Australian politics is that the two parties occupy the same point on the political spectrum. Its the football equivalent of two players stading nose to nose, goading the other to "have a go", each safe in the knowledge that the other guy is too scared to do just that and get rubbed out. The result is that if you're to the left of that point you vote Labor, to the right, Liberal, or you decide whether you look forward or look backwards. It also creates the impression of choice and, indeed, differences between the two parties, but in reality you're voting for either side of the same coin.

As a result of the above, I vote for the party who's leader, were I to point him or her out to a foreign friend unfamiliar with Australia, is least likely to embarrass me to admit it. On that basis alone, I can't possibly vote for the Liberal party but I lament that whether or not that party is sucessful at the next election is not a descision that is entirely mine alone to make (would to God that it were). That being the case and in light of the Labor ructions overnight, if they get up at the next election I swear to God I'm moving to Canada.

19 June 2010

The Vuvuzela - A Lateralist Plan

I'd like to make it clear from the outset that I'm a big fan of the vuvuzela, if for no other reason than it brings some much-needed attention to the fact that we in Australia don't name things very well. I mean, don't get me wrong; the term "witch's hat" is pretty cool in its own way, but it'd never occur to us to give a slightly conical plastic tube such a snazzy handle. We have some work to do in this area.

But the real reason I love it is because I love the sound it makes. There's only one thing wrong with it. It's just not loud enough.

Why? I'll tell you why. The three people I've heard complain most vociferously about the noise vuvuzelas make have one thing in common; they are all English. You know, it says something about the wit and aural appeal of your average crowd of English sports fans that a mob of African people blowing raspberries through a plastic pipe makes a better sound. The English hate it because it drowns them out. I am so very, very happy to know this. Why? Because I can use it to drive them mad? Not half. I can use it to drive them into the sea...

Next time the barmy army descend on Australia for the Ashes, I'm going to ensure that we in Australia are ready for them. By giving everyone in Australia a vuvuzela? No, dear reader; that would be unethical. The vuvuzela is an African icon, and there it shall stay. Instead, I offer you the bone-shaking power of ... wait for it ... the didgeridoo.

Just imagine it. Imagine rocking up the MCG for the opening session of the Boxing Day test. You're the English opening batsman. You're a bit nervous, but knowing that there are about five thousand drunken, sunburned lunatics - specially imported - that will chant like cult-members for the next five days to give you their support helps take the edge off things. So you stride out to bat. But what do you hear? Not the barmy f*cking army. No! You hear a roar of noise like nothing you've ever heard in your life. There are NINETY THOUSAND people - all painted in the Aboriginal colours of black, red and yellow - each blowing as hard as they can into their didgeridoo. Just imagine it!

A humming, thundering, bass rumble, the likes of which the world has never heard. The hallowed stadium would need structural reinforcement. There would be tsunami warnings going off on every island in the Pacific Ocean. The sound would split the earth and raise the dead. The poor English batman would soil himself and run screaming back to the change room. With any luck, such would the rush to depart take hold, he and his barmy army would run to the beach, throw themselves in the water and swim their way back to England. Just imagine it!

We have a great power at our disposal, people. Let's use it well. And be warned, naysayers; if the mighty didgeridoo fellowship have to come round to your house and convince you of the merits of our plan, you'll find out what the so-called "brown note" really sounds like.

Thank you, Africa, for your love of the vuvuzela. You've awakened a sleeping giant. The world will rumble. Australia will rise...

Crowded House - Intriguer (A Lateralist Review)

I once posted a review (of sorts) to a film (Kick Ass) on this site, noting at the time that this is not a site ostensibly for reviews. I stand by that assertion, but will set it aside once more to offer my thoughts on the new album by Crowded House; the intriguingly titled, Intriguer.

It is an exceptionally fine album. Neil Finn is unarguably one of the finest songwriters of his generation, and any album that he releases -whether solo, with his brother or as a part of Crowded House - is given considerable scrutiny. It is perhaps this latter category that receives the most glaring attention, given the high regard in which the Crowded House legacy (ie discography) is held.

Finn's decision to reactivate the band following the suicide of drummer and founding member, Paul Hester, certainly raised some eyebrows. It had been ten years since the band had held their glorious swansong performance on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. That concert seared itself into the minds of many people around Australia, and indeed, the world. It was one hell of a way to end things, and any attempts to reactivate the band could really do little but detract from such an apt and epic conclusion. But if it was Finn's decision to dissolve the band, then it was certainly always going to be his decision to reform it. And whilst the Crowdies still remained an essential proposition when performing live, their first album post-reformation, Time on Earth, was somewhat of a mixed blessing. It was not the joyous return to form for which many had hoped; but given the album's tortured genesis (the death of Hester), it was perhaps a flawed hope that the album would be anything other than a trifle maudlin. But the new album, Intriguer, is the album that should more than satisfy anyone who considers themselves a musical devotee. It is a ten-song set that gets better every time it is played.

Lyrically, Finn is as obtuse as ever, and musically, he is actually getting better. (Which is a little frightening.) He's always been a master of the unexpectedly delightful pop hook - whereby the musical and the musically surreal take a dangerously exhilarating twist before one's ears, but rarely has he packed quite so many twists and turns into a single album. I think this is perhaps why some (only some) of the initial reviews I've read have been a little lukewarm; the album is actually quite overwhelming (which strangely sounds underwhelming) on first listen. But trust me, after about half a dozen spins, you'd wonder what on earth was wrong with your hearing when you first played the thing. The album's musical colours simply fizz with that energised blend of Beatlesque whimsy and psychedelic introspection that have always been present in Finn's music.

The album's production is as intriguing as its songs. There is an awful lot of music - layers and layers of it - on each of these songs. Listen carefully, and instrument after instrument suddenly leap forward from the mix. As such, it album initially seems to lack the coherent sound of album like Woodface or Together Alone, but after a while, you realise that it does. It's just that it's a sound that's all its own, whilst still being unquestionably a Crowded House album. And this is as it should be; every album any band releases should re-define what one understands the sound of that band to be. In this regard, Finn and his co-producer Jim Scott are to be commended.

I could spend an age noting the twists and turns of each song, but I'll refrain from doing so. Instead, I'll simply state that they are uniformly excellent. Whilst all eventually reveal their charms, 'Twice If You're Lucky' is more immediately apparent as one of Finn's finest ever songs, with its soaring chorus (lyrically and musically) and surging middle eight. 'Archer's Arrows' possesses one of those chord changes that only someone in full command of their song-writerly craft would even attempt. Finn has often been compared to Paul McCartney, and the influence of McCartney in his writing has always been clear. But on this album, I think the influence of Lennon is equally signficant; there are edges to these songs. Listen to the twists in 'Amsterdam' and 'Falling Dove' in particular, if you want to get a sense of what I mean.

More than anything else, this is clearly the work of a band. Finn is to be commended for so decisively returning Crowded House to the richly rewarding musical path they trod so purposefully on their first incarnation, and he is to be further commended for resisting the urge to re-tread that path. To borrow from the lyric of sixth song, 'Isolation', he's still striving for the "epic unknown". God bless him for that.

I sincerly hope that if you read this review, you'll go out out and buy it. And buy the album on a disc; don't download the bloody thing. And once you get it, listen to it at least a dozen times over the course of a week. That's the (rather flimsy) lateralist plea contained herein; listen carefully, and be prepared to let the songs go to work on you. Trust me, you'll be all the better for it.

Cheers, Neil and fellow Crowdies. Bloody great album.

10 June 2010

Lateralist Planning - An Alehouse Bluprint

On the Sunday just passed, I walked to my local pub (see "coaster" blog for clarification) for a few afternoon pints with my good friend, who happens to be the co-founder of this site. That we walked there had nothing to do with his inability to legally ride a scooter. It had more to do with my inability to illegally ride a hypothetical scooter.

As we walked the short and pleasant walk to the pub, he remarked that walking to a pub is one of life's simple pleasures. How right he was. The day in question was not only sunny and warm, but it was sunny and warm on the Sunday of a long weekend, which is a confluence of almost divine proportions. And on the way there, we observed one of nature's wonders; the resident eccentric. A man of indeterminate middle-age sitting on what would have been his if porch he'd had one - and was instead the footpath - drinking a beer, and listening to surprisingly loud music blaring from inside his house. Accompanied by his dog, which was (appropriately) a blue heeler. A short walk to beer, and a chap living his own personal dream as a topic for conversation. Life seemed pretty damn fine.

And the thought occurred that embedded in our sojourn was a possibility for societal reform too exciting not to share. It is hereby proposed that no house anywhere in Perth ought to be built that is more than fifteen minutes walking distance from a pub or tavern. Why? I'll tell you why.

The community watering hole isn't the focus of local communities, but it should be. We are not so evolved as a society to have transcended the tipple, but a simple, social drink is all too socially inaccessible. The demise of "the local" has meant that people either simply drink at home or the homes of friends, or they pile into taxis - which is hardly cheap - and make their way to pubs for beers in suburbs miles from where they live. And if it's going to cost them upwards of forty bucks just to get there and back - assuming they're not stupid or lazy enough to drink and drive - they decide that they might as well make a quality night of it, and drink themselves into oblivion. A shame.

Part of the means by which a society like ours can move to a genuine drinking culture from the shambles of the drunken culture that we currently endure is to make drinking - and I mean a few drinks, not a bender - seem normal. A social drink is sustainable in every sense of the word: the body can sustain it, relationships can sustain it, and the planet can sustain it. I mean, it's certainly better to walk to the pub than burn fossil fuels on route to a hotel.

In fact, it makes further sense that not only should there be local pubs, there should be many more local breweries. Local beers are an unquestioned part of life in countries like Vietnam. In Hanoi, one has Bia Hoi. In Lao Cai, one has Beer Cai. Why on earth shouldn't I be able to get Victoria Park Lager in Victoria Park? It is an even greater shame.

For there to be a physical community in any place, the term "local" needs to mean something. So let's start with beer and pubs. I can walk to mine in about fourteen minutes. If they had a brew with my suburb's name on it, I'd start walking there right now. Well, that could happen anyway, I guess. But for a VP Lager, I reckon I'd be there in ten.

Lateral Trophies

I was reading an article on the New York Times website recently, and spied an article that detailed the winner of this season's Stanley Cup, which, for the uninitiated, is for ice hockey. To be more accurate, though, I didn't spy the article as much as a bloke holding a preposterously large trophy above his head. It really was stupidly large and shiny. About half the team could have stripped off, dived in and bathed in the damn thing. Mind you, I reckon they'd have contracted silver poisoning by the time they climbed out.

Consider in comparison, the trophy (if you can call it that) known as "The Ashes". It is a tiny scrap of ceramic that holds a teaspoon of dust. Now that's a trophy. It is the kind of trophy all sports should have. It is hereby proposed that no sport be allowed to have a trophy that fails to comply to the following set of criteria:
  • It can be held with one hand;
  • It can be completely hidden from view with two hands;
  • It must not cost more than ten Australian dollars to make;
  • It cannot be made of metal, unless the metal is tin;
  • Ideally, it ought not look like a trophy at all, but rather should look like, perhaps, a plate, letter-box, watering can or secateurs (all very small, of course);
  • It could actually be a plate, letter-box, watering can or secateurs (all very small, of course);
  • It must be of a quality that someone's Grandfather could make - after suffering a stroke; and
  • It must contain dust, sand, soil or some such that possesses high symbolic value but no material value.
I've had it with sportsmen hoisting gold-plated water tanks above their heads. It's time for a bit of modesty.

With one exception. The World Cup (the real one, not the cricket, rugby or table-tennis varieties) can stand. It counts for something.

06 June 2010

Emblems - A Lateralist Investigation

It's been a very nice morning. Blue skies, warm sun, no work. Day two of a three-day weekend. Ripping stuff.

My wife and I were enjoying breakfast (me, poached eggs; her, a bizarre, mexican-themed omelette which smelled preposterously good) in our courtyard. Knowing my penchant for quizzes, she offered to read me the one she'd come across whilst leafing through the Sunday Times. Had I known it was a quiz that focused solely on Western Australia - after all, it is the Foundation Day long weekend - I'd probably have declined. (For no real reason other than churlishness.) And if I had, I'd have failed to stumble across something rather interesting.

The quiz moved through the standard fare of Governors and Premiers, the odd ship-wreck, a few token women and absolutely no indigenous mentions at all. (It was the Sunday Times, after all.) All this rather dry history soon gave way to the bulk of the quiz; sport. Whilst I'm sure there will be some written complaints from the Cable estate (nary a mention of the good - as opposed to the once-red-and-white-now-red-and-blue "big bad" variety of Barries), it was a good selection. The one about locally born Brownlow winners had me racking my brains. (There are six, by the way.)

And there were a few animal questions, for the kids, just to round things out. A question about WA's floral emblem. Fine. A question about our faunal emblem. Fine. A question about our bird emblem. Also faunal, so a bit of a double-up, but fine. A question about our fossil emblem. Pardon?

Yep, we have a fossil emblem. I wondered, when had this happened? Did Aboriginal Australians have a faunal emblem that has subsequently long ceased to be? Or did we decide at some point that we needed an emblem of an ex-beast in order to give our state crest a few extra teeth? I was intrigued to say the least.

And it got me thinking about who gets to come up with this stuff. I mean, if fossils get a guernsey, why can't emblem-selection be a little more lateral? I'd like to nominate the bunyip as our mythical emblem. Heck, why does an emblem need to be something that pertains to life in some way? I reckon granite would make a pretty fine rock emblem, the dumper a redoubtable choice for wave emblem, the hammock a natural choice for furniture emblem, and, of course, the iconic (and largely undrinkable) Emu Export as our lager emblem.

It's a simple enough lateral proposal; if it exists of a type, it needs an emblem henceforth. Modesty prevents me from nominating this humble site as our blog emblem, but feel free to sing its praises of your own volition. I'm mentally designing our creast already.

And if you were wondering, our fossil emblem is the gogo fish. Which I guess should be re-named the gonegone fish. But there you go. I'm going to find a picture, and get me a t-shirt made. After all, you've got to support these things, don't you?

Yep, you sure do.

05 June 2010

Coaster Evolution - A Lateralist Plea

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a beer with a friend of mine at what is effectively my local pub. I don't really go there often enough for it to qualify as a local, but there isn't a pub I frequent more often than this one, so it's a good a venue as any to apply such a familiar epithet.

It's an older suburban pub, with a relaxed vibe. It's not the kind of venue one would generally consider pretentious. So, it was with some degree of surprise that when it was my turn to purchase the pints, that I observed something strange going on with the coasters.

It has become the norm for a coaster to be provided with one's beverage. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps bar surfaces are becoming more delicate, and that there is a malt-based form of erosion to which jarrah and/or polished concrete are particularly susceptible. And I'm yet to work out which is the preferred of the two possible results, whereby the coaster either remains inert on the bar once you remove your drink, or it affixes itself to your beverage and follows you back to your table, albiet usually only for about two-thirds of the journey.

Given than I don't think anyone knows which of these two rather feeble and pointless options is the preferred, it seems that someone has decided to iniate an alternative arrangement. It's lateral in intent, if not inspiration; the coaster is merely leant against one's glass, rather than placed under it. The mind boggles.

I mean, this certainly circumvents the problem of the coaster detaching itself from your drink on route back to your table. It also prevents it from being any use whatsoever. An item that previously served no useful purpose has incredibly become less useful. Extraordinary.

To that end, it is hereby proposed that coasters be abolished. They are landfill before their time.

If this idea seems a little churlish, or insufficiently lateral, then try this one instead. I'd like to see coasters stuffed inside one's glass, if they must exist at all. With any luck, the degree of perplexed fury experienced by beer-drinkers nati0n wide - and their subsequent retaliations - will soon enable proposition B to segue nicely into proposition A. And that will be the end of the coaster.

Personally, I can't wait.

02 June 2010

Burka & Wills - Re-making the Australian Myth

I'm proudly Australian. I'm not a flag-waving Australian, but that's more to do with a personal disdain for vexillology, rather than any sentiments unpatriotic.

I raise this point, simply as qualification for the criticism I'm about to make concerning those who choose to put "f*ck-off we're full" stickers on their cars. (It's long been an ambition of mine to place "sorry, we're fools" stickers right over the top of those inane declamations.)

I'd wager that many of those stickers are directed at those who choose to wear burkas. Not since the halcyon days of leggings (or possibly shoes with zippers) has a sartorial choice raised so many eyebrows. (Not that you can really tell if an eye-brow is raised under a burka, but I digress.)

I wonder what's really at the root of all this burka palaver. Some folks claim that burkas could be concealing terrorists. I suppose that is true, but then the terrorists that most concern me aren't buying halal meat from suburban supermarkets; they're too well-financed for that, and they tend to wear suits anyways.

Others claim that the burka is the embodiment of Islamist sexism and it exemplifies the oppression of women that can be found all too readily within the extreme ranks of this otherwise tolerant religion. Now, only in a nation obsessed with flesh and sex can the concealment of a woman's body and face be so unilaterally linked with sexism. Personally, I care deeply about the subjugation of women in any form and in any culture, but I find it hard to believe that such noble sentiments are at the heart of the intolerance that abounds in the 'burbs.

To counter this, it is hereby proposed that the burka become mandatory for all Australians - be they male or female - at all times.

I mean, honestly, what's not to like about the burka? It offers excellent sun protection, which seems decidedly prudent where melanomas are almost as virulent as Kyle Sandilands.

Even more appealing, it breeds a healthy sense of mistrust; I mean, if you were a cowardly thug, you'd go after little old ladies when you saw them tottering home from the shops. But if everyone was in a burka, your little old lady could turn out to be a fit, agile and deadly ninja. I don't reckon you'd risk trying to swipe someone's pension ever again.

We'd lose the class discrimination so prevalent in Australia. Expensive suits and lame track-dacks could both still be worn, but they'd all come out looking much the same once they're covered with a nice black burka. Or a coloured burka; who says they need to be black? I'd quite fancy a nice blue and gold burka that I could wear during the footy season, or a nice maroon one to wear next time Australia plays the West Indies in the cricket.

And if you really want to abolish sexism, cover both genders, at least until we learn how to see a person for who they really are. The burka - and our distaste for it - stems from our insecurities. Maybe we all need to see the world a little differently.

I for one look foward to watching the burka-ball on Saturday. With Judd swaddled in a hessian bag, the Eagles actually might have a chance.