Life Without Internet in 21st century? Surely Not!

The other day I overheard a conversation between two young people, both in their 20th. The girl was trying to understand the concept of Facebook, and the guy was trying (without much success) to explain it to her.

You've Got Mail

You’ve Got Mail

I immediately felt the need to bud in on their conversation, and started asking questions of my own. It turns out, that the girl not only has no idea about Facebook, she also doesn’t own a mobile phone, and she doesn’t have an internet connection at home either. I must’ve had a stupid expression on my face, when on my question “How do you pay your bills?” she answered “At the Post Office”.

I must point out here, that the girl is NOT some sort of backwards person, unable to grasp the technology. She is a lovely girl, competent in her job, uses computer and internet at work, knows how to use them, so it’s a matter of personal choice not succumbing to the extra pressure of being on-line and available at all times.

I kept coming back to this conversation for the rest of the day, and I become curious as to how many other people are out there, that do not have internet?

Apparently, quite a lot. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2013 there was 12,397,000 internet subscribers, of which, amazingly, over 200,000 were still on Dial-Up connections.  It appears that we are not as technologically advanced as I’ve always thought. Australia is only ranked 25th in a world by internet penetration, having 82.3% of its population on-line.

Some users are still stuck with a snail pace of Dial-Up

Some users are still stuck with a snail pace of Dial-Up

The list of countries and their internet penetration makes for a very interesting read – there are some surprises there.

First, Falkland Islands are ranked Number 1, which must piss Iceland off big time, as that little bit of rock  in South Atlantic is pushing the little bit of rock in a North Atlantic into the Second spot. Our cousins from across the Tasman Sea are doing real good, managing to secure a spot in the top 10. But the biggest surprise for me was Nigeria – I was sure that with the millions of e-mails from millions of relatives of the dead people, all promising me the guaranteed way to get reach, Nigeria would be high up on the list. But no – it only comes at a lowly 128th spot. Those poor scammers must be working overtime, to be able to contact so many unsuspecting winners  🙂

 

 

 

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Social Dis-service

Yesterday my wife volunteered to help her mother and make few calls to some government departments – Social Security, Human Services, Aged Care….

Pension and Aged Services

Pension and Aged Services

It wasn’t anything complicated – she wasn’t asking government agency to divulge any secrets, or assign Member of Parliament size pension to a regular Australian, or anything like that.

All she wanted, was to have some information brochures and application forms to be mailed out to us. Simple, right?

Well, it might be simple for someone who doesn’t understand the complexity of the bureaucratic machine, but after listening to my wife, I now realize how complicated and self-important those departments are.

For starters, before she even had a chance to talk to anyone, she had to endure some horrible hold music, with a total “hold” time of close to 2 hours. Next, she was transferred from one department to another, person to the next. Each time the story had to be repeated, names and other details provided and an oath given, just in case….

At one point of this process, she got told that the material we requested is not being printed any more, and everything is available on line. When asked if he can e-mail us the documents, the bureaucrat on another end replied that it’s not their process to e-mail documents. Fair enough we thought, how about a link to where the document is on their web-site? Apparently, link isn’t available, and we have to search for it.

What I found even more amusing (amusing because I wasn’t the one who had to listen to this rubbish), was the fact that apparently, there were some changes in rules and legislation affecting aged care. These changes came into effect on July 1st, 2014. All this was happening on July the 8th and guess what – new documentation wasn’t available ANYWHERE – not in printed form, not on-line not etched on cave walls.

If I was just as incompetent at my job, I would’ve been fired years ago, but I guess there is a benefit in being a government employee.

Federal Budget, Retirement and Death

Over the past couple of weeks we all have been exposed to the proposed “tough love” budget that our Federal Government is attempting to pass through Parliament.

One of the things that will affect most of us – the retirement age is set to go up to 70 years. While it scares me to even think that I might have to be in a workforce for so long, there is something that scares me even more. It’s the thought that we will have significantly higher number of drivers in their mid to late sixties regularly navigating our roads.

Are you ready to retire?

Are you ready to retire?
Is the government ready for you to retire?

Why does it scare me? It’s simple, really. Older drivers are not as safe as the younger ones. They are accountable for one-third of all fatalities related to traffic accidents.

Now, before all the old-timers out there decide to collectively bash me up – statistics don’t lie. Of 247 fatalities in a 12 months to April 2014, 84 are from the age group of 60+.

The reality of it is, this number is set to go even higher. Today drivers over 60 years old are mostly drive out of peak hours, and mostly for recreational purposes. When they will have to drive to and from work, faced with bumper to bumper traffic, and an added pressure of getting there on time, how will they cope?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying unemployment to all the young people who will have to wait few extra years for the older generation to retire?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying for increased number if accidents on our roads?

But most of all, I wonder if it’s a ploy to force all those 70-year-olds to become just another road accident statistic, thus eliminating the need to pay them pension for another 10-20 years?

Getting old doesn’t look like a lot of fun right now…

Tinglers and Tampons

This post is more of a WTF category, just a couple of things I’ve come across recently that made me stop and take a second look…

The first one was at a truck stop somewhere between Melbourne and Canberra.

Boldly Glow Where No Man Has Glowed Before

Boldly Glow Where No Man Has Glowed Before

While washing hands in a toilet, I’ve noticed a vending machine that was selling Tingler Rings.

Looks like our truckies have become more sophisticated, more adventurous. It’s not enough to just grab a plain old condom from a machine for a quick “pit-stop” on a way. Now they are looking for the Tingler Ring – a product promising you to “Boldly glow where no man has glowed before”.

It also promises to “Prolong The Pleasure Of Sex” – I always thought that our truck drivers work on a tight schedule, they would be more interested in a product that will allow them to get maximum satisfaction in a shortest time possible…you know, “in, out, back on the road again”?

 

The second thing that made me go “hmmm” was the banner in a local health shop.

What's In Your Tampon?

What’s In Your Tampon?

For a reason that escapes me, they posted a question “What’s in your tampon?”

Now, I’m not too sure what they are trying to achieve here… If they want to know what tampons are made of, they might be better off directing the question to the manufactures. If they want to know what’s in a tampon after it’s been used, I don’t even want to go there.

Being a health shop specializing in all things “natural”, I suspect they wanted to make people aware of some different type of tampons made of natural, or recycled ingredients.

What I find hard to swallow, even harder than a tampon staring in my face, is the fact that they sell those horrible drinks there, they call it “coffee” but it’s made from the soy milk and dandelions. No human should be allowed to suffer through drinking that horrible stuff.

Maybe next they should put up a poster asking “How to make real coffee?”

Celebrity Gossip Vs News

To be fair, the title of this blog might be a bit misleading. It’s not really celeb gossip VS news. Today, celebrity gossip IS the news.

Just think about it…..

Dennis Rodman making headlines

Dennis Rodman making headlines

Dennis Rodman travels to North Korea to bring birthday presents to his mate, dictator Kim Jong Un. Is it a gossip, or a news item? Or a fusion of both? What about AFL legend Doug Hawkins standing for Palmer party in a last election? Or U2’s front man Bono speaking about Mandela. Gossip? News? Search Google News for “Schapelle Corby” and the top result is about the bidding war for her first post-jail interview. Does anyone really give a shit?

Do we really care what celebrities think or say? (the two are not necessarily the same) What’s even more important, when did it become acceptable to substitute facts of political, economic or cultural news with titbits of celebrity gossip disguised as news?

So what have we got here….Rodman is breaking the United States law that forbids the flow of luxury items into North Korea. Hawkins? He was, without a doubt, an extremely talented sportsman and a bit of a court jester on The Footy Show, but that doesn’t make him even remotely qualified to enter politics. Bono – hardly a person inspiring respect. He is known for his “efforts” to eliminate poverty in Africa; however some experts say that what he does is actually causing more damage than good. Also, Bono – the citizen of Ireland, is not the most popular Irish son, all because he chooses not to pay his taxes in Ireland.

Schapelle Corby - alleged drug smuggler

Schapelle Corby – alleged drug smuggler

Schapelle? An alleged drug smuggler who somehow managed to attain status of quasi celebrity.

So why are we being forced to accept these celebrity gossip – turn – celebrity-flavoured news?

 

The answer is two-fold. First, it is much easier for local news crews to regurgitate already substandard overseas news than to report it’s own. Second, and probably more important, is the fact that the news business is a money making venture. This makes it impossible to report the news objectively.

Becoming a Lucky Country

A couple of days ago I read an article about a Sydney woman being attacked on a busy street, with not one of the dozens of bystanders coming to her rescue. Luckily for her, the attackers changed their minds when she started shouting and screaming for help.

That got me thinking….why? Why all those people ignored woman’s cry for help? What happened to the notion of helping a “Damsel in distress”? As I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that there is no one simple answer to it. Rather, it is a combination of different ways in which we, as society failed ourselves.

The most obvious reason for people’s non involvement is the most basic of the feelings – fear. Not everyone can be a hero, not everyone is mentally prepared to face off with a car full of aggressive males. However, this is only true if you are alone. There were people in groups, able to match “body for body” the attackers.

I think the next 2 reasons are related to inadequacy of our legal system and the way we are bringing up our youth.

First let me explain my view on the legal side of things…

Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan

In Australia, the law is not geared towards protecting a Good Samaritan or encouraging a person to act as one.  NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 No 22 states that a good samaritan can be liable if he/she “failed to exercise reasonable care and skill in connection with the act…” What it really says is that you can pretend to be a Superman, or a Wonder Woman, only to have the dubious pleasure of being stabbed, or shot at, AND then being sued by the villain, or even the very victim you were trying to protect.

Further, Australia lags behind in introducing a law which would make it a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress. There are dozens of countries that have this law in place, some of them are Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Russia and Spain.

Which brings me to the second reason – the way we educate our young generation.

We are way too accepting, way too tolerant, even when acceptance and tolerance becoming synonyms for apathy and desertion. Our political correctness is going to cost us dearly.

King Hit - Coward Hit

King Hit – Coward Hit

Take recent attack at Canberra night club, which left its victim with a fracture to his eye socket, a fractured cheekbone, and bleeding from his forehead, nose, and lips. His attacker? Sentenced to eight months in jail, fully suspended. Suspended? How about showing that we are serious and locking the bastard up for 2-3 years, making sure he works his ass off?

Or how about our attitude towards drugs? Melbourne drug addicts might be in luck. Needle vending machines could be rolled out in Victoria this year. Because you know, those poor addicts, they need to do drugs outside of business hours too. How about showing that we are serious and locking them up until they are clean, making sure they work their asses off?

Now let’s move onto politics… MP Geoff Shaw investigated over claims he rorted taxpayer entitlements. MP Scott Driscoll  under fire over family business dealings. Former NSW MP Joe Tripodi faces ICAC investigation. Keilor MP George Seitz was under scrutiny as fraud squad investigates allegations that he misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling money. Those are the people who suppose to be our leaders and decision makers?

How possibly can our young understand what’s right and what’s wrong, if we keep sending them these mixed messages?

Now, I am not a whinger, but….why don’t we call things what they are: a bully, a corrupt politician (tautology?), a drug addict, a criminal. Maybe then our children will have at least a small chance to be able to tell right from wrong and maybe, just maybe we will be able to live in a country that once again will deserve the title of the Lucky Country.

My musings on joining a gym

This week I celebrated my second anniversary. Second anniversary of going to gym that is. Yes, I belong to a gym now. Well, let me rephrase that: I don’t belong there at all, but I go.

For the whole 2 months I was coming to this place, doing things to my body that no body should ever endure. I was making it run, lift weights, bend into weird shapes. I hope one day my body will forgive me for making it do all these crazy things.

Zap Fitness gym

Inside one of Zap’s many locations

Some would say that two months is not a big deal, that people are going to gym for years. Well, it is a big deal for me. You see, when you are on a wrong side of 40 years, on a wrong side of 100 kilos, and when the only exercise your body knows is lifting a fork full of herring salad and a glass full of vodka, any additional effort can potentially become that infamous straw that broke the camel’s back.

When I was shopping around for a gym, I looked at about half a dozen of them, most within walking distance from me. One was too “boutique” for my liking, another one too “hardcore”, yet another one too expensive… But one struck the right balance – it was reasonably priced, seemed nice inside, the fact that it’s open 24/7 was also a factor. But what really swayed me over was the location.

Grilled, Zap Fitness, Cellarbrations

Perfect location for any gym

Talk about perfection. Such thoughtfulness, such attention to detail. On a way to gym you can pop into Grill’d, get one (or two, or three) of their “Hot” Mama burgers, move next door in an attempt to lose just acquired calories at a gym, fail miserably, leave the gym disappointed and move on to the Cellarbrations to drown you sorrows in alcohol – all without having to cross the road or move your car.

I guess there is a lesson in this. All these things can co-exist. One can eat out, have a glass (or two) of alcohol, and still be a gym-goer. There is nothing wrong in indulging in life’s little pleasures, as long it is done in moderation.