Halloween in Australia, Mud Wrestling or Tomato Throwing?

I had to do a bit of shopping in Big W the other day, and the moment I entered the store, I was confronted with evil pumpkins, witches, spider webs and zombies…..Yes. Halloween is upon us once again. So what is Halloween, and why do we celebrate it here, in Australia?

Halloween

Evil Pumpkin

The origin of Halloween is from the Celtic festival of death marking the beginning of their New Year, celebrated on 31st October or 1st November. The earlier records indicate that it is not just a day for the dead but also the day when the dead might reach out to the living. It came to be known as the feast of the dead, because the Celts believe that on this night the border between the worlds of the living and dead is the thinnest, enabling souls of the dead to re-enter the world.

When first Europeans came to America, Halloween wasn’t a big day on a calendar, due to the fact that most immigrants at a time were Protestants. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century, when millions of Irish made the trip across the Atlantic, that the festival started to gain momentum and became a national holiday.

So why do we celebrate it here? Why not? After all, we are quite happy to celebrate Christmas in a 40C heat, and we embrace the spring holiday of Esther by getting out our winter clothing, so it only logical that Halloween is a sound choice for Australian holidays. While we at it, we might want to consider adopting another festival – La Tomatina. Getting a bucket load of tomatoes and chucking them at complete strangers sounds like a fun day out. Or if you are after a bit more “hands on” experience, maybe we can start lobbying to adopt a Korean festival known as Boryeong Mud Festival? Two words….Mud Wrestling

Halloween in Australia

Halloween is here

I guess, there would always be people who are happy to embrace an idea of a new festival, just like there would always be those who oppose any change. Whichever side you are on, it is easy to show your allegiance. If you think Halloween is an evil’s work, go buy yourself the biggest water gun you can find, and give those little shits a good spray if they dare to disturb your evening. But if you think Halloween is a fun holiday bringing families together, go spend few dollars and shower little angels with candies.

Since either way it is spending –  there is no wrong choice, for any spending is good for our economy.

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My Mum Gave me Drugs, or Why Our Athletes Choose to Cheat

Australian sport is going from one drug related scandal to another. In a last few months we’ve heard all about Cronulla Sharks, Essendon Bombers, and now Sydney Roosters looking down the barrel of the ACC’s investigation. I don’t think anyone’s really surprised anymore to hear about yet another drug scandal in sport.

Of course, nothing’s new under the sun. We all remember Ben Cousins’ drug scandal in 2007, Shane Warne’s ‘My mum gave it to me’ saga (did anyone actually believe that one?), Tour de France’s greats Lance Armstrong shocking allegations of 2011, and Floyd Landis before him, back in 2006. One good thing that came out of drugs scandals in Tour de France, is the numerous jokes it generated. Here are just a couple: “Amsterdam is like a Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes.”

Drugs in sport

Drugs in sport

All this got me thinking. I understand the motive behind the decision to cheat. For some, it’s the ambition to be number one, for others it is the temptation of money, for yet others it’s the promise of fame. So when did it all start? When did the sport lose its purity?

The sad truth is, it all started millennia ago. In ancient Greece, the original Olympians used extracts of mushrooms and certain plants to create performance enhancing mixtures. During Roman period, gladiators were given drugs to make their fights more “spectacular”.

Drugs in sport

Cheat to Win

Once again, I am not a whinger, BUT… Here’s what I don’t get- why would anyone with half a brain risk taking drugs? Forget about the issues of morality, honesty and integrity. I’m talking about the health risks that associated with drug use. It should be obvious to anyone that long-term negative effects of drug use outweigh any dubious short-term “benefits”.

And just to finish it off:

A female athlete is preparing for the Olympics. She goes to the coach and complains about the tablets he is making her take.

“They are causing hair to grow on my breasts.”

“Ah whats the problem, a little bit of downy hair. everyone has a few little hairs’

“They are not downy and they are not little and they are not a few’

“Well exactly how much is there?’

“They grow all the way down to my balls, and that’s something else I want to talk to you about’

Is there such thing as bad publicity?

For me, TV is an endless source of entertainment, amusement, frustration and, surprise, surprise – material for my blog.

The latest “light bulb” idea comes after watching an Old El Paso ad, the one advertising Mexican Rice Kits. Apparently, Mexicans are a backwards people, complete baboons, who just recently discovered what to do with forks.

It got me thinking: do we really need this kind of racist advertising to push a product? And what other ads are out there, playing on our feelings of superiority towards other races?

I found quite a few examples of what can be construed as racist advertising. One of the oldest ones is a Jell-O ad from the 60’s, implying that if it wasn’t for the Western Civilization, Japanese still wouldn’t know what a spoon is. Another one is a South Oak Dodge ad – again having a go at Japanese. All those imported cars must be really pissing that guy off.  Not to be outdone, the Japanese advertising for the Play Station Portable White is pushing the limits of advertising. Italians contribute to the list with the ad for Coloreria Italiana. Closer to home, KFC had to pull down its ad depicting a white Aussie cricket fan, offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters. What’s interesting here, is that this ad was deemed racist over in America, but in Australia we just laughed it off as an example of Australian humour. To be honest, I don’t get what the problem is – the guy is sharing his food with his mates…we’re all mates, aren’t we?

Dick Smith Australia Day

Dick Smith Australia Day ad

And what about the infamous Australia Day ad from an Aussie icon Dick Smith? I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like some dick?

Just to finish it off, here is an ad from Volkswagen, promoting its new model VW Polo. In this commercial German car maker is stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. It’s actually funny coming from Volkswagen, the company with really close ties with Nazis and Hitler.

I’m sure there are plenty more of these ads out there. Some are actually racist, some borderline so, and some are just labelled as racist by bigots or people with no sense of humour.

I am not a whinger, but it is a Politically Correct world we live in, where making fun of other people’s race or religion is frowned upon. Unless you are an Aussie, of course. In Australia, we are allowed, no – expected, to take a piss out of everyone. Anything less would be un-Australian.

As for everyone else – avoid the dangers of being labelled a racist and stick to the good old axiom that “sex sells” and play it safe.

Sex Sells

Sex Sells

Election, or A Right to Lead a Country

Australia’s election campaign is in full swing, and all the politicians are out there, trying to win as many votes as they can. Or at least to stop their competitors from winning extra votes. I think that was the main reason behind the statement made by Palmer with regards to experience (or a lack of) of current cabinet members of the Labor Party.

Australian Parliament

Australian Parliament

Palmer said something along the lines that all the Labor politicians combined only have about 15 years of real life work experience. His criteria were – any Union or Government related job wasn’t counted as experience, and neither anything in legal profession.

It sounded too far-fetched to me, so I’ve decided to check it out myself. Here’s the result of my investigation….

The break-down of Labor Cabinet:

Anthony Albanese            Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the Deputy Leader of                                                     the Labor Party. He is also the Minister for Infrastructure and                                                   Transport, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and                                                     the Digital Economy and the Leader of the House of                                                                     Representatives.

Years of prior experience:    2 years  Commonwealth Bank

Kevin Rudd                        Prime Minister of Australia

Years of prior experience:   0 years

Kim Carr                              Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and                                                     Minister for Higher Education

Years of prior experience:  9 years secondary school teacher

Brendan O’Connor             Minister for Employment and the Minister for Skills and                                                             Training

Years of prior experience:  0 year

Richard Marles                  Minister for Trade

Years of prior experience: 4 years Slater and Gordon

Julie Collins                         Minister for Community Services, the Minister for Indigenous                                                   Employment and Economic Development, and the Minister for                                                   the Status of Women

Years of prior  experience:  Not clear, but no more than 5 years customer service and                                                           business support roles in real estate and energy environments.

Tanya Plibersek                 Minister for Health and Medical Research

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Joel Fitzgibbon                  Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Years of prior experience: Up to 5 years automotive electrician, electorate officer, part                                                      time technical education lecturer and small business operator

Gary Gray                           Minister for Resources and Energy, the Minister for Tourism,                                                     and the Minister for Small Business

Years of prior experience:  2 years BHP steelworks, and then at the Savings Bank of South                                                  Australia.

Mark Dreyfus                     Attorney-General of Australia,

Years of prior experience:  17 years lawyer

Mark Butler                        Minister for Climate Change and Minister for the Environment,                                                 Heritage and Water

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Bill Shorten                         Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and                                                            Workplace Relations.

Years of prior experience:  1.5 years lawyer

Catherine King                  Minister for Regional Australia, Local Government and                                                               Territories

Years of prior experience: Possible 2-3 years? social worker, research officer and public                                                       servant. social welfare sector in Ballarat

Tony Burke                        Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship

Years of prior experience:  7 years posible work

Bob Carr                             Minister for Foreign Affairs

Years of prior experience:  2 years ABC radio

Jenny Macklin                    Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous                                                        Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform

Years of prior experience: 2 years researcher at the Australian National University

Stephen Smith                   Minister for Defence.

Years of prior experience: 4 years lawyer

Chris Bowen                      Treasurer of Australia

Years of prior experience:  2 years maybe in something related to economics?

Jacinta Collins                   Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Years of prior experience: 0 years outside of Unions

Penny Wong                      Commonwealth Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Years of prior experience: 0 years

Australian Government

Politics is a funny business.

So here is the verdict:

Total of 65 years of work experience outside of politics spread between the 20 Members of Parliament (and I’ve been VERY generous). This is just over 3 years of experience per politician before we let these people to run the country.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT….Is it any wonder that our country’s economy and domestic and foreign policies are up the proverbial creek?

Food that kills you, or food that helps you living longer

I was busy on my PC the other day, editing a video I filmed earlier and I had one of those infotainment shows on TV, just for a bit of a background noise. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the TV, until I’ve heard them saying that milk is bad for our health. By the time I found the remote control to adjust the volume, they already moved onto another
segment-“no loss of suction” vacuum cleaner, or maybe it was the Fat Trimmer, or ABRocker, or some other “must-have” invention. But my curiosity was now piqued. I wanted to know more about the dangers of milk and it’s by-products.

Cows are out to get us

Cows are out to get us

So naturally, I turned to my friend, Mister Know-It-All: Google. 
Sure enough, I find this article in Huffington Post telling me that Mark Hyman, MD warns us all about dangers of milk in his piece “Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at All Costs…” It sounded pretty serious, so I immediately decided to adjust my eating habits and exclude all dairy products from my diet. After all, there is plenty of other food out there, right? But just to be on a safe side, I decided to check what else can potentially kill me. Imagine my dismay when I realised that red meat increases my risk of dying by 13% (Thanks, LA Times and BBC News); fish in general is a big “no-no” according to Vreeland Clinic and PETA assures me that salmon is practically waiting to kill me.

At this point I’m starting to freak out. No meat, no fish, no dairy – that smells like a vegetarian diet to me and I DON’T DO VEGETERIAN!

What are we to do?

What are we to do?

Once the initial shock wore off, I decided to check what other people eat, in particular people in countries with a high life expectancy. So I’ve consulted with Wikipedia, and it informed me that among the top 10 countries with a high life expectancy are Andorra, France, Italy, Israel, and Spain – all Mediterranean countries, all famous for their
cuisine containing cheeses, lamb, fish. Another country on a list is Japan, and their love of fish is well known. Closer to home, Australia is also in a top 10 and we are famous for our seafood and our beef.

Now, I am not a whinger, but… I would really like to know one thing. All those “specialists”, all those so-called “gurus” go out and disseminate the message of doom and gloom. Why? What do they stand to gain? Who paid for their “research”?

Super Fast, or Super Stupid?

Over the past few weeks, we were bombarded by a new Optus ad on TV – you know the one, two girlfriends talking on a phone and one of them complains “she is trying to send a photo, but her internet is too slow” and the other one responds “You have buffering issues, but I don’t, I have a 300 Gb plan with Optus”.

Without going into the details of the actual plan, I wonder how much the advertising agency understands what the commercial is about, who in Optus signed off on it, and how stupid do they think the average person is?

The thing is, both women in the ad can be on a “massive 300 Gb” plans, but one of them could be on ADSL1, or Satellite, or even a Dial-up, and the other one on ADSL 2+ or Optus via NBN. Comparing the speed of your internet connection with a download allowance is a typical case of comparing apples and oranges.

To finish it off, I would like to say that I am not a whinger, but…. if you are trying to sell a product, or a service, treat your customers with respect, don’t assume that you have to “dumb down” the advertising in order for it to be understood. Give us some credit.

Note:
The author of this post is a customer, shareholder and employee of Telstra.
The views expressed here are the author’s only and do not represent views of Telstra in any way, shape or form.