The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘satire

Hallmark cards, shopping fear and a TDoT dose of Christmas cheer

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If the lovely people at Hallmark are to be believed, Christmas is a time for giving, indulging and sending out vibes of goodwill towards all men, women and house-trained animals.

The reality of the festive season could not be further from the clichés, corny poems and pictures of goofy-looking reindeer the marketing gurus expect us to embrace every December.

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25.  Source: hallmarkcards.com.au

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25. Source: hallmarkcards.com.au

While the David Jones catalogues and Coles billboards depict well-dressed shoppers with Joker-esque grins peacefully perusing the aisles, apocalyptic scenes are playing out on the ground.

Is there a get-your-fucking-hands-off-that-last-trampoline-before-I-lose-my-cool card?

It’s all well and good to espouse the spirit of season but the fact is all textbook theory about appropriate Christmas behaviour takes a back seat to retail guerrilla warfare in the lead-up to December 25.

Those who doubt me should have been in the Townsville bottle shop I happened to be in at midday.

As I was filling my trolley with enough vodka and cider to anaesthetise a three-year-old gelding, I witnessed two women swap the Christmas spirit for a verbal stoush over spirits.

Basically, the second woman – let’s call her Little Miss Swear Jar – objected to the first woman – who we’ll call Mrs Three Bottles – taking what appeared to be the last three bottles of an unidentified dark rum off the shelf, even though the former obviously wanted to buy one of them.

Unfortunately, it was at this stage Little Miss Swear Jar forgot all about those warm Christmas card messages and launched into a tirade that would have made both elves and seasoned sailors blush.

Bearing in mind that I made a beeline for the opposite side of the store when the argument started, I’m pretty confident it went something like this:

Little Miss Swear Jar: You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me.
Mrs Three Bottles: What?
Little Miss Swear Jar: Why the fuck are you takin’ all of them?
Mrs Three Bottles: We’re having a party and I need three bottles.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck off. Everyone’s having a party tomorrow. Give me one of those fuckin’ bottles.
Mrs Three Bottles: Get fucked.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck you, moll. You’re ruining my Christmas* and you can go and get fucked right up.

* Author’s note: Apparently, spirits really do maketh the occasion.

What were those morons at Hallmark saying about goodwill and compassion towards our fellow man?

After witnessing what should have been a pay-per-view event, I left the bottle shop thinking the advertising boffins should forgo the soft, heartfelt approach to Christmas marketing and focus instead on promoting a range of retail rage cards and light battle armour.

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child.  Source: news.com.au

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child. Source: news.com.au

In 2012, it seems the key to Christmas is just surviving the supermarket skirmish.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a fantastic festive season and stay safe while enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.

I’ve got a strong feeling my name will turn up in Santa Claus’ naughty book this year but the fact you guys and girls –this blog’s raison d’être – keep coming back day after day negates the lump of coal that will be stuffed into my stocking* hours from now.

* Author’s note: This is not a euphemism.

When Campbell dives and dinosaurs come alive

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In theory, the individuals we elect to represent us at a political level should be the cream of the crop.

Lamentably, somebody forgot to inform the Newman government of this fact.

What we currently have governing Queensland is a collection of Christmas geese, turkeys and those wind-up toy monkeys that clap cymbals together.

As 2012 draws to a conclusion, voters in Queensland seem to be realising that the goose has been overcooked, the turkey is a touch on the dry side and that the toy monkey is just a cheap, annoying novelty.

Following its landslide victory in the March election, the Liberal National Party held 78 seats in Parliament and took a stranglehold on politics in the Sunshine State.

After only eight months with Campbell Newman at the helm, things have gone decidedly pear-shaped.

While this is satirical, it also appears to be factual.  Source: greenleft.org.au

While this is satirical, it also appears to be factual. Source: greenleft.org.au

Former ministers David Gibson and Bruce Flegg fell on their swords in controversial circumstances, while the stench of nepotism surrounding the appointment of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts Minister Ros Bates’ 25-year-old son to a senior AO8 public service job is nothing short of rancid.

When you throw Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s apparent reluctance to admit that he – not the health boards – is ultimately responsible for health delivery in Queensland into the mix, it’s hard not to feel short-changed as a voter.

Things don’t get any better as you move up the LNP food chain.

The Premier rules the roost with a seemingly dictatorial attitude to democracy and has demonstrated his predilection to move swiftly against those who question the state of affairs.

Don't confuse him with questions about democracy and Clive Palmer.  Source: heraldsun.com.au

Don’t confuse him with questions about democracy and Clive Palmer. Source: heraldsun.com.au

Any lingering doubt about the internal dissent towards party decisions should have dissipated after Member for Condamine Ray Hopper defected to Katter’s Australian Party, and Carl Judge and Alex Dawson were read the riot act before being given no option but to exit stage right.

Even mining magnate-cum-conspiracy theorist Clive Palmer – a man who has poured some serious money into the LNP coffers – has spoken out about the apparent turmoil, swapping his life membership for rumours of starting a political party of his own.

Titanic II jokes aside, the rats seem to be deserting the political disaster that is the Newman government.

When he's not talking about robotic dinosaurs and the Titanic II, Clive Palmer almost sounds rational. Almost.  Source: smh.com.au

When he’s not talking about robotic dinosaurs and the Titanic II, Clive Palmer almost sounds rational. Almost. Source: smh.com.au

If the current rate of attrition continues, the 78 seats the LNP held in March will be whittled away to about 64 by the 2015 election.

Queensland deserves a better level of governance than it is currently enduring.

You and I deserve better from the people we elect to represent us.

Is it conceivable that our state’s political saviour could materialise in the form of an eccentric billionaire with a penchant for dinosaurs and blueprints for a big ship?

Ifs, Buts and Political Peanuts: Why Salted Legumes Cost More in Canberra

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The last time I went to a circus, I was in Brisbane and paid about $75 for my ticket.

My most recent visit to a zoo was while visiting Perth and, from memory, the privilege cost me somewhere in the vicinity of $20.

Why does it cost so much more to watch dancing bears, juggling clowns and those dopey-looking penguins when the show’s in Canberra?

When you consider what we pay our Federal politicians to carry on like petulant children, it’s easy to see why so many people become disillusioned and why our elected officials rate somewhere between journalists, used car salespeople and serial killers on the scale of professional trust.

“I know the answer to that!” Source: theage.com.au

Prime Minister Julia Gillard hasn’t been able to use any words other than sexist, misogynist and offended this week.

For that, Australians paid almost half a million dollars.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott achieved the seemingly impossible and sunk lower than broadcaster Alan Jones when he slipped the old “died of shame” nugget into a speech during question time.

That will be about $350,000, thank you very much.

Yes, we elected this man. No, I’m not joking. I wish I was. Source: thepunch.com.au

You have to feel sorry for Peter Slipper, the disgraced former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

When Mr Slipper fell on his controversy-plagued sword on Tuesday night, he took a pay cut of more than $140,000.

Hopefully, he won’t struggle too much on his adjusted annual salary of a touch under $200,000.

Am I the only one who feels like we are currently getting short-changed on the Federal political front?

We need the best people representing us – being our voice – in Federal Parliament and I am all for paying top dollar to attract them, especially when you take into account the salaries individuals of that calibre would command in the private sector.

What we are presently seeing and reading about day after day in Canberra suggests that, in many instances, we have fallen well short in identifying the best candidates when we went to the polls in 2010.

There’s an old idiom that suggests if you pay peanuts, you will find yourself surrounded by monkeys.

Yeah, he’s worth $200,000 every year. I hope he’s not dreaming of text messages. Source: thepunch.com.au

Unfortunately, the peanuts the Australian public are feeding the current residents of Parliament Zoo cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per bag.

Worse still, once you have purchased a bag of the exorbitantly-priced legumes and realise it was too much to spend on the political animals performing behind the smudged glass, you can’t get a refund for three years.

If our Federal politicians continue to carry on like angry five-year-old chimpanzees, I for one will be advocating covering our nation’s capital in Nobby’s nuts.

Five things I’ve learnt about Twitter: Observations of a fully-functional Twit

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I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to Twitter.

Since begrudgingly signing up six months ago with the intention of only using it for intelligent, professional purposes, my tweets have descended into random thoughts and occasional nonsensical ramblings.  Damn it. I’ve become one of them.

At any rate, let me share with you five things I’ve learnt about the 140-character marvel of social networking.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

1. A hashtag can never be too long  

Let’s face it. Hashtags are cool. They are the 21st century equivalent of a one-liner and there’s no message or thought they can’t convey effectively. However, unlike the one-liner, which is renowned for being easy to comprehend, the hashtag has developed into a beast of unfathomable proportions. Apparently, it’s okay to use a 122-character hashtag that takes people 17 minutes to decipher.

Got a question about accommodation at a New York hotel? Use a #howmuchisyourdeluxesuitefortwonightsincludingbreakfast hashtag.

Planning a big night out and want your followers to know about it? Whip out #iamgoingtogethammeredtonightanditsgoingtobefreakinepic and set the tone for 13 hours of drunken tweeting from the depths of clubbing hell.

Would it be inappropriate to create a #fivethingsivelearntabouttwitterthatidliketosharewithyoutoday hashtag when I post the link to this article on Twitter?

2. Sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough

Okay, I’m going to say this slowly. The whole purpose of Twitter is to send short, succinct messages no longer than 140 characters in length.

If you need to include any reference that your tweet is the first in a series that make up a full message you are doing it wrong.

140 characters maximum. Got it? Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

3. Twitter can make you feel like one of the popular people 

One of the big attractions of Twitter is that you can follow celebrities, sporting stars and people a hell of a lot more interesting than you are.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of Twitter is that you can follow celebrities, sporting stars and people a hell of a lot more interesting that you are, and users go nuts replying to these people in the hope that Johnny Depp will respond to their message or Lady Gaga will give them a retweet to her 25 million followers.

I know it happens because I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. Ricky Gervais didn’t retweet something I found witty and Seth MacFarlane broke my heart when he didn’t find my concept for a new animated series amusing.

I thought this was amusing. Seth MacFarlane didn’t. That bastard better not steal my idea. Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

4. People will tweet about anything

People, Twitter isn’t Facebook. Tweets are meant to be – as far as I’m concerned, at least – informative or entertaining. Telling the social networking universe you are late for your bus or eating an apple is neither informative nor entertaining.

Contemplating unleashing a tweet about how blue the sky is today? Please cancel your Twitter account. Right now.

Not happy with your latte? Go and get another one instead of tweeting about it. Source: globalberdy.com

5. Inane sentences to no one in particular are the norm

Twitter had provided a virtual worldwide audience to users. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of the aforementioned users have decided that means they can tweet boring, obvious sentences to no one in particular.

The referees don’t agree with you. Source: Twitter via @BuzzRothfield.

If these people’s 140-character revelations were amusing it would be a different story, but they aren’t. They’re dull and generic. Actually, they kind of make me wish I’d never started using Twitter in the first place.

To the person who tweeted Did you see that? #wow: Who the hell were to talking to and what was the Twitterverse meant to notice? If you were referring to your nonsensical tweet, I saw it. We all did and are now stupider because of it.

The odds of the person who this is directed at actually reading it are $1081. Source: Twitter via @bazarazzi.

Now that I’ve enlightened you about my Twitducation and bagged the hell out of Twitter, I’m going to whore myself out to the masses and suggest you all follow me at @LyndonKeane. If you prefer the Facebook touch, The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page can be found here.

Espresso Etiquette 101: 6 Lessons in Coffee Shop Culture

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Cafes are not places to set up a quasi mission control, and the simple act of tipping shouldn’t remind anyone who observes it of a full-scale production of The Taming of the Shrew.

These are just two examples that stood out among a myriad of espresso etiquette breaches I’ve witnessed over the past twelve months, the most recent of which involved Mr Lesson 4 earlier this week.

As I pondered his seating sin and cappuccino contravention, it dawned on me that he wasn’t alone in his misgivings, so I decided it was an opportune time to offer a weekend refresher course, with the aim of bringing everyone up to speed on the do’s and don’ts of 21st century cafe culture.

Has everyone switched their mobile phone to silent? Do you all have a pen that works? Good, let’s commence the nonsensical crash course that is Espresso Etiquette 101.

We haven't even looked at the first lesson and already we have people throwing their coffee cups out of the cot. Source: mephc.com

Lesson 1: Know what you want before you are eyeballing the barista

Those big, colourful boards behind the counter that display the menu, cup sizes and prices aren’t there for decoration. There’s nothing more infuriating – in the coffee world, anyway – than standing behind someone who doesn’t have a clue what they want to order until they’re staring into the pained eyes of an exceedingly patient barista.

If you want a small flat white, lock it in as soon as you’re asked what you’d like. If you’re in the mood for a large caramel mocha, accept your caffeine-infused fate and tell the barista you want a large caramel mocha. If you intend to order a Venti triple-shot hazelnut soy latte with a dash of vanilla, slap yourself across the back of the head as you approach the cash register. Your bombastic stupidity has earned you a glass of water. Without ice.

While we’re on the subject of ordering, knowing how to pronounce what you wish to drink is important. Should you feel inclined to order a macchiato, please remember it’s not pronounced mar-chee-ate-o. If there were such a thing, it would be a Cheetos-esque snack, not a coffee.

Lesson 2: A single coffee does not entitle you to a full day of free Wi-Fi

These people know who they are. The individuals who purchase a solitary coffee in order to stake their claim at a table towards the rear of the cafe; out of sight – and mind – of the baristas, but not so far away as to give them a less-than-excellent signal from the complimentary Wi-Fi.

While Starbucks is the traditional haunt of this creature, extreme overpopulation and the resultant infighting has forced many to flee their franchised habitats and seek refuge in boutique coffee shops advertising free internet.

The coffee culture lesson to the free Wi-Fi whores is simple: A $5 chai latte does not afford you any sort of entitlement to sit there for six hours while the last two seasons of Breaking Bad, 134 songs and Green Lantern finish downloading.

Lesson 3: Tether your unruly children to the table

Our third lesson in espresso etiquette is predominantly for parents, but is applicable to anyone who deems taking unsettled children to a coffee shop a prudent decision.

Contrary to what the deluded voices in your head tell you, not everyone finds your munchkins adorable. They are even less endearing when running around my table screaming, as you look on and do nothing but point and pull those stupid “Aren’t they precious?” faces. As ridiculous as it may seem, I was hoping for a little bit of peace and quiet while I finished my latte.

If you can’t or won’t control your recalcitrant toddlers, please tether them to the leg of your table using twine that any of the staff will be more than happy to provide you with. If need be, utilise some form of baby muzzle*, because I can’t handle that high-pitched squealing any longer, and I really will feel bad if I’m forced to throw my half-chewed muffin at your firstborn.

* Author’s note: If such a device doesn’t already exist, I call dibs on the patent.

Lesson 4: One ass equals one seat

This maths lesson is one that, because of its simplicity, shouldn’t even have to be taught. If you find the subject matter boring, please direct your grievances towards the 20-something guy at the cafe, whose struggle with basic mathematics compelled me to run this refresher course.

One bum entitles you to one seat. Uno. Yi. Moja. If you are flying solo with your cappuccino, a single seat is all you get. Your laptop bag, backpack and filthy, stained sneakers don’t have an ass between them, so they sure as hell don’t need to be comfortable while you spend forty painful minutes wiping dried froth from the rim of your cup.

Lesson 5: Tipping does not involve Shakespearean theatrics

To Lady Macbeth at the front of the queue: To tip, or not to tip, that is obviously your question. There’s no need for histrionics or to wait for an audience to assemble; either do it or don’t do it, but if you opt for the latter, please exit stage right immediately.

I’ve never worked in hospitality, but friends who do tell me one of their biggest irks are pretentious gits who believe their twenty cent act of altruism makes them the espresso equivalent of Bill Gates.

Lesson 6: Lose the hardware

This is an important message to the guy who has set up base camp at the table in the corner. You aren’t an authorised Apple reseller. Everyone in the coffee shop is already aware they make a good product, so there’s no need to spread your iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air out across the table while attempting to synchronise them, all the while shuffling the hell out of your iPod. You don’t look trendy and sophisticated; if anything, you come across as bourgeois and incredibly susceptible to clever marketing. Yes, I noticed the Bluetooth earpiece; did you want me to call NASA and inform them you’re good to go with the shuttle launch?

Source: shupes.net

If you are guilty of any of the transgressions outlined above, I sincerely hope this crash course in espresso etiquette gives you cause to sit back and smell the coffee beans. It’s not too late to get help. If you know anyone who is an offender, please share this article with them. Friends don’t let friends mooch cafe Wi-Fi. Better yet, maybe you should just print out and laminate a few copies; that way, you can hand them out to random strangers you witness committing these espresso atrocities.

It’s crazy cookbook time, and I need your calamitous kitchen confessions

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I need help. Not the sort offered by a team of psychiatrists and medical professionals, but that which only you, my freakin’ awesome readers, can provide.

After the piece that shared my ridiculously disastrous cooking escapades was Freshly Pressed on 3 February, things went absolutely berserk. 7,331 people read it on the day. Hundreds commented, and the last time I checked, 706 bloggers had liked it. For some reason, people seem to love embarrassing tales of kitchen calamities, especially ones written by self-depreciating single guys.

Will people really buy a cookbook written by someone whose cookies turn out like this?

For those who haven’t read “5 things I’ve learnt about cooking: the calamitous kitchen confessions of a single guy”, this is what happened when I tried to flip the contents of a frying pan for the first time:

Damn you, Jamie Oliver. After observing everyone’s favourite naked chef continually flip the contents of his frying pan with a deft flick of the wrist (no, that’s not a euphemism), I eventually asked myself why I was the only sap left using spoons and spatulas. The concept of the flip didn’t seem that difficult, and with every celebrity cook and wannabe MasterChef contestant sending their stir-fries skyward in a graceful arc with apparent ease, I made the decision to come in from the culinary cold: I was my time to flip.

I chose to try it for the first time while sautéing mushrooms. I was focused. I was visualising it. I was trying to determine how I should celebrate what I assumed would be a successful attempt. Putting the wooden spoon to one side, I eyeballed the frying pan and quickly snapped it upwards in a forceful yet clinical motion.

I wish I could tell you that the mushrooms landed with a poetic elegance, but I can’t: there’s nothing poetic about a hail of hot butter and fungi raining down around you.

Look at him, the Converse-wearing smug bastard. Source: paradoxplace.com

At any rate, a lot of the comments people left suggested, among other things, that I should look at writing my own cookbook. I received dozens of emails, texts and phone calls supporting this suggestion, so I decided to seriously contemplate it over innumerable glasses of Scotch, a bottle of red wine and more than a few bags of Skittles Sours. My eventual decision? To attempt the impossible, and write a quasi cookbook that someone is prepared to publish. If people are prepared to pay good money to read about my kitchen debacles and take cooking advice from someone with the culinary ability of an oven mitt, who am I to stop them from wasting their hard-earned?

The book is going to be a compilation of kitchen stories and culinary lessons learned the hard way, but it will also include easy-to-follow recipes with idiot-proof instructions provided by yours truly. I’m writing it under the working title Stirring the Pot with TDoT, but the final name will be something much more eye-catching and scintillating. I hope.

No, I didn't make this, but I can provide step-by-step instructions on how to buy some just like it for yourself.

This is the point at which your help is required. While I have a multitude of personal tragic tales, I know there are countless other amusing kitchen stories out there, and I want to include as many as I can in the book. Any that appear that aren’t mine will be fully attributed to the kitchen failure considerate individual who shared it with me. While it’s only fair, I also believe it’s a fantastic opportunity to show the world that I’m not the only one burdened by culinary shame.

If you are happy to share your cooking disasters for inclusion in the book, send me an email with the following information:

  • What you were trying to do in the kitchen when your catastrophe occurred. What went wrong? What was the outcome? Did you walk away with both eyebrows and all of your digits, or did you end up with a painful memento of your culinary ineptitude?
  • How you’d like to be acknowledged in the book. I’m happy to use your real name, your blogging name or any other witty pseudonym you feel comfortable with. Except Snatch Baggins. I’ve already got dibs on that one, should I ever decide to change my name.
  • How many copies of the book you’d like if it gets published and sales tank, resulting in boxes and boxes of unsold copies lying around. I’m thinking that 38 is a reasonable minimum commitment.

How can you say no to this random guy? Source: speechadvice.com

So, there you have it. My shameless plea imploration invitation for you to share your calamitous kitchen stories for inclusion in my yet-to-be-named cookbook companion. Everyone has tales of kitchen woe, so ask your friends. Ask your family. Ask your parole officer.

Why your privacy will be replaced with t-shirts and belt buckles

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It’s about time I pulled my finger out and wrote another guest piece for Magnificent Nose. This post looks at privacy, and how we aren’t helping ourselves by sharing every aspect of our lives publicly, either via social networking or by failing to adjust our volume knobs when we’re out and about.

"So, it's definitely herpes? Can you speak up? Yes, I'm on the bus right now." Source of original photograph: sohaveyouevernoticed.blogspot.com

Here’s a snippet from Magnificent Nose:

Social networking has conditioned us to share absolutely everything about our lives; it’s as if we’ve adopted a policy of “if it’s happening, it’s worth announcing”. We’re so absorbed in our own self-importance that it doesn’t occur to us the people at the adjacent table have no interest in being subjected to a vivid description of our rash and the doctor’s prognosis. We don’t seem to care when there is a privacy breach because of our own lax stupidity, but if someone found out about our rash because of loose lips at the medical centre, we’d be livid. Isn’t that just the slightest bit hypocritical?

To continue reading “There’s nothing private about full disclosure couture”, you should point your cursor here and click the left mouse button.

See, the t-shirt idea works. Now you can cross diseases off the list of things that may be wrong with him. Source: vegasarrowstore.com

Since “There’s nothing private about full disclosure couture” is a thinly-veiled jab at social networking, it would be remiss of me not to use it as a hypocritical segue to plug The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page. Magnificent Nose also has a holiday house in Zuckerbergland, and you can find it by clicking right here.