The Dissemination of Thought

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

Posts Tagged ‘writing

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.

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Ridic-tionary dilemmas: why laughter and vagina glitter prove society is screwed

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I’m sorry, but I’m not lolz-ing.

The Oxford University Press announced the latest inclusions to Oxford Dictionaries Online this week, some of which defy logic.

I used to enjoy perusing the quarterly updates of “current English” but now, the three-monthly read leaves me with a numbness in my special place and a strong desire to stick my head into an oven.

How the hell does formally acknowledging nonsensical words – or in the case of “mwahahaha”, a stupidity-inducing sound – as part of our lexicon make us a more evolved society?

If anything, recognising words like “douche” and “photobomb” demonstrates humanity is now officially catering to the lowest common denominator.

It’s almost as if we’ve waved the white flag and submitted to an army of faceless, iPod-toting, monosyllabic overlords who communicate with grunts , fist bumps and group hugs.

In a nutshell, it’s fucking ridic.

There was a time when people would consult a dictionary to become smarter. Source: flcenterlitarts.wordpress.com

If an alien race was to attack the earth tomorrow – which would be a pretty douchey thing to do – the first laser-wielding ET wannabes to hear us communicate could be forgiven for assuming the zombies had already eaten our brains.

When I discussed the list of latest inclusions with a friend, they played the “our language is dynamic and ever-evolving” card.

Until they reached the word on the list that pays homage to genitals that resemble rhinestone-emblazoned disco jackets.

Ladies and gentlemen, could you please stand and put your hands together for “vajazzle”.

Mankind has not only conquered space, it has also made room in Oxford Dictionaries Online for a verb that means to “adorn the pubic area (of a woman) with crystals, glitter, or other decoration”.

I feel like I’ve woken up after sleeping for 20 years to find out Kim Kardashian is the president of the world.

Despite my friend being more than 1000 kilometres away and on the end of a scratchy mobile phone connection, I could pinpoint the exact moment when their eyes locked onto the word that describes genital crystals.

If you ever want to pull out a lay-down misere on somebody’s argument about how the current evolution of our language is a good thing, show them an Oxford University Press reference to pussy glitter.

While the vodka-loving boozehound in me approves of “dirty martini” getting recognition, the inclusion of “vote” – as in a specific reference to reality television – saddens me and reinforces my belief that humanity has pushed boldly past the point of being astronomically fucked.

It can’t be long now until Skynet becomes self-aware and the living dead commence their attack.

The moment you see “ROFLMAO” in a dictionary is the very instant you should descend into your Judgement Day bunker and wait for the language-destroying hoi polloi to succumb to our zombie masters.

For all those Twitter users who have a yearning to become one of my tweeps, clicking the button below will unleash the 140-character lunacy.

Sporting lessons and why zombies won’t attack if victory eludes you

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With many sports quickly approaching finals season, I think we all need a timely reminder that there is more to sport than winning.

There, I said it.

And I meant it.

I’ve spoken to several people representing a myriad of sports over the past few weeks and a disappointingly familiar message was sounding: sport isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be.

Lamentably, it wasn’t just competitors whinging about it.

Numerous spectators and fans of both local and professional sport have told me they don’t find watching the games they love as pleasurable as they used to.

One rugby league fan – who could best be described as a diehard-cum-fanatic – told me about how the recent State of Origin series caused him no end of stress.

The gentleman, who is a Queensland supporter, explained to me that he “bleeds maroon and football” but was finding it hard to enjoy watching the game he apparently loves.

“That second game [when New South Wales won 16-12] nearly killed me,” he recounted dramatically.

“I couldn’t sleep for a few days after it because I was so p—– off that those b——- won.”

When I suggested he was taking it a little too personally, he snapped back at me.

“Rugby league is life.”

Really, that’s the official line we’re running with these days?

Am I the only one who noticed the sun still came up on the Thursday morning following the loss, just as the sun rose on the horizon for New South Welshmen after the Maroons won their seventh straight series on July 5?

Following the 21-20 thriller at Suncorp Stadium, a friend suggested on Facebook that it was the best day of his life.

This is a guy who, according to his error-plagued social networking post, had never experienced anything greater in his 30 years walking the earth.

While I’m a sports fan, a football match – or any sporting event for that matter – doesn’t count in the top 100 things I’ve done in my life.

I don’t think it should for anyone, and that’s where I think we are going wrong.

The more I listened to people’s tales of woe, the more I thought about it until I finally came up with what I believe to be the cause of the feeling.

People are taking their sport – and themselves – far too seriously.

Whether you are watching or participating, be it a junior game or World Cup final, sport should be fun.

If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.

Throwing your equipment is a sign you aren’t enjoying your sport as much as you should be. If your nine iron is in a tree, it’s time to take a deep breath. Source: bittenandbound.com

The Oxford English Dictionary indicates sport is an activity “in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”.

See, it’s all about the entertainment.

Without an element of enjoyment, sport quickly becomes nothing more than a quest for victory and supremacy.

Don’t we have enough competition and seriousness in our lives without exacerbating the situation by pretending our lives depend on each shot at goal?

Just because you miss that three-point throw doesn’t mean you will lose your job.

Your family won’t desert you because you hooked that eight iron shot on the fifth hole.

Stepped over the sideline as you sprinted towards the try line? It’s okay, it’s not the end of the world; the zombies aren’t going to suddenly attack because you missed an opportunity to score four points.

As a collective sporting community, we need to step back and take a look at what small percentage of our lives centre around the games we love.

While this may pain some to read, sport isn’t the be all and end all, irrespective of what you believe or are told.

When we finally accept this statement to be true, everyone is suddenly going to find sport – whether as a player or fan – a lot more fun and interesting.

It’s simple: the more you enjoy your sport, the better you will be at it and the more pleasure you will derive from it.

It’s not rocket science, but it seems to be a lesson that’s easily forgotten.

So, when you run onto the sporting field to play or sit on the sideline to barrack for your favourite team this weekend, remember there are benefits to sport that transcend trophies and silverware.

Winning is wonderful but don’t let be the only reason you participate in sport, either as a player, club official or diehard fan. Source: triplem.com.au

Why you shouldn’t tweet if you shit on the street

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Okay, I’m just going to say it.

I don’t want to hear the name Black Caviar uttered for at least three months.

When something without opposable thumbs has more than 19,000 followers on Twitter, enough is officially enough.

She’s fast, but she can’t tweet. How do I know? She has hooves. Source: smh.com.au

The fact that a horse has a Twitter account in the first place defies logic, but common sense and the Australian public have never been bedfellows when it comes to the champion mare.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am not questioning how good a thoroughbred Black Caviar is – the proof is in her 22-0 race record – but I’m beginning to tire with the incessant media coverage and public hysteria surrounding the five-year-old.

Like almost 20,000 others around the globe, I follow Black Caviar on Twitter, which probably makes me part of the problem.

I originally followed her account to keep up-to-date with news pertaining to her on-track performance but as her number of followers swelled, something very strange happened before she departed on her much anticipated
Royal Ascot campaign.

She started tweeting in the first person.

Given the Peter Moody-trained superstar has hooves, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest she may have a little help in the social media department.

That said, if it is in fact her tweeting, she’s transcended just being one of the world’s best sprinters to be the only horse in the world capable of operating a BlackBerry.

“Luke is feeling that what happened the last few strides will detract from my win, is breaking his heart. It shouldn’t, WE WON TOGETHER.” she tweeted on June 24 in defence of embattled jockey Luke Nolen.

What have we become as a sport-loving nation when we are falling over ourselves to read – and respond to – messages apparently from a non-toilet trained five-year-old?

Cleary, Sydney Morning Herald chief sports columnist Richard Hinds agrees with me.

In his column on June 24, Hinds pondered Caviar fever and wrote, “Not even the lack of opposable thumbs – or, actually, any thumbs – diminishes our wish to believe it is Black Caviar tapping away on her iPhone, not some clever proxy.”

I’m glad I’m not alone as I question if we have gone too far in our love of a racehorse.

With all the hype, rock star treatment and 24/7 coverage, it’s easy to forget she is just that: a horse.

Yet the Australian public has gone Caviar crazy, embracing – and purchasing – every conceivable novelty bearing the mare’s name or famous salmon and black colours.

Do you think this taxi navigates the streets of London as quickly as Black Caviar covers ground on the track? Source: heraldsun.com.au

Thousands of Australians packed into Royal Ascot at the weekend wearing Black Caviar ties, vests, shirts and, unfortunately, dresses.

I’m sorry, but there are few things on this earth more disturbing than a middle-aged woman wearing a shiny salmon dress covered in black polka dots while drinking champagne as the world watches.

Some have taken it further, demanding their local tattoo artists give them a permanent reminder of the country’s wonder horse.

Collingwood Magpies star Dale Thomas is the most high-profile person to sport a Black Caviar tattoo, but at least his is the result of losing a bet to one of the horse’s owners.

Many Australians are getting ink depicting the mare just because they can.

What’s next, getting the entire Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams tattooed on your back just because you are getting into the Olympic spirit?

While there’s no doubting Black Caviar is an incredible animal and one of the best Australian thoroughbreds of all time, I think it’s time to step back and smell the metaphorical roses and horse manure when you begin covering yourself in salmon and black tattoos or believing a horse – living in a stable – is utilising social media to communicate with her fans across the world.

The mania surrounding the mare won’t stop on its own.

The media organisations – who make a fortune every time a Black Caviar story airs or goes to print – and the five-year-old’s connections – who are also doing very well, thank you very much – will publicise her until they are flogging the proverbial dead horse.

I have no problem with supporting our best export since Phar Lap but I do have an issue with Black Caviar’s publicity people trying to convince us she’s capable of sending personal messages of insight and inspiration, 140 characters at a time while they get rich because of our apparent gullibility.

Irrespective of what Black Caviar – or someone cleaning her stable – tells you on Twitter, you don’t need a spare tyre cover with the five-year-old’s head emblazoned on it for your four-wheel-drive.

Just because the Channel 7 presenters tell you “everyone will be showing their support by wearing her colours” when she jumps from the barrier doesn’t mean you should spend $2000 on a tailored, three-piece suit in salmon and black.

Isn’t this some form of child abuse? Source: hylandsportswear.com

The next time you feel like adorning yourself with a Black Caviar tattoo or donning a suit that mirrors Nolen’s silks, remember the mare is just a horse who defecates where she pleases, which may have included on the roses at Royal Ascot.

Caffeine, fast food and a lackadaisical mood: a blow-by-blow of a boring day

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Today’s The Dissemination of Thought piece is the result of an unusual combination of writer’s block, laziness and a simple yet incredibly amusing blog post I read last week. More specifically, it was this piece from Miranda Ryan of The Naked Envelope fame.

The concept is simple. It’s a blow-by-blow account of how she spent a day in her life. Nothing overly exciting happened to her on during the 24-hour period but it was fascinating to see how someone can make the seemingly mundane entertaining by just looking closely and taking notice of what goes on around them.

This is what happens when you mix three espressos and an energy drink before 9:00am…

I’ve decided to follow suit. I want to be able to sit back and reflect on how much time I actually waste in a normal day. Hopefully, you’ll find my minute-by-minute account of June 25, 2012 at least slightly engrossing.

Yes, I draw in my diary at news meetings when I should be paying attention.

6:21am – Open my eyes and try to figure out what day it is. When I determine it’s Monday, I contemplate staying in bed all day and wonder whether I’ll be missed in the newsroom.

6:22am – Ask myself why it’s so dark. Fumble aimlessly for my BlackBerry, check the time and realise it’s stupidly early. Throw aforementioned device back on the bedside table and curse my stupid body clock.

6:23am to 7:18am – I have no idea. I can only assume I drifted back to sleep or was abducted by aliens.

7:19am – Check BlackBerry again and die a little bit inside when it dawns on me that I’ve got less than 60 seconds before my alarm goes off.

7:34am to 7:45am – Mentally check off possible jobs I’d enjoy in lieu of being a journalist while having a shower. Hot shower tester is high on the list, as are professional bed warmer and drunken, disgruntled novelist. Notice I need to buy more body wash.

7:51am – Realise I had an 11-minute shower and consider the negative impact on the environment.

8:03am – Walk into the newsroom with my first latte of the day and loudly sing the first lines of ‘Peace Train’ after confirming I am alone.

8:06am – Stare at a blank page in my diary. Consider the benefits of being more organised. Reassure myself that organised people aren’t any happier than me and continue to drink my latte.

8:21am – Start writing a story about golf and stop to check Twitter.

8:28am – Close the internet browser and tell myself I have to avoid social media and get my work done. Pat myself on the back for being so assertive.

8:30am – Check Twitter on my BlackBerry. Quietly swear to myself about social networking and its addictive qualities.

8:31am – Notice my latte is gone. Think about writing a piece investigating the electronic heroin that is Twitter as I wait patiently for the espresso machine to provide me with another caffeine hit.

8:32am to 10:02am – This period of time is a little bit hazy because I forgot I was compiling a blow-by-blow account of my day. Judging by the number of empty cups in my bin, I had another latte. Judging by the random doodling in my diary, I wasn’t paying attention in the news meeting. Again.

10:31am to 11:06am – Interview a 12-year-old tennis player who is the number one seed in his club’s A grade competition. Watch him serve and feel ridiculously inadequate about my ability with a racquet.

11:19am to 12:48pm – Do boring journalist stuff. This includes checking emails, adding finishing touches to the doodle from the news meeting and contemplating what to have for lunch.

1:37pm – Send my final story for Tuesday’s paper to the sub-editor. Mentally fist pump the sky and refocus on what’s on the lunch menu.

1:39pm – Decide on something healthy for lunch.

1:44pm – Find myself placing my lunch order at Red Rooster.

2:03pm – Finish off the last of the chips and congratulate myself on a fantastic choice. Almost burst out laughing when reflecting on the fact I was contemplating a healthy option.

2:11pm to 2:28pm – Have a hot chocolate while sending witty text messages and wonder why there are so many boring people on Twitter.

2:31pm – Check my latest mobile phone bill.

2:34pm – Try to figure out how the hell it’s physically possible to send more than 5200 text messages during a one-month billing period. Send a text message to a friend asking them how many they send. Quietly thank the mobile phone gods that my plan includes unlimited SMS.

2:47pm to 5:03pm – Do a few interviews and complete the sports stories for Wednesday’s paper while scoffing Turkish delight and drinking another latte. Wish I bought more than one Turkish delight as I stare sadly at the empty wrapper on my desk.

5:04pm to 6:10pm – Forget once again that I am meant to be documenting every minute of my day.

6:16pm – Excitedly throw my leave application at the editor as I scurry from the building.

6:41pm to 7:03pm – Eat dinner and drink the best part of a bottle of red wine while contemplating the universe.

7:06pm – Decide opening another bottle of wine would be a poor option.

7:07pm – See no issue with having a beer in lieu of wine.

7:49pm – Put the three empty beer bottles on the coffee table beside me into the bin.

8:01pm to 8:39pm – Type up my hastily-scribbled notes and wonder who the hell will make it to 12:00pm without wanting to bang their head against a wall.

8:41pm to 8:43pm – Try to figure out why <i>The Dissemination of Thought</i> hasn’t had a new subscriber in more than a fortnight. Was about to blame WordPress for a technical glitch but then remember what I am actually blogging about.

8:44pm – Feel genuinely sorry for my subscribers.

8:49pm – Realise the intricate filing system on my laptop is nothing of the sort. Contemplate doing something about it but dismiss the notion as requiring too much effort.

9:16pm to 10:34pm – Listen to Blunderbuss for what feels like the sixth thousandth time. Wish I was Jack White.

10.37pm – Check my bank balance and wonder why they don’t advertise for ‘people who like being poor’ when seeking journalists. Make the executive decision not to go near eBay and bid on things I don’t need until I get paid.

10:45pm to 11:03pm – Have a shower while thinking about the awesome left-handed bass I want to buy on eBay.

11:05pm – Realise my excess water usage is probably destroying the planet.

11:09pm to 11:32pm – Bid on stuff I don’t need with money I don’t have on eBay. Judge an original Rubik’s Cube from the 80s – still in the original packaging – to be worth $40.

11:33pm – Decide $40 probably isn’t enough to win me the colourful little piece of nostalgia.

11:35pm – Grab another beer and ask myself why I’m bidding on a Rubik’s Cube. Secretly hope I get outbid in the closing stages of the auction.

11:41pm – Increase my maximum bid to $45.

11:44pm – Go to Google to try and figure out what a mint condition Rubik’s Cube from the 1980s is worth.

11:59pm – Post this piece and realise I’ve wasted a day. Look at the time and realise I’m tired beyond belief. Laugh manically when I remember I have Tuesday off, unlike many of my reader who will waste 10 minutes reading this post in its entirety.

So there you have it. A day – or what I can remember of it – in the life of me. If you haven’t abandoned reading mid-sentence or thrown your iPad against the wall in a fit of enraged boredom, follow me on Twitter or like the Facebook page. Hell, if you really liked the nonsensical gibberish that is The Dissemination of Thought, you can do both. Or send cash.

Why a lack of loyalty will sink sport

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Should on-field loyalty for a club be greater than that shown by its supporters?

That is, should players be more loyal to the team colours because, put simply, they are the heart and public face of the club?

I wrote a column in Each Way Bet a few weeks ago discussing loyalty to your team from the perspective of a supporter, and whether it was acceptable to have a ‘back-up ‘ team.

You know, the team you turn to when your favourite team – the one you would allegedly support come hell or high water – goes through a rough patch.

The feedback I received was interesting.

Opinion was split on whether it was okay to have a second – or even third – team in the event of poor performance.

Surprisingly, the responses were more cut and dry when posed the question to players about loyalty.

I asked seven amateur sportspeople – both male and female from a variety of sports – and was told in six out of seven instances that they would consider jumping ship if their team went for a sustained period without victory.

Ladies and gentlemen, the SS Loyalty has left port.

There is no future in amateur sport if players abandon their clubs and, more importantly, their teammates like rats from a sinking ship every time the team goes through a losing streak. Source: news.com.au

Aren’t two of the biggest drawcards of amateur sport the social aspect and the opportunity to compete side-to-side with your friends, through good and bad?

Aren’t those aspects somewhat removed if you are prepared to move to a different team the moment you experience a string of losses?

More importantly, are we that obsessed with winning that we are prepared to abandon our teammates – often mid-season – in the pursuit of victory?

Based on the evidence at hand, apparently we are.

I ran into a well-known sporting identity at Buchanan Park on Saturday and after the sixth race had finished, got onto the subject of loyalty.

This sportsperson has had a pretty average season personally and their team is struggling for form, which is the polar opposite of last season, when it won the grand final in its respective division.

As we discussed form and turning the season around, I was surprised to learn they were attempting to change teams because “they were sick of losing each week”.

“We did so well last year but we can’t take a trick this season,” they said.

“I want to be a part of a winning team; I’m better than losing week after week.”

When I questioned their loyalty to the team and how they could contemplate ditching their teammates after the premiership season, I was advised it was all about winning.

“I play to win,” they told me with just a hint of venom in their voice.

“If I can’t win with them, I’ll find another club.”

Puzzled by this apparent lack of loyalty and ‘fair weather sailing’ approach, I asked a friend of mine in Brisbane – who plays the same sport as the aforementioned individual – what they would do.

“No one wants to play on a losing team,” he told me.

“What’s the point of playing if you aren’t winning?”

So, that’s the attitude we are taking into our amateur sport these days?

The belief that if we aren’t winning, it’s not worth competing?

Let’s consider that for a moment.

If the only important thing in amateur sport was winning, you would have one or two strong teams with dozens of players clambering to sign up, while the other clubs in the competition would be struggling for numbers.

Without numbers you can’t participate, so some clubs would be forced to pull stumps.

With fewer teams, the quality of the competition would dilute to the point you had nothing but one-sided score lines week after week, which would make more and more players on the losing sides go and play somewhere else.

More clubs would fold.

Eventually, you would only have two teams going head-to-head each week, which isn’t really a sporting contest.

That’s why we need loyalty on the sporting field: to see us through the tough times and ensure that our respective sports have a future.

You won’t always win.

Sometimes, victories will be few and far between, but it’s how you stay committed to your club colours and teammates that makes winning even sweeter when your team does experience it again.

The true test of someone’s depth of character on the paddock – or on the court, track or water – is how they react when the chips are down and they are staring defeat in the face.

Deserting your teammates like a rat on a sinking ship makes you a poor sport, irrespective of how skilled you.

Ask any coach or club stalwart: they’d rather have 20 players of average ability who worked as a team and stuck together through thick and thin than 20 superstars who contemplated changing teams as soon as theirs fell behind on the scoreboard.

In amateur sport, genuine allegiance to your club is the key.

It’s something to consider the next time your team loses and you contemplate taking a cruise on the SS Loyalty.

Written by disseminatedthought

June 15, 2012 at 09:13

Five passengers to avoid in the sky: The idiot’s guide to in-flight sanity

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As I was booking a flight to Brisbane a few weeks ago, I started reminiscing about the hundreds of interesting unique batshit crazy individuals I’ve met during my travels over the years. Some of them have been disturbing, while others were intriguing and almost amusing in depraved way. Lamentably, the majority made life at 35,000 feet unbearable for everyone within nine rows.

In hindsight, these ‘travel terrors’ should have been easy to spot. They fell into five very distinct categories that anyone who has ever spent more than 17 minutes on an airplane could easily identify. Actually, life would be a lot simpler for travellers across the globe if airport security slapped bright identification stickers on the heads of these dipshits before they headed towards the boarding gate.

I sincerely hope this piece helps you pinpoint the people you should avoid at all costs in your travels.

Especially before you sit down beside them in seat 26B for a nine-hour flight.

Just because you’re about to be twelve kilometres above the ground doesn’t mean you won’t be surrounded by painful idiots. Source: biztravelguru.com

1. The Talker

This motor-mouthed traveller won’t shut up. Ever.

From the moment they stand behind you in the queue to board and comment about how slow the process is, to the heartbreaking instant you realise they’ve been allocated the seat beside you for the flight to Perth, this painful flyer won’t stop once to draw breath.

Even when it’s 10:48pm and you are pretending to sleep with the erroneous hope they’ll shut the hell up.

If you encounter a seasoned talker, they will monitor everything to look at in order to start pointless conversations. A glance at the in-flight entertainment guide will undoubtedly start a conversation about “young musicians these days” or why they believe a particular unknown movie didn’t deserve the four stars an unknown critic gave it.

I remember sitting beside a talker we’ll call Barry on a Qantas flight to Sydney about two years ago. Barry watched me flip through the complimentary magazine as the aircraft taxied to the runway. The moment I felt the front wheel lift off the tarmac, Barry launched into a spiel about how he flew every week and had read the magazine I had in my hand “at least a dozen times” that month. After he’d ensured I was painfully aware he was a flying veteran, he offered suggestions about which articles he thought I’d like.  That was the point I handed him the magazine and asked if he’d like to read it – in silence – for the remainder of the flight.

Ah, fun and games before reaching cruising altitude.

Tip to avoid them: Pretend to be asleep. If that doesn’t work, swallow a handful of Valium before take-off and enjoy a peaceful coma nap free from constant interruption.

2. The Screaming Child

This pint-sized traveller is more often than not accompanied by the Oblivious Parent or Ignorant Guardian and are angelic until they don’t get their own way. As soon as they hear the word no, they become possessed, shrieking miniature banshees.

The Screaming Child is easy to spot: they are small, loud and annoying.

Tip to avoid them: I’m told business class is generally free of manic munchkins, but upgrading on every flight you take is a costly solution. While frowned upon by society, the cheapest answer is to coat any Valium you have left over after going head-to-head with the Talker in sugar and tell the bellowing little one it’s a lolly. 

Author’s note: Yes, I’m probably going to hell for this tip, but at least I’ll be making the trip in blissful silence.

3. The Aviation Expert 

There is nothing this flyer doesn’t know about aircraft and avionics. While they have a basic grasp of advanced meteorology, their apparent speciality is what makes the big metal bird itself tick.

Want to know how the landing gears work? They will have the answer. Are you curious about the average cruising speed of a Boeing 737-800? The Aviation Expert has the facts and figures, and will take into account the headwind your aircraft is currently flying into when answering.

No one is certain whether this unique individual actually knows what they are talking about: they just use a hell of a lot of long, technical-sounding words and phrases. The fact the Aviation Expert answers an eleven-word question about flaps with an eight-minute diatribe puts most people off testing how knowledgeable this painful passenger actually is. One thing’s for sure: having one or two Aviation Experts on a flight does wonders for alcohol sales. 

Tip to avoid them: Tell this know-it-all you heard something making a disturbing rattling noise in the toilet. Once they go in to investigate, lock them in there for the duration of the flight with assistance from the relieved cabin crew.

Do you know what every button and switch in this cockpit does? If you ask the Aviation Expert, they do. Source: airbus.com

4. The Over-Packer

The fourth type of traveller to avoid has no concept of baggage limits. If an airlines allows passengers to have cabin bag that weighs no more than seven kilograms, you can bet your last dollar the Over-Packer will have one that tips the scales at ten or eleven kilos.

Dimensions are also not the forte of this notorious flyer. Allowed hand luggage no bigger than 48 centimetres x 34 centimetres x 23 centimetres on your flight? The Over-Packer will try to convince cabin crew their bag – which is the same size as a bar fridge – is “much smaller than it looks”.

If you board after this moron, expect to spend five minutes in the aisle with 73 other fuming passengers while the arrogant one with the capacity issues attempts to wedge their cabin bag, two laptop bags and handbag into the overhead locker.

“Yes, sir, I’m pretty sure they won’t all fit in the overhead locker.” Source: zaysmallman.blogspot.com

My most memorable encounter with an Over-Packer was on a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Townsville.

After taking my seat in 13A nice and early, I watched my fellow passengers move awkwardly down the aisle until a woman juggling what seemed like a hundred bags stopped at my row. Putting several of the bags on the vacant seats beside me so she could stuff them one by one into the overhead bin, I watched in amazement as she packed the biggest cabin bag I’ve ever seen, an oversized handbag, what I assume was a camera bag and enough shopping bags to start her own boutique into the previously vacant space above my head. Not surprisingly, the 18 or 19 passengers waiting behind her were less amazed than I was.

Tip to avoid them: Unfortunately, avoiding this person is nigh on impossible. The best you can hope for is that their taxi gets stuck in traffic and they don’t get to the airport until you are twelve kilometres above the ground and eating your in-flight meal. If they do manage to get on the airplane, there’s always the chance they will drop one of their five bags on their head as they try to stuff them into the overhead bins

5. The Drinker

For our last pest, the airplane is nothing more than an oddly-shaped bar that operates across time zones at 35,000 feet.

There’s a fair chance they will have spent two hours before the flight at the bar getting a buzz on, and their hand will whip upwards to summon a cabin crew member as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off.

The airline drinks trolley: enough to make the Drinker put their tray table up and their seat in the upright position. Source: airliners.net

On a flight from Brisbane to Hobart in 2006, I encountered the Queen of the Drinkers. About an hour into the flight, I watched as a cabin crew member confiscated an empty bottle of Scotch from the paralytic passenger. A 700mL bottle. It’s amazing what a big handbag can hide. 20 minutes later, the same – although now furious – Virgin Australia employee grabbed another, albeit full, bottle of single malt out of the passenger’s drunken mitts while loudly advising that she wouldn’t be getting it back when we landed.

While I love a good single malt, it never struck me to carry two bottles of it on a relatively short flight in case I got thirsty.

Tip to avoid them: Like the Over-Packer, the Drinker is difficult to avoid once you are in the air. If they have been drinking for long enough, there’s a good chance they’ll pass out fall asleep after they scoll their second miniature bottle of red wine. If that doesn’t happen, my best advice is to concede defeat and drink with them until their drunken antics become tolerable.