Facial hair and preventing the zombie apocalypse

The facts:

Bearded men are twice as likely to survive the zombie apocalypse as clean-shaven lads.

Despite knowing this:

I’ll be shaving my scrappy salt’n’pepper down to a gentlemanly moustache for Movember.

Why take the risk?

I hope to raise money for doctors and specialists who make men’s lives better through reducing cancer and depression. Perhaps these doctors will one day help the man who, without help would create the virus that causes the dead to return to the living (and seek freshly shaven flesh), will go on to own a children’s bookstore bringing joy to all.

I need you

While I’ll be throwing in some encouragement money to other participants of Movember (known as smooth-faced boys who feebly attempt to become a man one month out of twelve) I need you to back me and my team of Indubitable Fellows with real hard cash…

Click the link. Donate. Save the world.

Breaking the rules

While we would normally follow the rules around starting Movember clean-shaven, this year the rules includes the statement: If you don’t like our moustaches, we don’t like your laws.

So my fellows and I are taking the opportunity to start the month with pre-grown moustaches. If you don’t like it, cry me a river, baby (but still donate!)

I may also wear a jaunty hat.

G’wan, you know you want to donate:

Here’s my personal link again: http://mobro.co/MrIdle

And the fellows: http://moteam.co/the-indubitable-fellows

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They are all cheats. Yes, even that person.

It is past time to admit that all successful professional individual sport athletes are drug cheats.

How many years of yesterday’s winners being uncovered as cheats before we realise they are just the future trajectory of today’s heroes? How many times do busted athletes have to say “everyone was doing it and it seemed to be sanctioned and everyone over at the official governing sports body knew” before we stop ignoring the implications?

The implication is this: Name your favourite sports star. Drug cheat.

I don’t see how anyone could draw any other conclusion. The pressure is too high. The rewards are too great. The availability of drugs is universal at every level of sport. Can you really suggest that a successful athlete at the highest levels has resisted the challenge, the nagging doubt to give themselves, brilliant athlete as they are, just a little edge? A little help? At its most benign, something to level the playing field with those other unscrupulous drug cheats?

I used to think that LZR suit swimming records should be marked separately to distinguish them between from non-LZR records. But really, why? A drug cheat will eventually break those records.

At best, all you can reasonably argue is that drug cheats in LZR suits had an unfair advantage over the non-suit drug cheats. LZR suit technology was patented and tied to a single sponsor, which is unfair – so it was banned. Performance enhancing drugs are available to everyone, which is the very definition of fairness.

So what do we do about it?

We can continue the fantasy, of course. I call it The-athletes-from-my-country-are-clean-unlike-the-athletes-from-my-country-ten-years-ago-who-were-caught-cheating-however-if-athletes-from-other-countries-beat-the-athletes-from-my-country-in-that-event-I-will-publicly-muse-that-those-athletes-are-on-drugs-but-if-others-muse-that-my-country’s-athletes-are-on-drugs-I-will-point-to-semi-scientific-musings-that-they-are-simply-genetically-gifted-to-a-previously-unknown-level-and-just-have-bigfeet-or-efficientlungs-or-supertwitchmuscles-but-no-drugs-no-drugs-no-drugs” path. It’s been working for us since the 1980’s. Hell, I remember people using similar sentences in 1980, so it’s probably been working for us for fifty years.

But if we don’t want to go with that, what could we do? Often I hear: take the money out of it. We could reduce the rewards. If the lure of money is causing people to cheat, restrict their ability to earn from sporting achievement. There are lots of problems with this method. For starters, even when there wasn’t lots of money people cheated for all kinds of reasons: To be the best. For pride of country. Because EVERYONE ELSE WAS.

And that is before we get into all the problems of limiting people’s abilities to make money, which I personally find unethical. So – that idea is out. What else?

We could separate events into performance enhanced and non-performance enhanced! Brilliant! Popular! We’ll all back the ‘clean’ Olympics and heap accolades and sponsorship money on ‘clean’ athletes and those performance enhancing athletes will all stop out of shame and come good.

Yeah, that’ll work. Oh, wait…

If there was a clean Olympics and a performance enhanced Olympics, no athlete would attend the clean one. What’s the point of being the fastest clean athlete when there is someone running four seconds faster than you over a hundred meters? The fastest person alive is NOT the clean one. If someone asked “Who’s the fastest person in the world?” and the answer is “Such and such hold the official Guinness book of records as fastest person” the follow up question would be “Yes, that’s very nice, but who is the ACTUAL FASTEST?” And everyone would know the answer. Athletes want to be that second answer – the real answer.

And lastly – and here’s the rub – the CLEAN ATHLETES WOULD ALL CHEAT.

Or we can do what is happening today unofficially sanctioned everywhere – have at it. Let the drugs be developed, marketed and used in the open.

It would offer better protection for young athletes. If the drugs are legal but restricted, it will be harder to give them to high school students, or have an approved list available for them (and here I lose many of you, because above all other things, we LOVE our pretence that teens don’t use).

If athletes were going to turn into horses from injections, we’d already have horses. If athletes are dying from heart failure, it’s better to be able to correct attribute it to a certain performance enhancing drug than just say “Shucks, I guess those supertwitchmuscles just were too much for his heart over time.”

Plus all the on-flow benefit to society of these drugs. Who knows where the technology could assist everyday people? If a performance enhancing drug caused heart problems, the counter-drug could be the thing that saves a million lives. If doctors – already forced to work for over 24 hours without a break – could take legal, tested and approved alertness drugs, all the better, right?

But, our hypocrisy is a warm, warm blanket. We can continue to pretend. It’s a very attractive path. Today’s athletes continue to inspire as role models we could aspire to, if we just got off the couch and put on some running shoes. We can turn a blind eye to teenagers using performance enhancing drugs (and if they are caught, they’re unrepresentative lone-wolf cheats, right?) We get a continuous news cycle of past heroes falling. It is win all round really – the inspiration AND the performance AND the drama.

So, name your favourite sports star. Just a clean, clean athlete, able to achieve feats better than any person ever, including all those performance-enhanced cheats of past, through diet, training and supertwitchmuscles. Or something. Just no drugs, no drugs, no drugs.

It is certainly a great story.

Over to you: Would you be OK with open slather performance enhancing? Who’s your favourite clean athlete?

My response to Leiby Kletzy’s murder

This post first appeared today on Mamamia – check it out here, there are lots of comments!

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Headlines in newspapers online are written to make you click on them. When I saw the picture of Leiby Kletzy with the words “Lost boy killed after asking for help” I knew what was to come.

Not the story so much, which is horrifying and heartbreaking. I too, have only one son and have three daughters to the Kletzy family’s four. The death of a child is a tragedy and reading of this little boy’s death made my chest constrict and heart ache. It would for anyone, parent or non-parent alike. However, it wasn’t reading the story that I was dreading; it is the change in society over the next few days.

For the next week I can expect several people to say directly to my daughter, in my presence, not to trust anybody, to never talk to strangers.  They’ll tell me, in front of my daughter, how sad it is that you just never know where the next psycho lives and what a shame we live in a society where I can never, ever, let my child out of my sight.

People who know I believe in the ‘free range’ philosophy of raising children will make a point to contact me or send me the link. See, do you see? This is what happens when a child walks home alone.

Because even though it isn’t true, it seems like it sometimes. The SMH headline contains two messages : every child is in danger and never ask for help from strangers. Newspapers don’t run on being objective and calm, newspapers run on papers sold and clicks online. A child’s death is news, even if you have to get it from the other side of the globe. Very few papers will point out that you are more likely to die from a lightning strike or choking on a BBQ sausage that have your child abducted by a stranger then murdered. There is very little in society more life threatening than putting your child in a car and driving them around, yet we ignore it. We don’t weigh risk objectively.

It really took me by surprise the first time someone gave my daughter stranger danger advice. By now, though, my default response is to immediately squat down next to my five year old daughter and say “Don’t listen to this person. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, talk to the nearest adult. If you are lost, talk to the nearest adult. You can trust them.”

As horrible as Leiby Kletxy’s death is, he was found because the community went all out to help search for the missing boy. The good people in this story outweigh the bad person by thousands to one. We do live in a community. Almost everyone is good. Tragedy happens, yes, but it is thankfully rare. When my daughter leaves the house to walk to a friend’s house, I don’t tell her to watch out for strangers, I tell her to watch out for cars and wave to everyone – to build her own community.

Because communities keep us safe.

Modern Feats of Strength for the Modern Dad

Dads are pretty freaking awesome. Tough bastards too. I know its hard to see, when compared to men of ages past. Sure, ancient man is what we’ve been trying to beat out of men for the last four decades or so (I mean, Hercules might be muscular oiled chest and leather with dashing hair but he’s also Mr I-killed-my-wife-and-kids, you know) but we’re constantly held up against such men, and the movie starts who play them. Time for us blokes to fight back.

Can the modern, civilised Dad, also be metaphorically the strapping hero-of-old? I say yes. If fact, modern man undertakes feats that would make yea-who-sails-across-the-sea-to-attack-countries-backed-by-actual-live-Gods tremble.

Now King Arthur, he had it easy. I mean, on one hand he dies from a wound inflicted by his son, Mordred – well, son/nephew and here’s a hint for free if it is not already obvious: never fuck your sister – but on the other hand, he ruled the entire country just because he pulled a giant sword out of a stone. But if someone said “How about a super sharp knife to your nutsack?” he’d quiver in his chain mail. Yet Modern Dads worldwide step up to their doctors for vasectomies every day. Instead of a sword pulled from the round stone – a sword thrust into two stones*.

My personal feat status: The Reverse King Arthur: 1 to Idle over the men of steel.

Returning to Hercules, he had to complete twelve feats of strength. Pretty tough, until you consider he had help. From Gods. For fuck’s sake, he was half God himself, which is a massive cheat in my book. How can I compete?

After all, my status in bed aside, I’m no God.

Yeah, let that sentence can hang as it’s own paragraph for a second. It deserves it.

To touch on a point again, Hercules was required to complete the twelve feats of strength as penance for murdering his wife and children. Killing your wife and children? That’s a dog act if you ask me. Not tough at all. You want to know what’s tough, Hercules? Telling your wife that if you die, she’ll get lots of money. Now THAT is tough. What’s more, she knows that if I slip into a coma, she’ll get 75% of my current salary until I’m 65 as well as my death payout, which by itself is enough money to pay off the mortgage, childcare for three children for five years, and a little bit extra for bills and, I assume, her new gigolo.

My personal feat status: Feed the black dream**: a second to his idleness, none to heroes of the golden past.

Jason and his Argonauts spent a long time on boats. Months at sea, broken only by goat chasing (yes, goat chasing) and cliffs clashing and a lovely fleece jumper. Months at sea. All by themselves. All oiled. All muscles. All… Greek. Yet I bet not one offered to check the other for colon cancer. Not in the accepted medical method practiced today. Before you judge, obviously their society was more progressive than our socially, yet not more medically advanced. That said, it’s those kind of ‘before you do that, can I know your first name’ situations where real Modern Men come to the fore. Real Dads get checked.

My personal feat status: Holding the clashing cliffs apart: Not yet done. Well, there was “Lachlan” (I forget his Dr Surname) who checked me for internal bleeding when I got run over by a car in 1996. And “Frank”, who diagnosed me with haemorrhoids and gave me some pills that, to this day, gives my wife a violent fit of giggles when she remembers the look on my face immediately after ‘taking’ the medicine. I plan to complete the feat of holding the clashing cliffs apart in the next few years. Forty doth approach. Jason and his Argonauts: zero.

So I’m two from three. Strapping heroes: nada.

Have you, or has your man completed any of the Modern Dad feats of strength?

There are other feats of strength out there – The new Atlas (corporate hell), The new Sisyphus (engaged parenthood) and the new Beowulf (idle parenting, send your kids outside). Any more?

* The ‘sword’ may or may not be thrust into actual testes. But it gets uncomfortably close, like touch your eyeball uncomfortable. Except it’s not your eyeball, it’s your nuts.

** The Bride Stripped Bare reference, a book I unwittingly gave to my wife on a wedding anniversary.

Beth can’t smile for photos

Just today I did this survey: Can you spot the real smiles from the fake?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/

Real smiles and fake smiles come from different triggers in the brain. A real smile is unconscious. That’s why different muscles – especially around the eyes – move during real smiles, but often not with a fake smile.

Which is why my two-year-old daughter can’t smile for photos. She tries, of course, but she does an all-teeth exposed grimace instead. It’s a little disconcerting.

Almost!

But it does mean one thing.

All my two-year-old’s smiles are genuine.

Every time she sees me, every time she smiles, it is from actual pleasure. What can I say? I love it. I love that idea.

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Did you do the test? How many did you get right?

Potholes and colic: a conversation

Person one: Your local Council, how can I help?

Person two: I’d like to report an issue with the road outside my house.

P1: I’m the road engineer for the district, what seems to be the problem?

P2: There is a pothole outside my house.

P1: Impossible.

P2: Impossible?

P1: Potholes don’t exist.

P2: Potholes don’t exist?

P1: Correct.

P2: Perhaps I do not understand you correctly. You’re saying potholes don’t occur.

P1: Exactly.

P2: We’re talking about a small round hole in the road, ummmm, you drive over it and it sometimes damages the rim of your wheel?

 P1: Oh! Those exist all right, but they aren’t potholes.

P2: Everyone calls them potholes.

P1: Everyone is wrong.

P2: Everyone is wrong?

P1: You’re talking about a wearing of the asphaltic surface?

P2: Maybe, if that is what a pothole is called.

P1: Hmmmm… Maybe it is an exposure of the concrete base. Or a ravelled edged depression following fatigue cracks. Were there fatigue cracks prior to the ravelled edged depression forming?

P2: Cracks? I’m not sure. Maybe.

P1: I mean the point here is that ‘pothole’ is an anachronistic term that people think they know what’s happening, except they don’t.

P2: Don’t potholes form when water washes a bit underneath the road so a little ‘pot’ sized hole –

P1: I’d say more kettle-sized

P2: – pot sized hole forms and gets worse as more cars drive over it.

P1: Yes, but no. Sometimes it can be the sun. Expanding and contracting the asphaltic surface – quite common here in Australia.

P2: Whatever. So what do we do next? I really would like you to repair the wearing of the asphaltic surface. Or fix the exposure of the concrete base? Is it different fixes for the different problems?

P1: No, pretty much whatever it is we just come out and fill it up with some more asphalt. Works about ninety percent of the time. If it reappears, call me and we’ll come and have a more detailed look.

P2: Now, don’t take this the wrong way, I mean, I love road engineers and roads are great and I’m happy knowing you guys know your stuff…

P1: Go on

P2: But wouldn’t this conversation have gone a lot quicker if I’d said, “I have a pothole outside my house” and then you have said, “OK, we’ll come fill it in?”

P1: That conversation could never have happened.

P2: Why not?

P1: Potholes don’t exist.

P2: …

P1: {YAWN}

P2: My, that was a big yawn! Tired?

P1: Yes, sorry, I was up all night with my newborn.

P2: I’m a paediatrician! Anything I can help with?

P1: My child has colic.

P2: Impossible.

P1: Impossible?

P2: Colic doesn’t exist.

P1: Colic doesn’t exist?

P2: Correct.

P1: Perhaps I do not understand you correctly. You’re saying colic doesn’t exist.

P2: Exactly.

P1: We’re talking about an inconsolable screaming baby, ummmm, very fussy and farty?

P2: Oh! That happens all right, but it isn’t colic.

P1: Everyone calls it colic.

P2: Everyone is wrong.

P1: Everyone is wrong?

P2: We’re talking about an irritable nervous system?

P1: Maybe, if that what colic is called.

P2: Hmmmm… Maybe it is fourth trimester issues? It could even be a normal part of your child’s development. Is your child developing normally?

P1: Oh, I’m not sure. I think so.

P2: I mean the point here is that ‘colic’ is an anachronistic term that people think they know what’s happening, except they don’t.

P1: Doesn’t an upset stomach -

P2: Upset gastrointestinal system.

P1: – upset stomach cause colic?

P2: Yes, but no. Perhaps it is reflux? An ear infection? Ear infections are quite common here in Australia.

P1: Whatever. So what do you suggest I do? I would really like to solve the irritable nervous system. Or the fourth trimester issue. Is it different fixes for the different problems?

P2: No, pretty much whatever it is you should just use soothing measures plus stomach massaging and maybe try changing your diet. In a pinch, some parents find sips of mint tea helps too. Works ninety percent of the time. If the child keeps it up for longer than three hours a day or for several days in a row, come and see us and we’ll have a more detailed look.

P1: Now, don’t take this the wrong way, I mean, I love paediatricians and infant health is really important to me and I’m happy knowing you guys know your stuff…

P2: Go on.

P1: But wouldn’t this conversation have gone a lot quicker if I’d said “I have a colicky baby” and then you have said, “OK, try stomach massaging and stop eating cabbage?”

P2: That conversation would never have happened.

P1: Why not?

P2: Colic doesn’t exist.

OK, all jokes aside: someone tell me why it is so important to deny colic’s existence, given that colic is shorthand for a very upset baby.

Reviewing one thing at a time is for the weak. iPad 2, Thor and Nougat Eggs.

iPad 2 Review: Lighter, thinner and two shitty cameras.

I could stop right there. But I won’t. I must also mention it has a shitty speaker that only Garry Barker could love (oh wait, he does). Of course, for those of us not taking direct payments from Apple (or as in Garry’s case, simply unable to write an objective or credible sentence on the topic) I must point out that the speaker is worse – much worse – than the original iPad. Sure, there’s a volume button, but what the fuck is it for? The little bastard is either on full or on silent.

Also, when you turn the iPad 2 side on, it is still visible to the eye. Unacceptable in this day and age.

That said, the iPad 2 a fucking shiny piece of kit. The feel and heft of the thing are a nice improvement. The funny thing I’ve noticed is that iPad 1 owners lift it and say “oh nice” and first timers lift it and say “Hmmmm, still a little heavy”. Well, they can piss off. Yes, I’m talking directly to you.

The thing is a marvel that makes Xoom (or whatever it is called) owners wee a little. Consider this: the $5 Garageband app and a $30 connector gives you more recording and editing power than the Beatles ever had. That should make everyone wee a little, don’t you think?

iCab Mobile is a web browser that is everything Safari should be, but isn’t. Dropbox integration, downloads, nicely done tabs, fully screen mode and more add-ons that you can shake a stick at. If you haven’t got it, get it.

This thing is so close to being the ultimate personal computer. If ONLY you could, say, attach a file to an email, or get it to understand we spell colour with a u and that no, I didn’t want to write ‘shut’.

So the iPad 2: zero stars (well, five stars minus one for each shitty camera, minus one for side-on visibility and minus two for the speaker). Get one. Right now.

Thor (2011) Review: Another charming good-looking buff-as Aussie takes a role and eats it for breakfast before impregnating half the women in the audience (through a complicated method of getting them all worked up so they go home and jump their partners – the other half just file him into their spank bank).

Is it fun? Shit yeah. Swords, guns, fistfights and ice giants and the biggest hammer you have ever seen. Seriously, just let this dude into North Korea and problem solved. One of the big problem Superman and super-powered people movies have is making it interesting. After all, the guy is a fucking God, who’s going to fuck with him at the pub? Even with those ludicrous blonde eyebrows. Did you see his hammer? Odin says the hammer has the power to destroy but also a greater power to build. I’m not so sure, for one, at no time in the movie does Thor do any kind of building with the giant come-fuck-you hammer and secondly, the tool that has the power to destroy and power to build is an allen key. Which makes a less interesting movie but can take up a whole weekend. And destroy a marriage. But I digress.

Kenneth Brenner, who made one of my top five movies “Much Ado About Nothing” written by some toff (and I believe if I wore a t-shirt that said “Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favourite movies” I’d get laid by random women more (that, or “I like watching Grey’s Anatomy”) – more as in, more often than never) makes Thor (to return to my point, lost two paragraphs ago) interesting by surrounding him by other super tough bastards, then of course, stripping his power. Honestly, it’s more interesting than it sounds.

Overall, Thor gets five stars. It’s good fun, great personable lead, and your date will most likely have sex with you after the movie. Go Aussies.

Nougat Eggs: The Egg of Eggs. Yet let down by freedom.

Look, I’m all for fair trade chocolate but let me tell you, slave-kids made great chocolate eggs. Not like the muck you get these days. Unions, I tell you: fuckers.

For example: take the mighty Nougat egg. Lovely blue wrapper with china-made little chicken on top. Chocolate coating filled with – of course – nougat. In my day, slave children filled it with white nougat with a centre of yellow nougat – just like an egg. Those slave children, with boot on neck, gave me a happy childhood. These days, it’s just sort of mixed yellow and white nougat. Sure, it might taste more like freedom but when was freedom worth more than nicely separated coloured nougat? Never.

Nougat egg: Four stars. Get one.

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