Showing posts from December, 2007

News: Entertain Me!

To me, there is nothing like sitting on the couch with a nice big, hot cup of coffee and a newspaper. It's a mystery to me, but for some reason it can be very relaxing to be able to sip a steaming cuppa and read the news: usually morbid stuff like how many people died in what tragedy in which part of the world. I remember that when I used to have a TV at home I would watch the news as a form of entertainment. Sure, I rationalized that I was "informing myself" about world events. But, get real, it was enjoyable to sit and munch on a cheese-topped cracker and listen to the newscasters report on things that only happen to other people. It is for this reason, I also used to like listening to the news on the radio. Talk-back radio was especially fun because you got to hear regular people air their opinions on how leaders of foreign countries should shape their policies towards other foreign countries. When it comes to foreign affairs (especially someone else's), everyon

Center of Attention

Why is it that some people seek to be the center of attention? There are some situations where being the focus is expected (as the bride at your wedding, for example) and there are times when one should stay out of the limelight (for instance, when you are being investigated for fraud). As a kid, the best way to seek attention was to either win an award or throw a tantrum. Both tactics worked for me. As an adult, I have noticed that it becomes more and more difficult to be the center of attention. Winning awards is harder to do and throwing tantrums is not nearly as effective as I would have hoped, so I have discovered. In my opinion, the more successful attention seekers in a social scene are those with a really good sense of humor. Witty people tend to attract others. Everyone likes a good laugh, especially if the person telling the joke or the story tells it well. On the other hand, it is a bit dangerous because you can lose your audience just as easily as you got them. A few bad jo

Semi-Intelligent Gifts

It is that time of year again when all good little children write down their wish lists and hope for the best: firetrucks, footballs, fluffy bunnies. However, parents' shopping lists this year featured a $300 robotic dinosaur called Pleo , who, incidentally, is the most popular toy of 2007 (at least according to some website or other, which probably makes it true). According to the blurb: "This techno dino is equipped with sensors (35 in total) throughout his tiny body, allowing Pleo to react instantly to sight, sound and touch. They also make Pleo capable of expressions and reactions. They also make each Pleo unique. As Pleos learn, Ugobe says, they begin to form their own distinct behaviors and personalities developed from their environment". From the sounds of it, Pleo is better than a real pet because you can go away for a vacation and not have to worry about it.


I'm all for saving the environment. We have spent thousands of years messing up this planet. It's time to right the wrongs, stop plundering the planet get the place back in order. It's time we cleaned house. There are things that one can do to facilitate this: drive eco-friendly cars (or ride a bike), recycle glass, plastics and paper, and buy environmentally friendly toothpicks (see: Spirit of Nature ). But there are some environmentally "friendly" products out there that make no sense at all. Take, for example, scented plastic bags used for disposing dirty diapers. Living in a household with small kids, I understand the whole nappy sack thing: you want to keep the smell in the bag. I relate to that. So why would you want to buy biodegradeable nappy sacks ? Your Huggies won't biodegrade for a thousand years, yet the nappy sacks take only 60 days to turn to dust. What a great invention! I suppose that 60 days is long enough to get the sack out of your house

Call Centers in the Caribbean?

I read in Business Week Online that India is losing business to the Caribbean. According to the article, the number of Caribbean call center employees jumped from 11,000 in 2002 to 55,000 in 2007. That‘s pretty cool. North America has discovered that the Caribbean Islands are full of hotels. Hotels deal with grumpy customers. Senior Management contends that people who deal with grumpy hotel customers would make great call center staff. A good solid business argument - and a suspicious one. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had a choice of traveling first-class on business to Calcutta or Barbados, I think that Barbados would win. Do I want to spend time in busy, dusty New Delhi, or would I prefer to wear board shorts and do business on white, sandy beaches in the Bahamas? Would I want to eat curry in a sweaty restaurant in Bangalore, or drink dacharies by the pool in Aruba? Of course, doing business in the Caribbean has its drawbacks, too. One of them is if the Caribbean Islands

English Lesson

It says somewhere that one of G-d’s greatest gifts to us is the ability to forget. That way, pain and suffering don’t stay with us forever. Memories of bad experiences fade with time. The cost of this all, as you well know, is that good memories also fade away. We forget details of places, people and events. Sometimes we even make up our own memories in place of the ones that we forgot. Have you ever had a conversation that went something like this: “Yeah, I remember. It was a big blue boat with white writing on the side. How can I forget?” “Actually, it was a small white boat with blue writing on the side. You were three at the time, how can you possibly remember?” “No, I’m sure of it: big, blue with white writing!” This is called misremembering. It’s not exactly forgetting, but it’s remembering incorrectly. We do this for all sorts of things, especially people: “He was such a good guy.” “Well, he evicted us from our house.” “No, wasn’t that his brother?” “I think you are misrememb

The Crash

On the way home from work the other night we passed the scene of a car accident. The vehicle in question had both its front and rear ends smashed in and it was positioned across two lanes. There were no other cars involved, although one could easily be mistaken considering the amount of broken glass strewn across the road. It must have taken extraordinary skill to crash the car in such a spectacular way, especially since the road was dry, well lit, flat and very straight. As we passed by, I glanced out the window and noticed the driver sitting on the road barrier. I know it was the driver because he was inhaling his cigarette smoke so deeply that, if he let go, the cigarette might get sucked down his throat. His foot was also rapidly tapping the floor. Two sure signs. What also struck me was that the barrier was twisted horizontally, creating a perfect place to sit. How convenient. Why not make the most of a bad situation, sit down and have a smoke? Wait a minute, this sounds a litt

The Truth About President Bush

I have to admit, watching clips of President Bush messing up his speeches is funny. I don’t know why that is. I mean, poor guy, it seems that every time he stands behind the microphone it is a disaster waiting to happen. “…and if you are working hard to put food on your family…” Granted, he is a very visible President. He attends lots of functions, gives lots of speeches and he is likely to make a mistake every now and then. Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure that every President before him made the occasional slip. Bush has been in power for nearly two terms, so he has ample opportunity to make a mess of it. “..I know that human beings and fish can live together peacefully…” Okay, but then you can say that every President faced the same challenge. It just so happens that President Bush botches it more often than others. Or that could just be the media picking up on his shortcomings. Ostensibly, the President of the United States is supposed to be the most powerful man in the world and the fa


When you think of a real man, do you think of a middle-aged professional with graying hair, wearing a power tie and a fancy Rolex, working in a big office building with a doorman and marble floors; or do you think of rough-faced cowboys breaking-in wild horses, or muscled workmen on a rig surrounded by huge pipes and oversized spanners? Does the word “bloke” conjure up images of sophisticated, educated and refined gentlemen smoking long cigars in the club, or of tall, strong, sweaty men doing the jobs only real men can do? Sport is also manly. I’m talking about well-built blokes with bowling-ball biceps who put their bodies on the line because they only play to win. No pain, no gain. If you aint sweatin’, you aint workin’.* Let’s face it, there is nothing more manly than doing hard, physical work and getting sweaty. I’m not talking about perspiration – that’s too delicate a term. I’m talking about sweet, salty, gritty, sweat. Men love to sweat. It’s true. Here’s an example: wha

Welcome to the New You

Identity Theft is a crime that claims more and more victims every day. Personality aside, your details are a large part of who you are - your family status, your health, address, telephone numbers, income and so on. The age of technology, where your personal information is stored electronically, has given rise to this new phenomenon. If someone can tap into that database, they have the ability to virtually become you (in many senses of the term). This is only possible because the security of the information is at the fickle mercy of technology, organizational policy, budgets and the expertise of the database administrator. Identity Theft sounds like a bad thing. But it aint necessarily so. Here’s why: I figure that the medical condition that troubles the majority of people today (whether they know it or not) is depression. Everybody has gripes, complaints and dissatisfaction. I’m not talking about complaints about lousy service at the local grocery store; I’m talking about complain

My Theory on Gifts

Everyone knows that buying a gift for your spouse can be a dangerous undertaking. If you buy her jewelry then you have to make sure it is exactly the color and style she likes - otherwise it shows that you haven’t been paying attention. If you buy him any type of clothing, no matter what it is, he will think you are unimaginative. A popular grumble is, “what do you give a person who already has everything?” This person already has so much stuff that he will not appreciate a gift which merely adds to his collection of material possessions. So the only option left is to buy him something that is not a material possession, like charity in his name, or maybe a consumable (bottle of wine, a cake, batteries for his MP3 player) or, say, an experience (theatre tickets, a meal at a fancy restaurant) and so on. If you can’t find the right gift, you can always blame it on the manufacturing industry. Look, the fact is that we each have a birthday every year, but inventors and manufacturers can’t

Snippets of Conversation

One of the most often used opening scenes in movies is when the camera follows a man walking along a street. The man inevitably crosses the road, enters a shop or gets into his car just as the main characters appear. The camera stops moving so that it can concentrate on the main characters, leaving the man in the opening scene to move off camera, never to be heard from again. He was merely an excuse for the camera to get from its starting position to where the main characters are located. I wonder what the "opening scene man" is thinking as he plays his part. Is he measuring his strides? Is he trying desperately to walk the route without tripping over? Well, he certainly isn't trying to remember his lines. After all, the "opening scene man" never talks. It could be that the "opening scene man" is not thinking anything in particular. Perhaps he is a professional "opening scene man" who has done this opening scene many times and just wants to

Pink Elephants

The title of this blog is "Pink Elephants", although it has nothing to do with pink elephants. But since I am afraid of a visit from the KGB, I thought I'd better don the proverbial fake mustache and give this post an innocuous name. I'm sure the KGB internet crawlers are prowling for articles just like this one. Fox News has Putin winning a landslide victory of 306 seats of a possible 450 seats in the lower house. That's only 68% of the vote. What's more, overall, Putin won 61% of the vote. Fox News calls this a major win. Well, Fox, I disagree. This is not a triumph for Putin, it is a disgrace. It is utterly despicable that a former Major in the KGB managed to only convince 61% of the people to vote for him. Vladimir Putin should be ashamed of himself. According to news articles from before the elections in the former Soviet Union, factory workers were being forced to vote in favor of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on pain of unemployment. This o

Are Museums Outdated?

According to 24 Hour Museum News 15,462 people visited the Coal Mining Museum for England in August 2004. Between April and August of the same year, 2,118,518 visitors passed through the turnstiles of the British Museum. While these statistics are almost as old as some of the exhibits, one wonders why so many people go to visit museums. I mean, in this day and age, everything you want to know about any subject - including History - can be found on the internet. If you want to know about Christopher Columbus, go to If you want to know about Australian explorers, Burke and Wills, go here: If you want to learn about Herod, Wikipedia will help you out. Do you think that you will learn something extra by being in the same room as a wax replica of an original reconstruction of an ancient tool, based on either fragments of iron and crustacean fossils or some book-worm-historian's educated (best) guess of what life was like way back