Monday, 29 November 2010

Post#166 Patrick White - A Denunciation

Patrick White is the only Australian to have yet won the Nobel Prize for Literature. What that says to me is that the Nobel Prize is greatly overrated. I was subjected to White's efforts at literature through the coercion of a University course in English. Fifty lashes with the cat would be a distinctly preferable ordeal. I came to the rapid conclusion that his oeuvre was a massive derivative of the principles behind the "Royal Nonesuch" as described by Mark Twain in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If ever there was a rort upon the credulous... The style of his writing is obscure, conceited and tiresome. The subject matter is grotesque, trivial, odious. The old boy loved bodily functions and was particularly fond of constructing scenes in which anality could feature. A while ago someone made a big deal of the fact that publishers rejected unattributed samples of his works sent to them as purported efforts of novice writers. This was supposed to be a scandal and a shame. I say that it demonstrates fine judgement on the part of those editors. If only educators would see the light and spare students from him in future. In fact, if the Nazis come back and want books to burn, I'll drive the trucks to the bonfires for them - as long as they're loaded to the gunnels with the wanks - er - works of Patrick White. I denounce him as a vile, obnoxious curmudgeon and fraud.

Post#165 Jim Stagg's Dynamite Hot Chili - A Denunciation

Now, to be fair, this is a matter of personal taste. I don't know what anybody else really tastes when they eat any more than I know what they see or hear. We'd have to swap bodies with each other (perhaps brain components as well). I can only go by the perceived reactions and the counted votes of others. This material is sold in Australia as a "Product of the USA" by Hormel Foods. The label contains phrases like "ignited by Habanero peppers".

I was surprised to discover that this meal in a can is utterly bland. At best I'd call it mild chili. Others who tried it agreed that the claims on the label about its savoury "heat" were laughable. I noticed that the actual chili content was a very low percentage.

It's not unpleasant or inedible. It just ain't remotely what it's said to be. Perhaps in the USA they have less tolerance for real chili. Maybe we're just being conned. Either way, if you want roaring hot chili that'll rip the roof off - don't bother with this.

I denounce it as an overhyped disappointment

Post#164 BAM - An Endorsement

Bam by Reckitt Benckiser is a product which I've been seeing advertised, with the usual claims of rapid destruction of grime. I didn't take it too seriously until I helped a friend clean a residential premises from which his tenants had recently departed. He'd heard of Bam and bought some of each of the three types on sale for various tasks. I was amazed to see that the stuff actually worked! Not quite as magically as in the ads, but not with sufficient deviation to make you call the ACCC. (Wikipedia article here) (ACCC site here)

The toilet was a masterpiece of vindictive tenantry. The departed ones had given it their all, short of breaking the bowl. I figure that's on the same principle as a sniper wounding a soldier so that his comrades are burdened with him, rather than killing him outright. If there's no intact toilet bowl, the landlord can't suffer horribly as he cleans it, can he? Yellow-topped Bam thwarted the would-be tormentors' intentions. In a couple of minutes it ripped the plaque-like encrustations from the porcelain (with the help of mild scrubbing). I've had to use a lino knife and scrape fossilised shit off in similar circumstances; in cases where Domestos, Ajax, etc,. were impotent.

The Orange-topped Bam did a great job removing painted graffiti from a set of concrete slabs. These are old, porous and just about impossible to remove contaminants from with normal household products. Industrial-gauge chemicals and high-pressure spraying are usually required. With a bit of help from a scrub-brush, Orange-topped Bam removed all traces of the damage. And it's actually for bathroom and kitchen use! We didn't get around to using the Green-topped Bam so I can't comment on that.

A caveat: I shudder to think of the processes by which this stuff is made, in order to be so effective, and the environmental effects of the ingredients once they go down the gurgler. However, when you're in a tough spot and desperate measures are needed...ya can't be green all the time.

I endorse Yellow Bam and Orange Bam as genuine muck-busters that live up to the claims made by the manufacturers.

(I'm informed by Reckitt Benckiser that the Yellow -topped Bam is now in a new packaging with a white top - Wednesday, 4th June, 2008.)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Post#163 "Nazis on the Moon? Report to my Ready Room Number One!...And bring the whip and the oil."

I found this by one of those interesting Google-glitches that link the most unlikely things. The Energia crew have made some brilliant Star Trek parodies which, in some ways, are more entertaining than the offerings of the franchise owners. This may prove to be quite engaging also.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Post#162 Lost Manners

I've just read The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys by Doris Kearns Goodwin and discovered an interesting clue to a forgotten custom. In one of the photo sections in the book a group of men and women are shown attending a Fourth of July celebration in Concord Massachusets.

The scene is from the late 19th or early 20th Century and shows a flag being raised. The men in the photograph are bareheaded and holding their hats under their arms. The women are wearing their hats and saluting by holding the brims of their hats. It's the sort of thing people probably wouldn't pass down to their grandchildren and but for the photograph I'd never have guessed the existence of this practice. I'm pretty sure the women aren't holding their hats to prevent them blowing away..the uniformity of the gesture makes it unlikely.

This sort of discovery always delights me. It's like finding a cute seashell on the shore of history. And there are billions more out there to be seen...if we look closely.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Post#161 All The Free Speech You can Handle (Why not? Like most free's worthless)

We can all do without the secret police (and the Spanish Inquisition) but I've begun to wonder whether political "freedom" really exists in any community larger than a nomad camp or a very small Greek city-state.

The background noise in English-speaking countries is always the sound of the politicos telling the inhabitants about the wonderful heritage of the "Westminster system". The received wisdom is that freedom of speech, parliamentary elections and an independent judiciary make our way of life superior.

In practice, the obstacles to applying these prerogatives are formidable. The citizen who wishes to test the principles will find that the promise held out of glorious freedom is one of the better ironic jokes.

The capacity of Ministers of the Crown to ignore the community is infinite. No matter how often we tell them that we want the banks reined in they ignore us. No matter how loud the objections to public company fat-cat salaries, nothing is done. There seems to be a religion established in Western lands that has replaced the traditional theisms. It's called "reform" and it is based on the proposition that anything done to unleash greed is very good indeed. Politicians are obligated to subscribe to this cult or suffer beratement by the enthralled commentators of the right-wing media.

Well, I blaspheme against the false god Reform. I defile its sacred books; The Wealth of Nations and Atlas Shrugged. I profane its doctrines as propagated in The Australian and other News Ltd organs.

Reform (the real thing as opposed to the cult object) is change and that's all it is. The cultists believe that the word is a synonym for "improvement". Here's a simple proof to the contrary: Give me a two-kilo hammer and a Ming vase and I'll use the hammer to re-form the vase. Not many will find the result to be an improvement.

Can anyone get past the ranting of the Reformists and challenge their wreckage of the national assets? Joe Hockey has had a small go at the banks on that theme and even he can't beat the bullshit down. The fact that millions agree with him doesn't matter a damn. It's regarded as a quaint proof of the ignorance of the masses who don't know well enough to unquestioningly worship Reform.

Shit to Reform and all who adore it. I'm allowed to say that ... because it won't make a bit of difference.