Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Bamboo and rabbits. Just don't.

Like 99% of the human population, I like to think I'm reasonably intelligent with a good head for common sense. But that obviously doesn't mean I live in a world of denial where everything I do is brilliant or has some higher purpose which is not immediately explainable. 

Case in point - bamboo.
not a panda in sight
It would appear to be common sense that you do not plant bamboo in your garden unless you're a fan of hard work or just really, really stupid. Just like you wouldn't put 6 pairs of rabbits in your backyard and check on them every 12 months. 

Black bamboo is strikingly beautiful, and while it doesn't spread like a weed, it does multiply over time if you don't keep control of it by knocking down new growth.

We didn't, and the price we paid was 2 days hard labour in 35 degree, 75%+ humidity, tropical heat. If we didn't have a chain saw, the use of a mini-excavator, and the help of 4 other lovely humans, it would have most likely taken about 3 months. Even so, I didn't enjoy it.

Lesson learned. 


See comment from Passthecream and his photo below. Apparently I'm not alone when it comes to masochistic gardening.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Journalists vs my people...which one is leading the other?

Beyond my comfortable and fortunate bubble, the world can be a harsh, cruel place. I can rant and curse at those I despise, safe in the knowledge that I am unlikely to be harmed physically or by way of sanction. Australia has been referred to in the past as “the lucky country” and I certainly consider myself to be extremely lucky. While I have a healthy contempt for our politicians and law makers, life is many times more peaceful and free here than it is elsewhere.

So I guess that is part of the reason why our news content is the way it is – overwhelmingly focused on our own problems, when much larger and more devastating things are happening just beyond our shores.

The hostage situation in Sydney this week was a test of our journalists’ ethics, morals and talent. I am fairly certain, that as a whole, they failed on all counts. Clambering over each other to declare a terrorist attack in our largest city, it was almost as if some were disappointed that it was not the dreaded ISIL, but merely one deranged lunatic with severe mental problems.

Rupert Murdoch, aka Mr Burns, aka the scumbag oxygen thief, couldn't have said it any better:

Some of the news briefs during the ‘siege’ were so embarrassing; I was deeply ashamed and had to turn them off. The reporters seemed to be quite proud of the fact that the incident was receiving coverage overseas, particularly the US. It was like a little kid showing off his dead hamster to his big brother and being not-so-secretly chuffed at his sibling’s apparent concern. It was sickening.

Who gives a shit whether President Obama has been briefed on the incident? Why does that matter? Are we that desperate for attention and to be liked that we have sunk this low?

I don't really want to answer that last question because it is too depressing.

The situation in Sydney is certainly a tragic one for those that were involved, directly or indirectly - they should be afforded the time and platform to grieve and mourn as they see fit. My concern is for the wider community, who if you believe that the press reflects their interests in terms of priority, are not that bothered by the 141 people that were murdered in Pakistan. That most of them were children shouldn't matter.

Perhaps it is too cynical of me to think that, in our major newspapers' conference rooms, it’s a case of:

two white,fair haired Australians vs 141 brown Pakistanis

Mmm, which one is going to sell more papers? It may be an easy decision for Rupert to make, but I personally find our mainstream websites to be a sad indictment on journalism, and perhaps, us as a nation.
Worthy of interest
I certainly hope we are better than that. I very much hope that we are not so wrapped up in our fortunate world that we discard reports of atrocities as less newsworthy than whether a celebrity President was once mistaken for a waiter.  

Think what you will of Brad Pitt, but he summed it up quite well the other day, even though he was speaking of a completely different news story:

We shouldn't be participating and these sites that are disseminating them should stop. They won’t. And we should stop reading them. We won’t. It’s more of an indictment on us, I think.”

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Health Star Ratings - 100 different flavours of stupid

Unfortunately I have been motivated to have one last crack at the Government's latest IQ tester website. It now allows you to enter in some selected nutritional data into their IQ calculator and, as far as I can ascertain, the more stars = lower IQ if you actually eat them.

Some easy targets:

It is hardly surprising that bacon and butter score so low. Looking into it a bit further, if you enter in the standard data for a chook egg, you get a whopping 4 stars (hooray for real food!). 

data used for the egg rating

That is all well and good until you look at what else is considered worthy of 4 stars

data used for Uncle Toby's cereal
So there you have it. Eating sugary breakfast cereal really is as healthy as eating a chicken egg. What a relief for Uncle Toby and for everyone without a brain. 

But you can really fuck around with the numbers and see what happens if you dump 49g of sugar in a bowl, mix in 30g of protein powder, 15g of fibre (pysllium husks?) and then you get the ultimate health food.

OK, I don't actually know if you can put that mix together and get only 900 kilojoules, but the point is that anything with 49 grams of sugar in it, should automatically get zero stars. 

From what I can gather, you get bonus points for more fibre and protein and that counteracts the amount of sugar and fat. Not surprisingly, you get more penalty points for fat grams than you do sugar.

That they don't require you to enter in total carbohydrates or omega 6 polyunsaturated fats is a sadly predictable omission.  

The health star rating system was always going to be 100 different flavours of stupid, but I suppose it is nice that they've made it so obviously ridiculous that no one will pay any attention to it.

Hope springs eternal. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Dietitians in a douche riot

Just a quick one, because this is clearly not worth the time and effort of anyone who doesn't have a brain bloated with glucose.

The Association of UK Dietitians has given the paleo diet both barrels in their list of diets to avoid - listing it at number two, just behind the 'drink your piss' diet. 

It's probably not fair to point out the physical appearance of someone without knowing their background, but if you're the spokesperson for an authority who advises the general public on how to be healthy, I'm not sure your message will be that convincing if you look like this:

Sian Porter could be in peak health, but it doesn't look like it. I could be wrong. I guess it doesn't matter.

Anyway, the Dietitians Association of Australia has come out in support with typically illogical comments that make little sense to those not reading online news between hits of the crack pipe.

Damn you, stupid lazy people! We have a plan for you and you're not following directions! 

Never mind that the plan doesn't work, never has, but they keep ramming it into our faces with a tireless monotony that speaks of an obtuseness so magnificent to be truly breathtaking.

If I taught kids how to swim and year after year my students either drowned or failed to grasp the concept of keeping afloat, I'm pretty sure I'd eventually get the hint that perhaps my methods were faulty and try something different.

That's enough stupidity for today. The last word goes to Pete Evans:

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I have a thing for unattractive pigs

When surveying the meat section at supermarkets these days, there is an awful lot of lean meat on display. Even ignoring the “heart smart” branded nonsense, traditionally fatty cuts appear to be trimmed of external fat in what I can only assume to be an attempt at making it more attractive to prospective consumers.

Which is why it was a pleasant surprise when something like this is so unattractive to the average punter, that it is put in the discount section:
gorgeous pig
Don’t ask me why they cut the skin off – perhaps to sell it separately and make more money. Nonetheless, the fat crisped up nicely under a hot grill and the thick vein of lard running through the chops allowed the meat to cook without drying out. Pig fat is magic stuff.
crispy delicious pig
We added some sauerkraut because the Germans are undoubtedly switched on when it comes to matching side dishes with pig.
not pig, but delicious all the same
And that was dinner. A few beans, basmati rice for the kids and no complaints.

Speaking of pig skin, and therefore the conversion of it to crackling (scratchings/rind), I get quite a bit of practice cooking it and have found one particular strategy quite effective. I understand that anyone who likes pork will have their own tried and true method, but if that method doesn't involve coating the skin in a fairly thick layer of salt, and then letting it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, making it appear like it is sweating profusely, then you may want to give it a go. Brush the salt off, pat the skin down with paper towel, and reapply a light coating of salt before cooking. 
sweaty pig