Tuesday, June 30, 2015


We all know that everyone’s baby is the smartest, cutest and the best behaved unless of course their misbehaviour creates a good story to demonstrate how smart and cute they are.

At this point I should point out for the benefit for any of my family members reading. No, I am not pregnant.

With everyone carry a camera in their pocket these days, or in the case of my father in a leather pouch on his hip, no baby story is complete without a series of photos.

Baby stories by their very nature are competitive. The premise of every baby story is simple; my baby is better than your baby.

Baby stories can extend beyond human life to the animal members of the family. My brand new puppy just graduated from Puppy Pre-school. Here is a picture of him wearing his graduation mortarboard style hat and a ribbon. He still can’t sit because he just wants to come and be next to me – but he graduated.

My puppy likes to lie in and dig through my veggie patch. He has flattened all of the silver beat and has dug up and eaten all of my carrots. But he is such a cheeky boy, he brings the carrot tops to me like he has killed them to protect me from them.

My wife is twelve weeks pregnant, here is the ultrasound, and here is the 3D image. For the record the 3D image is very detailed. VERY detailed. Looking at the image left me with the thought that I have just looked directly into my colleague’s wife’s womb.  It is to be noted that 12 week old foetus are very creepy. The 3D image could be a poster for an upcoming horror movie blockbuster.

My 2 month old baby daughter says “Da, da, da”, she is so clever. All of the books say most babies do not even start to babble until around 4 months of age and my daughter is already talking. She is calling me Dad, at only two months.

I have the pleasure of petting sitting for a few weeks. The animals are around seven years old and not mine but for the next month they are my babies. Walking them, feeding them, bathing them, talking nonsensically and tucking them into bed. Yes, tucking them in!

Normally I am a sane person. Pets are pets, people are people and each should be treated as such. I just can’t help it though. The cats are just adorable, contents and placid and love to be patted, held and cuddled whilst trying to maintain an air of independence unique to our feline friends. The dogs could not be more eager to please. They just want to love and be loved.

As a result of this love craving the dogs are always right there. To be honest the cats are always in close proximity too.  It is so adorable if not crowded. Sitting on a two seater couch with two cats and two dogs, one of which is a German Shepherd.

Each one clambering to be the closest. And no baby brag is complete without a photo or two.

The pets I am looking after are so intelligent. They all respond to voice commands but more than that they are intuitive pre-empting commands before they are even given.

And look, have you ever seen cuter animals than my (borrowed) babies?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Political double-speak

Image: theguardian.com
Politicians will make decisions and create policies that people will either love or hate, if they can find an emotional response stronger than general apathy. We all understand that except for the infamous “Captain’s calls” that most decision and policies are developed collectively between the cabinet in consultation with senior public servants and political advisors.

Given this our political leaders, Presidents and Prime Ministers do not have to be brilliant economic or social planners or political strategists. The most important attribute is public speaking.

Political leaders need to be able to speak with passion, empathy, confidence and charisma.

Nothing demonstrates this more than the comparison between President Obama’s eulogy for slain Methodist preacher Rev. Clementa Pinckney and his parishioners, and nearly any speech delivered by any of Australia’s four most recent Prime Ministers.

Obama spoke, and sang with passion and strength and humility. Australia’s Tony Abbott cannot even speak in complete sentences.

Abbott speaks in broken, disjointed clusters of words pausing randomly and repeatedly throughout every speech. The pauses are not even between phrases.

Obama’s eulogy has been watch on television and downloads by millions of people the world over. When Abbott speaks even his wife Maggie would struggle to find the energy to reluctantly listen.

Prior to Abbott there was Kevin Rudd 2.0. The rebooted KRudd was focussed on taking selfies and speaking like a an any-man on is way to the pub. Sure it got a lot of attention and collectively the country felt sorry for you but just like the awkward kid at school no one was picking them to be part of their team, let alone to be the captain.

Before Rudd there was Julia Gillard. Gillard famously lost her ability to use undulating tone whenever she spoke. Almost over night the feisty articulate negotiator became monotone sounding more like an automated phone system than a political leader. One sentence in, all of her audience would struggle to keep their eyes open with no comprehension of what important topic she was droning on about.

She did fire up for her misogynist speech, a clip that caught the world’s attention. If only she had maintained the passion and the ability to use tone she may still be Australian Prime Minister.

Before Gillard was Rudd, mark 1. Rudd started his Prime Ministership with one of the great orations in Australian political history when he delivered the impassioned and long overdue Sorry Speech to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generation.

It proved to be a bar too high for Rudd to maintain. The remainder of his first term in office he alternated between “programmatic specificity” and “fair shake of the sauce bottle”. Both extremes in his language dumbfounded political commentators and the general public alike.

Rudd’s predecessor, John Howard – Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister - although speaking with passion and political clarity always had spittle in the corners of his mouth. The Spittle did not always in the corners of his mouth, much to the annoyance of reporters sitting in the front row of every press conference.

In addition to the wetness of his speech, Howard was also unable to pronounce the name of country he led. Australia is spelt with an “l” near the end, not a “w”.

Unlike Spain who collectively developed a lisp to hide the speech impediment of its king. The Aussie public have generally maintained all of the original syllables and letters of Australia’s name. Rioters on Sydney beaches are the exception to this rule, instead choosing slack jaw “Stra-ya” It takes too much energy to throw object and maintain a bigoted rage to be able to use all of the sounds.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I love fried food

I love fried food. There I said it. In a world of quinoa , kale and paleo I understand that this is a big statement to make. As I write this I am eating my way through a serve of shoestring fries and fried chicken “bites.” To be honest I am not sure if my meal contains either potato or chicken. But who cares, it tastes good.

And I do not want light, organic, Heart Foundation approved vestal virgin olive oil either. I want the hard stuff. A blend, the ingredients of which are as mysterious as the food to be fried.

I want my fried chicken as full of hormones and antibiotics on the inside as it is covered with spiced breadcrumbs on the outside.

Dumplings are better fried than steamed. Oh sure you have steamed to impress your friends and attempt to be a little healthier, but lets be honest the niggle of regret the moment you utter the words to your waiter and only grows in intensity as the plate of dumplings hits the table and you start to eat them. Although they are tasty in your heart of hearts you just know they could have been better.

Everything when fried is better; banana, eggplant, mars bars. Children would happily eat their vegetables if the garden salad was fried.

Brussel sprouts might even be edible if only they were fried. Deep fried.

Whilst Pizza Hut seems hell bent on shoving anything it can into the crust of a pizza – currently in Australia we are enduing meat pies built into the base of pir meatlovers. Previously there has been cheese and hotdogs amongst other items that have no right to be connected to a pizza base. All the while the simple answer to take the humble pizza to the next level* is to fry it.

*According to every reality television show ever made “taking it to the next level” is not only a thing, it is the most important thing ever!

No more gourmet, wood fired, whole meal, artisan pizzas. Just take a simple Hawaiian pizza and slide it into the fryer for a few minutes. You can’t tell me the traditional margarita could not do with a frying makeover.

Even cheese – the awesome animal fat product that it is improves when introduced to some boiling oil. Thank you saganaki, thank you.

There are not many things to thank the French for, besides French toast. Bread, egg and glorious hot oil. This simple recipe will bring to life any breakfast meal. Whether it be traditional poached eggs, the Canadian twist of bacon, banana and maple syrup or the hipster trendy smashed avocado, every breakfast dish should contain fried bread.

Smith/Lays (depending on your country of origin, should release a chip/crisp flavour that is simply “fried”. On the pack is should boldly state, fried not oven baked.