Snobby Myers staff

My wallet is starting to fall apart, so I went to Myers at Southland today to buy a new one. I am vegetarian, for ethical reasons, so I asked one of the staff if they had any that were not made of leather. Her response was, and I quote, “We only have leather here. Have you tried a $2 shop?”

Wow, of all the snobby, snooty things to say to a customer! Apparently the true measure of class is not how you dress, but how many animals you kill. Well, screw you Myer, I will never buy from you again. Maybe you should consider teaching your customer sevice staff to be friendly and helpful instead of entitled and judgemental.

Toilet seat – Contact

In my quest to encourage good, toilet-related hygiene, I have previously posted about splashback, the floor, and the age-old up versus down seat debate.

If you’ll recall from the previous entry on toilet seats, I talked about the dangers of a toilet seat being down. Well, if you are using a public toilet you must assume that the seat was down at some point. You can never be sure.

So how does one mitigate this risk? Well, luckily there are two options:

  • For the stronger, more enduring types, the squat and drop method works (just remember that splashback will be amplified by this, so make sure you take necessary precautions.
  • The second option is to construct a 2-ply protective layer. Multi-ply toilet paper means you could have up to 4 ply protecting you. Paper doesn’t protect you from liquid, so make sure you pre-wipe first! An octagon arrangement usually gives you the best balance between coverage and using as little paper as possible.

Note: between the splashback prevention and the protective layer, you may find yourself exceeding the capacity of the toilet’s draining system. It is recommended that you employ a multi-stage flushing approach to prevent blockage.

Myki misdirection

Myki is the much criticised train and tram ticketing system used in Melbourne, Australia.

The big problems have pretty much been covered by other people, so I’m just going to highlight one of the silly little ones.

To “top up” my Myki card, I used to go to and log in; at which point it would for some reason change me to the domain (as if the stutter somehow made it possible to add credit to my account).

Well, it is a brave new world now, and all of that has changed. Now when I go to, it redirects me to Apparently this is my “central stop for myki information and services“. If I want to buy a myki, top up my existing one, or register one against my account I can click the appropriate link…all of which will then invariably redirect me to!

So what is the point of the intermediate step of directing people to the PTV website? The only reason I ever went to the Myki website was to manage my account. All they have done is create a nonsensical situation where if you type in “myki” you get sent somewhere else, but if you type in the silly  stuttering “mymyki” you get exactly what you are looking for. Nice work!

Exploitation of tragedy

Most days I read the Victorian section of The Age online (no, that doesn’t mean I am reading about Tony Abbott’s election policies, it is referring to the state of Victoria, not the era).

Today when I looked, there were 30 articles available. Nineteen of them were related to the tragic death of Jill Meagher (precipitated by the killer appearing in court for a pre-sentencing hearing). That’s right, nineteen.

Granted, what happened to that poor girl was a tragedy (and I really feel for her family, having to go through such a terrible loss). However, there is definitely a line between a respected newspaper reporting on a news item, and a slowly dying newspaper clutching at any tragedy or hint of moral outrage to exploit in a desperate attempt to stay relevant.

They even had an article talking about how it caused a “burst of outrage in the twittersphere“. How is seven quotes from random peoples’ tweets a “news” article? The mere fact that people have opinions is not news. The fact is, if you give enough people the ability to quickly and easily voice stream-of-consciousness opinions to the world, then of course you will get a bunch of people bleating their outrage over every little thing that briefly crosses their mind (heaven help us if they actually bother to start a blog!).

I wonder how long I will keep reading The Age online.

Misuse of sexual assault as a political tool

It’s a bit dated now, but this has always bugged me. During the Occupy Melbourne protests, the protestors were ordered to remove any tents. One person wore a tent as an outfit, then claimed she was being sexually assaulted when the police came and removed the tent (as they had been ordered to do; and the person in question was warned of this). Here is a video.

This made me so very very angry. Sexual assault is a horrible, awful crime that has long-lasting impact on its victims. The person in this video knew full well what was going to happen, and deliberately set herself up so that she could use the claim of sexual assault as a political tool. It disgusts me. If sexual assault weren’t so darn horrible, I would wish that she were a victim of it so she could truly understand the difference.

Maybe she should spend some time with people from a country where rape is really used as a political tool so she can get some perspective.

How Foreign is Foreign Aid? How misleading is a misleading graphic?

I have noticed this little picture doing the rounds of Facebook lately:

Infographic by The Australia Institute depicting Australia spending 1/3 of its foreign aid budget on itself

Source: The Australia Institute

It says that Australia is the 3rd biggest recipient of its own foreign aid. Whilst this may be technically accurate (though it isn’t, see below), it is incredibly misleading. In the interest of perspective, here is the media release in which the $375.1 million was announced.

According to the media release, the money is used to support asylum seekers in Australia before they have been processed.

There are two quotes from that release worth noting:

  1. Australia’s aid expenditure for the financial year 2012/13 will be a record $5.2 billion“. Whilst the asylum seekers in Australia awaiting processing may be the third largest recipient of money (though they are not), it still only totals about 7% of the total funds.
  2. It is legitimate aid delivered in accordance with OECD guidelines and is consistent with the practice of other OECD countries including the United States ($895 million in 2010); France ($435 million in 2010); Sweden ($397 million in 2010); Netherlands ($339 million in 2010); Norway ($335 million in 2010); and Canada ($284 million in 2010).

Oh, and the infographic also forgot to mention $1.4 billion going to a “global program”, which is aid not tied to any specific country.For reference, here is the distribution of foreign aid, according to the source (AusAID) for the 2012-13 budget:

Australian Foreign Aid Distribution from 2012-13 budget

Source: Ausaid

It is also worth noting that of the 46 OECD nations listed as donors, Australia ranks 9th by amount donated:

Spreadsheet screenshot showing Australia ranking 13th by aid donation based on dollars

And 13th on aid as a percentage of GNI:

Spreadsheet screenshot showing Australia ranking 13th by aid donation based on GNI

Source: OECD Aid statistics by donor and sector – interactive charts

This last point matters, because it is very hard for people to easily assess a single figure in isolation – we work best having something to compare to. If the info-graphic had mentioned that Australia was in the top 10 OECD donors, or in the top 1/3 by percentage GNI, it would have a very different impact (hence the reason these particular facts were omitted…)

This blog entry is not a comment on whether Australia should increase or decrease its foreign aid spending; it is merely an example of how information can be presented in a biased or misleading way to influence people.

Free Bradley Manning! Or Julian Assange! Or something like that.

I am torn between feeling hate and pity for the misguided individuals who defaced a Melbourne statue with slogans such as “Free Bradley Manning” and “Free Julian Assange” and “Why do we allow ourselves to live in a police state?”

I mean, seriously, “police state”? Some dole-bludging wannabe hippie who has never stepped outside the sheltered existence of an incredibly free and non-corrupt country has this whacky idea that somehow we are in a police state because another country wants to prosecute one of its own citizens for an alleged crime committed entirely within that country?! Or is it because one of our citizens allegedly committed sexual assault on someone in Sweden and the Swedish government is trying to extradite him so that he can be charged under Swedish law? If I went to Sweden and raped somebody, would you expect the Australian government to protect me from facing charges for it?

If Mr Assange is innocent, he should go back to Sweden and be exonerated. If he is guilty, he should go back and face his punishment. Sweden is less corrupt than Australia, so it’s not like it’s a  big worry that he’ll get an unfair trial. USA and UK have an extradition treaty, so if the US wanted to get him for his wikileaking, they could have done it direct via UK rather than some convoluted system of him going to Sweden first.

It seems to me like he is just using his wikileaking as an excuse to avoid paying his debt to society (if any) for sexual assault, and his fans have fallen for it hook line and sinker. Some idiots just don’t seem to understand that people are not one-dimensional figures that fit into a box labelled “good” or “evil”; and just because they did a good thing, it doesn’t give them carte blanche to do bad things (well, apart from Roman Polanski).

Toilet seat – up versus down

In my quest to encourage good, toilet-related hygiene, I have previously posted about splashback and the floor.

In this entry I am going to talk about the seat. Specifically: up versus down.

I honestly don’t get the issue with this debate. Maybe it’s because I live with sensible people who have the same sense of hygiene as I do. Maybe it is because I live in Australia where our toilets are designed differently to the USA and other countries. However, in my observation, when one flushes a toilet, water splashes out. Unless you have some kind of fancy Japanese robotic magnet protection system to prevent escaping droplets, water is going to spray everywhere. Have you ever stuck your face near a toilet while it was flushing? I can only hope the answer to that is no!

If you leave the seat down, that water will wind up on the seat. Do you want to sit in faeces, even if it is diluted? Like, ew! Not even the homeopaths will be getting in on that action.

Put the seat up before you flush! If you remember to clean the walls once in a while there is no issue.

Everything’s f**ked?

Melbourne artist Paul Yore is likely to be charged for producing child pornography.

I haven’t seen the picture in question, but apparently he pasted the faces of children onto some sexually explicit pictures as part of a big collage of all kinds of random stuff. It seems that that is sufficient to qualify him as a producer of child pornography.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this is a bit over the top. There is an important question here: Why do we have laws against child pornography? The answer should not be “because some arbitrary group who are not being forced to look at it thinks it is obscene”. That is just an excuse to impose one’s values on others, which is no different to preventing people from choosing a religion or watching Last Tango in Paris. The only acceptable answer to the question is: “to prevent children from being abused.”

Ok, so we (hopefully) agree on what we are trying to achieve. So why block child pornography at all? There are three possible reasons that I can think of:

  1. To produce it, one must abuse a child
  2. Possessing it may make a person more likely to abuse a child (this is a debated viewpoint, but let’s assume it is true).
  3. Possessing it creates a market for it, which may lead to bad people abusing children for profit to meet demand.

So, how has Mr. Yore’s collage hurt children?

  1. He did not abuse a child to make the collage.
  2. The so-called “child porn” bit is only a small part of a larger picture. Possessing it (in a gallery, no less) seems highly unlikely to make him want to abuse a child. If he had a house full of pictures solely of kids faces pasted to x-rated pictures that would be a different matter entirely, but unless the police find such a collection I’m going to assume he doesn’t.
  3. Do you really think people are going to wander into an art gallery in Melbourne, see this collage, and then rush out and start buying up child pornography? It is not presented in an erotic context, and it’s not like it is that hard to use a home computer to paste a baby’s head on an adult’s body.

So what we have here is a law designed to protect children being (mis)used to punish a man for producing a harmless piece of art that someone doesn’t like. It does not do anything to protect children, and in fact it probably has a slight negative effect: the more that society demonises paedophiles, the more likely they will be to hide their problem. Wouldn’t society be better if paedophiles could feel comfortable seeking treatment before they molested a child, rather than punishing them after? Not to mention the many horror stories of innocent people losing jobs, friends, even taking their lives, because of false accusations of paedophilia.

I try to have respect for the boys in blue, but acts like this don’t make it easy.

Public toilets – the floor

My previous entry about public toilets only touched on a single aspect of the horror of public toilets. There are a few other issues that need to be addressed, which I will cover in four more parts.

Today’s topic is The Floor.

The floor of a toilet is dirty. Filthy, disgusting, fly-vomiting dirty. NOTHING should touch the floor of a public toilet. The soles of your shoes are a barely tolerable example, as long as you do not put your shoes on anything that will touch anyone’s anything except the soles of their shoes. You would think this would be obvious. Did we not all roll around with mirth at the absurdity of Barney Gumble groping at the toilet floor for a toothpick?

Yet, like a perverted Japanese man groping women on a train, I still see people allowing clothes and such to touch the floor

Do not drop your pants right down to your ankles so that your belt and hems and even, god forbid, the seat of your pants is touching the floor. Bunch at the knees people! Repeat after me: Please, please, bunch at the knees!