Yeah‽ Well I ****ed your mother!

Has anyone ever tried to insult you by claiming that they had sexual relations with your mother? On the face of it, it is just another one of those not particularly clever insults that gets bandied about when a witty retort can’t be found. But when you think about it, it is actually quite a confused little sentiment.

As near as I can tell, t here are only 3 ways it can be interpreted.

1) It implies that your mother had sex, as if that is somehow an insult. I’m not sure exactly how that works though…apart from one isolated case, it is a good bet that almost everyone’s biological mother has had sex at least once.

2) Your mother is sexually attractive. Whoa, that’s such a deep insult. It’s not like society sees any merit in being sexually attractive. And hey, she’s your genetic antecedent – so some of her sexual attractiveness has passed on to you. This is more like a compliment than an insult.

3) The insulter is so horribly repugnant that the very idea that your mother slept with him is a slur on her good taste. How that is an insult to you is unclear; maybe the assumption is that no matter how far she’s fallen, she will still have higher standards about with whom she gets jiggy.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on one of the more perplexing aspects of modern culture.

P.S., yes typography geeks, that is totally an interrobang.

Yam Yam – Surreal Sweets from Malaysia

I popped in to one of the local Asian grocery stores today, and purchased something called “Yam Yam” – they are little breadlike sticks with a sweet dipping goo. They come in several flavours; I bought strawberry.

Yam Yam packet

I noticed that the package says “Look inside for fun words”. Sure enough, on each of the sticks was an animal and some associated text.

Yam Yam Sticks - Animal descriptions

It’s a great idea as a learning tool for children. But then it starts getting a little weird.

Yam Yam Sticks - Duck

Duck – go for a swim. Is it saying that ducks like to swim? Or is it a command?

Yam Yam Sticks - Mouse

Mouse – do not be timid. That doesn’t make sense. Timidity is an important trait in mice, which protects them from being eaten.

Yam Yam Sticks - Fox

Fox – beware of lies. Whilst it’s a nice sentiment, it is a tenuous link at best.

Yam Yam Sticks - Panda

Panda – Go for more. What the heck? Go for more what? Bamboo? More pandas? That makes about as much sense as a beach ball in a blender.

Yam Yam Sticks - Lucky Colours

Chick – lucky colour; yellow / Beetle  – lucky colour: brown. Ok, now you guys aren’t even trying. What happened? The copywriter was sick that day and the fortune cookie guy had to sub in? Beetles come in more colours than you can poke a stick at, why limit it to the most ugly one? And how can I have two lucky colours? Is there a limit to how many lucky colours I can have? I am beginning to have serious doubts about just how lucky the colour yellow is!

How to steal from hotels – A comprehensive guide from a leading newspaper

The Sydney Morning Herald is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the southern hemisphere. It is the Sydney equivalent of The Age, which I have already written about.

So what sort of cutting edge journalism are they dishing out? How about this article, published online in May, detailing all kinds of useful tricks to steal from or defraud hotels. After all, hotels are made of money. They can afford to have people steal from them.


Who knows how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre? You’ve probably seen it hundreds of times in movies and on TVs. It’s a great thing you know, if you would rather cause internal injuries than actually help someone.

The manoeuvre has long since been superseded by another process that won’t leave grandma with a crushed liver and ruptured spleen (in the unlikely event she survives).

So what do you do if someone is choking?

  1. Try to calm them down and get them to cough hard to remove the object. This is hard because choking people will often panic.
  2. Call your local emergency number to seek medical assistance.
  3. Get them to bend over, e.g. over a chair, and give them five hard pats to the middle of the back. Check after each whack to see if the obstruction has been dislodged
  4. Give them 5 chest thrusts – put your hand on their back, and the other hand in the position you would place it for CPR, and squeeze – not as quick as you would for CPR, but more sharply.
  5. If you still have no luck, keep alternating back blows and chest thrusts until the ambulance arrives.
  6. If they become unconscious at any time, call for emergency services and do your normal CPR stuff.

St John Ambulance has a fact sheet for choking (and for a whole bunch of other useful first aid stuff).

The travel tip nobody will tell you

Travelling overseas? There are a million books and websites filled with an amazing range of travel tips,but I want to share the one thing I’ve discovered that is not in the books:

Carry a ukulele.

A ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn, and it is incredibly portable. You can get a cheap Mahalo brand for less than $30. It is one of the few instruments that is so cheap that will still sound good. It sounds even better if you throw on some Aquila strings (about $20).

Why travel with a ukulele?

  • They are cheap. Cheap enough that if they get damaged or lost it doesn’t matter
  • They are a fun and happy instrument. You can’t be sad when you are playing a ukulele.
  • They are easy to learn. You can be playing basic songs in 15 minutes. And they sound good, not like someone learning violin!
  • They are portable. Easy to stuff in a backpack and carry anywhere, and they fit in your carry-on luggage
  • They are a great way to meet people. In my experience, when you have a ukulele people will come up to actually talk to you, not just sell you trinkets. They seem generally interested and love to have a go at it. It’s a great way to make momentary friendships with those many random people that pass through your life as you travel.
  • Protection from monkeys. Probably not a big concern for most people, but it was an effective tool for keeping away aggressive monkeys at the Old Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.
  • Crime prevention strategy. Unfortunately I don’t know if there is a causal effect, but I carry my ukulele everywhere and I have never had troubles with being attacked or robbed, even walking in the dark streets of developing nations alone at night.

So there you have it, take a ukulele when you travel.

For the last and best word on ukuleles, let’s ask Amanda Palmer.