Saturday, 22 August 2009

Thrift and gluttony win the day

You know what I think? Swine flu, schmine flu. Earlier this week I invited forty-two students with varying but undocumented levels of personal hygiene to sniff a small container of dark chocolate, and a small container of coffee, and a small container of vegemite, another holding a spoonful of cumin, and another with the last drops of the Pert 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner I brought with me from Sydney in February 2007. Sniffing the containers was meant to get the class thinking about the relationship between bodies and subjectivity (this is what they're teaching the kids these days? aren't logarithms good enough anymore?), but what was exercising me as the containers hovered beneath each scholarly nose was whether a sensible person of average to slightly above average risk-aversion would consume tea, coffee, cumin, shampoo, vegemite, and, in particular, chocolate, after it had enjoyed such proximate relations to so many respiring young nostrils.

Who could tell, but in the interests of science, I decided to eat the chocolate. If I made it to the end of the week, I would know: there is no swine flu epidemic. Either that, or I am a person of superb robustity, and/or my experimental method needs some tweaking. But ruling out these last two possibilities, I am delighted to report that there is indeed no swine flu epidemic. Whether or not there has always been no swine flu epidemic I am not qualified to say. Having said that, many people are not qualified to say things, and yet say them nonetheless, and so I recommend the abolition of the states, a compulsory history-of-science subject for all science students, free public transport for all, showers only every second day, pepper instead of salt, community compost bins on every street corner, dogs in hospitals, and more novel reading. Also, something to do with swine flu. Can't remember what.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Mixed metaphor of the week

"As the Australian economy begins to recover, now is the time to nip a potential housing bubble in the bud", now with tip-top advice on why you should sell your house immediately and move in with a posse of bubble-blowing horticulturalists.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

There's not mushroom left*

I was stocking up on chocolate-coated goji berries at the supermarketarium this afternoon, when mine fungophile eye fell upon a box of button mushrooms. Four kilos of button mushrooms. For $11. Though personally I'm all for the re- or ongoing- or heretofore-unknown- socialisation of the banks, and the telephones, and the schools, and the medicines, and the scientific researches, and the forests, and the rivers, and the law-making, and the universities, and the redistributions of the wealths, I am descended from a long line of practising capitalists, so I know a good deal when I see one. My forebears didn't trade in mushrooms, specifically, but what holds good for the exchange of air valve patents and dry cleaning services applies also to boxes of fungus.

Trouble was, four kilos of mushrooms exceed even my fine figger of a belly, especially when I am also beholden to a packet of chocolate-coated goji berries. I was humming and hawing in the vegetable aisle, mentally distributing a lifetime's supply of 'shrooms into pots of mushroom soup, basins of mushroom tart, bowls of fricaseed mushroom lightly drizzled with mushroom and served with a sizeable pile of mushrooms. I was wondering whether Beatrice and Harriet could be induced to eat mushroom, about the palatibility of frozen Tofu avec Mushroom Stroganoff, and whether the gal next door would respond favourably to an offering of mushrooms sporting cocktail umbrellas - when, suddenly!, the lass beside me in the veg aisle asked if I'd like to go halfsies on a box.

"Good Dog!" I said. "You're brilliant! Where did you come up with an idea like that?" Whereupon it occurred to me that this is what I should have been doing for years. How have I reached the advanced age of ---, I asked myself, without joining a mushroom procuration co-operative?

So that's my plan. Agaricus bisporus for all, not just the rich.

* Caveat plagiaratoris: my sister's pardner, Cecil, intones "there's not mushroom left" every time we're within four kilometres of a fungus. Bless him.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Tripe and Slime

Sometimes I remember Paul Keating fondly.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Why boxes shouldn't trust cats

I was born into an illustrious family, and am a direct descendant of such noble boxes as the Great Zigguratical Box of Ur, the world's first cabaret dancing box, La Boxy de Voom-Voom, and the Snuff Box Stolen By the Bloke Who Got Done In By the Constabulary for Stealing It. Although my own aspirations were humble, I was ready to acquit my boxly duty with dignity and continence.

So naturally, I expected that once the $30 r.r.p. radiant heater had been eased out of my innards, I'd be stuffed with old newspapers and borne gratefully out to the recycling bin. No one mentioned the feline teeth of doom.

Or the feline acts of sequestration and pouncing.

Or the feline sitting inside one for the easier dismantling of one's person.

Or the feline nibbling of the corners.

Or that within five days one would have ceased to be a box at all.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Oh, Darwin

"From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited. Under free nature, we can have no standard of comparison, by which to judge of the effects of long-continued use or disuse, for we know not the parent-forms; but many animals have structures which can be explained by the effects of disuse. … I believe that the wingless condition of several birds, which now inhabit or have lately inhabited several oceanic islands, tenanted by no beast of prey, has been caused by disuse."
- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859)