Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

civilianAs we have wandered Facebook and Instagram and all the rest of it, catching up on friends’ and acquaintances’ (and a few celebrities’) wishes for the New Year, one thing has struck us forcibly.

In the 1980s and 90s it seemed to us, most of the wishes were about health and happiness and wealth – hope the New Year brings you lots of money and the energy to enjoy it, essentially.

In this new century, the world seems a more anxious and thoughtful place. And as we near the end of the second decade of the 21st century, even more so.

It’s easy to see why. The old order is collapsing, or at least seems to be, at least to a degree.

The European experiment, which was always about unity and not just economics, regardless of how it was “sold”, seems mired in intractable problems. Not just the misguided Brexit – an especially self-immolatory act of political lunacy born of lies, anti-immigration sentiment and a generalised angst given something to focus on by weak leadership, especially that of David Cameron – but by the difficulties in keeping Eastern European countries with no strong tradition of liberal democracy signed up to the particular rules demanded of that heavy burden, and the eternal problem of encouraging people to work to a common good rather than a local or regional one.

Those in rich countries or areas are rapidly becoming sick of bailing out poorer areas.

The ultimate failure, of course, is political – as it always is – is in explaining to them why that’s good policy, and a burden worth shouldering. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking Brexit, Greece, Catalonia, Northern Italy or elsewhere. The failure is not economic, it’s political.

The United States, for so long the arbiter of seemingly everything both good and bad in the world, at least from, say 1943 onwards, now seems lost and uncertain of its role.

In part, this is very obviously because economically the country is no longer the source of unending world wealth, but also because Russian and China (in particular) have parlayed their growing economic might into political clout. Rumours of America’s demise have been hugely over-inflated – it is still the world’s biggest economy by far, with the largest armed forces by some distance, and massive diplomatic clout. But increasingly the country looks like a wounded beast thrashing around in its death throes. There is inadequate investment in the technologies of the future which America must lead in order to maintain its competitive advantage, and its political influence is deeply harmed by the perception outside the USA that its political leadership has, essentially, collapsed.

trump handsThe President looks to all the world, and increasingly to even his own supporters,  to be a scary mixture of stupidity and even mental illness, the Congress seems little more than a quacking collection of self-interested ducks, and any level of informed debate which might turn this miasma around seems largely drowned out by a mixture of bread and circuses and mindless partisanship.

Ranged against this, and perhaps most worryingly, significant numbers of young people look to the command economies of America’s greatest rival with some degree of envy. And every excess of bluster (of which the current standoff with Iran and North Korea are only the most obvious) makes the apparent stability of Russia and China look more attractive, and by implication, their systems. In reality, of course, Russia is little more than a dictatorship by kleptocracy, with highly dubious international ambitions and no regard for the freedom of its own people, and China is run by a ruthlessly domineering state apparatus that papers over substantial internal divisions whilst attempting to feed the middle-class ambitions of its people.

There are, of course, great problems with poverty and lack of opportunity in both countries, just as there are in the rust belt states of the USA or the china-poor-migrant-workers.jpgwobbling rural American states trying to make their way in a world where the produce market is increasingly borderless, or in Latin America, but we hear very little of the problems faced by the command economies of China and Russia (and their imitators) because the first thing throttled by their leadership is a free press.

The argument that judiciously managed free trade conducted by democracies is the fastest and most reliable route to the greater good of all – which should be the clarion call of all sides of Western politics – has sadly morphed, driven by localised economic hardship, into rampant protectionism in the USA, which is hardly how to inspire the people to believe in the system long term.

Capitalism’s own internal contradictions gave us the GFC in recent memory. Instead of pinioning it for what it was – a failure of sensible regulation and the inevitable result of uncontrolled greed by a small elite – America has circled the wagons and thinks it can fix the problem by being rude to its friends and neighbours, investing directly in protecting industries that should rightly be exposed to the winds of competition, and continuing to ramp up endless castles of debt, the construction of which mountain will now be enhanced by reducing its tax take.

To those casting about for security and predictability, it looks like madness, and it is.

The paper claimed mainstream climate models misunderstood the role of clouds

Pile on top of this the very obvious fact that the weather is getting “worse”. This worrysome trend is becoming patently obvious to anyone with half a brain, and debates about why seem so yesterday when the facts are faced up to. Against a US President who jokes in a snowstorm that some global warming might be helpful is a growing understanding in the population as a whole that something serious is up. The message that global warming really (and immediately) means more (and greater) extreme weather events is hitting home. Bigger and more destructive storms of all kinds, including snowstorms. Habitat change threatening species (and many more than polar bears) and subsistence farming across the planet. Large populated areas of low-lying country threatened with likely inundation. Industrial-scale farming patterns worldwide need adjusting and fast.

201708asia_afghanistan_mosque

And last by by no means least, the entire world seems doomed to engage in a seemingly never-ending asymmetrical war with the forces of extreme violence – now, notably, “Islamic” violence – which represents a tiny fraction of the religion’s worldwide ummah, but which taints it all with sometimes tragic consequences, despite the very obvious fact that many more Muslims are killed by the extremists than are Westerners.

The current paralysis of world political thinking is nowhere better illustrated than by the failure to deal with the philosophical basis of the extremism. The philosophy of extremist Islam is nothing new, but its ability to de-stabilise the world is new. Free availability of arms both large and small, (many supplied from the West), instant digital communication, and a perpetual media spotlight make the menace much greater than it ever has been.

And to even say “Maybe if we stopped bombing towns and villages with enhanced munitions then at least some people might stop becoming radicalised?” is to invite howls of derision and even cat-calls of “Traitor”. As we move into 2018, patriotism has become not just the refuge of scoundrels, but also those who wish to deny palpably obvious realities. The equivalent for Muslims is to say “Maybe we Shia and Sunni should stop killing each other and live in peace?” Even to voice the opinion risks swift retribution.

It is hardly surprising, faced with all this, that worldwide people are retreating into a sort of mutualised depression, for which social media provides one poor outlet, with plaintive appeals to enjoy “A peaceful New Year” replacing “Health, Wealth and Happiness”.

Part of the problem is the seemingly intractable nature of all these problems.

In all these scenarios, the themes seem simply too large, too complex, and too “far away”, for ordinary people to wreak any meaningful change in a positive direction. And it is in this specific context that we propose a return to basics.

We offer you these critical commandments to guide us all in troubling times.

  • Get out and vote for what you believe in.

Abstention-ism is not a viable option. It is leaving “it” to the elites that has got us into this awful mess.

The First Vote

But don’t just vote. Get involved with the political party of your choice. Ask questions, and demand answers.

Get involved in policy-making. Be a squeaky wheel. If you don’t feel qualified to talk about the niceties of defence planning or international economics, then start with what you do know. Your local school district. Rubbish collection. Parks and gardens. Traffic flow. Take back control over your life.

The resulting empowerment is not just good for society, and good training in how to effect change, it’s good for your own psychological well-being, too.

The demise of party membership is just the first and most obvious example of how we willfully gave away our influence over those that rule us.

This is as true in China and Russia as it is in Australia and America. Governmental systems vary, but the power of the people doesn’t. Ultimately, when exercised, the power of the people always and inevitably wins, because there’s more of “us” than there is of “them”. And their control rests on our acquiescence. (That’s why the elite are more than happy to keep us satiated with sports and hamburgers and alcohol.)

So if you want to win, get in the game. Don’t be a spectator. “Subvert the dominant paradigm”, whoever and wherever you are.

Secondly, if the drift towards climate disaster or world conflict terrifies you, (and it should), then channel that fear into something that makes a difference.

  • Don’t like climate change? Turn it off. Reduce your energy consumption.

flashing-panda-wall-switch-light-nightlight-6-led-aaa-batteries-led-wall-switchEveryone can do this, even if it simply involves turning a few lights off.

Only use heating or cooling systems when you really need to.

The planet will be grateful, and your hip-pocket will thank you too.

It really is that simple. And spend two minutes more a week recycling properly, and encouraging everyone around you to do the same.

While you’re making this change, eat a little less meat. Meat (which we freely admit we adore) is highly harmful to the environment. If you’re a dedicated carnivore, maybe enjoy just one vegetarian meal a week?

Never was “Think global, act local” more true, yet we seem to be bored with that call already. Familiarity breeds contempt. It’s time to remind everyone that tiny changes, multiplied by millions, really do make a massive difference.

  • And don’t be silent on violence. Ever.

Silence equals consent. Our silence. Your silence.

libanon25-2

It is odd, isn’t it, how we can become deeply involved in the consequences of a mugging death of a grandmother round the corner from where we live, but become inured to images of warplanes bombing civilian areas, often carried out in our name? The grandmother killed in such an event is no different from the grandmother who got mugged. Each grandmother hoped for a quiet and happy retirement, with enough to live on in a simple, life-sustaining way, surrounded by the happy cries of her grandchildren, tending to a few plants, passing the time of day with friends and neighbours in the sunset of their life. And then this dream was cruelly snatched away from them.

How do we decide to be broken-hearted about one, but cold and unmoved by the other?

To reduce and then prevent war, we simply have to – en masse – make it clear to our leaders that violence conducted in our name is not acceptable to us, and we will withdraw our support from those who conduct it.

Sounds simplistic? It is. That’s the beauty of it. It really is simple.

Over-complicate the goal and it becomes un-do-able. So keep it simple. Support candidates who support peace, and don’t support those who don’t. And make your choice known, on social media, to family and friends, and to the politicians themselves.

Want to do more? Start by arguing that our governments should not sell arms (of any kind) to other governments. Over 90% of the deaths in armed conflicts worldwide are from bullets. If we stop making those bullets, many of those people will not die. Better still, shorn of the ease of pulling a trigger to resolve a conflict, many such conflicts will be more likely to result in negotiations.

Continue by demanding that we choose to withdraw career progression from those who ache to create conflict in order to “use” the weapons and service people at their disposal. Bellicose commanders at all levels are progressively replaced by those who know the reality of war, and will do anything to avoid it. We do not do this partially, we do it on all sides.

And then tell those that govern us that we demand that they reduce the reliance on weaponry to “achieve peace”. (In reality, of course, it is not about peace at all, but is used to achieve political influence.)

We demand that armed forces everywhere are pared back to the lowest level concomitant with providing an effective defence posture against all likely events. In countries like Britain, for example, historical nonsenses like the “independent” Trident nuclear weapon system are simply scrapped. The money released by this ratcheting down of defence spending become a “peace dividend” to re-engineer businesses that rely on the military-industrial complex for survival, and to support servicepeople adjusting to civilian life.

Yes, we know we will immediately be accused, of course, of being namby-pamby, of not living in the real world, of misunderstanding how power works, of being naive. You will, too. But we are none of those things.

We have spent a life watching closely (and sometimes intimately) how the people at the top of power structures work. What motivates them. And what motivates them most is the maintenance of their power.

It is not always that they are simply power hungry, although power is unquestionably very attractive and an aphrodisiac, both to the practitioner and those around him or her. But few people get involved in politics in any system merely to aggrandise themselves, merely for career-ism.

Most genuinely believe they are acting in the greater good, and this motivates them to stick with the long hours, the dangers, the disrupted family life, the huge responsibilities, the petty treacheries, and all the rest of it.

Threaten to take that opportunity to “do good” away – the psychological bedrock of their career – is the most powerful thing any of us can do to affect their behaviour.

That is why the consent – or withdrawal of consent – for politicians to simply do as they wish regardless of our opinions rests on every single one of us. Alone, we can achieve little, but building a consensus rests with every single one of us. We can hide under the covers, or we can speak our mind. We can stand up and be counted, and when enough people are counted, politicians and rulers react.

Every single one of us can say “Not that, this.” Some of us will be ignored. Some of us will mocked for doing so. Some will lose friends. Some will even be injured or killed. But every one of us has the capacity and the right to say “Not that, this.” It is the one thing that no one can take away from us. We control our own opinions. Our voice is our own, whatever the cost. And the choice to use it is always ours and ours alone.

And that’s why this is our New Year’s wish. For you, and for the world.

Because war really is over. If you want it. Badly enough.

Here’s a thought. Why not share a link to this blog? That’d be a good start.

PS A number of people have asked why Churchill – a famous war leader – heads this column. The answer is simple. As someone who actually experienced war, Churchill hated it, whilst nevertheless waging it ferociously. His most relevant quotation on the topic is also perhaps his least quoted: “Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war”. That’s why. If Churchill “got it”, anyone can.

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We’ve been meaning to do this for some time, but an email from a friend nudged us into actually doing it. If you’ve read them before, well, enjoy the re-run. If you haven’t read them, then you’ve got a bunch of very popular blogs to go through!

  1. The White Rose. A tragic story of resistance fighter Sophie Scholl and her friends and family, and their horrific execution by the Nazis during the Second World War. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-2Fb
  2. How one pissed off customer can F*** up your brand. https://wellthisiswhatithink.com/2014/04/28/ryanair/
  3. Art. Vaginas: loads of them in a row. Feminism. Womens’ self image. That sort of thing. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-10P
  4. Secret Servicemen and Prostitutes in Columbia. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-vD
  5. It’s official. Adam and Ever, er, weren’t. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-ud
  6. Gratuitously offensive political joke.* http://wp.me/p1LY0z-sJ
  7. On Snooki, the Borgias, and Big Tits http://wp.me/p1LY0z-5D (One of our first ever blogs, and still popular five years on!)
  8. Nicest little winery within an hour of Melbourne. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-2GV
  9. While some people die in an emergency, and some don’t. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-2GV
  10. The Advertising F*** Ups of all time. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-1Dk

 

We do hope you enjoy re-visiting some of these, for a laugh, or a moment’s thoughtfulness.

Over three-quarter of million visits have now been made from all over the world to the blog in five years. We are deeply touched that people enjoy it, and we look forward enormously to the next five years, bringing you the news others ignore, and, of course, plenty of opinions. From us, and you. Thank you.

So we just passed a thousand posts. 1001 to be precise. And well over half a million hits.

As is our wont when we reach a milestone the first thing we do is say thank you to you, Dear Reader. After all, you’re the point.

Over more than three years the blog has become an eclectic mixture of politics and popular culture, enlivened with a decent dose of sheer nonsense from time to time, and we’re really quite proud of it. It’s been re-reported all over the world, read in virtually every country in the world, and we have a made a bunch of wonderful and loyal new friends. You know who you are, and how much we appreciate your support.

And as is also our wont, we wanted into the blogosphere to find out the significance of the number we’re celebrating, in this case the palindromic 1001.

1001

So we came across Norway’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards. Apparently Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams is delightfully quirky and gently affecting as it ponders how much a life really weighs, and whether it is possible to truly measure happiness. We’ve never heard of it but apparently it’s “buoyed by trademark deadpan humour and wry observation: a film as restrained – and as slowly illuminating – as the protagonist.” Which sounds pretty good, really, so we might look it out on the worldwideinterwebs to reward ourselves for the effort involved in 1001 posts.

1001 was a special year, of course. It was the first year of not only the eleventh century in the Christian calendar but also the first year in a new millenium. Pretty big. It was a rather disturbed year in Europe. Lots of people called Aeth-something or miscellaneous Viking names were having at it.

And talking of Vikings, it’s also thought to be the year that Leif Eriksson and his band of brothers and sisters established small settlements in and around Vinland in North America, hundreds of years before Columbus found the place accidentally.

baekdu

Looks quiet. Don’t be fooled.

Baitoushan volcano on what is now the Chinese-Korean border went pop with one of the biggest explosions in history. It has remined active 9and dangerous) ever since. In other China news, construction began on the Liaodi Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Chinese history, which was completed 54 years later.

In mathematics, One thousand and one is a sphenic number, a pentagonal number, a pentatope number and the first four-digit palindromic number. We have not the faintest idea what any of those things are, so we’ve left the links in for you to find out.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

Luckily for her, she talked a good story.

In The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, harem member Scheherazade tells her husband the king a new story every night for 1,001 nights, thus staving off her execution. From this, 1001 is sometimes used as a generic term for “a very large number”, starting with a large number (1000) and going beyond it, as in:

1001 uses for…
1001 ways to…

In Arabic, this is usually phrased as “one thousand things and one thing“, e.g.:

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, in Arabic Alf layla wa layla (Arabic: ألف ليلة و ليلة‎), literally “One thousand nights and a night”.
1001 thanks is Alf shukran wa shukran (Arabic: ألف شكرا و شكرا): “One thousand thanks and thank you”.

Incidentally, the story of why Scheherazade was in danger of her life is quite interesting.

The main story concerns Shahryar, whom the narrator calls a “Sasanian king” ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief he decides that all women are the same.

Shahryar begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. And do it goes on for 1,001 nights.

The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinns, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, and not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, his Grand Vizier, Jafar al-Barmaki, and the famous poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in which the tale of Scheherazade is set.

Sometimes a character in Scheherazade’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.

An early manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights

The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life. Phew.

The most immediate reference that occurred to us for 1001 was 1001 detergent, used for various uses, but primarily for carpets.

“1001 cleans a big big carpet, for less than half a crown” was the hugely famous slogan, and I have never forgotten it.

Anyway, the ad is just simply wonderful – just love the accents.

Even better, the product is still available although the ads, sadly, have ceased.

Most people these days wouldn’t even know what half a crown was, more’s the pity. Ah well.

Happy 1001th everyone, and once again, thank you!

img-thingHard as it may be to believe (doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?) it is three years today since the very first article was posted on Wellthisiswhatithink.

For the stattos amongst you, in that time we have published a total of 783 articles, (about one every 33 hours or so), and received 3,631 comments from just about every corner of the planet, the vast majority of them thoughtful, educated, pertinent, and largely kind and supportive. There has been very very little trolling or hate mail.

We are most grateful for the effort you make, Dear Reader, in “keeping the conversation going”.

Our busiest ever month was April this year when a post about a customer complaint to RyanAir went viral. Only three months in the three years have had under 2000 visits and in total, we have had 252,298 visits. No, wait, 252,299 … 252,300 … oh well, you get the picture. Average daily hits are running at 1,115 so far on 2014.

By far our biggest number of posts (550) have included the category “Popular Culture et al” in their header, followed by Political Musings (359), Humour (147) and Business Management (91). We hope you will agree that our stated goal when we started, to re-report things that interest us (and always the credit them, please note) and to make our own opinions known where we feel strongly about something, has been met.

We thoroughly enjoy writing the blog, which we see as influencing world debate by one small regular drop in an ocean of opinions, (but who knows which drop is the one that causes the dam to break, eh?), but most importantly we enjoy it as a way to reach out, engender discussion between people of good will, and provide a little harmless entertainment, too. If that’s how it works for you, we’re glad. That’s how it works for us.

Science fiction author Philip Dick said it all.

Dick also famously remarked "In the middle of an irrational Universe governed by an irrational mind stands rational man." Amen.

Dick also famously remarked “In the middle of an irrational Universe governed by an irrational mind stands rational man.” Amen.

“Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups … So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”

Well, we would not claim to make up whole universes. Just the occasional thought, perhaps.

But we sure as hell don’t want to leave all the reality-making to the powerful, the cashed-up, and the privileged.

Especially for those facing oppression and blind authority, the massive explosion of the blogosphere is hope, democracy and liberty in action.

Long may it continue.

"You know what, Jean? it's just ... just ... something's nagging at me ..."

“You know what, Jean? It’s just … just … something’s nagging at me …”

At the Wellthisiswhatithink coalface we are in a very generous mood today. It’s been a wonderful weekend, and we return to the keyboard full of the joys of Spring, and pleased to report that the little pump in the newly installed goldfish pond is working, thanks to the loving care and persistence of Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink when yours truly was more than happy to chuck the damn thing in the bin. Little tea lights now hang in the cherry tree over the new pond, and all the wonderful dark purple petunias have taken. It looks like a good crop of apricots this year too, thanks to excellent rain.

In short, all is good in the Wellthisiswhatithink paddock.

So, wiping out Lord knows how many future posts with complete abandon, we are chucking caution to the winds and are going to give you a whole bunch of advertising and layout F*** Ups, just to start the week off right.

We can’t believe how they just keep on coming. And thank you so much, Simon, for these.

Always remember, Dear Reader, all donations gratefully received.

Meanwhile, publishers, try and get your sub editors, journalists and advertising departments to talk to each other, you lazy buggers.

On the other hand, thanks for the laughs.

 

I've always had my suspicions about Winnie. Far too bloody nice,

I’ve always had my suspicions about Winnie. Far too bloody nice.

 

We are reasonably sure one was involved at some point, but do you have to rub it in. So to speak?

We are reasonably sure one was involved at some point, but do you have to rub it in. So to speak? No-one saw this? Really? Sheesh.

 

Or this? Poor girl. Her mother will be delighted.

Or this? Poor girl. Her mother will be delighted.

 

Memo to Russian newspaper. You have to put the photos in, not just the placeholders. Wonderful stuff, new technology, eh, Boris?

Memo to Russian newspaper. You have to put the photos in, not just the placeholders. Wonderful stuff, new technology, eh, Boris?

 

The dangers of asking your idiot ad agency for "web ready copy".

The dangers of asking your idiot ad agency for “web ready copy”.

 

She's very tolerant, obviously. How to take the gloss off a Royal Wedding.

She’s very tolerant, obviously. How to take the gloss off a Royal Wedding.

 

Hooray! Duck!

Hooray! And, er. Duck!

 

Yes, well. What else could one say?

Yes, well. What else could one say?

 

Sometimes, you even have to worry about how the article will stack in the dispense box.

Sometimes, you even have to worry about how the article will stack in the dispenser box.

 

We finish with our two favourites. This magnificent cover fail reveals, when read carefully, the importance of those little things like commas.

We finish with our two favourites. This magnificent cover fail reveals, when read carefully, the importance of those little things like commas. Little wonder Rachael looks so healthy with such a diverse diet. We think “Tails” magazine should be renamed “Fails”.

 

And last but not least, the power of the Leading Cap. I think you can discern the sub editor's view of these departing journos quite clearly.

And last but not least, the power of the Leading Cap. I think you can discern the sub editor’s view of these departing journos quite clearly.

 

More soon. Meanwhile, which is your favourite of this crop?

If you want to check out the whole history of the F*** Ups, try these:

The other F*** Ups we’ve spotted, if you missed ’em.

Where words fail. Entirely. And wonderfully: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-H7

Naughty schoolgirls celebrated by Headmistress: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-zy

The world’s stupidest billboard placement: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-gX

Not the holiday anyone would really want: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-hJ

Two for the price of one: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-13P

Stores abusing innocent shoppers: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-j8

The most embarrassingly badly worded headline in history: http://tinyurl.com/7enukvd

Oh, those crazy whacky country McDonalds eaters: http://tinyurl.com/83vgpng

And a burger we think we KNOW you’re not going to want to eat. http://wp.me/p1LY0z-14r

The amazingly handy father: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-vM

When Boy Scouts go bad: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-1lC

What you really didn’t need to know about your chef: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-1Co

Enjoy! Please feel free to share.

Incredibly it’s two years to the day since we somewhat nervously launched Wellthisiswhatithink.

Seems like yesterday.

2In that time, we have enjoyed – and we really mean that – a whopping 113,677 viewers and responded to 2,096 comments. Phew!

Our “Top 20” most popular countries for views are, in order, the good ol’ USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, India, Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, Greece, Japan, Brazil, Finland, Philippines, and South Africa, but virtually every country in the world is represented.

We have even had a visitor from Vatican City. Just one. Once.

So welcome, and thank you, Your Holiness. Do you prefer to be called Frank?

We think the people should be told more about the British Virgin Isles. Maybe a letter writing campaign? Hmmm.

We think the people should be told more about the British Virgin Isles. Maybe a letter writing campaign? Hmmm.

Anyhow: other “sole visitor states” have included Micronesia, Togo, Solomon Islands, Lichtenstein (lift your game, please, bankers), Djibouti, Benin, Lesotho, Madagascar, Uzbekistan, Bhutan, Dominica, and the British Virgin Islands.

So you can expect a travelogue item sponsored by the local tourism authorities of the British Virgin Islands really soon: a quick acclimatization and photography tour will probably be required, don’t you think, Mr Minister of Tourism for BVI?.

"China? Are you out there somewhere? Talk to us!"

“China? Are you out there somewhere? Talk to us!”

And “Where’s China, we hear you ask?” Answer: banned.

Not them, us.

We have fallen foul of the Great Firewall of China, which is damned annoying as we really like the place, and the people. 请停止阻止我们的博客,我们是非常好的人。*

We await a response from the Chairman soon.

Anyway, we’re now comfortably over 500 posts (so you should be able to search on just about any topic you can think of and find it covered somehow!) and we’re not far behind a rolling average of offering you a blog a day, which was the goal we set ourselves.

Not a bad effort, really, from both readers and writers. And we really are very grateful to everyone – every subscriber, every visitor, everyone leaving a comment, and every guest blogger.

We are delighted that you, Dear Reader, show every sign of enjoying the deliberately esoteric collection of news items and thoughts we pull together. It’s not a political blog, it’s not an art or photography blog, it’s not a food and wine blog, or a travel blog, it’s not a blog about poetry and writing, it’s not a humour blog.

We hope Wellthisiswhatithink is all of that and more, and we are deeply touched by your interest and your generous help.

Your loyalty – and more importantly, your input: positive, or critical – is what has made Wellthisiswhatithink a success.

We hope you stick with us, and keep enjoying our somewhat wry, askance, and opinionated view on the world. Please tell your friends. And once again, thank you from the bottom of our ink-stained hearts.

Is there a topic you would LIKE us to comment on that we haven’t? Got a pet cause you think should get the Wellthisiswhatithink treatment? Want to volunteer as a guest blogger? (Worldwide fame guaranteed, and not a cent in pay.) Just drop us a line at yolly@decisionsdecisions.com.au …

It’s your blog. We built it for you. Be a part of it in our next year.

*Please stop blocking our blog, we are really nice people.

This ad was printed in 1937.  The fancy bottle was the “Steinie.”  It was specially made this way so it easy to handle and didn’t take up space in the fridge or icebox. In an interesting bit of trivia (and according to another Schlitz print ad), the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company pioneered the idea of bottling its beer in brown bottles.  This was done to keep unwanted light out and keep the freshness of the beer in. The good old days when "a truth well told" was at the core of advertising.

An ad from 1937. The fancy bottle was the “Steinie.” It was specially made this way so it easy to handle and didn’t take up space in the fridge or icebox. In an interesting bit of trivia (and according to another Schlitz print ad), the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company pioneered the idea of bottling its beer in brown bottles. This was done to keep unwanted light out and keep the freshness of the beer in. The good old days when “a truth well told” was at the core of advertising.

Case histories of head-butting brand versus brand challenges are always interesting to advertising and marketing tragics like me … read: tired creaky-jointed ad guy who is old enough to watch Mad Men and wonder “Why are they making a movie of my life? More to the point, why aren’t I getting a royalty? I was that soldier!” … but also to most of you, it appears.

But really: who would spend five long, detailed blogs writing up the story of the beer wars in the United States, focused on the brand he loves, Schlitz and it’s everlasting battle with the likes of Budweiser?

Well, my mate Bill, would.

And it’s a good read, too, packed with heaps to learn for marketing managers and ad agency people and consultants and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, including avoiding the hubris that also led icon brands like Coke and Fosters-CUB to change the formulas of their brown fizzy water and Victoria Bitter respectively .

http://billsbrainworks.com/beer-wars-the-birth-of-the-brands/

Don’t say I never give you the good stuff.

If Schlitz want to win the beer wars again – and it would be so nice if they could, because I remember drinking it appreciatively when there was only one American burger bar in the whole of the English town I lived in – yes, I go that far back – which was called, with delicious homage to the States “Alice’s Restaurant” – and yes it was actually run by a bird called Alice – well, if Schlitz need a hand, I reckon they should call Bill in for a chat.

What have they got to lose? If passion equates to likely success, Bill’s their man.

Governments understand the role of false flag attacks. Good governments, bad governments, all kinds of governments. Is this story another example, or nonsense?

Governments understand the role of false flag attacks. Good governments, bad governments, all kinds of governments. Is this story another example, or nonsense?

I rarely pass on links to other blogs uncritically, or unchecked, especially when they come from a very definite ideological background. But this one surely deserves “the oxygen of publicity”, at the very least, so that everyone can decide whether it is true or not.

I note that the authors are no friends of the American administration – and, indeed, that they delight in conspiracy theories, often of the most ludicrous kind (in my opinion). Anti-authority, libertarian blog cutdc.com frequently posts stories that appear to be utter nonsense. Conspiracy theory central. Wing nut territory.

But they’re like a scatter gun. Sooner or later one of their crazy stories has to hit a target. And on some levels, certainly enough to prompt interest, this story “rings true” to me. So I recommend you click on the video story from the Infowars author and listen. Just click the link below, then click the video, and read the story under the video.

http://tinyurl.com/aa55r5d

Long story short – I do believe our Governments frequently engage in “black ops” and “false flag” attacks, as the examples from history are numerous.

false-flag1If you wanted a pretext for an armed intervention in Syria, there couldn’t be a better one than the story that Assad had used chemical weapons against his own population.

The idea is purported to have been promoted from staunch American ally Qatar – if that’s true, then this is called “levels of deniability” or a “cut out”, using other countries to keep such murky matters at arm’s length from ourselves.

So is it true? I really have no idea. Would I like to know if it’s true? I sure would.

If it was true, it would make Benghazi-Gate look like the tiniest radar blip ever seen. That an American administration could countenance deliberately using a chemical weapon – or even transporting one into a conflict arena – to advance a political goal – would be unthinkable.

I think the world’s front-line media need to take this story up, and, using their investigatory resources, to determine its truth, or otherwise.

If – and I repeat, if – this story was true, it would represent the biggest foreign policy scandal in America since, perhaps, the covert bombing of Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam war.

As you can see below, the story is flying round the extreme right, libertarian blogosphere like a blue-arsed fly chasing some rotten meat. What is needed is some serious analysis from people with real access.

So I would urge my American readers, in particular, to ask their media to make those investigations on their behalf.

Needless to say, the White House will already be aware of this report.

The simplest thing in the world would be for them to deny it. If it is deniable. It will be interesting to see what happens.

I am always being asked – usually very grumpily – why I fulminate on matters outside the borders of Australia by people who obviously believe that none of us have the right to speak truth (OK, I will concede, “our version of the truth”) to citizens of other countries.

And my stock response is, “Because I believe countries are artificial constructions, and I don’t think national boundaries should prevent the free flow of opinion, as we are all, first Citizens of the Wor4ld, not citizens of wherever we happen to live …” which always produces howls of derision from those who originally asked why I dared to say what I think, and murmurs of approval from anyone else.

And one day, recently, a very nice person in another forum where I post links to the blog – Linked In – kindly remarked that she thought I “am the bravest person posting in Linked In – I know it’s scary, but you keep raising important issues.”

I should warn you, everyone, one comment like that can keep me spouting off for a year or more.

Anyhow, here’s your real answer, Dear Reader. You just seem to be an amazingly international person … so I try and include content (or opinion) from all over the world, providing I think the content is important, or I can think of anything relevant to add to it.

How funny that orange is my favourite colour …

As I have explained many times, by far the most regular readers of my blog are Americans, who read my blog more than three times as much as my fellow Aussies.

From a country as saturated as media as it is, I consider this a great compliment, as it implies they think someone this far away has something relevant to say to them.

Either that or they’re masochists and they just love to hate me.

Whatever their reasons, I am grateful for the continual support from the good ol’ US of A. And the next biggest bunch of readers are from my old homeland in the UK, who also out poll the Aussies. This is perhaps understandable as once, deep – deep – in the last Millenium, I had something of a public profile in the Old Dart, but it is humbling and heart-warming to know that after 25 years as an Aussie they are still remotely concerned about what I think.

Either that, or my articles on sausages strike a chord.

Looking at the map, the sheer reach of blogging in the Internet age becomes clear. My words – or yours, if I have been re-blogging something – reach into almost every corner of the planet, which is something I find really quite awe-inspiring. Places I shall presumably never visit nevertheless know a little of me, virtually, at least. And whilst I recognise that the Internet can be something of a curate’s egg as far as information gathering goes – after all, how do you judge whether what you read is valid, true, biased, or … what? – it is without any doubt a remarkable step forward for the free and unsupervised dissemination of information.

Or at least, the attempted dissemination.

The Great Firewall of China has me blocked, for example. Which is quite bizarre, as I have visited China a number of times, I like the country and its people, and I wish both well as they continue their great strides onto the world stage. Or maybe I am blocked because all of WordPress is, just in case. But I think it’s me, because before my friends over there started reporting that they couldn’t read my work, fully six of them had done so. Mine was a star that shone very momentarily over the Oldest of Old Kingdoms. Hong Kong, however, can read me, and does. How curious.

I think it’s totally brilliant – totes brill as Fruit of One’s Loins would have it –  that WordPress provide one with these stats, partly out of my sheer fascination in trawling them, but also because if one covers a topic concerning, say Sri Lanka, then one can track the sudden up-tick of interest from that country as the story crawls its way from computer to computer. They also tell you what search terms most often bring people to one’s pages, and yes, Dear Reader, the top one on mine is still “tits”, and long may it be so.

(Stick tits into the search box at the top left on this site and you’ll see why.)

Interesting anomalies occur all the time. Sweden delivers about double the hits that I get from their neighbours Norway and Finland. I really am curious as to why – presumably it is a matter of population, internet access, English language skills and stuff like that. But I also wonder if it is because I post semi-regularly on the cases of Bradley Manning, the provider and founder of Wikileaks, respectively, and Assange is assuredly of interest in Sweden for various reasons.

What is also interesting is the very few countries that are not represented on the map at all, as they indicate with clarity where some of the poorest nations of the world are. Sub-saharan and central Africa especially. Or where internet access is simply impossible.

I see you there, little singular net surfing person, I see you, shakin’ dat mouse.

A whole bunch of places, although the list is getting smaller the longer the blog stays up, have recorded just one hit on the blog in the last 11 months.

One little idle, solitary flick of a finger, one man or woman, who I see in my mind’s eye, hunched over their laptop or desktop in the dark, screen glowing, hungrily gobbling up my profound thoughts on Angela Merkel, President Obama, the food we will be eating in 40 years, vaginal surgery, the mauling of the English language, the weather in Australia (and climate change generally) or – whatever.

I do hope you will drop by again, my solitary visitor from Djibouti, Lesotho, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Samoa, Togo, Aruba, Dominica, Lichtenstein, the Federated States of Micronesia, Angola, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Kyrgyzstan, the Solomon Islands, and last but by no means least, Vatican City.

Your voices need to be heard, and very often, I suspect, they need to be heard much more than mine does.

Then again, you could just be searching for tits, in which case, welcome aboard.

Post scriptum: I nearly forgot to mention that this is also my four hundred and oneth blog in a little over a year, and I could not have done it without all the feedback, positive and negative, so thanks very much! WordPress has stopped sending me little “gee up”  messages as I pass each milestone, which is a bit sad, really. They’ve obviously decided I am hooked. All gee up messages, therefore, gratefully received.

Funny thing to do because you are perfectly capable, Dear Reader, in looking round the blog yourself. But with 270 new blogs in a year that’s a lot of searching, so all the “Blogging Basics” sites say I must give you a guide that you can go look through, so here it is.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

Er, nope. Never happened. Nice painting though.

By far the most popular blog of the year on any one day was https://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/its-official-adam-and-eve-er-werent/ which garnered nearly 5,000 hits in one day (out of an annual total of more than 77,000 in 2012) when a very senior Archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church revealed what the rest of us with brains have known forever and a day anyway, which is that Genesis is true only in the sense that is is a moral fable, and not in the sense that the world was created in 7 days, or that Eve came from Adam’s rib, or that all the horrors of the world arose from munching a forbidden apple.

The really interesting thing about this story, of course, is that theologically speaking when we allow any part of the Bible text to be considered mythological then we have no argument that any other part of the Bible might not also be mythological.

Hence, just to pick a few major ones – bye bye Noah and capturing two of every living creature on the earth (including all bacteria, all 8000 species of ants, etc.), cya later Lot offering his virgin daughters to the crowd, not to mention the fact that Joshua collapsing the walls of Jericho couldn’t have happened because archaeology reveals the place was deserted when Joshua was around. Great story – good song – historical nonsense.

It seems we will just have to do what the 19th and 20th century “modernist” or “critical” theologians wanted us to do, which is read the Bible with the benefit of modern textual analysis, studying the original languages not the translations, (which, for example, can be used to argue that the Bible actually says nothing at all about gays) and taking full advantage of archaeology when we can.

The article on Adam and Eve was also the second most popular article overall of the whole year.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation.

I think we have more to worry about than whether a Secret Serviceman did or did not employ a prostitute. Like: HIV, violence, drug addiction, social dislocation. And more.

The most popular article for the whole year was https://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-secret-serviceman-and-the-prostitute-whats-the-real-scandal/.

I’d like to think this was all about my thoughtful analysis of hypocrisy in American moral values, the role of prostitution in modern society, the role of the media in drumming up salacious gossip, and the relationship between poverty and the sex trade.

However checking out my stats closely I suspect it’s just because the word prostitute is often typed into search engines, and the story duly pops up.

Similar big scores have been gathered with articles about tits, and even bum.

One would despair, were it not for the fact that I know that some people read the article seriously.

Similarly, promising to ignore injunctions and show people Princess Catherine of Wales (aka Kate Middleton) topless and then bottomless worked well to drum up passing trade, though I doubt many of the people who clicked on the links got the point of my tongue in cheek effort.

The third most popular post of the year was this “Gratuitously Offensive Politically Incorrect Joke”, which I still think is very funny, (it’s also a paraprosdokian by the way, and there are some more of them here, which is probably why I like it so much), and scores very highly with anyone searching for Angela Merkel in Google and so on, so the Bundesnachrichtendienst have probably given me the once-over, but decided I am harmless.

Snookie, Chelsea the Borgias and Big Tits was the fourth most popular article of the year, and has been in the Top Ten most popular almost every day of the year. I a eagerly awaiting the next series of the Borgias, not to mention the next series of Downton Abbey and Throne of Kings. I don’t mind crap TV, so long as it’s good quality crap. A lot of you seemed to agree with me that Jeremy Irons and the Crew give good crap. Snookie and the Crew? Not so much. I wish, actually, I had been a TV reviewer, which is, of course, one of the most sought after positions in journalism. Do we think it is too late, Dear Reader? Hell, no!

Last but by no means least – in fifth place – was what I have decided was the WINNER of Advertising F*** Up of the Year, in fact the very first of the series which proved incredibly popular with readers. To save you clicking back to last January, here it is:

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really?

The first poster is for a road safety campaign where Daddy has crashed his car and died. The one right next to it is for a notorious lap dancing club. I mean, really? Really?

The Advertising F*** Up series were undoubtedly the most popular series of articles in the year. To access them, just type “F***” into the search box and they’ll all be listed for you. (Saves me doing it.)

I am enormously grateful for all the supporters of the Blog, all those who have commented, who have argued, who have provided elucidation, and who have laughed and loved. It is most popular in the USA, in the UK, and in my home country of Australia, and I guess that is inevitable. But in all, people in 172 countries read the blog, which I personally find quite humbling and astonishing, and the free spread of ideas and opinions must surely be the greatest boon the Internet has given the world.

I am especially proud, in the year just gone, for the work we were able to do on awareness to do with bullying, and Alzheimer’s, on clean water for the poor of the world, and on women’s rights. I am also very glad my feverish campaigning for Obama came out on the right side of history, and I hope his second term is more impressive than his first, which is often the case. Let us hope and pray for wisdom for all our political leaders, as the world is a long way from being out of the woods yet – economically, and politically.

I bitterly regret that my warnings on Syria, which predated most commentators in the world, were ignored, but I only have a very small lectern and it is a big world. And anyway, the world only listens when it wants to. Yesterday the United Nations estimated that 60,000 have died in this completely avoidable conflict thus far, and unless Assad’s Alawite regime can be persuaded to decamp to the safe haven of Iran pretty damn quickly that figure could still rise exponentially.  It was – and is – all so unnecessary, and so awfully, inexorably predictable.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to showcase my poetry and creative writing. Thank you for all the kind comments.

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

I am Bradley Manning. Are you?

As the blog tipped over from 2011 into 2012, I was still deeply distressed by the murderous execution of Troy Davis, campaigning against which had occupied – unsuccessfully – so much of the start of the blog. This year, I have watched with increasing horror as the might of the modern American state has born down relentlessly on Bradley Manning, the well-meaning and honourable serviceman who set off the Wikileaks scandal by releasing for public gaze tens of thousands of classified snippets of information. Expect to hear a lot more about his case in the coming weeks, not least why I believe the man is a modern hero who should be feted, not crucified.

I am still Troy Davis. I am now Bradley Manning.

Happy New Year, Dear Reader.

A lot of people who read a blog like Wellthisiswhatithink are … well, other bloggers. I found this post from Lesley very helpful and will be following its advice. Apart from her passion, she seems seriously smart and well informed!

A row of breasts

Well you try Googling a “row of breasts” and see what you come up with. Sheesh. (Incidentally, netizens, why is it OK (I presume) to show this picture with black blobs over the girl’s nipples, but risk giving offence without it? Can anyone explain to me why nipples are somehow “dirty”? Don’t we all have them? Why might it cause offence to show female nipples, but not male ones? Hmmm? Does anybody ever take these politeness issues back to first principles? What about the fact that the photo might cause offence in parts of the US, but not in most of Europe? The logic of it all gives me a headache. Discuss.

An email from a mate (who clearly feels he needs justification for staring at tits for a portion of his day) reminded me of a hoax that is still circulating around the Net (and appearing in many media outlets) since first landing in our inboxes in March / April 2000.

An example of the original email follows:

Email text contributed anonymously in April 2000:

This is not a joke. It came from the New England Journal of Medicine. Great news for girl watchers: Ogling women’s breasts is good for a man’s health and can add years to his life, medical experts have discovered. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out” declared gerontologist Dr. Karen Weatherby.

Dr. Weatherby and fellow researchers at three hospitals in Frankfurt, Germany, reached the startling conclusion after comparing the health of 200 male outpatients – half of whom were instructed to look at busty females daily, the other half told to refrain from doing so. The study revealed that after five years, the chest-watchers had lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse rates and fewer instances of coronary artery disease.

“Sexual excitement gets the heart pumping and improves blood circulation,” explains Dr. Weatherby. “There’s no question: Gazing at breasts makes men healthier.” “Our study indicates that engaging in this activity a few minutes daily cuts the risk of stroke and heart attack in half. We believe that by doing so consistently, the average man can extend his life four to five years.”

Sadly, don’t get your hopes up, guys. Before you mutter “Oh, those crazy whacky Germans” and fix your eyes on the nearest female, it is a joke. No such study was ever published in the New England Journal of Medicine (if you don’t believe the impeccable credentials of Wellthisiswhatithink you can check for yourself).

And a search of the thousands of peer-reviewed articles contained in the National Institutes of Health PubMed database also turns up zero items documenting the health benefits of staring at women’s breasts, and, for that matter, zero items authored by “Dr. Karen Weatherby” (who probably does not exist, so far as those hunting her down can tell).

If the story smacks of tabloid faux-journalism, well, that’s precisely what it is. The text hit the Internet in March or April 2000, mere weeks after a strikingly similar article appeared in the Weekly World News. A slightly different version had already appeared in the May 13, 1997 issue of the tabloid.

So males who wish to increase their lifespans ought to consider practicing common sense as an alternative — a walk a day is more likely to achieve the desired result than any amount of breast ogling, public or private. It seems if you want to look at women’s breasts you need a better excuse, and probably a good pair of very dark sunglasses.

Admittedly, I don’t have any medical research to back up dismissing the theory, even if it isn’t actually a theory. I mean, you know, perhaps staring at boobs could reduce stress and induce a sense of well-being? Who knows? I wouldn’t, I’m a bum man. But anything’s possible: in fact, I feel a perfectly decent PhD topic coming on. So anyone wishing to join me in a formal double-blind experiment can email me privately.  Confidentiality assured. Er …

(On the upside, me posting another article about tits will get my Google ratings way up again. Whoo-hoo. If you don’t believe me, simply search this site for the word tits. Oh, go on. You know you want to.)

Times a thousand. The first 48,000 are the hardest, they say.

How weird it is to idly click on one’s blog stats, and see that one has just clicked past a milestone.

Why is 48,000 hits a milestone? (And One. We are not forgetting you, dear One.)

Well, it’s an awful lot, innit? Well, I think it is. We last stopped to pause for thought at 25 thou. Crikey, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?

So why did we stop this time? Well, four and eight are also favourite numbers of mine. It is amazing to me how often good things have happened to me at either 4:08 or 8:04, am or pm, either one. Go figure, if you’ll pardon the pun.

I don’t believe in numerology. Or a whole heap of other such stuff. But dear old four and eight have never let me down. Which is generous of them, given that my lucky number is 29.

So as always when wepause to celebrate a milestone, I checked to see if 48,000 had any greater significance I had missed.

Apparently Australians spent around 48,000 years surfing the web in December. That’s 576,000 months. But there are only 15.6 million Australians with web access, so I make that 0.037 of a month, per person, or about 15 minutes per person.

Well, I can spend that long reading reviews of next week’s episode of Game of Thrones. And based on the numbers of searches for “tits” that end up on my blog, I call bullshit.

Meandering around, I also note that the Australian Greens have raised concerns over the 48,000 young people and their families who may miss out on important family payments as a result of cost cutting measures in the Federal budget.

The changes will save $360.9 million over four years by reducing the age of eligibility for FTB A, but will also leave around 48,000 young people in a position where they do not qualify for Youth Allowances and where their parents will not receive FTB A for them.

“Under the changes, parents of around 48,000 young people will lose eligibility under FTB A, but those young people will not have access to Youth Allowance or other forms of income support,” Greens spokesperson for families and community services, Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

So much for Labor worrying about “working families”. I call bullshit for the second time.

What isn’t bullshit, though, is that you, Dear Reader, have propelled us past the magic 4, 8, triple 0. And for that, we thank you. Thank you, everybody, for reading, thinking and commenting, and we will pause again for reflection at 84,000.

Keep clicking, for Gawd’s sake.

P.S  Forty eight thousand is deadly dull, but 48 is quite interesting.

Forty-eight is a double factorial of 6, a highly composite number. Like all other multiples of 6, it is a semiperfect number. 48 is the second 17-gonal number.

48 is in abundance having an aliquot sum of 76. It is the lowest composite number to fall into the 41-aliquot tree having the 7 aliquot number sequence,(48, 76, 64, 63, 41, 1, 0). 48 is highly abundant with an aliquot sum 158% higher than itself.

48 is the smallest number with exactly ten divisors.

There are 11 solutions to the equation φ(x) = 48, namely 65, 104, 105, 112, 130, 140, 144, 156, 168, 180 and 210. This is more than any integer below 48, making 48 a highly totient number.

Since the greatest prime factor of 482 + 1 = 2305 is 461, which is clearly more than 48 twice, 48 is a Størmer number.

48 is in base 10 a Harshad number. It has 24, 2, 12,and 4 as factors.

I am happy to confirm that I do not have a fucking clue what all that means. I gave up maths after fluking a pass at “O” Level which I could not convince my teacher was not the result of cheating. But I do know that 48 is also the atomic number of cadmium, and the number of Ptolemaic constellations.

So there.

OK, so – back at 10,000 hits (and again at 15,000 hits) we had a bit of a celebration because the blog had reached lots and lots of readers. Which is a Very Good Thing, capital V, capital G, capital T. And so as not to appear too self congratulatory, I said the next little milestone would be at 25,000, assuming it would be a fair way off.

Well, it wasn’t, because we have just belted through 25,000 hits and more when I wasn’t looking, helped by some wonderful advertising f*** ups, and some poetry, and not a little of being rude about the Republican Party.

Anyway, back at 10,000 it was really interesting, because Wikipedia had this really cool article about all things 10,000-ish which I shared with you.

Sadly, I have to tell you, dear Reader, that finding anything to go with a celebration of 25,000 is much harder. Much.

25,000 Dinar

25,000 Iraqi Dinars. Before you get too excited, that's about US$21.45 right now. Don't bother printing it off and trying to pass it.

The best Wikipedia could do was this rather attractive Iraqi money.

A number of websites offered to sell me cars all under 25,000 somethings, mainly Aussie dollars.

And Flat Finder told me they had over 25,000 apartments on offer in Australia.

There’s a battery charger called  CTek XS 25,000. There’s not many people know that.

And Kenya has just fired 25,000 striking health workers.

Oh, and an outbreak of Avian flu in rural Victoria resulted in 25,000 ducks getting the chop. Awww.

And a woman in Dublin received 25,000 Euros for a botched cosmetic surgery thing on her lips. The way the Euro’s going I hope she spends it soon.

But that’s about it for our massive, once in a lifetime celebration of all things 25,000-ish people.

Not terribly inspiring, I’m sorry. I will pick our next number to celebrate more carefully – and, as always, thanks so much to everyone who reads the blog, and comments, and passes it on. You’re why.

Meanwhile, un-noticed by all except close family, 21 years ago Monday just passed my darling daughter popped into this world, and after hanging around a bit, rather quickly in the end, actually.

At one point my wife asked the midwife “What’s happening?” The midwife calmly replied “You’re having a baby.” My wife somewhat tiredly asked “When?” The midwife drily replied, “Er, now.”

And out she came.

So on Monday we had a few drinks, and then a few more, and there’s going to be a big party soon, of course, and, you know, all the things people do when someone has a significant birthday.

Which is much more of a something to celebrate, really, than a battery charger or a strike in Kenya, or even a blog. So I thought I’d mention it.

I’ve been quieter than usual, this week, because I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a 21 year old daughter. Sadly, I keep running up against the most obvious conclusion “Sh*t, man, you got old.” It’s hard to ignore the fact that the body is beginning to creak alarmingly, and the brain doesn’t go quite as quick as it used to. But all in all, I am content with my lot.

Because, you know, kids don’t come with a manual, no matter how many people try to sell us one in the bookstores, and her mother and I just muddled along as best we could, making plenty of mistakes, clinging onto each other for dear life sometimes as the waves of life rocked our little boat backwards and forwards, but we made sure that what we did do for the kid was try to teach her right from wrong – and always to hang onto what’s right – to always believe in her dreams, to be able to talk to us about anything, and to love her to bits.

Good, bad, indifferent, grumpy, cheerful, frightened, brave, loud, quiet, hard-working, feckless, in love, out of love, in sickness and in health, we just loved her to bits. And always will.

In return, she grew, miraculously, before our very eyes, into this infinitely better and more golden and more caring and more insightful human than us.

Which is all, on reflection, that I think you can really hope for when you set out – that you leave behind you a child who is just the best that you can both be, and then some.

And she is. So “well done Caitlin”. You turned out real good. Thank you. And please remember I really want cable TV in the old folks’ home. I don’t care if the place smells of cabbage and wees, but it must have cable TV.

OK? Deal.

Exactly 19 years and three days ago. My God, I look young.

 

 

 

 

Great article about the never-ending pain that is blogging, or writing generally. Do yourself a favour and have a great laugh. Go here:

Did My Post Suck Today?

Well done, Sweet Mother.

Anyhow, it’s just the perfect post for one of these days … we all have them.

People sometimes ask me why I spend time most days pottering around on my blog, posting poems or thoughts or funny stuff, or wandering around on the internet hunting for stuff I think should be more widely discussed.

Well, this is why …

In the seven days ended today, my blog has had over twelve hundred hits from people in America.

This is hardly surprising: in a Presidential election year, I spend a lot of my time thinking and talking on here about what’s going on in that great country, and especially how annoyed I am by the behaviour of their politicians, in general, and their hangers on. So I do get a fair few people from the States reading my articles and agreeing, and plenty, no doubt, that don’t.

In the last week Australia chuffed up some 600 hits, and the UK almost the same number.

Well, given I am Australian, and moderately well-known for yakking on about anything that occurs to me – and marketing and advertising in particular – that makes sense, I guess.

And I’m from the UK, originally – deep in the last millennia – and I love my football and so on, so all well and good. Welcome, comrades all.

Australia and Canada. Peas in a pod, see?

And riding on the back of their American brethren, presumably, a fair few Canucks stopped by as well. “Eh?”

I like Canadians. I always think Canada is a bit like Australia with snow. Or Australia is like Canada with sunshine. One or the other. Anyhow, glad to have you along.

But then it all gets a bit weird. And this is where the new stats page provided by WordPress to its bloggers is truly fascinating.

The next biggest group of visitors is from India. Yes, India.

Now I do very occasionally post links on the Facebook page of the Economic Times of India, so I guess that sort of makes sense. But there is something wonderful and exciting and really quite peculiar in thinking about people in Mumbai or Agra or Chandigarh, Jaipur or Ahmedabad or Chennai, cheerfully checking out the mental ramblings of a random Aussie.

So a big “Hi!” to all our friends in India, and thanks!

Then, way higher than I would have expected comes (drum roll) Kenya. Now, I honestly know absolutely almost nothing about Kenya, except there are a fair few Indians who live there, like in much of East Africa. So maybe that’s why? Maybe they found me through the Indian connection? Who knows, huh? Anyway, “Hello, Kenya!” Looking forward to seeing your long distance runners in London at the Olympics.

Then things settle down and become a bit more predictable again. There’s a clutch of Euro countries – Italy, France, Holland, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Ireland – all contributing about the same number of visitors. OK, I do write about the EU and the mess its in sometimes, so that makes sense, I guess. And very egalitarian and regulated of you all to send about the same number of callers each. So “Bonjour, Bongiorno, Guten Tag, Top of the Morning to you” too, and so on and so on.

Then, though, it gets really curious.

All the Scandinavian countries contribute visitors. Waves to the frozen north. Mexico – “Hola!” – and the United Arab Emirates – “Salam wa aleikum”– both contribute more hits than dear old New Zealand just over the water. “Wake up, you fush and chuppers!”

Googling Bealrus images brings up a surprising number of pictures of tractors. As the website of the Production Association "Minsk Tractor Works" kindly explains, MTZ is one of the largest manufacturers of tractors in the world. MTZ Belarus is an association of 6 co-operating Belarusian plants. MTZ Belarus has received 32 international quality certificates. More than 3 Millions of MTZ Belarus tractors successfully operate in over 100 countries around the world all year round in various climate and soil conditions. Phew. I thought you'd rather have a nice photo of Minsk.

Serbia. Thailand. Albania. Chile. Pakistan. Israel. Iceland, the Czech Republic. South Africa. Jordan. Korea.

Saudi Arabia. Nigeria. Argentina. Malaysia. Portugal. Ghana. Sri Lanka. Brazil. Saint Lucia. Jamaica – 45 hits from Jamaica yesterday alone – “Er, hello! Why? Who cares? Welcome!” – Qatar. Belarus. Rwanda. Guatemala. Bangladesh. Lebanon. Slovenia.

Antigua and Barbuda. Bulgaria. Barbados. Angola. Croatia. Tunisia. Bahrain. Botswana.

Even poor, bloody Syria. Well, I have blogged about the disgraceful humanitarian disaster that is Syria, so that makes sense.

And let’s not forget: Estonia (I would really love to go there one day), Lesotho, Senegal. Ecuador. Hong Kong. “Ni hao!” Brunei. Belize. Greece. (Glad to see the electricity is still on.) And last but not least, Austria.

The hills are obviously still alive with the sound of keyboards tapping, at least.

It’s an amazing and humbling list.

At this point, I was going to make some profound (well, I would have tried to make it sound profound, anyhow) point about the use of new media to reach wider audiences, the awesome interconnectedness of humanity today, the way that information now flows freely around the planet in ways that we cannot predict or even necessarily understand.

But you know all that. So let’s take that as read.

What I really want to say is how humbled I am – genuinely, quite shocked and delighted and humbled – to be in contact, however fleetingly, with people from all over the world. I guess it’s a bit like when the moon astronauts looked down on the earth and saw it was all just one tiny, fragile, green and blue and white bubble floating in a vast void, and not a collecting of warring and competing peoples and countries.

It changed them forever. And I think it’s changed me, looking at the amazing map that WordPress kindly provides of where everyone comes from who has read this blog, in just the last week.

Nearly the whole globe is represented. It reminds me of the need to entertain, to inform, to express myself truthfully and intelligently, and to be courteous to those who visit. Not necessarily to agree with everyone, of course, but to treat my fellow inhabitants of the earth with respect. And to listen twice as much as I write.

OK, so I can’t resist one small attempted profundity.

Maybe – just maybe – the conversations that the internet now facilitates will one day change forever the balance of power between the rulers and the ruled in the favour of the little people. Maybe, one day, we will all speak truth directly to each other – and the politicians, and the religious leaders, and the media, and the businesspeople, and the worker’s leaders – well, they can all listen to us for a change, because we don’t need to talk through them to talk to each other.

We can just talk to each other now.

So who will be here next week? What will they think? What will they say? What will you say?

I can’t wait to find out.

PS Oh yes. And I still get more hits on my blog from people looking for “tits” than any other topic. There, now that brought us right back down to earth, didn’t it?

PPS It also occurs to me that I never pull my punches in saying what I think. But in all the time this blog has been running, and now more than 23,500 hits and climbing, there has never had a single comment left that I genuinely felt was abusive or rude. That means something, too. It means a lot, actually.

PPPS Someone else was impressed with the new WordPress reporting. For a good laugh, checkout Did My Post Suck Today?

Well, it’s like this. We meant to have a big celebration when Wellthisiswhatithink passed 15,000 hits. Like we did when we passed 10,000.

17,000 hits

17,000 hits? Blimey!

Then a few of our blogs went batshit, and we have just belted past 17,000 before you could say “I’ve come over all viral, Vera, pass me pills.”

Sadly, despite assiduously trawling the interweb on your behalf, we can’t find anything interesting to say about the number 17,000 at all, except to say that, well, it’s an awful lot of readers, donating your valuable time to read what we think.

And, needless to say, we thank you all very much indeed, and ask you to please keep coming back.

So without further ado, onwards and upwards, and we will endeavour to keep posting stuff we find interesting, or important.

Please continue to comment, praise, lambast, and above all, spread the word about stuff that you think is important, too!

You know the famous line about “if you want to get rich, invent a better mousetrap”?

Well I reckon if you want to get rich, invent bread that miraculously toasts only golden brown and then stops.

Burnt Toast

The breakfast of kings. Well, bloggers.

Yes, that’s right, people. The toast knows how it’s getting on, and turns off its capacity to be burnt regardless of the setting on the toaster,  which was set, of course, by a blogger more obsessively intent on his words of wisdom than the progress of his pitifully uninspiring breakfast.

As the article reproduced below ennumerates, not to mention many others scattered around the Net, burnt toast is potentially really bad for you, because of a chemical called acrylamide.

But I am here to tell you, if you see smoke streaming from the toaster, acrylamide isn’t your only concern.

Burnt toast also contains small amounts of polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), better known as a class of air pollutant. Some of those chemicals are proven carcinogens – chemicals that cause or aggravate cancers.

The most well-known of these is benzopyrene – also found in coal tar and cigarette smoke. Produced when organic matter is inefficiently burnt, it triggers chemical changes in cells that can result in damage to DNA, which in turn can cause cancer.

While the level at which PAHs are carcinogenic is much higher than most people would consume through eating burnt food such as toast, the safest approach is to avoid exposing yourself to these chemicals if you can.

Health officials’advice is to toast bread to the lowest acceptable level. And if you want to be really cautious, cut off the crusts as these usually contain more acrylamide from when the bread was baked.

(Remember when your mother used to tell you your crusts was where all the goodness was? Abusive parenting, I call it.)

Bugger it, what’s the point? May as well give up toast. Life kills you, dammit. This and more from the joyous world of blogging in due course.

Mutters and grumbles insanely, bent over keyboard.

A chemical produced by frying, roasting or grilling food can double the risk of cancer in women, a new study has found.

Scientists have now issued a worldwide alert advising people to avoid burnt toast or golden brown chips because they contain higher levels of the substance, acrylamide.

The study, which involved 62,000 women, has established a direct link between consumption of the chemical and the incidence of ovarian and womb cancer.

Acrylamide is found in cooked foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, coffee and also meat and potatoes which have been fried, baked, roasted, grilled or barbecued.

The higher amount eaten by the women was equivalent to a single packet of crisps, half a packet of biscuits, or a portion of chips a day.

The European Union has now advised people to take caution, particularly when eating burnt foods such as toast.

It has also recommended eating home-cooked meals which contain much lower amounts of the chemical than processed products, fast food and restaurant meals.

The Food Standards Agency welcomed the report into acrylamide and called on consumers to heed the EU’s advice. But a spokesman said it was not possible to avoid the chemical entirely.

“This new study supports our current advice and policy, which already assumes that acrylamide has the potential to be a human carcinogen,’ he said.

“Since acrylamide forms naturally in a wide variety of cooked foods, it is not possible to have a healthy balanced diet that avoids it.”

The findings from the University of Maastricht, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention come only a month after the public was warned about the increased risk of cancer from eating bacon and ham.

(Thanks to the Daily Mail, re-reported by the Daily Telegraph, in London – where burnt toast is staggeringly common.)

… “Well This Is What I Think” just whizzed past 10,000 hits. As I write it sits on 10,002, to be precise. This is a Very Good Thing.

10,000 hits - whoot!

10,000 hits? World domination can be but a throw of the dice away.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has read, commented, re-posted, promoted and otherwise supported the blog.

Of course, there is really nothing more significant about 10,000 than 9,900 or 10,172, or any other figure, actually, but human beings have long enjoyed ascribing mystical meanings to particular “special” numbers.

There is even an obscure word for this strange human predilection for ascribing significance to otherwise insignificant numbers, which is “Apophenia”. There you are, you see: the whole article wasn’t a complete waste of time, now was it? What a useful word to know. I first mentioned it when I rambled about the complete irrelevance of the date being 11.11.11. If you missed the article, enjoy it here: https://wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/today-really-is-very-eleventy-how-bout-that/

Interestingly, and un-plannedly, this was my 111th post. Spooky, huh? My next “stop the world I want to make a note of this number” will be 15,000, I think. All help getting there gratefully received. I will endeavour to make the process of achieving that goal both fun and informative.

And you can thank Wikipedia for this little digest – a myriad, one could say – of bits and pieces about the number 10,000. In deference to the wonder of this entirely free information source, I have left all their links in. So, Happy Wiki-ing, folks. And if anyone knows any other significant 10,000-ers, just leave a comment. And thank you – everyone – again.

10,000

Many languages have a specific word for this number: In English it is myriad, in Ancient Greek μύριοι, in Aramaic ܪܒܘܬܐ, in Hebrew רבבה (revava), in Chinese 萬/万 (Mandarin wàn, Cantonese maan6), in Japanese 万/萬 [man], in Korean 万/만/萬 [man], and in Thai หมื่น [meun]. It is often used to mean an indefinite very large number.

The Greek root was used in the earlier versions of the metric system in the form myria-.

The number can be written 10,000 (UK and US), 10 000 (transition metric), or 10•000 (with the dot raised to the middle of the zeroes; metric).

In mathematics

In science

In time

10,000 days can be expressed in these alternative units:

  • 864,000,000 seconds
  • 14,400,000 minutes
  • 240,000 hours
  • 1428 weeks (rounded down)

In other fields

Sometime in the next 24 hours or so, especially if I pull my finger out and get a blog done, Well This Is What I Think will pass 7,000 hits, only 6,800 or so of which were me.

I just wanted to express my genuine thanks to everyone. I know by international blog standards that still makes WTIWIT a miniscule minnow amongst whales, but I am exceptionally gratified, and I am encouraged to keep blathering on about what interests me and stuff that I notice that I think warrants re-blogging.

It seems the esoteric mixture of pop culture, ad news, poetry, news and current affairs, and political ranting does have it’s appeal, although ironically it is my posts on marketing and advertising that seem the most popular. Perhaps that reflects the fact that in that area I can at least claim to have some idea what I am talking about.

It’s all about the interaction, folks. Merci beaucoup times 7,000. Nearly.