Rumination No. 42: Handmaid’s Tale Fashion

One trend that I’ve noticed increasingly—with a minor level of concern—is the sale of outfits that match the colour scheme of The Handmaid’s Tale. If you haven’t seen it before, stop reading this and start watching it. In the programme, handmaids are forced to wear bright, red cloaks that symbolise their fertility and wives (their infertile female superiors) wear a distinctive shade of blue-green.

This trend exploded during last year’s second season but this time around, it’s back in full force. Interestingly, the colours are now being presented next to each other and even together on racks! I can’t quite see how this could be a coincidence. Check out the example from Coles’s ‘Mix’ section below.

No colour or particular combination of colours must be avoided necessarily, however I feel that it’s in somewhat poor taste for supermarkets and fashion retailers to offer women’s fashion that is inspired by a fictitious, totalitarian Christian-fundamentalist state that robs women of choice and freedom.

Couple this with the recent controversy of Kylie Jenner’s recent Handmaid’s Tale-themed party and you have to wonder: do people appreciate their privilege or are they really just blind consumers, hungry for their next like on Instagram?

Rumination No. 41: Someone Else Will Take Care of It

Look up the word ‘courtesy’ in the Oxford English dictionary and you’ll find the following definition:

The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour towards others.

Sadly, when it comes to customers, many seem to have almost no concept of courtesy. I saw a horrid example of this recently at an outdoor café setting on Alfred Street in Sydney, as a family left this table behind, covered in takeaway materials.

There is a clear difference between dining in and having takeaway. (I wrote about this in one of my other recent ruminations.) Quite simply, if your drinking vessel, cutlery and other items are not disposable, it’s safe to assume that you can leave everything there and it will be cleared by a staff member. If your items are disposable or recyclable, then you should show the common courtesy of tidying up after yourself.

The nincompoops who got up from this table and left had no intention of cleaning up. When I noticed this, I turned to them and said directly, ‘There are plenty of bins around. Are you going to clean all of that up?’. No joke, I was met with a blank expression—zero response—and they just walked away. We were surrounded by bins and there was no excuse to leave this behind.

There is a risk that my public commentary will one day see me landed in hospital; I often call out tossers and people who don’t wear helmets when riding bikes. I encourage you to do the same, when it is safe and appropriate.

At the risk of sounding downright socialist, this form of café littering is pure evidence of the flawed capitalist idea that the customer is always right. Guess what: they’re not.

Rumination No. 40: Flat White Physics

Some time ago, on the popular ABC TV programme Gruen, the panel analysed the coffee industry and how its advertising has become more dramatic and ridiculous.

One aspect of coffee advertising that they covered is the dramatic nature of the crema. With each passing year, drops of coffee seem to become bigger and more pronounced as they collide with the crema.

After another recent trip to Aldi, I think that it’s now safe to say that coffee is defying the very laws of physics on coffee-machine packaging too.

Continuing Gruen’s work, I thought that we should have a quick look at it.

What on Earth is happening here? Rather than coffee falling into the glass, it’s now being sucked up into the air, perhaps by a passing UFO.

In this case, the perspective is all weird and the glass seems to be on a totally different angle from the neighbouring (and curiously undersized) milk frother. Not to mention, how is the milk being poured so aggressively at that odd angle without spilling, particularly when the vessel is almost full?

Has your coffee ever accomplished such acrobatic feats? Watch your barista the next time that you buy one and see what happens. Don’t be seduced by this deceptive imagery.

Rumination No. 39: Behold the Catapostrophe!

Back in March, I had a big whinge about how people misuse (or rather, don’t use) hyphens. Whilst it was frustrating to view these cases at Aldi in person, it was good fun to write that piece.

It may seem strange to you that I haven’t complained yet about what is possibly the most misunderstood punctuation mark of all: the apostrophe.

Frankly, I thought that it would be a bit tiresome to carry on about the apostrophe, since so many grammarians already complain about it, whether in cases of contraction or possession. Many of these errors are seen on café blackboards or signs at fruit shops, for example, ‘scrambled egg’s on toast’ or ‘fresh tomato’s’. They’re just horrid to read, aren’t they?

Of course, this topic just had to creep up on me in an unexpected way, so here we are. I just couldn’t resist drawing your attention to what is quite possibly the most ridiculous misuse of the apostrophe that I have ever witnessed.

I present to you: the ‘catapostrophe’ of local takeaway food shop, Figgy Kebabs…

What you see here on this white sign is truly baffling. In the word ‘today’s’, we see the correct use of a possessive apostrophe. About whose specials are we talking? We are talking about today’s specials.

Move your eyes to the next line and you’ll see an apostrophe included incorrectly in what should just be the word ‘specials’. Are we meant to believe that this apostrophe makes the word possessive, which means that we still don’t know what today’s special actually owns? It’s unfinished!

Otherwise, are we meant to think that it’s an incomplete sentence with a contraction? That would make it: ‘Today’s special is…’. or the even more nonsensical ‘Today is special is…’. What is today’s special then?! What is with all the ‘is’es?! Nothing is complete!

The icing on the cake is that the name of this shop, Figgy Kebabs, shows the correct use of a plural. Do you see an apostrophe in the word ‘kebabs’? No, you don’t.

This, my friends, is a true catapostrophe.

Not to mention, their choice of typeface for the sign is dreadful. All hope is lost.

Rumination No. 38: Dining in with Takeaway

I’m assuming that you, dear reader, have visited restaurants and cafés before. You know the drill: you walk in, find a seat, order some food and/or drinks and then consume your chosen items around the table. If you’re with friends or family, then you may even engage in some enjoyable banter.

Natasha and I went out for breakfast to one of our favourite cafés in Audley, which is in Royal National Park, north of Wollongong. We followed the general process that I outlined above and were enjoying some delicious pancakes for breakfast. We observed something at a nearby table, however, which did not gel with the natural order of things…

Another young couple had walked into the café, placed an order at the counter, then sat down at a table for a few minutes. Rather than receiving food at their table, their order was called and they went to retrieve two takeaway coffees. ‘Ahhh…’, you must be thinking, ‘They were just waiting to receive their takeaway coffees before venturing out again’. Incorrect—they sat back down at the same table with their paper coffee cups.

I have two major issues with this. First of all, the café offers ceramic cups for indoor consumption of hot beverages. Why on Earth did these people think that it was appropriate to use disposable resources that can’t be recycled entirely (such cups are laminated), when a reusable alternative was present and much more appropriate for the dine-in context?

Second, this couple sat at a table and benches that could comfortably fit six people and for a good deal of time, they just stared at their phones.

This is a perfect (yet all too common and mundane) example of the arrogant, self-centred behaviour that is prevalent in modern society. It’s similar to waiting until the last few metres of an ending freeway lane to merge into the next one, leaving unwanted grocery items in the wrong aisle, tossing a cigarette in the street or stopping in the middle of a busy pathway to take a selfie. Why is it so hard for people to be considerate of others and the environment around themselves?

Let’s be frank: it’s just easier to sit down, block out the real world and monitor your likes on Instagram.

Rumination No. 37: LinkedIn Tales of Love and Adversity

Back in March, I ruminated about the horrendously boring meme culture on LinkedIn in a piece called Key Leadership ‘Learnings’ of Collaborative Synergy and Digital Disruption #AI #blockchain. I felt that summed up things nicely.

In that piece, I made a brief reference to the prevalence of ‘broems’ on the site. I’d like to revisit that particular topic now. Quite simply, they are poems by bros (‘broetry’, if you will)—these elongated, one-line-at-a-time tales of corporate success and revelation are some of the most pointless pieces of text that you’ll find on the Web.

Generally, they will deal with topics such as making the most amazing, unexpected hire (a unicorn!) or how having a latte with that one special suit changed one’s life forever, leading to a rewarding career journey of unimaginable heights and KPI-fulfilment. Their stretched-out presentation suck you right in and before you know it, you’ve clicked on the ‘See More’ button and you’re scrolling to get to the end in the hope that it will be worth it.

Well, I think that I’ve found the most pointless broem ever. It is so devoid of any detail or storytelling, that I’m completely baffled by the number of reactions that it has received. Surprisingly, it’s also a short one.

OVER 73,00 REACTIONS

MORE THAN 2000 COMMENTS

Apparently, all that you need to do to be successful is inhale and exhale, then repeat this process consistently until your particular moment of adversity has passed.

Now, I chose not to include the name of this person in the screenshot because that would have been unfair. I have no doubt that this person and his wife did in fact have to deal with hardship at some point. Unemployment is extremely difficult and they were obviously in a difficult situation.

Where is the story though? How can we appreciate this tale of triumph if the author can barely be bothered to share it properly? How can people out there, who may be looking for guidance through similar issues, possibly take anything from this? Why not offer something that’s genuinely helpful?

Somehow, sites like LinkedIn have become hubs for the production and consumption of pure mediocrity such as these broems… and people are rewarded for it with virtually meaningless likes and shares.

The next time that you see something like this online, don’t enable it. Let’s strive for a higher quality of writing in this amazing place called the Web.

Rumination No. 36: Advance Australia… Yeah, Nah…

During this weekend’s federal election, Australia showed that it is a nation divided, indeed, a nation of great contradictions.

I believe that Australia generally sees itself as a forward-thinking nation—one of progressive ideas, innovation and the ‘fair go’. We apparently value equality and are early adopters of numerous consumer technologies.

Yet, when it comes to our politics, with the re-election of the Liberal-National Coalition, Australia has really shown the total opposite. Rather than choosing to wind down negative gearing and franking credits, in order create a more stable and equal housing market, Australia chose to maintain the status quo.

Instead of choosing parties such as Labor or the Greens, which trumpeted a clearer commitment to renewable technologies and electric vehicles, voters kept a man in office who once entered the House of Representatives carrying a piece of coal as a prop for Question Time.

Furthermore, Australia would like to consider itself to be a politically stable, developed nation, yet a government that has suffered the turmoil of three different prime ministerships has just been re-elected. Disunity apparently isn’t death, but in fact a benefit.

I am by no means a full-blown supporter of any given party, however I believe that this weekend’s election result is an embarrassment. Australia had the chance to start afresh with an entirely new government. Rather than progressive ideas and positive messaging, Australia fell for a scare-campaign from the right.

Somehow, with the constant carry-on from the Coalition and policy-free outfits such as Palmer’s United Australia Party, the nation has fallen for the idea that any investment in services, whether education, health or energy, comes at the expense of the economy. Surpluses are all that matter and any kind of spending is to be questioned. This may come as a surprise to some, but economic growth and new jobs can arise from investment in people.

I’m not sure how long it will take for Australia to get over this economic obsession. Let’s see where the next three years will take us.