What Have We Lost?

This video may be titled "The Worst Playground Idea Ever", but I disagree. I miss playground equipment like this.
When I was a kid, I rode on roundabouts that spun so fast they made me woozy. I climbed objects that I knew if I fell from, I would seriously hurt myself.
All those things are gone now.
In fact, the age of the knock-around, latch-key kid seem long gone and distant now.
It's a shame.

It started with the roundabouts. They used to be everywhere. Then, one by one, they disappeared.
I used to love roundabouts. I loved running around, pulling at the bar to make it go faster and faster. Then, once it was going as fast as I could possibly make it, trying to leap onboard and, as often as not, failing to adequately get a hold and getting flung off instantly. The times I did manage to get "safely" aboard, I'd gingerly experiment with the centrifugal force, creeping toward the center, where it felt safer, or leaning out as far as my little arms would let me, feeling the rush of the speed and the danger.
It was wonderful.

But then people started getting litigious. Parents stopped realising that broken bones and concussions were just part of growing up. Instead they saw them as signs of liability on the part of the councils who built the playgrounds. It probably wasn't even that many cases, just one or two would have been enough for all the councils to decide it was cheaper to remove the play equipment that it would be to pay out some parents who really should have been keeping a closer eye on their kids.
And now we're all poorer for it.

The worst part of it is that I don't think it has made things any safer.
When I was growing up, I learned to assess risks through playground play. There was one playground near where I lived that had a tower you could climb to the top of. From that top, if you dared, you could jump to another part of the playground. It wasn't what the designers had in mind. If you missed the landing, you could break your neck. But we never missed it. We never fell. However, standing atop that tower, looking and the huge drop between you and your target, you stopped and thought about the risk. You weighed it up.
Kids today aren't given the opportunity to weigh their options like that. They are kept wrapped up in cotton wool. Kept indoors, safe from non-existant boogie-men and dangers concocted by the media to sell advertising on current affairs programs.

The thing is, I believe (and I have no statistics or evidence to support this, just a gut feeling) the rise in dangerous, risk-taking behaviour among teenagers in recent years is a direct result of the sanitization of playgrounds. If kids are denied the chance to assess risks and face consequences when they are in a playground, they are less prepared to assess risks when in cars or in various other situations where the stakes are far higher than a broken arm.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps teenagers will always kill themselves in cars and on motorcycles. But I can't help feeling that we are living in a culture where we are so afraid of liability and so fearful of our children's safety, that we have stolen from them an important part of growing up and, as a result, have ensured that some of them will never get to grow up at all.

It seems I'm right on a lot of levels here. This story has since taken off.


The Great Aussie Hotdog

GeoTagged, [S34.92866, W138.58740]

I walk past this every day and, honestly, something needed to be said.

This is "The Great Aussie Hotdog"?

It's a bit shit, really. Isn't it?

Just a sausage in a bun with a line of mustard and a line of tomato sauce?

I'm disappointed.

In Chicago, they serve a hotdog with chopped onions, sliced tomato and pickles.

In New York, they include sauerkraut, sweet onions and a special tomato sauce.

New Jersey hotdogs are made with pizza bread and include sautéed onion and crispy potato chunks.

All we have is mustard and sauce? Really?

You used to be able to buy chillidogs here. They came piled with beef chilli, corn, guacamole and cheese. I haven't seen them in years though.

Surely the "Great Aussie Hotdog" should be a bit more than just mustard and sauce?

Every Aussie sausage sizzle serves their sausages on sliced white bread with grilled onion. Surely that would be closer to this so-called "Great Aussie Hotdog"?

I mean, really, if it's just mustard and sauce, I think it's time to let go of all delusions of greatness and call it what it is: "The Piss-weak Aussie Hotdog".

And, to be quite honest, I'm entirely okay with that. It's not like I was going to buy one anyway. And doesn't that capture something of the Aussie spirit even better?

"It's a bit shit, but it's Australian!" - Now that's an attitude we can all get behind.


The Truth We All Knew!

I personally have a theory about the way UPS, TNT and Australian Air Express all have a habit of leaving "Sorry we missed you" notes on your doorstep while you are home and waiting for them.
It isn't in the best interest of the drivers to actually deliver your package. You see, if the package is undelivered, they are required to try a second time. So, if the driver is guaranteeing that they have more work and thus ensuring their ongoing employment!

(Yes, I am well aware that theories like this are how conspiracy nuts get started, but I'm willing to risk it.)

My inner Dali

I've just entered the current Hipstamatic photo competition. The competition's challenge is to emulate Salvador Dali.
You can vote for my print at http://hpstm.tc/22cr


The Rotunda

During lunch break today, I wandered down to the Elder Park Rotunda.
It may be crappy Adelaide postcard landmark number three, but it is actually rather photogenic.


A funny thing about technology.

Why is it that the most impressive thing about new high technology is often how well it emulates old low technology?


James May, Hit-And-Run Killer?!?

I know this is probably just thoughtlessness on the part of the editorial staff... tragic hit-and-run story on the front page...
And who's this up in the top corner... with the word "Hit" emblazoned and a steering wheel in his hand?


Obligatory Womadelaide 2010 Post

Once again, I took the closest thing I have to an actual holiday to go to Womadelaide for the full four days.

The following photographic evidence does not really capture the experience adequately.

Suddenly everybody's a bloody comedian!

Final night of the 2010 Fringe and a few drinks to celebrate a successful run for comedy at the Mercury.

Eddie Ifft, Jason Cook, yours truly, and Andrew O'Neill.