Archive for February, 2010

Price of books

February 19, 2010

Howard Bloom, author of the incomparable “Global Brain”, has a new book out called “The Genius of the Beast – A Radical Revision of Capitalism”. As he is one of my favourite authors ever, I’m keen to read it.

But here’s how much it would cost me for the hardback:

From Dymocks:  A$63:00

From A$32:35*

Downloaded to my iPhone via Kindle: A$12:90

*In hardback, standard shipping, assuming US$1 = A$0.90


The Happy Centrelink Officer Index

February 16, 2010

I’ve thought of a new economic index – measure the job satisfaction of people working at Centrelink. It should be negatively correlated to the overall economy.

When times are good, most people out of work have genuine problems. I met some of them today. Like the guy standing next to me in the queue who had just been released from prison (literally!) and had forgotten the note from his psychiatrist allowing  him to seek work in an office. (This made him VERY angry!) Or the guy who had clearly knocked off a couple of bottles of scotch before 11:00am, and was happily whistling, filling the air with fragrance. The poor Centrelink officers were copping all sorts of abuse from all sorts of people. I eventually got to see a nice lady with a haunted look, and when I offered her a word of encouragement, she gave me a look that said “Rescue Me!”, and asked if I wanted to work there instead.

In contrast, when times are bad, nicer people start to turn up at Centrelink offices. They might be more understanding, not get so frustrated by bits of paper, and generally make life a little easier for the public servants.

So if you see a Centrelink officer leaping out of a tall building, then that’s a good thing for the economy. And there’s nothing worse for country than if a Centrelink Officer goes home with a smile on her face.

(This is why they call economics “The Dismal Science”.)

Famous Last Words

February 6, 2010

The New York Times is running a competition to see who can think of the wittiest last words, or epitaphs. Here are some famous ones:

“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.” – Oscar Wilde

“Told you I was sick” – Spike Milligan

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…” – General John Sedgewick, Battle of Spotsylvania 1864.

Competition entries are quite good too. Here’s a sample of epitaphs:

“I wish I’d spent more time at the office”

“At least I’ll get a lot of heat where I’m going”

“Hey, I didn’t want to buy the farm, I was just looking”

“What the …..? hell?”

“Time to think inside the box”

“You should see the other guy”

“Lose weight now! Ask me how!”

Doest thou renounce the Devil?

February 5, 2010

Doest thou renounce the Devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that you will not follow, nor be led by them?

Because if not, you may be interested to know that Kesher is on tonight at my place. It’s BYO sinful desire of the flesh, particularly if that means fruit. Or, bring a vegetarian plate.

Thou shalt cast off thine shoes upon the hallway when thou doest arrive, or Nathan shall be cross.

Price Check at the Supermarket

February 1, 2010

So I went to Coles today, to see if that post about the cost of food made any sense. (Yes, I always do my fact-checking after I’ve published. My discerning readers wouldn’t expect any less.)

Most fruit hovered around the 30c-50c per 100g mark, and staple vegetables like onions and potatoes were around 25c per 100g. But processed food costs more. Bread is 60c per 100g. Lasagne, 70c. Butter 90c. Cake $1.10. Cheddar cheese $1.30. Steak $2. Camembert $4.79. And smoked salmon is $5 per 100g.

But the most expensive items were junk food. For instance, Funtastic Chocolate Surprise Eggs, with a toy inside, and pictures of High School Musical on the foil wrapper, was $11.00 per 100grams. (That’s $110 per kg!)

But tonight’s winner,  weighing in at $17 per hundred grams, which at $170 per kg makes it about a third the cost of silver bullion, is …


That’s right. Pez. Those little drops of hardened sugar in a plastic box. But these are no ordinary little drops of hardened sugar in a plastic box. There’s a reason why the Pez Corporation can charge so much for their sweets. 

Each Pez is lovingly handcrafted by sugar artisans in the jungles of Peru, dipped in platinum, and signed by the surviving members of the Beatles. For maximum freshness, they are flown to Australia (business class), and rushed to the supermarket in a refrigerated limousine, only stopping if there’s a good premiere on at the Opera House. If they can bribe their way past the heavies at Coles security, they finally take their place triumphantly on the shelf, proudly sporting the most enormous price tag in the supermarket!

And there they will stay, until the economy recovers.