Choice Magazine’s latest commercial insults Maytag refrigerators

I wonder why Choice magazine has decided to pick on a Maytag refrigerator as an example of poor quality?

In its latest television ad it shows a Maytag fridge as being responsible for melting ice cream. We have had one of those fridges for six years and have never had any problems with its ability to keep ice cream cold.

So I wonder why Choice has chosen to denigrate this brand?

Since we have been supporters of Choice for many years we searched our files to see if Maytag has ever been properly tested. As far as we can tell it has not figured in the past year. There were some problems with G.E and Maytag in 2008 but Choice has done no testing on Maytag since then

Is it because Maytag is expensive? Is it because it’s an American fridge?

Even if the name of the fridge is not explicitly shown any owner of a Maytag will recognise its appearance and be concerned about its quality.

Surely the producers of the Choice commercial could have shown a generic fridge that did not resemble a particular brand or used one that had scored poorly in their recent reviews!

What does an Up To 90% Off Sale really mean?

If you walk around the shopping districts in Melbourne you are struck by the plethora of stores that promise up to 70% and even 90% discount. Now I don’t mind 90% discount if that’s what the stores are delivering. But what really gets my goat is when the words “UP To” are stuck in front of the promised saving in small or feint letters.

It makes you feel that the stores think you are an idiot by including just one single item which is discounted by 90% while the rest of the sale gives much smaller discounts. Of course, I realise that it’s a come-on. It’s meant to bring you into the store, but it’s definitely counter-productive and it’s putting me off.

I now give those stores a miss because they annoy me. I really don’t appreciate being manipulated in this way. Wouldn’t it be preferable if they offered at least 30% off all the sale stock? At least that is ethical.

And I wonder if “Up To” can include zero? Isn’t zero part of “up to” or am I wrong?

And if only one item has to be discounted by the promised amount then why not then offer “UP To 100% OFF”? Surely this can be achieved by offering some dud product for free and then charging regular prices for the rest.

It’s as ridiculous as those ads that inform us of “UP To 32%” improvement in our complexion if we buy that miracle cream. Surely it can also mean that there was zero improvement.

Perhaps these cosmetic companies should actually disclose the proportion of bullshit in their advertising. If they did that, then the BS content would reach that magical 90%. Not Up To, but AT Least 90% and that’s a promise.

Do we care about gay marriage?

This morning I went to a current affairs discussion. We talked about the usual topics such as this weekend’s Labor Conference, selling uranium to India, the GFC, the Eurozone, the promised surplus by our federal treasurer, Wayne Swan, etc. etc. etc.

Then someone brought up the subject of legalising same-sex marriage and there was an interesting reaction to it. Nobody, but nobody, was interested in whether gays should be allowed to marry or not.

Quite frankly, my dear, we didn’t give a damn.

If they wanna get married, let them get married. It didn’t bother us one bit.

Perhaps it’s because we are older and wiser and we’ve learned that it has nothing to do with us anyhow. We have seen how marriage is no longer the genuine commitment that it was supposed to be. People get married, then they get fed up and then they either have affairs or they divorce. Or they live together without being married.

I’ve wondered why the gays want to get married at all and I think it’s because they need to be accepted by the rest of society. Which is understandable since they have not been accepted in the past and will probably always have problems with the Church.

So if they are allowed to marry they hope that they will be like us. This is quite ironic, in a way, because we as a society no longer value marriage. Been there, done that and wonder why anyone would want to be married.

Quite frankly, young women are attracted to weddings. They want a glamorous party with lots of tinsel and bling. All this fuss has nothing to do with the reality of the institution itself, of course. And when the party’s over they wonder what they got themselves into or grammatically speaking, into what they got themselves.

So good luck to the gays. Why not give them what they ask for?

Seriously though, I can envisage a time when the only people to get married will be gays. And so once again they will be a group apart. How ironic is that?

Further developments in the alleged arson and murder case at Quakers Hill

There have been some more developments in the Roger Dean case. He is the registered nurse who was charged with arson and murder at the nursing home two days ago.

Seems that he has had previous trouble with management at other nursing jobs. This time the police was called in the night before the fire at the Quakers Hill nursing home. He was being questioned by detectives following a complaint from management at this facility where he had worked for only a short time.

The interview was interrupted so we will never know whether an arrest could have prevented the subsequent fire. Anyhow, it now appears that Dean lit the fires in two rooms following that interview.

This may turn out to be a simple case of retribution against the nursing home and its management.

Or it may be the case that Dean knew he was going to be dismissed and so lit the fires to show that he was a good employee by coming to the aid of the patients. So still a possible case of Munchhausen by proxy.

Perhaps there should be more stringent vetting of potential nurses before they are employed in nursing homes. That’s easy to say, I guess, but the reality is that there is a shortage of nurses in those facilities and so nursing homes have to accept whomsoever they can get.

It’s a sorry state of affairs.

I keep on seeing the images in my mind of those poor old people being taken to hospital and they break my heart.

Wow! I singled out the alleged arsonist at Quakers Hill

Yesterday morning, when we were watching the TV reports about the horrific fire at the Nursing Home at Quakers Hill, Sydney, I couldn’t help but be suspicious about the Asian male nurse who was being interviewed about the fire. He was very camp and extremely solicitous. He was also saying how much he was helping with the rescue of the residents.

Somehow, it struck me at the time that he was enjoying the attention just a bit too much. So I wondered whether it was a case of Munchhausen by Proxy.

This man has now been named as Roger Dean and charged with arson and murder. As a result of the charge Dean’s face is being covered up, but it is obvious who it is, since he was the only male nurse to be interviewed by the media.

I think that sometimes we should really pay attention to our gut feelings. As Blaise Pascal, the Seventeenth Century French philosopher, writer, mathematician and scientist wrote:- “the heart has it reasons of which reason knows nothing.”

I wonder, though, if there really is such a thing as gut feeling or is it a kind of fast assessment based on quick observation, an educated guess?

Perhaps it has to do with our prehistoric instincts for survival, a gut feeling of imminent danger followed by Exit stage left.

A Real Aussie Welcome for President Obama

After trying hard to make a difference in the Middle East and in Europe, President Obama appears to be changing course. He is focusing on the Pacific region instead. This is where future growth will be greatest, according to him. It is also where the US is welcome.

Unfortunately for Europe/US relations, Europe has a chip on its shoulder. A very weak shoulder as it turns out. The Europeans have their own problems now and it is no use trying to form closer alliances with them while they are struggling with financial difficulties. Europe is unfortunately shackled by traditions, and it suffers delusions of past grandeur. Yes, they were powerful once but now they are in deep trouble.

As far as the Middle East is concerned, what can one say? A basket case of disaffected people who are busy with their own political turmoil. And when that is solved, in the fullness of time, there will be economic turmoil as well. So no wonder that President Obama has decided to retreat from closer involvement with that part of the world.

Anyway, the US cannot solve the entire world’s problems. It has tried and been rebuffed too many times by envious nations. Nor should it be expected to do so when it has obligations at home.

Which leaves the developing nations of Asia, S.E. Asia as well as the developed Western nations of Australia and New Zealand. And that is sensible.

It was a pleasure to hear President Obama speak to the Australian parliament today. He is a skilled and diplomatic orator. No wonder the Australian parliament gave him a lengthy ovation. Everyone kept on clapping and clapping as he personally made certain that he shook hands with all the politicians there. Even Senator Bob Browne of the Greens was unusually courteous even though he is no fan of the US and its policies.

Prime Minister Gillard spoke very well and was impressive, but the standout speech was by Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, who appeared more erudite than Gillard.

I wish that the public could hear him talk that way more often. Less passion, less vitriol and more reflective speeches from Abbott would do him a lot of good. He shouldn’t suppress his natural inclination to be a deep thinker. And he should reveal that side of his character to the Australian population.

It’s what is appealing about President Obama. The President is intelligent and is not ashamed to show it. Abbott is also intelligent and educated. So why not demonstrate it to us more often?

Fun at the auction at 49 Mathoura Rd Toorak

If you want to study humanity you will get your fill by attending a real estate auction. Sticky beaks like us occasionally attend. It’s live theatre.

So that’s what we did yesterday, Saturday, a day which apparently was going to keep Melbournians busy at about 800 or so auctions. We chose the one which was selling a very attractive renovated Nineteenth Century home.

As we approached the house we could see that every parking spot in the street was taken. A large crowd of curious neighbours and potential bidders filled the front lawn of the property. I’d been to some crowded auctions before at which nobody made a single bid. Very deflating. The whole thing would be over in a flash.

This one was different, though. Some families with little children positioned themselves. There was definitely an air of anticipation among the crowd.

Was anybody interested? Would the auction go the way of other auctions and fizzle out? We chatted among ourselves and waited.

And then the auctioneer, Justin Long, began his preamble. A very descriptive and enthusiastic one, naturally. After about ten minutes he finally declared the auction opened and asked:-

“Is there anybody here who would like to open the bidding?”

A little voice piped up. “I will” One of the toddlers stood in front of Mr Long and repeated “I will” until his dad picked him up and whisked him away.

The whole crowd burst out laughing and for a brief moment we all relaxed. And then the auctioneer asked the child:-

“Does your father have any money? If he has then go ahead and bid.”

There were four bidders there and one of them was successful. It seemed to go on forever with the auctioneer playing one of the bidders off against the others until we felt like calling out “Enough already…”

It turned out to be one of the most exciting auctions I had ever witnessed. Nail biting is the only way to describe it. And it felt so good to have that comic relief before it started. He was such a cute kid!

I welcome the US Marine Base in Darwin Australia

I have always been a pragmatist. That is why I believe that the US marine base in Darwin will be of great benefit to Australia. We are a big country here with a small population and negligible defence capabilities.

That is why we need a military alliance with a power that has similar values to our own. Not that I’m naive enough to think that sharing values is enough for an alliance to work. After all, we had some sort of relationship in the past with Great Britain, but when the Great War broke out our soldiers were used as cannon fodder at Gallipoli and elsewhere. And when the Second World War broke out and Japan attacked our part of the world, Great Britain abandoned us.

So sharing a past history and having similar values were not enough to make the Brits come to our rescue.

What was in it for them? Not much as it turned out. Loyalty towards its colonies flew out the window. We were on our own. So thank goodness it was in the U.S interest to fight the Japanese and this saved us.

My point is that nations will help one another only when it is in the interest of all involved to do so. It just makes sense, therefore, to foster an alliance that will benefit the US. The by-product of that is that Australia’s survival will be useful to our ally.

I also believe that the US and Australia have common enemies and it will serve us both to strengthen our relationship.

On a personal note, I am never more comfortable than when I travel in the US. I think we understand one another in spite of our minor differences.

Nevertheless, similar values are not enough and we have to make it worth their while for the US to come to our aid if we need it. Having US military bases in Australia should help.

Pro-Palestinian activist finally makes it to Israel

Professional agitator, Michael Coleman, was among the activists trying to break the arms blockade to Israel last week. The previous time he tried to sail to Gaza was in July of this year. On that occasion, he was stopped from doing so by the Greeks. This time he managed to leave Greece and sail towards Gaza for the purpose of provoking Israel into arresting him.

The arms blockade of Gaza has been declared legal by the U.N but that doesn’t seem to make a difference to the activists.

So Coleman and his mates were stopped by Israel and given a choice. They could go on to Egypt or they could be processed in Israel.

Well, with all that’s going on in Egypt, especially massacres of Christians, the activists decided that the big bad Satan, Israel, was a safer bet than Church-burning Egypt.

With all that’s going on in the Middle East, the massacre of Syrian protestors, the burning of Churches in Egypt, all evidence of human rights infringement, it is mind-boggling that 27 activists, including Australian Michael Coleman, would continue to provoke Israel.

However, there is a simple explanation for this.

In answer as to why foreign activists don’t agitate against human rights violations in the Arab Spring countries it’s because they are cowards. If the activists performed their stunts against Egypt or Syria or Yemen or any other country in the Middle East, apart from Israel, they would be arrested, tortured and never heard of again.

The ironic reality behind these stunts is that the activists feel safer in Israeli hands than in the rest of the Middle East. They know that in Israel the Irish or Canadian or Australian consuls will be allowed to visit them to assist them. This would obviously not be the case if they were detained by Israel’s neighbours.

So that’s why these twits will keep on demonstrating against Israel, while real massacres and deprivations in the rest of the world are left unchecked or put into the too-hard basket. That’s the easy way out, isn’t it?

Senators Bob Brown and Doug Cameron are into name calling

You have to admire Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas. There he was at the Senate inquiry into Qantas’ lockout on Saturday, one solitary figure defending his actions before the big wigs of the Senate. He gave as good as he got when Doug Cameron attacked him and said he was like Richard Nixon to which Joyce replied that Cameron was holding a McCarthy trial.

A petulant Bob Brown, hostile as ever to big corporations, resorted to calling Joyce devious and obscure. The more I see of Brown the more I mistrust him.

Joyce doesn’t look tough. He looks gentle but he definitely has mettle. One could not argue with his claim that the unions were trying to wreck the company. He described the protracted on again off again strikes by the unions as “Death by a thousand cuts”.

Sadly, Qantas may yet become too weak to survive but at least Joyce will have fought for the company.

And you have to respect a man who says that the decision to take strong action against the unions was his and his alone. A bit of a Western Hero like Alan Ladd in “Shane” or Gary Cooper in “High Noon”.