Petering Out?

Reader interest in the dearth and death of Sir Peters calls for analysis of the obvious corollary of a dwindling supply of Peters generally. No, not coronary, although that could well be a primary cause of their disappearance.

In fact, given the advanced age of the Peter population, heart disease may have dealt with many of them. Think of any Peters you know personally: most are sixty plus, with a few in their fifties, and my forty year old son-in-law. Co-founder of Paypal Peter Thiel is aged 43. Seriously, there are no Peters in their 20s or 30s or younger. Except Europe’s Youngest Stunt Rider.

The name of Jesus’ favourite apostle doesn’t even appear in the Top 100 Boy Names List for 2013. What’s happening, people? Even Elliott gets a mention along with Carson (are you kidding: son of car?) and Eli. Aiden is in second spot, after eight years as number one! It’s not even spelt correctly: the place is called Aden. Exclamation marks galore.

It’s all over for the Peters, bar the shouting. Which means you all shouting drinks for us remaining Peters until we sail off into the sunset. A precious diminishing resource to be enjoyed while we last. Imagine a world without Peters. At least my grandson has it for his middle name. Maybe the music group ‘Peter, Bjorn & John’ may lead to a resurgence of Peter babies, but it’s not looking good at this stage.

The race is on to become the last one standing. My SIL is short odds. No need to run Blue Peter up the flagpole yet though, as there’s no sunset sailing here. By the way, Blue Peter is the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, in Britain since 1958. See how we last? But what will happen to the Peter principle? So many questions still unanswered.


Blue Peter fair wind



Modern First World living is fraught with really annoying problems. Out Kookynie way we spend plenty of time on the front verandah, trying to digest an array of old-technology newspapers with our daily bread. Sometimes though the desert wind suddenly gets up and starts blowing pages all over the joint. And we have to scurry around retrieving them and fitting ‘em back together. Imagine how annoying that can be.

So we briefed researchers at KLOTU (Kookynie Lo-Tech University), who have been collaborating with the prestigious Deutscher Werkbund to bring the finest German design traditions to bear on the problem. The year-long project has resulted in the simplicity of this subtle application of a classic object, with exact proportions and weight for easy handling.

To capitalise on consumer perceptions of German quality design the new device is called Zeitungsbeschwererkissen (ZBK) or newspaper-weighing-down-pillow. Local fashion designer Akira completed the collaboration trifecta with a stunning pale red fabric representing the faded earth around Kookynie.

Every First World resident with a verandah or backyard is gunna love this baby. And with such a cool brand name it’ll go off, big time: move over Hugo Boss. You can facebook-like it, as it’s going viral and global! Firstly though we’re tackling the Kookynie market with a 2-for-one offer for those households with his and hers newspaper piles. Or hers and hers

And of course when the last printed newspaper rolls off the presses and digital reigns supreme, the ZedBeeKay will painlessly revert to its classic slim pillow function full-time. The opposite of inbuilt obsolescence.

Wind pillow


Wind pillow 3

Arise Sir Peter!

Bunyip aristocracy. Putting all satirists out of business. Boosting republican sentiment. Every ironic or sarcastic criticism of PM Abbott’s re-introduction of Knights & Dames to the Orstralian cultural firmament has been made already, so not much space left to play in.

The first unfortunate collateral damage is the outgoing Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who has accepted to be the first Dame under the new-old royal awards system. It does somewhat diminish, indeed make a mockery of her recent pro-republican pronouncements.

Incoming GG, ex-army chief Peter Cosgrove has also accepted his gong, becoming the first Australian Sir Peter since Hawkie’s dodgy old mate Abeles back in the 80s. With our penchant in recent years of uncritical respect for any member of the armed forces, this puts Cosgrove close to the gods.

What a joke! Even John Howard has refuted the idea of resurrecting this archaic custom of caste and patronage, thus leaving Abbott way out back behind the white picket fence.

However it will boost the dwindling supply of Sir Peters in the world. Humourist Ustinov has passed. Blake the Kiwi yachtsman killed in the Amazon. Scott the conservationist also gone too young. Only Jackson of the Rings is still thriving with endless Tolkien iterations. So Cosgrove joins a rump of Knights Peter.

POH is definitely not accepting a gong for services to the meedya and low intellectual life. No way mate, tell ‘em they’re dreaming! As a youngster I didn’t stand up for God Save the Queen, the erstwhile Australian national anthem, so I’m certainly not kneeling before Her Maj or offspring. I prefer the companion order of Irishman Peter O’Toole, who refused a knighthood way back. No connection, but he also died last year.

black knight

Human Clothes Horse

Modern media and fashion have developed a sycophantic co-dependency, which can usually be passed over, but sometimes it can also get right up one’s nose or other orifice. Even while quietly minding my own business perusing sister news oracle, the SMH, this week.

Since our Germaine wrote about it back in 1970 the objectification of women’s bodies has increased exponentially. Well, I haven’t formulated a mathematical equation but we are surrounded by images of women’s bodies used to promote every kind of dodgy product. The original cover of ‘The Female Eunuch featuring the skin of a female torso hung up on a rail was disturbing enough.

At first glance the offending SMH promotion of a couple of fashion designers dressed up (pun intended) as news and its accompanying photo look banal. Naturally we process the photo first, and my reaction was to look for the explanation of the stunning-looking woman. But in the caption she is nameless and her presence is explained by the swimming costume she’s wearing. Of course she’s a model, but apparently we all understand that she is only a clothes horse. That is, tantamount to an object, as that horse is not alive.

No need of Roland Barthes, Levi-Strauss (the anthropologist not the jeans brand), semiotics and all that interesting French wankery, to understand the signification of this ingrained cultural norm. That woman’s identity has been stolen, suppressed and abused by the fashion and media industries, with the connivance of us punters, consumers and fashion victims. Her acceptance of her fate only makes it more tragic.

And frankly, what a tasteless, bogan design, particularly in the week of our worst aviation nightmare with flight MH370 getting all day news coverage.


Nameless model

‘Good Neighbour’ Fencing

KC editorial policy is firmly opposed to advertorial sleight-of-hand, but sometimes a product comes along that has such massive consumer benefits that we throw the policy overboard. Like asylum seekers and their children. Hmm, maybe not exactly the same, but anyway.

Have a geeza at Good Neighbour fencing and you’ll also be bowled over (board?). The classic design and variety of colours get a big aesthetic tick, with such stylish post-modern brutalism. The maintenance-free colorbond is so practical and suited to our global-warming Aussie environment, keeping those pesky breezes at bay. And nature, of course. But the real appeal is the perfect 1.8m fence height, cleverly calculated to exclude all but the tallest humans from gazing in and spoiling that oh-so-important privacy.

From touring the Wide Brown land we can tell you that Orstralians are buying into this unbeatable combination of aesthetics and practicality in their millions. Good neighbours are being fenced in (or off?) in every new housing estate, as well as retro-fitting older burban mansions. No wonder we reckon those asylum seekers have it good behind their barbed wire fences, maybe the ultimate Good Neighbour product? Perhaps Kookynie needs to replace some of those rusty old corrugated iron sheets with a fencing make-over? Living the Australian Dream!

Good Neighbour Fencing

Good Neighbour fencing 2

The New South Wales c.1840

Louisa Meredith (born in Birmingham) married her cousin Charles in 1839 in England, and sailed that year to the far-flung colony, where he was already a successful squatter and politician. She wrote about the strange and fascinating land she found, and her reflections were published as ‘Notes and Sketches of New South Wales’’- by Mrs Charles Meredith! Here’s an extract of her observations of local intellectual life.

“The circulating libraries are very poor affairs, but I fear, quite sufficient for the demand, reading not being a favourite pursuit. The gentlemen are too busy, or find a cigar more agreeable than a book; and the ladies, to quote the remark of a witty friend, ‘pay more attention to the adornment of their heads without than within’. That there are many most happy exceptions to this rule, I gladly acknowledge; but in the majority of instances, a comparison between the intellect and conversation of Englishwomen, and those of an equal grade here, would be highly unfavourable to the latter. An apathetic indifference seems the besetting fault; an utter absence of interest or inquiry beyond the merest gossip, – the cut of a sleeve, or the guests at a late party. ‘Do you play?’ and ‘Do you draw?’ are invariable queries to a new-lady arrival. ‘Do you dance?’ is thought superfluous, for everybody dances; but not a question is heard relative to English literature or art, far less a remark on any political event, of however important a nature: – not a syllable that betrays thought, unless some very inquiring belle ask, ‘if you have seen the Queen, and whether she is pretty?’ But all are dressed in the latest known fashion, and in the best materials, though not always with that tasteful attention to the accordance or contrast of colour which an elegant Englishwoman would observe.”

The italics were hers. And we’ve come a long way since then, haven’t we?

Old video & wonders store

Asylum Seeker Business

The sorry saga of Australia’s offshore asylum seeker gulag is not just about bringing suffering and hopelessness to those in detention. In fact for the government contractors who run the island camps it’s a lucrative business.

The eponymous G4S, a provider of ‘security solutions’, claims to be one of the world’s largest employers with 625,000 staff in 125 countries. It earned $244 million for managing Manus Island camp for 5 months. Australian-owned Transfield earned $302 million for looking after the Nauru camp over the last year, but will now take over both islands, under a non-tendered 20 month contract for the bargain basement price of $1.22 billion.

My trusty solar-powered calculator was put in bright sunlight for this calculation. With 1,332 Manus and 867 Nauru detainees it works out to $554,798 income per inmate for Transfield: KACHING! By the way, they are people like us, not hardened criminals – the detainees I mean! A good little earner for Transfield though, paid straight out of our squeezed taxpayer purse. It would certainly buy a helluva lot of incarceration in our regular prison system.

Interestingly objections to the morality of Transfield’s detainee operations are coming from artists in the Sydney & Melbourne biennales protesting against their sponsorship of them. A dilemma indeed for arts organisations and those purporting to critique society.

On a tangent from gulag service providers, but equally repugnant, is Foreign Minister Julie Bishop trying to stitch up the Cambodian government to take our asylum seekers. With Australian aid of $329 million over the last four years, we are one of its largest donors, so her bargaining chips are huge. Human rights abuse is rife in Cambodia, social welfare is non-existent, 20% of the population lives in poverty and 40% of children under five are malnourished. Our Julie is plumbing new depths of cynicism and hypocrisy on our behalf. But who cares, right? Out of sight and out of mind, at any price.

Barbed wire


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