Category Archives: Community service

Finally, A Trump Whisperer

It’s getting very noisy in the whispering department. There are a lot of them about.

The President after a good whispering

You know, whisperers… as my friends Merriam and /or Webster define, “a person who excels at calming or training hard-to-manage animals using non-coercive methods based especially on an understanding of the animals’ natural instincts.”

Extensive and exhaustive research (ok, five minutes on Google) revealed a rather eclectic selection of people and businesses all purporting to be “whisperers”, and we’re not just talking animals. I suppose there are no qualifications required, there’s no whisperer governing body to deem people worthy to describe themselves as a “whisperer”. Australian singer John Farnham had a gazillion-selling album called Whispering Jack, but I don’t think he would describe himself as a “whisperer”. Not with a voice like that anyway, but I digress.

My curiosity in these whispering types was aroused by recent media reports by a bloke who was described in the venerable Daily Mail (obviously) as the “Vagina Whisperer”. Apart from conjuring up interesting and hard-to-manage mental images, I was quite intrigued by the word – “whisperer”, not the other one.

My research uncovered a veritable collective noun of whisperers. There’s The Dog Whisperer, The Original Dog Whisperer, Bull Whisperer, Terrorist Whisperer, Lawyer Whisperer, Thesis Whisperer, Horse Whisperer, Teen Whisperer, Stock Whisperer, Chicken Whisperer, Bra Whisperer, Bro Whisperer, numerous Ghost Whisperers (which is probably quite appropriate as I can imagine ghosts being fairly hard to wrangle). I discovered a Ghost Whisperer jacket, which I’m not sure is mandatory while grappling with ghouls. The picture of the jacket is slightly spooky.

Other whisperers include the App Whisperer, various Child Whisperers, the Water Whisperer, Breast Whisperer, Jeans Whisperer, the Wood Whisperer (who may or may not be connected to the Vagina Whisperer) and a Flube Whisperer. I have absolutely no idea what a flube is and why it needs whispering.

The standout however is the Trump Whisperer. If he can calm or train that hard-to-manage tangerine White House resident using non-coercive methods (I’d be happy with coercive),
he will be doing us all a huge favour.

©Steve Williams 2017

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Psychologists: Just Like Mariah, Santa Is Real

This article contains spoiler alerts and / or trigger warnings about Santa. I’m not sure what a trigger warning is, but there seems to be a lot of them about. So if you’re thinking of shooting Santa,
or anyone for that matter, please don’t.

It has taken me a few days to masticate and digest reports about an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal that parents who lie to their children about Santa Claus could wreak havoc with their offspring’s moral compass. This could apparently lead to a Bermuda Triangle of floundering lies, tinsel, and disgruntled kiddies.

With all due respect to the learned psychologists who penned the report, I call bullshit.

You’re secret is safe with me, Santa

The report suggested that by lying about the existence or otherwise of the big bloke in red, parents can irrevocably damage the trust their kids have in them, resulting in “abject disappointment” when said kids discover the “truth” about the Christmas Eve nocturnal visitor. “There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies,” said clinical psychologist Kathy McKay, one of the report’s authors. Calm down Kathy, I know you’re looking out for the kids, but it’s ok.

Christmas is a time of innocence, magic and wonder, and sure, a few creative porkies. Don’t overanalyse or destroy this charming story for kids. They’re fine. Parents lie to their kids all the time in varying degrees. We all survived the great reveal of Santa. I can’t recall a mass shooting occurring with young Trevor, tears streaming down his face, screaming “WHADDAYAMEANTHEREISNOSANTA!!??” while at the business end of an AK-47.

The Lancet report’s authors did raise an interesting point, “If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn’t real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?” The God bit caught my eye, I know Christmas “should” be about a certain baby blowing out his birthday candles, but not being the most religious chap, I’ll stick with the Santa narrative, it’s more believable.

I love the whole Santa story, it’s wonderful. Suspending disbelief of the North Pole workshop, the elves, the reindeers, the transport logistical issues, the leaving out of Santa’s beverage and food of choice, so excited and not being able to sleep, but forcing yourself in case he didn’t come, then waking up on Christmas morning, racing out to the tree, and the unbridled joy of “SANTA’S BEEN!! SANTA’S BEEN!!”

Parents, let kids enjoy the Santa experience for as long as they can. Sure, if they’re 41 years old and still a believer, you may have a slight issue. Just chill out, have a quiet drink or a nice cup of tea, and depending on what hemisphere you’re in, spray some fake snow on the windows, and listen to Mariah Carey warbling about making her wish come true for the three millionth time.

PS Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post AustraliaLying To Kids About Santa Is A Gift

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No Thanks Donald Trump, Keep Your Snake Oil

Over the years I’ve worked with a hell of a lot of sales people.

I don’t want one of your f*****g steaks, either

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some good, some psychotic, which of course you could say for any “profession”,
but a psychotic salesperson is something to behold, and not in a good way.

Sales people are a certain breed.

President-elect Donald Trump… I can’t believe I just wrote that… this is a very f****d up Twilight Zone / Black Mirror episode… but I digress. Donald J. Trump is a sales person. The ultimate.
Reported guestimates of his bank balance range between $150, $3 billion or $10 billion, give or take.

With Trump, it’s all about closing the deal, he wrote THAT book which thankfully I have avoided. Trump closed the deal early Wednesday morning – the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC.

So where to now? During the campaign Trump made a litany of very well documented promises to his faithful (we all saw them as outrageous threats), but will he follow through? Or in true snake oil salesman mode, was all that ranting simply BS, means to an end of winning the Presidency?
Who knows? With Trump, you get the impression that he is constantly making it up as he goes along, to borrow that line from Monty Python. We’re all in very murky unchartered waters,
heading straight for the Bermuda Triangle.

No doubt many of his hard core supporters would have been simultaneously disappointed and disillusioned with his victory speech. It was extremely un-Trumplike, none of the vitriol, no locking up of “Crooked Hillary”, no wall-building threats, no pussies were grabbed, nobody was threatened with deportation. I laughed when it was reported as “being Presidential”, I put it down to the fact he’s an old man and it was waaaay past his bedtime.

Is Trump serious about making America great again? What does that very shallow four-word slogan even mean? Define “great”. Trump was following the old adage of tell ‘em what they want to hear and closed the deal.

Let’s pick one of his campaign “policies”. Did he / does he have any intention of building that wall? Again, who knows how any of this will play out. He’ll no doubt wheel out that hoary old chestnut (which is itself a hoary old chestnut),“Well you know I wanted to <insert bizarre promise> I really did. I promised you I would. But I was blocked. They’re weak. Cowards… etc etc”. The faithful will chug down some more Kool-Aid.

Trump’s meeting with President Obama in the White House on Thursday was surreal to say the least. Trump used the words “great respect” which is laughable, considering the whole birther thing, and the blowtorch he continually took to Obama during the election campaign. But did he really mean any of that? Neither of them looked like they wanted to be there. The body language experts had a field day.

So I suppose it is a matter of watching this space, to see what President steak salesman and beauty pageant owner does. I find it highly amusing / terrifying that his campaign team barred him from Twitter during the final days of the campaign, and now he has the nuclear codes. You seriously couldn’t make this stuff up.

Millions across the planet are proclaiming that the Trump presidency will be the end of the world… and to quote the classic R.E.M. song, Trump will respond with “and I feel fine.”

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia:
No Thanks, Donald Trump, Keep Your Snake Oil

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An open letter to cigarette smokers

Dear smokers. I know you and I don’t get along that well.

This bloke has the right idea (image: www.ecouterre.com)

I’d like to ask you some genuine questions, from someone who has never had a cigarette.

1. Why do you throw your cigarette butts on the ground? (#notallsmokers)

I know you very thoughtfully then stamp on it, grind it into the footpath / road / grass / beach
in case a random passerby treads on it and bursts into flames, thanks for that. But, pun intended, why don’t you pick it up?

Congratulations. You are adding to the several trillion cigarette butts discarded each year.

If I threw my empty bottle of whatever on the ground, trod on it and walked off, would you think that was odd? If yes, then what’s the difference?

But what am I supposed to do with it? 

Good question. That is your problem. You’re the one who is smoking. Find an ashtray, a garbage bin or preferably put it in your pocket. However, throwing it on the street / beach / pot plant / garden / drain or wherever, like everything else with your smoking – including the disgusting smell, risk of cancer etc – becomes my problem.

The street is the worst option. Street = drain = harbour or beach or river, causing untold damage to marine life for the simple fact butts are obviously not biodegradable. Surprisingly, they don’t magically evaporate in water, in fact all that lovely cadmium, lead and arsenic leaches into our environment within an hour of contact with water. They also don’t evaporate in air, evidenced by bushfires started by some moron lobbing a butt out of a car window.

2. What do you think happens to that cigarette butt you have just thrown on the ground?

A rhetorical question, because you obviously don’t know and / or care. Do you think the magical Cigarette Butt Fairy appears and spirits it away to whimsical Cigarette Butt Land?
More likely a bloke with a bastard leafblower blows it down the drain and then see above.

3. What do you do at home? Is your floor / backyard / balcony a Great Pyramid of Butts?
Hopefully you dispose of cigarette butts properly, well, as properly as one can…
so why don’t you do that when you are out?

I know, I know… you non-smokers don’t get it, it’s an addiction, smoking is not illegal,
the government makes a fortune out of us smokers… 
blah, blah, blah.

Again. I don’t care. You have no rights as a smoker. Perversely, actually you do.
You can sit outside a nice restaurant “enjoying” your cigarette, the view and the “fresh air”,
while I have to endure your recycled smoke and that stench. Why should I be forced inside?
I know Australian state governments have acted on this to their credit, but this doesn’t go
far enough. I’m talking to you, Europe.

If smoking just stayed your problem, I’d be happy. Butt it doesn’t. So I’m not.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia:
I Wish Smoking Was Just Your Problem. Butt It’s Not

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Bastard Backpacks

Dear the bastard backpack wearing fraternity of the world.

I’m sure some of you are very nice people who like tickling kittens under their chin, but some of you are absolute bastards. Seriously.

Seat 12A on your next flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not talking about the noble types who trudge around Kathmandu et al taking-an-undisclosed-period-of-time-off-to-travel-the-world type of backpacker, more the commuting corporate warrior.

No, I’m taking aim at the women, but mainly men (who most likely work in the financial industry and wear pseudo-Batman utility belts for their various appliances) who infect trains, buses, ferries and planes with their massive growths on their backs, taking out innocent and unsuspecting citizens with every swivel of their shoulders.

So when you put your backpacks on, does your spatial awareness suddenly evaporate along with what was remaining of your fashion sense?

Don’t you realise that when you have your Dell laptop and other geeky apparatus strapped to your back like a dork baby koala, you may, just may, be slightly inconveniencing the rest of the world? No? Didn’t think so.

The next one of your kind who almost dislocates my shoulder as you bump your way down the aisle of a plane…

Words ©Steve Williams 2015

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2015

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Down the drones

Remember those annoying radio-controlled model aircraft that were popular circa 1982?
Those whining, buzzing love children of a mosquito on steroids and the Red Baron that used to invade open spaces everywhere?

The ultimate drone-downing weapon

I remember playing club cricket many years ago and being continually buzzed by one of them.
Two blokes thought it would be hilarious to dive-bomb the batsmen. Hilarious until one of my (rarely) well-timed hook shots obliterated the flying bastard.

Drones are the new aerial annoyance.

I realise they do have benefits, taking out terrorist types, and the extreme opposite — so called “ambulance drones” providing oxygen to people caught in a fire, lifesavers using drones to spot sharks and rescue swimmers, to photographers shooting aerial photography and video.

That is potentially the problem.
Drones are like a flying version of Google Glass, with similar privacy issues.

An Australian woman sunbaking topless in her backyard was photographed by a drone operated by a real estate agent who plastered the photo on a billboard to sell the property of her neighbour. Noice.

There are many stories of privacy being breached, including a drone “pilot” being chased off a nude beach (for some reason I’m hearing the “Benny Hill” theme music.)

Enough. It’s time to take up arms against photography perverts, exercise our rights and our arms and down the drones.

The solution to these high-tech space invaders? A very low-tech weapon developed by the original Australians over 40,000 years ago: the humble, yet effective boomerang.

Think about it. Your boomerang will come back, and the drone won’t.

©Steve Williams 2015

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Christmas gifts that keep on giving (and other clichés*)

Left your Christmas shopping until the last minute? You slack bastard. Can’t think of what to get your annoying little nephew Trevor? (No, forget him, he’s a little shit.) Thank your invisible sky dweller of choice I’m here.

You won’t have to endure that stopping-at-the-bottom-of-shopping mall-escalators mass of humanity, and endless Christmas carols so bad you want to perforate your eardrum with a chicken skewer.

You’ll think all your Christmases have come at once with www.skymall.com – a vertiable one stop shop for all your Christmas needs.*

Always wanted a t-shirt that smells like bacon? Of course you have. Just stay away from rabid dogs.

Dress like a pig

Dress like a pig

Can’t say I’ve ever been tempted by time, whether Gothic, sexy, and / or crouching.
That definitely won’t change with The Gothic Temptress Calendar. Note the leather and S&M chains. Classy. Imagine having a meeting with some bloke with this on his desk. You would be tempted to ask if his views on women are still stuck in 1427.

Tempted? Er, no

Tempted? Er, no

I know what you’re thinking: “I wish some artisan would craft a bespoke Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture.” All that kneeling at the foot of your bed worked…

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln's lovechild

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln’s lovechild

Now, the piece of resistance. I give you The Zombie of Montclaire Moors as discussed on various late night TV shows. I assume the plan is you stick old mate in the ground next to your magnificent Double Delight roses and scare the bejesus out of young kiddies and get blank looks and eye rolls from adults. Go on, you know you want to, you always were the “wacky and zany” one.

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Go and sleigh him, Santa.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Plane Genius – must have travel gadgets

Forget the Knee Defender – the boffins at Randomswill Laboratories have burst out of the shed brandishing these must-have airline travel gadgets. You’re welcome.

Armrest Arrester™ A small, surreptitious, skin-coloured taser that adheres to your elbow.
Bastard next to you tries to occupy your armrest? Hello 50,000 volts.
Ask our operator about the optional Fart Away™ attachment.

BO Blocker™ Say goodbye to gagging when Mr Businessman who reeks like he ate curry in a sewer sits next to you. BO Blocker™ is industrial strength deodorant you engage like capsicum spray on passengers who pong.
With BO Blocker™ their eyes may water for a bit, but they won’t stink.™

Sit The F*ck Down™ Cabin crew will love this. A magic lasso Wonder Woman style to rein in passengers who like to stand up and get their bags as the plane is landing.
“Hey! You in 24G! Sit The F*ck Down™.”

Luggage Lucifer™ A convenient, pocket-sized flamethrower that gives you the pleasure of setting on fire the luggage of the selfish a-hole in 14C who has crammed his extra luggage
in your overhead locker. Luggage Lucifer™ “Burn baggage, burn.”

Headrest Hero™  Don’t you hate those passengers who pull the back of your headrest every single time they get up? Hate no more. Headrest Hero™ is an adhesive velcro strip covered in thousands of tiny, barely-perceptible-to-the-eye razor-sharp needles. Headrest Hero™ “They’ll only do it once.”

Bogan Begone™ An ingenious ultrasonic Bluetooth device that repels singlet, shorts and thong (Australian footwear usage) wearing passengers who sport “mystical” Asian tattoos.
Narelle and Gavin will be instantly repelled, as will their bogan progeny Brihannna and Montannah.

©Steve Williams 2014

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