Friday, August 5, 2011

from tooth to hip pocket

I promise never to laugh at trainspotters again.
Some Swedish guy’s hobby involved mixing up a little radium, americium and uranium in his apartment so he could build a nuclear reactor. Okay, he kept a blog about his experiments so he can’t be all bad. And he did say he had a little meltdown on his stove, and I can relate to that.
But physics as a hobby?

The man, who has been charged with unauthorised possession of nuclear material, obviously has a very highly trained brain that is going to waste.
As punishment he should be deported immediately to Australia and given a free white lab coat complete with a breast pocket full of pens. If anyone is going to develop some new, environmentally friendly carbon-neutral source of power, it will be someone just like him.


We went to see Red Dog today and although it’s not a great movie, it was good fun. Rating: 3 tissues.

The Productivity Commission report on the retail sector is in. Most of the reports eventually get around to telling the whole story, but the headlines provide clues about what the first few paragraphs will emphasise. Here’s what different sections of the media have to say about the retail/GST issue:

The Age:
Retailers told the enemy is within
In a setback for Australia's beleaguered retailers, the Gillard government has declared it ''crazy'' to make shoppers pay GST on overseas goods they buy online, and warned the sector that the internet was not ''the enemy''.

Herald Sun
Cutting the GST threshold on cyber purchases is not cost-effective

ABC News
Review backs GST for online goods
The Productivity Commission has accepted arguments from retailers that the GST-free threshold for imports should be below the current value of $1,000.

A SUDANESE man who has applied unsuccessfully for more than 1000 jobs has resorted to using a fake Anglo name on his resume in a desperate attempt to get work. He says he still hasn’t got a job, but at least now he is getting a few calls as opposed to none.

Twenty-five years ago an Indian woman in the bank where I worked said her husband – who had two Masters Degrees - had been struggling to get any interviews in the six months he had been applying for jobs in Australia. Our temp typist immediately suggested she bring her husband’s CV in so we could take a look at it.
The name on his CV was something like Mkjhhbcde Jiuenklozsuenfjshanm. [Well, that doesn’t look Indian but I think you’ll get the idea.]
The typist asked this lady “What do you call him when you’re at home?” The lady replied “Sam”. The typist changed the name on the CV to Mkjhhbcde “Sam” Jiuenklozsuenfjshanm.

Within 3 weeks Sam got his first interview, and 3 weeks after that he had a job.
No one was going to contact him if they didn’t know how to say his name, because they either didn’t want to feel foolish, or they didn’t want to be rude. Maybe both.
Perhaps where our Sudanese friend is going wrong is in being deceitful, because although it was one way to test his theory about racism, what he was ultimately doing was making the people who did call him feel foolish.

Sam’s combination of real name and user-friendly name was honest and showed a willingness to adapt.

As a general rule, if your income drops from $100 to $80, you will adapt your spending in optimistic decrements. Your spending will go from 100, to 95, to 90 and then 85 dollars before you finish changing your ways. It’s called “the ratchet effect”, because that’s how it looks on a graph. It’s spelt ‘ratchet” but I do believe it’s pronounced ‘rat sh*t’.

A dentist who runs a weekend emergency clinic once told me – in a far too cheery tone, I thought – he makes all his money from baby-boomers. [There was no flouride in Melbourne’s water until 1977.]
It took him an hour to drill a hole through one of my crowns so he could get started on a root canal. I handed over the deed to my house, keeping the car so I would have something to pay my local dentist with when I got him to finish the job the next week.

Today my local dentist fixed yet another cracked tooth. The good news is I’ve got no more health insurance rebates for dental work left until 2012, so I’ll have plenty of time to save another $3,000 for the next job. If only dental work was available offshore and online and GST free.

As Mr Micawber said in the novel David Copperfield
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

My bank account is almost completely ratchet.


  1. Sorry for your dental problems.

    It's crazy that it's so expensive.

  2. Thanks Dina, a little bit of sympathy goes a long way.
    Part of the expense is probably due to vanity, but the other part it has proven cheaper in the long run to just pay for crowns. At least I don't have to keep getting the same teeth fixed over and over any more.