Friday, August 22, 2008

Synchronised Swimming is an Abomination

'Abomination' is a word that everyone should use more often - I know I try and do my bit for this word on a weekly basis.

The topic which deserves this new tag is Synchronised Swimming. I know it was in the Sydney Olympics, I know it was in Athens, and I sure as hell realise that it's in Beijing because I just turned the television off in disgust. The question is, 'Why was this 'sport' even allowed in in the first place?'

Synchronised Swimming is a complete and utter Abomination.

Why is this sport deserving of an Olympic spot? It's like watching a group of sequined epileptics trying to swim 50m - it's a pointless exercise which is sure to end in a drowning.

The Synchronised Swimming pairs event is completely ridiculous. Two women (because buggered if any bloke is going to do it) smile forcefully, swing their arms a bit, then jump headlong into the water in what the commentators describe as 'elegant'. One even went as far as to say 'Oh isn't that beautiful?'

No. It's not, and I'll tell you why. It's not beautiful because it's dumb. That's all there is to it. It's dumb. That is the only argument one will ever need when arguing the case AGAINST this glorified (and yet still bullshit) dance event. If someone challenges you with 'But WHY is it dumb?' you can merely reply with 'Because it is.' Anyone who tries to take the argument further has not watched the event for an extended period of time like I have (1 minute of the team event, and 40 seconds of the pairs). Before anyone dares try and challenge me on that, I will say this: 'Nobody needs to see any more than 1 minute of this event because it's horribly boring , terrifyingly stupid and nobody should encourage them'.

Yes, the 'athletes' are fit. And yes, they can hold their breath for a long time. You know what else can do these things? Elephant Seals and Sperm Whales, but you don't see THEM in the Olympics.

Sperm Whales exist to fight giant squid and pose for 19th century maritime artists and Elephant seals exist to hump cars in New Zealand, whereas Synchronised Swimmers exist purely to piss me off. Car Humping is definitely more worthy of my time and energy

Why is this idiotic and ultimately pointless sport featured in the Olympics - an event which celebrates the pinnacle of un-assisted human athletic achievement? Because there are far too many idiots in the world today is why. did a feature on sports which could be added to the Olympics, and I'm sure as hell not going to try and steal THEIR thunder, so instead I'm going to mention 1 sport which should be included over synchronised swimming.


Yes, that's right, Kendo. Japanese fencing. The 'sport' samurai used to practice before going out and cutting off a stranger's head. If you still need a visual cue, look at The Last Samurai - Tom cruise gets his arse handed to him by Hiroyuki Sanada. I might be biased since I used to practice Kendo until I ruptured a pretty important part of my shoulder doing it, but my point still stands; a violent and tradition-steeped sport is far more worthy of an Olympic spot than an event which celebrates the art of flailing your arms around in deep water.

Here are some reasons why Kendo should be in the Olympics instead of Synchronised Swimming (SS):

Kendo is violent, SS is not.

Kendo uses bamboo swords, SS does not.

Kendo involves two combatants putting on kick-arse armour and belting each other on some pretty precise points of the body.

Kendo has a definitive scoring system, SS does not, unless you count a few self-important judges sitting atop their high horses in their ivory tower subjectively deciding whether or not what they just witnessed was 'beautiful' and 'technically accurate'. If they judged purely on a third criteria I like to call 'Useful', then all SS teams would get zero, but I digress.

Kendo is loud, SS isn't.

You can't drown in Kendo, you can in SS.

Kendo is more entertaining than Fencing, SS is not.

Kendo is a sport, SS is certainly NOT.

I think it's a pretty well-crafted argument.

If any Olympic officials read this (because I'm sure you guys are keyed in to my thought processes...) then consider the following friendly tips:

Any event which requires people to wear makeup under water can go and get fucked.
Any event which is graded on artistic execution (gymnastics is exempt because 'not landing on one's head' is considered pretty damn skillful) can go and get fucked.
Any proposed event that involves dance and music and isn't Women's Gymnastics can go and get fucked.

A gymnastic floor routine could at least be used to flip backwards over a charging Grizzly Bear if it came down to it. All Synchronised Swimmers can do is attract large sharks.

Having said that, if 3 large Tiger Sharks were put into the synchronised swimming pool before the event started, then I would support keeping this event in the Olympics.

See how useful your arm flailing and splashing is now, you stupid people.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Truth and Honesty

Fie on me for not posting for a month. I'd say I have been busy but, truthfully, I have not.

A month ago I was made redundant, and I have been quite optimistically searching for jobs both near and far. A couple of positions interstate have been applied for, as as one overseas job, but neither have been responded to yet. Which brings me to today's topic, 'Truth and Honesty'. My last employer was talking about business dealings one day and stated that it is always best to be truthful and honest with your business dealings. This flies in the face of how he acted at some points during my time there, but there is a kernel of wisdom there (no, you can't compile it. Freakin' nerds.)

His point was that if you do not conduct business in a truthful and honest manner, then word will get out and people will view you as a duplicitous bastard who isn't worth their weight in lies. He was referring to a friend who screwed him over, 'He's still my friend, but I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.' Now, if his experience is anything to judge by, then it is only fair that a few institutions cop some flak from me.

Firstly: UniSA. You were good to me, all things considered. You have some wonderful lecturers and program co-ordinators, and I think they should be paid more. However, and this is a pretty fucking monumental 'however', you lied to me and about three hundred other students in 2002.

Like Hollywood's Oscar season, the first half of the year is what I like to call 'University Season'. It's the time when all the universities in the land send out promotional material to high schools which wax lyrical about the virtues of their various programs. Props to the guys who wrote that shit, because it fools thousands of students every year. He should be paid more.

Most of the brochures have 'High demand', 'Valuable skillsets', 'Valuable Commodity' written all over them in bold and above all funky text. If you want to be an engineer, this is the truth. If you want to be an IT guy, this is the truth. If you want to be an engineer, this is the... I already said engineer didn't I? For everyone else, it is a lie. If you want to be a teacher don't get your hopes up. Likewise for Public Relations Guy/Girl/Hybrid, Copywriter, Illustrator, Archaeologist (LOL, I know, right?), Early Childhood Educator and Communications something-or-other.

Students, like my good self, went to seminars and were told that our interests were viable commodities and that we would shape the world of tomorrow blah blah ad nauseum. The woman with bad hair and scary glasses stood at the podium in the suspiciously dark lecture theatre and spoke for a great length of time about how their graduates are picked up at companies straight out of uni.

Wow! That sounds exciting. You mean that since I have some talent and interest in writing, that I could be paid to do what I like doing? Fantastic! I'll go sign up now, hey? Don't want to miss my chance of getting in!

So you sign up and go through the motions and complete school and get that letter in the mail which says 'Congratulations, you got in'. You will note that there is no fine print on the bottom of the back page which reads 'Can you actually believe that these guys are taking the bait? This is fantastic - more money for us to conduct research into things no one cares about. Copyright 2002'

No one, and I mean NO ONE is as irrationally exuberant as first-year uni students (except for maybe teenage Christians with large smiles and bright eyes and a punch bowl full of suspicious cordial...). They walk around in huddles talking about how excited they are and how proud their trailer-trash parents are that they made it into uni. If they had half a brain or four years of uni experience to back them up, then they'd realised that they should have seen the lies through the smoke and mirrors of PR material and taken up Engineering or IT, if only they were good at maths and chemistry.
(NOTE: I was good at both until about year eleven when the teachers became arseholes and the course work turned out to be ALOT harder than previous years. I answered most of my year 11 Chemistry exam's questions with funny answers and smartarse comments. It came back with 'Fail. 22% No Smart-Aleck answers next time'. The joke's on her, my name isn't Aleck.)

After a year, the students are none-the-wiser, and it's only when they complete their final year that they realise 'Hey wait, we aren't in high demand'. An astute observer will notice that there are jobs going for these people, but they expect a minimum of 2 years experience, anyone that asks for a fresh-off-the-boat graduate are few and far between.

What I learned from university is that experience is what matters above all else. Granted, I improved some skills there and got some of my work published in a couple of books, but as a whole, the piece of paper I received at the end has not been as valuable as I expected it to be.

So, UniSA, and any University reading this, I'm not telling you that you're a bunch of fools, because frankly, some of the brightest people I have ever met work at that uni, and my hat goes off to them. What I do request is that you lock the marketing department in a lavatory for the duration of your planning meetings and that you take a leaf out of Google's book and refuse the urge to be Evil.

When bright-eyed students come up to you at the expos take away their suspicious cordial and crucifix around their neck, ask them what they want to be, and be TRUTHFUL about what you're offering. If you are offering an excellent education with publishing opportunities, then tell them that. Don't tell them that they are in high demand. If the private sector demanded the skills so much, why are you still working in admin for the uni, hmm?

Secondly: Recruitment agencies.

I haven't had quite as long to stew on this one, so this'll be shorter than the university section. One thing recruitment agencies need to do is keep track of the people under their 'care' (for lack of a better word), and to not hire idiots to represent them. My handler was an idiot. She didn't read things properly, didn't understand what I regard as the simplest of formatting protocols (the heading goes at the top. It's why it's called a heading), and repeatedly lost the folio which I sent her. To top it off, she spoke in a singsong voice, treated me like I was five years old and had a body so freckled you could have played 'Sheep paddocks' or 'Squares' or 'Lines' or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days (Fig. 1-4). Not that freckles are a bad thing of course, they just distracted me - some looked like they were forming a coalition to start a melanoma rebellion.

Figure 1:

. .

Figure 2:


Figure 3:


Figure 4:

| I win|

How are you supposed to entrust your career to someone like that? It's why I don't like relying on other people - in my experience, they'll screw ya, but in a bad way.

My problem with both of these influences is that it entailed untruths and blatant lies. Lying about whether you took a cookie from the cookie jar is hardly an earth-shattering lie, and in that circumstance isn't such a bad thing... unless it's my cookie that's been stolen. In the case of something impacting on a career, it's poor form to lie about the strengths of your product - people will stop buying it - known fact right there. I've certainly stopped buying it.

So here's a few tips to avoid being screwed:

1. Research your degree. I don't just mean look at their curriculum. Look at where graduates have gone. Independent studies are worthwhile here - I still don't trust internal studies, they tend to bolster their own numbers a bit.

2. Look in the paper or at job sites like or (obviously for Aussie readers). Does anyone actually want someone with your qualifications? If not, does anyone want you overseas? They do? Great! Just resign yourself to the fact that you'll be leaving Australia to find work. Do this early. I took a while to reach this conclusion, and while it was a good thing to come to terms with, I regret not doing it a 6 years ago.

3. Don't rely on your degree. Alot of professions require a degree - engineering and teaching for example, but for those of you with a more shotgun-approach degree like mine (Bachelor of Professional and Creative Communication - used to have a BA in front... actually I think my piece of paper has the BA in front), then you need workplace experience to make an impact. That's what I'm working on at this point in time. Half the time your degree will be what gives you the edge over a plebian opponent, it won't be the thing that grabs their attention in the first place.

4. Don't rely on recruitment agencies. If you do, make sure you have a good reason to ie. Your handler doesn't look like she should work in a home for retarded four-year-olds. You have to scope stuff out yourself. It's boring, it's tiring, it's demoralising (Sam ticks all boxes) but I'm told it's worth it. It's helps if you're not a bitter cynic too.

5. Above all, be honest in your dealings with people. Don't give people the illusion that your actions mean something different to what they are. Doesn't mean you have to be nice, just be truthful. If you're a success then people say that 'you call a spade a spade' or that you're 'forthright' or that you 'tell it like it is'. If you're dishonest then you'll be regarded as a charlatan who shouldn't be trusted as far as you can be thrown - and you'd be surprised at how far someone can throw you.