Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Give Until It Hurts Someone Else

What are the benefits of donating to charity?  Is there a particular reason why, when approached by some complete stranger in the street, we should part with some of our income?  Many people deride charitable donations claiming it fosters dependence and generally helps people who should stop whining about starvation and investigate the benefits of cannibalism but I feel that such an attitude is thoughtless and inappropriate.

Take the people who approach you in the street, artificial smile plastered across their face as they do their best to be nice to people they really can't stand.  This actually helps them gain useful life skills, that smile and cultivated insincerity will be of enormous benefit to them when they try to get a real job.  Think of these poor people as they approach you, their plastic laminated ID and slogan bedecked tshirt adorning their bodies like the tribal markings of old.  What would they be doing if they weren't collecting for charity?  Probably taking drugs or representing the Greens in parliament.  Do you really want to carry that sort of responsibility?  Speaking of those tshirts, what happens if everybody stops giving to charity?  The tshirts will become redundant and in a stroke you will have thrown thousands of Bangladeshi children out of work.  Now they're going to need charity.

While we're on the subject of jobs let's not forget the thousands of people in this country who are quasi gainfully employed funnelling charity money, either voluntary or government provided, from one place to another.  Cancel charity and those people will be out of jobs, what's more since we just made the jobs network redundant they're not going to get another one anytime soon.  And since we just cancelled all the charities there will be noone to help them.  They'll form gangs and start preying on those of us who still have money.

At this point I can hear you crying "Neil, Neil, I don't give a crap about these unemployable deadbeats, tell me what's in it for me!"  I'm glad you asked.  The benefits of giving to charity are many and various.  Firstly of course there is tax deductibility.  It's an oldie but a goodie.  There is nothing like getting a reputation for having a social conscience while the taxpayer (or to be more accurate, other taxpayers) picks up the bill.  Let's not forget that social conscience reputation either.  That can be very handy.  OK, so everybody knows that you only made the donation to distract attention from the ugly court hearing, ongoing police investigation or media expose proving your company's business model relies on strangled puppies.  It doesn't matter, they can't deny that you donated and every little bit of smokescreen helps.  If you're really clever you will start donating long before the subpoenas are issued or the police are informed.  That will make the investigators look like they're persecuting a stand up guy.

There are other benefits to consider as well.  Depending on your particular political and/or religious affiliations donating to the right charity can be a handy way of funnelling money to the terrorist organisation of your choice.  If you're really lucky it will be tax deductible at the same time.  Finally don't forget the impact that donating to charity can have on yourself.  It can make you feel good about yourself, reassure you that you're not a particularly bad person even if your job does involve pitchforking strangled puppies into the back of a truck.

There is also the slight possibility that if you donate money to charity some of it might actually go to helping someone in need.  Personally I doubt it but you shouldn't discount the possibility.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

That Man Who Buys You A Beer May Just Own a Super Yacht

Look! Out on the water! Its a seabird, its a seaplane, no; its a super yacht!  Yes, apparently the worlds oceans are so thick with super yachts there's barely room for water.  So much for the global financial crisis.  On every sea (and some of the more socially acceptable lakes) there are super yachts swarming like salmon in spawning season.

At least this is the impression I got from the employment section of the newspaper the other day.  "Join the fastest growing maritime employment sector!" the advertisement screams concealing for the moment the fact that in Australia at least the second fastest growing maritime employment sector is the navy.  It will probably come as no surprise to the discerning reader (assuming a couple of them have wandered onto this blog by accident) that this advertisement was not placed by employee hungry super yacht owners desperate to get themselves a crew.  No, it was placed by a company that apparently trains people to be crew members on super yachts.

Of course there are super yachts out there and of course they need crewing but I can't imagine it is such a burgeoning growth area that it will suck up the nation's pool of unemployed.  Also I'm not sure whether super yacht crewman would be such a great job.  Yes you get to see the world, or at least seventy percent of it.  Specifically the seventy percent that is water and lacks such basic amenities as anything at all.  When you do touch land it will be at the sort of place the owners of super yachts want to visit.  I'm sure they'll be nice but you might find that the purchasing power of a super yacht crewman's salary doesn't go very far.

Another concern is trouble in the workplace.  I'm not saying it will happen but if you have an argument with your boss you can't just storm out, not unless you're a very good swimmer.  Possibly the best description I can think of for super yacht crewman is "paid hostage".  The prevalence of pirates in some stretches of the ocean means that there is always a chance you can swap that status for "unpaid hostage".  I very much doubt if you could get the day off for seasickness either.

All in all crewing a super yacht is likely to mean lots of hard work while stuck in the middle of an ocean or tied up at shore surrounded by the type of people you would normally run a mile to avoid.  No wonder the training institute has to advertise; it won't be long before they resort to shanghaiing just to keep numbers up.  I think its time glass bottomed beer tankards made a comeback.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

At Least There Isn't A Camel in my Apartment

A considerable amount of my spare time seems to be taken up dodging insects.  I've mentioned before that my apartment seems to be a kind of locus for the more mentally retarded members of the insect community and now we can add crickets to the list.

I like hearing crickets chirruping as I walk past parks or pieces of bushland in the evening.  The sound is rhythmic and soothing.  It's a lot less pleasant when the crunchy little bugger is inside your apartment less than a metre from your head.  The noise was driving me batty and I searched for a while trying to find the cricket and I will confess that my thoughts were not entirely pacifistic.  Just as I was about to give up the search the cricket cleared things up nicely by flying directly into my head and bouncing off my skull.  I'm not sure what happened to it after that but it stopped chirruping so I'm going to count it as a win.

Having liberated my apartment from the chirruping hordes I celebrated by having a bit of a tidy up.  I do this periodically, usually to give me somewhere to put something else down.  My apartment is predominantly mess with the occasional oasis of tidiness.  This oasis isn't static, it moves about depending on where I am and what I need to do at any given time.

On the subject of oases I can't help thinking that the real ones have been a blight on humanity ever since their inception.  What is an oasis after all?  Its a tiny patch of life supporting land surrounded by desert.  Without oases a desert is unlivable so people don't try to live there.  Add a few oases, however and the whole complexion changes.  Suddenly the desert goes from total death trap to just barely viable and that is all the encouragement that the human race needs.

Suddenly the desert was overrun with just slightly more people than its resources could sustain.  These people lived a desperate, marginal life winding their way from oasis to oasis fighting over the rights to these precious life giving specks in the vast emptiness.  Oh yes, and domesticating camels.  If there is one thing above all else that oases should not be forgiven for it is the fact that they prevented us from simply killing every camel on sight.  Camels must be the smelliest, surliest, most bad tasting animal on the planet.  I'm pretty sure they only allowed themselves to be domesticated in the first place so that they were better positioned to piss us off.  Let's face it, if any non domesticated animal behaved the way camels do we would have hunted them to extinction years ago.

So; poverty, tribalism, warfare and the continued existence of camels.  For all this oases are to blame.  Frankly they should be banned.