Sunday May 5, 2019, Glen Iris

I spent the afternoon at a trampoline gym with one of my kids. We both had a glorious time, bouncing, flipping, landing awkwardly, trying not to crash into other people.

The place was filled to the brim with kids, being a Sunday. A handful of adults were bouncing too, but the vast majority were patronising the cafe selling overpriced coffee made by teenagers and looking at their phones. Some of them were working on laptops.

I found this all terribly sad.

While I understand that trampolining isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it should be plenty of people’s. It’s super fun. Judging by the number of non participating adults of child-bearing age, I guessed that probably some of them had a medical (orthopaedic) reason for not joining in, which is sad in itself.

But I suspect that the rest of them had some combination of fears – fear of lack of fitness, fear of looking silly, fear of being not very good, fear of hurting themselves.

I think that these fears are probably rubbish. One of the great gifts of adulthood is understanding that most people don’t care about you, they barely even notice you most of the time. Why not exploit that and have some childlike fun?

I mean, really. Do it now before you get old and die.

Unless there’s something on Facebook that can’t wait.

Public Holidays

Public holidays in Victoria are a confusing mess. They give people an extra day off (which is nice), but strange and contradictory dates have accreted over the years. While no-one would suggest that we have fewer holidays, perhaps we should reorganise them a bit to make them more reflective of contemporary life in this State. Certainly some of the justifications for a holiday are a bit on the nose – we should address that.

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New Year’s Day – Retain. The first day of the year is a good time for a holiday.

Australia Day – Move to a different day. Celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet is understandably offensive to indigenous Australians, for whom the First Fleet was a catastrophe. The culture of Australia day is now one of alcoholism and is a flashpoint for the worst racist tendencies of some Australians. We can probably do better.

Labour Day – Retain. Work is important, and it’s worth celebrating by… not working.

Easter – Retain. The religious side of the holiday is less and less relevant, but it’s a beautiful time of year for a long weekend. And we should make an effort to remember the spirit of the great chocolate bilby that laid eggs for our sins, or something.

ANZAC Day – Retain. Even though the “ANZAC Spirit” is probably overblown as a cultural touchstone, this is a tangible connection to the way Australia was in the formative first half of the 20th century.

Queen’s Birthday – move and rename. She’s the Queen of the Great Britain, and it’s not even her actual birthday. Although I bear her no ill-will this is a pretty silly excuse for a holiday. I suggest we move it to the middle of August when everyone is really depressed by the weather, and celebrate staying indoors with a mug of tea and some biscuits.

Grand Final Eve – Retain. A controversial addition to the roster from a few years ago, Grand Final Eve celebrates the most inclusive and widely-practiced religion in Victoria – AFL Football. Of all the holidays, this one is probably the most in keeping with people’s actual beliefs.

Melbourne Cup Day, AKA Horse Day – Rename. Horse racing is increasingly frowned upon from an animal welfare point of view, and frankly the idea of taking a holiday for it strikes me as very silly. The celebration of Cup Day seems to mostly revolve around dressing up in order to get plastered, lose money gambling, and then fall over in the mud and ruining your nice frock. Oh, and you also either get hypothermia or sunburn. Sometimes both.

Possible substitutes could be Summer’s Back Day in October when people get briefly excited about the return of warm weather, or possibly Daylight Savings Recovery, where we get a holiday after the clocks go forward so that we’re not sleep deprived and confused for days afterwards.

Christmas Day – Retain. It’s Christmas.

Boxing Day – Retain, but rename as “Cleaning Up Day”. Let’s be honest, that’s what we do. That, and sigh with relief that Christmas is over again for a year.

 

Quiet

I recently spent a week in a small Victorian town. On my second day I went to the supermarket to get the week's groceries. As I climbed out of the car I fiddled with the Gordian knot of my earphones when I realised something – I didn't want to plug them in.

I normally wear earphones for a lot of the time that I'm out of the house. I listen to a lot of music, podcasts and audiobooks, and the time spent looking after the trivialities of life might be better used. I get through a lot of books this way.

The thing that stopped me was the quiet. There was some traffic noise, but birdsong was easily audible over it. People had loud conversations but they weren't obnoxious. A knackered old Datsun pulled up into the carpark, but it was an interesting spectacle rather than an annoyance. I looked around. No one else was wearing earphones either.

Without the constant drone of background noise I didn't feel compelled to armour myself against the world. And like an annoying ache, you often don't realise how much noise there is until it's gone. A less frantic place doesn't need insulation.

The US government maintains a list of places in America that are truly quiet – where no human-originated noise can be heard. They are rare, only a couple of dozen in the contiguous 48 states.

How much effort are we unconsciously putting into protecting ourselves from other people's activities? Living in a vast hive of people has its advantages, but we often can't see the down side.

Schadenfreude

“German anti-vaccination campaigner and HIV/AIDS denialist[88] Stefan Lanka posed a challenge on his website in 2011, offering a sum of €100,000 for anyone who could scientifically prove that measles is caused by a virus and determine the diameter of the virus.[89] He posits that the illness is psychosomatic and that the measles virus does not exist. When provided with overwhelming scientific evidence from various medical studies by German physician David Barden, Lanka did not accept the findings, forcing Barden to appeal in court. The legal case ended with the ruling that Lanka was to pay the prize.”
Source