Thursday, December 25, 2008

Watch the cricket... without the gambling

Christmas holidays in Australia brings all those certainties of life - the Sydney to Hobart, the threat of bushfires, crowds at post-Christmas sales and of course, cricket.

I love the cricket. I love the ebb and flow of the game, the personalities, the careers that develop and wane, and the long-lasting tension. I even love some of the gadgets that Channel Nine come up with to 'improve' our viewing. The 'hot spot' is great.

But unfortunately this year a new feature has crept in which, although popular, is at best unhelpful, and at worst, downright dangerous.

It seems that Channel 9 has stitched up a deal with a major online betting provider, and as part of the deal, they seem obliged to regularly mention the current market on who is going to win, what is going to be the score etc. Apart from this being annoying, it is yet again an invitation for people to throw away their money, thinking that they might gain a quick and easy reward.

Australia clearly has a problem with gambling - the basic statistics of $/head gambled, number of poker machines etc demonstrate that. But the problem is far greater that an economic one - with major family and social dislocation resulting in the vast majority of problem gambling cases.

Please Channel 9 - get a social conscience and drop the deal. Please everyone, enjoy the cricket - but keep your credit card in your pocket.

(By the way - do you think we are witnessing Hayden's last series??)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

'Tis the season for ... ridiculous gifts!

Well, the mailbox is filling with Christmas junk mail again - so it's time to play that favourite game 'Spot the most ridiculous Christmas gift!'

Its the game where the marketers try to convince you that you really need something you don't need, and we all prove that in fact our society has a lot more money than it really needs.

As usual the early running has been made by the 'superfluous kitchen gadgets' page in the Myer catalog. Alongside such seasonal regulars as the Popcorn maker and the donut maker - this season there is a new gadget that I think just could win the coveted 'Most ridiculous Christmas gift' crown.

Its the Sunbeam 'Eggo'. It "hard boils or poaches eggs and tweets when ready." Thats right, for only $37.95 you can buy a machine that will .... wait for it .... boil an egg!  Call me old fashioned, but when I was a lad, we used a saucepan to do that.

Apart from the craziness of buying such an contraption and having it take up bench space in your kitchen - what does it say about our world, that Sunbeam thinks its worthwhile spending time and money developing such a product. You've got to assume they have done their market research and thinks this little baby will sell. 

Is it possible that our consumerism has made our mind go a little runny? Have we allowed our sense of what is necessary to become a yolk? Are our priorities getting scrambled? 

If you're tempted to buy someone something totally useless this Christmas - stop! Don't do it! Either think carefully and buy them something they need, or, failing that, buy them something someone else needs (like an item from the CMS gift catalog  www.

As we bear fruit, lets boil our own eggs the old fashioned way!