Visiting the world’s oldest café

I love cafés. I love proper espresso coffee, idle chatting while I sip it, and those little cakes that are just small enough to let me pretend that they’re not unhealthy.

I like my water served sparkling, my toast with ‘smashed avo’, and I like using my local café as a ‘coffice’ even though that’s the worst portmanteau word besides ‘webinar’.

Yes, I’m an inner-city, lattè-sipping, walking stereotype, so when I recently visited Paris I made sure I visited as many of them as humanly possible. Continue Reading →

I’m over Pokémon Go… what’s next?

On Sunday night, I found the best Pokémon I’ve ever seen. Right in the middle of Hyde Park, inappropriately close to the Pool of Reflection, I discovered a Golduck worth a whopping 917 combat points – more than anything in my Pokédex.

If you’re one of the rapidly dwindling number who isn’t playing Pokémon Go, that’s like coming across a $100 note, if the $100 wasn’t worth anything except in some stupid game.

But I was excited. With this spiky-headed blue creature in my Pokéarsenal, I could win my first Pokégym battle and capture the nearby obelisk for Team Red. Continue Reading →

Who’s up for another election?

Hallelujah, the election is over! Well, overish. Well, a result seems likely, at some point in the not too distant future, definitely this year. Probably. Once the AEC, the planets and Antony Green are all in alignment. Subject to recount, rethink, relapse, the Court of Disputed Returns, and the mercurial whim of Bob Katter.

At the time of writing, Malcolm Turnbull was the more likely prime minister, not least because he’s currently the prime minister, and will remain so until anybody else is.

And while his plea of “stick to the plan” has been met by the electorate with “no thanks, we prefer knife-edge near-chaos, if it’s all the same to you”, the PM is likely to be able to make the stronger case to the crossbenchers. Perhaps not numerically, but as we saw on election night, certainly in terms of emphatic, fistpumping rhetoric. Continue Reading →

Sydney shouldn’t shut down just because it’s cold

Sydneysiders used to hibernate in cold weather. After months of beach dips, backyard barbecues and outdoor festivals, we’d shut ourselves away from May to August, only leaving the house if paid to do so.

In winter we shivered under our doonas and hugged hot water bottles because as a matter of pride, we refused to build our houses with central heating. I mean, we aren’t Melbourne.

It’s a vibrant time of the year for Sydneysiders, when the glow from the 23-day festival takes over the city.

Our winter social calendars were emptier than a screening of Zoolander 2. It was unthinkable to attend weddings, parties, or anything beyond a pub with a roaring fireplace and the footy on a big screen. Continue Reading →

Brexit or not, one place in the UK still welcomes foreigners

In 1985, we had a dream of a better world, a world that came together like Captain Planet’s Planeteers to solve problems. We, the human race, joined hands across the oceans and saved not just the lives of people in need, but “our own lives” at the same time. Because, as dozens of rock stars told us, “We are the world”.

In this more ironic age, the USA for Africa song seems more insipid than inspiring – but it was a time where people really did believe in common-sense international solutions. Sure, many of those people were rock stars, who tend to solve any problem by inserting themselves into it. And looking back, it was sometimes difficult to discern the line between selfless acts of charity and a career-enhancing stadium gig.

But Live Aid made a difference, both in terms of awareness and fundraising. And We Are The World’s writer Michael Jackson and his band of idealistic musos seem far removed from a Presidential nominee who’s more interested in building walls than solving hunger. Continue Reading →

Remembering Harold Murray Knight

Portrait of Sir Harold Knight by Bill Leak (1990), RBA collection

Portrait of Sir Harold Knight KBE DSC by Bill Leak (1990). From the RBA collection. Source: RBA site.

A remembrance shared at his memorial service – Friday 26 June 2015 at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

A Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire enters an official state function after a Knight of the Garter, but before a Knight Bachelor. He may attend special services in the order’s official chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral, and display a red circlet saying “For God And The Empire” around his coat of arms.

Bill Gates, Placido Domingo, Rudy Giuliani, Sultan Abdullah bin Khallifa of Zanzibar, Bono and Billy Graham are all KBEs, and so was the late Sir Harold Murray Knight.

But I am here today to talk not of KBEs, DSCs, or even the RBA. I am here to remember a man who proudly bore a different title – Grandpa. I somehow can’t call him anything else even at the age of 38. Continue Reading →

LinkedIn is the worst

Even LinkedIn’s slogan, “Connect to opportunity”, is nauseating. But it’s now worth so much that if everybody in Australia tipped in $1000, we’d still be $10 billion short.

If you haven’t used LinkedIn, imagine Facebook if every user had their boss looking over their shoulder the entire time, so that instead of sharing amusing distractions, they instead raved about their passion for generating shareholder value.

LinkedIn is like a school reunion with only the people you didn’t want to keep in touch with, boasting about their career accomplishments to try and make you feel inferior. It reads like the fake employee testimonials in a recruiting brochure. Continue Reading →