Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Want to Be an 80's Dad.

Now before I offend any of you who already have children, yes, I know, it's different when you have them. But I don't have any yet and as such I still have the luxury of imagining what a awesome dad I'm going to be and to what lofty heights I shall take the field of parenting. 

I can hear you chuckling but tell me you didn't do it. Tell me you didn't think to yourself, I'm going to be the best parent ever because I'm going to do this, and I'm not going to let them get away with that. So humour me a little as I toy with this best case, prefect world scenario of parenting so that one day I can sit down with my kids and read them this blog and say, See, it was supposed to be like this. It was the perfect plan and I just don't understand where it all went wrong.

1. I won't let the tears get to me.

A lot of the time when kids fall over they look to their parents to check their reactions before crying. As far as most kids are concerned, if your parents haven't noticed then maybe it's not worth crying just to get a bit of attention. I've always been a big fan of ignoring kids when they fall over. There's no point rushing over to see if they're hurt because you're just going to teach them that crying will get them attention. If they're really hurt you're going to know about it; there's no point in encouraging them to cry the rest of the time.

Same goes for giving your kid something to shut them up. If you cry you'll get what you want is not a lesson that I want to teach my kid. I went to a kid's birthday party a little while ago and there was a little girl who would cry for everything, even if she didn't need to. If she wanted a toy, she'd point at it and cry, even if it was on the ground in front of her. Dad would run over, pick up the toy and give it to her. If she wanted cake she'd cry. If she was finished eating the cake and didn't want any more she'd cry. That's not a habit I would want to encourage. The dad's got no one to blame but himself (and maybe her mother) but heaven help her poor future boyfriends.

At the supermarket if my kid is going to cry that's fine. I'll be embarrassed but I'm going to sit down with my legs crossed and wait it out. I guarantee I can last longer sitting quietly than any kid can cry and the benefits of riding out a tanty would far outweigh giving in and having to put up with that every time I go to the supermarket.

2. My kids are going to break bones and that's okay.

I'm not going to wrap my kids up in cotton wool. Kids will break things and some of those things will be attached to them. I broke my nose... twice. Yes, my kids will wear helmets while riding their bikes. Yes, I will teach them the dangers of diving into shallow water. Apart from that, what are you going to do? They will climb trees and will probably fall out but it seems to be getting harder for kids to really hurt themselves. I can't remember the last time I saw a kid with an arm or leg in a cast. Councils have made play equipment so dull these days that it's impossible to do more than twist an ankle. You certainly won't find any of the rickety, treated pine playgrounds that provided so much awesome, teetering fun when I was a kid.

I'm not going to go out of my way to endanger my kids but if they have the imagination and persistence to find a way to break a limb, good for them. I'll be the first to sign the cast.

Oh, and I won't sue anyone if it happens.

3. I won't drink in front of my kids

Ok, I won't drink in front of my kids often and then only in moderation in social situations. I'm no saint after all but I can't imagine what it would have been like seeing my parents drunk. I also don't want to put myself in the position being a hypocrite when I tell my kids off for something I clearly have no problem doing myself. I'm not going to hide that I have done drugs and like a drink but I'm also not going to ask my kid to hold my hair out of my face while I vomit in the toilet. Besides:

A) I probably won't be able to afford to drink given the cost of raising children these days


B) It makes the health benefits of having a child particularly attractive.

4. I'll try to have quality time with my kids and limit their exposure to TV.

One of the greatest problems with having ideals as far as raising children is turning your child into a social outcast despite your best intentions. We all had at least one at school; that child whose parents raised them without TV/junkfood/contact sport etc. and was therefore doomed to never be cool or even moderately popular. Their friends were always the ones that they acquired by default because they were the other kids that nobody wanted to be friends with.

The solution as far as I see it is to make sure that there are a bunch of other cool kids in the same boat. 

It's all well and good to decide that you don't want you kid to have access to violent video games, or the handheld consoles that kids seem to disappear into at around age eight and come out... well we're still waiting on that result, but we all know that when the other kids at school find out, your kid is never going to live it down. That's not even considering that unless you forbid your child from ever visiting other children's houses, they're going to get their hands on them anyway. 

But in an age when kids spend an average of four hours a day in front of the TV, an additional two hours in front of a computer or video game and the skinny kids in the playground are the ones being singled out for ridicule, something probably needs to be done. 

Let me break it down for you. 

Kids spend about six hours a day in front of some kind of screen. Thats a total of 25% of their day and around 37.5% of their waking hours. Then factor in the six and a half hours that they spend at school and the nine hours of sleep that school aged kids need on average and so far we're up to twenty one and a half hours or 89.5% of their day. Odds are that thanks to all of those self serving baby boomers driving up property prices and rents, you and your husband/wife/partner can't afford to live without both of you working (that's of course not to discounting single parents. It's got to be tough raising a kid on your own so my hat's off to you.) That means that you probably drop your kids at school around 8.30am (if you're lucky and don't have to put them into before school care) and don't see them again until nearly 6pm. Let's not forget that your time before school/work is probably spent fighting to get your family showered, dressed, fed and out the door so we're hardly calling that quality time.

So, given that the morning is a write off and you don't see your kids until at least 6pm, they are then going to spend six hours being passively entertained by TV shows or video games produced by people whose lifestyles you probably wouldn't want your child to emulate before going to bed at no later than 10pm in order to be not too grumpy the next day when you start the whole process over again. By my calculation that leaves you with negative two hours of quality time with your child everyday... and we haven't even taken homework into account.

That's minus 7300 hours or 43.45 weeks of time that is totally lost into a black hole between the ages of eight and eighteen. Even if we allow that two of your child's TV watching and game playing hours fall between 4pm and 6pm when you're not there, the best you can hope to get away with is zero hours of quality time (no, sitting and watching TV without talking doesn't count as quality time and of course you'll have to eat dinner while watching TV so there's no hope there either.)

If your kids spends recess and lunch playing on a PSP or DS then maybe we can get back ninety minutes of quality... oh hang on, there's that homework time! Too bad.

Is it any wonder people keep on saying that kids are out of control these days?

So my solution is to band together with a group of like minded parents and all deny your children the perks of the modern electronic life; a parenting collective if you will. Your kids will all have to go to the same school of course because there's no point enforcing all of your wonderful ideals and withholding all of this bad stuff if you're just going to throw your innocent, naive child to the wolves at school. My wife had a fairly strict religious upbringing so she'll attest to how tough this can be. Besides, recess can undo a lot of good work.

Come to think of it, why not go one step further and start your own school. I'm sure you could find plenty of teachers who'd love a classroom devoid of electronic distraction and filled with kids with a decent attention span. They might even have children of their own that they'd like to include.

Since you're starting your own school why not form your own community? 

The Amish might be a good model for this, or maybe the community in the movie The Village, but with lights, washing machines, dishwashers, stereos and a total lack of people dressing up like scary monsters to stop anyone from straying from the village grounds. 

It'd have to be gated of course to stop the perils of the modern world getting in and to protect your children from venturing outside and being tempted by modern life. Maybe a walled compound? The advantage of a compound is that you could probably have yourselves declared a religion and attract a nice tax break...

Hmmm, reading that last part back I concede that this idea might be a little extreme. Maybe I'll just settle for eating dinner at the table as a family, no video games on school days and limited TV time. I'll even throw in doing homework with the kids (for as long as I can keep up) and stories at bedtime (for as long as they can stand it.) 

After all, there's a difference between ideals to strive for when raising your kids and justifiable reasons for patricide.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things I Miss From My Childhood

This summer feels different. Maybe it's the heat or maybe it's because I'm getting older and considering having children in the not too distant future. It's got me thinking about how different the world was when I was young and of all of the things that I had as a kid that my hypothetical offspring will probably miss out on.

So here's a list, in no particular order, of the things that I miss the most from my childhood that made the world so much better than the one kids have today.

Number 1: Water

Remember being a kid and not having to worry about the water supply running out? Now we're down to a 33.8% storage level and you can't even wash your car at home with a bucket and hose. It used to be that having a pool was the luxury but now it's just having water at all.

The things I miss the most about an ample water supply are:
  • Running under the sprinkler in the backyard.
  • Slip 'n' Slides.
  • The sprinklers that used to be on every park and sports ground in the country. You know the kind that went chick, chick, chick, chick, chick, chick pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff, chick, chick, chick..? For me now, that sound perfectly captures the essence of the type of Australian summer that we might never see again. It's actually what lead to this current bout of nostalgia.
Number 2: The Cold War

Yes, this might be a fairly unusual thing to miss but hear me out.

Okay, so from the mid 40s until 1991 after Communism had all but collapsed we lived with a vague, unsettled fear that one day someone's trigger finger might get a little itchy and a brief but very noisy WWIII might crack the planet in half. 

In the beginning, the Cold War was serious, scary stuff. After WWII the US and Russia found themselves the only 'Super Powers' left standing and began jostling for position and fighting over the shape the new post war world would take. In the 50s Khrushchev flopped his manhood onto the table and dared Eisenhower to do the same. In response, Eisenhower committed US forces to drive the North Koreans back and stem the tide of Communism in Asia. 

1962 saw JFK and Castro engaged in a nerve wracking face off during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Then came Vietnam (whoops) and in 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan (sometimes described as the Soviet's own Vietnam.)We had the arms race and Moscow even paraded their nuclear arsenal through Red Square (although in a revelation worthy of Hollywood most of the 'nukes' turned out to be fakes).

Serious, scary stuff.

But by the time the 80s rolled around and my generation was old enough to understand what was going on, the whole Cold War was a bit of a toothless tiger. Sure Ronald Regan was living in one of his old western movies and threatening to fight Communism where ever it took root but Gorbachev emerged as the voice of reason and a dialogue started, if only because the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse and they had no choice. Besides, nobody could drop a nuke because the consequences were too dire (remember the Matthew Broderick movie War Games where a computer takes the world to the brink of nuclear war before a simple game of naughts and crosses teaches it that there can be no winner?) 

In the end, Communism blinked first and in 1989 the Soviet Union collapsed , the Berlin Wall came down and by 1991 the Cold War was over. Capitalism won (although I'm not sure too many feel like winners after the past few months.) 

For us 80s kids we saw tension, we saw aggression but from where we sat it was one of those schoolyard push fights were there's a lot of shoving and hollow threats but not a punch is thrown. 

So much more civilised than attacking countries for oil or flying passenger planes into buildings.

Number 3: Innocence and Naiveté

It's becoming so much harder to just be a kid these days. I'm not necessarily talking about war, terrorism or global warming, I'm just talking about being allowed to be a kid. 

Kids seem to have so much pressure and stress put on them by the adult world. It's bad enough that we bombard them with advertising that makes them think that they're not cool enough if they don't have the latest trading cards, dolls, PSP/DS/XBox console or game etc. To exacerbate the problem we then have parents who dress their kids in designer baby wear from the brands that they themselves didn't care about until they were at least in their late teens.

A friend of mine recently mentioned that her eleven year old daughter received a bunch of hand-me-down clothes to go through, all of which she thought were ugly... until the brand names on the labels were pointed out to her. Sheesh!

It used to be that you were cool if you had a BMX, leg warmers or fluro anything. It didn't matter about the brand or if your clothes cost two dollars or two hundred. Now if your kid isn't wearing D&G sunglasses in the sandpit he or she may be ostracized.

Video games used to be something that you had to go to an arcade to play unless you were lucky enough to have a friend with an Atari or Commodore 64. Maybe you had a Nintendo Game & Watch which played only one game which you inevitably learned to 'clock'.  Donkey Kong was about as violent as it got. Now you can run over pedestrians, kill, maim and rape in 1000 different ways in glorious HD and parents are expected to buy multiple games at $99 a pop. We used to go out and ride bikes or play sport or games after school; now kids just sit, play video games and watch their waistlines expand.

I wish we could somehow jump in the Wayback machine and give our kids a world where they don't have to worry about terrorism, melting icecaps or being abducted or assaulted by weirdoes. A world where violence isn't so prevalent and where they wouldn't see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV before they turn eighteen. A world where they don't have to worry about what brand they're wearing or if they have the latest gadgets. A world where your ten year old doesn't need his or her own mobile phone.

I wish we could allow our kids to be innocent again.

Number 4: Not Having to Admit That You're Getting Older and Seeing Your Childhood Through Rose Coloured Glasses

Yeah, yeah fine. There are so many glaring holes in what I've written above that you could fly an exploding space shuttle through them.

I used to hate it when my dad started sentences with 'When I was a boy...' but maybe I'm destined to do this myself.

When it comes down to it though, the world isn't much different now than it was twenty or so years ago when I was growing up. We used to have a hole in the ozone layer, now we have global warming. We worry about water restrictions now but in the 80s we experienced a drought so bad that half of the houses in my suburb had signs up in their gardens declaring that they were using bore water.

Yes, kids have more gadgets and video games but I'll bet when my parents gave me a handheld Pac Man game I spent as much time with my face buried in it as does your average kid now with their PSP or Nintendo DS.

As for the Cold War argument, even as I was writing it I didn't really believe that one. Let's not forget that we're still paying for all of the political maneuvering that happened as a result of the Cold War during the eighties.

For example, the US had a problem with Iran so they armed Iraq who then became the problem. Russia invaded Afghanistan so the CIA armed and trained the mujahideen, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden who later formed Al Queda.

So somehow during the Cold War the US (and let's not forget it's allies), trained terrorists who then brought their war to New York and London.

That's some smashing foreign policy for you!

As far as the threat of terrorism goes, Australia had a terrorist attack on its own soil in the 80s and it wasn't a bunch of foreign extremists that did it; it was a bunch of Australians. The same goes for the Kansas City attack in the US. So again, nothing new.

We like to think that our neighbourhoods were safer when we were growing up but I was nearly lead off a beach when I was little by a man who wanted to show me his 'pink puppy dog' and my sister was flashed when walking home from school one day. We were taught not to talk to strangers and how to identify a 'safe' neighbourhood watch house.

As for the media not spewing forth so much bile and horror, I remember seeing on the news that John Lennon had been murdered ( although I didn't really understand and thought that a man had been killed by a beetle), and asking my mum why a man would want to 'rake' a lady. I remember waking up ridiculously early to watch the Challenger launch and instead seeing seven people incinerated. There was also the widely publicised hanging in Singapore of two Australians convicted of drug trafficking. The papers printed black and white photographs of the bodies being carried away, pale white feet poking out from under the sheets. Dead bodies hadn't really been shown in the media until then and I remember it vividly. 

Going back to before I was even born the world wasn't exactly safe and innocent. We had participated in two world wars. Darwin had been bombed by the Japanese and atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Australian troops were sent to both Korea and Vietnam. Two Kennedy's had been assassinated. 

And thinking about brand names and designer clothes; I seem to remember having a Rip Curl hoodie that I was particularly fond of.

So none of this is new. The world probably isn't any less safe, it's just that the dangers have changed. The world in which I grew up wasn't remarkably different from the one we live in now and if I have a son, he will probably love his childhood too and will one day look back and say to his kids, 'When I was a boy..."

So I guess I'll just try to let my kids be kids and grow up in their own world because, no matter what the media says, it probably isn't that bad a place after all.

But that doesn't change the fact that I really miss those sprinklers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On a Day of Firsts... There's Always One.

As my mother always used to say, "There's always one."

What she meant was that if there was something stupid that could be done, someone (usually me) would be there to do it.

And thank god for that I say. Where would the human race be without all of those 'one's who have pushed the boundaries, climbed the mountains, done what everyone else thought was foolhardy, even when it turned out that they were right.

History has been full of firsts and being first to do something is not always wise. But that's the point isn't it: someone always has to go first or we'll never get anywhere.

Life on this planet began in the oceans as single celled organisms which mutated and evolved into larger and ever more complex creatures. At some point a species born of the oceans grew something more akin to legs than flippers. Presumably it got sick of all of the other kids making fun of it's bizarre appendages and either decided to run away or to end it all and wound up on a beach somewhere. Hell, maybe it was just an accident and it was washed up by the tides. Either way, those legs proved useful and it found that it could walk, or at least flop around, with some kind of purpose. It probably found that out of the water there were no predators. Undoubtedly there was a new food source that the rest of the cruel taunters in its school couldn't get to. 

As has been the story throughout the ages, the kid who was a bit different and got picked on in school most likely matured, found a hot mate with a fledgling set of pins all of her own, made some little legged freaks, moved out of the neighbourhood and on to bigger and better things.

And that's all well and good and that's how it should be. But how about all those who buggered up before this happened? Presumably our little legged friend wasn't the first to take a jaunt on an exotic shore. There must have been hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions who washed up or flopped up before him only to find that they didn't have what it takes to survive and ultimately ended up gasping their last breath amidst so much useless oxygen.

To go back even further, consider the universe. Any astronomer or astrophysicist will tell you that it's bloody hard to make a universe. There is so much that needs to be spot on in order to get that initial bang right. If gravity had been a little stronger or weaker it could have all gone pear shaped... and that's just one small factor in a very difficult equation. Edward P. Tryon once said: 'In answer to your question of how it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.'

To this adds fellow astronomer Alan Guth: "Although the creation of a universe might be very unlikely, Tryon emphasized that no one had counted the failed attempts."

So, much like those millions of ex fish gone to meet their maker, there may also have been an infinite number of parallel universes that went kerflooey before they even began. That's not to say of course that our own universe didn't have a couple cracks at it before finally getting it right. For all we know, there may be a universe out there right now, it's hands balled into fists and its eyes scrunched up tight saying I think I can, I think I can before unceremoniously winking out into nothingness with barely a whimper. 

But back to Earth. 

The firsts that have been so important to mankind down through the ages needn't have been on such a grand scale. Sure we've had the first man to propose that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, the first to 'discover' gravity, the first to create a working steam engine, the first to fly.

My personal favourite first was the Gutenburg Bible, the first book to be printed using Johannes Gutenburg's movable type system. Okay, so I'll concede that it wasn't actually the first book that he printed but come on, who in their right mind would start with the bible. Surely the Cat in the Hat would make a much more sensible trial run. My point is that Gutenberg's system was the first, it began the age of the printed book, took printed language out of the hands of monks and nobles and gave it to the peasants. They learned to read, women obtained an education which elevated their status... well I could bang on forever but I think you get the point.

But how about the first to figure out that the red berries were poisonous? Sure, he may not have lived, but think about how the rest of us have benefitted.

And what about the person who figured out that smashing two rocks together or rubbing two sticks vigorously could make fire? The control and creation of fire was a massive leap forward for primitive man. Thank heavens the one to figure this out hadn't earlier been the first to try the red berries.

Sure, someone figured out how to make a spearhead, a bow, how to curve a piece of wood so you could throw it and it'd come back. Someone invented gunpowder, figured out how to split the atom (although probably shouldn't have). Someone invented the internal combustion engine and someone else figured out that oil could be used to run it. From there a whole lot of someones figured out that the black goop could also be used to make pantyhose, telephones, chip packets and more.

But what about the guy who first looked at the spidery, alien form of a lobster and thought, I bet that'd taste alright. And kudos to his wife, the first one to think that it'd probably taste better cooked, and maybe with a little garlic butter.

And spare a thought for the adventurous soul who first tried to dine out on puffer fish. Well you live and learn... or not.

The list is all but endless, from the useful to the useless to the merely entertaining. The first to figure out how to ride a horse, the first to get tired of chafing and sore testicles and invent the saddle. The first to invent the toilet; the first to invent air freshener. 

And who were the geniuses to figure out that with some animal intestine and a little know how, you could create sausage skins, guitar strings and a slightly disgusting but very effective contraceptive.

And in the name of all that is holy, who was the first to figure out that it felt good to shove a gerbil up your bottom???

So, on this day, the first to see an black man (or African American, or Hawaiian for that matter) elected to the highest office in the United States, I applaud all of these firsts. 

Whether they have come about due to inspiration, perspiration, divine intervention, dumb luck or too much spare time. Whether they have been useful, useless, entertaining or just plain disgusting. To those few who boldly went where no man or woman had been before (or should have been... I mean a gerbil... seriously!), I salute you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What is the Meaning of Life?

What is the Meaning of Life?*

A very complex question with a very simple answer: to reproduce.

That's it. Stay alive long enough to shag and ensure another generation. If you live long enough to make sure that next generation reproduces… well that’s just a bonus.

All of the rest of the stuff that we fill our lives with is just puffery but it's puffery that fulfills the initial purpose of reproducing.

At its simplest, life is a struggle to secure the basics of existence such as food, water and shelter.

Back in the olden days, before stamp duty and gated communities, family groups would fight over the most desirable locations to raise a family; whether that be the driest part of a cave or a location safe from predators. As humans evolved, tribes formed and they fought over land. A sheltered place near a water source would make for an easier existence and therefore a good place to raise your family. As civilisation has evolved, so have our reasons for fighting, not to mention the scale at which these battles are fought. Sometimes it is still about land but since our global game of musical chairs has all but ended, it is often about sustaining our way of life. Whether that means ridding ourselves of a threat (war against a different ethnic group), or securing resources (invading another country for oil… not that that’s what happened in Iraq of course.)

Not only do we want to be able to sustain a basic level of life, we also want to try and guarantee the best chance of our survival and that of future generations. To that end, we not only fight other groups of people, we also fight amongst ourselves. Competition between individuals arose to ensure that offspring had the strongest possible combination of parents. This doesn't necessarily mean the most physically strong. It might mean a longer neck to reach difficult food sources like a giraffe. It could also mean the smartest in a tribe that needed to use basic tools to obtain food, water or shelter.

Women (and I’m talking historically speaking) are attracted to strength so we have created games to show off our strength and the strongest athletes are often revered. A star athlete is held in a similar regard to that of a silverback amongst gorillas. Sport also reflects the way that males in many species will battle- be it with teeth, antlers or hands- to prove they are the strongest and therefore win the right to choose the best mate (or the best eighty if you’re a bull walrus.)

Men (again… historically speaking) will look for a woman with the best potential for breeding. Curvaceous hips suggest that she will give birth easily. Large breasts indicate that she will be able to provide adequate milk for her babies.

Now in these times of baby formula in a can and ‘C’ sections, armies to fight our battles, police to defend us, supermarkets to supply our food and machines to do our lifting, these traits are not the be all and end all of the reasons that we choose a mate. That Pamela Anderson, Anna-Nicole Smith and a legion of football players have attracted so many suitors would however suggest that old habits die hard.

It’s not just strength or physical attributes that we desire; intelligence plays a role as well. We humans are a fickle bunch and will take whatever advantage we can. If you were an early human woman and had a choice between the strongest guy in the village when a sabre-toothed tiger attacked and the guy with the smarts to create a spear and a door for the cave, whom would you choose? Or, to give you a more modern spin, would you choose Mike Tyson or Bill Gates?

Of course, if early he-man beat early geek into early pile-of-bloody-mush he'd still get the girl. That might well explain why human technological progress has been so slow until recently.

So in a hunter/gatherer tribe, a woman probably looked for a strong, healthy, intelligent male who could protect the family and be a good hunter to provide food. A male would want a healthy woman able to produce healthy offspring and the intelligence to know the best grains, berries etc. and the best ways to source them. Nothing much has changed. Whatever you do, whether you are the President or a hot dog vendor, at it's most basic your life is about trying to prove you are the fastest, or the strongest or the smartest so you can find your ideal mate and then secure food, water and shelter for the family you create together.

Or maybe you’d settle for having the best hair and a quick shag? Even if you’re single, the small day to day things you do are done to attract or select the best mate. You want money so you try and get the best job that you can to help you attract and have your pick of the best mate(s). The clothes you wear, car you drive and house you own all reflect your suitability as a potential partner and provider. As such, you want the best of everything to show that picking you would be a good choice. This is the same way that the peacock with the brightest feathers will attract the best mate 

Things have changed a lot since we climbed down from the trees or since God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden depending on your point of view. We've gone from a brutal day to day battle to survive to a fairly cushy lifestyle. We've progressed from individual to family, through tribe and village, on to town and city to countries, allies, trading partners and now onto a global community (in progress).

Your food used to come from what you could find or kill. Most tribes were nomadic, traveling to where food and water were most plentiful depending on the time of year. Eventually we learned how to farm and could cease our nomadic existence. This meant that we could create better, more permanent shelter, select and grow our own food. We learned to domesticate animals, identify the traits we most desired and then breed them for wool, leather, meat, milk, eggs and more.

The way we source our food has changed dramatically. You can now buy prawns from Vietnam or truffles from France in your local supermarket. We now earn money in order to pay farmers, abattoir workers, meat packers, truckers and butchers to provide us with meat rather than rearing the animal ourselves or clubbing it over the head in the wild.

That said our basic goals are the same.

So all of this- your car, your house, your six figure salary, one thousand dollar suit, two thousand dollar watch, three thousand dollar flat panel TV, bulging biceps, sparkling smile, winning personality- all of this, is to help you reproduce.

As Bill Bryson pointed out in his 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', you are here because every generation before you managed to stay alive long enough to breed. It doesn't matter who they were, where they lived or what they owned just as long as they managed to produce an heir before they popped off this mortal coil.

It doesn't matter if a mammoth trampled a male ancestor after sex or his mate died during childbirth, just as long as they produced another in a long line of DNA carriers that lead to you.

That none of your ancestors got mauled to death, ate the wrong berries, pissed off someone with a better weapon, fell in a ditch and broke their neck, froze to death, drowned or any number of other things that could have befallen them before they had the chance to breed, generation after generations, is accomplishment enough.

Conversely, it also doesn’t matter if your ancestors discovered fire, the wheel or gravity, whether they were roman senators or discoverers of new worlds, whether they owned the first model ‘T’ or set a land speed record… unless of course it got them laid. 

Because it doesn’t matter who they were or what they did (unless they were rich and left you money thereby increasing your attractiveness to the opposite sex) as long as they lived long enough to reproduce.

So next time you’re wondering whether you need a new car, or a new plasma television, if you’re wondering whether spending a thousand dollars on a new wardrobe or jumping out of a plane is a good idea first ask yourself… will this get me laid?

Or if you already have kids and are thinking of locking them in the car on a hot day while you duck into the shops or go and play the pokies, stop a minute and think, “is this really the best thing for future generations?”

And that is the meaning of life.

*The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the author, even though he wrote them, especially not if his wife finds anything offensive. Seriously, the big boobs thing is a biological fact.

Any content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as a means to interfere with his chances to procreate… or at least spend a lot of time practicing... please.