Sure it’s handy, but can you shear a sheep with it?

Posted: April 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Australians seem to have this bizarre disinterest, bordering on aversion, towards technology. I can understand the country being a bit behind on some of it; none of it was really developed here, so it’s understandable it would take a bit longer to arrive. But even basic things that have been around for some time, people not only do without, but seem indifferent and even averse to. The most personal and aggrevating evidence of this is the fact that for over 4 months now, I’ve lived without a clothes drier.

In the US, this would be unthinkable. If you didn’t have a clothes drier, you may as well not have a washer, and just got to the laundromat (which is also somehow rather absent here). But not only is my roommate unperturbed by this, she seems actively against getting one due to the increase in the electrical bill. The fact that it takes our clothes two days to dry, in the middle of the living room mind you, seems to be just a fact of life. And this appears to be a very common mode of thought for the entire place. People seem to have an almost fanatical devotion to hanging their clothes out to dry; even, and I’ve witnessed this personally, in the rain. I’ve walked home in dumping rain, which has been going on for some time, and passed a line of newly-hung washing.

As another example, Australia is a firm believer in self-service gas stations, right up until you try to pay. Regardless of how new or central the fuel station is, there is never, ever a way to pay without going inside and paying the attendant at the counter. Credit card slots at the pump are non-existent, and nobody, even those who have used them, seems to think anything of it. On Easter Monday, the end of one the biggest holidays in the country, I stopped to refuel at a major truck stop, resplendent with some eight lanes of gleaming new pumps. Yet despite this, the lines for the pumps were nearly backed up onto the freeway. And why? Because every person had to leave their car to go inside after filling up to be waited on by one of two total cashiers. And the best part is, the space for the credit card slot on the pumps was covered up. These pumps weren’t just missing the necessary hardware, they had actively disabled and hid them.

For my final example, I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: the internet access here, in a nutshell, sucks. The stemming cause of this is of course the fact that unlimited bandwidth simply doesn’t exist for private users. Monthly bandwidth caps start at 512MB, barely enough to browse the web these days, let alone actually download anything, and the highest I’ve seen is 30GB, and nobody seems to know why. This then naturally leads to the second shortfall, which is a complete lack of public wifi, other than expensive accounts through the telco companies. People dare not leave their access points open, if they have them at all, for fear of even a handful of people using it and sucking their monthly allotment dry. Coffee shops can’t offer free wifi to customers. The telcos have a complete choke-hold on internet access and exposure. And yet, this still seems to only get a glimmer of recognition from the locals, even people who work from home.

Clearly, the lack of ozone here has more effects than just skin cancer.

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Comments
  1. _absolutely says:

    you know. i bet if you put a sheep in a dryer, you might actually be able to shear some of it’s wool. =p

  2. Anonymous says:

    you know. i bet if you put a sheep in a dryer, you might actually be able to shear some of it’s wool. =p

  3. rhinoblues says:

    my friend thats studying in canberra totally agrees with pretty much everything…
    the locals thought it weird that she actually only uses the dryers.
    and she has to pay for internet service in her dorm room…by the mb…its only free in the common areas.
    lame.

  4. Anonymous says:

    my friend thats studying in canberra totally agrees with pretty much everything…

    the locals thought it weird that she actually only uses the dryers.

    and she has to pay for internet service in her dorm room…by the mb…its only free in the common areas.

    lame.

  5. mantaylo says:

    My friend did a year of bio undergrad in Wollongong and his only comments were that 1)the state highway connecting IU to the interstate is larger than the largest freeway in Australia, and 2)Australia has a lot of “Texas-style people” whatever that means. And that is of course just his opinion. He also took a kind of overland Jeep trek – a jeepabout? – that involved secretly cooking a sheep.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My friend did a year of bio undergrad in Wollongong and his only comments were that 1)the state highway connecting IU to the interstate is larger than the largest freeway in Australia, and 2)Australia has a lot of “Texas-style people” whatever that means. And that is of course just his opinion. He also took a kind of overland Jeep trek – a jeepabout? – that involved secretly cooking a sheep.

  7. lauralieluv says:

    Re: the pay-at-pump thing – they’re probably paranoid about drive-offs. Aussies seem kind of freaked out that someone will take advantage of them in anything, so this sounds like a natural extension of that philosophy.
    Oh, and I’m sure you already knew this, but most places in the States are self-service pumps. I was a bit shocked to learn that a lot of West Coast places not only pump for you, but the law usually requires it to be done that way.
    Overall, the Aussies look to be tremendously stubborn. I’m sure your ingenuity will help you find a way around that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Re: the pay-at-pump thing – they’re probably paranoid about drive-offs. Aussies seem kind of freaked out that someone will take advantage of them in anything, so this sounds like a natural extension of that philosophy.
    Oh, and I’m sure you already knew this, but most places in the States are self-service pumps. I was a bit shocked to learn that a lot of West Coast places not only pump for you, but the law usually requires it to be done that way.
    Overall, the Aussies look to be tremendously stubborn. I’m sure your ingenuity will help you find a way around that.

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