Many of us have been wrestling with our good resolutions this week. We may have decided to modify our behaviour using various moral foundations: the teachings of the Bible, the wisdom of Jordan Peterson or "What would Taylor Swift do?"

All those require a lot of reading. I'm partial to the "What if aliens were watching?" test as formulated by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. He once explained that he would never own a dog because of the requirement to pick up their body waste.

As he said: If aliens were watching and saw two very different life forms, with one walking in the rear carrying the other's excrement in a little bag they would have little doubt about which was the superior being.


The IAWW test can usefully be applied to holiday traffic, a blood-curdling expression that appears frequently in the news at this time of year. As terrifying phrases go, it's right up there with "shortie pyjamas" and "coming-of-age drama".

Holiday traffic refers to the annual tradition of defying all common sense and lived experience and packing ourselves into cars and venturing out onto roads we know will be gridlocked, log-jammed, reduced to a crawl, held up by a breakdown on the Harbour Bridge and subject to long delays.

And like Christmas and Easter in the shops, the holiday season on the roads seems to start earlier each year. Do we learn the obvious lesson? We do not. We persist because we are humans and we would rather be stubborn than sensible.

Fuming is one option for dealing with delays. But I have heard it suggested that podcasts are an alternative survival mechanism.

As if we weren't already in enough pain.

Someone I know is addicted to these putative entertainments, which usually involve two or more Americans with parent issues talking about their neuroses, why they stopped drinking and pretty much anything other than the alleged topic of their programmettes. On the whole, I'm happier fuming.

Funnily enough there is one solution to the traffic nightmare. It's the one that applies to almost everything in life: you can have just about anything if you have enough money or get up early enough – in this case, particularly, the latter. But every holiday season, in our tens of thousands, we fail to take up that option and grind on relentlessly north and south at a pace that makes the average glacier look turbocharged.

It's observing behaviour like this from the depths of interstellar space that probably stops alien civilisations making contact. What possible benefit could there be for them communicating with creatures so foolish?


As someone who inhabits a very large glass house and who struggles with syntax and basic grammar on a daily basis, I hesitate to throw stones at other people's writing. But …

Every now and then a sentence surfaces in the mainstream media that is so incompetent you marvel that the mind which conceived it was connected to motor skills that were up to the task of tapping it out.

The following appeared early in the year as a headline on one of our leading news websites: "Venus Williams wished she would have played someone not so good in her first match in Auckland".

I suppose we should be grateful it said "would have" not "would of".

Once were sub-editors: an arcane craft little understood outside the profession and only barely within it. But when people ask me what a sub editor does (the one job I'm actually qualified for), from now on I can quote this "sentence" and say, "They stop things like this happening."

There is increasing pressure to phase the role out – please write to your MP today.