Treat ’em mean and keep ’em lean. The way forward for city states.

Opinions differ. Mine is that the average human is brain dead. Our ancestors were when they drank and screwed in West Ireland while their overlords planned wars from their castles. Our parents were when they bought cars and moved to the suburbs. I’m fine, as are a few of my blog readers. But the rest, I’m afraid, are brain dead.

As some of you know I keep guinea pigs. If I wanted to fatten them up and enter them in county fairs I would keep them in separate and comfortable cages and feed them irresistible treats like carrots and corn.


If I wanted them to be lean and win races, I would keep them in large hutches where their only food source was the low-calorie lawn. The hutch would be open to the sky to make them constantly fearful of birds.


In neither case would I entertain the idea that a guinea pig chose to be a champion runner or fat. Both kinds of guinea pig, the athletic and the podgy, become what they are because of their environments.

Which brings me to bicycle advocates. What a bunch of misguided preachers they are, believing the way to recruit more people to cycling is through raising awareness. They want to make the masses aware of the pleasure of riding in the sunshine, occasionally getting rained on, and the genius of bead-and-breathe jackets. They want to make drivers aware of their obligations to vulnerable users of public carriageways. They should look at what the person beside them at the checkout at Coles has in their trolley, and go reconsider. Most people really are cogs within cogs, clutching for sugar, fleeing discomfort and wishing they still had a libido. They don’t give a brass razoo about sunshine or bicyclists’ rights to the carriageway, or anything.

This is a dangerous line of thinking, for sure. It leads us to the makers of cages (governments, city planners, developers) and what they want from their guinea pigs.

Since the ancient age of city states, leaders (like owners of pets) have been concerned about their populations escaping or fleeing. But we have sorted that problem with joint custody laws. Most working age people are tied to their city by children of their last marriage. Those in their twenties can’t afford to move out. The oldies are set in their ways. Richard Florida is dreaming. The people are staying.

That means local governments can afford to house people in ways that suit local governments. They could charge people in the suburbs the real cost of maintaining their roads, sewers, water and power, that way forcing them all into apartments in town, where there would be no public transport, and the real costs would be charged to use cars.

Populations could be forced back to horse-and-cart days, in an age when bikes are better than horses.

Fattening your guinea pigs for winning blue ribbons and shows is an expensive exercise. It’s far cheaper making them suffer, by leaving them out on the lawn. Strangely, when you do that, they live longer and grow in number. The box you make for them to sleep in may get pretty crowded, but they always run back to it. That’s what herd animals do.

Keeping humans in separate cages out in the suburbs, and feeding them on sweet treats, would be a great idea if we had a huge surplus income to play with and if there was a competition between nations to see who could make their population the fattest.


  1. crank says:

    haha I love this.

    And there is a competition. Who can feed the most of the Earth to their population and hence profit the most?

    • Steven says:

      Well I’m just glad my guinea-pig musings have been amusing 🙂 They will have cost me as much as bike before they reach 4 or 5 years and are returned to the soil. Meanwhile, I can report, they are as happy as any pets anywhere.

  2. Nick zintilis says:

    Governements do not like revolutions so it still works with-give em bread and games. This as you well know goes back at least 2000 years.
    People live in the suburbs because it is more comfortable. Here in Amsterdam at 6 in the evening it is HELL on the roads for people leaving their office and heading home ON THEIR BIKES! If all would drive cars they would be home at midnight. So it is practical. When home they can eat what they like-as far as I care!

    • Steven says:

      The last comparative table I saw, which may be out of date now, showed obesity rates at 10% for the Netherlands, 20% for Australia, and 30% for the U.S.. I presume all three nations are well fed on processed food designed to please focus group tasters. So the difference is the dependence on machines to do our foraging (going to work). Taxing bad food seems like a no-brainer. Taxing inactive transport — now there’s an idea!

  3. Nick zintilis says:

    I dont realy care if they are all fat-as long as my girlfriends are not!

  4. Bec Short says:

    Dr F, are you potentially blogging towards a festvial of dangerous ideas talk?

    • Steven says:

      Rebecca, thanks for reminding me of the St James Ethics Centre. We really should make a list of reasons like that to stay and fight for Australia.

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