Are Engineers Sexy?

This article circulated for 5 or 6 years on the internet. Engineers, it seems, don’t get much press! I wrote it 15 years ago, but it still has currency.

Are Engineers Sexy?

by Kerry Cue

Herald Sun 6 July 2004 and The Advertiser, SA. 

It has been ordained by the gods of television that all jobs and/or careers shall be seen now and again in a positive light on TV. Doctors, cops, lawyers, nurses, and even vets enjoy their moments of digital glory. Chefs, landscape gardeners, carpenters, and even real estate agents are now pin-up boys. The girls in these shows are hot. Any girl who can look good and knock up a coffee table that a bloke can plonk his feet on has to be a babe. There have been intense pathologists (McCallum for one), gorgeous undertakers (in Six Feet Under), legendary lover-boy/pizza delivery boyos (in Pizza Live) and cute butchers dancing in an ad like Hare Krishnas for carnivores.

Recently, TV even gave us a sexy accountant. In Loot, Jason Donovan played an edgy Forensic Accountant who tracks down Mafia bosses. Every job/career gets some good PR on TV except one group. Engineers. Engineers have long endured a bad press. There are jokes about engineers. Here is one. How do you torture an engineer? Tie him to a chair and fold a map incorrectly in front of him. There are Engineer Quizzes. Are You an Engineer? You are if you own one or more white sleeved shirts if your chequebook balances if you’ve ever tried to repair a $5 radio and if you have a neatly sorted collection of nuts and bolts in the garage. There is even a comic strip about an engineer. Dilbert’s an electrical engineer. He loves his computer more than people. And has the social skills of a mouse pad. Moreover, the public image of an engineer is a tragic cross between a computer nerd and a trainspotter.

Is this fair? I’m in a good position to comment. I have studied engineering. I hang out with engineers. I married one. And it is true that engineers of the male variety suffer a mental disturbance that has bestowed on them excessively ordered minds. A straight line is a thing of beauty to an engineer, a bowling green a well-designed garden. They are dedicated to the horizontal and vertical. This has caused strife at our place. We live on a steep slope. Workers asked me if I wanted our new pullout clothesline leveled-off or leaning down the hill. ‘Just whack it down the hill’ I replied. This apparently defied all laws of the universe. It caused lasting pain to HRH (His Royal Horizontalness). He moaned. He groaned. ‘But the towels hang straight’ I encouraged. He eventually took to it with a hacksaw.

Engineers can calculate in their heads how many lights were left on and for how long just looking at the electricity bill. They suffer an urge to know what lies beneath and pull things like the hairdryer apart just when you want to use it. They like specifications. And read all the technical information on appliance advertisements insisting that the X50-100 is much better than the RP90 so they should buy one. Our dog conformed to a list of specifications. Small. No hair loss. Non-aggressive. Engineers understand technology possibly more than people. HRH often looks at me as if I need to be rebooted to knock out the glitches in my program. But engineers aren’t computer geeks. There are a few. But engineers end up under bridges, inside reactor vessels and inspecting pipelines in Alaska. They’re more a cross between a flawed human-calculator like Dustan Hoffman’s ‘Rain Man’ and Indiana Jones. An engineer friend of HRH was recently blown up in a car bomb in Iraq. So they’re not nerdy.

Then for one brief and dizzy moment, I thought engineers were about to get their few moments of glory on TV. The ABC is currently screening the ‘Seven Wonders of the Industrial World’. Would these programs portray the engineer as a hero? Will engineers, at last, be seen as sexy? In these shows, the engineer is portrayed as an obsessive mathematical genius stumbling from one organisational disaster to the next. Each project is a bureaucratic nightmare. It involves cost overruns, government intervention, investor panic, dodgy subcontractors, worker rebellion and safety issues. In fact, each of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World sounds like any major project in modern times.

Sadly, the show missed the significance of engineers. Engineers may be nuts, but not one pipeline, powerline, car or dam; not one skyscraper, bus, house, train line or highway; not one bridge, footy stadium, sound system, TV station or power station in this city would exist without them.

Kerry Cue is a humorist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing on her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019)



3 Court Martials, 1 Senate Inquiry, an Aussie lad goes to War

Michael O'Donnell 20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

Michael O’Donnell
20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

It is 100 years since the end of WW1. That seems like a long time ago. When I explain that my grandfather’s elder brother  Michael O’Donnell was killed in that war at Bullecourt, France in 1917, the story loses the dust of history and sounds closer to us.

This is the story about a young man who was Court Martialed 3 times, held with enemy prisoners and  finally allowed to go to war following a Senate Inquiry.

It is also a story about duty, loyalty and honour and how much we Aussies have changed today.


Michael O'Donnell Postcard 1911 Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

Michael O’Donnell
Postcard 1911
Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

The sound that distinguishes Anzac Day from others is the bugle call. The solitary call of the Last Post reverberates down the generations as a mournful cry for the loss of war.

In the First World War it was the loss of so many young lives and for what? A toehold on some peninsula, a futile charge into no man’s land? The loss swept into every Australian household. Mothers lost their sons.

Young women lost brothers, boyfriends, lovers, husbands. And for fathers, adding to the pain of loss, was the bitter aftertaste of guilt summarised so succinctly by Rudyard Kipling, who lost his own son in that war:


“If any question why we died/Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

Yet the generation of Australians who served in the First World War had qualities we no longer possess and this is our loss.

Read Full Article here: Echo of the Bugle

Read Edited article published in the herald Sun Anzac Day, 25th April, 2007: Echo of the Bugle

The Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET? Make Them Up as You Go

Shock! Horror! Outrage!
The NSW Australia Day Council is threatening to publish the Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET on Australia Day, 2018. (Go to: Backyard cricket battle over call for same rules for all, Emily Ritchie, The Australian, 13 JAN, 2018.)

There are no rules. That’s the point.

I wrote a LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER in 1988. This comic story about the crazy make-them-up-as-you-go rules of Backyard Cricket was published in The Age, SMH etc.

Ian (Macca) McNamara read out the letter on Australia All Over, ABC.

LISTEN to Macca read: A LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER (above)

Cricket Explained

Cricket tends to cause great confusion among novice spectators, recovering alcoholics and Americans. It is, after all, a game where grown men stand around for days looking bored with no balls or madly hug and kiss each other following a duck. As a consequence, I have taken it upon myself to explain cricket to those who wouldn’t know a gibbon from a googly.

I wrote this article in 2010. More on FACEBOOK.

The Language of Porn Lite? It’s turgid like nipples!

I wrote the following article for The Canberra Times  (30th May 2012) when Fifty Shades of Grey had reached its zenith. Reading it now, the language seems even more hilarious. 

Gird your loins, maybe not your loins, but gird something. Do I have news for you? Porn is the new black. I’m not talking about nasty, tacky or buffoonishly hammy porn but, rather, porn lite or clit lit. Porn Lite falls somewhere between ‘he thrust his (crude bit) into her (crude bit) like a battering ram’ and the lovers-embrace-cut-to-fireworks climax metaphor of the 1950s romance films.

Porn Lite currently dominates the best sellers lists in Australia or, to be accurate, one book dominates but in different editions. It’s called Fifty Shades of Grey. In this Porn Lite novel a young virgin falls under the dastardly spell of a manipulative, young, handsome, sado-masochistic billionaire, as you do. His name is Mr Grey. Meanwhile, pop philosopher, Alain De Botton, has written a book published last week titled How to think more about Sex. His aim is to look at sex from a more ethical perspective. De Botton has also declared his intention to partner in a business venture with skin flick producers to run an ethical porn website to challenge the exploitation and abuse of the porn industry. It is difficult to know what to call ethical porn especially as it will be conflicted from birth. A major undercurrent of erotica swirls around that which is taboo and taboos define a culture’s ethics. While I hope De Botton succeeds in his quest to titillate our moral fibre and debrutalise the porn industry, I suspect ethical pornography might be called Pop Porn.

In the meantime, there is money to be made cranking out, ethical or unethical, Porn Lite. Perhaps, you could have a go at writing the Great Australian Shagathon Novel yourself. There would be a ready market and I’m happy to assist you in your fleshfest quest. The first thing you must do before you venture into writing porn lite is study the genre. I read the first two chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey free online and, frankly, that was all I could take before screaming for Cleo mag’s sealed sex-supplement, which I now realise was of high literary merit.

Here are some pointers I picked up from reading Fifty Shades. Our hero must ‘cock his head’ frequently. Apparently, innuendo or dodgy word usage cannot be avoided when writing Porn Lite. Mr Grey ‘cocked his head’ three times in the first two chapters but remember the purpose of Porn Lite is not, I guess, to deliver good writing, but to service other needs. Mr Grey also dedicates his life to arching his eyebrows, quirking his lips and stroking random objects with his long fingered hand. Let it be said; there is a lot to recommend a long-fingered hand. This is the world where our hero’s eyes blaze, lips curl and brow furrows. You get the picture. Your porn lite stud must be a one-man theatre of exaggerated facial mime. When Mr Grey is unoccupied by mime school antics, he glowers. In fact, I’d say glowering is his specialty as his gaze is penetrating, steady or steely, which coincidently is the name of our heroine.

Our poor heroine, Ms Steele (OMG! If she married him she’d become Steele-Grey. Anastasia, so much like anesthesia, Steele-Grey.) is just a bundle of unwanted twitches, ticks and quaking nerves. She quivers. She trembles. She flushes; she blushes then, one minute later, the blood drains from her face reconvening, I suspect, to mount a renewed surge with next flush. The poor girl is so overwhelmed by Christian’s (I think we can call him by his first name now) tousled hair, wry smile and breath-taking and athletic good looks – he is the epitome of male beauty – her heart fails on several occasions, metaphorically speaking, of course. One factor in her favour is she’s lithe. If she was lumpen, bloated or boney there might be some question marks over her porn contortionist potential.

The popular theme of Porn Lite is, you must have guessed, domination-submission. Now all you need to write you sizzling sex epic is some basic structural details. Pick an era. In a contemporary shagathon sex can take place in an airplane toilet, in a taxi or elevator, on a beach or up against a wall. In an historical bonkorama sex can be staged in a jungle, in a castle, in ruins, in the Captain’s quarters on a galleon, in the cockpit of a biplane, on a tomb or in M’Lords carriage. In a historical context, our heroic bonkers need to be very athletic indeed.

You must choose some appropriately cheesy character names. You cannot go past Fabbio for him although Buck and Ace work too. Our heroine, sweet girl, will be a Hope, Honour, Faith or Charity. A few other pointers: lips must be silky, moist and warm (anything else would be plain macabre), her skin ivory, alabaster or creamy, breasts ample, swollen or (my favourite) magnificent, nipples turgid, tight or tingling, or plain erect, and sex must unite her portal of womanhood with his iron-hard tumescence until they both explode. Now you are fully equipped to write your ground/back breaking Porn Lite novel.

And if you want to spice up your own sex life make sure your brow furrows, eyes blaze and lips curl and don’t forget to, frequently and enthusiastically, cock your head.