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megpie71

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megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (ticked)
Friday, May 23rd, 2014 09:58 am
21 May:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/tony-abbotts-daughter-did-not-have-to-pay-for-60000-design-degree
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/liberal-donor-frances-abbott-degree-scholarship-tony-abbott-daughter
https://newmatilda.com/2014/05/21/leaked-documents-cast-doubt-abbotts-60k-scholarship-claims

22 May:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/22/former-classmates-angry-scholarship-abbotts-daughter

23 May:

https://newmatilda.com/2014/05/23/whitehouse-staff-register-reveals-no-role-frances-abbott

I've been following this as it surfaced in my feeds, and a couple of things which spring to mind:

1) Frances Abbott is as human as everyone else, which means when she sees what looks like a chance to get something for nothing, she'll grab it. Let's be honest - we'd all take the offer were it made to us. The problem is, as Frances is no doubt learning, there is no such thing as a genuine "something for nothing" offer. Everyone pays somehow. If you're getting "something for nothing" in terms of access to services, you're probably being asked to supply your information to the service provider in order for them to on-sell them to advertisers (as per Web 2.0 portals such as Facebook and Linkedin). In Frances' case, what she's paying with now is her self-respect - she's no doubt learning the stuff she got was basically aimed at getting her Dad on side, and not something she obtained through her own hard work and effort, and this apparently includes her job as well. I feel somewhat sorry for her, because through their political machinations, her father and his cronies have essentially reduced whatever level of talent she has for the work to nothing - a non-event, a sideshow. No matter how good her work is, she will always have this hanging over her head, and she will always be regarded as someone who got by on connections rather than ability.

That can't be easy for anyone.

2) Tony Abbott apparently has a deeply entitled attitude toward life, since he appears to have hit up this particular "donor" or "mate" on a regular basis for things like clothing (suits) and similar. I can't help but wonder how many people find a similar cost applied to their "friendship" toward him, and how many he's dropped like hot rocks along the way when they couldn't supply him with what he wanted.

3) Given this tale of an unprecedented scholarship being offered at this "no scholarships" institution to the child of a friend of a director, I find myself wondering whether this kind of thing won't become much more common for the children of politicians, company directors and similar in future, as our higher education becomes much more monetarized and cash-driven. It won't ever be named as "favours for friends", but instead we'll see the children of the Right People (self-defined) getting scholarships, intern-ships and similar through connections, while the rest of the group struggles along on effort.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (frustration)
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 09:16 pm
I'm basically looking at trying to find an extra $70 per year from an income which had no discretionary spending available anyway (as per First Dog On The Moon, this is not a budget for people who fancy eating food and living in some sort of housing while wearing clothes). Basically, I can stop replacing clothes, shoes and underwear as they wear out, and thus put that money toward things like health maintenance for my two chronic health issues (under-active thyroid and chronic endogenous depression), or I can do things like actually replace the pair of jeans which gave up the ghost last week and keep the two replacement pairs of sneakers I bought about a month ago for $30, thus keeping myself shod for another six to eight months and wait for my health problems to get bad enough to put me in hospital. The latter will almost certainly cost the Australian taxpayer a damn sight more than $70.

So that particular program is almost certainly about the government cutting off its nose to spite its face for ideological reasons.

[Actually, given a new bra is likely to cost me about $80 a pop (and I need at least three of the wretched things), I'm starting to wonder how expensive a double mastectomy would be. It'd certainly make things cheaper for me overall - I could buy men's clothes, and save a fair old whack of money over the amount I'm charged as a woman who wears larger sizes. Heck, if they'd take the uterus as well, I'd be able to avoid spending money on "feminine hygiene" products too, which would be a nice little saving over the long term.]

It's only going to get harder as things go along, because I'm on Newstart, which is inadequate even now, and isn't likely to get any better (not with the payment rate frozen for three years). I'm old enough I'm not going to be forced to Work for the Dole, thanks be to the gods, but I'm not old enough for an employer to be able to get a subsidy for employing me (ah, the joys of being part of Generation X - neither fowl nor flesh nor good red herring!). Mr Nahan here in WA has already put up the cost of travelling anywhere by public transport, and Mr Hockey over in the federal house has decided to start slugging us more for fuel, so going out isn't going to be an option Any Time Soon.

So tonight I'm celebrating the budget with a cup of hot chocolate enhanced with a good solid slug of the cooking brandy.

*raises mug*

May Tony Abbott's path be paved with Lego. And may all his shoes have cheap soles.

*drinks deeply in the hopes of oblivion*
megpie71: "Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I'd like to become a scientist, so I became a scientist" (feminism)
Friday, September 20th, 2013 08:23 am
Julian Burnside writes a very interesting response to the problem of hate mail and the sorts of vicious comments which are made to people who stand up for causes in public in The Conversation today.

His response was (to put it bluntly) fascinating. He chose to engage with those people who sent him hate mail over the asylum seeker issue, treating them as reasonable individuals, seeking to find out why they felt as they did. Oddly enough, by treating these people as though they were reasonable individuals, he discovered the vast majority of them were reasonable individuals, able to engage in civil discourse, and discuss a position calmly and in a considered fashion.

Which is great, but before people go around recommending that (particularly) women who are harassed and abused and trolled on the internet make efforts to discuss things civilly with their tormentors in an effort to bring them back to the path of light and reasonableness and politeness, let's just consider a few extraneous factors in the case. Firstly, Mr Burnside is male. He's white. He's a lawyer who is well-enough off to be able to afford to perform copious amounts of pro-bono work. All of these things mean he has privilege in our society. He is, in fact, extraordinarily privileged, with a high amount of social status.

All of this means if Mr Burnside goes to the police with, for example, a collection of abusive emails all emanating from the same email account, he's going to get a different reception than I did when I tried it. He's going to be treated with a lot more respect if he brings a screenshot of a tweeted death threat than, for example, Caroline Criado-Perez was when she brought the torrent of abuse she was handed to the attention of police. He'll get a more concerned and sympathetic reaction to someone publishing his address and other personal details online than, for example, Kathy Sierra did. If he's assaulted physically, the police will take this much more seriously than an assault on someone who is, for example, indigenous Australian.

Plus, of course, any abusive communications Mr Burnside receives are coming at him from a different angle to the ones received by women like me.

The abusive emails and letters Mr Burnside receives are examples of what I'd call "shouting up" - shouting up at the windows of the privileged from the street. The primary goal is to be heard, and to be taken seriously. A white man who sends an abusive email to Mr Burnside is hoping to catch Mr Burnside's ear, to be heard. When Mr Burnside does listen, and does engage with them, they're polite - they've achieved their aim, which is to begin a discussion.

By contrast, people who are identified as women, or people of colour online are abused for an entirely different set of reasons. Generally, this abuse is what could be termed "shouting down" - an attempt to silence the persons speaking up against the power dynamic in our society. A white man who sends an abusive email to a woman, or a person of colour, will generally react with rage and escalated abuse if they respond by attempting to engage, because this is precisely contrary to the intent of their action. They don't want to talk to us. They don't want to even HEAR us. They want us to shut up and go away and stay shut up, and stay away - and they'll keep up the torrent of abuse and harassment until the point sinks in.

Or, to put it even more bluntly: Mr Burnside receives abusive email when he speaks up on disputed topics. Women and people of colour receive abusive email when they speak.

So Mr Burnside's solution to the troll problem, while fascinating in its particular context, is not scalable to deal with the larger issue.
megpie71: Avon standing in front of Zen's dome, caption "Confirmed" (confirmed)
Friday, October 19th, 2012 07:12 am
To be honest, I'm not surprised Alan Jones has had to go to Journalism school. What should be surprising people is that this man got a job as a broadcaster without having any journalism training in the first place. Mr Jones previous history (as per Wikipedia) is as an English teacher, a rugby coach, a parliamentary speech writer, and an unsuccessful conservative politician. There's indications he was very successful as a rugby coach (it's what he got his MAO for, after all) but aside from this, most of his paid employment since approximately 1974 has been as a result of his connections in the Liberal and National (formerly Country) parties.

He used to be a columnist for the Sun-Herald (but lost the job after publishing a column which was pretty much a straight lift from a Frederick Forsyth novel without bothering to attribute his sources - the other staff at the newspaper campaigned to have him removed as a result).

Alan Jones was never a journalist. He was never trained as a journalist. He should never have been taken seriously as a journalist. He's a demagogue. Simple as that.

Sources and Resources:

http://theconversation.edu.au/a-very-naughty-parrot-acma-sends-alan-jones-back-to-school-10212 - The Conversation
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-18/alan-jones-ordered-to-do-journalism-training/4320534 - ABC.Net.au
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Jones_%28radio_broadcaster%29 - Wikipedia page on Jones
http://www.independentaustralia.net/2012/business/media-2/alan-jones-greatest-hits/ - Independent Australian
http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_600069 - ACMA media release about the conditions they've put on 2GB.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (Bang)
Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 07:58 am
Does it strike anyone else that in seeking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, Julian Assagne is doing just about everything known to (highly privileged) humankind in order to avoid the consequences of his own behaviour?

I would hate to be in the position of the two women who reported his actions to the police in Sweden, watching as the man who violated their trust[1] twists and wriggles in every possible way he can to avoid having to answer for his actions. I would hate to be watching as he moves from one form of avoidance to the next, always trying to dodge the consequences of his behaviour. I would be as angry as all hell as one group of expensive friends after another comes to his rescue, offering monetary assistance, accommodation, legal aid, etcetera.

Oh, but he's lost so much, everyone says. He's effectively stateless, he's relying on the kindness of strangers, he's being persecuted by all these shadowy conspiracies, and besides, the charges aren't for anything serious so why should he have to answer them. To which I say: he chose to be where he is. He chose to start Wikileaks. He chose to poke sticks at a US government which had shown itself to be highly defensive, highly paranoid, and willing to go to extreme lengths in order to preserve what it saw as its rights. He chose to travel freely around the world (something not everyone can do) and to investigate any number of countries as potential new homes. He chose to rely on the hospitality of friends, and to abuse that hospitality.

Julian Assagne's current situation with regard to the US government is something he chose to get into of his own free will. He chose to poke a dragon with a long pointy stick. The dragon noticed.

His position with regard to the Swedish government is something he could have chosen to avoid as well. All he had to damn well do was keep his fucking dick in his fucking daks and not presume that all women exist in a permanent state of "yes, please!". He didn't do that. And he didn't do that in a country where the laws regarding sexual consent are different to the laws where he grew up - from what I can gather, the laws in Sweden presume that women (and men) don't exist in a permanent state of consent to sexual activity, but rather that consent is something which has to be explicitly granted each time.

Julian Assagne is not a martyred hero of the left. Julian Assagne is a highly privileged male who is trying everything he can think of in order to get out of accepting the responsibility for actions he chose to take. Julian Assagne's actions are not unique - there are countless other cases of privileged men fleeing justice in order to avoid being charged with and tried for rape. He's just one more highly privileged moral coward.

[1] I'm stating this as a definite because quite frankly, I doubt anyone would have gone to the same sorts of lengths Mr Assagne has gone to were they entirely innocent of the actions performed.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Friday, October 7th, 2011 08:52 am
Whadda we want? "Different ancestors"

When do we want it? "A couple of hundred years or so back, when it would have made a difference"

Not the rallying cry of the century, is it? But that's what should be screamed up at the windows of Wall Street; it's what should be rattling the windows of the privileged around the world.

One of the dirty little secrets which isn't often aired about the upper echelons of the rich and powerful (particularly in the USA, where the myth that anyone can come from dirt poor to stinking rich in a generation is still a powerful memeplex, peddled by extremely powerful myth-building corporations) is that by and large, they got where they are now by building on the gains of their ancestors. They didn't get where they were from nothing. They didn't pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. They pulled themselves up using a rope braided from the bootstraps of many ancestors, over countless generations, on both sides of their families, and reinforced by the bootstraps of countless non-family members as well. In the ranks of the extremely powerful, there's often a certain degree of both metaphorical and literal kinship.

Another dirty little secret: the secret to getting rich quick is to get rich slowly, over three or four generations, and then explode on the scene, flashing the wealth in an obvious way. This isn't to say there aren't the occasional rapid accumulators - people whose financial, technological, scientific or marketing genius was in the right place at the right time, people whose cultural input hits the zeitgeist in the correct spot to send the jackpot rattling down - but they're as rare as the lottery millionaires or the ones who broke the banks in casinos. By and large, the ones who are at the top now are the ones whose ancestors have been accumulating steadily since the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

It's different for the rich )

(Whadda we want? "Different ancestors"

When do we want 'em? "A couple hundred years ago, when it would have made a difference!")

It's different for the working-class )

Another dirty little secret of the rich and powerful: not many of them have had much exposure to people outside their social class in a context which isn't employment-related. So when they speak of the lives of ordinary people, it's usually from a position of profound ignorance. Marie Antoinette, when she said "let them eat cake" (or more accurately "well, why don't they eat cake instead?") was speaking from a similar position of ignorance - the ignorance of the very possibility of a reality where both bread and cake weren't in ready supply. So when they speak of how "simple" it is to make money, or stay debt-free, or whatever, it's because they really aren't aware of the full context of what's going on here. They've never had to learn that context, and for many of them, unless they absolutely have to face it, they never will learn that context.

They had the right ancestors, you see. Simple as that.
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 08:20 am
I'm starting to suspect what's needed is a global "Jubilee Year" - in the Old Testament sense. A single date, where everyone's debts are zeroed out, where all transgressions are forgiven, and where everyone starts again with a clean slate.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

I also think that the way debt is thought of has to be restructured as well. A loan has to stop being a business asset for the banks, something they can trade from one person to another. Instead, it has to be an arrangement between two parties, to be maintained between those two parties until the loan has been paid back. So instead of trading loans as assets, businesses will be required to retain them as a mutual loss on both sides until the debt is paid back in full. No matter how long that takes.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

There also needs to be a recognition that high interest rates and freely offered credit are inherently inflationary. They effectively increase the money supply, but devalue the money which is circulating, making the money earned by working people effectively worth less. So credit and high interest have to be heavily regulated, rather than offered on an "open slather" policy.

The banks will, of course, scream blue bloody murder at the slightest hint of this notion being taken seriously.

I'm also thinking the old Hebrew and Muslim thinkers who put up the religious prohibitions on lending at interest were actually onto something. Possibly they'd seen what happened in other societies when such things are permitted to flourish without restriction - the way it acted as a temptation toward bullying and thuggery. "The love of money is the root of all evil" as the wise man said.

Further on the whole "love of money" thing, I also feel there should be an absolute ceiling on profits - particularly the sorts of multi-billion dollar profits which aren't re-invested in the company or the community. I mean really - what are these companies doing with that money? They're not spending it. They're not turning it into bullion and stacking it under the back patio. They're not filling a swimming pool with banknotes so their executives can play Scrooge McDuck (or maybe they are and we're not hearing about it?). No, it's just being accumulated for the sake of accumulation. So maybe there needs to be a ceiling on profits, too - a 10% profit is fair and equitable (that being 10% gross return on investment), but after that, it needs to be either re-invested in the company, or taxed heavily (with the taxes being paid each financial year or face punitive fines).

And if that one ever gets taken seriously, not only the banks, but the entire business community will go up in flames.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "The stupid, it hurts". (Rufus2)
Friday, July 8th, 2011 12:35 pm
Latest news in this ongoing disaster is that the newspaper imprint at the centre of the scandal, the News of the World, is being shut down.

Certainly, the paper has been haemorrhaging advertisers since the scandal started breaking, and as the breadth and depth of the depravity involved has been further exposed, the advertisers are running further and faster to put distance between themselves and the newspaper that published the majority of the stolen voicemail data. But I have to wonder: what about the rest of the News International/News Corporation stable?

It's worth noting that the executive who was the editor of The News Of The World at the time when most of the data theft occurred is still employed. She's now the Chief Executive of News International, and while she's offered to resign, that offer has been resisted - apparently she "knew nothing of the crimes allegedly committed when she was editor" (sourced from News of the World shuts amid hacking scandal). Which, to me, doesn't really sound like an outstanding endorsement of her managerial ability, to be honest. Either she didn't know about such things (in which case, what the hell was she doing in order to earn her salary?) or she did know and pretended she didn't (which leads me to wonder whether she'd do the same sort of thing when faced with evidence of an embezzlement), or she did know, and took steps to cover it up (which means she's criminally culpable too). She's still employed by News International.

That Ms Brooks is still considered a valuable employee by News International leads me to question the management and ethical practices of the entire damn corporation. The problem which was "resolved" by data theft didn't start in the newsroom of The News of The World. It started further up the corporate ladder, with the constant push on all the News Corporation properties to obtain ever-increasing profits, ever-growing circulation, ever-climbing advertising revenues.

Another thing which interests me is the way that the various News Corporation properties tend to pass a story around. For example, here in Australia, the Australian newspaper will report on a story which "broke" in the magazine New Idea (both of these are News Corporation properties), or they'll pass on a story which started off on Fox News in the USA, or in the Sun over in the UK. So there's the potential for the scandal to go far further than just this one newspaper. If we examine stories propagated across the News Corporation stable of properties throughout the period in which one News Corporation property was buying information obtained through data theft, how many other stories are tainted with this same brush? How far did the rot spread? How far up did the rot go? Did it go all the way to the top?

(It's worth noting that the Australian head of News Limited has officially denied that such a thing could happen over here:

Today, News Limited chief executive officer John Hartigan told the company's Australian journalists "the behaviour that has been uncovered at the News of the World is an affront to all of us who value the integrity and credibility of good journalism, the reputation of the company and our own reputations as professionals."

"Phone hacking is the antithesis of everything we stand for. It is a terrible slur on our craft," he said in a statement to staff posted online.

"I am confident that the practices that have been uncovered in the UK do not exist in Australia, at News or any other respectable media outlet."
- sourced from Murdoch accused of tabloid closure 'stunt'

If, like me, you're a fan of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, you know never to believe anything until it's been officially denied.)

[I feel I should mention at this point that I have absolutely no monetary interest in seeing the Murdoch family go down. However, I do feel a certain moral and personal interest in the challenging of their ideology that what people are interested in is solely the cheap, the tawdry, the nasty and the unfriendly. The Murdoch family's News Corporation is a big part of the global kyriarchal bully culture, one which glorifies the petty, nasty side of the human psyche to the point where they present this as the only damn option there is. I don't want to read, watch or hear nasty comments about other people, so I don't purchase their products. Now, if only there were a viable alternative.]
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Friday, January 7th, 2011 02:40 pm
I do a certain amount of online shopping, because it's convenient for me. As someone who's living in Western Australia, and who has previously spent some time living in the Eastern States, I know perfectly well there are whole heaps of things which never make it across the Nullarbor to the west side of the country. In addition, having worked retail, I know there's not really much scope for ordering things in - if I do this, I'm likely to have to pay extra for the inconvenience to the retailer.

So I buy things I can't find in the stores here online from places in NSW and Victoria, and get them mailed to me.

I do a certain amount of online shopping because it's more comfortable for me. I don't know whether anyone's been looking these days, but a lot of bricks-and-mortar stores appear to have embraced the notion that the more auditory and visual clutter they put in the way of people looking for product, the better. I find this overloads me and leaves me feeling exhausted - I'm more likely to shop in a store which doesn't have loads of banners, or doesn't store items on shelves apparently at random than I am to stop in at some of the "big box" retailers which do. I also don't appreciate mall shopping, for much the same reason. I prefer the comparative quiet of the local shopping centre to the noise of the nearest big mall.

So I buy things in online stores, because I can find what I'm looking for without being distracted and overloaded.

I do a certain amount of online shopping because there are some things which just aren't available from Australian retailers. I'm a fan of yaoi manga, and I've also shopped overseas looking for things like obscure British historical drama series which hadn't been broadcast on Australian TV (to my knowledge) and more obscure films from one of my favourite actors. If I literally can't find it here in Australia (because for one reason or another it doesn't get shipped here) I'll look around online and see what's available.

So I buy things online because that's the only place I can find some of them.

I do a certain amount of online shopping because it's where I can get decent value for my money. If I can get something for approximately half the price from the US than the equivalent item here in Australia, I'm going to buy it from the US. The proof of the difference in prices has been around on my major retail purchase (books) for most of my life. I have books dating back to the seventies where the UK price is 1 UK pound, while the Australian price is $2 - and the difference in prices has increased over the years, to the point where Aussies are sometimes paying more than twice the price of the original product. Why does a translation into English of Ouran High Host Club cost $12 here in Australia, but only $7 in the US? Can't be the distance, because the blasted thing is translated in Singapore. Maybe it's a relic of the old marketing arrangements, or maybe it's something else. Either way, it's annoying and frustrating for me as a consumer.

So I buy things online because sometimes it's cheaper, even factoring currency conversions and the fees for same charged by my bank.

I prefer to do a certain amount of online shopping overseas because I can find what I'm looking for, buy it cheaper, and also get it shipped to me sooner than the corresponding Australian mob can be bothered to manage. Oh, and the service is better - online retailers appear to actually want to keep their customers, which is a nice change from the majority of the big box retailers here, who have the attitude of "take it or leave it" when it comes to selling things.

We're a big country here - the Australian land mass is the size of the continental United States. We're also unevenly distributed across this landmass. But our retail giants seem to have decided that the One True Way of shopping is to go to bricks and mortar stores in mega malls, and purchase from these. If we can find what we're looking for. If we can afford it. If we can spare the time, the energy and the mental fortitude to do so. Online shopping is a godsend for people with energy-management issues (such as depressives like myself, whose get-up-and-go has already got up and left) or for people with mobility issues who may indeed have actual difficulties entering bricks-and-mortar store fronts. Online shopping is a help for people with social issues (for example agoraphobia, social phobia, shyness etc) because you don't have to face people in order to get your purchases done. Online shopping is a great help for folks who are living in rural or remote areas, because it means they don't have to travel hours or even days to reach the nearest supplier of whatever-it-is they're after.

Unfortunately, some of the big retailers here in Australia are currently complaining about the way that purchases online under $1000 aren't charged GST (our goods and services tax, currently set at 10% of the price of the goods). They're complaining it's eating into their margins, and taking jobs away from Australians. Which is interesting, since they're part of the reason why the Australian manufacturing sector collapsed in a heap (can't compete with the cheaper imports from South-East Asia) or relocated offshore. It's also interesting, because at present, online purchases under $1000 make up approximately 2% of the overall Australian retail spend. Further interest comes from the evidence of massive mark-ups which occur simply because a product is being purchased in Australia by an Australian - 100% isn't unusual, higher mark-ups have been mentioned as well.

For some reason, the average Australian online shopper appears to believe the big box retailers might just be having a bit of a lend of us, and trying to protect their oligopoly market.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 11:33 am
Marcus Einfeld has bipolar, court hears

If you read the article, you'll discover the lawyers for this particular former judge have brought up the possibility that he has a long-term, previously undiagnosed bipolar mood disorder, and are offering this as a reason why his two year minimum sentence should be altered.

From the article: Einfeld is serving a minimum two-year jail term after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and making a false statement under oath to avoid a speeding fine.

The 70-year-old claimed that an American academic was driving his car when it was caught speeding, despite knowing she died the previous month.


I don't have bipolar disorder myself. What I do have is a chronic mental illness, which so far hasn't prompted me to do anything illegal, or to consider myself above the law. Strangely enough, there are a lot of mentally unwell people out there (and out here, come to that) who go through their entire damn lives without once coming to the attention of the police as anything other than victims of crime. But when mental illness is mentioned in the media, it's generally in the context of someone claiming a previously undiagnosed chronic mental illness which apparently severely affected them only at the time of the crime they're being charged with, and never before or since.

Now, it may be that Mr Einfeld was under the affect of either a manic period, or maybe a depressive episode, when he said something damn stupid in order to try and avoid a flippin' speeding fine. Or maybe he was an ordinary enough bloke who just didn't want to have to cop the fine, and chose to make a stupid lie to the police about who was driving his car at the time it was speeding. Having made this stupid lie, he then stuck by it, and wound up getting the book thrown at him, particularly since he was a flippin' Federal Court Judge and therefore should have known better than to try it in the first bloody place. But either way, the mania or the depression didn't make him do something so bloody stupid.

If Mr Einfeld has had bipolar mood disorder for a long period of time (and has coped with it admirably, one presumes, since he's now seventy and nobody apparently noticed until this psychiatrist he's talking to now raised the option) and has been dealing with his demons in solitude, that's a tragedy. I know depression is enough of a hell on its own, and I have every sympathy for the man. But being mentally unwell isn't an excuse for illegal behaviour, and it shouldn't be claimed as such, or reported that way.
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Friday, October 9th, 2009 11:31 pm
Murdoch warns Google: it's time to pay

News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has launched a stinging attack on Google and other on-line entities for stealing content.

At a conference of World Media Executives at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Rupert Murdoch has taken aim at search engines like Google as internet parasites.

According to the News Corporation Chairman, the so-called "aggregators" on the internet steal content from tradition media organisations and, he says, the time has come for them to pay for it.

"If we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators - the people in this hall - who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph," he said.


Let's see - "the current movement toward paid-for content" is being generated mostly by News Corporation, which, if I recall correctly, is the corporate media entity largely owned by Mr Murdoch's family. News Corporation also controls large shares of the media markets in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and several other countries, the most notorious branches of which are the Murdoch tabloid newspapers (such as the UK "Sun" and approximately half of the major metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia) and the Fox News cable channel in the United States (commonly nicknamed "Faux News", because of the lack of resemblance between life as reported by their so-called "journalists" and the consensus reality of the majority of human beings). Do I sense perhaps the petulant foot-stampings of an old man who is terrified the global media empire he's spent a lifetime building is being threatened by the content aggregators, who collect into one space not only the Murdoch empire's view of the world, but also all those other views as expressed by people who aren't part of the News Corporation conglomerate?

After all, if people can choose to see multiple pictures of the same event (or multiple views from many different sources) they might just start to realise things aren't the simple black-and-white over-simplifications of Mr Murdoch's beloved format. If people can pick and choose from dozens of news sources in a single page, they might start asking questions about some of the articles from News Limited. Questions like "why is this news?" (for example, why are we being constantly told in the Murdoch press about the private lives of soi-distant "celebrities"; why do we never hear about "causes" without a so-called famous face to attach to them; why are the bedroom games of the British royal family such an all-consuming matter etc) or "why is this such a scandal?" (Famous star comes out as gay; female celebrity gains or loses weight; celebrity couple divorces) or even "why aren't we hearing about X?" (media conglomeration; media gatekeeping; corporate censorship; corporate abuses of power; non-capitalist economic theory; challenges to right-wing prejudices; shall I continue?). The news aggregators offer a view of a bigger picture, rather than the small-minded, small-world images Mr Murdoch wants to keep selling us. They offer a picture of a complex world, one where people aren't just one thing or another, but might be both at the same time, or even something completely different.

The news aggregators threaten Mr Murdoch's livelihood, just by offering a diversity of links to a variety of stories. They take away his control over the shaping of opinion, and threaten his ability to offer up a world where everyone is just like him: white, wealthy, upper-middle class, educated, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, Anglo-Celtic and male. What the news aggregators threaten isn't the rights of people to create content, but rather the assumed right of Mr Murdoch and his social equivalents to dictate how the world looks to the rest of us. They threaten Mr Murdoch's privilege - and how dare they do that?
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (phone)
Monday, September 21st, 2009 07:10 pm
Amanda "Brocky" Stachewicz had everything: a loving family with children, a great career as a doctor and a home in the western suburbs. The former St Hilda's schoolgirl got top marks for everything and was beautiful inside and out.

But at her funeral at her old school in March, mourners were stunned to hear about how she felt before she died.

"I'm tired and I don't want to suffer any more," Brocky wrote before she committed suicide.

Her schoolmate Karen Heagney is running in November's New York marathon to remember her friend and do something for mental illness.

"Depression is a hidden disease," Karen said this week, as she limbered up for a training session at Perry Lakes. "If you suffer from a physical disease it's visible and tangible and people ask how you're going. With depression often no one knows."


This is an excerpt from an article which appeared in our free local paper[1] this week. It was one of the things which pushed me over the edge into absolute screaming hysterical fury today, and got me breaking down.

More under the fold )

[1] Mosman Cottesloe Post, Vol 36 No 37; September 19 2009.