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megpie71

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megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Saturday, June 25th, 2016 11:00 am
Rupert Murdoch is not our friend.

Rupert Murdoch is an ageing billionaire sociopath, who appears to believe the world will end when he finally dies, and is going to a great deal of trouble to ensure this is the case for all the rest of us, too. Rupert Murdoch's motto at present appears to be "apres moi, le deluge".

The only apocalyptic "End Times" approaching are those of Rupert Murdoch - he's 85, his father died at age 67, while his mother lived to 103. Which means he's pretty much reached the age of splitting the difference between the two and any year he gets after now is a gift. He is in his personal "end times" and he doesn't like it.

Rupert Murdoch's media properties (all of the News Limited newspapers in multiple countries, all of the Fox television stations in multiple countries, Sky TV in the UK, and so on) are generally not institutions which display a one-to-one correspondence with consensus reality. This means if you see something being heavily reported on Fox News, or in the Murdoch press, you should check with other sources to ensure you're getting the correct picture. Or indeed, whether there is actually a picture there to be getting - the Murdoch media does have a long history of making things up out of whole cloth in order to sell advertising space, and also of bouncing the same made-up story around their various international properties in order to give it creedence.

Please, don't trust them. They don't have your best interests at heart. They don't have anyone's interests at heart except those of Rupert Murdoch, and his primary interests are in acquiring power over world leaders and getting All The Money for himself.

So think about it: do you really want your life overturned because one cranky old man with a lot of money doesn't want to die and resents the fact it's inevitable?

If you can do nothing else, please fact-check what you're hearing from Fox, what you're hearing from News Limited, and what you're hearing from Sky. Find some source which isn't inside the Murdoch Media fold, and see whether they're reporting on the particular "crisis" of the week. Spread the news about what's actually happening out here in consensus reality, rather than in Murdoch-land. Tell people where you found counter-stories, and where you find your facts. Spread the news that there's more out there than what the Murdoch media is telling us.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 04:15 pm
I'm not going to go into huge detail about this one (save to note that so far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the USA than there have been days in the year). Instead, I'm going to concentrate on some things which could be tried to stop these things from happening (or at least slow down the rate of them) without necessarily altering gun laws.

Detail under fold )

Now, none of these three things is going to drastically drop the number of mass shootings immediately. If you want an immediate impact on the number of mass shootings in the USA, then it's going to have to be done through gun control laws, just the same as everywhere else on the planet. But in the medium-to-long term, and particularly if you have the NRA and their paid-up politicians remaining as stubborn as ever on the issue, then these measures will help.

So start speaking to the media firms. Start speaking to your political candidates. Start demanding change.

Ignore the idiots who say "it's too soon" - as I pointed out above, you're currently averaging better than 1 mass shooting per day. How many do there need to be before things change? Ignore the fools who accuse you of "politicising the issue. Shootings like this are essentially about power - which means they're political from the get-go. The choice to do something about preventing them is a political choice, I'll grant you - but so is the choice not to.

It's up to the people of the USA to make it clear they don't want to see this happening. And the best way to start is by denying these little dickweasels who want to exhibit their sense of entitlement, their sense of personal power, the attention that they so desperately crave.
megpie71: AC Reno holding bomb, looking away from camera (Boom!)
Monday, December 22nd, 2014 08:48 am
As some of you may know, over the past year, I've been dropping small change into a jar (well, a yoghurt container these days - the jar got broken some time earlier in the year) when faced with egregious stupidity online. Essentially, the rule of the SIWOTI fund is either 5c per comment which gets moderated down by moderators, OR a minimum of 10c per article which raises my blood pressure or makes me stressed. Yesterday was the maturation date for the end of the fund's "year", and I totalled up how much it came to.

The SIWOTI fund this year came to $128.85 AUD. $64.85 of this is going to buying booze, probably a bottle of rum for the household "liquor cabinet"[2] and a bottle of wine for my parents' Christmas present. The other $64 of it is going toward games.

The main thing which contributed to the fund's size this year was the bountiful harvest of stupidity, daftness, and sheer WRONG from the Australian Federal Government. Their antics proved the leading contributors to the fund, and I'd like to thank our Prime Minister and his cabinet for providing such a wide range of things that annoyed me. Other big contributors included #gamergate, and various other MRAs online.

The SIWOTI fund re-starts today, and will get closed again on 21 DEC 2015.


[1] Someone Is Wrong On The Internet
[2] The small, reachable space behind the microwave where I store the bottles of cooking brandy and cooking sherry.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (BFS)
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 06:45 am
In the hours following the cessation of the siege in Sydney, there's been a number of people crawling out of the woodwork wondering why the police didn't bring in a sniper to shoot the hostage-taker and bring the thing to an early end. The plaints tend to go along the lines of "if a television camera can get a good shot, so can a sniper rifle; why didn't they get a sniper in?". Unfortunately, the police aren't allowed to respond to such asinine comments with the equivalent of a good solid clip around the ear, due to reasons of public relations and all. So I've decided to do it for them.

(If you're one of the people who has been making such remarks, please read the following very carefully, using the "speaking to the hard-of-thinking" voice in your head.)

1) A sniper rifle and a television camera look very different.

Googling the terms "image television camera" and "image sniper rifle" will bring up galleries of pictures of each of those. Each search takes about 0.3 of a second to complete. Given a hostage-taking gunman wants to cultivate the press, but discourage police snipers, it's likely even the most daft example of the breed in this day and age will probably try to familiarise themselves with the differences between the two - you could call it a necessary job skill. Seeing television cameras is a cue to pull out your list of demands and make it clear the hostages aren't dead yet. Seeing a sniper rifle is a cue to start really threatening the hostages. It's important not to muddle the two up.

2) A sniper rifle and a television camera have different fields of view.

Television cameras tend to work best at medium to close range. Sniper rifles are designed to work best at long range. So the position a television camera operator is occupying in order to obtain a decent shot (even through a zoom lens) is likely to be a lot closer than the position a sniper would need to be occupying in order to obtain a decent shot. Indeed, the television camera operator might well be blocking the field of view for the sniper.

3) Television cameras and sniper rifles are affected differently by weather conditions.

Television pictures tend not to be blown off course by strong or irregular winds. Sniper bullets, on the other hand, do. A television camera can get pictures in conditions where a sniper wouldn't be able to get a shot. Contrariwise, a sniper is capable of getting a shot off in conditions where the television camera is useless.

4) Real life is not like video games.

In video games, if your sniper misses a shot, you can always have another try, or go back to your last save point if you got killed. In real life, death is for keeps. In video games, the aim is usually to kill as many enemy combatants as possible, and never mind the collateral damage or the civilian casualties. In real life, the aim of the police in such situations is generally to try and keep the death count down - I have no doubt the NSW police were hoping to keep the death count in this particular case down to zero.

5) Real life is not like movies.

In the movies, snipers never miss the crucial shot. In real life, they can and do. In real life, the target of a sniper drops to the floor, dead, before they know they've been hit. In real life, even a bullet fired from a gun fitted with a noise suppressor is loud, and gives at least some warning. In the movies, accidents don't happen to disrupt that crucial shot - civilians don't walk into the path of a sniper's bullet at exactly the wrong moment, the target doesn't move, and the whole thing goes perfectly. In real life, accidents can and do happen. In the movies, there's always a crucial shot to take. In real life, there may not be.

Incidentally, the reason both movies and video games are so different from real life is because both of these media are constructed stories, following a set narrative which was created by humans to be culturally satisfying. Real life runs on different rails, and doesn't have to satisfy anyone.

6) At the time the most-used television shot was taken, the siege was barely begun.

The passing shots of the gunman in the cafe were taken very early on in the siege. They were the first visuals the wider public had of the situation. The fact they were widely circulated is actually a marker of how unusual they were - if there'd been more shots, we would have seen more pictures of the gunman. As it was, we got that one rather blurry image of the gunman, positioned behind his hostages, which was repeated regularly throughout the day. It wasn't replaced. It wasn't superseded by something new throughout the course of the sixteen hours of the siege. So it's likely that shot was the ONLY shot the television cameras got of the gunman (and once he realised television cameras could see him, he made damn certain he wasn't in view of them again, because he's just as capable of doing the "if the cameras can see me, so can a sniper" math as anyone else).

7) How do you know they didn't call a sniper in?

It seems highly likely to me that the NSW police (who strike me as a competent force on the whole) would have called in at least one sniper to get a look at things and see firstly whether there was a suitable vantage for them to be working from, and secondly, whether they were likely to get a decent shot at the gunman without risking the hostages. If a sniper wasn't used, it was probably because in the professional judgement of both the sniper(s) themselves, and of the person in charge of the operation, the risks of using a sniper outweighed the potential benefits.

Essentially, my point is this: the people who are wondering about the snipers, or wondering why things were done thus rather than so weren't there and weren't responsible for making the decisions. Things turned out poorly in one respect - three people died, and another eight were injured or treated in hospital. However, in another respect, things turned out surprisingly well - only three people died, one of whom was the gunman; the majority of the injured were mainly taken to hospital for observation and monitoring; and at least five of the hostages escaped completely unscathed. It could have been better, and it could have been much, much worse.

We in the general public cannot possibly wish to find out what went wrong more than the police do. We aren't the ones who will have to live with the knowledge we were supposed to save the lives of the three people who died, and yet we couldn't. The police on scene did the best job they could. The back-seat driving and "Monday's Expert" commentary from various members of the general public most definitely isn't helping. If you think you could have done better, go speak with your local police force, and offer them your expertise for the next time (gods forbid) this happens. Or, alternatively, go join your local police force yourself. Put your life on the line, put your precious skin at risk, and put your money where your damn-fool mouth is. Otherwise, shut the merry hells up and stop second-guessing the people who do this for a living.

PS: For those bitching about the fact the gunman was out on bail - that's a problem for the justice system, not the police force. For those whining about the way ASIO didn't spot this guy as a threat - I suspect they're looking for people who are going to group together to create terrorist cells and undertake complicated plots. This siege, while it had some of the trappings of terrorist activity (the calls for the IS flag etc) was actually something which has more in common with the sorts of "lone gunman" attacks which are so common in the USA, and was probably undertaken for similar reasons to those. Namely, one over-entitled man decided other people ought to die or be terrified in the service of boosting his ego.

EDITED TO ADD (19 DEC 2014): One other little wrinkle about why the NSW police might have decided a sniper was a Bad Move - it's an extra-judicial killing, or to put it in more blunt terms, deliberate murder. We don't have the death penalty here in Australia; if the police kill someone, there's usually an enquiry into the matter (which is, in fact, the process which is being started in NSW now) and charges can and will be laid against the officer responsible. It can be a career-limiting move.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (BFG)
Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 08:35 am
The siege is over, three people (including the original hostage-taker) are dead, and the dust is starting to settle. Including, one must point out, the rather colossal amount of bulldust stirred up by the whole business in the media.

When I first heard about the siege, my first thought was "well, this is convenient, isn't it?".

Why was it convenient? Well, to start with it completely buried the MYEFO statement, something the Abbott government must be sighing with relief over (for our "the dog ate my homework" government, this must have seemed like the equivalent of Teacher calling in sick!). For seconds, it gives our PM a chance to look all concerned and serious on the telly, making statements about how the besieger had "a political motivation"[1] and so on. For thirds, it gives the tabloidosphere something to really chew on for the next few months (anyone want to bet we're going to be hearing a lot about Islamic "terrists" from the shock-jocks, the talk-back tabloids, and the Murdoch media? No takers?). For fourths, it neatly justifies all that extra money the government was handing ASIO a few months back. For fifths, it also neatly justifies any amount of crackdowns on public speech critical of the government, "undesirables", public protest and so on. The sixth useful thing it does is justifies increases to police funding (especially "elite" "counter-terrorism" units).

I can't help but think of the last time we were put under an increased security regime (under the Howard government, in the years following the September 11 2001 attack in the USA). At the time, one of the things people were saying was that there was no evidence of terrorist activity in Australia, and all this extra security theatre was a waste of money. People were saying the same things earlier this year when the government effectively doubled ASIO's budget. Will they be saying it now? Probably not as loudly...

And the MYEFO is still buried deeper than a dead thing.

The man who took the hostages, Man Haron Monis, is being demonised in the press. He's already being labelled as being mentally ill[3][4]. He had a history of violence and imprisonment (according to his lawyer, he was harassed and bullied in prison) as well as a string of charges against him. He also had a history of extreme ideology, but there's a strong thread running through things that this man was acting alone. He wasn't likely to have been part of an organised terrorist cell - indeed, he's just the sort of person a serious organised terrorist movement wouldn't want within a thousand miles of their active cells. But do you want to bet we're still going to see an increase in security theatre to prevent organised terrorist activity - one which will, purely coincidentally, result in a crackdown on "undesirables" (including the mentally ill) and public speech criticising the government?

It seems this siege was the action of one deeply troubled man with a history of violence. But it was still incredibly convenient for a lot of people, and I have no doubt they're going to be exploiting it to the fullest.


[1] I'm sorry, but I wouldn't trust the PM telling me the sky was blue without looking out a window to make sure, or to tell me water was wet without turning on a tap to check - to put it at its most charitable, his perception of reality is so very different to the consensus one it seems sensible to ensure his statements are well benchmarked against checkable data[2].
[2] To be less charitable, the man is a lying liar who lies and who wouldn't recognise the truth if it bit him on the bum.
[3] I'm mentally ill myself. The majority of mentally ill people are no more likely to commit violent acts than the rest of the population. Instead, they're more likely to be victims of violence.
[4] What I'm really disliking in seeing a lot of comments about this story in a number of places is the strong link being made between mental illness and any form of socially unacceptable or merely disliked behaviours. You don't have to be mentally ill in order to be an arsehole, and gods above the people making such comments are proving this in spades!
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: 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: "Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I'd like to become a scientist, so I became a scientist" (feminism)
Monday, May 14th, 2012 08:48 am
I was busy reading through a lovely little article on the ABC this morning about a group of doctors who have submitted a statement to the Senate enquiry into marriage equality here in Australia. The position of this group of doctors (about 150 in all, one of whom is a member of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) is that "marriage between a man and a woman is the "basis for a healthy society"."

Their contention is that ""It's well proven that children who grow up with a mother and a father in a biological mother-and-father family do better than children who don't have the opportunity to grow up in that kind of family,"

Now, my immediate thought when faced with this was along the following lines:

Show me the research - This is always my response to ninety percent of these sorts of statements in news articles. I want to see the studies these people are pulling their quotes from, and actually figure out whether their justification is accurate.

teal deer underneath )

Really, if you get past the first page of their submission, it's just the same sort of small-minded, socially-conservative idiocy that you'd expect from the Christian (Always) Right - "Don't Do It Because We Don't Like It; Our God Says This Is EEEEVUL!!!"[4]. It's a bit disappointing that 150 doctors hold these views, but then again, so long as they don't let their views get in the way of their practice, I've no problems with that. They're entitled to hold opinions as private citizens. It's when they try to use their position as doctors to force those opinions on the rest of the population that I have problems.


Footnotes below )
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "The stupid, it hurts". (Rufus2)
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 06:32 pm
News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch meanwhile accused the "blogosphere" of "terrorising many senators and congressmen who previously committed" to support the US legislation. - from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-18/wikipedia-goes-offline-to-protest-us-piracy-laws/3781382

Oh gods. How terrifying! How anarchic! How frightening!

Voters actually asking that duly elected representatives represent their constituents and listen to the opinions of said constituents rather than obeying their corporate masters without question!

The End Of The World (According To Rupert) Is Nigh.

Why, anyone would think the USA was a representative democracy, rather than a corporate oligarchy. And we all know that isn't the case...

More seriously and less sarcastically, I'd argue that anything Mr Murdoch publicly supports as a Good Idea these days is probably the option which is more likely to reduce the general public's freedom of speech and expression and increase the gatekeeping role of his family's media empire. News Corporation makes most of its money through being a media gatekeeper, through deciding who gets to be heard publicly, deciding which topics are "serious" and which aren't, and selling more and more advertising space surrounding the scant speech they're permitting through the gates these days. To Mr Murdoch's family corporation, I'm nothing more than a set of eyeballs, a bundle of demographic information (the most important piece of which is "how much discretionary income do I control?") and a wallet to be raided.

Unfortunately for Mr Murdoch and News Corporation, I tend to think of myself as a person, with opinions, tastes, preferences, and values, and as a being with more intrinsic worth than just my demographics and my income. I gave up on their products years ago, when I realised I wasn't going to find anything I considered interesting amongst them. I switched off the television, I stopped buying newspapers, I stopped listening to the radio, I stopped going to the movies, I stopped buying mass market magazines (my preferences are found more in the special interest areas these days) and I stopped attempting to participate in "popular" culture. Which means I've pretty much removed myself from their ambit.

I don't depend on News Corporation or Fox for my entertainment needs. I don't need to wait for the latest thing from Hollywood. I'm not hanging out to hear the latest "celebrity" gossip. I haven't spent money on new music CDs in months (and the last ones I bought were a couple of cheapish compilations from the service station nearest the university I attend). I'm choosy about my books and my magazine purchases. And I can afford all of this because I have the internet to supply a lot of the needs I have for text related materials, for entertainment, for news and for opinion fodder - and not much of what I'm reading online is curated and gatekept in the way Mr Murdoch would prefer.

I get my news via RSS feeds from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Pressenza, and Human Wrongs Watch. I get my community information via RSS from Shakesville, Hoyden About Town, Making Light, and a few other blogs I like. I don't use Facebook, or Google Plus; I've never seen the point of "web portals" when the bookmarks bar in Firefox works just fine, and my Twitter account is used very rarely. I blog on Dreamwidth (because they allow me to crosspost to my InsaneJournal, and they don't regard me as a source of content to use to sell advertising space - something which is positively refreshing these days).
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "The stupid, it hurts". (Rufus2)
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 03:03 pm
Firstly, may I say congratulations to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector for creating one of the biggest showings of unity I've seen online in nigh twelve years of using the internet. Couldn't have done it without you guys, although I'm sure you're hating to see it happen.

Secondly: a word of warning to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector, as well as to Mr Murdoch's News Corporation and any other group who thinks these acts are Good Things overall. Should they go through, SOPA and PIPA aren't going to reduce the amount of copyright piracy occurring online by one tittle or jot. Yes, they may black out sections of the web, temporarily. But the pirates aren't going to let that stop them - they get their jollies from working around things like this in the first fscking place.

I foresee a certain amount of revival for a few of the older internet communications protocols - newsgroups may see something of a resurgence, along with mailing lists, and other forms of communication which aren't hosted by a single site, but which rather exist as an amorphous entity of ever-changing data being passed around from host to host, like the prize in a gigantic online game of pass-the-parcel. Good luck dealing with those, guys; I seem to remember that the thing which eventually took down a lot of the alt.binaries newsgroups wasn't any effort from the MPAA and the RIAA, but rather that web hosting was cheap, readily available, and distributed file sharing networks could handle things without too much strain.

But hey, guys, feel free to try and take down global email using lawyers if you really fancy re-running the labours of Heracles. Try killing NNTP. Have fun. It'll keep you all busy for a bit.

As has been said repeatedly: the internet as a whole, as an emergent entity, interprets censorship of just about any kind as damage, and figures out ways to route around it.

Thirdly: even if the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector should get their will, and kill the internet deader than a dead thing in a graveyard, I still won't be connecting my television up to the aerial or purchasing a Foxtel subscription. I still won't be turning on the radio to anything other than the ABC. I still won't be going to the movies. I still won't be buying any Australian newspapers on a regular basis. I still won't be getting magazines from Australian Consolidated Press or the News Corporation stables. And I won't be spending any money on those things for the same damn reason I don't spend money on them now: I refuse to let my money go where I'm not welcome. The news and entertainment sector here in Australia doesn't want to cater to me as a viewer, listener or reader, they just want to sell me as a potential set of eyeballs to advertisers. As a person, I'm not welcome in their world.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Monday, October 17th, 2011 08:24 am
There's a lot being written about Occupy Wall Street, and a lot being written about the copycat protests which are now springing up in a lot of other countries (including Australia). There isn't as much spoken or written about where the movement to occupy city areas and public spaces, and calling for a renegotiation of the social contract as it is interpreted by the powerful, actually got started, and where it's been flourishing for the better part of a year.

It started in Egypt, in Tariq Square (where it's still ongoing, to the best of my knowledge). Occupation-style protests have been happening in Iceland, in Spain, in Greece, and in a lot of other European countries since at least June this year. And they're still going on there. See this list of articles from Pressenza to get a better idea of the scope of the actual demonstrating, both in terms of global spread, and temporal spread.

However, there appears to be this strong media (and now internet) -fed meme which says something isn't actually "real" until it affects white citizens of the USA - preferably white, middle-class, male, heterosexual Christian citizens of the USA. Unless they're affected, unless they're doing it, whatever's going on in the rest of the world doesn't matter. The global economic crisis didn't affect anyone (even though the economies of many countries were affected for months, or indeed years, before the US banking system was forced to own up to its iniquities at the end of 2008) until it affected the USAlien middle classes. Various World Wars didn't actually "start", in the opinion of hegemonic popular culture, (despite the involvement and devastation of multiple countries) until the USA sent troops. Poverty in the USA didn't exist until it started lapping at the toes of the middle classes (despite the presence of a growing underclass of persons who were born into poverty, and who have lived their entire lives in poverty, and who could not escape their poverty no matter how hard they tried, since approximately the Reagan years) and more particularly the white middle classes.

It's nice that the USAlien middle classes have apparently finally decided they're part of the world majority. It's nice that they're finally joining in with the rest of the people on the planet to demand a bit of equity, and a bit of fairness.

It would be even nicer if they would just, for once, publicly acknowledge that the problems existed before they'd noticed them or been affected by them; that the movement they've joined (and effectively hijacked) existed before they started to participate; that they were, once again, late to the party, and only joining in once other people had got things started. It would be really good to have this acknowledgement that not everything happens in a vacuum, and that the world outside the window of the USAlien white middle classes is actually present. It would be really good if the ongoing efforts of people outside the USA to renegotiate the social contract weren't erased, or ignored.
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Monday, October 10th, 2011 09:15 am
Frank O'Shea has his knickers in a twist at Independent Australia: Feminists desert female Aussie PM

I'm not sure what to be more irritated by from that article - whether it's the accusations of a lack of groupthink on the part of feminists, the unstated (and inaccurate) assumption that all women are active feminists, the notion that being part of a minority grouping means you're part of a seamless association that never has internal disagreements (and the imputation of such status to both the Indigenous and Jewish communities - both of which, I'm pretty certain, have a lot of internal political wranglings which can get extremely passionate and divisive), or just the level of sheer bloody-minded wrongness involved in the whole thing from go to whoa.

So, back to Feminism 101 stuff again, for the benefit Mr O'Shea:

1) Not all feminists are women. It is possible to be feminist and not identify as being a woman.
2) Not all women are feminists. It is possible to identify as being a woman and not identify with feminist aims or goals.
3) There is no One True Feminism. There is no entrance exam to become a feminist.
4) As a corollary of the above, not all feminists share the same goals, or agree on the same ideals. About the only central, core ideals that the majority of feminists agree on are that firstly, there is no reason why women should be treated as different to men in a legal, moral, political, economic or financial sense; secondly, that this is happening in the world at present; and thirdly, that this should be changed.

So, addressing various contentions in Mr O'Shea's article as they land:

Mr O'Shea is upset that some women are campaigning (rather nastily) against Julia Gillard, decrying her lifestyle, her gender, and various other things. So, see my points 2, 3 and 4 above. The women who are raising these posters are under no obligation to support Julia Gillard (or any other female-identified politician) simply because she is female. We're under no obligation to all believe the same things, simply because we are female. To insist that this is the case is to insist on the existence of an essential point of moral and political difference between women and men (women must all think and vote as a seamless bloc; men are allowed to hold differing opinions). Which is contrary to the spirit of feminism.

To be clear: I don't agree with those women, Mr O'Shea. But I do agree they have the right to make fools of themselves in public, just the same as I do.

Mr O'Shea contends that surely Ms Gillard has a right to expect that feminists and organised feminism will come to her defence, and also contends that this isn't happening. Possibly Mr O'Shea isn't reading the same blogs I do. I found the link to his article on Hoyden About Town (an Australian feminist blog), where the contributor who posted the link to Mr O'Shea's article pointed out a list of eight articles which are tackling just this very matter. There's a further three of them in the automatically generated "Related Posts" section at the bottom of the article.

There are a lot of posts about this very matter on the Aussie feminist blogosphere, pointing out the nature of the problem, pointing out how very gendered it is, pointing out how very discriminatory it is and so on. However, for some reason or other, these sorts of articles don't seem to be making it into the mainstream media. Now, could this have anything to do with the "gatekeeping" function the mainstream media (and particularly the mainstream media in Australia, with its heavy concentration of ownership) tends to reserve to itself? That there aren't newspaper articles in the Herald Sun, the Australian, or the Daily Telegraph, written by prominent feminist writers, and blasting the editors of the Herald Sun, the Australian or the Daily Telegraph for their selection of material regarding the prime minister... why, that would almost suggest that the mainstream media are actually privately owned properties, with their own editorial controls, where a deliberate selection of material is undertaken in order to present a situation in a particular fashion. Yes, there are problems when this happens, but I'd argue the problem isn't necessarily one that feminism and feminists can be blamed for.

Feminists of many stripes, however, will cheerfully agree that the lack of feminist opinion in the mainstream media is a feminist issue - it's emblematic of the way that the kyriarchy (the interweaving of systems of oppression to ensure that the oppressing class remains in charge) manipulates the way the world is, such that contrary, minority, or dissenting voices are silenced and marginalised.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (BFS)
Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 08:31 am
The song is "Where Ya Gonna Run To" by Redgum. Lyrics below the fold. File available here at sendspace (2.31MB, .wma format)

Lyrics below fold )

I get the second-last verse running through my head quite a lot lately - particularly when I'm reading about things like the rioting in London, and the way the USA is turning out. I grew up under the shadow of the Cold War, and the terror of the Reagan years, when it seemed I wouldn't make it to thirty. I'm forty now, and I wonder whether fifty is on the horizon. It seemed to be this time last year. This year? I don't know - and that makes me angry, terrified, and sad. Angry, because things were supposed to get better. Terrified, because I don't know that they will. And sad, because I'm not the only one who believed things were supposed to be better, and I'm not the only one who is probably feeling betrayed because they aren't.

There's nowhere to run to. I just have to make my stand here.
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Friday, July 8th, 2011 06:13 pm
The scandal over the phone message data theft in the UK is terrible, and one of the questions which is being asked is "who is responsible?". Who is responsible for this terrible thing happening? Who should take the blame? Who should we punish?

Well, from one angle, the Murdoch family and their News Corporation bear at least some of the responsibility, for creating a news climate where such things can happen, where they can be tried, and where they can be covered up with such success that the true depth of the scandal is only starting to become visible five or six years later. This means everyone in the chain, all the way up from the first journalist to pay the PI for information, right the way through the corporate hierarchy to Rupert Murdoch himself. They profited from the misery of others, and they haven't paid the price. Some of the responsibility is theirs.

From another angle, some of the responsibility lies with the advertisers, who are always seeking the ideal vessel to purvey their product - they want something which will attract a lot of people to see or hear their ads, but they don't want their precious product associated with anything bad. So the advertisers play their part in this, through demanding both the high circulation that the News of the World achieved, and through also demanding the cover-up of sources, and the hiding of illegal behaviour. They were willing to accept the high circulation figures, without asking what was done in the name of achieving this circulation. So some of the responsibility is theirs, also.

From a further angle, there's the responsibility of the telephone companies to provide education and data security for their users. In a large part, the crime of hacking into the message databases was caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of people who owned phones - they didn't know the pass-code existed, didn't know they could use it, didn't know they could alter it. So the pass-codes were left at their default. A simple procedural change, such as ensuring that the account was locked to external access should the user not attempt this within a month of opening their account, would have secured the vast mass of this data. That there was a back-door left not only unlocked, but practically gaping wide open, is not decent data security. So the phone companies bear some responsibility, too.

The journalists who paid for the stolen data bear responsibility, because they knew this data wasn't coming from kosher sources. They knew they weren't respecting the privacy of the people involved. They knew they were effectively breaking the spirit of the law, if not the actual letter of the law, by using this data in order to create their stories. They knew they were encouraging further breaches of the law by paying for the data.

The private eye who figured out how to hack into the phone message banks, and then sold on the data to the News of the World, also bears responsibility, as the one who committed the crime. According to reports, he was paid 100,000 UKP for his services.

There's the politicians who permitted the Murdoch family to purchase so much of the world's news infrastructure (the world's largest news gathering organisation is a privately owned family company). There's the police, who didn't understand the magnitude of the crime when it was presented to them (not to mention the police who were bribed into silence). There's the various managements and journalists of other news organisations, who let their concerns about their own profitability over-ride their interest in the privacy and rights of the people they purport to represent. All of these people are responsible, and all of them will probably be mentioned in articles regarding the whole scandal.

But there's one responsible group the news media won't mention. One group who will be allowed to skate by scot free. One group who won't ever be expected to look their responsibility in the face and name it for what it is. And that's us.

If you've ever bought a newspaper, if you've ever clicked on a link to a news site, if you've ever listened to news radio, or watched the news on television, you bear some responsibility for this as well.

As viewers, listeners, readers, we create the demand for news articles. As viewers, listeners and readers, we've fed the Murdoch machine, given it the money it needed to create a monolithic view of the way news "should" be, a monolithic view of "what sells newspapers, what sells advertising space". We have allowed our news to become tawdry, cheap, nasty, vicious, invasive, insensitive. We have allowed this, because we haven't spoken up and said no. We have allowed this because we've purchased the products the advertisers sell. We have allowed this because we've bought the papers, listened to the radio stations, clicked the links, watched the programs, bought the magazines. We have allowed this, we have facilitated this, by demanding more and more and more and more from the news media; by not criticising it enough; by continuing to feed the maw.

If you feel sickened by the actions of the News of the World; if you feel angry about the actions of the Murdoch family; if you feel self-righteous about the way the advertisers are fleeing the sinking ship, remember: we asked for it.

We asked for it. Now we have it.

Maybe we should start asking for something different.
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: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (Vincent 1)
Monday, December 20th, 2010 02:14 pm
* Because I'm female, and as such have a 1 in 6 lifetime risk of being raped.
* Because Mike Moore has made a career out of being obnoxious and demanding people listen to him; yet he won't respond to his own tactics?
* Because as a woman, as a potential rape victim, as a person who values their personal safety, I benefit greatly if rape culture is questioned and challenged (I'd benefit personally if the lifetime odds of being raped only dropped to 1 in 7). The safer I am, the safer everyone else is too.
* Because as a woman who knows other women, I'm statistically likely to know at least one person who has been raped and/or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
* Because everything I hear about or from Julian Assagne makes him sound more and more like an utter creep.
* Because any sexual activity which happens without enthusiastic consent is rape.
* Because rape is the only crime where the accusers are on trial rather than the accused.
* Because even if the people bringing the rape charges are CIA agents, only doing it for the publicity, or just seeking to get "revenge" (revenge for what, precisely?) they still deserve a fair hearing in court, rather than a public inquisition via internet.
* Because I want to make it clear that I think rape isn't okay.
* Because it's the right thing to do.
* Because even if it isn't the best tactic in the world to get Mike Moore to reply, it's something we can do to make a point not only to Mike Moore, but also to all the other guys out there who don't understand about rape culture and what rape apologism consists of.

Oh, and for those following it, here's a few apologists and outright trolls I've spotted on the tag:

@GoldenScepter
@aubsclark
@BRKeogh

I'll add more as I notice them. But don't feed 'em, folks.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (frustration)
Thursday, December 16th, 2010 02:05 pm
Most of this was published yesterday as a comment on Shakesville, and it's something I've thought about for about a week or so. I figure it's quicker and easier to post it once here, and then I can link it everywhere else.

Long screed under here )

Or the teal deer version: playing the martyred hero of the Left doesn't immediately make Julian Assagne into one.
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Sunday, November 21st, 2010 10:12 am
It appears Pope Benedict is taking fashion tips from HM Queen Elizabeth II. To quote the Jagermonsters from Girl Genius: "Nice hat!"

(The headline is well worth a giggle, too).
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Friday, October 22nd, 2010 10:02 am
I think John Nicolaou should be asking the ABC to remove the photo on this article, if only because it does nothing to improve his public image. They've clearly caught the poor man mid-blink, mid-word, and honestly, it makes him look like a member of the Drones Club - if I was wanting an image to point to as an example of who to cast for a similar role, I'd be pointing to this one and saying "like that, only slightly more vacuous".