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megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
megpie71

February 2017

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megpie71: Avon looking unimpressed, caption "Bite Me" (bite me)
Monday, February 22nd, 2016 05:24 pm
So, I've been unemployed for six months (according to Centrelink, anyway). Which means, lucky me, I'm due to start my "Work For The Dole Phase" of the whole glorious process of being unemployed in Australia in the 21st century.

For those not in the know, "work for the dole" was an idea conceived back in the era of John Howard, by Liberal Party policy-makers who wanted to bring back the workhouses, but who didn't fancy the idea of having to shell out money to feed, house and clothe the undeserving poor (i.e. anyone on an activity-tested Centrelink payment[1]). Basically, in order to impress on the long-term unemployed how important it is they find paying work, they're required to perform up to twenty-five hours a week of compulsory, unpaid[2] volunteer work in order to be able to continue receiving their dole payment. I suspect whoever came up with this one must have woken up in the night and hugged themselves with glee[3].

Luckily for me, I'm on a part-time activity test (mental illness, such fun). I only have to do sixteen hours a fortnight worth of whatever the current equivalent of picking oakum, washing bottles, pasting labels or sorting rags is. Normally, the requirement is for fifteen hours a week for someone my age, twenty-five for someone younger. In my case, I'm going to be transcribing old (hand-written) court records from turn-of-the-century-NSW (i.e. early 1900s). Years of translating my mother's appalling medical handwriting into something legible has finally come in useful.

Basically, this sort of thing is supposed to... well, I have no idea what it's supposed to do. Punish me for the sin of not being in employment, one presumes. I have the site induction on Thursday, I suppose I get to find out then whether I'm supposed to be wearing sackcloth and rubbing ashes into my hair to show repentance, flagellating myself with a cat-o'-nine-tails, or whether just walking around wearing a sandwich board that says "I'm SO FUCKING SORRY" will do.

Yes, I am a bit cranky about this.

I'm cranky about it, because it's a bit of deliberate humiliation on the part of a government which has an ideological agenda, and will do anything in its power to get that agenda implemented. I'm cranky about it because I'm being forced into performing unpaid labour in order to ensure wage earners are frightened into accepting lower wages and lower conditions in order to avoid being put into this situation. I'm cranky about it because the penalties for missing work, or not being able to perform whatever work I'm supposed to be doing on the day I'm supposed to be doing it, are all on me (yes, even if my erstwhile "employer" doesn't have enough work for me to be doing, or the computers are down, or the office gets hit by a meteor falling from the sky).

Oh, and I still have to keep looking for 20 jobs a month, same as before. That doesn't change, either. About the only positive thing to note about the whole mess is that since the place I'm going to be physically doing my Work for the Dole placement is the offices of my JobActive provider, I'll be able to drop off my monthly lists with a lot less carry-on.


[1] Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, and Special Benefit.
[2] If your "volunteering" is organised through your JobActive provider, you get an extra $20 per fortnight on your dole payment to cover costs incurred (transport, lunches etc). If it isn't, you don't. There's a LOT of encouragement to find your own "volunteer work".
[3] A bit of googling reveals it was the brain-child of Tony Abbott. I must remember to write him a thank-you note.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 06:53 am
Had a very poor night's sleep last night (had trouble going to sleep due to the heat; woke up during the night overheated and dehydrated, and couldn't get back to sleep for over an hour; got jolted awake again by leg cramps about a half an hour before my alarm was due to go off). I'm currently sitting here experiencing one of my warning signs for gastro-intestinal distress (burping up gas which sort of tastes like bacon as it passes over my tongue). I have an appointment with my Job Active provider at 9am (which I am NOT looking forward to, because they're about as useless as tits on a bull, and they're intended to be this useless as a point of government policy). Oh, and I got another letter in my email from the nice people at Moton Group "offering" me a "job", as well as two email letters from the latest iteration of the "LKT Company" scam (the company has changed its name and now calls itself "Nocturne", and refers to itself as "fast-growing", but the other particulars are pretty much the same).

The signs are not positive. Unfortunately my preferred remedy (going back to bed, pulling the sheet over my head and pretending today doesn't exist) is not available (see: appointment at 9am). So I'll need to head to plan B - bull through things.
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: 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: AC Cloud Strife looking toward camera in Sleeping Forest (Cloud 2)
Sunday, September 8th, 2013 08:56 pm
So, I seriously need to do something about my anxiety problems.

I've spent the past five weeks of the election campaign getting steadily tighter and tighter wound, envisioning all the various ways the next three years can go catastrophically wrong. It's not that hard, given access to a number of news feeds - all it requires is a look at the US and Europe, and figuring out how the parties currently in charge of Australia are going to implement austerity this time around. Because, let's face it, they're going to implement austerity whether we need it or not. The Proprietors want it, so we're getting it. Less government "interference", less "handouts" (particularly if you're in the lower income brackets) and less government service. Goody goody gumdrops.

Anyway, I've spent the past five weeks dreading what's going to be happening. Yesterday, I did the best I could against the onslaught. Now I'm stuck with the results of the past five weeks, and there's nothing I can do about it.

I've spent most of today feeling exhausted - physically, mentally, and psychologically. I really just want to curl up and go to sleep, and hopefully not have to wake up again. All that wound up tension is unwinding, because there's really nothing I can do at this point. I have a feeling I'm going to be having another depressive crash as a result, lucky me.

But really, I need to figure out a way of avoiding getting into these anxious states in the first place. It seems to be all tied in with the amount of feeling I do - I seem to feel things too deeply for my own comfort a lot of the time. I can't be detached, or isolated. I care too much, and that caring leaves me vulnerable, because the caring makes me angry, and the anger makes me anxious, or depressed when it goes sour. It's like I was born without the top layer of skin - I'm all raw, all the time, and all exposed nerve endings. So yeah, I can see why the SSRIs help, even though what they do isn't to actually stop me feeling - at best what they do is put a delay between the contact and the reaction (meaning I stay in contact with the harmful stuff longer, and it hurts me more before I pull away). But it slows the impact of the hurt, makes it possible for me to react to it.

I dunno. I think what I need is some way of not caring about things as much, of not having as much passion about the world, of not having everything so close to the surface. But on the other hand, that's ME. I've always been like this; it's part of what makes me who I am. Would I still be me if I stopped reacting so readily to things?
megpie71: Animated: "Are you going to come quietly/Or do I have to use earplugs?" (Come Quietly)
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 05:32 am
So, it's about half four in the morning, I've been awake since about ten to three, and I've just had another mini-meltdown because each time I think I've realised all the packing I have to do and how much stuff I have to fit and how little space I have to fit it into, there turns out to be another fractal level of it I've forgotten. Things like "how do I fit an entire wardrobe's worth of clothing into one suitcase"? Admittedly, it's a large suitcase. But it's still only the one suitcase, and I have to try and fit clothing which currently fills a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, and a couple of storage tubs into it.

Plus there's the whole question of "what do I do with the contents of the pantry?" I suspect most of it will have to be thrown out (because there's no way known to mankind I'm going to be able to fit all of it into the pantries of either my mother or Steve's mother) and I'm not sure how much of it can be given to various food banks, or even how to get into contact with those food banks to find out whether they take donations.

There's so much needs doing, and so little time and so few spoons for me to be doing it with.

Well, it's half five now, and I've decided to do some dishes (I want pancakes for breakfast, so I have to wash the frypan and some cutlery).
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Friday, March 15th, 2013 10:29 pm
... and we all know that stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional, right? Right.

What's stressing me out 15 MAR 2013

* Have to go to Centrelink and hand in paperwork - don't want to deal with bureaucratic bullshit
* Scared we're not going to be able to get enough money from Centrelink between the witholdings for the debt and everything else to afford food and rent simultaneously.
* Scared this is going to count against us when we're looking for accommodation
* Deadline for accommodation is coming up faster and faster
* Behind on assignments
* Haven't been taking meds, because taking meds falls off the bottom of the list very early on when I'm even vaguely stressed
* Don't have enough meds to last more than about a fortnight
* Getting more meds would entail going back to the doctors and I haven't been since about mid-December
* Don't want to go back to the doctor and have to explain why I haven't been taking meds, why I haven't been back to see them since December, and why I didn't book that blasted ultrasound
* Don't want to have to go through the whole rigmarole of explaining why the hell I don't like making phone calls (eg to book appointments for a thyroid ultrasound) because I know it sounds insane and stupid and idiotic and pointless.
* Don't want to have to damn well get back on the medication-go-round for the depression because I know it won't work more than temporarily.
* Haven't done anywhere near enough work on my assignments and study for uni
* Haven't done anything about looking for new accommodation since about Monday
* Haven't been keeping up with the housework
* Feel like I need to be keeping up with all of these things and I haven't got the energy or inclination
* Didn't eat anything yesterday apart from that sandwich and the spring rolls and the coffee
* Don't want to be scolded for not having eaten
* Don't want to cook
* Suspect my period is starting
* Nerve in my right shoulder/upper arm/forearm is trapped *again* and it's giving me gyp
* Scared I'm breaking down again
* Don't want to be homeless, and really can't see how we're going to avoid that at this point
* Steve doesn't seem to understand any of this, so I'm getting next to no support, and what support I'm getting isn't really the useful stuff
* Feel isolated and crazy.
* If I go to the doctors to talk about not taking the meds, they tell me to take the meds, and when I explain I'd like to but my brain isn't processing the request properly they tell me to get Steve to remind me, except Steve doesn't seem to take his OWN meds regularly so why the merry hell would he be willing to nag me about mine, never mind my typical reaction to nagging is to run screaming in the other direction. So how this is supposed to help is beyond me.
* There's so much to be done with regards to packing and decluttering and clearing things out and all the rest and I have no idea how to deal with it all.
* I don't know whether there's a clothing reprocessing group (like Salvos or Sammies) which is likely to take the stuff which is piled up in the spare room - all the shirts and clothes I've worn through over the years - and be able to salvage the usable cloth from them, and I don't want to just chuck everything in the bin because there's still something that someone could use in there I'm sure and I don't want to waste it. So it sits there and doesn't get dealt with and sits there and reproaches me because I'm a bad housekeeper and I'm lousy at being useful and it's just THERE squatting in the corner like some kind of malign Buddha.
* Don't know whether the djembe and the bodhran would be resellable (presume they would) and don't know what a reasonable price to ask is, so I'm scared of over-asking and getting no offers, or under-asking and having people laugh at me, and if I just say "make me an offer" I'm going to look like a fool.
* Don't think we can afford to live on foodsicles and takeaway much longer (if indeed we can now) and quite honestly that's all I feel like eating because cooking means I have to cook and clean and shop and function and I'm not functioning and it's all too bloody hard and why can't Steve do some of this?
* I know I'm dropping my bundle, and I feel useless because of it, because I should be able to HANDLE THIS, DAMN IT. But I can't and I can't even make it an amusing post to put up on Dreamwidth because who wants to see me exploding into a billion pieces ... again?
* I haven't done anything for HaT since about the end of January, and the rate I'm going I probably won't do anything for them any time soon and I feel like I'm letting people down when I do that.
* I have no idea where to start with dealing with any of this. (Well, okay, I tell a minor lie - and I'm a horrible person for that, I know - I've taken my meds for today, and I've taken a couple of neurofen to deal with the pain of the pinched nerve). It's all just there and it needs to be dealt with and I desperately need to do some washing today because I have one pair of clean underwear to my name and and and and ... and I just want to go back to bed and hide.
* But I can't go back to bed and hide because I have to go to Centrelink today to hand in paperwork and I don't want to because I don't want to deal with the bureaucratic bullshit, and we're back where I started the list, time to go round again.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (BFS)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 07:57 am
This is from the Meetup.com page of a writers meetup group I was attending. It had been going for maybe about six weeks now.

"This is a group for both writers and aspiring writers. Our aim is to help potential authors understand the basic elements of creating a great story, how to bring that story to fruition, and finally how to create the best chance of becoming a published author. I feel that the initial aim of the group has not been fulfilled. Good luck to the fan fiction people in the group but the group was founded for people who wanted their own original work to be published and that is not possible with fan fiction. Best wishes. [Organiser's name redacted for privacy]"


The italicised text is the stuff which is new today. The bolded text is the stuff which annoyed the hells out of me.

I was the only person in the group who stated they were actively involved with fan fiction. I was also the only person in the group who'd attended all the meetings scheduled, aside from the organiser. There'd been about ten to twelve people other people involved, and yeah, there were problems (mostly to do with the venue and the noise levels there).

However, I wasn't monopolising the group. I wasn't demanding everything should be about fanfic. I wasn't expecting everyone else switch to writing fanfic. As far as I know, I wasn't doing ANYTHING which merited the whole damn group being closed down. And I really resent being effectively blamed for the closure.

Now, if nobody minds particularly, I think I'll go work out my anger by beating up kobolds and bugbears in D&D Online.

[Later note: having talked to my partner about the whole thing (he'd attended one meeting) I got a different perspective on things. His belief was the organiser of this group was attempting to form the whole thing as a way of getting groupies, in effect (he'd had a book conventionally published, and tended to bring this up every meeting), and my attempts to be helpful and participate (putting up links to writing on writing by other writers in the forums, offering to help out with problems with the meetup.com interface etc) were read as being threats to his leadership. In which case, the whole thing starts to look like someone cutting off their nose to spite their face. In either case, he still probably would have been better off by writing a private email to me, rather than shutting down the whole group. I still feel angry about the group having been cancelled, resentful at effectively having been blamed for the cancellation, and rather upset about having received this virtual slap in the face first thing in the morning.]
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Sunday, January 27th, 2013 11:18 am
So yesterday was Australia Day, or as I am now nicknaming it in my head, the Bogan Festival of Flags. Some bright spark in our area decided they were going to have a home fireworks display. Which they started doing at about 1pm, and carried on irregularly throughout the afternoon until about 7pm. Some other little darlings decided that our cul-de-sac street was a good one to hoon up and down on their dirt bikes at irregular loud intervals.

I react badly to unexpected loud noises. They rattle inside my head, and I wind up getting very stressed by them. If it's been a stressful week for me already (which it had been - re-enrolling for this year at uni had required three separate visits and a very angry performance in the student centre to get things sorted out, which I was not impressed by; then I went shopping on Friday which was more stress again) that kind of thing catapults me into full-on overload mode, and I go straight to depressed and stay there. It was one of the things I disliked about living in Canbrrra (where private fireworks are permitted on certain public holidays), and one of the things I was quite happy to leave behind when I left the place.

Never mind that private usage of fireworks in Western Australia is something which is illegal since 1967 (and was made so due to bushfire risk - a fireworks event permit refers to the Bush Fires Act of 1954, which probably has something to say about it all). Never mind that this street we're living on is close to a couple of small "nature strips" which are currently tinder-dry, due to the prolonged drought.

I called in the performance to the police last night, and wrote an email to the council reporting the whole business. I suspect the idiots who were doing it didn't have a permit from the council, and quite frankly I hope they enjoy the fines and the charges.

So, I'm still cranky, I'm still bitchy, and I'm still annoyed despite having got an extra few hours sleep (slept in until 10am today, which is unusual for me in summer). I still have the beginnings of a headache, and I'm still not in a fit mood to deal with anything else sentient. Sounds like the perfect time to go thump kobolds in D&D Online.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (frustration)
Monday, July 30th, 2012 09:48 am
In the wake of the Readercon incident, and the general rush of convention season in the USA, I feel like addressing the regular refrain which springs up about people who are being accused of sexual harassment at conventions (particularly within the geek community).

This refrain is, of course, that the harasser (particularly a serial harasser) is "socially awkward" or has "poor social skills".

To which I say: bullshit. Absolute and utter crap. I do not believe this in the least.

Why not? Because their behaviour argues otherwise.

It takes a lot of social skill to develop a set of behaviours which are both threatening to the recipients and innocuous to disinterested bystanders. It takes a lot of skill and practice to be able to perform these behaviours in a public setting on a regular basis without drawing attention to oneself. Choosing your victim is a skill which takes practice and social awareness. So does choosing your friends in order to be believed when you tell people you're very, very sorry and it won't happen again (or at least, not until your friends have forgotten the last time).

Serial harassers aren't socially awkward. If they were socially awkward, they wouldn't be the menace they are. On the contrary, they're socially skilled, socially competent, and well practiced in what they're doing. They know where the lines are, and they're adept at walking them. They have enough empathy to figure out what's going to upset their victim, and enough callous self-interest not to care.

Genuine social awkwardness will manifest itself in all environments, in all settings, and around all people. The genuinely socially awkward person won't have many friends, and will have problems fitting into normal social routines under any circumstance. They won't be charming. They won't be popular. They will creep out people of both sexes, and all gender preferences, because they will be obvious. Genuine social awkwardness is rarer than you'd think.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (frustration)
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 06:42 pm
Couch potato lifestyle kills 5 million per year

PSA: People who don't drink, don't smoke, exercise regularly, don't take excessive physical risks, eat a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, never let their BMI get outside the healthy range for their height, and have no history of heart disease, diabetes or cancer in their family background will still die.

Reducing inactivity by 10 per cent could eliminate more than half a million deaths every year - no, it won't. At best, it will delay these deaths. It will not "eliminate" them, because death is a natural process, part of the life cycle, and at last count, the number of immortal persons inhabiting this planet was approximately zero.

We will all die. I figure that by being the fat, lazy slob that I am, I'm at least making it easy on the medical practicioner who eventually has to fill in my death certificate.

I also suspect there are going to be a lot of rather affronted corpses over the next few decades - all these people who did all the right things all their lives, and yet still died - because the medical profession and the media have been selling this myth that death is somehow a preventable disease instead of being a developmental stage like puberty.
megpie71: Animated: "Are you going to come quietly/Or do I have to use earplugs?" (Come Quietly)
Thursday, June 28th, 2012 08:45 pm
The Australian government is busy attempting to do nothing about asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Australia by boat (aside, of course, from trying to shuffle the responsibility for dealing with them off to Nauru). In the meantime, I've finally come up with the ideal solution to the problem.

Like so many problems, this one can be solved by a bit of education. The trick is to educate the asylum seekers before they leave on their journey. They need to be correctly equipped for the occasion, and they need to approach the Australian coastline with the correct attitude.

To start with, refugee boats should contain at least 5 - 10% armed troops (if possible, they should have better quality weapons than the Australian army). Rather than attempting to make landfall at any of the known ports, the boats should instead be aiming at landing on an unregarded bit of land. Once landfall is achieved, the new arrivals should set up a flag, and claim the area in the name of their former homeland. They should then make a camp, and set up a base.

If confronted by officials or representatives of the Australian government, they should deny the legitimacy of said officials, argue the land was vacant when they arrived, and point out that they don't recognise any extant governing body on this continent. Declaring the current occupants of the area to be sub-human vermin is purely optional, and is left up to the governor of the new country to declare.

While this plan may seem to be inhumane, unspeakably arrogant, and contrary to all known international law, it does have one major advantage: it's been shown to work in multiple circumstances across multiple countries and multiple centuries. When performed by white Europeans, it's called "colonisation". We know it's been successful in this country at least once.
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: Avon looking unimpressed, caption "Bite Me" (Avon2)
Thursday, June 7th, 2012 10:10 am
Okay, clearly I don't understand Big Business. There's an article in today's ABC newsfeed which is basically another round of the mining companies and the Business Council of Australia howling "we'll all be rooned" because things aren't going 100% their way. They're busy saying that the Australian economy costs too much to do business in, that it's too damn risky and too damn costly, and we should be altering our business to remove our "low productivity and outdated work practices".

They basically argue that resources projects here cost about 40% more than those on the Gulf Coast of the USA - and I'd argue that yes, there's any number of reasons for that:

1) I don't know whether they've realised, but Australia has a smaller population than the USA - we're about 1/15th the size of the US population, and we're at about the carrying capacity of the continent as it stands.
2) We're a bit more geographically isolated than the Gulf Coast of the USA - and certainly a lot of the areas where the resource projects are happening here are a lot further removed from large centres of infrastructure too.
3) We have different legal frameworks to the USA, being a different fucking country and all. This includes things like insisting that all staff be paid a decent wage and that things like environmental regulations and OH&S requirements aren't just optional extras that have to be dealt with if (and only if) you can't afford to pay off the inspector. Oh, we also don't have the concept of "at will" employment enshrined in our social support systems - so we ask that if people are going to be sacked, they're sacked for a reason, given a decent notice period, and paid their redundancy money. We also insist that the indigenous peoples of the location be compensated for any damage done to their tribal lands - and if you're not sure whether a particular location is part of the tribal lands, you can just submit a request to the Native Title Tribunal to find out, can't you!

They point to our labour being "35 per cent less productive" than the labour in the US Gulf Coast for projects near cities (it's up to 60 per cent less productive in remote locations) - and I have to admit I'd like to know what the yardstick they're using is, when the measurements were taken, which projects they're comparing and to what, and how they're categorising "near cities" and "remote". Or in other words, show me the figures, show me the original research - don't just give me the conclusions stripped of all possible context.

But the thing which really stuns me is the following:

"We are in a global competition for capital and in things like iron ore or in coal, we've got growing competition from other countries in the world. And if we become more expensive, or too expensive, then those projects may not occur or may go elsewhere," Mr Shepherd said.

It's the last bit, the notion of "projects going elsewhere" which really stuns me - what, do they really think it's possible to dig up the iron ore in Australia's north-west from say, Somalia? Do they really think that this petty bit of blackmail is going to succeed in basically turning around our entire culture and economic system, just in case one or two big companies decide they don't want to spend their money here? (Well, yes, probably they do. And what's more they're probably right in expecting it given the past track records of various Australian governments, which is depressing).

However, I'd point to a statement made by our PM fairly recently. Ms Gillard apparently located her spine, and pointed out to a whole heap of mining company executives that, contrary to their apparent belief (as expressed via their corporate behaviour) they don't own all the minerals in Australia. Instead, these minerals are owned in common by the peoples of Australia. Mining companies don't get freehold rights to the areas they mine. Instead, they're given mining leases. I think it's about time for the Government to grow a spine and basically point out to various mining companies that if they don't like the damn conditions here, they don't have to put up with them. There's bound to be someone else who's willing to pay the prices associated with doing business in Australia who'll come along and pick up the leases. Heck, if all else failed, there's still a chance that either the state or the commonwealth governments could go into the mining business themselves and start hauling in the wonga for all Australians, not just the shareholding few.

Australia has one of the most stable and productive economies in the world. We've managed to stay out of recession and actually had our economy growing for the majority of the time since we discovered that the US banking system had been playing ducks & drakes with the global money supply back in November 2008. We're a country which has a lot of resources available to exploit, we're also a country which is both tectonically and politically stable (we don't change governments with revolutions, we use elections instead) with a culture which is remarkably phlegmatic on a global scale (last reported riots were in Cronulla, back in 2005). When a company sets up a mining venture here, they don't have to factor in costs like bribes, armed guards, private armies, bodyguards for executives, or similar. They can generally rely on a lot of cooperation from both state and federal governments. We have a skilled workforce (even if it is a bit small for the demand being put on it at present). We have very good quality infrastructure, and we're willing to put money toward making it better (for example, the National Broadband Network project which is currently ongoing, as an effort to make it possible for just about everyone in the country to access high speed internet). If a mining company sets up business in Australia, they're going to get a good return on their money - mining here is nowhere near as marginal as, for example, farming.

They're just not going to get to keep all of it. We're going to ask for our share, in the form of wages, taxes, and so on.
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Friday, May 4th, 2012 09:45 am
I want my "My recent Documents" menu back. It was right there on the start menu in WinXP, so I could be working on a document hidden about six layers deep in the directory structure, and go straight back to it. No need to create shortcuts on the desktop, no need to have multiple copies for ease of access - just click on a link in a menu, and back I went to the document I was working on yesterday (provided, of course, that I hadn't done something daft like clearing out the menus).

Windows 7 doesn't appear to have that. So in order to get back to the stuff I'm working on, I have to chase them through the directory system every single fscking time. Instead of just having the "My Documents" folder sitting open to the top level so I can look just about anywhere in my rather convoluted hierarchy of things and bits and pieces, I have to damn well be paging back and forward and round about in circles. It's irritating.

I want my "My Recent Documents" menu option back. Very much.

I'd also like to be able to have the icons on the desktop a little smaller, since they're currently bloody huge. 7 icons to the short side of the screen? Really, Microsoft? This is with things at their smallest resolution, too. Not fun. I don't WANT my desktop covered over with cutesy little pictures of shortcuts to every single damn thing. Seriously, each of those shortcuts is approximately 4 times the size of the XP version; on a screen with better technology than the previous laptop, and with a much better graphics card, why am I suddenly looking at the Large Print edition of Windows?

Actually, comes to that, with a better processor, a better graphics card, and a whole heap of newer hardware, why am I suddenly looking a drastically less screen real estate in the first flippin' place? I want to be able to read PDF files, thanks, without having to print the fsckers out at great expense. This means I don't want to have to be constantly scrolling back and forth and hither and yon in order to view the top and the bottom of each column. Seriously, things keep up at this rate, I'm going to be buying another monitor just so I can have it in portrait orientation to read documents on.

I want Windows XP back. Windows 7 sucks.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Less obstacles)
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 07:47 pm
So, last night, around 9pm, my computer decided to die on me. I have a 1500 word lab report due tomorrow. I have a 2000 word essay due Wednesday, and a 12 part online quiz that needs to be taken before then. So I'm sure you'll understand why I had a bit of a meltdown as a result. We're not sure precisely what died on the old 'puter - my guess is it's either the hard drive or the battery or the power systems. All I know is that when I try to boot the silly thing, it bleeps, switches itself off, switches itself back on again, the CD drive whirs, and then it fails to boot at all. Gave me an IRQL Less than or equal, but of course that vanished before I could actually note anything sensible off it too.

Anyway, Himself offered his spare laptop as a substitute. Problem is, his spare laptop hasn't actually had Windows activated on it yet - he's been sitting with it running non-stop for a couple of months without actually doing anything useful about this. Can we say "no help whatsoever" kiddies? I knew we could.I

Cue meltdown.

I begged a couple of minutes on Himself's PC in order to write up some very rapid emails to a couple of unit coordinators, basically explaining that ohshit, the PC had died, but I was pretty certain I still had all the data I needed, but ummm, I might not be able to get everything in on time, so sorry.

Then this morning, I did some fast research (again, via Himself's computer) and headed down to J&B HiFi down in Rockingham, where I picked up the new computer. J&B won out over Dick Smith because the J&B website actually has all the computers organised by PRICE - so I could see they had a good solid range of options available in my price point, as well as having a lot of possibilities to choose from.

Meet Orac, folks. He's a 15" Samsung laptop, with a nice schmick "no messy fingerprints" case and all the latest and greatest bits and pieces (plus go-faster stripes on the graphics card, if what the salesdude told me is correct - I just walked in there with a list of requirements, a budget, and a bad case of "gotta get this fixed NOW!"). I lucked out - J&B were having a sale, so I got him 15% cheaper. But the name is deliberate. Orac here is small and pretty, has heaps of power under the hood, and blinkenlights galore. He's also cranky, bossy, and determined to be in charge of everything.

I spent most of the day doing the standard install and reboot polka as I found drivers and software and you name it for all my various bits and pieces again, and then I spent the afternoon getting to work on the various assessment items I had to work on. But I couldn't do anything online, because for reasons only known to Orac and Himself, while Orac could see the household network, it couldn't see the internet. So that had to wait for Himself to get home (he knows where the pitfalls are with regard to the household network; I don't. So I don't touch it).

Anyway, now I'm in the process of recreating my previous Firefox setup, and recreating about six to eight years worth of flippin' bookmarks as well (because guess what *was* on the hard drive of the old PC?). If I owe you email, it'll have to wait until I get Thunderbird sorted out.

I love my life, really I do.
megpie71: AC Tifa Lockheart looking at camera, very determined (Give me the chocolate & nobody dies)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 11:23 am
There are times when I regret having picked up the psychology units. Now is one of them, mostly because last week's lectures and tutorial discussion for the "Intro to Psychology" unit were about what used to be called "abnormal psychology" - mental illness, the way it's diagnosed and treated and so on. So there was a lot of rather triggering stuff in there, and even though I'm pretty used to dealing with this sort of thing, it does rather back up the mental sewers, so to speak.

One of the key bits which stuck with me was the rendition of the behaviourist perspective on what depression was: a form of "learned helplessness", in reaction to a series of situations in which the person is receiving near constant stress and mental pain, and is unable to alter their circumstances in order to prevent or alter this. Now, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing, in that it basically points out that the depressive reaction is far from being stupid and insensible - in fact, this theory points out that under the circumstances, depression is the only damn thing possible. It stops being a sign of weakness, and instead becomes a wholly sensible and reasonable reaction to the situation - and just being able to see the depression in that light is a Good Thing. It's a not-so-good thing because it got me thinking about what the circumstances could have been in my lifespan to trigger things.

Then along came another article (this one being one I found via the HaT linkspam post) which pointed me at a possible set of triggering circumstances: twelve years of school bullying. Now, this may not seem like much, but it pretty much fits the method for the learned helplessness reaction pretty damn closely: take your subject, put them in uncomfortable circumstances, and make damn certain the subject is aware that no matter what action they take, the uncomfortable circumstances aren't going to go away. In my case, this was school - and it quickly became clear to me that no matter what action I took, the bullies weren't going to stop, and nobody was going to take my side in things - not the teachers, not my parents, not my peers, nobody. Also, there was no way known to mankind my parents were going to pull me out of school just because I was being bullied. So I learned the only thing I could do was endure.

Now, I'm not saying that school bullying was the sole and only factor in my becoming the depressed adult I am today. I grew up with two parents who were both depressed, and at least three out of my four grandparents had depressive patches in their lives, not to mention most of my relations. So there's a strong familial culture of depression, and not that many options for learning non-depressive patterns of thought and action. I suspect there's also a genetic factor, one which responded to a hormonal trigger, because I know that things got a lot worse very abruptly around the time my periods started. So it's likely I would have been prone to depression even if I'd been a popular kid in school, rather than the designated target. What I am saying is that twelve years of school bullying didn't really equip me with any alternative mental strategies for dealing with negative situations other than getting miserable and staying there.

So I'm currently wading through all this (and yeah, I'm weepy as I write this, catharsis is annoying). It comes complete with flashbacks to the worst moments (courtesy of memory pulling these things out to do their turn on the stage of the Grand Old Embarrassing Recollection) and lots of buried pain. Meanwhile, I'm also supposed to be writing an essay for the subject in question, and a lab report for a different psych subject, and the old brain is basically saying "fsck this shit" the whole damn way. All I'm wanting to do is drop my bundle and sleep for a day or so. It's 11.15am, I'm supposed to be diving out the door to go to uni in two minutes, and even after a cup of coffee my get up and go just hasn't got up at all. So I think I'm going to be skipping today's lecture and tutorial, because quite frankly, I'm just not feeling capable of dealing with anything.

Time to indulge the inner three-year-old and her fit of the "don't wannas". Maybe tomorrow I'll be all grown up about things. Right now, though, I think I need a blankie and a hot drink and lots of sulking time.
megpie71: AC Reno crouched over on the pavement, looking pained (about that danger money)
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 09:02 am
This semester, I've decided to pick up a couple of psychology units, because I'm interested in tacking social psychology (or indeed any psychology) onto the side of my computer science degree as a way of making things a bit more interesting. I figure the computer science will teach me the what and how when it comes to dealing with computers, while the psychology side I'm picking up in an effort to try and figure out why they've become the sort of mega-meta-tool they are now.

So I'm up to week two, attempting to recover from the massive kick in the hip pocket I've taken by purchasing my textbooks (two subjects, textbooks coming to the better part of $300, we're on the dole... oh well, I didn't need to eat anyway), and attempting to keep up with the reading. Thanks be to the gods I'm only studying part-time, since that means I have two days a week where I can pretty much devote my time to things like setting up a decent meal in the slow cooker, then spend the entire day scribbling down notes.

Today, however, I am functioning on approximately 5 hours sleep, if that. Why? Well, through an interesting concatenation of circumstances last night, I wound up browsing my way through my LiveJournal archive. It was interesting seeing where I'd been (I was also digging through old posts on fanficrants, because I can't for the life of me remember what I did there - it was over five years and two computers ago, and I've long since lost the email archives which record these things), but I got so distracted that before I knew it, it was 2am, and I realised I needed to get some sleep. I set the alarm to wake me for 7am, and I'm now drinking my first cup of coffee in months before I get back to writing notes from the textbook for one of my subjects for the next couple of hours before diving out the door to go to today's lecture and tutorial.

I think when I get home tonight, it's going to be a case of "dig out some frozen leftovers from the freezer" (the slow cooker is a godsend, because I can cook up large meals, serve up some of them, freeze the rest, and save myself from having to try and think about cooking on my Uni days), have dinner, and then collapse and sleep. Particularly since I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 7.30am (because that way I'll hopefully get in before my GP has had a chance to get massively behind in her schedule).