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megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Friday, January 13th, 2017 09:37 am
People 'expect' politicians to claim expenses for sporting events, says Steven Ciobo

Ciobo said businesses and other organisations who invited politicians were “taking the opportunity to showcase themselves there, to take the time to have a conversation in relation to important matters”.

If the businesses in question are so keen to see the various ministers and so on at these events, why aren't they offering to pay their transport costs? Why are the taxpayers of Australia being asked to shoulder these costs?

Come to think on it, what kind of business is actually "showcased" by an event like the AFL grand final?

Ciobo was gifted a ticket and hospitality at the 2013 grand final by the National Australia Bank.

I'm sorry, possibly it's a complete failure of imagination on my part, but I fail to see what aspect of the bank's business is being "showcased" in a sporting event like the AFL grand final (did they loan the AFL the money to put the event on, or what?). Why was a meeting at a major sporting event considered more suitable to showcase aspects of this company's business than a meeting in the minister's office?

On the questions of "it was work related", I have to ask, was the meeting at the AFL grand final minuted? Were any decisions reached, and what were they? As an Australian voter, I feel I have a right to know. After all, if Mr Ciobo is accepting corporate hospitality at these events in his capacity as Minister for Trade, is there not a question of corruption and bribery involved - these companies are presumably offering Mr Ciobo tickets to a major sporting event as a way of obtaining his influence and attention at the expense of their competitors.

As a member of the Australian voting public, Mr Ciobo, I'd argue there's a lot of questions to be asked here. As a fellow recipient of Taxpayers Money (and one who faces far more punitive conditions on their receipt of same than you do, quite frankly, for a much lower amount) I'm saying bluntly that I'm fed up to the back teeth with this bloody attitude of "one rule for thee and another for me" which seems so common to our parliamentarians. You're welcome to try your luck with Newstart if you think you're hard done by in this regard.
megpie71: AC Cloud Strife looking toward camera in Sleeping Forest (WTF)
Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 02:04 pm
The "toilet" argument is the one which says "of course trans* and gender-queer people shouldn't be allowed to use the lavatories appropriate to their preferred gender presentation" because somehow women will get their modesty affronted by having a person with a penis in the ladies room. I always get stunned by this argument, mostly because it shows a degree of wilful blindness to some necessary differences between masculine and feminine public hygiene set-ups which really needs to be addressed.

So, for the benefit of all those guys who haven't been in the ladies' lavs since they were tiny tackers escorted there by their mums, here is a description of the average set-up of every single women's public toilet block I've ever been in for as long as I can remember:

Long and involved description under the fold )

So, to be honest, I absolutely fail to see how anyone's modesty is going to be affronted by someone who is trans-female, or female-identifying-today gender-queer, getting into the queue to use the stalls in the ladies. No matter what their (or your) individual plumbing hook-up appears to be, nobody else is going to be able to see it in use, or be offended by its presence.

I mean, on the other hand, if the people who are worried about the prospect of trans* or gender-queer people using the appropriate lavatories for their identifying gender are men worrying a trans-man or a male-identifying-today gender-queer person is going to go into the gentlemen's lavs and snigger at the willies on display at the urinals... well, just say so, guys. (And maybe use the stalls to pee). But please, don't push the whole mess over onto the women and feminine modesty.

(Oh, and if anyone who is trans-negative and female-identifying wants to explain to me either: a) exactly why and how their modesty is/would be affronted by a trans* or gender-queer person using the ladies' lavs at the same time as them; or b) how they'd know if a person in one of the other stalls was a trans* or gender-queer person; or even c) why they can't just deal with their problem by waiting for the trans* or gender-queer person to finish their business and leave; then feel free to do so in the comments.)
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 09:50 am
Your government is like your operating system for your country. Now, there are a lot of different OSen out there, some better suited to their purpose than others. The US government is basically a very old, very buggy version of RepresentativeDemocracy (RepDem) 1.51, complicated by the problem that you haven't been applying upgrades for a long, long while (I think the last attempt to patch the US OS was the Equal Rights Amendment patch, and it got rejected by the buggy hardware even though the majority of the programs running on the system support it, as well as it being a major requirement for a lot of world networking). Basically, your country is running on a fairly old and buggy legacy system.

(By comparison: The UK is running some kind of bastard hacked-together hybrid of Monarchy 3.5 and Westminster 1.314; Australia is running Washminster XP; France is on Republic 5.0; and New Zealand is trying some sort of Linux-derivative thing called MMP 1.0)

Your system has currently wedged. One misfiring process has managed to wedge the entire system such that nothing is capable of happening. Your country is currently sitting there with the blue screen of death blinking at them, showing a large amount of hexadecimal gobbledegook, which is only really useful to a constitutional lawyer or other such systems architect. Some of the less major processes (the ones running the display etc) are still running behind the scenes, because they're handled by separate data paths, and don't need access to the CPU to operate. But the majority of functionality is gone. For ordinary users, a reboot would fix this - switch the whole system off, replace some of the defective components in the hardware, and restart. Unfortunately, the OS controls the power supply (which is really poor design, by the way) and since the OS is wedged, you're not able to even partially reboot until a scheduled outage in 2014.

My guess, as a former tech support type, is that your system appears to have a serious viral infection - it looks like you have a serious infestation of all of the neo-Con group of viruses, ranging from Objectivism, through (g)libertarianism. Gods, you've even got anti-Communist hysteria running on there, and that's a really ancient one which doesn't even RUN on most systems these days - it's been obsolete since about the mid-nineties. This is causing the system to hang when you attempt to install a working anti-virus program (your current anti-virus isn't working; it's been corrupted by the neo-Con viruses to the point where the OS doesn't supply necessary resources to a lot of programs in order to prevent virus infection).

Ideally, you need to restart your system in safe mode, install an up-to-date anti-virus program, scan your entire system to root out or at least quarantine the Neo-Con viruses, including that really weird "NRA" variant you have in there, and then restart things gradually, to see whether you've rooted out the worst of the problem.
megpie71: Vincent Valentine pointing Cerberus toward the camera (BFG)
Monday, March 25th, 2013 08:32 am
(Or indeed to anyone else saying any of a number of victim-blaming things about the young woman who was raped by the rapists in question).

I've been reading a bit about the Steubenville rape event in various blogs and articles. Not too much - I'm not really in a psychological space where I can take the stress at the moment - but enough to get an idea of what's being said. I'm hearing an awful lot about the victim of this rape - about things she should have done, things she shouldn't have done, attitudes she should have held, behaviours she should have avoided. Things she could have done to avoid being raped, and thus avoided this whole mess coming to light, and "ruining" the lives and careers of two young men who apparently thought rape was a permissible thing, and bringing to light an entire town subculture wherein being part of the high school football team gives a person social licence to act as though the normal rules of society are not applicable.

The young woman in question was going to a high school party where members of the local high school football team (who were local heroes, and from what I can discover, practically deified in the local area) were going to be present. I sincerely doubt she thought of herself in context as "a sheep among the wolves". These were people she went to school with. People she attended classes with. People she knew. She most likely thought of herself, if anything, as a human being among other human beings.

She thought she was safe. She didn't know she wasn't safe. She found out AFTER THE EVENT she hadn't been safe.

How the bloody hells was she supposed to have known she'd be targeted for this sort of thing? How was she to know nobody would be looking out for her? She thought these people were her friends. She thought, more importantly, she was their friend, that she mattered to them. She found out, sadly, she wasn't their friend, and they weren't her friends, in the worst possible way.

And victim-blaming strangers say "she should have known better than to get drunk in the presence of rapists". SHE DIDN'T FUCKING KNOW SHE WAS IN THE PRESENCE OF RAPISTS, YOU SELF-IMPORTANT FOOLS!. She thought she was in the presence of friends.

Now, I learned at a very young age I couldn't trust other people to be looking out for me. I learned at a very young age if someone said they wanted to be my friend, they were most likely either attempting to lull me into a false sense of security, or trying to trick me outright. I learned I can't trust other people to stand up for me, to stand by me, or to take my side.

I know I'm broken.

But I'm broken in possibly the only way that might have protected this young woman from what happened to her. If she'd been broken in the same way I'm broken, she probably would have been suspicious of an invitation to such a party. She would have either said no outright, or more likely she would never have been asked to the party in the first place (because the kinds of bullies who are adept at setting up victims get pretty good at recognising the ones who won't take the bait).

You know what? I wouldn't wish my brokenness on anyone, not even my worst enemy. But you seem to think this is a necessary and vital state for all young women who want to be able to avoid rape.

I'm broken. I'm unable to function as a social animal, because I can't trust people. I'm able to fake it for a bit, but I will never let people close to me. I'm broken, and I'm child free by choice, and I've made the deliberate decision that my line of brokenness stops with me, because I know I'm not capable of functioning as a parent or a caregiver. I'm constantly depressed, I'm constantly miserable. I wake up every morning and my first thought every morning is "oh damn, I'm still not dead".

And you seem to think my state is somehow a desirable and necessary one for other people to be in, so they can avoid being raped.

From the depths of my misery, I LOATHE you.
megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (losing grip)
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 09:39 am
So I went on a bit of a buying spree on Friday, and got myself a few DVDs (Iron Man I and II, Thor, Captain America, the Robert Downey Junior Sherlock Holmes), and then spent most of Friday and Saturday in a watching spree. Now the whole thing's had enough time to settle a bit, here's my reactions to various bits and pieces.

Long rants and rambles under fold )

I'll accept a lot of handwaving in the science of things like rockets, arc reactors, missiles, super-soldier serums and the like. But I expect a bit of consistency with regards to things like illnesses, poisoning, and recovery from same. The information is out there on the internet, and viewers and watchers are able to access it just as readily as writers are. And yeah, we're going to pick nits, and point out things like plot holes large enough to steer a supertanker through.
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: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 12:04 pm
First up, some context. I'm studying a couple of psychology units this semester in uni. For my Introduction to Psychology unit, I'm currently reading up in our textbook about the naure of the way that visual perception is handled by the brain (we're covering brains, sense and perception this week, yays!). So I'm reading through a whole heap of stuff about visual processing in the visual cortex.

Then I come across the bit about the various groups of cells which make up feature detectors in the brain. Here's the exact text I'm reading:

"Simple cells are feature detectors that respond most vigorously to lines of a particular orientation, such as horizontal or vertical, in an exact location in the visual field [...]. Complex cells are feature detectors that generally cover a larger receptive field, and respond when a stimulus of the proper orientation falls anywhere within their receptive field, not just at a particular location. [...] Still other cells, called hypercomplex cells, require that a stimulus be of a specific size or length to fire." (Burton, Weston & Kowalski, 2012, p143)

My brain immediately went to point due smut and produced an analogy with gaydar. Simple cells only detect "lines" of their particular orientation in specific circumstances - they can only be chatted up in a bar or at a club or wherever. Complex cells notice everything and anything that fits their particular orientation (and can presumably be propositioned anywhere). Hypercomplex cells are picky size queens, given they're requiring their stimulus of a particular size and length before they can fire...

I then had to stop and tell my brain to behave so I could continue on with my study.

I suspect I may have to ease off the slashfic for a while. It's hard enough trying to study psychology as it is (my brain keeps getting all intrigued by the various processes described in the textbook, and tries to slow down so I can watch things happening...), I don't need my brain talking with my ficbrain and bringing in my libido from gods know where (it certainly isn't talking to my reproductive bits) to giggle at things.
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: Unearthed skeleton, overlaid with phrase "What made you think I was nice?" (Bitch)
Friday, August 19th, 2011 09:09 pm
Dear Senator Cash,

My partner recently received your lovely little screed in the mail - the one about the carbon tax and how this is going to cost local employers and local industries vast amounts of money, and leave them vulnerable to excessive competition from overseas interest. You cited a total of ten companies which employed people in the electorate of Brand (or, more specifically, on the Kwinana industrial strip) by name. Curious, I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet.

Of the ten firms your leaflet mentioned by name, precisely two are actually based and headquartered here in Western Australia (Wesfarmers and Coogee Chemicals - both of which are fairly large companies). Of the rest, six are owned pretty much entirely by multi-national corporations. The other two are Australian-based, but one is based in Queensland, and the other is based in Melbourne.

To give you a quick run-down of the rest:

* BHP-Billiton is a joint Australian-Dutch company (so no, it's no longer the Big Australian, and you'll notice BHP-Billiton doesn't use that slogan any more);
* Alcoa is an alumininum mining and refining multinational firm, with the overall headquarters for the company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;
* Tiwest is a joint-venture between two Australian subsiduary companies of two different multinational firms - Tronox Incorporated (USA) and Exxaro Resources Limited (South Africa);
* BOC is part of the Linde Group, a large German-based multinational corporation;
* Air Liquide is part of the Air Liquide group, a multinational corporation first incorporated in France, and headquartered in Paris;
* Bradken (while having a wholly Australian company name) is actually owned by a combination of Castle-Harlan Australian Mezzanine Partners (a subsiduary of Castle Harlan, a US-based private equity firm); ESCO Corporation (US owned and based multinational) and Bradken Management (as minority shareholders);

Forgive me for seeming sceptical, but aren't these multi-national corporations exactly the sorts of international competition that your leaflet is implying our local industries and employers will be attempting to match? Given this information, I doubt they'll be having huge amounts of trouble.

(Incidentally, finding all this information took me approximately thirty minutes all up. It's amazing what you can find out from the internet. The information was on the websites of the companies concerned - all it took was a few seconds on google to find each one).

I took a look down the rest of the list of "facts" you provided, and noticed you failed to mention the various tax offsets which were planned (an important part of the carbon tax package) in order to compensate average Australian householders for the increased expense. Since these offsets and compensation are being introduced at the same time as the carbon tax, not mentioning them seems a little disingenuous, to say the least. Particularly since energy bills (both domestic and industrial) in WA have already risen by at least 10% thanks to the actions of the (Liberal) state government.

You failed to mention whether carbon emissions will continue to be rising by the same amount under a carbon tax package as is currently forecast. You failed to mention whether overall carbon emissions per capita will be rising, falling, or remaining steady (and whether there are any changes expected in the size of the Australian population between now and 2020 as well). You fail to mention whether the rise in carbon emissions overall between now and 2020 (from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes) will be a greater or lesser rise than the equivalent period between 2002 and now.

Your leaflet also fails to mention anywhere (a grievous omission, given your final "fact") that you, in fact, represent the political party which gave the Australian political environment the terms "Core" and "Non-Core" promises. It was the Liberal Party of Australia, under John Howard as Prime Minister, which made it excessively plain to the Australian people that the majority of political promises made by them during an election campaign were in fact "Non-Core" promises - or in other words, outright lies made in order to get elected.

I therefore find it somewhat hypocritical, to say the least, that it is the Liberal Party of Australia who are now harping non-stop on a single "broken" promise made by a member of the ALP.

(Again, this internet thingy is amazing.)

Having said all of this, here is my statement as a voter living in Brand, and a voter living in Western Australia.

I support the carbon tax as an overall good not only for people Parmelia, not only for people in Brand, but for people in Australia, and people the world over. Global climate change is occurring, and we here in the south-western corner of Western Australia have been seeing the effects of it for the past thirty years or more. Something needs to be done to at least begin to tackle the problem. The carbon tax may not be the optimum solution to the problem, but it's better than nothing.

I find the highly negative style of advertising, polling, and campaigning used by the Liberal Party of Australia to be highly offensive. The Liberal Party of Australia has a strong tendency to provide such negative statements particularly surrounding policy areas where their own solutions are lacking either in detail or in existence (I checked your party's website - the last constructive thing I can see about a climate change policy is dated almost a year ago - all the more recent stuff is basically slinging off at the ALP, without offering constructive solutions). I'd be more willing to at least listen to your side of the argument if your party showed any signs of willingness to either fish or cut bait. Instead, the Liberal Party of Australia gives the strong impression of a bunch of whiny toddlers who are sorely in need of being put down for a nap while the grown-ups get on with business.


Meg Thornton (Ms)
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Sunday, July 10th, 2011 03:14 pm
There's been a fair bit said lately about how making money from fandom isn't the aim of people who are in fandom. I'm going to burble for a bit about what I think might be the reasons why.

Effectively, it boils down to there being three main types of people. There are makers - people who make things, whether this be through material creation such as cooking, sculpture, tailoring, rebuilding an old car body into a working car, etc, or through intellectual creation such as computer programs, writing novels, and yes, fanfiction. Makers make things because that's how they get their psychological satisfaction - they can point to things and say "I did that". Makers make things because the making itself is psychologically rewarding - a maker would be making things if they were living in luxurious splendour in an isolated compound in the middle of nowhere with no connection to the outside world.

The next group of people are the breakers. Breakers destroy things. They take them to pieces with no intention of putting them back together. And yes, they get psychological satisfaction from this. An extreme breaker is a force of entropy, and they're the type of person who'd be destroying the raft which is protecting them from the sharks. They're not necessarily bad people - I regard them as being a necessary part of the universe, since if you allow makers to make things unrestrained, the universe rather rapidly becomes cluttered.

Finally, there are the takers. These are the people who take things and use them. They don't destroy it - they may take it apart and put it back together in a slightly different order, or repaint it - but they don't make anything new, either. They just use what's available, without making any major alterations to it. They can do making and breaking activities, but they'll do them out of necessity, rather than out of any particular passion - it's the difference between cooking yourself a meal because you need to eat, and cooking a meal for friends and family because you want to share your enjoyment of the food.

Everyone has bits and pieces of each of the three types in them. We all have a bit of maker, a bit of breaker, and a bit of taker within us, and our various maker, taker and breaker facets reveal themselves differently concerning different fields. But generally one facet tends to predominate. If a person is a majority maker type, they'll get their psychological fulfilment from maker activities - the creation of something new, something different. If a person is a majority breaker type, they'll get their psychological satisfaction from breaker activities - the destruction of existing structures and items. The problem arises when a person is a majority taker, because taker activities don't really come with an inbuilt measure of psychological satisfaction. A maker can point to all the stuff they've made, a breaker can point to all the stuff they've destroyed. So majority takers tend to use money as a scorecard (note, they're using money - they've not created the idea, they're not destroying the structure, they're just using it within the framework available) to measure what they've done.

This tendency to be using money as a way of keeping score leads to majority takers being mainly interested in ways of boosting their score (or their supply of money). To them, this seems to be the only legitimate activity, or the only legitimate reason for involving themselves in making or breaking activities - if I'm not getting paid for it, they think, why bother?

So a majority taker will tend to be bemused by a majority maker's tendency to create new stuff and not sell it. Or to create new stuff and just show it off to their friends. Or just to create new stuff, without any notion of whether or not it can be sold. Or creating new stuff that they know they can't sell, that it isn't legal to sell, where selling it can never be a priority. They sincerely do not comprehend that makers do things for the love of making. To be fair to them, the majority taker will also be completely overwhelmed by the majority breaker's tendency to saw off the branch they're sitting on, or to destroy things simply because they exist - again, there's the whole "if you're not being paid, why bother?" thinking to deal with.

Bringing this back to specifics, and in particular the specific case of Mr Mander and the LOTRFF archive, I get the strong impression that Mr Mander is primarily a taker, rather than a maker or a breaker. His resume doesn't actually list any making hobbies (he's not a cook, a musician, a programmer, an artist, a sculptor, a writer) - instead, he lists things like advertising, poker and magic (which are about manipulating your audience) and lucid dreaming (which is about manipulating yourself). He's stepped into a primarily maker culture (that of transformative fanwork) that he really wasn't aware of previously, and its his particular misfortune that he's stepped into a very active, very noisy, very old-established part of this primarily maker culture. His previous two ventures have been into less active, or less established parts of the fandom world, and he really wasn't prepared for what he was confronted with.

So, for Mr Mander, and any other primary takers out there: trust me, maker cultures are gift cultures. We get our satisfaction from the process of creation - we make things because that's what satisfies us (and heck, we don't even have to finish making the things to get the satisfaction, she says, looking at the large pile of unfinished fic on her hard drive). We don't want to sell it; however, we'll readily share. We aren't interested in the money because by and large, we don't really need it to feel happy about the process of creation. This doesn't make us stupid, it just means we have different priorities to your good selves. What we primarily want from our places where we display and store the products of our making is that they exist, and that they remain in existence, even if nobody profits from them; even if nobody likes what we've done.

It's worth noting: copyright law is a taker's way of understanding makers - it puts a monetary value on the results of creation, so that a taker can understand what's so important about intellectual property. But fan fiction and other such transformative works are still part of the same maker mindset as literary, musical, or artistic creation, so often there's an understanding between the two groups of makers - so long as the fans don't attempt to profit from their works (generally they don't want to anyhow), or deliberately bring those works to the attention of the IP creator (because then they have to take action) they're allowed to carry on making them, and the original creator will feel somewhat flattered by all the stuff their stuff has inspired.
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (Advertising)
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 03:08 pm
Once upon a time, a well-off city boy went out for a wander around the countryside to make his fortune. He came upon a group of (mainly) female peasants working in the fields, growing vegetables. Occasionally, these peasants would come across a rock in their field, and they'd pick it up and toss it to one side. Some of the rocks sparkled in the light. The city boy got curious, and inspected these rocks. Imagine his surprise when he realised the rocks were full of gold, and precious stones.

He started chortling and laughing to himself at the simplicity of the peasants, who were working so hard to grow vegetables when the real riches, the gold and the jewels, were just lying there, waiting to be picked up. He decided there and then to make his fortune.

So he approached one of the women labouring in the field, and offered to help her out. She could carry on with the gardening, he said, while he would clear the ground of rocks for her. The peasant woman, tired of hauling rocks for no return at all, and eager to return to harvesting her vegetables, agreed. So the city boy started to clear the rocks from the ground, piling them into bushel baskets and laughing at the ease with which he would make his fortune.

The day came to an end, and the peasants gathered up their baskets of goods and prepared to head home. The city boy picked up a bushel basket of gold and gems, and made his way to the edge of the field. But when he got there, the peasants blocked his path.

"What do you think you're doing?" one of them asked.

"I'm taking away these rocks and stones," said the city boy.

"You can't do that," the peasant said. "They don't belong to you."

"But I worked hard," the city boy cried, "removing these stones from your field all day. I deserve to have them as a reward for my hard work."

"If you want a reward," the peasant replied, "you can share in our vegetables."

"I don't want stupid vegetables," the city boy sneered. "I want these rocks I've been moving from your fields. You don't seem to need them, after all - why not let me have them?"

Upon hearing this, a number of the other peasants started to laugh. "You must think we're fools," they said. "We know you want the rocks because they're nuggets of gold and jewels."

"If you know they're gold and jewels," said the city boy, "then why aren't you selling them yourselves? They'd make a lot more money than stupid old vegetables."

"We don't sell them," the peasants explained, "because we don't own those fields. The fields belong to the dragon who lives in the tower over yonder. The dragon doesn't mind us growing our vegetables on his land, but if we take away his gold or jewels, he'll come down from the tower and slay us."

"I don't believe you," said the city boy. "In the first place, there's no such thing as dragons. In the second place, my father is a wealthy man, and he'd send out knights to slay the dragon if it slew me. The city would never stand for it if I were killed."

The peasants took a good, long look at the city boy. "The dragon has been engaged in battles against the Knights of the New Line, and every time they retreat. Years ago it forced the fabled Wizard from the coast to retreat. The dragon is real, and the dragon is jealous of its hoard."

"But the city would never stand for it."

"Which city are you from?" asked one of the peasants.

"Albia," the city boy said, proudly naming his home city. "Bring on your eagle-winged dragon, I fear it not."

At this, a number of the peasants hid their faces in their hands, trying to conceal either mirth or misery. "You're being a fool," they said. "Put the rocks down, and come have some vegetable soup with us, rather than trying to commit suicide in this particularly elaborate way. We've no liking for the idea of being killed alongside you because you were being a fool."

The city boy stopped, and considered his actions. It would grieve him greatly to have to give up the gold and jewels he could see right there. Besides, these were peasants, rural yokels. What would they know of dragons, or of anything other than their vegetables?
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Monday, July 4th, 2011 05:01 pm
Oh dear. The latest episode in "Why Making Money From Fandom Doesn't Work For Non-Fans" is starting up. Grab your seats early, and tune in to the fun, as Keith Mander attempts to monetize LOTR fandom.

Mr Manders starts from a bit of a handicap. For a start, he isn't actually a member of fandom. So he doesn't know the first thing about the history, the background, or the little nuances of the place. He doesn't know the politics, and he doesn't know who to believe when they tell him "yeah, you can do this". For seconds, he apparently doesn't know the first thing about the IP holders either. This means he is blindfolded in the ring with the archetypical sabre-toothed-tiger with a toothache, and he thinks he's dealing with a cute, fuzzy kitten.

This guy is, to use a Discworldism, going to be cheesed (like being creamed, but it goes on for much longer, and the results are rotten).

Elf has the beginnings of a linkspam. The affected archive is The main comparison being made is to FanLib.

Musing below the fold )
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (Avon1)
Monday, June 20th, 2011 02:54 pm
From these articles:

"Mr Abbott [...] says the Australian people should be able to vote on one of the biggest economic changes in Australia's history."

You what?

Well, of course. Let's have a plebiscite about this tax. Just like the one we had about the GST.

Oh, hang on. There wasn't one.

There was a lot of horse-trading between the various state governments and the Commonwealth government, and there was one hell of a lot of political bargaining between the various parties in the House and the Senate. But there wasn't a plebiscite. The idea of asking the Australian people about whether they'd like a brand new regressive[1] tax imposed on them wasn't even floated - possibly because the Powers-That-Be in Canberra knew perfectly well that the answer would be somewhere between "no" and "hell, no!" So we just had the Liberals engaging in a lot of horse trading with the minor parties and independents in the Senate (Senator Brian Harradine? Remember him?) and making the decisions for us based on what they thought we'd like (which led to such thoroughly logical things as condoms and safety razors being GST free, but feminine "sanitary articles" being taxed).

What about some of the other things we weren't asked our opinions of - things like going to war in Iraq; going to war in Afghanistan; participating in the "War on Terror" (what, nouns are a threat now?); the various "solutions" to refugee issues which mainly consisted of "White Australia Policy II"; the health insurance industry subsidies (aka "Medicare levy discount"); WorkChoices; the continuing "deregulation" of the Australian media - little things like those? Should the ALP have been able to stand up and say "we want a plebiscite on this" about every single issue?

I think one of the things Mr Abbott has forgotten is this: Australia is a representative democracy. This means instead of spending $69 million on a giant opinion poll of the Australian public over every single damn issue, we spent that $69 million once every three or four years on a bunch of smaller opinion polls about which person is going to represent our opinions over in Canberra. It's what the parliamentary system is for. We had an election a year ago. The results of that election still stand, even if Mr Abbott thinks the majority of the Australian public got it seriously wrong.

We had our plebiscite a year ago. We voted in a hung parliament rather than a simple majority of either party. We heard both leaders make commitments to work for a "better, less adversarial solution" to the problem of law-making. Funny how only the ALP seems to be keeping those commitments. Mr Abbott, your party doesn't appear to be willing to fish, or to cut bait - so why should we be listening to you?

[1] Regressive taxes are the ones which take a bigger proportion of your income the less you earn - and a 10% sales tax on most goods and services is definitely something which takes a proportionately bigger chunk out of a lower income, as opposed to a higher one. This is because people on a lower income spend a larger proportion of their income on inflexible (unchangeable) expenses - things like food, water, power etc - than people on higher incomes.

PS: For those wonderful people on the comments thread of the second article I listed who strongly implied that the GLOBAL problem of GLOBAL climate change isn't something Australians can (or indeed should) address by internalising the cost of pollution to our polluting industries, I have one simple question: in your opinions, who should be making the changes, and when?

I'm strongly of the opinion that the problem of global warming is somewhat like the problem of emptying the oceans - "every little helps". Someone has to try something. Someone has to go first. Why not us, and why not now?
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 09:32 am
It's May 22. I'm still here. So are my neighbours. So is New Zealand.

But then, I had a problem with Mr Camping's figures from the start - they were based around the whole business of "years from Christ's birth", and the assumption this occurred at some fictitious Year Zero. Now, there's a few small problems with this: firstly, and most importantly, there wasn't a Year Zero at all - in fact, at the time Christ was supposed to have been born, there were two calendars his birth might have been reported on, and one of those was the Hebrew calendar which (at that time[1]) counted years since Seleucus I Nicator returned to Babylon after his Egyptian exile (because Galilee, Judah and surrounding territories fell firmly into the Seleucid empire). The other was the Roman imperial calendar, which counted years since the city of Rome had been founded by Remus in memory of his brother.

The second big problem is that the timing of the birth of Christ wasn't noted in any contemporaneous historical documents (there are three gospel references, all of which post-date the death of Christ by at least 100 years[2]) and therefore it can't be fixed. The best most biblical and historical scholars can do is guess - to a greater or lesser degree of accuracy, depending on the premises they use.

The Anno Domini (or "Year of Our Lord") dating system wasn't actually devised as a way of counting years until approximately 525CE. It was originally created as a way of dating Easter each year, as a replacement for the Diocletian epoch (Diocletian being the the last Roman emperor to go in for serious persecution of Christians, and mass production of Christian martyrs). The only thing which has come down to the present day is the actual conversion table from Diocletian years to AD, and there's no notes available to provide any cross references to other dating systems, or any indication of the calculations used.

Historical research has since been conducted to try and figure out when the actual birth of Christ occurred[3], and the results of this are rather interesting. In effect, the dates for various biblical cross-references can put the date of Christ's birth anywhere in the period between 18BC and 7AD (depending on which of the gospels you believe to be accurate). The most widely accepted figures tend to be between 9 and 6 BCE.

Now, given this, even if we accept every other part of Mr Camping's mathematics to be exact, divinely inspired and absolutely correct, the best guess is that the end of the world would have begun sometime between 2002 and 2005. If this were the case, then clearly we were just all too busy to notice - or there were a lot of people who were expecting to be Raptured who were clearly not as good at this whole Christianity thing as they thought they were.

But hey, dating Christ's birth is an imprecise science. If we take the latest figure possible for Christ's birth (putting his birth at the time of the census of Syria and Iudaea in 6 - 7CE[4]) then we should be looking out for the end of the world in 2017 or 2018. If it hasn't already ended in 2012, as per the Mayan calendar.

[1] The current Hebrew calendar counts the years since the founding of the world as per biblical record, but it's only been doing so since about the 3rd century CE.
[2] Thus they post-date his birth by at least 133 years.
[3] I haven't yet heard of any research into whether it occurred at all - but then, I'm not a theological or archaeological scholar.
[4] Although this is slightly inconsistent with the same gospel writer's record of Christ's conception occurring during the reign of Herod the Great, which ended in 4BCE. Of course, if this is at all accurate, I can understand why the (previously) Virgin Mary is regarded as a saint - an eleven year pregnancy would be trying for anyone, let alone a first-time mother!
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Saturday, February 20th, 2010 11:54 pm
For those who are unaware, Tony Abbott is the latest leader the Federal Opposition in Australia. He's been the leader of the Liberal Party for about a month or two now, and he appears to be trying for the title of World's Greatest Ventriloquist. I'd certainly give him the gong - he seems to be able to speak very clearly despite having both feet in his mouth up to about the knee at this point.

So far he's been demonstrating a wonderful "back to the fifties" ethos as the leader of the Liberals. Problem is he appears to want to go back to the 1850s as far as moral thinking is concerned, and maybe the 1650s for economic thinking.

His latest effort is a screed on the appropriateness of the death penalty.

I was particularly struck by this quote:

Mr Abbott says execution may be a fitting punishment for those responsible for mass death.

"Well, you know, what would you do with someone who cold-bloodedly brought about the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent people?" he said.

Well, gee. Usually I start with the phrase "vote the bastard out", and work my way along from there. Come to think on it, isn't that what the people of the United States did to their former President who fitted those criteria? It's certainly what the voters of the federal seat of Bennelong did to John Howard in the last election. But hey, Tones, if you wanna risk a death penalty for the job of being PM, feel free. Let's start it in your potential first term as PM, hmmm?
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Friday, December 18th, 2009 01:33 pm
So today I read something on Charles Stross' blog (pointed there from Making Light) for the first time in months. Then I started reading back through the prior list of posts on the front page, until I got to Designing Society for Posterity, an ideas post about the nature of society which would need to be created in order to handle Generation Ships (extremely long distance - interstellar - colonisation). Which sucked me in massively (not just the post itself, but at least the first eighty of the three-hundred something comments which followed). So, after pulling myself away from that for long enough to get the next batch of truffle mix into the fridge and chilling (prior to rolling things into balls and chilling again, then choc-dipping), I switched over to Shakesville - and promptly got pulled into another enthralling comments thread.

This has not been a good day for the housework. It's losing out in a major way to the distractions of teh intarwebs.

So today my readers get to have a mini-linkspam, along with reflections of my own.

First up - social engineering won't really be possible until we really have the tools to do the equivalent of performing maintenance on a social system while it's still running in such a way that the participants don't find such maintenance obtrusive or intrusive. At the moment, the only tools we have are fairly blunt ones, such as advertising, war, legislation and suchlike. They all have an effect, but often all they do is pass the problem on down the line for future generations to handle (to get an idea of how effective this isn't, consider that we're still dealing with fallout from a war which happened in Palestine in 69AD, and another which hit Afghanistan in roughly 325BC). So first we need to be able to fix potential problems fairly early on, before they expand outward with chaotic effects.

Second up - The issue of "who is a good guy" is one which highlights some of the current problems in our society - particularly our love of simplification and easy binaries. Humans are always going to be more complex than a mere binary axis can pinpoint, and so are human problems. This is why I always tend toward the notions of multiple solutions to a single identified problem, simply because there are always going to be underlying factors in every problem which aren't considered in an easy fix. For example, imprisoning people is the "easy" fix to the problem of crime - but it brings with it a range of different issues (such as the cost to the state as a whole of maintaining prisons and a justice system, dealing with the simple logistical issues of keeping them functional, and also coping with a society where prison culture is starting to shape a significant fraction of your population over time).

Third up - Every single time I see anything about the US political systems I wind up having at least one massive "WTF?" moment. The issue spoken about in the link is one which would be far more difficult to achieve here in Australia - mainly because the average Aussie tends to trust political parties about as far as they could heave the collected membership thereof, and therefore hasn't left anything significant in their hands. Voter data here belongs to the Commonwealth and State Governments (or in other words, to the Commonwealth and State public service) and there are some very strict rules about what can be collected, what can't be collected, what can be done with the data, who has access to it, who they can give the data to, how it can and can't be stored, and what's allowed to be done with it in the meantime.

Fourth up - Currency, cash flow and crime and the relations between all of these. One of the most basic things about money is that it devalues - this is a universal. It doesn't matter how solid the currency is, it will wind up devaluing in one way or another. To put it another way, all money is ultimately inflationary, whether legitimately acquired or illegitimately acquired. The process of resetting the value of $CURRENCY is generally nasty, since it gets started at the top of the tree, and winds up hurting everyone all the way down - those at the bottom of the heap get the worst of it. One other small reflection: I started to think the US economy had effectively gone down the tubes when Australian dollars were very near parity point with the US dollar - given the Australian economy is approximately 1/15th the size of the US economy, it's probably a pretty good indicator.

Finally - Girl Genius is still my favourite web comic. Endless fun, drama, suspense, thrills, action and, of course, Mad Science!!!
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Friday, September 25th, 2009 11:26 pm
Sparked by this article:

Jack Hayford Backs Odd Theory: Sex With a Demon Drove Down Japanese Stock Market

If the Emperor of Japan has had sexual intercourse with the Japanese sun goddess, there's an even bigger worry to consider: he's been involved in an incestuous act with one of his ancestors (the royal house of Japan is said to be descended directly from the sun goddess Amaterasu) and may well have been sexually assaulted by this divine-level being. The matter needs to be investigated, and appropriate criminal charges laid (not just the goddess in question).

There are numerous cases of divinities sexually assaulting their followers and/or descendants; one of the more famous ones occurred circa BC 6 in the vicinity of Nazareth, when Mary (betrothed of Yusuf the carpenter) was assaulted by Yhwh (the local barbarian deity) and was later made aware of this assault by angelic visitation. She subsequently bore a child of this assault who followed the typical life path for such children - forced relocation from their homeland, a nomadic or disconnected childhood, and lack of acknowledgement by their maternal or paternal relatives, and a certain amount of searching for a stable identity, followed by a period of recognising their divine origins, reclaiming whichever kingdom they happen to be heir to, and eventual assassination. Subsequently, cultists affirmed this child had risen from the dead (which is a standard demi-deistic ability).

It appears this particular case was an exceptional one, leading to action being taken at the divine level, since subsequent claims of divine sexual assault appear to be the maunderings of hysterical females. However, it appears this practice was once widespread (as per the stories of Heracles, Perseus, Helen, Clytemnestra, Castor, Pollux, Theseus, the royal houses of both Northern and Southern Egypt, the royal house of Assyria, Romulus, Remus, the royal house of Japan etc) and this raises concern. Given this tale of resurgent divine interference in the affairs (both sexual and metaphorical) of humans, it could be we are due for another round of demi-deities being born into a world which is no longer set up to accommodate their demi-divine abilities.

Should there be a rash of people resurrecting themselves, the consequences for the funerary industries alone are startling. However one of the regular demi-divine abilities, which is freely attributed to any number of demi-divine beings (for example, Asclepius) is the ability to heal through the use of demi-divine power. This leads to some serious implications for the health care provision industries, and a clear and present threat to the American way of life should a demi-god or demi-goddess walk amongst the American population. If such a being is able to heal simply by laying on hands, should they be permitted to do so when their ability threatens the livelihoods of doctors, nursing professionals, medical researchers, medical administrators and insurance company executives? As they generally refuse payment for such services (this is a documented phenomenon in most cases of healing by divine beings) their existence could very well drive down the profit margins in the medical sector, leading to increased co-payments being required by insurance companies. Indeed, the existence of a single demi-deity could be a greater threat to the American Medical System as it stands now than any public health provision being argued through Congress.

In addition, demigods in particular tend to have extremely powerful warlike abilities. One of the more regular ones is enhanced strength, another is enhanced skill in battle (and therefore presumably in sporting activities). The more active demigoddesses also demonstrate these traits. As yet, there are no standardised means of testing humans for demigodly abilities (although there are rumours they have a persistent halo or aura, visible in darkness) which opens the door to the possibility of pantheistic countries such as China deliberately breeding their deities with humans in order to improve their standing in international sport. Has Caster Semenya (a demigodly name if ever I heard one) had her parentage checked for possible divine antecedents?

Clearly we must be on the alert for further symptoms of divine and demi-divine interference in our way of life.

I shouldn't have to say this, but just in case some of my readers aren't aware, the above is sarcasm and satire. Reading the sparking article - particularly the bits about "prayer walking" - had me wondering whether all of the implications of the divine sexual encounter on the part of the Japanese emperor had been appropriately considered. As well as whether or not the people who are Prayer Walking are also claiming credit for the reduction in attacks by man-eating badgers on the populations of the places they're "protecting"...