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ahahaha no. May. 13th, 2013 @ 10:42 am
Sooo, GetUp sent out an e-mail with a list of small would-be political parties trying to register.

One of them is the Australian Sovereignty Party:

Stand for "no carbon tax", "no personal income tax", and "no GST"; "no more wide open borders", and "no treaties without referendums," among other policies.

... no. Just no.

First of all, the carbon tax is a good thing. I agree that the GST isn't good, but I'm not sold on the removal of income tax until you declare that you plan to replace it with. (Besides, I like a progressive income tax, tbh.)

However.

We don't have wide open borders, except, perhaps, in a purely literal sense, and I don't think walling off the entire coastline of this continent is realistic, a good idea, or in any way not moronic. Our borders aren't wide open, and never will be.

Even if the world reverts to a pre-WWI era state where passports aren't a thing and international migration is largely unregulated - unlikely - Australian border controls will still exist, because even if you don't have to deal with Immigration, you will have to deal with AQIS. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service does vital work in entirely non-political ways. (You can tell, in part, by the way that there are what amounts to Customs checks even on domestic travel between the mainland and Tasmania. In the same way that Australia needs to protect its ecosystem from hazards from other countries, Tasmania needs to protect itself from some hazards that have reached the mainland but not the smaller island. Our airports have sniffer dogs trained to find fruit.)

But the truly, amazingly stupid part is no treaties without referendums [sic]. Seriously? Seriously?

In the first decade of this century, Australia signed 347 treaties, meaning it averaged, approximately, three treaties a month.

Holding a national referendum three times a month MIGHT CAUSE SOME PROBLEMS, since voting in a national referendum is mandatory. If we ditched mandatory voting for this, voter turnout would become laughable, and that's assuming that the AEC managed to keep running the damn things successfully at all, when they were having to bust out the entire apparatus practically every week, and all the schools and libraries and suchlike venues where elections tend to happen might start to object just a little bit.

Never mind the other ways this is stupid, it's just not even slightly practical.

I try to be an informed and thoughtful voter, personally, but to take a treaty largely at random, I don't think I have an opinion on the Agreement Establishing the Terms of Reference of the International Jute Study Group, 2001. I also don't really want to consider how to deal with Agreement by Exchange of Notes between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America to Amend and Extend the Agreement on Cooperation in Defence Logistics Support (CDLSA) of 4 November 1989 getting voted down.

Britain is misgoverned: Part millieventy in an ongoing series (also the EU is sometimes stupid) Apr. 30th, 2013 @ 07:31 am
(Because seriously, Britain's government is terrible and has been for at least the last forty or fifty years.)

The European Union is set to impose a two-year ban on three pesticides suspected of contributing to the global decline in the number of bees.

It didn't get universal support. One of the major countries to oppose it: the United Kingdom. Because they're siding with chemical companies saying that the scientific evidence is inadequate, despite that being kind of obvious bullshit.

"Having a healthy bee population is a top priority for us, but we did not support the proposal for a ban because our scientific evidence doesn’t support it," UK environment minister Lord de Mauley said.

[...]

"We will now work with farmers to cope with the consequences as a ban will carry significant costs for them."


You know what else would carry significant costs for farmers, Lord de Moron? Having to hand-pollinate their crops. The bee population crisis is a serious problem. And neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to cause serious harm to bees. Conclusively.

Saying the scientific evidence doesn't support it is like saying the scientific evidence doesn't support the suggestion that smoking causes cancer. (After all, lots of people smoke and don't get cancer, right?) Only with consequences that actually manage to be more serious, because while, yes, smoking kills people, the overall damage of the total collapse of bee population sustainability would be borderline apocalyptic.

Plus, we wouldn't have honey any more. And honey is magical. Where antibiotics and the best of modern medicine are failing us with drug-resistant infections like MRSA, honey can treat them. Honey may be a cure for some forms of cancer.

And honey is also delicious. I'm just saying.

It is, therefore, basically more important than just about anything else governments can do to protect the honeybee populations of the world. Honeybees are the foundation of the ecosystem, responsible for an estimated 80% of pollination of plants, and also, are magic.

pretend we're still on LJ for this, because I'm whining Mar. 2nd, 2013 @ 09:25 pm
So tonight Sharon Needles is performing at Connections, IN PERTH. [personal profile] velithya is there, with someone named Melody, and not with me. She was GOING to go with me, except I HAVE A COLD. And somehow I don't think walking around Northbridge, then seeing a show in a nightclub where it will be all loud and crowded, is going to help with my constant headache. Or wooziness. Or tiredness.

So now I'm GOING TO BED INSTEAD OF BEING AT THIS SHOW I REALLY WANTED TO BE AT, because I got a stupid cold and it's probably [personal profile] velithya's fault ANYWAY because I probably caught my cold at the doctor's office when I DROVE HER TO THE DOCTOR'S ON MONDAY, because she is a JERK with her STUPID VERTIGO that she had, and basically, SHE SUCKS AND EVERYTHING SUCKS BECAUSE I WAS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS AND NOW I CAN'T GO BECAUSE I HAVE A COLD.

And I really just want to throw a tantrum at, I don't know, the universe.

(For the record: [personal profile] velithya wasn't going to go, because I was all sad about not going, but I told her that she should and I wouldn't be annoyed with her. Obviously, she's still a faithless betrayer and a terrible friend and this Melody, whom I've have never met but assume is perfectly lovely, is an evil, friend-stealing bitch. But see above, re: tantrum. Also, Melody isn't going to the USA with [personal profile] velithya this October, now is she?)

Current Location: AT HOME, SICK, AND NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT
Current Mood: disappointed


Religion is not a get-out-of-responsibility-free card Feb. 11th, 2013 @ 01:27 pm
It irks me to the point of spluttering fury, occasionally, when people called out for hypocrisy take the line, "Nobody's perfect." Or, in the case of Matt Moore, an ex-gay activist caught on Grindr: "First, everyone is a hypocrite, regardless of belief system... With that said, you can either be a hypocrite under the grace of God or a hypocrite outside of the grace of God."

No. First, the grace of God's forgiveness comes after you repent of your sins, and if you're making excuses for them? You're not repenting. You're not sorry you sinned, you're sorry you got caught.

And secondly, no, not everyone is a hypocrite. That full quote goes like this:

First, everyone is a hypocrite, regardless of belief system. People such as Zinnia preach a message of tolerance and kindness to all, yet they are not tolerant of my beliefs and show me no kindness. That’s hypocritical, is it not? With that said, you can either be a hypocrite under the grace of God or a hypocrite outside of the grace of God.

Zinnia is the person who outed him for his Grindr profile.

Preaching tolerance is not incompatible with disapproving of your belief system, if your belief system hurts people, and frankly, hypocrisy removes any protection you get for your "belief system" anyway. Because you're not even adhering to it.

Even Jesus condemned the Pharisees. Just because I believe in Christian love and forgiveness doesn't mean I can't think you're a dick, and calling people out for their hypocrisy was one of the recurring themes of the Gospels, so don't get pious in defence of yours. Because on this particular topic, the record shows that Christ would not be on your side.

On e-mail security and hiding your activities Nov. 17th, 2012 @ 10:34 am
It's not that I believe that privacy concerns aren't important, that if you are concerned about privacy it's because you have "something to hide", or anything like that.

But.

Pieces talking about e-mail privacy in terms of how the government could totally access your e-mail in circumstances X if they have a warrant, or even if criminal investigators have reasonable grounds to believe that your old e-mails/metadata thereon are relevant to an ongoing investigation, is not something that is of great concern to me.

Because, you see, if criminal investigators are able to convince a judge that it's relevant to their investigation, then I am okay with them getting the information, because I like criminal investigations to be possible.

If the police accessed my e-mail and read through it, I would only have a problem with this if they revealed the contents publically, because I would feel embarrassed and exposed, since some of the e-mails I have exchanged with friends have been personal in nature. (I would also be livid if they revealed personal information of my friends.) This would be the kind of silly embarrassment that follows things like, say, slipping on wet pavement and falling over, in that really, it's not that big a deal, but we feel silly, because odds are, anyone who read through my e-mails would not actually think less of me as a person, or anything.

My life would not fall apart around my ears. Because I like to maintain a life policy of not doing shit that would cause my life to fall apart if I got caught. I don't want to live in fear of Getting Caught. I wouldn't even be embarrassed because I got caught bitching about someone behind their back, because I don't do that, because I like how much drama does not happen in my life as a result.

It's all very well saying Petraeus's affair was revealed due to the invasion of his e-mail privacy, but you know what would have helped him avoid this?

Not having an affair. Or, if he wanted to have an affair, not taking a job as the Director of the CIA. Because apart from anything else, when you agree to be director of the CIA, you sort of have to assume that the government will be paying close attention to your life, because you're the head of the fucking CIA and if you are doing stupid shit, that is a potential national threat in the making. There are certain jobs that entail a reduction in your personal privacy, and if you don't want that, don't take those jobs.
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Elections (as a concept): There are ways in which they Should Be Done Nov. 7th, 2012 @ 10:41 am
(As an aside: I really haven't been posting much, as well as failing utterly at keeping up with my reading list. I can tell in part because my new computer is a good few weeks old now, at least, and I still didn't have a bookmark for the Dreamwidth update page.)

So, I've been following the US election closely-ish, because American politics have an impact on my own country. In retrospect, we, as a planetary community, shouldn't have let America become the only superpower, and we shouldn't have let their economy become as connected to everyone else's as it is... but at the time, how could we know that? America used to be non-interventionist in matters outside its own borders very much to a fault, and after the Great Depression, their economy was well-regulated. There was no way we could have anticipated the modern Republican Party, we just couldn't.

And yet, the wingnuts of the so-called GOP (and why is it called that, seriously? It's the younger of the two main parties in American politics. WTF, America?) are the biggest current threat to my country's economy.

Still, along the way I've noticed a few things that are just, regardless of your political affiliation, objectively wrong about how some countries run elections.

Bipartisan Election Officiation

No. Just no. Do you know what the bodies that organise and run your actual elections should be? Non-partisan. Partisan politics has no place, at all, in the mechanics of the electoral process.

Voting Machines

The idea of voting machines still confuses me, frankly, because what is this, I don't even, especially when it comes to the existence of voting machines that don't leave a paper trail at all. Voting machines that can "need recalibration" because they miscount votes, voting machines that can just be hacked to lie outright - do you even care about your election being fair, at that point?

Ballots should be cast on paper. Paper ballots should then be counted by people. With other people watching. If you have multiple questions being decided, you have a separate slip of paper for each question, colour-coded, and then you sort each stack by how people voted, and it's not that difficult. And that way, if anyone is unsure about the accuracy of the vote count, you know what you can do? Count them again!

And you avoid the sub-issue, which is:

Privately-Owned Voting Machines

Words can not express my shock and confusion when someone mentioned to me that Mitt Romney's son was, via Bain Capital, buying voting machines in swing states.

How could such a thing even be possible? Something which is a part of the very important process by which your government is selected should not only be unable to be owned by someone with partisan interest in the result, it shouldn't be able to be privately owned BY ANYONE. The infrastructure of your elections should be owned by your NON-PARTISAN electoral commission-type body.

Voting on a Weekday

If you are going to hold your election on a weekday, it should be a public holiday. Voting should be something *everyone* can find time to do.

And finally...

A Personal, Less Objectively True Opinion

If you didn't vote in your country's election, and you could have, don't you dare express any kind of complaint about the government. Shut up until you've voted, because if you didn't vote, you didn't do your most basic, most elementary civic duty. Which means civic society owes you nothing. You blew off your chance to participate in governance, and therefore you ditched your right to object to how that governance proceeds. If you could have voted and didn't, just sit there and take it, whatever happens, because you sat there and let it happen, so just. shut. up.

I resent being made to support unsupportable people, dammit. Aug. 16th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm
I really, really resent being put in the position of feeling like I should stand up for Julian Assange.

The guy is, at best, a power tool. His is the sine qua non of Backpfeifengesichts. His face is in dire, desperate need of at least one fist in it, possibly many, and I can easily believe that he is guilty of the crimes Sweden is trying to allege he committed.

However.

Every single thing about the way his case is playing out is dodgy as hell, and Sweden, it seems, has already handed someone over to US custody who went on to immediate rendition.

If the prosecution against him had played out normally, instead of seeming ridiculously politically motivated, it would be different, but... it didn't. Pretty much everything the governments pursuing him have done looks dodgy. Since when can you not interview someone unless you've cuffed them?

And now the UK is even making not-very-veiled threats against Ecuador, for offering him asylum, which... seriously. Violating international treaties over him, and it's not a grudge thing? Roman Polanski didn't get chased this way, and he unquestionably deserved it more.

If the rule of law and the principles of justice we attempt to uphold are to mean anything, they have to apply to anyone, even someone as intrinsically unlikable as Julian Assange. His very image makes my teeth itch, and yet I yearn to fight, on principle, for his right to a fair trial.
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Dear world, but especially Teen Wolf fandom. Aug. 10th, 2012 @ 07:23 am
I am going to tell you something very important here: ADD/ADHD drugs do not hype up people who actually have those disorders. They calm us down. Mostly, they give us focus. Any remaining hyperactive behaviour is either the degree to which the disorder continues to affect the individual despite the medication, or a factor of personality and/or mood.

e.g. When Stiles approaches Scott talking at a hundred miles an hour and then, when Scott stares at him, says that he had lots of Ritalin? That scene plays, to someone like me, i.e. a person with adult ADHD, as an incredibly familiar moment. Stiles isn't citing his Ritalin to explain why he's hyper, he's defensively pointing out that he has had Ritalin and therefore the appropriate response at this point is not to tell him to go take his meds, he's being hyper because of the situation. Which, justified.

I'm kind of in love with Teen Wolf's having a character who's been shown to have ADHD but who is still functional with it and awesome. I've read some good Teen Wolf fic, but wow, do some fics fail at ADHD.

My pet peeves include:

- "hyped up on Ritalin" (see above)
- references to Adderall - only forgivable if it turns out he's switched in season 2, which I haven't watched yet, but certainly as of the end of season 1, Stiles takes Ritalin, and these things are not interchangeable
- one fic which even referred to "Adderol" in the summary. Sorry, if you can't even spell the name of the incorrect drug you are suggesting he takes, you have done way, WAY too little research into the condition to be allowed to talk about it, and if you're going to write Stiles, you need to leave the ADHD stuff as undiscussed background.

I realise that to many people ADD and ADHD are jokes, not real and serious conditions which cause significant learning disabilities and substantial impacts on lifestyle.

Those people can bite me.
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rrrrrrrrrr May. 16th, 2012 @ 02:02 pm
So, I'm reading a book. It's non-fiction. And it is annoying me, for one simple reason:

Endnotes.

I hate endnotes. To read an endnote, I have to hold my place with one finger, flick through the book to the endnotes section, finding it before the index and the bibliography and any appendices, find the chapter I'm on, find the number I'm up to - not actually knowing whether this particular endnote is going to be an interesting added point to read, or just "ibid." - and then find my place on the page I'm reading again.

And then I either have to keep repeating this process, or else I have to keep a finger uncomfortably holding my place in the endnotes section.

All of which could be averted by the simple use of footnotes, instead. To read a footnote, I just have to glance down the page.

I realise that, in a pre-computerised era, footnotes were probably quite a challenge of typesetting and layout. However, I pretty much just don't believe that the layout of a text-only work of non-fiction isn't done with software these days, and largely automatically at that. If OpenOffice can insert footnotes trivially, and automagically renumber them when I insert and remove them and so on, then I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that layout software can probably do that too.

There is no excuse for using endnotes. Endnotes are a crime against readers of nonfiction.
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A pet peeve... May. 1st, 2012 @ 09:18 am
So, there's a certain subset of fandom that seems to make a habit of protesting that Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto, is totally JEWISH NOT GERMAN. (XMFC movieverse particularly.)

It irritates me. He is Jewish AND German.

Not for nothing, morons, but the argument that because a man is Jewish, he is therefore not German?

Is the one the Nazis were making. It's not impossible that Erik would stab you in the face for saying he isn't German, because that's the attitude that killed his family.

Dude is German. Dude is Jewish. These things are not mutually exclusive.

Dear world. Shut up. And look, you still have freedom of speech. Apr. 12th, 2012 @ 08:13 am
A recurring theme in public discourse that annoys me:

Person A says something that many people find offensive. Person A is criticised for it. Person A may or may not be censured in some fashion by their employers, if their statements connect in some way to their employment.

Either Person A or other persons from other positions in the alphabet declaim, "WHAT ABOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH?" Optional: If American, cite the First Amendment.

Free speech does not mean free from criticism. The critics are, in fact, exercising their own free speech rights. And an employer can, within the limits of contract and employment law, do whatever the hell they want, because free speech does not guarantee you a platform, or freedom from consequences.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits the government from abridging freedom of speech. This is, in fact, the general model of free speech rights. The government can't prohibit you saying something (although in (in my view) saner countries, the government can and does prohibit hate speech, and the like), but this does not guarantee anything else at all, or else no Non-Disclosure Agreement would be legal, and no PR hack could be fired for saying that their client ate live puppies for kicks.

So SHUT UP ABOUT FREE SPEECH.
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Status update Jan. 16th, 2012 @ 12:22 pm
I'm not really reading my reading list at the moment, mostly because I'm spending a lot of time being really grumpy and I fear saying something I'll regret when I'm not.

I'm grumpy, of course, because of ongoing pain and inconvenience due to having a broken leg, as well as all my Hilarious Cast Adventures.

Put it this way - I broke my leg less than a month ago, and I'm on my sixth cast.

Hilarious Cast Adventures, explained. )

Number six is doing okay so far, thankfully - but I'll be getting number seven on Thursday, at my next ortho clinic appointment. It's projected to last a few weeks before it has to come off too. After that, though, I should get a "removable boot", which will be awesome, because the prospect of being able to have a shower, a proper shower, without having to worry about keeping a cast dry is thoroughly appealing.

Not as appealing as the prospect of being able to stand on two feet or walk again, but that's much further away, and too depressing to think about. On the bright side, the muscles in my arms and my right leg have strengthened enough now that moving about as needed is no longer so painful and exhausting. (I'm not as fit as I'd like to be, but I don't really count it against my fitness levels that my muscles did not appreciate the radical changes to my methods of locomotion in the last few weeks - I was never going to be accustomed to hopping and/or holding my weight on my arms this much.)

This experience has brought home to me, mind you, the notion that the "not disabled" are better referred to as the "not yet disabled". I wasn't significantly physically disabled, but right now, I am, and it is, in fact, incredibly frustrating to deal with even when everyone around you pretty much couldn't be nicer, which I've been lucky enough that they have been. And it really is awfully easy to find yourself abruptly shunted into the Disabled category.

Accordingly, "poor wheelchair accessability" has become an issue about which I no longer am concerned with in the "Strongly, But Somewhat Impersonally" sense, but rather in the "No, Really, And With Personal Anger And Rage" sense. Because I used to just think it was important on moral and ethical and justice-type grounds, but now I have experienced the nature of life when a one-inch-high step that, walking, I wouldn't even notice, is actually a source of pain, exhausting effort and massive inconvenience, and really, it does make it all a lot more visceral.

I now feel, just a little bit, that anyone who gets pissy about providing proper wheelchair access to things should be provided with an unstable ankle fracture. Once you're a few days past surgery, they're not that painful - most of my pain now is muscle, knee and tendon-related, and a carefully administered break could avoid wrenching everything as badly as my fall did, and also avoid the extra broken bone I collected - and you don't get to walk for months.

I think it would serve as an excellent demonstration injury. Obviously, it doesn't cover anything *like* the full scale of what wheelchair-prompting disability can entail. After all, you can still move pretty well otherwise, and you have one working leg which makes a lot of things much, much easier. For example, I can get up off my wheelchair, using my working leg, and swivel around to get onto a toilet that has no lateral transfer access. I imagine that this is making my life vastly, inexpressably easier than if I couldn't.

Nonetheless, I do feel that it would do much to convey the point.

I was going to go on to the post I want to make about health care systems, but all this has gone on long enough that I think the other one needs to be a separate post. (I always prefer to make posts about Serious Topics separate from personal ones, in case people get linked to them.)

Especially posts in which I have been advocating the deliberate injuring of annoying people.
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Breaking radio silence to safeguard the sanctity of my lawn Dec. 16th, 2011 @ 11:20 am
Idly: just short of a week ago, it was my birthday. The evening featured a full lunar eclipse.

Omens and portents, goodness me. It will either be the Best Year Ever or I am going to die spectacularly.

Meanwhile, modern operating systems need to get off my goddamn lawn.

When I was a kid - okay, it was the 80s, and most people didn't actually have home computers, but my dad was a programmer and we did. The OS of my childhood was DR-DOS. Later Windows 3.11 came into our lives, but I resisted using Windows until we got the Internet at home, because I've always hated change anyway and I just didn't like not having a command line. If I wanted to run something, I told the computer to run it, I didn't have to find it and click on it with this clumsy, awkward thing that was the mouse.

However, whether Windows was loaded or not, one thing remained true: if I hit alt-ctrl-delete (twice, depending), the computer would stop everything, kill all processes, and reboot.

These days? Modern OSes take alt-ctrl-delete as a suggestion, as a mild request for it to call up a response when it gets around to it, and dammit, that pisses me off no end.

When I press alt-ctrl-delete I want the computer to take that as a divine command. If I press it twice, that's an order to reboot, right the fuck now, and it never fails to annoy me if it doesn't.

Somehow, the almost inconceivable increase in power between the computers I used then and the computer I have now doesn't quite make up for the degree to which modern computers have attitude.
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Dear World, You Are Stupid, Here Is Why Sep. 8th, 2011 @ 03:12 pm
This was going to be a collection of rants on things which have annoyed me lately, but I still have bronchitis a bit and I was running out of steam after one, so:

1) The Inappropriate Use of YouTube

So, I saw the xkcd comic about something called Cleverbot having a conversation with itself. I was curious, and tried to look up the chatlog - after all, it's two bots talking to each other, so that's totally a text thing, right?

I had trouble finding it, and gave up in not-that-curious soon afterwards. Chas found the link, though -

- and it was to a YouTube video.

A pure text chatlog had been made into a YouTube video and that was the only version that seemed to be findable.

In a similar vein, I recently tried to look up instructions on how to disassemble a PS3. I found a couple of badly-written text descriptions, but they were for a different model, or terrible, or possibly both. What was abundantly available was YouTube videos of the process.

When looking for guidance on how to do something, YouTube videos as the only answers are increasingly common. This is, to me, an infuriatingly bad way of presenting information. Whether by voiceover or subtitle, the information is presented aggravatingly slowly, and for visual reference, one has to fast forward, pause, and rewind constantly, rather than simply glancing at photos or diagrams.

And it's incredibly rare that a video of someone doing something is actually as useful as a detailed explanation of the process, in words, accompanied by helpful, carefully chosen photographs or diagrams, which can be provided with vastly better magnification and resolution.

If I'm looking up a recipe for, say, cake, I don't want to watch a video of someone baking a cake. I want a list of ingredients, and clear instructions for assembling those ingredients into the form of cake. I also want to be able to glance at the instructions while I'm doing it without having to find the point in a video that matches where I'm up to, and I want to be able to see what subsequent steps will be so I'm prepared for them.

If I'm looking up a recipe for a disassembled PlayStation, the same thing applies. And if I'm looking up a piece of text, I want the text, I don't want a person or a computer to read it to me. I learned to read a very long time ago, and I can read to myself much better and faster than anyone can read to me.

2) The fact that anyone is still publishing Orson Scott Card

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND RIGHT IN THIS WORLD, WHY. Dude wrote one good book. ONE. He is now crapping out rubbish that shits on the very concept of English-language literature, in bad, bad prose less nuanced and eloquent than crap I wrote for assignments in HIGH SCHOOL.
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A vast and building resentment Aug. 23rd, 2011 @ 08:27 am
I am developing a serious, intense resentment of smokers.

I am going to rant here for a while. It is possible the terms of this rant will include people who read this. The thing is... there's only so much I care, because you see, this is essentially the perspective of someone in the category people not you, and if it bothers you to hear how an activity you partake in causes major problems for other people, well, the problem essentially is that you partake in an activity that is bad for you and bad for everyone else, and I'm not going to apologise for bringing it to your attention that it is what it is.

If you read this and you're offended because you smoke... how about next time you go to buy a packet of ridiculously expensive poison-sticks, you buy some nicotine gum instead, and you quit smoking, for the benefit of yourself, people who love you, and people who share the air and the planet with you? If you don't want to go through the suckitude of overcoming nicotine addiction, that's cool, you can stay on the gum for life. You walking past an asthmatic child while chewing gum has zero risk of triggering a life-threatening asthma attack for the child. Or me. Smoking, not so much.

Save the money you normally spend on cigarettes, which is likely to be a lot, and spend it on something really cool and shiny. (Seriously: If you're a smoker, keep a tally of how much money you spend on cigarettes. Then think about all the things you could have done with that money instead of near-literally burning it.)

(Edit: Actually, this also applies if you're a regular drinker of alcohol, except that the sentence ends with: "... instead of near-literally pissing it away.")

And now the rant.

This transition to active resentment is caused primarily by the fact that our neighbourhood appears to contain a lot of smokers, with all sorts of schedules, resulting in the effect that we can't open a window in our own bloody house, ever. Because it's guaranteed that within 15 minutes, tops, smoke will be drifting in from outside.

Since I like being able to breathe, the window gets closed.

This ends up with some really annoying secondary effects - like needing to run the air conditioner a lot more, either to prevent our house being a stuffy, overheated hell, or, sometimes, just to get some non-smoke-filled air into the place after another damn wave of smoke has filled it because we dared to open A WINDOW IN OUR OWN BLOODY HOUSE.

There is a special circle in the hell of my hate for the neighbours who smoke way, way, WAY too much pot, way, WAY too often, as well. Particularly because of the fact that this can happen at any hour, day or night - 4am, 3pm, eight o'clock in the fucking morning - random pot smoke attacks.

That's why I'm developing my intense and profound resentment - the lack of breathable air in the vicinity of my home. But really, annoyance at the sheer unremitting selfishness of smokers has a lot of other trigger points. Most of which revolve around...

Smoking in public spaces.

I'm lucky - I live in Perth, where for some years, it's been illegal to smoke indoors in public buildings, in theatres, even in sporting venues. When I went to the rugby, at Subiaco Oval, I enjoyed the whole game without anyone nearby lighting up.

And then the game ended, and I left, and I had to hold my breath and hurry the first 50 metres out of the gates, because of all the stupid addicts who have to smoke right outside.

If you go into the city, indoors you're fine, outside there's smokers all over the place, polluting the air with their special blend of asthma triggers and carcinogens.

And then - and then - they complain about how unfair on them it is when it is suggested that smoking should be banned anywhere else. Complaints about freedom and personal choice and fuck you, smokers. Why should your "freedom" to "choose" to smoke be more important than my freedom to choose not to? Given that, you know, your choice causes cancer and other ailments, and mine doesn't, I really think that my not-smoking should take priority over your smoking. Mine, and every other passer-by, including the asthmatics and the newly-quit smokers and all the people who aren't committing suicide by slow poison that for some reason they feel the need to share.

Recently I read an article about a proposed ban, in Wales I think, on smoking in cars containing children.

If you don't think smoking in a car with a child in it is child abuse, then you are wrong, and don't bother commenting to tell me otherwise, because if we're friends, it will disappoint me to learn that you are that goddamn thoughtless and stupid, and if we're not, then it will preclude any possibility of that happening, and also I don't care what you think.

What really enraged me was the comments on the article, with, among other things, their self-righteous hypocrisy. Especially the "smokers' rights" campaigner who piously declared that the vast majority of smokers wouldn't smoke in a car with a child anyway.

Well then banning it won't affect them, will it? So shut up.

Despite the fact that, as a motorcyclist, I am one of the few people who actually suffers exposure to secondary smoke from people smoking while driving, I am, overall, okay with people doing it. But not if there are children, you worthless scum.

If it were up to me, smoking would be illegal in all public spaces. And enforced, with harsher penalties than there currently are, especially for those putrescent pustules who light their cigarettes standing directly under the "No Smoking Anywhere On Hospital Grounds" signs outside Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, or for that matter the ones who light up under the "No Smoking" signs at Perth Train Station.

People can smoke at home. (As much as I wish my neighbours wouldn't, or at least wouldn't do it outside, I am not out to ban that. I'll just continue resenting it.)

In public spaces? For all the addicts who can't bear not to smoke, we could have smoking rooms - we can expand safe heroin injecting rooms, which are a good idea, to have enough room for the smokers to go in there too, in city centres. Just have an Addiction Centre, with good ventilation (filtered to the outside world), clean needles, medical supervision, and lots of resources available for people who want to quit before they kill themselves.

Because I agree with Isaac Asimov: your right to smoke ends at the point where it interferes with my right not to smoke.
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... in which I have serious rage about WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE. Aug. 10th, 2011 @ 02:49 pm
So, today I stopped by my art supplies shop, and bought paper. A couple of A4 cartridge pads of drawing paper, and a three-pack of small notebooks.

I bought the notebooks because they're unlined paper with a soft but sturdy cover - ideal for a sketchbook/notebook I can stick in a pocket, or toss in my back without it adding too much weight or bulk. And they weren't overly expensive, although all of the other, hardcovered notebooks on the rack were.

This is because these notebooks were all Moleskines.

Now, mocking the "History of Moleskine" leaflet inside is a whole other post, because, see, I remember reading, in some old book, reference to a "moleskin notebook", and I was wondering whether this was some typesetter error, or if there were once notebooks called that, without the e.

And what I have discovered is a tremendous collection of what the hell is wrong with you people about Moleskine notebooks, including the following:

- People talking about how to use your Moleskine as a PDA.

It's not a PDA. It can't be. PDA stands for Personal DIGITAL Assistant, and a notebook is the very essence of analogue. What you are, in fact, using it as, if you use it to keep track of to-do lists and what you've been doing and suchlike, is a NOTEBOOK.

- Instructions for a "Moleskine markup language", that appears to consist of numbering the pages and then using arrows to indicate "continued from page X" or "continued on page Y". That's not a markup language, that's how people have been keeping track of notes for about the last five hundred years, since that doesn't sound overly dissimilar to how people like Leonardo da Vinci, who was ahead of his time but not exactly into the digital age, kept track of notes.

- Sentences like: "A Moleskine without a writing implement is a shadow of its full potential."

Because apparently "hipster status symbol" is apparently an actual function, since it's about all it would be good for without something to write with? What's even better is the list of suggestions for attaching a pen, which includes, more or less, clipping it on with the pen's own clip because many pens are made to do that. ASTONISHING.

- Discussion of what pen is best to use with a Moleskine.

Including talking about fountain pens. You know what pen is best to use with a Moleskine? The same pen as is best to use with any other notebook, that being, the pen you are most comfortable using. A fountain pen is going to be an exceptionally poor choice, though, because if you are carrying a fountain pen around, you are very nearly guaranteed to suffer some kind of catastrophic ink leakage at some point, because fountain pens fountain ink.

I've used them - for a calligraphy class. I like fountain pens, but what they are good for is, in fact, calligraphy. If you are just wanting to write, so as to have words on the page, they are not as good as a gel-ink or ballpoint or even fineliner pen. If you are wanting to sketch they would be painfully useless.

If your choice of pen is about what makes you look oh-so-cool, there is something wrong with you.

- The section on "creative uses for your Moleskine"... that includes "recording ideas" and "travel diary".

IT'S A FUCKING NOTEBOOK. You know what, I can do creative ideas too.

Creative Uses For Your Kitchen

- It's a handy place to store all your cutlery, crockery, and cooking utensils.

- It's also a really good room to use for cooking your meals!

It's like I've come across an entire apparent subculture talking about how to use extremely basic items for their obvious intended purpose, just like people have been using them for centuries, and talking about it like it's this crazy brilliant idea that's totally cutting-edge.

I find it strangely infuriating.

Fortunately, the ones I bought have no obvious brand-marking now I've removed them from the packaging. (Which, by the way, had a QR code thing on it... which encoded nothing but the URL to the product page for the item it was attached to. Completely gratuitous. It's like they needed a way to make it that bit more wanky, so they *had* to attach a smartphone thing to it.)
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We worked it out... Jul. 21st, 2011 @ 08:31 am
The real reason why that idiot attacking Rupert Murdoch with a "foam pie" was disgusting?

Cultural preconditioning.

Rupert Murdoch is an old man. Comparitively frail and weakened by his years. Accordingly, decency declares him off-limits for physical assault.

He's still mentally competent, and he has a vast media empire at his command, so you can say whatever the hell you want about or to Rupert Murdoch, and that's fine. Criticising him is laudable.

But physical assault? He's off-limits. There are things that are Done, and things that are Not Done, and men in their twenties attacking elderly men is Not Done.

In contrast, a young man assaulting James Murdoch with a foam pie would be kind of hilarious. Because James Murdoch is not only a full-on toolbag, but he's young enough to be fair game for that kind of thing.

Meanwhile, regardless of what you may think of her or her family, Wendi smacking the guy in the face and then hitting him with his own stupid plate? Will always be awesome. She's about half his size and nearly twice his age, and if security hadn't intervened I'm pretty sure she would have kicked his ass.
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James Murdoch has found a new way to disgust me... Jul. 20th, 2011 @ 08:44 am
Okay, he seems like an outright horrible person in every possible way anyway.

But when his father Rupert gets attacked by a protester (and by the way: top work, dude, attacking a man in his seventies - you're a real hero there), the following things happen:

- Rupert's wife Wendi lunges at the protester, defending her husband.

- Police move in and grab the protester.

- James bitches at police for not defending his father better.

Question, James: Given that you are younger not only than your father, but also, as far as I can see, the protester, and I think you're younger than Wendi Murdoch and you're definitely bigger and almost certainly stronger, where the hell were you?

I mean, I could already easily believe that this business, with the phone-hacking and bribery and so on, was something Rupert knew nothing about and James knew everything about, anyway.

But my father is 61, and is still pretty much a strong and hearty man, unbent by age, whereas I am a woman with a chronic shoulder injury and stuff. Despite these facts, if someone was lunging at my father out of a crowd in similar circumstances (not that that would ever happen, because MY dad has PRINCIPLES), I would be part of the crowd crash-tackling the bastard to the floor, possibly taking the opportunity to land with one knee firmly on his testicles if I could manage it.

James Murdoch's instinct is apparently to watch it happen and then complain.

I have no words. It's not even that my mother now reads this periodically and I don't want to swear excessively, it's that no combination of swearwords or oaths seems sufficient. I could call him a putrescent scumsucker, a vile stain on the mouldering liquescent residue of human dignity, and a shit-breathed knucklefucking cocksocket, and none of it seems like enough.

The thing is, the depths of this scandal are foul in a way that I don't think anyone saw coming. The News of the World hacking scandal has been known for years, and regularly came up in the pages of Private Eye, and it was... a thing. But then you find out about things like listening to the voicemail that poor Dowler girl, and you think, wow, that's as low as that can go, and then you find out about deleting messages, and you think, okay, that's monstrous, that's disgusting and shocking and vile, and then you find out that while they were deleting messages, they interviewed her mother, who mentioned the deleted messages, and they asked her about that and how that gave her hope her daughter was still alive, and nobody, nobody at all, decided at that point that hey, maybe this was getting a bit too deeply horrific here...

... and at that point you're just out of words, and out of emotional range, because it went to the extreme of how horrified you could be by people's actions to sell a fucking newspaper and then it kept on going.

And that is why I am going to despise James Murdoch for not protecting his elderly father. Because that is in the range of things I can find human enough to react to at all.

Current Mood: accomplished
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Oh, good grief... Apr. 28th, 2011 @ 11:15 am
"If you're in the public eye, that's the price you've gotta pay."

This was the comment made by one person responding to the decision by Clarence House that footage of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding may not be used for purposes of satire.

That's all well and good, dude, but there's two points worth considering here, in my view:

Firstly, that though their positions come with great attendant privilege that can be seen to offset much of the onerous duty of royalty (seriously, an awful lot of what they do is horribly tedious at best), being "in the public eye" is not something any member of the royal family had a choice about. They were born famous.

And secondly, while public scrutiny is inevitable, while they have to accept all sorts of things, there are certain things which shouldn't be public domain for mockery. Weddings are on that list, especially when the satirists in question are the Chaser, who, much as I love their work in general - and I do - occasionally do cross the line of "inappropriate".

Miss Middleton is wearing the engagement ring formerly worn by the late Diana, erstwhile Princess of Wales. Some people have commented negatively on this, apparently being unaware that it's not a hugely uncommon thing for a young man to present his future bride with his mother's engagement ring - it's bordering on traditional.

Do I trust the Chaser not to use this kind of thing for cheap jokes? No, I really don't. And for some reason people have a depressing tendency, when it comes to Diana, to forget that, leaving aside all else about her and her life, she was the mother of two boys who were children when she died.

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I were getting married, actually, I wouldn't want that to be someone's vehicle for comedy, especially if that comedy were premised largely on mocking my entire family, up to and including my dead mother.
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Bitch can kiss my manic pixie wings. Mar. 25th, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
On Feminist Frequency (link goes to page with video + transcript), there's a video up on the theme of "Tropes vs Women #1: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl".

And ooh, I have issues with it.

Firstly, there's the personal, which will generally hit first before wider considerations of social justice come in to play, I can't deny it. The issue being that while I wouldn't describe myself as anyone's dream girl, the manic pixie thing? That would be me.

To the extent that my very close friend Chas will actually laughingly say, "Such a pixie!" when I am being silly sometimes.

So when the woman presenting the piece approvingly quotes some dude called Nathan Rabin as follows:

Rabin writes, “That bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”


... that's kind of angering, because I'm sorry, but I exist in the real world, too, and what we're dealing with here is the much wider problem of female characters existing in works of fiction solely to catalyse the personal growth/journey/whatever of the usually-white male hero, which is in itself a subset of everyone who isn't a white male Hero existing in works of fiction solely to catalyse et cetera et cetera et cetera. There are a lot more Magic Negroes and characters of colour with no independent conceptual existence than Manic Pixie Dream Girls out there.

And given that this is also done to other female characters, suggesting that the only ones who are really terrible are "Manic Pixie Dream Girls" is somewhere in between really infuriatingly insulting to people like me, and offensively dismissive of everyone else who gets treated like they're only there to further the hero's personal journey.

(Bonus offensiveness: Spot the nasty ablism contained in one of the movie scenes played as an example of how hilarious Manic Pixie Dream Girls are.)

To Bitch and Feminist Frequency: Hollywood isn't the one telling me I don't exist here. You are.
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