Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

When I started applying Australia's film classification standards to stories I read I was a bit curious and a bit hoping to highlight some absurdity in the system. More than one of my favourite stories, it turns out, would be illegal to sell in this country if they were film rather than print, at least by my reading of the standards. Not, as many reading this will know, that that's hugely difficult to achieve. But now it looks like something similar is being seriously proposed - potentially to require art in Australia to be rated by a board and, if deemed unsuitable, according to a potentially contracting standard of suitability, to declare it unfit to be shown.

Hopefully this has no chance of being recommended by the actual review later this year, nor of going into effect. Hopefully this is only the news take an opportunity to stir up a flurry of panic and protest, but Australia already has a bad history of restrictive censorship.

The best word I have to describe the Australian government's position on matters of rating and access is infantilising. Really, what else would you call a proposal to censor the nation's internet of anything more risque than a 15-year-old can legally see in a movie theatre? Refusing classification to any film depicting full-frontal nudity would be another step to really, truly banning all Australians from any media conservative Christians think is unsuited for children.

I am rather fed up with people seeking authority to 'protect' everyone else from what they deem immoral. If it's a matter of religion, then that's down to the individual. If someone believes my soul is imperilled by nudity or violence or images of people enjoying sex, then that is between me and your fictitious god. If you think society overall is endangered by access to such material, then you need to first show compelling evidence that its availability prohibits the free and safe daily life of the people. Otherwise we've no business banning media unless mayhaps it was produced by the actual abuse of or harm to actual living persons[1].

[1] Hint: BDSM is not necessarily abuse.

["But the chief of staff of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Gavin, said there were dangers to children everywhere because of the failure of the classification scheme. ''Arguments against tighter classification measures and using technology will be mounted from the extreme left and the extreme right of politics,'' he told the inquiry. ''On the right, the nanny state argument will be applied against tougher measures and the use of filtering technology. On the left, it will be argued that adults should be able to see whatever they want, even claiming photos of naked children have artistic merit.''"

Hint 2: predicting your opponents' responses does not actually constitute a refutation of them]

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Just saw Barnaby Joyce (leader of the National Party) on camera saying he would feel uncomfortable about shooting a woman. in context of potentially opening up all front-line positions in the ADF to women. But surely he is not planning to go to war with Australia, and if those the ADF does engage in combat with, surely this is to their advantage?

He also said he wouldn't want to see a lady shot, but those don't seem like very good arguments to me. Why should the military career paths of women be limited according to whether men are comfortable with their choices?

Nor do I agree with implicit putting of women on a pedestal to be protected. That sort of reasoning mainly benefits men and social conservatism, enabling the policing of whether women are sufficiently worthy of their pedestal and punishing those judged to fall short of the standards set for them by men.

It seems all about what men are comfortable with as a debate, and what men decide on behalf of women, rather than what women might decide or want for themselves, or see themselves as capable of. But I suppose that is what it is about, getting men to realise and accept women as equal partners in all areas of life, rather than possessions or unhuman idols to guard.

Whether an opposition politician would feel personally comfortable shooting a woman should have no bearing on whether women are barred from work they are willing and capable of doing.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

This past weekend, a state election. Everyone knew the approximate outcome in advance: after 16 years of Labor, historic landslide Liberal / National coalition victory. I had hoped voter antipathy might mitigate that somewhat, I know I wasn't the only one thinking perhaps a recapitulation of last year's national might be a good thing. But it didn't turn out that way at all, and I didn't vote for either of the major parties because I don't trust them, although since we end up with them I try to hope.

Walking to the polls, one of the folks handing out party 'how to vote' pamphlets recognised me as working at the library, and it didn't seem an appropriate moment to explain that being a volunteer rather than someone who receives income from the library in recompense for the work done there, I maybe can't quite claim to be 'someone who works there' (even though I go there and perform work for some hours each week). Apart from his being there on behalf of the Christian Democrats and thus The Enemy, that was a bit heartwarming and left me wondering why couldn't it have been someone else.

They, by the way- It was not so prominently covered on what I saw of the election night, but from a few days later it appears control of the state's upper house may no longer lie with the Greens, and instead could be in the hands of the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers party.

That worries me more than the lower house result, which had been all but foregone the past four years.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

It is being federal election season in Australia. Really, the very end of the season as we vote tomorrow.

I have not said much about this time around at all, except on IM. For anyone who does want an idea of what is going on in Australian politics, an excellent summation of the affair in terms of Harry Potter characters can be found hereabouts.

Meanwhile, I shall continue about my business of researching which of the senate-running parties suite me and which I shall ward off with silver.

aesmael: (tricicat)
I don't agree with many things the Labor government is doing.

The Liberal / National coalition is pretty consistently worse on those matters.

If I vote Green like usual they will probably lose and the preferences default back to Labor.

If I do not vote I will be fined.

This situation could be more encouraging.
aesmael: (haircut)
It has long confused and bothered me that in the question of how to respond to climate change one of the major governmental concerns appears to be "How can we ensure that industries like coal remain profitable?" As concerns go it seems almost nonsensical, since in order to respond effectively to the problem the coal and other industries need to cease existing in their present form - an effective response cannot I think include 'energy producing industries continue to exist profitably as they are'. If they do want to keep existing as companies they probably should be investing in changing what they do and how.

Perhaps this is because 'growing less than fast is a sign of a bad economy' has never made sense to me as a goal either. It seems like a whole lot of people pretending the planet's resources are infinite and putting off any problems to be dealt with in some indefinite 'later'. Any economic focus other than a sustainable, non-destructive one has always struck me as misguided.

I was watching Lateline earlier tonight and the businessperson interviewed seemed much more charismatic than the politicians and political analysts. Maybe that explains this.
aesmael: (nervous)
I'm wondering what they actually accomplish, and if they serve any sort benefit other than causing existing citizens to feel assured immigrants have effectively signed a sort of 'maintaining cultural homogeneity' contract.

The impression I have gotten is a lot of the questions are whether people believe, or at least can express awareness of the myths locals express about who they are. And to discreetly enforce English as standard language (after checking, the resource book is claimed to be will be available in 37 languages [which I recall complaints about - that there would be any concession to people who are not fluent in English], but have not found any information about whether the test is available in other languages).

Thinking I should go and perform some research before (or at least while) pontificating on the subject, I just went to Australia's citizenship test website and took a practice version, and failed. Not by as much as I expected, but a lot of my answers were guesses, and relatively few covered things which I had even been taught in school to forget.

What does it matter, in the context of citizenship, in which year Donald Bradman broke most existing cricket records? I am an Australian citizen by birth and cricket has never mattered to me as anything but a rare way to pass an afternoon in the street. How does it pertain to citizenship to know in which year Caroline Chisholm arrived in Australia?

When I went looking for information a couple of paragraphs previous, the first thing I found was a Wikipedia article which listed some sample questions and answers. A lot of those seemed like useful information about political and legal, official details, so I thought maybe I was being too hard on the test. Maybe it would actually be useful for someone seeking to become a citizen to know when ey might be required to serve jury duty, where government is located and how it is organised... then I went to the actual site, took a sample test and was given a series of questions that struck me as nearly entirely lacking in merit or relevance.

I've now gone and taken the practice test at the government's citizenship site and those seemed more in line with the sample questions that had previously placated me a bit... but the same questions each time I try it.

I am a bit suspicious by this point. Is the other site out of date? Unconnected with the official test? Connected, and drawing questions from the entire pool? I suppose I shall have to get a copy of the resource book to see.

Skimming through the resource book it looks a bit better than I feared, although that is mainly on the basis of flipping through and asking "Does this appear to say stuff about law and government in Australia presently?" So, not exactly the most comprehensive review.

So, still suspicious, and there are things I dislike definitely, but at least there is one potential purpose served that makes sense to me, by informing in a cursory, shallow and not especially useful way of a bit of how the country says it works.

Mm, got a bit lost, me.


2009-04-14 03:41
We have a program here on Australian television called Border Security: Australia's Front Line. Rageworthy enough that it exists, focused on catering to white middle-class fear of shifty people of colour sneaking in to 'our' country for nefarious purposes, with a strong focus on 'gotcha' moments of heroically catching people out... and that the format was successfully sold to the United States. Oh, and that this is framed as the front line in some kind of war.

But the reason for posting here is the most recent advertisement I saw for it, suggesting there has been uncovered an ID irregularity in the documentation of a person entering the country. The question is asked in the ad "Is this Martha really an Arthur?" So apparently, apart from any other awkwardness, trans people travelling to or from Australia have to worry about being mocked and humiliated on national television for the entertainment of the pro-white segment of Australian society. I raged about this last time it happened too, so apparently it really is show policy to do this.
aesmael: (tricicat)
when government or other organisational members speak of wishing to block 'child pornography' online what they mean is 'pornography from being viewed by people under the age of 18' (and in at least this context, everyone else too, as well as a whole lot of other material).

Edit: To follow up the above, under the proposed scheme everything rated MA15+ or above would be subject to mandatory blocking from everyone in Australia using the internet. You can see what that means here or look at the classification guidelines directly here. For easy reference, it is similar to prohibiting everyone from being able to access material with a US 'R' rating.
Probably a bad thing that Senator Barnaby Joyce is reminding me of nothing so much as the impressions of Tony Blair on Dead Ringers.
aesmael: (just people)
Two days ago, from when I begin typing these words, that was the declared Australia Day. I've not been enamoured of this day in celebration of white (our) colonisation, as I've not been of the United States' Thanksgiving, and felt no inclination to be celebrating it.

Prior to the day, suggestions of changing the date to something a bit less... blatantly colonialist were on my mind. It seemed a decent idea, though one I'd expect to get more resistance than support in the public or political eye.

And then we get this:
In the Sydney subrub of Manly, hundreds of youths draped in "Aussie pride" livery wore slogans declaring "f--k off we're full" as they smashed car windows and ran up the famous Corso targeting non-white shop keepers.

A 18-year-old Asian female in one of the cars was showered with shattered glass, giving her numerous cuts to her arms. She was treated on the scene by ambulance officers.

A taxi driven by a Sikh Indian was also targeted while an Asian shopkeeper was reportedly assaulted.

Groups of men jumped up on cars chanting race hate to the terrified passengers within, and were heard singing "tits out for the boys" at passing girls and yelled "lets go f--k with these Lebs".

What started as chants of "Aussie Aussie Aussie" at 1pm (AEDT) had in an hour had developed the potential to resemble Cronulla Beach in 2005.

And this:
"It was a mix of hoodlums who had obviously been drinking as well but, to me, there was also an underlying element of racism dressed up as nationalism," Dr Burridge, a senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, said.

"When they were gathering on the [oceanside] beachfront, that's when they were screaming out 'If you're Aussie and you know it clap your hands' and 'If you're white and you know it clap your hands'."

Dr Burridge said an 18-year-old woman was traumatised when three teenagers jumped on the car she was in and smashed two windows.

The youths went on to jump over other cars and damage shop awnings as they ran through the area chanting "Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi" and "Aussie pride".

"When I was on the beach there was a bunch of them ... and these are teenagers -15, 16-year-olds - with slogans on their backs and postcodes with Penrith and Londonderry," she said.

And yet we get this sort of response:
But Commander Darcy from Manly Local Area Command said the group, most of whom were not from the area, were no worse than a rowdy "old cricket crowd".

"To suggest that there were racial overtones there is, I think, way over the top," he said.

"I personally gave them a good looking over, just assessing them. There was an intensity there that no doubt would be confronting to some but at that stage they hadn't crossed the threshold of criminality."

I'd point out that racist slurs are not exactly unknown in cricket, but that still seems a rather inappropriate comparison. Since I don't dare hope these reports to be false, I'll hope instead Commander Darcy was ignorant of the details at the time this statement was made, and / or quoted out of context. Not a hope I am confident of seeing borne out, but it would be nice.

To understate: I don't like this. Something, probably a whole lot of somethings, need(s) to be done. Australia Day, as it stands, I am inclined to think ought not continue. We might move it, we might attempt rebranding, but I think incidents like this are reflective of national identity and narrative and those need changing before any national symbol-day would cease to be associated with racist violence.

Personally I'm inclined to give up any sort of nationalist holiday, even one moved or under attempted rebranding. Might try establishing something new before phasing out the old to avoid association but I really am at a loss for devising some positive value celebration that would not readily be coopted for white nationalist violence.

Ah well. 'Tis always a long project, not a near future fix, and hopefully better minds than mine will conjure better ideas - I don't pretend to think I'd by myself overcome the world, not tonight.

Edit: I've missed a lot which ought have been said, concerning especially Indigenous issues, but though too weary now to form well my own words want not such to go without acknowledgement. So we reproduce as stand-in this comment here:
I don’t really think it’s appropriate to identify and celebrate another day, until we actually honestly address the problems that resulted from both colonisation and federation. The jingoistic blah that surrounds Australia Day offends me, but unless we partake in some genuinely honest self-appraisal as a nation, an alternative day will be just as bad.
aesmael: (just people)
Here we have something new (albeit less so than when I came across the news).

In short, the Victoria State Government has indicated an intention to approve a curriculum of secular humanist lessons for primary school students. These would run as an alternative to the existing religious education in schools. When I was in primary school, we were to choose a scripture class to attend or else go to non-scripture where we would sit quietly and perhaps draw until it was over. I think this is a good thing - a few years ago I actually considered doing something similar until I realised the school would probably not approve of an untrained, unaccredited person attempting to teach stuff to the non-scripture students. It would be a vast improvement to have people who actually know what they are doing and who have a coherent education plan offering education in humanist principles.

There seem to be two separate bodies in Victoria responsible for accrediting volunteer religious teachers. Access Ministries, which handles the Christian educators, and another handling everything else, World Conference of Religions for Peace. Access Ministries appears to be objecting to this move while World Conference of Religions for Peace appears to be in favour. Not especially pleased there was seen a need to defend humanism as a legitimate perspective to hold but ah well.

What has been interesting me is the claim from Access Ministries that this course should be denied approval because humanism is not a religion. I have seen numerous times religious persons insisting that any atheistic position or philosophy is a religion regardless of what its proponents say (with the apparent meaning religion is a bad thing). In this case both Access Ministries and the Victorian Humanist Society agree humanism is not a religion. I am inclined to say the course should be approved even so. Even if not actually a religion, humanism tends to fill the same sort of space in people's minds - a broad worldview informing and / or offering perspectives, principles and morals which can be used as a basis for individuals and / or communities to function.

Am also, by the way, pleased Muslim volunteers will be approved to teach their religion too, and surprised they were not already approved. Perhaps my faint memory of their being such classes available in primary school was not real, although this is in a different state.

Now, a chunk from the article:
Humanist Society education director Harry Gardner said he had designed a course to be taught from prep to year 6 called "Applied Ethical Education — Humanism for Schools". It covers subjects such as the art of living, the environment, philosophy, science and world citizenship. The curriculum is likely to be submitted for approval next year.

Dr Gardner, a former CSIRO research scientist, said his course adopted the "honesty ethic of science (that is, not fudging results)" with the intention that children would be inspired to think for themselves.

"If accredited for use in schools, the Humanist Society of Victoria envisages that the volunteer teachers would develop a comradely relationship to the regular religious instructors in adjacent rooms," he said.

But Access Ministries chief executive Evonne Paddison said while it was not her decision as to who should or should not have access to state schools, she did not think humanism fell under "the relevant legislation to be classified as a faith-based religion in religious instruction in the way that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism" did.

Ms Stokes said humanists could not expect to have it both ways. "It doesn't make sense because they proclaim themselves not to be a religion," she said.

Religious instruction in state schools should be Christian because "basically we are a Christian nation", she said.

The course appears to cover or at least brush against material I have been saying for a while now should be incorporated as foundational in primary education - although my stated focus would be on information literacy, skepticism & critical thinking, propaganda / persuasion techniques and recognition of same as well as a secular education in principles of ethics, morality and reasoning. I tend to think these should be considered as fundamental in education as things like literacy and mathematics since they concern the ability to find and evaluate information.

If Ms Paddison is right about the relevant legislation then I think it should be changed so as not to be restricted to "faith-based religion" - if the only reason to teach children a Buddhist perspective on the world but not a humanist one is that the law makes no provision for the latter, well, I do not not see what distinguishes them so sufficiently that such a distinction should be made.

I would also like to draw attention to something which confused me the first few times I read this article and which seems excessively unclear. That being, the Ms Stokes quoted at the end is not so far as I am aware affiliated with Access Ministries. Rather, she is quoted speaking on behalf of an organisation called Salt Shakers, a socially conservative theocratic organisation whose primary concerns seem to be denying sexual, reproductive and religious freedom and making from the state an official instrument of Christianity.

There was another quote from them earlier in the article which I also at first misinterpreted to be from Access Ministries:
Research director Jenny Stokes said: "If you go there, where do you stop? What about witchcraft or Satanism?

"If you accredit humanism, then those things would have an equal claim to be taught in schools."

I've yet to find out anything about witchcraft (is this refering to Wicca or some other religion? I would not be surprised if there were a lot of conflation going on here) or Satanism that would make me think they are any less suitable to be taught to children than Christianity. Possibly more suitable.

What's going on is that witchcraft and Satanism are being held up as emblems of evil and depravity even though this does not reflect their nature, then comparing humanism with them to cast it in a similar light, much like when people hold up the spectre of polyamoury as an argument for denying the right to same-gender marriage. Hopefully as more classes like this take hold fewer people will give such rubbish credence.

As for the claim of Australia being a Christian nation, I just went and nervously checked our constitution. It has not the word 'Christ' or 'Christian' anywhere in it. What I did find was this:
116 Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion
The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any
religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for
prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test
shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust
under the Commonwealth.

It seems Australia is not a Christian nation after all; merely one composed of a largely Christian population.
aesmael: (tricicat)
It's a funny thing being an immigrant. If you get a job you are awful for taking jobs away from fine, upstanding members of [nationality], but if you have no job you are a worthless drain on welfare sucking the system dry. If you are a person of colour you do not even have to be an immigrant.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Google Reader Shared Items
  1. Thank You Thursdays: Your (Notice I Didn't Say Female) Brain [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Comments to the post made me warier of this video. Did she have that brain cut in half to illustrate her point? Am pretty sure most brains I have seen are in a single piece unless cut. Much of her described experience of having a stroke is not unfamiliar to me, if to a greater degree. Not, I stress, identical, but apparently similar to something which can be accessible to me. If I were to release certain brakes, if I could remember how. I have a lot of hostility to the frame in which she presents her thesis, despite finding much recognition or even agreement in the details.

    I dislike the way people jumped on ropty's comment ("Non-gendered? Dividing the world into two parts, one is linear, unemotional, calculating and the other about feeling, emotions, timeless oneness. Gee, that sounds rather gendered to me.") because this is a thing which is done, this is a way in which brain functioning is presented and those traits are very gendered in this society. Also that my readings of other writings on neurobiology suggest this is a highly oversimplified perspective on human brain hemisphere functioning, though as this was a talk for a lay audience that may have been deliberate. And it still seems to me her described experiences are very 'on point' even if I am not so fond of her presentation of them.

    I wonder if making such experience accessible at will would have the effect on the world Dr Taylor describes.]
  2. Video: Blaser tournament unwisely fits Japanese robots with lasers -- PEW PEW [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. If we intercut this with some footage of people we could make a movie of it.]
  3. New Hubble Images Reveal Plethora of Interacting Galaxies [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Pretty!]
  4. Young feminists just want to "go wild and pole dance" [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer.]
  5. How To Sing Like A Planet [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Wherever there be medium and motion, music. The article makes me angry, with it's talk of 'merely' as if scientific explanation of such magnificent happenings cannot be also magnificent, wondrous or beautiful themselves. I lost a lot of esteem for the writer's prior musings when I read that part.]
  6. Atheism is a condom for your mind [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. The part I disagree with is the phrasing suggestive that removing religious belief is a part and precursor to mental hygiene and health -- I would place taking care of the mind first, and if that leads to the removal of religion then so be it. Someone eventually said so too.]
  7. Equality Through Intimidation? The Houston HRC Dinner Protest [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer.]
  8. Comical Surroundings [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. This is interesting but I think I would not like my furniture to be displaying always the same images and words. After so many repetitions reading, wearying.]
  9. Modular, shape-shifting robots get right back up to creep you out [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Shiny! Still a ways to go before they are as capable as the version seen in Terminator 2 though.]
  10. Australia to Remove Antigay Discrimination From 100 Laws [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. An improvement, but not enough.]
  11. Maintaining Moore's law with new memristor circuits [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Fascinating (a thing said when {in this case} interested but uneducated in a subject).]

  1. Vaccination doesn't cause autism volume what-are-we-up-to-now? [And yet we see how well the continued lack of evidence substantiating a connection is received. *sigh*]
aesmael: (haircut)
Bored with that titling system. Let's leave it blank for now.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  1. Thoughts on Day One of the DNC [Maybe I should amalgamate all the Scienceblogs postings under a single heading. I find something vaguely distasteful about this and the last post from here. Maybe it is an air of self-congratulation.]
  2. Effete Hollywood Elitists for McCain

Google Reader Shared Items
  1. The Future of Books [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Was expecting "E-books: Yea or abomination?" Instead, Pretty.]
  2. Laser pointers banned in New South Wales after rash of attacks on pilots [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. But I want one.]
  3. Super Mario Girls [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute, yes. Not everything needs to be done with sex appeal in mind though. And since when are "fluffy clouds with faces and bubbly turtles and blocky landscapes" unmanly? But I like the picture.]
  4. Cat 5 wedding rings help nerds couple [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. I, uh, don't know what these actually do.]
  5. Moe Angel with Headphones [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute cute cute! *save*]
  6. Bioware devs debate whether Wii is part of gaming [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. It seems an odd question to me, since the Wii seems clearly a device for playing games, but the post is just a quick summary linking to an interview. No, wait. That was a preface too. Interview here. There are lots of words there at the beginning but I am not entirely sure these people are saying anything... a bit like reading some Post-Modern discourse. It seems like an interesting question though: what counts as gaming? I want to say "playing a game". This talk of narrative... that seems like something else to me. Something called 'narrative'. Describing the experience of playing a Wii as "toy-like", or making a distinction with sports such as tennis, this seems to me like an attempt to mark gaming as a particular kind of experience, a particular approach to an activity. I think what is being gotten at is a degree of seriousness and immersion. I think it probably does constitute a bundle of approaches, any subset of which can apply at a given time, and what the Bioware folks are talking about constitutes one of these subsets. Although reading to the end of the page I think I misunderstood them a bit. I am being vague because I am tired. Possibly follow up later with input from others?]
  7. Celebrate Mario Kart Wii with alternate karts, Wii wheel substitutions [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Funny.]
  8. Working NES squeezed into ... an NES cartridge [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Wow, neat! This title messes with my ideas of how it should be pronounced.]
  9. SIU responds to anti-feminist email [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Oh, wow! It feels so rare to see such a desirable response, it can get disheartening.]
  10. The Fag Bug is back! [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. That's a pretty creative and great response to vandalism. Interesting seeing the change in tone of people's responses between the first post, in which Erin Davies starts her mission, and the second post, in which it is revealed she is getting a book and film deal out of this.]

Gmail Web Clip clickings
  1. David Wain Moves From Wainy Days to Role Models [Who is this guy? Why do I care what he does? I fear curiosity clicking from gmail has gotten the better of me...]
  2. Time to "Free the Airwaves" [Google would like people to be activist on their behalf.]
  3. Top Fun Date Ideas [These are not romantic? My idea of a going-somewhere date is to do something we will enjoy, so these seem more like standard date ideas than special fun ones. Admittedly I have been on very few dates in my life, but this makes it seem like something which is supposed to be very restrained in ways which are not interesting to me. At least now I know what an Interpretive Center is.*]

Respectful Insolence
  1. "To kill and cure cancer, you must first understand it" [Orac is as ever verbose.]

  1. The luxury of time [I've not encountered this blog before. This is... fascinating. Not much to say because processing.]

Uncertain Principles
  1. It's 4am [Labs are not supposed to be flooded. Unless you work in underseaology.]

My assignment is as done as it is getting, so I sleep now. Test in five hours.

*This whole response reads like something which I would respond to in someone else with scorn, as if they are trying to show off how special and above ordinary concerns they are. Ah well.
aesmael: (sudden sailor)
Again, not so much read. Didn't I used to read more? Most of it after the point I decided I was too tired to do anything productive but not yet willing to sleep. Eventually I worked out why: it is because I am doing other things with my time, often social things. If I spend a few hours on Skype with [livejournal.com profile] soltice and [livejournal.com profile] pazi_ashfeather, of course I am not going to doing quite so much reading in the day.

Cosmic Variance
  1. Dark Matter and Fifth Forces [Unfortunately I know this stuff less well than I ever did, but still a moment of "Oh wow, that is really interesting" in reading.]
Google Reader Shared Items
  1. Biodiesel Mythbuster 2.0: Twenty-Two Biodiesel Myths  Dispelled [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Long, interesting. Not something I am really qualified to evaluate. Looks decent though.]
  2. Electric Skateboard (Double Comic) [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. skipped because I am not reading xkcd yet.]
  3. Gibson intros SG Robot Guitar, new edition of Les Paul version [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. My first thought was that this must be a guitar designed by William Gibson. I still do not know.]
  4. What is the big deal about stuff white people like? [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. When I started reading this I thought I would have some quick, possibly snarky thing to say in response, but it turned out to be a serious criticism of the blog, one that made a lot of sense to me. Oh, one thing to add. I am inclined to agree with the comments to this post that 'Stuff White People Like' is fairly conservative in outlook in cliche in line, but the way it is framed still does some good by jarring white people to take another look at their assumptions and culture. At least, it did for me the first time I encountered it.]
  5. Video: Little Big Man - today is a good day to die [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. A robot driving a robot. Sort of. But it tempts me to have thoughts about things so it must be art.]
  6. Australian government wants power to snoop work e-mail, IMs [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Oh, those insidious terrorists.]
  7. Toon: A Few Reasons Why (We Need a Transgender Rights Bill) [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Interesting. Not ever seen this site before. The rest of her work on the site seems pretty neat too.]
  8. Libraries in crisis? [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Refers to here. Not so great news for someone hoping to work there next year. I am not convinced the writer of the article knows what ey is talking about though.]
  9. Toon: The Joys of Tax Time! [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. If this keeps up, I may subscribe myself. Or this is good too.]
  10. Burning Car [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. First thought: bored. On further examination, fascinated by the moments which might be so captured and their preservation marking dramatically the stilled moments of time marking the shifting sources of these images.]
  11. Yuri's Planet [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Thought I had starred this for possible desktop use. Apparently not. Fixed now.]
  1. [livejournal.com profile] soltice[livejournal.com profile] pazi_ashfeatherLeishmaniasis Parasites Evade Death By Exploiting Immune Response To Sand Fly Bites [Sometimes I wonder what immune systems do when they are not being subverted. Sometimes.]
aesmael: (tricicat)
Suddenly advertising this thing called TiVo:
"Unlike its US counterpart, the Aussie TiVo is a crippled box. Shipping with (what we understand to be) a 160GB HD, the TiVo allows you to record up to a pathetic 32 hours of HD or 62 of SD television. If you like a show forget about copying it to DVD or your hard disk; there is no DVD burner and the Ethernet port is strictly for downloading the EPG from TiVo. No problem you might think, simply open the box (having acquired a set of security screwdrivers) and pop the hard disk into your computer. Don’t bother, as Channel Seven representatives assured us the TiVo is designed to respect Australian copyright laws and all data on the hard disk is encrypted (hence the acknowledgement of Turing encryption in the credits).

So why would you shell out nearly $700 on a TiVo?"

We do have other DVRs available here so I do not know what the point of this is.

The iPhone went on sale today in Sydney, apparently.

And I just saw a report about an Australian woman who was finally released after reportedly being dragged off a bus and held for three weeks in Texas before being able to see a judge.

The story appears to be that she stayed in Canada for six months before beginning a six week tour of the United States and did not realise that because on the initial flight to Canada there was a stopover at Hawaii expiry of her visa was counted from this point rather than her later re-entry. Consequently when her visa was inspected she was found to have overstayed by twenty days and had to spend a similar period of time sleeping on bare concrete before being released. She claims the information she received from the US consulate about procedure was at odds with the actual state of affairs over there.

There does not seem to be much information available on this. Event the news site for the network I saw this on appears to have deleted the pages in question. The US official spoken to on the matter seemed to be suggesting it was not so much a mistake as just something which happens. Well, she got her case looked at sooner than people seeking asylum over here do (and one Australian woman was held locally in a detention centre for three years because it was not believed that she was a citizen).

What information I did find on the matter online is located here, here and here. The last is from a messageboard and not recommended for those who do not enjoy seeing vitriol directed at the United States by foreigners.
aesmael: (tricicat)
I had a psychiatric appointment today. While driving I heard on the radio a news report expressing concern about the low uptake of biofuels in New South Wales. A survey was cited that 40% of drivers fear damage to their engines from fuel blended with ethanol.

Now, I may be leaping to conclusions, but perhaps this has something to do with the flurry of news reports several years back about 'those awful petrol stations blending in ethanol with fuel to stretch it out and make a bigger profit' and the accompanying scare campaign about how this would result in damaged and worn engines.

It is only a few years since the media were telling people how terrible this stuff is, so I am not surprised people are being slow to take it up.
aesmael: (nervous)
Because I did not turn it off after watching Moonlight three point five hours ago there is now one of those stupid late night quiz shows on (The Mint). I just came back from cleaning my teeth to see the male host prancing about in front of a mock-up of a vault in a brown afro wig saying "Shazam" a lot. Also some shaking of his butt at the camera. Apparently, judging by his and his co-hosts reactions, this was the most hilarious thing ever.

I try to be very cautious around matters of race because it is not something I feel at all confident on but it sure looked to me like a thoroughly awful spot of cross-racial drag.



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