Niqabi Me: Undercover, under pressure, and unhappy.

acflory:

I found this post by accident and I’m delighted that I did. East and West need to come to some sort of reasoned agreement on this issues. Part of my comment was :
Australia is a multicultural country that tries very hard to celebrate difference, but differences that diminish one sex with regard to the other diminish us all.

Please help get a respectful discussion going!

Originally posted on Into The Light:

Wait! Don’t go! I know the whole niqab issue has been debated to death by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but I have an oh-so-personal experience with it that I’d like to share. So now that I’ve oh-so-desperately groveled for your attention, here goes:

As a Muslim, I didn’t wear the niqab (face veil) out of religious inspiration or for social experimentation, but simply to fit in with locals when I traveled overseas. At first it felt oddly freeing. Since it was a common cultural practice among the conservative families where I was staying, I had an easier time blending in and going about unnoticed in a crowd. Sure, I was still 6 inches taller than everyone else, and I did end up tripping and falling in the dirt a few times due to lack of visibility. And I there was that other time that I came close to dying of heatstroke. But I worked…

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Clean Reader App – self censorship for babies

Part of the benefit of living in a democracy is that every person has the right to choose. We exercise that right every moment of every day. Tea or coffee? Bus or train? Free to Air TV or Netflix? Liberals or Labor? A book or a movie?

What we choose does not matter, only that we possess that right.

But rights are not bestowed like magic, they have to be earned in some way. We have earned our right to choose by defending other’s right to property. When I go out and buy a book in whatever format, I am buying the ‘object’, not the words and ideas in that object.

Thus I can choose to buy or not to buy that object, but I cannot choose to copy all the words and pretend I wrote them. By the same token, I cannot snip out the bits I don’t like and substitute something more palatable for them.

Yet that, apparently, is exactly what Clean Reader App is doing.  Because the medium of the book is digital, this app can come along, hoover up the words and replace them with ‘clean’ words.

Unfortunately, as D.V.Berkom points out in her post, this computerized CENSORSHIP changes the meaning, intent, pace, flow and music of the prose. That is just notangry on.

I’m all for choice. In fact, I’d like to see even more choice in our lives, but this is not choice, this is censorship pure and simple and by a ‘machine’ no less.

Are we truly such babies that we can’t trust ourselves to close a book that contains content we think we shouldn’t read?

-makes rude noise-

Meeks


You’ll never see toast the same way again!

Okay, people, I know two posts about writing in as many days is probably a bit much, but this one is so funny!

Here’s a teensy weensy sample talking about the concept of ‘the Chosen One’, and how much of a cliche it is. Author S.E. Zbasnik, muses on what might happen if the all powerful ‘they’ picked the wrong chosen one. They might find that:

‘The true savior of the Lumtkins was actually a sentient piece of bread, but no one thought to armor up toast.’

Read the full article here. I’m going back to laugh some more. :D

Meeks


Plotting for pantsters

NC route2Most writers who identify as pantsters do so because they can’t or won’t use outlines for their work. They like the thrill of the unknown, of putting finger to keyboard and jumping into a story without any idea of where it’s going. I know this because I am one. In fact I can’t outline to save my life.

But plotting and outlining are not quite the same thing. A plot is like a road map; it defines the destination of the story, and offers possible pathways for getting there. But if you don’t want to take the highway, or even those twisty country lanes, a plot will allow you to set off cross-country with just the position of the sun as your compass.

Outlines, on the other hand, are more like a GPS device. They tell you when and where to turn. They can even tell you how long it will be before you reach your destination, and they definitely take the guesswork out of driving. But some people like to get a little bit lost.

Personally, I find GPS devices unbearable, but that is only my personal preference. Maps, however, are fine because they give me the choice of where and how to go. And that is why I’m okay with plotting.

But why, you ask, would any pantster want to plot in the first place?

Well, I can only speak from personal experience, but I’ve found that once a story reaches a certain level of complexity, I have to plot …or perish.

Before I go on, however, I need to make another, defining point : complexity is not the same as plot. You could have one hundred characters all running around doing their own thing, but all that stuff will not give you a plot. A plot has a beginning, a middle and an end, and all the actions of the characters have to be woven into those structural grab-bags in a meaningful way. Events have to flow. They have to make sense. They have to progress. They have to get somewhere.

Not all stories have to have a plot, or get somewhere, but all the stories I love to read do, even if the plot is no more complicated than the development of a single character from one state to another.

As someone who loves science fiction stories, my writing style is complicated by the fact that I love tight plots that build tension amongst the characters, and in the minds of their readers.

I’m not talking about mystery style ‘tight’, of course. I suspect all mystery writers are plotters because keeping the reader guessing is the purpose of the genre, and if the writer doesn’t know what’s going to happen next then what hope is there for the reader?

No, the type of ‘tight’ plot I’m talking about is more like what you find in a thriller. Thrillers do not try to surprise the reader, until perhaps the very end. Instead, they turn the reader into an invisible spectator, one who can see far more of the game than any of the naïve characters. Thus the spectator sits there, biting his or her nails as the characters wander blithely into and out of danger, often without even knowing they have done so.

It is this helpless awareness that creates the tension in thrillers. Of course, a good thriller always keeps something in reserve so the reader is never quite sure if the inevitable is really going to be inevitable.

Unfortunately that final question mark in the story means that the author has to have some control over where the story is going, and this brings us right back to plot again. How does a pantster meet the requirements of the story without either boring the reader stupid with predictable action, or confusing them with a plot that goes no-where?

Marian Allen, author and blogger, discussed this issue in her post ‘Deadly Duck into Good Duck‘ just today. And yes, the post is humorous while making some important points.

For me, plotting as a pantster is a circular, rather time-consuming process. Imagine it like this. I start out on a journey. I’m marching along happily in the sunshine, just enjoying the view. But then storm clouds begin to gather. Ut oh…not good.

I look around for shelter. Where the hell am I? I whip out my trusty street directory and after much head-scratching, I work out a route to the nearest bus shelter.

Off I go, determined to reach that bus shelter before the storm hits. But just as I round the first corner, what should I see before me but a five star restaurant! Running inside, I have a delicious meal followed by a decaf latte, and by the time I’ve finished, the storm has passed and I can carry on strolling through the country-side once more.

If you could see my street directory, you would notice that my progress is more zig zag than ‘as the crow flies’. But that’s okay because along the way I pick up beautiful flowers, and lovely, odd-shaped pebbles. Plus I get to see into some interesting houses along the way. [No! I am not a sticky beak or peeping Thomasina! This is for research purposes only.]

Then, when I finally reach my journey’s end, I look back at the distances I’ve covered, and all the fascinating things I’ve found along the way, and I order them into a travelogue. The guide I create is not straight, and it does not take in all the things I discovered along my own journey, but it does include all the best, brightest, most exciting things. And of course, the route always leads somewhere.

In more prosaic terms, I restructure and edit until I’m blue in the face to ensure the reader’s journey is as enjoyable as mine was, just without the potholes. Sometimes things work as planned, sometimes they don’t, but as a writer, I can never leave the reader stranded somewhere with no bus shelter in sight and a storm brewing.

Plotting of some sort is as necessary as grammar and punctuation. We forget that at our peril.

 


Banana cake recipe WANTED!

I have about 6 beautifully ripe bananas that are too soft to eat but way too nice to throw out. Anyone have a simple but tasty recipe they can give me for banana cake?

cheers

Meeks

p.s. I could google recipes but I’d rather try something that comes with a recommendation.


Vale Malcolm Fraser, 1930-2015

Forever remembered as the man who engineered the Dismissal [of Prime Minister Gough Witlam], Malcolm Fraser was someone I hated back in the 70s, 80s and even the 90s. But in his old age, I discovered a man whose philosophy of life was strangely familiar.

I’m glad to say I finally saw the humanitarian behind the politician. That’s how I’ll remember him.

Farewell.


But I like my horse and buggy!

meerkat pic smallI’ve never been a true techie geek, but I did pride myself on being one of the early adopters of personal computers back in the 1980’s. I used to shake my head in dismay at my peers who were bending over backwards to avoid computers. Could they not see computers were the way of the future?

Fast forward to 2015 and the new ‘tech’ is not computers, it’s not even mobile devices like tablets and phones, it’s the apps on those devices. And guess who doesn’t want to have anything to do with those apps? Yup, me.:(

Oh don’t get me wrong, I do have a smart phone, and I do have a tablet, and I use both, but only in small, timid ways. I did work out how to get music on my Kindle Fire, but I don’t listen to it because the speakers on my computer [at home] give me a far better sound experience.

Another thing I don’t use on my tablet is the ability to browse and buy – we don’t have wi-fi at home, and I have yet to work out how to access the so-called ‘hot spots’ outside the home. Instead I do just one thing on my tablet, I read.

My smartphone is even more unloved because I can’t afford to pay for the plans that allow you to download masses of data from the internet. Here in Australia, data is expensive, so basically my monthly download limit is reserved for my bushfire warning app.

[Note! Since upgrading the firmware on my phone from Ice Cream Sandwich to Jelly Bean, the EmergencyAus app works properly.]

I don’t check emails on my phone because all my data would be eaten up by the flood of spam I always get. I don’t ‘read’ on my phone because I’d need a magnifying glass to see what I was reading. I’m not interested in Facebook or Twitter so I’m not going to waste data on social media, and I don’t play ‘games’ because…

Hmm, the real reason I don’t play games is because I don’t really know how to do the whole ‘app’ thing. And that is the part that has me scared. Why am I not embracing this new technology the way the youngies are?

When I was a kid, we used to marvel at my friend’s grandmother – the old lady would always get properly dressed before sitting down in front of the TV. Why? Because she believed the people inside the TV could see her and she wanted to look her best!

Years later, I remember wondering why old people were always so negative about new things, and so unwilling to learn. Well now that I’m becoming one of those old people, I have the answer to my questions: we all learn on a need-to-know basis, and it’s all too easy to decide that we don’t need to know the latest craze sweeping the younger generations.

I know I’ve been guilty of that ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude, but after reading about Meerkat this morning, I’ve recognized the folly of my ways. Frankly, if I don’t embrace all this newfangled stuff, and soon, I’m going to become one of those little old ladies who talks fondly about the horse and buggy, and how much nicer life was ‘back then’.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. What’s that? You haven’t heard of Meerkat? Mwahahahaha! Google it and find out, or click on the cute picture. :D


Why Australia could have benefited from fiber to the node technology

Internet access from Australia has always been poor when compared to most advanced nations in the world. We all know that, which is why we cheered when the previous Labor government paved the way for fiber to the node technology.

Whatever it’s teething problems, the full fiber to the node would have taken Australia from the tail of the pack to the front. But being at the front would not have been just ego boosting, it would have been economy boosting because the next wave of technology will rely on fiber to the node.

Try and picture a time without electricity. That’s where we are now. On the cusp of a new era of industrial development. Fiber to the node will be like electric power was, over a century ago. Those countries that invested in power plants, light poles and power lines were able to attract all the new development that needed electric power to take off. That is how important fiber to the node will be in the very near future.

Sadly Australia will not be the country making the most of fiber to the node. The US will. Read the following  article from Venturebeat today:

“At SWSX in Austin, Texas today, supercomputer cloud gaming company Shinra Technologies announced that its technical beta will begin in the U.S. later this year and that those with Google Fiber in Kansas City will be among the first to get access to it. Since Google started laying the infrastructure for Fiber service in 2012, the city has welcomed several startups to the area that would stand to benefit from the groundbreaking service.”

The future is already happening, but we’re not in it.

We’re not cowards as a people. Why are we letting our future and the future of our kids slip through our fingers?

While our truly ‘conservative’ government pinches pennies and dimes from those who can least afford it, they’re letting the trillions escape in lost opportunity.

I’m too disgusted to go on.

Meeks


Women and superannuation

**As a woman with no superannuation at all, this is going to be a rant, so be warned.**

angry

There was no such thing as superannuation when I was working in the corporate sector during the 80’s, and after I married I moved to my then husband’s small business. I stress the word ‘small’ because we could not afford to pay ourselves a salary per se, that luxury was reserved for our employees. We only took out what we absolutely needed to survive.

The family business had its ups and downs, but it did pay the bills, and once our daughter arrived, it gave me the opportunity to work from home. Effectively, I became a full-time Mum, and a part-time, unpaid employee. I viewed my employment status as a bonus because I had never received a ‘wage’ anyway.

Unfortunately, the business did not survive the ’90’s and nor did the marriage. I’m not complaining, that is just how life is sometimes. I’m sure there are millions of women in the same boat. My rant, if you like, is about an economy that totally ignores the plight of women such as myself.

Let me explain. Superannuation was initially brought in as a means of ‘forced saving’ so the Baby Boomer generation would not be completely reliant on the government pension to survive in retirement. It’s probably not a bad idea, for those who work in corporation jobs, but what of people who own and run small businesses?

If you think my description of working in a family business is unusual, think again. There are a lot of people in my generation who never bothered about superannuation, or the lack thereof, because we naively assumed that we would strike it rich and be rolling in cash for our old age. Of course we never truly believe in the old age part, but that’s a rant for another day.

So there you have a whole lot of people with little to no super. At this point, my rant is unisex as it applies to men as well as women. But do you remember the part where I talked about working from home while raising my daughter? That is the part where the lot of women takes a nose-dive. By trying to have it all, we end up with no career path and no continuity.

Of the two, career related benefits, the lack of continuity is perhaps the most insidious. Back in the ’70s I was registered as a secondary school teacher, but once I became enamoured of computers, I stopped teaching and eventually, my registration lapsed. That should not have been a huge problem, except that about the same time, most government institutions transitioned from paper to digital records. And they made you jump through hoops to update your paper records.

Now when I say hoops, I mean great big world spanning vicious circles. Firstly, I was born in Hungary and came to Australia as a refugee [along with my parents, obviously]. I became an Australian citizen when I was 17 or 18, and I was given a rather lovely, paper certificate as proof.

Unfortunately that certificate, along with all my other documentation, including Hungarian birth certificate, was in my maiden name, but by the time I wanted to re-register as a teacher, all my current ID was in my married name.

Long story short, re-registering as a secondary school teacher was just too hard, so I let it slide. And by the time I had to look at getting a paid job again all my qualifications were years out of date. Caring for elderly parents pushed the continuity of my skills even further. I had kept up with my skills on the computer, but how did I go about proving that I still had skills?

Those of you who have followed some of my more personal posts will know about my efforts to regain recognized qualifications, and my attempts to use those qualifications in the paid workforce. I haven’t given up, but my track record to-date has not been very successful.

So… I’m 62 with some hard earned qualifications, but no job to speak of, and of course, no superannuation. What I do have, however, is the family home. It is my one and only asset, unless you count a 1988 Toyota Corolla. It is what I will have to sell one day to pay for my dotage. Yet now certain politicians are talking about including the family home in the asset test for the pension.

On February 17, 2015, Scott Morrison ruled out including the family home in asset testing, and yet, despite that, speculation is still buzzing around in the media.

Not to be cynical, but given Scott Morrison’s pragmatic, and callous treatment of refugees, and the many back flips coming from this government, I have a bad feeling about this. Pensioners are sitting ducks when it comes to governments wanting to balance the budget.

So I ask myself this question, if I don’t have any superannuation, and may not be eligible for the pension at age 65, just exactly what am I supposed to do to survive the golden years of my retirement?

I should probably have kept this post as a draft but I accidentally hit publish instead of preview. Ah well. I’d still like to know your thoughts.

cheers

Meeks


‘The Spark’ video trailer

I’m sitting at my desk, enjoying a morning of perfect autumn weather – clear, sunny but crisp, and with no [great] danger of bushfire. It’s probably a little early to declare that fire season is over for another year, but I really think it may be. :)

To celebrate, I’m going to share a video trailer about fire of a different sort – building fire. The video trailer goes with the novel, The Spark, by John Kenny. I wrote a review about The Spark here [I loved it], so it should come as no surprise that I was very impressed with the book trailer as well.

Produced by Kat Brooks, the book trailer uses a software application called Animoto to create a short video clip comprising still images, text, animation, and of course, music.

I think the book trailer works very well and showcases what can be done with a good ‘eye’, some software and a bit of imagination. And now, without further ado, I give you :

Happy Monday

or don’t worry, only five more days to go. ;)

Meeks


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