The global rankings of gender parity don’t look good for the US

Source: The global rankings of gender parity don’t look good for the US

Just as a p.s. – I wonder what kind of contribution Australia makes to the number in Southeast Asia? How ironic that the US and Australia talk so much about gender equality but don’t walk the walk.

A very young Jose Carreras in Budapest

jose carreras 1970sThe internet is magic! I’ve just found the original performance that ‘turned me on’ to opera – back in the early 1970’s.

It’s by this young Spanish tenor called Jose Carreras, and he’s singing ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca.

It is still my favourite aria for a tenor [sorry Nessun Dorma] and you can hear it by clicking on the link below [not Youtube unfortunately so I can’t make it nice and easy for you. Also I have to warn you that the sound production is a bit iffy, but the voice is not].

Now here is the reason this particular performance is so special to me – I was there, in Budapest, in that audience, going nuts with a few thousand other opera fanatics. Me, the girl who didn’t like opera. You can hear us after the aria is finished.

I kid you not, we loved his performance so much we would not let the opera continue. He had to do a ridiculous number of encores – ten?…more? – before we, the audience, would let him rest.

Sadly, while I remembered the aria and the opera and the performance, I completely forgot the young tenor’s name, and by the time I came across him again in The Three Tenors, he had had leukemia and that glorious, soaring voice did not soar any more. So I thought it couldn’t be him.

And there my memories would have remained had David Prosser’s post not sent me down memory lane. On a whim I googled ‘Jose Carreras Cavaradossi Budapest’ and bingo…a hit, and not just any hit, it was the hit. Time travel for real.

Actually, the whole thing feels a little spooky. As I listen to the audience going mad at the end of the aria I keep expecting the camera to zoom in on the audience to find one enraptured 21 year old and her aunt. The old me looking back at the young me.

Didn’t happen, of course, but it does feel odd.

Anyway, I hope Jose Carreras remembers that night with as much fondness as I do.










Blade and Soul – system error #3746

takhahn pic

The pic above shows my assassin character on Blade and Soul. I have not been able to play him for three days because I keep getting the system error shown in the title of this post. Not fun.

I have just checked the forums and there seem to be quite a few people in the same boat as me – when we try to login we get a system error and login fails. For me, login fails at the verification code stage – I get the verification code, cut and paste it into the verification box and then …system error blah blah.

I have tried resetting the password, but now I get a new message – account locked due to suspicious activity. Apparently, attempting to follow their procedures is suspicious.

Oddly enough I agree. I suspect there is a massive problem in the whole security/gameguard area of the game. For starters, having to enter a verification code every time the IP address changes is insane – most people, myself included, do not have static IP addresses. Change is part of the definition! And now this.

In some ways, though, I am thrilled. I am thrilled that I resisted the urge to go for one of the premium packages. I am also thrilled that I resisted buying anything in the cash shop. At least, now, all I’ve lost is some time and about 20 GB of bandwidth. Some people who can’t get into the game are paying for that privilege.

Talking about paying, another reason I am thrilled by all this is that I hate how closely the game is tied to the cash shop. I don’t mind paying for cosmetic items, but having to pay just to upgrade your weapon is a bit rich.

Weapon upgrade a.k.a. Breakthrough

Basically each class gets a purple weapon very early on in the game. Then as you progress you upgrade that one weapon.  So far so good. But then you very quickly hit the ‘Breakthrough’ point, and suddenly things get sticky.

Breakthrough is like a plateau in the weapon’s power. In order to take your weapon to the next plateau, you have to breakthrough by using a special, low grade weapon that is class specific. Now the packages that contain these low grade weapons are easy to get BUT, they have to be opened with a key. Ordinary keys are easy to get as well, but if you use ordinary keys to unlock the weapon package it’s up to luck as to which class specific weapon you get.

So far my character has accumulated 4 of one class weapon, 2 of another and one each of every other class in the game. The only thing I don’t have is my own class specific weapon.

But wait! If I go to the cash shop and buy a Veridien Key, it is guaranteed to unlock my class specific weapon. Do you see the trap here?

As I refuse to pay for such a basic and necessary item, my character is a level 14 assassin using a level 5 weapon which I cannot upgrade. Not without paying.

I don’t know if I have just been extraordinarily unlucky or the game is rigged to push your frustration levels to the point where you cave in and pay just so you can continue to level. Either way, I hate it. This is game design at its most greedy.

So I guess that’s it. Bye bye Blade and Soul. What a disappointment.




High Court OKs offshore detention…

I was angry enough to write a post about this, but then I found this cartoon and it said everything I wanted to say, but better. We all know that ‘saving boat people’ [from themselves?] is a very convenient lie. When will we stop accepting it?

Peter Broelman

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#Innerscape – the young Miira Lindgren

I always visualised the character of Miira Tahn as Eurasian, but I did not spell it out in so many words. So now, allow me to introduce Miira as she was, before time, marriage and illness turned her into a Boomer.

-drum roll –

The young Miira Lindgren:

maybe miira 2


Disclaimer : I found this lovely photo almost a year ago on the internet and unfortunately I did not save the URL so I have no idea who the real person in the photo is. Dear Lady, apologies for not naming you properly. And, although it should be obvious, all the character profile information below is made up! Huge thanks to Mr Merveilleux for telling me this lovely lady is South Korean Song Hye-kyo!

  • Physical appearance : 5’4”, dark brown hair, brown eyes, light olive skin, slim build.
  • Birthday: June 14th, 2050
  • Place of birth: Fiji
  • Mother: Lin Jia [pronounced the Chinese way with the surname first] was killed when Miira was 11.
  • Father: Aron Lindgren, died in a construction accident when Miira was 8.
  • Race: Mixed ancestry – Swedish and Chinese.
  • Sexuality: hetero

Okay, enough fun. I’m on the second bend before the final straight that leads to the home stretch on Innerscape, so I’m off back to work. :)



Skippy the Islamist kangaroo?

Just had to share this!

Peter Broelman is an Aussie cartoonist with a wicked sense of humour.

I think even my international friends will get this one if I tell you that Eric Abetz is a minister in the current Liberal government – the same government that is hoping to postpone the question of marriage equality until it dies of old age.

Peter Broelman

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What would we do without the #internet?

bright idea 2Last night, The Offspring and I faced an evening of utter misery – no emails, no WordPress, no jigsaw puzzles and no GAMING! -wail-

We did have our Kindles, and we did have the TV, but as the ratings season has not begun yet, there was nothing on the TV worth watching. I suspect we would not have watched it even if there had been because the internet eclipsed the TV long ago, at least for us. We only have five main TV channels so the degree of choice is fairly low. By contrast, the internet has literally everything.

As a teacher, I’ve long known that ageing Boomers would benefit from the freedom and connectedness the internet provides, but even I was surprised by how pervasive it has become in my own life. It entertains me whenever I want or need to be entertained, it connects me to friends all over the world, and it’s also there when I’m working. Need to check a fact? Just Google it. Need to find a half-remembered quote? Google it. Need a smart sounding saying in Latin? Google it. Need to find out how to do something? You guessed it, Google again.

But Google would be nothing without all the information it searches.

And right there is the true power of the internet. It’s like an ever expanding, shapeless repository of knowledge that is being added to and tweaked every moment of every day by someone somewhere around the world.

This giant amoeba of knowledge is not organized as neatly as a Wiki, and you have to know how to phrase your question to find the answer you need, but it’s all there, 24/7, 364 days of the year.

Except when it’s not.

Having learned to take all this knowledge for granted, what would we do if it were suddenly taken away, from everyone? And no, this is not the beginning of a new science fiction story, although it would make a good one. I am genuinely concerned.

Why? Because I know that only a tiny fraction of all that information and knowledge is ‘backed up’ in physical media such as print books, tape backup, DVDs, you name it. That means only a tiny fraction of our combined, human knowledge would be available to us if the internet went down permanently. Worse, what knowledge we still had would be proprietary, and jealously guarded by those that ‘owned’ it.

Now I know that ‘owning’ knowledge is nothing new, we’re living with the consequences of patenting information every day. But can you imagine how much worse things would be if all the other knowledge in the world were no longer shared either?

As a species, homo sapiens has progressed fastest when knowledge was shared, freely and without favour – think of the explosion of creativity that occurred during the Renaissance. If we lost the internet we could easily lose much of what we have gained over the last two hundred odd years, going from the age of enlightenment to a modern dark age, virtually overnight. And then we’d fight wars over what was left.

Of all the infrastructure the world can no longer do without, I’d put the internet at the top of the list of things to guard with our lives. What do you think? Am I being realistic or have I simply not had enough caffeine yet this morning?



Floating #solar power plants!

I first read about floating solar power plants in Quartz, and just had to share. Here are a couple of amazing video clips that prove this is not sci-fi!

The second video clip is not as slick as the first and has no sound at all. BUT. It shows time lapse photography of the plant being put together in a week!

And just in case you think these are just weird one-offs, here’s one from India. :)

The thing I like most about this concept is that it is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that it puts clean, green energy within the grasp of the poorest countries. With it, they can embrace technology and make a better life for their people without having to go the dirty-fossil-fuels path.

I predict that these countries will be leading the way in clean energy within 30 years while my own country will still be talking about waiting for the rest of the world ‘to do something’ about climate change…

-face palm-


Felicia Farerre – a voice in a million

A few weeks back, I pointed you guys to some not-quite-released songs by my favourite composer, Jo Blankenburg. One of them was ‘Crater of Lost Souls’.

Well today, I have a treat for you. The glorious voice featured in ‘Crater of Lost Souls’ belongs to Felicia Farerre, and I found this lovely video clip of her on Youtube. Enjoy!


p.s. And yes, more writing music. :D

#Haiku help needed – update 24/1/2016

Thank you to all those who left comments and suggestions. Your help gave me a really valuable insight into haiku, at least in the English form, and why it’s so hard to write.

For those interested, my little insight has to do with the sound of the haiku when spoken out loud. You see, the very first time I came across the haiku form it was at uni. where I was studying Japanese. And of course, it was the famous frog haiku by Basho:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

To this day I love the sound of those three lines and seventeen syllables flow. They flow, almost like music, and I believe the reason is that in Japanese, each syllable is given its full value. In English, however, the written word is often very different to the spoken sound because we truncate syllables. Just think of that oh-so-Aussie ‘g’day’. ‘Good day’ has two syllables, but how many are there in ‘gday’?

Sadly, this insight merely highlights the fact that I don’t have the skills to make music with the imagery I see in my head. :(

I may return to the ideas and feel of this little ‘pome’ of mine one day, but for now I’ll stick to what I know best…prose.

Heartfelt thanks to all,



Okay. I do not write poetry, but I’ve always loved the old, traditional Haiku of Japan, so when I needed a title for part 8 of Innerscape, this sort-of Haiku popped into my head:

Condolences like ash,
Softly falling,
The finality of gone

I like it, and it really fits the story, but as a haiku it’s a fail. The total syllables are 17, but their placement is all wrong: 6-4-7 instead of 5-7-5.

My question is this – as I’m writing in English, can I get away with it?




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