Category Archives: My soap box

Sometimes you just can’t get a break…

I’m writing this post because I simply can’t believe the perfect storm of bad luck that’s hit me recently. It’s type or scream…

So, less than a week ago I received a traffic infringement notice. I’d been fined $207 for doing 65 km in a 60 km zone. Then today, I received a letter from VicRoads saying my car registration had expired on July the 16th, and I had until October to pay or my registration would be cancelled. Please note, my registration is not currently cancelled.

I was still going what the…? when I opened the second letter and almost had heart failure. It was a second infringement notice for being caught speeding while my registration was expired. This time the fine is for $826. WTF????

I immediately rang Vic Roads and was told that with short term renewals, they send me a letter 6 weeks before my registration expires, and a reminder 10 days after it’s expired. Had I chosen to be notified by email, they apparently send three reminders prior to registration expiring…

For those who have no idea what a short term renewal is, it’s simply a way of spreading car registration payments over four quarters instead of paying a huge lump sum once a year. As someone on a full age pension – roughly $900 every two weeks – being able to spread the payments evenly seemed like a wonderful idea. Except that four quarterly payments means four renewal notices per year. Four chances for that renewal notice to go astray.

The last renewal notice I received was in April. I paid it. I did not receive one for July. I did, however, receive the reminder sent 10 days after my registration expired. Guess what though? The speeding infringement was dated July 19. 3 days after the expiry I knew nothing about and 7 days before the warning letter arrived.

I was angry over the speeding fine because I know the spot where it must have happened. It’s either going up a very steep hill or doing down a very steep hill. If I was caught going up that hill I had probably taken a run at it; 30 year old Corolla’s need a bit of help. If it was going down the hill, you’re going to pick up speed even if you ride the brake. I imagine the company that has the contract to run the speed camera knows full well that that particular spot is as close to entrapment as you can legally get. And no, apparently the police don’t man the speed cameras any more.

So, a system that’s meant to make life easier for people on the lowest incomes has become a loaded gun just waiting to go off.

I honestly don’t know what to do. The Offspring wants me to fight it in court but…it’s my word against that of a whole system. I say I didn’t get the renewal notice; the system says I did. Or maybe it’s the hit or miss nature of it? I want to fight it, but what if I end up having to pay even more?

Apologies everyone. I just needed to vent. ūüė¶

Meeks


Coal Seam Gas – destroying the Great Artesian Basin?

I stumbled on a tweet this morning.

It included this video.

Curious, I watched the video.

Shocked, I took a screenshot and added a bright yellow arrow to highlight the bubble of gas that has just been set alight. What you see under the flames is the water flowing from a bore drilled into the Great Artesian Basin [GAB for short].

This is the complete video:

Why is this so shocking? Because without that bore water, much of the food production in the arid parts of Australia simply would not be possible:

Prior to European occupation, waters of the GAB discharged through mound springs, many in arid South Australia. These springs supported a variety of endemic invertebrates (molluscs, for example), and supported extensive Aboriginal communities and trade routes.[8] After the arrival of Europeans, they enabled early exploration and faster communications between southeastern Australia and Europe via the Australian Overland Telegraph Line.[8] The Great Artesian Basin became an important water supply for cattle stations, irrigation, and livestock and domestic usage, and is a vital life line for rural Australia.[9] To tap it, water wellsare drilled down to a suitable rock layer, where the pressure of the water forces it up, mostly without pumping.

Quote taken from Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Artesian_Basin

By Tentotwo – Basin extent: Geoscience Australia Revised Great Artesian Basin Jurassic-Cretaceous boundaryCoastline, rivers, state borders: Natural Earth dataset, 1:50MShaded relief: Kenneth Townsend, Shaded Relief Archive, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26822532

I know that everything in life is a balancing act between opposite and competing priorities, but destroying Peter to pay Paul is simply insane.

Yes, we do need gas to generate instant electricity until our power generation switches fully to renewables and storage [wind, solar, batteries]. But we also need to eat. If the water goes, so will much of inland Australia.

What makes this all so much worse is that we wouldn’t need to extract coal seam gas from the GAB if our offshore gas hadn’t been sold overseas for peanuts.¬†Industry, AEMO*, and Federal and State governments are all to blame: Industry for not giving a shit about anything except shareholder profits, AEMO for allowing Industry to game the bloody system, and governments for putting short term gains ahead of long term planning.

When are we going to accept that Industry will NEVER self-regulate for the good of society as a whole?

It’s like leaving the door to the hen house wide open and expecting the fox to leave the chickens alone. Really?

Yet isn’t that exactly what all Western governments do? They allow multinational corporations to self-regulate and then go ‘tut tut’ when said corporations engage in shonky business practices.¬† And let’s not sugar coat reality: the Global Financial Crisis was caused by criminals on Wall Street. Closer to home we have the findings of the Banking Royal Commission. Apparently we have white collar criminals in the ANZ and Commonwealth Bank too. And then, of course, we have the thieves fronting social media and hiding behind the scenes in the ‘ad networks’. They just spy on us and steal our personal data for profit…

In a balanced ecology, you need foxes as well as chickens, but it is the role of government to protect the chickens from the foxes. Western governments are failing, in spectacular fashion. And in the process, democracy itself is under attack as never before. If we don’t stop the rot now, future generations will not be living in a democracy, they’ll be living in a corporate state, as peons**.

Meeks

* The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for operating Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peon


Powerline fiasco in Nth Warrandyte

Residents in Nth Warrandyte were without power for 18 hours today. We were without power for 18 hours today, and you’d better believe that we were not amused. But the problem goes deeper than simple inconvenience. The powerlines that keep failing are these¬† super-dooper new ones:

As you can see from the photo, the new powerlines are much thicker than the old ones. They are also supposed to be much safer than the old ones, and therefore less likely to start bushfires in this highly bushfire-prone area.

Of course, the safest option would be to put all powerlines underground. But that would be expensive, wouldn’t it? So instead we get this half-baked alternative that keeps breaking down.

How do I know the problem is in the new powerlines? I know, because Nth Warrandyte is pretty much the only area in which these new lines have been completed. Nth Warrandyte also happens to be the only area where these long, unexpected, unplanned power outages seem to occur.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve always had power outages in Nth Warrandyte, for as long as we’ve been here, but never like this. And never accompanied by bangs in the middle of the night. The Offspring saw and heard three explosions last night, just before midnight. Each one briefly lit up the night sky… from the exact area where the problems have been occurring.

The utility company in charge of our powerlines and electricity infrastructure is SPAusnet. This is the same company whose infrastructure may have caused the destruction of homes in Warrandyte in 2014.

The Offspring spoke to the utility today and described the explosions. The response was that ‘it was possums’.

Puleeeeeze. Possums don’t go ‘bang’. And even if it were possums, that would mean that the new, super thick, super ‘safe’ powerlines are even less capable of withstanding the ravages of nature around here. Not exactly reassuring when we’re facing a potentially catastrophic fire season in January/February.

The one bright spot is that the bridge renovations are mostly complete. That gives Nth Warrandyte residents one extra lane across the Yarra River in an emergency. The new Traffic lights are great as well, and both of these measures make living here just that little bit safer. Thanks Daniel Andrews!

Pity SPAusnet can’t get the powerlines right. I wonder how much it’ll cost the company if the new powerlines cause a fire, and they’re hit with a class action suit by all the residents of Nth Warrandyte? I’ll bet that going underground would be seen as ‘cheaper’. Then again, SPAusnet only paid out $648 million dollars in out of court compensation payments after Black Saturday, so perhaps not…

Not happy

Meeks

 


7 year retrospective

Good morning all. Apparently, it’s my anniversary. According to WordPress, I started blogging on this day, exactly seven years ago. ūüôā

To be honest, all I remember about that day, and that first post, is that I didn’t expect anyone to read it. Nevertheless, I decided that if I really did need to have a blog [as all the pundits said], it would be about my passions rather than just ‘marketing’. So I dusted off my soapbox, hopped on and let rip about climate change.

Sadly, little has changed between then and now. In case you’re interested, this is my very first post, dated December 29, 2011:

# # #

When I first started writing science fiction, I was aware of climate change, but I blush to say I did not take it very seriously. I assumed that global warming would be ‘fixed’, like the hole in the ozone layer, before it could become a genuine cause for concern. Oops…

Fast forward ten years and climate change is one of the hottest topics in the media. Thanks to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, climate change has become a part of mainstream consciousness. Yet despite multiple summits – Durban being the latest – and enough talk to float a thousand zeppelins, we seem to be further from a genuine solution than ever before. Everyone knows that the world should move to a low carbon economy, but no-one wants to suffer in the process. Understandable, but just a tad short-sighted given how much suffering there is likely to be if we don’t.

So who are the protagonists in this tragic comedy? Well, in terms of sheer numbers, ordinary people like you and me are at the top of the list. We don’t understand the science – no surprise there – so we only know what the media choose to tell us, and the media are having a field day playing both sides against the middle.

On the one hand they are gleefully telling us about island nations like Tuvalu that are already beginning to disappear beneath rising sea levels, but on the other hand, they are also telling us that scientists are divided about whether climate change is real or not.

To keep the pot boiling, the media give equal air time [and validity] to crackpots ¬†like Lord Monckton who know less about the science than I do. They also keep us guessing by all the things they don’t say. For example when they talk about dissent in the scientific ranks they fail to mention that most of the dissenting scientists are not in the climate change discipline.

However the strangest aspect of the media coverage, is their lack of interest in ferreting out who is paying whom to say what. ¬†I have yet to see a single mainstream article that names climate change skeptics who are paid thousands of dollars per day to ‘consult’ with the very industries that have the most to gain from raising doubt about the science.

These industries ¬†[petroleum and coal spring to mind but they are not the only ones] are using the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco used so successfully to drag the smoking ‘debate’ out for thirty years or more. They are funding genuine scientists, as well as those with no credentials whatsoever, to raise doubt in the minds of governments and ordinary citizens alike in order to delay action on climate change for as long as possible. These delaying tactics translate into profit for them, and helpless confusion for the rest of us.

And the media either can’t or won’t report it.

I am realistic enough to know that libel laws make this kind of reporting difficult, however I can’t help thinking that a certain amount of editorial gagging is also going on. After all, the media is now run by a few, very large, very powerful media barons who have connections to other equally powerful corporate players, and all of them have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo [business as usual].

Little wonder then that ordinary people are confused. But what of governments? Surely they should be better informed than we are?

The problem with governments all over the world is that they are run by politicians who have all the same failings as ordinary people. Some are stupid, some are greedy, some are self-centred and ambitious, and some are simply short-sighted. They know that climate change is real and they know that hard decisions will have to be taken if we are to avoid the worst of the consequences climate change will bring, but they are afraid of what will happen now if they try to do anything. Millions of people are already out of work, and the industries that used to employ them are tottering on the brink of collapse. Surely now is not the time to slap them with a carbon tax. Surely now is not the time to insist that they clean up their act. Surely now is not the time to rock the boat.

Or is it?

Perhaps I have spent too long playing with plot lines, but it seems to me that this is a perfect time for Darwin’s theory of natural selection to kick in. I say we should let the deadwood die instead of propping it up with financial assistance that simply ends up in the pockets of those who caused the mess in the first place.

And while the market is sorting out which companies are the fittest,  government support can be given to  all the new, emerging, low carbon industries that have been starved of funding for so long.

Let’s reward these new industries for being innovative and efficient. Let’s reward them for being lean and mean. Let’s allow them to move into the spaces left by the old dinosaurs. Let’s allow them to revive our flagging economies, and in the process give jobs to those people prepared to learn the relevant new skills.

Yes, there will be disruptions and yes, we may have to adjust our standard of living a little, but surely that is better than suddenly waking up to find that the global markets have collapsed completely because every nation on earth is threatened by rising sea levels, crop failures, famine, floods, fires, drought, disease and all the other lovely things nature can throw at us?

I love the good things in life as much as anyone, so I too I like things the way they are now. Nonetheless, if things must change then I’d rather get used to those changes gradually. And I’d rather have some choice in the matter.

– If ¬†power production is part of the problem [as it is] then I’d rather pay a competitive price for solar panels than keep on¬† paying for dirty power.

– If petrol driven cars are part of the problem [as they are] then let me choose to buy a hybrid or electric car instead [which I can then charge from those lovely solar panels I put in].

– If shipping food from one end of the globe to the other is part of the problem then let me choose to eat only food that is in season and grown locally.

Adjusting to change does not have to be horrendous. Those who have money only have to change their priorities. Those who do not have money should get assistance, and most importantly re-training opportunities so they can take advantage of the new jobs the new industries will bring.

A smooth transition is possible, but only if we get our collective heads out of the sand, and only if we recognize that helping the most vulnerable amongst us is not charity but an investment in the future.

As a writer I can see the possibilities for a better, brighter future, but only time will tell whether we make the transition smoothly, or fall in a heap as a species.

As a human being I’m hoping we don’t go the way of the real dinosaurs, but as a writer I have to acknowledge that at the moment, an end-of-the-world scenario is more likely.

# # #

Thank you to all my online friends. You’ve made the last seven years fun. I hope the next seven are even better!

-hugs-

Meeks


Microsoft Windows 7 update – ‘known issue’ never resolved

Warning: technical post with rant.

Because I’m a baby geek, I have my Windows Updates set to notify but not install. This gives me the chance to look at all the updates and decide which ones to install and which ones to ‘hide’.

Why bother?

Because of ‘known issues’ such as this one:

 

There is an issue with Windows and a third-party software that is related to a missing file (oem<number>.inf). Because of this issue, after you apply this update, the network interface controller will stop working.

Not ‘may stop working’ but ‘will stop working’. Ut oh.

Note: a ‘known issue’ is a problem introduced into the system by the update that the Microsoft developers couldn’t fix in time for that update. The problem with the ‘network interface controller’ [lovingly known as NIC] not working is that your internet connection stops working too.

Most of these ‘known issues’ get fixed as part of the next round of updates, so it pays not to be an early adopter. Sometimes, however, a ‘known issue’ comes with a workaround, or a fix. The fix for the ‘known issue’ with the NIC is this:

  1. To locate the network device, launch devmgmt.msc; it may appear under Other Devices.

  2. To automatically rediscover the NIC and install drivers, select Scan for Hardware Changes from the Action menu.

a. Alternatively, install the drivers for the network device by right-clicking the device and choosing Update. Then choose Search automatically for updated driver software or Browse my computer for driver software.

I’m not a complete n00b when it comes to my computer, and I do know how to install drivers, but it seems to me that something is missing from step 1. Where am I supposed to launch ‘devmgmt.msc’ from? I suspect it’s the Run command line but I’m not sure.

The alternative might be easier as I think I know where to find the device listing, but if the old driver has been corrupted during the ‘problem’, I have no idea what driver the pc will re-install.

Will I have to dig out the very old motherboard setup disk which I may or may not be able to find?

Or will I have to carry my pc down to the repair shop to get someone more knowledgeable to ‘fix’ the update problem for me?

For all these reasons, I have not installed that particular update, but Microsoft continues to sneak it in under each successive optional ‘quality rollup’. It’s become so ridiculous that I just have to look at the size of the update – 229.2 MB – to know what’s in it.

When I first started ignoring this nasty update, I did so because I expected Microsoft to resolve this ‘known issue’ in much the same way as they resolve most other ‘known issues’. Better late than never, right?

Unfortunately, Microsoft has no intention of resolving this particuler issue. Or perhaps they can’t. Just for fun, I followed the link to More Information today and followed the trail of updates back as far as March 13, 2018 before I gave up. The issue with the NIC, and it’s nasty fix, were repeated in each and every update.

So now I’m wondering what happened to other Windows 7 users out there. Did they all install the original nasty update, fix their pc’s and move on? Or was there a tsunami of outrage that I missed?

I’m never going to install this update until Microsoft resolves the issue because this is a problem of their own making, and no company is so big that it should be allowed to get away with such obvious cheating.

Not happy,

Meeks

 


#WordPress – new vs old

I’ve been blogging with WordPress since December, 2011, so I still have access to the old WP dashboard. I still prefer the old WP dashboard… because it works, but today I thought I’d give the ‘new’ interface a try.

The task: to find the shortlink [abbreviated URL] for one of my older posts.

I found the post in question [an interesting journey in its own right], and then went looking for the shortlink command:

[Click the screenshot to see the full sized image]

It wasn’t under any of the options on the menu to the right, so where was it? I knew it had to be there somewhere and kept looking.

I finally found the shortlink feature…hidden behind this tiny, clear-as-mud icon :

…with an even clearer context sensitive description of ‘Edit post URL’

Now, I didn’t want to edit the URL, I wanted to copy it, but for lack of a better option, I clicked the icon. A popup appeared with the option of copying the post URL. Eureka!

This is what the URL looks like when it’s pasted into the address bar of a browser:

Not exactly short, but at least I found it… :/

Now, let’s compare the new version with the old. The screenshot below is from the old dashboard interface:

As you can see, the feature I want is clearly labelled…in words, shock horror.

When I click ‘Get Shortlink’ this is what happens:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shortlink. If you use Twitter like I do, the difference between the two URLs couldn’t be more stark. The ‘new’ version is long, the ‘old’ version is short. Now, you can get a ‘short’ URL by using the online app ‘Tiny URL’, but why bother when you already have the option in WP itself?

I’m all for progress. I’m all for software interfaces being pitched to the newest of users; giving them lots of help is only fair because they’re the ones who need it the most. I even like nice, clean interfaces where there’s little clutter to distract the eye. Unfortunately, the current WordPress interface ticks only one of those boxes – the lack of clutter.

I know they say that one picture is worth a thousand words, but the WordPress GUI [graphical user interface] is not empowering new users because:

  1. Advanced, and not-so-advanced features are hidden behind icons that have no intrinsic meaning – i.e. the icon doesn’t look like the thing it’s meant to represent.
  2. This results in users not even knowing what is possible,
  3. Learning to associate a random looking icon with a particular function requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of the user,
  4. Learning by trial and error involves making mistakes,
  5. Making mistakes takes curiosity and a great deal of courage,
  6. Most new users are terrified of making mistakes, therefore they don’t venture past the functions that are ‘obvious’,
  7. Obvious functions usually involve words with which new users are already familiar.

I’m not sure if this is still a buzzword amongst the young but…fail, WordPress, fail.

Teaching theory

I’ve been teaching both children and adults for a very long time, and the one thing I know for certain is that humans of all ages learn best when new material is linked to old material.

For example, if I wanted to teach someone the difference between a post and a page [on a blog], I might say that a page is like a billboard because it’s permanent, whereas a post is more like an article in a newspaper – i.e. constantly changing. The analogies don’t have to be perfect, they simply have to tap into something the user already knows. Once the similarities are established, it’s much easier to learn about the differences.

So how does this teaching theory relate to the WordPress GUI? It doesn’t, and that’s the problem. The new GUI makes one piece of new information dependent upon a second piece of new information, and that usually leads to poor learning outcomes.

I can only assume that the WordPress GUI is aimed at very young people who may already be familiar with certain symbols from their use of mobile phones. But where does that leave the older user, or those who use their blogs on pc’s and laptops rather than mobile phones? Come to think of it, does anyone actually pick out the words of a post on a mobile phone? I can’t think of anything more tedious.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Now I’m off to use old fashioned words to write another how-to book.

cheers

Meeks


Profiting from the ‘war on waste’

I rarely watch commercial TV and almost never during the morning, but today I did, and it made me hopping mad. I don’t know the name of the show as I only tuned in when the panel started arguing about shopping bags, but essentially, one guy was being very vocal about how great the new ‘multi use’, plastic shopping bag initiative was. Another guy was making the point that it was a pointless exercise because the bags were still made of plastic AND Woolworths was now charging for them as well.

I don’t have a picture of the new, you-beaut plastic shopping bags [because I refuse to buy any], however I think most of us know what they look like. They’re thicker and look suspiciously like the bags we used to get shoes and other jazzy apparel in.

Yes, these bags are a bit bigger and yes, they are a bit stronger too, but they’re still plastic. Worse, they’re made of a plastic that is even harder to get rid of than the so-called single-use bags. I do have a picture of those:

They are ugly, and a menace and impossible to recycle…but they can be re-used. I use at least some of mine as rubbish bin liners in the kitchen [in Nillumbik we have to sort waste into 3 bins]. I also use them to pick up dog poop and other nasty things, thereby saving on plastic gloves as well. At the end of the day, however, these plastic shopping bags still end up in landfill, so I’m all in favour of getting rid of them. The big problem is: what do we replace them with?

Greenies bring their own heavy duty shopping bags which look something like this:

These are fine, in theory, but hands up how many of you forget to take them with you when you go shopping?

I have about 10 of these stupid bags – in the house, in the boot, even on the back seat of the car. D’you think I remember to take them? Nope.

“I just need to pop into the supermarket for milk and eggs…”

Yeah right. I’ve yet to leave a supermarket without at last four bags of unplanned necessities. And you guessed it…they’re in grey plastic shopping bags.

It’s not that I don’t want to do the right thing for the environment, I do. But I’d really love to know why this debate has been hijacked by the supermarkets and the plastic bag manufacturers?

Am I the only old[er] person who remembers string bags that scrunch up into next to nothing? And how about those heavy duty paper shopping bags?

I admit paper bags don’t last as long as the plastic ones, old or new, but when paper becomes unusable, it can be recycled, or used to start a fire, or thrown into the compost where it really will decompose. In fact, if we’re talking about paper, how about using up some of our recycled paper to make paper bags? All kinds of paper bags. What’s the point of zeroing in on plastic shopping bags when almost every single items that goes in those bags is also wrapped in yet more plastic?

Can’t be done? Bull$hit. From memory, the green grocer in Eltham [next to Coles] provides customers with the option of using small paper bags instead of clear plastic bags. And IGA in Warrandyte is selling heavy duty shopping bags made from paper. Each bag costs 10c,¬† and is surprisingly durable. Wet things will put a hole in the bottom of the bag, but for them, you can use these:

The dark blue plastic lump next to the cup-and-saucer is a plastic shopping bag. Yes, I know, but bear with me. I bought 2 of them a couple of days ago from the Eltham 2 Dollar shop. I’d gone in there to ask about old-fashioned string bags [they are trying to order some in for me], and decided to make do with these tiny plastic ones in the interim.

When you open them out, they look like this:

Each one of these bags can take a heck of a lot of shopping, yet will fold up into a package small enough to fit into a pocket. And that’s exactly where I keep mine, in the pockets of my hooded winter jacket. As I wear this jacket whenever I leave the house, it means I now have two re-usable shopping bags with me at all times. No more old lady memory. If I pop into a supermarket for milk and eggs, I’ll always have a bag to put them in.

Oh, and one more thing, when you shop with a trolley, why put fruit and veg into clear plastic bags? Small things like fresh peas or green beans I can understand, but apples, potatoes, lettuce etc can sit quite happily in the trolley without any packaging at all. And once you’ve paid for them, they can all get thrown into a shopping bag. If you’re worried about loose fruit and veg falling out of the shopping bag, just tie the handles.

And people…there is no excuse for buying fruit and veg in polystyrene ‘trays’ with plastic wrap over the top. Seriously.

I’m all for the war on waste, but I fear it’s become a trendy ‘fad’ that will disappear after a few months of inconvenience. The problem is real and has to be tackled realistically. And that means there is no room for purists. Convenience will always be an issue. Poor memory will be one as well. We need to address the worst case scenario and find solutions that everyone can live with. String bags are one. Tiny, foldup plastic bags are another. Durable cloth bags and paper bags should be readily available as well.

The one thing that should not be promoted is heavy duty plastic because it’s worse than the problem it’s trying to solve. And no, supermarkets should not be making a profit out of our desire to make this world a better place for our kids and their kids.

Get real Australia

Meeks

 


#Australia – everything you never wanted to know about the IPA

Apologies to my international friends, this rant is predominantly for Australians.

The IPA has been on the news a lot lately, but I didn’t really know what the hell it was. Until just now. IPA stands for ‘Institute of Public Affairs’.

Sounds kind of official, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. The IPA is a Liberal Right Wing think tank/lobby group that believes it knows what’s best for Australia. Those views are set out in a boring document called ‘Be Like Gough’:

https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/ipa-review-articles/be-like-gough-75-radical-ideas-to-transform-australia

Right at the end, however, are 75 suggestions for how Australia should be changed. I have not altered those 75 suggestions in any way. I have simply highlighted the ones that shocked me the most. Read them for yourself:

Since writing this post, I’ve been tweeting the List on Twitter and someone kindly let me know that The List is now 100 strong. The following is now the updated 100:

  1. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
  2. Abolish the Department of Climate Change
  3. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
  4. Repeal Section C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  5. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
  6. Repeal the renewable energy target
  7. Return income taxing powers to the states
  8. Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  9. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
  11. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  12. Repeal the National Curriculum
  13. Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
  14. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  15. Eliminate laws that require¬†radio and television¬†broadcasters to be ‚Äėbalanced‚Äô
  16. Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
  17. End local content requirements for Australian television stations
  18. Eliminate family tax benefits
  19. Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
  20. Means-test Medicare
  21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
  22. Introduce voluntary voting
  23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
  24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
  25. End public funding to political parties
  26. Remove anti-dumping laws
  27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
  28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
  29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
  30. Cease subsidising the car industry
  31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
  32. Rule out federal funding for  Commonwealth Games
  33. Deregulate the parallel importation of books
  34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
  35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
  36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
  37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
  39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  41. Repeal the alcopops tax
  42. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including: a) Lower personal income tax for residents b) Significantly expanded Visa programs for workers c) Encourage the construction of dams
  43. Repeal the mining tax
  44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
  45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
  46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
  47. Cease funding the Australia Network
  48. Privatise Australia Post
  49. Privatise Medibank
  50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  51. Privatise SBS
  52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
  54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
  56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
  57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
  62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
  63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
  65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
  66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  67. Means test tertiary student loans
  68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
  70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
  71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
  72. Privatise the CSIRO
  73. Defund Harmony Day
  74. Close the Office for Youth
  75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  76. Have State Premiers appoint High Court justices
  77. Allow ministers to be appointed from outside parliament
  78. Extend the GST to cover all goods and services but return all extra revenue to taxpayers through cutting other taxes
  79. Abolish the federal department of health and return health policy to the states
  80. Abolish the federal department of education and return education policy to the states
  81. Repeal any new mandatory data retention laws
  82. Abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission
  83. Have trade unions regulated like public companies, with ASIC responsible for their oversight
  84. End all public funding to unions and employer associations
  85. Repeal laws which protect unions from competition, such as the ‚Äėconveniently belong‚Äô rules in the Fair Work Act
  86. Extend unrestricted work visas currently granted to New Zealand citizens to citizens of the United States
  87. Negotiate and sign free trade agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners, including China, India, Japan and South Korea
  88. Restore fundamental legal rights to all existing commonwealth legislation such as the right to silence and the presumption of innocence
  89. Adhere to section (xxxi) of the Constitution by not taking or diminishing anyone’s property without proper compensation
  90. Repeal legislative restrictions on the use of nuclear power
  91. Allow full competition on all foreign air routes
  92. Abolish the Medicare levy surcharge
  93. Abolish the luxury car tax
  94. Halve the number of days parliament sits to reduce the amount of legislation passed
  95. Abolish Tourism Australia and cease subsidising the tourism industry
  96. Make all government payments to external parties publicly available including the terms and conditions of those payments
  97. Abandon plans to restrict foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural industry
  98. Cease the practice of setting up government-funded lobby groups, such as YouMeUnity, which uses taxpayer funds to campaign to change the Australian Constitution
  99. Rule out the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment for electronic gaming machines
  100. Abolish the four pillars policy which prevents Australia’s major banks from merging

As you read through these 75 100 points, you may recognize some that have been accomplished already, while others, like the privatisation of the ABC, have only just been aired in public. Taken as whole, however, these suggestions are aimed at two things:

  1. reducing or repealing anything that provides help or support to individuals, and
  2. promoting changes that will allow private industry to do whatever the hell it wants.

That, my friends, is not, and never has been, the Australian way. We don’t let people sink or swim on their own. We don’t put shareholder dividends above the well-being of the people, and we don’t believe corporations will do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts. We made it through the Global Financial Crisis [GFC]so well precisely because our financial institutions were regulated and couldn’t do whatever they wanted.

This all boils down to trust. The IPA seems to trust the Robber Barons. Who do you trust?

Meeka

For further reading go to:

https://thesnipertakesaim.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ipa-agenda-to-re-shape-australia/

The article is written by Barry Tucker and it’s thought provoking to say the least.

 


Tech woes…

You know how sometimes a great idea turns out to be bloody awful? Welcome to my day.

I now, officially, only have a $hitty Outlook365 webmail client to work with. What’s worse, I’ve lost all the emails that used to live on my Opera Mail client. So if any of you emailed me in the last 12 hours, sorry, it’s all gone. Every. Last. One.

The one good thing out of today’s disaster is that I managed to export my Contact list before everything fell apart. The bad thing is that the Contact list only works with Opera Mail so unless I can get Opera Mail back up and running, I’ll have to re-enter the contact list manually. I don’t like my chances because apparently, few email clients like playing with Outlook365 email. The reason is something called ‘Exchange’. Exchange plays nice with the crap that is Outlook. It does not play nice with much else.

So, I have three options:

  1. Reinstall Outlook from Office 16
  2. Continue to use the shitty webmail client for Outlook365 email
  3. Keep searching for a non-Microsoft email client that works with Exchange

I’ve read about some workarounds including, Davmail & Thunderbird, Thunderbird & Exquilla, and eM mail [$49]. The first two will probably send my hair white, not grey. The last I refuse to even consider because saving money was what got me into this mess in the first place. And not even that much money…

Less that $100 AUD. That’s what I saved today by deleting my hosting account with GoDaddy.

“What with what?” you say.

In order to have your own website, you need a) a domain and b) a web host for that domain. There are lots of webhosts but I was using GoDaddy. Domains are peanuts – about $20 per year – but the web hosting can really mount up, especially when you have to pay a lump sum for the whole year.

That’s what I was facing this morning, so I rang Godaddy and asked if I could ditch the webhosting but keep my email addresses. The answer was yes, but the implementation did not turn out to be as easy, or cheap, as expected. For starters, the email addresses were linked to the hosting, but wait! For just $50 per year, I could get a plan that would allow me to keep both emails going.

“Great!” said I. “Let’s do it.”

That is the point at which I should have asked for ‘more information’, hung up and done some research. Clearly I didn’t, but that decision was at least partly due to phone fatigue. I’d waited 15 minutes to speak to a person in the first place, so by the time this plan was offered, I just wanted to get it done

I think you can probably guess the rest, not the nitty gritty details, but the general gist. I was committed, the process began, it was too late to turn back, things went wrong. And then things went even more wrong. ūüė¶

Now here I sit, scratching my head and wondering how on earth I’m going to get myself out of this one. I do still have my email addresses, and they do sort of work, so if you write to me I ‘should’ be able to answer, but for the moment, that’s it. And I’ve wasted the best part of the day digging this particular hole.

So, the moral of this story is that Outlook365 is not great unless you’re committed to using Microsoft’s Outlook as well. Given how much I love Micro$oft, I’m feeling kind of sick at the moment.

Not happy,

Meeks


Intergenerational care – the way of the future, I hope

At 65, I have no intention of shuffling off to an aged-care facility any time soon, but the mere threat of ending my days in one makes me shiver. You see, I’ve visited a few, and even the best are waiting rooms for the last train.

Here in Australia, in-home care is becoming a buzz word, but even if the idea gets the funding it needs and actually takes off, it won’t solve the problem of loneliness. And it won’t solve the problem of the frail, not-so-very-old who need the kind of care that only a nursing home can provide.

I was chatting with online friend, Sue Vincent, about the prospect of robots being used in aged care when Sue pointed me to this link:

http://theconversation.com/combining-daycare-for-children-and-elderly-people-benefits-all-generations-70724

The article opened my eyes to research that’s being done into how best to combine care for the bookend generations – i.e. the very young and the very old.

This is the bit that did it for me:

‘After we filmed our documentary, one lady who attended the care facility told me that you don‚Äôt think about your age when you are in the company of young children. The little ones brought a new sense of vibrancy and fun to the centre, and the focus was no longer on watching time pass but on living in the moment.’ [emphasis is mine].

Not every older person is going to want to have direct contact with young children – all mothers know how tiring toddlers can be – but there are so many other things an older person could do behind the scenes to make together-time fun.

I know because I do some of this behind the scenes stuff at one of the community houses at which I volunteer. They have a small day care centre run by dedicated staff who never have enough hours in the day to prepare all the little things needed for the childrens’ activities. I’ve made countless lumps of playdoh, cut out pictures, squeezed easter eggs into tiny knitted ‘chickens’ [created by yet more volunteers], wrapped Christmas presents, helped with fund-raising raffles…the list goes on and on.

My point is that helping behind the scenes, at one’s own pace, can be just as satisfying as doing one-on-one with the kids themselves. Why? Because it gives older people a sense of purpose, a reason to ‘get up in the morning’.

In my humble opinion, having a sense of purpose is what we all need to ‘live in the moment’.

-hugs-

Meeks


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