Category Archives: My soap box

A Proud Australian

Yesterday marked a special day in Australia. We voted ‘Yes’ to equality and a fair go. And we voted ‘no’ to bigotry.

As a nation, that’s cause for celebration, but the moment would have tasted even sweeter if it had marked the day marriage equality came into law.

Because it’s not there yet. This postal vote was not compulsory. It was also not binding. That means the politicians in Canberra can dick about forever and a day, delaying the inevitable just to pander to party factions. The result of the vote had barely been made public and already a Rabid Right politician was spruiking a marriage equality bill that would grant the right to marriage but would also water down anti-discrimination laws already in place!

I hope the Rabid Right enjoys its moment in the sun, because if they mess this up, none of the Liberals will stay in power for much longer. That is the one lesson none of our politicians seem to have learned. I guess they still think the political see-saw of the last few years is just an abberation. But it’s not. Parliament is full of Independents because we, the people, no longer trust the two major parties.

Malcolm Turnbull, our PM, has said he will make marriage equality a reality by Christmas. I hope that reality does not include the right for others to discriminate against gay couples, because reneging on the clear wishes of we, the people, will sound the death knell for his whole party.

cheers

Meeks

 

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Warrandyte – burning off in the rain

That pile of ash and charcoal is all that’s left of a huge pile of dead branches, windfall and prunings that I’ve been collecting all winter.

I know it doesn’t look like much now, but that pile was becoming a real danger so, it had to go. And what better time to burn it off than when everything’s nice and wet!

“But isn’t it too wet to burn?” you ask.

Nope. It rained quite heavily early this morning and at 7:00 am, everything was quite wet, including the outer layer of the pile. Inside, however, that pile was dry and ready to burn. I crumpled up a few sheets of scrap paper and shoved them underneath the pile. Then I put a couple of firelighters on top of the paper and set it alight. In an hour, the original pile and huge armfuls of very wet windfall were all gone.

I suspect most of you know where I’m going with this; branch and leaf litter burn extraordinarily well, so if you live in and around Warrandyte, clean up your property now, before everything dries out and the whole area turns into a tinderbox.

Okay, now I’m going to collapse and not move for a while. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Intellectual Property – an Indie minefield

I am in no danger of having my intellectual property [IP] diddled away by some corporation waving a contract, but Kristine Kathryn Rusch* is, and her latest post was scary to say the least. Here’s a short quote:

‘Those companies can all acquire IP from stupid writers for less than $10,000 per property forever. Just say the word “movie” or “TV” and most stupid writers give away their IP for free, in the hopes of having a movie or TV show made from their property. The property they no longer own, by the way.’

But the most terrifying part was this:

It doesn’t matter if your copyright is registered, the expert said. They’ll register anyway, even before they’ve started production on anything. The strategy is to create confusion over who owns the copyright, and it’ll take litigation to straighten that confusion out.

The bold emphasis is mine but the meaning is clear – one small Indie hasn’t a hope of fighting a company with millions of dollars in its war chest. Can you afford to take a production company to court to get your intellectual property back?

“Oh but if I’m being paid for it then it doesn’t matter.”

Yeah, that’s the big ‘if’, but sadly those contracts make sure you get little if anything in return.

I really, truly, strongly suggest you read the Rusch article, just in case….

http://kriswrites.com/2017/10/25/business-musings-stealing-intellectual-property/

I’ll confess, part of my outrage stems from the fact that I have day dreams too. I would love to see the Innerscape story turned into a movie or a big, beautiful game. I understand the desperation to have that kind of validation, because I share it. If someone came knocking, waving a contract in my face, I know I’d have stars in my eyes and the k-ching of cash registers in my ears too. But after this warning, I hope I remember that the one thing worse than never finding fame and fortune is being cheated out of it…by a corporate with lots of money and no scruples.

Seriously, if you’re an Indie author, please read the Rusch article.

Meeks

*Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a Hugo award winning writer with her own wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristine_Kathryn_Rusch


Wifi hack

Just in case you haven’t heard/seen the news on the internet, a basic exploit has been discovered in the Wifi architecture, and that exploit has been hacked. That means potentially everything that uses wifi to communicate is vulnerable.

And that includes:

  • computers via their router
  • smartphones
  • tablets
  • Amazon’s Alexa [I think]
  • and even cars

Apparently Windows based computers should already be updated against this exploit, although how Microsoft managed to find out so quickly is a worry. However, that is only the computer operating system itself. The router also handles things like internet banking and I have no idea how secure that is now.

Android and Linux are both vulnerable. I believe Apple is too.

As most people these days have wifi routers [the box with the flickering lights that sits between your computer and the internet], I would strongly recommend checking with your ISP* about when you can expect a security update for the router. ISPs are your service providers – e.g. Telstra, Optus etc. Until you get one, I would keep internet transactions dealing with money to an absolute minimum.

Actually, you might consider going around with wads of cash for a while. No seriously.

Oh, and don’t use the free wifi in your local shopping centre because such locales are plenty big enough to make them worthwhile for hacking.**

If any of my techie friends has info to share I’d really appreciate it.

cheers

Meeks

* When you sign up with an ISP, they usually provide you with a router [for a fee] so the ISP should provide info. on updating the router.

** Although this hack is universal, it is constrained by the hacker’s need to be physically within reach of the wifi he/she wants to hack. So home wifi is not that ‘worthwhile’, but a large shopping centre probably would be.

 


Monsanto strikes again

Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready was bad enough, but Dicamba is an order of magnitude worse. It’s a form of toxic, aerial blackmail.

“It’s no surprise farmers are up in arms. Dicamba spreads death with the wind, drifting onto their crops, trees, soil, and water. Farmers are now faced with a terrible choice — switch to Monsanto GMO seeds, or watch their crops die.

It’s a greedy, dangerous scheme that will make Monsanto billions and could destroy our food system.” AVAAZ

You can read more about Dicamba here:

http://www.agriculture.com/crops/soybeans/in-wake-of-new-monsanto-seed-illinois-sees-more-crop-damage-from-dicamba

AVAAZ is campaigning for a million signatures to try to stop Monsanto. I’m not American so my signature won’t count, but if you live in the US and you care about food and justice, please sign the petition and ask your friends to sign too.

The petition is here:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_dicamba_og_tst/?bqbYGlb&v=98345&cl=13275740849&_checksum=d1b2a8ba752fa86abe58349ca1195cfa018c5244c439e343f548c84481d5288a

Thanks,

Meeks

p.s. we switched over to Daylight Savings time this morning at 2am….I hate it so much. 😦

 


10 things that marriage equality won’t do

A co-worker brought in a pamphlet yesterday. The heading read ‘3 ways gay marriage will change the classroom’. And I quote

More radical gay & lesbian sex ‘education’ programs in schools‘ like Safe Schools which ‘..already teach kids about various forms of sexual activity and encourages sexual experimentation from an early age‘.

Kids will be taught their gender is fluid‘…’something they choose, not something they are born with‘.

Loss of parents’ rights‘. ‘In other countries where gay marriage has been legalised, parents have found themselves in court after trying to pull their kids out of radical gay sex education classes‘.

We were all gobsmacked at the ignorance and blatant disregard for the truth. So here are some things that won’t happen when marriage equality is finally made law:

1.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become gay. Homosexuality is not a choice.

2.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become lesbian. Homosexuality is not a choice.

3.  Heterosexual kids will not suddenly become trans. Being transgender is not a choice.

4.  Kids in general will not be any more or less interested in sex than they are now. But kids who are taught that being gay, lesbian or trans is not ‘bad’ may become a little more tolerant. They may stop hounding kids who look or act ‘different’. And gay, lesbian or trans kids who struggle to make sense of their feelings and their place in the world may stop harming themselves and taking their own lives.

5.  Parents will not lose any of the ‘rights’ they have now. They will still be free to place their children in public or private schools according to their beliefs. They will also continue to have the right to homeschool their children.

6.  Religious institutions that allowed systemic child abuse to continue for decades will continue to marry or not marry people based on church dogma.

7.  Adults who disliked gay, lesbian or trans people before marriage equality can continue to dislike them afterwards. Marriage equality is powerless to stop prejudice and bigotry.

8.  Marriage equality will not harm any straight people.

9.  Marriage equality will not take anything away from straight people.

10.  Marriage equality is not the start of a slippery slope that will ruin Australia.

These are the countries that have already legalised marriage equality:

This list includes deeply religious countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The sky didn’t fall in and nothing terrible happened.

Nothing terrible will happen here either. Life will continue the way it always has, but there may come a time when kids who are different can stand tall and live happy, productive lives instead of being bullied to death like Kenneth James Weishuhn. Rest in peace.

Vote Yes

Meeks


Dear Mr Turnbull – India is leaving us behind

Originally posted on Climate Denial Crock of the Week: India charging ahead on renewables. Vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington looks longingly to the 19th century. Watch for new video on this topic coming very soon. Meanwhile, Denmark has decided to offload oil interests, and…

via As US Dithers, World Charges Ahead to Renewables — Die Erste Eslarner Zeitung – Aus und über Eslarn, sowie die bayerisch-tschechische Region!

India is surging ahead with renewables because the India government recognizes that renewables will be cheaper in the long run than fossil fuels. China is doing the same, and both countries are positioned to become the power houses of industry in the coming decades.

But where does that leave Australia? Fumbling in the dark, that’s where. We could have become world leaders in solar technology, but the lack of political vision and will sent our innovative companies offshore, and now we import the technology from…China.

All that potential, wasted, because our politicians are ‘scared’ of upsetting the apple cart. So instead of leading, we follow, and in the process, we get left further and further behind.

Ten years ago, the Australia people voted with their wallets when they installed record numbers of rooftop solar panels. But instead of rewarding us, successive governments have tried to slow or stop small scale solar altogether.

And then there’s Adani…taxpayer dollars to fund the hope of short term gain. Pathetic.

Meeks


UBI – Universal Basic Income

The difference between a social welfare handout and a universal basic income is that the former is seen as a handout to the hopeless while the latter is an acknowledgement that the jobs provided by the industrial revolution are fast disappearing. And they’re not coming back.

https://futurism.com/new-report-claims-ubi-would-grow-the-u-s-economy-by-2-5-trillion/

The interesting thing about this article from Futurism is that it suggests a UBI might actually be good for the economy itself, not just for the people displaced by technology.

As a recipient of social welfare myself, I believe that the jobs of the future will be small scale and entrepreneurial. People will provide services to each other based on a local need. In a way, this is exactly what companies like AirBnB and Uber are already doing. In twenty years time though, social media may allow me to request a homemade cake for my birthday and have it baked and delivered by my neighbour down the road.

Such micro-transations could add up to trillions of dollars if everyone did it. But everyone can’t do it [now] because of two things:

  • lots of red tape associated with being a small trader,
  • and a social welfare system that is punitive rather than supportive

I can’t see a UBI being introduced any time soon because the political mindset is simply not there. Politicians have to stop thinking of their citizens as a drain on the government purse before any true change can occur. But at least the idea is gaining ground, if slowly.

cheers

Meeks


CAPTCHA nightmare

This is an example of a captcha verification screen:

I HATE CAPTCHA!

According to the official captcha website, ‘…humans can read distorted text as the one shown [above], but current computer programs can’t.’

Well, I’ve got news for you, older humans have trouble with distorted text as well. Very few of the ones I’ve had to ‘read’ were as clean and easy to read as the example shown. I guess the bots must have become smarter.

Some of us also have trouble with verification screens that ask you to click all the pictures with cars in them, or street signs, or some other stupid thing…and then make us go through screen after screen after screen after screen….

I don’t know whether it’s just my eyesight or the fact that I take instructions too literally, or not literally enough, but I have a terrible time with captcha verification screens of all sorts. And now that Amazon has started using them as well, I’m getting seriously angry. I understand that no website wants to be invaded by bots, but do they really want to drive humans away as well?

Not happy. Not happy at all.

Meeks


Steve Bannon and gaming cheats

It’s not often two of my passions combine, but this Washington Post article links the 45th US President’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, with a company called IGE:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/steve-bannon-once-guided-a-global-firm-that-made-millions-helping-gamers-cheat/2017/08/04/ef7ae442-76c8-11e7-803f-a6c989606ac7_story.html?utm_term=.969894a83c07

In a nutshell, IGE was the brains and money behind what we gamers call ‘gold farmers’. Think virtual sweatshops in which players from poor countries earn a tiny wage for accumulating desirable ‘goods’ from online games. These valuables are then sold to lazy gamers for real money so that they can have all the goodies…without having to work for it themselves.

Most gamers hate gold farmers, and so do the developers of the games they play. It’s a despicable practice that most games do not allow. In fact, most games ban players caught farming for gold, or trying to sell these items back to players. And guess who worked for IGE during this time? Yup, Steve Bannon. And no, there is no way he could not have known what was going on. Making money off gold farmers and players was IGE’s only business model.

These days, bots have put most flesh and blood gold farmers out of work, but the practice is still despicable.

My thanks to Candy Korman for alerting me to this mindblowing article.

cheers

Meeks

 


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