Category Archives: My soap box

‘Like a girl’ should be a compliment, but isn’t

I just came from Embracing Authenticity’s blog where she talked about body image and how hard she has to fight to recover from anorexia. Then I dropped into A Momma’s View where I watched this mind boggling video clip:

How can anyone in their right mind not think the two are related?

Half of the entire human race is female. Imagine what we could do as a species if:

  • we valued ourselves
  • and being ‘like a girl’ were a compliment instead of an insult?

cheers

Meeks

 


Office #Word 2016 really is a piece of…

Shyte.

What follows is a raged induced rant so look away now.

-breathe-

I’ve just wasted an hour trying to fix the Word 2016 dictionary. It started with ‘Mira Than‘.

No, actually, it started with the combination of two big episodes of Innerscape into one very BIG Word 16 document. How big? 375 pages. Apparently, Word still has issues with very big files. That’s the reason I originally migrated my writing to a dedicated writing package [StoryBox]. Unfortunately, to publish a print version of Innerscape, I have to go Word >>PDF>>Createspace.

Anyway, after spending hours wrestling with Word’s section breaks [more on that in another post], I began doing a this-is-absolutely-the-last edit, when I realised that every time I typed in Miira Tahn, Word would ‘correct’ it to ‘Mira Than’ as soon as my attention moved elsewhere.

I tried getting Word to ‘Ignore All’, but it wouldn’t – and no, it wasn’t just variations on the name, like ‘Miira Tahn‘s‘ etc. And then it began throwing up other ‘errors’, all to do with US spelling. So, naturally, I used the nifty option at the bottom of the Spell Check pane to change the dictionary back to UK spelling:

My efforts obviously confused Word because it suddenly switched to the French dictionary. -growls in rage-

The French dictionary finds every word written in English to be incorrect…

I changed the dictionary back to English UK.

Nope…Word now wants to stay in French.

I look up fixes to the problem. I attempt to reset my language preferences. I restart Word…

Now Word wants to use the US dictionary again BUT the page full of French ‘errors’ is still set to the French dictionary. And then Word stopped working.

It’s back now, but I haven’t been game to check my document in case I end up throwing the monitor across the room. There are many basic, useful formatting functions in Word, and it works well for short-ish, business type documents, but the more Microsoft tries to automate the process, the more mangled and unstable it becomes. Especially with big documents.

I hate to think how convoluted the Word code must be because Microsoft almost never delete anything. They just keep adding to it, and adding to it, and adding to it…

Sadly, while this rant did make me feel a little less homicidal, it’s only a temporary distraction from the main event. I have to get this stupid piece of shit to play nice or I may never get my hands on those lovely, shiny books. 😦

Thanks for letting me vent,

Meeks

 

 


Toxic #nanoparticles in baby formula?

I was first introduced to the idea of very small, man-made ‘objects’ by the 1966 sci-fi movie ‘The Fantastic Voyage’:

The story was fanciful in the extreme – science will never be able to shrink humans to the size of atoms – but the concept of building a microscopic sized machine was not that far off the mark. These days, you can find nanoparticles in ‘…scratchproof eyeglasses, crack- resistant paints, anti-graffiti coatings for walls, transparent sunscreens, stain-repellent fabrics, self-cleaning windows and ceramic coatings for solar cells.¹

Unfortunately, the one place you do not want to find nanoparticles is in infant formula, so I was shocked when I read this article from Friends of the Earth:

http://emergingtech.foe.org.au/illegal-and-potentially-toxic-nanoparticles-found-in-baby-formula/

In a quick summary, Friends of the Earth commissioned the Arizona State University to test seven samples of baby formula on sale here in Australia. The test results showed that five of the seven contained nanoparticles that are specifically prohibited in baby food. Despite this, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand [FSANZ] dismissed the concerns raised by these results without even running tests of their own.

Friends of the Earth believe that FSANZ is overly influenced by large multinational corporations and is calling for the body to be investigated. I don’t know whether their claims are justified or not. All I know is that if I had a baby, I’d be switching brands until these allegations are either proved by more testing…or disproved by more testing. Either way, the tests must be done.

The following table is taken from the Friends of the Earth article. The yellow highlight at the bottom is mine.

 

If this information proves to be alarmist, then I apologise in advance but when it comes to health, especially the health of babies, I believe the precautionary principle should trump every other consideration. As mothers, we have the right to choose what food we put into the mouths of our children.

Meeks

¹ http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/en/nanotechnologies/l-3/5-nanoparticles-consumer-products.htm


#Facebook selling children’s pain

Just read an article on the Passive Guy about ‘…a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”

I was shocked. I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I don’t like Facebook. I’ve even compared Facebook to Big Brother, but this? This goes beyond anything that I would call ‘normal’ business practices. Is this truly the shape of the new world? Are we truly prepared to accept this behaviour as normal?

But wait, there’s more. One of the comments to the article was this:

‘ If you are that entwined with Facebook then you pretty much deserve what you get.’

Really? I replied with this:

‘I’m Australian and I don’t automatically blame the victim. I loathe Facebook and the more I learn about it the more I hate what it’s doing. If this article is accurate, then it’s Facebook that deserves condemnation, not the young and vulnerable who are only doing what millions? billions? of other vulnerable people are doing worldwide…’

Facebook is a monster that we created because we are the only product that Mark Zuckerberg sells. Think about it.

Meeks


Nillumbik budget ‘highlights’, 2017-18

I live in North Warrandyte. That means I’m stuck with Nillumbik Shire Council. This is the most expensive council in Victoria. We pay an obscene amount in rates. This year, the council boasts that it won’t raise rates. Yay.

This is also the same council that wants Residents to embed their houses in the bush despite the bushfire danger. Clearly, they don’t believe that Black Saturday can ever happen again. The proof is in the priority they place on bushfire mitigation. The following figures are taken directly from ‘Living in the landscape’, the Nillumbik Shire Council newsletter. The only change I’ve made is to sort the table by the cost. Have a look at this council’s priorities:

As you can see, $1,100,000 is considered more than enough for ’emergency management’ while a sporting redevelopment deserves almost twice as much at $1,795,000. I guess they figure that when a massive bushfire comes through again, we’ll all be dead and won’t be able to complain about their disregard for our health and safety.

Meeks


Email to the PM re #Adani

I just sent this email to the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull:

Just for the record, I do not know the PM, but I did ‘chat’ with him by email after he lost to Tony Abbott, way back when. At the time, I wanted to congratulation him on being a man of integrity, even if he was a Liberal. I still receive updates from his staff.

And that brings me to the second point I want to clarify: I know the PM won’t read this email of mine. It is quite possible that his staffers won’t read it either. In all likelihood, the subject line of ‘Adani’ will be more than enough to get it binned sight unseen.

But…

I know Climate Change is real.

I know its caused by us, and

I know that our long-term survival requires that we do something about it.

Digging up more coal is not the answer. And neither is paying a ridiculous amount of money to gain a very few jobs in Queensland. The 10,000 jobs bandied about were never a reality. The truth is that if Adani goes ahead, we’ll be lucky to get 1500 jobs.

$900,000,000 [the cost of the rail link] divided by 1500 equals $600,000.

Think about it, one job will cost us 600,000 dollars.

I’m no mathematician, but that doesn’t seem like a very good deal to me.

If you agree, please pass this on. The more Australians who know what’s really involved, and get angry, the better our chances of actually stopping this madness. Trickledown economics has never worked, especially when it comes via the Cayman Island tax haven. We really are smarter than this.

Meeks


The problem with capitalism…in a ball

Unless you’re a golfer, you probably don’t think about golf balls. But a new US lawsuit about these little dimpled spheres has an economics lesson for all shoppers, showing why consumers have cause for concern when companies use court for sport. Costco, the wholesale membership club, rocked the golf world in 2016 when it started…

via A lawsuit over Costco golf balls shows why we can’t have nice things cheap — Quartz

The practice of Capitalism is more people-friendly than say, Totalitarianism, because it requires people to be consumers, and that is something people are happy to be. But to work properly, Capitalism requires the checks and balances of a healthy, competitive marketplace.

Using the law as a way to get rid of the competition may be ‘legal’ and ‘clever’, but it’s also a bully’s scam. The law is meant to be an equalizer, not a weapon. Frivolous legal action should have punitive consequences. While it does not, the law becomes complicit in the scam.

Perhaps I’m naive. Okay, I know I’m naive, but I did not expect the companies being bullied to accepted the inequity of their situation without protest. Excuse me? You’ve just lost your company for no good reason, and you grudgingly admire the tactic that made you lose?

Is this really the way we want our world to run?

In Australia, we have something called the ‘pub test’. If the common man in the pub thinks something stinks, then the authorities need to take action, even if it isn’t strictly illegal, because there’s the letter of the law, and then there’s the spirit of the law, and we all know the difference.

Meeks


Another post about a perplexing WordPress.com ‘feature’

I’ve had issues with the WordPress Reader in the past, but this latest one has me scratching my head. Have a look at how many screens I have to go through to comment on a post from the Reader:

This is a screenshot of the Reader. Notice the function circled in red? Comments are definitely available.

So I click on the heading of the article to read what it’s actually about and get this:

 

‘Share’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Like’ are still available, as you can see, but if you click on the ‘Comment’ function, WordPress just refreshes the page you’re on without allowing you to:

  • leave a comment or
  • see what other comments there might be.

You can, however, click the ‘Like’ function.

Something not shown in the screenshot [because it wouldn’t fit] is a very small link in the top right corner of the screen that says ‘Visit page’. I didn’t notice that link at first, and assumed that I was already on the page. But no. To get to the actual page, I need to click again, either on the ‘Visit page’ link or on the heading of the article.

Then and only then do I finally get to the poster’s blog where…glory be…I can leave a comment!

And, of course, with all these clicks needed to simply leave a comment, you’ll have to click back just as many times. 😦

Is this a WordPress change-in-progress that isn’t quite there yet? I hope so because this layering is annoying and will probably stop all but the most determined reader from leaving a comment, and that is bad for all of us.

WordPress is not Facebook. It’s a blogging community that interacts via comments. That is its strength and beauty. Likes are all well and good, but we all know that it’s comments from friends and potential new friends that puts the joy into blogging. Anything that creates a barrier between members of this community should be avoided at all costs.

Let’s get back to a format where the Reader provides not only tasty samples but also a direct gateway to the main course.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. And after all that, you can read Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog post here. 🙂


New genetic modification techniques – Australia

The following is a quote from an email I received today regarding the approval of new GM tech in Australia:

Next week Dr Michael Antoniou, Reader in Molecular Genetics at King’s College London School of Life Sciences will be visiting Melbourne. He is here to discuss his concerns with a range of new genetic engineering techniques that the Federal Government is currently proposing not to regulate.
If the Government deregulates these techniques anyone from amateur biohackers – to industry – would be free to use them to genetically modify plants, animals and microbes. And they could enter our food chain and our environment with no safety testing and no labelling. The results could be catastrophic.

The key phrase is ‘proposing not to regulate‘, closely followed by ‘no safety testing‘ and ‘no labelling‘.

Genetic modification is here to stay and we have to accept that, but we do not have to accept a wild, wild west style free-for-all. Surely an ethical approach is not too much to ask from our government, even the Liberals?

The ‘GM 2.0: What the Government isn’t telling you’ forum is being held next Monday:
6.30 (for a 7pm start) – 9pm, Monday 20th March
William Angliss Institute: Rm. A337, Building A, 555 La Trobe St., Melbourne

Please email Louise Sales <louise.sale@foe.org.au> for a ticket if you can attend [they’re free].

If not, please get people talking about this issue. Isn’t it time our opinions were heard? Corporations may stand to make a lot of money out of this, but you and I will be the bunnies who have to live with it.

cheers

Meeks


Manipulation of the ‘filter bubble’

In my previous post, ‘Is Facebook the Real Big Brother’, I talked about Facebook and manipulation. Here, now, is a TED talk from 2011 about the ‘personalisation’ of the internet, and how it locks us in rather than freeing us up.

I have to say I was shocked when I watched this TED talk, especially as Eli Pariser foresaw the problems we’re now facing…6 years ago. I was also shocked because I had no idea that even my searches were being ‘tailored’ for me by Google.

“From human gatekeepers to algorithmic ones.”

When I do a search, I want it to be relevant, yes, but I also want to see what’s out there. I want to choose what I see, because if I can’t see the things that I may not like, I may be manipulated into seeing things that are skewed for someone else’s benefit.

Cambridge Analytics already boasts that:

  • it knows us better than we know ourselves and
  • used that knowledge in both the Trump election and Brexit.

Truth or bullshit?

Given the company’s connection to billionaire software genius Robert Mercer*, and Mercer’s connection to Breitbart and Bannon, I can’t shrug it off as bullshit. But if Trump and Brexit are possible, then Eli Pariser’s filter bubble could turn out to be more like a noose.

My thanks to Honie Briggs for the link to the TED talk.

Meeks

*The Guardian expose is here and you can Google the details to check their validity:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-on-media-steve-bannon-donald-trump-nigel-farage


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