Why? Because it’s Whittier…

I stumbled onto this video about Whittier, Alaska, by accident, but I kept watching because it reminded me of how I imagined life would be in the Undercity, except above ground. 🙂

So what’s so special about Whittier? It’s the fact that all 200-odd residents of the town live in one building, a building that contains a store, police station, church and pretty much everything you’d expect to find in a small town. Oh, and in winter, the kids go to school via a tunnel that connects the two buildings!

But wait, there’s more! You can only reach the building by boat, or via a long, rather scary tunnel. The tunnel is only open at certain times of the day, and at 6:00pm it’s closed to cars so the trains can come through!

If I’ve roused your curiosity, please watch the video:

At about 12:13 minutes, the lovely lady doing the tour of the building points out photos from when the building housed the officers of the US army stationed in the town. A little later on she mentions that the reason everyone withdrew from the shore was because there was an earthquake followed by a tsunami that washed much of the original town away.

At about 15:50 minutes, the tour guide casually mentions that they had to get a self-closing mechanism installed on a ground floor door because…bears would wonder in when residents forgot to close it. <<picture me with my jaw on the ground>>

That bit about the bears actually got me thinking about my Undercity concept. If the doors topside were like those big, self-opening doors installed in shops, what if a kangaroo came in to check things out? Or maybe a wombat looking for a pre-dug hole? lol

Okay, my imagination is getting a little carried away now. I’d better go outside and do some work before it starts to rain, again. Huge swathes of Melbourne and Victoria are flooded at the moment, but as we’re on a ridge, we’ve had no issues.

Have a great weekend everyone,
Meeks


Inching towards an audiobook

There, I’ve said it! At some point in the not-so-distant future, I’m going to try my hand, or voice, on an audiobook, and this 3 minute video is my first attempt at ‘acting out’ a scene:

I’ll probably cringe with embarrassment tomorrow, but for now I’m kind of proud of my first attempt, especially as it was miles harder than I thought it would be. Narrating something à la Sir David Attenborough is one thing, trying to make a story come to life is another thing entirely. It has been an immensely valuable learning experience though.

You know how we’re told to read our writing out loud to help with the editing? Well, acting it out loud exposes the shortcomings of the prose even more! I actually had to change what I’d written to give the scene enough oomph.

See if you can pick the differences. 😀 This is the ‘original’ :

“The Senior had just reached the alcove again when it finally saw the obvious: only the Triad, and the Acolyte, knew who had actually done what. And that meant the truth could be told. Only the roles needed to be re-imagined, leaving itself as the conscientious healer who stayed by the Female’s side until the other returned!
The truth, but not the truth. It was perfect, or almost so. The Second already knew about the threat from the Seven, so it would see why the truth could not be told, plus the lie was close enough to the truth for it to carry off the deception without giving everything away. Which left only the two younger iVokh to worry about.
In its weakened state, the Junior might not even remember the rescue, but if it did, casting it as the hero would mesh with how it saw itself. Plus it already disliked the Acolyte, so that would fit quite nicely, leaving only the Acolyte itself.
The young iVokh would not like being blamed for the Junior’s faults, but it was intelligent and ambitious. If it were told about the Seven’s ultimatum, it would see itself as being both important and trusted. That would appeal to its ambition, and it would feel proud to be trusted with such a vital task…
…ki, not task, mission…
If the Acolyte could be made to believe the fate of the Triad depended on its intelligence and resourcefulness, it would not betray them, at least not to the Voice…
…but afterward?…
Being no stranger to ambition itself, the Senior had no doubt that the young iVokh would try to profit from its knowledge at some point, but as it had no intention of allowing any of them to return to the Settlement, it was not particularily worried. Kohoh was a dangerous time of year, for everyone.”

Book 2, The Suns of Vokhtah series

Messing around with videos is starting to become useful as well as fun. Who knew? lol

cheers,
Meeks


The myth of the self-made billionaire

In a previous post I talked about how rich 38 of Australia’s billionaires really are. Today, I read a brilliant post by Robert Reich about US myths [thanks Jill!]. What really grabbed my attention was this video which debunks the myth of the self-made billionaire:

Isn’t it time we stopped idolizing these poor little rich boys?

Isn’t it time we stopped rewarding them for being more ruthless than just about everybody else on the planet?

Isn’t it time we stopped wanting to be like them… and castigating ourselves when our scruples make us ‘fail’?

I know who I admire, and it ain’t any of these guys.

Meeks


The MONIAC – water driven economic modelling

My thanks to Matthew Wright for the link to this incredible video. Coincidentally, Matthew appears in the video too, helping to explain how something as simple, as real world as water can be used to create a mechanical model of what makes our world go round…money.

cheers,
Meeks


Australia – the wonky distribution of wealth

Inflation is rising all over the world, and Australia is not immune, so the RBA [Reserve Bank of Australia] is aggressively raising interest rates. The explanation given is that there is something like a 300 billion dollar slush fund, squirrelled away by Australians, that’s driving spending, and therefore inflation. To reduce inflation, this slush fund must be reduced.

The RBA’s weapon of choice is interest rates. By raising interest rates, it forces the commercial banks to raise their own interest rates, especially on mortgages.

Makes sense, right?

Well no, actually it doesn’t, because the people who have access to that slush fund are at the wealthy end of the spectrum, and for them, higher interest rates won’t mean a damn thing. Their ‘consumerism’ won’t be affected because they’re simply too rich.

But how rich is too rich?

Everyone knows that Gina Rinehart is the wealthiest woman in Australia, but most of us don’t know how wealthy. I was interested enough to find out.

The data in the spreadsheet below comes from a Forbes article from 2019 listing the 50 richest people in Australia:

38 Richest people in Australia

I recommend reading the entire article because it’s quite eye opening.

But getting back to wealth, someone’s worth is not the same as money in the bank. Worth is what they would have if they sold all their holdings and assets and converted them into cash. Clearly, Gina Rinehard does not have 14-plus billion dollars languishing in a bank somewhere. That would be ridiculous, but the grand total of 114.68 billion dollars in just 38 hands is even more ridiculous. And that’s just the people who are worth at least 1 billion dollars. There are 12 more people on the Forbes list whose worth is close to 1 billion. I didn’t bother counting them.

Nor did I count the baby millionaires, the ones who only have a few tens of millions…

-rolls eyes-

At the other end of the scale, are the millions of ordinary Australians who barely make ends meet. At the bottom of that list are JobSeeker recipients who are expected to subsist on $40 a day. A little further up the food chain are those on fixed incomes [pensions] who do NOT own their own homes. Someone I went to school with falls into that category. She’s in her sixties and lives in a boarding house.

Then there are people like me. Thanks to my parents, I have a house, but I have no superannuation, and the only income I have is the age pension. That just went up by, wait for it, $10 per week to account for the cost of living rises. As of yesterday, I now get $2014 per month.

I know we are amongst the lucky ones because we do have a roof over our heads, but keeping that roof is getting harder by the week. I won’t bore you with a list of all the things we can no longer afford, I’ll just say that every appliance in the house has gone past its use-by-date and is breaking down. That includes the plumbing…

I accept that inflation has to be curbed. That’s a given. But we are part of the huge underclass of Australians most vulnerable to increases in the cost of living because our safety margins are so low to begin with. Essentially, we are the ones being punished for the inflationary spending of those higher up the food chain.

Is it fair?

-makes rude noise-

It’s time governments and institutions like the RBA stopped plucking the low hanging fruit just because it’s ‘easy’. The further ALL Australians get from financial and political equality, the more shaky democracy becomes.

Marie Antoinette did not say ‘Let them eat cake’, but she lost her head anyway. Literally.

Australia is a long, long way from that kind of mass hysteria, but democracy is a lot more fragile than we think. To be quite blunt about it, the current version of capitalism is strangling democracy because money equals power, and the middle classes no longer have either.

Sadly, we are living in interesting times, and they’re becoming more interesting by the day.

Meeks


Cat Training

If you’ve ever been owned by a cat, this post will make you laugh until you cry! Thanks, Cage. 😉

Cage Dunn - Fibber, Fabricator, Teller-of-Tall-Tales

“And how is the new cat going?”

It’s a question with an answer that involves a lot of eye-movement, a mouth like a gulping goldfish, and weird noises.

Can a cat be trained? In all my experiences with cats, whether mine or within the household I lived in, or fosters, I’ve had only one cat (before now) that was a bit difficult – and that was in one area only (he shredded our lounge chairs, but only the backs and only at night so we didn’t see him do it, so of course he could look innocent when confronted).

This new cat isn’t a mature 5.5 yo. He’s a kitten. With sharp teeth, sharp claws, and a daredevil attitude that’s managed to get him into trouble at least three times – that we know of.

The first one was trying to bust through the front door. A security door with…

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A sweet start to the day

No, not a biscuit or a cake. This

Morning all!

-Meeka saluting with a coffee-


PC deep clean and a new video

I didn’t intend to deep clean the inside of my pc today, but it was starting to overheat a bit, and the fans were becoming a little too loud, so I dragged out the paint brushes and the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into it. Now I’m knackered. If anyone wants to know how to clean their own desktop pc [can’t do it to a laptop] you can find the post here.

One reason I had to reduce the noise of the fans [in the pc] was because the microphone was starting to pick them up when I recorded my latest how-to video. That’s the one down below:

The how-to is for gaming, but I’m slowly honing my skills for the creation of self-publishing videos. The one above may look simple but the editing was brutal. I stopped counting the snippets of video at 50 and didn’t count the voice-over and overlay snippets at all. I did, however, learn how to make my own circles and arrows and overlay them on segments of the video I wanted to highlight:

Unless anyone particularly wants to hear the -cough- dulcet tones of my Aussie accent, leave this one for the gamers. 😉

Time for a long delayed breakfast,

cheers,
Meeks


Is ‘art’ still art if an AI makes it?

The picture above was generated by an AI [Futurism].

“The artwork, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” depicts a scifi-inspired scene of an opera performance. But Jason Allen, who submitted the artwork, used AI image generator Midjourney to create it.”

https://futurism.com/the-byte/ai-generated-painting-wins-state-fair-fine-arts-competition?utm_souce=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=09012022&utm_source=The+Future+Is&utm_campaign=81882d0b81-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_09_01_09_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-81882d0b81-247165549&mc_cid=81882d0b81&mc_eid=bbf5c06f50

Further along in the article, Jason Allen talks about how he set up the parameters for Midjourney [the software/AI] to use. Then he chose what he considered to be the best from three outcomes. And it won first prize at the Colorado State Fair.

When I first read this article, my initial reaction was horror. How could a piece of software, no matter how sophisticated, produce something this…beautiful? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was the parameters set by Jason Allen that had created an image of great beauty, so in that sense, Midjourney was simply another tool.

I admit an AI is a bit more high tech than a paintbrush, but the creativity still came from Allen.

What do you think? The beginning of the end for artists? Or just one more tool?

cheers,
Meeks


Queen Elizabeth II

I just woke up and learned that the Queen had died. As an Australian, there could be only one person who fit that description – Elizabeth II.

I’m not a monarchist, but I remember singing ‘God Save the Queen’ at school in the ’60s, so she has been a part of my life for…most of my life. It seems to me that she was a good person, and that is how I will remember her.

Vale.

Meeks


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