Tag Archives: 2017

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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Competition and Giveaway

No, not from me! One of my favourite Indie authors, Laurie Boris, is part of a multi-author, print book promotion that includes:

  • A new Fire HD 10 tablet.
  • A new Kindle Paperwhite.
  • A new 9 watt Fire tablet / Kindle eReader charger (you never have enough).
  • A signed print edition of RP Dahlke’s A Dead Red Cadillac.
  • A signed print edition of Donna Fasono’s Following His Heart.
  • A signed print edition of Laurie Boris’s The Call.
  • A signed print edition of Melinda Clayton’s Return to Crutcher Mountain.
  • A signed print edition of Dianne Greenlay’s Quintspinner.
  • A signed print edition of Julie Frayn’s Mazie Baby.

I’ve read ‘The Call’ and even though I know nothing about baseball, I still loved it. I haven’t read Melinda Clayton’s ‘Return to Crutcher Mountain’ but I have read an earlier book of hers and it was brilliant too.

If those two authors are anything to go by, the rest of the books will be fantastic as well. And then there are those Kindle goodies as well…

You can find all the details here:

http://fkbt.com/2017/11/13/time-big-november-giveaway/

Go on…what’re you waiting for? -grin-

Meeks


TORUK – Cirque du Soleil

We’re going to the Melbourne show tonight!

I saw the Cirque du Soleil live many years ago and I’m thrilled to be seeing them live again, especially with this Avatar theme [LOVE Avatar].

The tickets weren’t cheap, but this will be my big treat for the year so I’m refusing to count the pennies. 😀

More later,

Meeks


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

 

 


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.

 


Beware! Origin Energy email scam

I just received a warning from the government website – Stay Smart Online:

https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/alert-service/malicious-emails-impersonate-origin-energy

It’s free to register and the warnings can save you from malicious attack. Anyway, this particular warning referred to a new email scam that was reported by the Herald Sun newspaper on the 19th of July, 2017. You can read it here:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/technology/origin-energy-scam-emails-new-malware-attack-hits-australians/news-story/9d5bd312efa909a548fb9e9e3ac00e23

Basically, the scammers have copied the Origin Energy bill payment email format to trick customers into clicking on fake links that will expose them to malware or worse. Sadly, this is an eventuality I predicted over a year ago when I wrote a post about this very issue:

‘What’s wrong [with email bills] is that each link is a potential opening for scammers to steal your information, especially that big, orange ‘Pay now’ button. You see, these days, the really good scammers can reproduce the Origin Energy logo, its fonts, the colours, even the text…PERFECTLY. If you were to receive one of these reproductions, you would need to look very, very carefully to pick the fake from the original. And let’s face it, how many of us scrutinise each email we receive, especially when we are expecting to receive it?’

You can read the full post here:

http://wp.me/p25AFu-2mi

The Origin Energy response has been to ‘teach’ customers how to spot a fake email. Not good enough. Here’s what I wrote in that same post from June last year:

‘And what do you think the big corporations are going to do about the theft of all my money? Will they pull their hair out by the roots and cry ‘mea culpa, mea culpa’? Not on your life. They’ll say that the fault was all mine. They’ll say that they warn customers about ‘scammers’ so it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’.

Having our accounts hacked is too high a price to pay for the convenience on offer. NEVER pay your Origin Energy bills via their emails. Pretend they’re just paper bills and go into your internet banking to pay them safely. Origin Energy created an opening for scammers and you didn’t have to be a psychic to know this would be the result. 😦

Meeks

 


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


Letter of resignation from Climate Change Authority

I promised myself some good news posts this weekend, and in a strange sort of way, this is one. It’s a resignation in response to the ‘clean’ coal bullshit of the Libs.:

climate-change-resignation

My thanks to Metan for tweeting about this, even if it made me angry all over again. And hats off to Professor Clive Hamilton for putting his principles first, but what a sad indictment of the man-who-once-supported-the-ETS. It seems our PM has decided that his reputation and legacy are of less value than his continued presence as our leader.

If the above sounds as if I’m taking Malcolm Turncoat’s defection personally, you’re right, I am. Despite being a Labor supporter, I did harbour a secret admiration for the man. He was what I thought all good politicians ought to be – a man of honour and integrity who became a politician to serve us, the people.

No fool like an old fool. In betraying his own principles, Malcolm Turncoat also betrayed me and every other voter who believed in him. The man who should have resigned was not Professor Hamilton, it was the PM.

Not happy, Malcolm,

Meeks


#Australia – new climate change predictions

Sitting here with the aircon turned on, and a hot north wind blowing outside, it’s hard not to be afraid, especially after seeing this graph:

climate-change-temperature-graph

The graph charts temperatures over the last 100 years – from 1910 to 2010. Not surprisingly, blue represents years of below average cold and red represents years of above average heat. And no, it wasn’t your imagination – summers really have been getting hotter.

My growing up years [1950s to 1970s] were mild. We did get the odd hot day in Melbourne. We even experienced the odd heatwave, but they were unusual events. I know, because we did not even own a fan back then! Now, I can’t imagine living without an air-conditioner.

Unfortunately, heat is not the only thing that’s changed. Nor will it be the only thing that gets worse. I highly recommend reading the complete report from the Climate Council:

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1b331044fb03fd0997c4a4946705606b.pdf

You can also read an abbreviated, ‘highlights of’ article about the report here:

http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/longer-hotter-summers-predicted-in-extreme-weather-report-by-climate-council/news-story/958f45a1141453664fcb5933921b4c14?utm_source=Daily+Carbon+Briefing&utm_campaign=4b550aee94-cb_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_876aab4fd7-4b550aee94-303473869

Now think about these facts – every year for the last three years has been the hottest on record. That means since we’ve been measuring and recording temperature.

According to the Climate Change deniers and skeptics, what we’re experiencing is just another ‘cycle’ in the earth’s climate history. We’ve had ice ages, now we’re having a period of heat. The one thing they’re not ‘having’ is that this period of heat might be caused by humans rather than natural fluctuations.

So let’s take that perspective to its natural conclusion: the world may be getting hotter and climate may be getting more extreme, but it’s not our fault so there’s nothing we can do about it except ‘suck it up’ [and hope we all survive].

To me, that is the most terrifying, defeatist outlook possible. Yes, it does allow for ‘business as usual’, but only because disaster is inevitable so we may as well make money while we can.

By contrast, almost all of the actual climate change scientists say that this distopian outlook is not inevitable. It will take a lot of work, and things will get worse before they get better, but there’s a good chance that we’ll survive…if we clean up the mess we’ve made.

As one of the canaries in the coal mine, I much prefer the optimistic outlook, don’t you?

But why do I imply that Australians are canaries in the coal mine? Isn’t that fate reserved for the island nations of the Pacific?

Um, no, actually. Australia has quite a delicate climate. Yes, I know, how can deserts and bushfires be delicate? What I mean is that we already experience extremes thanks to our geography which means that climate change will have less work to do to make extreme turn into unbearable.

But it is the Australia inhabited by this generation’s grandchildren, 2090, where the heat will really be on, if greenhouse gas emissions worldwide fail to meet current reduction targets.

By that year the report predicts Darwin will have a staggering 265 days each year above 35C.

That quote was taken from the news.com.au article, but the data comes from the Climate Council report [linked above].

Melbourne won’t fare so badly in terms of temperature, but we’ll have other worries – such as increased droughts and a great many more bushfires. If we continue with business as usual, life will be close to unbearable for our children and their children. This is not some dystopian, science fiction plot line I’ve come up with to give you all a good scare. This is real, my friends, and becoming harder to fix with every day we procrastinate.

Back in 2009, eight years ago now, Malcolm Turnbull lost the leadership of the Liberal Party because he supported the Rudd, Labor government, in its attempts to get a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme up and running. Many Australians honoured Turnbull for that, seeing him as a politician of integrity. Many Australians supported his return to the leadship of the Liberal party for the same reason. I know I did. 😦

But where is Turnbull now? Shackled to the idiology of the ultra Right, that’s where. These Conservatives do not believe in human induced climate change. As a result, they fight tooth and nail to keep Australia from shifting to a low or neutral carbon economy [read renewables instead of coal]. If Turnbull wants to stay in power, he has to appease these deniers and skeptics.

Well guess what? Turnbull has been appeasing these deniers and skeptics. The latest ‘clean’ coal proposals are the greatest betrayal possible because Turnbull must know that the holy grail of clean coal will never be achieved. Even with the most stringest technologies currently available [which would make electricity from coal more expensive not less], coal fired power plants would still produce more emissions than gas fired power plants. Yes, gas. Not solar, not wind, not wave or geothermal, but gas.

I no longer believe that Malcolm Turnbull is a man of integrity. He has what he wanted all along – the Prime Ministership – and he’ll betray everything he believes in to keep it. Thanks, Malcolm. I hope your stay at Kirribilli House is short.

Meeks

 


A phone I could get excited about

After years of rumors and false starts, both Samsung and LG are preparing to unveil portable devices with folding screens later this year, according to a report in the Korea Herald (via XDA). Samsung is likely to produce 100,000 of the smartphone-cum-tablets in the third quarter, the Herald claims, while LG may manufacture the same…

via Samsung and LG both reportedly launching foldable phones in second half of 2017 — VentureBeat

I currently have a Kindle Fire for ‘reading’ and an old, Samsung Galaxy SII for ‘communicating’. I have checked the internet on the phone – once or twice – but the screen is much too small for comfortable reading. As a result, I use it almost exclusively for calls, EmergencyAus alerts, and as a camera.

If Samsung can give me the convenient size of a phone with the screen realestate of a tablet, I might just jump ship from the Kindle.


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