Category Archives: Internets

Linkfests; memes; technology; wars; general

ALP the new Stalinists

/rant mode on

Today’s rant is unusual as it’s not about the USA election, USAn attitudes on sex and education [lack thereof], creationists being morons, or sporting broadcasts.  Today I’m frothing at the mouth about something that’s going on here in Australia, that the population is not getting upset enough about – but that’s the berloody apathetic Aussies for ya – and is not being brought to attention what with all media focus on global financial crisis and the fact that Sarah Palin has a vagina [one presumes].

Australian Labour Party IT Minister Stephen Conroy [oops sorry, Minister For Broadband And The Digital Economy] has long been talking up his new “Plan For Cyber-Safety”, which will cost the government at least $ 125.8 million, and is a nationwide internet filtering system.  Yep just like the one China has about which Australia and other “First World” nations have been criticising and bleating stuff about “human rights abuses”. 

Apparently it’s to make the internet safe, “to provide greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites”.  Okay, fair enough, you may say – child porn is nasty.   But let me ask you, how much of the transactions, information searches and knowledge gained on a daily basis with this marvel of modern times is done by five year olds?

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A short rant about blogging

One of the things I hate about blogs, bloggers and blogging are the so-called trolls; the sick fucks who make bloggers’ lives a misery. They’re the sad, small-minded, hate-filled types who leave comments telling the blogger how much they hate them (the blogger), what vile deluded people they are, what a sick life they leave, how much they loathe their writing and their site. And yet trolls keep visiting, and leaving ever-more venomous bile, then they start with the hate mail, and even personal threats on the bloggers’ lives and that of their children.

This crazy shit happens to those bloggers who have become famous, who share very personal information and pieces of their lives. Many of them fall into the dreaded category of “mommyblogger” (rather than “parent-who-blogs-with-the- sprogs”? or just blogger? Talk about bloody stupid pigeon-holing especially when many of them cover much wider – and liberal, now there’s a hint – topics as well). I’m talking about the Amalahs, the dooces, the Robs – who I adore for the magic job he is doing raising a very unique fascinating child who happens to have a really nasty beastie of a neurological disorder. I can relate to the obstacles the family faces and especially appreciate how Rob and his wife are raising/developing their daughter to be her own person, have a definite identity … Something that didn’t happen with me – I was just “that sick kid”. Gah, sorry, garbling again.

Anyway … real sick fucks go after these people. There are sites dedicated to slamming them. And even sicker fucking perverts who stalk the parents as in threatening phone calls along the lines of “we know your address” and imparting information only someone physically staking out the family could know; and even worse go after the kids, judging and tearing them apart in a twisted paedophiliac way. Especially if the blog has pictures of the kids. More judging. Your kid is ugly / retarded / evil / a monster / should be put down. There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour, no circumstance or action a child or his/her parents could have done to warrant such excess. I mean, the fuck?

And this is why I don’t “blog” much. Its why I keep myself distanced from what I write and rarely get too personal. Even writing about my health issues, I do not give away the whole picture and all the detail. I’m naturally cagey – people I knew and hung out with for years didn’t know – were not told – I had a severe illness. I didn’t even tell my mother I was planning on getting engaged and moving to Ireland until the night we announced our engagement. I’m even cagier online.

And that is why I DO NOT WANT to become a well known blogger let alone famous. I don’t want the stats, the million hits. I am ultra thin skinned; I still have screaming night terrors (not just the average nightmare) about high school, for crying out loud. That was some seriously bad shit that went down, and I AM scarred for life, I recognise that. I’m getting better at overcoming or at least dealing with both the scars and the night terrors but I do not want to go out and put myself directly in the firing line over something essentially trivial (not surprisingly I gave my 20 year high school reunion a miss).

I don’t want the judgement from people I don’t even know. OK, so I have a site on the internets where I ramble a bit. I’m actually a very good writer and have been encouraged by many people from many walks of life to write professionally – from science/medical to fiction/autobiographical.

I don’t want the sort of treatment that Amalah and Dooce get – I don’t want the fucking adulation, either. That freaks me as much as the trolls. I’d like to get a few comments every now and then and make some email-friends but that’s it. I remember high school all too well; the mental, emotional and physical ABUSE. I am not about to put myself in that situation voluntarily. And let’s face it, the level of behaviour to which I’m referring is exactly like high school – no, junior school. Pre-school, in the sandpit. I tried my damndest to get out of school and played hooky and ran away as much as I could (never got detention though, not once – but there wasn’t any positive intervention from teachers, either, despite the school’s big focus on “pastoral care”. VOMIT).

So yeah … blogging. And sick fucks. It totally stinks that a person cannot share their lives without getting frightened for their and their children’s lives. And sheesh, if any sick fundie redneck in the US knew about my planned rants on Teen Sex In The USA, not to mention the Creationists Are Morons draft …. Phew.

Except those types of small minded freaks would find that way too cerebral.

South Park and I agree –

Steve Irwin was a dickhead.

There’s been a lot of fuss about the South Park Halloween episode, featuring a bloodied Steve Irwin with a stingray hanging out of his chest.

Via the BBC News Online; John Beyer of Mediawatch called the episode “grossly insensitive”, and that “Mr Irwin’s family are obviously still grieving about their tragic loss and it seems inappropriate to me that South Park should be trying to make some capital out of it. 

“To lampoon somebody’s death like that is unacceptable, and so soon after the event is grossly insensitive and shows a great deal of disrespect for his family.”

Well hello, that’s what South Park DOES, and that’s what lampooning IS.   Get that iron pole out your arse, Mr Beyer.  Nothing is sacred in Entertainment.  It’d be different if his kids were being lampooned; a celebrity is fair game – posthumously or nae.   And to be frank, I totally agree with taking the piss out of Irwin.

In fact, I wrote a post about this a couple of months back (which, because I am not famous and no one reads this) that went totally un-remarked. And there I was, trying to be all sensationalist and shit.

Here’s what I wrote (Saturday 16 September 2006), and I stand by it totally :-

Steve Irwin was a dickhead …

I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, and I feel immense sadness for his wife and kidlets, for them it is a shocking tragedy. To be honest though, and going against the tide of popular opinion (for which I fully expect to be called an unfeeling arsehole), I can’t help but feel that the man was a total dickhead. He took stupid, stupid risks; he got way too close to wild, dangerous animals and so ran the risk of getting hurt, most likely fatally; and he was, rather than the conservationist and environmentalist he’s made out to be, an exhibitionist, a sensationalist, and totally contemptuous of animals and nature.

As soon as I read the reports of his death, I knew – from both the reports and knowledge of stingray behaviour – that he’d got too close, he and his crew had been hassling the creature, and it acted in natural self defence. That kind of behaviour – hassling an animal until it is driven to defending itself – shows a total lack of respect and therefore a great deal of contempt; attributes that are too often seen in the modern world toward the natural world and why the environment and biodiversity is in such a shitty situation. As for educating the masses – no this is NOT the kind of treatment that should be encouraged.

I recall seeing only one Steve Irwin TV segment, and I had to switch off after a couple of minutes at that; he was teasing and taunting a spitting cobra and as the animal repeatedly reared up and spat straight into the man’s eyes, Irwin just casually douched the poison out with a squirt of a water bottle and carried on. What a total bullying bastard; that kind of act does not a conservationist and environmentalist make, even if it does make for good ratings with the LCD in the dumbarse USA.

Give me David Attenborough; now there’s a man who has furthered knowledge and appreciation of animal and plant life on this planet, and always with the total respect and awe owing such treasures. And, after 50 plus years in the business, continues to make programmes that are beautiful and entrancing (and oh, educational as well, how ‘bout that?).

Nice that South Park agrees with me! Of course their spoofs on Tom Cruise etcetera were absolutely divinely up my alley.

So sue me. For being “grossly insensitive” woohoo!

Extreme survivor!

Found this cute quiz via grrlscientist *

http://www.spicolisbarleybin.com/games/survival.swf

I got full marks – 17/17.  Woohoo! According to this quiz, this means I have what it takes to be an extreme survivor, am allowed to wear an “I Will Survive” Gloria Gaynor t-shirt and taunt the predatory animal of my choice (doesn’t the wearing of a Gloria Gaynor t-shirt counts as taunting? Also I’d much rather pat the ocelot).

I’m quite pleased with those results, especially since I have no first-hand experiences of tornados, no idea what to do in the event of a tornado, in fact the closest I’ve come to a tornado is watching The Wizard of Oz.  I guessed, basing my answers on the rules for cyclones.  I did fine with the animal attack questions, but I doubt I would be able to think let alone aim straight to gouge out a shark’s eyes, I’d be far too busy trying not to scream and add drowning to mauling and involuntary amputation.  The man made disasters ones were common sense, also I’ve actually read the “In the event of a crash” brochure in the seat pocket of my seat (I’ve never been able to locate the life-jacket though, tough luck for me)

Heh, I always knew I had what it takes, I mean I survived being the runt of every class for 12 years of primary and secondary education. Even if my skillz were in the “total bloody-mindedness” and “quiet subversion” sections, not bravery and courage!

* one of the many brilliant science bloggers I’ve discovered via the renowned PZ at Pharyngula.  Also added to my bookmarks are Aetiology and The Panda’s Thumb

Support Groups, Surgery, and Collagen

I wrote up a long entry about EDS – what it is and how it affects sufferers including me – and posted it as an “About” page as it is kind of stand-alone and is also too bloody long for a standard post.

Ever since my diagnosis nearly ten years ago I’ve dealt with my bête noir all on my own. Oh I’ve had medical help and in recent years actual real life support from Tux, but because the condition – and awareness of same – is so rare I’ve never had access to a support group, never even met another person with EDS, never spoken with another person who knows precisely, intrinsically what I experience; who manages the same escalating condition; who has so far survived all the quality-of-life bullshit, and so on.

Recently I was googling for any recent research [very much like the proverbial needle; except proverbially you know the needle is somewhere in that haystack, and you can’t presume the same about EDS research] when I came upon a link. A link to an Australian EDS Support Group/Message Board. Australian. Not the UK, or USA, or Canada.

I think that must have been the fastest registration and login ever attempted. It’s a great group, too, a real mix of ages and situations, and it’s pretty lively, considering the small group size. There’s been some very interesting threads/posts already; the best one, from my point of view right now, is all about exchanging ideas and tips to make life easier and more streamlined, more independent and mobile. Many of these tricks I’ve worked out myself over the years, but how amazing would it be if I’d just been diagnosed and there was this group, right there? That’s the true beauty of the internets for you – that not only is it amazing technology, amazing for education and the increase of knowledge, also how it brings people together who otherwise would not have a snowball’s chance in hell. Forget match.com – this is much more romantic!

So yeah, it’s an exciting and new experience, communicating with “my people” like that; what I find most fascinating is not the opportunity for “memememememe” posts [my medication, my pain, my shoulder, my specialist, my surgery] but the chance to ask questions – “youyouyouyouyou?” So very very much more interesting and informative. And believe me I’m asking questions like mad. Others are less affected than me; or worse; others were diagnosed early; others had the same experience as I did; others – most or all of them – have immediate family with EDS. Some have medical knowledge to rival a neurosurgeon’s; others can’t spell or punctuate [just like any forum in that respect].

Something that immediately stands out and that I’ve been chewing over is that I’m going to need surgery; in fact it’s a bit of a miracle I haven’t required some major surgery already [possibly I may require and again, the need/diagnosis has been missed]. I’m certainly not about to rugby tackle the nearest spine surgeon, shrieking “Do me!” – but then again, what if it would help? Make a big difference? Would YOU go through a cervical spine fusion “on the off-chance” [that you would eg, experience a lessening of screaming agonising pain and be able to drive a car again]?

I get cross with my mother, who insists there’s going to be a cure found within the next two years, because she really is living in la-la-land and there is absolutely no scientific basis for her conviction – rather, science indicates a big “no f’ing idea”; I don’t expect a cure , but have often set up the following rhetorical questions –

[i] If there is an enzyme which dissolves collagen [there is – called collagenase] then why cannot the reverse be engineered?

[ii] Why can’t collagen type II [or whichever one of the 27 types is out of balance, I think it is II] be manufactured?

Update:

and would you believe, Pharyngula posted some very very fascinating information on Collagen II on his blog a few days and I just now read it? Here None of the scientists commenting had any concrete answers, apart from thinking it would be cool. Yes. Yes it would be cool.

Memes

Strangely one of the concepts that both attracts and repels me about blogs is THE MEME. Memes can be incredibly boring or self-aggrandising or plain pointless; space wastage. Or they can be absolutely fascinating, revealing things you never knew about yourself [or oneself, I just guess at pronouns; also ‘oneself’ whilst correct is just too royal family for my common self] or the replyee to the meme.

Two memes have been doing the rounds the last couple of months; one which made me wish *I* had a blog so someone could tag me – I refer to the “Four” meme. So now I have my own blog, and regardless of the fact that “Four” is so January, here tis –

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:

  1. Rousabout / Jackaaroo
  2. Pre-school teacher
  3. Parliamentary Assistant
  4. Project Officer to Marine Environment Research lab

Four movies I can watch over and over:

  1. LadyHawke [shutupshutupshutup the alternative was The Black Stallion]
  2. Blade Runner [Harrison Ford!]
  3. Working Girl [Harrison Ford takes his shirt off!]
  4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Four places I have lived:

  1. Perth, Western Australia
  2. Madrid, Spain
  3. Tunbridge Wells, England
  4. Belfast, Northern Ireland

Four TV shows I love to watch: [except I do not own a TV – hurrah for DVDs]

  1. M*A*S*H*
  2. Buffy The Vampire Slayer [Seasons One – Five]
  3. Battlestar Galactica
  4. The Simpsons/Family Guy

Four places I have been on vacation:

  1. Barcelona, Spain
  2. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  3. Oxford, UK
  4. Galway, Republic of Ireland

Four of my favourite dishes:

  1. Bun Rieu [or any of the huge-noodly-soup-in-bowl genre]
  2. Cha Siu Bao
  3. Paella
  4. Baked Pork Chops

Four websites I visit daily:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. BBC News
  3. Jessica In Progress
  4. Pharyngula

Four places I would rather be right now:

  1. Galway, Republic of Ireland
  2. Paris, France
  3. Mauritius
  4. Norway

The second meme that got me was the “What is your ideal major?’ … which I shall tell you all about soon. Suffice to say, said meme could have saved me a lot of sleepless nights and existential angst, dammit.