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Labor government

So we now officially have a government.  Taken long enough to figure themselves out...  I am not sure there was a lot to choose between them in some ways.

So, just in case anyone missed it, Australia seems to have acquired a new Prime Minister overnight.  Not sure what I think about the way it happened yet, but I have heard a variety of different things. 

Like any of them though, I am praying for her and hoping she can hold her integrity together enough to do something that is right for Australia.  And also hoping it's not just a power game.  Because we don't need that, but we do need someone who will be prepared to do some difficult things.  Whatever they are.



electronic health records

Big news here at the  moment is electronic health records.  One of the parts of it is assigning everyone an electronic identification number.


The interesting thing about this particular part of the debate is I don't see why an additional number is required.  People here already *have* a number- it is printed on our Medicare cards.  (Medicare is the government health system).  But apparently we need a new number, and there is great official enthusiasm for the 'e-health' records.

Myself, I am suspicious.

Too tired to talk in any depth about it though.

Quit Program for Facebook

I wonder if they'll include a 12-step program for quitters?

One of the guys in this article is talking about it being the largest collection of personal data available - the magnitude is disturbing me.  If this movement has 25,000 identities signed up to it, how many more are feeding the pool?


Facebookery. Not a murder this time.

After responding to ailbhe 's comment on my last Facebook post (that's a post about Facebook on LJ!), I open up the news for the morning.  First thing I read:

"Facebook responds to privacy concerns".  Do they?  And I'm only quoting part, but..."

He says Facebook's default settings will continue to make it relatively easy for users to obtain information about each other, as the company treads a delicate balance between protecting privacy rights and promoting social networking over the internet.

"Users use the service because they love sharing information," Mr Zuckerberg said."

And yesterday:

"ANZ debt collector accused of Facebook spying":

The ANZ bank has launched an internal investigation into claims staff have used Facebook to spy on customers.

It is alleged one of the bank's Melbourne-based debt collectors set up a fake account on the social networking site to covertly gather debtors' addresses, phone numbers and emails.

More than 80 people added "Max Bourke" as a contact before the fake profile was removed from the website yesterday.

Social networking indeed.


In response to a question from fjm , I have been attempting to find out about Australian Aboriginal sci-fi or fantasy writers, existence of.

After much web searching, consulting with a university creative writing and sci-fi literature lecturer, as well as some Australian writers and fans, I have come up with  - ta da! - exactly nothing.  That is, no support for the hypothesis for the existence of Aboriginal writers of sci-fi or fantasy literature, at this point in time, given the research conducted.

This surprises me.  It's not something I had thought of before, but I can see it.  Given that I know there are many Aboriginal writers, and that story/literature/narrative is an important aspect of Aboriginal cultures, this makes me think of a couple of possibilities. 

Maybe the focus of Aboriginal writing is on social conditions or Aboriginal styles of writing and art, which do not involve science fiction or fantasy as we know it.

Maybe being an Aboriginal writer is difficult enough for social reasons and so on, and perhaps if writers are writing genre fiction they do not want disadvantage and discrimination so they do not identify as Aboriginal.  (Identifying as Aboriginal can be an advantage when writing about cultural stuff - from my perspective about non-Aboriginal, there does seem to be support, funding and publicity for Aboriginal artists to create work about Aboriginal and related social conditions, as well as 'literary' fiction).

Maybe people who are into sci-fi and/or fantasy are not people who identify themselves racially/culturally as much as writers of 'general' or 'literary' fiction - this hypothesis might relate to the nature of people who create these imaginative kinds of worlds. I wonder...

It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has opinion or experience about this.

Post-flood ecology

You might be interested to look at the following ABC video.  www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/03/25/2855995.htm  It shows floodwaters heading into Lake Eyre (central Australia) - with a massive population spike of birds and wildlife (very impressive on camera).  If you look carefully at the end of the video, you'll be able to identify some kangaroos or wallabies hopping through wetlands.

Shuffle off to Buffalo?

This is rather wonderful!  Wouldn't you like this visitor at home?


We have snow

This is so much a land for all seasons.  Note, when I say "we" have snow, it's not like it's even in this state.  But given that half the country had a heatwave last week, and such things don't exactly respect state boundaries, and parts of the Australian Alps are prone to rather bad bushfires round this time of year, it's all just rather amusing. 

I was in Victoria when it snowed for Christmas a couple of years ago - we went for a drive and saw it on some peaks.  That seriously did my head in.  But in a much nicer way than watching footage of endless stuff burning.


Pitiful Pylons

Five large electricity transmission towers have fallen at Pyramid Hill, in northern Victoria. (seven: ABC News)

Five large electricity transmission towers have fallen at Pyramid Hill, in northern Victoria. (seven: ABC News)

Close Image


Fires are bad, mmm'kay...?

The fire danger rating is likely to be in force in the state's west tomorrow (ABC News )

The fire danger rating is likely to be in force in the state's west tomorrow (ABC News )


New Year

Happy New Year everyone :)

All the best for 2010, and lots more years to come.

Vulture Vampires

While I wouldn't mind winning some money, this seems a 'dead dodgy' way to do it.


SA fire conditions

Not the news report we really want for Christmas:


This is pretty scary, considering the heatwave a month ago, and the whole concept of what happened last summer. SA has its own history of fires, including Ash Wednesday and some very bad fires about 3 years ago on Eyre Peninsula besides many last year during Victoria's horrific fire season. So I think there are going to be a lot of people on edge over the next couple of days, and that probably won't die down really all summer.

Substantial rain would be nice, but as soon as it dries out, there's your new growth all set to be new material to burn again...

What is promising is the controlled burnings I've seen done recently in the hills. I've called in a number of fires where I've spotted smoke in the conservation parks and forests, and on each occasion it's been a controlled burn that the fire service have either approved or instigated! I don't know if it will be enough - I don't know if anything will be enough - but every little bit helps.

Guide Dog not permitted on plane.

Oh for goodness sake, is nobody getting the picture? "One of our ground staff had the wrong information indeed".

I bet the ground staff did not miss a flight based on wrong information.


Whoops, Jetstar.

Budget airline Jetstar seems to want a dirty record regarding its treatment of passengers with disabilities, this week declining to carry a guide dog. Not impressed. I see a pattern in the crystal ball.

- an athlete is unimpressed when he's offered an inadequate excuse for a wheelchair at the airport, by budget airline Jetstar.

and in the same week, same airline...

- also really not amusing. This guy got tipped out, had mobility equipment broken and ended up in hospital...

Fire Day

Lightning sparks fires on catastrophic day

Also features new fire ratings

You know it's hot when...

30` days are a blessed cool relief!
Adelaide Forecast
Issued at 5:15 am CDT on Friday 13 November 2009

Warning Summary
The SES has issued an Extreme Heat Warning for South Australia.

Forecast for Friday
Dry, hot to very hot and sunny. Light to moderate northerly winds with a south
to southwest sea breeze developing late morning. Winds turning light to moderate
southeast in the evening.

Precis Dry. Sunny.
City: Max 39
Elizabeth: Max 40
Mount Barker: Max 38
Noarlunga: Max 37

UV Alert: 9:00 am to 5:10 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 12 [Extreme]
Fire Danger: Very High (Mount Lofty Ranges Fire Ban District)

Saturday Dry. Sunny. Min 25 Max 39
Sunday Dry. High cloud. Min 26 Max 40
Monday Fine. Mostly sunny. Min 19 Max 28
Tuesday Fine. Sunny. Min 15 Max 30
Wednesday Dry. Sunny. Min 20 Max 36
Thursday Dry. Mostly sunny. Min 25 Max 38


Tonight's hot-night dinner:

Sliced capsicum spread with cream cheese.

Pretty good!
Glorious cool breeze and sprinkle of rain.  All very pleasing.

Keeping cool over summer

It's not yet desperately hot, but hot enough for me to be aware it's heading in that direction.

Another summer of potentially unprecedented fire danger, another summer of near-record temperatures, heatwaves like the 1930s (I think), another summer of water restrictions, possible blackouts and so on.

I'm trying to think of what I can do to stay cool at home that doesn't require electricity.

I'm planning to get a small paddling pool for the animals as last year I was tipping water over them regularly - if they can do that for themselves it will be better.  You know it's hot when you put the cat under the tap and he just lies there soaking it up!

I have water spray bottles, a little neck bandanna that's filled with water-absorbing/evaporating gel crystal things (must find it!).  I tend to wear short muslin skirts and singlets at home, and often wet a towel and wear it/drape it round my shoulders.  Or just wet my clothes periodically...

I keep the house shut up and with blinds, curtains down etc, to avoid the hot winds, but mostly I am too tired and floppy to go open it up much when there are occasions like cool nights, random breezes etc.

We are on permanent water restrictions here and may move to a higher level of restriction, so spending ages in the shower 10 times a day is not a responsible or appropriate option.

So I would love input on anything else that's easy to do and doesn't require much use of electricity OR major financial outlay at any point.  This would probably have the added benefit of being somewhat more environmentally responsible than running an air conditioner...

It's a Rich Man's World

"SOS issued for original ABBA jumpsuit"


Student refectory discussion

College at present - there is some interesting preliminary talk going on about re-opening the cafeteria.  It closed last year as the people who were running it wanted to leave and no one else to take it on.  It had been run as a catering business with a side business of selling food to students, as it was not deemed viable to run solely as a business within the college.

However since then all there has been is some food machines that sell dodgy questionable expensive food and make the place feel empty and sterile.  For a while there was free tea and coffee (proper coffee) but then they got a machine for that too (it's appalling).

Last week there was a conversation between a few of us about the quality of the food, the decline of the refectory as a social facility as a result of the changes, and the general dissatisfaction with what is currently on offer.

Coming out of that, a couple of the students have bounced the idea round of opening some kind of student-run refectory service.  They are meeting this Friday to discuss it further.

I have just composed and sent off an email making some points I wish to be considered should such a service start.  I have no idea at all how extensive or limited the service might be - or what resources they have or what the college is willing to invest in it.  I have offered my services and skills in market research, interviewing and statistics (part of my previous training plus working in market research)... but also made some of my own suggestions about my personal priorities and perceptions about a student food service.

I'm wondering if anyone wishes to comment on what might work or be valuable to consider, given that this is a small college with both part time and full time, young and mature students, there are places to buy food in the surrounding suburb but it's a bit trendy and expensive,  and there is lots of bad feedback about the food machines.    I am interested particularly to hear of/from anyone who's been involved with a student-run food service or co-op, either as a worker or consumer.  But also what you would like if you were a student at this college...  

New shoes of purpleness

I have cool shoes.  They are very pleasing.

I am massively impressed by the shop and the sales person who totally did not try to 'sell' but listened to what I want, listened to my feedback about how the shoes were fitting and understood that something I slipped out of was not going to work.

And I ended up with this: www.zappos.com/n/p/p/7372106/c/7.html in the colour "serrano viola kombi".  I am totally pleased and fulfilled - don't think I could have found anything better given what I was looking for originally.

I am amazingly stable when I stand or walk in them.

Seal holds up chocolate factory workers

Mostly we don't actually have kangaroos hopping around the main street of town. Contrary to some popular opinions.

But if you're in Tasmania, it seems there are other things to watch out for:

Twittering about the twits...

I know lots of you use Twitter.  Are you really working for MI5?

Twitter: the new crime-fighting tool?


Lost your bottle?

A town in eastern Australia is banning the sale of bottled water.  There is some controversy over this move and the primary issues appear to be decreasing the bottle waste (lots of people pushing for refundable bottle deposits Australia-wide, like SA has) versus minimising the availability of water alongside sugary drinks in shops.

Interested to hear anyone's comments on the matter.


Just for reference, the 'Bundy' in the title has nothing to do with Bundy Rum, which comes from Bundaberg in Queensland.  Apart from perhaps some implied humour.

Out of Time: A chilling investigation of an ambulance service that is putting patients' lives at risk' airs on ABC1's Four Corners at 8:30pm tonight.


Paramedics in Western Australia claim patients have died while waiting for an ambulance, and say the system is so poor it is putting other people's lives at risk.

ABC1's Four Corners program tonight hears from a group of 30 paramedics who say things need to improve quickly.

It's raining, it's pouring...

It's absolutely pissing down here!  The power lines are waving violently, I can hear the rain louder than anything else (and it's not a bare tin roof), the rain is slanting sideways and I just saw something flying through the air; I think it might have been something from a tree but visibility is too low to make it out!

Lovely.  Send her down, Hughie!
There are cameras on ebay.  I have a short list compiled.    With a guitar thrown in for good measure.  And a wooden block in the form of a piece of swiss cheese, accompanied by a little mouse on a long string.  It's a lacing toy for children, and if I manage to get it, it will go to one of the nieces for a birthday or Christmas present.

I will also start looking at other instruments available cheaply, as I'd love to get back into music soon. 
Tonight, we are keeping up appearances with Mrs Bucket.  A while since I've seen such things; nice to permit myself the genuine time to relax and be a bit frivolous.

Guide Dogs

Train driver under fire over trapped guide dog

Melbourne rail operator Connex is investigating an incident in which a guide dog's tail was stuck in a train door last night.

As if this wasn't bad enough, what I'm *really* unimpressed about here is the range of idiotic 'commentary' afterwards: Read more...Collapse )

More Fires

Thousands flee California bushfires


This looks bad. California's a nice spot for many things, but a horror for fires, rather like Victoria/SA really.