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New Stuff on AO3

I've been putting up some drabble collections from FFVII100 over the last couple of days. So the new stuff is:

Through Other People's Eyes - A series of 12 drabbles about Barret Wallace.

Journey Perspectives - A set of 5 drabbles set at the point where the party has just climbed down the cable and are outside the gates of Midgar.

New Beginnings / Promised Lands - Not all new beginnings are Promised Lands, but they're a step on the journey. A set of 11 drabbles.

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Unused Tutorial Question Answers

This week, I'm going to be using some answers I wrote to tutorial questions for a class (Introduction to Cultural Studies). We didn't use this work in the tutorial, so I figure I may as well recycle it. There'll probably be a few of these along the way.

So, the questions were:

* What do think about Elvis? (Note down your impressions.)
* What do you know of him? What is your first impression when recollecting him? Why do you think he is such a well-known individual?
* Consider the following song, "Elvis Presley Blues" (by Gillian Welch). How does it present a different picture to well known representations of Elvis in Vegas?

Here's my answers, under the fold )

That's what I say.

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Current Mood: mellow mellow
Starting Uni Again

Well, uni re-commences classes today. I have my two blocks of on-campus time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (two lectures and a tutorial on Tuesday; a peer mentoring appointment, a tutorial, and a social group meeting on Wednesday). I'm also expected to do about seven to ten hours per week of private study for each of my units, things like getting caught up on the readings, doing research, thinking about the course content and integrating it together, thinking about the readings in the context of the theme for the week and the content we've taken on previously and so on. Oh, and doing the assessment tasks, but those are also expected to take a bit of extra time as well.

Maybe I should point out: I'm doing two units this year from the Communication and the Literary and Cultural Studies side of my double-major degree. Which means quite a few of the "readings" I'm going to be dealing with this semester are going to be things like movies, TV shows and so on. The units are called "Engaging Media" and "Introduction to Cultural Studies", so yeah, lots of visual media expected. This is where quite a bit of the two hours of study/reading time per day is likely to go.

I'm also in a unit which is apparently going to let me get away with writing fan-fiction for one of my assessments. Which I think is a hoot - and I'm sort of rubbing it in at Steve a bit. I'm doing a double major in Creative Writing and Literary and Cultural Studies, which means I'm in an overall course of study where I'm expected to watch movies, and I can get marks (and have already received marks) for writing fanfic. It's a bit hard not to be a tad smug about it.

(On the other hand: the course coordinator for "Introduction to Cultural Studies" basically sent out an email saying "if you don't have a Netflix account, now is a very good time to get one". So I'm looking at a minimum of $10 per month to cover the cost of "readings").

I'm sort of looking forward to the semester, because I do like studying, and I enjoy the subject matter. I've been involved with online fandom for years, and recently I realised this is something which is basically keeping the cultural studies muscles in my brain flexible, so to speak - cultural studies is about pulling out the effects of cultural product on people and how it's put together and so on, and fandom covers a lot of this territory as well. So this is basically me finding a degree in my hobbies. Which I don't mind at all. Plus, of course, I've been formally studying cultural studies, on and off, since about 1989 (yup, coming up for thirty years now... I really do need to be getting some formal qualifications in this, don't I?).

I have the standard "will I get along with my tutors" thing happening (a good tutor I can work with is a godsend; one who pings off all the wrong resonances in my head tends to be a problem), and I'm sort of wondering about the lecturers as well (I think I know who one of them is, but I've never seen the other before). So it's all about discovery and so on - something I know I'm not particularly good with (side effect of autism spectrum life - change is a bit more disruptive than the usual, and I spend a lot of time and effort working to ensure I adapt to it as fast as possible). But I've done this before, and I can cope with it.

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Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
Meg's Rant about Science-Fictional Style Artificial Intelligence, And Why It's Unlikely.

Rant below fold )

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Current Mood: tired tired
Fanfiction Recommendations - Final Fantasy VII Time Travel Stories

Final Fantasy VII has a long tradition (going back about twenty years now) of time-travel fix-it fics. These are some of the examples of the genre I've found, and enjoyed to the point of re-reading. (This isn't a comprehensive list, just a few favourites; and I'm leaving off works in progress).

Eir's Tomorrow by Jukeboxhound

This one is a serious version of the trope. Cloud Strife watches the world end, and is hauled back by the Planet to do it all over again from the very beginning. Be warned: this one gets very gritty and dark in places - there are warnings for torture, sexual assault, blood, gore, and psychological horror. Read the warnings first before you start the story, and have the tissue box handy if you choose to continue - this one keeps kicking you in the feels.

Deus Ex Machina by Guede Mazaka

Described by the author as a "Crackfic time-travel satire AU", with BDSM overtones and an NC-17 rating. This one is pretty much what you get after Cloud Strife has been travelling the time-stream repeatedly from AU to AU to AU for something like twenty or thirty years, and he's finally got "fixing the world's problems" down to the point of being a fine art. As well as reaching the point of exasperation with the whole thing.

Rock Bottom by esama

A forty-year-old Cloud Strife is pulled back to his fifteen-year-old self by the Planet, and decides "sod that for a game of SOLDIERs" when faced with the idea of doing everything over again. Then he and Aerith go on to save the world in the most fabulous fashion (in every sense of the term) possible. Pure crack!fic which always makes me laugh.

The Fifth Act by Sinnatious

Cloud Strife post-Advent Children has an accident with a Time materia in the Midgar wastes, and finds himself back in the Crisis Core era. A lovely exercise in how small things make big changes in the end. Be warned: there's a lot of angsting in this one, some fairly realistic corporate reactions to perceived suicidal behaviours, and a lot of non-consensual experimentation. Another one where you might want to keep the tissue box within reach for some parts.

The Little Guy by TokiMirage

Cloud Strife wakes up as a cadet, and decides, after failing out of SOLDIER, he's going to avoid the military altogether. He becomes a janitor for Shinra, which should have been the end of it. But fate is a tricksy bitch who will not be denied, and who also has a good line in broken appliances in a certain general's office. One of the rare dominant!Cloud fics in the fandom, so if you're wedded to the notion of Cloud Strife as uke, it possibly won't be to your taste; also there are some identity issues and such (related to known canon issues, so be warned).

If anyone else has any recommendations for FFVII time travel stories, drop them in the comments.

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Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Ethical Living and the Signalling of Economic Virtue

The Guardian here in Australia has a new series of articles (Life Swaps) they've started about "how to live more sustainably". So far there's been two articles published, one on better food choices, and one on fashion choices. They're pretty much what you'd expect of this sort of thing - largely about how to spend more money in the pursuit of a better lifestyle, and they're an excellent example of the genre of article I've come to think of as "middle class left-wing virtue signalling".

Essay under fold )

The next article in this series is due out on Saturday. I'll be interested to see what it's about, and how it tackles the subject. I'm willing to bet there's going to be at least one on transport, which will recommend buying an electric car rather than a petrol-driven one as the "sustainable" choice; recommend cycling as the "do-it-yourself" alternative, and which may mention public transport in the "gentrification" option, but will probably be more likely to recommend the real-estate version of "gentrification" instead - getting yourself a nice place in a near-inner-city suburb which is close to your workplace.

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Current Mood: cynical cynical
Oh Goody, the Scammers Are Back! - Fake Telstra Billing Confirmation email

Well, it's been a while since a scam hit my in-box, but it seems like one slipped through the spam filter at the ISP. This one purports to be a billing contact email from Telstra. So, let's start pulling it apart for scam-sign, shall we?


We're starting to see scam-sign very early on here: none of these are from the domain of the company whose logo is on the email - the nearest we get is the final one, complete with careful misspellings.

Text of the email: Text below the fold )

There are two links in the article - one under "Click here" and one under "". Both of them point to the same site -

Again, nothing linking things back to the company who is purportedly sending this.

Following the link given throws you over to a pass-through page, which sends you to this one:

This turns out to be a copy of the Telstra login page. Needless to say I didn't bother following through and "updating" my personal details (although I am somewhat tempted to hand over a bunch of details for a fictional character or three).

The initial content of the email was a bit suspect to begin with - red flag number one. But if you are being contacted by a utility company to check their records are up to date, they're almost certainly going to be sending the email from their own servers (red flag number two) and with their own domain name (red flag number three) on the email. They're also going to have links pointing to their own domain (red flag number four) and those links aren't likely to include a leading space in the link text anywhere (red flag number five).

So, this is a scam; it's a phishing scam; and it's designed to ensure you hand over a bunch of your personal details - probably including things like credit card numbers and such, but almost certainly including your name, address, telephone number and so on.

How to protect yourself against these? Well, to start with, utility suppliers tend to be fairly lax when it comes to chasing information. My own experience is they tend to consider things like a change of address, or a change of credit card number, to be something you're going to tell them about as part of the business relationship if you're continuing to purchase their product (and some of them tend to be a bit slow to act on updates anyway - as anyone who's been billed by a utility for power or gas charges at an address they know you no longer occupy can testify to).

Also, if you've given a utility company a physical address, they're far more likely to send you paper mail to confirm things rather than email. But again, they're not going to be chasing this information unless there's a reason to do so: if you've been paying your bills regularly, you probably won't hear anything from them except "here's your next bill, please pay X amount on Y date via these various convenient methods".

If you receive something via email from a utility company saying they need you to log in somewhere to update your details, it's probably a good idea to phone them and confirm this is the case - at worst, you'll have spent a little time being over-cautious. At best, you'll have saved yourself from giving details to phishing scammers and identity thieves.

ETA: Dreamwidth is being hlepy and turning the two URLs for the scam-site into links. Please do not follow the links to the scam site.

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Current Mood: bitchy bitchy
Locking Down Commenting

As you may have noticed, we have an epidemic of comment spammers showing up here.

Given they're persistent little blowflies, and I'm gearing up for another semester at uni, I've switched the commenting in this journal to allow comments from registered users only. If you don't have an InsaneJournal account, you'll need to go over to my Dreamwidth account and comment on the post there.

Anonymous commenting is screened, and posts selling something (or posts in languages other than English) are deleted as spam.

If you want to sell something online, you need to find yourself a website and pay for hosting yourself. Or alternatively, contact me and I'll let you know my rates for hosting your damn ad. I'm certainly not allowing you to do the equivalent of posting bills on my space for free.

Current Mood: angry angry
Spammer IPs

Hi all.

I've been getting some comment spam on this account, and while I've been deleting it (no, I don't provide this for spammers to get free posting space - open your own damn account if you want that) I've been noting the IP addresses being used. So here's the first ten. Feel free to add them to blacklists, complain to the admins or whatever you fancy.

(IP - Owner, country; type of host; domain [if known]). - Disk Group Ltd., Netherlands; Data Center/Web Hosting/Transit; - Kyivski Telekomunikatsiyni Merezhi LLC, Ukraine; Fixed Line ISP; - Hivelocity Ventures Corp (owns the entire 91.204.14.x block) - Sazonhost Net, Russia; Commercial; - Rostelecom, Russia; Network for OJSC VolgaTelecom; - PJSC Industrial Media Network, Ukraine; Commercial; (x2 days worth of comment spamming) - [apparently unlisted, possibly spoofed] - Vatlin Mihail, Switzerland; Data Center/Web Hosting/Transit; - Republican Unitary Enterprise BELTELECOM, Belarus; BYFLY(tm) dynamic pools; ? - RIPE, apparently Russia; RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE); (owns the whole 188.x.x.x block)

Current Mood: cranky cranky
Meg's Fanfiction Likes and Dislikes - Male Pregnancy, aka Mpreg

This is another one I'm not fond of. Mostly because of the sheer level of biological ignorance the writers generally demonstrate.

I should give some background here. My mother was trained as a midwife, and by the time I was twelve, I was reading her old midwifery textbooks (for want of anything more interesting in the house). I also had a strong interest in human anatomy and physiology and how people worked from early childhood. So, I know a bit more about the ways that pregnancies can go right and wrong than the average punter. It leaves me with more than a few prejudices in the matter, and it means for me, mpreg requires a far greater degree of suspension of disbelief than usual.

Essay below fold )

The best mpreg fics I've seen are the ones which basically take the position it's a stupid premise to begin with, and run with the sheer crackfic comedy of the whole notion of conception in the first place. In Final Fantasy VII, there's tirsynni's Always Use Protection, which basically takes things a cracky step further and winds up with a cross-species pregnancy induced by tentacle sex (by which point it's clear the whole thing is not intended to make any sense whatsoever, and the author is just writing for the giggles); there's also mystiri1's The Family Way, which addresses the whole question of where the egg comes from, and how it gets into the male person in the first place (and is equally cracky by the end).

In conclusion, I should point out this is why I don't like mpreg, and generally won't read it unless it also comes with the "crackfic" tag attached. I'm not saying other people shouldn't write it, read it, or like it, but again, if you're sharing a fandom with me (Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Marvel Cinematic Universe), please, please tag and warn on this one - or failing that, do your research, do comprehensive research, and start your research by ignoring the romance of pregnancy as delivered via the advertising industry.

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
A Minor Reflection

Inspired by: Free Muslim Women… To Wear Whatever Caroline Overington Says They Should by Rawand Al-Hinti, on New Matilda; further comment from As Australian Muslim women we don't have to be told what we can wear by Lydia Shelly, at the Grauniad.

It's intriguing the way women who wear modest clothing and follow the rules of their religion are automatically marked down as "oppressed". It's equally intriguing none of the concern for such women extends to the women who are members of fundamentalist Christian sects, or even to women in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities - two groups where the oppressive and overtly misogynist and controlling nature of such dress codes are pretty clearly reinforced by scriptural interpretations which point to the intended nature of such things. (If you've never heard a Fundamentalist Christian preacher holding forth on some of the more openly anti-women parts of the letters of Paul... well, firstly I'm sure there's an example of same somewhere on YouTube; and secondly, you've missed one of the clearer statements of anti-woman hatred in popular religious discourse). For the Fundamentalist Christians and the ultra-Orthodox Jews, it's clear the subjection and limitation of women and women's agency through these dress codes is a feature, rather than a bug.

By contrast, as far as I can tell, mainstream Islam[1] is fairly egalitarian in practice, even though it comes (in the same way that Christianity and Judaism do) from a set of guidelines formulated aimed at tribal groups in the Middle East. Certainly there's been a lot of work done by Islamic people (and with Islamic people) in creating sporting gear, swimming gear, fashion-wear, personal protective equipment, uniforms and so on which both comply with the requirements of modesty codes (which makes such clothing suitable not only for Islamic women, but also for women in Fundamentalist Christian groups, and for ultra-Orthodox Jewish women; as well as for secular women who feel self-conscious, in this age of constant scrutiny over personal defects, about putting their bodies on public display), and which allow freedom of movement and action, as well as participation in the wider mainstream of society. The "modest fashion" movement is, in effect, about breaking down the current divide between clothing which allows one's body to remain a private thing (as opposed to clothing which requires one make one's body into a public spectacle), and fashionable clothing. To my mind, this can only be a good thing.

I should note, as a fat woman, and a woman on the autism spectrum, I'm in favour of all women (regardless of their religious identity or lack thereof) wearing whatever it is they feel most comfortable in. If this means wearing clothes which you feel are functional and practical - you do you. If it means wearing clothes which make you feel feminine and attractive (however you define this), then, again, you do you. If it means wearing clothing which covers your arms and legs, and wearing a covering of some kind over your head (whether that be a baseball cap, a fancy hat, a kerchief held in place with hair clips, or a full scarf) then you do you. To my mind, "liberation" comes from being able to do what you want to do and need to do, without having to worry about whether or not your clothing is going to cause a hazard or a scandal while you're doing it.

[1] This is not necessarily the Wahaabi Islam preached, practised, imposed as a state religion in Saudi Arabia by the Saudi royal family, and actively evangelised elsewhere by Saudi oil money (a code followed by, at most, 5% of the people of a small region world-wide is not really representative of the whole of Islam, any more than the Jehovah's Witnesses are representative of the whole of Christianity).

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Current Mood: cynically amused cynically amused
Meg's Fanfic Likes And Dislikes - Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics

I'll come right out and say I'm not fond of this one unless it's done particularly well and with a lot of thought involved.

Essay below fold )

Now, all of the above are basically the reasons why I don't read A/B/O - I'm not trying to dictate to anyone else, and I'm not going to attempt to stop anyone else from either reading or writing A/B/O fic. If you do write it in any of the fandoms I'm reading in (Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, and Marvel Cinematic Universe) the most I'd ask is you label it clearly, perform your research, and do your world-building properly.

[EDIT 6.42pm WST (GMT+8) 28 JAN 2018: I was reminded of another A/B/O fic I can handle. See my comment below for details.]

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Current Mood: calm calm
More Fic on AO3: Blake's 7 sonnets

Yup, still clearing through the collection on my hard drive and finding the bits and pieces which are worth posting. This time it's poetry about an old fandom.


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Current Mood: content content
New Nesa-verse fic on AO3 - "Comfort Food"

Because it's the time of the year where I'm going through my "works in progress" folder and finding all the bits which are fit to publish.

Comfort Food

I've also updated my collection of Various FFVII Meta Pieces with a new chapter, detailing why I think Zack in Crisis Core isn't actually dumber than a box of hammers.

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Current Mood: calm calm
New Fic on AO3: "Glass Houses"

I'm going through a stage of polishing up bits and pieces and putting them out for public view. It beats having them cluttering up my "works in progress" folder.

So, here's the latest:

Glass Houses

All feedback welcomed with open arms.

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Current Mood: awake awake
New material up on AO3

Breaking a bit of a drought (both in posting fanfic stuff, and in writing here) to announce a new bit of fan fiction up from me at AO3.

It grew out of an idea on a comment thread on Charlie Stross's blog - a children's book in the universe of the Laundry-verse. I picked up the prompt and ran with it. So I present for your enjoyment:

A Laundry-verse A to Z.

All feedback welcomed with open arms!

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Results of the Marriage Equality Survey are out

61.6% of Australians voted "yes" to Marriage Equality (or in other words, we voted "yes, let's allow people who aren't in strictly binary heterosexual relationships to get married").

Thing is: this isn't news. It's something which has consistently been shown by opinion polls, it's something which has consistently been a part of the whole mess from before the point at which the Howard Liberal government amended the Marriage Act to add the words "between a man and a woman" (thus invalidating the marriages of any number of intersex people in Australia and actually taking away their right to marry) back in 2004. The changes to the Marriage Act under John Howard were in response to attempts by the local government of the ACT to bring in same-sex marriage in their jurisdiction (which could have, and probably would have been overridden by Federal veto) and in response to attempts by the state of Tasmania to start the process of seeing whether under the previous Marriage Act, same-sex marriages would have been legal (which couldn't have been overridden by Federal veto, because Tasmania is a state rather than a territory). The whole thing was Howard politics in a nutshell: petty, vicious kicking at the underdog, simply because they could.

Ever since then, the Liberal party in particular has been resisting the idea of legalising same-sex marriage because this would mean having to reverse the changes of 2004. They talked of a "plebiscite", and wound up spending even more money on a voluntary "survey" to find out whether the Australian people were in favour of same-sex marriage. The results just came out today, and surprise, surprise, we are! Just like the opinion polls have been showing for at least the past decade. At least three in every five Australians are in favour of people who aren't cis-heterosexual being allowed the same marriage rights as cis-heterosexual people, up to three in every four in the electorate of Warringah (currently represented in the House of Representatives by one Tony Abbott).

As predicted, the conservative lobby is out attempting to shift the goalposts (something they've been working on for the past few weeks, as it became fairly clear the whole business was likely to result in a majority "yes" opinion) to provide "protection" for those people who object to same-sex marriage (because religious beliefs or similar). Essentially their argument is that churches should be allowed to object to providing same-sex ceremonies (just out of interest, does anyone in a nation which already has same-sex marriage know of any cases of a same-sex couple insisting on a religious ceremony from a religious marriage celebrant who wasn't in favour of the idea? Even one case will do), and people connected with the wedding industry (bakers, florists, photographers and so on) should be allowed to refuse to supply their services to same-sex couples for reasons of "conscience" without suffering the consequences to their business.

Now, let me speak a bit about conscientious objection, because I actually know a bit about this from family history. My maternal grandfather wound up spending time in a "conshie" camp during World War II, because he was a conscientious objector to wartime service due to holding the Christadelphian faith. Or in other words, my grandfather was imprisoned for the sake of his religious beliefs. He and his brothers were tradesmen, and also due to their religious faith, they refused to take payments by credit or use credit facilities themselves. Which meant sometimes they lost work, or they couldn't buy things as soon as other people might have, because they were saving up for them rather than buying things on the never-never. They took the consequences of the choices they made due to the dictates of their consciences on themselves. They didn't insist everyone else had to bear those consequences. That is what "conscientious objection" means. It doesn't mean "whine to the government about wanting protection in case people withdraw their custom because you're bigots".

Unfortunately, this means the "yes" result of the survey is not the end of the argument. It merely means the argument has moved on to a new stage. Now we get to hold the feet of our various politicians to the fire, and make sure they firstly, create a bill regarding same-sex marriage which doesn't remove more rights from non-heterosexual people in the name of protecting "religious freedom". We have to make sure our MPs and Senators vote in line with what the people of Australia are demanding, which means we need to see this bill pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and we need to see it get Vice-Regal approval from the Governor-General. (This last should be a sinecure, however let's not kid ourselves that the "no" lobby won't fight this all the way to the Governor-General's desk). And we also have to make sure that if an MP or Senator votes against the will of their constituency, they get removed from office at the next available opportunity. We pay our parliamentarians over $200,000 per annum (equivalent to 1 year's dole for about 14 people, each) to carry out the will of the Australian public. When we've stated it in such a clear and unequivocal fashion, we should expect our will to be carried out.

So we have to carry on and enforce the consequences of their actions on the MPs and Senators who choose to vote against the will of their constituents. Which means remembering who voted against the will of their electorates (there were about 30 electorates across the country where the "no" vote got a majority, and yes, I do mean if their MPs vote "yes" against the will of their constituents, they should be voted out as well) and voting them out when they're next up for re-election. It means making our political memories stretch for longer than just the standard "last Thursday" the media and the parliamentarians encourage.

It's worth noting: if this issue had been a referendum question, the referendum would have passed, which is bloody rare (8 out of 40 referendums put before the Australian people have passed in the century or so since Federation - we're a conservative bunch, sticking to the adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"). It got a majority in each of the states (narrowest majority was in NSW, with 54% yes) and it got a majority in the majority of the states (all 6 states, and both territories came back with a "yes" majority). There are no more excuses for our parliamentarians. The majority of Australians want same sex marriage to happen. Get out there and flamin' well MAKE IT HAPPEN.

My ideal: I'd like to see the 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act removed, and just go back to an act which specifies a marriage has to involve two adult humans who are not closely related to one another, and who each consent to the marriage. This allows firstly, for the marriages of people who identify as masculine, feminine, intersex, or genderqueer to people of any gender identity; secondly, rules out the marriages between humans and their pets (as so feared by the far-right); thirdly, rules out marriages between parents and children (again, as feared by the far right); fourthly, rules out marriages between humans and corporate entities (yet again, as apparently feared by the far right); and finally, ensures unwilling marriage is illegal (something the far right has very little to say about for some reason). It also allows for the potential of polyamorous marriage by removing a single word from the short form of the Act.

Congratulations to my fellow Australians who aren't involved in heterosexual relationships. May this good news be followed by much more. But let's not kid ourselves this result will ever be enough.

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Current Mood: cynical cynical
Update - 04 NOV 2017

Okay, state of the Meg. (under the cut, because there's a lot of teal deer in there).

See below )

So anyway, I aten't dead, I'm finally finished (pretty much) with uni for the year, and if anyone in the Perth metro area wants to visit (or have me visit them), drop me a line and let me know!

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Current Mood: relieved relieved
Wild Weather Strikes Again

The place we're renting at present came with two massive old Cape Lilac trees, one out the front, one out the back. You'll note the past tense there. This is because during some high winds (about 60 km/h) on Saturday night, half the back tree snapped off, and fell downhill (fortunately all into our garden, not onto the neighbour's place). So we now have one-and-a-half massive Cape Lilac trees.

We've reported it to the real estate agents/property managers, and I'm going to be giving them a phone call on Monday to see whether we can get firstly a tradesperson or similar to come out and deal with the task of removing the half-a-fscking tree from the back garden so we can get at the washing line again, and secondly a tree surgeon to have a look at the remaining half-a-tree which is still standing and recommend whether it can be left alone (doubt it!); whether it needs to be trimmed or lopped (so if it does fall over it won't cause major structural damage to the neighbour's house, the house we're in, or the car parked in the driveway); or whether the blasted thing is so unstable there's no chance of it remaining up safely, and it needs to come down completely.

After clearing a few branches away from where the clothesline access was, we've discovered the clothesline frame has been bent down and forward to the point where the poor thing ain't usable (I would not be wanting to try and straighten out the gorgeous gentle curve the support strut has been bent into, quite frankly - the thing is so old I think it would snap instead). So we have to report that to the real-estate people as well. It also took one tile from the roof of the lean-to shed which contains the laundry and the exterior toilet. Given the size of the blasted thing, I'm almost surprised by the amount of damage it *didn't* do - if it had fallen directly to the right (facing toward the back fence) the blasted thing could have taken out the entire wash-house in a single thump, but instead it fell to the lower right, which means it clipped a single tile from the wash-house lean-to (and given we don't use the exterior toilet anyway, a leaky roof there isn't really an issue) and mostly hit the clothesline.

But either way, I get to call the real-estate people and find out what's going to be happening. I sent a couple of emails through their web-page over the course of the weekend to let them know the state of play; I'll be following up by phone today to see how fast we can get things moving. I may just mention that the longer they delay on this, the greater the chance the passionfruit vine I planted last year is going to regard the whole lot of fallen lumber as fair game for growing into!

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Current Mood: resigned resigned
Why Do I Do This To Myself?

I've just finished doing my weekly job search. Which is depressing and sucks rocks through a straw.

It is also about 60% more complicated than it actually has to be, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I grew up in a dysfunctional family, which means I still (even after twenty years safely away from the lot of 'em) feel the ingrained need to justify my every action, in order to ensure I don't wind up getting squashed by people and/or institutions which have power over me. (If I do not Document Everything and Justify Everything, I will inevitably wind up In The Wrong. Yes, I know this is fscked up. You don't need to tell me). In terms of job search, this translates to me carefully noting down the following:

* What my search terms were on each week.
* How many jobs were on offer
* Relevant details from each of those job ads, complete with highlighting various things, such as hours of work offered, skills/experience/education required, due dates for applications, conditions and so forth.
* Which jobs I applied for and with which employers
* How I applied for them.

Okay, so far, so neurotic. Reasonable justification of choices achieved. Now this is the rest of what I do:

* Keep another record of every single job offered by Employer, Job description and date.
* Keep track of whether I received any response to the job applications I sent out, and what that response was.
* Keep statistics on the proportion of my job applications I receive responses to.
* Collate and keep statistics on the amount and type of experience employers are asking for.
* Collate and keep statistics on the types of qualifications, clearances, and personal qualities employers are asking for.
* Collate and keep statistics on whether the work being offered is permanent or temporary, and how many hours are being offered.
* Collate and keep statistics on the kinds of software employers are asking for experience with.

Part of the reason I do all of this is because my brain says "maybe there's some patterns in here we could pull out if we just had the stats; maybe if we just assembled enough information we could craft the Perfect Application and get ourselves a job!". It also says "ooh, numbers cool!" and "I like playing with data", not to mention "hey, let's hyper-focus on this useless aspect of things in order to try to convince ourselves all this pointless effort could maybe, possibly, have a purpose other than wasting our time in futile hoop-jumping".

Which is why looking for work, for me, occupies the better part of about four to five hours every Sunday. I keep records of all of this. They are updated religiously. Who knows? Maybe someday, someone will be demanding that I justify my choices in the same old way my family used to (and the way my bully of a boss in the agency responsible for administering our social security system here in Australia used to...) and I will be able to pull out five or more years of records explaining each and every single damn choice I've made all the way along my job search history, and why I made those choices.

In the mean time, I'm starting to build up a pretty good picture of what employers in Perth, Western Australia are looking for with regards to part-time administrative and office support workers. (Email me if you want the full autism-spectrum inspired brain dump).

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