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This Has Been A Week

Short summary: meltdown on Monday due to smoke alarms going off; panic attack on Tuesday due to social anxiety getting kicked good and hard; miseries, rampant brainweasels and depression on Wednesday and Thursday due to after-effects of Monday and Tuesday; further near-meltdown on Friday due to loud shouty encounter (not involving me, but clearly audible, and definitely something I Did Not Need at that point) in office of JobActive provider.

All of this after about three weeks of near-continuous rainy weather and cold temperatures in a house which as far as I can tell has NO insulation at all (built in approx 1920s, no serious upkeep or non-emergency maintenance since approx 1970s). Said house also has no under-cover drying facilities (in rainy weather, we dry our laundry on a rack in the main room of the house, and it takes about two to three days for things to dry out). Plus my depression has a seasonal component.

Plus of course the usual stresses of one class per day from Monday through Thursday (the tutorial on Thursdays is at 8am, which means I have to be out of the house by 7.30am in order to get there on time). Plus the additional fun this week of two appointments with various people at the JobActive provider's office on Friday, and dinner with the in-laws today. (This last would not be an imposition most weeks, but this week, it's definitely heading in that direction).

Thing is, none of these things on their own would be a problem. They became a series of problems because they were most definitely NOT on their own.

Basically, my brain has been throwing up "out of spoons" errors left, right and centre, and I am currently at the point where any kind of cooking more strenuous than making soup or putting something into the oven and letting it reheat is Entirely Too Much Work. Meanwhile the brainweasels all object to buying foodsicles from the shops (because " it's overpriced, you know how to cook that, you can't afford it, you should be able to do this" etc etc et bloody cetera) and throwing fits about me considering canned meals or packet mixes or whatever.

And for this weeks' fun anxiety-inducing thing, I also have two weeks worth of reading for university to do - the stuff I should have been doing over the past week, but haven't been able to due to brainweasels and out-of-spoons errors; and the stuff I have to do for next week, so I'm all caught up. Oh, and the weather turned cold (minimum yesterday was 2.7C) in the last couple of days.

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Current Mood: cold cold
Five Things Make a Post 15 JUL 2018

Post below the fold )

How's things for everyone else?

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/120960.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: chilly chilly
Little Luxuries

This is a list of things which are currently a bit of a luxury for me; things I'd like to be able to afford, but currently can't.

  • When I'm grocery shopping, and I have the choice between buying the store brand, or the named brand, I'd like to be able to buy the named brand.

  • I'd like to be able to buy pre-grated cheese without having to argue with my conscience about it.

  • I'd like to be able to go grocery shopping without needing to take a calculator along.

  • When the weather turns cold this winter (as it's already starting to do) I'd like to be able to turn on the heater the first time, rather than reaching for another jumper, jacket, scarf, gloves, blanket, thicker socks.

  • I'd like to be able to wear two layers rather than three.

  • I'd like to be able to afford clothes which weren't skimpy as all blazes (at present, my main shopping site is Best & Less, and while they're good for cheap clothes, their winter-weight stuff is only really winter-weight in Darwin)

  • I'd like to be able to afford shoes that didn't leak, and kept my feet warm.

  • I'd like to be able to afford to own/run a clothes dryer, rather than using a drying rack inside the house, and hoping I can dodge around it for long enough for things to dry out.

  • I'd like to be able to pay for some of the online news services I use.

  • I'd like to be able to take time off from the housework.

  • Attn: The minister for Social Security and the minister for Human Services: I'd like to be in a financial position where an extra $10 per fortnight wouldn't make a discernible difference to my state of mind and standard of living.


PS: This is more a meditation on the nature of luxury, and the ways it can be defined when money is tight. It isn't actually a request for help, although I would like to thank those people who did offer assistance of a financial kind. I am more grateful for it than I can say, even though I'm also not likely to take you up on it.

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Current Mood: broke broke
The Problem with Incels

Content warnings: discussions of violent thoughts, violent tendencies, and sexual slavery (incels, in other words).

Post under fold )

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
A Government Motto I'd Like To See

I have a dream. I have a dream that someday, some political party will be elected to government on the platform of "It is not our job to ensure your business model remains forever profitable".

Essay under fold )

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/117407.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: quixotic quixotic
Currently Reading: "Simulation" by Jean Beaudrillard.

I am strongly in agreement with Bucky Barnes regarding the readability and sense-making ability of post-modern French philosophes. That is all.

(Longer version: Baudrillard occasionally surfaces to breathe the cool air of making sense, then dives back into the morass of incomprehensibility again. This is very exhausting for the casual reader who is just looking for some decent fscking quotes to add to a 1200 word essay about reproduction and replication (in the semiotic/post-modern sense) in "Planet of the Ood" so she can seem as though she's got at least some philosophical and theoretical backing for her thesis statement. On the bright side, he appears to have predicted Donald Trump's presidency some thirty-three years ahead of time.)

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/116132.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: my brain hurts my brain hurts
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
So It's Been A Bad Week

This week has been a Bad Week. I have had my jerk!brain playing up, and this has not been helped by being kept relatively low on decent sleep as the result of the physical problems mentioned earlier this week (did you know if rolling over in bed causes enough pain, you can't actually sleep through it? No? Neither did I until about Sunday. Since when I have had plenty of opportunity to learn). Let's put it this way: a week where I wind up in tears because I'm thinking about committing suicide via self-immolation in front of a Centrelink office, and then I'm in tears because I know I won't do it (and the message my brain is giving me about this particular realisation is not "good survival thinking, congratulations!" but rather "well, aren't you pathetically useless, then? Can't even get dying right. *dismissive snort*"), is not going to be a good week even if there's a shock lottery win involved in the middle of things.

Topics I am therefore avoiding like the plague at present include: Australian welfare policy 1990 - present; Australian politics 1990 - present; Australian industrial relations; US politics (in all its glory and convulsive mess); sports of any kind; and anything else where I'm likely to be encountering the wonderful human tendency to take things from Bad to Worse, and then repeat the cycle indefinitely. Particularly when this is combined with the equally gorgeous tendency which appears to be spreading of late for people to have No Middle Gears - either full speed ahead, or full speed reverse, but nothing in between those two extremes. Subtlety, complexity, nuance? Wot dat?

Needless to say such things are Not Good For Me at present.

If anyone finds a black materia sitting around, could they please forward it on to me? I have a list of targets which is only growing.

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
A Sort of Apology.

I feel I owe everyone who's read anything I've written for the past week or so a rather profound and massive apology. Unfortunately, the best you're getting at the moment is an explanation.

Lengthy stuff under fold )

So, apologies for the rather frequent brainos I've been having over the past week. I will try to do better, but first I need to get my brain back...

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Current Mood: stressed stressed
Weekly Update 29 JUL 2017

Gearing up for the start of classes next week, which means this week I've been practicing getting up at 5am (mostly to find out whether I am going to be able to get up at 5am, or whether I'm going to have to shift things even earlier in the morning). Good news: I can get away with a 5am start on the mornings I have 8am classes (8am class means I need to be ready to leave the house by 7.30am). Bad news: by about October, I'm going to have to shift my wake-up time back to 4.30am, because I'm still working on extending my writing time each month, and I don't have too much to spare at present. Today I have plans to clear last semester's readings and work off my uni laptop, and make sure its battery is all charged up and ready to go, and then I'm all set to go.

So this week I'm going to get a bit political.

Ranting below the fold )

Okay, so, spleen vented. How's everyone else this week?

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
Unending Technological Upheaval

(aka I love it when my life goes right... which may be why this happens so very rarely).

My main laptop, fondly nicknamed Orac, has decided today it has aspirations toward being a boat anchor. It starts booting Windows 7, gets as far as loading avgidsha.sys, and then just stops dead. I am currently writing this on my backup machine, Elfadunk, which is the little laptop which I bought for uni purposes - it's barely got the grunt to handle Chrome as a browser, and definitely isn't up to the sort of load I usually put on a main machine.

A bit of googling determines this is a known error (damnit) and the wretched thing is a problem with the intersection between AVG antivirus and Windows 7 (and higher, it appears). Given I've been using AVG for years without issue, I'm just a tad irritated. Steve's busy attempting to fix Orac now using a couple of fixes found via the interwebs, and we'll see whether we can get Orac to actually boot and work properly. If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to head out and clean out my bank account attempting to find myself another PC which will be a reasonable substitute.

Needless to say I'm just a little irritable about the whole mess. If nothing else, I'm going to have to try to re-create my entire bookmarks folder from Firefox via memory and guesswork (as well as trying to remember things like my actual ID for my.gov.au so I can report my employment income tomorrow... why do these things always happen at the most inconvenient time?). I swear, I get Orac booting again, and the first thing I'm going to be doing is transferring my bookmarks to a separate spreadsheet of their own, taking an HTML copy of the Firefox bookmarks file and stowing it on the terabyte drive, and keeping regular backups of same!

Grump!

(Updates as they occur. At present, we've managed to get Orac to "startup repair" mode, and we'll see whether this allows him to actually boot).

Update 11.54am: Steve's going to try making up a repair/reinstall disk to see whether we can get Orac to behave. Whatever happens, I'm going to be trying to find a different antivirus program. Any suggestions for free/cheap reputable antivirus gratefully accepted.

Update 1.22pm: Repair or reinstall disc failed. Called out Geek Mobile to get a backup, nuke and repave done on the OS. It's apparently going to cost me about $200, which seems a bit steep, but is about half the price of even the most basic new computer (well, aside from another Elfadunk equivalent). I have never been so glad I got into the awkward habit of keeping my files and documents stored on the terabyte backup drive, because at least I'm not going to lose any documents from this. Plus, of course, I keep the original download & install files for most of the software stored on the backup drive as well, so I can get the majority of my software reinstalled fairly easily. Still. Curse, swear, mumble.

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
State of the Meg Update

So, I'm heading back to uni (again - hopefully this time I'll get a degree out of things). I'm studying part-time, because that way I'm not going to be overloading myself, and I'll be able to get things like, y'know, housework and such done as well as studying without pushing myself to the point of breakdown. Unfortunately for me, this week is O-week, which means I pretty much need to be on campus every day.

Yesterday was O-Day (Guild clubs & societies sign-up day). It did not go well for me.

A bit of background: I am hyper-sensitive to noise. Lots of noise overloads me, because I basically don't have a filter for "foreground noise" or "background noise" - everything I hear comes in marked "process immediately", so too much noise, and too many sources of noise, and too much volume means my brain literally gets overloaded. I am also somewhat claustrophobic in crowded situations - I prefer having something of a generous personal space bubble, and crowded areas make me anxious and panicky.

O-Day yesterday was trying to cram pretty much the entire cohort of first year students, plus a fairly substantial chunk of second and third year students, into a single 500m by 20m (widest point maybe 50m) stretch of the campus. Plus two different sound stages within about 100m of each other, dozens of club and society booths, and numerous corporate and social bodies trying to get people's attention as well. Essentially, if I ever wind up in hell, it will be like being stuck in something like this on a never-ending basis.

O-Day officially started at 12 noon. I was getting the fsck out of there by about 12.30pm, and I only managed to sign up for one of the (potentially four) clubs I was interested in. Even thinking about it now is making me feel uncomfortable. I have not felt so purposefully excluded in years. (This was actually probably the least of their accessibility fails - I wouldn't have wanted to be trying to get a wheelchair or walker through that throng without a cow-catcher bolted onto the front, TBH).

Fortunately the earliest I have to be on campus today is about 3pm, for a Mature Age study skills session, and tomorrow I only have one thing to attend (a one-off lecture for one of my courses, where I'm hoping to receive the unit outline, since it isn't available online). But I'm really not feeling welcome there or happy about being there.

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Current Mood: tired tired
On the whole "Ministerial Expenses" thing

People 'expect' politicians to claim expenses for sporting events, says Steven Ciobo

Ciobo said businesses and other organisations who invited politicians were “taking the opportunity to showcase themselves there, to take the time to have a conversation in relation to important matters”.

If the businesses in question are so keen to see the various ministers and so on at these events, why aren't they offering to pay their transport costs? Why are the taxpayers of Australia being asked to shoulder these costs?

Come to think on it, what kind of business is actually "showcased" by an event like the AFL grand final?

Ciobo was gifted a ticket and hospitality at the 2013 grand final by the National Australia Bank.

I'm sorry, possibly it's a complete failure of imagination on my part, but I fail to see what aspect of the bank's business is being "showcased" in a sporting event like the AFL grand final (did they loan the AFL the money to put the event on, or what?). Why was a meeting at a major sporting event considered more suitable to showcase aspects of this company's business than a meeting in the minister's office?

On the questions of "it was work related", I have to ask, was the meeting at the AFL grand final minuted? Were any decisions reached, and what were they? As an Australian voter, I feel I have a right to know. After all, if Mr Ciobo is accepting corporate hospitality at these events in his capacity as Minister for Trade, is there not a question of corruption and bribery involved - these companies are presumably offering Mr Ciobo tickets to a major sporting event as a way of obtaining his influence and attention at the expense of their competitors.

As a member of the Australian voting public, Mr Ciobo, I'd argue there's a lot of questions to be asked here. As a fellow recipient of Taxpayers Money (and one who faces far more punitive conditions on their receipt of same than you do, quite frankly, for a much lower amount) I'm saying bluntly that I'm fed up to the back teeth with this bloody attitude of "one rule for thee and another for me" which seems so common to our parliamentarians. You're welcome to try your luck with Newstart if you think you're hard done by in this regard.

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
Reflections on the Centrelink Mess.

Centrelink crisis 'cataclysmic' says PM's former head of digital transformation

The notion that the current Centrelink crisis is a result of a culture of "don't want to hear bad news" in Centrelink management doesn't surprise me at all. Centrelink management has long had a culture of shooting the messenger bearing bad news, because it doesn't agree with the glossy picture they're trying to sell their Minister (not to mention themselves). It really is one of the main ways the particular algorithm being used (compare total incomes reported against the ATO total for the financial year to determine whether income has been reported accurately, then average the ATO total across 26 fortnights to determine whether there's a debt) could have survived even cursory testing.

I suspected the whole thing was developed in-house, and it's nice to have those suspicions confirmed, but the point to be raised here is Centrelink's programming staff are not sourced from within the group of people who have worked on the customer contact end of Centrelink's operations. Instead, they're sourced from within the IT industry, and generally from a group of people who have had next to no contact with what could be considered the bulk of Centrelink's business (their parents may have received Family Tax Benefit for them while they were in school, but that's pretty much it). This is where a blind spot in the bureaucracy intersects with a blind spot in the IT industry - the bureaucratic insistence on "no bad news" intersects with the IT industry article-of-faith that if you can figure out programming, you can solve any problem at all with no additional knowledge required (and if you did need extra knowledge and didn't get supplied with it by the client, this is the client's fault for not knowing you'd need it).

So basically, what's happened is a programmer (or group of programmers) in Centrelink's IT section has been handed the job of figuring out how to automate the process of debt recovery sparked by income data matching, and they've done this effectively starting from scratch (and probably reinventing several wheels along the way) with absolutely no reference to existing processes and procedures, or to the knowledge bank of staff who were doing this job at the time. When the program was tested, it passed all the standard tests to see whether it would break the Centrelink desktop environment (this is mandatory for all products on the Centrelink network, whether they're being rolled out to all staff or not), so it was assumed to be Just Fine! If someone in the debt recovery section raised the problem of "we know this is going to raise a lot of false positives - something like nineteen out of twenty of the issues data matching raises aren't actually valid debts" with their manager (assuming they found out about it ahead of time), the caution would be buried, because nobody wants to hear bad news in Centrelink's upper management.

And thousands of people across Australia got asked to justify their receipt of social security benefits they were legally entitled to, because they made a typo in their income reporting once (or because the business they were working for made a typo when they created their record with the ATO), or because they got a good job after having been on social security (and this averaged out over the course of twelve months to be higher than the fortnightly cut-off limit), or whatever. Things which probably could have been picked up very quickly and resolved with minimal fuss and bother to the person affected if there had been any efforts at inserting a human element in the whole process to just double-check the results of the first couple of weeks, and then remove the bugs.

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Current Mood: "why?"
On Working For the Dole.

So, I've been unemployed for six months (according to Centrelink, anyway). Which means, lucky me, I'm due to start my "Work For The Dole Phase" of the whole glorious process of being unemployed in Australia in the 21st century.

For those not in the know, "work for the dole" was an idea conceived back in the era of John Howard, by Liberal Party policy-makers who wanted to bring back the workhouses, but who didn't fancy the idea of having to shell out money to feed, house and clothe the undeserving poor (i.e. anyone on an activity-tested Centrelink payment[1]). Basically, in order to impress on the long-term unemployed how important it is they find paying work, they're required to perform up to twenty-five hours a week of compulsory, unpaid[2] volunteer work in order to be able to continue receiving their dole payment. I suspect whoever came up with this one must have woken up in the night and hugged themselves with glee[3].

Luckily for me, I'm on a part-time activity test (mental illness, such fun). I only have to do sixteen hours a fortnight worth of whatever the current equivalent of picking oakum, washing bottles, pasting labels or sorting rags is. Normally, the requirement is for fifteen hours a week for someone my age, twenty-five for someone younger. In my case, I'm going to be transcribing old (hand-written) court records from turn-of-the-century-NSW (i.e. early 1900s). Years of translating my mother's appalling medical handwriting into something legible has finally come in useful.

Basically, this sort of thing is supposed to... well, I have no idea what it's supposed to do. Punish me for the sin of not being in employment, one presumes. I have the site induction on Thursday, I suppose I get to find out then whether I'm supposed to be wearing sackcloth and rubbing ashes into my hair to show repentance, flagellating myself with a cat-o'-nine-tails, or whether just walking around wearing a sandwich board that says "I'm SO FUCKING SORRY" will do.

Yes, I am a bit cranky about this.

I'm cranky about it, because it's a bit of deliberate humiliation on the part of a government which has an ideological agenda, and will do anything in its power to get that agenda implemented. I'm cranky about it because I'm being forced into performing unpaid labour in order to ensure wage earners are frightened into accepting lower wages and lower conditions in order to avoid being put into this situation. I'm cranky about it because the penalties for missing work, or not being able to perform whatever work I'm supposed to be doing on the day I'm supposed to be doing it, are all on me (yes, even if my erstwhile "employer" doesn't have enough work for me to be doing, or the computers are down, or the office gets hit by a meteor falling from the sky).

Oh, and I still have to keep looking for 20 jobs a month, same as before. That doesn't change, either. About the only positive thing to note about the whole mess is that since the place I'm going to be physically doing my Work for the Dole placement is the offices of my JobActive provider, I'll be able to drop off my monthly lists with a lot less carry-on.


[1] Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, and Special Benefit.
[2] If your "volunteering" is organised through your JobActive provider, you get an extra $20 per fortnight on your dole payment to cover costs incurred (transport, lunches etc). If it isn't, you don't. There's a LOT of encouragement to find your own "volunteer work".
[3] A bit of googling reveals it was the brain-child of Tony Abbott. I must remember to write him a thank-you note.

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location: At home
Current Mood: cranky cranky
Current Music: The whistle of the steam coming out of my ears
I Can Just *Tell* It's Going To Be One Of Those Days...

Had a very poor night's sleep last night (had trouble going to sleep due to the heat; woke up during the night overheated and dehydrated, and couldn't get back to sleep for over an hour; got jolted awake again by leg cramps about a half an hour before my alarm was due to go off). I'm currently sitting here experiencing one of my warning signs for gastro-intestinal distress (burping up gas which sort of tastes like bacon as it passes over my tongue). I have an appointment with my Job Active provider at 9am (which I am NOT looking forward to, because they're about as useless as tits on a bull, and they're intended to be this useless as a point of government policy). Oh, and I got another letter in my email from the nice people at Moton Group "offering" me a "job", as well as two email letters from the latest iteration of the "LKT Company" scam (the company has changed its name and now calls itself "Nocturne", and refers to itself as "fast-growing", but the other particulars are pretty much the same).

The signs are not positive. Unfortunately my preferred remedy (going back to bed, pulling the sheet over my head and pretending today doesn't exist) is not available (see: appointment at 9am). So I'll need to head to plan B - bull through things.

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Current Mood: cranky cranky
(Yet) Another Mass Shooting in the USA

I'm not going to go into huge detail about this one (save to note that so far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the USA than there have been days in the year). Instead, I'm going to concentrate on some things which could be tried to stop these things from happening (or at least slow down the rate of them) without necessarily altering gun laws.

Detail under fold )

Now, none of these three things is going to drastically drop the number of mass shootings immediately. If you want an immediate impact on the number of mass shootings in the USA, then it's going to have to be done through gun control laws, just the same as everywhere else on the planet. But in the medium-to-long term, and particularly if you have the NRA and their paid-up politicians remaining as stubborn as ever on the issue, then these measures will help.

So start speaking to the media firms. Start speaking to your political candidates. Start demanding change.

Ignore the idiots who say "it's too soon" - as I pointed out above, you're currently averaging better than 1 mass shooting per day. How many do there need to be before things change? Ignore the fools who accuse you of "politicising the issue. Shootings like this are essentially about power - which means they're political from the get-go. The choice to do something about preventing them is a political choice, I'll grant you - but so is the choice not to.

It's up to the people of the USA to make it clear they don't want to see this happening. And the best way to start is by denying these little dickweasels who want to exhibit their sense of entitlement, their sense of personal power, the attention that they so desperately crave.

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Current Mood: downright cranky downright cranky
"Peeple for People" - Just When You Thought High School was Safely Behind You

The bits of Twitter I follow have been exploding in about twenty-seven different directions regarding "Peeple for People".

This article pretty much sums up what it's all about:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/30/everyone-you-know-will-be-able-to-rate-you-on-the-terrifying-yelp-for-people-whether-you-want-them-to-or-not/

"Yelp for People" is pretty much the elevator pitch version of the idea. According to their FAQs, they largely envision it being used by folks to be all positive and caring and nice about people they know (in the same way Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are at present). Which, I think, says it all.

Essentially, this is how it would work - someone wants to 'review' you, and so long as they fulfil the conditions, they can do so. What kinds of conditions? They have to be over twenty-one, and have a Facebook account. They need to know your name, the city you live in, and your phone number (or know a phone number they can say is yours). Then they can create a profile for you, if you don't already have one, and publish 'reviews' of you. If someone posts a negative review of you, that review will get texted to your phone number (or to the phone number Peeple has for you) and the onus is on you to respond to that reviewer within forty-eight hours and see whether you can "change a negative to a positive".

(Those of you who are busy attempting to beat yourselves unconscious by head!desk-ing, I sympathise.)

What possible problems could there be? Well, let's start with the idea that *there are more checks on, and privacy for, the person who is leaving the rating* than there are for *the person who is being rated*. From the way I understand things, if I had an iPhone, a Facebook account which said I was over twenty-one, and a plausible mobile phone number, I could conceivably create a Peeple profile for Santa Claus. (I'd love to see whether one of the "thousands" of beta testers they're bragging of actually does this, by the bye. Bonus points if the profile is created by the Easter Bunny). Let's continue with this: once you have had a profile created for you on Peeple, you can't get it deleted - they're thinking about adding this feature in future. They don't have a privacy policy up as yet (that's coming once they release the app). Once your profile is authenticated, app users are able to see both positive and negative reviews for you, and you have no way of removing that profile.

Even getting off the internet altogether won't protect you from these negative reviews.

(Meanwhile, the people behind the app started the day with a locked Twitter account - which they've since unlocked to a degree; have taken steps toward getting a parody account mocking them on Twitter deleted; and are said to be deleting non-positive comments on their Facebook accounts. Nice for some, clearly.)

The system as it is described at present is wide open to abuse by stalkers, abusers, online hate mobs or just people who are feeling malicious on a particular day. It's all the worst possible social aspects of high school, pulled onto the internet and made international.

You can read their version of the story here:

http://forthepeeple.com/#story

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
What Border Force did Wrong on Friday.

Very long Australian political rant below the fold )

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Current Mood: indescribable indescribable
From the Department of "Didn't See THAT One Coming"...

'Urgent' need for another public secondary school in Perth's western suburbs, Education Minister says

Back in 1999 - 2000, the state government of Western Australia, led by Richard Court (Liberal) closed three public high schools in Perth's Western Suburbs, citing lack of enrolments and lack of demand for the facilities. In 1999, Scarborough Senior High School closed down, and in 2000 Swanbourne Senior High School and Hollywood Senior High School (in Nedlands) were closed down and their student bodies merged into Shenton College. The land they stood on was sold off to developers, who later sold it on at a profit as premium housing in the prestigious Western suburbs.

The education minister at the time was one Colin Barnett.

Now, eleven years later, there's apparently urgent need for at least one more state high school in Perth's western suburbs, because the two state-run facilities which remain, Churchlands Senior High School (in Churchlands) and Shenton College (near Subiaco) are bulging at the seams and running out of facilities for students. There's going to be a need for another 1,417 spaces by 2020. The current (Liberal) state government, under Premier Colin Barnett, appears somewhat surprised by this.

Kids grow up, who knew?

Unfortunately, the cost of land in the Western suburbs is sky-high (which is why all those high schools were closed in the first place - where else was the government going to find prime real estate for the developers to sell off?). The government is looking at space in City Beach (and probably wincing, shuddering and bleeding when they consider the cost, given land prices in the area), but they're constrained by the fact that at the end of the mining boom, the coffers are suddenly empty. All the money's been spent. Including, one must add, all the money they earned from selling off those school sites in the first place.

See, the thing about schools is this: demand for school places in a particular region is cyclical. You'll get times when you have a high population of students, because your suburbs are full of young families settling in with their kids, and needing things like primary and secondary schools, sporting grounds and so on. That'll last for maybe a couple of decades, and then there'll be a bit of a gap, where the demand dries up a bit, because all those kids you put through the school system have grown up and are getting started on their own lives, and moving away from their parents' homes. But if you hang about for a bit (maybe about a decade or two), you'll find that once again, you're going to need those school facilities, because the original parents will be selling up and downsizing, selling their family houses to young families who want to buy in the area because of things like access to schools! Bingo! You have a new generation coming up who want things like schooling.

A school building is a long-term investment, something you build for three or four generations, not just one. They're specialist assets to the region, which attract people to suburbs, rather than simply being drains on the public purse. Even if the demand for the school is low at present, it will increase in ten to twenty years. Even if the need for the school is declining this decade, in another ten to twenty years, it'll be back on the rise again.

This is why you don't sell off schools. It costs you far more in the long run than you'll ever make in the short term.

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