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Reflections on the Internet blackout

News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch meanwhile accused the "blogosphere" of "terrorising many senators and congressmen who previously committed" to support the US legislation. - from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-18/wikipedia-goes-offline-to-protest-us-piracy-laws/3781382

Oh gods. How terrifying! How anarchic! How frightening!

Voters actually asking that duly elected representatives represent their constituents and listen to the opinions of said constituents rather than obeying their corporate masters without question!

The End Of The World (According To Rupert) Is Nigh.

Why, anyone would think the USA was a representative democracy, rather than a corporate oligarchy. And we all know that isn't the case...

More seriously and less sarcastically, I'd argue that anything Mr Murdoch publicly supports as a Good Idea these days is probably the option which is more likely to reduce the general public's freedom of speech and expression and increase the gatekeeping role of his family's media empire. News Corporation makes most of its money through being a media gatekeeper, through deciding who gets to be heard publicly, deciding which topics are "serious" and which aren't, and selling more and more advertising space surrounding the scant speech they're permitting through the gates these days. To Mr Murdoch's family corporation, I'm nothing more than a set of eyeballs, a bundle of demographic information (the most important piece of which is "how much discretionary income do I control?") and a wallet to be raided.

Unfortunately for Mr Murdoch and News Corporation, I tend to think of myself as a person, with opinions, tastes, preferences, and values, and as a being with more intrinsic worth than just my demographics and my income. I gave up on their products years ago, when I realised I wasn't going to find anything I considered interesting amongst them. I switched off the television, I stopped buying newspapers, I stopped listening to the radio, I stopped going to the movies, I stopped buying mass market magazines (my preferences are found more in the special interest areas these days) and I stopped attempting to participate in "popular" culture. Which means I've pretty much removed myself from their ambit.

I don't depend on News Corporation or Fox for my entertainment needs. I don't need to wait for the latest thing from Hollywood. I'm not hanging out to hear the latest "celebrity" gossip. I haven't spent money on new music CDs in months (and the last ones I bought were a couple of cheapish compilations from the service station nearest the university I attend). I'm choosy about my books and my magazine purchases. And I can afford all of this because I have the internet to supply a lot of the needs I have for text related materials, for entertainment, for news and for opinion fodder - and not much of what I'm reading online is curated and gatekept in the way Mr Murdoch would prefer.

I get my news via RSS feeds from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Pressenza, and Human Wrongs Watch. I get my community information via RSS from Shakesville, Hoyden About Town, Making Light, and a few other blogs I like. I don't use Facebook, or Google Plus; I've never seen the point of "web portals" when the bookmarks bar in Firefox works just fine, and my Twitter account is used very rarely. I blog on Dreamwidth (because they allow me to crosspost to my InsaneJournal, and they don't regard me as a source of content to use to sell advertising space - something which is positively refreshing these days).

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/24971.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Some thoughts on SOPA and PIPA from a non-US citizen

Firstly, may I say congratulations to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector for creating one of the biggest showings of unity I've seen online in nigh twelve years of using the internet. Couldn't have done it without you guys, although I'm sure you're hating to see it happen.

Secondly: a word of warning to the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector, as well as to Mr Murdoch's News Corporation and any other group who thinks these acts are Good Things overall. Should they go through, SOPA and PIPA aren't going to reduce the amount of copyright piracy occurring online by one tittle or jot. Yes, they may black out sections of the web, temporarily. But the pirates aren't going to let that stop them - they get their jollies from working around things like this in the first fscking place.

I foresee a certain amount of revival for a few of the older internet communications protocols - newsgroups may see something of a resurgence, along with mailing lists, and other forms of communication which aren't hosted by a single site, but which rather exist as an amorphous entity of ever-changing data being passed around from host to host, like the prize in a gigantic online game of pass-the-parcel. Good luck dealing with those, guys; I seem to remember that the thing which eventually took down a lot of the alt.binaries newsgroups wasn't any effort from the MPAA and the RIAA, but rather that web hosting was cheap, readily available, and distributed file sharing networks could handle things without too much strain.

But hey, guys, feel free to try and take down global email using lawyers if you really fancy re-running the labours of Heracles. Try killing NNTP. Have fun. It'll keep you all busy for a bit.

As has been said repeatedly: the internet as a whole, as an emergent entity, interprets censorship of just about any kind as damage, and figures out ways to route around it.

Thirdly: even if the USAlien Media and Entertainment sector should get their will, and kill the internet deader than a dead thing in a graveyard, I still won't be connecting my television up to the aerial or purchasing a Foxtel subscription. I still won't be turning on the radio to anything other than the ABC. I still won't be going to the movies. I still won't be buying any Australian newspapers on a regular basis. I still won't be getting magazines from Australian Consolidated Press or the News Corporation stables. And I won't be spending any money on those things for the same damn reason I don't spend money on them now: I refuse to let my money go where I'm not welcome. The news and entertainment sector here in Australia doesn't want to cater to me as a viewer, listener or reader, they just want to sell me as a potential set of eyeballs to advertisers. As a person, I'm not welcome in their world.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/24751.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: Outside the USA
Current Mood: irritated irritated
It Isn't Real Until It Affects White Americans - Where the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement Started

There's a lot being written about Occupy Wall Street, and a lot being written about the copycat protests which are now springing up in a lot of other countries (including Australia). There isn't as much spoken or written about where the movement to occupy city areas and public spaces, and calling for a renegotiation of the social contract as it is interpreted by the powerful, actually got started, and where it's been flourishing for the better part of a year.

It started in Egypt, in Tariq Square (where it's still ongoing, to the best of my knowledge). Occupation-style protests have been happening in Iceland, in Spain, in Greece, and in a lot of other European countries since at least June this year. And they're still going on there. See this list of articles from Pressenza to get a better idea of the scope of the actual demonstrating, both in terms of global spread, and temporal spread.

However, there appears to be this strong media (and now internet) -fed meme which says something isn't actually "real" until it affects white citizens of the USA - preferably white, middle-class, male, heterosexual Christian citizens of the USA. Unless they're affected, unless they're doing it, whatever's going on in the rest of the world doesn't matter. The global economic crisis didn't affect anyone (even though the economies of many countries were affected for months, or indeed years, before the US banking system was forced to own up to its iniquities at the end of 2008) until it affected the USAlien middle classes. Various World Wars didn't actually "start", in the opinion of hegemonic popular culture, (despite the involvement and devastation of multiple countries) until the USA sent troops. Poverty in the USA didn't exist until it started lapping at the toes of the middle classes (despite the presence of a growing underclass of persons who were born into poverty, and who have lived their entire lives in poverty, and who could not escape their poverty no matter how hard they tried, since approximately the Reagan years) and more particularly the white middle classes.

It's nice that the USAlien middle classes have apparently finally decided they're part of the world majority. It's nice that they're finally joining in with the rest of the people on the planet to demand a bit of equity, and a bit of fairness.

It would be even nicer if they would just, for once, publicly acknowledge that the problems existed before they'd noticed them or been affected by them; that the movement they've joined (and effectively hijacked) existed before they started to participate; that they were, once again, late to the party, and only joining in once other people had got things started. It would be really good to have this acknowledgement that not everything happens in a vacuum, and that the world outside the window of the USAlien white middle classes is actually present. It would be really good if the ongoing efforts of people outside the USA to renegotiate the social contract weren't erased, or ignored.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/23073.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
We're Doing Feminism Wrong ... AGAIN

Frank O'Shea has his knickers in a twist at Independent Australia: Feminists desert female Aussie PM

I'm not sure what to be more irritated by from that article - whether it's the accusations of a lack of groupthink on the part of feminists, the unstated (and inaccurate) assumption that all women are active feminists, the notion that being part of a minority grouping means you're part of a seamless association that never has internal disagreements (and the imputation of such status to both the Indigenous and Jewish communities - both of which, I'm pretty certain, have a lot of internal political wranglings which can get extremely passionate and divisive), or just the level of sheer bloody-minded wrongness involved in the whole thing from go to whoa.

So, back to Feminism 101 stuff again, for the benefit Mr O'Shea:

1) Not all feminists are women. It is possible to be feminist and not identify as being a woman.
2) Not all women are feminists. It is possible to identify as being a woman and not identify with feminist aims or goals.
3) There is no One True Feminism. There is no entrance exam to become a feminist.
4) As a corollary of the above, not all feminists share the same goals, or agree on the same ideals. About the only central, core ideals that the majority of feminists agree on are that firstly, there is no reason why women should be treated as different to men in a legal, moral, political, economic or financial sense; secondly, that this is happening in the world at present; and thirdly, that this should be changed.

So, addressing various contentions in Mr O'Shea's article as they land:

Mr O'Shea is upset that some women are campaigning (rather nastily) against Julia Gillard, decrying her lifestyle, her gender, and various other things. So, see my points 2, 3 and 4 above. The women who are raising these posters are under no obligation to support Julia Gillard (or any other female-identified politician) simply because she is female. We're under no obligation to all believe the same things, simply because we are female. To insist that this is the case is to insist on the existence of an essential point of moral and political difference between women and men (women must all think and vote as a seamless bloc; men are allowed to hold differing opinions). Which is contrary to the spirit of feminism.

To be clear: I don't agree with those women, Mr O'Shea. But I do agree they have the right to make fools of themselves in public, just the same as I do.

Mr O'Shea contends that surely Ms Gillard has a right to expect that feminists and organised feminism will come to her defence, and also contends that this isn't happening. Possibly Mr O'Shea isn't reading the same blogs I do. I found the link to his article on Hoyden About Town (an Australian feminist blog), where the contributor who posted the link to Mr O'Shea's article pointed out a list of eight articles which are tackling just this very matter. There's a further three of them in the automatically generated "Related Posts" section at the bottom of the article.

There are a lot of posts about this very matter on the Aussie feminist blogosphere, pointing out the nature of the problem, pointing out how very gendered it is, pointing out how very discriminatory it is and so on. However, for some reason or other, these sorts of articles don't seem to be making it into the mainstream media. Now, could this have anything to do with the "gatekeeping" function the mainstream media (and particularly the mainstream media in Australia, with its heavy concentration of ownership) tends to reserve to itself? That there aren't newspaper articles in the Herald Sun, the Australian, or the Daily Telegraph, written by prominent feminist writers, and blasting the editors of the Herald Sun, the Australian or the Daily Telegraph for their selection of material regarding the prime minister... why, that would almost suggest that the mainstream media are actually privately owned properties, with their own editorial controls, where a deliberate selection of material is undertaken in order to present a situation in a particular fashion. Yes, there are problems when this happens, but I'd argue the problem isn't necessarily one that feminism and feminists can be blamed for.

Feminists of many stripes, however, will cheerfully agree that the lack of feminist opinion in the mainstream media is a feminist issue - it's emblematic of the way that the kyriarchy (the interweaving of systems of oppression to ensure that the oppressing class remains in charge) manipulates the way the world is, such that contrary, minority, or dissenting voices are silenced and marginalised.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/22354.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: sans coffee sans coffee
A Persistent Earworm for the Last Few Weeks

The song is "Where Ya Gonna Run To" by Redgum. Lyrics below the fold. File available here at sendspace (2.31MB, .wma format)

Lyrics below fold )

I get the second-last verse running through my head quite a lot lately - particularly when I'm reading about things like the rioting in London, and the way the USA is turning out. I grew up under the shadow of the Cold War, and the terror of the Reagan years, when it seemed I wouldn't make it to thirty. I'm forty now, and I wonder whether fifty is on the horizon. It seemed to be this time last year. This year? I don't know - and that makes me angry, terrified, and sad. Angry, because things were supposed to get better. Terrified, because I don't know that they will. And sad, because I'm not the only one who believed things were supposed to be better, and I'm not the only one who is probably feeling betrayed because they aren't.

There's nowhere to run to. I just have to make my stand here.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/20161.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: furious furious
Current Music: You figure it out...
Responsibility

The scandal over the phone message data theft in the UK is terrible, and one of the questions which is being asked is "who is responsible?". Who is responsible for this terrible thing happening? Who should take the blame? Who should we punish?

Well, from one angle, the Murdoch family and their News Corporation bear at least some of the responsibility, for creating a news climate where such things can happen, where they can be tried, and where they can be covered up with such success that the true depth of the scandal is only starting to become visible five or six years later. This means everyone in the chain, all the way up from the first journalist to pay the PI for information, right the way through the corporate hierarchy to Rupert Murdoch himself. They profited from the misery of others, and they haven't paid the price. Some of the responsibility is theirs.

From another angle, some of the responsibility lies with the advertisers, who are always seeking the ideal vessel to purvey their product - they want something which will attract a lot of people to see or hear their ads, but they don't want their precious product associated with anything bad. So the advertisers play their part in this, through demanding both the high circulation that the News of the World achieved, and through also demanding the cover-up of sources, and the hiding of illegal behaviour. They were willing to accept the high circulation figures, without asking what was done in the name of achieving this circulation. So some of the responsibility is theirs, also.

From a further angle, there's the responsibility of the telephone companies to provide education and data security for their users. In a large part, the crime of hacking into the message databases was caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of people who owned phones - they didn't know the pass-code existed, didn't know they could use it, didn't know they could alter it. So the pass-codes were left at their default. A simple procedural change, such as ensuring that the account was locked to external access should the user not attempt this within a month of opening their account, would have secured the vast mass of this data. That there was a back-door left not only unlocked, but practically gaping wide open, is not decent data security. So the phone companies bear some responsibility, too.

The journalists who paid for the stolen data bear responsibility, because they knew this data wasn't coming from kosher sources. They knew they weren't respecting the privacy of the people involved. They knew they were effectively breaking the spirit of the law, if not the actual letter of the law, by using this data in order to create their stories. They knew they were encouraging further breaches of the law by paying for the data.

The private eye who figured out how to hack into the phone message banks, and then sold on the data to the News of the World, also bears responsibility, as the one who committed the crime. According to reports, he was paid 100,000 UKP for his services.

There's the politicians who permitted the Murdoch family to purchase so much of the world's news infrastructure (the world's largest news gathering organisation is a privately owned family company). There's the police, who didn't understand the magnitude of the crime when it was presented to them (not to mention the police who were bribed into silence). There's the various managements and journalists of other news organisations, who let their concerns about their own profitability over-ride their interest in the privacy and rights of the people they purport to represent. All of these people are responsible, and all of them will probably be mentioned in articles regarding the whole scandal.

But there's one responsible group the news media won't mention. One group who will be allowed to skate by scot free. One group who won't ever be expected to look their responsibility in the face and name it for what it is. And that's us.

If you've ever bought a newspaper, if you've ever clicked on a link to a news site, if you've ever listened to news radio, or watched the news on television, you bear some responsibility for this as well.

As viewers, listeners, readers, we create the demand for news articles. As viewers, listeners and readers, we've fed the Murdoch machine, given it the money it needed to create a monolithic view of the way news "should" be, a monolithic view of "what sells newspapers, what sells advertising space". We have allowed our news to become tawdry, cheap, nasty, vicious, invasive, insensitive. We have allowed this, because we haven't spoken up and said no. We have allowed this because we've purchased the products the advertisers sell. We have allowed this because we've bought the papers, listened to the radio stations, clicked the links, watched the programs, bought the magazines. We have allowed this, we have facilitated this, by demanding more and more and more and more from the news media; by not criticising it enough; by continuing to feed the maw.

If you feel sickened by the actions of the News of the World; if you feel angry about the actions of the Murdoch family; if you feel self-righteous about the way the advertisers are fleeing the sinking ship, remember: we asked for it.

We asked for it. Now we have it.

Maybe we should start asking for something different.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/18706.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Thoughts on The News.Corp Phone Hacking Scandal

Latest news in this ongoing disaster is that the newspaper imprint at the centre of the scandal, the News of the World, is being shut down.

Certainly, the paper has been haemorrhaging advertisers since the scandal started breaking, and as the breadth and depth of the depravity involved has been further exposed, the advertisers are running further and faster to put distance between themselves and the newspaper that published the majority of the stolen voicemail data. But I have to wonder: what about the rest of the News International/News Corporation stable?

It's worth noting that the executive who was the editor of The News Of The World at the time when most of the data theft occurred is still employed. She's now the Chief Executive of News International, and while she's offered to resign, that offer has been resisted - apparently she "knew nothing of the crimes allegedly committed when she was editor" (sourced from News of the World shuts amid hacking scandal). Which, to me, doesn't really sound like an outstanding endorsement of her managerial ability, to be honest. Either she didn't know about such things (in which case, what the hell was she doing in order to earn her salary?) or she did know and pretended she didn't (which leads me to wonder whether she'd do the same sort of thing when faced with evidence of an embezzlement), or she did know, and took steps to cover it up (which means she's criminally culpable too). She's still employed by News International.

That Ms Brooks is still considered a valuable employee by News International leads me to question the management and ethical practices of the entire damn corporation. The problem which was "resolved" by data theft didn't start in the newsroom of The News of The World. It started further up the corporate ladder, with the constant push on all the News Corporation properties to obtain ever-increasing profits, ever-growing circulation, ever-climbing advertising revenues.

Another thing which interests me is the way that the various News Corporation properties tend to pass a story around. For example, here in Australia, the Australian newspaper will report on a story which "broke" in the magazine New Idea (both of these are News Corporation properties), or they'll pass on a story which started off on Fox News in the USA, or in the Sun over in the UK. So there's the potential for the scandal to go far further than just this one newspaper. If we examine stories propagated across the News Corporation stable of properties throughout the period in which one News Corporation property was buying information obtained through data theft, how many other stories are tainted with this same brush? How far did the rot spread? How far up did the rot go? Did it go all the way to the top?

(It's worth noting that the Australian head of News Limited has officially denied that such a thing could happen over here:

Today, News Limited chief executive officer John Hartigan told the company's Australian journalists "the behaviour that has been uncovered at the News of the World is an affront to all of us who value the integrity and credibility of good journalism, the reputation of the company and our own reputations as professionals."

"Phone hacking is the antithesis of everything we stand for. It is a terrible slur on our craft," he said in a statement to staff posted online.

"I am confident that the practices that have been uncovered in the UK do not exist in Australia, at News or any other respectable media outlet."
- sourced from Murdoch accused of tabloid closure 'stunt'

If, like me, you're a fan of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, you know never to believe anything until it's been officially denied.)

[I feel I should mention at this point that I have absolutely no monetary interest in seeing the Murdoch family go down. However, I do feel a certain moral and personal interest in the challenging of their ideology that what people are interested in is solely the cheap, the tawdry, the nasty and the unfriendly. The Murdoch family's News Corporation is a big part of the global kyriarchal bully culture, one which glorifies the petty, nasty side of the human psyche to the point where they present this as the only damn option there is. I don't want to read, watch or hear nasty comments about other people, so I don't purchase their products. Now, if only there were a viable alternative.]

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/18534.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Why I'm participating in #MooreandMe

* Because I'm female, and as such have a 1 in 6 lifetime risk of being raped.
* Because Mike Moore has made a career out of being obnoxious and demanding people listen to him; yet he won't respond to his own tactics?
* Because as a woman, as a potential rape victim, as a person who values their personal safety, I benefit greatly if rape culture is questioned and challenged (I'd benefit personally if the lifetime odds of being raped only dropped to 1 in 7). The safer I am, the safer everyone else is too.
* Because as a woman who knows other women, I'm statistically likely to know at least one person who has been raped and/or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
* Because everything I hear about or from Julian Assagne makes him sound more and more like an utter creep.
* Because any sexual activity which happens without enthusiastic consent is rape.
* Because rape is the only crime where the accusers are on trial rather than the accused.
* Because even if the people bringing the rape charges are CIA agents, only doing it for the publicity, or just seeking to get "revenge" (revenge for what, precisely?) they still deserve a fair hearing in court, rather than a public inquisition via internet.
* Because I want to make it clear that I think rape isn't okay.
* Because it's the right thing to do.
* Because even if it isn't the best tactic in the world to get Mike Moore to reply, it's something we can do to make a point not only to Mike Moore, but also to all the other guys out there who don't understand about rape culture and what rape apologism consists of.

Oh, and for those following it, here's a few apologists and outright trolls I've spotted on the tag:

@GoldenScepter
@aubsclark
@BRKeogh

I'll add more as I notice them. But don't feed 'em, folks.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/11413.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Music: "She Said She Said" - The Beatles
My 5c on Julian Assagne

Most of this was published yesterday as a comment on Shakesville, and it's something I've thought about for about a week or so. I figure it's quicker and easier to post it once here, and then I can link it everywhere else.

Long screed under here )

Or the teal deer version: playing the martyred hero of the Left doesn't immediately make Julian Assagne into one.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/11037.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: cynical cynical
Current Music: "The Masochism Tango", Tom Lehrer
Bad photo ahoy!

I think John Nicolaou should be asking the ABC to remove the photo on this article, if only because it does nothing to improve his public image. They've clearly caught the poor man mid-blink, mid-word, and honestly, it makes him look like a member of the Drones Club - if I was wanting an image to point to as an example of who to cast for a similar role, I'd be pointing to this one and saying "like that, only slightly more vacuous".

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/10692.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: awake awake
Thoughts on the Australian Election

No, I aten't dead. I've just been staying quiet due to things like the beginning of a new semester at Uni (three programming units and a maths unit which requires a lot of programming - if I haven't been in larval mode before, I will be by the end of semester) and lack of interesting stuff to say. But there's an election on Saturday, and I figure I'll just give a short (okay, very long) rundown of the way I'm seeing things.

Longwinded political ramblings below )

So this election, I'll be voting Green, with preferences going to the minor parties before either of the two big ones, and with Labor getting a higher preference than the Liberals. Much the same as last time, in other words.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/10058.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: busy busy
Repugnant Behaviour

It's interesting, really, when so-called "Christian" spokespersons get to talking about other religions in the media. For example, Australia's favourite Christian Democrat (imagine the scare quotes around each of those terms, please), the Reverend Fred Nile, has spoken up following the deaths of thirteen people on the Fort Hood military base in the USA to suggest the following:

"Australians would like to be assured that our defence forces have in place a system of assessment and review which would identify any person whose adherence to any alien ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown." [...]

"There is an argument for suggesting that the safety and morale of our troops may warrant a ban on dedicated Muslims joining the armed forces, who may be influenced by Islamic fundamentalism."
(quoted from the article Muslims in ranks a recipe for disaster: Nile on the ABC news website)

I'm not a Christian by any stretch of the word, but I seem to recall from my reading of the various gospels (and most particularly the gospel of Mark) one of the key things Jesus Christ (remember him?) said about following in Christ's footsteps was you had to put your loyalty to God before your loyalty to anything else - country, posessions, employment, even family. For examples of what Christ had to say on the matter, have a look at the following biblical passages: Mark 9: 43 - 48; Mark 10: 17 - 25; Matthew 5: 29 - 30 (the sermon on the mount); Matthew 6: 19 - 21; Matthew 6: 33 - 34; Matthew 10: 37 - 42.

It should therefore be reasonable to suggest there is an argument (in order to assure the Australian defence forces are able to "identify any person whose adherence to any [..] ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown") for dedicated Christians to be banned from joining the Australian armed forces. Surely this is a more reasonable criterion than banning Muslims, since the religion of Christ, and particularly the version of the religion of Christ created by Saul of Tarsus (aka St Paul), is strongly opposed to the notion of warfare, fighting, and conquest in the first place - and therefore antithetical to the concepts on which the Australian Defence Forces are based.

It might also be reasonable to suggest the best thing the Reverend Fred Nile can do, in all Christian charity with the relatives and friends of those injured or deceased as a result of the Fort Hood shootings, is to shut his bloody gob, and re-read his bible. Maybe this time he could pay more attention to the gospels than to the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/4218.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: In a right snit
Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Why I Don't Come Out As Mentally Unwell In Public

Marcus Einfeld has bipolar, court hears

If you read the article, you'll discover the lawyers for this particular former judge have brought up the possibility that he has a long-term, previously undiagnosed bipolar mood disorder, and are offering this as a reason why his two year minimum sentence should be altered.

From the article: Einfeld is serving a minimum two-year jail term after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice and making a false statement under oath to avoid a speeding fine.

The 70-year-old claimed that an American academic was driving his car when it was caught speeding, despite knowing she died the previous month.


I don't have bipolar disorder myself. What I do have is a chronic mental illness, which so far hasn't prompted me to do anything illegal, or to consider myself above the law. Strangely enough, there are a lot of mentally unwell people out there (and out here, come to that) who go through their entire damn lives without once coming to the attention of the police as anything other than victims of crime. But when mental illness is mentioned in the media, it's generally in the context of someone claiming a previously undiagnosed chronic mental illness which apparently severely affected them only at the time of the crime they're being charged with, and never before or since.

Now, it may be that Mr Einfeld was under the affect of either a manic period, or maybe a depressive episode, when he said something damn stupid in order to try and avoid a flippin' speeding fine. Or maybe he was an ordinary enough bloke who just didn't want to have to cop the fine, and chose to make a stupid lie to the police about who was driving his car at the time it was speeding. Having made this stupid lie, he then stuck by it, and wound up getting the book thrown at him, particularly since he was a flippin' Federal Court Judge and therefore should have known better than to try it in the first bloody place. But either way, the mania or the depression didn't make him do something so bloody stupid.

If Mr Einfeld has had bipolar mood disorder for a long period of time (and has coped with it admirably, one presumes, since he's now seventy and nobody apparently noticed until this psychiatrist he's talking to now raised the option) and has been dealing with his demons in solitude, that's a tragedy. I know depression is enough of a hell on its own, and I have every sympathy for the man. But being mentally unwell isn't an excuse for illegal behaviour, and it shouldn't be claimed as such, or reported that way.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/3707.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

Murdoch warns Google: it's time to pay

News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has launched a stinging attack on Google and other on-line entities for stealing content.

At a conference of World Media Executives at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Rupert Murdoch has taken aim at search engines like Google as internet parasites.

According to the News Corporation Chairman, the so-called "aggregators" on the internet steal content from tradition media organisations and, he says, the time has come for them to pay for it.

"If we do not take advantage of the current movement toward paid-for content, it will be the content creators - the people in this hall - who will pay the ultimate price and the content kleptomaniacs will triumph," he said.


Let's see - "the current movement toward paid-for content" is being generated mostly by News Corporation, which, if I recall correctly, is the corporate media entity largely owned by Mr Murdoch's family. News Corporation also controls large shares of the media markets in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and several other countries, the most notorious branches of which are the Murdoch tabloid newspapers (such as the UK "Sun" and approximately half of the major metropolitan daily newspapers in Australia) and the Fox News cable channel in the United States (commonly nicknamed "Faux News", because of the lack of resemblance between life as reported by their so-called "journalists" and the consensus reality of the majority of human beings). Do I sense perhaps the petulant foot-stampings of an old man who is terrified the global media empire he's spent a lifetime building is being threatened by the content aggregators, who collect into one space not only the Murdoch empire's view of the world, but also all those other views as expressed by people who aren't part of the News Corporation conglomerate?

After all, if people can choose to see multiple pictures of the same event (or multiple views from many different sources) they might just start to realise things aren't the simple black-and-white over-simplifications of Mr Murdoch's beloved format. If people can pick and choose from dozens of news sources in a single page, they might start asking questions about some of the articles from News Limited. Questions like "why is this news?" (for example, why are we being constantly told in the Murdoch press about the private lives of soi-distant "celebrities"; why do we never hear about "causes" without a so-called famous face to attach to them; why are the bedroom games of the British royal family such an all-consuming matter etc) or "why is this such a scandal?" (Famous star comes out as gay; female celebrity gains or loses weight; celebrity couple divorces) or even "why aren't we hearing about X?" (media conglomeration; media gatekeeping; corporate censorship; corporate abuses of power; non-capitalist economic theory; challenges to right-wing prejudices; shall I continue?). The news aggregators offer a view of a bigger picture, rather than the small-minded, small-world images Mr Murdoch wants to keep selling us. They offer a picture of a complex world, one where people aren't just one thing or another, but might be both at the same time, or even something completely different.

The news aggregators threaten Mr Murdoch's livelihood, just by offering a diversity of links to a variety of stories. They take away his control over the shaping of opinion, and threaten his ability to offer up a world where everyone is just like him: white, wealthy, upper-middle class, educated, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, Anglo-Celtic and male. What the news aggregators threaten isn't the rights of people to create content, but rather the assumed right of Mr Murdoch and his social equivalents to dictate how the world looks to the rest of us. They threaten Mr Murdoch's privilege - and how dare they do that?

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One step forward...

Found this one on the ABC ticker last night:

Robb takes leave over depressive illness

One of the Opposition Front Benchers in the federal House of Representatives here in Australia has a biochemical disorder called diurnal variation, which is a depressive illness. He's taking three months leave of absence.

Now, when I first saw that, I didn't have a clue what the heck "diurnal variation" meant in context of depressive illnesses (I knew it meant "daily changes" but heck, that's a pretty broad term). So, off I went to Google, and discovered it's the technical term for feeling like hammered crap in the mornings. At which point I went "yes, and?", because I've had that for over twenty years now, and I was under the strong impression it was pretty damn normal. Then again, I'm depressed, so are both my parents and a fair chunk of my relations, and possibly this skews things. My second reaction was along the lines of "ooh, there's a word for everything in this discipline!", because I hadn't been aware my feeling worried and anxious when I woke up (and the consequent wanting to go right back to sleep and stay there for another few hours) had a name, aside from "oh shit, another bloody morning".

Someone really should point out to Mr Robb's spokesweasel that using the big words for everything doesn't exactly win you the huge sympathy points in this day and age. Far too many people know google, and know how to use it - and many have stronger google-fu than I (my google-fu extends as far as being able to narrow down my search by picking appropriate terminology to search on).

But at least Mr Robb is getting lots and lots of sympathy for feeling like crap in the mornings now, and there's supportive messages from all and sundry, and lots of people saying "yeah, we're on your side, we'll keep your old job for you" and similar. So I'm going to try not to feel like I've been cheated by just having been told "suck it up and live with it" since I was fourteen, and get on with my life. I'll also try not to feel cheated by realising I have to hide my depressive illness, because otherwise I won't be able to get a job short of begging.

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