A plea from someone who uses "pick and pack" services as a disability accommodation
Could all the people who are currently choosing to get their groceries picked for them and delivered in order to avoid the potential of coronavirus exposure please remember, for some people, the pick-and-pack stuff is a necessary service to get groceries at all? If you're looking at the last available delivery slot or the last available pick-up place for the day, why not make the minor sacrifice of leaving it for someone who might actually need it. I'm already looking at having to sacrifice spoons I don't have, and a day of rest I desperately need, to perform essential shopping, because the delivery and pick-up booking times have blown out to a week ahead.
A couple of extra sentences, because this is important: I use the "pick up from the counter" service, because for me, being in a supermarket is cognitively overwhelming and exhausting. Other people might use it because they have difficulty physically walking the distance required to find all their groceries. Still others might use it because the sheer logistics of trying to organise everything in order to be able to get to the supermarket is just too overwhelming. For many people in these situations, the alternative to "pick and collect" or "home delivery" is not "drop in to the shops even though it's a bit more inconvenient and/or risky" - it's "no groceries at all". I can appreciate people don't want to take the risk of catching coronavirus - but could you please consider the people for whom this "useful" service is actually a "necessary" one before you start using it to the point of excluding us.
Thank you, in advance, for your consideration in this matter.
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The Cost of Doing Nothing
As bush-fires rage and rage across Australia (I'm in one of the few state capitals which isn't actually being directly affected by bushfire smoke; I feel as though I'm cheating somehow) our Prime Minister keeps on banging on about the costs of taking action to deal with climate change. Apparently it would cost too much for us to change what we're doing to work to mitigate the risk of climate change. That's why we're not doing anything - because doing something would cost too much.
What's happening now, all down the east coast, and cutting the transport across the Nullarbor, is the cost of NOT dealing with it. So let's start counting that cost, shall we?
Direct Costs (as at the morning of 05 JAN 2020):
* 23 people are dead, since September. At least three of these people are volunteer fire fighters - who weren't being paid for their work (and whose compensation for extended absence from workplaces and so on is being limited to $6000 by the federal government).
* More than 6 million hectares of land burned. It may recover, it may not. We can't count on recovery. We certainly can't count on the arable stuff being able to be farmed in the next growing season, because that depends on an end to the drought.
* More than 450 million animals known to have been killed since the start of the fire season - and that's mainly the livestock, I'm guessing. The impact on native wildlife is still unknown, but we may well have entire species going extinct as a result of habitat destruction. I realise this may not seem like much to our politicians, since animals can't vote, but the destruction of biodiversity makes it harder and harder for the landscape to recover from these sorts of catastrophic events.
* 110 properties and 220 outbuildings known to be destroyed in Victoria alone.
* Destruction of essential infrastructure (electricity substations, water treatment plants, power transmission lines, water tanks etc)
* Destruction of workplaces (eg Adelaide hills wine industry - 1/3 of that has been burned; Mallacoota abalone collective (2nd largest employer in town); any number of farms; etc) which results in people being put onto Newstart (and let's not forget: the rate of Newstart is ridiculously low. It's about half the poverty line income).
* Increased mortality rates, ambulance call outs and hospitalisation rates in smoke-affected and bushfire affected areas.
* Greater rate of distress from smoke-related illnesses on the East coast, greater rate of distress from psychological illness all over the country.
* Nullarbor highway & Coolgardie-Esperance highway blocked between Norseman and Caiguna. Which means here in Perth, we're going to start running out of things which are brought over from the eastern states by truck, because the trucks aren't getting through. (Yeah, it's small bikkies. But it's still a cost we're going to be paying).
Foreseeable knock-on costs in the future:
* Rents are going to rise in Melbourne and Sydney (and possibly also Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth) as those people who have been made homeless and jobless by the fires try to find somewhere to live and something to do.
* Cost of electricity is going to go up, as all the power companies on the East Coast raise prices to cover the damage to infrastructure caused by the fires (they're going to do this even if they didn't get affected by it at all, let's be realistic here).
* Cost of water is going to go up all over the East coast, because firstly, drought; secondly, damaged infrastructure; thirdly, guess what's been thrown on the various fires all over the place.
* Cost of food is going to go up, because the amount of places which are growing it has just taken a rather substantial hit - and this means not only animal protein, but also vegetable crops as well.
* A number of communities are going to be effectively wiped out by the bush-fires, because it just isn't economically feasible to rebuild.
* Increased rate of hospitalisations and medical treatments for chronic conditions will continue to rise for at least 12 - 18 months down the track, because the impact of profound and prolonged stress on human bodies is unpredictable in the individual cases, but will probably show up in an increased rate of auto-immune disorders, stress-related disorders, and so on. Compounded, of course, by things like less healthy food choices being available to individuals on low incomes, etc.
* Increased rates of alcohol and drug-related disorders, because that's one of the predictable lack-of-coping methods people use.
* Increased rates of PTSD and complex PTSD presentations in psychiatric care situations.
* Increased mortality rate will have a "long tail" effect, covering approximately the next 12 to 18 months (because stress kills, even if it does so unpredictably).
* Insurance premiums will go up, drastically, especially for people on the East Coast.
This is just me doing a bit of thinking off the top of my head and skimming the news stories. To me, it seems like the cost of doing nothing is ridiculously high. Especially when you consider part of the cost of doing nothing is the cost of having to do all of this again next year. And the year after. And the year after that.
Surely compared to the cost of doing nothing, the cost of doing something diminishes?
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One Tweet Summarises an Election
[Eddy Jokovich; @EddyJokovich: The #Insiders panel asking “what will be the LNP agenda over the next three years”. I shouldn’t have to tell you this but aren’t these questions meant to be asked before the election? #auspol ]
What annoys me about this tweet is twofold.
Firstly, there's the whole point that firstly, the press were supposed to be scrutinising the various parties policy offerings (ALL the offerings of ALL the parties, guys, not just the big two) and providing the public with coverage of all of these. They were supposed to be doing this before the election. So clearly the Australian press have fallen down on the job, or they were lazy and didn't do their job, or they weren't trained properly and didn't know this was their job, or they were being actively prevented from doing their job. Any and all of these may apply, and all of them are horrifying to think about.
Secondly, there's the subsidiary point that we AS VOTERS were supposed to be looking into this OURSELVES. We shouldn't be relying on the press to spoon feed us everything in carefully measured sound-bites. We should, instead, be doing things like, oh, going to the various websites of the various political parties and reading their policy statements for ourselves. We should not be wholly reliant on the media to pre-digest these announcements for us. We should, instead, be doing some of our own damn legwork.
That a government was re-elected with absolutely NO policy information given, with every single question on policy matters turned aside as being "part of the Canberra bubble" or "it's all in the budget"; with ministers being missing in actions, with candidates doing their best impersonations of the invisible man or invisible woman; and with their only damn point being "look how terrible the opposition are"... this is a failure on two counts. Firstly, it is a failure of the press, who are supposed to be the public's advocates and watchdogs in such matters. Secondly, it is a failure of the electorate, because we have failed our democratic duty to ourselves.
The second is the more crucial failure, especially in this era of press consolidation and near-monopoly press control by the Murdoch media. We, as citizens in a democracy, have a responsibility to ourselves to be educated voters. To take the time to have a look at the various parties on offer, to learn what they stand for, to figure out whether we agree with this or not. Otherwise, we are failing ourselves, and we make ourselves into easy targets for the sort of exploitative, populist politics which delights in a divided electorate, and which chooses to divide and rule, pitting people one against the other. We owe it to ourselves; we owe it to each other; to create a country where we can all have a fair go. We didn't do this. We failed as citizens.
Now, the poor, the disabled, the sick, the elderly on the pension, the parents, the children who can't yet vote, the rural populations, the indigenous population, the recent migrants, the detainees in foreign lands, and everyone else who isn't earning over $200,000 per annum in this country are going to be paying the price for our failure. They'll be paying the price in reduced services, in more punitive welfare conditions, in increased prices for those services which remain, and in decreasing quality of service as well. They'll be paying the price in discrimination, in stigma, in negative coverage in the press, and in all the various little ways they've already been paying for the past six years.
We failed them. We failed ourselves. Now what are we going to do about it?
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What The Actual Fuck?
We've just embarked on a three year gamble. The Australian public, in their infinite self-centred, short-term-focused wisdom, have re-elected the Liberal-National Coalition government under Scott Morrison. I have no idea why they chose to do this - possibly it's because enough of them are deluded into thinking Australia runs on a presidential system, and they weren't happy about the idea of Bill Shorten as Prime Minister. Possibly it's because enough of them have fallen for the American way of thinking of themselves as not being members of a working class or a middle class precariat, but rather as a group of billionaires who are temporarily short on cash, so they want to do things like preserve franking credits, tax cuts for people earning over $200,000 a year, and negative gearing because one day they might, just might, get some benefit out of it. Possibly it's because they want the vicarious enjoyment of kicking the poor, which is always on the menu in a Liberal government. Possibly it's just because they don't want to think about climate change, an on-coming global recession, and any of the other big problems looming, and they think if they just hide their heads under the covers, it will all go away.
To be honest, I don't know, and I don't really care. This isn't about why the Australian people elected the government they did. It's about what's going to happen next.
The Liberal party went into this election with absolutely no new policy. Their entire campaign was "the ALP are big and scary and are going to eat your children". In the past six years of Liberal government, we have heard them, time and again, blame the ALP for every single problem which came up. It didn't matter what it was. If the problem wasn't caused by the ALP under Rudd and Gillard, it was caused by the ALP under Hawke and Keating, or the ALP under Whitlam, or even the ALP under Curtin. So we can expect another three years of hearing the ALP is responsible for whatever difficulties the government is encountering, and we can expect the government to be demanding the ALP do something about it (because of course it's the responsibility of the party in opposition to fix things, not the party in power). So there are problems waiting for this government when they get back in - things like the whole issue with the Murray-Darling scheme, and the water rorts there; things like the Centrelink robodebts and the paltry rate of Newstart; things like the lack of movement on wages in the past six years; things like the massive rip-off that is JobActive; the results of the banking royal commission, and so on. Problems they largely caused, and which they have been extremely reluctant to deal with.
Does anyone actually think they're going to do anything about those problems now?
We have a bunch of social issues which have been simmering away. There's the low movement on wages, which is making the lives of everyone who isn't already retired more difficult. There's the increasing casualisation of the workforce, which means a lot of people don't have the stability to do things like buy housing, make long-term plans, settle down, have families. There's the decay of our social support networks, and the increasingly punitive nature of our social security system. If you're applying for government assistance, you're automatically assumed to be sponging on the public purse for no good reason, and you have to jump through an ever-increasing amount of hoops in order to prove yourself a member of the "deserving poor". We have the rise of public white nationalism, and public anti-Semitism, and public anti-immigrant sentiment, and public anti-black sentiment - often led by members of the government. We have the rise of public anti-indigenous sentiment.
Does anyone think these things are going to go away?
Over it all, we have the looming spectre of global climate instability. The climate is changing. The climate has been changing for the last thirty or forty years now. It's reached the point where we can't pretend otherwise. It's starting to affect us. It's starting to affect every other species on this planet - and that's going to affect us because all life on this planet is linked together in a web. The web is starting to break. We've been told, again and again and again, that in order to deal with the problems facing us on the climate front, we're going to have to take drastic action.
We've just elected a government whose policy on climate change comes down to "if we ignore it, maybe it will go away".
So we've started a three year national gamble. We're gambling that for the next three years, nothing too terrible happens on the global economic front. We're gambling for the next three years, nothing catastrophic happens in terms of drought, floods, cyclones, bush-fires, or any of the other myriad manifestations of climate variability. We're gambling that for the next three years, we don't wind up getting pulled into a war, caught up in a trade dispute, faced with a global epidemic, or any of the other really big political problems which might crop up.
We're gambling this, because we have, with the full foreknowledge of their incompetence, re-elected a shower of MPs who have PROVEN themselves incapable of handling the challenges of government. This mob couldn't run a chook raffle in a country pub with the local CWA doing all the tricky bits for them. Why do we think they're competent to govern?
Seriously, Australia, what the fuck were you thinking yesterday?
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An Analogy for Allies
My ongoing analogy for people who are wanting to "ally" in activism with at least a bit of consideration:
The role of the ally in activism is like the role of the parent in children's sports. Allies can do all of the following things:
- We can get people to events, both physically and metaphorically. (Physically in the sense of "actually taking people to protest sites, rallies, etc"; metaphorically in the sense of providing things like the money to cover transport costs, or by participating in consciousness raising or similar activities to help people get to the point where they want to participate in activism).
- We can get them safely back home again (both physically and metaphorically - and this includes finding the funding for things like fines, bail, court payments, lawyers fees, and so on).
- We can provide the emotional support which keeps people carrying out activist activities
- We can provide the material support which makes activism possible in the first place (and this can be as simple as ensuring there's food, water and shelter available to people involved in activism).
- We can look after other people's families while they're taking part in events. (This includes providing funding to cover the costs of families where family members have been imprisoned, fined, bailed or whatever).
- We can help coach people in ways and means which will assist in getting a better result (bearing in mind the limitations which come built into the situation. A child can't do an adult training routine; people in marginalised groups aren't able to access certain forms of privilege)
- We can referee - which in the context of protest actions means leveraging our privilege to ensure fair play on the part of the people with power.
- We can keep score - sending pictures of what's going on to the media. Keeping track of who is being harmed by an action, and why.
- We can cheer from the sidelines, and provide support in every form we can think of.
- We can provide comfort, warmth and succour for people who are suffering a loss; and we can also assist in the "post-match" phase of planning how to do better next time.
- We can provide material and physical support during the "game" phase of activism (food, water, first aid, warmth and so on).
What we can't and shouldn't be doing for marginalised groups as allies is attempting to play the game (that is, performing the activism) for them. We also can't expect a trophy for participating. Our contribution may be registered by other allies, but we shouldn't require the gratitude of the people playing the game in order to want to continue helping out. We can be there at the game, helping out and providing support and cheering from the sidelines, but out of simple respect to the players, we have to stay off the field unless we're needed on there.
You stop being an ally when you try and make the game all about you. You stop being an ally when you demand trophies for your participation. You stop being an ally when you demand payment in the form of gratitude and recognition for your actions. You stop being an ally when you invade the pitch, and demand everyone pay attention to you, you, you, and ignore what was going on in the game as it stood.
We also need to recognise, as allies, that we aren't strictly needed
in order for the game (activism) to proceed. If we aren't there, if there aren't allies available, people will still organise and be activists (the same way kids will figure out ways to play team games even if there isn't a formal "league" organised by adults for them to play in) and their activism will still be just as valid, and just as real. Sometimes, we won't be welcome - and we need to accept this as well (in the same way kids resent having a fun game of street or back yard cricket with rules about "tip and run" and everyone having their turn at batting and bowling being taken over by adults who want to have a more "formal" game, with proper sides and designated bowlers and batters and so on).
The core truth is: it's their
game, and they're the ones who are going to play it, whether we're there or not. We don't get to set the rules, we don't get to choose the players, and we don't get to have participation trophies for showing up to spectate.
(Agree? Disagree? Comments, critique and constructive criticism welcomed, especially from people who are engaged in activism or in activist spaces).This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/115461.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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 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.
 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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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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Update 25 SEP 2017 - Five things make a post.
1) It's a non-teaching week this week, which means my alarm is turned most definitely off and I am catching up on sleep. It's also cold and wet and rainy, to the point where when I was starting to write up my journal this morning I inadvertently started entering the month as "June".
2) I have managed to complete the AV presentation which was driving me bats, and now I have to concentrate on getting my poetry portfolio done. Which means I have to settle down and actually get into a poetry mindspace, which is somewhat akin to having an unstructured dose of therapy. Poetry involves rummaging around in the subconscious, and the problem with doing this for me is I keep finding things in there I don't remember putting there. Like discovering the reason I'm so keen on Final Fantasy VII as a fandom is because I actually empathise strongly with Cloud Strife's memory problems (because they're rather akin to the ones I have as a result of chronic depression).
3) I've done my vote in the Marriage Equality survey, and I think Steve dropped both of them off in the post-box on Friday. I voted "yes", of course, because quite frankly I cannot for the life of me see how allowing people who aren't heterosexual to marry is going to "damage marriage". The arguments of the "No" campaign appear to be mainly based around "think of the children" (I don't have any myself, and I'm thinking of the non-heterosexual and non-gender-binary children who might want to get married when they grow up); "it's against our religion" (well, nobody's saying you have to go out and get married to anyone); "marriage is about having children" (oh, does that mean my infertile friend is damaging the institution of marriage? How about my mother, who's past the age of reproduction and still married to my father?) and so on. None of their arguments really appear to be based on anything sensible, because let's face it, we can't point to a sensible argument against extending marriage to non-heterosexual people.
(Also, on the whole "freeze peach" side of things: if anyone who is busy screaming about how it's going to result in priests being forced to perform gay weddings against their wills and against religious canon can actually point to a single case of this having occurred anywhere in the world where non-heterosexual marriage is already permitted, then I'll start paying attention to this particular argument. But until then... it's a stupid argument).
4) I have a bunch of seedlings from my mother that I picked up on Saturday - Mum buys a bunch of seedlings every year to plant out in her vegetable garden, but the vege patch isn't really all that big, so she's usually got some over. So now she's giving them to me, and I'm going to be planting them out in my vegetable garden space. If the rain ever lets up for long enough for me to get it done. I will also be surrounding them with enough snail bait to hopefully keep the troops of snails we currently have decimating everything in the garden well away for a while.
5) We have received an invitation to come over for dinner tonight from my parents. My brother, in a fit of enthusiasm (and in the grip of a high-protein diet) decided since today is a public holiday (and he thus doesn't have to go in to work) he was going to barbecue an entire beef brisket. So he went and bought himself what looks like half a cow - seriously, the thing occupied about half the width of my parents' chest freezer. So they've invited myself and Steve over to help consume the wretched thing. I may wind up being given some leftovers to take home with me, which means cottage pie for dinner some time this week.
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Meditations on the Past Week or So
Am I odd because I tend to see things like the Damore memo (the "Google manifesto", the thing which got James Damore sacked from Google for creating an unfriendly work environment) and the Charlotteville terrorism as being manifestations of the same principle?
The principle being "The only Real Human Beings are white men".
As a woman (and a person with a disability) I tend to find this somewhat frightening. I find it more frightening when people treat all of this as some kind of intellectual exercise, rather than the very real attempt at dehumanisation, at objectification and at rationalisation for actual violence it is. As a woman who would have had to fight to have her very humanity recognised a century ago, I find this reversion to a perceived historical mean to be deeply frightening. I can't imagine how upsetting it must be for people of colour in the USA, and for indigenous people here in Australia to be seeing this.
We need to speak up. We need to speak out. We need to oppose this principle in all its manifestations - in the supposedly "civil" ones like the Damore "memo" (query: how "civil" is a multiple page ramble which boils down to "I am not willing to behave in a respectful way toward a large number of my co-workers and managers because I don't think they're Real Human Beings like me, and I strongly believe I shouldn't have to work alongside them"?); in the virulently obvious ones like the Charlotteville march. In all its manifestations, in every space (including the police forces, the public service, the private sector and the rhetoric of our politicians) we need to oppose this principle, because we have seen what happens when it is allowed to run free. We have seen it in so many different circumstances - in the extermination camps of Germany; in the slavery of the American South; in the so-called "off-shore processing" camps on Nauru and Manus Island; in the Intervention; in the massacres down through the ages; in the Trail of Tears; in all the little slings and arrows of colonialism, of racism, of sexism. We know this principle is socially toxic.
So why do we keep allowing people to spout it as though firstly, it's something new and radical, and secondly, as though it's a valid point of view?
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Generalised Message For The Entire English-Speaking World In The Wake of Brexit
Rupert Murdoch is not our friend.
Rupert Murdoch is an ageing billionaire sociopath, who appears to believe the world will end when he finally dies, and is going to a great deal of trouble to ensure this is the case for all the rest of us, too. Rupert Murdoch's motto at present appears to be "apres moi, le deluge".
The only apocalyptic "End Times" approaching are those of Rupert Murdoch - he's 85, his father died at age 67, while his mother lived to 103. Which means he's pretty much reached the age of splitting the difference between the two and any year he gets after now is a gift. He is in his personal "end times" and he doesn't like it.
Rupert Murdoch's media properties (all of the News Limited newspapers in multiple countries, all of the Fox television stations in multiple countries, Sky TV in the UK, and so on) are generally not institutions which display a one-to-one correspondence with consensus reality. This means if you see something being heavily reported on Fox News, or in the Murdoch press, you should check with other sources to ensure you're getting the correct picture. Or indeed, whether there is actually a picture there to be getting - the Murdoch media does have a long history of making things up out of whole cloth in order to sell advertising space, and also of bouncing the same made-up story around their various international properties in order to give it creedence.
Please, don't trust them. They don't have your best interests at heart. They don't have anyone's interests at heart except those of Rupert Murdoch, and his primary interests are in acquiring power over world leaders and getting All The Money for himself.
So think about it: do you really want your life overturned because one cranky old man with a lot of money doesn't want to die and resents the fact it's inevitable?
If you can do nothing else, please fact-check what you're hearing from Fox, what you're hearing from News Limited, and what you're hearing from Sky. Find some source which isn't inside the Murdoch Media fold, and see whether they're reporting on the particular "crisis" of the week. Spread the news about what's actually happening out here in consensus reality, rather than in Murdoch-land. Tell people where you found counter-stories, and where you find your facts. Spread the news that there's more out there than what the Murdoch media is telling us.
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The Daftness of the "Toilet" Argument
The "toilet" argument is the one which says "of course trans* and gender-queer people shouldn't be allowed to use the lavatories appropriate to their preferred gender presentation" because somehow women will get their modesty affronted by having a person with a penis in the ladies room. I always get stunned by this argument, mostly because it shows a degree of wilful blindness to some necessary differences between masculine and feminine public hygiene set-ups which really needs to be addressed.
So, for the benefit of all those guys who haven't been in the ladies' lavs since they were tiny tackers escorted there by their mums, here is a description of the average set-up of every single women's public toilet block I've ever been in for as long as I can remember:
( Long and involved description under the fold )
So, to be honest, I absolutely fail to see how anyone's modesty is going to be affronted by someone who is trans-female, or female-identifying-today gender-queer, getting into the queue to use the stalls in the ladies. No matter what their (or your) individual plumbing hook-up appears to be, nobody else is going to be able to see it in use, or be offended by its presence.
I mean, on the other hand, if the people who are worried about the prospect of trans* or gender-queer people using the appropriate lavatories for their identifying gender are men worrying a trans-man or a male-identifying-today gender-queer person is going to go into the gentlemen's lavs and snigger at the willies on display at the urinals... well, just say so, guys. (And maybe use the stalls to pee). But please, don't push the whole mess over onto the women and feminine modesty.
(Oh, and if anyone who is trans-negative and female-identifying wants to explain to me either: a) exactly why and how their modesty is/would be affronted by a trans* or gender-queer person using the ladies' lavs at the same time as them; or b) how they'd know if a person in one of the other stalls was a trans* or gender-queer person; or even c) why they can't just deal with their problem by waiting for the trans* or gender-queer person to finish their business and leave; then feel free to do so in the comments.)
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Employment Scam: Moton Group - Kevin K Elmore
This one comes via a slightly unusual route, since I actually applied for the thing directly! Here's the basics: the scammer behind this particular mess decided to take out a total of six ads on the Australian Job Search site (jobsearch.gov.au) - six identical ads, each with the following text:
( Ad copy below the fold )
That was the entire ad. They were "offering" a total of
24 21 positions as "Accounts Assistant" - 3 each in Helena Valley, East Perth, Rockingham, Bedfordale, Cottesloe, Madora Bay and Mosman Park (an unusual spread of suburbs - see the digression below). Now, the combination of six identical ads each offering three positions with a completely vague description of what the position entailed, and absolutely no description of what skills you'd actually need to be doing the job triggered my "scam" flags even then, but hey, I had to apply for two jobs that day due to government requirements (it was the week between Christmas and New Year - as you might imagine, the job ads were a little thin on the ground) so I decided to send my resume in.
( Perth-specific digression )
Yesterday, an email arrived at my job search address, with the following text:
( Email text below fold )
Now, the thing which stuck out for me about all of this is that so far, nowhere along the way have they actually mentioned anything about what the job would entail, or what kind of skills you'd require in order to be able to perform it - this is a regular trait of job scams. I decided to do two things - the first was actually look up Moton Group on google, and the second was to look at their job description.
The google search started the scam radar pinging good and hard, because all the listings for Moton Group are in the USA (Colorado and New Jersey being the two locations which showed up on the first page of results), with nothing showing up in Australia. So I took a look at the job description. And immediately started singing "scam, scam, scammity, scam", because here it is in all its glory:
( Job description )
So, we have all the classic scam flags flying in this "job description":
1) They're paying too much for what they're asking for. $40 per hour is very good money. It's very good money for a fully-fledged accountant or business professional. For someone who's supposed to be an Accounts Assistant, dealing with the bookkeeping paperwork (as per the original job ad)? It's almost double the accepted hourly rate for an experienced, qualified bookkeeper - which, you'll note, they're not asking for. For someone whose only qualification for the job is completing high school? It's about double the maximum hourly rate you'd expect.
2) Gratuitous errors in grammar and sentence construction. The job description reads as though it were written by someone who has English as about their third language, and neither of the other two were from the same families. It's sloppy and poorly done - and to a large degree this is deliberate. It's intended to make the reader feel they're pulling one over the scammer, make them feel superior, and make them lower their guard.
3) It doesn't describe the duties or the job skills required. If you've read a job ad recently (and I've read a lot of them) you'll find most of them list fairly specific duties (preparing BAS, drawing up invoices and receipts, reception duties, operating switchboard, etc) and they will almost certainly be asking for specific abilities, qualities, skills and qualifications. By contrast, the job details in this "job description" are vaguer than a lot of political promises.
There's also the "Why do we need Accounts Assistants" and "Why do we not us[sic] a direct account?" sections, which are pretty much direct quotes of other versions of this particular scam I've seen elsewhere. If nothing else, those sections of the job description would have set my scam alarms blasting. If an employer is offering a genuine job, they won't feel the need to justify it, or explain why they're doing things in a particular way. I suspect if I decided to chase up on this job further, I'd find myself being asked to "process" payments via my bank account. Or in other words "open your wallet and repeat after me: 'help yourself'", in a less straightforward format. I think not.
( Improper use of Australian Coat of Arms )
( Further dodginess )
All in all, if you're looking at an "offer" of a "job" from Moton Group, I'd decline. The only job they're offering in all seriousness is "sucker". (It goes without saying that I'm not going to be filling in their application form myself).
EDITED 10 JAN - Correcting the number of positions offered. Seven times three is 21.
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In Response to the Furore re: Clementine Ford
What happened in the Clementine Ford case was this: a bloke said something abusive about her on the internet, in such a way that it could be linked back to his employer. Namely, he had his employer details on his Facebook profile, and Ms Ford brought his online behaviour to his employer's attention. He got sacked as a result of his actions, because his employers didn't want to deal with the negative publicity involved.
Or in other words, this bloke did the online equivalent of yelling abuse at her on public transport while wearing his workplace uniform, getting snapped while doing so, and reported to his employers.
Now, we'd all agree that if someone did something like the second example above, should they get sacked, it was their own silly fault, and they should have behaved civilly in a public setting. We'd agree if a guy yelled abuse at a woman in a public hotel, or a shopping mall while wearing anything with their employer's logo (such as a uniform shirt or similar), the woman they yelled at would be within her rights to report it to their employer, and the employer would be within their rights to sack the damn fool for being too daft to work there any more. We'd agree that if a guy launched into a tirade of abuse at a woman for talking to her friends in the pub, he'd be due at the very least to be barred from being served any more alcohol, and more likely, kicked out by the management.
We readily agree that unprovoked personal abuse in a public context is unacceptable when it's in a face-to-face context, and that if someone does it while being able to be clearly linked to an employer, a professional organisation, a particular religion, or family or so on, then they should bear the social consequences of their actions being reported to those groups. We agree that doing such things while being able to be linked to employers, professional organisations, religions, disapproving family members or similar is something which is likely to fall under the parameters of the Being Bloody Stupid Act - not only do you wear the consequences, but it's expected you're going to wear them politely, suck it up and bloody well deal!
Yet somehow, the apparent expectation is that this bloke (and the many others who do similar things, such as sending abusive and/or harassing emails from their work email accounts), who has done something Bloody Stupid (and Bloody Rude, while we're at it) should be allowed to not only get away with his actions, but that it's positively unfair of Ms Ford to have pointed them out to his employer. That this was somehow an over-reaction, and a vindictive act. That he should not have been forced to deal with the consequences of his behaviour (a behaviour he chose to carry out of his own free will, and which he wasn't, to the best of anyone's knowledge, coerced into by any other person) in an adult fashion.
To be honest, I'm with Ms Ford on this. He brought his problems on himself, and my sympathy is strictly limited.
(PS: Guys, women across the world have already learned this: on the internet, you have precisely as much privacy and anonymity as you can be bothered to carve out. If you can't be arsed to keep your online life strictly segregated from your offline life, then the only damn solution is to ensure your online behaviour is either beyond reproach, or something you would feel positive about defending to your employers, your spouse, your mates, your girlfriend, your mother, your grandmother, your kids, your work colleagues, and anyone else in your offline life who asks about it. Because otherwise, sure as eggs are eggs, your online sins will find you out, eventually).
 Strangely enough, not many women feel it's appropriate to have such details publicly available online. The main reason why not starts with "bl" and rhymes with "folks".
 Ankh-Morpork legal code.
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Employment Scammer: "Alex Brook", Brook Construction Company
Apparently-From: Alex Brook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject Line: [Bulk] Personal Assistant Needed (part time job)
Addressed to me: No
( Scam body under fold )
This is a scam.
Firstly: "Brook Construction Company" doesn't appear to exist - there's quite a few entries in Google for "Brooks Construction Company" in the USA (all in Indiana, according to the map on Google), and one entry for Brook Construction (no "company") in Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador regions).
Secondly: The role of PA is not usually a "work from home" role - or at least, not "work from your own home". "Work from the boss's home", yeah, sure I can see that happening, but it's more likely to be an in-office role. Which means even if this were legit, and even if this were a genuine offer, you'd need to know where the company is based in order to take on the job. (At the very least, you'd need to know the time zone the company is based in - if this were genuinely a US company, as someone in zone GMT+8, I'd need to be working some very unusual hours indeed in order to hold down the job).
Thirdly: If this were a legitimate job offer, it would be on a legitimate job search website. It would not be sent out as a bulk email to random people on a spam mailing list. As always, in situations where economies have contracted and unemployment is high, the power is on the side of the employer - candidates go looking for them, they don't come looking for you unless you have some VERY specialised skill sets, or unless they know you personally and are aware you'd be a good fit.
Legitimate offers of employment generally come from people who have interviewed you - legitimate employers want to make sure you'd be a good fit in their corporate culture, and for a job such as Personal Assistant, there's the need to ensure you're not going to be a poor fit with that particular boss, too.
Fourthly: For a job opportunity, there's remarkably little information about what you're going to be required to do, and how many hours a week you're going to be required to do it. The weekly salary of $350 translates to $8.75 per hour for a standard 40 hour work week (which is, I think, slightly above US minimum wage, but well below the minimum wage here in Australia). So you'd need to know how many hours per week you're expected to work for that $350.
They also don't ask for any skills, and don't ask you to send in a resume. Why, it's almost as though they aren't interested in your skills at all. Which means there must be something else they're after.
Finally: The email addresses don't match up to the offer. The email address this is apparently from is the domain for a psychologist in Germany (and I suspect she's more than a little annoyed about having her email hijacked by spammers). The reply-to address is an AOL throw-away address. If you're dealing with a company large enough for the CEO to need a personal assistant (and let's be honest - the CEO's personal assistant would be a full-time role, not a part-time one) then you'd also expect to be dealing with a company large enough to handle having its own web presence, internal email, and domain.
Don't respond, don't apply, and don't expect to be seeing that $350 per week, either.
(I find with these sorts of things it helps to think of any monetary amounts as the scammer's minimum goal).
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(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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"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:
"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.)
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:
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Potential Scam: Mr Yang, Bank of China
Apparently-From: M.H. (email@example.com)
Subject: [Bulk] RE : Very Important Information
Addressed to Me: yes
( Scam content under fold )
I'm listing this one as a potential scam because of the lack of details in there, and because it's appearing out of the blue. Essentially, this one is chumming the waters, fishing for email addresses where someone is "listening" and hopefully curious about the proposal being hinted at. If you reply, your email address is going to be sold on as a "valid" email address, or even better still, as an email address where this sort of thing is read, believed, and followed up on. (Congratulations! You will have just gained the reputation of being a good target for scammers.)
Me, I'm mostly curious why the Business Relationship Manager for the Bank of China in Hong Kong's investments unit would be contacting a suburban housewife in Australia via bulk email, and why the return address I'm supposed to reply to them at is a gmail throw-away address. But I can live without those particular curiosities being satisfied. I suspect the prospect involved would be one of those intriguing offers to have my bank account hoovered out, to do work laundering money for criminal interests, or have my identity stolen, and I'm not overly interested in any of those options. As always, the best tools for resisting scammers are a sense of perspective (an awareness of your place in the scheme of things - why would they be contacting me about this rather than someone else?) and a sceptical mindset.
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419 Scam - National Lottery Winner
Apparently-From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com)
Subject Line: [Bulk] National Lottery Winner!
Addressed to me: No.
( Scam text under fold )
I've apparently won the UK National Lottery! This is something of a surprise to me, particularly since I've never purchased a ticket in same. Scam flag number one.
A quick google on the UK National Lottery reveals another interesting piece of information - their registered office is "Camelot UK Lotteries Limited, Registered office: Tolpits Lane, Watford, Herts WD18 9RN". Not Liverpool as listed above. Their contact addresses are listed (on their "contact us" page) as:
For general enquiries, write to us at:
The National Lottery
PO Box 251
For questions about lost, stolen or destroyed tickets or a prize payout, write to us at:
The National Lottery
PO Box 287
Scam flag two.
Another quick gander at the National Lottery site Service Guide
reveals the following information:
Can I play from overseas?
No, you must be physically located in the UK or Isle of Man when buying a National Lottery game online or when setting up or amending a Direct Debit (including adding or deleting play slips and changing your payment details).
Scam flag three.
Oh, and I'm being told my email was specially selected for this prize, but the email I received about it wasn't addressed to me in the first place
. Scam flag four.
So, looks like I haven't won the lottery after all. So, off that one goes into the bit bucket.
My advice to everyone getting these sorts of things: remember, the cardinal rule with any sort of lottery is you have to have a ticket to be eligible to win
. If you don't remember buying a ticket, and you don't have a ticket actually in your possession, you almost certainly haven't won a prize.This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/56081.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Potential 419 Scam - Etihad Capital, Paresh Khiara
Apparently-From: MR. Paresh Khiara (Khiara@telenor.dk)
Subject Line: [Bulk] Project Loans - Etihad Capital
Addressed to me: Yes
( Scam body below the fold )
This is a sneaky one. A bit of googling shows the firm, Etihad Capital, actually exists - it's apparently a small investment banking firm based in Abu Dhabi. The person apparently writing to you, Paresh Khiara, actually exists.
Here's where it starts getting dodgy: unless Mr Khiara hasn't updated his LinkedIn profile recently, Paresh Khiara doesn't work for Etihad Capital. LinkedIn has him working at Al Mal Capital.
So while the person and the firm both exist, it doesn't seem likely they're both joined at present. This is not only a major scam flag, but also a major fraud flag as well - looks like there's a touch of identity theft happening here as well.
Other scam flags:
* The mail and the people involved say they're being sent from Abu Dhabi. The email addresses, meanwhile, are apparently in Denmark (telenor.dk), Germany (yahoo.de), and the USA (hotmail.com). The two reply email addresses are both throw-away free-mail addresses. If this is being sent from a company based in the UAE, why isn't it using their corporate domain, etihadcapital.com?
* This is clearly a "fishing" letter - it's asking "do you have any projects you want funded?" of just about anyone (after all, I'm not looking for finance for any projects myself, nor have I been in the past few months, or even the past few years). They're either looking for clients (if it actually was a legitimate business) or suckers (which is much more likely).
* They're also asking "do you fancy yourself as a broker for our business?" - which seems an even more dodgy question to be asking of people picked at random off the internet.
* A minor sign, but a significant one - they're purportedly working for a major investment bank, but they can't afford paragraph breaks? Yeah, right.
As always, the best place for all of these is the bit-bucket. Don't reply, even to tell them to take you off their list. If you think Etihad Capital, or Paresh Khiara might be the right people for you to work with, contact them via their LinkedIn pages or in the case of Etihad Capital, their main website. Don't use any of the details from the email to try and get into contact with them.
Footnote: there's some indicators in the text and the labelling of the apparently-from address that make me think there's a certain amount of "sovereign citizen" nonsense involved, too - the specification of and emphasis on the personal pronoun and the punctuation looks a lot like the sort of nonsense people caught up in the "sovereign citizen" scams in the USA use to try and render themselves less liable for their bills and actions. Here's a hint: it doesn't work in the USA, and it probably won't work in whichever country this scammer is sending from either.
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Scam - Advance Fee Fraud (419) Type
So I've decided to broaden my horizons a bit by dealing with the other popular type of scam landing in my email box - the "advance fee fraud". These are the ones which involve you being promised this huge sum of money (because Reasons), but if you reply to the email, you'll be asked to forward a bit of money yourself (maybe about $1000) to cover "administration costs" or "access fees" or whatever.
These frauds hope to hook you in using your greed, waving the large sum of money you could get tomorrow under your nose, and making you blind to the amount of money you'll wind up paying out today. The simplest way to deal with them is not to reply to them.
So, with that out of the way, let's look at the actual scam. I'll be putting these under a cut, because they tend to be long-winded. I've added in some comments - the original scam is in italics, while my stuff is in plain text.
( Scam below )
As always, the safest thing to do with these sorts of things is delete them on sight.
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