Monday, 25 January 2010

Blackout

I can't exactly black out my site for a week but I can direct you to http://www.internetblackout.com.au/ to reflect on what a repressive government could do...


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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

War And Pieces

Having just posted an article about war and famine, check and balance, civilisation and barbarism, on my Zen CookBook blog, it's occurred to me how this would go down.  Let you read that article and come back to here.  *drums fingers on desk, whistles, fiddles with radio station*

Ah, back I see.  Well, lets imagine for a moment that the world is heading for a catastrophe of some kind.  (What's that?  You don't say...)  So let's use Global Warming as the scenario then.

  • What is causing GW?  Too many people using up resources, leading to changes in the ecosystem and the weather system.
  • What is the timescale for GW?  We don't know. Every year we are revising our estimates to nearer and nearer in time, and estimating worse and worse effects over that shortening timespan.
  • Can we just stop using those resources and let the systems stabilise? No, because we are dependent on them, and if we stop using them, another population will begin using the resources, and we'll be evolutionary statistics.
  • Can't we impose a global moratorium on using resources?  Try telling that to China and India, who are pulling up populations from the depths of abject poverty to some semblance of a living standard, that they're no longer allowed to use resources.  Go on, I dare ya!
  • How about if we all become tree huggers and hippies and scatter throughout the bush, and suppose that we found a completely zero impact way to sustain everyone, what about that?  Nope, because even if we all stopped everything that causes pollution or environmental impact right this instant, the effect would roll along for decades and the world itself will become less and less hospitable and habitable in that time.
In fact, the only way that this system is going to recover is to crash hard.  Extremely hard.  Given that small disasters bring out the best and worst in people already, imagine how much more pronounced an effect a global catastrophe will have. Remember that we have a genetic imperative that we can't avoid - we have been programmed for millennia to reproduce and overwhelm other gene pools with our own.

If I were a superpower, my plans right now would already be laid out in detail and stored in a filing cabinet against the day that I might need to use them...  Cold countries?  Nuclear winter will bury them under a block of ice for at least a few centuries.  Don't waste nukes there.  If you are a cold country, your plans should include mass evacs to the tropics.  Temperate European countries?  Take out as many large population centres as you can, reduce their capacity to resist.  Africa/Middle East/China/India/USA?  (Depending on whose plan you're reading...)  Carpet those suckers in whatever you have, send in as many troops as you can before the big chill sets in.  Indonesia/Australia?  Send in troops and then immigrants, don't waste nukes, you need somewhere that isn't glowing...  

Not the best scenario, but it is time to make plans of your own, just in case. It probably won't happen, but if you've thought about it then you're that much better prepared than someone that hasn't spared it a thought. Also, I hope and feel that commonsense will prevail in most cases, but there are some nuclear powers out there now that are under barely rational leadership, and under the right circumstances that could trigger a brief outburst and as you saw in my other article, a really bad climate change would follow that pretty quickly.


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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Cosmic Currents exCeed C

An oddity - something that scientists say does go faster than the speed of light.


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Tech School VP Is Not Techie At All, Just Stupid.

What part of Tech School didn't this dunderhead understand?  He called the bomb and arson squads on a kid who made a technical device - in a school full of kids being taught with an emphasis on technology - and the vice principal was too stupid to work out what it was, so he calls in SWAT?  Geez, he should be crawling up his own butthole in shame, and not recommending that the kid and his parents undergo counselling...

The best part?  We're well on the way to having halfwits like him in our schools here.  Watch them, people, and keep these sorts of bastards away from our future!  Oh bugger, there's Conroy just got past us...  There goes our freedom and future....


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Friday, 15 January 2010

The Pre Gen Gen

I'm trying to work out what the generation before the Baby Boomers did, to make such a balls-up of things.  I'm no longer waving some loopy concept around and seeing what sticks to it, I'm suddenly up against an awful revelation:  Our parents were weird!

The worst thing is that you hear teenagers say that all the time.  But I'm a Borderline Boomer myself, a bit on the young edge of the Boom but still there.  And I've noticed that almost everyone I speak to of the same generation, has a tale of dysfunctional parents of some kind.  Things I've heard:

"My mother was not good at parenting, she was far too busy having a good time."
"Mum was a lady and she didn't concern herself with the kids."
"Our mother was a self-absorbed alcoholic and dad wasn't home much."
"My father was a doctor, he kept mum drugged and beat us a lot." (TRUE! As I was told it, and will never let slip who this was.)
"My step father tried, he really did..."

My own story is somewhere spread among some of those above, and a few others I won't go into - we have enough similarity here to establish a few base rules.

Firstly, let me say that my father was the pool of sanity, for me at any rate.  He was also a good critical thinker, and often let slip little pearls which are still proving true to this day.  "The World Wars," he said once, "they changed everything, changed it for the worse, and you and I won't see the end of that change in our lifetimes."  I believe that without dad our family would have been much changed, too.

So now let me get to my generation.  Of all the people I meet and interact with, about 1/3 are my gen, about 1/2 are younger, and the rest are unclassified or much older.  That's a rough guide, of course, I'm not in the habit of counting my friends by age.

The group I'm interested in, the Boomers, have one thing in common:  all bear self-inflicted scars of excess.  And almost every single over-reaction to life that they exhibit can be traced to something parental.  "I was never allowed to be a kid, so when I got out of home I partied and drank pretty much all the time.  I did way too many drugs, and always at the back of my mind was the thought 'hey fuck you mum and dad!' and then I discovered that I'd given myself a real problem and now I can't take that back" seems to be a summary of the major plotlines.

Almost every one of my contemporaries exhibits signs of over-indulgence in one or more things.  As though they are overcorrecting for something in their childhoods.  And yet, often I can't find any such shortcoming as would explain that reaction in their youth, just being underparented. It's really strange.  Then I remember the rest of Dad's diatribe against the Wars.

"It turned a social order upside down" he said.  "Men left in their hundreds of thousands, and women were left staffing factories and spending more time outside the home and away from their children.  Those children (you) are missing something in their upbringing."

And "The balance changed.  In a patriarchal society, everything was based on needs and requirements.  You needed food and a roof over your head, you needed to learn how to provide for your family when the time came.  Then we became more matriarchal and those needs and requirements changed.  Now we're a world-wide nanny state, and it's only going to get worse."

In so many ways, he was spot on.  And continues to be, years after he's passed away - still the shots he called are on target.  He also called a few other things right, and in an upcoming article I'll try and remember enough of those to explain them.


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The Art of Transcending Dental Dumbness

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what a fucked system we have.  My father had a landline and dialup access and he had the eternal problem of needing to phone me for tech support but not being able to get on the phone and then get online with the PC...  That was among a lot of other things that drove him mad about being on a pension.  Did I understand that?  Vaguely.

Now it's me in the Pensioner Hot Seat and I've discovered a few things:  I should be entitled to broadband access equivalent to what an average user in the city has, say something like ADSL2 or ADSL2+.  Not a chance out here, it's ADSL vanilla all the way, and also no suitable phone line.  When I contacted Mr Conroy's office (it's one of his portfolio tasks) I was told that I couldn't have satellite because I have a bus and that is not classed as a fixed dwelling, and am renting a cottage which is not mine to ask for broadband for.  Fucked either way.

I said well how about a USB stick modem and mobile broadband access then?  "Oh no, the department is only set to handle giving out satellite broadband systems."  WTF?  I mean, WTF?  I mean OMGWTFBBQsauceandfuckingassholes...  A $130 USB device and a contribution of $20/mth would see me with comparable access, whereas to do the same thing with satellite would cost that (estimated) seven grand plus some horrific installation fee plus about a $100/mth contribution would be needed in that latter case.

I then had a need to call a support organisation for something.  The person I spoke to snapped out a 1800 number at me, I tried ringing it - and ran out of credit on my mobile.  So I tried Skype - and ran out of credit on that too...  Oh yeah - says right here that fees are applicable to mobile phones, and I've since discovered that Skype and other VOIP services are charged premium rates by Telstra to access 1800 and 1300 numbers.  THAT works for a pensioner with only VOIP or mobile!

And I got given an increase in my pension, good on you Mr Rudd!  Pity the price of electricity has gone up by more than that...  I'm back to worse off again.  So - no solar rebate or any way of getting cheaper power, because at our age we need a/c and things to keep our quality of life, no internet, and get charged premium rates for trying to call the organisations that are supposed to be supporting us.

Well done Messrs Conroy and Rudd!  We pensioners salute you.  To you it only looks like we're flipping you the bird because - ... well, because we are.  You've screwed us around so much, you really don't deserve both fingers but we're afraid you'd think we were calling you "number one" if we dropped one.

I phoned a large hospital the other day as they have a Dental Unit and I had been nursing a toothache for several weeks while trying to find a dental facility that does public coverage patients and wasn't closed over Christmas, and with outrageous callout fees to pay.

"No sorry" says the chick that answers the phone, "they only do emergency dental work on weekends"
I point out to her that I have a piece of paper in front of me given to me by the Dept Health and it has their Dental Unit plainly listed as "weekdays 9:00 to 4:30" and "weekends 9:00 to 12:00" so can she please explain herself?  "Oh," she says, "they don't do extractions or emergency during the week, and only emergency on the weekend."  WTF WTF WTFF?

Since then, I'm convinced that "dumb" and "dental" go hand in hand.  I've been phoning several other practices and they all have on hold music and messages saying that they're on holiday and callout fees apply.  Then I get to one that doesn't have that message and I wait. And wait.  I run my fucking phone out of credit again while waiting, in fact.  I find their White Pages entry and there's a contact email for appointments.  Several minutes later I have an email sent.

A week later I drive into town to find a practice that's open and go to this particular one.  Apparently they've actually been open almost all the holiday break but their phones get handled by a head office...  So I book, tell them I'm a pensioner, and could she please give me a ballpark figure for the gap payment so that I can budget my meagre pension?

"uh no because we don't know what rate you'll get rebated at" but I already know I'll get a certain level of rebate and tell her.  "Well we don't quote numbers in advance" she says, so I say what harn can there be in letting me know what I'll have to put aside and do without in order to pay their bill, and she says "we don't give that information out." And that's pretty much that.  I get told I'll need to bring a letter of income from Centerlink, which strikes me as a bit odd.  Then I check out the bundle of paperwork they've given me to take home to fill out.

There's a section I have to sign, which authorises Centerlink to release my status information to the surgery electronically.  I phone the bimbo again.  (Sorry, but she is definitely a bimbo.) I ask why they are asking me to authorise Centerlink to provide my status information and still have to also provide a letter from Centerlink that just duplicates this.  "You have to authorise Centerlink to give us the information contained in the letter.  YOU authorise it by going and getting the letter. It's standard practice.  I don't know why YOU'RE the only one having a problem with this."

I've meanwhile gone to a small practice elsewhere, where they've asked me to fill in that same release form, and then told me quite frankly how much of a gap payment I'd be up for if it was an extraction that was to be done.  No fucking around, no bullshit, no hassles, well done that Practice!

I ring Bimbo back and say "My name's Ted **** and I want to cancel my appointment."  The bimbo asks why and I refer back to our earlier conversation, and furthermore tell her I think she was stupid and has lost a customer.  She tries to explain once again that when I authorise Centerlink to provide the requested information, I then have to go and get that information and deliver it by hand anyway because that's how it's authorised.  "What," I say, "you mean I'm signing that piece of paper in order to allow myself to go into Centerlink and get my status statement and then bring it to here t show to you?  You don't think that's a trifle redundant anywhere along that process?"

She tries to express the ineffable (to her, anyway) for another six or seven minutes, and I finally get tired of it and ask her to just cancel my appointment.  She asks why and "Because I've just been to another practice where they didn't squirm and wriggle and avoid giving me a ballpark figure on what the operation would cost me, and they also got me to sign one of those forms and will contact Centerlink electronically just like it says on that form and get the information they need without me having to jump through hoops and run redundant paper copies around just because some stupid receptionist doesn't know the procedure."

"Uh sir, I..."

"Yes, you're that receptionist and you're stupid!  Please remember to cancel my appointment and have an adequate day." *click*

Five minutes later the phone rings and a woman with a heavy accent says "******* Dental.  We have an email here from you enquiring about an appointment, but it came to us here in head office and we were closed until today.  When can we book your appointment for?"  I tell her that I've already booked an appointment and just cancelled an it, and yes it was the same appointment I'd sent an email seeking but would now no longer be requiring.  She asked me why I'd cancelled and I said "Talk to Stupid at the ****** practice..." and wished her a good day and hung up...

Can things get any more stupid than that lot?  I think we're going to find a load more of these gems as the system goes pear-shaped under the pressure of stupid people making up stupid rules for everything from Internet to dental work...





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