Apology for delays.

Snowed under at work. Note: Perth does NOT actually look like this. Neither does my work. Though I wish it did.

My sincerest apologies for being a little lax with the frequency of posts this week. I have been a little snowed under at work.

Rest assured I will have a post for you this Sunday, so watch this space!

In the mean time, take a look at my older posts, or make a suggestion on something you might like to see a Nephthys-style rant on in the comments below. I look forward to your suggestions and hope you’ll like the next installment!

If you have a suggestion for a subject on which I should write, please feel free to provide me with a link to a story about it, or some kind of background information. It’ll make me more informed on what it is exactly.

Follow-up on Fallout: Lanius.

A little while ago, I posted about a fan film being made here in sleepy Perth. If you’re a fan of the Fallout games, or if you appreciate creative people getting together to do some awesomeness, now is your chance to help them out!

They are asking for your help to keep the set alive! With an IndieGogo endeavour, a Facebook page, and their own blog, these guys are intent on keeping people in the loop about their progress and keeping it real. They’re not looking for all of your cash (though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you felt the compulsion), but every little bit helps.

For the record, I am not affiliated with these guys in any way, other than being a fan of awesomeness. I just think we ought to get behind those teams of people who seek glory on the battlefield of fan films!

Ahem… Yes. Assist them in any way possible. Even $5 helps.

If you can’t assist financially, they still need to know you support what they are trying to do, so head to their blog to keep up with all that’s happening on set, and check out their Facebook page for more updates and to ask them questions about it all. Spread the word!

Online Students: What Do We Want?

I’m finally going to write a little a bit about my studies. It seems that not only do a lot of people still feel that online learning and, by default, external learning, is a bit of a cop out, but they really don’t understand what it is that I am studying and how it can lead to anything in the future. Also, I would like to start documenting my intentions for this magical piece of paper I’ve been working towards, and noticing when or if those aspirations change.

First things first: What is it I am studying?

Head of Internet Studies Dept. Prof. Matthew Allen at the Curtin Uni Open Day. For license and info: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamaleaver/6064211772/

I am currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Internet Communication through Curtin University (and I’m not supplying these details for kudos or cash FYI). As it stands, Curtin University is the only Uni in Australia that has a dedicated Internet Studies department, which I find particularly strange considering the ubiquitous nature the Internet has these days. I started my line of study through Open University Australia, because it offered a delivery system that I could work around the rest of life. Also, I have to admit, the university system, to one who hasn’t wrangled it is daunting and more than a little intimidating. Given that OUA offered a HECS-style payment system, it also worked in with my available cash flow (ergo: nil), meaning I could study towards getting an awesome job (as yet to be decided upon) and then pay it all back, which I am cool with. Other students find that the more flexible study times, due to the delivery system, are the key to their choice. It allows them to work their study in and around parenting and work commitments.

I am learning about interactions online, why people have flocked to it (and continue to), the issues surrounding online practices and privacy concerns, how writing for an online audience is a little different to writing for an offline one, and how society can find balance between the two “worlds”. It may not sound like much, or its relevance may not be immediately apparent to you, but it is these kinds of studies that will allow people such as myself to develop better practices for the future world in which we all become cybermen, symbiotically attached to our tech… wait a minute! 🙂

I still have just over a year to go of my BA at which point, depending on my grades, I will think about Honours. And, just because I’m crazy and have obviously taken leave of my senses, a PhD application may be thrown in for good measure. Because I can… Or might be able to… Hopefully…

What do I hope to achieve with all of this?

I want to keep researching what is making people tick. Ever since I was a young’un, I’ve been interested in why people like what they like, why they do what they do and what can be done to make people happier. Some days, this comes from a kind of altruistic intention to make the world a better place… If only for myself. I want people to stop their whining (myself included) by aiding them in finding what it is they want or need out of life. Also, realistically a virtual world is only going to become more integrated with “reality” (whatever that is these days) and, as such, if I want to have a place in that multi-world, I need to carve a place out now. I’m not super smart, or a massive tech head. I’m not an engineer and I don’t have a really good head for creative coding (plain and simple stuff I could probably deal with, if I could be bothered updating my language skills, which I can’t), so it’s not likely that I will be heading a development team bringing you the latest installment of what Google Glass aims to be in the future.

What I will be able to give you (at least once I’ve finished all this study) is an in-depth analysis of why your ideas (or their ideas, or that platform for interaction, or … whatever!)failed and what you can do next time to get people to flock to them. I will be able to tell the world why they need to assess what it is they aim to gain from electronically-delivered engagement systems (because the phrase “online worlds’ be become obsolete – stay tuned for my book on that in a few years’ time), in order to spend their precious time, effort and cash in the right places. I will be able to authoritatively show people why employing current slow thinking (as in it takes more than a few months to get an idea out there and have it accepted – look at pressure start-up groups and their success if you don’t believe me) for a world that is changing so fast is a dumb idea (this may also involve revolutionising the way we peer-review stuff, but we have to aim high, right?).

So, online learning vs on-campus learning. Is there even a contest?

Firstly, let me dispel the myth of online learning being easy. It is NOT. Plain and simple. You have to be self-motivated. You have to search out your own community groups if you want to really engage with the material and ideas presented. You have to maintain that level of stamina, all without the scheduled-out-for-you, spoon-feeding that on-campus learning can give you and you have to do so all by yourself. If you don’t have that drive, you’ve got no hope. If you can’t find it in yourself to keep going when you have to do a unit with a university that hasn’t fully understood what it means to provide an online unit, then the chances of you completing your studies are very slim. More on this later. If you can’t handle being interrupted by people who don’t see your head in a book or you typing on a computer as “real study” (I’m talking parents, children, partners, friends who drop in, everyone!), and you can’t tell them to please respect your study time, then you’re going to fail. No sugar coating it. You will.

Using online tools are only useful if they actually offer students something that they need or want from their study. Online tools are only as good as the education they offer. If tutors are not engaging with their students or if the unit materials are not accessible, then what good is the delivery system?

Just waiting for the Quickening. For license and info: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurelfan/46008993/

Too many times I have heard from students studying units with various universities. That the tutors don’t answer questions sent to them either by the internal mail system or through discussion boards which serve for many as online tutorials. That some units relying on web-based materials, meaning digital copies of papers or articles, have broken links or resources that just cannot be found at all! Simply copying a paper-bound university unit to a digital format does not making an online learning environment. An online student is, unfortunately, at a disadvantage when it comes to finding resources that are not published in a digital format. If your unit still relies on bound text books that an on-campus student would be able to check out of a library, you are doing your online students a dis-service. If you don’t have reliable checks and balances to make sure that your students are receiving the education they have paid for, then you are failing your students. I’m not talking about providing customer service for students. I think this opinion that universities are no longer the bastions of education and research they once were, is a little misguided and black-and-white. So what if students are expecting some kind of a ROI (Return on Investment) in regards to their education? This doesn’t mean that the primary role of a university can’t still be research and attainment of knowledge. It just means that those who help invest in that gathering expect a little something for their investment. The world isn’t as Highlander (“There can be only one!”) as some people would like to make out.

Soooooo… what do students employing online methods of study want?

Candy? Medals? A shiny pony? Not really. Although, having said that, I’d never look a gift horse in the mouth (sorry, I had to).

We expect a system that values us as students. As GENUINE students. We want tutors and lecturers who actually care that we can get and understand the material they are using to facilitate our knowledge. We aren’t expecting our degrees or diplomas to be handed to us on a silver platter. We expect to have to work for them, but no more than on-campus students. By undertaking externals studies we accept that we need to think and act differently to on-campus students, but we still want to be awarded the same level of engagement that on-campus students expect. Though, in saying that, I have heard a LOT of complaints from on-campus students saying there’s a decline in the amount of teachers giving a crap about classes… That may be a rant for another time.

We expect that when we are told that there is no text book required for the unit (as in my experience often happens) that we will be able to access all of the required readings for that unit online.  It’s no fun to play if we can’t get our hands on books or chapters because they don’t exist online. And, as a tutor, please don’t try to tell us it isn’t your responsibility to make sure your students have the resources. If a complaint is made that students cannot access the resources from anywhere online (the university’s library, Google, Amazon and the network of resource pirates out there), then it’s not that they don’t have the resources, your resource list needs revision. You need to make sure your students can actually find the resources so they can understand your lectures and complete assignments.

Which brings me to another point. When studying contemporary issues, such as politics or even Internet Studies, we expect that the topics being covered are from the past four or five years, and even then, it’s a stretch. Ultimately, we’d like within the past two to three. History is history and contemporary is now. Now, I understand the peer-review process is what universities and researchers live and die by, but it is long in the tooth and takes oh so long. I don’t have the answer. I wish I did, really, but the current peer-review process takes far too long to get actual contemporary resources into the hands of students. Think about it this way. It takes up anywhere in the realm of five years to research a PhD. Then it gets submitted for review… Now, I’m no mathematician, but that sure does add up to a lot of time in my mind. Not to mention that a lot may have changed in the world in that time. Now, if you’re doing a science (excluding computer sciences) or mathematics line of study, it’s fairly certain that you’ll be fine. Not much changes quickly there. 1+1 will always equal 2 … unless it doesn’t, in which case it’s already been proven and you can read up on it. If you’re in the Arts, some fields stay moderately constant while others change incredibly fast. My particular field of study looks to be changing and growing at a pace that the peer-review system can’t stay in step with. This causes problems for those of us looking to only use peer-reviewed articles and publications for our work. I am sure you can understand the frustration built up by trying to find something relevant written in the past two or three years when everything written in that time frame is still under review, or not widely accepted yet.

We ask that universities don’t try to charge us for services we cannot use. Yes, we are glad that should be able to we can use the physical library, or the student services centre or any of the wonderful services your on-campus students have access to. Personally, I am in something of a rare position amongst my external study peers, in that I am able to get to my university’s campus. Most of the other students I know who have been studying through external studies live too far away from their university to make use of the facilities. Some don’t even live in the same state! I think there needs to be more work done into as to what services a university might actually provide their external students that will benefit them, rather than assuming they require the same services as on-campus students.

A silly cap, a smile and a piece of paper. License and info: http://www.flickr.com/photos/willfolsom/5702452656/

We really really really (as in “cannot stress this enough”) need a checks and balances system outside of individual institutions, making sure that the level of education, educators and materials is sufficient to facilitate learning. We aren’t asking for our learning to be spoon-fed to us. We want to have to seek our own understanding, but we need to know that the help will be there if we simply don’t understand a concept or ideology. Universities and providers like OUA do their best with regular surveys asking how we felt the particular unit was delivered. Sadly, these do not seem to make a lick of difference when the same units receive the same complaints, or the same tutors receive the same complaints made against them, study period after study period. It’s not that we want studying to be easy, but we need to know there is some degree of accountability for our educators. I suspect this is a universal issue, rather than an online-specific one.

If you are in education, please understand that the world you may have learned in is changing. This means that older methods of thinking also need to change, in order to keep the pace. If you are a student or are considering undertaking online study, be patient with your institution. They may not understand the “game now. They may never understand it properly but unless you give them the chance and  provide them with appropriate feedback, they will never understand how to provide properly for the brave new world.

Media Pass Student Industry Day – overview.

I had the opportunity this week to attend an event that ordinarily wouldn’t have hit my radar.

It was a day where journalism students could sit in a theater and listen to industry professionals give advice on continuing their blossoming careers and ideas on how to develop a good work ethic in an industry “under attack” (more on this later). Needless to say, as someone who is NOT a journalism student, I felt very much the outsider. An interloper. Despite this, I managed to hold my own and ask a few questions which seemed to make a few peoples ears perk up.
The day was held primarily by The Walkley Foundation and The Media Alliance. If you’re not familiar with these institutes, I strongly suggest you take a look at their websites and do some investigative research. They seem to be in the know when it comes to what’s going on in the journalism world.

There were two presentations I found particularly interesting. Please understand,this is not a criticism to the other presenters. I am not aiming for a career in journalism and so, wouldn’t find career-specifics terribly exhilarating or rewarding. The first was that of Christopher Warren (Media Alliance’s federal secretary) on where he saw the future of journalism to be headed. The second was the keynote speech by journalist for the West Australian, Joe Catanzaro.

The thing that struck me most about Mr Warren’s address was that while he was suggesting that the world of journalism was being disrupted by the Internet, he also suggested that part of the problem was a lack of faith or trust being a continued part of the vicious cycle that was destroying print media. He suggested that Internet media was giving advertisers greater choice for targeted ad placement, leading to declining investment in traditional media (newspaper, radio and the such) thus leading to a decline in print media over all. He said that the factory model of journalism was going to be the death of traditional media whereas the digital model freed journalists from the divides that ordinarily held them in the traditional sector.

He brushed upon the Wikleaks continuing story, naming Julian Assange as a member of the Alliance and crediting the site as an essential tool for future journalism. When probed by someone young upstart from the back of the crowd (any ideas who that might have been?), he said that the attacks on Wikileaks represented an attack on journalism. He may have been lead by the question, “You brushed on Wikileaks for a moment. Do you not think that Wikileaks is simply pushing journalistic source protection and a demand for government transparency into a digital format? Do you see the attacks on Wikileaks as an attack on journalism?” but don’t quote me on that. 😉

He also suggested that the monetisation of blogs was an attempt to find balance in the old school vs digital world and that it, combined with trust and acting under the Code of Ethics, was a way to distinguish journalists from the noise of the internet. I found it a little surprising then, in light of all his previous points, that he did not find hyper-local journalism to be interesting, saying instead that while the future is not certain, the chances were it would fade away.
Onward to Mr Joe Catanzaro’s address, in which he attempted to inspire the students in the room by telling anecdotes from his own career. I have to say, it almost made me question my own career choices and wonder if journalism mightn’t be the thing for me (never fear, dear world. I wouldn’t do that to you).

His advice would seem to apply to many as a great way to live your life:

  • take all the available information from all the people around you.
  • in a world where you can check so much at the click of a mouse button, leg work still counts, as does hard work.
  • keep the passion for the job, even in the dark times.
  • there are 24 useable hours in every day.
  • never say no to a job in the early stages.
  • “right place, right time” still accounts for much of the perceived luck people have.
  • don’t have a sense of entitlement. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean the world owes you anything.
  • instant careers are very rare. Most of the time you have to earn your stripes.
  • be a little bit gutsy, bite off more than you think you can chew.
  • persistence and tenacity will give you more points than plodding along.
  • (if you’re in a media type environment) write something somewhere, anything.
  • be resourceful, think laterally, then be prepared to duck your head.
  • follow the money. If you get stuck on a story, look at flows of money. the story almost always follows the flow of cash.
  • find the right questions to ask. The obvious ones get you no where.
  • learn to steer your way through the grey.
  • be a bit cynical – fact check fact check fact check.
  • talk to people, as in actual face-to-face contact.
  • own up to your mistakes. People will remember you made a mistake, but they’ll also remember that you put your hand up and accepted responsibility for it.
  • observation is everything. People tell you a lot without using words.
  • know when to shut up.
  • read everything.
  • don’t become jaded.

Good advice, I thought.

Why did I attend if I thought it wasn’t going to be any use to me? I shall refer you to the first point in Mr Catanzaro’s list up there: All knowledge is worth having. Remember that.

Book Review: Crown of Ash (Blood Skies- Book 4).

Firstly, let me say that this was not a paid-for-comment type of thing. The author posted on social networking sites, asking for people who might be interested in previewing a book for review, in the hopes of generating some interest or conversation about their upcoming book prior to release. I put my hand up. If I thought the book stank, I would have written that as much as I would have written anything else. So all opinions are actually my own, and do not stem from being paid for my pleasantries… which I wasn’t… because I’m not generally pleasant.

This book is well entrenched in the fantasy genre, but it’s not your average swords and star-crossed lovers coming together under impossible circumstances. The characters are well developed, with no gaps that force you to make up your own back story to flesh them out. The world is far enough separated from our own to make it “other-worldly” but not so far removed that pages are needed to describe the simplest of concepts. The action is believable, with powers and magic having flaws just as any other combat style might.

“Eric Cross and his team have been to hell and back, but their journey isn’t over yet.”

It has a certain ring to it. And indeed they have. If you haven’t read any of the series, I strongly advise you do so. They are an easy enough read. We’re not talking Lord of the Rings trudging to be done here (aaaaaand, cue the hordes of menacing Tolkien fans who want to rip my head off and offer it up as tribute to the Eye of Sauron). The pace is easy to keep up with and, unlike some other writers, I do not find that it goes from dull when developing the story to the world zipping past you in times of action.

Marooned in the remote criminal city of Blacksand, the only way for the mercenaries to get home is to help a local crime boss protect his territories from the Ebon Cities.

To complicate matters, Danica Black is also being hunted by The Revengers, a powerful band of corrupt prison wardens, while Cross himself is trapped in the Whisperlands, a realm of darkness controlled by a cadre of evil mages known as the Shadow Lords.

The team will battle their way through corroding wastelands and deadly vampire outposts, but even their considerable skills might not be enough to save them from the cruel machinations of the Shadow Lord’s mysterious master, a malevolent creature who has manipulated their destinies right from the beginning…

Return to the world of The Black in Book 4 of the BLOOD SKIES saga!”

If you like you fantasy with a touch of reality, try this series. If you like you like a good amount of action served with your dystopian world, go for it. I just really enjoyed them and I think for a light, yet engaging read, you could do a lot worse.
You can buy Steven Montano’s book from Amazon in either Kindle edition or hard-copy.

AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!

What’s that?

It’s the sound of automated feed filling by a site that only allows you to sign in with a pre-existing social media account. And you know what? I’ve had enough!

ImageThere was a ruling in Germany this week slapping Facebook over the back of the hand in regards to their facial recognition data. They have been told to delete it, because it’s deemed to be against EU regulations, even though it’s perfectly fine by Irish standards, where Facebook’s European offices are located.

So what does this all mean?

Well, at the heart of the matter is the fact that Facebook did not allow users to opt-in for this. Instead, it was forced upon them and they had to opt out. Now, if you remember from when you signed up to Facebook (because we all read the Terms of Service, didn’t we?), we gave them the right to use any and all information we publish on their site in any which way they want. That’s right. We don’t own our own information, they do. So when we are forced to use some kind of facial data recognition, and that data is stored, anything published that employs that until we opt-out of it (which, in some cases is darned hard to find), is therefore theirs and they can use it however they want.

Likewise, other SNSs (Social Networking Sites, for the uninitiated) that only allow you sign up using a pre-existing SNS account are responsible for adding to that information. I am looking at Spotify, Pintrest and other useful sites that are fast becoming part of the social media/community manager Must-Have ToolBag (or, at the very least, we need to know about them in order to explain why we wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole). These you can only sign up to with an existing social media account. I understand that Facebook now owns Spotify, but why can’t I use it without attaching my facebook account to it? I have to download it… and THEN you want me to sign up with my facebook account? WHY?! Why isn’t my email address good enough? And then having automatic posts “on my behalf” (read: “whether you like it or not”) until I go and turn it off.

Now, I know I’m banging on a lot about Facebook and the evils of it when I use it for so much. I know I am just as responsible for the perpetuation of these unethical allowances as any other user. However, I am aware that whatever I put out there is no longer mine, but if it’s so bad and I hate it so much, why don’t I just opt out of Facebook altogether? Well, there’s a simple answer to that. “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I was going to disable my account and shut it all down. Cancelling Facebook alone would have had far-reaching ramifications to my “displacement activities” when assignments were due. In fact, I probably would get more done. Thing is, I accept that it still, for a little time at least, is the number one SNS of the world, which means I need to keep up with what is going on in, on and around it. Also, until my friends understand what I have been saying now for over a year that Facebook will not keep its “top dog” position in the SNS world for too many more years (I’m guessing about seven to ten more years tops), I will miss out on much of the invites to parties, knowledge of life and whatnot. It’s a sad but true fact.

 

So, what do I suggest you do? Stop. Think. And if you really need to sign up to these things, please, for the love of all that is lovely and dear to the people of the world, opt out of those updates STRAIGHT AWAY! Don’t let Automatic Update Syndrome be the thing that turns your friends to opting out of your updates altogether.

The S-word… and what it means to me.

Sexism.

There. I’ve said it. It’s a nasty word, as are most “-ism”s, but it seems to be one of the current ones doing the rounds in the media spotlight for this month. Twitter, in between Assange and other asylum cases, is rife with stories of sexism against women and how women are made to feel inferior due to their appearance or other characteristics generally thought to be “female”…

A lot of these describe how making the choice to not dress in a provocative manner, or a socially accepted “womanly” way has led to gender based bias from colleages and superiors. I feel their pain. Really I do. By making the choice to not wear short skirts or wearing makeup and/or shiny hair, how is your work any less valuable than another’s? By choosing to look a certain way, do you automatically rate lower than someone who is towing the stereotypical line?

But this is not my gripe to give, per se. Mine is at the other end of the situation. What is you are one of the girls who actually likes to wear make up, have shiny hair and wear short skirts? Does that mean I am automatically buying in to the theory, undermining the last decades of feminist’s hard work?

Why can’t I wear my heels and short skirts and tight blouses, with makeup on and my hair looking lovely, without fear of being sexualised by my co-workers or hearing mutters behind me of other women in the workplace who think I’m sleeping with my superiors to get the good jobs?

I work hard. I do damned good work. Why do I choose to dress that way? Because it makes me feel good and when I feel good, I work better. When I work better, the company wins, When the company wins, I get paid! That should be as far as it goes. I am not performing sexual acts for the boss if I wear a tighter dress than you might feel comfortable in. I am, however, sleeping with the boss if I come out of the closed office with my lipstick awry and my hair a mess as I pull down my dress and remove a soiled condom from my stocking.

All I am saying is that women who suffer sexism on a daily basis should also give those of us who actually, genuinely feel better in our skirts and blouses a little lee-way. Don’t automatically assume we haven’t thought our decision through. Though, I will admit some of us clearly haven’t… and that’s why they don’t seem to get the promotions. Am I right? But that’s because they can’t do the work!

Gah! I am sick of the mentality that simply because I choose to look a way that is the opposite to how you see a feminist looking, that automatically means I must support misogynistic, sexist behaviour. I don’t. It’s uncalled for and yes, I have been the target of it. You know what? I have been the target of it when wearing my skirts AND when wearing my loose pants and a jumper, so arseholes are arseholes no matter what you’re wearing!

Money and value: the greatest concensual mass hallucination?

This article came across my tweet feed today, about the HSBC being under investigation for possible money laundering and other monetary woes. Needless to say, I was not shocked that this had been happening. What’s that you say? “Not shocked???!!!” Well, no. Not really.Okay, maybe a little bit. Outraged, most certainly, but not shocked. Disappointed, oh you bet, but not shocked.

Now, I am not about to go into the legal ins and outs, or the moral implications of taking money from known terrorist groups, suffice to say I think it stinks that one corporation will accept profit from sources that are murky at best (because yes, banks actually profit from the money that is being held in trust. They don’t just do it out of the goodness of their hearts – there’s something in it for them).

What I am about to go on about is the fact that this is a large bank, with ties all over the world. Most of us have either had ties with HSBC, or have ties with a company that does. What happens if this bank gets more than a little slap across the wrist? Well, apparently this sort of a thing is nothing new for the bank, who has ties to the cartels of Mexico, and has done for quite some time.

So, the ramifications of HSBC being prosecuted?

Not much really. Well, that is if you consider that this could go one of two ways. Either, those responsible get jailed and “shockwaves” go through the banking “community”, in which case, new people get employed in their positions and they either run the bank ethically and we all live in sunshine and happiness, or they go back and run the bank in exactly the same ways albeit a little more sneakily, in which case the same old cycle starts again. OR the whole bank gets fined a ludicrous amount of money. This, as an option, can one of two ways. Either the amount they are fined is equal to or less than the annual profit of the bank. If this is the case, then they pay the money, shareholders get angry, some jumping ship but ultimately they see the profit the company can make as what they’ll get on their ROI in the next financial year and so stay. On the other hand, the fines will amount to more than the annual projected profit. The shareholders will try to jump ship, but won’t be able to because the assets of the company will be frozen as it goes into administration, and one of the worlds banking giants falls.

And if all the cards come crashing down…?

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. Or even the second. But it would be felt harder and further than any previous financial crisis. Why do I think this? American banks, from which the 2007-2012 crisis originated, had ties overseas. These were not so heavily intertwined with average Australians. HSBC is one of the largest lending banks across the world, with “…around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North and Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. With assets of US$2,556 billion as at 31 December 2011…” Now do we see where this is heading?

I am not proposing that we step away from prosecuting these banks, or making them accountable for their interactions. What I propose is something entirely more radical and, potentially more anarchical (at least in the early days). How about we enact a shift in perceived value? It’s an odd concept, and some watching this video may not understand how it can work in the financial world. I am going to let you in on a little secret that few people have actually ever spoken: Money has no real value. Think about it. It’s little pieces of printed paper or alloyed metal stamped with images. In itself, there is no value, until we perceive it has value. The perceived value of money is, perhaps, one of the greatest ‘consensual mass hallucinations‘ we have in this world today.

And, with that, I will let you think about how you perceive the value of the things in your life.

Privilege – Is it still a Thing?

General Broadcast Warning: This post contains some material unsuitable for people who are not aware of the following: A) I am bisexual; B) I am opinionated; and c) I have a child. Right. Carry on.

Image

No auto-fill was harmed in the making of this screen-capture from today.

I was given this link about Google and what is being termed the ‘Bisexual Problem’ today. I must say, as I was reading it, I was struck by a couple of things.

Firstly, I find it very odd that in a world aiming for an end to discrimination of all groups of people, the black and white lines seem to have been made even more apparent.

It is a fairly constant peeve amongst those of the bisexual orientation that you’re not liked by anyone. So many people misconstrue what it means to be bisexual. The usual misconceptions that I have personally encountered are, as follows:

  1. “You’re not really bi. You just don’t know what you want.”
    Ummmm, no, I’m fairly certain I DO know what I want. I want a nice life, a happy family and someone to love and be loved by. I am just more flexible than most as to where I look for all of that.
  2. 2) “You’re just greedy.”
    Well, this may be true. You put a tub of ice cream in front of me, it’s going to disappear. However, when it comes to who is included in my life, I am very discerning. Even more so when it comes to who I let into my heart. So, no, I don’t think I am greedy.
  3. “You’re just a lesbian in denial.”
    No. Just. No. I am in denial about many things. I deny that I have uni assignments due over the horizon all the time. In the case of my sexuality, I am very certain that I have it right.
  4. “It’s okay. You’re just experimenting.”
    Again, no. I am past my wild, impetuous teens and early twenties. I have experimented and found a formula that works.
  5. “If you’re with a boy one month and a girl the next, your kid is going to grow up with one hell of a complex.”
    Before you ask, yes, I have been told this. I have no doubt they were well-meaning intentions that precipitated this, but I couldn’t help but shake my head. If I stayed with one partner for all eternity and was unhappy, surely that would set a poor example for my kid. If I was changing up my boyfriend (or girlfriend, for that matter) every month, not only would I be concerned about my mental health, but I’d be concerned for my kids. However, I am not one for changing my partner at a whim. I also like to think I keep my kid away from the details of my romantic life until it is at such a point that I feel comfortable in inviting that new person into our home. It’s called discretion and respect for my kid.

So where am I heading with all of this? The stigma held against bisexual people is NOT lowering. It is remaining constant, if not increasing. It is there from straight people and from gay, transgender and transsexual people. It is everywhere. Think about it. An actor comes out as gay, no biggie. An actor comes out as bi, and suddenly everyone has “been with” them and it’s more of a storm than if a straight person simply said, “I kissed a girl and I liked it…”

Secondly, the article struck me as strange for using the term “monosexual privilege” (while citing Shiri Eisner). I was left asking myself is “Privilege even a THING???”

See, to me, we are too busy attempting to come up with rational, NICE (read: vaguely academic) terms for all kinds of bigotry and nastiness. Privilege is just one of those all-encompassing prefixes to otherwise not-so-nice occurrence of life, namely people openly displaying their conscious or sub-conscious prejudices. Male privilege, speaking from a stand point of a male in society unaware of female issues. White middle-class female privilege, speaking from a stand point of a white female with no understanding or awareness of lower-class issues. The list goes on, and you can use for every stand point. If you say anything that might be offensive to one or more groups of people, you are speaking from a stand-point of privilege. It is simply another term for speaking from the situated self.

I guess, with all of this, I am attempting to get people to think about what it is they’re saying before it leaves their mouth. I am asking Google to show the way in actual tolerance and acceptance, by reviewing their embargo on auto-fill of “bisexual” as they said they would. It isn’t a “bug”, it’s prejudice plain and simple. You’re speaking, through your inaction, from a place of “multi-faceted, technological giant corporate” privilege… Oh goodness! Now I’m talking like one of “them”!

Queensland Government Moves to Change Surrogacy Laws.

It has been in the news for a little while, precipitating some fairly heated arguments across many a facebook and twitter account. If you haven’t heard, now that they’ve scrapped the Civil Union for same-sex couples and downgraded it to Registering a Relationship, the Queensland Government has amended the Surrogacy laws to disallow same-sex couples, those in a de facto relationship of less than two years, or a single person access to “…altruistic surrogacy…” options.

There are those in support of the move, stating it, like the removal of adoption rights for same sex couples, is for the benefit of the children that they are not brought up in unstable conditions (Shelton, 2009 & Lawson, 2008). A few sources of this side of the argument provide little more than anecdotal references to “studies”, with no real referencing to back them up. In any other kind of argument this would be laughed at passed over, yet it is allowed to continue!

De facto couples are also banned from accessing surrogacy as an option if they have been together for less than two years. There are some fears that other rights extended to de facto couples may also be next to be amended, such as inheritance rights.

Are you a single person? You’re also out of luck, with this amendment also barring you from access to non-financial surrogacy. As financial surrogacy is illegal by both old and new forms of the law, there’s no alternate route either.

If you are involved in surrogacy for one of the banned groups of people, you could face up to three years in jail.

There are some in the legal field who suggest that these changes may breach federal discrimination laws. I wonder if there is a QC who would offer pro bono services to fight this claim should it arise?

ImageThose who have acted as surrogates in the past have written to their local members of parliament (see the image to the left), saying they oppose the changes. Keeping in mind that these women do not receive payment for their services, there is no financial reward to be gained from more people having access to surrogacy. They truly believe that everyone should have the ability to bring up a child and, if they cannot do so themselves, everyone should be able to have access to assistance.

So why am I writing about this? Why does it bother me? I’m not living in Queensland, or one of the banned groups of people. I’m not currently considering being a surrogate, though I have been approached on this matter.

I am writing about this to bring attention to the incredible injustice of it all. These laws, in my opinion and the opinions of many others, fly in the face of all that those working for anti-discrimination laws have achieved. I implore each and every one of you to send a letter, email, postcard, etc to your local member (if you’re in Queensland), or to any member of Parliament or the Senate in either your own state or the federal level.