dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
Fiction
Isaac Asimov. Eight Stories from The Rest of the Robots.
-- The Naked Sun
.
Bandi. The Accusation: Forbidden Stories From Inside North Korea.
William S. Burroughs. The Cat Inside.
Alexander Dumas. The Black Tulip. I can't believe I read an entire book on my phone.
Buchi Emecheta. The Joys of Motherhood.
Franz Kafka. The Castle.
Han Kang. The Vegetarian.
Natsume Sōseki 夏目 漱石 Kokoro (translated by Ineko Kondo). I had trouble grasping this classic Japanese novel. This review was helpful.
Frederik Pohl. Man Plus.
Cat Sparks. Lotus Blue.
Daniel H. Wilson. Robopocalypse.
Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams (eds). Robot Uprisings.

Running fiction tally: white guys: 5 everyone else: 6

Non-Fiction
Alison Bechdel. Are You My Mother?
Nigel M. de S. Cameron. Will robots take your job?
Eugénie Crawford. A Bunyip Close Behind Me and Ladies Didn't.
Suzanne Crowder Han. Notes on Things Korean.
John DeFrancis. The Chinese language: fact and fantasy.
Lauren Marks. A stitch of time: the year a brain injury changed my language and life.
Sy Montgomery. The Soul of an Octopus.
Illah Reza Nourbakhsh. Robot Futures.
Candace Savage. Bird brains: the intelligence of crows, ravens, magpies, and jays.
Patrick Smith. Cockpit Confidential. A friendly flying companion which explained, amongst other things, all the weird noises. :)
Ruth Snowden. Understanding Jung. You gotta start somewhere.

Notable short stories: Daniel H. Wilson, "Small Things"; Octavia Cade, "The Stone Weta"

Books bought and borrowed )
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Everyone should have their forms for Australia's vote on Marriage Equality by Monday 25 September. If yours doesn't arrive, then you can ring the ABS on 1800 572 113 or by visiting their Website to get a replacement. (If anyone has pinched yours, then your replacement vote will cancel theirs.)

If you post a photo of your survey form online, make sure its unique barcode is not visible!

Do same-sex couples really have the same rights as married couples? (SBS, 14 September 2017). SPOILER: No, they don't, in some very important ways.

If most people who mail back their vote, vote "yes", then the government says it will vote on marriage equality; if "no", it won't. Frankly, I hope that LGBQTI+ voters and their friends vote these spineless bastards out at the next Federal election. (Labour says it will make marriage equal within 100 days of its being elected).

Speaking of spinelessness, the "debate" over the poll is having exactly the effect the government knew very well that it would: severe stress on LGBTQI+ Australians, especially on young people, who were already at risk. Expert in youth mental health Patrick McGorry responded to Senator Matt Canavan's victim-blaming by suggesting that LGBTQI+ young people have more of a spine than he does. (The rage I feel about this renders me inarticulate, it really does. I keep typing things and having to delete them.) The Australian Medical Association, citing the harm caused by inequality to LGBTQI+ people's health, is campaigning for the YES vote.

The Women's Electoral Lobby page on the survey has a list of helplines, which I'm sure they won't mind if I reproduce here:
Switchboard (Qlife) 1800 184 527
queerspace, drummond street services 03 9663 6733
Victorian AIDS Council (03) 9865 6700
Mind Equality Centre 1300 054 284
headspace (03) 9027 0100
Rainbow Network (03) 9479 8870
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
Black Rainbow (08) 9228 0354
Lifeline 13 11 14
Black Dog Institute (02) 9382 2991
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

(There are also a few links in my last posting.)

Finally, just because I found it interesting, here's a report on the complexities of the debate in Asian Australian communities (chiefly Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino.)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
First group of refugees on Manus and Nauru to be resettled in US (GA, 20 September 2017). One of the detainees, Abdul Aziz Adam (of The Messenger podcast), has posted on Facebook that some of the detainees have already been told they will be moved within a week. (I haven't posted much about the refugee swap with the US because of my scepticism. Never been happier to be wrong!)

Victoria steps in to help 100 asylum seekers cut off by Coalition (GA, 9 September 2017) More states could help asylum seekers denied welfare by Coalition (GA, 11 September 2017). Only NSW ruled it out.

Manus Island: judge approves $70m compensation for detainees (GA, 6 September 2017). "Lawyers hope to have sum paid before offshore detention centre closes next month in what is Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement." Most of the refugees have signed up for the compensation, though some may have done so in the belief that they have no other options, and some have lodged objections and want a trial instead.

Nauru President indicates $8,000 visa fee for journalists will be waived next year (ABC, September 2017)

Australia's refugee capital 'shows what the country can do' (GA, 23 June 2017). "Fairfield in Sydney’s west has resettled roughly half of all humanitarian migrants to arrive in the past 10 years. ‘We’ll always open our arms,’ its mayor says."

dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
... where you can find comfort. I'd entertained the gloomy thought that bullying would be literally universal. Self-awareness, I figured, accompanies sophisticated social behaviour; you need to know what other people know, what they're thinking, and you need to be able to compare that with what you know. Sentience depends on theory of mind depends on social behaviour, which leads to social aggression - policing the boundaries of your group.

At least that's what I thought, but as it turns out, octopuses are not just famously intelligent, but (with exceptions) they're not at all social. They need theory of mind for a different reason: they're carnivores, and they're prey, interacting with many different species. They don't need to know what each other is thinking (although I'll bet they could make a good guess): they need to know what's on the mind of a predator or a potential meal.

This is not to say that octopuses have the same amount or kind of consciousness or intelligence as humans; but the fact that there's at least one other pathway to sentience gives me hope.
dreamer_easy: (*writing hard yakka)
Back to working on the novel. Looking good until chapters four and five, which are a messy patchwork of bits from different drafts which don't fit together - people do things for reasons that no longer exist, that sort of thing. What a mess. I've already rewritten a chunk of exposition; I'm going to have to do the same with the actual action, writing out an outline, making it make sense and then rewriting from scratch. Gee it would have been nice if I'd done that IN THE FIRST PLACE. Oy
dreamer_easy: (*writing)
4300 words. Putting it in the drawer to marinate. Next: back to Strange Flesh!
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
Why do transgender children raise the hackles of 'tolerant' Australians? (Good Weekend, 9-10 September 2017). Benjamin Law does a great job of addressing concerns about children and adolescents transitioning, such as the possibility of misdiagnosis, and whether treatments are reversible. (An Explainer from The Conversation outlines treatments.)

Almost half of trans young people try to end their lives. How can we reduce this alarming statistic? (The Conversation, 1 September 2017) "Almost 90% have been rejected by their peers, 74% have been bullied, 79% have experienced issues with school, university or TAFE, 69% have experienced discrimination, and 66% have felt a lack of family support. Issues with accommodation or homelessness have affected 22% of the study respondents. These experiences reflect societal attitudes towards trans people and demonstrate that they continue to be marginalised. Such attitudes can be changed through raising awareness of gender diversity to create a more accepting society." I suspect that prying the ACL loose from its barnacle grip on the government might also help.

Marriage Discrimination is Harmful to LGBTI Australians' Health
(headspace.org.au, n.d.)

Gender Help for Parents Australia

The Gender Centre

Transcend

As Up Over, so Down Under? The politics of transgender bathroom access in Australia (SBS 16 January 2017). "The Australian right takes its cues from the American right (witness Cory Bernardi’s enthusiasm for Trump), and right now, the American right is gunning hard for transgender people." | Where does Australia stand on transgender people serving in the ADF? (ABC, ). "... the cost of assisting transgender personnel over a 4.5 year period is roughly equal to 0.2 per cent of the [Australian Defence Force's] yearly health spend. The US military spends at most 0.13 per cent of its yearly spend on treating serving trans members."

Can transgender TV characters help bridge an ideological divide? (The Conversation, 9 August 2017) A study suggests that entertainment might be more effective than news coverage when it comes to changing peoples' attitudes towards trans people. This is good news plus a call to action for fiction writers like me.
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
As Allison Gallagher argues in the Guardian, the "No" campaign against marriage equality has long made trans and non-binary children and adolescents into "scapegoats". They can't win an argument about consenting adults, so instead they're attacking the Safe Schools anti-bullying initiative and the acceptance of LGBTI+ youngsters. As well as campaigning for the "Yes" side, we need to support those vulnerable, valuable kids. With that in mind, some links (some are from past posts but are still relevant).

Australia:

Trans young people at alarmingly high risk of suicide and depression, report reveals (ABC, 1 September 2017)
Support services for at-risk queer Aussie youth (Star Observer, 25 November 2016)
Safe Schools program ditched in NSW, to be replaced by wider anti-bullying plan (ABC, 16 April 2017). It had better include material specifically aadd sex and gender; bullying, and homophobia and transphobia, are closely linked.
Sexual fluidity: Living a label-free life (ABC, 4 October 2016)
Australia's secret history of sexual fluidity (ABC, 3 October 2016)
The reality of Safe Schools (GA, 14 December 2016)
Crossroads program: should we teach children that gender identity is fluid? Here's what the research says (The Conversation, 16 September 2016)
Gender fluid: Girl, boy, non-binary (Lateline 23 March, 2016)
Majority of LGBTI Australians experience bullying, harassment: Human Rights Commission report (AM, 10 June 2015)
Transgender people face the highest level of harassment of LGBT+ Australians (SMH, 31 March 2015)
Beyondblue research reveals alarming levels of homophobia in teenagers (SMH, 31 March 2015)
What does bathroom anxiety feel like? (ABC, 4 April 2017)
Organisation Intersex International Australia | Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) Support Group Australia

And from the US:

Trans Students Have Caused Zero Incidents in Bathrooms Nationwide (3 June 2015)
Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children (Human Rights Campaign / American Academy of Pediatrics / American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians guide, 29 September 2016)

dreamer_easy: (refugees)
So many bookmarks...

The Refugee Council of Australia has advice on How you can help people who’ve been to Nauru or Manus (#letthemstay), who have been abruptly denied the welfare they are entitled to. You can also donate to Sydney's House of Welcome.

Government to relax secrecy rules for detention centre workers in 'humiliating backdown' (ABC, 14 August 2017) Whistleblowers will no longer risk two years' jail if they talk out loud about abuse and neglect.

Federal Government broke promises over refugee resettlement deal with US, UNHCR says (ABC, 24 July 2017) | UN says immigration officials helped screen Manus and Nauru refugees for family reunions (SMH, 26 June 2017). "The agency said it only agreed to help administer the deal between Canberra and Washington to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island in the United States on this understanding so that families were not separated."

ACT offers to resettle refugees held in 'inhumane' offshore detention centres
(GA, 24 August 2017)

Three pregnant refugees and nearly 50 others denied medical transfers from Nauru (GA, 21 August 2017) | Pregnant refugees refused abortions on Nauru must be brought to Australia, says AMA (GA, 23 August 2017)

Australia's offshore detention centres 'terrible', says architect of system
(GA, 16 August 2017) "Paris Aristotle says ‘what has been put in place is not what was recommended’ and there is not a ‘skerrick of evidence’ it deters asylum seekers from boarding boats."

And the boats keep coming: Five people smuggled to Australia by boat, Australian Federal Police alleges (ABC, 27 August 2017) | Boat carrying alleged people smugglers and Chinese men landed on Queensland island (GA, 30 August 2017). It's not clear if the people on board, who have been returned to China, were seeking asylum (the guvmint says they weren't, which leaves us none the wiser).

Peter Dutton loses appeal over detention phones (SMH, 17 August 2017) "The federal government has lost an appeal over a court ruling that determined guards don't have the right to confiscate the mobile phones of people being held in immigration detention." | High court upholds Australia's right to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea (GA, 17 August 2017)

Unwelcome visitors: Challenges faced by people visiting immigration detention (Refugee Council of Australia report, 2 August 2017)

We're quick to label refugees as either 'good' or 'bad', but they're all entitled to protection (GA, 28 June 2017) "Despite what he told the court, he knew full well that hitting his wife was a serious crime (as it is in Syria)... The family wouldn’t have come without him, so do you deny them all asylum? How, exactly, would that have protected Raghda?"

A little heartening news: Samim Bigzad: UK Government's attempt to deport Afghan asylum seeker fails after pilot refuses to take off (The Independent, 29 August 2017). Activists had a quiet word with passengers, who had a quiet word with the cabin crew, who had a quiet word with the pilot. Thank you all. Unfortunately, Australian activists did not have the same success in the case of a sick Iraqi man deported last month.

Many of those seeking asylum in Australia are Rohingyas from Myanmar. After recent massacres, many more will try to engage Australia's human rights responsibilities. Elsewhere: Sri Lanka leads the world for torture, again (Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, 19 August 2017)

Australia has 'golden opportunity' to help shape world refugee debate, says report (GA, 31 August 2017) "... if there are large environmental issues, if there’s a war in Papua New Guinea, if Isis takes root in in the Philippines, there could suddenly be large numbers of people trying to come to Australia, and it should be in your interest to make sure that the international refugee regime responds more effectively."

Australia resettles Cuban refugees found clinging to lighthouse off Florida Keys (GA, 22 August 2017) Welcome!

'Benefits on both sides': Armidale revealed as new home for Iraqi and Syrian refugees
(SBS, 11 August 2017)

The latest ABF bungle: Border Force illegally sent two Australian citizens to Christmas Island (GA, 5 July 2017). It'd be funny if they weren't playing with people's lives.

From the invaluable Snopes: Are Refugee Tuberculosis Rates in San Diego 'More Than 100 Times Greater' Than the National Average? SPOILER: no. Meanwhile, President Trump's "Muslim ban" has left refugees, including about 100 unaccompanied children, stranded. (The President's general hostility to migration is already damaging the US economy.)

When Hospitality Was the Norm and Multiculturalism Was a Good Thing (Yes!, 20 June 2017)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Recent events have meant a lot of news coming out of Manus Island. More on that later, but I wanted to catch up on my Nauru bookmarks first. Under Nauruan law, peaceful protests are illegal, but refugees continue to protest despite beatings and jail time.

Nauru security guard charged, sacked after alleged attack on refugee
(ABC, 5 August 2017)

Women of Nauru: seeing my sons in a school uniform is my only dream (GA, 17 February 2017)

Nauru blocks Australia's immigration department releasing data requested under FOI  (SMH, 15 February 2018) "Fairfax Media used freedom of information laws to request incident logs for the Manus Island and Nauru facilities between August 2015 and April 2016. However, after eight months, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection advised the records for Nauru had been blocked to protect 'international relations'."

Nauru refugee says medical treatment withheld after he had heart attack (GA, 21 December 2016) | Refugee on Nauru claims medical treatment for severe heart problems delayed without reason (ABC, 21 December 2016). More life-threatening bureaucratic bungling. I wish I could find more recent news on this refugee.

‘Cutting it fine’: Questions raised over future of Nauru detention contracts (SBS, 12 April 2017) Another thing I'd like to find more news on - the current contracts run out at the end of October.


dreamer_easy: (refugees)
Federal government to launch crackdown on asylum seekers (SMH, 27 August 2017) "Under the new visa conditions, income support of about $200 a fortnight will cease on Monday and a three-week deadline to move out of government-supported accommodation will be imposed... It is understood about 400 asylum seekers and their children are living in Australia at present after medical transfers from offshore processing and all of these people could be hit with the new visa conditions."

Coalition to cut income support for 100 asylum seekers in Australia (GA, 27 August 2017)

Family faces uncertain future after government's visa crackdown on asylum seekers (Brisbane Times, 28 August 2017) "

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre needs donations to support asylum seekers cut off by the government, and asks us to call Senators and MPs to ask them to oppose the policy.

Stuck

Aug. 28th, 2017 06:01 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing hard yakka)
I absolutely cannot work at the moment. My brain, which is used to non-stop writing, is completely confused - something like the feeling when the power goes out and you keep being surprised that things don't turn on when you flip their switch. This is the product, I assume, of coming off Zoloft and going onto Allegron. Never again will I doubt the existence of writer's block.
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)


This may be the best collection of short stories I've ever read. In fact, I've been trying to review the book for ages. After reading Krys Lee's novel How I Became a North Korean last year, I returned to Drifting House and was surprised to discover I'd already read it, apparently cover to cover, probably in Rockville Library during one of our visits to the US. I bought myself a copy during this year's trip, only to have it vanish in the post. Now I've borrowed it from the library again (and it's overdue).

Each story came back to me as I read them, but the stories that had stuck in my mind were "The Salaryman" and the title story, "Drifting House". Most of the tales in the book consider some aspect of Korean society: immigration to the US, the trauma of the Korean War still felt generations later, the continuing US presence in South Korea. "The Salaryman", written in second person, forces you to accompany an office worker on his way down after the 1997 financial crisis in Asia, finishing with a punch that took my breath away. Lee often writes from the point of view of a child; "Drifting House" follows three siblings as they try to survive the journey across the border from North Korea into China.

The writing is precise and confident, detailed and absorbing. Korean words are peppered through the text, as well as literally translated phrases ("Have you eaten rice?"), but never in a way that would puzzle the reader. For me, the only off note in the anthology was in "A Temporary Marriage" - I just find it hard to believe a woman would eroticise her abuse.

These spoiler-free reviews are a bit frustrating because I can't get into the meat of a book. These reviews will tell you more:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/mar/09/drifting-house-krys-lee-review

http://www.theshortreview.com/reviews/KrysLeeDriftingHouse.htm
dreamer_easy: (*writing hard yakka)
Reading other people's flaccid SF is always encouraging. Hell, I can do better than that. Or I'll be able to once the Allegron starts working.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
"The polls also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states.

"Well... maybe so. This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it-- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

(According to Wikipedia, Nixon carried 49 states and did indeed get the majority of votes from 18-20 year olds.)


dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Despite all the evils they wished to crush me with / I remain as steady as the three legged cauldron.
— Monique Wittig, Les Guérillères

(My gods, if it were only so!)
dreamer_easy: (refugees)
GetUp! petition to #bringthemhere.

This point scoring and deal making with refugee's lives is absurd (The Age, 8 August 2017). Journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani writes from the camp: "Peter Dutton has reiterated that the Manus detention centre will close by October 31. This does not reflect any concern for the 800 or so refugees still housed here. Instead, it means a kind of ruthlessness has been formed in the government and the minister is utterly determined to shut down the facility despite us having nowhere safe to go."

UNHCR warns of escalating crisis on Manus Island (UNHCR media release, 10 August 2017)

Driven to death on Manus Island (The Saturday Paper, 12 August 2017)

'Trash left in limbo': Fears for refugees on Manus after detention centre closes (SMH, 13 August 2017) "'We are harassed on the road and robbed on the road... Police say they can't do anything. They say "we don't want you to come to our community".'"

Border force doctor knew of Manus asylum seeker's deteriorating health before death (GA, 9 August 2017) | These Emails Show The Government Was Repeatedly Warned Before Hamed Shamshiripour’s Death (Junkee, 12 August 2017) | Angry Labor MPs confront shadow minister in secret meeting over 'silence' on refugee death (SMH, 11 August 2017) |
Manus Island asylum seeker death: family want inquest in Australia (GA, 9 August 2017)

As others see us:

Australia’s Desperate Refugee Obstinacy (New York Times, 8 August 2017)

Trump said the Australians were 'worse than I am' on immigration. A tragedy may prove his point. (Washington Post, 9 August 2017)

'They don't care': Refugees shocked by leaked Trump-Turnbull call (CNN, 7 August 2017)

You Probably Missed the Big Story Buried in the Latest Trump Leaks (Time, 10 August 2017). "While the last Administration strongly pressed the Australian government to change its policy toward asylum seekers, we also sought to immediately relieve the suffering of these refugees and agreed to resettle up to 1,200 after they went through the U.S. government’s rigorous refugee screening processes."


dreamer_easy: (Default)


This movie wasn't at all what I was expecting. After watching too many South Korean movies about war, police, gangsters, and/or serial killers, I anticipated a bleak film laden with violence and gore. Well, there was enough of that to get the point across (a scene involving skeletons will be hard to forget)  but this wasn't another story of hard-bitten professionals; rather, the heroes are a hapless and frequently ridiculous family (a scene of their hysterical grief tips over into comedy). They are desperate to save a little girl from the monster.

This is a very political movie. The very first scene, in which the Korean assistant of a scientist from the US obediently pours a ton of mutagenic chemicals into the Han River, is repeated in different ways through the movie, as Korean authorities meekly go along with brute force American tactics. Their Kafkaesque refusal to listen forces the family to go it alone with whatever meagre resources they can muster. The director, Bong Joon-ho, played down the anti-American angle in an online interview, but the movie's climax repeats that first scene of careless poisoning.

The monster is incredible. It's fast and agile. Its integration into the live footage is seamless. Its design is simultaneously like and unlike real-life animals - you don't have to browse through too many pictures of marine worms online to see some truly unpleasant and overcomplicated mouths. The scenes in which the heroic little girl tries to outsmart it are frequently heart-stopping.

This is one of those movies where, with setback after setback, you cannot fathom how the protagonists can possibly prevail. And yet, somehow, in the face of an actual monster and metaphorical monsters of bureaucratic indifference and political expediency, they muddle through on sheer determination and love.

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