Friday, June 10, 2011

English, Statistics, Woomera, and Teleportation

1.  Read article that says Australia is going to put higher English standards on skilled migrants wanting to come to Australia.  If you're proficient with English, there's a better chance Australia will let you join the club.  That makes sense to me.  I think it's great to have a country filled with people of different skin colors, religions, cultures, etc.  I'm not sure sure it's great to have a country where people can't all speak the same language.  I'm all for people learning multiple languages.  But I do think it's good to have a common language.

In a way, I think it's unfair that the common language is English. Since the British were newcomers, it probably would have better  for them to have adopted an Aboriginal language.  Then again, there were so many Aboriginal languages. It might have been a confusing pain to pick one for everyone to share.

I'm all for having stricter English standards, but I hope it doesn't become a racial thing. The article says, The make-up of the skilled migration program was being strongly influenced by employers, who tended to pick Anglo-background workers for temporary skilled visas.  And at this point, only 1/5 skilled migrants are from countries with strong English backgrounds (United States, UK, Canada, South Africa, and Canada).  Employers are wanting more English-speaking people, and the government is going to grant their wish.  But is it about just language?  Or is about ethnicity?

It's really hard to know.  I guess a good test would be whether an employer would rather have someone like Tim.  He's Asian, but speaks perfect English.  Or would they prefer  a white man from Italy who speaks very little English?

2. Decided I probably have a prejudice towards English.  When we talk of visiting other countries, I get nervous about going to places where English isn't dominant.  I think it's because I'm a picky eater.   I want to know what's in my food.  I want them to understand me when I say, Does this have Mayonnaise?   

I feel more comfortable with people who can understand me.  I like a variety of accents, though.  Those are fun.

3. Watched newest video on the Follow the Yellow Brick Road Facebook Page.   It's of them traveling from Yeppoon to Mackay. They stopped on a secluded beach for lunch.

There's a child in the video. I wonder if he's with the crew, or if he's one of the people who won the auction. Or maybe he just lives around there.  

4. Learned the correct way to pronounce Mackay—thanks to the Follow The Yellow Brick Road video.  

5. Looked at the auction status for Follow the Yellow Brick Road.  If I'm reading it right, there's still some openings.  

The auction for this Wednesday is still open.  It's from Cairns to Cooktown.  That would probably be exciting.  Right now the bid is at $200.  

Then there's no bids yet for June 22-June 25.   It's Gove to Darwin, chopped up into four days and four auctions.  I know where Darwin is, but not Gove.   Is this area not popular? Is it a bad time for people?  Maybe it's hard to get up there to catch the boat? 

There's other stuff open that I imagine would be popular, like Kangaroo Island to Robe.   It could just be that these itineraries don't fit with anyone's schedule yet.   

6. Read that there's been more drama at the Villawood Detention Centre.  One of the refugees was diagnosed with Leprosy.  Now the centre is on quarantine.  Yikes.  

7. Learned that there's a speculative fiction and pop culture convention in Melbourne this weekend.   It's called Continuum 7.   It deals with things that interest me—Harry Potter, vampires, writing, imagination, role-playing, etc.    I'm not going to go though since I'm too far away.  

8. Read article that says there has been a riot on Christmas Island.  Chris Bowen, the Immigration Minister believes it might have been sparked by people having their Visa requests rejected.  Bowen says that participating in a riot won't get the detainees what they want.  It won't make Australia want to accept them as potentially new Australians.  That makes sense.  So I guess these rejections that the detainees are protesting aren't permanent.  If they're definite rejections, it wouldn't hurt your cause to protest because you really have nothing else to lose.  If there's still genuine hope of becoming Australian and you protest, that's a bit foolish probably.  

9. Wondered if I've heard of Ross Wilson before.  He was on ABC radio.  The name sounds slightly familiar.  But I'm not sure if I've listened to his music before. 

10. Watched video of Ross Wilson singing Come Back Again.   It sounds like country music. 

11. Learned from Lord Wiki that Ross Wilson wrote his first wife's famous song.  "Bop Girl".   That's probably why I've heard about him!  

Bop Girl is the video that features a pre-famous Nicole Kidman. 

12. Read disturbing article about rape in Australian universities.  They did a survey of 1500 students and found that 17% had been raped.  That's scary.  It's about one out of every six women. 

Lord Wiki says that in America, one out of six women experiences either rape or attempted rape. 

13. Looked at rape statistics on Nationmaster.  That statistics are a bit old; they're from 1998-2000.   But I'll look at them anyway.  I do wonder if there's been any changes though.

South Africa had the highest rate of rape.

Australia came in third.  The United States came in ninth. 

There's very little rape in Saudi Arabia.  That surprises me. Although could it be that women report rape less there?  

Yeah.  At the bottom of the chart it says, Total recorded rape crime statistics are often better indicators of law enforcement and willingness to report crime than actual prevalence.

So it might not be that Americans are less likely to be raped than Australians.  It could be that Americans are less likely to report the rape.

In a way, these types of statistics are meaningless. 

It's like the autism thing.  Is there really a sudden epidemic?   Or is it just the fact that autism is getting so much attention; and people are more readily seeking and making a diagnosis?

14. Started watching a clip from a documentary about the Woomera detention centre. I'd really like to know more about what these places are like.  I'm sure it would be near impossible to get a clear picture.  One side of the political spectrum is going to say it's not so bad.  The other side is going to say it's pure hell.  

There's a man sitting in razor wire saying that if he doesn't get to talk to the Department of Immigration, he's going to kill himself.   Yeah.  Okay. Is that really going to get him the type of attention he desires?  I can understand his methods if he's given up and is desperately hopeless.    That happens to people sometimes.  I think he's a fool if he thinks this is the best way to win the heart of the Australian government.  

What is happening in these detention camps to make people attempt suicide?  Is it absolutely horrible there?  Is it worse than what was happening to these people in their original countries?   I'm just trying to figure out if these people are ones that are being horribly mistreated, and they don't know any other way to deal with their problems. Or are they people who fight for what they want by threatening suicide.

It's just like teens and young adults.  Some will have horrible lives full of bullying, neglect, sadness, unfairness, etc.  They become hopeless and decide to end it.  But there's other people who make suicide attempts to get attention.  She broke up with me?!  Well, I'll give her a lesson she won't forget.  

15. Figured out that this documentary clip is from Four Corners.  I didn't realize that when I first started watching. 

16. Saw one man happily getting his Visa, and learned that many of the Afghan detainees are on hunger strike. 

Why are they on hunger strike? 

How much harm on Woomera is caused by the people running the show, and how much harm is caused by self-harm?  

17. Found out why the Afghan detainees were on hunger strike.  The report is from 2002, and America had just recently started fighting with the Taliban.  In response, Australia stopped processing Visas from Afghan people.  So the Afghan's protested.  I understand their desperation and frustration, but does the hunger strike really work?   Does Australia want citizens who act out in scary desperate ways when things don't go their way? 

18. Decided maybe I have a cold heart today, but I think it's easier for me to feel sympathy for those who are harmed by others than those who cause harm to themselves. 

I just started the video though.  Maybe I haven't seen the abuse or horrors yet that occur in Woomera.  I'm seeing horrors now, but it's caused by the asylum seekers themselves. 

19. Learned from an ex-Woomera worker that there's a lack of toilets.  That can be awful.   I have sympathy there.  I hate having to share toilets with a lot of people.  I hate being on the airplane and there's so many people and so few toilets.  It usually works out okay, and there's not much of a line.  But I have my horror scenarios in my head.  What if you're on a long flight, and two people get a major case of vomiting or diarrhea.  What if they're stuck in there for long periods of time, and they get their germs all over the place?  Ugh. I hate thinking of that. 

I wonder what the toilet per person situation is in Woomera. If it's worse than airplanes, that's sad. 

20. Learned that Woomera is in the desert, far away from the nearest town.   In summer, it can get up to 50 degrees.  Is this a common temperature, or is it something that happens every so often?   And the more important question—do they have air conditioning in Woomera?   If they don't, that really IS hell. 

21. Learned from Lord Wiki that Woomera is in a town called Woomera in South Australia. It's closed now.  So maybe really bad things DID happen there. 

Lord Wiki says the average high temperature is not 50 degrees.   The hottest month is January with an average temperature of 34.4 degrees.  But maybe the desert area with the detention centre is hotter? 

22. Learned about one of the problems of Woomera.  It was set up for 400 people, but soon there was triple that.  So, we have an issue of overcrowding.  

Shit.  There was only 5 toilets for all those people.  That's very bad.

And they had only two washing machines. 

23. Went to check on the neighborhood cat outside because Jack worried it was dead.   The cat was very much alive, thankfully.  While I was petting him I thought about airplanes and how sometimes they'll keep people trapped on the tarmac for long periods of time.  I've heard those people can get desperate and act out angrily.  And they're there for less than a day.  It makes sense than that people in a very overcrowded detention centre might lose their mind a bit. 

24. Found article about people stuck on tarmac for six hours.  They had one toilet for 47 people.   That's awful.

If Woomera had five toilets and 1500 people, that would be one toilet per 300 people.

That's insane. 

I feel bad for the people stuck in the detention centre, and the people stuck in the airplane.

It's horrible to feel trapped. 

25. Found transcript for the full Four Corners report on Woomera.  

I'm kind of skimming through.

One of the most disturbing things here is the fact that Woomera was a for-profit venture.  People were making money off of the center.  So here you have the government talking about the money-making evil industry of people smuggling, and they support detention centers that make money off of treating people like crap.

26. Looked up ACM because they're the ones making money off of the detention centres.  Lord Wiki says it stands for Australasian Correctional Management.  

The good news is they're no longer in business. 

27. Read more of the transcript.  One of the allegations against ACM is they didn't provide for enough staff. There's not enough staff and there's not enough toilets. 

This line in the transcript is very upsetting.   In early- to mid-2000 as detainee numbers peaked and frustrations grew, Woomera became ACM's most profitable detention centre.  

If that's true, it's very disgusting.

There's talk here of the toilet situation.  There were leaks and stuff.  So not only were there only five toilets, but sometimes they didn't even work well. 

Also, women weren't getting what they needed for their menstrual needs. 


28. Decided that after reading what I've been reading, I can't blame the refugees for going crazy and wanting to attempt suicide. 

29. Read in transcript about how the media and other officials would come to see Woomera.  ACM would make sure things were in top form for the visits. 

This is so disgusting.   One man named Allan Crifton says, There was activities that were being reported as having been carried out for detainees - being taken out of the centre or whatever - when you knew those things hadn't happened. But we were pressured into reporting that these things had actually occurred.   ACM was paid for these so-called activities. 

30. Wondered if the still-opened detention centres are any better than Woomera. 

If things aren't better, then really I can't blame the asylum seekers for acting out with violent riots.     Then again, by acting out they're getting very negative attention from the public.  Many of us pay attention to what the asylum seekers are doing wrong and not what was done wrong to the asylum seekers.  Honestly, when I first started reading into this today, I put the blame on the asylum seekers.  So you're not living in paradise.  What did you expect, a four star hotel? 

Is there a way though that the asylum seekers can get the care they need without having to resort to lip-sewing, hunger strikes, and suicide attempts?

31. Thought about how there's probably some people (hopefully a minority) who feel it doesn't matter how badly the asylum seekers are treated.   They're not white and they shouldn't have come to Australia in the first place.   They might see the abusive conditions of the detention centres as being deserved.

Then there's probably many people like me who are simply confused.  Is it really bad?   Or are the asylum seekers just a bunch of whingers?  Now I feel I know the answer, but it's taken a long time.   And I still don't know if the conditions of the asylum centres have been improved or not. 

32. Found out my Australian of the day is George Faunce Allman. The Australian Dictionary of Biography says he was an organist, choirmaster, and music teacher.

One of my online friends is an organist.  

George was born in Yass, New South Wales in 1883. 

Oh!  George is related to the Allman guy I wrote about yesterday....Francis.  George is Francis' great-grandson. 

As a child George loved music and did well with it.  He tried pursuing a business career, but hated it.  He decided that instead he'd follow the risky career of a musician. 

In the beginning of the 20th century, George was the organist for St. James church in Sydney.    I'm guessing it's this church here.  

George and his violinist wife Dora did choral work with kids.   And George did choir work with students at the University of Sydney.  It seems the choir thing was very important to him.

33. Went to Tallygarunga.  It's nice to go to a fictional world after reading about the horrors in the real world. 

There's a couple of things that look interesting to me here. It's hard to choose which storyline I want to read.
Since I read something long yesterday, I think I'm going to do something short today. 

34. Changed my mind.   I'm going to read another story happening between Arti and Reade.   They were the ones getting angry at Jack, in the scene I read yesterday.  I want to read more about them so I can figure out if this is a romantic type relationship, or a platonic thing.  

This scene is called Satisfy Your Soul.  I can't remember if I started reading it before, or not. 

The story was started on June 6, and is 14 posts long.   

It takes place in the Melbourne CBD. Cool.  I wonder if they'll mention any real places. 

35. Started reading the story.  Arti did a sneaky thing. She told her parents she was taking a train back to Tallygarunga.  Instead she went to Melbourne. 

Arti's father is rich.  That's the good thing about him.  The bad thing is he's physically abusive. Arti has recent bruises from him being rough with her. I don't remember if the abusive father was mentioned in Artemisia's biography or not. 

There is Melbourne stuff mentioned— Federation Square and Flinders Street. 

36. Read the next post which is through Reade's eyes.   He's sneaking out to Melbourne too; and he's usually not the type to do dishonest things. It seems he's more excited than nervous though.

Okay, this scene comes after the bullying scene with Jack.  Reade mentions the kiss from Arti. 

Towards the end of Reade's part, he starts to have some doubts about the situation.  He's gone from bold to shy and apprehensive.   I can relate to that.  Sometimes an idea seems like a fantastic one, and then suddenly it seems too scary. 

37. Liked the magic in this story.  It's kind of thrilling because it was done right in the middle of Federation Square.   Well, it wasn't in the centre, exactly.   They found a hidden corner, and Arti teleported Reade's cumbersome backpack to Arti's hotel room.  Now THAT'S an example of magic being useful.   I wish I could do that.  It would be great, in a big city, if you were carrying something and then no longer wanted to carry it.  For example, sometimes it starts out cold and you're wearing a heavy jacket.  Then later it warms up and you're stuck carrying the jacket.   It would be great if you could teleport it back to your hotel or home. 

I hate walking around NYC in the winter because it's so cold outside.   Then you get into a shop and the heat's on too high.  It's super hot and you have to carry around all your winter clothes.   It would be so nice if you could teleport your coat away, and then get it back again when you want to go outside.

38. Learned that Reade's family is very affectionate.  That's a lot like my family.  There's a lot of hugging.

39. Learned that although Reade can't talk, he can whistle using his fingers.  I guess whistling doesn't use as much of your vocal cords?  Or maybe it doesn't use any vocal cords?

40. Tried to whistle.  Yeah.  I don't think it uses vocal cords. I don't feel it in my throat.

41. Read a little bit of this forum. They say whistling doesn't use the vocal cords.  

That's really cool.  It's not something I've thought about before. 

Anyway, the reason Reade might whistle is if he loses Arti.  If they lose each other, they'll whistle for each other.  To bad, they're not like the witches in Charmed.  Then they could just scry for each other.  Although that might look weird in the middle of Federation Square.

42. Figured out that one of the the main plots here is Arti wanting Reade to dance, but Reade is too shy to dance in front of people.

43. Kept reading and found that Arti got her dance.

Now they're going to go eat.  They're going to have the best burgers in Melbourne. I wonder where that may be.    

Yep. I'm trying to get restaurant advice from a fictional story.   

44. Decided there is definitely more than friendship here.  I knew Reade probably had feelings for Arti, but I wasn't sure if it was mutual.  I thought Arti might just like the comfort of the friendship and the thrill of the flirting. 

45. Confused by Reade's annoyance at the waiter.  He asks Reade what he wants. Then Reade rolls his eyes and signs to Arti, Of Course he asks me.  Now he's not rolling his eyes at the waiter.  It says he did it discreetly.   Still, the waiter might have seen. 

The waiter doesn't know what to do and asks Arti if Reade knows what he wants. 

Yes, it's a little condescending maybe. And maybe it's frustrating for Reade.  But I sort of think he should have his paper and pen ready.  Why doesn't he just write his order down and have it ready when the waiter asks him what he wants? 

I'm also annoyed at Reade because he makes comments about vegetarian burgers being for delicate lady stomachs.  I don't know.  It's kind of sexist, and maybe somewhat anti-vegetarian.    Although I do have my own sexist food stereotypes.    I once wrote a post about it on Livejournal.  Spicy food is more manly, and so is raw onions.  Delicate little ladies don't eat hot peppers and onions.  Men like meat...tons of meat.

It's all pretty silly.  I think I have less of these stereotypes now.   A few years ago we knew a vegetarian couple.  I didn't want to feel this way, but I think I saw the husband as being somewhat unmanly.   Now I see vegetarian men as different.    I see them as manly, but in a more earthy and compassionate way.  And I see them as being more health conscious. 

Greg is a major athletic type person.   He eats meat on occasion—like when we're at the lake house.   But most of the time he eats lots and lots of raw vegetables.  He also gets a lot of advice and some products from a vegan website.  I don't see him as being more manly when he's eating meat.

46. Thought of Manly since I keep writing the world manly. 

47.   Felt bad for the waiter.   I think Arti and Reade are being unfair to him.   The waiter had asked Arti if he knows what he wants.  Arti says, Well yes he does know what he would like.  Just because he cannot speak it does not mean he is not perfectly capable of making his own decisions.  

Maybe the waiter knew Reade could make his own decisions, and just wanted to know if he had already made that decision.   Sometimes people take awhile to figure out what they'd like. 

I blame Reade here.  If he knew what he wanted, he should have written it down and shown the waiter.  Instead he talked to Arti in sign language which is kind of like talking to someone behind their back.  I would feel awkward if I asked someone a question and they responded to someone else using sign language.  I wouldn't be sure what to do. 

48. Felt Reade could be easier on people if he told them right away about his situation.   I feel he kind of takes his anger out on people when they really don't understand what's going on. Yes, people assume he can talk when they don't know him.  And when he starts with the sign language, people are going to assume he's deaf.  Being mute without deafness is rare; so I think their expectations are reasonable.

I think he should immediately hold up a piece of paper with a smiley face.  Hi. I cannot speak, but I can hear you.  Talk to me and I will respond with my pen.  I bet most people would be understanding and eager to communicate. 

I think he did do that in another story thread, but it was maybe after the other person was all flustered and confused.  

49. Decided to read the biography of Doreen Longworth, even though I haven't read a story with her yet.  She's a new character—a child at St. Andrew's Primary School.   I'm interested in the young kids, because when I first found Tallygarunga and thought of joining, I had considered creating a child character.  I was going to have Alex have a child.   But then I figured if I wanted a six-year-old in 2011, Alex would have to get pregnant when she's 23.  I don't know if I picture her being pregnant when she's that young.

Then again...maybe I can.  I'd have to decide who's the father is though.  There're two boys in Alex's life now, a Muggle who has no knowledge of the wizarding world, and a pureblood wizard.   I'm sure there will be more boys as time goes on. Maybe girls too.   I can picture Alex being bisexual.

50. Started to read Doreen's biography.  She's six, and she's from Sydney. She's a half-blood. 

She wears a necklace with a jade kitty, and a Pandora bracelet. That seems like a lot of jewelry for a young girl.  Or is it not?   I don't have a daughter so I'm ignorant to such things. I don't remember if my nieces wore a lot of jewelry when they were six.

Doreen is sometimes smart and sometimes stupid. That reminds me of myself.

Doreen loves shopping, surfing, and making sculptures. She doesn't like mozzies and flies. She has a phobia of needles. 

51. Read Doreen's history.  Her father is a wizard and her mother is a dance instructor.  Mr. Longworth kept his magic a secret and when his wife found out, she left him.   Was she more angry at the lies, or more angry about the magical stuff?

Oh...the answer's right here.  It sounds like Mrs. Longworth was a lot like Vernon Dursley.   She didn't like things that he saw as being abnormal.  OR maybe Mr. Longworth just imagined that was the case.   Later in the history, it says that Mrs. Longworth was more angry at the secretiveness of the situation.  She didn't like the lack of trust. The couple divorced when Mrs. Longworth was pregnant.  They had shared custody.  Doreen went with one parent one week and the other parent the next week. 

She learned about magic when she was five. She then went back and forth from the magical world and the Muggle world.  She preferred the magical one.  

52. Tried to figure out how much Tallygarunga reading I want to do when in NY.   I don't want to stop reading completely, because then I'll get too far behind and I'll be out of touch.   But I think I'll take a break from biographies, and I'll only read stories I've already started. I'll read continuations, but not new things. 

I think I'm also going to skip my Australian of the day stuff too. 

I want to write a little bit while in NY, but I don't want to spend too much holiday time on the internet. 

I'm sure I'll also get horribly behind in email which is bad because I'm already way behind. 

53. Thought more about cows. Sorry. 

Tim's making pizza this weekend, and we're going to try doing my pizza with less cheese.  I'm going the reduction route rather than the abstinence least for now.  Anyway, I thought about how it's really sad and disgusting that we force mother cows to get pregnant and steal their babies away.    Yet, hardly anyone seems to be bothered by this.

Then when a human mother in New York WILLINGLY gives up the milk from her mammary glands so her husband can make cheese, people are absolutely disgusted and feel it's incredibly wrong.  What is wrong with eating milk that was made for humans.  Why is it better to steal milk from another species? 

54. Learned that the breast milk cheese is not completely vegan.  It does have milk from other animals in it.  It's part breast milk and part cow (or whatever) milk.  

The blogging breast cheese chef says it was an incorrect rumor that he was serving and selling this cheese at his restaurant.  I guess he just had it at his home? Or maybe he posted it on his blog and people assumed he had it at his restaurant.  I don't know.  Once again, I don't know who to believe.

Anyway, I think it's cool and brave that he did this experiment.  I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to try it.  Maybe?  

55. Saw cockatiels and parakeets at the pet store.  

56. Found website about a NYC art exhibit where people could sample cheeses made from three women.  It's pretty cool.  The cheeses taste varies depending on the woman's diet.  

I absolutely love the descriptions.   Here's one example.  Made from the milk of a kind young mother of Chinese descent hailing from midtown Manhattan, and a cow born and raised in the Catskills.  Between working in private equity and eating lots of sweets, this mother has retained hints of her pregnant plumpness, producing a sweet, creamy milk, a delightful balance to the grassy cow milk it intermingles with.   

I don't know if I'd be brave enough to eat it.   It's not that I'd worry about disease.  Well, I'd worry a little but no more than I'd worry about anything else I put in my mouth.  There's all those people in Germany who got sick from very bad E Coli.   It didn't come from breast milk.   For me, it would be more the yuck factor.  I don't want to see it as yuck, but I think there's a part of me that would have an aversion to it.  

57. Had a tie-dying experiment.   We'll see how it works out.   One of my favorite Zazzle fairy bread shirts had a stain, and I couldn't get it out.  And it was one of those big ugly obvious stains.   I decided since I had nothing to lose, I would experiment.   So I took some frozen berries, melted them, and plastered them all over the shirt.  Jack had a great time helping.   Now we're letting it soak a bit, and then we're going to wash it.  We'll see if it works.

I got the idea of doing it from two places.   First was one of the All of a Kind Family books that I read when I was young.   I forgot what happened, exactly.  One girl borrowed another girl's dress, I think.  She got a stain on it—I think coffee.   They fixed the problem by dying the whole dress with the coffee.

The other thing that inspired me is this store in Hawaii where Tim bought shirts.  They dye their clothes with various foods. 

58. Washed my shirt too soon, maybe.  Most of the stains came out.   Maybe I need to let it soak much longer?   I don't know.   I've used up too much water already washing the shirt.   I think I'll wear it the way it is, and then if I don't like it, I can add more berry stains later.