31 December, 2015

The benefits of over-sharing

I have a confession that may surprise some people – even those who know me well:
I’m not a very good reader.

It’s not a literacy problem; I’ve just always been rather poor at reading books. Of course, I’m constantly reading ’blogs and columns, and magazine articles before that, but I’ve always needed a certain peace of mind to sit down and devour a complete book. Don’t ask me why. And due to my programming, it’s a peace of mind that comes all too rarely. As a result, my reading habits have traditionally been somewhat bulimic – I would binge for a month or so, and then read no books for sometimes years at a stretch.

In a crowded field, it’s something I’ve liked least about myself. I’ve always admired people who constantly have a book on the go and wanted to be like them – and I expect many of my friends assume I am – but I wasn’t.

That changed this year. It started when I took several books on holiday with me. It’s not unusual that I do this when I go away. What’s unusual is that this time I read almost all of them. I expected to slack off once I got home, but then I wanted to finish Mike Scott’s Adventures of a Waterboy before I saw The Waterboys in March. Realising I was in a binge-reading phase, I was determined to keep it going. Much to my surprise, I did.

I have read 32 books for the year. Now I must admit, a lot of them were short takes of less than a hundred pages, but by either titles or page count, that’s more than I’ve read in the previous ten years – in terms of books, anyway.

It’s not as if the peace of mind usually needed to sit down with a book was around this year. Indeed, it was conspicuous by its absence. For reasons not relevant to this topic, it has been a hellishly stressful year. This was also the year I did seek medical intervention for the aforementioned programming, but I was well into my binge by the time that started.

If I can credit one thing for giving me the reading habits I’ve always wanted, it’s Goodreads.

I first joined Goodreads years ago in order to keep up with my dearest’s reading.  She uses it mostly for keeping track of her own reading rather than to interact with others or brag, but let me tell you, she has plenty to brag about in terms of reading numbers. I gradually started adding books that I’d read. And then when I discovered the bar-code reading feature of the mobile app, I started adding all the books I had yet to read, and it made me somewhat ashamed. I started tracking my reading on Goodreads and added a few people I know from Twitter and Facebook, and now I get the feeling that friends will notice if I start slacking off – even though they probably pay no attention to my updates.

Oh dear! Social media again. Such narcissism!

Yes, I plead guilty to social media narcissism, but let’s also admit that we’re all narcissists in one way or another. If it weren’t for narcissism, we wouldn’t comb our hair or change our clothes either, so while I’m not suggesting that narcissism is any kind of virtue, it can be channelled for good.

I went to a little gallery ten years ago called the Museum of Particularly Bad Art, or something along those lines, and the proprietor said that its existence was testament to the fact that if you give voice to your dreams, then someone is going to make you follow them.

No-one in particular is making me follow my dream of being a better reader, but now I feel bad if I haven’t updated my reading progress a couple of times a week – and have something decent to show in those updates.

I haven’t connected my account to any other accounts – I’m not spamming my Facebook friends every time I finish a chapter, so by modern standards it’s not oversharing, but there are worse ways to overshare. So if there’s something you’re determined to do, try telling people about it. They don’t have to follow you, and maybe not many people will, but just the thought that someone may be watching can help you to finish what you started.

If you’re that way inclined, you can add me on Goodreads here.

26 December, 2015

Thinking of linking

This week I have been mostly reading...


'Even God can’t help you here': Nauru refugees describe a life devoid of hope

Former PM Tony Abbott hints he will be staying in politics

Roy Morgan illegally locked out of premises at 401 Collins St by Impact Investment Group 

The stoner sloth campaign is genius – if it's intended for people who already hate marijuana

Eddie McGuire’s late-night text messages

Pyne urged radio host to stop Xenophon

NBN to pay Telstra to fix telco's copper network

The tricky politics of Sunday penalty rates for Malcolm Turnbull

How do a third of the top Australian companies pay no tax?

State finally tries to fix myki's fare mess

Former ACTU boss Martin Ferguson backs cuts to 'excessive' penalties - Isn't it funny how those who think people should work on the Sabbath without any additional incentive are the same people who say we can't have marriage equality because Judeo-Christian heritage?

AGL 'misled' customers on discounts, SA court told it will pay $785k compensation

Western Australia faces $39 billion in debt 

The year of deep obsessions and the deep state

The 2015 Crikeys: Arsehat, Person of the Year and Sexiest Pollies are …

Jimmy Carter Announces Grandson's Death at Sunday Sermon

Trump flaunts mutual fandom with Putin - Riddle me this, patriots: What if Obama had been heartily endorsed by Putin?

I’m Ashamed Republicans Represent My Country

Can you tell the difference between Donald Trump and a tub of butter?

Reagan's Daughter: My Dad Would Be 'So Appalled' By GOP Presidential Candidates 

Donald Trump is conning us all: The man believes in nothing but his own will to power

15 Fundamental Differences Between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards says he'll remove work requirements for food stamps

9 Maps That Show How Completely Bizarre Your Christmas Eve Weather Will Be

TSA Moves to Make Ineffective Body Scanners Mandatory

Why Obama Must Reach Out to Angry Whites - I'm really not sure about this. Sounds a bit like saying feminists need to reach out to scared, butthurt men.

Donald Trump leads an insane white cult — and Pat Buchanan just explained how it works

Schwarzenegger: I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.

Top Military Lawyer: Army Bowed to Republican Political Pressure in Court-Martialing Bowe Bergdahl

Muslims Shield Christians In Bus Attack - Why don't you ever hear about....

Elon Musk: A Carbon Tax Is the Only Way to End World's Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Baristas Lay Down The Hard Truths Every Coffee Drinker Needs To Hear

People Aren't Smart Enough for Democracy to Work, Scientists Say - It's an iffy site and I don't like anything that states "scientists say," but an interesting theory

Mornings With Eileen 

Legendary Punk Club CBGB to Become a Restaurant at Newark Airport - Vandalism!

Interview: Lynn Goldsmith, AKA Will Powers

You’ll Be Outraged at How Easy It Was to Get You to Click on This Headline

BBC 'shelves' Panorama exposé of Comic Relief

Fatphobia and Jessica Jones

Disney is making a fortune and safeguarding its future by buying childhood, piece by piece

Ordinary Computers Will Be Safe From Hacking By A Quantum Computer - Um... yeah, sure!

Australian government tells citizens to turn off two-factor authentication - What could possibly go wrong?

The birth of the web

What would happen if you fell into a black hole?

Why String Theory Is Not A Scientific Theory

Clive James, in the face of death

Artists and authors pick the PM's summer reading list

Muslims love Jesus, too: 6 things you didn’t know about Jesus in Islam

The controversy of red velvet cake

Humour and satire:
8 Alarming Things In Facebook’s User Policy You Had No Idea You Agreed To

I got stupid on me and now I'm wiping it off on you:
In defence of George Pell - Vanstone in concern-troll mode. I'm Catholic and Pell has a lot of questions to answer.

Anti-Islam Senate candidate claims she is being discriminated against by bosses - This is Australia. We don't discriminate against people because of their beli... oh, hang on...

The least boring photo on my camera roll:

21 December, 2015

The Finance Awakens

In half a week, over half a billion dollars have been spent on tickets to the new Star Wars movie. Fair enough too!

In future, please use this figure as your metric for the money we should be spending on the hungry, homeless and veterans, rather than what we spend on science, space research or refugees.

20 December, 2015

Thinking of linking

This week I have been mostly reading...


Strip searches on Nauru

Battle against terrorism: Team Australia approach denies society has changed

Tony Abbott slammed for political timing of East West Link road cash

'Stitch up': Tony Abbott writes letter to the editor complaining about new book

Between two stools

Liberal divisions after ASIO chief Duncan Lewis 'intervenes' on MPs' Islam comments

Julie Bishop screening: government questioned airport before staff were suspended

Do you pay more tax than Australia's biggest companies?

Tony Abbott: bringing a whole new meaning to 'contribution to public life'

Tony Abbott should go, say most voters in his electorate: poll - I'm calling bullshit on this one.

Political history: Abbott's Turnbulling is an echo from years past

A year in Australian politics: after a steady drumbeat of fear, 2015 ends on hopeful note

The dangers of driving with ScoMo

Real friends wouldn’t facilitate behaviour in a loved one that is so destructive to his legacy.

Cantrell: Monuments ordinance comes from "small, select group"

White House: Obama will give a 'nontraditional' State of the Union - Probably not non-traditional enough. As my brother-in-law says, a subscription to The Washington Post would fulfil constitutional obligations.

When the #GunFetishClowns Don't Research Their Talking Points 

Donald Trump Really Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You This, But… - tl;dr, he's a real jackass

Is Donald Trump a Democratic secret agent?

Graham calls out GOP for ‘unhealthy’ dislike of Obama

Malala Shuts Down Donald Trump In The Most Elegant Way Possible 

Maybe Hillary Clinton is the unelectable candidate

Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli Arrested on Charges of Securities Fraud - Instant Karma's gonna get you.

Lawyer for Martin Shkreli Hikes Fees Five Thousand Per Cent - Ha!

The Martin Shkreli schadenfreude will pass when he wins like every other CEO 

We are all Muslim

The antidote to Trump, and Trumpism, is a party beholden to diverse constituencies

41 Percent Of Trump Voters Want To Bomb A Fictional Country From A Disney Movie

Donald Trump is the Kaiser Wilhelm of our time

TSA Doesn’t Care That Its Luggage Locks Have Been Hacked

Manhunt for Texas 'Affluenza' Teen Ethan Couch Continues

Skies going dark with more A380s, 787 Dreamliners

Concord Acquires R.E.M.’s Warner Bros. Albums for Future Reissues

Cold Chisel: 'Last stand', 30 years after the last one, still brings the house down

Here’s How Much Money Soundwave 2015 Acts Are Owed

Maybe Soundwave was a disaster waiting to happen

Arianna Huffington Goes Conspicuously Silent on the Union Issue

Bill O’Reilly Makes a Killing

Most of the information we spread online is quantifiably “bullshit”

Doctors Unite for #drwhodaniel

The terrifying pairings of Woody Allen's movies

Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Rick Moranis Reveals Why He Turned Down 'Ghostbusters' Reboot

Morrissey dismisses Bad Sex award as 'repulsive horror' after win 

Rudyard Kipling: the misfit poet

26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using

Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does

In defence of auto-correct

BadWinmail Microsoft Outlook Bug Can Give Attackers Control Over PCs

Mother Teresa To Be Made Saint After Pope Recognizes Second Miracle

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Clickbait of the week:
PSA: There’s A Chrome Extension That Blocks “Star Wars” Spoilers

I got stupid on me and now I'm wiping it off on you:
Eric Abetz on the Q & A review

The thought police are livid about my cartoon? Now that’s funny - or, White guy knows racism when he sees it and he totally doesn't see it in his work so there.

Popular Christmas gift mermaid tails prompting toddler drowning warnings - Apparently, people need to be told that tying a child's legs together then letting them go swimming could be dangerous.

The least boring photo on my camera roll:

15 December, 2015

Thinking of linking

Last week, I was mostly reading...

Turnbull must whip his self-indulgent MPs into line

'I ask the questions on this program'

Opposition questions Malcolm Turnbull's confidence in former treasurer

Thus Spake Mungo: Turnbull wary of the Abbottistas

Some Prerequisites for Innovation

Coles chief's 'Treasure Island' warning to suppliers

Look out world: Tony Abbott framing himself as a hard line national security commentator for a growing conservative audience

Australia’s innovation problem explained in 10 charts

Malcolm's mess: how the Coalition's NBN came unstuck

What does the Paris climate agreement mean for Australia? 

Bishop, Abbott, Trump and the politics of delusion

Boys had penises cut off, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hears

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are telling the same lie about their pasts — and it’s at the center of their campaigns 

This Moving Company Helps Women Leave Abusive Homes At No Cost - More like this please!

Bob Dole: Obama Is A "Good Man," Cruz Is "So Extreme" And Trump is "Over The Top"

University revokes Trump’s honorary degree after U.S. Muslim ban proposal

Donald Trump Isn’t the Problem. It’s time we face the fact that he’s just channeling the bigotry of the Republican Party’s base.

Middle East department store chain dumps Trump products - Oh yeah, he's a brilliant businessman!

American Nazi Party Chairman: Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Unrealistic - This is important: The chair of the actual, official Nazi party in the US doesn't think Trump is wrong, just impractical. 

“Sharing economy” companies like Uber shift risk from corporations to workers, weaken labor protections, and drive down wages. - so they're unionising.

The Internet Criticizes Reese's Peanut Butter Trees, But Then Reese's Drops The Most Witty Response 

Why aren't we looking into the Saudi role in San Bernardino attack?

70,000 Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa Condemning Terrorism

London stabbing: Tube attack hero slams bystanders

Russia has gifted a puppy to France to replace a police dog killed during Paris raids

Attacks by Tony Abbott, Donald Trump: Arch conservatives offer nothing but guff

“Emergency” Measures May Be Written Into the French Constitution

Why Courageous Jack Kilbride Is Not The Answer - (see I-got-stupid-on-me below)

Scott Weiland's Family: 'Don't Glorify This Tragedy'

The Ten Things That Piss Off Tom Petty

AC/DC live review

Dear Media: Stop Using the Term 'Radicalized' Unless You Apply It to White Christian Extremists, Too

How Elmo Ruined Sesame Street - Bill hate Elmo too!

Harrison Ford returns 'home' to Star Wars set with The Force Awakens

Q&A does not have 'leftwing anti-Coalition bias', leaked report finds - This just in from MISPWOSO

Dropbox Shutting Down Mailbox and Carousel in Early 2016

European Commission resurrects an unkillable stupid: the link tax

Copyfail: Why WIPO Can't Fix Copyright

Analysis: The destruction of the NBN

We know the city where HIV first emerged

New Clues to Ceres' Bright Spots and Origins

Taurine-like chemical restores cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer's 

Tony Abbott, you do know you belong to a church that has not reformed, don't you?

Insufferable nerdiness:
The Force accounted

Clickbait of the week:
14 Psychologists Were Asked: "What Is The Most Profound Thing A Patient Has Ever Said To You?"

I got stupid on me and I'm wiping it off on you:
Bronwyn Bishop wants to stay in Parliament to 'fight terrorism'
Why Courageous Clementine Ford Is Not The Answer ...or 'White male millennial can't check his privilege.'

Tony Abbott says voters 'overwhelmingly' want him to remain in public life

Tony Abbott: I would have won the next election

Harry Butler: Conservationist dies of cancer in Perth aged 85

The least boring photo on my camera roll:

06 December, 2015

Thinking of linking

For anyone who is wondering, this is purely for my own reference. After several years of numerous "social bookmarking" sites, none of which do exactly what I want, this is where I now put all the stuff that might be useful to refer back to one day.
Linking does not necessarily imply endorsement, but then again, it might. You work it out.

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Tony Abbott should follow Paul Keating's example and contribute something useful to public life

Treasurer Scott Morrison says to forget about relying on the age pension - You first, Scott!

Tony Abbott’s campaign to make Turnbull look weak on terrorism is a losing battle 

Julie Bishop takes on Tanya Plibersek over claims about the impact of climate change

Julie Bishop chided for 'joke' about rising seas flooding Marshall Islands - Still haven't got that learning-from-mistakes thing down yet.

The Vuvuzelas and Onion Boys – Megaphones Pining for Abbott

Anthony Albanese drives a bulldozer over Tony Abbott's 'infrastructure PM' legacy

'No one to learn from' Ken Henry slams APS collective amnesia

Australia doesn't have a problem with alcohol. We have a problem with violence - In vino veritas. You don't do anything while drunk that you haven't thought about while sober.

Julie Bishop had empty government VIP jet fly from Canberra to Perth to pick her up from charity dinner

Tony Abbott in post-PM phase needs to work out how to shore up his legacy

David Leyonhjelm Got Absolutely Owned In This Online Argument About Guns - Yeah, it's Buzzfeed, but the moral of the story is that there is a distinction between gun control and "Thur terken our gerns!"

Woman on train to Footscray threatened and told to 'get out of Australia'

Sexting, porn and raunch to form part of 'respectful relationships' classes

Why 2016 could be shattering for Republicans

Donald Trump & the GOP are literally killing middle America 

Want to Cut Government Waste? Find the $8.5 Trillion the Pentagon Can’t Account For

Thousands More Women Donating to Bernie Sanders Than Hillary Clinton

BBC reporter’s sobering advice to America: ‘Break’ the NRA or your mass shootings will never stop

Dog reportedly shoots Toledo pizza delivery man

7-year-old girl killed at MI soccer practice after ‘paranoid’ man with concealed carry license opens fire -  So, how do you stop a good guy with a gun?

Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People?

Paul Ryan Just Accidentally Made a Great Case for Raising the Minimum Wage

Did your MP vote to bomb Syria?

It’s time to smash the cosy Question Time chumocracy

Former Military Chief: Iraq War Was A 'Failure' That Helped Create ISIS  

Ex-US Intelligence Chief on Islamic State's Rise: 'We Were Too Dumb'

The strange case of Julian Assange

Will Reducing Meat in My Diet Really Help the Climate? tl;dr. yes.

From Fifa to guns, let’s stop accepting the unacceptable

Former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland has died at 48

Lush reunited

This one song teaches you basically everything you need to know about music theory

George Lucas: To feel the true force of ‘Star Wars,’ he had to learn to let it go

22 Times We Reached Peak Guardian In 2015 - In which Buzzfeed bags the Graun for being trivial?

Waleed Aly Effortlessly Nailing A Pink Floyd Solo At The Walkleys - Thanks a lot, Waleed! Just be brilliant at everything I've ever tried to be merely good at.

Fundamentalism is 'a disease of all religions': Pope says it is not just Islam that has extremist factions

Humour and satire: (It's dark this week)
Afraid of guns? Buy more guns! The circle of life in America 

A pattern of emergencies

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens - Keep scrolling down.

Clickbait of the week:
Heartwarming Illustrations Show That True Love Is In The Little Everyday Things

The least boring photo on my camera roll:
Caution: Site is patrolled by vicious guard-magpie.