Goodbye, LJ (by trolls, for themselves), hello DW (by fans, for everyone)...

Crossposting to LJ from my journal is going to be coming to an end, I think.

LJ's been getting more and more problematic, and now you have this business with LJ staff members trolling the users, and I also just found out (because I don't really follow LJ drama very closely) about this business with staff members reading, commenting on, and then altering someone's locked post a few months ago, and... no.

Just no.

So I'm going to be deleting a lot of my past entries, I think - they're all archived on Dreamwidth anyway - and (finally!) getting around to adding all the people I used to read on LJ before I got reluctant to log on to the site at all to my DW reading list.

If you want to keep reading my journal and aren't on Dreamwidth, I think you can add an RSS feed; you can definitely follow the RSS feed of my Proper Blog, which I will be endeavouring to post to anyway.

If you want access to locked posts (and I have you friended on LJ already), comment on the DreamWidth copy of this post with OpenID and I'll give you access.

If you want to get a Dreamwidth account of your own and need an invitation, drop me a comment, I have lots.

If you're one of the anti-DW crowd... I don't get why? But that's okay, I'm just... I've been uncomfortable for some time with the idea of giving LiveJournal money, which is one thing, but I've now become uncomfortable with the idea of giving LJ content.

So I'm done. Thanks, LJ, for nearly a decade of keeping up with and making friends, but you're not what you were when I started. You gave my best friend malware, your ads can be horrifying, and your staff members cover up for each other's bad behaviour - which itself crosses the line from "grossly unprofessional" to "wow, you're just a bad person now". I've lost count of the strikes. You're out.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

Things Which Annoy Sami Today

1) Hypocritical evangelical atheists.

There's a looong list of people who fall into this category, but it's an opinion piece on The Drum website that's set me off today.

Basically, I'm talking about your PZ Myers/Richard Dawkins types, who are not only atheists, but are hostile to non-atheists and hostile to the very notion of treating religion with respect.

In this column Bob Ellis accuses the Prime Minister of "theological correctness" because she "turned up to honour Mary MacKillop" despite being an atheist.

To which I say: what the hell?

Yes, the Prime Minister is an atheist.

However, she is still the Prime Minister. In much the same way, it would not be inappropriate for her to attend a major event for the beef farming industry if she were a vegetarian. Because she's the head of our bloody government, and her duties thereas are not subject entirely to her personal whim.

Evangelical atheists aggravate me in general, because it's so... I don't know. Tacky. Rude. Irritating.

I have friends who are atheists. I have friends whose religious inclinations I don't really know at all. I have friends whose religions are different from mine - across the spectrum. A Hindu agnostic is not quite the same thing as a Christian agnostic, after all - if someone is taking the non-existence of the Judeo-Christian God as a given, but is ambivalent about the Hindu gods, that's a very different outlook from someone who is uncertain about the existence of the Judeo-Christian God but assumes that the Hindu gods aren't real.

(Religion is more complex than just the three Abrahamic religions, after all, and very few people even consider the ancient pantheons at all. Zeus, for most people, is just assumed to be a false myth.)

All of us manage to get by without sneering at each other over this.

I can go weeks, even months at a time without mentioning specifically that I consider myself to be a Christian at all.

I think both Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers would rupture something if they tried to go even a few days without a diatribe about the non-existence of God.

I consider it a firm point of basic courtesy that, unless someone has attempted to convert you to their religious position, it is entirely inappropriate to try and persuade them of yours.

And I consider it somewhat reprehensible to accuse someone of duplicity merely for showing respect to a position that differs from their own. They keep saying how Gillard "despises" Christianity, and yet: no, patently she doesn't, she just doesn't agree with it.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]


To come: A post on why Richard Dawkins et al inspire me, at present, to fits of both rage and smugness.

Currently: Watching an interview with Bob Brown on The Drum.

Query: Do the Greens know that their leader is a reanimated corpse? Seriously. What would it do to the electoral landscape of this country if the Greens leader wasn't an absolute charisma vacuum?

ETA: Also, Spectator-contributing Liberal hack: Shut the hell up, and no, if you're citing NOEL FUCKING PEARSON as an example of an "indigenous rights activist" who agrees with your point of view, you do not get to wear that smug douche face. "Can you give me their names?" No, he doesn't have to tell you the names of indigenous leaders he's been working with, because they might not WANT the right-wing media to start pissing on their lives.

Seriously. Noel Pearson is the right wing's pet "Indigenous Australian Leader" (who isn't one) they trot out whenever they want to claim that they're supporting indigenous Australians with their latest act of flagrant racism - while at the same time, they think very little of him, they don't care about anything he has to say unless it's serving their agenda.

That bastard supported AND STILL SUPPORTS the Northern Territory invasion "intervention". There's a reason most indigenous Australians hate him. He's like a black Windschuttle only with a higher goddamn body count.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]
  • Current Music
    the drone of a march fly - no, wait, Brown's still talking
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Today's chain of inquisitive learnings

Step 1: Read something which refers to Leonard Cohen's song First We Take Manhattan.

Step 2: Want to hear song. YouTube for it.

Step 3: Curiosity piqued by odd YouTube comment, look up Leonard Cohen.

Step 4: See reference to a comment he made about being a Kohen, and how he apparently had a very "messianic childhood".

Step 5: Google Kohen.


So far: Kohens, the Jewish Rebellions, the First, Second, and Third temples, redemption of the firstborn, and the Western Wall.

I knew little to nothing about all of these. Some of it is thoroughly fascinating - for a start, I had no idea that it still really, truly mattered which of the tribes of Israel a given Israelite descends from. But you don't have to do redemption of the firstborn if you're a Levite, for example. (Or if you're Reform/Reconstructionist.)

All very theoretical knowledge, since, you know, I'm not Jewish, and even if I converted to Judaism, which isn't likely, I'd still be a convert, what with the thing where I have (as far as I know) zero Jewish ancestry and therefore really, truly can not claim descent from any of the tribes, but it's still very interesting.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]


So, I have invitations available for things.

1) Dreamwidth:

I have lots. Lots. Comment here if you want one; if you want one and I don't know you, at all, even slightly, that's okay, but I'm more likely to get past my "Wait, what? Who is this person how did they what?" moment and actually send you one if you mention how it is you came across my journal and my invitations offer. (As in, I will be pretty much guaranteed to do so, whereas if it's totally random-seeming I get all disconcerted and yet never get around to replying to your comment to ask, historically.)

If you know someone who wants one, also feel free to send 'em over, just, see previous paragraph!

If LJ keeps getting more and more creepy/evil, I may kill mine altogether. Note to self: Time to get around to adding LJ-people you actually want to read to Dreamwidth reading list.

2) AO3:

This has invitations? I don't know if I ever knew that. Anyway, I have one available. As I only have one, I'd prefer to give this to someone I know.

Also, clearly, I should start putting my stuff there. So many services on which I'm behind in that kind of thing...

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

I wrote a fic!

I also need a bunch more icons lately. Maybe I will make some today! I need them for FF13 and, you know, other stuff.

Still playing TWEWY. Still need to smack Joshua. Joshua also needs to SUCK LESS.

Anyway. I'm working on a Fairly Substantial FF13 fic, which is entirely from Fang's perspective. In the meantime some scenes seem to yearn for being shown also from other perspectives, and so, I am writing outtakes for my own fic - so far there are two, and they are both from Snow's perspective, because having a viewpoint character who is dumb as a box of hammers has been to the advantage of how I want to write them.

This is the second one!

Title: Family (And The Idiots Who Love Them)
Rating: PG
Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII
Pairing: Fang/Lightning
Notes: Post-game, contains some implicit slight spoilers. Crossposted to fang_lightning.

Collapse )

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

In which anarchy has not overcome us

So, Australia has a government!

My thoughts:

1) Thank God. Specifically, thank God we have a Labor government - setting aside my fundamental ideological conflicts with the Liberal Party and the Coalition, the current Coalition is a monumental clusterfuck of incompetence, bad judgement and dubious sanity.

One should not spend as much time saying: "Wait - he did what?" as I have in the last couple of weeks about people who aspire to run your country.

Granted, if I were British or American, I would have been doing so for quite some time, but I'm Australian - I'm used to a more low-key politics, where an argument about a ute qualifies as a massive scandal.

2) Shut up, Tony Abbott and all his supporters, about "they got more votes so they should get to be the government" or "they got more seats so they should get to be the government". Because this is patently not true. Labor won the two-party-preferred and the Liberal Party have never won more seats - they're part of a Coalition, and the Coalition did not beat the Labor/Greens alliance, and more importantly, the Labor/Greens/Independents alliance won enough seats to form the bloody Government. You know how we can tell?

Because they're forming Government. The independents are still independent, but they've pledged to vote with the Government on supply bills and any motions of no confidence, which means that the government will hold.

The fact that the government will need to get any other legislation past the gauntlet of the Greens and two rural independents is potentially the best thing to happen to Australia in decades.

3) Dear Julia Gillard,

Congratulations on becoming Australia's first woman Prime Minister for real. I am, genuinely, glad that you are not to be an odd footnote of history, because that would have been very sad, for more reasons than just that it would mean the Mad Monk being our Prime Minister.

Now, please tell the faceless party men who keep feeding you soundbites to shut the hell up, because when you are yourself - caught unprepared, by creepy ex-Leaders of your party or the Chaser, for example - you are magnificent. Composed and classy as all get out - you are someone I can be proud to see as the leader of my country.

By comparison, when you're making scripted remarks, or being the "new Julia", or any of that PR flack crap, I cringe with sympathetic embarrassment at how terrible you seem at, well, everything.

Be yourself, please, because I have a sneaking suspicion you're actually kind of awesome.

Also, change the photo on your profile on the Parliamentary website. You're a beautiful woman, but God knows if I'd only looked at that photo I'd never know it. A picture tells a thousand words, but those words should not be a short work of fiction detailing how you'll get pretty Dorothy - and her little dog, too.

Best wishes,

4) Dear people who got frustrated by the hung parliament situation and wanted to "go back to the polls",

You're morons. We have a preferential voting system. If we'd held another election we would have got ourselves another hung Parliament, and if knowing that a hung Parliament was likely would change how you voted, you clearly voted like a moron the first time, and I don't feel this qualifies you for a second go.

If you voted informal, and now realise that had the informal votes been formal, they would have made the difference in just about every electorate in the country: suck it up, you have only yourself to blame, and maybe next time you will give proper consideration to the importance of the democratic franchise, hmm? (Also, your actions mildly disgust me.)

Grow up,

5) Oakeshott is looking pretty awesome. I read his quasi-White Paper on parliamentary reform (yes, all of it), and it's kind of brilliant.

6) No, Wilkie didn't set a honey trap. He just gave due consideration to the fact that the Liberals' response was patently ill-considered, and they were clearly just trying to buy his support.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

Election day...

So, I've planned out my Senate ballot - have you? (Question does not apply if you're not Australian.)

I have to say, having followed the election coverage of the last US and UK elections, it's remarkable, looking at our own, to see how... relaxed it is. Because even when people are actually discussing The Issues, there's none of that frantic vote you have to vote look this is important vote vote VOTE! element that other countries' coverage tends to have.

The closest we get is an off-handed "remember to vote on Saturday". They had that on Yes We Canberra, minutes apart from a song and dance number about how every candidate is fucked (sic) and it's all so very pointless.

We can do that, here, because we all know everyone's going to vote anyway.

I really can't emphasise strongly enough how much better democracy works with compulsory participation. (Notably, the ancient Athenians, who invented democracy, did in fact have mandatory participation - though penalties also included public disgrace, whereas in Australia it's a minor fine.)

It's just... it doesn't work without it, not really, as far as I can tell.

When voting is compulsory, you can't marginalise massive numbers of people on the grounds that they don't tend to vote anyway, and you can't have all that dodgy shit that happens when people try to prevent other people from voting. Not just because that's a crime, but because you can't really obstruct people voting when the electoral commission goes a very long way out of its way to make sure it's easy for everyone to vote.

And you don't get people left unable to vote because their polling station wasn't prepared to deal with the numbers - the Australian Electoral Commission knows exactly how many people are going to vote, and it's very, very experienced at making 100% voter turnout run smoothly.

Seriously, people - in my country they put polling booths in hospitals. And if you can't get to the booths in your ward, an official comes to your room and you can vote in bed. Voting is both a duty of citizenship and an absolute right of citizenship, and that right is firmly, firmly protected.

Sure, our politics is generally full of fail anyway, but at least everyone is a part of it, and our election results are generally pretty much representative of what the country wanted. (Or "least didn't want", sometimes.)

It only gets stressful when, say, the party that forms government may be dependent entirely on a few seats in Queensland, where the incumbent state Labour government is deeply hated, and yet it is vitally, vitally necessary that the federal Labour government win, because the current Leader of the Opposition is insane and also evil.

Dear Queensland,

Please vote Greens.


[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

In lieu of content: PERFECT PUDDING

So, I'm weeks behind on the internet again, because due to Various Things, including a newly-acquired total inability to sleep (thanks to the assistance of sleeping pills, I can get five hours of restless sleep, HOORAY), my brain and I are really rather struggling at the moment.

If I loved you before, I still love you just as much, I'm just barely keeping body and soul together here.

What else is helping: Yesterday I tried sago pudding again, and it was PERFECT.

Now, my first attempt was good - call it 80% - but my second attempt was absolute, total failure. (Well, near-total. The goop still tasted okay, it was just goop.)

Third attempt was yesterday, and it came out, seriously, PERFECT.

So, here is Sami's Recipe For Sago Pudding That Totally Really Works.

INGREDIENTS: Sago, fruit juice (flavour is your choice, but avoid citrus if you want to have it with cream), brown sugar, pinch of salt, water.

Step 1: Put sago/tapioca seed pearls (same thing) in a bowl. A much, much bigger bowl than you have sago. I used about 2/3 of a cup of sago - note that this will, in the end, require a large saucepan to cook. Assume that you're going to end up with ten to fifteen times as much pudding as you start out with in volume of seeds.

Step 2: Add water. Lots of water. Like, six times as much water as sago, minimum.

Step 3: Leave this to soak. Recipes I've seen on the internet for sago pudding say "soak for an hour", but they clearly do not aim their recipes at people like me (which is to say, people who would probably be as easily distracted as the average kitten even if we didn't have ADHD, which we do), so let's just say that you leave it to soak for "a while". I think I went back to it two or three hours later, having at one point glanced at it, found that the water level was barely keeping up with the sago, and added some more water. Whatever.

Step 4: Drain the sago. I sort of half-rinsed it, in that some of the sago was sticking to the bowl when I poured it into a sieve, so I put some more water in the bowl, swished it around, and poured that onto the sieve as well. The water was still coming off cloudy, but you want *some* starchy stickiness in the pudding, you see. (Thorough rinsing was something I tried with Attempt 2, but a lot went wrong with attempt 2, and I don't know whether that was one of the problems.)

Step 5: Put the sago in a large saucepan BIGGER THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED.

Step 6: Pour juice into the saucepan, so the level's a little higher than the sago. Add brown sugar - I used about two tablespoons of Dark Brown Sugar, the kind that's about as raw as you can get and still call it sugar. It's less purely sweet than white sugar. (Because I live in Australia, sugar, to me, is cane sugar, by the way.)

Step 7: Add a pinch of salt. This is vital! Remember, a pinch of salt in sweet, and a pinch of sweet in savoury. (ONLY A PINCH, dammit. American Processed Food Industry, stay the hell away from me with your high fructose corn syrup bullsugar.) Again, just a pinch, though, no-one wants salty fruity sago pudding.

Step 8: Bring to the boil, then simmer. Stir frequently. Periodically, add more juice as the liquid is absorbed/reduced. Occasionally, taste the liquid; if you reach the point (I did) where it seems like more juice will make it too strongly-flavoured/oversweet (I was using Apple and Blackcurrant juice yesterday), start adding water instead.

You will start to see that some of the seeds have gone transparent - it initially appears as if darker glops are forming in your cloudy juice-coloured pudding stuff. This is good! Your pudding is done when the cloudiness is gone, and the seeds are no longer white at all; instead, your pudding should now be a mass of jewel-like orbs the colour of your juice, holding together stickily. (Maybe I should post a photo at some point.)

Eat at any temperature; if juice choice and dietary requirements suit, could be served with cream or ice cream, or in all sorts of ways, really.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]

Here's to dessert!

A stranger is parked in our driveway today.

This morning, a middle-aged Chinese woman, who smiled a lot and was very polite and very very earnest, knocked on the door AND rang the bell and asked - pleaded, almost - if she could park in our driveway.

I couldn't quite make out where she needed to go, because she had an extremely strong accent and I'm not totally sure she was saying that part in English (she seemed to be having a somewhat stressful morning and English was clearly not her primary language; she might have forgotten to), but I think, from what I could make out and from her gestures, she was going to Princess Margaret Hospital For Children, which is walking-distance from our house.

There's very limited parking there and in this area.

However, I was willing to believe her need was genuine, given that she left her car key here in case we needed to move her car out of the way.

Sure, we're not going to steal her car, because patently, if nothing else, she knows where we live, but there's a fair amount of trust involved in leaving the key to it here, regardless.

I couldn't say no, and didn't. I was almost certainly going to say yes regardless, because she seemed very genuine, but if she's desperate enough to leave the key to her car here, she's definitely in real need, and the possibility that it will be A Problem is slim, because hey, I can move her car if I have to.

Of course, unless it's an emergency, I don't plan to do anything with her key but leave it on the table where I can be sure to find it easily when she comes back.

Still. Disconcerting moment, that. Despite the fact that we live in an area where parking is at a severe premium at the best of times, that's never actually happened before.

Meanwhile, today I've been cooking things.

First, my own invented Chocolate Custard Mousse, because I have a couple of friends coming over, who both love it. (Although the younger of the two was less than a year old last time he had it, I think, so it will probably be a fresh surprise.) I wanted to make it very fresh so that it wouldn't at all risk being pregnancy-unfriendly, since the older of my guests is in fact pregnant and already miserable with morning sickness, so I hardly want to give her food poisoning.

This is how you make it:

Step 1: Make custard. I use gluten-free custard powder, which I also find tastes better anyway, but this is up to you. Make it a reasonably thick custard.

Step 2: When the custard is about done, break up some chocolate and melt it into the custard, stirring gently until it's all melted and spread evenly through. (Doesn't have to be perfect, because this stuff will be whipped later.)

Step 3: Allow to cool. If making for pregnant friends and wanting to be paranoid, check regularly; when it has reached a state of reasonable coolness, proceed to step 4 without delay.

Step 4: Transfer to mixing bowl Add some whipping cream. (You'll note quantities are inexact; they don't have to be very exact, is why, and it depends how much you want to end up with.) Whip as if it were cream until it acquires a paler colour and a fluffier look.

It will be tasty.

I am also working on making sago pudding, but I'm not going to risk posting a recipe until I see if it works.

The thing with that is that my mother used to make a sago pudding when I was a kid that I *loved* - then Mum didn't make it for ages, and she forgot how. Most of the recipes I see for sago pudding-type things involve milk, which is patently wrong - the one my mother made was translucent and made with fruit juice, not milky and blurgh.

[Originally posted at Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there (with OpenID or otherwise) if you wish.]