TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

For those who are curious

I'm spending rather more time at my InsaneJournal than I am here at present. If you're wanting to get my attention, you're probably better off emailing me - try megpie71 at yahoo dot com dot ay you (convert words to punctuation etc as required).
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LJ 2, Strikethrough 07 1, ad revenue

And they've done it *again*

Okay, it appears 6Apart don't want any money out of any of us writing types any time soon. For details, see their latest entry in the "how to lose friends and piss people off" competition. Once again, it's in lj_biz rather than in the "news" community (so unless you're a regular watcher of lj_biz you've probably not heard about this directly.

Yayz.

On the face of things, it's a lovely idea to prevent kids from seeing stuff which would make them ask their parents awkward questions, or come down with an urgent need for therapy. However, it misses several points:

* As far as I'm aware, there's no real way of checking someone's age online, short of hunting them down and asking them for photo ID with a birthdate on it in person.
* This means if a fourteen year old decides to say they're (for example) eighteen online, because they want to read teh pr0nz, they're going to be able to see all the adult stuff, no matter what the rest of us do to try and screen it away from them.
* I'd rather not try and rate my stuff individually - it's been twenty-two years since I was fourteen, and when I was fourteen I'd already read all my mother's midwifery textbooks, as well as having a profound and long-term interest in anatomy, physiology and the way bodies worked. I was reading "adult" reading material by the time I was ten. So while I can give a vague rendition of what would have squicked me and what wouldn't at that age, it wouldn't necessarily be all that accurate for anyone else.
* This means I'm likely to get nice, "helpful" people flagging my stuff as inappropriate, because while I don't often write explicit sex, I do tend to believe most people over the age of twelve are capable of being exposed to the rather complicated way the world is. Which means my fic tends to reference things like rape, violence, mental illness, political corruption, bureaucracy and all the other little complications of life. I don't sugar-coat things all that often.
* Let's not forget the fact that this gives people another weapon in the endless LJ-drama wars (drama whores?). "You were nasty to me, so I'm going to mark all your posts for this week as not suitable for children. So there!!!" (Anyone who believes this *isn't* going to happen needs to send me a precise description of the type of happy pills they're on, so I can take it to my doctor and say "gimme".)
* Finally, this comes down to what I consider to be the biggest damn problem with the whole "internet for children" argument: there is *no* way to make the internet "safe" for children, and there probably never will be. There are too many options for anonymity, which certainly appears to lead to a dropping of social standards for a lot of people - after all, if I don't know who said something, I can't go and thump them upside the haid for being a rude whatsit to me. Teh Intarwebs is therefore *not* anyone sane's babysitter of choice.

Now, if everyone will excuse me, I'm going to be moving all of my fiction over to my InsaneJournal account and deleting it off the LJ.

Nope, the paid account here is *not* being renewed. Not even if they're handing out monogrammed gold bars to subscribers.
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TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

(no subject)

In this election year in Australia, I'd like to direct the attention of anyone who's larger than about a size twelve toward the following blog:

First Do No Harm: Real stories of Fat Prejudice in health care.

The site documents actual incidences (generally in the US health system) of people who are judged to be "fat" or "overweight" not receiving proper health care. This includes things like people actually being told not to see their doctor (for any reason) unless they've lost weight; people who are judged to be "fat" not receiving treatment for eating disorders; people who are judged to be "fat" being told to go to Weight Watchers when they're in casualty for appendicitis and similar such incidences.

I'm sure it hasn't escaped the attention of any number of people that the Howard government (and the Liberals under Howard in general) tends to regard the US with a certain amount of pseudo-religious awe. If the US does it, Australia should, according to them (and never mind the fact we're different countries, different cultures, different climates and different conditions entirely). To that end, they've been attempting to stealthily (or not-so-stealthily) dismantle the Australian medical system, to get it acting more like the US one. Now, never mind that if you spend any time on the internet at all, you're bound to run into stories from people in the US and by people in the US about the nature of their health system which make people from outside the US go "WTF?!?" on a massive scale; Howard and his boys think the US health system is just wonderful, and that it should be moved to Australia.

So, if you're planning to vote for the Liberals in this election, think hard. Read that blog. Read the numerous stories floating about online about the nature of the US health system, and the amount of fear, uncertainty and debt it causes to ordinary people. Read the wailing of the people who think that extending any kind of safety net at all (never mind the type we have here under Medicare, this lot are protesting a limit on the amount a family might have to spend on health care for *children*) is creeping socialism and UnAmerican. Think on this: in the US system, any illness which can be seen to have a preventable component is considered to be "your own silly fault", and there's a strong implication that you *don't* deserve to have treatment for it subsidised.

Mr Howard may well be promising extra beds and extra funds for hospitals. What I'd like to know is where the money is going to come from for those beds, and who'll be allowed to use them.

[NB: This post has not been subsidised by, authorised by, or written by the ALP, the Greens, the Democrats, or any other political party. It's my opinion, and you're welcome to disapprove of it all you want. I reserve the right to shoot back, delete or disemvowel comments, or insist on a recognisable online ID as I see fit.]
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TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

Well, so much for that...

Just heard today that my last remaining grandparent died. She'd had a prolapsed disk in her back, and had been in pain for most of the last three weeks, to the point where they had her on morphine. So, on Sunday, I drive down to Esperance (with Himself) for my grandmother's funeral, which will be held on Monday. Then we're going to spend a couple of days down there as a bit of a brief holiday, before heading back up home on Thursday.

On the whole, Nanna had a pretty good innings. She'd made it to 95, and even if in her later years she was starting to drift away from the standard planes of humanity, she was still a very nice old lady. It's odd, though - I don't really feel anything about her death. She was a very old woman, she'd started to forget who I was, and she and I had very little in common during her later years. She's moved on.
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TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

You're not winning any friends here, 6A

The last couple of months, the nice team at 6Apart (gods bless and keep them, and may they finally be visited by the Angel of Cluebat at some stage) have been sending me these little friendly "newsletters" about what's going on in LJ-land. Which would be *great* - if I'd signed up for them in the first place. As it stands, I'm reasonably damn certain I *didn't*.

Let me explain this to you, SixApart, if only because I think you're really heading places in the "lose friends and influence people negatively" stakes here: spamming people with friendly little reminders is something you only do with their express invitation. I didn't invite it. I don't want the fucker, and I'm not impressed by it.

Nope, still not renewing that paid account.
TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

The joys of technology, part the second

Well, overnight my keyboard decided it was going to continue self-destructing. This morning, the only working vowels were a and e, and most of the consonants on the right hand keys weren't working either. So I'm now using a spare that Himself happened to have lying around.

I believe I may have to see about replacing my pooter at some point in the near-to-medium future. The current one has USB ports which don't work, and makes one heckuva racket whenever it's running, beside being low on space on the hard drive (which astounds me, since at 60GB, I was expecting never to run out... of course, this was before I got interested in The Sims 2, and in Dark Age of Camelot, each of which chomp up a tract of space equivalent to the size of my music collection (which is the better part of 12GB in itself)). So I shall have to go a-looking at the options, and see what's available out there.

Which reminds me, I should look into Linux distributions as well. I'm finding I'm sick to death of the Microsoft way of doing things, and it's probably well past time I changed OS. What the heck, the only reason I stuck with winders in the first place was because of the games - and that's what I have the PS2 for now.
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TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

The joys of teknology

This is being typed with the wonderful assistance of the MS On-Screen Keyboard. Why? I hear you ask?

Well, it's because the "C" and "Z" keys on my existing keyboard have broken. So when I type "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" what I get is the following:

The quik brown fox jumps over the lay dog.

(Oh, and now the Enter key has died. I love my pooter, I really do.)
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TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

Would You Believe They're At It *Again*?

6Apart are currently demonstrating if there's a prize for "complete lack of clue demonstrated by a blog service host", they're in the running this year.

Details at this location. The original post where they announce it (which is at lj_biz, rather than news) is over here.

Nope, they still aren't going to be getting my money. End of this paid account, they lose out. No further renewals unless their service improves massively. The way things are going, they could be giving away monogrammed gold fully-equipped Ferraris with each account renewal, and I'd still be dubious about it.
TOS, Why I'm not renewing my paid account, LJ

In Which Meg Reviews Games - Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus

Overall, I enjoyed it. The gameplay is fairly easy to get the hang of, and once I'd realised that the "attack" and "jump" buttons were the other way around to the ones in Kingdom Hearts 2 (which I'd been playing before I started DOC) I was relatively okay. I'll never be an expert gamer, but I can definitely manage the "point and shoot" interface of this game without too many problems. My biggest annoyance throughout the whole game was when I was attempting to keep track of something which moved fast, I'd inadvertently drop into "scope" mode, which was rather annoying (particularly since at those times, I was attempting to keep track of it in order to dodge the bastard... dropping into a closeup of the surrounding scenery was therefore intensely distracting at such moments).

One other thing I've realised since starting a different game (Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King) is that this game has a very good mid-game, which is where a lot of RPGs tend to fall down. There's the early game, in which your character is underpowered and you're just starting to collect the plot coupons. Then there's the late game, where you have all the plot coupons and you can send away for the major mcguffin, and in between there's a lot of pointless running around collecting levels so you can beat whichever boss character is next on the list. I tend to find the mid-game section the most boring of anything, since I tend to get annoyed by having to do the same thing repeatedly for no real reason. FFVII:DOC avoids this, by having mid-game sections which largely serve to advance the plot and which don't require an endless repetition of the same basic process. No, I'm not fond of level-grinding, why do you ask?

So, now on to my comments about the plot and suchlike. Most of these are within the context of Final Fantasy VII fandom, and relate the game to previous episodes in the continuity, such as the original game, the Advent Children movie, and what we know of the plot of Crisis Core (which is as yet forthcoming). There will be spoilers (although they're mainly mild ones, and tend more toward characterisation than actual plot points), and there may be obscure jokes.

* Shinra has apparently done a graduate recruitment sweep through Trans Poly U (Transylvania Polygnostic University of Mad Science) in order to have netted both Doctor Hojo and Doctor Lucrecia Crescent.

* Shalua Rui is wearing an outfit which would make the average hooker reach for a nice warm jumper and some comfortable shoes. She's supposed to be a scientist, so why wasn't she portrayed as wearing jeans and a t-shirt, rather than an outfit which makes it look as though she gets her main scientific funding by selling BJs on the outskirts of Edge? Putting a lab coat on over the top doesn't help at all.

* As per the standard anime trope, it appears uncovered female skin is invulnerable. This explains the skimpier armour on both the WRO and Deepground female troopers. I suppose it also explains Shalua's outfit, to a degree, while Rosso the Crimson, being a psychopath, needs no explanation for anything she does anyway (mind you, they should have trimmed the bathmat they attached to her arse - how does she manage to avoid tripping over the silly thing?). Given Shelke appears to be wearing pretty full armour, the development of feminine invulnerability on Gaia is presumably a function of puberty (and Shelke's had hers delayed for about ten years).

* I'm sure there's a reason why Vincent Valentine gets to have all the younger chickibabes (Yuffie, Shelke) throwing themselves at him. I just wish he didn't seem so completely kerflummoxed by it.

* Vincent appears to have a thing for women in lab coats (given he appears to fall arse over ted for Shalua having only seen her twice).

* Vincent on waking up after the events at ShinRa manor: "I'm in hell, and it's full of Yuffie".

* Lucrecia should say what she's sorry for, rather than just being sorry all the time. It'd make everyone's life a lot easier.

* Yuffie appears to have a killer crush on Vincent. Pity he's not able to reciprocate at this stage (maybe she needs to wear a lab coat?).

* It's interesting that they use guilt and emotional manipulation on Shelke, despite the fact she's been effectively living as a computer plug-in for the past ten years. What's even more interesting is that it works!

* More than three words in a row from Cloud Strife - presumably he's now going to remain silent for another three to six months to make up for it. Or maybe he needs to find another "dialogue" materia.

* The phone conversation with Cloud, Barrett and Tifa appears to happen while they're in the middle of a battle - presumably this is just the right time to stop and phone a friend.

* "I don't want the world to end. I just don't want there to be any more pain." - Shelke, showing she is a child after all.

* This story has plot by the bucketload - both in volume and delivery. I'm sure I have bruises from some of it landing on me in lumps.

* Yuffie really has a crush on Vincent. Unfortunately, I doubt he's even noticed, aside from her being a little more annoying than usual. (She really does need that lab coat.)

* I'm picturing a conversation between Cloud and Vincent along the lines of "Now you see why I went off into the wilderness and sulked, right?" - the consequences of saving the world. I can't help but think Cloud's probably glad to be able to hand the job on to someone else.

* I'm not certain what the relationship between Vincent and Shelke is going to turn out to be. I have a feeling she's still dealing with the after-effects of sharing her brain with Lucrecia Crescent, which may mean she's going to wind up treating Vincent as surrogate family. I can see him picking up the role of "big brother" or "random older male relation". I can't really see him feeling anything sexual for her.

* Some questions I'd love to be able to find out the answers to:

- Will Shelke resume the normal aging process now she's not actively required to perform her Deepground function?
- Now Chaos has returned to the planet, will Vincent pick up aging where he left off?
- Given the "G Reports" hint very strongly that Genesis is still alive and with us, can we expect more Jenova-related problems in future?
- What was the story with Cloud and Tifa not being picked up by Deepground in the attack on Edge? Were they forewarned, or just lucky?

[PS: Also posted on my Blogspot page and also at my InsaneJournal.]