Sunday, August 16, 2015


I recently read an article where Prince William's son George is being allegedly stalked by paparazzi eager to snap pictures of the two year old.

If this alleged behaviour is actually true I have a few things to say about this. Chiefly: have you people lost your minds? Did you learn nothing from Princess Diana's death?

Frankly, anyone who pursues a two year old boy, or anyone for that matter, in such a manner, deserves to have all their equipment confiscated and banned from ever using a camera again. This behaviour is morally reprehensible and completely unethical.

Put it this way: imagine him playing in a park, being watched by security and a nanny, or his mother and father even, for someone to leap out of the bushes, wave a camera in his face to try and get a candid shot. That would frighten anyone, let alone a little boy. There are far too many threats out there for anyone not growing up in one of the most famous families in the world.

George and his sister Charlotte deserve to have a life away from the spotlight. They deserve to grow up without fear that someone might jump out at them. Give them a chance to have a normal childhood, as their parents wish for them.

It's time we took a good look at ourselves, as consumers of the media. It was said at the time of Princess Diana's death and it's equally relevant here. If we didn't continue to provide a market for these things, then there would be no need for behaviour of this sort.

I don't actively pursue photos of the royal family. While I do occasionally see photos of them (sanctioned by the family) I don't stalk them over the internet. Nor do I do this for any other stars. I don't try to look up their addresses to stalk them or eagerly peruse news sites for any mention of them

Yes, I have twitter and Facebook and I follow some. But I'm rarely on the twitter and only usually read a post of theirs if it sounds interesting.

Just stop. Please. Before someone else gets hurt.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some things to ponder

So, let's start with the news of the last few days regarding the decision of the Supreme Court on marriage equality and of course the governors who are still refusing to go along with the decision.

#1 It's the Supreme Court. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't they like the top, top when it comes to the law in America? So if they make a ruling on something, then it seems to me these idiots better sit up and do as they're told.

One of the arguments people have come up with is that marriage is for procreation. I have no idea of the statistics, but a fair few of those supposedly in a 'normal' family have children who are either so badly misbehaved they are absolute monsters, or they are subjected to years of abuse. I'm not saying this doesn't happen in other families, but I would just like to point out that normal isn't always better.

Secondly, someone else has pointed out that same sex couples do go on to adopt children. So if their parents can't be married in the eyes of the law, how would that make those children feel?

Thirdly, some say that two men cannot raise children and they should only be raised in families with a husband and wife. This, in my view, would completely invalidate the efforts of those who are trying to raise children alone. If a man is widowed with young children, does that mean he should have those children adopted into a 'normal' family because he's now considered incapable of raising them?

To me, this seems as much a sexism issue as it is a homophobia issue. Just because something doesn't fit with your view does not mean it's wrong. It's just another way of looking at it. A husband and wife are no more capable of raising children than a husband and husband.

Maybe this sounds incredibly naive, and I have to admit it doesn't really work fully in my head, but don't you think if we continue to give these people a voice via our outrage then it just fans the flames? Let's really think about this for a moment. Someone starts a hate campaign. People get outraged and the originator of the campaign is spurred on to make even more outrageous comments. Okay, so, scenario. What if we didn't give in to the outrage and said nothing? Would the campaign just die out because it had no bite? Put it this way: give a fire oxygen, it spreads.

I know what some are like. They feel like they have to stand up and say 'this isn't right', but surely that's exactly what the purpose of it is? To get people debating? To stir up outrage?

Okay, you're right. There are some pretty outrageous people out there. I don't know the actual percentages, but surely there are more people who aren't racist, aren't homophobic etcetera, etcetera, than there are these idiots? I just feel that the less attention we give to these jerks, the more people will dismiss them as crackpots and hopefully their little crusade will die quickly.

It sort of got me thinking on another tangent: about ISIS. Now these guys are bloody scary. I know they're out to eliminate every 'infidel' but let's not forget these people are Islamic Extremists. I know of a few muslims who believe in a peaceful existence and certainly don't believe all western culture is evil. Yet here we are expressing outrage at the actions of these bastards, who, yes, I admit, are evil and should die horrible deaths (and I don't believe in an eye for an eye), but if we go out and act like them, killing anyone who even looked at us funny and didn't agree with our philosophy, well, that would make us them. And every death of one of these guys just stirs them up more, making them martyrs.

I don't know what the answer is here. We can't just ignore these people and hope they'll go away. They clearly plan to strike at every example of western civilisation they can find. Still, I find myself wondering what would happen if we refused to give these people a voice, or if we let the majority of the peace-loving muslims deal with this themselves. I know there's such a thing as freedom of speech, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Take away the publicity and what is left for them?

Anyway, I was writing a chapter of one of my fiction works in progress and a discussion in the dialogue turned to the Jihadist movements. One of the characters stated they were trying to start World War Three. Another character responded: 'It has already started'. We've been at war with them for the last fourteen years.

My thoughts are a bit rambly, but I was thinking about something else here. I was working on a news article the other day and Obama was quoted as mentioning a mass killing that happened in Tasmania (Australia) about 25 years ago. I remember this mass killing. Obama said something about Australia changing its gun laws.

After what happened in Charleston I keep thinking back to something a lecturer from Montana said in one of my history classes way back in 1994. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The keyword here being 'militia'. So where on Earth do the organisations like the NRA pick up the idea that it means every individual has the right to keep and bear arms? The Supreme Court has tried to argue this for years, that the right to keep and bear arms had nothing to do with the average Joe Citizen, but had everything to do with militias protecting the general populace. Now, don't go starting a debate over this, as I'm not interested. However, I do think it's time some American authorities took a good long look at themselves and their record. I live in a country where there are approximately four and a half million people and we don't have that many homicides. Certainly not one a day. But where a friend lives, in Baltimore, which apparently has less than a million people, there is at least one a day. Do you not see something wrong with this picture?

There is something wrong with a country's ideology when a young white guy can walk into a church with a gun and open fire. There is something wrong with a country where kids can take guns to school and open fire. There is something wrong with a country that cannot see that the 'right to keep and bear arms' is one of the reasons why America is considered such a violent country. Don't get me wrong. New Zealand has its faults, and a lot of them. But at least our citizens don't see keeping guns as their 'God given right'.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Time to end an outdated practice

I've been reading a lot of entries in a community lately. This community has been going for more than 10 years but one of the most common entries is a complaint on tipping.

Most countries don't have this practice and it's mostly common in the United States, to the best of my knowledge. Customers are asked to tip servers or waiters in restaurants, housekeeping staff in hotels, pizza delivery people and so on.

I've been to the United States and I find this practice confusing.

I also find it rather demoralising for the staff themselves as they are dependent on the goodwill of the person they are serving to make up for what they don't receive in wages.

Let's get one thing straight. I am not completely against the practice. However, as I said, it does confuse me, someone who has not travelled widely, as I have no idea who to tip or how much. Fortunately for me I had the help of wonderful staff in a hotel during my stay in Los Angeles who didn't make fun of me for never having stayed in a hotel by myself before or travelled further than Australia. I was a complete amateur and it showed but they were kind and helpful and if I could have tipped these staff (since they were on the desk) I would have.

So back to this community. The chief complaint of posters is that people don't tip enough. There are other customers who skip out without paying or expect their meal to be comped for some made-up reason, but that's for another post. From what I understand, the average gratuity is around 15% of the total bill.

If this practice were to stop, restaurants would have to pay their staff actual minimum wage. Currently, they get less than the minimum wage, which, depending on state, is I believe around $US7. I'm not sure what that is in $NZ but it's at least over $NZ10.

Okay, so if the wages are increased, then the cost will go up. So? Here in New Zealand, we pay up to $30 for meals in pubs/bars. The minimum we pay is around $15 and that's for a small meal or something entree sized.

I have to say I was shocked at the prices in the US. Even taking the conversion rate into account, I still found it less expensive than here. I ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad, lunch size, for around $US10. Firstly, the size of the meal was huge. I'd hate to think what the dinner size would be. Second, we'd be paying at least twice that here in NZ.

It's time restaurants and diners actually placed value on their staff by paying them decent wages, not expecting them to make up their wages with tips. It's unfair, especially when you consider that probably about 20% of customers turn out to be utter jerks who either don't tip or make the server jump through hoops for them, then still give them a lousy tip. The rest ... well, most probably don't leave enough in tips either.

These service people do a wonderful job in what can sometimes be very trying circumstances. They work hard, are often on their feet for anything up to twelve hours a day, and they do their best to greet their customers with a smile. They don't deserve abuse, they deserve praise. Working in such jobs shouldn't be a reason for you to look down on them or belittle them. They are not robots and are just trying to make a living like everyone else. You might be a CEO of a major corporation, but that is not a reason for you to treat a customer service person like they are lower than you. If you were to lose your job today, it might be you serving your replacement.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Some thoughts about image

I've posted about this elsewhere, but I feel it's something that must be said.

On the television show Arrow, one of the characters wears glasses. To me, this is actually a very big deal. One, because she is smart, sassy and well-liked. Two, she is loved by two of the male characters. Three, she is very attractive, with or without glasses.

Maybe this is shallow, but here's my point.

I grew up wearing glasses in a time where it was definitely not cool. The adage of: "Guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" was something that I had to put up with. I was bullied. Mostly because I was shy, but also because I wore glasses.

So, when I see a character on a primetime television show who wears glasses but is not treated as the geek, but is actually a very strong character in her own right, as well as the fact that the glasses are treated as 'no big deal', well, it's a very big deal to someone like me.

Let's face it. Hollywood sells lies. Almost every character who is the protagonist on a television show or movie tends to be attractive, thin, or they have a muscular build. The antagonist, on the other hand, can sometimes be unattractive.

Here's the crux of the matter. Kids are practically killing themselves to be like this image. We hear hundreds of stories of kids suffering from anorexia or bulimia, or hurting themselves because they think the image Hollywood sells is real. We've all seen the articles on how images of models are photoshopped to make them conform to an image they think people want to see and we're now seeing some backlash.

Maybe it's a small thing where a girl looks pretty wearing glasses. These days glasses are a fashion statement. I'm not disputing that. It's just that I spent my formative years, the years which are crucial in affirming self-esteem, being made to feel like I was ugly. I'm still not over that and it's been a long time since my teen years.

Have you ever seen those teen movies where the girl who wears glasses is either ignored or bullied because she's considered unattractive, then suddenly she gets contact lenses and everyone looks at her with new eyes? Yeah, that was me. The before anyway. The after: that was wishful thinking on my part. It didn't happen for me.

Hollywood has a long way to go in undoing the damage it has done through these particular movies. It's still one step forward two steps back, but to me the character on Arrow represents a certain type of person who doesn't usually get to be the love interest, or even a strong character.

Baby steps. We can still effect change, one small step at a time.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Maybe I'm naive but ...

I recently read an online post from someone who is transgender. They met someone they hadn't seen in years who then told the person they were with the poster's business.

To me, this is bullying in a mild form, but still bullying. That person had no right to even mention it or comment on it. Let alone do it for shock value.

I am tired of seeing posts from people who are subjected to this type of bullying. To me, things like gender status, race, religion, sexual orientation or creed are less important than character. If you're a good person, then I don't care what the colour of your skin is.

Conversely, I also see posts where people 'play the race card' as if that entitles them to special treatment. It should not. Frankly, my colour does not do me any favours. I certainly don't have it better than any person of another colour from mine.

I consider myself to be open-minded. I have a friend who is gay and he is the loveliest man you could ever hope to meet. The reason I'm friends with him has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. He is not effeminate and certainly does not announce his orientation to all and sundry. He is a genuinely nice person to be around.

I have another friend who is of a different race than mine. She once made a joke about it to me but I didn't comment about it at the time. Because I never saw the colour of her skin. As my friend above, it has nothing to do with why I'm friends with her. I'm her friend because I genuinely like her.

What prompted this post is an article I read which I find difficult to take seriously on one hand, but am absolutely horrified at what this person has proposed. I have no idea whether the article is real as it seems rather outrageous.

This person proposed shooting all gay people in the head. Yes, this was advocating cold-blooded murder because according to them, it was an affront against God. If I was a horrible person, and this particular proposal was true, I would be asking for the same treatment of anyone who engenders hate such as this, but I'm not a horrible person and I can only pity such a person who clearly has no compassion.

I am not deeply religious. I haven't read the Bible page to page, so I have no idea whether there is actually a passage condemning these types of relationships. I do believe it is a subject which is open to interpretation and people interpret different things based on their own biases.

There is no easy solution to this. I know that this kind of hate exists in all cultures. It would be easy for me to say we should all just get along, but it isn't that easy. We're not born hating other people for their choices; it's something we're taught.

Breast Feeding

An article in the Herald states that they're trying to ban advertising for infant formula for babies under six months.

This, in my opinion, is going a little overboard.

Their reasoning is that it will deter new mothers from breast feeding. I find this to be more than a little illogical.

Fact: Breastfeeding is the best for baby.

Myth: Feeding a baby by formula only is bad for baby.

They're now trying to discourage various organisations on recommending formula, but they're not taking into account very important things.

Some women just cannot breastfeed. Either they don't produce enough milk, or are unable to due to some illness.

My nephew had colic for three months straight. Every time he was breast-fed, he screamed his head off. I'm no expert but I wondered at the time whether it was something in his mother's milk that caused the problem because when he had formula, it eased the situation. It didn't cure it, but it helped.

If those advocating breast-feeding are so concerned that advertising infant formula will turn new mothers off breast-feeding, then use the same medium to create public announcements and education.

Stop trying to demonise infant formula. It is an alternative to breast feeding. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating those women who cannot breast-feed for various reasons. Don't make them out to be bad mothers because you're trying to make them do something that is not possible for them to do.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I'm about to self-publish my first novel.

It's exciting and scary but it's the culmination of years of work.

The one thing that worries me is if I get any negative reviews, how am I going to react? The main female protagonist isn't exactly endearing. She has one goal and doesn't care who gets in her way.

So I get that it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Still, I hope any negative feedback is constructive.

I was reading something Anne Rice said a while ago. Not sure how recently, but anyway, she was complaining about trolls. Unfortunately, this is something we can't stop.

I sort of liked Interview with the Vampire but I haven't read any of her other stuff. As much as I love watching Supernatural and Buffy, I'm not a huge fan of the supernatural, or the vampire genre in particular so I can't exactly say I'm a fan of hers. Still, I agree that something should be done about internet trolls.

I will try to ignore any obvious trolling and send them on to the appropriate person to deal with, but yeah, that's the only thing that worries me really.