Sunday, 28 October 2007

Think I'm transforming into a computer geek!

For the last three months or so, I've been trying to learn how to build a website.  My brother gave me a manual and a program he hadn't used, and I've been working my way through the thing trying to fathom it out.  But every time I began to get the hang of the process, I'd get caught up in doing something else for a few weeks and would forget all the key steps by the time I came back to it again.  And then I had problems with obtaining an Australian domain because Australian regulations prevent having a com.au or net.au unless the applicant is a listed business ... and Computer there are regulations and tax implications for listed businesses that suggest it wouldn't, at this point in time, be A Good Thing for me to do, but A Silly Thing instead.  (I looked into .com and all the rest, but it appears that people register domains and then do nothing with them, because these domains are identified as taken even though they're not active on the internet.)  However, I think I'm almost there.  I took a long run up yesterday and made a massive leap from working with jpeg images to gif images and, with it, everything began working the way I wanted it to.  Click.  Wow!  (What's happened to me?  The things I get excited about these days!)  Think I've got a domain name registered, but have to wait until start of business tomorrow to find out, and then I hope to launch a suitably author-like website.  And then ... and then ... and then I might actually get back to writing again.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The word

George Orwell tackled it in Nineteen Eighty-Four (in 1948) and Sir Humphrey Appleby was a master of it in Yes, Minister (circa 1980), but Newspeak or Bureauquackery is Performing_words_3still with us in 2007. However, maybe its days are numbered. The Victorian Department of Education, who hitherto have been a major sponsor in the promotion of Eduspeak (as they refer to it), have now withdrawn their support. In fact, they are running a Jargon Busting competition this month to identify and expunge Eduspeak, even though someone in the Department is still dreaming up project and division titles such as the Thinking Forward Design Teams Pilot Project and The Innovation and Next Practice Division (responsible for organising that even more tautological "new innovation initiative").

Whilst I get a kick out of playing with words and watching them perform little tricks, I don't get too precious if other people abuse them somewhat, because they're amazingly resilient mites after all and are determined to have the last laugh. It does concern me though when, as with Newspeak, people try to enslave them into serving a particular ideology or try annihilating them when they resist.

Supporting their resistance are the authors of the website Weasel Words
, which is well worth a visit and which may well bring a smile to your lips. It was here that I discovered the following description of an Arts conference: ‘... remapping cultural globalisms from the south is a conference project about the remapping of global orders, histories and cultural production from the perspective of a critical matrix positioned geographically south and outside the dominant hegemonies of European and North American traditions. This conference is positioned at the very edge of the politics of difference. The postcolonial space is a site where the experimental cultures of the periphery converge to define new modalities for cultural inclusion. The Conference functions as a set of dialogues between civilisations, in a project that begins with the assumption that the margins are redefining and transforming the worlds of the centre ... The Conference will move beyond the closure and limits of current definitions that continue to divide and separate, whilst engaging with the possibilities of new convergent positions and space of shared cultural experience and knowledge. Global multiculturalism is a key logic of the cultures of the future.’

Having mentioned Yes, Minister, it's only fair that I (almost) finish this post with a quote from Sir Humphrey before taking myself off to enter the Jargon Busting Competition in the hope of scabbing $50 from the Department of Education.

Sir Humphrey Appleby
: Minister, the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.

In the beginning was the word.

Long live the word!

Friday, 5 October 2007


Screen_shot_of_view_from_here_2 As noted in the last post, Mike French interviewed me recently for THE VIEW FROM HERE . The interview is now posted, so be my guest ... or rather, be Mike's guest and visit:


Screen_shot_of_view_from_here_3 Mike's blog is an interesting blend of book reviews, discussions about writing (including his development of The Dandelion Tree), art work, and now interviews. No more words needed here. Go visit.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Books, blogs, blokes and blondes

Guess I should fess up before anyone gets too disappointed that, whilst this post has something to do with books and blogs, it's really got nothing to say explicitly about blokes or blondes. It's just that, when I was thinking about a catchy title for this little beast, the four words melded together, and then I tried saying them fast, and then repeating them fast ten times, and then backwards ... and by the time I'd amused myself doing this sort of thing for an hour or two they'd sort of grown into the title of the post, and there was little I could do about it.

Seven weeks after starting the latest round of edits on The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore, I think I'm almost done. Problem is, though, that after a break of four or five weeks, I'll see things I want to refine further. And will keep on doing this until I'm told I can't do any more. Hopefully, when the printed book is in my hand I'll be able to stop and won't feel inclined to scribble out words, replace paragraphs, etc. Maybe I just need to lock myself back into the next project.Have been a pretty tetchy reader of late, and reluctant to stick with books that don't grab me early on. Either this, or I've just been unlucky in what I've picked up. Couldn't make headway with Burning Bright (see 16/9/07) and didn't persevere; it felt like it was a Young Adults book (which I often enjoy) but mis-pitched at adults. Something didn't work for me. So I was a little concerned that a collection of short stories that was written and pitched for the YA market, and which had been highly recommended by a school librarian, might also leave me feeling short-changed.Margo Lanagan's Red Spikes is a Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Older Readers and, as my librarian friend noted, is "seriously weird". However, it's seriously weird in the best kind of way, and I couldn't help but Red_spikessee parallels between what Margo Lanagan does (with the subject matter and her use of language) and everything I enjoy about Angela Carter's short stories. It may well be aimed at the Young Adult market, but these stories have a much broader appeal than that. What I like most is that they seem to take our dreams, rip out the innocence we might associate them with and transplant them with something more enduring and sinister. Quite fantastic---in every sense. I took this anthology with me when I went to Robe, South Australia, for a short break recently, and it helped make the holiday a delight.STOP PRESS: In Googling Margo Lanagan to see if there's anything else I MUST include, I note there is: she has a blog. So click away. I also note---and no prizes for me here---the comparisons with Angela Carter have already been well and truly established. Must get hold of Black JuiceWhite Time next. and Apart from this, I've also been interviewed recently by Mike French for his blog The View From Here. I discovered Mike's blog in July (see Comments 30/7/07) and the approach he was taking to get The Dandelion TreeThe Snowing and Greening specifically) for his blogsite and this will be appearing soon. Watch this site. published. He generously extended an invitation to interview me recently (about writing generally and That's all for now, folks! Almost. But, if you haven't already done it, try saying fast, ten times: books, blogs, blokes and blondes. And then say it backwards.

How silly.