Telesales People… what a crap job that is

Life Insurance

A few days ago I received in the mail a glossy card-based flyer from “Medibank Insurance”. I have Medibank Health Insurance and have for over 20 years. Been paying them a bunch of money each month for not a whole lot in return. So with the arrival of this bit of livery I knew a follow up call would come. It has happened many times over those years of cover.

So they were trying to sell me life insurance, income protection insurance, and funeral cover insurance… not the funnest thing to be selling.

Unlike some folks, I’m not rude or short with the folk that call. I know it’s their job and it’s not easy out there these days to earn a crust. Not to mention I have previously worked in a call centre at Optus so I know what it’s like being on the other end of the phone with a rabid customer spewing hate at you just because you called them. Though in my case 99% of my calls were inbound.

Anyway, I’m not going to take out the insurance, but I still let him tell me about it. To cover $4,500 per month of income protection, plus live and funeral, it was only going to cost $36.50 per fortnight, not a bunch… but I have two issues with it.

  1. We’re still in early days of our business, and I’m pretty sure most self-employed folks find it difficult to make a claim against these things.
  2. The low cost is always a starting point. My private health insurance, which the government makes us have, even though we get nothing for it. Has gone from $20 in the early days to now over $140 per month. Quite the increase given everyone over 30 earning a decent wage has to have it. So I’m not convinced this wouldn’t go the same way.

But yeah, I feel for these folk, and I let them have their say before politely declining. Any attempt to decline earlier tends to come across as hostile, though part of me is always thinking, if I let him go he can go and call someone who might actually buy the service.

Oh and I see it all as a scam. In this case, reading the document sent out, the cover they are providing, they aren’t actually providing. 

The disclaimer at the bottom of the document reads

Medibank Life, Income Protection and Funeral Insurance are each issued by Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Pty Ltd ABN 74 000 218 306, AFSL 324908. These products are distributed by Greenstone Financial Services Pty Ltd (GFS) ABN 53 128 692 884, AFSL 343079 and are promoted by GFS’s Authorised Representative [AR] Medibank Private Limited ABN 47 080 890 259, AR 286089.

It’s the same with all insurances it seems, maybe two or three companies run the whole thing with all of these marketing companies sitting above them. Seems weird.

Muddled Message

Kanye West is crazy right? I mean, certifiable for sure. After having a meltdown on stage a while back he had to go into involuntary lockdown for a week during which he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

In recent weeks it seems he’s gone a long way to reclaim the spotlight, though mostly through his crazy ramblings… yet amongst all his talk of multiple universes and getting Apple to build his vision of the iPlane 1, and him being single-handedly responsible for Adidas turning around its business, or getting Foxcon to bring their manufacturing to the US, he did say one thing that kind of made sense, though even that was muddled.

One of Kanye’s talking points in the Oval Office, was to call for the repeal of the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution. It’s the one that abolished slavery in the US. He’s copping a lot of crap for this from other African American folk who don’t want anyone to mess with the slavery laws. However, I feel, from listening to him talk a bit, what he really should be asking for an an amendment to the amendment.

You see, Kanye doesn’t want to remove the amendment so he can own himself some slaves. He’s objecting to the part of the 13 Amendment that allows prisoners to be used as slaves. I got that from the part where he was railing about the cheap prison factories. And he’s right. In the US the 13th Amendment would give prisons the right to essentially put all prisoners into unpaid servitude, AKA, slavery. And that a LOT of prisons in the US are private prisons, it’s effectively allowing companies to own these peopler for the length of their internment, having them producing wares at a fraction of the cost it would be if they had to hire a free-labour force.

So yeah, Kanye is a little unhinged, but maybe his heart is in the right place, even if his head is covered with a “Make America Great Again” hat. He has a lot of weird ideas, and he has plenty of people who’ll give him a stage on which to say them, but on this one thing, he kind of has a point, even if he’s latched on to the wrong thing to try and change it.

Meanwhile, like the Trumps, ALL of Kanye’s product line, at time of writing this, is still made outside of the US, while they continue to call for moving manufacturing back to the States. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Vale Google Plus

Google Plus
Google shuttering Google+ has nothing really to do with a data breach… that happened in March 2018, even though that’s how most are reporting it. It is going away because it never made critical mass, and that’s not its fault.
 
We failed Google+! We stuck with Facebook when there was a better alternative that was (somewhat) less intrusive, and less demanding of our personal data (because they already had a lot of it).
 
These days Facebook seems a necessary evil, especially if you’re a developer of in business.
 
For some people Facebook IS THE INTERNET.
 
And in developing nations, Facebook is fostering this idea… they are basically trying to be the AOL of the past where users will log in and be contained to a single system that only lets in information it wants on its network.
 
So I think the data-breach is NOT the reason, Google makes it pretty clear in their blog post that it’s low consumer use compared to the cost of maintaining it. The data breach was a non-breach, yes there was the chance of it, but Google says it can’t see that anyone actually took advantage of a the vulnerability.
 
While I haven’t used it a lot in recent times, I will miss Google+. With it and Path going, it’s a sad time. Sure Twitter had up and comers; like Plurk (it was never going to go anywhere with a name like that), Alpha, Mastodon, et al, but they exist/ed as mere clones of the original.
 
Google+, Path, Ello, etc, offered alternatives presenting their individual and different fundamental ethos to Facebook. Google+ fast became about communities, Path was about close groups like friendship groups or family, and Ello was trying to be an ad-free Facebook who wasn’t interested in your data, they just wanted to give you a space on the internet, their plan was to make their money selling premium services that you could take or leave. But like the others, there was no critical mass for any of them and that was the downfall. Even poor MySpace 2.0 couldn’t get anyone back.
 
It seems Facebook has won and now has us all. We’ve forgotten how to use the Internet and we’re happy in our enclave of those who agree with everything we say (even when we are very wrong at times).
 
I don’t see a way forward and I believe Facebook is bad for the future of humanity. But at the moment, it’s what we have.

13 Reasons Why Season 2

13 Reasons Why Season 2

This post contains spoilers about 13 Reasons Why, Season 2 from Netflix.

I’ve finished watching “13 Reasons Why” season 2, and as a way to digest the themes in the show Netflix put together an addendum “Beyond the Reasons”. The series is meant to raise awareness on suicide prevention as well as depression, anxiety, rape, gun violence and bullying. To learn more click here, to learn about gun safety. They did this with Season 1 after there was a bit of an uproar around the notion that the show glamourised teen suicide by showing not just one suicide but also an attempted suicide, and they have continued it after Season 2 to help talk through some of the heavy topics it contains.

Season 2 of “13 Reasons Why” includes more depictions of sexual violence, drug use, gang-violence, gun-violence (though thankfully thwarted on both attempts), teen abandonment, victims facing their abusers, and so much more. So there is a lot to talk though.

It’s great to see the show was so entrenched in the idea of reality and care that they had counsellors and therapists on the set to talk to the actors about what they would face in each scene before it happened and to wind down the actors after the scenes were complete. I imagine some of the scenes were very hard to film.

One series of events this season revolved around Hannah, the catalyst for the show, having a loving and consensual relationship with Zack, which included sex. A relationship ending when it became obvious to Hannah that Zack was more interested in keeping up appearances with his friends than making their relationship public.

Well in the events of season 1, when Hannah is raped by Bryce in the hot tub, we’re pretty much lead to believe she is a virgin, but season 2 reveals this not to be the case by letting us know about the relationship she had with Zack the summer previous.

The disappoint real-life thing is that Kathryn Langford, who plays Hannah, says she has been approached by people who said to her upon learning Hannah wasn’t in fact a virgin “so that means the thing that happened with Hannah and Bryce doesn’t mean that much anymore.” And I was like WHAT! Why would people say such a thing.

Kathryn went on to say she would hope that viewers would take away that just because Hannah had had sex with Zack, doesn’t change the severity of what Bryce did, it doesn’t matter what your sexual history has been makes sexual violence any more acceptable. And how true is that.

I was sad to think that people think that a person who is sexually active would feel any different about being raped. Rape, any form of sexual violence, isn’t about sex, it’s about power, it is an act of violence, one that nothing can prepare you for.

Compassion should always be the response to a declaration of pain. Embrace the ones you love. 

The other gut-wrenching part of the show is when Hannah’s mum, Olivia, played by Kate Walsh, hands Clay a sheet of paper with the reasons “Why not”, on which there were “11 Reasons Why Not”. Olivia then confirms with with Clay that he knows there are ALWAYS more “Reasons Why Not”.

So our second big point to take away from the show is there are always more reasons why not. Go on and live your life, live your truth, and live it right. Reach out to your friends and family, reach out to support services, in Australia you can contact:

  • Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14

No person should get to a point where they feel their only option is death. We only have one life, it’s the most precious thing, make yours great.

In Defence of the ‘Good Bloke’

In the wake of the murder-suicide of seven people in Western Australian town of Osmington there have been calls for the ‘good bloke’ narrative to go away and to honour the victims rather than the perpetrator of the heinous crime and look here when you want to learn more about what is punitive damages.

This isn’t a new request, often when someone commits a murder or a crime there are plenty of folks around who will step up and refer to the goodness of the perpetrator, particularly if the perpetrator has died, and in recent years there has been a strong push for the removal of the ‘good bloke’-type reporting. People want the perpetrator tarred as the baddie HE clearly is.

I feel like, sure, there are times that’s appropriate, but the calls for it in this case are in my opinion misguided.

In the Osmington murder-suicide we find a father, Peter Miles, 61, who killed his wife, Cynda (58); his daughter Katrina Cockman (35); and her four children (Tay, 13; Rylan, 12; Arye, 10 and Kayden, 8), before calling 000 to report himself, and then took his own life on the porch of their home.

The crime will be under investigation for several months, but it doesn’t stop the reporters reporting, and many headlines carried the “Good Bloke” narrative. Where friends and acquaintances of Peter Miles referred to him as that, a good bloke who they couldn’t imagine could commit such a heinous crime.

One headline in particular, the one often quoted, read “Grandad the killer. ‘Good Bloke’ shot wife, daughter and her four kids then himself“, sure it probably should have had a comma after the word ‘kids’ but he wasn’t being called a “good bloke” by the headline, the term was in inverted commas which implies that the writer didn’t really agree with the sentiment, but was reporting what he heard about the guy.

The reporter, Robert Ovadia, has been raked over the coals by this descriptor and has reaffirmed his reporting with a follow-up article calling out those who railed against his reporting. Many opinion pieces have been written, including one by Van Badham “When we make excuses for male violence, we encourage it“, in which she argues “There’s a single good reason to be outraged at the ‘good bloke’ narrative: prevention”, her article in part reads:

Reports of the far-away murders broke over my own phone, and I sobbed. The handful of personal details revealed about this family are enough to imagine anyone similar into their unbearable horror. The mind demands: who does this to kids? Who does this to anyone?

The answer, according to Australian reporting tradition, is a “good bloke”. This was the description a tabloid applied to the alleged murderer, under the headline “Grandad the killer.”

It’s a dangerous frame for reporting domestic homicide we have grown too used to in this country; commentators were quick to call it out. Juanita Phillips remarked that “nobody in the story” had “actually described (Peter Miles) that way”. Reminders came from Georgina Dent and Clementine Ford that the “good bloke” trope is a media habit. It was used to describe wife-murdering Greg Floyd in 2017, and, in 2014, Geoff Hunt – who murdered his wife and three children.

To this I’d like to point out a couple more domestic murders in which the perpetrator was described with the “good bloke” sentiment, but wasn’t a bloke at all.


Sidonie Thompson was murdered by her mother with an axe in 2011 before her mother drove the Brisbane’s Story Bridge and jumped to her death, leaving her 12 year-old son in shock in the back seat of her car. Sidonie’s mother, Kim Patterson, was described in stories about this as “a devoted mother who lived for her children”.

Of Kim Patterson a friend is quoted as saying: “She just put all her time into her family. Out of anybody I know, she is the least likely person I’d ever expect to do anything like that because Kim adored them completely”.

Another friend described Kim Patterson as a “‘saint’ who would never hurt anyone”.


Another murder-suicide in 2011 was committed by Heather Glendinning in Port Denison. Western Australia. Glendinning taking the lives of two of her three daughters before killing herself. She stabbed her two daughters to death and then stabbed herself to death with multiple stab wounds.

A friend Robyn O’Brien said of Heather: 

“I am absolutely shocked. I just can’t believe that, I have other friends here that I have spoken to this morning and for Heather to kill her children is not what we know of Heather, it’s not possibly something she could do.”

“Justice and ethical behaviour is what she was fighting for,” she said.

She said she was angry that her friend’s last memory would be in such horrific contrast.

“It breaks my heart, it just can’t be Heather. They were so close, they weren’t problem kids and all the other people who knew her down here say the same thing,” she said.

“I do feel really, really angry on her behalf and on behalf of the girls. The Heather we knew and the family we knew would never do that.”


Cara Lee Hall murdered her husband in December 2015, and also attempted to kill two of her four children with the same knife she used stabbed her husband to death.

Hall claimed during her trial that she acted in self-defence after suffering years of abuse. A finding not backed up by evidence including testimony by her children. She further claimed to not know how the children were injured during the attack but witness statements by the children report she actively stabbed them in an attempt to kill them.

Hall’s friend Wendy Lourenco said “Cara is a loving mother, I don’t think she ever meant to hurt her children.”


In addition to these cases of mothers who have killed their children I also found a report “Mothers who Kill” in which the methodology found 28 cases of women who have killed their children under the age of 2 between 1997 and 2012. However, they only used a subset of these in describing infanticide as some states define infanticide as being a victim under the age of 12 months, while others are 24 months, in attempt to keep the methodology clean they only looked at victims under 12 months of age in their study.

None of the mothers who killed their children in a act of infanticide since 1997 have received a custodial sentence. Infanticide is treated, as it likely should be, as a product of a mental illness; such as post-natal depression. Infanticide statistics also don’t include cases of neonaticides which is the killing of a child within the first 24 hours of life.

I’m sure I’ve read of many infanticides written up as outliers, as actions of women who are typically described as loving and family-oriented.

I guess I’m not winning any brownie points here, and it’s not my aim to do so. I just think it’s time we understand that why someone commits an act so egregious against their family we may never understand.

Yes what Peter Miles did was horrible, it guts me to think there are seven people who are dead now because of the actions of one. The driver for these actions though, we can never understand. 

Sherele Moody writes in the Daily Mercury newspaper “‘Good bloke’ Peter Miles was a violent selfish monster“. She goes on to say: 

Much of the public discussion around Peter Miles’ deadly actions focuses, almost sympathetically, on his “troubled” life while managing to neatly tip-toe around the fact that this was a clear-cut case of domestic abuse and male violence – both major issues in our society.

But was it? When his daughter left her husband, she returned to her family home, to stay with her mother and father. It doesn’t seem likely a mother would take such action if she was walking back into a home in which “a monster lurks”.

We can’t know the mind of another, we’re foolish to think we ever can. When we realise that perception is reality for humans we’ll think about things differently. When family kills other family in a case like Peter’s or, any of those documented above, we as outsiders can never understand it. Especially if mental illness is at the core of it.

From some reports Peter’s actions were driven out of a desperate need to care of his family. It’s reported he was under the impression his time was short and he worried for the family he’d be leaving behind when he died of his illness. A family that he seemingly felt had no other resources and would struggle to survive once he was gone.

The brain is an amazing thing, it can decide what it wants to know, and when it decides, the human it controls is taken along for the ride. I’m sure the mothers mentioned above all had their issues that saw them believing the only way to truly protect their children was to end the lives of their children. They weren’t monsters, they we just humans, and sometimes humans break. Note I don’t say “snapped”, because sometimes when the brain breaks it’s not the flip of a switch, it’s a shift in perception, their view of the world is different. Sometimes different from reality. Sometimes it’s all consuming and it sticks on an idea and ruminates on it until it becomes an action.

These aren’t cases of the perpetrator attempting to gain from their actions, they are often considered, from evidence left behind, or by the surviving perpetrators as acts of compassion. Most often there is a case of some form of untreated, or mistreated, mental illness at the core. And more often then not it’s seen that the person committing the act has considered their actions carefully, as illogical as those actions seem to us, to them they were reasonable to take.

I can’t see that Peter’s actions could be described as an act of family violence or part of the epidemic of domestic abuse. It was a confused mind making confused decisions, but decisions that seemed reasonable to the mind at the time. Those looking for a poster-boy for the “‘good bloke’ = monster” cause are looking at the wrong guy here.

Tragic it was, but an act that should see the man branded a “monster”? I don’t think so.

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Phage Therapy

The folks at Kurzgesagt have a new video out, about Bacteriophages and their possible place as our saviours in the not-to-distant future and we tackle the cost of breast augmentation surgery in Miami.

The one standout piece of dialogue from the video for me is:

“Unfortunately this psychotherapy treatment is still experimental and pharma companies are reluctant to invest the necessary billions in a treatment that has no official approval yet.”

The sad truth is, many of our great medical achievements follow this pattern.

  • The governments pour the billions in via grants, the researchers at universities and the universities themselves, set up ‘companies’ to receive the grant and to do the studies,
  • The studies that are successful patent their findings as the company, the makers and the university often co-writing the patent.
  • Then the pharma companies vie for the research and the patents and buy the company at a fraction of the cost of the research and for a stake in the patent.
  • The pharma company ramps up production, and sell it to the masses at a marked up cost, often claiming it’s justified in doing so because of the cost of research, that some countries tax dollars often paid for.

At the moment big pharma doesn’t want to know about it, it’s promising, but they have their antibiotics to sell and they sell a LOT of them. Even with the rise of superbugs many doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics as a matter of course, almost as a placebo it seems, while other people all is need is relaxation maybe visiting an spa service you can find at sites like https://complexcityspa.com.

Having said that, I have seen at least one paper that has been written on bacteriophages that was funded by Nestlé Health and Nestlé Health Science, so I guess some companies are investing in it, but clearly we need more of mommy makeover doctor located in NYC services.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. The video is very interesting to watch.

Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress

Mark Zuckerberg testifies before congress

A day a lot of people have been waiting for has come. I’m currently watching a Facebook live stream by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Mark Zuckerberg testifying to a joint hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data”.

Senator Cruz just grilled Mark Zuckerberg on whether Facebook is a political platform (acting as an entity entitled to First Amendment rights) or a safe-harbour (which would allow users to post anything). Mark Zuckerberg replied that Facebook is a platform for ideas. Cruz, not happy with the answer repeated the question two more times then went into a mini-tirad about republican and “conservatives” being oppressed on Facebook. He cited pages that were removed, he specifically referenced them as “Republican”, “Christian”, “Conservative”.

Cruz wanted to know Zuckerberg’s personal knowledge of the 15,000+ safety workers whose job it is to vet content for hate-speech and the like, he wanted to know if Facebook only hires liberal employees who may have a bias towards removing Republican content.

I’m thinking Cruz missed the point as to why this Judiciary Committee was formed… because of the role of Facebook in the election of a Republican President through the use of Facebook user data that was mined by an app developer and used to set up Cambridge Analytica, a company that has been involved in a bunch of misleading activity in a bunch of elections all over the world.

Largely the questioning that I’ve heard, which is only a little bit from the hours during which Mark Zuckerberg testified, seemed largely ignorant about how the system works, indeed how computer systems work. Cruz in particular seemed only interested in getting it on record that he felt his people were being actively oppressed. Cruz cut Mark Zuckerberg off often when he was attempting to answer a question… it seems that the senators are restricted by time and some want to get as much of their views out as quickly as they could, limiting Mark Zuckerberg’s replies.

The data that Facebook uses is largely provided by us, the user. The other data you may not know Facebook is getting is from the way you interact with other data on the site. The pages you like, the photos your friends post that you like. Also when you’re not actually on Facebook, but you’re browsing other websites, if they use something like the Facebook Pixel, which is invisible to the user, then Facebook gets data about what you’re doing on the site you’re visiting. The same with any site that has a Facebook-supplied “Like” button or Facebook-supplied commenting tools.

A senator asked about Facebook’s declaration that you, the user, own your data, but that you, the user, don’t get a cut of the money Facebook makes from selling access to that data. But Mark Zuckerberg did of course remind him that in the TOS, you are agreeing to allow Facebook to use that data without financial compensation.

A question came up about how the users get to control their content usage. And Mark Zuckerberg replied that for each post, of any kind, users get to decide how that data is used. The senator then went further to ask if the user can determine how Facebook uses the data… and Mark Zuckerberg replied that yes, and quoted the Facial Recognition service that would tag you in photo automatically, he replied that “yes, users can say they don’t want Facebook to recognise them in photos”… but he didn’t say that Facebook STILL records that data, they just don’t show it.

The was clearly a push for Facebook to allow a user to see ALL of the data Facebook captures, including the information about you they buy from data brokers and then match to users through their algorithms, but is never shown to the user.

The hearing continues as I press publish on this post. I just don’t have time to watch it, I have things to do, and I’m not a US citizen and it seems that the blinkers are firmly on with the senators about their own direct constituents and how Facebook affects them. Some of the senators brought up how Facebook allows users to post or target things which would be deemed as illegal if Facebook themselves posted it and in fact are illegal for the user to target or post. An example raised included a realtor who was targeting ads for a new property development to exclude people of colour and how that was illegal according to the Fair Housing Act… I’m all for Facebook doing what they can, but as a global company they can’t also do the work of the police and judiciary of all the nations of the world and all the sub-locations within those nations, to have them do so would be a massive overreach and would effectively make them an arm of the law. If they had to report that a housing firm was targeting only white folk, would they also have to report people who broke local statutes such as drinking alcohol on a Sunday in a location that doesn’t permit it, which they may determine from a person posting a photo of themselves (or being facially recognised in a photo posted by a friend), drinking alcohol where the photo was created on a Sunday. It seems laughable that the government would want Facebook to do something like that, but then maybe, through the call for oversight, they’re also hoping to get access to Facebook’s systems so THEY can have access to all that data at no cost.

Who knows what will come of the testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, likely not a lot, because as I said, Zuckerberg didn’t get a lot of time to respond to questions and the questions largely seemed ignorant of the system, the technology, or the implications of if Facebook did what they asked them to do, the gaping hole it would leave for that one new role for Facebook to have more power than they ever really wanted (or did they).

Partyroom Politics

Marriage Equality is the subject for today in the party rooms. They will, hopefully, be discussing Dean Smith’s private member’s bill and, hopefully, they will approve it for discussion and a vote in parliament.

The government is crazy if they think they can survive NOT putting this forward. It has gone on long enough, over 20 bills have been put forward and rejected over the last 10 or so years. This is an inevitability they must face. They can either be the party that lead the way to marriage equality in Australia, or they can get out of the way at the next election.

For those who worry about the religious exemptions in the bill fear not for two reason:

  1. The gays are just being added to a long list of exemptions that already exist for clergy. They currently are exempt from having to marry people who have differing faiths, from themselves or from each other, divorcees, and even people they don’t think should be married. They can currently just say, nope, I don’t think you’re right for each other, I’m not going to be the one to marry you. So we gays are just being added to a list that already exists, they aren’t making a new one.
  2. The churches will come around, and likely quite quickly. Their numbers are falling, the are bolstering them with rhetoric about the evils of the gays and their abhorrent lifestyle “choice”. But they are fighting a losing battle. Sure the Biebs and other music, and the brainwashing is bringing folks to Hillsong. But that can’t save the dying ideology that is structured religion.

    We know the churches will come around because they need the money and because we have historic precedent… black people and the church. The church was a driver behind segregation and preventing inter-racial marriage, but these days it’s mostly nothing to them. They embrace black culture and in the US the African American community have weird, in my opinion, embraced the church… the teachings of which once and continues to drive the KKK and other white supremacists.

So let’s not fear the religious exemptions as they exist in the bill. Let’s get married and let the church sort itself out. We don’t need them any more now than we did yesterday.

It’s time to join the new world of liberty and equality for all.