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Kate Orman's Writing CV

Sep. 30th, 2020 | 10:21 am

Published Books and Short StoriesCollapse )

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Books Read, 2017

Dec. 31st, 2017 | 11:55 pm

Time for my annual struggle to remember how to post stuff with a future date. (ETA: Post it, then change the date. It says "postpone", but doesn't postpone it.)

Franz Kafka, The Castle.

Running fiction tally: white guys: 1 everyone else: 0

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Refugee Update: Faysal Ishak Ahmed

Jan. 16th, 2017 | 10:00 am

'They're trying to kill me, if they kill me take care of my son.'

Faysal Ishak Ahmed was tortured by Sudanese militias, who killed members of his family and raped his sister. They demanded that he join them; he fled to Australia. We sent him to Manus Island, where after more than three years of detention he died of medical neglect on Christmas Eve, 2016. His wife and infant son remain in a Sudanese refugee camp.

More than 200 detainees signed an open letter describing the failure to diagnose and treat Faysal despite his repeated requests and a plea from 60 of his fellow Sudanese refugees, which pointed out that he had been experiencing blackouts for months. The open letter also stated that 400 of the 900 detainees require urgent medical treatment. They also engaged in a peaceful protest at the detention centre.

The president of Doctors for Refugees states that, had Faysal been in Australia, his symptoms would have prompted urgent tests. "In Australia, after the requisite brain scans such as CT and MRI, he would normally have cardiac investigations, such as an echocardiogram... We have seen instances where basic tests have not been performed on people in offshore detention, and in the medical records the doctor has justified this by stating 'they often exaggerate their symptoms to get attention'." (This victim-blaming excuse - 'Oh, they just want attention' - will be horribly familiar to many of us.)

Faysal's death will be investigated by the Senate committee currently looking into abuse of refugees on Nauru and Manus. It is also under investigation by the Queensland Coroner.

Refugee cartoonist Eaten Fish's account of Faysal's death is harrowing. Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani spoke to Faysal's friend Omar Jack Giram about Faysal's life, illness, and death. Faysal is the fourth refugee to have died on Manus Island, and the second to die of medical neglect. Sudanese detainee Abdul Aziz Adam said: 'This system is designed to kill us one by one.'

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The US of A (and everyone else, too)

Jan. 5th, 2017 | 07:41 pm


The US, the UK, and Australia have all taken a frightening step to the right, as have other countries. Maybe it's only the new antidepressant talking - no, I really do think we're at a historical crossroads. We've got to be the anchors that slow down and stop this scary slide towards fascism. The following is mostly about the recent US election, but much of it is relevant for Britain and Australia too. If we can help each others' efforts, one country to another, one affected group to another, so much the better.


A few quick suggestions:

1. Get onto Green Power at a percentage you can afford. (This was my first action post the election, prompted by Ruby-Beth Buitekant's suggestion: "If you can afford it, go solar now. The planet is fucked. This is not a drill.")
2. Read up on / watch documentaries about the history of fascism and white supremacy.
3. Pick a relevant organisation and donate small, regular amounts, which helps their planning.

Happy New Year! The Fight For America officially begins!

Come along on the Women's March 2017 in Sydney, in support of marches in the US and around the world. (Everyone is welcome.)

Active Resistance Wiki. Packed with ideas and information.

The First 100 Days Resistance Plan

Post-Election Help Resources (That You Don't Have to Have Money For)

7 Things You Can Do to Help Planned Parenthood and the Communities it Serves (this includes a good general list of US organisations that could use your support - here's another list)

Surviving in Trump's America: 10 things women can do to protect their rights (including LGBT+ and immigrant women)

24 Actions You NEED to Take to Help Trans Women of Color Survive

Okay, Fine. Here’s What You Should Do Post-Election.

LGBTQ Youth Survival Guide: Trump Edition

How to call your reps when you have social anxiety

Food for Thought

We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump

A Yale history professor’s powerful, 20-point guide to defending democracy under a Trump presidency

In Poland, a window on what happens when populists come to power (ETA: An interesting response points out that in Poland, the populists are actually helping the working class, whereas Trump and co will gut them.)

ETA: How Democrats can defeat the repeal of Obamacare: "... politicians live in a constant state of terror, and what they’re terrified of is the public’s displeasure. Make that displeasure large and visible enough, and they’ll abandon even initiatives they care deeply about."
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Books read, 2016

Dec. 31st, 2016 | 08:53 pm

Buchi Emecheta. The Moonlight Bride.
Judith Burnley (ed). Penguin Modern Stories 4.
William Gibson. The Peripheral.
Ha Jin. The Bridegroom.
Krys Lee. Drifting House. I realised I'd already read this whole book, probably in Rockville Library, so this was really a re-read, but I didn't regret a word of it.
How I Became a North Korean.
劉慈欣 Liu Cixin. Death's End.
Neal Stephenson. Seveneves.
Neal Stephenson and George Jewbury (as Frederick George). Interface.
Charles Stross. The Jennifer Morgue.
Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. Zeroes.
Monique Witting. Les Guérillères. 'There was a time when you were not a slave... Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.'

Anthony Bourdain. Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical.
Dean Buonomano. Brain Bugs: How the brain's flaws shape our lives.
Roger Luckhurst. The mummy's curse: the true history of a dark fantasy.
Serena Nanda. Neither man nor woman: the Hijras of India.
Phil Sandifer. Neoreaction: a Basilisk.
Neal Stephenson. In the Beginning... Was the Command Line.
Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72.
Kevin Warwick. Artificial Intelligence: the Basics.
Fay Weldon. Auto da Fay.

The Probably Unwise "Man's Inhumanity to Man" Reading List Project:
Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl.
John Hershey. Hiroshima.
George Orwell. Animal Farm.

Manga etc
Hirano Kōta. Hellsing vol 1.
Hamish Steele. Pantheon: the True Story of the Egyptian Deities. No less silly (or rude) than the myths it's based on. :)

Books bought and borrowedCollapse )

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Words in Print, 2016

Dec. 31st, 2016 | 01:04 pm

Keeping Mum, short story, 4800 words (published by Cosmos magazine online, March 2016)

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Completed writing projects, 2016

Dec. 31st, 2016 | 10:44 am

Set and the Goddesses, essay (submission for A Silver Sun and Inky Clouds: A Devotional Anthology for Djehuty and Set)

Strange Flesh, novel (redraft)

The Pyramids of Mars, essay (for Obverse Books' 'Black Archive' series)
(I actually sent this off on 2 January 2017, but it really belongs here. :)

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Refugee Update

Dec. 19th, 2016 | 07:28 pm

Let's have some good news!

Landmark win on citizenship provides hope for many thousands of former refugees (Refugee Council of Australia press release, 16 December 2016): "The Minister of Immigration... was found to have unreasonably delayed in making decisions on citizenship applications... The case... provides hope for 10,231 people that the department confirmed were in similar situations... For people who are recognised as refugees, it is extremely difficult to bring family members to safety in Australia without citizenship. As such, delays in processing citizenship applications have left many in prolonged situations of danger and persecution, despite having a parent, sibling or other close relative who has been recognised as a refugee in Australia." | Immigration authorities unreasonably delayed refugees' citizenship bids, court rules (GA, 16 December 2016) | 'Social time bomb': UNHCR's warning on the plight of 30,000 asylum seekers already living in Australia (SMH, 23 November 2016): "Australia faces a "social time bomb" over the failure to process and integrate around 30,000 asylum seekers who are in the community on bridging visas after arriving by boat during the term of the former Labor government."

Melbourne suburb Eltham welcomes refugees (The Saturday Paper, 3 December 2016) Good on them for standing up to the bigots who descended on their community. | Syria war: Peter Dutton open to expanding one-off refugee intake beyond 12,000 (ABC, 21 November 2016). Christians, obviously.

Well, that was nice. Now back to the usual:

Offshore detention report says half of child abuse cases receive inadequate response (GA, 16 December 2016) "Child Protection Board says less than 1% of cases result in criminal convictions and immigration department cannot be sure of number of incidents." This is the context in which Nauru charging a male refugee with sexually assaulting a Nauruan girl under 16 has to be seen: of the numerous reports of abuse of refugee children on Nauru, "Only one case at the Nauru detention centre was referred to the Nauru public prosecutor and the case did not proceed." Nauru's Deputy Police Commissioner, Kalinda Blake, said that reports of assaults against refugees were usually "fabrications", an attitude wearyingly familiar from many years of reading about police and sexual assault.

Offshore detainees' mental illness among highest of any surveyed population: UNHCR study (SMH, 21 Novembr 2016) | A glimmer of hope for damaged detainees on Manus Island (SMH, 21 November 2016)

Photographer Ashley Gilbertson writes in the New York Times: "I Am Ashamed to Be Australian" (12 December 2016). "I've seen people displaced by sub-Saharan African wars that dragged on for so long that their children and grandchildren were born in enormous, forgotten refugee camps. I've photographed the Kurds, who have known only persecution — an entire ethnic group that remains stateless. I've followed Syrian refugee families into the tumultuous Aegean Sea. I've witnessed people trapped at borders and beaten by the police; children separated from their parents, wandering on busy, unfamiliar roads; families literally running for their lives. Sometimes, when they were not fast enough, I've seen people murdered. And yet, in all that time, I have not seen the level of cruelty toward these vulnerable people that the Australian government is perpetrating against the refugees on Manus Island."

Where does Australia rank on its refugee intake? (ABC, 21 September 2016) SPOILER: 32nd.

Fake fishing boats used in asylum seeker turnbacks spotted off Cocos Islands (GA, 28 November 2016) | Vietnamese boats 'unseaworthy', government sources say (SMH, 12 March 2015)

Australian government concedes evidence against asylum seeker was obtained by torture (GA, 26 November 2016): "Sayed Abdellatif is still held in detention in Sydney even though immigration minister Peter Dutton was briefed 18 months ago that evidence used in Egypt to convict him was discredited."

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Refugee Update

Dec. 13th, 2016 | 12:39 pm

The refugee swap deal with the US is dubious, but getting at least some people out of offshore detention can only be a good thing. However, it looks increasingly unlikely that the swap will go ahead.

What do we know about the Central American refugee deal between the US and Australia? (GA, 25 November 2016)

Senior US Republicans criticise 'secret' refugee deal with Australia (GA, 25 November 2016)

Nauru refugees sceptical of resettlement deal with US, Sky reporter says after visit (GA, 29 November 2016) "...some are so weary about there being a solution to their situation that they’re managing expectations."

US will reportedly take only up to 400 refugees under Australia deal (GA, 29 November 2016)

Trump administration could scuttle refugee resettlement deal with US, White House concedes (ABC, 3 December 2016)

Turnbull insists US deal to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus will survive Trump's inauguration (SMH, 4 December 2016)

Immigration boss Michael Pezzullo flies to America to sell refugee deal to Donald Trump officials (The Age, 13 December 2016)

Racism against non-white and/or non-Anglophone immigrants is of course inextricably entwined with Australia's refugee policies. Here's some recent news and some historical context.

I've been told to 'go back to my country' my whole life. First in playgrounds, now by Peter Dutton (GA, 25 November 2016) | Lebanese-Australians speak out over Peter Dutton's comments: 'That's not us' (ABC, 26 November 2016) | Meet with us or be quiet: Lebanese community issues demand to Dutton (SMH, 25 November 2016) | Peter Dutton isn't wrong, but that doesn't make him right (SMH, 23 November 2016) (Informed and nuanced commentary from Jacinta Carroll, head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's Counter Terrorism Policy Centre.)

Muslim immigration: new research throws doubt on the poll that shocked the nation (SMH, 22 November 2016) | There isn't a 'silent majority' of racists in Australia (SMH, 22 November 2016)

Enemy aliens: How my family's lives were changed by Australia's wartime internment camps (ABC, 28 November 2016)

Calling Australia home: stories of Australia's boat people (SMH, 24 November 2016)


If Australia had its current refugee policy in 1939, we wouldn't be alive today (GA, 19 September, 2016). '"Refo" was a straightforwardly racist, pejorative term. Now Australian governments use more sophisticated language like "unlawful boat arrivals"... Regardless of the terminology, the underlying racist logic is the same.'

A powerful opinion piece from the New York Times, Would You Hide a Jew From the Nazis?, reminds us of the parallels between then and now: 'The vitriol in public speech, the xenophobia, the accusing of Muslims of all of our problems — these are similar to the anti-Semitism of the 1930s and '40s.'

And last but not least: Fact Check One Nation

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The what now

Dec. 12th, 2016 | 12:46 pm

In a rather peculiar chapter of In The Beginning... Was the Command Line (1999), Neal Stephenson veers from an interesting discussion of different operating systems, command line interfaces, and graphical user interfaces, into somehow linking the dominance of GUIs to postmodernism and "moral relativism". (Very nineties America, and clearly the same guy who co-wrote Interface.) GUIs and graphics predominate, Stephenson argues, partly because "the world is very complicated now... and we simply can't handle all of the details".

"But more importantly, it comes out of the fact that during this century, intellectualism failed, and everyone knows it. In places like Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abbatoir. Those wordy intellectuals used to be merely tedious; now they seem kind of dangerous as well." (p53)

As I so often protest, my knowledge of history is shamefully tenuous. I guess that, when it comes to Russia, he's talking about Marx et al. But who the hell is he talking about re Germany? My impression of Nazi Germany is that intellectuals were despised and, if they could, got the hell out of there as fast as they could. Has Stephenson got intellectualism mixed up with ideology? Maybe Hannah Arendt will explain it to me.

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