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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, 2016

Dec. 31st, 2016 | 08:53 pm

Fiction
Judith Burnley (ed). Penguin Modern Stories 4.
William Gibson. The Peripheral.
Neal Stephenson. Seveneves.
Charles Stross. The Jennifer Morgue.

Non-Fiction
Dean Buonomano. Brain Bugs: How the brain's flaws shape our lives.
Serena Nanda. Neither man nor woman: the Hijras of India.
Kevin Warwick. Artificial Intelligence: the Basics.

The Probably Unwise "Man's Inhumanity to Man" Reading List Project:
Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl.

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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I hate Chapter Ten.

May. 17th, 2016 | 09:58 am

Wait, I know how to fix this! *whips out flamethrower*

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"But I know all that tears will get together inside me and will explode one day which is too late…"

May. 16th, 2016 | 10:59 am

Asal, 17: A voice from Nauru (The Saturday Paper, 14 May 2016)

Nauru refugee and premature baby in critical condition after emergency caesarean (GA, 13 May 2016) Both have been flown to Australia. Doctors for Refugees say that she had eclampsia and should have been evacuated when she had a seizure five months into the pregnancy. The Guardian article also tells the God-awful story of Rakib, the poor devil who died of heart failure after overdosing on Panadol; he and his boyfriend were given a public thrashing by Nauruans, and threatened with far worse.

The Federal Court has ruled that the rape victim known as S99 must be brought to Australia for her abortion.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton opines that the new wing of the hospital on Nauru is better than some in regional Australia. Putting aside his ability to judge a medical facility, it had better be: the maternal mortality rate on Nauru is forty-three times higher than it is in Australia; 30 babies died per 1,000 live births on Nauru, but only 4 per 1,000 in Australia. Refugees deserve decent health care, and so do Nauruans. (Not to mention Australians in regional areas!)

Perhaps taking a leaf from Australia's use of technicalities, Papua New Guinea now states that the refugees on Manus Island are no longer in detention. Not only are they still illegally imprisoned, but if released, are in danger of being, and I quote Manus Island MP Ron Knight, 'chopped up'. At least the poor bastards won't be sent to Nauru. Say, I know another island where they could live...

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D'Oh

May. 11th, 2016 | 08:58 am

So I was going to buy a copy of Neal H. Walls' "The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth", when I glanced at the pile of books on my desk, and spotted a copy of Neal H. Walls' "The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth". This morning I discovered there are not one, but two copies of Neal H. Walls' "The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth" on my desk. Good thing I didn't buy a third one, then. *facepalm*
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"Mindless!"

May. 8th, 2016 | 08:37 pm

Something that has bugged me slightly forever is the bit in "Four to Doomsday" where Adric and Nyssa are bitching at each other about mathematics. Tegan is irked about having to wait to get home. Adric suggests that, in the meantime, she reads Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica. Tegan is less than keen. Adric, with astonishing venom, responds: "That's the trouble with women. Mindless, impatient, and bossy. " Nyssa, who's reading Russell's book, retaliates: "You mean this? Mindless!"

I thought of Nyssa's harsh dismissal of the Principia when I was reading Douglas Hofstadter's I Am A Strange Loop. Obviously she's partly just repeating Adric's words back at him, and partly unimpressed with what, to an alien from an advanced civilisation, must seem like a pretty basic text. I'm not an alien from an advanced civilisation, but luckily Hofstadter had explained it in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which I read many years ago. Very simply put, Russell and Whitehead were trying to lay out the formal logic that underpins all of mathematics, and Russell discovered what Hofstadter punningly calls "a terrible loophole".

Russell had been using set theory to explain maths. You might imagine "the set of all even numbers" or "the set of all pink elephants" (an "empty set"). But what happens if you define "the set of all sets that don't contain themselves"? If that set contains itself, then it doesn't belong to the set of sets that don't contain themselves, but if it doesn't contain itself, then the set is not the set of all sets that don't contain themselves. If it gives you a headache, imagine what it did to Russell. (The paradox which the Doctor gives BOSS in The Green Death is similar: "If I were to tell you that the next thing I say will be true, but that the last thing I said was a lie, would you believe me?")

Russell "solved" this by banning paradoxes, self-references, or loops, whatever you want to call them, from maths. But Hofstadter challenges this in many ways (he might like the sentence "This sentence was not posted on Livejournal"), and more to the point here, he talks about self-reference as being the basis of consciousness. IIUC, we are literally self-aware. He says that a mosquito probably doesn't know it has a head, that a dog probably has a pretty good idea of "that's my tail", "that's my paw", and that human beings know they have brains and minds. That's why the book's called "I Am A Strange Loop".

If self-reference is what makes a mind, and the Principia Mathematica excludes self-reference, then it is literally "mindless". :)

... good gods, I hope this makes some sort of sense to someone else.

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(no subject)

May. 8th, 2016 | 07:53 pm

Oh no, not ANOTHER draft chapter in which people stand around delivering exposition and agreeing with each other! Repeat after me: every scene must contain conflict, demonstrate character, advance the plot.

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Refugee Update

May. 6th, 2016 | 12:15 pm

Asylum seekers flown back to Sri Lanka from Cocos Islands (SMH, 6 May 2016)

Bad Blood (Four Corners, 25 April 2016). "The Australian Government contract to provide healthcare to detainees has already cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars, but doctors say the medical care provided offshore in Manus Island is dangerously inadequate."

Manus Island: 'Pathetic' bureaucratic response blamed for asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei's death (ABC, 25 April 2016) This is one of those cases where reading about the Nazis gives me an uncomfortable feeling. They killed deliberately, but they also killed through criminal neglect. Australia's detention regime has different goals to the Nazis, and the sheer scale of horror can't be compared. Nor are we starving people or working them to death. Nonetheless, deaths are the inevitable result of our indefinitely imprisoning people in physically dangerous camps with poor nutrition and medical care.

Human Rights Watch: Papua New Guinea 'must tell UN its plan' for closing Manus detention centre (GA, 5 May 2016) This is a useful overview of the detention centre, and of PNG and why it's a bad place to rehome refugees.

Norfolk Islanders propose hosting processing centre for asylum seekers (GA, 5 May 2016) Interestingly, the proposal is for community detention, not detention centres. Opponents' chief concern has been the impact on the tourism industry. Islanders are also wisely suspicious of the Australian government's track record when it comes to promises made to its offshore processing centres.

Young Liberty for Law Reform report: Detention centre staff say careers and lives were damaged by speaking out (GA, 27 April 2016)

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Refugee Update

May. 5th, 2016 | 10:54 am

Manus Island detainees launch High Court bid to be moved to Australia (GA, 5 May 2016)

Manus Island: Australian and PNG officials meet to develop 'road map' to close centre (ABC, 4 May 2016)

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says that refugee advocates are to blame for the self-immolations on Nauru. Sure - just like those Save the Children staff told kids to make up stories about sexual abuse. Right, Peter?

'Asylum seeker boat' arrives in the Australian territory of the Cocos Islands (GA, 3 May 2016) Poor devils got within half a kilometre of shore.

New Manus and Nauru operator signals plans to quit detention centre business (GA, 30 April 2016): "Ferrovial Services, which owns more than 50% of ASX-listed Broadspectrum, formerly Transfield, says these services were not a core part of the valuation."

The winners and losers from Scott Morrison's 2016 budget (GA, 3 May 2016): "Four mainland detention centres are to close, and there’s some extra cash for unaccompanied child refugees, but the big, difficult stuff – ie Nauru and Manus – doesn’t feature." | Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says government wrong to close Darwin detention centre (GA, 4 May 2016) This is Wickham Point, notorious for self-harm and suicide attempts. | Federal Budget offers no new hope for world’s refugees (Refugee Council of Australia press release, 3 May 2016)

I've almost finished Eichmann in Jerusalem (SPOILER: he dies). In these summaries, I don't usually mention people speaking out against Australia's detention regime, such as Labor MP Melissa Parke, campaigner Shen Narayanasamy, and documentary-maker Eva Orner. Maybe I should change that. Hannah Arendt writes:

"For the lesson of such stories is simple and within everybody's grasp. Politically speaking, it is that under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that 'it could happen' in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation." (Italics in original)

Australia can hardly be said to be "under conditions of terror", even with the extraordinary threat of jail for speaking the truth; individuals who stood up to the Nazis lost their lives. Nonetheless, Arendt's lesson applies to us as well - it's the only hope we've got.

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