Big 50 Volume 13: Childhood Illnesses

Oh I had ’em all.  Some of them I don’t remember, some of them I remember all too well.  But I was a SICKLY child.

My Grandma tells me that when I was just a baby, before I turned 2, I had gastroenteritis so bad that she thought I was dead.

I can remember having mumps, on two occasions.  I remember having one mump the first time, and then both mumps the second.  Mump is a funny word you know.  Mump.  Mump.

Apparently I’ve had both measles and German measles (Rubella).  I don’t remember the regular measles at all, but I do remember having German measles.  I remember feeling sick and my  mother coming into my room to get me up for school and the look of shock on her face when she saw me.  I remember looking down at my chest and seeing this weird rash.  I think I must have been about 10, it was definitely before we were lined up to get the Rubella vaccination, which was at about 11 or 12.  I remember the girl in line before me having a complete and utter meltdown and having to be strapped to a gurney to get her shot.  I was scared and when I got in there, the doctor jabbed me and I said “Is that it?”  I had been sure they were going to torture me or something from the previous girl’s antics.

I got the chicken pox at 12 and I remember it REALLY clearly.  Because I woke up on Christmas Eve with the chicken pox.  You never, ever forget having chicken pox at 12 on Christmas Day.  Especially if your shitty little cousins spent the whole day chanting “You’ve got CHICKEN COCKS!!” at you.  I remember being in a lot of pain with the chicken pox.  We were staying with my great aunt and uncle, and I remember sleeping a lot of Christmas day with their new kitten curled up asleep beside me.  It’s like she was comforting me.

The worst thing about chicken pox though is it means you can get shingles… and I got shingles as an adult, let me tell you, that sucks worse than having the chicken pox at age 12 on Christmas Day!  My God I’ve never known pain like it.  I thought I had spinal cancer.  It really freaked me out.  I hope I never get it again.

As well as illnesses, I hurt myself a few times rather spectacularly.  At 5 I stood on a sewing needle, the eye end punctured my foot and broke off, and then buried itself deep into my foot.  It went in just below the ball of my foot, and the surgeon removed it from an incision beside my little toe.  I still have the scar 33 years later!  I also stacked my bike once and ripped open my left knee, and have to have stitches.  It was full of dirt and rocks and crap too.  And I can just remember being about 6 and having some kind of pinched nerve in my hip that left me paralysed from the waist down for awhile.  Must have been scary for the adults in my life.  I just remember being carried everywhere like a baby.

So what about you?  Have you had any spectacular or memorable childhood illnesses?  What about accidents and injuries?  Did you have annoying younger cousins who made fun of you for it?


November 28, 2010. Big 50, children, illness. 2 comments.

Protecting Your Children

Thinking more about internet censorship today.  I have half a dozen different tangents buzzing around in my head, but I’ll try to pull them out into focused topics for you and publish each one separately.  The reason there is so much buzzing around in my head is because this internet filter that the Australian government are planning to implement has so many flaws and reasons why it’s wrong for the government to do this to the Australian public that one doesn’t quite know where to start!

Today I was thinking about the claims by the government that they plan to implement this mandatory censorship simply to protect children from child pornography.  This is the hub of all their arguments, and it’s a cunning little ploy to force all of us that are against their censorship to look like we actually condone child pornography on the internet.

This is not true.  Those of us who are against censoring the internet are very much against child pornography, but we also know that this “filter” will do NOTHING to protect children from these predators, while actually making it easier for them.

Let me direct you to a fairly good description of how censoring the internet will not prevent or protect children from child pornography…

Click here

Now, as the post above explains, filtering the internet does not cover peer to peer networks (which is what child pornographers are using, and will be using even more once the internet is censored, because it will become even more safe for them).

A simpler explanation is this.  The internet is a whole bunch of computers all around the world, all connecting to each other through a web of internet service providers.  It is possible to filter internet service providers so that things you don’t want people to see are blocked, as well as files and documents are filtered so you can’t share illegal material.  However in doing so, it does things like slow down the service, block things you don’t want blocked, and be controlled by something like a government body.

A peer to peer network is like a small ring or web of computers that are only connected to each other.  Other than those actually in the network, who have been screened and invited, there is no way to block or filter it.  So people who are using p2p have the ability to share illegal material easily amongst themselves, passing it from one to another with no problem at all.  They don’t have to worry about the authorities finding it, because it’s not connected to the greater internet.

This is what child sexual predators are already using to share their disgusting child pornography.  As well as chat rooms, postal mail, and even hand delivery.  The internet filter will not affect this AT ALL.

Child predators do not build websites to lure children in.  They go to where the kids already are (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and other popular sites), pose as other kids and groom them up there to trust them and make decisions that their young minds aren’t ready for.  No filter will fix this.  The only thing that will is awareness in kids as to what is safe behaviour, and good police resources to work towards capturing the predators.

Add to that the fact that the billions of your tax dollars that will be spent on this internet censorship will actually be diverted from areas like police, legal and prison resources that actually DO find, catch, prosecute and sentence child predators.  If the government have money to spend on this ineffective filter, why don’t they devote it ALL to resources that ARE effective?

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to protect children on the internet at an immediate level.  The most effective way is parental supervision.  That doesn’t just mean hovering over the computer while your child uses it, but teaching your kids that stranger danger doesn’t just happen on the streets, that it’s not ok to talk to people on the internet you don’t know.  It means teaching them how to use the internet to find good information and fun safely.  It means having the computer in a common area of the house if you have children, so that you are present to answer their questions or notice strange behaviour.  And if you have quite young children (under 10) then there are inexpensive software packages that help YOU choose what they can and cannot access on the internet.  Perhaps the government could spend the billions of dollars of your tax money in providing this software to every household that has a child?  It could quite easily be sent home from school with them, or mailed to you.  Or on a government website for you to download.

Instead of offering all these solutions that we know actually work, they plan to put an mandatory internet filter in place that will not actually help prevent child pornography or catch any child predators are out there.

Which raises the question… what is it that they really want to block us from seeing and why? Food for thought hmmm?

January 11, 2010. Australia, censorship, child pornography, child predators, children, education, internet, No Clean Feed, paedophiles, pedophiles, peer to peer networks, police, politics, responsibility, safety, taxes, technology, transparency. 4 comments.

Why It’s Important…

Time for another blog post on the subject of the Australian Governments plan to force all Australians under mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) level filtering of the internet.

I had been planning to go to a meeting tonight in Brisbane of people interested in working out how we can prevent this from happening, but unfortunately I’ve not been well today and had to come home, so I’m going to take some time to do another blog post, and I’ll catch up tomorrow with updates from the meeting and where to go from there.

Ok, let’s start by sharing a very clear, plain-language website which explains the internet censorship plans, and gives you straight-forward steps you can take to have your say on the matter:

The Gift of Censorship

If you click on no other links, click on that one.  It is the clearest, simplest explanation I have seen so far.

Secondly, I know many people are asking why we Australians should be concerned about this policy the government are introducing.  Well, here are a few reasons:

  1. Mandatory censorship of our internet will draw us in line with countries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  These countries censor what their citizens can access and use on the internet.  People are not allowed to read or talk to each other freely and openly on the internet.
  2. The government are telling us that they are doing this to protect children.  However they are not only planning to filter child pornography, but also anything that has “refused classification”.  This includes anything of an adult nature that you and I can consent to view and access that does not fit the somewhat narrow ACMA guidelines.  This may include things like computer games (adults over 25 are the highest consumers of gaming in Australia – NOT children), legitimate adult sexual material, information on abortion, euthanasia and drug use and/or portions of interactive websites that may contain these subjects (which means YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc).
  3. The government are not making the list of blocked sites public.  This means that you can be censored for something and not even know about it.  They can just display a generic “error” message that makes no sense to the average internet user, and you would never know what was on the other side.  What is to stop them from blocking anything they like?  Want to speak out against the current government  (or indeed, possibly even future governments) like I am here?  You might find your own site blocked.  That’s right – even your blog, or website can be blocked, and labelled “refused classification”
  4. This internet censorship will not stop child pornography.  All it will do is make paedophiles more creative in how they traffic their filth.  It will not protect children, it will not prevent child pornography from being traded, and will make it harder for the police and other authorities to track, find, prosecute and punish paedophiles.

As someone who works in an industry where our whole philosophy is behind serving the community with information, literacy and education, the idea of the government censoring any form of media and information is totally abhorrent to me.

We can not be living in a democratic society if our government is censoring us and keeping information from us.

December 21, 2009. Australia, censorship, children, choice, democracy, ethics, freedom, information, internet, literacy, morals, No Clean Feed, technology. 2 comments.

Did I Say That?

I think it’s time to take up another blog challenge.

This one comes from the Library Nerd herself, Naomi.  She suggested that I blog about times I’ve made inappropriate comments (she is aware of my severe case of blurtitis) or that I’ve had them made to me, or heard them.  I think that’s a great idea, because I’ve heard some CRACKERS over the years.
I think the worst one anyone has ever said to me, was a woman I was having a conversation with about cosmetic surgery.  She said “Well you don’t have to worry, fat people don’t get wrinkles.”
She was actually being complimentary at the time.  The guy who was standing with us during the conversation literally choked on his coffee.
There are always the ones out of the mouths of babes too.  Kids have a real knack of just blurting out truths that are inappropriate for the time and place.  Like the four year old who raised his hand in class when I asked “Who at home has someone who smokes?”  I called on him with “Yes Daniel, who smokes at your house?” to which Daniel replied “Uncle Marty, sometimes through a billy!” (note: billy is a local slang for a bong)
Also the little girl who when I complimented her on her pretty dress, replied “Thanks, my Mummy stole it for me.” and her big brother nudged her and went “Shhhhh!”
I’m just trying to think of the worst clanger I’ve ever dropped.  I’m so used to doing it now, because I have almost no filter between my brain and my mouth (it’s a sign of honesty, I believe, got to have some positive benefit to it!) that I think I get over it when I make some kind of horrible faux pas much quicker than I used to.
I do remember announcing to a room full of my father’s golf buddies when I was a kid, the reason he had got so good at his golf game was “Cos he got the sack and plays golf all the time and hasn’t got any money for beer.”  Yeah, well done Kath!  He kicked my arse for that one!
So, now it’s your turn.  What’s the worst clanger you’ve ever let slip, or heard someone else say?  Trot out your best inappropriate comments now!

June 7, 2009. challenge post, children, embarrassment, faux pas. Leave a comment.

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