Welcome to Janet's Blog

I first used this blog to publish "Trash" before I knew about ebooks. I wrote "Trash" twenty years ago. The novel explains why, in the original version of "If not for the tomatoes" Annie wrote: "We had aliens come and tell us". It wasn't Al Gore at all.

Annie isn't the hero of "Trash", but she has her own story ( a much more polished novel). Go to smashwords.com and look for "Tipping Point". (Follow the link to the right.)

If you're a first time visitor to my blog, try reading "If not for the tomatoes" first. (It's the short story in Annie's future - look in 6/5/07) This is only half the story, though. The complete story that inspired Tipping Point appears in my other blog as "Our choices".

To begin reading "Trash", start at 17/6/07. (Many apologies for the poor navigation.)


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

How rational is Tony?

Economic rationalism is destroying the world.

I have just finished reading Isabelle Allende's The House of the Spirits. Her portrait of the conservative Senator Trueba makes me think of Australia's "Liberals".

Led by Tony Abbott, the Liberals are dismantling the good that has been done for our country, just because it was done by the Labor Party. Programs and departments are being closed, leaving the environment and science untended. The Disability Support Scheme is now in his sights and I want to weep for what is being done in our names to innocent asylum seekers who have tried to reach Australia because they thought they would get a "fair go". Senator Ludlum's speech was so much more eloquent than I could be.

Pip (who works in the sustainability field) was telling me recently that a business friend was surprised at what wasn't being reported in the news. Abbott has not yet been able to repeal the "big bad tax" on carbon that isn't actually a tax. This woman had nothing but praise for a system which gathered money and then redirected it to businesses, allowing them to make the changes necessary to be more "green" and sustainable, and also more competitive in the market: a result which would surely be acceptable to the conservatives who run this country. Instead, the Liberals continue to harvest the "tax", but the money is no longer being directed as intended. Why? What are they doing with this money?

I can't help but wonder whether all the posturing about the need for the government to make cuts is just a cover for the changes they are making to deliver their hard-hearted ideology. Meanwhile Abbott takes a business trip to crow about trade agreements he is signing, all of which were the result of years of negotiations by the Labor government.

When Senator Trueba and his cronies were unhappy at the democratic election of a Communist president, they tried every trick they could think of. Consumer goods disappeared from the shelves and rumour abounded. When economic squeezing didn't work, they enlisted the help of the military, supporting a coup that overthrew the communists. But the soldiers had no intention of handing over power, and before too long the country was being savaged by a military dictatorship worse than anything Senator Trueba could have imagined.

What will be the cost to Australia of Abbott's single-minded conviction that economic rationalism is the best basis for government? The belief that the best reason to dismantle a program is that it was begun by the Labor Party? The refusal to see that welfare is about both compassion and common sense? What will be the consequence of his intention to exploit rather than save our fragile environment?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Editorial comment

I've been signing on-line petitions for some time now: save the whale, save the rainforests, help little Johnny get the cancer treatment he needs. It's kind of depressing hearing about so many things that should be done but need petitions to give them momentum. Today, however, (Well, okay, it might have been yesterday.) I have finally signed a petition that made me feel kind of hopeful.

Apparently there is a push for newspapers to change their policy concerning letters to the editor. In line with a responsibility to be accurate in their publications, some papers (wish I could remember the names) have decided not to publish letters from climate change deniers. The papers are effectively accepting that climate change is real, and caused by human activity, and any-one who says differently is just plain wrong.

Such a small thing but I feel like cheering. The petition I signed was calling on  Australian papers to follow suit - I believe the Sydney Morning Herald already has. And as unseasonal bushfires rage at the outskirts of Sydney, I feel a quiet surge of hope. Is this the beginning of the change in public opinion that will lead to effective action to save our beautiful world?

Monday, 16 September 2013

I love to listen to the rain falling. The stars are hiding behind the clouds and the frogs in the gully are loudly happy. They chirp and pobblebonk while I listen to the rain caressing the earth, cleaning the leaves. I can hear the bush drinking.

In the morning the birds whistle and sing in the sparkling trees. The freshness of the world stuns me. With reluctance I prepare to leave my home - go out into the world to earn a living. I am sustained by the knowledge of the beauty that awaits me when I return home.

But the seasons are wrong. This oasis of rain follows summer weather when it should have been winter. The weather records continue - hottest month, hottest year. Am I the only one who sees the patterns and believes the scientists when they call for urgent action?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Fantasy and the Future

Many of the fantasy novels I'm so fond of reading include ideas that demonstrate that the author is concerned about the future of the world. The "Wool" trilogy is very clear about the capacity the human race has to destroy the world around them in a misguided quest for victory. "Metro 2033" ends on a tragic note: having finally realized that the "dark ones" wish to co-operate with the humans of the Metro, Artyom helplessly watches the missiles destroy them. I found his moment of tragic enlightenment especially poignant. Will humans realize, too late, that we are destroying ourselves?

The scientists of the world are adamant - human behaviours are hastening climate change - but at times it seems as though no-one hears. As I sit here in Christmas Hills, listening to the birds calming down from their morning chorus, I am horrified by the beautiful Spring morning. This weather is not due for another month. Records continue to fall - this has been the warmest winter on record, just like last winter. The pundits are predicting high fire danger this summer - my season of anxiety will be extended this year. (Perhaps I should start packing my evacuation bags right now, even though winter is only just officially ended.)

What will it take? When will the people in power start making decisions that will help our climate heal? Or will greed for money overpower common sense? Will we be able to create a sustainable future or simply be left to watch helplessly while the environment that sustains us is damaged beyond repair?

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money."

Humans have evolved intelligence and reason - why aren't we using it?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Vote Greens, Australia!

As I look at how this election campaign is being conducted, I fear for the future of democracy in Australia. On one side we have a party led by a man who considers constant repetition of "worst government ever" to be incisive political commentary. He doesn't confuse the electorate by backing up his statements with facts - he must know that the current government has actually done quite well.  Australia is travelling well when compared to the rest of the world - yet the Liberals continue to tell us we've never had it so bad.

His "opponent" is a man who has a reputation that would embarrass Ghenghis Khan. But then, you have to remember that something like 70% of Australia's media are owned by a man who is not even a resident of Australia and who has obviously encouraged a relentless anti-Labor stance in his publications. The press assassinated Julia Gillard, despite the good job she was doing, and now Murdoch wants to change our government. He knows he can trust a conservative government to protect his business interests - after all, the Liberals are clear about supporting business rather than battlers. Of course, they always add the rider about creating jobs, just to show they care for the little person.

There is an obvious solution to dissatisfaction with the major parties. Vote Greens! They have compassionate policies and a commitment to protect the environment. Their influence in our present "minority" government has moderated the major parties and led to some excellent legislation that has changed our country for the better. With so many people so dissatisfied with the major parties, a vote for the Greens will "keep the bastards honest".


This is hard. I'm aiming to write something twice a week or so, but things are so busy. I'm on the roster to help the Greens with various things over the next two weeks. And I've picked up some work - I feel nervous admitting that I miss being at work: people give me strange looks.

I finished reading "Dust" last Friday. It was a satisfying end to the "Wool" series. I'm envious in a way - I'd love to write a story that good. People tell me I write well, but I don't even try to keep my reader on the edge of their seats the way Howey's ripping apocalyptic yarn does.

There were times, though, especially in the first book, when I found myself recognizing Annie's nightmare tunnels in Juliette's silo.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Books versus Computer Games

The game and the book are like peas and corn. They are similar in some ways, very different in others, but both are favourite vegetables of mine. Although their growth habits are quite different, both are the seed of their plant. Preparing them as food requires differing techniques, but both taste great with a little melted butter. I do like a little salt as well with my corn-on-the-cob.

Games are a form of story-telling that can be extremely compelling when done well, but it is difficult for the game to give the detailed perspective offered by a book. While reading a book you do not have the sense of being involved that comes from controlling your character in a game. Both have the capacity to leave me wanting more.

Halfway through the novel, Metro 2033, Artyom has only once fired a gun. In the game he had fought monsters and killed men by this stage. While the game focusses on weapons and fire-power, the novel is a horror-story, creating a picture of a world where the boundaries between normal and para-normal may have been broken down by the very force of the holocaust. The game has simplified and changed the story, but I have walked every step of the way on Artyom's life-saving mission.

I suppose it's obvious that a game is going to lack the subtlety of a book, but to be honest I just don't care. My slippers and my walking shoes have very different functions, but I want to keep them both. When I'm awake at four in the morning I want to play a computer game that will keep me absorbed and fill the lonely hours until dawn. In the afternoon when my legs hurt, I want to lie on the couch and read a book that takes me away from the worries of the day.

Games and books - both have a valued role in my life.