Friday, March 30, 2018

thank you wikispaces

Sadly wikispaces is closing due to the high cost of keeping up. Their farewell statement.

Wikis are one of the great things about the world wide web. From 2006 on I founded or help create 4 to 5 separate wikis which were all free thanks to wikispaces generous policies towards educators. Here they are:

Learning Evolves
Africa Game
Universal Communications

According to the farewell statement these links will disappear after 31st July, 2018.

I want to say a big thank you to the wikispaces team for developing and maintaining an awesome system.

What next?

With the ongoing commercialisation of the web it seems safest to stick with the giants so I've decided to continue with Google Sites. I prefer the Classic version over New because with the Classic you can do some HTML/CSS.

So, see Living Contradictions for my continuing presence on the web.

Friday, March 16, 2018

my complaint to Centrelink

My Customer Reference Number: (provided)

When I visited the Centrelink Office in Alice Springs I was told that I had to submit my Age Pension Claim online.

I went ahead and did that. I found the computer user interface to be not user friendly. In particular when documents were uploaded they disappeared from view so they couldn’t be checked. When multipage documents were uploaded I was informed they were being merged into one document but there was no way to for me to view the final product of the merging. At other times I was informed that the system wasn’t working.

(1) In my opinion you need to improve the user friendliness of your online sofware.

Recently, after a very long wait I’ve received a letter from Centrelink reference (provided) dated 12th March 2018 requesting my bank account balance on 10 January 2018. The letter was signed by (provided) MANAGER

If I don’t meet this request by 25th March I am informed that my “claim for Age Pension may be rejected”

This is strange because I have already provided Centrelink with my bank account balance in my Age Pension application.

(2) Why don’t you accept the bank account balance that I have already provided to you?
(3) My application was submitted on 22-1-2018 online so why do you want my bank balance on a different date (10-1-2018)?

My bank account balance is split into 3 sections (Streamline, Netbank Saver, GoalSaver). I phoned the Bank and they have told me they don’t issue statements for particular days.

(4) How do you expect me to provide details for my bank account balance on a particular day when the bank does not issue them?

When I uploaded my application I received a response saying it would take you 6 weeks to process. Your nominated date was 12th March. You then sent me an automated mail every 4 or 5 days saying that my claim was “progressing”. But there was zero evidence that anyone was working on my claim during that 6 week period. I believe my claim was straightforward and could be processed in less than an hour.

(5) Why have you taken so long to process my claim?
(6) Why did you state that the claim was progressing when it is clear that no progress was made for 6 weeks?
(7) Why do you threaten to not provide me with an Age Pension if I don’t meet your demands within 2 weeks and yet you take more than 6 weeks to process my form. That is not equitable fair dealing.

The current letter says I can “download forms to be completed by going to and searching the name of the form”. But the letter doesn’t say which name to search for! I visit the URL suggested and do a search for “bank account” and I can’t find a form on that site to provide my bank account balance.

(8) Since you want me to fill out a form why don’t you provide me with the name of the form or attach the form to the letter you sent me?

The letter says “please call us on 132 300” if I have any questions.

I called that number and a computer voice spoke to me requesting information which I did my best to provide. The computer then put me on hold and played a violin concerto for the next 30 minutes from 16:30 to 17:00 on Friday 16th March. After 30 minutes waiting I give up and hung up the phone.

(9) Do you think it is reasonable to keep people waiting for more than 30 minutes on a number which you provide for questions?

All my dealings with Centrelink have been digital.

(10) I would like to offer you the opportunity to interact with me face to face. I would happily open any Bank Account or Super Account I hold and show you the details. I believe this would be a far more friendly and time efficient way to resolve any doubts you may have about the veracity of my claim.

William Kerr

update 17th March:
(1) When I arrived in Alice Springs I received a form letter from Senator Nigel Scullion where he offered to assist me with matters of federal responsibility (including) Centrelink. His letter went on to say
If you feel that you are getting the "run around" ... give me a call
So I sent Nigel Scullion an email and attached a copy of my Complaint about Centrelink.

I then received an automated rely which included:
Responses to portfolio related correspondence typically take between 4 – 6 weeks and we endeavour to respond to constituents at the earliest opportunity but certainly within 6 weeks also.

Not all correspondence receives a response...
(2) I'm rereading David Graeber's 2006 essay "Beyond Power/Knowledge an exploration of the relation of power, ignorance and stupidity"

This essay is not, however, primarily about bureaucracy—or even about the reasons for its neglect in anthropology and related disciplines. It is really about violence. What I would like to argue is that situations created by violence—particularly structural violence, by which I mean forms of pervasive social inequality that are ultimately backed up by the threat of physical harm—invariably tend to create the kinds of willful blindness we normally associate with bureaucratic procedures. To put it crudely: it is not so much that bureaucratic procedures are inherently stupid, or even that they tend to produce behavior that they themselves define as stupid, but rather, that are invariably ways of managing social situations that are already stupid because they are founded on structural violence. I think this approach allows potential insights into matters that are, in fact, both interesting and important ...
This is a wide ranging essay which covers bureaucracy and violence from an anthropological perspective, with references to Weber, Foucault, Marx, Kafka and others. Well worth reading.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

the little children are still sacred

Jacinta Price:
In the wake of the alleged rape of the toddler at Tennant Creek she took to Facebook and in ­typical style went right in at the deep end. “I have said it over and over again that a child’s life is far more important than anything else whether that be the child’s culture or kin!” she began. “Those who complain about the high rates of removal of Aboriginal children fail to point out why this is happening. Those of us who push for children to be removed in order to save their lives are ­fighting an uphill battle. The parents are failing their children and then the system is failing the children and this has to stop! The blood of our children is on the hands of those who want to keep pushing the ‘second ­stolen generation’ myth … political correctness and stigma brought on by our ­country’s history renders us useless to act on what is the right thing to do!”
- Uncomfortable truths
Follow the link for a moving insight into Jacinta's inside story (update: unfortunately the linked article is behind The Australian paywall)

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Some books I am reading in 2018

Broad, Neil. Eastern and Central Arrernte Picture Dictionary (2008)
Brooks, David. A town like Mparntwe: a guide to the Dreaming tracks and sites of Alice Springs (first published in 1991)
Bruner, Jerome. The Culture of Education (1996)
Clendinnen, Inga. Dancing with Strangers (2003)
diSessa, Andrea. Changing Minds: Computers, Learning and Literacy (2000)
Dobson, Veronica Perrurle and Henderson, John. Anpernirrentye: Kin and Skin: Talking about family in Arrernte (2013)
Gibson, Ross. Seven Versions of an Australian Badland (2002)
Hogan, Eleanor. Alice Springs (2012)
Graeber, David. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015)
Graves, Colleen and Aaron. The Big Book of Maker Space Projects (2017)
Green, John. Turtles All The Way Down (2017)
Ilyenkov, Evald. Dialectical Logic: Essays on its History and Theory (1977)
Karvinen, Tero;Karvinen, Kimmo; Valtokari, Ville. Make: Sensors: A Hands-On Primer for Monitoring the Real World with Arduino and Raspberry Pi (2014) pdf pp. 1-40
Kundera, Milan. Immortality (1992)
LeGuin, Ursula. The Telling (2000)
Leontyev, Aleksei Nikolaevich. Activity and Consciousness
Lewis, R. The Beginner's Guide to Australian Aboriginal Art: The symbols, their meanings and some Dreamtime stories (2009)
Livingston, Eric. Ethnographies of Reason (2016)
Livingstone, Sonia and Sefton-Green, Julian. The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age (2017)
Mahood, Kim. Craft for a Dry Lake (2000)
Manning Bancroft, Jack and others. Mentoring: The key to a fairer world (2018)
Mitchell, Euan. Your Book Publishing Options: How to Make and Market Ebooks and Print Books (2014)
Morrison, Glenn. Songlines and Fault Lines: Epic Walks of the Red Centre (2017)
Mundine, Warren. In Black and White: Race Politics and Changing Australia (2017)
Murdoch, Iris. Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature (1999)
Nakata, Martin. Disciplining the Savages, Savaging the Disciplines (2007)
Pearl, Judea & Mackenzie, Dana. The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect (2018)
Rennie, Ellie; Hogan, Eleanor; Gregory, Robin; Crouch, Andrew; Wright, Alyson; Thomas, Julian. Internet on the Outstation: The Digital Divide and Remote Aboriginal Communities (2016)
Rennie, Ellie; Yunkaporta, Tyson; Holcombe-Jones, Indigo. CyberSafety in remote aboriginal communities: final report (2018)
Reynolds, Henry. Forgotten War (2013)
Roberts, Tony. Frontier Justice: A History of the Gulf Country to 1900 (2005)
Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Moon (2018)
Roth, Wolff-Michael. The Mathematics of Mathematics: Thinking with the Late, Spinozist Vygotsky (2017)
Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine. Putting Movement Into Your Life: a beyond fitness primer (2014)
Smerdon, David. Smerdon's Scandanavian (2015)
Suchman, Lucy Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions (2007), link goes to free pdf
Upton, Eben and Halfacree, Gareth. Raspberry Pi User Guide 4th Edition (2016)
Wells. Linda. Still a Town Like Alice: Alice Springs 1986-2008 (2011)