International Women’s Day (… And The Childcare Strike)


And I thought I had a twisted sense of humour. 

But I’m not the one who arranged a Childcare Centre strike on International Women’s Day.

I kid you not.

Around 1000 Australian Childcare workers are going on strike at 3.20pm on Wednesday 8 March 2017.

Look, I get it. I get they want to make a point: they are protesting the large difference in pay between male-dominated and female-dominated professions. 

And it sucks. No, the word ‘sucks’ trivialises the matter. It is the most ridiculous bullshit* that still exists in our modern society. 

We live in a society where we are blessed… Yes, BLESSED to have high quality childcare services with trained staff and plenty of resources. In a large majority of cases. 

But to be honest, is a strike on International Women’s Day the best idea?

Because when a childcare centre strikes, when it closes early for the day, which demographic is hit the hardest?

Women

That’s right, minions. The majority of people effected by any changes to childcare are women. 

This is not denying there are plenty of guys out there, being a part of the whole childcare process.

But the stats are in, and women draw the short straw. Previous submissions to the Australian Productivity Commission have shown how good childcare can boost the economy for everyone. It gives opportunity to women where they usually see hurdles they need to manage. 

Take away that opportunity, even for just a few hours, and you are reminding women exactly how fragile their opportunities are. How brittle their rights are. 

And what a slap in the face on the one day their rights are supposed to be front and centre, both here and around the world. 

There are plenty of battles to be had for women’s rights this Wednesday. The last thing we need is for one of those battles to bleed over the  grounds we have already fought. 

Be bold. Be brave. Be vocal, and stand tall for women’s rights on our internationally recognised day.

But don’t do it on top of the beaten bodies of those still trying to hold the frontline. 

* Due to the fact EG Sinister reads my blog (taking notes for his own world domination one day), I find I need to … Manage my language. Trust me, there are better words to describe this mess than Bullshit, but it’s best I can do without paying for his tertiary education via swear jar.

Kings’ Kids Corps

kings-kids-corps

Summer school holidays are in full swing, and the spawnlings are not yet restless… but only a fool would allow them to reach that point.

Kings Comics are to the rescue! They are putting on a special kids day for all your little heroes and villains.

So what’s on offer?

  • Cosplay Competition
  • 10% off All-Ages comics (DC Superhero Girls is a fave in our Lair)
  • Games and Activities
  • Kids workshop with Louie Joyce
  • Face-painting (I want a unicorn)
  • Lucky dip bags
kings-facepainting

Used with permission / Kings Comics

The staff at Kings Comics have really been building its community spirit over the past year. Free Comic Book Day was huge back in May, with special guests Nicola Scott, Dean Rankine, Tristan Jones, and Mark Sexton. That particular celebration was the most family friendly (and the most fun) in all of Sydney—dare I say, the best of ALL FCBD events.

Yes, I will dare to say it!

fcbd-kings-guests

Used with permission / Kings Comics

 

The team at Kings Comics always make people welcome in their store. In 2016, Kings also kicked off the women’s only comic-book club Queens of Kings with monthly meets and special guests. They also had their first Single Issues Night earlier this month; a social night of merriment with fellow comic-fans and plenty of single issues to flick through (single issues of comics, not single people with issues… though, I see your point…)

But forget about the ladies, and who cares about drinking and reading comics!! The next big thing is the Kids Corps! Now is the time for all the spawnlings to come and have some fun!

For more info, check out the King Comics Facebook page. Evil Genius Inc will be there (minus EG Dad). Cosplay and all. You couldn’t keep us from the party!

 

When:                 

Tuesday 10 January 2016  –  11am to 4pm

Where:                

Kings Comics

310 Pitt Street, Sydney

 

kings-fcbd-balloons

 

Microsoft Xbox Fanfest: Sydney 2016

The next big event on my social calendar work-duty list is the EB Games Expo, starting next week on Friday 30 September. I’m heading in for the day, under the codename “Official GeekMom Writer”, which should improve my chances of scoring some playtime with ‘yet-to-be-released’ computer games. My preview expectations is up on GeekDad/GeekMom.

In the meantime, Microsoft is doing their own special lead-up to the Expo with Xbox Fanfest: Sydney 2016.

xbox-fanfest

The Good News: Fanfest is totally free. I kid you not. This is a free event and it comes with some pretty cool stuff. More on that in a minute.

The Bad News: Tickets are limited to the first 250 people who turn up at the Microsoft Store in Pitt Street Mall at 10.30am Tuesday 27 September. Tickets will be first-come-first-serve, one per person, adult only (no kids AT ALL), and must be there in person ready to go for the next three (3) days.

If you do happen to satisfy all the criteria (including the insanity of lining up early enough to gain the ticket), then you have this to look forward to:

  • A special Forza Horizon 3 launch event at Sydney Dragway (Tuesday afternoon – transport provided);
  • A secret Wednesday activity for Gears of War 4 (late Wednesday afternoon);
  • Exclusive early access to the Xbox booth at EB Games Expo (Thursday night);
  • Fan swag, Xbox fan shirt, and other loot;
  • Meet and greet with some top-notch developers.

Let me know if you score a ticket, Willy Wonka style. If not, don’t stress. There is still EB Games Expo starting on Friday 30 September.

I’ll see you there.

 

Census Fail: Aust Just Can’t Handle It

Well done, Australia!!

For the last week or two, the Australian Government has been nagging all the Aussie minions about their ‘patriotic duty’ to participate in the National Census on 9 August 2016 (which is tonight – at the time of writing).

That was the first line of BS – it is not patriotic; it is compulsory.

I’m fine with the whole census thing. I see the benefit of the census and consider it a good thing. The data from the census goes towards a good number of things. Yes, yes, yes – it is primarily used by a handful of policy makers and a bunch of civil engineers and local councils. But without the census, those poor minions would simply tick the welfare box on Census Night.

Seriously, census stats are used for determining a range of things: school zones; park development; large building approvals. Yes, it may feel like only policy makers and academic read the damn things, but they are the harbingers of change in our society.

Geez, I sound extremely naive about the romanticised nature of our society. Quick, dose me up with some Stephen Colbert

And that was for the United States of America in 2013. How dare we expect Australia to have caught up three years later?

I mean, c’mon. They spent all this time and money on organising the Census to be electronic. YAY! Digital evolution!!

Oh wait, you haven’t submitted your census details yet? Well, why not?

WHAT?!? The website has CRASHED?!?

ABS

But surely not! The Aust Govt told us it wouldn’t crash!! They promised us the smooth path of enlightenment into the digital world of the future!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

The good news is that this is a nation-wide documented event. You’re pretty safe from being fined if the census data is late.

Of course, there are some who are considering not submitting it at all. At last count, Senator Nick Xenophon, Senator Jacqui Lambie, and five other Green Senators have all said “No thanks” due to concerns regarding privacy and security. We even have a former deputy privacy commissioner, Anna Johnston, boycotting the event.

The problem with this is not everyone can rally the financial support to take on the ABS with this protest. Once they figure out you boycotted, they can start fining you $180 per day for withholding information. This kind of limits the protest vote to those with enough Klout (you can find my FundMe website … Nah, too lazy).

And while some may parry with “The Census is no different to Facebook” – please note the biggest difference of all:

Facebook is elective. If you don’t like the privacy settings, you don’t have to participate. The Census is a “patriotic duty”, remember?

I’ll be honest – I am really torn on this one. As a social antagonist (read: hobby sociologist), I love census and all the stupid it collates. But on the other hand, I have heard reports of the ABS being violated electronically up to 14 times in the last three years. I’m not sure if I want my personal details (including MY NAME) associated with that sort of behaviour.

I have a reputation to uphold. 😛

 

Soooo… will you “census”?
UPDATE: Apprently the Census site did not crash, it was hacked – 4 times!!

ABC News is following up on the statement from ABS. I would not want to be an ABS employee today. Or any day really.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Turns out it was just DDoS, or a bunch load of people accessing the site all at the same time…

So why did they release a statement saying “hack attack” to begin with? And is IBM going to do its job now? 

What Jobs Can Minions Do Better Than Machines and Computers?

 

This post is part of a new series “If I Ran The People Zoo“, looking at the impact Artificial Intelligence will have on directly on our spawnlings and their future. 

We are in the midst of the next big sociological change: automation, and more specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Better Than Computers

You could be forgiven for not knowing this. It wasn’t considered an issue in the recent Australian Federal Election, nor have we had a breeze of it in the US Election discussion. Nevermind a little thing like the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) 2016 report released recently. It only predicted 40% of Australia’s workforce would be replaced by automation within the next 10 to 20 years.

Let that sink in, because it is a key feature of this post – and in fact, this series.

40% of current jobs will probably not exist by the time our spawnlings are finishing school and looking for a job to provide a SALARY. To pay for their LIVING.

In regional areas, that number could be as high as 60%.

It’s important to note, we’re not talking loss of industry here. The work will still be there; it is just done by a robot rather than a human. You can’t jump in and say “We still need that group of workers!” because we will still have the work, just with fewer coffee breaks and toilet stops.

Makes you wonder what will be left for our spawnlings.

So let’s start with a process of elimination. The easy target is the manufacturing industry. Factory work. Dock workers. Any routine repetitive task that can be easily programmed.

Next obvious target is the mining industry: Already done. There are mines in the Pilbara region in Western Australia, entirely automated; from the hard labour roles through to ‘driverless trucks’. Ironically, for every time you hear a regional politician propose faster trains across Australia, another driverless battery-powered truck is being tested on the long haul routes.

IronOre

Photo from Public Domain

 

Think it is just the manual/physical jobs at risk? Think again. Remember – we are initially looking at any role that is routine. Repetitive. Easily programmed.

Start thinking about the ‘safe’ jobs those Tiger Mums are pushing for their precious miracles: Accountants. Real Estate Agents. Lawyers. And yes, teachers.  The ‘area of risk’ has now expanded from the lower and base level to middle level of employment.

From personal experience, I completely believe the risk to lawyers. The paper pushing in most litigation is very ‘routine’. There are already programs out there, able to do the data collating role of a paralegal across multiple documents – at more than thrice the speed, and half the cost. Again, the legal profession will always be here; just less emotional.

It is no longer simply a question of what jobs will be left for our spawnlings. It is more a question of which jobs can our spawnlings do better than machines and computers?

But hark! What do I hear from the Conservatives, unwilling (or unable) to see the path of the future? It is the chant of ignorance, a chant brought forth from the Industrial Revolution: ‘loss of traditional role = creation of new job’.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. There are not enough new jobs being created to equal the same amount of roles being replaced by robots. We’re not talking a simple equation like one machine equals one person. We’re talking one machine equals hundreds.

Of course, the easy Band-Aid solution is to just teach the next generation how to be the programmers. But be honest – How many colleagues do you know have the natural ability to excel in tech-based work, at the level needed to gain these jobs in the future?

Remember: your spawnlings’ competition is no longer the kid sitting next to them at school; it is the other 750 million kids in the region – all learning coding at the same time, and all brought together in a global market across the interwebs. Technology is overcoming geography in so many ways. For example, EG Dad leads a team of people across Australia, UK, and the US, because those are the locations of the people with the best skills. I contribute to an international news service (GeekDad/GeekMom) along with other writers from the UK, NZ, UAE, UK, and so many others I lose track of them in the social chat!

Robot-BarristaRight now, right this minute, the best employment options are in the service industry. We’re talking about the high demand for our basic needs. Aged care providers for our ageing population; baristas for our morning motivation; nail technicians for the beauty pick-me-up before the rise of the robots… Oh wait, we already have robots in McDonald’s in the US, as well as other food outlets around the world. Scratch another off your future jobs list.

The common theme across these examples: an increase in casual, part-time, and fragile jobs. And this is already happening right now.

Sure, this isn’t always a bad thing. Some people are genuinely looking for part-time work; be it work/life balance or personal interests, or whatnot. But not everyone is. And with 2/3 of all new jobs advertised in Australia being part-time, fewer people are having a say in this.

On top of that, our spawnlings will also be competing with the robots for the jobs. The cost of technology is far easier to justify than the cost of human resources. Every company is trying to ensure they maintain their bottom line, so why not take the cheaper option?

Did you hear about the AI robot and his plans to keep his human creators in a People Zoo? That people zoo doesn’t seem so fantastical now, does it?

Where do we need the jobs in the future? Health care, science, innovation, entertainment. And yeah, I still reckon we need some human interaction in our education system. These are the jobs I see as needing a human element involved. The jobs where there just might be a competitive edge in favour of the spawnlings.

My next post in this series looks at the skills our spawnlings will need to compete with technology in the future. Are the schools of today really prepared for the skills they need tomorrow? Do all schools have the resources to teach the next generation, or will we end up with an even greater class/education divide? And if there are fewer jobs generally (and more competition), who will do it cheapest?

And don’t think you’re off the hook – we’re going to look at what EG Parents are doing to give their spawnlings the competitive edge. All bragging is encouraged in the comments below, or in our Facebook discussion.

#ifiranthepeoplezoo

 

Art of The Brick: DC

There are only a handful of themes which truly stand the test of time. The kind of things shared between generations; dancing across language barriers; appreciated by any child, anywhere, anytime. Lego is definitely one. DC characters are absolutely there. Art is certainly there.

And then whoa! You have someone like Nathan Sawaya combining all three?!? Welcome to the Art of the Brick: DC Comics.

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