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It's been a long time!

Hi there, readers! It's been ages since I last wrote here due to a number of reasons of which I shall fill you in on now and then some things you can see from me this year.

Brisbane Twestival Local, September 2009

Oh, Christ! How this was a busy time for me. I wish I'd written about this earlier. But it pretty much went off with a bang and I'm still proud of how everyone worked well on it. My first major event as king pin and I think I did a pretty good job, despite my more natural outlook of criticising my hard work to the dickens.

March 2010 will see Twestival Global again, but due to the many activities I have planned for this year, I won't be on board the committee other than to hand over the reigns.

Regarding BTUB and Brisbane Twitter social events, I am not likely to be organising any events or managing the calendar. 2009 was my year to volunteer and now I'm likely to not have any time for it. It's been swell, tweeps, but I can't do it any more.

University

In September I applied for a Bachelor of Business (Events) at Griffith University. In December I was accepted and so in March I shall start back at study after a year out of the lecture hall. Nice, nice! Rather excited actually and looking forward to it. My completed Diploma of Events Management means a year is taken off the BBusiness, so I'm only looking at a two-year outfit.

Employment!

Get this; I have a job! A job! Employment! And it is the best job I've ever had. (They know this already, so I'm not just talking it up here for brownie points) I'm the administration officer for Women in Technology, a winner industry organisation for women in the IT, biotech, engineering... any technology career path, actually. They do some pretty awesome things (for stacks of fantastic members who pay practically nothing for the networking opportunites), and I'm rather looking forward to organising the events and programs for this year. They even let me set up Twitter and facebook for them!

Moving house

After two years in St Lucia, I've now relocated to Stones Corner on Brisbane's south-side. It means at least 50 minutes to work, uni and the boyfriend's place; but at least it's affordable and in a pretty cool area. Many thanks again to the miracle of my Twitter friends who spent one Saturday in December helping me move. That was EPIC and I will never forget the kindness of these people.

Internet Censorship

Here's my political contention of recent months (even a year). The Australian Federal Government wants in your Internet on the premise of doing Australian families' parenting for them. National mandatory Internet censorship (just think about each of those words: National. Mandatory. Censorship.) They plan to block websites which not only host illegal content but also "refused classification" content. This pretty much means content that is legal to view but is stuff that the government (or their stakeholders) don't like. Not only is it a very scary thing for future governments and citizens to adhere to and control, but it's going to be quite expensive, ineffective and... well, do you really want the government stopping your kids from getting useful information on how the world works?

I won't blog all about this today, but for more information you can check out the amazing websites of Somebody Think of the Children, Electronic Frontiers Australia and the Brisbane filter opposition.

The LoveBuckles / Drumming

This is my boyfriend's kicking band. They've had stacks of gigs lately, the most recent for my dear high school friend's 21st in Coffs Harbour, NSW. It went OFF and I feel lucky that I was there to enable it. And go on road trip. And surround the sleeping drummer with a fort of milk crates. What a bunch of lads!

As for my own musical pursuits, I'm very happy to have my drums all out and shiny for practice. For someone who started in primary school, I should really be much better and I can't wait to see improvements. You should come by for a jam one day!

And that's it!

Phew. That's the essentials for a NJ.com update. As for this website in 2010, it will be updated and mainly used for video blogs and reflections of events/business stuff learned at uni and WiT.

Full-strength Grog at Events Faces Axe in QLD

Full-strength grog faces axe in bid to curb violence | The Courier-Mail. Well, well. Bligh and her government are looking to ban full-strength booze at major events across the state. I do hope this doesn't pass. This will ruin the quality of a good time out for thousands of responsible Queenslanders (not that I believe at all that getting plastered is the means to have a good time at all).

The Courier-Mail reports that Queensland already has the toughest alcohol-related legislation in Australia. Maybe it is time for something else to change? NSW recently forced high-risk venues (determined by the number of reported assults per annum) to provide free food and water to patrons, but lock-outs were also brought back to 2am. I'm not sure about you, but I would rather give free food to my guests to keep them happy and enjoying my services at an event instead of removing all full-strength alcohol from my stock, even if a few hours had to be knocked off for new patrons. There must be other ways to solve social problems other than continuously banning things.

I do see a need to curb violence and drug-related incidents in Australia, but I hope that these new laws, should they come into effect, take into account the good behaviour displayed at the majority of events and venues across the state. One quarter of violence in Australia is related to alcohol; what will we blame the other three quarters on? Will televisions and cinemas be next? I've just done a "Aussies ban" search on Twitter... sponsorship from alcohol companies, bottled water, Uluru treks, a whole censorship debate rages on... then there's the national changes to cigarette prices and packaging. It seems we have no imagination when it comes to solving society's problems. India, for instance (and I love this!), is investigating doubling electricity in rural areas to increase the use of television; in a bid to slow overpopulation. Now that's creative!

Drinking in Australia has long been part of our culture. From a cosy glass of merlot in front of a crackling fire in the Blue Mountains to a cool beer after a hard day's work in Mt Isa. We have a long way to go before this is changed. There are a number of other factors that come into violence statistics, not just the crooners down at the local country town pub about to hit "an old mate" one for sleeping with the wrong young lady.

There is no denying that violence, disease and other ailments which gain the attention of governments all have a financial cost to the state. But these bans and tougher laws must stop when they cease to represent the community's stance, and only that of politicians.

Missing Ethan Johnson Found!

Two days ago the tubes were aflutter with scrambling tweeps and Facebook geeks, hunting everywhere online for word regarding the March 30th disappearance of a 15-year-old from Brisbane. Today I was browsing past my Facebook groups page and found the group Missing Teenager: Ethan Johnson, Brisbane, Australia was at the top of my groups for having the most activity. Ethan had been found safe and well! While the bulk of the official search was taken up by police, the Facebook group members made suggestions for online haunts left unsearched:

"Have we considered looking into any online communities which Ethan is a member? e.g. World of Warcraft, interest forums, MSN contacts, MySpace, Garry's Mod, Xbox Live? If we know Ethan's username* then I'm sure my 15yo son would be happy to check his contacts/forums etc."

Facebook was also a source of comfort to Ethan's family, and of suggestions from others who had missed (and found!) loved ones:

"My mum's friend son has an illness & disappeared from home for several weeks, in the end he was found interstate with some friends. As Ethan is/was in Sydney, maybe he has friends in Sydney or the surrounding areas. There are some music festivals on this weekend in NSW for the Easter long weekend... maybe Ethan had some friends attending and wanted to join?"

"My Aspergers son was taken by his father who disappeared with him and it took five weeks for me to get him back. Once again, different from this because I at least knew who he was with (if not where) but I still know the pain of not knowing where or how your child is. I also know that his type of Aspergers means he has an obsession with his computer and spends hours on it socialising online. If he went missing, because of this trait*, his computer is the first place I would look."

The final message from Ethan's family has been posted online and thanks everyone who helped in their search in any way:

"There are so many people in this group - some of you have been here from the beginning, and others only joined us recently, but you have all contributed to helping us get the word out; and many of you have helped to keep Tammy's spirits up while she sat helplessly at home waiting for her boy to be found.

All we can say is: Thank you.

Thank you from Tammy - she's over the moon at the moment, and busy as all get-out answering phones: Thank you from Brett, who is finally seeing a smile on Tammy's face for the first time in almost two weeks: Thank you from Amber, who is elated that her big brother is coming home: Thank you from Donny - you people have made her proud to be a Facebook member! 

No one really expected this kind of a turn-out, and your support for Ethan and his family has been powerful, wonderous, almost miraculous, and something for you to be PROUD of!"

If you are following the Facebook group thus far, please don't leave just yet; Ethan's family wish to show him the 7,700 people who wanted him to stay safe.

I love social media. Did I ever tell you that?

EDIT: A comment on this article reads: "Why isn't this all over the television? When Daniel Morcombe went missing it was everywhere. I found out about this through Facebook... So there must be hundreds of people who are unaware." Another reader agreed. What do you think?

Another comment corrects me, quite rightly:

I run the Australian Missing Persons Register, a volunteer service to help the families of the missing, without charge...the bulk of the search was NOT undertaken by the police, it was undertaken by me, and my associate... It was actually me who located Ethan and Kevin who drove 2000km in two days to pick Ethan up and return him to QLD. Using the internet to locate the missing is something I do every day, all day for the last four years with a good success rate.

Many thanks, Nicole.

*which makes me ponder one's Web Wills. How would people use your online network activities to find you if you were lost? What would they do with your online accounts if you couldn't be? Another blog for another day...

Internet Censorship is Totally Unsexy

After waking up today to blog posts flying backwards and forwards about Internet censorship movements by the federal government, I must venture into political territory. Just check out the Twitter stream! Sources tell us that the Australian government is blacklisting websites for the most mundane content ever. A QLD dentist? Poker? It blows my mind that the leaders of our country believe they can get away with blocking even somewhat boring content under the banner of protecting the vulnerable of the nation. And you can kiss goodbye various GMBill websites. The popular Victorian-run soft-core pornography company already warns parents to protect children on their ACMA-blacklisted adult sites AbbyWinters.com and Ishotmyself.com. I'm fairly sure that seems responsible, Mister Prime Minister.

from www.somebodythinkofthechildren.com

Having also more recent evidence that a seemingly scary sex life isn't so at all, I doubt that anyone could subscribe to the backward idea* that a vanilla sex life is the only moral one to take. It's just not cricket anymore to accept this ideology. Given this, what basis does the government have to block these "not damaged or dangerous" adults from being happy? Not a whole lot. The SMH continues:

In fact, men who take part may be happier, with results showing they score significantly lower on a scale of psychological distress than other men. The researchers did not study why this was, but suspect it might simply be that they're more in harmony with themselves because they're into something unusual and are comfortable with that.

I do not understand that when Australia spends so much money on phyciatric treatment and care for the anxious, stressed and depressed they are up in arms removing our ability to access resources which very often keep married couples together and single people satisfied. And I'm just talking about sexuality.

What can you do? A comment left here sums up a suggestion for more localised action:

Queensland Voters: You have a say coming up to voice your displeasure against Conroy's Censorship regime. Please use your vote wisely. I understand it is a "State Election", but ask yourself, who your local Labor member really represent? Do your Labor MP represent yourself, your interest and your electorate? Or do your local Labor MP just simply represent Labor Party itself? How many Labor MPs have you know to publicly oppose or discuss the actual Pros and Cons of this Censorship? (Joe of Camberwell)

Readers, please pay attention to the world that is happening around you. Your personal and private leisure time online is apparently a threat to the very fabric of society and the government doesn't like that one bit.

*and don't get me started on Pope Benedict XVI!

Community Human Rights Consultation, Brisbane

In Brisbane, next Monday is going to be different. Next Monday you can help protect the human rights of all Australians, present and future, by standing up for a Human Rights Act for Australia. Kids in detention, workers stripped of their rights, Indigenous Australians without housing and healthcare - together we've fought time and time again for human rights. Now the Government is embarking on a national human rights consultation - the chance of a lifetime to protect our rights with law.

Next week, they're rolling into Brisbane. Just 2 hours of your time will help create real change in people's lives - for all those in aged care, those with disabilities, and those who experience discrimination or bureaucratic bungling. Can you attend the Government's human rights consultation?

What: Community Human Rights Consultation When: Monday 23 March, 12pm-2pm or 6pm-8pm Where: Brisbane Conference and Exhibition Centre, Cnr of Merivale & Glenelg St., South Bank

Click here to register.

We know you're busy, but plenty of people in government would rather avoid scrutiny over human rights issues - and they're hoping nobody shows up to the community consultations. Can the citizens of the Brisbane area prove them wrong by turning out in great numbers to have their say? Make sure you bring all your friends - even those who've never thought about human rights protection before.

You don't need any special knowledge before you go along. These meetings are designed so that ordinary Australians can learn a bit about the issues and have their say. Together with dozens of fellow GetUp members attending, you can make a huge difference.

Click here to be a part of the once in a lifetime chance for Brisbane to have its say.

Thanks for being part of the solution.

- The GetUp team