Monday, July 28, 2008

Magnetic Island Meanderings

Have you noticed how time seems to change depending on what you are doing?

This time last week I was driving from Armidale to Tamworth in the midst of another workshop round. Then I still had workshops in front of me in Tamworth, Sydney and Newcastle before flying to Queensland for a conference. In the midst of all the travel and training, the pre-workshop world had become vague and misty.

Getting to Queensland was a bit of a battle. Before leaving I had to prepare my presentation, managing to squeeze this into late night cracks. Then leaving for Sydney airport at 5.30 to catch my flight it was cold and damp, while I felt crabby and distinctly spaced-out.

The conference itself was being held on Magnetic Island. Getting there involved a two hour flight to Townsville, then a 25 minute ferry journey. Finally I arrived at the Peppers resort where the conference was to be held.

After dropping my gear in my room I went down to the dining area. It was warm and sunny. I was sitting at an outdoor table in the shade, looking over a path to the small harbour with its boats. Just beyond a small range of olive green hills lay dappled in sun and shade. For the first time in weeks I started to relax, although I still had to finalise my presentation.

That was Friday. It is now a warm, sunny, Monday. The computer I am using is in the resort foyer, looking out to the ferry terminal. Behind me a group from the conference is getting ready to go on a snorkeling tour of the barrier reef. That hectic workshop world now seems remote. This is the real world even though it will finish tomorrow.

The Conference itself was the annual meeting of the Australian Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys or FICPI.

Legislative change is coming through that will allow Australian patents and trade marks firms to incorporate, something that has already happened in most other professions. So the conference was about the adoption of corporate forms. I was the keynote speaker at the session on corporate approaches, focusing on management and operational issues.

Never let it be said that patent attorneys are dull. They are not. I have had a great time.

In a response to my post on The new conservapedia - where I rank. And what does it all mean? Stephen said.

"So, you're in favour of teacher-led prayer in schools? I'm not quite sure what position you have - there's a double negative in there (what you've said is that you oppose the censorship of teacher-led prayer).

Censorship of teacher-lead prayer in classrooms and school sponsored events

Generally oppose."

I was careful about my words here.

I do not necessarily support teacher-led prayers in school. One of the problems that the public school system in Australia had to address was the deep sectarian divides between Roman Catholics and Protestants - this led to a secular school system that I support. On the other hand, the way that political correctness came to stop or at least limit things like nativity scenes or indeed discussions on religious expression made me very uncomfortable. I think that it is a question of balance.

In a comment on my post In Praise of Centrelink Mark Two Garrie wrote:

Jim : while at may have reduced queues, this online service is fraught with danger for the average " customer ". At some point in every customer's dealing with Centrelink, documents have been "lost" " deleted " or misplaced, at great inconvenience and often expense of the " customer". With an online entry, it will only take one keystroke to alter, delete or totally misrepresent a customer's details or information.

As we all know, the onus is on the customer to " get it right"; hence any mistakes will be allocated to the customer while Centrelink will remain blameless ( just as it is now). There was a recent flurry of activity when Centrelink announced that as of July, 2008, cross-referencing of customers Bank accounts would be conducted. My contact with my Bank indicates that NO such legislation is in place, and Banks would be legally obligated to advise their customers beforehand if any such action was requested. Is this just Centrelink's way of " conditioning " customers to expect it, so that when it happens no-one will react, inspite of it being another illegal activity ??

Perhaps, if you have a moment spare, you could peruse our website, in which we highlight the oft times demonic treatment of its customers by Centrelink. Actual stories here would have you questioning just HOW an Australian Govt. Agency could treat its clients with such abyssmal contempt.

This is NOT a website for the faint hearted .. no punches are pulled.

Garrie Cleveland

I have yet to check Garrie's site, but his comment does raise some important general issues.

One session at the Conference made me think of Bob Quiggin and the still incomplete discussion we had been having on Kondratiev cycles - Kondratiev cycles, innovation and over-regulation - a challenge from Bob Q.

Peter Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital, was presenting. I found his discussion of developments in the on-line world very interesting and picked up a number of ideas. The linkage with Bob lies in the question of the future impact of ICT. I suggested that the peak economic impact of the ICT had passed. Bob challenged this.

So when I have time, I will spell out a little of what Peter said and the implications for both sides of the discussion between Bob and I.

Well, it is now 9.30, so it's time to stop this post.

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