Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day blog review

Today is Australia Day, the third since I started this blog. For those interested, you will find past posts  here, here, here

The usual themes are present.

There is the patriotic, almost jingoist theme especially at official level. There are those who want the date moved because of the conflict between the arrival of European settlers and what the Aborigines have entitled invasion day. Former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull continues to rumble away like an old volcano on the need for a republic, TV presenter Ray Martin wants the flag changed to get rid of the union jack, while others wrap themselves in and defend the flag.

In all this, for most Australians its a chance to have a party. This year with Australia Day falling on a Tuesday, employer groups are up in arms about the number of Australians who took a sickie on the Monday to get a longer weekend break, threatening retribution.

I haven't really anything to write about Australia Day beyond noting its presence. Instead, I have taken the time this morning just to do a wander around some of the blogs I follow.

On Poll Bludger, William Bowie continues his regular reporting on Australian public opinion polls as well as election matters. This is a blog for Australian election and political tragics, those like me with an interest in the minutiae of the political process. I also use William's blog as the entry point to the other Crikey blogs. This is easier than separate bookmarks. Just click on crikey blogs on the top of the page.

The Stump is a Crikey Group blog, one described as its keystone blog. Here I was struck by one of Andrew Bartlett's posts,  Public housing prejudices live on. For the benefit of international readers, Andrew Bartlett is a former Australian Democrat MP (how I miss the Democrats) who writes from a left of centre/centrist position on social and political issues.

One of the difficulties of the internet age is that it exposes more easily the soft underbelly of prejudice in this country. In this post, Andrew is looking at prejudice attached to social housing.

In somewhat similar vein, in Fuck Off We’re Full”, “Speak English or Piss Off!!!” – Australian hate-groups, viral expansion loops & Facebook Bob Gosford, another Crikey blogger that I follow, looks at the way Facebook facilitates the formation of certain types of groups.

This type of problem is not unique to Australia, of course. However, there is a further difficulty in that prejudice is often linked to genuine issues that then become conflated to the prejudice. As I have found to my own cost at times, exploration of such issues can lead to instant dismissal as prejudice.

Changing directions sharply, Bronwyn Parry is a writer's blog.

Bron writes romantic suspense generally set in Northern NSW and has managed to break through in the incredibly competitive world of modern writing and publishing. The partner of another of my favourite bloggers, Gordon Smith, Bron's blog deals with writing but also evocative pieces on the life around her.

Kanani Fong's Get Lost With Easy Writer is another writer's blog, this one from a US perspective. She has two other blogs. The Kitchen Dispatch is billed as billed as a literary Milspouse blog, while The Literary Fashionista is described as fashion with a literary eye.

I came to Kanani through Ninglun, Neil Whitfield, of whom more shortly. We have bounced off each other because of our shared interest in writing. I also find her views and comments on life in the US military interesting, simply because this is such a different world.

In  A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family, Neil looks at Australia Day through a prism set by his own family history. He has also been recollecting part of his teaching career in a recollections series. Some of this is very funny indeed. One quote from parent-teacher interviews:        

“You tell me when he’s not behaving and I’ll bash him.” — I was from then on very sympathetic to the student and never took up the offer.

On tales from the staff room:

One day a member of the English staff disappeared. This was just one of several bizarre events that year, which led to questions in parliament.

We later heard she had eloped with a reporter from the local newspaper.

I have just given you a taste. You will need to read the posts for more.

Turning south, Lexcen's post Risk as a part of life brings out an element of something that I know worries many of us, the modern approach to risk and protection.

Up in Tamworth, country music singer John Williamson got into trouble with the police for remaining in the back of his ute (utility) unrestrained after the cavalcade along Peel St. The driver of the ute, believed to be Williamson’s partner Meg Doyle, copped a $250 fine and received three demerit points.

Mr Williamson was upset. In an opinion piece, No-one is too big for our laws, the Northern Daily Leader took a different view. I am with John Williamson on this one. In the circumstances, a police warning would have been sufficient.

In a post on Scepticslawyers, The limits of law, Legal Eagle explored in a preliminary way the limits of law and regulation. Today, we have a tendency to legislate on issues that really belong to the domains of common sense and education. When this fails as it must, we respond with more legislation.

Changing directions again, I do enjoy Randy McDonald's A Bit More detail. Canadian based, this is one of those link blogs bringing in material from other sources with a brief comment. I enjoy it because the inclusions are different. I never quite know what I will find, and that's nice.

By the way, I see from Neil that Ann in Sydney Meanderings has just brought up an Australia Day collage of photos that rather neatly captures the diversity of modern Australia.

Well, its got quite late and the household is stirring. Time to finish, although I have barely scratched the surface.      

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