Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rabbit traps, broken promises and efficiency with a dash of history

The press reporting and commentary on the Abbott Government has become quite savage. Here are two examples from this morning's coverage:

And here is a comment from Mr Abbott's side of politics: NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli rejects return to broken socio-economic status model for schools.

I commented at the start of yesterday's post (Mr Abbott's rabbit trap) that I was truly puzzled by aspects of the still new Australian Government's performance. I don't necessarily share all aspects of the commentary. For example, because I have long argued against mandates or over rigid promises, it would be hypocritical of me to attack the Government for broken promises. Equally, I happen to agree with the idea of raising the debt ceiling and suspect that Mr Pyne is right about excessive prescription in the school funding reforms. After all, that has been a consistent pattern across the former Government's approach to Commonwealth-State issues. All that said, there seems to be a sort of somewhat arrogant blind clumsiness in the Government's approach to policy. They appear to be working almost by rote. In doing so, they are arguably reducing their chances of bringing about real change.

In addition to Mr Abbott's rabbit trap, yesterday's posts elsewhere were Remembering Hunter Street and History revisited - fast-forward back in time for quick service. On the second post, it is a little galling to feel that while we have the wealth and technology to do more today, in some ways our efficiency and capacity to do things quickly is actually less than it was in the nineteenth century, at least so far as Australia is concerned. We are just too complicated to be either efficient or effective. 

I am heavily embedded in the past at present. On Tuesday,  Ending a Never Ending Story reviewed my progress on my major history project. Yesterday on my public Facebook page I wrote:

Discussion last night over dinner (Peking Duck) with youngest about the editing she is doing on that first fantasy novel she wrote while at school. It's 140,000 words and she is pruning in light of reader comments with the aim of getting it below 90,000 words. Then my train reading today was an historical analysis of life on Saumarez, a big station outside Armidale.

This may seem an odd conjunction, but the two are linked. I am trying to understand the detail of station life, the rhythms of daily life. I am fortunate because I have actually experienced some of these things from seeing a sheep killed and butchered for meat to early morning milking. Most modern Australians haven't.

What's the link? Most fantasy novels are set in a world not unlike that station. Between perilous adventures people ride, they eat, they stay at inns or camp, they lead armies, visit blacksmiths etc. I know one should not allow detail to spoil a good yarn, after all most readers won't see practical problems, but many would benefit from a little more recognition of the practical.

The practical issue in my mind is just how to bring the rhythm of station life alive. The station buildings at Saumarez were widely separated, inefficiently so in modern terms. But you had to allow wide spaces too, for example, turn a team of horses around.  


Aki Suomela said...

I wanna have a glimpse of this station one day.

Jim Belshaw said...

You would like it.