Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Morning Musings & now Sunday Snippets - a complete mixture

As so often happens when I am looking for a photo to illustrate a post, I turn to Gordon Smith. This photo shows the creek bed up to Faints Mine in the gorge country near Armidale.

The mine itself is the end point, the reason why we blog. We do this for many reasons. Sometimes there is real pay dirt, at other times not.

The creek bed is the road, and a bloody rocky road too. Many of us finally stumble over the rocks. We burn out.

Not seen in the photo is the spectacular country around. This is the unexpected pleasures we find on the track.

The Post

Today as part of tidying up, I thought that I would devote this edition of Saturday Morning Musings to a somewhat rambling review of things that I have written, things yet to write, things that I may never get the time to write about.

How does this link to tidying up? I often cut things out that might provide stories. I really need to throw some of these out, but would like to record some first for later reference.

Some time ago I increased the number of posts shown on the front page. This marked a small change in direction. It gave readers access to more posts before they vanished into the blog archives. I also thought that it would provide a greater reason for me to update posts by keeping more posts current.

I do think it important where possible to update posts because it makes for greater currency for readers. A lot of the updates are simply postscripts, things that correct or extend the post. However, some provide an added reference point.

Two updates are worth specific mention here.

Thomas has continued adding posts about his holiday. I have therefore updated Thomas's tour de force (and in some cases, farce) by updating the chronological list of Thomas's posts. Here I have just noticed that Thomas has added another. I will add this later.

Barbara Martin has also continued her series on the war of 1812, the US invasion of what is now Canada. I am adding a full list of her posts as they come out to Barbara Martin and the War of 1812.

I plan to do more of this for series that I enjoy. It is a simple value add for me, my readers and (I hope) for the bloggers in question. There really is some good stuff around that deserves added recognition.

Over on my other blogs I am still in post catch-up mode. I dealt with one aspect of this in Blogging Perspectives - the need for persistence.

A number of the professional blogs (professional in the sense of the professions) that I follow have stopped posting at just the same time that my own posting ran into trouble. All have been around for a while.

I think persistence is a key point with blogging. Once you stop posting, the blog enters a period of accelerating decline. The further down the curve, the harder it is to start again.

My first post on Managing the Professional Services Firm was on 3 July 2006. This makes it quite an ancient blog. At the time I said:

This blog has been created to encourage debate about and to provide information relevant to the management of all professional services firms. With time, I hope that it will develop into a valuable resource.

Looking at the popular posts mentioned in Managing the professional services firm - what to people want to know 1, I think that I am still tracking on the lines of the original objective.

It's not always been easy. I am now in rebuild mode after the break in posting. I cannot blame people who suffer blogging burn-out, although I may miss them. Yet from my viewpoint I try to keep going because I have made blogging such an important part of my personal and professional life.

I was fascinated by the above graphic from Neil's Gateway. It shows how we bloggers feed of each other, although the flow through to Neil from this blog is far smaller.

Blogging is a cooperative effort, a dialogue. We bounce off each other.

At the risk of causing Neil to blush, and to return to the analogy that began this post, he forms part of the surrounding scenery that makes blogging such a pleasure.

My message to any new blogger would be to join in the conversation. Don't be a solipsist. Use your blog to discuss other bloggers and their posts. Look for linkages. Look for contributions.

I seem to have come a long way from my starting point in this post. so a few things that I have noted that I might or should write about.

Richard Ackland's piece How the Haneef affair became carry on coppers deals with the farce that the Haneef case has become. I want to write about this in the context of the case itself, as well as the broader issue, the failure of the Howard Government to properly follow the due process on which we all depend.

A pause for lunch

I need to stop here to prepare lunch. I will continue a little later.

Much Later -in fact early Sunday morning

As Neil noted in a comment, lunch obviously became a long affair.

Still on Neil, congratulations on the very positive feedback from your former student at Sydney Boys High (This has bowled me over completely!). If you look at Neil's comments on English over time and at the things that he has tried to do as a teacher and coach including his specialist blog English, ESL - and much more, you can see why he was (is) such an inspirational teacher.

Returning to my theme, in the context of the Haneef case I mentioned the failure of the Howard Government to follow the due process on which we all depend.

Whether in China or Australia, government involves the coercive use of state power. All ministers and officials tend to believe that they are right, that the Government's will must be enforced. The difference between a democracy and some other forms of Government lies in the way in which law and due process controls the exercise of state power.

The problem during the Howard years is that both due process and legal protections began to fray at the edges. For a number of reasons, Australians have become more accepting of controls on their freedom, more willing to accept or at least condone actions that breach or at least threaten due process.

As time passes, more evidence emerges suggesting that a systemic problem developed during the Howard years. On the surface, there appear to have been more cases of abuse or at least misuse of state power during this period than any other period of Australian history, with the possible exception of the First and Second World War.

This may sound a large claim, but there appear to have been more than one hundred cases of wrongful immigration detention alone.

The huge ($50 million plus $5 million in costs) payout by the Commonwealth Government in the Pan Pharmaceuticals case is another example.

Put simply, officials appear to have suffered a rush of blood to the head in the way they ordered the 2003 recall of products manufactured by Pan, in so doing destroying not just Pan, but other businesses as well. Now more than one hundred companies are reported to be considering a class action against the Government over the Pan collapse.

The Wheat Board scandal, Pan, immigration detention, Hicks, Haneef etc, the aggressive action taken by Centrelink to enforce welfare rules, all seem to suggest a pattern of misuse of power and of administrative failure.

Turning in a completely different direction, the obituary sections of the newspapers continue to be a fruitful source of possible stories.

The death (and here, here) during the week of Hua Guofeng (1921-2008) who succeeded Mao as head of China appears to have gone largely un-reported in China. Hua was Mao's man, but he also seems to have been responsible for more of the transition from the Mao period than is normally allowed.

The growing problems faced by Australia's higher education sector have been highlighted in submissions to the higher education review being conducted by a former University of South Australia vice-chancellor, Professor Denise Bradley.

I would be the first to accept that the universities themselves are as prone to special pleading as anyone else, but there are some very real and growing problems. As a simple example, because it is easier to get money for new buildings than for old, we have more new buildings along with an ever growing maintenance backlog. This is simply unsustainable.

I haven't commented much on politics recently, not even the Northern Territory or WA elections nor the up-coming by-elections.

End post: I am going to have to end this post here. For some reason either my computer or the blogger system is playing up, making it very hard to add new material. The system keeps freezing for short periods. I am concerned that I will lose the post. Still, you will see why I said that there was so much to write about.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for what you said here, Jim. Looks as if it was a long lunch... ;)

Jim Belshaw said...

As I noted in the main post, Neil, it was indeed!