Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Formidable Pearson on Aboriginal Self Determination

I'm afraid to talk on this. It's so easy to get labeled:

A bleeding heart
A f...g white racist c..t
Armchair activist

Or many others. Ffs I don't even know what label best suits me.

Aboriginal remote communities are - I'm told - a bit of a war zone. There's money around - flowing in with welfare payments, support programs, initiatives. But I also hear stories of money metaphorically flushed down the toilet.

So I'm happy for Noel Pearson to be around. (paywalled, sorry)

Pearson is recovering from cancer, and he is passionate about aboriginal people taking responsibility for themselves. I suspect Pearson wouldn't like me, but I don't know why. I'm sure he'd hang one of the epithets (at the top) on me.

But as a white Australian who cares I can't begin to think of what the answer is, to the crap that's going on in remote Australia. And in that sense I'm happy for government to throw money at Pearson's programs. I think I trust him.

He has critics. I have first hand stories of how he sits atop a throne amongst his people, and stories in the press of his bullying. Everybody has critics, especially when they're getting things done.

So he's accused of being paternalistic but Noel answers that with a clear head:

"..while we still have women being airlifted to Cairns base hospital with broken jaws, who are we to say, I am not my brother's keeper?"

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Monday, August 20, 2012

On the cusp of something new

I should be able to talk about things a little more freely soon. But I feel I'm on the edge of something new. Something good.

The eleven years full time in universities have been good. The six years before that - as an adjunct - were great, too. An interesting sideline, where I hadn't needed to engage with the day to day university machinations. The full time gig might have continued for a long time if the sector and myself had come to an agreement. I measure myself on whether students:

  • Learn stuff from me
  • Enjoyed my course
  • Choose to stay enrolled in the program
  • Urge their friends and colleagues to enrol in my courses
  • Carry a positive view about my employer

And four out of five of these are slam dunks for me, the fifth is less in my control, but I give it a red hot go.

I also like to click over in academic research. I managed five student through their confirmation of PhD candidature last year, got an honours student through, mentored a student's conference paper and secured an "A" journal publication of my own.

But I don't think "the system" has the same set of KPIs. So I'll stay as close to the system as it will let me. I'll teach the courses it wants me to, and teach them well.

But I have never put this much energy into a sector, achieved so many results and received so little in return. This puts me at a crossroads. A great upside is the personal goodwill I've been able to create from 17 years of teaching into the Adelaide business community. The lion and the mouse is real.

But as I've said to close friends and family "I've been here before, it's always led to something better". I simply need to overcome the lizard brain, and embrace an uncertain future with the expectation that it will be good.

It always has been.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Advice to student: Get a blog

This was in B&T Weekly, the advertising industry publication. A student who wants to be in journalism, but concerned there may be no jobs.

Choosing to work in these industries (I include marketing in this) is a risky choice. But it promises a great ride.

So, interesting that the advice from one panel member is exactly the same as what I've been saying for over two years now.

Get a blog and write some interesting stuff on it. Find a way to drive traffic to that blog.

In the best of cases, people get discovered. In the worst of cases, a person's bosses or coworkers ridicule or censure them but even then that can be a plus, in a way.

But personally, I've just found it good fun.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Leatherbound 35: Reinvention

From over ten years ago when I made the shift from a great job, selling expensive plastic into the meat industry, into what has been a good job, working in universities.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Thanks for your help, I got a job"

I never tire of hearing it. I heard it a few weeks ago from a student who gained a promotion to the marketing department in Sydney and heard it again just then.

An MBA student of mine has his formal meeting tomorrow where he wins a payrise and some better conditions.

Perhaps this happens to all the lecturers. After all, it's the student's success, not mine.

But I do take pride in forcing my students out of their comfort zone and into new things. Collect real data for a market research project, crunch numbers to answer marketing questions, challenge what the textbook says and look deeper.

Or in this case, build a personal blog with your reflections on marketing stuff. Whatever they are. For this guy his bosses noticed it, and he got a new job. It happens about once a month, that I know of, with students I've had. And I'm always delighted to hear it.

After all, the lion and the mouse is real.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Value the fleeting moments

I'll go to a memorial service today for the husband of a colleague, friend. I liked him. He'd been fighting cancer for a while and I had gone out to their place in February for something else, something a little mundane.

And I had a delightful chat with the guy; intelligent, insightful, incorrigible, ethical. He still had time to sincerely engage with my own (comparatively irrelevant) soap opera. I hold that afternoon in my fondest of memories and I have a heavy heart when I think of my friend's loss.

And it reminds me of how it is near impossible to tell, at the time, the events that form the biggest part of the tapestry of our lives.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Inventor of McNuggets is not rich


from "The Wire", my most recent TV binge. The guys in the projects are discussing how, when you work for a big company even the greatest inventions won't make you rich.

In very straight talking language.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The ultimate bawling out


I think my new TV obsession might be "The Wire". I heard it was gritty, almost depressing and realistic in its reflection on the "War on Drugs" in Baltimore. And fifteen minutes in, the character development is brilliant.

I'm not sure, but I think Rawls - the one doing the bawling out here - might be a good guy. But it's the most robust bawling out I've ever seen.

But I wouldn't call that bullying. There's no emotional manipulation, no backstabbing, no half truths or lies, Just a good, honest "tearing him a new one".

And clearly, Rawls has respect from his people. McNulty is truly contrite. Once I've seen a few more episodes I might change my mind but it doesn't look like Rawls is an asshole - just a person trying to do a tough job.

Extended version shows what I mean a little better:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A whole range of service issues

I'm pleased that this isn't a rant. More a reflection of curiosity.

This morning after my boy's football I happened to browse to a "pick a number" style deli counter in the Newton Shopping centre. I didn't take a number because I wasn't planning to buy.

But I saw something I liked the look of. As a young lad came over to me and asked if I wanted something I repleid "well I wasn't planning to buy, but I think I'll take that rolled pork shoulder roast in your display".

It all seemed fine until the person who must be the boss lady corrected the young guy, telling him how he should be calling out numbers, not just randomly serving people. She checked with me and after we confirmed that I didn't have a number, the next lady in line was duly served. But boss lady didn't offer to help me with my purchase.

No biggie. I just left, we didn't get the pork roast. Plenty of food in our fridge.

What a pickle. Boss lady was certainly correct in making sure the system was used. Customers like to see fairness, and they like to see the system work properly. And I truly was being a "daydreamy" customer but I'm allowed to be. I'm also allowed to make - or not make - impulse purchases.

I don't know how it could have been managed better at the time. I think boss lady did the right thing. But in that case they missed the chance for me to become a customer of theirs.

I suppose it simply illustrates the importance of the three "Service Ps" of the extended marketing mix. People, Processses and Physical Evidence. All done before things go wrong.

I suppose boss lady could have done some service recovery - fixing things when they do go wrong. Maybe she did. Perhaps it was a sensible move to toss my little $12 order to make sure the system worked to plan.

Hard Rain: Classic Dylan and Ferry

From the searing mind of Bob Dylan in 1962, this version from Bryan Ferry in 1973 just fires me up, every time I hear it.

The song starts all chilled out, Roxy Music style, and with each verse the accompaniment gets stronger and stronger. The wandering lead guitar and powerful strings simply raise the adrenaline level until an engaged listener feels like they want to swing an axe and tear something down, the vocal support makes it an anthem of solidarity and you never want the song to end.

More than "the times they are a changin'" this is more like "the shit's comin down, be ready". It has a bunch of associations for me:

Primary school
I was ten years old in 1977. I didn't get to appreciate Roxy Music but Bryan Ferry was going well with "let's stick together".

Walking Kokoda the first time
At some time during the walk the rain was so hard that I was walking up shin deep rivers on a particular part of the track. My near delirium singing of the song caused my companions to good naturedly grow tired of me. for a moment.

Grandmother dying
Upon my return from the walk (2007), my grandmother took to her death bed. Whilst the elation of the trip (and the "hard rain" song) was still in my mind and I showed Nana the photos, I was getting the feeling that some pretty big shit was about to come down. Which was - of course - the point of the song. And the shit did come down. Nana died and a great many things have never really been the same.

My Cassandra Complex
But more to the point, this song is a harsh, insightful harbinger of the reckoning. Dylan in 1962 made his last verse include: 

And I'll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'

And it resonates with me. My challenge has always to stay silent when to stay silent is the greatest survival option. Thus the Cassandra Complex - "Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions"

Just quietly I think some of my predictions are soon to be realised, some people I know are feeling far less than comfortable. A hard rain's a gonna fall, while it looks as though I might be able to jump clear of the train wreck

Bob Dylan A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall Lyrics

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son ?
And where have you been my darling young one ?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son ?
And what did you see, my darling young one ?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand takers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son ?
And what did you hear, my darling young one ?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin'
I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

Oh, who did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one ?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded and hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

And what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son ?
And what'll you do now my darling young one ?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the deepths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my songs well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

And a cool live version too:

Even with the dated 1977 looks, the guy just oozes cool.

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