Saturday, October 28, 2006

"To my surprise," Media Dragon sang, "I continually experienced a strange, yet pervasive, lack of optimism for the future of the new brave world and a lack of confidence in business and the economy. For lack of a better term, it might be called '2000+ Odessey Blues'.
Overheard - Buying high-capacity PC storage is like owning a 20-bedroom mansion. It's great having all that extra space, but at the end of the day someone has to do the vacuuming. The vacuuming challenge in data-storage is how do you manage and organise the ever-increasing amount of information?

Victim of a consumer Rip-off? Want justice? Rip-off Report™ is a worldwide consumer reporting Website & Publication, by consumers, for consumers, to file & document complaints about companies or individuals who ripoff consumers.
Victim of a Rip-off Artiste?
No matter how much time passes, I still can't get over the incredible story that came out this summer about AOL's customer retention call center. For those not following it, here is a short summary of the key events (compiled by my colleague Harry Sheff and reported on our blog): Your Call Is Not Particularly Important To Us

Sample Of Nobember and Movember Things: Constant Change Is The Only Certainty: You're ugly, Sydney: echo of Keating
AGE has not softened Paul Keating's acid tongue. Sydney's vanishing future. As John Hatton noted in Jervis Bay last week: There's an old saying in Australian politics: What do you do when the electorate feels betrayed? Betray them again …

Everyone is re-reading the story of ugliness as the Blue Mountains burn. Mayor Harry and Trees are another topic at dinner tables. There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response. Change is the only certainty in this world and choice- the only power we have over it, whatsoever. Nevertheless, choice can become overwhelming, too.

• Country spirit remains unbroken - just like the drought You're ugly, Sydney: feisty Keating tells; If change is the only certainty in the universe, it is inevitable that things will sometimes grow, and sometimes decay. Some men will grow more gifted
YOU'RE in your mid-twenties and the world is at your feet. You have big dreams and ambitions but things don't go according to plan. Rites of passage
• · Political correctness, as much as fundamentalism, is responsible for our state of absurdity, writes Umberto Eco. Silence is a decree all should fear ; Overhead on radio: "Thank God my daughter finally has a role model who isn'ta princess or a prostitute!" Chris Master on ABC: as told to ABC-TV's Kerry O'Brien this week Chris was compelled to out Jones because "it was impossible to avoid the elephant in the room" Freedom of information is a controversial area. Media organisations in particular take strident viewpoints in favour of full access to governmental documentation. Witness the editorial in The Australian on 7 September 2006 following the High Court's dismissal of that paper's appeal of the Federal Treasurer's refusal to disclose Treasury working papers on bracket creep and the first homeowners' scheme. The Australian's editorial criticised the decision's: "emasculation of the FOI Act" and the Treasurer's "legal trickery and up to $1.5 million of taxpayer money to fight against the public's right to know just how little they truly get back when taxes are cut". The irony of the ABC case of course is that it was a media organisation resisting an FOI request, as opposed to being aggrieved by having a request of its own rejected. Media Dragon & Google Involved In Digital Democracy
• · · Sam seeks sunny side of men; Sweden has a reputation as a nanny state, so it shouldn't be any surprise that it has joined the ranks of countries buffeted by nannies. The fault is not of the nannies themselves, but of politicians who try to pull a fast one when paying for their children's care. Hey nanny no

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Outsourcing hits a new class of workers: Journalists

JonesTown and this article are big hits this month, tickets for the Glebe Bookshop seminar with Chris Masters are all sold and the venue at Sydney Uni is huge HC Nelson is ready to rock n roll ... The long arm of 'offshoring' reaches into the news industry

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Conquering 'Everests of Data' - Anyone can sue anyone at any time
An excerpt from The Street-Smart Writer:

Libel and slander both are forms of defamation; defamation is the legal term for any published false statement about a living person or organization (yes, you can defame a company!) that injures the subject’s reputation. “Injury to reputation” generally is considered to be exposure to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or financial loss.

Libel is the written act of defamation, slander is the spoken act; no one can sue you for slander for what you write. Whether libel or slander, the defamation must be published—communicated to someone other than the subject of the defamation.

Defamation law is a complex subject, full of exceptions, “privileges,” defenses and the like. The following is a general overview:

Fact vs. Opinion. Most state courts recognize a distinction between statements of fact and opinion; “true” opinion cannot be proved or disproved and thus cannot be defamatory. Contrary to what many people believe, however, the mere fact that your statement is in the form of an opinion will not shield you from a defamation lawsuit. In other words, simply adding “in my opinion” to your statement is not enough, if the statement otherwise is defamatory; you must have disclosed facts to justify that opinion. WRONG: “My co-worker John Doe is a filthy cheat.” This is defamatory: an unproven, pejorative (“filthy” and “cheat”) statement about a private (non-public figure) individual. Adding “in my opinion” to the statement doesn’t help. INSTEAD: “I saw John take five toner cartridges from the supply closet and put them in his car. I believe he is a cheat.” This is your opinion based on disclosed facts, and (if true) is not defamatory.

Humor and Parody. As with true opinion, certain other statements are considered nonfactual because they are understood to be meant humorously or as satire. Authors often rely on this, but beware: If reasonable persons could find truth in the material and it would damage the subject’s reputation, it may be defamatory.

Name Calling. Under the law in most states, mere name-calling (“he’s a jerk”) is not defamatory because epithets cannot be proved true or false, and reasonable persons understand that they are not meant to be assertions of fact.

Fiction. In fiction writing, the Supreme Court interprets the First Amendment to hold an author and publisher liable for publishing a defamatory statement only upon a showing of negligence—that is, a plaintiff in a defamatory-fiction lawsuit must show that the publisher of a defamatory statement knew or should have known that a “fictionalized” character was objectively identifiable as a real person.

Public figures. If you write about public figures (politicians, movie stars, professional athletes, celebrities, etc.) you have additional protection: Public figures must show that the defamatory statement was published with “actual malice.”

Defenses. In the United States, truth generally is an absolute defense to defamation: If what you say is true, it cannot be defamatory (a minority of states, however, allow the defense only if the statement was made in good faith). Most states also have a variety of “privileges” that may protect statements made in particular contexts, such as in court or in the legislature.

Just remember this: If you want to write something negative about a person, company, or group, you either must have documentation to back up everything you write, or you must frame it clearly as your opinion that is based on facts.   

While the pen is mightier than the sword, many writers lack a shield [Multi-published author Jenna Glatzer and publishing law attorney Daniel Steven take you into the murky waters of the publishing industry and fill a lifeboat full of safe firsthand instructions and advice about how to avoid being scammed by publishers, agents, and phony contests The Street Smart Writer: Self-Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World ]
• · If YOU think the password protection on your MS Word file is keeping it safe from prying eyes, chances are you're wrong. The time it takes to crack password-protected Microsoft Office files has tumbled from a 25-day average to a matter of seconds, thanks to a decades-old code-cracking technique that until recently was not viable. Code cracking is the new pot of gold ; Apple is certainly not the first to try to build a product that crosses the great consumer electronics divide between the TV and all that digital video and audio content taking up ever-larger sections of PC hard drives. Others have sought to cross it, most have failed. I don't expect the same from Apple. Apple's iTV: Bridging the Big Divide
• · · Web-based mentoring: what it is, why it’s important, why it’s the next phase of learning for people, and why organizations are flocking toward it Tradition Meets Technology with Web-Based Mentoring

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Road rage, drug addiction, unhappy relationships, domestic and workplace violence: at the core of these lies anger. Dr. Deepak Chopra states that the most common cause of illness was anger. If so, Dr. Shoshanna is one of the world-class healers of all time
As seen on Media Dragon ;-) Stop the Fighting in Your Relationship

Sunday, October 22, 2006

All in all, there is a great deal of reason to be excited about the A ustralian Literary Review (ALR) as it is the new supplement to The Australian newspaper, appearing for the first time on 6 September. The review "explores the work of the country's leading writers and thinkers and provide a chronicle of developments in literature, culture, politics, scholarship and the arts".

Following on the heels of the decision by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to launch The First Tuesday Book Club, this new periodical represents a welcome addition to cultural dialogue in this country. The saltiest vocabulary ever heard in Gleebe Bookshop comes from Jennifer Byrnes as Jennifer has peppered Cold River with her eyes ;-) The publication is a joint venture with The Australia Council (the federal arts body which provides funding for cultural activities), The University of Melbourne and Melbourne University Publishing (which The Australian erroneously refers to as Melbourne University Press). The saltiest vocabulary ever heard in Gleebe Bookshop comes from Jennifer Good chance, real possibility, strong likelihood

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Novel Ways to Promote Your Novel: 2-to-1 chance - 50-50 odds
For most authors of fiction, the very idea of promotion is distasteful. It's not uncommon for novelists to break out in hives or develop a nervous twitch when faced with the reality of marketing their books.

As a published author, you know that you must promote your book and you scurry to find your comfort zone. You'll sign up with, of course, put up a website and solicit reviews through the traditional magazines and sites. Those of you with more nerve will try to arrange book signings and, uh-- maybe attend a few local book festivals. And mostly, you'll be met with disappointment. 

Hard-selling hawker  [ With news of Regan's book and TV rollout of OJ Simpson's IF I DID IT sucking the oxygen out of yesterday's National Book Awards day, one big question in the trade is whether the new circus coming to town will keep other authors out of the media ring. Included in that competition for attention is HarperCollins' own lead author for fall: Michael Crichton's NEXT releases on Tuesday, November 28--nestled right in between Fox's Monday and Wednesday Simpson interviews and Regan's Thursday book laydown. Possibly the strangest developments yet for books but will they work? Doh ; ]
• · Garcia captures the exquisite pain of leaving Cuba, too. Like all families, his was told: when you go, that's it, you are considered a traitor and you can never come back. You will never see a Cuban sunset, a Cuban beach, again. Garcia has lived in Australia with his grateful parents since 1972. He's married now, with children. He published his book in June. In July came news that Castro was ill and in August he handed over power to his younger brother, Raul, at least temporarily. I thought you'd like to know that some of the most moving and sincere feedback I have received to my book, Child of the Revolution, has come from people who grew up under Communism in what used to be the Soviet bloc.
Perhaps a little colder than tropical Cuba, but the experiences were identical. Luis
• · · Have Australians lost faith in a politics that is larger than themselves Ordinary is now the way to be
• · · · A workforce experiment at Best Buy's headquarters allows employees to decide how, when and where they get the job done. Throwing Out the Rules of Work
• · · · · John Alexander, AFR Boss, November 2006, pp.82-87. There’s more to Swedish style than Ikea or Volvo. When it comes to doing business, the Swedes are world-class leaders at calculating when enough is enough. How do these Swedish companies succeed, he wondered, with their long holidays, generous sick leave and remuneration, mandatory parental leave, endless coffee breaks, and long meetings in which decision-making was avoided? How has Sweden achieved such an impressive track record in corporate sustainability and international profitability? The Swedish message

Sunday, October 15, 2006

In a rare act of common sense, we get a Sydney based play Bangers and Mash in the same week as the world faces another movement of note ;-) How to Save the World and Find True Love...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Writing a Marathon

Like most writers, there are times when I shake my head and think, "What am I doing?" This usually happens after a string of rejections, or when the final few dollars from last month's checks have been spent and I'm scrounging for new ideas and assignments. At those times a nagging voice deep within me begins to shout, "You can't do this! You're not good enough! You'll never finish this!" Learning how to deal with that voice is one of the most important lessons I've learned as a writer, and for me that lesson came from the most unlikely of places.
You are ... how old ;-)

By the way, Tim Flannagan might as well ask ... of Terry McGee and Buz Luhrman Are you character driven or Cold River escape driven?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Black Friday and game of Trivia with creative minds of Chris, Johns. Trevor and Gayle caliber mix rather well on this very hot night in Sydney ;-)

Daniel Pink thinks the creative types shall inherit the earth. Pink -- author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead) and plenary speaker at ABA's upcoming Winter Institute -- says a sea change is already taking place in our business and personal lives. We are moving from the Information Age (where lawyers, programmers, and accountants ruled) to what he dubs the Conceptual Age (artists, inventors, and designers, your time has come!) Winter Institute Speaker Daniel Pink: Right-Brainers to Rule the Future

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Criminalization of Political Processes

"To the victors belong the spoils"1 and "money is the mother's milk of politics"2 are adages growing in obsolescence in the context of a recent trend to criminalize conduct which historically had been deemed politically acceptable.

While political patronage flourishes in some spheres of government (from presidential appointments to local clubhouse politics), some legislative limits have been imposed and criminally enforced. In addition, Some political benefits procured by way of campaign contributions have been criminalized despite recognition by the U.S. Supreme Court that ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The week has been peppered with the sweetness of the Blue Mountains blossom, Agatha Christie plays (Pauline's touch), Little Miss Sunshine, (Everyone pretend to be normal) and deep stories of how there are really only five types of relatives or wives or ex-wives - the characters just tend to jump from one album to another album ... Although last year a separation was not a music to my ears this year a divorce is a greatest gift I could ever wish for ...

The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class

Another measure of how inequality has widened since Ronald Reagan was elected shows in the ratio of CEO pay to the average working person. It rose from 42 times in 1980 to 85 times in 1990 and 431 times in 2004. At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin reportedly said in answer to whether the nation now had a republic or a monarchy: A republic, if you can keep it.

Prescient words from an extraordinary man, and we hardly need wonder what he'd say now. Unlike the Founders, this shameless Congress shares the guilt of a morally depraved president who believes no one has the right to challenge him, champions the use of torture and the denial of habeas and due process rights to anyone on his say alone, now (law or no law) authorizes wiretaps and illegal surveillance on anyone, and calls dissent an act of terrorism in direct contradiction to what Thomas Jefferson believed when he said: "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Having now made a mockery of constitutional law, this Congress and president have moved the nation to within an "eyelash" of a full-blown national security fascist police state. It's given the president the right to act solely on his own authority as a virtual dictator to do whatever he pleases in the name of national security as he defines it. It simply means the rule of law has been abolished and ordinary people no longer have constitutionally protected rights. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Like it's Media Dragon's fault that Google didn't just buy this blog for a cool billion ... Are we capable of exacting the worst kind of revenge on Google if enough of our blogging life is ruined or taken from us by missing on such amazing opportunities ;-) I don't have a ton to say about the Google acquisition of YouTube. That's because to me, it's more an eyeball landgrab than a search development ... Google's decision to splurge $1.65bn (£880m) on the video site YouTube will no doubt have critics of the new dotcom boom rolling their eyes in disgust If you can't beat 'em ...Beginners discover blogs easy as 1, 2, 3 Blogosphere probes 'GooTube' deal News that Google has bought video-sharing website YouTube has set the blogs chattering. Among the questions being asked are how the deal will affect the two companies, what the copyright implications will be and whether Yahoo will follow suit with a similar deal Google bets big bucks: Google boss lost in tide of blue rinse

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Golden Age of Gobbledygook: Google Idol
Brin and Page initially took over the garage when Google had recently been incorporated with backing to the tune of $1 million from investors ... bringing the most-used parts of MySpace, eBay, Craigslist, YouTube and Google into one!

To all those Google users out there -- how do you feel about the web search giant becoming your personal librarian? In fact, the company is already heeding this call for many millions of Google users all across the globe these days (and nights). This blog entry over at ZDNet discusses a quote from Google co-founder Larry Page, who said this at the introduction of the "Google Books" project that aimed to scan every possible book into digital format: "Even before we started Google, we dreamed of making the incredible breadth of information that librarians so lovingly organize searchable online."

It's getting quicker to get a billion: Google's place as a personal librarian [There's California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a summer evening newscast, boasting about the state budget he had just signed. There he is again, minutes later, featured on a video clip of the broadcast posted online by his political opponents. It highlights the 11 words Schwarzenegger regretted declaring that day: "Uh, no, there really is no plan to end the deficit." Political hopefuls exploit gaffes online ; Is news that Google is buying video sharing website YouTube for $1.6bn the silliest deal since eBay bought Skype for over $2.6bn? Jason Stamper's Blog]
• · There were red faces in the Googleplex yesterday after the company was forced to admit that the Official Google Blog had been hacked over the weekend. Hackers post fake notice on Google blog ; Google has added an 'Interesting items for you' module to the personalized home page interface as noted in the Google Operating System blog Recommend Searches, Pages & Gadgets
• · · In his blog, Matt Cutts of Google explained that, "PageRank is computed continuously; there are machines that take inputs to the PageRank algorithm at Google Google Updates PageRank ; Is the 'New New Internet' really new?
• · · · Like it's my fault that Google didn't just buy this blog for a cool billion YouTube, me jealous; The ambitious today are all on the Web. Writing words, posting pictures, uploading video. It's all about visibility. It's all about being there, being seen in all the right places. Get Published To Get Ahead
• · · · · Irony Behind the Google Click-to-Call Hoax ; Google is not alone in recognizing the power of local ad revenue. ... states that provide user-generated content, photos, local calendars, blog communities, and yes ... Local is crucial for online newspapers
• · · · · · As Hurricane Rita approached Houston in 2005, the Houston Chronicle set up a weblog in which its science writer gave up-to-the-minute updates about the storm's status and in-depth information about the science associated with Rita. Blogs changing journalism, Mattingly tells BP journalism faculty ; It already has its own Google Video site, but still trails YouTube, which recently announced that ... News of the talks was first reported on the Techcruch blog. Google May Be Vying for Site

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If I had woken up twenty five years ago, in my newly acquired homeland Australia, with the face I have now, I would have screamed the house down. Not even the wild wild Polish Parties with the hugest of hangovers would my eyelids have been this droopy, the lines between mmy euebrows so deep, the bags under my eyes such precise storm-cloud grey

Reasons why the Australian language is so hard to learn for exiles like mmmwwaaa:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present..
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France (Surprise!). Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. - Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"? (courtesy of Walter and Vanessa)

Friday, October 06, 2006

If Tolstoy were living in 21st century Australia, he would have to ditch his famous observation, in Anna Karenina, that happy families are all alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. In Australia they're all unhappy about the same things: childcare, mortgages and petrol ... CUT! Has economy everywhere lost our way?

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: The Walk of life:
via email - You walk step by step down the darkest hall.

Your progress is only transfigured by the illumination of the touches of experience. Each torch is drawn to the wall, and held by frozen human hands of pervious travelers. As you turn the final corner, you stretch out your hand and pierce the veil. For a short time you are blinded, then as your eyes adjust they are awaken with the richness that they behold. Tables dressed in gold braiding rich and full. Candles multi crystal coloured reflect light, all colours mingle to display the purest light known to human kind. Silver platters full, reaped with produce from the golden garden of all times and worlds, the famed garden of Eden.
As you approach the table, your hunger is eating at your very being, climax's towards the delight of your existentialistic existence. The table is set for your own banquet of life. Beware the taste of the sweeter food, don't over eat and always chew your food.
Through out the meal your taste buds blossom and bloom with the delights as you savor each mouth full. Dreams enhance you as you hope that it will last for ever. BUT WILL IT ? Have you remembered to stay away from the dark side. Who's very thought triggers memories phasing like flashes of lighting causing questions of your own memories. Your heart beats faster and faster. Racing and pacing, pumping with a rhythm that cancels the very beat of life itself. Be comforted and lend yourself to peace. Float within its arms for you are beheld and cherished by the spirit of humanity.

The spirit is your guide for the journey, it will answer all your questions. But can you ask the right questions ? You finish your banquet and move along the path. Each step is ane step for the continuation of your journey. Remember that each step, questions may be asked and fulfillment is possible, but only with hunger as the toll for the delights and knowledge.

Remember that each step has a life of its own. Born at the touch of your foot. Death when you have passed. For each of your steps is but just a passing phase. But never fear nor sorrow for with each step you kill means another birth.

So sample only the good things, reject the dark side and ask many questions of the spirit. Listen to its guidance and judge harshly your environment. For many surprises will arise in the west, while you seek the east for a sign.

May your light be available, as the moon is at half crescent. Not a full moon to blind, nor a too soft moon which is food for the shadows of deception to grow in your path. For a crescent moon brings warmth and support to the soul. Remember to be at peace and one with the world and it will seek peace with you. Enjoin together and join with the spirit to celebrate the greatest gift of all, life !

• · Even a few extra pounds can bring early death Message for us all ; A few extra pounds mean shorter life
• · · MaxSpeak, You Listen!: G'DAY, GOOD LIFE, BLISS
• · · · with a complimentary photograph of Nick Roussos, CPSU member: Work to live or live to work? Dr Caroline West argues for a radical rethink of work/life balance as we struggle to find time for our lives - while working harder than ever. Definition of the good life ; Climate change is getting to be like that old joke about the weather: everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything. Sydney's food law breaches 1 day 7 hours old

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tonight Barry Jones and Jennifer Byrnes created another colourful atmosphere at the GlebeBookshop. Naturally, knowledge and science dominated the memoirs we had to have ...

All readers of the Media Dragon will remember that Barry Jones first came to public prominence as Pick-a-Box quiz champion, and from then on he has embraced a myriad of passions and causes. A Thinking Reed spans his remarkable career, from a lonely childhood in Melbourne of the 1930s and 1940s to the fight he led against the death penalty to his crusade to make science and the future prominent issues on the political agenda. He has worked tirelessly on both a global and local scale to rethink education, to improve and preserve our heritage, to revive the nations's film industry, and to build a better Australia. Almost unique among politicians, Barry Jones is held in enormous public affection. And while he reveals many insights into the political process - both the problems of office and the atrophy of Opposition - he concentrates above all on the life of the mind; a mind with deep, passionate and often witty insights into history, philosophy, music and literature. A Thinking Reed is a generous gift from an extraordinary Australian PS: Ach, Nifty, Neville Wran, laughted at the same places at Mal ;-)

In this context, reading the thought-provoking and hard-core irony bitten letters to the editor inside the newspaper which Mark Scott wounded - just like his father wounded the TAFE system - somehow the generational dots of comedy or errors are joined together ...

A skills shortage of employers' own making

Sorry to disappoint the boffins at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, but broad-based skilled migration ("Skills crisis: migrants get fast-tracked", October 4) will never solve a skills shortage.

Recruiting overseas hairdressers will, for example, create more demand for accountants, then both professions create more demand for building tradespeople to build their homes, then more demand for cooks and all the other skilled workers already in short supply - including hairdressers. The consequent population growth will put more pressure on our limited water resources and create demand for engineers and construction workers to build the desalination plant the NSW Government recently put on hold. Spend the money training Australian youth and mature workers instead and the skills crisis can be solved.

-Dick Harfield Leichhardt

Rosemary O'Brien (Letters, October 4) wonders if people do their community service. They do. I am required to do at least 200 hours over six months for the crime of being unemployed. Centrelink doesn't know this but I had done about 300 hours before I registered. You see, I get more out of volunteering than I put into it. I can also get training credits from Centrelink. I am going to put mine towards a trip to China to do a TAFE course that is going to get me back into the paid workforce. By the back door, so to speak.

-Warren Heggarty Yagoona

Oh, woe is us. After spending many years in the building industry it beggars belief that employers and government are whingeing again about something they have created: a skills shortage.

When there was a union of substance in the industry, the first thing about which we would have a discussion, argument, plea or strike was how many apprentices would be employed on the site. This was determined by several things: the size of the project, its duration and the number of carpenters, electricians and so on. Employers had to be dragged kicking and screaming to employ apprentices. They and the government are complicit in the debacle we are now seeing.

-Wayne Murray Marrickville

Outsourcing Knowledge

Monday, October 02, 2006

Every cliche has its day, so here goes: It is an ill wind of power that blows nobody any good - We live in a strange world - PDF version Stephen Handelman is the author of Comrade Criminal: Russia’s New Mafiya and a consultant for Freedom House’s annual Nations in Transit survey Thieves in Power: The New Challenge of Corruption

Simplicity has emerged as one of the hot management trends of the new century. But is it really new, or just commonsense? Keep it simple

Art of Living & Change Across Frontiers: Running with Change
The winds of change rarely smell sweet.  As soon as organizational changes are announced, you can smell detractors, naysayers, doubters, critics--all those who resist the changes. When you are the manager of a change-supporting project, you are going to be a target of this resistance, directly or indirectly.

You will have the opportunity to influence the workforce in a constructive way during your project to counter the resistance. If you fail to fully take advantage of this opportunity, your project objectives will be much more difficult to achieve. Think doing nothing or remaining neutral will be a viable safe tactic? It’s as good as joining the resisters.
When You Must Be Ready to Respond to Resistance
First, how do you know you are in an organizational change supporting project? One obvious example of such a project is where a new, more powerful software system is being created to replace another. There are usually concurrent consolidations in user roles and departmental realignments.

Sometimes, though, an organizational change occurs when the scope of an organization’s role changes, as when a chunk of work is delegated to an outsourced organization. Projects can generate from these organizational changes as systems and procedures must be adjusted.
Finally, an organizational change common to IT is centralization or decentralization, which occur randomly to all organizations depending on factors such as shareholder satisfaction, newly hired leaders and whether the CIO salary has recently been publicized. You may manage a project that supports any of these or similar efforts. Any of them may produce that special odour of resistance.

Reactions You Can Expect
Understanding general types of workforce reactions will help you prepare to respond appropriately and avoid embarrassing and destructive reactions.

Active Resistance. Many workers may feel that they, their department, even the organization may come out worse off once the changes have occurred. They may not hesitate to express their fears to you, using for instance:
? Verbal complaints in project meetings (“We should not be developing a new system when our existing system can be updated more cost-effectively.”)
? Actions to avoid working in the project or doing certain tasks (“Our team will not be a good choice for this activity. Perhaps you should go with contractors.”)

Allowing active resistance to exist throughout the project, even when the best interest of the organization is the motivation, keeps the workforce from focusing on project objectives and reduces productivity.

Passive Resistance. Some workers and team leads will have concerns over the efficacy of the change and your project, but will not be obvious about it. There may be no objectively clear behaviour that you can put your finger on. Many times, resistance is conducted by not doing something that needs to be done. Examples of passive resistance (or evidence thereof) are: 
- Quietly spreading any news or rumour of anything negative or unsuccessful with the project
- Not prioritizing high-priority project work, so that deadlines are always missed, then giving excuses for not completing work on time or to the expected quality
- Avoiding documentation of project issues so that they cannot be successfully resolved
- Constantly requesting delays to wait for organizational decisions before starting or completing project tasks.

It is easy to underestimate the problem with this insidious type of resistance. As the project progresses, it gradually erodes the ability of individuals and teams to complete work efficiently.

Have fixed, regular places for worker input and issues. Don’t let the passive resistors get away with spreading rumours and sabotage. Give them every opportunity to voice their concerns--appropriately. 
- Bad--Activate your workers in a standard way on the issue resolution process.
- Worse--Let the issue resolution procedure fall between the cracks as your project gets more intensely busy.
- Better--Make a special effort to emphasize the importance of the issue resolution procedure. State how anything other than aggressive resolution of project issues will be seen as substandard performance in any project group. Explain how issues about the change strategy as a whole are also important and should be brought up in the appropriate organizational feedback method (not the project).

Organizational Change and Your Career
Of course, you like to bask in the knowledge that the organization will benefit from your selfless sophistication in change management leadership. But think of yourself for a moment. What skills will take you as a project manager to the next level? Positive political and interpersonal skills will.

Like it or not, there is more organizational change in your future. The more practice you get at influencing the workforce during difficult changes, the more you will come out smelling like a rose.

The CIO as Driver of Organizational Change [We live in a strange world. Change insinuates itself into the very fabric of our lives, yet most people have a hard time dealing with it. It’s no wonder an enormous body of knowledge revolves around every conceivable aspect of change. The Change Game ; ]
• · Suppose you lend a friend a DVD to watch on the agreement that he will mail it back to Netflix. If you find out your friend forgot to return the movie to the rental company, would you trust him with another DVD? Promises, Lies and Apologies: Is It Possible to Restore Trust?