Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Julia Gillard - our new leader

Before I start, this post is not what I plan on posting regularly, but because I'm still so new at this, that can only be proven over time. So just trust me on this, it's pretty tangential.

I’m a little late in posting this, as the hysteria has mostly died down around the Gillard appointment of last week. Today is the end of the first week of Julia Gillard serving as Prime Minister of Australia. So many people have written about this already, some with humour, some slightly more seriously, but I still feel like I need to put my two bob in. Please don’t take this post as a stance on my personal political views, I don’t think I even know what they are yet, it’s more a reflection on the process that has brought us to where we are now in national leadership.

Firstly, I’m stoked that Australia has a female leader for the first time. A woman leading the country has been a long time coming, and when it happened it couldn’t go uncelebrated as an important point in our political history. The part of this event that I keep coming back to is the fact that she was not elected to this position. Is this not a pretty big fact that we’re ignoring, or am I blowing things out of proportion? Some would say that because there has been a rumbling of public support for the decision after it was made, it doesn’t matter if she was originally elected to the role or not and sure, the argument has strength.

But where was this decision made? Wherever it was, it sure wasn’t at the polling booths .This means that even if the public did think that she’d make a great leader of the country, they didn’t get the chance to say so until the decision had already been made for them. So what? Well, isn’t the point of elections in Australia to give the public a say in who leads them? Sure, two-and-a-bit years ago we chose a leader and party, and we still have the party, but not the leader. Should we kick back and say ‘well, we’ve got most of what we chose, that’s good enough’? Or, given that there has been a clear fall in support for the leader that we originally chose, who has now been removed by the party that originally put him forward, shouldn’t we seek to have a choice over who replaces him? I know that the system of government we have in Australia centres elections on parties and not individual leader, but the landscape of voters across the country still take individual leaders into their decision  on election day. So the decision to remove Kevin Rudd as PM couldn’t have been put to the people immediately, and that is why processes like votes of no confidence exist, however, once it is clear that the people’s choice isn’t working for the people, shouldn’t the next steps be an interim solution until another decision by the people can be made? Isn’t that how we as a nation show continued dedication to the values of popular vote, election by majority and giving everyone a choice? No one knows for sure when the federal election will be held yet, but the sooner the better. At least that way, the decision on who fills the seat is given to the people and the processes created to ensure our values are upheld are followed. When leadership start to ignore, delay or influence these processes for their own gain, their motivation for wanting the position comes into question and the integrity of their government is devalued.

In short, who cares if our current leader is woman or not, give the choice to the people who should have it, and make it snappy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

food, my way.

It might be a little indulgent, but I love telling people about the great food I eat. I hope that it encourages them to try it too, or at least start thinking creatively about food in general. See, I eat vegan food. Does that make me a vegan? It depends. I still wear a lot of animal products (wool, leather) and there are loads of animal derived products in my life, but as far as my diet goes, it's all vegan. (that means no animal products)

I made an adaptation of this risotto recipe that I got from the Vegan YumYum app on my phone the other weekend in preparation for cooking with a bunch of non-vegans. Putting vegan food in front of non-vegan types is often a bit of a challenge. Even if the food tastes, looks and smells great, the judgement that it's so far out of what is perceived to be 'normal' food affects the whole meal. I could go on and on and try to battle the judgement and attitude with arguments and reason, or I could just cook food I love to eat and make it available for other people to eat too.

Normally when people think of risotto they think of parmesan cheese. It's actually really easy to make a baked or stove-top risotto without cheese. Substitute stock, wine or cooking sherry and you're right as rain! The adaptations I made to the above recipe were: I was too lazy to go get an eggplant, so I steamed some green asparagus instead. I liked the green on the plate anyway, and it gave a fresh crunch to the meal. I didn't bother with the red onion, just went with a brown one, it worked fine. As far as I was concerned, there was going to be enough red in the meal and the flavour is pretty much the same. I added an extra clove of garlic too, coz that's just how I roll.

N.B. do be careful with the oil. I thought I overdid it a little because I didn't do any measuring, so the photo makes the plate look like a grease-bowl. Less than a day later sealed in the fridge though, the rice had really dried out and could have done with a bit of a freshen up with stock on the stove.

This was so good I'm making it again tonight.

say what?!

So I put up in that description bar a little something that I thought might cover most of what I'm planning on posting about. I all sounded like a good plan, until I got to this point and realised I probably needed to post something fairly quickly to show that I actually had something to say about those things. Ah, the pressure!

My boss recently passed on a couple of professional development titles to me, which I'm trying to work through. That is, in between writing a thesis, trying to come up with fresh ideas at work and feigning a social life. I am currently enjoying the conversation (both internal and with other real life people) being generated by Dan Pink's 'A Whole New Mind'. The grab-line of the book is something like 'moving from the information age to the conceptual age' and discusses how businesses and professionals will be forced to think and behave more creatively at work in the future. I'm not even halfway through, but I'm enjoying it so far. I'll let you know what I think if I ever get to the end.

In a bit of a bizarre twist, a former colleague and friend forwarded me this video (covering content in Dan Pink's new book Drive), which I happened to watch just a couple of days before on Tony Morgan's blog. Really, I wish I knew already how to embed videos on my blog to make viewing the clip easier, it's such a great presentation of ideas that I've been trying to bring together in my head for a couple of months.

It's encouraging to know that the thing's that inspire me, also inspire the people around me. It gives me hope that I might find something to say on this blog about any of the stuff up in the title bar that inspires someone besides me. Till then, I'm happy to keep writing about stuff that I love.

I'm new here

So. I've finally taken the step many others have made before me and created my personal blog.

Depending on where you are in terms of your own online presence and blogging perspective, this is a good thing, or just another blob of text on a page somewhere in the cloud. I hope it turns out to be a good thing.

If you're into reading, feel free to read this stuff as regularly as I post. If you think what I'm writing is great or crazy, we could probably have a conversation - leave a comment at least!

wish me luck, here I go...