June 1, 2008

Kev's choices

Kev wins more friends everywhere he goes:
"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has declared war on the public service, sending in police to investigate the leaking of a cabinet document and demanding even more work from his bureaucrats.

The Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran, has called in the Australian Federal Police to find who leaked cabinet documents containing advice opposing the Government's FuelWatch scheme.

There are claims ''chaos'' has descended upon various departments and ministerial and department staff are working from before 7am to past 10pm only for their work to be ignored amid a controlling environment.

He also acknowledged his 24/7 work ethic had already provoked deep hostility among many public servants, but pledged to ratchet up his demands.

''I understand that there has been some criticism around the edges that some public servants are finding the hours a bit much,'' he said

''Well, I suppose I've simply got news for the public service, there'll be more.''

The work ethic of this Government will not decrease, it will increase.''

The commission's new analysis was unveiled only a day after a leaked cabinet document revealed the Government ignored multiple warnings from four senior departments that FuelWatch could lead to higher prices and compliance costs of up to $4000 for fuel retailers."

Kev doesn't run the country, he runs around media cycles:

"Frankly, I do believe in burning the midnight oil", Kevin Rudd declared yesterday, in face of ever-louder groans from weary public servants. The trouble is, he also lights the burner before dawn.

The Rudd press office splutters into action around 4am, when a media assistant arrives. His policy advisers begin to appear from about 6.30am. There is a 5.15am hook-up of press secretaries from the offices of Mr Rudd and senior ministers (it occurs at the weekend too, though the hour is more civilized) and also an evening conference call. It's not all the PM's fault. The media cycle is almost around the clock."

Kev will flog 'em harder:

"The PM's office routine means departments must be on the go first thing, ready to jump to attention when Mr Rudd or his staff or ministers want something. Some departments have people on duty at 6am.

Yesterday Mr Rudd said there should be flexible departmental arrangements so people could live "reasonable lives" — but the Government's "first responsibility" was to "those millions of Australians right outside the public service".

Mr Rudd still refuses to accept the tempo of marathons must be measured; several times yesterday he repeated there would be no slackening the pace."

Kev chooses relentless work for all public servants:

"Here was the champion of working families promising to flog a whole city of largely Labor-voting working families, and a lot of them, already worn down by their Rudd-imposed workload, were in possession of government secrets.

Here was the slayer of WorkChoices, who electioneered on the theme that the Howard government was the enemy of the work-family balance, declaring he wanted those he was able to order around to work harder and longer.

The coming of Kevin Rudd, a driven man in obsessive search of endless briefings and the comfort of long documents on which to scribble and to shuffle, has placed much of the public service under significant pressure.

It is much tougher for those working in the office of Rudd and his ministers. Many begin their working days at 4am, have prepared their first ministerial briefings by 6am and stay at the office well into the night. The requirement for this sort of behavior, it is agreed, comes from Rudd himself."

Kev loses battle of the spin, despite never letting other people sleep or have a life sleeping:

"A few weeks ago, The Canberra Times carried a front page story headed, "The city that never sleeps". Alongside pictures of departmental lights burning into the capital's night, the story reported dark jokes circulating about the need for a pyjama allowance in bureaucratic pay packets. The reporter and photographer discovered, prominently displayed in the cafeteria at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, packets of the sleep suppressant No-Doz.

Rudd — having spent much of last year attacking the Howard government for failing to do enough for working families — declared just six months into his own prime ministership that his own Government had done all it could to help those same families deal with petrol, food and other living costs.

As Rudd and his colleagues look to the unaccustomed territory of their post-honeymoon period, they might reflect that the confusion and loss of focus of the past couple of weeks appears to be the sort of penalty that is often experienced by the stressed and the sleep-deprived."

I've never met a perfectionist who delivers good work.

I've never met a control freak who has control over them self.

Kev has lost the plot, he has no narrative, he can't massage a message, he can't control a simple spin.

This - from the man running the country according to media cycles.

This - from the man who takes an exulted pride in not sleeping.

This - from the man who has the biggest pile of briefing papers of them all.


Now it's Rudd's war on the public service

Kevin's way, burning the oil at midnight, toiling at dawn

Rudd's honeymoon just marred


  1. I expected this; there were signs before the election. Notice how limp and tired Gillard looks with Rudd as leader compared to Latham. She seems to have aged five years and lost her personality. I don't like Kevin Rudd, he sounds like a horrid person to work for. It will cost him. Howard was never this stupid.

  2. Kev's reputation from his days in the Queensland state government preceded him, so it's not as though no one had a heads-up about his ways.

    Gillard has been surprisingly missing in action since the election ... well, during the election too. She may have lost her spark, but not her hair color.

    Guess if you give a gal multiple portfolios, not much chance her nose will be permitted to lift from the grindstone.

    A leader should lead.

    A leader should have the brains and judgment to appoint people whose competence they trust sufficiently to delegate work and day to day management.

    Some misguided twerp on another blog used the ol' cliche "no one works harder than Rudd".

    Which misses the point entirely.

    Slogging away for long hours is not an indicator of useful, necessary work.

    "Hard work" - or long hours - and valuable work aren't synonymous.

    Perpetual round-the-clock briefings might fill Rudd's void of insecurity, but there's no result, which suggests the efforts of many sleepless people - including Rudd - are all for naught.

  3. These things always remind me of a line in Fitzgerald: "-he was all relaxed for combat; as a fine athlete playing secondary defense in any sport is really resting much of the time, while a lesser man only pretends to rest and is at a continual and self-destroying nervous tension."

    I know the type. It's called "busy work". The end result will be that the intelligent people will leave, until his Prime Ministership blows over, and we'll be left with an unhappy and no more productive public service. They are there to serve the public, not Kevin Rudd. Who has ever complained that they don't work long enough hours? And this from a *labour* government, which claims to want to restore the work/family balance. He will, in time, attempt to make the whole country tuned to his clock.

    No thank you.

  4. True, true, it is the public they serve, first and foremost, hence why their advice and administration of government policy and legislation must at all times be impartial. (The latter of which seems to displease Rudd, since he ignores the work they deliver to him.)

    Rudd's self-cultivated macho-man image and threats to the public service do him no credit.

    If he doesn't require much sleep, and apparently he doesn't, he should take up reading classical novels, or something more nourishing to the soul than forcing other people into his slavery.

  5. This government will be a do nothing government. I've always said that. Rudd will be too busy paper shuffling to do anything.

    Rudd's a dickhead

  6. Anonymous9:54 PM

    Rudd may spend all his time working because he prefers it to family wife, I mean life.

  7. Yes what about his poor family. What about his family values? Good God, where is Senator Fielding in all of this?

  8. Carr used to spend his time reading the classics though from what he has said his tastes were so bland and standard it is only likely to impress illiterates. There must be a lot in NSW politics else he wouldn't have gotten the label "bookish".

    I think Rudd should go home, read some Chinese philosophy and make love to his unattractive wife. God, there has GOT to be a way to incorporate Jack Nicholson's speech in "Chinatown" to this situation.

    "So there's this guy Kevin Rudd, do you understand? He's tired of screwin' his wife Therese... So Peter Garrett says to him, "Hey, why don't you do it like the Chinese do?" So he says, "How do the Chinese do it?" And the guy says, "Well, the Chinese, first they screw a little bit, then they stop, then they go and read a little Confucius, come back, screw a little bit more, then they stop again, go and they screw a little bit... then they go back and they screw a little bit more and then they go out and they contemplate the moon or something like that. Makes it more exciting." So now, Kevin goes home and he starts screwin' his own wife, see. So he screws her for a little bit and then he stops, and he goes out of the room and reads a public service report. Then he goes back in, he starts screwin' again. He says, "Excuse me for a minute, honey." He goes out and he smokes a cigarette. Now his wife is gettin' sore as hell. He comes back in the room, he starts screwin' again. He gets up to start to leave again to go look at the moon. She looks at him and says, "Hey, whats the matter with ya. You're screwin' just like a Chinaman!"

  9. In my spare moments I have been trying to write an erotic novel. It is hard to no where to even begin in a country like this with scarcely any literary tradition to draw from. In Europe the settings lend themselves to romance, America has its glib self-confidence and Asia and the third world their own distinct approaches to love. Here one has to first deal with the banality of evil and an atmosphere more conducive to insanity than pleasure.

    Also planning to volunteer to help teach refugee children to read in July, which will probably be the hardest thing I have ever done. Certainly hard work of the kind Rudd describes will have no place in it, rather it will require patience and sensitivity. If I do this I think it will remove any doubts I had about myself and my work record, the worth of my degree or my moral purpose.

  10. You'll have to forgive my tardiness Solomon, I started a new job today, with no access to my email, and even less access to blog sites, so it's strictly "after hours" Internet access for me for a while.


    Ah, I can easily imagine you doing a stunning job of writing an erotic novel Solomon, excellent!

    Set your own tradition, you can be the precedent for Australian erotica.

    Although the author of "The bride stripped bare" was / is Australian - the novel was set in Britain though.

    For erotic, of a sophisticated kind, does the setting, the geography matter? I would have thought not?

    Have you read "the bride ..."? After all the brouhaha and controversy (as with films that are over hyped & oversold), I was a bit repelled and definitely a bit disappointed.

  11. You have read Henry Miller?

    Anaïs Nin?

  12. I have read some of Miller and a substantial amount of Nin. I find Miller a little dull, kind of like Hemingway but without all the elements that make Hemingway great. Nin is a curious writer in that she wrote for men and yet there is this odd detachment in some of her work as if she feels differently about her subject matter than she pretends. Her essays on sexuality are fascinating and truthful. My favourite is "A spy in the house of love" though there is scarcely anything erotic in it at all.

    I don't know "The bride stripped bare" but will look into it. I even bought a Mills and Boon earlier this year from the Salvos to try and get a feel for what women are actually reading. Something like 50% of fiction sales are romance novels. Honestly I am none the wiser as to why. Surely the world has enough Latin lovers named Ramon and fancy estates on the riviera.

    In some ways it is possible to simply exclude the setting entirely and place it all indoors. But then Australia has a lot of anti-erotic elements; jolly swagmen and harsh sunlight and sheep,flies, Tim Winton. There must be a way around it.

    I did actually complete a short novel but it is so far removed from my own experience that I don't think it is convincing. I tried in the spirit of completing a writing exercise to turn it into a sci-fi novel and have so far come up with some interesting results, but its heading in a different direction than I was aiming for. I plan essentially to start from scratch, stealing bits and pieces where appropriate.

  13. Miller needs to be read (and Nin, for that matter) within the context of when they were written. They were genuine innovators, genuinely radical, regardless of how we might view them from present day (or feminist) sensitives. (And, oh, don't the feminists have a field day with Miller!)

    You have traveled, you have been to Paris - use your memory, be bi-coastal (well, it's erotica, after all!).

    I tried Mills & Boon once, forced myself to read a Boon short story in the New Idea, or such. Was my first and last foray into the genre.


    "Surely the world has enough Latin lovers named Ramon and fancy estates on the riviera.

    Apparently not.

  14. Mills and Boon, yeah, my sister had a suitcase full of the bastards Caz.
    Filled her head with unrealistic notions and expectations. Being the hopeless romantic that she is, she ended up marrying a smooth talking Austrian
    You know how that one turned out Caz!
    Funnily enough, I too read a Mills and Boon short story in New Idea.
    Ugh, once was enough! Give me Jane Austen any day!

  15. And.. she was only nineteen!

    Reminds me of a sad song Caz!

  16. As much as I love Kah Sahn (how can one not?), Only 19 is an almost equal Aussie classic.

    I've always thought "hopeless romantic" was a misnomer, which people very much like to misapply to themselves, a bit of self-flattery, so they think.

    But it's not romantic.

    Romance isn't a string of aching cliches, a pot boiler, a bodice ripper, or a even bulging manhood - all populated by willful, daring, one dimensional chiseled features and arching and/or quizzical brows.

    What shite.

    Romance is better than that!

    Western society has been sold the most hideous, asinine brand of romance, a shoddy broken off bit of fairy floss, specked with dead ants.

  17. Hmm truth is I don't have any spare moments. I have moments I try and recover from law by doing something else, on the principle that "a change is as good as a holiday" for want of a better phrase. It is a desperate attempt to try and resist the waves of pressure that want me to become a corporate treadmill workaholic that wakes up at 45 and realises he has no personality only to say "Oh well, back to work". At least in the past people had mid-life crises and turned to facile spiritualism - now they don't, they don't do a thing. It isn't deliberate or orchestrated but rather operates on the principle "If you don't do it, I have to, so you're damn well going to do it!" If I had authority and position that wouldn't be so bad, but I start with nothing; no connections, no advantages, just a total anonymity.

    The difference between studying law now as to when most practitioners studied it is that there is 30 yrs more legislation and case law and I haven't had those 30 yrs to learn it in. Also there are now more law students than there are jobs (or so I am told) so there is no sympathy: you are a face in a crowd, part of a queue. You jump the hoops else we get someone else who can, no matter how unreasonable our demands. The incompetence produced or at least allowed by the oppressive and neglectful environment is dealt with by zero tolerance for mistakes, meaning more oppression, rather than actual professional development (though there is plenty of pseudo-professional development). A generation gap also creates unusual pressures of which I am becoming painfully aware.

    I wish I had Kevin Rudd's job. Nobody writes reports for me or does any work for me. I write my own reports, do my own research, think my own thoughts and in many respects increasingly find my own work to do. I can see vast amounts of work out there that needs to be done but the infrastructure to deal with it isn't there, rather it is dealt with by the volunteer community and charities, because there is little initiative in either the public or private sphere, just "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir".

    An example of the bizarre situation I find myself in: I am studying family law and my textbook is five years out of date, despite massive changes to the family law system within that time. There are other textbooks but no, this is the one we are supplied with. In the past I might have been given "lecture notes" or something of the kind (a practice I disliked), but now for the first time I have not even been provided with a suitable set text. The only solution is, essentially, to start from scratch and research the topic myself - begging the question, why do I need this expensive show trial of a university in the first place? It is difficult to tolerate the rather humiliating assessment process by people who essentially have no RIGHT to assess you; but for the fact that I seem to be doing BETTER in this subject than in other subjects in which I was spoon-fed for the sole purpose of making me more compliant so that I would listen to a facile political spiel. I listened and learnt nothing.


    Yes, I don't quite understand the fascination with eye-brows. There was certainly nothing erotic or romantic in what I could force myself to read. It is more like a caricature of the genre designed to draw the $$ with the minimum amount of imagination or originality, hoping against hope that if they bought it once they will buy it again and again and again. It is the same principle at work which turns serial killers in to entertainment: I am spooked every time I walk into a video store, at the excess of violence and horror masquerading as entertainment. Yes the genre has potential but the masses of material out there is deliberately trying to avoid having to realise any such potential.

    I am not shocked, just sickened and bored.

    I would recommend Luis Couperus's "Psyche" as an alternative to modern romance. More fantasy than romance but is beautifully rendered. Much of serious literature serves the same purpose as a romance novel but for a different audience (i.e. one which isn't semi-literate), and it has long been my conscious intention to try and fulfill that function. I ask myself questions like "What would a high-level journalist want out of a piece of fiction?". I think strategically this is about as far as I can go, because there is no-one else in a stronger position to make alliances with, and, being totally anonymous, I need to make alliances. I am reading Ann Deveson's "Resilience" for the purpose of researching my audience(and, in part, for its intrinsic value). It has that curious mix of breakneck pace, candour, obsession with social justice and desire for intimacy that I detect in a lot of the media. There is that ambition to be the best and the usual corporate conformity but with the added element of wanting to tear down and rearrange the whole structure (like Frankenstein's monster) so that it works "properly", as if by incorporating criticism it can fend it off and retain all our acceptance, respect, admiration and complicity.

    The conclusion I draw for my own purpose is this: I need to make a work which is explicit, violent and ruthlessly "intelligent". More importantly it needs to appeal to voyeurism, to tell them something they don't already know, and so keep them within the "in-crowd" (else they would struggle to maintain their position of dominance and privilege). But then the more I can teach them about themselves, the more successful I am likely to be, because in truth they compete only against their own class, and anything which can differentiate them from their peers, give them a little more edge, will make them salivate like hungry dogs. And more importantly than that it needs to appeal to their real selves, their unleashed, desperate, ravenous, uncouth selves, which they try so hard to hide from day to day within their professionalism. I think if I can do that, take such a group of people with me on that journey, then all the other difficulties will resolve themselves.

    And so to work.

  18. It sounds as though your plan is to be your own monomyth Solomon, rather to write one.

    A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

    Have never understood your assumption of journalistic power and credibility. I can only guess that you were brainwashed when you studied journalism, but I find that hard to sustain, since your thought is sufficiently independent in regards everything else.

    Journalists are neither the voracious readers nor reviewers of literature, here or in any country, so unless your audience is intended to be tee wee, I don't grasp the goal. As far as targeting a niche market though, it is certainly that. More niche, or sub-niche, again if one wished to target erotica at them.

    "... breakneck pace, candour, obsession with social justice and desire for intimacy

    What an excellent and insightful summary - both of media, and contemporary literature - although I would question the "social justice" aspect, that is, the MSM, when taken as a whole, has dumped any notion of social justice entirely, and so has the public.

    (Which is why Brad-Ang are reputedly looking at bids of up to $15 million for their twins, and no one shouts: "Barely, enough! This is obscene, this should be illegal, this violates all basic human values". Instead, the public cluck approvingly that the money will allegedly go to a charity, even though the happy couple could and should donate $15M to a charity any day of the week - of their own money, instead of a magazine publisher's - and simply give away a couple of snaps of the babies. Giving away someone else's money, would, once upon a time, not been lauded as an act of unbelievable generosity.)

    Can't believe they are making you use a five year old family law book, how truly doltish. You're entitled to be disgusted with them.

    As a lawyer, no one will ever write your reports for you, or fetch you coffee. Even judges have to write their own reports, alas, that is the point of being "counsel" - YOU are the one providing it!

    However, it means you will never have a clod or a dolt to blame, you have control over the approach, the logic, the arguments, the structure, the conclusions, the results, which is far more than most grindstone workers can claim.

    Control matters. It's why senior managers and executives are less stressed than those lower down the rungs.

    It's true that the majority of law students never do articles, but I don't think that's anything new, it has always been thus. So, the competition to do articles is strong, and if that's your goal, you will need to put in super-hero effort needed to win one of those lowly paid, but valuable opportunities.

    I can't guess at what inter-generational matters might be creating pressures for you, but if they stem from university sources, and I imagine they do, then you can probably expect similar, but not identical, once you are on the outside. However, your view of it might change if you are working with or for older people whose expertise you can respect and learn from, and when someone is paying you cold hard cash, perspective, and what you can tolerate is remarkably different - you will find ...

  19. I've been ranting, my apologies. Oh I wasn't brain-washed by my journalism course and don't believe the media is as powerful, credible or important as it thinks it is.

    Nevertheless I think if I want to publish a book in this country it would help to have the media on side, because who else is there to read or review it? I was reading an interview with Anne Rice recently and one of the points she made was that a publisher will only start marketing a book after the critics have taken ahold of it. Of course there is little evidence that the media reads/reviews literature in this country but rather a great under-nourishment in the arts. No they are not powerful but they are powerful relative to me in that I am not in a position to make my hobbies into lucrative work. It is unlikely that an Australian publisher will market a book at all, even for a known writer.

    I am talking about the media I consume rather than MSM as a whole, which certainly doesn't have any interest in social justice. But a journalist like Deveson does, or the ABC, or anyone who might be in a position to read or promote a book. Geraldine Doogue? Alas. It is mostly fetishism - like the other media - in disguise.

    Yes my plan reduces down to writing erotica for Kerry O'Brien; yes there are minimal opportunities for publishing at all in this (or any) country. Truth be told any strategy I attempt is defeated by my urge to create art and the standards which I apply to it and so none of my schemes will play any decisive role in what I write. Thank God, else I wouldn't be a writer at all.

    In general terms my disgust with the media is total and I have discarded the thought of ever working in the industry. I want to be a lawyer.

    There are many older lawyers I like and respect, mostly but not exclusively women; also many relatively young solicitors whom I secretly fall in love with. Nevertheless with some of the older, male practitioners there is a certain hostility which I hope to escape from. I notice it in university, where I am a captive audience, and avoid it in the real world, where I am not.

    Actually I am going to make a complaint to the law society about my degree. They are trying to incorporate post-graduate work into my undergraduate law course by allowing you to count two "practical" subjects as electives. It scarcely seems anything more than fraud to me. There was a time I would have been naive enough to welcome the (minimal) time it might save and the utility it might hold for practical purposes but I can now see that it is likely to be more for the purpose of saving money, resources and the burden of actually educating the student body. I had a little taste of it as part of a "transition" from "embedded" skills and was horrified by the course content. I could have learned more going to a seminar on "the power of positive thinking" or "how to win friends and influence people". It needs to be stopped and the university needs to look at actually reducing the unreasonable amount of time it takes to become a practicing lawyer. One way they could do it is simply removing the unecessary requirement that students complete a "double" degree in another area. Beyond that the institutionalisation of law needs to be reversed: the law is a trade and the best way to learn it is through apprenticeship. They are heading in the other direction and attempting to reduce the practical elements into coursework.

    I have been careful to get as much exposure to the real world as humanly possible; there is more opportunity to do research in the voluntary sphere than in actual work, though I did work for a time in a city law firm, which is more than can be said of most law students.

    What it has taught me is that it is in my best interests to take from university what the real world can't give me, which is a solid grounding in the area of my specialisation. I don't need pseudo-practical jargon thrown at me by angry old baby boomers. I also don't need to listen to newspaper-style editorials for a semester. I am very, very tired of the ruse I am being asked to accept, day after tiring day.

    It's wrong, wrong, all wrong!

  20. Only three days into new job, brain hurts and body exhausted, so can't read / address fully tonight Sol, will revisit when I get home tomorrow.

    I must insist on coming back to my original point: journalists do not review books, nor promote them!

    Reviewing other people's books is one of the few avenues for writers to pick up loose change.

    Often academics and auxiliary or specialist professions are reviewers, not so much for the loose change, more for the purpose of establishing or building their own reputation as an authority on some particular genre, or area of thought.

    I hasten to add, I'm not denigrating reviewers in any way, nor their motives - I imagine many do it for the love of it too - and, let's not forget that a good book review is a thing of beauty, often better than the book.

    I have read beguiling reviews in The Fin Review, for example (as feature articles) - yes, inspiring me to buy obscure books that I would never have otherwise known existed.

    The point though: literature editors allocate books to be reviewed from a pool of regulars or specialists - not to journalists!

    Research your market Sol!

    You have the wrong target for enlisting free PR my dear!

  21. They are all in the same class of media people. I am not sure the distinction holds; I often see columnists review and promote books.

    They are also in a stronger position to publish their own books. They let Emma Tom write a book. It is all the same milieu, same ideology, same species. I think I can learn as much as I need to know studying Deveson as Marieke Hardy, though one is a journalist and the other a writer and lit-crit personality.

    I think my dream job would be to work for the OFLC. Will look into it.

  22. Office of Film and Literature Classification - the state censor.

  23. Truth is all my law student's complaints are similar to the feeling you get waiting in a long queue; unless you are also in the queue you wont know quite how it feels, or why certain things infuriate me so. You can't just go joining another queue because you've waited so long in this one! Kafka, etc.

    I am not sure the law gives much opportunity to excel, despite its prestige and attraction to ambitious people. In science you can make discoveries, inventions; in sport there is genuine competition and no upper limit to your skills; in politics you can change things; in business you can develop products which improve quality of life; in the arts you can create meaning in people's lives and explore the human condition. Legal problems are finite: if the system is working properly and equitably the quality of your lawyer should make as little difference as possible. Any lawyer should give you essentially the same advice, based on the same sources and the same kind of reasoning. Whilst an incompetent lawyer might lose your case for you (unlikely, the judge will compensate), a good lawyer is not likely to get you a much better outcome, and if they do it is going to be because the court has taken into account the time and money spent into its decision-making (not openly, but the courts are sympathetic to anyone who makes an effort; who gives them a reason to care), so you will only be slightly better off. I think the most you can hope for in law, apart from the extraordinary effort it takes just to basically competent and compliant with your responsibilities, is to develop a sense of style and customer service. Skills as you might learn in hospitality: your ability to charm and make life easier for the people you work for and work with. It is like plumbing - once the leak is fixed there is nothing left to be done, but you can get quicker and more efficient at it and try and prevent future leaks. Mega-litigation corporate style is counter-productive, like spam it just makes people hate you. Judges are a captive audience but they are critical readers and know the difference between substantive arguments and flooding and intimidation.

    I think my biggest strength is that I like working with clients (even problem clients) am infinitely patient and want to help them solve their problems. Some lawyers, I've noticed, don't care at all; others, more rarely, too much. By law you have to do the best for your client; in any other industry such a condition is so basic that it would go without saying.

    The only real way that I can see at rising above being a plumber is in academia and politics. There is a bit more scope for heroics in more politcised legal systems like the US with its bill of rights but here judges and lawyers are essentially bureaucrats. Like all bureaucracies there is the great potential to torture people if it is done badly; if it is done well no-one notices or remembers.

  24. Oh Solomon: many millions of heroic acts are performed by plumbers every year all around the world.

    One must not overlook or afford insufficient esteem to heroic tradies.

    Forget politics.

    Any idiot can - and often wants to - be a pollie.

    It takes a man of substance, rare bravery and a body that looks good in a tool belt to be a tradie.

    Tradies are a hero to us all at some time in life.

    That's never true of politicians.

  25. More's the pity though, eh Caz?

    Now... you may call me a dreamer.. But I'm not the only one..

    Prime minister Caz!
    Yeah.... Has a certain ring to it I reckon!

  26. "Legal problems are finite"

    Surely you jest Solomon!

    You are of the mind that work will offer you a path to excel at something, and very likely it will, just not necessarily in the way you imagine.

    I wonder, of the 7.5 million working people in Oz, how many of them do you believe excel, or provide a deep and meaningful contribution to the world?

    More pertinent though, you have read, surely, Camus's timeless essay?

    The Myth of Sisyphus

  27. The practice of law is more like having a series of individuals come to you with boulders asking you to remove them (or to place it on someone else's shoulders). Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. It is not meaningless or arbitrary work and so is relatively satisfying, if you like people and if you like to help them.

    The defining characteristic of men as opposed to Gods is that they are mortal and so the Sisyphus myth has only limited resonance. The poignant and despairing aspect of humans beings at work is that they grow older and die, and so, if they are assigned to difficult and meaningless work the preciousness of their lives are squandered; that is the particular cruelty, not the fear of eternal labour. Hence why we get a film like "About Schmidt" about the moment of retirement and the consciousness of a life lost.

    But we all must work and find a way to reconcile ourselves to that fact - I can see the utility of Camus' essay in this aspect. It can feel like an eternity and it can feel pointless, and yet, we are constitutionally unable to remain in despair. It is our survival mechanism.

    Personally I reserve the right to see Sisyphus as the objective facts would indicate: his life is hellish and cruel and there is no opportunity for true reconciliation; there is no element of choice, of compromise, of revelation of weakness and foolishness, as in the life of a man.

    The act of solving (or not solving) the person's legal problem *is* finite. Example:I don't want to pay my fine, here are my reasons, are they sufficient? Advice: yes, no, maybe. Judgement: yes, no, compromise. New client. I want to apply for a spouse visa, do I have enough evidence? Advice: yes, no, maybe. Judgement: yes, no, Villawood.

    The opportunities to engage in competitive behaviour and to shine, to use the horrid new jargon, are limited, as in plumbing (one plumber is unlikely to be much better than another in any substantive way). Yet the law, because of its prestige, attracts the ambitious, the perfectionists, the competitive. I don't think this is wise: I can see no solid basis on which to compete or excel. I am happy to do mundane work; I am less happy to compete for mundane work, as if it were something more grandiose.

    I cannot, with all my legal bravado, transmute a guilty client into an innocent one, an unlawful activity into a lawful one. The most I will concede is that legal arguments can be expressed with style, sometimes achieving greatness because of this. To be able to articulate a point of law in a way that does justice to individual circumstances and can provide clear reasoning for that and future cases, is a fine art - most judges and lawyers are poor at it, because the language of the law itself is (with some glorious exceptions) poor. It is written, often incoherently, by politicians and it is interpreted, often incomprehensibly, by judges. If I can assist to untangle any of that then I think I will have made a contribution to humanity; as for clients, they live and die by their own hand.

    David Mamet once wrote that the courtroom is a prayer, and, like prayer, the purpose is not to achieve an outcome but simply to lay down your powerlessness at the feet of the eternal, and in so doing, arise refreshed. This is, I think, the best way to approach any case. No one is guaranteed justice or mercy (as history as shown) and one of the skills of life is living in such a way so that you never have to risk being in front of an unjust or unfriendly court. Nevertheless, you can, as if at prayer, advocate for your client (to intercede,as the Christians say) in the hopes that in the elegance or inelegance of your argument (but mostly purely in its earnestness and truth), you will achieve a momentary respite from the cruelties of the world.

  28. *Sigh*

    Camus, a contemporary writer, was clearly writing about mankind, not gods. Myths are always metaphors.

    All ancient myths were ultimately about man. Man invented myths, for that purpose.

    How very literal and limited of you to see it otherwise, especially as someone who at least toys with the idea of writing fiction.

    We must imagine Sisyphus happy, despite the burden and pointlessness of his work. Ultimately he labors with a degree of satisfaction, and appreciation of the respite at the end of each day as the rock rolls back down the hill and he to walks down, free of his burden, for a short time, his mind free, his body free.

    One can very easily argue that Sisyphus' circumstance will always be of greater poignancy that human circumstance, as his is never ending - forever and forever and forever. However, that would be to corrupt the metaphor, to act as if Sisyphus exists and that he is still toiling, literally, not merely in our imaginations.

    I take it you plan to go into legal practice, which is unusual. Most graduates with a law degree never go into practice. Lawyers are needed in all fields of work, and that is where I encounter them, so I have a broad view of the work undertaken by legal people, and I know it to be never ending, and mostly not client based, albeit, an entire organization might be a "client".

    The problem-solving aspect of the job is no different to any other role. People ask economists, accountants, geologists, doctors, childcare workers, philosophers, procurement specialists, policy writers, programmers, firefighters, etc, etc, etc, to solve a problem for them - sometimes they ask a lawyer. Unless you're going into private practice, or going to become a barrister, law isn't any more altruistic or defined as being of "helping" nature than any other specialist area. It's the knowledge economy, everyone provides their particular advice, their specialist knowledge.

    Of course, if you want to be self employed, in charge of your own destiny, setting up your own law practice could be great fun, but, after a while just as routine as any other job, I imagine, with the added burden of paying for your own office and worrying about your own accounts and profit margins.

    Law as finite: yes, no, maybe, compromise.

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    Out in the real world, very few matters are finite. You will find many such clients. You will find others who can't conceive an end to their "unique" circumstance, of which they will make you an a partner. Many a simple and worthless family will has taken years to settle ... and that's just the simplest example I can give.

    People are MESSY. The law offers little to address that deficiency. "Yes, no, maybe, compromise, next idiot please" just won't cut it, certainly not even close if you plan to be a defender or prosecutor, because therein lies the murkiest side of legal practice, well, other than corporate law, of course.

    "the law, because of its prestige, attracts the ambitious, the perfectionists, the competitive"

    Oh dear, now you are joshing about again.

    I have met many a half-arsed, lazy, supremely imperfect and slovenly lawyer. I have met, in short, willfully stupid and grossly incompetent lawyers - both young and old. Your high view of lawyers is unbelievable. Law graduates are not homogeneous brilliant perfectionists, any more than English Lit graduates are.

    BTW - one tradie is not just as good as another. Many a plumber would be offended that you believe they are fungible.

  29. You're just not catching my drift here. I'm not sure I intended half of what you impute to me, and for the rest, for the moment, I will pass.

    The law is spade-work. The legal problems are not infinitely complex. Pretty soon you run out of legislation, cases, arguments, facts and evidence. These are abstract objects and so give the illusion of infinite complexity but this is false: these are the tools you work with and there is only so much you can do with them. Once you reach that point there is nothing else to be done, just as a mechanic who replaces a faulty battery has done everything there is to be done to get that car running again. Sometimes clients cause problems and delays but it has nothing to do with their lawyer or their oh-so-complicated problems. Just because something involves "corporate" work doesn't make it any more difficult or complex; the legal issues will be about as complex as any other. You're buying the corporate line - it's almost mythic.

    Corporations spend money to try and frighten you off based on the fact that if you lose you'll have to pay their costs. This isn't legal work, its muscle, spam, flooding, nonsense. The courts know it is nonsense.

    If there is any ambiguity the law will resolve itself on one side or the other, usually based on the burden of proof. It can't transmute an ambiguous situation and give it clarity. You argue your side until you reach your limit, they argue to their limit, and the judge tries to do justice to the parties. The sun rises the next day and the murk hasn't lifted - the case is still ambiguous, it just has a result affixed to it.

    Other careers provide an opportunity for ambitious people to progress, to do something new and innovative and display their brilliance. I don't think law does that, and yet it attracts people who want precisely that. I am not saying I am such a person, or anything so absurd as that all lawyers are such a type.

    I haven't said anything offensive to tradesman; I said the law is a trade and as necessary and purposeful as any other. The differences between tradesman is unlikely to be particularly crucial so long as they are basically competent to solve the problems presented. Leak fixed, engine running, client found not guilty..

  30. No, no. Not what I was suggesting.

    The law itself is finite, it's written on bits of paper, after all.

    People are infinite in their thoughts as to how they believe the law can help them, should help them and will help them, no matter what is written on a piece of paper. Lawyers very often take great advantage of people's inclination too, even though they know "the law". The law itself does have elasticity, very often by design, such elasticity plays to people with messy thinking and lawyers happy to help them on their insane way. When I say "people", I extend that to organisations, or any entity that happens to be a client seeking legal help, or defending a legal action.

    Not suggesting that you run around insulting tradies either, just noting my experience is that some tradies are most definitely better than others. Some will fix an immediate problem only to be called back a few weeks later to fix it again, while others do the job thoroughly and appropriately in the first instance, for example. One painter will squib on cheap paint, another won't. One tilers work will crack next week, another's will still be intact ten years from now. And so on. The quality of the work varies enormously, as does the outcome.

    Other careers provide an opportunity for ambitious people to progress, to do something new and innovative and display their brilliance.

    In truth, very few. For those small number of careers that do provide such opportunity, people can work a lifetime not having achieved anything innovative, despite their brilliance, or they simply never find the path to fully displaying their brilliance.

    But isn't personal satisfaction the most important thing? What of a medical researcher who labors away for 40 years without curing anything, but contributes, in obscurity, to the sum total of medical knowledge? Isn't that worth something, isn't their personal satisfaction more important than feeling and being acknowledged by others as "brilliant"? If they aspired to greatness, yet failed (and 99.99999% of people who aspire to greatness never achieve it), how should we view their work?

    I don't think law does that, and yet it attracts people who want precisely that.

    Agree. Perhaps they aspire to supreme court judges - in America. :-D

    I can't think how or where else they think their mark will be left. Certainly one can't be "new" or "innovative" as a barrister defending criminals, for example.

    Perhaps there are some folk going into law who misread the course descriptions.

    Got me beat.

    Still, the law, I believe, is infinitely fascinating, compelling, challenging and an excellent career for those who are excited by the varied career opportunities a law degree opens up, which is extensive, and good enough reason in itself to get a law degree.