Odds and sods – Iwo Jima, Libya and parliamentary poets

Australia is not alone when it comes to sacralising war and memorials. Tony Jaques has just sent the blog a link to a CNN Money article about a T-shirt manufacturer, Under Armour, producing a T-shirt with a basketball version of the famous Iwo Jima photograph.

In the T-shirt case the figures are raising a basketball net rather than the US flag. The shirt was dubbed the “Band of Ballers” See http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/18/news/under-armour-iwo-jima-shirt/ .The company, after a social media storm, removed the shirt from sale and said: “We deeply regret and apologise that a t-shirt that was not reflective of our values in honouring and supporting our country’s heroes went on sale.” The apology fails the ‘who was to blame?’ test, which Jaques has discussed in his regular issues management newsletter, with its passive voice formulation of ‘went on sale’ and its mealy mouth obfuscation. read more

Australia joins an unlikely team

What do Australia, Libya, Albania, Venezuela and Zimbabwe have in common?

We know ANZ CEO, Mike Smith, once said Australia was heading in the Venezuela direction and that at the time government and commentators scoffed. But in fact, according to a new study by the Center for International Development at Harvard University (CID), Smith was right even if not entirely for the reasons he suggested. The study shows that Australia – along with Libya, Mauritania, Venezuela, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Namibia, Albania, Qatar, Zimbabwe and Georgia – were amongst the biggest losers in terms of factors which reflect a nation’s productive knowledge. read more

How opinion is formed

Discussing information, persuasion and communication over the past two odd millennia is impossible without understanding the history of western churches and the various religious upheavals associated with them.

For most PR people praying is a pastime mainly devoted to hoping their message gets used in whatever outlet they have targeted (well at least if they are sophisticated enough to avoid blanket distributions)  but for the religious praying goes hand in hand with thinking about how to persuade others to pray in the same way. read more

Surprise, surprise

Moral decay, drug-addicted, violent, drug-taking – just a few of the terms frequently thrown around about today’s youth.

Peter Costello, our former Treasurer, told us “we do not have to look far to see evidence of moral decay all around us.” We don’t think he was talking about the Howard Government and Tampa nor the dodgy data which got us into the Iraq War and its ‘embarrassing’ failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Nor the wanton budgetary policies which squandered the benefits of Australia’s best yet terms of trade and the massive income from the resources boom. Instead he was talking about our young and their musical preferences. read more

CSR – living the commitment

In the small German town of Weil am Rhein, just across the border with Switzerland, is perhaps one of the finest examples anywhere in the world of corporate social responsibility which is not an add on but something intrinsic to a corporate culture.

It is the Vitra campus – the centre for the Vitra Design Museum and a collection of buildings ranging from factories and warehouses to a fire station. See https://www.vitra.com/en-au/campus. Vitra is a company famous for owning the rights to the more famous Eames chair as well as producing a range of products – from office equipment to domestic stuff – which epitomise everything which is best about functional, minimalist designs which also have a fun element. read more

They would have loved it

In the latest version of confected horror at Anzac exploitation social media has got very upset about Bauer Media’s Zoo magazine’s Anzac  edition featuring a scantily clad model Erin Pash (nudge nudge wink wink).

Now the blog sadly has not heard of the magazine, nor the online controversy about its Anzac edition, but Australia’s pre-eminent issues and crisis management scholar, Dr Tony Jaques, brought it to the blog’s attention. The details can be found at http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/mens-magazine-zoo-weekly-sparks-controversy-with-anzac-commemorative-issue/story-fn907478-1227319442706. Tony , by the way, monitors emerging issues rather than being a Zoo reader. read more

The problem of sacredness

The major problem with making things sacred is that it inevitably leads to both commercialism and hypocrisy.

The pre-eminent example of this in European history was the pre-Counter Revolution Catholic Church. In Australia the pre-eminent example is the Anzac Day commemorations which will take place tomorrow. read more

A staggering omission

One of the remarkable omissions from much current economic debate in Australia is the role of technological innovation.

The Abbott Government and business focus on industrial relations, tax, debt, deficits and just about everything other than innovation when they talk about economic growth. When they do talk about research it is more likely to be how to cut funding to not only pure research but also applied research as well. read more

A discipline’s coming of age

One of the marks of the maturity and health of any area of historical inquiry is the extent to which it is subject to ongoing bouts of revisionism.

British social, political and economic history probably reached this stage when the eruptions about the rise (or fall or stagnation) of the late 16th century and early 17th century gentry attracted a bevy of high profile historians including Tawney, Stone and Trevor-Roper. While it is now fashionable to see the controversy as more representative of the eminence of the protagonists than the issue itself, it was about big issues like the emergence of the middle classes, whether economic factors underlay the British Civil Wars, the role of the aristocracy and precursor indicators of 18th century social change. Revisionism over the British Civil Wars is now almost continuous and the blog expects that one day someone will claim that Charles 1 died of a shaving accident. read more

Christians and climate change – an Easter reflection

The US Republicans have a few enduring dreams and one of them is that Hispanics are naturally conservative, because they are predominantly Catholic, and will eventually flock to the Republican cause.

Like many things the Republicans believe there is a lot of faith and very little evidence involved. And like many conservative parties, including in Australia, they are perhaps not looking at the real problem. For instance, at the recent Victorian Liberal Party State Conference party elder, David Kemp, presented a report suggesting that there were communication problems with the outgoing Napthine Government and regretting what looked like a good idea at the time when the Baillieu Government hacked into the very professional public service corporate affairs ranks. Yet while discussing communications problems the Conference also managed to pass resolutions calling for an investigation into ‘electoral fraud’ by Labor for using firefighters, parademics and other unionists in ‘fake uniforms’ in their campaign;  the abolition of the ABC and SBS, repeal of 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act; and ‘reform’ of the Human Rights Commission. read more