Apr 25, 2009

Anzac Cove - Gallipoli - Gelibolu - Cannakale - Turkey

I never imagined that I would ever visit Gallipoli aka Gelibolu - which led to the modern pysche of both Australia and Turkey. In Turkey the ANZAC conflict is known as the Cannakkale War and their successful defence, led by Mustafa Kemala (Ataturk), against Churchill's Allied Invasion, continues to be important to their nation, as much as the ANZAC legend is to Australia & New Zealand. When we visited ANZAC Cove it was a very quiet, spiritual place - of simple rather than grand memorials, and only 6 of us there. We appreciated the Kiwi sacrifice at Chanuk Bai and the UK's at Suvla. Our Turkish Guide, Ali, also provided the Turkish perspective. Accompanied by family, I found it amazing that the beach, of which we Australians hear from childhood, was so tiny. In the past a place of conflict - and now so peaceful - a place of reflection.


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Apr 15, 2009

Death by Powerpoint

I confess to being one of those hated by Ralph Souleon - using lots of powerpoint slides in conference presentations - comes with the territory in an engineering field. Content. Content. Content.

Several years ago I was asked to email in my presentation for an engineering conference - so I pdf'd it to get the size down for emailing.

The conference was held at Sydney's Royal Randwick Racecourse - at the time when the Equine Influenza epidemic had shut down horse racing in Sydney - only a lone horse seen out on the track. And that was how I felt at the podium, when my pdf'd powerpoint developed compatibility issues with the venue's hardware.

Innumerable black rectangles where my witty & informative text box captions were supposed to be. Slides and slides of them. At least the photo's & images looked good. The session moderator couldn't help. Gulp.

Time for a deep breath and "wing it".

At least the subject was a field which I was confident and passionate about. I had to use the images as my prompts as I told their stories.

In fact the moderator commented later that because the text boxes were missing - my audience had to engage with me more. He kindly observed that it had enhanced my presentation overall. I hoped he was right.

The conference was one where participants rated all the speakers - not often done - but in fact a good idea. As a speaker you can appreciate the bouquets and learn from the other comments.

So I was relieved to find that some had rated me as best presentation - which was humbling as there were some very good presentations at the conference.

So I try to make my Forensic Engineering Failure Analysis conference presentations more visual - but content can't be avoided altogether in an engineering presentation. And never leave home without a memory stick backup - even if the presentation has been already emailed.

And it all came together for me a year or two later, when David Snowden observed at ACTKM 08 that voluminous stats, facts & numbers don't convince - but stories do.

Apr 13, 2009

Di Morrisey Chick Lit Storytelling

Summer holidays ... Christmas Day .. another Di Morrisey novel .. easy chicklit reading. Easy to dismiss.

However underneath these seductive and compelling easy reads, there seem to be almost sublimal messages. Raising questions of politics, ambition, big business, power, greed, environmental destruction, crushing of Indigenous heritage and values by conventional vested interests. And always there is the heroine, sometimes cast adrift by life's circumstances and at a cross roads. Facing contemporary issues, finding her voice.

Morissey's novel are often meticulously researched ... all communicated in a light non academic style, and thus reaching a huge mass market.

Monsoon - tackling Australia's involvement in Vietnam - of the regular soldiers and conscripts - denied legitimacy by the RSL's as it was not an official war. And yet it ran far longer than previous conflicts - Boer War, WWI, WWII, Malayan Emergency and Korean War. There were casualties - 521 deaths and over 3000 wounded.

It was a divisive time where the moral control exerted by the RSL and conservatives began to be seriously questioned with anticonscription protesters.

Morrisey's novel respects both views - the Vietnam Vet and the antiwar protesters, which is in tune with today's perspective - softened by 30 years travelled since the conflict. It provides a sympathetic treatment of those on different sides of the American War in Vietnam.

She also addresses the challenges of the returning Vietnamese and those of mixed racial parentage - how they are viewed by local Vietnamese.

Also giving a voice to those soldiers and their families struggling with post combat traumatic syndrome issues - faced in all contacts but all too often buried.

And also the tensions in Vietnam as it progresses through Doi Moi.

It seems that Morrisey tackles some controversial areas in her easily dismissed chicklit genre.