Friday, November 12, 2010

Round the New England blogging traps 20 - potpourri

I am very behind at the moment on everything, including posts on this blog. Still, I wanted to do a quick New England blog round-up since it is over three weeks since my last one. 

My blog reporting really is a bit of a hit and miss affair. It's not just that it's sometimes irregular, more that I don't know how representative my coverage is, given that blogs rise and fall all the time. At present I have fifty blogs on my list. That may sound like a lot, but its actually not once I exclude blogs that haven't posted since my previous round-up. I really need to do some more blog searches to find out just what I'm missing.

As you might expect, the inclusion of Newcastle in Lonely Planet's top ten cities list has attracted attention and not just from me.

On Canon of Medicine 2.0, a blog written by a student from Sydney now doing medicine at the University of Newcastle, the news was greeted with acclaim. In Lonely Planet: Newcastle one of the hottest cities in the world!?, Marcus Westbury responded in a similar if lengthier way. He put his views about Newcastle this way:

I love Newcastle. I love its culture. I love its creativity. I love its natural environment. I love it’s old buildings. I love its fading beauty. I love its creative community. I love its unpretentious awesomeness.

Craig Wilson from Media Hunter joined the chorus. In Newcastle named among world’s best cities by Lonely Planet, he wrote among other things:  

I’m proud to come from Newcastle. It’s town that has never had it easy. We’ve taken our lumps over the years (earthquake, major industry withdrawal, flooding) and have been poorly neglected by government at both State and Federal level despite contributing significantly to the economy. We don’t complain, and we just smile at those who condescendingly dismiss Newcastle as an unfashionable old steel town.

Why? Because we all know how bloody good it is to live here. And now Lonely Planet is letting the cat out of the bag.

Those who read this blog will know that I am not a Newcastle person, coming from further North. Still, I know the city well. My own biased take was set out in my Armidale Express column:

As it happened, Monday’s announcement by Lonely Planet that Newcastle had been listed as one of the world’s top ten cities for travel in 2011 has really put the cat among the pigeons when it comes to tourism promotion.

In the parlance so beloved by officialdom, NSW has two tourism brands, Brand NSW and Brand Sydney. Both brands are tired, neither has worked very well.

There has been little room in this two brand world for a more differentiated tourism strategy. Newcastle people have long complained about this.

Now, in a single blow, Lonely Planet has created a third and rival brand, Brand Newcastle based on life style and the visitor experience. I think that that’s a good thing.

And so I do!

I have only just discovered Marcus Westbury's blog. I had never heard of the Renew Newcastle Movement, nor of the plan to take the Movement national. Wow. Here is something that I must write about. In the meantime, please visit Marcus's blog.

In 5 facts about digital life – post #14 on Media Hunter, Craig has continued his fact series. While the individual facts sometimes seem trivial, they provide a picture of the evolving digital world. You can find the whole series here.

When Craig first began, the blog provided information and comment on the Northern media. This has dropped away for reasons that I can understand.

This is a professional blog linked to Sticky Media. Craig may be a proud Novocastrian, but his firm operates in a national and global marketplace. He needs to reflect that. Further, and as I know from my own experience in operating a national consulting business out of Armidale, to be typed as local or even regional can be a kiss of death in a nation that counts everything outside the main metro centres as second rate.

Changing directions entirely, Jeremy Fisher is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Writing at the University of New England. Until December 2009 he was the Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors. As you might expect, his blog is about writers and writing. Just at present, his posting is irregular. I hope that that changes.

20100925-13-42-08-mt-hyland-nature-reserve--in-the-rainforest--fungus Bronwyn Parry is another New England writer, one that I mention often. Bronwyn hasn't been well; Deadline distractions - and a winner records her efforts to progress her latest book before her operation. We wish her well.

On lookANDsee, Gordon Smith, Bronwyn's partner, continues his photographic exploration of the Northern Tablelands, this time with a focus on fungus. 

This mean looking creature is a bracket fungus.

There is a fair bit of angst around the Hunter just at present on environmental issues. On the Newcastle Australia photo blog, Julia uses irony in a plea for better planning. By the way Julia, just at the moment, whenever I click on a photo or a post title or archive on the side bar, even if I click on comment, I get a message asking me if I want to make a particular web address as home page. Something wrong?

On Wollombi Valley (and on Facebook too), Peter Firminger continues to support the campaign against coal seam gas mining. Sharyn Munro (The woman on the mountain) shares Peter's general environmental concerns. In Scenic drive she records  her reactions at the drive through the Hunter valley's open cut mines.

It's actually quite hard for someone not living in the Hunter Valley to keep track of all the environmental and planning issue around at the present time. There are just so many of them.

Staying in the Hunter but with an Armidale link, in the Ultimate Shehan, Bolting Bear records a very strange dream he had. The story begins: 

I took a nap this afternoon after returning to the hostel, and I had a dream.

Basically I was in a small house with two companions, a male rhinoceros and a female pygmy elephant, both capable of speech. They were actually intergalactic warriors on some mission, but they had taken those forms for some reason that now escapes my memory.

Now if this were my daughter, I would say that she had been watching too much Sanctuary!

In Voting, Bolting Bear explains his reservations about voting. He also notes that he thought of joining Sporting Shooters Association of Australia upon his return to Armidale, but was puzzled about the views of the Shooters & Fishers Party on immigration. Indeed, he wondered why they had a policy on this issue at all.

While it does seem like a reasonable statement, personally I suspect that people are uncomfortable with immigration because of the increase in numbers of ethnic minorities and foreign cultural practices, rather than an actual fear of a shortage of resources. We export a lot of food, and my understanding is that there are skills shortages in a number of different fields, Medicine being one. Also there is the ageing population.

Reading Bolting Bear, he is into hunting but with bow and arrow. It's clearly a very modern bow complete with lights and a sight. However, I did wonder whether or not there might be a possible link with my old Armidale blogging friend Le Loup and A Woodsrunner's Diary.  I really do enjoy this blog. While I have no desire to get dressed in historical clothes and go adventuring with historical equipment, it is fun to read.

Turning to matters political, and as I have already mentioned on my personal blog, North Coast Voices has just turned three. My congratulations.

It has, I think, been a little while since I mentioned Lynne. In nellibellingen she has continued to record details of her life in the Bellinger Valley. One thing that struck me, though, in A WEEKEND ALONE was the cost of the bus fare between Bellingen and Armidale.

The two places are 154k apart, around the same distance as between Sydney and Newcastle. The return train fare between Sydney and Newcastle is $15.60. The return bus fare to Armidale is $90. Yes, there is more traffic on the Newcastle-Sydney run. However, train fares are subsidised, bus fares are not. It's one og the things that makes life difficult.

Enough for now.

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