Friday, October 29, 2004

Naughty Eve Ate My Apple

The very day I post the doubly evil number of posts 2666 my Mac decides to submit to the wishes of the global security agencies and hackers. I am informed it might take a bit of time to get the apple back on the virtual tree. Never Mind ... I will be back! (smile)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Moon to cast red glow; Ferocious wind and rain lash the city of exiles; could it be an omen? It's impossible to conceal the disastrous state of NSW's health and transport services, so Treasurer Egan tried to cover up the size of the budget deficit instead Auditor-General Bob Sendt
21st century Manning Clark of the Evatt Foundation, Chris Sheil, Creates Ripples in the Blogosphere with His Water’s Fall The Infrastructure Volcano

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: And Now a Few Randy Words About E(l)ections
The air is thick with lies, deceptions, distortions, demagoguery, sleaze and vicious rhetoric, uttered every day by President Bush, John Kerry or their surrogates. Both candidates offer evasion and snake-oil non-remedies for dire national problems, ranging from the existential threat of nuclear terrorism, to the war in Iraq, to global warming, to the looming Social-Security-Medicare-deficit disaster. And each campaign is whipping its most partisan supporters into a frenzy of hatred for the opposing party.
Unfortunately, elected officials have a vested interest in perpetuating the systemic causes of polarization.
It's almost an act of faith to cling to Winston Churchill's wisdom that democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the other ones

How Our Political and Bureaucratic System Elevates The Wrong People [RANDY KENNEDY And Now a Few Words About Our Candidates ]
• · Never mind opinion polls and focus groups 10 unusual ways to pick a president
• · · Roger Cohen The dirty word 'liberal' boasts a proud history
• · · · Munir Attaullah Root causes of terrorism.
• · · · · Blackouts in the Elitist North Sydney
• · · · · · Charges for water, electricity and other services are likely to rise because the NSW Government has seriously undervalued the cost of upkeep on government facilities. Over nine years, Bob Carr and Michael Egan have ripped out $6 billion dollars in dividends to deal with immediate issues but they have failed to put money aside to re-invest in this state's ageing infrastructure Clouds are Gathering Over Future AAA credit rating

Australia could only manage 41st position in RSF's third annual index of press freedom, lagging behind some former Eastern bloc nations, including Slovakia (7), Czech Republic (19), Hungary (28), and Poland (32) Australia ranks poorly in global media freedom listing

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Authorities harass a blogger
Reporters Without Borders has condemned a bid to intimidate a blogger after the minister of internal security threatened to imprison Jeff Ooi, who runs the weblog Screenshots at the beginning of October 2004.
Ooi is accused of allowing an Internet-user to post a message insulting Islam Hadhari, a religious practice promoted by the government.
The international press freedom organisation called on Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to see that no legal action was taken against Ooi. "A blogger cannot be responsible for a message posted by an anonymous contributor," it said. "The statement by the internal security minister is serious because it will force those running weblogs to use excessive censorship."
Jeff Ooi on 30 September 2004 posted an article on Screenshots discussing the contradiction between the values of Islam Hadhari and the corruption of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). A contentious comment was posted a few hours later by someone calling himself Anwar. It said, "Islam Hadhari and corruption are like shit and urine". Ooi reacted quickly to this statement and replied online

What you said affects and hurts me because you have twisted and hijacked my blog topic [ Reporters Without Borders ]
• · Liberation Online A look at Iraq's bloggers All my editors want is blood, blood, blood. No context. No politics. No Blogs
• · · Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Media freedom rankings
• · · · Don't be confused by the tide of contradictory voter surveys. The clear message is that Bush is in trouble Blogs Polling Truth ; [Blogger Used To Spam Google ]
• · · · · The Selfish Gene Web is obsessed with anything that spreads, whether it's a ebook, a blog or a rumor. And so the Spider loves memes; [The AP article discusses their research finding that people are searching for e-commerce more and sex less]
• · · · · · 101 years in 101 words Word birthdays - Beatnik (1958) ; [We live in a media-driven, commercial culture, where it's hard to escape the ever-increasing waves of advertising and infotainment. Meanwhile, our public spaces are eroding, and what were once safe havens – schools, museums, libraries, parks – are now awash in commercials Jessica Cutler gleefully published the graphic details of her sexual encounters with high-ranking DC insiders ]

At an early stage in the Cold War, the governments of the Soviet Union and the United States formalized the cultural front as one of their primary theaters of conflict, embarking on a series of alternating cultural exchanges Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War
The words that jump off the page speak of joy and wonderment and reckless, inebriated fun, of characters as wild and colorful as fireworks.
The book, On the Road, became an overnight sensation, a trophy, mantra and manual for the Beat Generation The author was Jack Kerouac, who died 35 years ago. He was 47
[He died with $91 in his bank account. His death was from alcohol. He was known to consume 17 shots of Johnny Walker Red per hour, washed down with Colt malt liquor. He helped us understand legislatures in America and Australia. ]

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Soren Kierkegaard Period
That extraordinary writer of stories about the "Christ-haunted" American South, Flannery O’Connor, was frequently asked why her people and plots were so often outlandish, even grotesque. She answered, "To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you have to draw large and startling figures." I expect Søren Kierkegaard, had he lived a century later, would have taken to Flannery O’Connor and would have relished her affirmation of the necessarily outlandish. But then he would immediately be on guard lest anyone think that he does not really mean what he says, that he is anything less than utterly, indeed deadly, serious. He exaggerates for effect and witheringly attacks his opponents who suggest that his exaggeration is anything less than the truth of the matter. He writes, as he repeatedly says, for that one reader—the singular individual who has the courage to understand him—while at the same time describing in detail, and often with hilarious parody, the many readers who refuse to take him at his word. Kierkegaard was keenly (some would say obsessively) attentive to the ways in which he was misunderstood, even as he persistently and defiantly courted misunderstanding. This, as readers beyond numbering have discovered, can be quite maddening. It is also at least part of the reason why Kierkegaard is so widely read.
• If Kierkegaard was not to be given the privilege of literally shedding his blood, he would bear witness in other ways. He welcomed the derision of those surrounding him, recognizing in them the same crowd that surrounded the cross of his contemporary, Jesus Christ Kierkegaard for Grownups [Here-within-inside is a memo designed to cheer up the human race
Rosemary Woodruff . Those who just barely, gasping, made it from the Spanish-American War through World War I were then asked, with no respite to deal with the Roaring Twenties, Communism, the Depression, Hitler, World War II, Hiroshima, Cold War, television, Lunar landings, drugs, Hustler, cloning. No one was permitted to stand still.]
• · Faiza Guene, the 19-year-old daughter of Algerians who moved to France before she was born, has taken her experiences Growing up in public housing projects outside Paris and whipped them into a confection that is tender, funny and even wise [Destiny is misery because you can do nothing about it. My mother, she says that if my father left us, it was because it was written.]
• · · Monsignor Ignazio Sanna Christians Will Need to Be Mystics, Says Theologian ; [Popieluszko was abducted and killed by secret police on Oct. 19, 1984 His body was stuffed in a sack weighed down with stones and thrown into the Vistula River ]
• · · · My Own Private Library: A love of books. Okay, it is a form of madness. But a pathology that combines history, the aesthetic, and a desire to preserve knowledge can’t be all bad These books represent the person I once aspired to be; [Manners and Morals at the Strangers Dining Room: Why You Should Not Eat the Person Sitting Next to You {PDF version}]
• · · · · It’s haunting to read through the yellowed news clippings of the 1960s. The clock was winding down and no one knew how the story would end The Other Sixties ; [ Nothing To Watch In The 210-Channel Universe]
• · · · · · Suspicion, distrust, backbiting, smear tactics, simple loathing and sometimes extremely unliterary abuse have come to characterise A struggle that has been waged until now behind the closed doors of London's literary salons
[The only thing that really changes is the writers. The profession can often be wrong about what the readers wants, but then someone will come up with something different]

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Christine Milne has won the battle for the final Senate place in Tasmania, making her the Greens' third member in the new Senate

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Lesson of Her Story: Rome, or no Rome
This is where the story of Rome— and the manner of its telling—is particularly instructive. This is because, as frequently happens in life, if we look beyond the banner headlines of despair, we can find cause for hope.
Let’s take a glimpse at how Rome and her history can give us a reaffirmation of our unshaken belief in the ability of Everyman, acting as a free individual, to repair all the damage ever done by history’s tyrants and their tax gatherers.
The first thing to be pointed out is that, however dramatic the official version of those past events, what historians—and, more emphatically, archaeologists—are coming to realize is that, changes in political leadership aside, nothing very much at all can otherwise be found to distinguish the days before 410 a.d. with those afterwards.
Rome may have swapped leaders. Violence may have been done and property destroyed on a considerable scale. Individual tragedy was, we suspect, both undeniable and heart-rending, as it always is in such times.
Yet, the vast majority of men and women still lived their lives, tended their livestock, took their goods to market, and worshipped their gods, as they had always done—Rome, or no Rome.

The thrifty and the enterprising still, on the whole, fared better than the prodigal and the unthinking [Maxine Aaronson: thought-provoking speculations There are two things you never want to watch them make: sausage and laws ]
• · Tim Dunlop posts challenging questions to spin doctors who would love to bury their mistakes al-Zarqawi and bin Laden have heaps in common ; [Cynthia Banham, Ellen Connolly and Tom Allard: Iraq war spurs local terrorists, says ASIO ; Derek Willis Thousands of civil claims made by Iraqis against the U.S. Army in Iraq]
• · · George Soros: In His Blogging Mode Radical Fallibility: there is an asymmetry between verification and falsification ; [Chris Sheil on verification and detectors They're not rubbish. More rubbish detectors [Generating Deeper Questions]]
• · · · Marc Holtzman figures the Premier, Bob Carr, has a great future - as a Republican president of the United States
• · · · · Jon Stewart gets serious: If you interview Kissinger, are you still a comedian?
• · · · · · Mordecai Roshwald Democracy and elite ; [Carmen Lawrence Democracy is failing if the majority are alienated from politics]
(Political, or commercial market, is too serious a matter to be left to politicians, or managers. Unaided they will not reform our political and social outlook ... John Menadue is not just bashing politicians. He is making the more serious point that improving the health of our democracy depends on a greater involvement from party members and the community at large.)

It is hard to believe that 164 years ago St George area had a population of just 164 people. According to Brian Shaw, president of the local historial society, in 1840 the suburb was known as Gannons Forrest and the railway station which was opened in 1884 took its name from a local school called Hurstville - village on a hill in a forest. The topic is near to home for me as I was lucky enough to share for a number of years accommodation with a guru on history of Australian railways. Dr George Dorman whose uncle supplied rivets for the Sydney Harbour Bridge had a special soft spot for the preservation of the railway history. George was always a hungry historian, eating up railway stations and entire railway lines in large bites. George used my Nikon camera on a number of ocassions to capture his hunger for history. Even though George was recovering from the heart bypass operation, he still managed to sneak some snaps of the Hurstville station in its centenial glory. At our wedding, when George caught his breath we were fortunate to hear his favourite yarns about the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the colonial life in Australian towns. I also learned why Leo Schofield deserved to create a show around Sydney Harbour Bridge, as a nephew of George Dorman he is the closest artistic thing to the bridge.
If George was still with us I know that he would rush to get a copy of a historian Dr Ed Duyker who wrote this year a story called Citizen Labillardiere: A Naturalist’s Life in Revolution and Exploration (1755-1834). This is an adventure story about a great 18th century traveller and naturalist Jacques-Julien de Labillardiere who according to Duyker was more significant than Joseph Banks or Daniel Solander. Labillardiere’s landing place, Rocherche Bay in Tasmania is considered by Dr Duyker scientifically more important than Kurnell or Cape Solander in Sutherland Shire.
Coathanger; On the stroke of New Years Eve, people all over the world look to the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Art & History Across Frontiers: It`s all fun and games till someone has to pay for the phone call
Father John of St Patrick Church might identify with this story even the bishop find it hard to get passed the Sutherland gates...
An American decided to write a book about famous churches of
Australia. For his first chapter he decided to write about famous Sydney
churches. So he bought a plane ticket and made the trip to St Mary's Cathedral
thinking that he would work his way down the country.
On his first day he was inside the cathedral taking photographs when
he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that
read "$10,000 per call".
The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by
what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a
direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. The
American thanked the priest and went along his way.
Next stop was Star of the Sea at Waverley. There, at a very large
church, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it.
He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw at St Mary's
and he asked a nearby nun what it's purpose was. She told him that it
was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God.
"O.K., thank you", said the American.
He then travelled on through the North Shore and in every church he
saw the same golden telephone with the same "$10,000 per call" sign
under it.With his first chapter going well, he left Northern Sydney
and travelled to the Sutherland Shire.
Again, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign
under it read "10 cents per call." The American was surprised so he
asked the priest about the sign. "Father, I've travelled all over
Sydney, and I've seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm
told that it is a direct line to heaven, but in all the churches in
Sydney the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?"
The priest smiled and answered, You're in the Shire now son. It's a local call

John Sullivan Parish Priest
• · Pittsburgh like the Harbour Bridge is all about steel: It is also the town of Slovak born Andy Warhola ... From Rust Belt to arts mecca
• · · Value of Stories; [Drowning In The Booker ]
• · · · Librarians were the first people in this country to stand up and resist the forces of ultra patriotism The Librarian reads like the back story behind today's headlines
• · · · · UK Government Tries To Turn Around Public Libraries
• · · · · · Now I want entire Ministry and Meyer Bureaucracy and the Royal Sons to Read it! (smile) Amazon - Remember When Just Having A Profit Was Good Enough For Cold River? ; [Erotic Muse: Sonnets About Sex by John Boase Virtual ‘Fessing Up]

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Can this country's political scene be so fractious that members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies can't even agree on a joint commemoration of the Nov. 17, 1989, fall of communist rule? In a word: yes.
The world of Czech politics is rife with rivalries: Havel versus Klaus, Social Democrats versus Civic Democrats (ODS), everyone versus the communists, etc. To that list, add Senate versus the Chamber of Deputies.
Chamber Chairman Lubomir Zaoralek told reporters Oct. 15 that the two legislative bodies have not been able to agree on a joint plan to commemorate the revolution.
For whatever petty reason, the senators and deputies are putting their own differences and agendas before the order of the day: namely, a dignified commemoration of that important turn of events 15 years ago. Surprised? Don't be. Politicians here find it nearly impossible to rise above petty politics when appropriate. It's happened before and it will happen again.
In Absurdistan, however, nothing's easy -- especially when politicians are involved.
It is at least a comfort to know that come Nov. 17, everyone else will be remembering a day when the impossible became reality, when the Russian overseers were sent packing and freedom returned to the Czech lands. No one will be thinking about bickering politicians.
Bickering pols should remember velvet tone of 1989

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Toxic Neighbors
No two people deal with death in the same way. No two people look the same way at the Yiddish word for funeral, levaya, which means to accompany. To accompany means to be there.
Yet, I was not there so many times. I was not there for my father’s funeral in 1992. I was not there for my brother’s funeral in 2004. I was not there when my family said goodbye to my godmother Sidka this year. I was not there when they said goodbye to my Godfather Jan.
The Importance of Being There. Is there an experience as profound, as indefinable, as feared, as damaging as revisiting your soulmate’s funeral?
Whenever I come across stories like the one I read last night in the Prague Post, I found myself torn between two poles: between present and past; between memories and now; between a yearning for answers to the complex life of the Slavic race. Would I be in Australia writing this absurd blogger entry if I was not at my sister’s funeral in September 1975? My sister and many others who worked in the chemical factory in Svit were just left to die ...
Frequent accidents at chemical plant alarm local residents and politicians who call for halt of manufacturing of potentially lethal chemicals
Spolchemie Usti nad Labem has lost popularity with its neighbors after a series of accidents released potentially lethal chemicals. By Katka Krosnar
Pressure is growing on Czech chemical plant Spolchemie to stop production after the fourth leak from the plant this year. The latest incident at the chemical works in Usti nad Labem in north Bohemia happened Oct. 11 when chlorine leaked during pipe repairs

• Now we come again to the heart of darkness The incident came less than two weeks after another leak of sulphur oxide [KORISTKA AFFAIR TIMELINE - Agust 2004: Deputy Zdenek Koristka claims he was offered 10 million Kc ($385,000) if he withheld support for Prime Minister Stanislav Gross' new government in a parliamentary confidence vote. October 2004: State attorney Josef Blaha drops the charges. Scandal erodes public trust in politics, police and courts; ]
• · Resting on their laureates Kerry leads Bush in endorsements from Nobelists Mommy, why do you hate the president?; [: AP EXCLUSIVE: Iraqis reveal in secret interviews how Saddam manipulated oil-for-food program]
• · · Tim Porter: Why presidential endorsements have little, if any, impact on voters ; [Chris Sheil links to the Doctor living in the fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colorado and includes links to Amerikan elections: even junkies will cry for mercy after visiting]
• · · · From Backpages to Top Headlines ; [
State vs state, and more ...
• · · · · If the Americans would be smarter, they would be worried about the state of their democracy.
• · · · · · Polio was stopped in its tracks, but now we must make sure the price was not too high The dragon is slain, but its legacy lingers
[It's like a sort of blizzard in the bloodstream,
A deep, severe, unseasonable winter,
Burying everything. The white blood cells
Multiply crazily and storm around,
Out of control. The chemotherapy
Hasn't helped much, and it makes my hair fall out.
I know I look a sight, but I don't care.
I care about fewer things; I'm more selective.
It's got so I can't even bring myself
To read through any of your books these days.
It's partly weariness, and partly the fact
That I seem not to care much about the endings,
How things work out, or whether they even do]

There's a difference between making a point and having an agenda. We don't have an agenda to change the political system. We have a more selfish agenda, to entertain ourselves. We feel a frustration with the way politics are handled and the way politics are handled within the media.
-Jon Stewart (thanks Tim)

The Blog, The Press, The Media: The Road to Nemesis
To Fisk or Not to Fisk?
So far over twenty light and sober responses are appended to the Road to Surfdom’s entry on why people blog. Nemesis started the blog rolling and Tim Dunlop being Tim happily returns to blogging virtual horses and dragons.
Barrista and I started gently with our fingers passing on emails and now the addiction has taken the entire arms (smile).
Tim Dunlop writes: I got into blogging accidentally and was mainly interested in it as a way of writing a diary of my time in the US. But I pretty quickly became interested in the democratic aspects of it--the idea of potentially having a way of participating in public discussion about politics and social issues--and so I started to linking to blogs and they started linking to me and pretty soon I was part of the blogosphere.
Two big events changed how Surfdom developed. The first was the Washington sniper. My posts about living here during that fun time made me visible to American blogs and brought me a readership amongst them and their readers.
Then I got caught up in the whole war-in-Iraq debate, which was probably the galvanising moment for a lot of bloggers, if not for the political blogosphere in general, even more so than 9/11.
The fact that I get quite a few people through these days is something of an amazement to me.
I write about and mention stuff that interests me with no attempt at all at being comprehensive in my coverage. I write largely because I think it is fun to write.
And I see value in arguing, though I wish everyone just agreed with me ...; [Dina Musing about Blogging community ; Taxonomy: The Dreaded T-Word, Or, Why Doesn't Google Know How To Classify Blogs? ]
• · Dear Oprah More and more readers are leaving their newspapers on their doorsteps, unopened and unread. But Oprah's magazine might hold a few answers
• · · NYT's Okrent explains why he named a "coward" blogger ; [Schwenk: Naming me served one purpose -- to harm me]
• · · · Tim Porter: Even though Julia Sellers acknowledges that journalists just leave a bad taste in many people's mouths she still wants to fulfill her desire to be a reporter because as a journalist it is your responsibility to report the truth to the public ; [It is a daily struggle to get fair and balanced news Apologize? For What? ]
• · · · · It's the ultimate global marketplace, raking in billions of dollars and attracting thousands of new buyers and sellers every day. Kevin Airs explores the online bazaar of eBay What am I bid? Who am I? Imrich
• · · · · · You’re so vain, you probably think I’m talking about you-you’re so vain…Bombay Writers' Cafe I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again
[We're all Christ and we're all Hitler. We are trying to make Christ's message contemporary. We want Christ to win. What would he have done if he had advertisements, T.V., records, films and newspapers? The miracle today is communication. So let's use it.
-John Lennon '69 Ich bin ein Berliner: Herbert Kundler, 77, Cold War-era broadcaster in Berlin; Anthony Hecht, 81, was a formal poet who wrote about war, corruption, taking on society in the largest sense]

Monday, October 25, 2004

Last week Rex Jory of the Adelaide Advertiser screamed: Lack of incentives to build a better society
The Opinion piece suggested that governments and corporations had `forgotten the carrot` in favour of `applying the stick`. It was said that there should be incentives for good drivers in addition to penalties such as new legislation to cancel the drivers licences of those convicted of drink driving. My army days in Nitra where certain characters demolished houses as they drove along the Line of Duty (uncesored beauty)
Some of the tanks will even feature during The trial of Saddam Hussein

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Exactly the Day After My Wedding Vows The Term Spin Doctors Was Born
The carrot behind every wedding is the honeymoon. I rather decline to comment about what is behind the stick. Anyway, many, many years ago, twenty years in fact, I came across the term spin doctor (via International Herald Tribune). It was around the same time that I met some of the Sydney spinners from Sussex Street and Riley Street for the first time.
Twenty years ago, on October 21, 1984 the term 'spin doctor' made its public debut:
Under the headline "The debate and the spin doctors", the New York Times reported: "Tonight at about 9.30, seconds after the Reagan-Mondale debate ends, a bazaar will suddenly materialise in the press room of the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium. A dozen men in good suits and women in silk dresses will circulate smoothly among the reporters, spouting confident opinions. They won't be just press agents trying to impart a favourable spin to a routine press release. They'll be the Spin Doctors . . .

Hunger which is now the fuel most of the spinning engine, is not a hunger for democracy [via Backpages; Spin-doctoring is bad for our democracy, but journalists' passivity is worse ]
• · In PDF version The Democratic Audit of Australia explores how political parties use technology in Australia to entrench themselves in power Freedom From Information; Deep structural flaws in a system where violence dominates, gangs rule and fear pervades ]
• · · Down ABC Memory Lane ; [
Postal Voters: Look Who Is Counting and Deciding whether or not 1233 is out ]
• · · · Boilermaker Bill's Macquarie St musings Carr trip to Canberra – Part XXII
[Mr MALCOLM KERR: It is the wisest project this Government has undertaken. The honourable member then referred to buses. I would like to give each honourable member opposite the money to buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph.
Alan Ashton: I wouldn’t use the Daily Telegraph if I was in an outback toilet!]
• · · · · Someone once described Parliamentary condolence motions as organised hypocrisies. But Wednesday night saw a genuinely moving tribute to Tony McGrane, the independent member for Dubbo, who died on 15 September just weeks after being diagnosed with what would prove to be a vicious liver cancer. [As Pam Allan said, if there were 92 others like Tony, none of us would ever have been elected. Thank God there are not that many Tony McGranes around, because some of us do want to be here.
From my experience most indepents who become representative of lower houses are the most fascinating people. Tony was among the handful of members who welcomed in Wei Jingsheng, the celebrated Chinese dissident who was imprisoned for almost 20 years for engaging in peaceful dissent from official policy, when he visited the New South Wales Parliament on 30 August, 1999. Tony was the only one who knew more about the Chinese dialect Wei was speaking than anyone else in the group. ]
• · · · · · Redflex Holdings State's traffic chief held shares in a speed camera company; Federalism Inc Sydney hospitals on code red for most of August Carr offers sacrifice in return for health switch ; Premier Bob Carr and his wife Helena have taken a further step in their strategy to exit public life in NSW

Ready for winter 2006? And who decides what's in vogue And what's in store?

Invisible Hands & Markets: Just how rotten?

The insurance industry is the latest financial sector to have its darkest secrets exposed to the light
First came investment banking; then mutual funds; now the insurance industry is mired in scandal, the latest target of Eliot Spitzer, New York's formidable attorney-general. On October 14th he filed civil charges against Marsh & McLennan, the world's biggest insurance broker, and announced settlements of criminal charges with two employees at AIG, the world's biggest insurer, and one at ACE, a big property-casualty insurer. The charges are part of an ongoing investigation into industry practices that suggest insurers and brokers have acted collectively (and secretly) to betray customers. An added twist is that the three main companies so far involved are led by members of the Greenberg family: Hank Greenberg is the legendary boss of AIG; his eldest son Jeffrey runs Marsh; and his younger son Evan is in charge at ACE

A business often thought to lack personality and drama is now suffering from an abundance of both
• · Knowledge @ WhartonHow human behavior drives investment activity; [ Independent political groups have become the main way for the wealthy to affect events ]
• · · Karl Polanyi and the political economy of the 21st century
• · · · {PDF} Daniel Klein (Santa Clara): Statist Quo Bias ; Very few officers found by police to cause automobile accidents ]
• · · · · Michael L. Eskew The Dangers of Economic Isolationism
• · · · · · On the moral case for outsourcing Who Deserves Jobs?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sexty (60) Minutes is a broadcasting institution. Amerikan 60 Minutes is the longest continuously running prime time TV program ever, watched by 16 million viewers every week. Not only has it been in the Nielsen top 10 for the last 23 seasons, it’s the only show ever to have the highest ratings in three different decades. 60 Minutes is the most honored TV series of all time, with 75 Emmy Awards. It’s also the most profitable, having earned CBS an estimated $2 billion. What’s the secret?
Before 60 Minutes debuted, in 1968, television news was terribly earnest—and terribly dull. It was also terribly unprofitable and was usually subsidized by a network’s hit comedies and dramas. Into this void stepped creator and executive producer Don Hewitt, a protegé of CBS legends Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Hewitt, whose notions of journalism had been shaped by the classic newspaper comedy The Front Page, saw no reason why televised journalism couldn’t be entertaining. He conceived of 60 Minutes as a broadcast version of Life magazine or the Saturday Evening Post. Instead of dealing with issues, says Hewitt, we tell Cold River type of stories.
The show has produced some of television’s most powerful investigative pieces

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Life Beyond the Political Margins: A Blogger's Endorsement
PR blogger Steve Rubel has endorsed John Kerry for U.S. president. He made the pronouncement recently, in what I suspect is now a trend among bloggers to who make their views known and to influence others.
Do you care who a blogger on (predominantly) non-political topics endorses publicly? While I doubt Rubel will influence many of his readers -- if
any -- I can certainly envision other bloggers who do cover politics and current affairs and who have loyal audiences influencing their readers. Why shouldn't bloggers endorse, just as most newspapers do?
Well, I can see reasons for bloggers like Rubel to abstain from public endorsements. Because he covers a non-political field, his endorsement could turn off readers who swing the other way, and even lose him some of his audience. With most current-affairs bloggers, though, the audience knows which way they lean and doesn't need an endorsement to be
published to figure it out.

• Steve Outing (no link available received by email) [ Without saying a word, Jess Ventura gets behind Kerry ]
• · Personal and Confidential? Not on Google Search analyst Chris Sherman, currently finishing up his latest book, Google Power told me something remarkable. If you go to Google and search for
personal and confidential you'll get about 35,000 search results Well, it shows that too many people don't treat online security seriously [Amazon usually gets outsized attention for their quarterly earnings report, but today they are both overshadowed by Google's first-ever quarterly report and slighted by analysts who once again fear the company's growth is declining mirroring (sic) the sales of Cold River - Palm Digital seems to be a way to go for unknown writers in 2004]
• · · The ideals that my Slavic forebearers lived by, and the institutions that sprang from them, remain as strong, and as fragile, as ever. The virgin issue of The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy is out Great editorial on the what, the why, the how, and the for whom of inclusive democracy
• · · · On the idea of fairness and balance in journalism
• · · · · Markets are conversations. Markets are now becoming smarter, faster than the companies that service said markets. A good example is what happend with the dear old Kryptonite lock earlier this month (As a bicycle rider, you must have heard about this scandal? Ask any clued-up blogger and (s)he'll tell you). What is true for markets is also becoming true for Governments, as well: Russian by temperament and British by political fortune, Boris Johnson is blogging
• · · · · · Take this quiz to find out which file extension most closely matches your personality

Whether the drink in your cup tastes more or less bitter, more or less creamy, is not so important in the end. It is what the whole experience does to your spirits and your sense of self that really counts...So the product - the taste, the colour, aroma of the coffee - matters, but arguably everything else matters a bit more. This was the possiblity that [CEO] Howard [Schultz] saw...
Howard saw an experience that could connect with people's lives at an emotional level. Starbucks tapped into the ritual around coffee and the community conversational relationship aspect of a third space
Evelyn Rodriguez asks: Is not blogosphere a sort of non-geographic third space too?
-A story of Starbucks - is told in a book called My Sister is a Barista

1894841069 Even my ISBN cannot help itself when it comes to the final double digit position. However, folks more positions 69 and other positions will appear in the new 13-digit ISBN which I have approved and plans are underway to transition to the new number industry-wide, world-wide by January 1, 2007 Lucky 13: ISBN’s Second Coming ; Speaking of positions and numbers, Media Dragon will post, flesh willing, the evil double entry 2 - 666 [scary!]
Neal Stephenson answers questions on Slashdot about his new book The System of the World, according to Bookslut

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: They Speak, but Why Listen?
With all due respect to the Naipaul view, it seems to me that the novel--or the writing of fiction--is in robust health. More people do it than ever did before, and while quantity is never a reliable measure of quality--especially when it comes to words, or yarn--telling stories is still a human passion.
Vunku Varadarajan on why the novel isn't dead--and neither is the urge to be an oracle [As someone who has gotten some serious hell for shooting my marketing mouth off online, I admire the Bestselling author and biographer for Celine Dion Quirky Book Promotion: "Call Them All" Grassroots Contest... Will Librarians Heed the Calls? ]
• · Books are like companies. Their first and best function are as Idea Amplifiers, not commerce mechanisms. It's this utter belief in humanity and human potential that excites us. We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature Spread pollen and start conversations with all sorts of people. No different than blogging; [Take a nice, sensitive Bohemian male, drop him in Sydney, and in weeks he’s a sexist pig. His apartment’s a sty, he smokes unfiltered grass, drinks his Winston Hills spirits straight; Women Gain Power In Aussie TV ]
• · · Umberto Eco: What is aesthetically ideal in art? A Picasso, a Mondrian - or a Morava River? Our age enjoys an orgy of tolerance, and polytheism of beauty ; [Want to act like you've read Cold River and The Da Vinci Code when you really haven't? Or maybe you just want to spoil the ending for everyone you see carrying it around? Go to The Book Spoiler and start ruining endings; eBooks Web-based textbooks give students' backs a break and and encourages them to learn]
• · · · Imagine a revolution that ought to change all, but in the end leaves everything as it is, giving us easy comfort and normalcy. It’s The Da Vinci Code and Cold River
• · · · · Graham Green et al Great writers who want their memories honored but don’t like comparison can get bad writers for their biographies; ; [Rank and Vile Guiding Political Revelations Reviewed circa 1930s ]
• · · · · · Great works of art can stand the heat of spamming criticism It’s the almost great ones that, alas, caramelize under the fire of relentless discussion

Saturday, October 23, 2004

This weekend is going down in His Story as the time when Dragoness celebrated the 20th wedding aniversary. The assembly line of our marriage boasts two dragon-butterflies of the Velvet Revolution. One was conceived in the heat of the revolutionary moment of 1989 and the other took place on the high interest rate waves we had to surf in 1991.
While election periods do not send me to the blue moon, I do identify with the suggestion that voting for president is a lot like sex—and not just because it takes place every four years (every day is a headache) in the solitude of a semi-private booth. Both are intensely personal activities that nonetheless can have profound public consequences. We might add that both often involve drug-and-alcohol-fueled delusions and morning-after feelings of guilt, shame, and recrimination. Who's Getting Your Vote? Political Medico John Tierney Takes the Town-Hall Pulse, for the Election and Beyond
Rick Perlstein: America might be a democracy, but that doesn't mean the Democrat has a right to campaign ... Sucking Democracy Dry and Losing America's birthright, the George Bush way The End of Democracy
Hunter Thompson: Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with my man John Kerry turned into a series of horrible embarrassments that cracked his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: After The Electoral Blood Bath Altered States Are Making a Federal Case
A century after Federation, Australia is facing a revolution in the way our money is spent.
In the brave new world of Bob Carr's federalism, Maggie would probably not have suffered the pain and indignity of bed sores. She may also have avoided a fall which broke her hip, a blood infection and subsequent renal failure.
Maggie is not a figment of a bureaucrat's imagination, but a flesh and blood 73-year-old; a patient tracked by State Government health experts as she battled for treatment in the Hunter area, north of Sydney.
Her frustrating and shameful case is a litmus test for Carr's argument that the system of delivering health and education, not to mention roads, water, child care, disability services and dozens of other services could be vastly improved by a revolutionary framework of funding, restructure and accountability between state and federal governments.

• The Herald has not made federal-(not feral)-state-relations a special feature yet, but I hope the good natured librarians of Fairfax school will bring stories out from the archives Maybe the Dog Didn't Eat Common Sense [Drunken sailor`s just a drop in the ocean ]
• · If you ever wondered why I keep saying that the Sydney Morning Herals is my favourite paper here is a proof in the reading. The Herald's chief correspondent, Paul McGeough, was last night awarded a prestigious media peace award from the Australian division of the United Nations for his coverage of the war in Iraq Peace prize for war reporter ; [The Ultimate Objective of Democracy ]
• · · Ken Parish a regular reader of Catallaxy brings to the blogosphere his views on defamation and offers John Howard and Mark Latham a few pointers in his post entitled Doubling up at the defamation casino ; [Roy Baker notes Every time people sue for defamation, the question arises whether the offending publication harms their reputation 101 Dalmations ]
• · · · The Princes Highway of our Modern Spy Tales is littered with leaking James Bond car*s (smile) and evidence that the art of good government is resisting the urge to legislate away every ill, which is impossible to do and often makes problems worse ... Legitimate concerns with civil liberties sandbagged with a lot of protective measures ;
[Mike Carlton, who likes to prove at every opportunity that he is a better historian than Bob Carr, writes We are now the only English speaking country that does not have a bill of rights. Our parliament can pass legislation that could not be passed in Britain, could not be passed in America or New Zealand, or anywhere in Europe This is a warning worth heeding. Maintain the rage, Malcolm Fraser...]
[Another Mike Kirkby observes: Persons of such views tend to live in a remote world of fantasy, inflaming themselves by their rhetoric into more and more unreal passions, usually engaging in serious dialogue only with people of like persuasion. For the rest of us, who live in the real world, and know our country and its institutions better, time will not be wasted over such fairytales An instrument for the defence of fundamental human rights and dignity]
• · · · · Dr Russell Cope was the first to draw to my attention to an article by John Button earlier this year during my visit to his Blue Mountain retreat. Today Alan Ramsey quotes from this sobering cold river paper: Labor's politicians have nearly all been to factional finishing school but not many to the school of hard knocks. The ALP has become truly professional. And, in the process of professionalising itself, it has lost much of its capacity to relate to the community and a lot of its charm ; [Daniel J. Flynn ( not David Flint) Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas ]
• · · · · · Ach, the real running mates Teresa Heinz Kerry and Laura Bush [An Era of Instability in World Politics ; Corruption Perceptions Index 2004 ]

Booker Prize winner Mr Hollinghurst drew ahead only by the finest of whiskers when the chairman, Chris Smith, a master of political shepherding, proposed that the only vote for Mr Toibin be transferred to that judge's second choice ... (Arts and politics at its best)
Time, like a cold river, is a wheel of continuous movement: the present is the fruit of the past and the future is the fruit of the present. This week I exchanged an email with one of the Chinese dissidents I had a pleasure to meet at the office of the President of the NSW Legislative Council circa 1999. I am bragging again because most dissidents, unlike most novelists or politicians, tell the truth for the living ...
One of the great challenges for dissidents is to try to redress the potent cliche that history is written by the victors. Rumour has it that the Chinese censors forbid readers to access the fruits of my writing life. My escape across the Iron Curtain is considered a dangerous story - a tale that might dog totalitarians in China, Cuba or Korea. Yet, the Chinese underground is apparently learning how to live with that kind of censorship ... The Internet is an amazing creation!
Ach, Garry Maddox explains why so many Villawooders, filmmakers and actors, head to Hollywood: Aussiewood of my Villawood

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Triple Take on Kokoda Track
I am grateful to Dr George Dorman for exposing me to Fortunate Life by Facey. I am also grateful to Dr James Cumes for sharing with me in the most amazing way the story of Kokoda Track. The story based on truth and nothing but the truth is entitled Haverleigh. James to me is the Antipodean Shakespearean who was born and bred in Beenleigh, a place to be found south of Brisbane. To sneak or not to sneak a place of your childhood into a title of your book was answered on the cover of James' book back in 1995. (To be or not to be - to have or not to have)
If you are a true Australian soldier you believe in compassion. James is a true Australian Soldier who now fights for Victory Over Want.
By strange luck and coincidences, I came across another amazing army officer and pollie by the name Charlie Lynn in 1990s. In my fortunate exile, I even had the pleasure of having a chat over a coffee with Charlie. It is wonderful to be the hub on the wheel of six degrees of separation by being able to connect Charlie and James. When the time permits, Charlie takes restless souls on hellish walk along the Kokoda Trail. Charlie's victims include Kerry Chikarovski and my former PAC Deputy Chair, Peter Cochran. James is an amazing writer who has an ability to stir a new interest in the history of the WWII.
Over a school holidays, I read Peter FitzSimons bestselling story Kokoda and I must admit it complemented well the great story written by James.
Is it not fantastic to find out that another book on Kokoda is coming out in three weeks time? The next book will have a perfect timing as it is launched on the Remembrance Day (11 November). This time Paul Ham draws his Kokoda account from diaries of both Australian as well as Japanese soldiers. As Peter FitzSimon explained the burst of interest as being due to the fact that the Australian soldiers fighting in New Guinea where fighting for Australia and won. At Gillipoli they fought for England and lost.
Australian filmmaker take a note and start knocking on James Cumes’ doors before some Austrian or American director put their hands on a story which deserves to be shot by the people living in the land so far away and down under. At Frankfurst and London book fairs James’ eyewitness story fuels great reviews. A signed copy of Haverleigh can be ordered direct from James Cumes at -

• James Cumes: The wisest and most compassionate person I know, a man who dedicates his life to helping people From page to screen: Haverleigh ; Haverleigh Links [James Cumes with Haverleigh and other titles - compliments of A9 ]
• · When the Iron Curtain came down, Europe gained more than 500 ski resorts Skiing or snowboarding in former communist countries is akin to being in a James Bond film without the technology; [If you fall in the Slovak river, nothing's gonna save you. The lower currents will pull you down, no matter what you do. I cannot swim, but what good is swimming [in such dangerous water]?; The alcohol is hard and straight, the surroundings are seductive, adventure and mayhem are on the agenda even the birth of Jozef Imrich Junior (smile); Unique Gothic River of Churches; Some Escapes are Sadder Than Others]
• · · A wealth of memories and a lifetime of reading are formed when you read with your children Writing itself is like being a 70s guitar hero, without the groupies [Paul Boutin]
• · · · Like the better known Prophecies of Nostradamus, the Prophecies of Paracelsus are exceedingly cryptic, filled with allegorical symbols and capable of being reinterpreted for any purpose It comes with 32 surreal woodcuts which seem to reveal additional details about each prophecy ; [Farther on still a bishop is shown immersed in water and surrounded by spears that prevent him from reaching the bank. Broking up all empires: Had thy pretended wisdom and understanding been thine own thou wouldst have been beyond disaster, and moreover other empires would have taken thee as a mirror ]
• · · · · I keep forgetting to link to the history of surrealism and great poster: Girls Who Say Yes 1960s anti-draft poster ; [USA Today spotlights the influence of the prizes on supporting emerging writers. Whiting Foundation program director Barbara Bristol comments: What we are trying to do is spot writers at a moment when they are at their most vulnerable, when they might give up. To say to them, 'Someone has noticed you.']
• · · · · · Emma Bovary took arsenic; Anna Karenina went under a train, Tess of the D'Urbervilles was hanged. But let's face it. These days women in modern societies don't die of adultery. It is not a hanging offence. Testing the Waters: From I Do to You Can not
• · · · · That Giant Of Reviewers, Robert Kuttner, comes up with an essay on faith, reason, terror, and democracy What Would Jefferson Do?
• · · · · · War and Evelyn Waugh His kiss was like a flash of lightning; when it was dark again she was free
[Maybe You Do not need to know, but if you do the NYT has named William Grimes as a regular nonfiction book reviewer (via a reliable source)]

Friday, October 22, 2004

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
-Ernest Hemingway, American author (1899 - 1961)

Bad politicians are like 17-year locusts: When they show up en masse, the public greets them with fascination and fear. The current prolonged infestation naturally provokes questions both analytic such as Why do they say what they say? and introspective such as Why do we let them do what they do to us?
Back in bad old Czechoslovakia I got used to seeing the rotten fruits sold at the markets by our political masters. However, even in Australia it is rare to come across fruits rich in political vitamins and democratic fibre. I was not suprised yesterday to read cynical observations in the letters section of the Sydney Morning Herald regarding federal-state-financial-dysfunctions. One bohemian writer employed hard-core irony and wrote: Bob Carr’s offer to trade power with Canberra is a step in the right direction, but why stop there. A merger of the NSW Parliament and Commonwealth parliaments would be real progress.
[Some MPs would be delighted to be called Senators...]

Julian Burnside shares with Czechoslovak born Tom Stoppard the view that we are all born with an instinct for justice. In Professional Foul, one of his characters tells of the child who in the playground cries “It’s not fair” and thus gives voice to ‘an impulse which precedes utterance’. Our perception of justice may be blunted by exposure to its processes. At the start of a career as a law student, we see law and justice as synonymous; later we fall into cynicism or despair as clients complain that Law and Justice seem unrelated. We might remember the observation of Bismarck, in a different context, saying “He who likes sausages or law should not see them in the making” be it in the NSW Parliamentary Library or the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Yet there are a number of MPs who have done their bit to preserve my sense of my faith in politicians on both side of the Parliament and almost one and all independent. I view the suggestion made by Miranda Devine yesterday as rather exaggerated. In her article, entitled Headaches All Around at Town Hall, (a great title for a rock song) Miranda wrote that Clover Moore is creating a royal court of servants by expanding her personal staff by a third because she is not coping with her work.

Clover is a capable politician and an amazing person as is the former chairman of the PAC Andrew Tink. As an insider’s insider’s insider I saw the stone of the fruit and I just wish we had more politicians who come to Parliament after having a real career, real family lives, real interests outside politics and real appreciation what democracy mean...

Czech out the thoughtful contribution by Andrew Tink. I gather that most library newsletters and journals in Australia and even overseas are liberal with extracts from this brilliant speech. This speech was written even before the journal New Matilda saw the light of the publishing day.
Public language is not decaying under a death sentence as proclaimed by Don Watson on the front cover of his latest book.
Rather it is being used as it always has been by those in power, those seeking
power and their critics to attack, defend and criticise.
At the very beginning of his book, Mr Watson accepts this by quoting Primo Levi’s description of public language as ‘an ancient repressive artifice, known to all churches, the typical vice of our political class, the foundation of all colonial empires.
If the title to Mr Watson’s book ‘Death Sentence The Decay of Public Language’is correct, then the decay of public language is something to celebrate: (PDF format) Attack and Defence: Public Language Across Four Centuries

Repeating History Classes: Towshend puts Lord Sydney in shadows
The fact is that few Sydneysiders know exactly who the city was named after and even fewer could tell you what was his non-aristocratic name. New South Wales parliamentarian Andrew Tink laments how little honoured is Lord Sydney in his own backyard:
'The 1780s were arguably the most important period in the history of the English speaking world and Lord Sydney was right in the middle of it. 'How many people have cities on two continents named after them and can say they directly influenced the futures of Australia, Canada and the United States as well as his own country Britain.'
Tink, who has made himself almost a lone Australian expert on Lord Sydney through painstaking archive searches, recounts his hero's achievements and the part they played in the history of the English speaking world.
In appreciation of Lord Sydney's efforts, the loyalists named Sydney in Nova Scotia after him. Tink argues that it was Lord Sydney's support for the loyalists that was a key reason why the English of Canada went on to dominate the country over the country's French settlers..
It was a grateful captain Arthur Phillip, unlike Tommy Townshend, revered by Australians of all ages, who named the new settlement after Lord Sydney.
Born in 1733 as the son of aristocrat Lord Townshend, and later to become an aristocrat in his own right as Lord Sydney, Tommy Townshend graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts when he was just 21.
He went almost immediately into politics, holding a number of key parliamentary posts before taking on his colonial roles

Andrew Tink: the Lover of History [Andrew Tink ]
What do Andrew Tink - historian politician, Andrew "Boy" Charlton - Swimmer, Banjo Paterson - poet/writer, David Gonski - Coca-Cola chairman, Baz Luhrman - film director and Malcolm Mackerras - Psephologist have in common SGS
• · Even Sydney's Charms Cannot Save the Politician who Angered a Poet
• · · PDF Words that Haunt Sydney
• · · · Speech can stop people being afraid or sorry; it can promote happiness and increase feelings of pity. Speech is a ‘powerful ruler’ because, though invisible, it achieves superhuman results
[Tabloid Magazine writers take note of Arthenian poet Agathon who recently said: one thing is denied even to God. To make undone that which has been done. Not many worshipers of great films are aware that Baz Luhrman was employed by Dr Cope at the NSW Parliamentary Library in early 1980s. His kinomatic (sic) dreams brewed alongside the sentences embroided inside the amazing collection of monographs at the library stack area. It is impossible to dance among the tightly lined compactus, but Buz did. Orwellian 1984 was still fresh in memory when Buz took his Strictly Ballroom to Czechoslovakia. The year was 1986 (BC - Before Children), in fact. The subversive play, whose main female character could have come from the reference desk of the parliamentary library, was a great success among the communist audience. No audience can whistle as loudly as the spectators born in the land of Juraj Janosik. It is even lesser known fact that Sonia Todd our neighbour almost caused a diplomatic incidence on the stage in Bratislava. In 1987, Reagan might have spoken the words of wisdom Tear Down That Wall!, but the actors from the land Down Under literally tore that Curtain Down a year before the famous speech! Australia had been blessed with a number of firefighting diplomats especially at the heights of the Cold War and as a result no actual hot war is recorded. Antipodean James Cumes was one of those fighting the spectre of totalitarian bushfire dangers on the European soil and still unofficially is ... (Now that the Nobel has been kind to the Austrian Jelinek I do hope that the prize will be also kind to our own Australian Cumes) ]

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Al Gore gave an excellent speech at Georgetown University. You can watch the C-Span video or read a transcript of the speech: Love of power for its own sake is the original sin of this presidency [Mr. Gore critiques Pres. Bush's presidency in many areas, specifically Iraq, jobs retention and creation, the environment and people's trust in government]

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Making Light Political Jokes
So George is doing yet another photo op at an elementary school, and this one’s been going pretty well, so he offers to take questions. A little boy raises his hand.
“Okay, you,” says George, smiling. “What’s your name?”
“Billy. And what’s your question?”
“I have three questions,” Billy says. “First, why did you go to war without UN approval? Second, why are you president when Gore got more votes? Third, where’s Osama bin Laden?”
George is taken aback. “Uh, those are really hard questions,” he says.
Just then the bell rings. “Whoops, time for recess!” George says. “Guess I’ll have to answer your questions when recess is over.”
After recess, when the kids have settled back down again, George says “Okay, who’s got a question?”
A little kid raises his hand, and George calls on him.
“What’s your name?” George asks.
“Okay, Joe. What’s your question?”
“I have five questions,” Joe says. “First, why did you go to war without UN approval? Second, why are you president when Gore got more votes? Third, where’s Osama bin Laden? Fourth, why did the bell for recess ring twenty minutes early?

And fifth, what happened to Billy?
• · PM agrees to power talks with premiers
• · · Labor blues take toll on confidence
• · · · Asking Big Spenders to Be Big Savers, Too
• · · · · George Soros on Terrorists
[We cannot eliminate terrorists by following foreign policies but we sure as hell can reinforce them by following the wrong ones. We must isolate the terrorists by gaining the sympathy and support of the populations from which they come. Only that way can we get rid of terrorists.]

Iraqi kidnappers who threatened to kill an Australian journalist checked his work by "Googling" his name on the net before freeing him. Now Google Even Saves Life of a Journalist: Kidnappers 'Googled' journo before freeing him
[If you want to survive these days as a journalist become a Pajamahadeen]
The New York Press more on the worst political reporters

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Web of Altruistic Intrigue: Connecting the dots
Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web but he had something bigger in mind all along. Now he's working on Internet 2.0.
Berners-Lee's invention was based on an information retrieval program called Enquire (named after a Victorian book, Enquire Within Upon Everything), which he wrote in 1980 while working as a programmer at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. In part, the lack of riches is because Berners-Lee did the unthinkable when he finished writing the tools that defined the web's basic structure more than 10 years later: he gave them away, with CERN's blessing, no strings attached.

• Mark Frauenfelder reports Berners-Lee did the unthinkable when he finished writing the tools that defined the web's basic structure: he gave them away with no strings attached [While Moore chips and tiny fish are on the menu, some are Selling technology down the river]
• · Sifry's Alerts State of the Blogosphere: Corporate Bloggers; [Blair’s Alert]
• · · The head of Australia's competition watchdog has cautioned that it may not be all smooth sailing for the Federal Government's proposed media ownership changes Mr Samuel said definitions that differentiated TV, radio and newspapers were blurred, and regulations were outdated ; [Sunday Channel 9: Graeme Samuel has a tough job as chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Graeme Samuel on the job]
• · · · Bloggers should care about the government jailing Judith Miller. You uphold the public's right to know and citizens' right to challenge authority. What happens to Miller and other journalists happens to you and me. The government’s growing attack on freedom of speech and the free press I love this blog world--you make a general statement and then some people write a book for you about it. I am totally persuaded and will now stop pruning my garden, leaving behind my old fashioned notion that editing and flowering areare necessary partners Whose economy is it?; [Freddy Kreuger: The printer's devil Crikey & Newspaper circulation figures]
• · · · · Surveillance and Society
• · · · · · Tracing the Evolution of Social Software ; [David Hills is the new CEO of LookSmart via Search Engine Watch Blog]

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

John Kenneth Galbraith is famously quoted for saying: In the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. The quote is apt not only to describe human behaviour in general, but more particularly in the context of the Commonwealth state relations.

The ink is still wet from 30 September 2004 post in relation to Nick Greiner’s vision on federalism. Amazingly Greiner’s ideas are back with the speed of light and part of the political lanscape:
Mr Carr proposes a prompt report from two eminent statesmen, such as the former NSW premier Nick Greiner and the former Queensland premier Wayne Goss, who could then act as emissaries for the states' ideas. The Premier has called for a new deal on federalism in the wake of the Howard Government's big election win, offering to hand over responsibility for the health system to the Commonwealth
That political importance of Pimping The Choices

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Too Much Truth?
George Orwell shaped our imagination of a future in which a propagandistic media produced a steady stream of up-is-down, right-is-wrong, war-is-peace lies in order to impose the will of a governing elite upon the subject citizenry. Orwell reckoned this ultimate diminution of democracy would come in the year 1984. Imperfect genius that he was, the author missed the mark by twenty years. But, after watching the controversy regarding the Sinclair Broadcast Group's scheme to air the truth-impaired mockumentary Stolen Honor in an attempt to stall the momentum John Kerry's campaign gained from the presidential debates, it becomes evident that the future Orwell imagined is unfolding.
Orwellian Twist on the Campaign ; [Cover of naked antiwar protesters draws objections, police attention ]
• · Bush campaign adviser Mary Matalin describes The Note's readership as a kind of - Skull and Bones for the political class The Note's Halperin is the insider's insider's insider dope; [We try to channel what the chattering class is chattering about, and to capture the sensibility, ethos, and rituals of the Gang of 500, which still largely sets the political agenda for the country Mark Halperin: political news digest]
• · · Crikey, as usual, was the first to break the story about Lindsay Tanner via email Sixth frontbencher abandons Latham ;
Labor housing spokesman Daryl Melham has become the seventh frontbencher to retreat to the backbench Latham's incredible shrinking front bench
• · · · The Australian journalist freed late yesterday after being held by Iraqi militants has contradicted claims by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer that he was captured in an area he was advised not to go to ; [Matthew Rothschild Refusing Orders ]
• · · · · Developers' cash funded poll win Under what circumstances could it be said that political donors had bought their candidates victory?;
• · · · · · Byron Williams: Rejection of Bush is based on policy, not politics The Difference Between Disagreement and Hate

The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure very much.
- William Hazlitt

Until death do us part yet in Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk.
In the dream we are sitting together after all those years pulling memories and photos together. Indeed, my life with Lauren has been nothing but a dream!
After two decades, exactly today, I know why Lauren loves cooking with wine. Sometimes she even puts it in the food.
On the Saturday when the Sydney Opera House celebrated its birthday, I had an engaging encounter with Lauren in front of the altar.
Christopher was there with his Polish hangover and two golden rings from the discounted counter of the Berkeley International Diamonds.
Speaking as a rough diamond and the black sheep of the Imrich family, I know too well that stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But to watch the polished walk of the Australian Academy of Ballet dancer during the Wedding March is a pure ecstasy.
Some men suggest that all marriages are happy. It's the trying to walk together afterwards that causes all the problems.
While some women swear that before marriage, a man will lay down his life for you; after marriage he won't even lay down his newspaper.
We agree on so many things such as if marriage is your object, you'd better start loving the subject:
Men are from Earthy Central Europe. Women are from Earthy Australia. Deal with it.
Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of cheques.
Recognise that what goes around, comes around, and that there is nothing new under the sun.
I swear that not every marriage is a three ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all trends and indicators it is as perennial as the grass. In some mysterious ways, happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length

Marriage vows in an objectivist church would probably run along the lines of "Do you promise to attempt to dominate and subdue this woman until such time as you grow bored?" "Maybe." "Close enough. And do you promise to applaud this man`s production until such time as you find someone with a bigger ... corporation?" "Whatever." "By the power vested in me by having scammed you guys out of a marriage license fee, I now pronounce you man and appendage. May you be unencumbered by small persons."
-Rob Slade, reviewing Atlas Shrugged

This past June, when Patricia Worth, and her husband, Gary, who works as a graphic designer, opened River Reader Books in Lexington, Missouri, Patricia left a 16-year career as a contractor to become a full-time bookseller, and, since the new bookstore has a cafe, a barista, too. No sense in learning one new trade when you can learn three or four The Worths Build a Business: River Reader Books

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
In this blog I have been bitching - some say endlessly - that we need new marketing ideas and ways to attract more readers to more authors.
To that end, I'm starting an experiment. A new blog called Backstory.
Each week a different author will answer the single most common question novelists get from readers is: "Where did you get the idea for your novel?"
In other words, what's the backstory? What are the secrets, the truths, or just the illogical moments that sparked your latest novel?
In the upcoming months all kinds of wonderful authors have agreed to post their backstories including: Katherine Neville, Lee Child, Tess Gerritesen, Chris Mooney, Jason Starr, Robert Ferrigno, Marcia Talley, Gayle Lynds, Laura Lippman, Caroline Leavitt, Lev Rafael, J.A. Konrath, Doug Clegg and more and more.

• MJ Rose of Buzz Balls Hype Think of it like an magazine article that has no end [EL Noel (Lynn) ]
• · Nicholas Clee, Editor of The Bookseller is to leave the position this autumn Farewell
• · · Brain battle provides insight into consumer behavior Why Instant Gratification Wins ; [Professor the 5th Earl (Conrad) Russell observed when I was an undergraduate I think women could afford to say 'no' when they meant 'yes'. Now they can't. The more freedom a woman has, the plainer her sexual signalling has to be.]
• · · · It may be a shocking dilution of academics - or an ingenious way to hook reluctant readers. 'Hamlet' too hard? Try a comic book; [It's a typical story in the murky and dangerous underworld of small, independent publishing: Screwing a book for its cover]
• · · · · Drenka Willen publishes books in translation. Her ability to succeed despite the trends and the odds makes her one of this country's most valued cultural gatekeepers. She writes very concise questions in the margin, and it is done so firmly that even if you erased them, they would still be there Found in Translation ; [Sir Antony Sher, the actor, writer and artist, yesterday launched a bitter critique of the exclusivity of the literary world ; Cold Revenge by Sir Jozef Imrich Is Simon & Schuster up for sale?]
• · · · · · Speech is a ‘powerful ruler’ because, though invisible, it achieves superhuman results Speech can stop people being afraid or sorry; it can promote happiness and increase feelings of pity. [Counting the Errors of My Ways
Quiz: How Spiritual Are You? ]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
- poem of Auden
(The sting in the poem is that the subject is not identified, and no tyrant could assert that he was the subject of the poem without admitting the truth the poem seeks to expose)
[The unpopular communist President Gustav Husak used to get frustrated with Jozef Imrich who was like the Vrbovian Dragon with the seven lives. Even Gustav's generals failed to shoot Jozef down. These days popular public servants of Geoffrey stature just want to run him over (smile)]
Julian Burnside

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Election Luxuries and The Lowest Blow
Australian Alan Of Sotherly Buster fame points out that 4300 is a lot less than 60 000 [votes]. Until the below-the-line votes are counted in Tasmania and Victoria we don't know what will happen to the sixth Senate seat
One by one, American vote swingers typically settle on a presidential candidate after weighing his, and his rival's, views on the mosaic of issues that each of us finds important.
Some years, though, force vectors we didn't anticipate turn some of our usual priorities—our pet causes, our own economic interest—into narcissistic luxuries.

The NYT has endorsed John Kerry for President
The Chicago Tribune, on the other hand, has endorsed George W. Bush for president
• Election 2004 Reuters/Zogby Daily Tracking Poll: Kerry Closes In On Bush Lead; President Loses 2 Points (Bush 46%- Kerry 44%); Race Remains Close, New Reuters/Zogby Poll Reveals Suddenly Politics Is Hot Again. Sometimes, Really Hot [Joi Ito Move On and Kerry Inc ]
• · Czech Parties sharpen rhetoric in campaign marked by bribery scandal, 'red' claims Prime Minister Stanislav Gross faces the first major test of his popularity
• · · The Army's intelligence chief said yesterday that he has great confidence in the ability of Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the highest-ranking intelligence officer tied to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, to lead Army's intelligence school. ; [A word to the wise: Be careful who you're telling lies. There's an elite group of people who don't need to see Pinocchio's nose grow, but can pick up on subtle signs that they're not hearing the truth Superliars ; A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel Platoon defies orders in Iraq]
• · · · Bologna Archbishop Carlo Caffarra drew attention to the underlying ethos that should inspire a democracy. First is the influence of moral relativism, which denies the existence of objective truths in ethics, justice and politics. Second is the incapacity to coordinate individual liberty with social obligations. What Catholics Should Do About Democracy ; [Much of the information governments use to shape policy is available via non-secret channels Flinging Open the Doors to Intelligence Gathering ]
• · · · · Among the striking cultural differences between France and Britain is the way their intellectuals operate in the public arena Nicely structured and well told account of Silence of the intellectual lambs ; [As societies dumb down and reality shows take over, facile pundits now overrule true intellectuals]
• · · · · · If the boomers were obsessed with off-road cars, Generation Xers seem to have had a special preoccupation with subversive running shoes... The system tells you that you have to swim in a straight line, down some river that The Man has built for you. The rebel can't be tied down like that; he yearns for freedom. He needs to be able to veer off at any time and start following his own river I'm not one of those losers with kids, living in the suburbs. My life is an adventure. It tells them that you're not a square, not a cog in the machine; [Pop culture pyramid And pop! The culture goes political ; Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn once said: If you want to send a message, call Western Union.
Translation: The job of entertainers is entertainment. Leave politics to the politicians. Controversy just alienates the audience.]
[[So while it's fine to be cool, we should all recognize the wanting to be cool is just another form of social striving, like wanting to join an exclusive golf club, to have the nicest front lawn, or to drive a BMW.]]