Monday, February 28, 2005

There ought to be a limit (she thought as she steered the bronze Chrysler through the cemetery gate) on the number of open graves you had to look down into in any given lifetime.
-Jon Hassler, North of Hope

In a welcome ruling for this newspaper, and the larger cause of robust journalism and government accountability, a federal judge in New York has barred a federal prosecutor's ill-conceived effort to get the phone records of two Times reporters from the fall of 2001 in order to discover the identity of their confidential sources A Victory for Press Freedom

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot
President Klaus worries about the effect political scandals have on the country's good reputation. Yet his hands have been far from clean. So when did he change his tune?

President Vaclav Klaus, lamenting the apartment scandal surrounding Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, said, "I am afraid that confidence in politicians and politics has suffered another severe blow from which it will be recovering for a long time."
Another severe blow? I guess that means the country and its politics have suffered such batterings before. Let's see if I can remember any. Hmm.
Perhaps the president was referring to the time a party deputy chairman was tooling about Prague in a brand-new, top-end Mercedes, courtesy of two German brothers who had fled to the Czech Republic to dodge tax-evasion charges at home. The said deputy failed to declare the generous gift as income, as he should have, and failed to pay taxes on it.

Highest of Hypocrite: a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he does not hold [Interview: Israeli President Moshe Katsav ; This week Health Minister Tony Abbott revealed that he had made contact with the son he had given up for adoption 27 years ago. Father and son reunion ]
• · Setting the Stage for a New Cold War: China's Quest for Energy Security ; Nightmare of “a second Cuba” A spectre stalks the Americas
• · · When Ronald Reagan stood by the Berlin Wall in 1987 and told the Soviets to “tear down this wall,” German media made fun of him. Now they make fun of George Bush Could George W. Bush Be Right? ; Interview: Peter Costello
• · · · Interview: WA Premier Geoff Gallop ; As GM pointed out today, one of the most common sense way to eliminate the sensless police pursuits and inexperienced drivers going out of control is to ban passengers for drivers who are under 20 years of age. Defensive driving is a must Parents best aid for young drivers
• · · · · John Hatton back in 1990s tried to create an atmosphere of strategic thinking in relation to police pursuit, however his proposal was squashed. When will the carnage end? Police are as much victims here as the young drivers. Riot police today arrested 12 people and seized a rifle amid continuing violence sparked by the deaths of two teenagers in a stolen car 12 held as police brace for more riots ; Amid fears of further violence, rumours are flying in south-west Sydney over the identity of the driver who survived the fatal crash that sparked riots three nights running Spreading the Bad News
• · · · · · Rioters pelt police with Molotov cocktails ; The blaming game ...

It was one of the coldest days of the winter and the guitarist Pat Metheny was only a few minutes late, but he had called ahead. When he arrived at our meeting place, a small recording studio within Right Track Studios in Midtown Manhattan, he arranged his stuff on the couch - including some musical scores - and sat down in a swivel chair before the 96-channel console. Mr. Metheny grew up in the rural Midwest but seems Californian: he has the inner glow. He had no socks on and looked comfortable. Well, for me, let's keep jazz as folk music. Let's not make jazz classical music. Let's keep it as street music, as people's everyday-life music B-flat minor, the saddest of all keys

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: What's wrong with the Australian film industry?

When the much-heralded film Eucalyptus was cancelled recently, it was a huge blow to the Australian film industry. After a disastrous 2004, it had seemed that things were looking up in 2005. Cate Blanchett was here to star in Little Fish, Abbie Cornish and Heath Ledger in Candy and Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in Eucalyptus. It would have made a fine trifecta. Last year, the overall box office increased by 5 per cent, but attendance at local films slumped to an all-time low.

This particular film was already had a lot of hopes pinned on it [MJ Rose with links ; Returns Suck: So Do Something About it ]
• · More on the Google Library Digitization Project How Google will scan the world, 1 Cold River at a time
• · · When I was a kid, I thought I'd grow up to be a novelist Behind the scenes in publishing
• · · · ; Why I blog ; A tribute to Hunter S Thompson
• · · · · What if the Holy Grail was not the cup that held the blood of Christ but the bloodline stretching from him? Notes on a Strange World The Secrets of Rennes-le-Château ;
• · · · · · Fluid Thinking ; Bill Ives

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The West Australian Labor Government of Geoff Gallop was returned to power last night in a stunning turnaround of fortunes that has solidified the party's dominance of state politics across Australia. Tide does not turn on the green-political-mongers ALP back with firm hold on WA reins
Democracy, democracy, democracy. Politicians in the U.S. are consistently peppering their communications with that word. No matter what dubious policy they are out to sell they will wrap it up with a copious supply of democracy. I think Lincoln's definition -- government of the people, by the people and for the people -- sums it up quite well. But I doubt that the folks who keep yapping about democracy have Lincoln's definition in mind when they use that term. Labouring Nepotism

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Last standing
The founder of human rights group Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, has passed away aged 83.

The British lawyer set up the group in 1961, after reading an article about the imprisonment of two students in Portugal who drank a toast to liberty.
"Peter Benenson's life was a courageous testament to his visionary commitment to fight injustice around the world," said Amnesty's Irene Khan.
People power: He brought light into the darkness of prisons, the horror of torture chambers and tragedy or death camps around the world. This was a man whose conscience shone in a cruel and terrifying world, who believed in the power of the ordinary people to bring about extraordinary change and, by creating Amnesty International, he gave each of us the opportunity to make a difference.
Standing up for prisoners of conscience: In 1961 his vision gave birth to human rights activism. In 2005 his legacy is a world-wide movement for human rights which will never die.
The impetus for the movement began after Mr Berenson read how two students in a Portuguese cafe had been imprisoned after raising their glasses to liberty.

Today, Amnesty International is in its 44th year and is the world's largest independent human rights organisation. It has more than 1.8m members world-wide.
Founder of Amnesty dies [As you know, late last year I became the Father of the House, signifying nothing more than longevity of service (sic) My admiration for the Clerks of the Parliament and all the parliamentary staff, with the exception of the violent and vicious Warren Cahill, is unbounded. Please remind Mr Cahill that he now has a record and a second offence should see him behind bars. Michael Egan, Gone Fishing Just Like Our Ron Chin A very happy little feather duster; A look at how the people don't want to have supremacy over the judiciary: One of the hot ideas in the legal academy is that the people should have supremacy over the courts. The problem is that the people don't want that. Pop Con ]
• · Two men are dead after a shooting and stabbing fight on a Cabramatta street last night Sydney Saturday Night Shooting Fever ; This could be anyone teenage boy or girl at Macquarie Fields. Youths threw rocks at police as they worked to free the bodies of two teenagers killed when a stolen car being chased by police slammed into a tree. The crowd of young men was furious police had not called off the chase because of the danger. Police need more strategic thinking and less hot blood chases Eucalyptus Drive: Fury over police chase that ended in tragedy
• · · Suicides in Marine Corps Rise by 29% ; You can't get much more different people than someone from the ABC and Tony Abbott, comedian Sorrenti told guests who waited, somewhat nervously, for the punchline It just goes to show environment wins over genetics
• · · · Joseph Laty called on Australia to present evidence to support its dramatic action Even Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus when he was accused of committing crimes. But nobody questioned Amir ; How do you fight the thieves who steal under the guise of community, How do you arrest the thieves whose way of stealing are protected from top to bottom, In reality, they are being protected by those who hold the gun and authority ; Beirut's Berlin Wall
• · · · · There are many “control freaks” in society who hate disagreement, demand unanimity and insist on more consensus, including amongst appeal judges. They speak endlessly of the need for clarity and certainty in the law. Truly, that is a goal to be attained if at all possible. But not at a sacrifice of truth, independence and conscience Dissent among judges is vital, says Justice Kirby ; Webdiary: Full text and comments Judicial dissent is an appeal to the future
• · · · · · In a desperate plan to halt the land tax revolt, the Carr Government is planning to shift the controversial tax from the unimproved value of land to the improved property value. Let the jigsaw puzzle begin ... Carr backflips on land tax ; "I've got four teenage girls," said Arlene Bolt, "and I won't let them out of my sight." The body of German backpacker Simone Strobel lay just metres from where the women played tennis. Fear grips town as woman's family mourn their 'angel'

U.S. News & World Report reported last week that several senior Republican senators — upon hearing that "blogs" had uncovered the Dan Rather scandal, helped to defeat Tom Daschle and pushed for the resignation of CNN executive Eason Jordan — demanded that "blogs" be added to their official Web sites. Blogging ... Blah, Blah, Blah

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Google and God's Mind
The 2005 Business Blogging Awards have been announced. Top honors went to Media Guerilla as best P.R. blog, with JSLogan winning the best marketing entry

The awards were dreamed up by two bloggers who met after auctioning their Web logging services online. Jeremy Wright, a technology journalist, and another blogger, Darren Barefoot, noticed the attention they got and decided to launch a consulting firm, (I interviewed Wright and did a story about his self-auction on the Web and the radio.)

• Rappers and Bloggers Separated at birth! [Slate of Bloggers ; Free Speech Flight ]
• · Revenge of the Blog People! ; Code for Killing Google AutoLink
• · · Movies and Topless Viewing Traveling the public/private divide ; That Old, Tired Balancing Act Did the election kill objective campaign journalism?
• · · · Pajamanas It's hard to know who to root against in the bloggers vs. CNN controversy that led to the resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan, a twenty-three-year veteran of the network The Pajama Game ; On the latest initiative in Congress: Blogging The Latest Initiative in Congress: Blogging
• · · · · The William F-ing Buckley of stand-up; Hyakkimaru is one of the strangest heroes to grace the small screen Cyborg Dragon-samurai: Blood Will Tell
• · · · · · Category of one ... Janet Albrechtsen's background is all but unique in Australian journalism. John Howard likes her, Mark Latham certainly didn't Our ABC: Lightning rod for conservatism will make the sparks fly ; Blog of laws

Compelling human stories, told through the words and deeds of real people: If William Faulkner were writing on the Bush White House The Administration and the Fury

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Lori Ann Pryor April 27, 1976 - Febuary 22, 2005

My sister died tonight at 8:30. She died alone in a hospice in La Mesa, California of AIDS related pneumonia. I was not there, even though she was just an hour or so away. I haven't seen or heard from her in 10 years. I am not sad for her, or for me. I am happy for her, as her 28 years of pain are over. There will be no memorial service, no funeral to fly home to. I have decided to hold one here on my blog.

Tribute [God's Politics ; Politics still a turn-off, even in cyberspace ; How Psychologists Rate Presidents ]
• · The average yearly income for an Australian playwright is less than $10,000 ; A run-down of the 16 finalists in this year's Tropfest short film festival. This Festival is Yet To Be Classified Rattus Pistofficus: Too Sunny, Too Cold
• · · Creating Bestsellers ; The director of L'Esquive, Abdellatif Kechiche, also picked up a Cesar for his work helming the production, which was made on a miniscule budget. Amateur effort takes top film prize
• · · · We live in an insane world. Today we see, more than ever, incalculable wealth standing opposed to unspeakable misery. Millions die of curable or preventable diseases while the United States government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars on arms production. Half the world's working population makes $2 a day or less. Scary stuff. Think twice! The Case for Socialism in the Twenty-First Century? ; There is no chance to escape the collapse of empire Kirkpatrick Sale ; It is probable that only after the catastrophe which will bring down modernity, its world-wide saga and its global ideology, that an alternate vision of the world will necessarily impose itself he Essence of Archaism by Guillaume Faye
• · · · · Critics of cosmetic enhancement need an extreme makeover In Praise of Plastic Surgery ; Men, are you tired of the time, trouble and expense of having a girlfriend? Irritated by the difficulty of finding a new one? Eberhard Schöneburg, the chief executive of the software maker Artificial Life Inc. of Hong Kong, may have found the answer: a virtual girlfriend named Vivienne who goes wherever you go. Vivienne
• · · · · · Some people are stuck between a rock and a hard truth ; Browse through the racks of dresses, skirts, and tops in almost any trendy clothing store in fashion-savvy Argentina, and whether you find something that fits depends on your size. Which came first, thin women or tiny sizes?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Rooseve

It might feel like a quagmire now but shortly the dust will start to settle on the state election, which up until now has been dominated by the great canal debate. Whatever the result, there's one certainty: Western Australians will get a new Opposition Leader
Voting has begun in Western Australia in the first test of Labor's hold on power at a state level since last year's federal election Like the old Amerikan western movie: the choice is between a lesser bully

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Spread of the Cancer of A Mates Club
Cancer terror wars: Looks at arguments over awarding of cancer research funds.

There's more to the resignation of Professor David Morris as director of surgery at St George Hospital we've discovered. He's quit saying it is ethically, if not criminally, wrong to force cancer patients to wait on surgery lists for up to six months. While these remarks caused a predictable political row this week, Professor Morris, the Australian pioneer of radical and apparently successful surgical procedures on certain types of cancers, has also blasted the Carr government's new Cancer Institute and its director Professor Jim Bishop. He's alleging there's a mates club operating behind the provision of desperately needed cancer research funds. As you are will see, the Cancer Institute rejects this saying funds are allocated after rigorous merit assessment

Political Incompetence and Corruption Worse than Terrorism [Cancer patients are unnecessarily losing out in the workplace Workplace failing cancer patients ]
• · Bush and Putin met in Bratislava on Thursday. And survived! US President Bush's love fest with Europe continued on Thursday in Bratislava. Sort of Could Bush Be Right? -- Take Two ; At Thursday's mini-summit at a castle in Slovakia, George Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, called each other 'George' and 'Vladimir...' But their body language spoke volumes ... Google: Bush-Putin tensions palpable
• · · A new book argues John Curtin never received his due for courageous and enduring reforms to the Australian economy Behind the curtain ; Statutes in Australia Laws and Sausages
• · · · Prosecutors are following a new lead that might shed more light on last year's dioxin poisoning of the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko. The Prosecutor-General, Svyatoslav Piskun, has acquired audiotapes of what appeared to be a conversation between Russian secret service officials discussing the alleged role of a Moscow political analyst in Mr Yushchenko's poisoning, said Vyacheslav Astapov. The man at the centre of the allegation - Gleb Pavlovsky, the head of a pro-Kremlin Moscow think tank - denied the suggestion he had the idea of giving Mr Yushchenko the Mark of the beast ; There has always been a fine line between art and pornography, but now the family snaps have been dragged into the debate Paranoia of the Sand
• · · · · Strathfield's bad apples ripe for picking Big state thieves always hang the little local thieves ; Google: On Bush and Putin
• · · · · · Bush meeting with Putin; praises Slovaks for democracy, fighting in Fighting in freedom's cause ; [President Bush's European charm offen sive continues apace, yesterday leap ing a most difficult potential hurdle: Russian President Vladimir Putin. To be sure, differences between the two remain — as was obvious during their joint press conference in Bratislava: Putin doesn't like being reminded by Bush (and other western leaders) that Russia is backsliding on democracy Bushtin ; President Bush told thousands of people in Hviezdoslavovo Square on Thursday that they and the United States are "allies and friends and brothers in the cause of freedom." Bush trip ends, but not all Euros are won over ]

In Memory of Hunter S Thompson: I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me Begging To Differ

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Prep Graduates to Bestsellerdom

Curtis Sittenfeld and her book PREP continue to draw press, this time in the Washington Post. The book recently landed on the NYT bestseller list (after making numerous other lists--including the Post's--earlier in the month), and by the Post's account the book has "nearly 100,000 copies" in print. Sittenfeld promised her English class pizza if she made the list.
Every parent of a teenage girls and maybe even boys finds the book worthy of all the attention: it is an almost clinically accurate and absorbing glimpse into the daily life of an exclusive, privileged place. People who have read "Prep" go on enthusiastically about the smells, feelings, colors and emotional range that Sittenfeld appears to have recollected from her Groton days -- and built on once she got to St. Albans. Beyond the setting of PREP, the novel is more deeply about the universal experience of being a teenager, and about learning to let go of the weirdness, the damage of having been one -- perhaps more so than any novel in decades.

Prep Teenagehood [It's a picture of Homer Simpson by the dead spirit of Picasso Reviews ; Dead Poets Society: Move Over, Holden ]
• · A stone carving in one of Rome's biggest cathedrals may hold the answer to the question being asked by Catholics around the world: will Pope John Paul II survive his latest health crisis? The carved marble monument to Pope Sylvester II, who ruled the Catholic church 1,000 years ago, is said to moisten when the death of a pontiff is imminent. Today, a priest touched the carving in Rome's Basilica of Saint John Lateran and confirmed it was dry - good news for the Pope, who underwent windpipe surgery yesterday after being rushed to hospital with breathing problems. Cold Drops; He's no stranger to controversy, but the Pope's latest published thoughts on abortion and gay unions are sure to spark debate inside and outside the church Two of the most powerful words in the English language are "evil" and "extermination"
• · · Forget about peace marches, poetry and poverty. Today's students pay their fees and work hard. That's all part of being the customer Tertiary Reality: Uni isn't what uni was ; Loneliness in Australia has a masculine face The solitary confinement of the Aussie bloke
• · · · Lonely? No chance, say young women sharing digs Women living in group housing are the least lonely people in the country ; Blokes warned: get married, or be lonely when your mates do
• · · · · Travellers sometimes need to break away from the tourist trail ; MJRose Reader and the Word
• · · · · · As Gonzo in Life as in His Work; Hunter S. Thompson directory ; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas The widow of journalist Hunter S Thompson said her husband killed himself while the two were talking on the phone

Friday, February 25, 2005

In any case, the condemned man looked so like a submissive dog that one might have thought he could be left to run free on the surrounding hills and would only need to be whistled for when the execution was due to begin.
- Franz Kafka, "The Penal Colony"

Nightmares don't last this long, so the tragic fluid of the melting ice must be real ... Shel Israel observes the real and surreal angles of the Slavic Cold River: Together, We Can Move Mountains, Rivers and Walls

While my Mamka, like the Pope, could not be there (as she was in hospital with breathing problems, however, my sister Gitka tells me that she celebrated her 88th birthday early this week at home) still Petr was there!

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Summit: New Light Cast on Dark Matters
The US and Russian Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin met on the afternoon of February 24 in Bratislava castle, Slovakia. The talks started at around 15:30

Below is a list of topics expected to be discussed at the summit meeting
Democracy: The US and other western countries have expressed concerns that Russian is backing away from democratic principles.
Iran: Bush will try to persuade Putin that the Iranian nuclear programme is intended for the construction of a nuclear weapon. Russia is helping Iran to construct a nuclear power plant and believes Tehran's reassurances that it has no ambitions to create a nuclear bomb.
Nuclear safety: According to US administration sources, both leaders will announce agreements in the field of nuclear facilities' safety.
Neighbouring countries: Bush will express concerns over the problematic relationships that some former Soviet republics and now EU members (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) have with Moscow.
Chechnya: Although Bush is often under pressure to be stricter on Moscow's actions in Chechnya, he perceives the Russian operation as a fight against "international" terrorism.
WTO: Putin will try to acquire confirmation of US support for Russian efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Bilateral relations: Disagreements over democracy, the war in Iraq or the Iranian nuclear programme should not hurt strong bilateral relationships.

Big issues on the summit menu [The summit takes place at an especially historic moment Cringing before the East ; Lyudmila Putina and Laura Bush ; Google: Bush, Putin: Constructive talks ]
• · Our ABC of Albrechtsen ; Webdiary commentariat
• · · I just had a very important and constructive dialogue with my friend. It was great to see -- I know Laura was pleased to see Lyudmila Putin as well Bush, Putin Address the Media ; Bush upbraids Putin for backsliding on democracy
• · · · Almost four years ago, when U.S. President George W. Bush first met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovenia, it seemed he'd found a kindred spirit when it came to democratic values Another look into Putin's soul? ; Bush may give Putin some advice on democracy, but the Russian president seems in no mood to hear it Google: Bush, Putin Agree on Biological Nukes, Not Democracy
• · · · · Outrage grows at a catalogue of obfuscation and evasion in answer to requests for truth. You may ask questions - but the Government still has the freedom not to answer them Senators go dredging for political dirt ;
• · · · · · All the main characters in the plot to unseat the former mayor of Strathfield should be charged with criminal offences Charge the main players, says ICAC

Beginning with a question of whether blogs can be hosted on a specific Web site, a colleague of mine wondered if I'd give him some suggestions about getting started blogging. Here's a version of the answer I e-mailed to him How to Pick Blog Software

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Citizen Journalism: citizen bloggers
The citizen-journalism movement is where journalism is heading. Newspapers, if they want to stay in the game, need to acknowledge the "lecture" model of journalism is dying, and join in the "conversation."

Earlier this month, the Poynter Institute (where I work as a senior editor for held its Web+10 Seminar. It was a fascinating exploration of what journalism will look like in the next 10 years. And a big chunk of the discussion was about what we're calling "citizen journalism." The journalism leaders (mostly from the Web side of the business) who participated in that seminar seemed pretty certain that community members' involvement in producing the news was an inevitable and desirable component of the future of journalism.

In Defense of Citizen Journalism [ Silicon Valley Watcher ; A blog doesn't need a clever name ]
• · Mark Ranford, Stratagility
• · · President, Ludicorp (Flickr) - blogging since May 4, 1998 Stewart Butterfield
• · · · Blog Aggregator J K Baumga
• · · · · Bloglines: Corporate Engagement
• · · · · · Today Part Seven is Up: Bill Ives is running Blog Excitement series in February 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Have we run out of ideas, that we have run aground, lost in a dry technocratic language of governance? There is something of an irresistible horror in such quick decay ... Spare a thought for lost souls employed by huge organisations!!! Organisations run by invisible hands whose heart is no longer clear and head is plotting the next office politics...
In his book, Where Have the Intellectuals Gone?, Frank Ferudi laments this reduction of intellectuals into clerks and technocrats, sucking idealism out of national life: "Whatever reservations one has about such idealism, it has inspired many to see creative possibilities beyond the sober realities of everyday life."
In his magisterial book on leadership, James MacGregor Burns describes the intellectual as someone concerned with "values, purposes and ends that transcend immediate needs". West captured this existential quest for historical memory beyond everyday anxieties in his book, Race Matters: "People, especially poor and degraded people, are also hungry for meaning, identity and self-worth."
Ayi Kwei Armah's writes:
How horribly rapid everything has been, from the days when men were not ashamed to talk of souls and of suffering and of hope, to these low days of smiles that will never again be sly enough to hide the knowledge of betrayal and deceit. There is something of an irresistible horror in such quick decay

What do Europeans want from the United States? Op-eds on reinvigorating trans-Atlantic relations Winning Back Europe's Heart

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Crossroads: Slovakia is at the Heart of Europe
Slovaks see Russian President Vladimir Putin as more of a guarantor of democracy in the world than President George Bush, a poll revealed today Brother v Cousin

There are four capitol cities that sit along the Danube River, Bratislave is one of them.
Small nations often suffer from an invisibility complex. They know what it means to be tiny spots on the map, remembered only if embroiled in a terrible conflict that turns the whole region into a nest of unrest.
Of course, there are small nations with immense historical heritages that centuries ago likely influenced the heartbeat of whole continents. There are small nations that successfully struggled through the ages to stay alive.

When historians go to record human history over the last century, the rise and fall of communism and the expansion of American and capitalistic ideals may well be the dominant theme
• Walking the tightrope between identity and political necessity Where does Slovakia stand? [REVOLUTION! Revolúcia! Let the cry ring out again, and again, and again. Attendant to the upcoming summit in Bratislava between US President George Bush and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin is a protest titled "ani Putin ani Bush" - neither Putin nor Bush. What does the street roar? ; A serious moral-ideological-emotional bind Google: People, especially poor and degraded people, are also hungry for meaning, identity and self-worth ]
• · At the end of 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a powerful "fireside chat," a fitting backdrop to the visit to Europe this week by his successor, George W. Bush. Arsenals of tyranny ; Russia bashing reaches limits ; Google on Blava Summit ; I wonder how many more of these are never known to the public Man Accused of Plotting to Assassinate Bush
• · · Investigating historical mysteries is, possibly, one the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of the work of a skeptical researcher. Mysteries that appear to have no possible solutions, that could certainly be termed “cold,” can, sometimes, become clearer thanks to a more careful investigation of the original sources and also to the advancements of science Facts and Fiction in the Kennedy Assassination ; According to Greek legend, Poseidon's son Theseus sailed to Crete to slay the monster Minotaur Soul of Science
• · · · Cathy Young on how the right has no monopoly on morals--or on Moral Bullying
• · · · · The People’s Business: One does not have to look far in Washington these days to find evidence that government policy is being crafted with America’s biggest corporations in mind Controlling corporations and restoring democracy ; A remedy for executive branch lies about budget item costs: Should Congress pass a Sarbanes-Oxley Act for the government?
• · · · · · The Persian Puzzle The State of Iraq: An Update ; Our Mission Remains Vital, BY KOFI A. ANNAN The U.N. needs to be reformed, but it still performs a crucial function.

For years all bloggers had to have XML feeds, but no one has been there to display them. Now is the time for change in the blogger world, time for XML parsing to reign The Mother of All Blog Rolls 'Rolls Out'

The Blog, The Press, The Media: NEWSHOUNDS: Blogged Down
Hertzberg in the New Yorker:

Nothing is likely to come of it. All the memorable scandals of the past 30 years, real & fake, from Watergate to the Clinton impeachment [guess which one is fake!], have had in common is that the opposition party controlled at least one house of Congress, which gave it the power to hold hearings & issue subpoenas. If Bush ends up having an easier time of it in his 2nd term, it won’t be because the scandals aren’t there. It’ll be because the tools to excavate them are under lock & key.

Paper Dragons [We are like the little first amendment engine that could ... Vanity Fair's James Wolcott on Gannon: He did provide some genuine insight into the journalistic standards of the far-right fake-news prosties & their blog enablers [I think that's us, guys!] ; All of those sites are seeing really strong ad buys In Search of the Blog Economy ; Jason Kottke is switching into full-time mode over at his blog and he's asking for your support Honey, I Shrunk the Patrons ]
• · Bloggers rally for jailed Iranians ; Global blogger action day called; now 14 years in Jail; Solidarity Update
• · · Karola's Ramblings from Slovakia Bratislava Blogger covering the Summit ; Bush-Putin summit Almost No Live Coverage
• · · · Local officials blogging for readers far and wide ; News gives people a false sense of wisdom. Knowing what goes on in the world does not make anyone more knowledgeable about what really matters Stop the presses!
• · · · · Media vs the blogs Bloggers. Truth-tellers or vigilantes? Trophy-hunters or watchdogs? ; How the threat to academic freedom comes from within the university as much as from without The new Chief Inquisitor on campus
• · · · · · To imagine life as "real" we have to stretch my imagination to metaphors ... Bloggers are like the little first amendment engine that could Cold River

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

How did the great rivers and seas gain dominion over the hundred lesser streams? By being lower than they.
- Lao Tzu
Just as professionals built the Titanic and amateurs built Noah's Ark, it seems amateurs are crossing the Digital Cold Rivers ... Welcome Mat on the Morava River

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Snow Castle: Bush, Putin in Blava
Children look at a snow sculpture of the Bratislava castle with flags and portraits of Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President George W. Bush are displayed in Bolesov village, about 140 kilometres north of Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday Feb. 21, 2005

For a pretty small country, it's a pretty big deal.
This week's summit in Bratislava between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will showcase Slovakia, which shook off Soviet-era communism and has become a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Slovaks hope hosting the leaders will raise the profile of their tiny nation, which Bush once famously confused with Slovenia during the 2000 American presidential campaign.

Bush seeks to begin a thaw in a Europe still cool to him [Best of Google on Bratislava Talks ; Czechs hope U.S. leader will press Russia on democracy ]
• · Slovak success story holds lessons for Bush ; The intrepid Russian spy, saving the Motherland if not the world, has come in from the cold In Russia, a Pop Culture Coup for the KGB ; Google on Summit
• · · Putin said the road to democracy must be adapted to the realities of Russian life, traditions, and history Russia Will Pursue Democracy On Its Own ; Three security rings will be formed in the Slovakian capital during the Russian-US presidential summit Google: on Security & Biological Weapons
• · · · Opponents of Communism Seek Prohibition of Party and its Symbols The Big Ban; Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I’ve never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears and a trunk, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame. When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame Don't think of a dragon
• · · · · Those watching from the sidelines as the reputation of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross further implodes over his housing scandal have the right to be very confused - Everyone loves a political scandal ; If this be the case (and I'm not sure that it is) for a Christian, is the basic issue whether it is more moral to kill or be killed, with numbers have nothing to do with it. And is it reasonable to raise the question of whether it is only an assumption that it is necessarily better staying alive, at any cost. From here the moral debate spirals. For me, the clear message from Christ is that dogma itself is the trap, and that the golden rule is that 'as you judge so shall you be judged' And boy, can I judge: It pays to be prudent on morality in world politics
• · · · · · A decade after the Royal Commission into the NSW Police Force: Bloodied room cleaned by police ; Businesses had a legal responsibility to provide enhanced security at workplaces to thwart terrorist attacks Terrorist targets warned on duty of care

We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He choose this as the way in which they should break, so be it.
-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Be Who You Want To Be
Your child is on the blocks, ready to swim the 50-metre freestyle. You zoom in so close you can see her nerves, even behind those tinted goggles. Just be careful that you don't pan to the left or right to check out the competition.

Sharyn Brownlee, the NSW president of the Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations, says parents should be forced to seek permission from schools to film and photograph their child - and only their child - at swimming carnivals, school plays and other events.

Even as teenagers, my girls spend hours sitting in the rumpus room going through the album of the photographs when they were little. They sit there and laugh for hours at the way they pulled faces ... did all the strange and wonderful things as babies and little girls. We treasure all those January swims every year which were run by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Each year they moved to the next level getting different colour ribbons and swimming caps. The program took them to many pools from Hefron pool to Scots College diving blocks Granbrook indoor pool is also in the photos. There are great memories of Wilston Friday club days, netball at Waverley Park and the ballet classes at the Bondi Pavillion or Bondi Road Art center. A lovely group shot of a sign created by Alex stating Sasha the Potato Masha ... Most of the photos were taken by me in order to keep their grandmother in Europe up to date with their changing faces; others were taken spontaneously by friends ... It is a sad generation which is driven to the stage of deciding the lesser of the evil that started to grow by the Wall of the Darlinghurst Road and spread to every corner of our suburbs :-(
Sign here to take that poolside snap [Deserted playgrounds, childhood obesity and spiralling diagnoses of behavioural disorders - these are the legacies of over-protective parenting which has spawned a generation of cottonwool kids At risk - children's wellbeing and school excursions ; Not everyone wants to know when that child or parent shows up Years after, a knock at the door ... ; Books @ Salon ]
• · Melting the Cold River

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A mere $5000 will buy you a seat at Mr Carr's table at the East Circular Quay restaurant ARIA on February 28. There has probably never been a more accessible Premier. The Premier will be joined by his new Treasurer, Andrew Refshauge, to discuss "infrastructure and the economy." Mr Mark Arbib said there had been a "strong response" to the dinner series. "There's a lot of interest in the new cabinet," he said.
The Greens upper house MP Lee Rhiannon slammed the dinner series as another way of "buying influence and buying favours" from the Government Lofty views and Carr access for $5000 a singing pop

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Freedom House

The February 13 issue of Parade Magazine in the States ran contributing editor David Wallechinsky’s list of “The World’s 10 Worst Dictators,” along with Wallechinsky’s “Dishonorable Mentions” list (i.e., No.s 11-20). An explanatory note told us that he prepared his list “after consultations with Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders---human-rights groups that have not hesitated to expose the policies of dictatorships on both the left and the right.” Parade Magazine‘s website even provided links to each of these four organizations. The list itself was prefaced with the following insight: “Leaders with absolute power too often abuse it.”

The World's 10 Worst Dictators? [ ; The Premier, Bob Carr, vetoed the purchase, allowing Kerry Packer's PBL to move in Buying SuperDome was seen as cheapest option ; SOMETIMES there are perks in a premier's life -- and, if the smirk on this one's face was anything to go by, yesterday was one of Bob Carr's perkier days as six leggy showgirls greeted him at the Sydney launch of Mel Brooks' The Producers Premier's razzle-dazzle ; Bob Carr (Australian politician) Wikipedia ]
• · Federal State Relations ; The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that subcontractor Alstom had warned BHEgis it was failing to perform vital maintenance and was breaching its agreement with the Government. Meanwhile, Premier Bob Carr has called the M5 East manager who scheduled roadworks to avoid parliamentary sitting days a dunce ; The ALP will review the party's rules governing the conduct of councillors in local government, several ALP local government representatives having been named in corruption inquiries Tony Kelly
• · · Donald Boudreaux, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -Wrongheaded notions about the economy are always in high supply. Most calamitous was the idea that central planning outperforms the market. The pulverizing poverty and tyranny of the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and similar Workers' Paradises have ended that particular illusion. Other less disastrous but equally mistaken notions about the economy remain on the loose -- for example, that tariffs promote prosperity. Capitalism & Slavery ; The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must, wrote Thucydides 2500 years ago and, given the state of anarchy, distrust and chronic insecurity in which states continue to exist, that remains true today. Moral standards can and should be applied to foreign policy, but the morality that is appropriate to the soiled, selfish and dangerous world of power politics is a modest one. Its goal is not perfection - not utopian bliss - but decency. It is, more often than not, a morality of the lesser evil, of prudence. Prudence requires that one is often prepared to settle for half a loaf, rather than making the best the enemy of the good
• · · · By Debra Saunders - How does freedom slip away? It doesn't happen all of a sudden, without warning. It erodes in stages. One day, you read that an employer has fired four employees because they refused to follow the company's no-smoking policy -- including not smoking in their own homes on their own time -- and that's OK because you don't smoke. A year or two later, employers go after your pet vice -- eating, tippling, maybe snowboarding -- and then, such a policy is an outrage Where There's Smoke, You're Fired ; Warranty insurance is important for consumers and those who want to lie and thumb their noses at the requirements can expect to be rubbed out themselves. NSW Trade Union movement erasing people from existence - Freudean Slip. Who will get rid of that trader? (traitor) John the don ; Melbourne Airport's mystery leak Thousands stranded, 57 sick as gas mystery deepens
• · · · · Twenty-seven years after handing his baby boy over for adoption, Tony Abbott received the phone call that changed his life forever Discovering Daniel ; Google and Tony Abbott
• · · · · · The anti-Bush billionaire supported lawyer who aided terrorists Soros Funded Stewart Defense; Hardly... ; The bitter chill in the air will not be confined to the weather in Bratislava when the US President, George Bush, renews his acquaintance with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in the snow-covered Slovakian city this week Not quite Cold War, just a cool welcome

Like many a corporate executive, Intel President Paul Otellini rarely deviates from the company line in public. But read Otellini's blog and you'll see what he really thinks I applaud companies that engage in this kind of dialogue. It shows courage and a real interest in hearing from the company on all levels The only Intel executive reading Cold River is Andy Grove ;-)

The Blog, The Press, The Media: If I Had a Blog
The bloggers are here, and they are ready to knock down the iron curtain and get their pound of flesh. The traditional media has no idea what is about to hit them.

In every major conference, at every major speech, sitting at tables in restaurants, there is going to be a blogger or podcaster with microphone, PDA, Videophone, laptop or paper and pencil in hand. Listening. Taking notes. That information is going to be transmitted to and from a blog entry and placed in the hands of "the readers."
Unlike celebrities who hear or see the flash of the camera, the gatekeepers don't know they are there. Blogging in plain site. Questioning everything.

Bringing Down the Media Iron Curtain: I'd write more columns like this one [ People's Republic. Pedicure time. No toothpaste ; peek at what's hot (or what's not) in the ever-widening world of web logs ]
• · Husband-and-wife team build a startup into a trailblazer The darlings of the blogosphere ; Beat the metropolitan elite with the tactics of US conservatives Bloggers will rescue the right
• · · Workers with Web logs are everywhere, and they're starting to make corporate America very nervous Have a blog, win better job? ; While he celebrated the blogger’s ability to uncover breaking news, he noted that a blog’s inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader But Pa, Everybody's Doin' It
• · · · Sydney Blog Summit ; Silicon Insider: Internet Politics ; Blogosphere politics
• · · · · A. Sullivan, Sunday Times Society is Dead. We Now Live In Our Own iWorld ; In an interesting yet not surprising reaction to the passing of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, he is being referred to as the original blogger. Clearly this is not meant to be taken literally, as the blogging phenomenon is relatively recent and Thompson didn't keep a blog or even an official website. However, with more and more bloggers paying tribute to the man as one of their main inspirations and with the question "Are bloggers journalists?" being debated almost daily, this brings an intriguing debate front and center. Blogfather: the self-described alternative news and underground culture destination disinformation
• · · · · · Blog Flog: Web loggers, journalists argue over who covers news ... Blogs vs. Mainstream: Let the Battle Begin ; Google: The blog squad can add another notch to its belt

Monday, February 21, 2005

Slavoj Zizek on The Not-So-Quiet American

The geopolitical realities continue to evolve in a direction that most descent people will certainly not relish. It's time to talk to Pyongyang: Negotiating with dictators is odious, but the alternatives are far worse. It's Time To Talk to Murders
Gaddafi's son to buy Darling Point home at Darling Point Road in the street where Alex was conceived during the optimistic fever of the Velvet Revolution of 1989 ;-) Welcome Mat?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: PM, Paul Martin, is having problems
The prime minister will probably survive a sleaze inquiry. Will that allow the old Paul Martin to stand up?

As Prime-Ministerial occasions go, being questioned for more than four hours at a judicial inquiry—broadcast on live television—hardly ranks among the most agreeable. Indeed no serving Canadian prime minister had suffered such an indignity for 130 years. In the event, Paul Martin acquitted himself rather well when he appeared as a witness before an inquiry into sleaze on February 11th. But 15 months after succeeding his fellow-Liberal, Jean Chrétien, Mr Martin, a successful finance minister for almost a decade until 2002, cannot quite shake off the impression that Canada's top job is too big for him.

Mr Dithers and his distracting fiscal cafeteria [It is a characteristic of charmers that when they suspect they may have caused offence, they calculate that a sufficiently charming apology should get them off the hook. But the trouble with charm is that it makes things worse if the people it is aimed at have seen through it. Which is why Tony Blair's attempt last week to confront his own unpopularity by talking like a marriage-guidance counsellor about his relationship with the voters had most people reaching for the sick-bag Tony Blair is right to be worried about his unpopularity ; A man who shouted buffone (buffoon or clown in Italian) at Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was fined 500 euros ($652) by a Milan court Costly insult ]
• · Thailand, how one of the more peaceful, successful democracies in Asia disintegrated Advise Given by Parliamentary Marco Polos Helped ;-) ; Why both sides think they have everything to lose ... NSW police lawyers have lodged a series of complaints with the corruption watchdog about the conduct of the former police minister, John Watkins, and some of his most senior public servants Watkins payout reported to ICAC ; Senior Liberal joins attack on 'rorts' scheme
• · · The international community has long ignored the activities of a certain network of black-market arms dealers. As a result, extremely dangerous missiles have fallen into the wrong hands. The large weapons stockpiles left to rust after the end of the Cold War fed an illegal arms trade network spanning Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to supply weapons to warring factions in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa The dealers have disregarded UN sanctions and armed anyone who had cash ; Counter Terrorism blog ; Me (sic) mate & Partner in crime-blogging, Petr Bokuvka, might ask unGannon-like questions ;-) Ani Bush Ani Putin
• · · · The reason I tend to select the Naked Eye stories is usually because Alex Mitchell & Kerry-Anne Walsh find an angle overlooked by other journalists. Sandra Lee also seems to be highlighting the angles which will matter in the future: A regular newsletter from the NSW Labor Party’s administrative committee, called NSW Labor Political Briefing, gives a cruel indication of the party’s attitude to its fallen federal leader Mark Latham. The latest bulleting mentions Latham’s resignation in a single paragraph while the departure of former treasurer Michael Egan receives more than half a page... Meanwhile, the recycled Labor leader Kim Beazley has a new deputy chief of staff. He is John Whelan, son of former NSW Labor Council boss, John Whelan and nephew of former police minister Paul Whelan (he made a fine government leader at the Legislative Assembly who employed the most friendly staffers such as Lyn). Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is about to become the most unpopular politician in State Parliament by forcing a clean-up of MPs' jealously guarded superannuation scheme and their taxpayer-funded allowances Greens ready to cut pollies' perks ; Jeff Shaw, QC, slipped quietly back into the familiar surroundings of a courtroom last week.
• · · · · Naked Eye also asks Say that Again Bob? When former Paul Keating speechwriter Don Watson declared war on the mangling of the English language with his two maverllous books, Death Sentence and Weasel Words, he reconed to have an ally in Premier Bob Carr, a persistent advocate of the practical and coherent usage of the English language. But in his speech outlining the NSW Government latest efforts in the war in terrorism, Carr produced some howlers (see hard copy of the Sun Herald) ... Osama Bin Laden will be trembling in his slippers and Watson will be gnashing his teeth; Premier Bob Carr is under fire for failing to provide the funds and political commitment to improve rail safety in the wake of the Waterfall and Glenbrook disasters, which claimed 14 lives. Fourteen people died in two train accidents and still Bob Carr is playing for time Brogden's fury over rail terrorism ; Parents and teachers are alarmed that the push to reduce kindergarten class sizes this year has resulted in a blow-out of pupil numbers in other grades and an increase in composite classes Anger at class size blow-out ; NSW Traffic Services commander Chief Superintendent John Hartley ordered the body of a man killed in a freeway pile-up to be removed on the back of a tow truck because he was worried about the safety of officers at the scene Road victim's body taken away on back of tow truck
• · · · · · From the Progressive Government Institute, a wealth of data is available on the President's appointees from this website, which offers users the option of locating specific information via graphical charts for each agency, or using keyword searching on fields that include: Appointee Name or Title, Appointee Job Function, and Nominee Name or Background Searchable Database of the President's Appointees ; You know about "bollards"? Well, it isn't enough that John Howard's Government is spending $11.7 million walling itself in in the national Parliament in a project the bureaucracy quaintly calls "security enhancement". But $2.26 million of the cost is buying 220 "special" steel bollards from the Americans as part of this "enhancement" because Australian bollards "aren't up to specification" Politicians' self-importance never comes cheap; How grassroots action, participatory initiatives and new structures for participation might make a difference Getting over post-election blues

The New York Times press release confesses: Our core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and disseminating high-quality news, information and entertainment. We do this at all of our properties and the same is true of About. Ranking in the top 15 most frequently visited sites, is one of the Web's most popular destinations. Its network of nearly 500 experts, known as guides, create Web sites on thousands of topics – from personal finance to consumer electronics, to history and geography Compelling Strategic Benefits For Future Growth

The Blog, The Press, The Media: The News That Fits
So much of leadership literature is about doing things right, that the term "leadership" itself has come to imply goodness. But not all leaders are good. World history and our own life experiences have taught us that.

Now Barbara Kellerman, of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, has put bad leaders under the microscope. In her book "Bad Leadership: What It Is, Why It Happens, Why It Matters," she argues that, "To deny bad leadership equivalence in the conversation and curriculum is misguided, tantamount to a medical school that would claim to teach health while ignoring disease." In order to lead well, we need to learn from those who have led poorly.

She illustrates each type with real cases, from Juan Antonio Samaranch's flawed stewardship of the International Olympic Committee, to William Aramony's sticky-fingered direction of the United Way's fortunes, to more recent bad leadership names in the news like Skilling and Saddam.
Be loyal to the whole and not to any single individual ...
Leading Badly [Full disclosures, please Gates, Spitzer, Bezos at SABEW meeting ; Long criticized for its brand of journalism, The Washington Times makes a habit of publishing the work of extremists — including the wife of the newspaper's managing editor The Evans-Novak Political Report ]
• · The blogosphere, or the universe of Weblogs, continues to explode exponentially The Coming of ; If the news media were a stock market, the blue chips would be tanking. The establishment names that everyone used to trust have crashed in credibility and prestige, and are now living through their own Great Depression. Top executives at bastions such as The New York Times, CBS News, and CNN have been leaping from the highest windows in the business Why Blogs Are Like Tulips
• · · You're too young to know about the cafeterias. Blogs are nothing like the cafeteria. Well, maybe a little, but not that much. Go ahead though, Scott Go ahead and chop that kettle ; Why businesses should blog and how to do it effectively By Robert Scoble & Shel Israel Hot off the press: They have a publisher! On a personal note, Shel is a kindest blogger in the entire world; I mean it! Mark my words. I've been in this business for 25 years, and I think this has all the marks of a winner
• · · · There have been a number of articles in recent months on privacy issues associated with search engine queries. offers a quick review of how data from public sources is aggregated and returned in search results via services from Google, Yahoo and MapQuest. Is It Too Easy To Find People On Google? ; The scale and speed of online threats is growing Secret Service says Internet fraud threatens economy
• · · · · The reaction is a bit like that of primitive cultures believing cameras could catch your soul ...Created by tech pioneers Adam Curry and Dave Winer, podcasting offers "amateurs" a means by which they can create and disseminate information on issues great and small, special interests and news, that listeners download and listen to on their PCs, iPods or handhelds. A How-To Guide is available from ; Clutching a microphone and leaning over a laptop on the coffee table, they praise the beauty of the Red River, now frozen on the edge of town, and plug an upcoming interview with a top-ranked professional walleye fisherman. Then they sign off Tired of TiVo? Beyond Blogs? Podcasts Are Here
• · · · · · Bill Gates’ Czech Agenda; Hands up who misses Steve Liebmann? It's only been a week. The new boy will be fine. That's not the point. The old boy was great. He was professional. He was cool. He had hair. He didn't insinuate his own politics into an interview. Even his passions (let's not dwell on an image of a passionate Steve Liebmann) could be held in check, unless some courageous Australian had kept him up half the night during Wimbledon. It's not that I hate change, but who doesn't? ; So freelance photographer Steve Malik was taking some photos of MUNI Metro. Suddenly, a hodgepodge of fuzz came and tried to arrest him. But get this: there's no statute in the books to prevent people from taking photos of city property Photographic Protest

As you should know by now, I’m easily amused... These resentniks have destroyed the canon yet Lifting Us Up To Do: Let a Thousand Harold Blooms Bloom
It is, alas, the way we love: we are always taking the names of the dead or past characters and applying them to others: I mean all human beings are like this. Sometimes one succeeds, sometimes one fails. But in the end, in the end one is alone. We are all of us alone... we all live at the heart of a solitude... we all have the consciousness of mortality... I've taught tens of thousands of students, and some of them occasionally come back or send me a letter and let me know that something was communicated to them, that something in their spirit is a touch less lonely

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Standing the Test of Time

Time was when Cahners Publishing was the king of trade publications, owning such titles as Publishers Weekly and Variety. No more. The company has been piecemealed to death into a shadow of its former self

The Cahners have left the building [If you were to believe the advertising agencies, sometimes it was egg-shaped, sometimes a cigar called Hamlet, while John Lennon assured us it was a warm gun. It is the thing we desire most, but it can’t be bought. We’re talking, of course, about that elusive concept known as happiness Happiness is no laughing matter ; It seems that the heart wants what the heart wants -- and it can figure it out fairly quickly Falling in Love in Three Minutes or Less ]
• · Single-child families are increasingly common - so why do parents who refuse to have that second baby arouse such hostility? The one and only ; What happened when the Girls Who Had It All became mothers? A new book explores why this generation feels so insane Mommy Madness ; If "50 is the new 30", as they say, with luck we may try for 80 becoming the new 60 Age of the silver surfers
• · · A writer friend once described the brief history of an advertising campaign she worked on that never got off the ground — and thank God, because it sounded so draconian it could have sprung from the loins of Joseph Goebbels himself Does counterculture = consumer culture? ; Some people get high on crack. Other people hyperventilate over vintage Deron Douglas covers Drinker with a Writing Problem ; What thrills us depends on our personal hopes, fears, loves and desires A Robot That Measures Cold Rivers
• · · · The Crikey Army Books that have been pulped for legal reasons ; In the end, it came down to two great offers from two great publishers We Have Our Publisher!
• · · · · Anthony Sher discusses adapting Primo Levi's If This Is a Man for the stage. Sher tentatively distilled If This Is a Man into a first draft without checking on the rights. He then discovered that the Primo Levi estate had decided never to allow anyone to film or stage the book: I respected them for their stance, because the blood does run cold to think of what Hollywood at its worst would make of that book ‘Iron Curtain ... Auschwitz? It's just lunacy ; Bruce Elder reviews a book by Don Chipp entitled Keep the Bastards Honest. The book opens with vintage Chipp berating all Australian politicians for their gutlessness and lack of moral fibre in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Chipp makes good, pragmatic points about the nature of politics. He reflects on the sheer awfulness of a politician’s life and realises that when it comes to truth in the life in modern politics, his boast to keep the basdards honest has very obviously failed. He is one of the rarest species on Earth. A popular politician
• · · · · · Ach, we all remember Red Dean Reed who was an American and the biggest rock star in the history of the Soviet Union. He was so famous his icons were sold alongside those of Josef Stalin. Reggie Nadelson first saw him in 1986 on a TV chat show. A rock star behind the Iron Curtain my friends knew. But few people in the West had ever heard of him. Six weeks later Reed was found dead in a lake in East Berlin. Was he murdered by the CIA? The KGB? A jealous husband? The Russians gave him a Lenin Prize. He was their American. Comrade Rockstar is not just the story of Dean Reed's progress from Hollywood starlet to Cold War Cowboy, but an account of the search that took Reggie Nadelson from Denver to Berlin, and from Hawaii to Moscow. As she travelled, the Berlin Wall was breached and Dean Reed became an increasingly alluring figure, his life an unrepeatable tale from the Cold War. Nadelson captures the seedy, often hilarious subculture of Soviet rock ’n’ roll. He was the embodiment of the whole Eastern Europe’s dream about Amerika ; Dean's death was not a shock for me. I think he committed suicide because that's what a hero must do. When a human really wants to become something, he does. It demands enormous strength. He died having absolutely ruined himself. Dean, in his way, became what he wanted. He did something. He was truly a tale from the cold war From the land of the drowned...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Arbib, son of a Libyan-born, Italian-speaking father, is one of the architects of a strategy to weld the votes of right-leaning federal Labor MPs from Queensland, Victoria and NSW into a solid bloc that can be delivered to Beazley as and when he needs it At first glance Mark Arbib appears an unlikely ALP powerbroker
Dissent is un-American and therefore justifiably punished by a fine, imprisonment Kids Say the Darndest, Most Stalinist Things

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Courage Under Fire
While having Byrnes as a big player might be poison for the share price, Sydney Gas executives have an even bigger PR disaster on their hands: a swag of celebrities campaigning to thwart the company's mining ambitions.
Leading the charge are the best-selling author Bryce Courtenay, the barrister Tony Davis and the scriptwriter-producer Gary Reilly. They say the mining will destroy the beauty of the Yarramalong and Dooralong valleys north of Sydney and seriously damage the water table. A would-be gas developer is confronting the power not of one but many

Four years ago the Premier, Bob Carr, and the Sydney Gas chief executive, Bruce Butcher, "turned on the gas" about 50 kilometres south-west of Sydney in front of 250 guests.
"NSW contains enormous coal-bed methane [natural gas] resources," the company declared. "However, to this point, no-one has been able to successfully extract methane from the geological province known as the Sydney Basin in sufficient quantities [to make] it commercially viable."
Since then Sydney Gas has gone about its business with varying degrees of success - it is yet to post a profit - and plenty of controversy.

Get it while it is hot [Bear Pit Pollies ; I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith, speaking in the early 1960s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead. Conservatism, he said, was "bookless," a characteristic Galbraithian, which is to say Olympian, verdict Not Much Left ; The word terrorism is on everyone's tongue but what is it? Anthony Gregory gives us his views on the subject in Targeting Civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Let's assume that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified to protect our political and cultural way of life then can't the same be said for the jihadists who see America and western civilization as a threat to their culture. Can you justify one and not the other? ]
• · Putin says Iran is not making nukes — One guy, at least, seems optimistic about Iran's nuclear ambitions: President...If Putin is an ally then perhaps we need a new definition of the word ally ; It hasn't been a good week for the Federal Government, under pressure over Australia's alleged involvement in the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners, the torture of Guantanamo detainee, Mamdouh Habib, and the treatment of mentally ill Australian resident, Cornelia Rau. Interview: Kim Beazley ; For the past several years, the conventional wisdom has been that the United States and Europe have grown apart, that the end of the cold war and 9/11 have produced a strategic divergence that is impossible to overcome. Tensions over Iraq, Iran, Israel, the environment and other issues purportedly demonstrated that Americans and Europeans were going their separate ways A Concrete Strategy for Mending Fences
• · · The craft of politics is expensive and requires increasingly large amounts of money to operate. But, writes Paul Williams, if democracy is to be safeguarded, political parties must resist the increasing pressure donors appear to be placing on recipients of their largesse The rising price of political donations ; Habib: The tortured truth
• · · · Well, the seven judges who we blocked, nothing has changed about them and we're going to try to block them. I mean, the charge of obstructionist is laughable. It seems like, you know, President Bush and his Republican colleagues want one-party rule. Judging Judges ; When David Boies stands up to speak today to lawyers in Miami, he won't use a text, and the odds are that he won't refer to the single-page outline that he always commits to memory when he gives a speech. The Word According to David Boies
• · · · · Ruddock met Israeli 'spy' once, at baggage carousel Only Once ; The third time this happens, I am going to to throw the wake. Ken Bruen has developed an unfortunate habit of being declared dead prematurely. The first time happened last November, when the Galway government council gave him a "vote of sympathy" for his Shamus win, an honor only accorded to the nonliving. After some embarrasment and hilarity, the matter was resolved. But now it's happened again. Phyl [ed. Ken's wife] got a letter from the Inland Revenue commiserating with her on the death of her husband but alas. if art imitates life, than is the acclaimed Galway author Ken Bruen being taken over by one of the sinister plots in his own novels? Who wants Ken Bruen dead?
• · · · · · Early last year, a bill was tabled in federal parliament proposing various changes to the proceeds of crime laws. The effect of these complex changes was that individuals who had engaged in conduct that was illegal in a foreign country but not necessarily illegal in Australia at the time it was committed would now be liable to confiscation orders. If it could be proven that their conduct was illegal in Australia at the time the government applied for a confiscation order then any income earned from notoriety associated with that conduct could be forfeited to the government Mamdouh Habib should be allowed to earn a living ; Iran and Syria declared that they would form a "common front to face threats