Saturday, January 26, 2008

It is always pleasant to gallavant with Polish mates like Christopher and Lidka or Slavek, Izy & Basha on Friday - the pirozky nights. To boot, watching the the fireworks with Greek friends like Vicki, Nicki, George Krys, Jules and my better half when even 3 am the night is still young on Australia Day weekends ;-) Like Poe we appear to have Indulged in a drink, perhaps, as in the past, to treat what he called a long weekend attack ; This website provided light reading on Australia Day I Enjoy Reading this pepper and salt mosaic of what is good and bad or ugly about the land of opportunity

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle As Certain as Death: Methods for fleshing out characters!
This website is a companion to The Buying of the President 2008. Like the book, this site explores the roles that money and special interests play in presidential politics.

But unlike the book, which will provide a behind-the-scenes examination of how big money influences the presidential election process, this site is a work in progress — a continually updated window into the 2008 race that’s also richly supplemented with details, insights, and revelations from previous campaigns and, where feasible, those who engineered them. In addition to details about the 2008 candidates and their political benefactors, for example, the site includes everything from a history of money in presidential politics to in-depth, on-the-record interviews with current and former presidential candidates, consultants and strategists, donors and fundraisers, and academics who have studied the intricacies of the political system. What’s more, the site offers the Center for Public Integrity’s complete body of work on presidential elections, most notably cover-to-cover, full-text-searchable copies of the three previous books in the Buying of the President series."

• My Crown Employee experiences remind me just how Amazingly reliably the lobby groups operate in Australia and Amerika ; Limits to reining in the lobbyists ; Indeed, THERE’S no such thing as changing the government without changing the... country Links of Bespacific links ; The Battle for Bennelong: The Adventures of Maxine McKew, Aged 50 Something Exit Right: The Unravelling of John Howard
• · I was thinking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, with regard to writing, reading, and life. (So I'm a bit of a nerd. This wouldn't surprise any of you by now.) Wikis, blogs and other collaborative web technologies could usher in a new era of science. Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk?; As to how the Heisenberg Principle applies to life -- well, I'm still working that out ;
• · · Over 20 million people in the UK used search engines for accessing travel information in the first quarter of 2007, Google UK and comScore, a research firm, found in a study carried out on online consumer behaviour in the travel sector. Google, comScore track online consumer behaviour in UK travel sector ; A new survey from Carat, a media communications company, found that the Hollywood writers’ strike is not driving viewers away from TV but is affecting their viewing patterns, with 72 percent of respondents watching the same amount of prime-time TV than before the strike, 25 percent of people watching less and 3 percent watching more. Writers' Strike
• · · · One of the things a writer is supposed to do is to strip away the surface of our everyday selves and get underneath what's polished and pretty to the more essential stuff of life. The Dangers of Writing Fiction ; A moment with: Marjane Satrapi, writer, artist and film director of 'Persepolis' Marjane Satrapi

Friday, January 18, 2008

Of course, there’s no equating the artistic talents of teens and the middle aged. Still the spectrum is filled with possibilities … First my daughter Gabriella started to engage her artistic flair on the web and now my mate from the village of Longueville also rebbubles his photographic imaginations. I love the way John put it: Vibrant middle aged male trying to get in contact with his right side brain. Generally clueless ;-)

Turning 50: The price is right to rock back the clock Men behaving badly
I’m a little slow on the uptake about my awareness of noteworthy 2008 dates. On 19 January 2008 AD in The Sydney Morning Herald Susan Wyndham wrote: Turning 50 can be the start of your most powerful decade with a good mix of energy, experience and authority. It's time to let the real you emerge.

But as this writer notes it's not necessarily a turn for the worse: For my 40th birthday, many people came up to console me that at least I wasn't turning 50. At 47, AARP started mailing notices to my house inviting me to join up.
I’m also not overly concerned about my impending journey into deeper middle age and turning 50, so, the recent realization that this milestone in my life also occurs on Easter Sunday (I was born on a Sunday also) is kind of cool. Although I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I find it comforting to think that I may be starting a new life with this odd coincedence.

Life begins at 50. %0 is the new 40?; With Kylie about to turn four-oh, and Madonna, Jacko and Prince the big 50, it’s an issue we need to resolve pronto for fear of becoming culturally disoriented. Can we love our pop heroes when they’re no longer in youth’s first flush? ; Kabbalah comes off well in latest tome but religion professor makes some sweeping statements Kabbalah: The star-studded spiritualism; Fifty is nifty if you’re ‘Smart’
• · Tale of two 50-yr-olds Madonna's face compared to another 50 year-old; What does 50 look like in 2008? How to Be Fabulous after 40
• · · Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Paris Hilton, the list goes on and on (can't forget Madonna). maureena wonders why it's OK for men to sleep around but not Are girls too easy? ; Saga of fame and violence
• · · · My brother in Law John Drayton loves drinking the family wine, but the family history is not so easy to swallow. THE Draytons, the pioneer Hunter Valley winegrowers, have endured much violent and unexpected death since founding members migrated in the 1850s. Half the family was lost to typhus on the voyage to Australia. Curse steals another Drayton

Monday, January 14, 2008

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet.

PS: I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell Paul Kidby site (via Galleycat) The news of my D day has been exaggerated (sic)…

Can we change the heart of reading habits? Judge Says Book Reading/Purchasing Is Private
Court records unsealed last week indicate that earlier this year federal prosecutors had tried to get a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Wisconsin to approve a subpoena compelling to disclose the identity of thousands of people who bought used books online. They were investigating former Madison public official Robert D'Angelo, indicted recently on charges that he ran a used book business of his office and did not report the proceeds as income.

Judge Stephen Crocker turned down the request, ruling that there is a First Amendment right to keep your reading habits private. And the AP says he also "unsealed documents detailing the showdown against prosecutors' wishes."

He wrote, "Well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon's customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases." Crocker added, "The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission.... It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else."

Apparently, "Crocker brokered a compromise in which [Amazon] would send a letter to the 24,000 customers describing the investigation and asking them to voluntarily contact prosecutors if they were interested in testifying."

• Cold River and InkWell partner Richard Pine says: Movies sell books and our goal is to have the highest book-to-film ratio in the business. Patricia's enthusiasm, resilience and contacts are first rate and we are certain that our clients will benefit enormously from the focus and energy she will bring to the presentation of their work to agents, managers, producers, studios and networks Purchasing Is Private; [Printing poetry by using letterpress allows the time to appreciate and feel each word as it is put into place ... The touch of words; Introducing the 'Best Blog Posts of 2007', an anthology of writing from Australian independent blogs over the past year. Best blog posts '07]
• · Desert Island Discs: My All Time Top Ten Tunes; The rise and rise of stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s seems to reveal our growing desire to connect more sensually with food. Food glorious food fresh Zummer bread …
• · The Lees have a long history of libel stoushes with foreign media, battles they have never lost when heard in Singapore's own courts, which grants them damages payouts that set world records. Singapore libel case a test of Murdoch's bona fides; For the first time since Robert Kennedy we have a presidential candidate, Barack Obama, inspiring real interest in America The politics of hope
• · · Punters and Jokies are the followers and fans of stand-up comedians: here is some insider knowledge about their characteristics Punters and Jokies; Part of the richness of any culture is its language and one facet is the vast array of names parents bestow upon their children. What’s in a name?
• · · · If music be food of love we are starved of affection; We may be in the midst of a true paradigm shift away from one true identity to a new worldview based on a plurality of identities Plurality of identities
• · · · · High-tech CCTV technology installed in Sydney CBD
PLAYING up in Sydney's CBD just became harder;
This discussion paper analyses the Howard government’s Regional Partnerships Program, the subject of a recent Australian National Audit Office report. The authors discuss the democratic implications and question the political value of pork-barrelling. PDF file attached Rolling out the regional pork barrel: a threat to democracy?
• · · · · · Murdoch's Australian papers covered the election with an eye to the likely post-poll climate, writes RODNEY TIFFEN Rupert Murdoch and the Claytons editorial endorsements
; Research obtained under freedom of information laws raises questions about the accuracy of the Howard government’s pre-election advertising campaign on internet safety, writes PETER MARES on our partner website, Creative Economy How NetAlert accentuated the negative

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My cousin Andrej Imrich was 60 this week and there is a lovely description of the village where my father and Andrej were born - Little Monastery on the Poprad River
Pilhov is more of a hamlet than a city. It is today incorporated into the nearby village of Mnisek nad Popradom (= Little Monastery on the Poprad River), which is right where the Poprad flows north across the border with Poland. This is in northeastern Slovakia, about 20 miles east of the High Tatra Mountains, in the region former called Spis County.

Imrich is the Slovak version of a firstname (Czech: Emerich), originally from the German Emmerich. There was an early Hungarian prince, Imre (the Magyar version of the name), who became a saint soon after the Magyars became Christians, so the name was always popular throughout the old Kingdom of Hungary. The Italian version of the name, Amerigo, led to the name for America.
Pilhov; Andrej Imrich

Monday, January 07, 2008

If you are visiting Vienna in February 2008 make sure you get the TICKETS for WORLD Premiere ´The Lovers The Outcasts´

The Lovers The Outcasts James Cumes A Playwright’s Commentary

Like so many others, I have always thought the Petrov Affair was a great story that deserved more dramatic treatment than it has so far received.
When it happened in 1954, I was a First Secretary in the Department of External Affairs in Canberra. Some might think I was cheek by jowl with the "nest of traitors" alleged at the time to infest the Department. However, I could claim always to be on friendly terms with Foreign Minister R.G. (later Lord) Casey who coined the expression; and I knew no one with whom I was not then and would not now be proud to associate.
That applies particularly to Ric Throssell whose career was largely and most unjustly destroyed by the Affair.
That I knew several of these people as well as others who were involved in the events in some way or another, gave me - potentially at least - some insights into the "Affair."
For those reasons, I wrote a play, based on it but treating the details of the story with some dramatic licence.
Quite by chance, the play came to the notice of someone keen to have it staged and it was taken up by a theatre company. That was early in 2007. As with most enterprises of its kind, there have been some vicissitudes since but the play is now set for its World Première at the beginning of February.
The story arouses a variety of emotions, personal, political and even of course strategic in so far as it demonstrates the clash of Cold-War ideologies in the second half of the 20th Century.
"Will you be able to get for me any documents or reports about this man in external affairs? Is that possible?" the Australian Security man asks.
"Very difficult but I think I can get something," Vladimir replies.
That is the essence of how it all began.
The “something” and, ultimately, the several things Vladimir “gets,” destroy some people’s lives; and it also appears, in the process to have destroyed much of Vladimir’s own life, as well as Eva's life and his loving relationship with her.
When Vladimir defects, he betrays his cause – whether we regard it as good or evil - his country and his professional ethic. What he opts for turns out to be a boring and rather feckless freedom.
Eva wants to remain loyal to her country and to return to her family in Moscow. She opts to go home – where of course she knows she will have to endure Soviet tyranny and, perhaps, imprisonment or even execution.
But she is vulnerable. She too can be “seduced” or, more accurately, intimidated; and she is. She is “seduced” by fear – fear of those who mean to be her friends as much as fear of those who would continue to abuse her.

The Soviet couriers Moscow has sent to collect her take her by car from Canberra to Sydney. On the way, she contemplates suicide but she arrives safely at the airport in Sydney. There the couriers haul her brutally through a crowd of reporters and public to the aircraft that will take her back to her home and family.
The intent of the crowd is friendly but she finds the scuffle terrifying. She loses a shoe. Weeping and disheveled, she is dragged up the aircraft gangway with her shins and knees scraping on the stairs.
To the watching crowd, she becomes a pathetic object – a victim of coarse, inhuman brutality, inflicted by an evil regime.

The photo (see James Cumes website on Authors den for the photo) of her being dragged into the aircraft becomes part of the legend of the Affair - an icon which, even for us now, symbolizes the conflicts of the time.
An attractive young woman is being abused by thugs.
The apparently obscene use of force is seen to typify the obscenity of the totalitarianism on which the Soviet's communist ideology is constructed.
Her lost shoe becomes a symbol too: a symbol of yet another obscenity committed by an oppressive ideology and regime – a totalitarian communist regime that cruelly mistreats the weak and vulnerable, fragile women included.
Aboard the aircraft, speaking to the crew about the Soviet couriers, Eva tells them “They have guns. They will use them.”

Again, this identifies them as thugs. They must be disarmed. Eva must be freed.
For the Australian Government and its agents who had seduced her husband, it could now not be otherwise. They had to be the white knights in shining armor riding to the rescue. They were obliged to “free” her and – incidentally - use her to denounce communism and those who might be shown to have any link, however tenuous, to it.
“I think I can get something," Vladimir had said.
He kept his promise. Now Eva could join him in keeping it.

Eva became a darling of the media. She was described as beautiful, elegant and a leader of women’s fashion. “I found myself publicized like a film star,” she wrote.
They were both used – should we say, fully exploited? - by the Royal Commission on Espionage. In the end, they were denounced by the Commission as people of small consequence who could not be trusted; but the Commission made a significant exception to this judgment. In their “naming” of mostly innocent Australians who had in some way “collaborated” with them in “undermining democracy,” the Commission found that they were "witnesses of truth."

Afterwards, the Menzies Government was securely installed; the Australian Labor Party split. As other events supervened, the media turned their attention to other issues.
Eva and Vladimir would never be forgotten; but they were ignored. Eva had a nervous collapse but she recovered. She and Vladimir were able to live out their lives quietly in suburbia. They may have ceased to be lovers and became outcasts – unrecognized and unacclaimed by either side, except as they would be seen as leading actors in an episode of a historic conflict. In that role, they still symbolize the Cold War and its conflicting ideologies. They also remind us, even today, how human rights can be violated, even by the well-meaning upholders of freedom and democracy, and how personal lives can be shattered in the process of resolving great political and strategic issues.
Prime Minister Menzies won the election of 29 May 1954. He held office until 1966 when, voluntarily, he stepped down. He is still, by far, the longest-serving Prime Minister in Australian history.
Petrov Affair in Austria ; James Cumes
• · Victory Over Want ; Czech actor Marko Pustišek

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I've always preferred prognostication to nostalgia: The Shortest 2008 Trend Prediction Ever... Personality Matters!

My former boss, Dr Russell Cope, who is known for his insight and concerns about libraries is reviewing a book by Alan Bundy on Australian Libraries Cradle to grave ; Around Malabar a stonethrow away from Dr Cope Cafes like Lighthearted (where Ruby’s friend used to live, on the corner of the lovely and wide Anzac Parade at Malabar also Matter Next best Coffee after the Lighthearted Café is the Café on the Bay

Books Glorious Books Throwing the Book at Them
We wonder if the officials behind this policy have ever tried to repair a bad credit report — an experience that rivals Dante’s “Inferno.” Check it out

It turns out the library can do more than just shush you. If you accumulate enough unpaid late fees, some New York libraries are ready to hit you where it really hurts: your credit score. They have reported millions of dollars in such bad debts. Most people make good before their creditworthiness is damaged. But there is something chilling in this kind of threat from a library.

What Libraries Stand For; Love that book? Love that Cold River? Then set it free ; The nature of an opinion blog means that most of the opinions expressed here about links that irritate or inspire or entertain me Letters; This is my third and last post about what my move from old to new media dragons has taught me. In the first, I discussed its dynamism, in the second its amazing level of clarity. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog: The Endless Conversation
• · Young adults are the heaviest users of public libraries despite the ease with which they can access a wealth of information over the Internet from the Young adults are the heaviest users of public libraries ; It is a conflict that is fading from living memory, but a “blog” from the trenches of the First World War has become a surprise hit on the internet. Soldier’s ‘blog’ from WW1 trenches is internet hit ; Reading? It's already covered You can keep your e-books, thanks — the paperback is perfect as is. ; Australian Library Collections The Naked Truth about Literature and Life ; Cold River: The Cold Truth of Freedom
• · · Technorati made changes this week to the way it counts inbound links for purposes of determining its blog rankings. Technorati Makes Changes To Blog Rankings. Big Hit For No. 1 Engadget ; Best Blog Sites ; Time Magazine's 50 Best Web Sites (Time Uses Flex?) ; Wanted: Single dot-com Yenta seeks ambitious Mr. Big with deep pockets for a long-term relationship. Parent of Dating Sites Looks for a Match
• · · · Famous Blogs - Blog Of The Day Awards - Top Blog Awards - 2007 Weblog Awards ; Amazon Kindle: Kool or Krap? My Top 10 Stories of 2007; Instead of just jotting down the top trends that have a high probability of success and therefore are safe as predictions, I thought it would be interesting to first look at what the best bloggers have to say and see what the implications are for manufacturing, then go out on a limb and make some predictions. Predictions 2008: Fighting Back a Recession and Increasing Trust

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

We are drowning in information
and starved for knowledge.

-John Naisbitt, Chairman of The Naisbitt Group

My favourite time of year is the period between Christmas and New Year. It's like a week of Sundays. No one expects any work to get done, the streets are empty, the pressure is off. Just getting dressed feels like an accomplishment Why I love Christmas

At this special time with family and friends I love stories that remind me of what’s important in life. It’s also about the power of friendship and of family…and maybe not taking life so seriously. The transnational family, nourished by email, chatrooms, long-distance calls and SMSs has increasingly become a feature of migrant communities. The Best Gifts Are Simply Love And Understanding

"I'm not saying it's The Da Vinci Code, but there are aspects to it that make you think of it. There's a lot of art, a lot of history and a lot of religion in it." Borders' Zan Farr says it's her "personal favorite" of the season. Cold River - Winter books preview: Warmth, fire and chills await book lovers this season

The harmonic richness of Newspaper Cold River Book Coverage, Ups and Downs A flood of reviews geared for 2008 V Grinch Stole Christmas
Chicago Sun Times books editor Teresa Budasi wrote about the Grinch Who Stole the Books Section, telling readers on Dec. 23 "the Books section in its current form will cease to exist after today," citing "the economic climate of the news business." Reduced weekly book coverage has been merged into the Sunday Show section of the paper, along with other arts and entertainment coverage.

As Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas celebrates its 50th anniversary -- complete with a new retrospective edition (Random House, 82 pages, $24.99) that includes 32 pages of commentary and archival images on the history of the Grinch -- the Books section in its current form will cease to exist after today.

How the Grinch stole the Books section ; On the other hand, next week the New Orleans Times-Picayune "will debut The Reading Life, which will feature expanded coverage of books and the New Orleans literary scene each week on the cover of Friday's Living section" instead of Sunday coverage. They promise "new features devoted to book clubs and reading groups, literary movers and shakers, and expanded bestseller lists." Reading Life: THE BELLS IN THEIR SILENCE
• · Bookish pessimists are elitist and wrong: the Internet is good for you. Stars in the Net sky ; Ever vigilant, the mass media dug into a critical social issue and rooted out the information in their never-ending quest to guarantee the people’s right to know. Oops! The media did it again; In Cold River The characters always want what they don’t have.
• · · Identity theft is something that has been around as long as fraud itself. A gram of caution is worth a ton of remedy ; “My house is just a huge expensive brick weighing me down”, writes a homeowner on a Swiss political blog. The Swiss are home free
• · · · Anorak of Cold River Links To Things: Best Of The Web; It was probably inevitable. As one of Tony Soprano's sidekicks observed in a classic episode of the TV series, the two most resilient sectors of the economy are organised crime and certain aspects of showbusiness. The aspects, that is, known as the world's oldest profession - now mixing it with the world's newest technologies Organised Crime ; The Minister for Ports and Waterways, Joe Tripodi, yesterday appointed Mr Greiner to develop a new system for accessing the port amid lengthy ship queues Greiner to tackle coal ship standoff