Thursday, February 25, 2010

Virginia’s Visit from Bristol what an earthy title for a brilliant novel ...

Whatever you do avoid a movie named Being in Heaven as it felt as being in Hell when Media Dragon watched it.

But watch and enjoy Crazy heart as we live on the thin ice of unexplained phenomena The whole world's crazy but me and thee

Second generation Hollywood, his dad Lloyd Bridges was a major heart-throb in the 60s, Jeff Bridges admits having famous parents made it easier for him to be successful in Hollywood. A hokey story about a washed-up country singer is rescued by a wonderful performance by Jeff Bridges who shows off his musical as well as his acting talent in Crazy Heart. ; Based on a 1987 novel of the same name by Thomas Cobb, this film is a quality romantic drama that carries considerable punch. Jeff Bridges adds an expertly developed and totally credible character to the gallery of movie drunks. Jeff Bridges, nominated for an Oscar for Crazy Heart, believes the secret to success lies in a four-letter word: Love!

The Way of All Debt Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
Legendary novelist, poet, and essayist Margaret Atwood delivers a surprising look at the topic of debt. In her wide-ranging, entertaining, and imaginative approach to the subject, Atwood proposes that debt is like air - something we take for granted until things go wrong. And then, while gasping for breath, we become very interested in it.

Payback is not about practical debt management or high finance. Rather, it is an investigation into the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies. Margaret Atwood writes “These are not lectures about how to get out of debt; rather, they’re about the debtor/creditor twinship in the broadest sense – from human sacrifice to pawnshops to revenge. In this light, what we owe and how we pay is a feature of all human societies, and profoundly shapes our shared values and our cultures.”

Payback is not about practical debt management or high finance [ BBC; Massey filled with dangerous ideas ]
• · What I’ve learned from 30 years of teaching The Merchant of Venice - Paula Marantz Cohen has been teaching literature for 30 years, and “the longer I teach, the more I enjoy teaching Shakespeare. As I grow older and wearier, his plays seem to deliver greater matter and art in a more condensed and lively way than any other text I could choose. To be clichéd about it: Shakespeare offers more bang for the buck.” If we want a happy ending, at some point with Shakespeare we must draw a line and close our eyes to the injustice an ending may entail Consider Shylock, My Students, and Me - By Paula Marantz Cohen; while gasping for breath, we become very interested in it ; debt as an ancient and central motif in religion ; Putting the U.S. Debt Problem in Perspective - Due to massive increases in federal spending, the economic future of the United States looks gloomy. The interest cost to "carry" the U.S. public debt was $383 billion in Fiscal Year 2009 and is estimated to exceed $700 billion by 2019. Taxes can be increased only so much before taxpayers rebel by working less or voting incumbent politicians out of office. Another alternative--monetary expansion--also has limited potential for paying down the debt: it leads to rising prices and, eventually, rising interest rates, which would make it harder to sell U.S. debt abroad Could the U.S. Default on its Debt?
• · · Seeking How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous, by Emily Yoffe Writing on the walls of filthy liars; Actually all our electronic communication devices—e-mail, Facebook feeds, texts, Twitter—are feeding the same drive as our searches. Since we're restless, easily bored creatures, our gadgets give us in abundance qualities the seeking/wanting system finds particularly exciting...If humans are seeking machines, we've now created the perfect machines to allow us to seek endlessly.
You can't stop doing it. Sometimes it feels as if the basic drives for food, sex, and sleep have been overridden by a new need for endless nuggets of electronic information. We are so insatiably curious that we gather data even if it gets us in trouble. Social bohemian media dragon bandwagon
• · · · JD Salinger's reclusiveness was as famous as his slim output of books. The life of JD Salinger, which has just ended, is one of the strangest and saddest stories in recent literary history A lifetime of celebrity for J.D. Salinger from just one Cold River ; Like many of my fellow pilgrims, I hit adolescence only to discover my autobiography had already been written; plagiarized, in fact, by a man named J.D. Salinger who, in appropriating to himself my inner mass of pain and confusion, had given me the unlikely name of "Holden Caulfield." (You think you had it bad: I come from the High Tatra Mountains, didn't make it through prep school, believe the world divides into two kinds of people, phonies and, well, me.)
• · · · · I’ve been spending some time recently on planet Janacek. You could call planet Janacek the earth inside this earth – the molten planet of passion below the solid, congealed crust. You don’t visit the territory carved out by the Czech composer Leos Janacek without risk; but the risk is not so much to your physical safety as to your emotional comfort. Janacek, as much as the late JD Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, has no time for phoneys or phoneyness Love of the world
; Seldom has a man who wrote so few words attracted so many as J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author who died on Thursday at his remote home in Cornish, New Hampshire, at the age of 91 Google on Loneliness

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Brockman’s Edge question for 2010 asks over a hundred intellectuals, “Is the Internet changing the way you think?” the go-to site for the world’s procrastinating intellectuals

Timothy Garton Ash Cut This Story!
Newspaper articles are too long, encrusted with conventions that don’t add to your grasp of the news

George Orwell’s diaries attest to his deep dread of rats. Perhaps not the only thing he shares with characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four... All day clearing out strawberries, which have not been touched since last year. It seems one plant will put out anything up to 12 or 15 runners ...
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish Or so you’ll think. This season's fashion in conspiracy theories—for those out of the loop of enlightenment—concerns health. The Web sites, marginal cable shows and radio phone-ins are full of tales about how Big Pharma and Bad Government are deliberately spreading diseases or manufacturing scares in order to sell us expensive drugs, gull us into dangerous vaccinations or just simply to create an atmosphere of panic which will allow "them" to take over.

George Orwell’s diaries
[During the Cold War, when Pete Seeger coaxed classrooms full of kids to join him in folk songs, no one saw America’s “singing left” as much of a political threat.
The law of unintended consequences gave a quirky twist to the relation between the Old and New Left and, in the process, lent peculiar accents to America’s musical and political culture that we can’t seem to get rid of even today. The folk revival—a fad sandwiched between the beatniks and the hippies—may have been brief, but it was also the baby boomers’ coming of age, and its echoes have been lasting. Bruce Springsteen made a splash in 2006 with his Seeger Sessions. Ry Cooder paid homage to Woody Guthrie in the 2007 release My Name Is Buddy. Sheryl Crow told Billboard magazine that her song, “Shine Over Babylon,” is “very environmentally conscious, in the tradition of Bob Dylan. Where Have All the Lefties Gone?
; Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history, giving the West a better understanding of its adversary. Today, we need a jihadology
In 1945, the United States faced a dire threat. The rising power of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism in Eastern Europe -- and, soon enough, worldwide -- represented a new enemy that imperiled postwar hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world. The United States was poorly equipped to comprehend, let alone respond to, this emerging global danger. The federal government had few experts who spoke Russian or had a deep knowledge of Russian history and culture; universities were barely better off. The field of Soviet studies emerged as a response and became the catalyst for a network of area studies programs that would soon follow.
Sovietology was a powerful force in Cold War history ]
• · Formulaic book-beat stories: how Writer A struggled and made it big, how Writer B’s novel is marketed, or Writer C’s huge advance. Bob Thompson tries to avoid the formulas... The opening piece, “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” begins with a description of the San Bernardino Valley, east of Los Angeles, and of “the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves.” Three pages later, with an October Santa Ana bearing witness, a dentist’s wife named Lucille Miller watches her husband burn to death in the family Volkswagen. By the time I emerged from this sinister dreamscape I had overshot my bus stop by a mile.; The French Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery – embodied perfectly in the story of Jean Moulin... As we approach the 70th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's historic broadcast from London on 18 June 1940 that inaugurated the French Resistance, interest in the story remains undiminished. It is, though, increasingly difficult for the French to fit the Resistance into their collective memory of this difficult period. There is a prevalent British misconception that the French exaggerate their glorious Resistance exploits-everyone claiming a "resister" in the family-in order to gloss over the darker aspects of the Occupation. In truth, those darker aspects are as present in public discussion today as the Resistance. Every school in Paris has a plaque reminding people of the role played by the Vichy state in the deportation of the Jews. The Resistance continues to excite the imagination because of its sheer drama and mystery
• · · Timothy Garton Ash’s technique lies in a mixture of reportage and judgment, circling and deepening, as the one reinforces the other.
Promote a conspiracy theory, and your phones will be bugged, your office burgled (but not robbed), your hard drives fragment, and your emails vanish. Or so you’ll think. The problem of evil and the origins of the devil, who has inspired Goethe, Heine, W. S. Gilbert, Paul Valéry, Berlioz, Gounod, Turgenev and Randy Newman, to name a few Strange footnote ; Upper mismanagement. Why can’t we make things anymore in America? Two words, says Noam Scheiber: business school
• · · · As tattoos go mainstream, it becomes hard for criminals to signal their devotion to crime. They look more and more like ordinary citizens.. It is a truth universally acknowledged that messing with a guy who has facial tattoos is a really bad idea. Getting dirty words tattooed on your eyelids—a popular choice, judging from the mug shots available online—is a serious commitment. It is, as social scientists say, a “signal that is costly to fake.” The bearer of a facial tattoo announces to the world: I expect to be in prison for most of my life, or to hang out with people who consider prison experience a character reference.; The moral triumphs and failures of leaders carry a greater weight and volume than those of non-leaders. In leadership we see morality and immorality magnified. Leaders are human. That is their strength and their weakness. As humans, they are unpredictable creatures, capable of extraordinary kindness and cruelty
• · · · · Toys for Boys; Bankers

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Fourth St Valentine Malchkeoun ;-)

Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
-St Francis of Assisi.

Great teachers, Like Mrs Chamilova or Dr Cope or James Cumes, can’t be identified in any reliable, objective way. They have a gift: some mystical quality we revere but can’t replicate.
For years, the secrets to great teaching have seemed more like alchemy than science, a mix of motivational mumbo jumbo and misty-eyed tales of inspiration and dedication. But for more than a decade, one organization has been tracking hundreds of thousands of kids, and looking at why some teachers can move them three grade levels ahead in a year and others can’t. Bohemian Alchemy

Media Dragons: You know people have tried to put us off as being crazy Literary magazines were once launching pads for great
Literary magazines were once launching pads for great writers and big ideas. Is it time to write them off? VQR editor Ted Genoways wonders...

It is impossible to write about such a book as Best European Fiction 2010 without also writing about America's disinterest in such a book. American literary culture is insular? Oh, yeah? Are Czechs all that taken by fiction coming out of Denmark? Do Latvians groove on Philippine poetry?
With Eric Rohmer, as with Mozart, Austen, James, and Proust, art was not just about life. It was about discovery and design and reasoning with chaos. TO those of us who have seen all of Eric Rohmer’s films it is impossible not to remember when, where, with whom we saw each one. I even remember the second and third time I saw his films. “My Night at Maud’s,” “Claire’s Knee,” “Chloe in the Afternoon” are grafted onto my life. Something happened between me and these films at the Thalia, at the Brattle, at the old Cinémathèque, or at the old Olympia Theater on the Upper West Side. But I can no longer isolate what that something is. I don’t even care to know what was exclusively Eric Rohmer’s and what was mine, what he was ever so cautious to convey and what I most likely misunderstood completely. The mix, as sometimes happens, becomes the work of art.

Once [Emotions trump rules. This is why, when we speak of moral role models, we think of their hearts, not their brains. Frans de Waal explains Empathy's not a uniquely human trait, explains primatologist Frans de Waal. Apes and other animals feel it as well, suggesting that empathy is truly an essential part of who we are The Evolution of Empathy ; Russians can go nutty when it comes to dogs. In Moscow, stray dogs, like Bessie in Austria, have recovered their genetic wolf roots. They have also learned how to board subways and where to step off. All by themselves... Russians can go nutty when it comes to dogs named Bessie or Bestia ]
• · With morality, we build a castle in the air and then live in it. It has no objective foundation, but it is a real castle You can say the same of money.; Irving Thalberg knew he was fated to an early death. This made him impatient with mediocrity and ambitious for success in his limited time Mortality
• · · Teenage peasant girls in the Middle Ages did have occasional religious visions. Few went on, like Joan of Arc, to lead armies. ...Joan of Arc belongs to that select club of historical figures (Shakespeare, Napoleon, Lincoln, Churchill) who are so endlessly fascinating that new biographies appear on a virtually annual basis. And this is to say nothing of endless literary and artistic portrayals—in Joan’s case, by everyone from Shakespeare to Shaw to The Simpsons. ; Was Joseph a drag queen with his “coat of many colors”? Did Ishmael molest Isaac? Maybe not, but the Bible is more risqué than many would prefer “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and He took the bone of Adam’s penis and made him a woman.” ... Er, wait, wasn’t it from one of Adam’s ribs that Eve was created? Not according to Ziony Zevit. A professor of Semitic languages at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles Zevit posits that the Hebrew word tsela (literally “side,” but traditionally translated as “rib”) employed in Genesis refers in fact to Adam’s member. Adam’s Family Jewels
• · · · With wine, “as with women and horses, the real best is second best.” Wine lover Roger Scruton apparently means it, too... Wine Lovers; You know people have tried to put me off as being crazy. Thelonious Monk was only too willing to use the notion to his advantage. "Sometimes it's to your advantage for people to think you're crazy." He ought to have known. Monk was one of only a few jazz musicians to appear on the cover of Time magazine (others include Louis Armstrong, , Duke Ellington and Wynton Marsalis) and was celebrated as a genius by everyone who mattered Dave Brubeck
• · · · · I’m a misfit,” David Gelernter says. Yes, and a fiercely independent one, like his hero, the visionary prophet, William Blake Can you know something you don't know you know? I’m a misfit,” ; Slovak born Andy Warhol is everywhere. He’s in Europe. He’s in Asia. He’s quoted in papers every day. He has energy still. He’s just, you know, still alive.. Who Fears a Free Mikhail Khodorkovsky? Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s fate stands as a warning, not only to Russians, but to the West. Why is the Kremlin so afraid to see him set free?...
• · · · · · When Rilke died of leukemia, he did not want to know the name of his disease. For him, all that was worth knowing was in his poems... Leukemia ; Paybacks

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Media Dragons believe there's more to love about tax season than most people realize. To spread the love, H&R Block is offering what may be your smartest Valentine's date ever. Make a date with H&R Block this Valentine's and pay only $14 for any H&R Block At Home online product if you register Feb. 12-14. You will receive the full menu of advanced features that H&R Block At Home Basic, Deluxe and Premium offer
It's not often that we see an editorial article that prompts us to get the scissors out of the drawer to cut it out of the Extra.
My partner and I recently spend a week in Hawaii. It intrigues me that we left on Friday night, and arrived on Friday morning.
I rang home to see if we’d already left but had to leave a message on the answering machine. Travel expands the mind. We met new people, experienced fantastic scenery and attractions, and created havoc on the Honolulu Freeway.
I also learnt about humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Airline flights are another matter.
Flying cattle class means Jenny Craig meals, Corolla legroom, abysmal movies, and airline bobsession with Fosters. And other people’s kids. For eight and one half hours, we were in a flying crèche.
Crying, tantrums, seat kicking, playing in the aisles and oblivious parents. “It’s OK dear, we’ll be there soon”. No we won’t. We’ve only just flown over Auckland, you dill. Parents need to control their children or be seated in a special area. Some consideration please. - GK Flying solo - Always being positive can become a negative

To run with extra’s theme, is anyone else fed up with the constant publication of letters expressing frustration at trivial annoyances in people’s day today lives? Personally I had to stand quite close to someone on the train this morning and got wet in the rain. Anyone care? Thought not. –CY Don’t sweat the small stuff

How I make the rich even richer: catching the mood of my generation From parliamentary failure to beaurocratic (sic)absurdity: Who are the liars in your life?
Tax Prof Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU) has a forthcoming novel, Getting It (iUniverse, 2010)

Bill Doberman is a liar. He's also a conniver, a phony, a hypocrite, and a cad -- and those are his good points. But will it all be enough to save him on the Night of the Long Knives -- when his law firm, Ashby & Cinders, picks, at most, one new partner -- coming up in just six weeks?
His fellow associates hate him. The partner he's working for wants to destroy him. And does Mr. Cinders, sitting at the top of the food chain, even know who he is?
Not to mention what Lyla will do if she catches him being unfaithful again ...
"Evelyn Waugh meets John Grisham. Hilarious and gripping." Tax Prof Joseph Bankman (Stanford)

Liars ; [I tend to bounce in and out of communism and capitalism and I have found something nice to say about nearly every ism I have experienced. Except Political freedom ; The irony of dictatorships is that when democracy emerges from their ashes, it is sometimes the ex-dictator's top generals who, metaphorically speaking, pound the nails in the coffin of the dictator and make it possible for civilians to keep the military away from the helm of power. This was the case with the successful democratic transitions of Spain, Portugal and Greece many decades ago, and with those of Chile and Argentina more recently, as Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains in his latest column. The irony of dictatorships ]
• · Tax, Wheatley and a tale of two Wickenbys ; That encounter moved Mr Egan to … claim he had been "intimidated and terrified" by "the big, burly Usher of the Black Rod", who had approached the Treasurer " in a threatening way with his rod over his shoulder
• · · Jonah Lehrer wrote in December about how psychologists are learning more about how the creative brain functions, using the example of a simple but powerful experiment among college students. One group was given the smallest permission to think fearlessly, and they jumped at it ; Past;
• · · · The former staff member, who was not named, made a protected disclosure to the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Russell Grove, in January claiming Ms Paluzzano falsified the pay records of her parliamentary staff In an email to Mr Grove, the former staff member said he was accused of threatening Ms Paluzzano. I argue that I was simply trying to fulfil my responsibility to the NSW Parliament of reporting conduct that I find questionable ; The revelation that former public servant Terry Charles Spence had turned whistleblower came as a surprise to everyone Parliamentary embezzler blows whistle on MPs ; Mark D'Arney
• · · · · A lot of hype and hyped-up criticism have accompanied the launch of the iPad. The critics have missed the point. The iPad is not a netbook or scaled-down laptop. It is not a workhorse loaded up with functions and hardware. It is a platform for story-telling, interactive, personal and immediate Insanely, Fantastically, Brilliantly Amazing ; Reminding the world to get a little Insane

Media Dragon is drowning in tablet rumors which keeps thinking differently
Some fads in the world are not just drawing attention but also make one wonder as to how there are blind followers to every trend. Apple and other Fads

The sad truth is, we have the tax system we deserve. We have not paid enough attention to what is being done in our names in Washington, so we are where we are. We won’t get a simple, fair, and efficient tax system until we demand it. So far, we have not -- but hope springs eternal. Lack of transparency is a moral hazard

Inch Past the High-Water Mark Advisors to the Affluent
They are bankers, but you won’t find one at your local branch of the NatWest.

They earn multimillion-pound salaries, either at a flat rate, on commission, or by owning their own companies and equity funds, investing more than £300 billion on behalf of their clients every year. Often public-school and Oxbridge educated, they are influential and charismatic, yet their names and faces are largely unknown to the public. Until now, that is: for the first time, Spear’s Wealth Management Survey has listed the Top 50 wealth managers in Britain in a Power Index.
Their job is to look after the megabillion pound assets of the super-rich — wealth that only 25 years ago would have been secreted away in offshore accounts. The 1980s Big

Super rich [The lesson is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is - An American citizen suspected of being behind a massive tax fraud scheme was extradited from Israel to the US massive fraud case ; “Another crazy idea popped into Bill Comiskey’s head: What if the tax department required banks to turn over their customers’ mortgage applications? “ Ideas ]
• · Estate agents, journalists, bankers and politicians are generally deemed the professionals least esteemed by the general public. But as the acrimony over how to repair the public finances intensifies, some parts of the tax profession are gaining pariah status as well. Working in tax: system struggles with complexity ; Two things are certain about moving money overseas: First, it’s necessary if you want to shield at least some of your savings from the capital controls, wealth taxes and confiscations that will (not might) be imposed by over-indebted governments in coming years. Second, there’s a whole ecosystem of predators waiting to exploit the first-time offshore investor’s inexperience. So knowing the risks and how to avoid them is crucial
• · · President spokesman denies any grounds for suspicion in motives behind decisions. Pitr has been a fugitive from Czech justice since 2007, after being convicted of tax fraud Klaus pardoned criminals linked to gang ; The conversation can last less than 30 seconds. But it's an exchange that has resulted in criminal fraud subpoenas, felony charges and jail time for business owners across New York state. And it usually goes something like this: Unfortunately for the store owner, the customer is really an undercover investigator with the state Department of Taxation and Finance. New York prowling for tax cheats
• · · · For me it began in the early 80's when I worked at the Parliamentary Library Your first Apple, or how it all began... ; Above Law ;
• · · · · Apple tablet: Next big thing is here - Apple fans eager to swallow the tablet. If you're reading this Wednesday and you haven't heard of the tablet, I'll wager you a MacBook Pro that by Thursday you'll have heard more than you can read … The veil was finally lifted on one of the most hotly anticipated gadgets in technology history tonight as Apple's Steve Jobs held aloft the iPad, Apple iPad: the wait is over – but is it future of media or oversized phone? ; iThing: The Best Tablet Spoof Yet - Apple launches the iPad, its 9.7" colour screen tablet, which aims to rob Kindle of growing ebook market and be hottest gadget in technology history iPad on Google