Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Suburb of Surprise

On balance, policymakers enjoy possessing and using power. They tend to be decisive and confident. They are also fundamentally comfortable with themselves, and they are not particularly self-critical or willing to accept criticisms. Analysts tend to distrust power and those who enjoy exercising it. They are usually more comfortable with criticism, especially in giving it. Basically, they have questioning personalities.
- Period of the Velvet Revolution when wisdom ruled L. Keith Gardiner, "Dealing with Intelligence-Policy Disconnects,” Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 33, No 2, Summer 1989

We have replaced the absolute truths of God’s word (the Ten Commandments) with our own relativism (the ten suggestions). Life is a constant battle against this natural law of decay. We fight to protect our marriages from the numbing effects of living in the grind of routine. We are constantly introducing new programs and agendas into our churches and institutions to stir new life. Aging is like a slow descent into a miry quicksand. We diet, we get surgeries, we frantically exercise to fight off this universal enemy. We fight on valiantly even though no one ever wins this battle. The life of America parallels the life of any person. It arrived as an infant. It struggled through its teen-age years. It gloried in the strength of its youth and prime. It then feels the atrophy of age and it will eventually find its rest under a tombstone in a graveyard of empires

Enough with America’s tread-so-carefully literary culture, says Dwight Garner. Criticism isn't for uplift. It’s for straight talk, a little humor, and above all, an argument A Critic’s Case for Critics Who Are Actually Critical

A “writers’ writer” is more marketable dead than alive... The Suburb of Surprise

“Modern classic” is a fuzzy term. Does it mean anything at all? At least this: A “writers’ writer” is... more marketable dead than alive (Steve Jobs)

It begins with an adjectival spotter’s guide (“Contemporary . . . Provocative . . . Outrageous . . . Prophetic . . . Ground-breaking”, etc) before moving on to some diffidently expressed first principles. There is talk of such items possibly leading to “great movies”, of the breaking down of “barriers”, whether social, sexual, or, in the case of Ulysses, the “boundaries of language itself”, even of something described as “pure classic escapism”. All this is both oddly dispiriting and, in its multi-angle framing, curiously indiscriminate: mysterious and elusive the quarry may be, but it can always be brought down, you infer, provided enough buckshot is stuffed into the cartridge case. It is also something of a red herring. At any rate Norman Collins’s London Belongs to Me, elevated to Penguin Modern Classic status in 2009, belonged to none of these categories. It was simply a sprawling, sub-Priestley best-seller from the 1940s, put there on a sponsor’s whim.

What makes a modern classic?; Word counts or Australian spell Czechers are actually pretty minor problems Fairfax's dark cloud [ Mirko Zorz, Help Net Security, 8 Aug 2012. This year's novelty is actually scammers using their own fake shortened URL services, has grown from the unrelated activities of a few into an industry in its own right. The Industrialization of Fraud Demands a Dynamic Intelligence-Driven Response ]

• · The smaller, quieter half of the magician duo Penn & Teller writes about how magicians manipulate the human mind Magicians; A team of Swiss researchers thinks it has created an algorithm capable of tracking almost anything — from computer viruses to terrorist attacks to epidemics — back to the source using a minimal amount of data. The trick is focusing on time to figure out who “infected” whom An algorithm for tracking viruses (and Twitter rumors) to their source

• · · The ’Ndrangheta mafia is extending its reach into the north and beyond. Can Europe come up with a response? Mafia Book Reviews of note ; Culture thrives on conflict. Warfare, terror, and bloodshed nurtured the Renaissance in Italy. Peace and democracy in Switzerland gave rise to... what, exactly? A Point of View: Are tyrants good for art?;Three young women who staged an anti-Putin stunt in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral, and whose jailing became a cause célèbre championed by artists around the world, were convicted of hooliganism on Friday and sentenced to two years in a penal colony. We are happy because we brought the revolution closer! Pussy Riot protest pits church against state

• · · · Witold Gombrowicz settled in Argentina, far from the Polish intelligentsia. He loved catastrophe and lived in penury. He wanted to maroon himself Daily Disaffirmation; What would you do with more leisure time? Explore the mysteries of space and time? Or brawl, steal, and drink? Working 9 to 12

• · · · · The tools of hard science – statistics, data sets – have migrated to the humanities. Want to study social networks in Beowulf? You’re not alone. But what’s the point?. Humanities aren’t a science. Stop treating them like one ; Robert Hughes had an aversion to pretense and a knack for the withering putdown. He tried to save art from the art world Robert Hughes: A Fierce Critic and Powerful Voice Now Silenced ; Steve Jobs is a paragon of entrepreneurial intensity, a role model. Or is his a cautionary tale, of an abusive boss with a broken family。 Jobs has been dead for nearly a year, but the biography about him is still a best seller. The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale?

• · · · · · Public Service Departments and Agencies should spend more time and money training their staff in the use of social media, according to former Gov 2 strategist Craig Thomler Call for PS to call up social media; State Conference ENGAGE. COLLABORATE. INNOVATE. Getting serious on customer service David Leslie, Australian Taxation Office Sandi Logan, Department of Immigration & Citizenship