Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sharpening Stories

I’m full of the feeling of emptiness,
An abundant famine
boils me in my soul’s fevered fields,
and this strange waterless boiling
startles the image in my poem
to life.
I watch the new-living picture,
a peerless rose
blush across the page!
But barely has she first breathed
when streaks of smoke begin
to obscure her face and fumes
consume her perfumed skin.

Marie Kondo and her tidying enemies: ““I was always more comfortable talking to objects than people,” she told me.”  

On the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, James Glenday tells the story of his family's wartime hero.
Fromelles: One man's story of Australia's darkest day 

What Is a Constant Cycle of Violent News Doing to Us? Nothing good. I always say that if I ever quit blogging, it’ll be because I can’t take following the news anymore. It’s depressing.

Dark side to NSW politics: Eddie Obeid and son Moses charged over $30 million coal deal 

Duncan v ICAC

Death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go
— Jean de La Fontaine, born on this date in 1681

The Strand was founded in 1927 when Fred’s father, Benjamin Bass, a son of Lithuanian immigrants, became enamored of books during his lunch breaks from a fabric store job on Fourth Avenue, then known as Book Row, and decided to open his own bookstore.
Strand's literary quiz

To be 50 is to feel like an old coin: "worn – worn down and worn out.” Or so memoirists of a certain age tell us. When did midlife become a problem to be solved?... MEdiaDragon

The adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has significantly more weight in this 21st century world of busy-ness

WSj com: “Every day, countless people seeking digital directions on their computers and smartphones are diverted to an isolated spot on the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 miles or so off the coast of Africa, where the Prime Meridian and the equator intersect. It’s called Null Island. This lonely way station in the Gulf of Guinea…is…one of the most-visited places in the world

If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.
                 ~Hunter S. Thompson

My Surreal Vienna:

How My surreal Viennese culture shaped Austrian economics, includes a video on what a painting can tell us about Austrian economics

A simple guide to Brexit trade negotiations, a very good piece with many lessons

(1) Brazil's Aos Fatos turns a year old and transitions from Medium to its own site. (2) Last week's On The Media was all about political lies. (3) Donald Trump requires a change of pitch from fact-checking journalists, argues Jay Rosen. (4) Applications to the fact-checking fellowship close Friday, July 15. (5) Would you, could you fact-check the leader of the free world? (6) PolitiFact Illinois becomes the 18th state affiliate of the Florida-born fact-checking outfit. (7) El Sabueso fact-checks jobs numbers in Mexico.   

How to write tangle-free government guidance:
  It’s easy to get in a tangle writing guidance for GOV.UK. Usually, it’s because too many people want too many different things from one piece of content. As a content designer, you need to know how to manage this.
Melbourne: Rare Books Week 

Panama Papers: India IT deparment approaches a dozen nations to widen probe
You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love...
When governments throw books on the bonfire, it's censorship. When writersburn their own words, it’s … what, exactly? An act of catharsis? Of sadism? Cold Riverism

Our notions of “progress” are fatuous. We embrace empty ideas. We worship celebrity humanitarians. Is the key to real progress simply to forget the past?... Past Tense

And kudos to the Hill for not playing “Name that party.”

Via Center for Research Libraries (CRL) – “The ICON database is the most comprehensive source of information about significant newspaper collections in print, digital and micro formats. The large and growing database is designed to inform library decisions on the development, management and preservation of newspaper collections. Current statistics: 47,222,880 issues from 171,518 publications dating from 16492015.  See more ICON statistics and visualizations. Funding and support for the ICON database has come from the Center for Research Libraries, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.”
8 questions that will sharpen a story idea

As is now well known, the Chilcot Report on the British Government’s planning, execution and aftermath of the Iraq war provided a scathing critique of almost every aspect of the Prime Minister’s and government’s conduct. There is one facet of this deplorable episode that has not yet received any adequate consideration in the Australian media. This concerns the politicisation of the process that led to the UK Government’s conclusion that the war was lawful. Continue reading 

The best and the brightest. Congresswoman Corrine Brown And Chief Of Staff Charged With Fraud Scheme Involving Bogus Non-Profit Scholarship Entity (US Department of Justice). The Florida Democrat allegedly believed charity begins and ends at home:
“Congresswoman Brown and her chief of staff are alleged to have used the Congresswoman’s official position to solicit over $800,000 in donations to a supposed charitable organization, only to use that organization as a personal slush fund,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. 

“Her eyes were dark. Dark as chocolate, dark as cofifee, dark as the polished wood of my father’s lute. They were set in a fair face, oval. Like a teardrop. Her easy smile could stop a man’s heart. Her lips were red. Not the garish painted red so many women believe makes them desirable. Her lips were always red, morning and night. As if minutes before you saw her, she had been eating sweet berries, or drinking heart’s blood. No matter where she stood, she was in the center of the room. Do not misunderstand. She was not loud, or vain. We stare at a fire because it flickers, because it glows. The light is what catches our eyes, but what makes a man lean close to a fire has nothing to do with its bright shape. What draws you to a fire is the warmth you feel when you come near. The same was true of Denna.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss on Malchkeon

A group of Indian mountain climbers took fact-checking into their own hands after hearing some suspicious stories from two fellow climbers. We can all learn something from their methods

If people practised mindfulness and were aware then behavioural economics would be a bit like when Jabba the Hutt said to Luke Skywalker ‘you Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me’ or something along those lines... (extract from the corridors of power)

Some Parliamentarians have been something of a mystery to many of crown employees. Most Werr larger than life in my memory, half disguise and half cautionary tale ...
How Other People Influence You and Why That’s Ok
In his latest book, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the ways in which our behaviour is shaped by others and examines our constant struggle to be optimally distinct—not too different and not too similar.

We can get rid of the Hitlers and the Himmlers, but not the Speers Corey Robin 

Authors and editors. The relationship is symbiotic, fruitful, and fraught. The possibilities for bruised feelings are, of course, endless ...

`He and the Hundred Best Authors' “I say `the great literature’ not because of its aura of cultural strenuousness, but simply because, in the past, there is only great literature. Only the great stands the racket of time and survives from generation to generation; the rest dies for lack of staying power.”

We know little about Dante Alighieri, just his published works and a few letters. But this much is clear: His literary ambition was tied to his anxiety about social status 

If there’s one movie genre that provides a guaranteed escape from the humdrum of everyday life, it’s the prison break movie. The meticulous planning (watch out for those guards!), the high-stakes suspense (will they make it?), the glorious moment when the prisoner finally breaks out of his confines and breathes free… it’s always an enjoyably nerve-wracking experience. There’s something elemental and universal in our desire to root for the (usually innocent) prisoner.  Breaking Away: Ten Great Prison Break Movies

“Gunman targeted whites,” read the lead story headline in the Commercial Appeal, a member of the USA Today network. The headline was accurate, as Dallas gunman Micah Xavier Johnson explicitly talked about wanted to kill white police officers before he was eliminated via robot bomb.
That didn’t stop protestors from gathering outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis on Wednesday to express their displeasure, some holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”
Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham quickly apologized after meeting with the protestors, and wrote an editorial titled, “We got it wrong.”

We live in degenerate times.

Citizen journalists’ have become powerful allies in the fight to afflict the comfortable  

Guardian News and Media’s Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner was speaking to a London crowd about the downsides of our algorithm- and platform-dominated world. (Digiday) She's down on the rise of social media giants, notably Facebook. And the account of her address to marketers concludes, "Journalists themselves have, of course, made mistakes, regardless of digital, for various reasons. But it’s the fact that in the digital era the rumors and lies are read just as widely as the facts, and often more because they’re 'wilder' than real life and more 'enticing' to share..."

Iris Scans, Palm Prints, Face Recognition Data, and More Collected From Millions of Innocent Citizens – “The FBI, which has created a massive database of biometric information on millions of Americans never involved in a crime, mustn’t be allowed to shield this trove of personal information from Privacy Act rules that let people learn what data the government has on them and restrict how it can be used. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed comments today with the FBI, on behalf of itself and six civil liberties groups, objecting to the agency’s request to exempt the Next Generation Identification (NGI) database from key provisions of federal privacy regulations that protect personal data from misuse and abuse. The FBI has amassed this database with little congressional and public oversight, failed for years to provide basic information about NGI as required by law, and dragged its feet to disclose—again, as required by law—a detailed description of the records and its policies for maintaining them. Now it wants to be exempt from even the most basic notice and data correction requirements…”
Schooled in both Aquinas and Marx, Terry Eagleton remains the best advertisement for articulate argument and trenchant literary judgment... Last Revolutionary Judgement 

Early in the Alcatraz Cellhouse Audio Tour, my wife pointed out one of the pictures in D-Block: right next to people imprisoned for narcotics offenses, conspiracy to kidnap, and murder was Mickey Cohen, in Alcatraz for tax evasion Al Capone at Alcatraz ...

Via Motherboard: “Activists have downloaded nearly 100 years worth of TIME magazine issues from the publication’s paywalled digital archive and dumped them all online for anyone to grab for free. “It was possible and seems worthwhile,” Michael Best, a freedom of information activist who obtained the files, told Motherboard in an online chat. In a statement published along with the files, Best wrote, “They’re a useful research tool with a lot of historical news and cultural information. They should be freely viewable online as they would in a well-stocked library, however most libraries lack this complete a collection of TIME Magazine back-issues.”
Here Are the Deadliest Attacks on Cops in the Last 100 Years Vice 

2006. APOLOGY. Blair’s frequent assertion that it is “the world that should be apologising to him rather than him apologising to the world” (appendices 67,886–223,863) seems to be entirely consistent with a homicidal sociopath.

Digested read, digested: Guilty as sin.
Chilcot report by Sir John Chilcot digested read Iraq inquiry

“I don’t suppose anyone, not even the perennially clueless Barack Obama, is surprised that Iran is proceeding full speed ahead with its nuclear weapons program,” John Hinderaker writes atPower Line. “That being the case, why did we give the mullahs the $100 billion? The obvious explanation is that Barack Obama and John Kerry are trying to weaken the United States and strengthen our enemies. That can’t possibly be right, of course. But what, then, is the alternative explanation? I haven’t been able to think of one.” 



Security experts have discovered that the Maxthon web browser collects sensitive information and sends it to a server in China. Researchers warn that the harvested data could be highly valuable for malicious actors.