Monday, August 21, 2017

Confetti of Stories: Swiss man charged for spying in German tax evasion case

“Give it everything you’ve got. Leave nothing out there.”
(Andy Murray)

PREPARING FOR AMERICAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN AUSTRALIA: Rice and Stanford play Down Under on August 26 Even busy Icebergers and Commishes will binge on the game ...

Inside Story
“It helps a [person] immensely to be a bit of a hero-worshipper,” Sir William Osler remarked in 1889, “and the stories... Dear media dragon readers,  my heroes, consider reading more

Virginia Woolf on the eclipse of 1927

Debunking the Myth of “Free Speech”

Contrary to widespread misperceptions, we’ve never had free speech in America, and there are good reasons why not.

Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere

The state's Auditor-General recently warned that Sydney's trains will increasingly struggle to run on time unless "sustained and substantial investment" is made in the existing heavy rail network. Rail patronage growth has been outstripping both the government's forecasts and the rail system's capacity to cope

Like clockwork, the Turnbull government keeps making bad decisions that only result in humiliation. Bernard Keane at his cracking best. 

ONE OF the staples of parliamentary theatre is confected amusement, when MPs on one side or another, on cue, roar with laughter like extras in an opera. With Labor MPs struggling to stop themselves grinning from ear to ear this week, there’s been little need for fakery.

The government’s conspiracy theory about Barnaby “The Maungatapere Candidate” Joyce, and its insistence on doubling down on it yesterday in Parliament, turned question time into a farce of an altogether higher order than it normally is. Shambles of A Government shambling through Shambolic shambleathon

Opal figures show skyrocketing passenger demand on Sydney train ...

Passenger demand for trains in Sydney has risen by almost 20 per cent .... Transport Minister Andrew Constance told a business gathering on ...

Senate investigates tech failures

US agrees to give Australia additional intelligence to chase tax...



Lecturer fires up on LinkedIn after being faced with empty classroom Hungarians have the best sense of humour and the absurdity of life ...

CHANGE:  IBM Watson Makes a Treatment Plan for Brain Cancer Patient in 10 Minutes; Doctors Take 160 Hours

HEALTH:  Brain scan study adds to evidence that lower brain serotonin levels are linked to dementia: Results suggest serotonin loss may be a key player in cognitive decline, not just a side-effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

The White House nonetheless issued a statement Sunday saying Mr. Trump “includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups” in his condemnation. As so often with Mr. Trump, his original statement missed an opportunity to speak like a unifying political leader.
Yet the focus on Mr. Trump is also a cop-out because it lets everyone duck the deeper and growing problem of identity politics on the right and left. The politics of white supremacy was a poison on the right for many decades, but the civil-rights movement rose to overcome it, and it finally did so in the mid-1960s with Martin Luther King Jr. ’s language of equal opportunity and color-blind justice.
That principle has since been abandoned, however, in favor of a new identity politics that again seeks to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, gender and even religion. “Diversity” is now the all-purpose justification for these divisions, and the irony is that America is more diverse and tolerant than ever.
The problem is that the identity obsessives want to boil down everything in American life to these categories. In practice this means allocating political power, contracts, jobs and now even salaries in the private economy based on the politics of skin color or gender rather than merit or performance. Down this road lies crude political tribalism, and James Damore’s recent Google dissent is best understood as a cri de coeur that we should aspire to something better. Yet he lost his job merely for raising the issue.
A politics fixated on indelible differences will inevitably lead to resentments that extremists can exploit in ugly ways on the right and left. The extremists were on the right in Charlottesville, but there have been examples on the left in Berkeley, Oakland and numerous college campuses. When Democratic politicians can’t even say “all lives matter” without being denounced as bigots, American politics has a problem.

A picture of John Wayne lords over a recent op-ed by Professor Amy Waxof Penn Law and Professor Larry Alexander of USD Law titled “Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.” In a nutshell, the professors argue that if everyone went to school, got married to their biological opposite number, and stayed married for the kids, everything would be fine in this country.
John Wayne was a twice-divorced college dropout

The rise of domineering firms may have sapped the US of the competition needed for "creative destruction". Big business around the world may have become too powerful, to the detriment of the economy. This emerging school of economic thought is gaining traction among reputable economists and investors in the United States. The potential problem deserves serious analysis, devoid of the typical simplistic ideological fights between capital and labour.

How America's corporate giants are hurting the economy |

The government is poised to pass the biggest changes to media regulation in more than 30 years and there are a number of potential deals which could reshape the sector with the first out of the block a possible resolution of Network Ten's ownership

Media changes could see a wave of mergers and acquisitions | afr ...

Party pill kingpin Hugh Robinson loses appeal against conviction

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Existentialism A Will to Survive: Bondi Icebergs

Sartre compared human freedom to skiing, but he really meant surfing. The action of imposing our will on the world is like riding a wave  
CHANGE: Why 40+ Is The New Age Of Fitness. But don’t think you’re going to get a “Photoshop physique.” “Believe me, you will never look like the guy in the magazine, the guy in the magazine doesn’t even look like the guy in the magazine.”

Story image for icebergs bondi from The Australian

Bondi Icebergs on tour: Escape from Alcatraz

But two links between San Francisco and Sydney live on 

Between 1849 and 1851, the San Francisco waterfront was overrun by one gang — the Sydney Ducks. They were a group of ex-convicts from Australia who found their way to the gold rush mining town in the wild west coast of America. They terrorised the lawless town by burning one area to distract the authorities while looting the unattended side of town.
A Committee of Vigilance — a lynch mob set up by shopkeepers and citizens fed up with the inaction of the police — caught some of the leaders and publicly hanged them in an attempt to restore law and order. But two links between San Francisco and Sydney live on: the Bondi Icebergs Club has a sister-club relationship with San Francisco’s South End Rowing Club, mimicking the bond between the cities of San Francisco and Sydney.
Every two years the San Franciscan club attempts an Escape from Alcatraz 
swim of 2.4km in 14C fast-flowing, murky waters that run down from five rivers past the fortress island, Alcatraz, out to the Pacific Ocean at more knots than I could count on ties at a royal wedding.

Making it even more nerve-racking, there is only a 40-minute window of opportunity to swim in calmer waters before the tide changes — just 40 minutes before the water runs back into the bay with the same urgency.
Alcatraz was set up in 1850 as a fort on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay by the US government to protect the goldmin­ing town from foreign invasion, and later was turned into a military prison. In 1934 it became the state penitentiary and authorities boasted the prison was inescapable. It housed the most notorious criminals, the best known of whom was Al Capone, who spent four years in the cold cells, and admitted the jail “had him licked”.
It was closed in 1963 because of disrepair, the year after three men attempted an escape through the icy waters on rafts made from prisoners’ raincoats. They were never seen again and are believed to have disappeared in the treacherous currents.
We faced two swimming challenges: to swim away from Alcatraz and, the next day, to swim under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke

Eighty-odd swimmers travelled in two small chartered boats to the east side of the island and received a few quick pointers from the swim director, who pointed out some landmarks to the left of a small, 50m opening of the San Francisco Aquatic Park.

Wear two swim caps to stop the ice-cream headaches of the cold water freezing the brain; rub shampoo into the goggles and wash it out, to prevent the lenses from fogging; and take 10 quick deep breaths to help stave off hyperventilation.

Then, one by one, jump in and, oh yes … SWIM!

An earlier briefing gave swimmers tips on what to expect and, more important, what to aim for, the most important landmark being a disused navy troop carrier ship that looked huge when we floated past it on the way out.
But it’s almost impossible to make out from Alcatraz and at water level: navy ships are designed to blend in with the environment. The goal was to head for this navy ship or keep a set of twin-tower apartment buildings — happily named “the David Letter­mans”, after the gappy teeth of the former American late-night television show host, — at two o’clock for the whole journey.

In the last 200m you’d hopefully find yourself pleasantly placed to use the “flow” to sweep you into the narrow 50m gap between the two piers of the entrance to the San Francisco Aquatic Park and enter calmer waters after the washing-machine qualities of the tidal action.

Then — all going to plan — we would be able to swim back to the club, be treated to Irish coffees by a rugged-up young lady, and shiver all the way to the men’s sauna, where the tales of the adventure would be recounted over a bottle of whisky and unabashed bohemian nudity.

We, the Bondi Icebergs, who jump into our winter waters for training with blocks of ice on the first weekend of May, in swimming pool brine at 17C, would not be swayed by the legends of Alcatraz. The myth says no man has escaped alive because of sharks, currents and the icy waters.

We jumped in with our sluggos — bathers with the words Bondi Icebergs proudly stamped on our posterior — swimming caps and goggles (no other accessories are permissible), only to be outdone by a SERC member who had his birthday on the day — and swam in his birthday suit.

Eighteen Icebergs were among 80 men and women from both clubs, including a 16-year-old Ice Cube (the name we give swimmers under the age of 18), the youngest Australian male to cross the English Channel, which he finished the week before attempting this swim.

Despite all the briefings and excellent organisation, with strong support crews surrounding us, the swim didn’t go to plan.

The unpredictable flow of the water put the David Lettermans at 10 o’clock instead of two o’clock for most of the swim.

We had to swim hard up against the current most of the way, in the freezing water, with no time to think about the seals that wanted to play with us, fascinated by our presence, or about the possibility of sharks, then had to contend with a morning fog that rolled in quicker than a Tony Abbott anti-Turnbull comment.

There was also the threat of huge container ships that seemed to turn up unexpectedly, as they did during our second swim under the Golden Gate Bridge the next day.

The first two Icebergs to reach the beach after the 2.4km swim, were not in the men’s only sauna.

Young Ice Cube Ned Weiland, (35.14 minutes) and Lauren Spears (35.48 minutes) were dressed and tucking into the pasta, garlic bread and coffee breakfast well before any of the older men could shake off the shivers in the small steaming hot sauna box, with the shared bottle of whisky handed around by the birthday boy.

Eric Lobbecke has been a member of Bondi Icebergs for four years and is an illustrator at The Australian.

Iconic Bondi Icebergs dives into a proud new era 

HAVING weathered a few storms, the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club is entering a new era ahead of its 90th birthday in less than two years

Bondi Iceberg v Abercrombie and Fitch 

Land of Cold Rivers and Strange Memories

Dark and gritty crime stories set in the cold Slavic landscapes...

I love a great quote, don’t you? The best quotes make you think. And they often articulate much clearer, what you want to say. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 b.c. said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”1 In plain English, that means that you cannot step into the same river twice because you are changing and the river is changing. However, there is a deeper meaning to the quote for those who ever manager to finish reading Cold river 

U.S. officials disclosed earlier this month that six Americans were struck by a mystery illness believed to be caused by a covert sonic device in what many think was a clandestine operation targeting U.S. personnel stationed in the communist country.
The number of Americans impacted is greater than previously disclosed, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Free Beacon that those suffering from symptoms of sonic damage appears to be more than 10.
“It’s definitely in the double digits,” one source told the Free Beacon.
The mysterious incident has roiled the relationship between the United States and Cuba and has raised more questions than answers in Congress, where lawmakers are finding their inquiries about the situation stymied.

Book Review: “Bad Samaritans”, by Ha-Joon Chang Ian Welsh

Cold River: Netflix Plans To Spend $7 Billion On Content In 2018  Streaming Observer

Game of Thrones S7 E5 Eastwatch: Cersei still surprises as family truths get revealed

Travel photo tips: Beautiful Florence, filming location for Hannibal

Game of Thrones: Two Finish girls, Tiia Ohman and Satu Walden, have found show locations

Fangirl Quest: A Film Tourism & Travel Blog

Backpacker’s Checklist | 22 Absolutely Essential Diagrams You Need For Camping
Germans who swim to work

Art enriches life and helps engage us with mortality. And so Robert McCrum, after a stroke and a fall, began to catalog his inventory of Dissolution  

Another Day in the office: jonaspeterson_alienskinexposure012

A Pilsner beer cannot continue to be a beer drink over time, unless it’s in constant movement. Fire can’t remain fire unless it’s inconstant movement. A river can’t remain a river, unless it’s water continues to flow. Or as Heraclitus says:
"Changing, it rests...

"On those who enter the same rivers, ever different waters flow– and souls are exhaled from the moist things" 
"We step and do not step into the same rivers, we are and we are not" 

In the first fragment, Heraclitus suggests that we do step into the same rivers, even though the water in these rivers changes. The second fragment raises interpretative problems of its own, but here too  Heraclitus speaks of the same rivers.
"The world, the same for all, neither any god nor any man made; but it was always and is and will be, fire ever-living, kindling in measures and being extinguished in measures" 
Fire is clearly very volatile and is in a constant state of change, but  nonetheless Heraclitus is suggesting here, it doesn’t change in respect of being fire. In fact, Heraclitus was reported by Theophrastus as suggesting that the change that an object undergoes in one respect can account for its stability in another respect:
"Things which have this movement by nature are preserved and staytogether because of it– if indeed, as Heraclitus says, the barley-drink separates if it is not moving" (Theophrastus, On Vertigo 9).

The world is an unjust place where the good go bad from never being rewarded, where the truly wicked are very rarely punished and where most folk zigzag between the two extremes, neither saints nor demons, tacking between heartache and joy, their fingers crossed, knocking on wood. Every person split in two, each with a fault around which good and evil spin.

We were on the track that splits the Great Salt Lake exactly in two. Because of the railroad ballast, the lake is divided in half, and the composition of the water isn’t the same in both halves. The northern side is full of wine-red algae, but on the southern side it’s green. The clouds were perfectly mirrored on the surface and took on the colours of the lake. The train rolled along slowly. The air was warm and soft. There was no sound; it was as if the universe had come to a standstill. Right then, I had the feeling that I would never again be hungry or cold or in pain or afraid.
Bathroom quote
<strong>WHO:</strong> Pia Muehlenbeck <a href="">@piamuehlenbeck</a> <br><br> <strong>WHAT:</strong> YouTuber, Fashion and travel blogger, and Founder of SLINKEE Activewear. <br><br> <strong>TOTAL FOLLOWERS:</strong> 1.5 million (1.4 million followers on Instagram)

This book, Good Reader, though a balm to you,
shames its creator and should go unread.
Although he spoke as a living man, he was
(or should have been, for destiny’s sake) dead

The ancient Greeks had color words for “pansy-like” and “wine-like,” but never sea or sky blue. Can we understand their descriptions if we can’t see as they did?  color words 

Caging Skies

Turning a novel into a script is tricky -there have been some spectacular failures on screen and on stage. But the team behind a stage version of Christine Leunans' Second World War novel Caging Skies is confident they've made it work. So's the author. Lynn Freeman speaks to the writer of the stage play Desiree Gezentsvey and to Christine Leunans.
       This has been making the rounds in recent days, and the 'infographic' at Global English Editing, The Most Iconic Books Set in 150 Countries Around the World, is closer to hit than miss than most of these kinds of exercises. 
       'Set in' doesn't necessarily mean 'from', so some of these aren't local; a bit of non figures in along with the fiction: there are some very strange choices (Beowulf is the best they could come up with for Denmark ? The Bridge Over the River Kwaifor Thailand ?); and quite a few countries are ignored (including a whole swathe of Africa, from Mauritania to Niger, Eritrea, and Djibouti (come on, Abdourahman A. Waberi'sTransit is surely the obvious choice)). Still, you could -- and generally do, with these sort of internet list -- do a lot worse. 

       As "three titles of contemporary Slovak fiction are set to be launched on the Anglophone book market" just now, Eva Andrejčáková reports on How to sell Slovak books to English readers in The Slovak Spectator. 
The main problem remains the same as it has been in the past -- Slovak literature is a big unknown in the UK and does not have the supporting pillars as Czech literature does in the tradition of Hašek, Hrabal, or Kundera.

Naked I slid down the rim into the cold water.  While my body sang at the delicious knowledge of what it was to swim I wept again for lost memories


Not to be confused with Ghana (which it occasionally is), Guyana literally translates to ‘Land of Many Waters’. Which helps explain Australian photographer Matthew Dunne's latest photo series.


New: a Sydney Crime Writers’ Festival!

At last, Sydney is to have its own Crime Writers Festival, called BAD. There's been a need for this for years - the Sydney Writers Festival does a fine job, but crime can only ever be a small part of what it does. Meanwhile, the audience for crime books - fiction and non-fiction - has been booming. Home inspection,text,font,calligraphy,label,

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Sydney crime novelist Megan Goldin will be appearing at this year’s BAD: Sydney Crime Writers Festival. What is this thing called Domestic Noir?
Inaugural Sydney MEdia Dradon Crime Writing Festival