Thursday, December 14, 2017

The 10 most Googled MEdia Dragons Down Under revealed: 2017 in Photos

“Virtually as soon as humans developed the ability to speak and write, somebody somewhere felt the desire to say something to somebody else that could not be understood by others.”

The 10 most Googled Aussies revealed | Daily Mail Online

St Cath's duo take out national competition | The Singleton Argus

MY DATA, MY CHOICE: Congressman Says Google, Facebook, Amazon Should Pay Consumers for their Harvested Data

I’m A College English Instructor. My Breed Is Dying

“This is a bad time for my species — and a bad time for the study of English. In academe, we are witnessing an extinction of fields of study once thought essential. I teach at a private university that has just canceled majors in English, religious studies, philosophy, and music. The English major is becoming the useless gentleman, the Charles Smithson, of the modern university.”

Roxane Gay, Henry Louis Gates, Margaret Atwood, Hillary Clinton, And Others On The Words That Mattered In 2017

Truth (Gay), roots (Gates), belief (Atwood), empathy (Clinton), ally (Ana Marie Cox), gaslight (Carmen Maria Machado), crossroads (Ellen Pao), collusion (Mitch & Freada Kapor), and others.

WORD SALAD SURGERY: Sarah Hoyt on the Politics of Meaningless Words

UK Public Library Survey: 100 Libraries Closed Last Year

“The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s annual survey of Great Britain’s libraries paints familiar picture: for the seventh year running, the number of branches and paid staff declined. There are now 3,745 branches remaining in England, Scotland and Wales, down by 105 since 2016, while the number of paid staff has declined by 5% compared with a year ago.”

Thich Quang Duc during his self-immolation. Photograph by Malcolm Browne.

For an extreme example of compatibilism in action, Koch points to the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who famously set himself on fire in 1963 to protest the tyrannical regime in South Vietnam and burned to his own death with silent composure, not once flinching from his lotus position. Koch considers the universal truth within the fact of this particular action:

For the rest of us, who struggle to avoid going for dessert, freedom is always a question of degree rather than an absolute good that we do or do not possess.

During the summer break from her graduate studies in Canada, Rumana Monzur returned home to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to tell her husband she wanted a divorce. He reacted with leaden silence.

But a few hours later, he strode into the room where she was working on her thesis, locked the door and pinned her down on the bed. Then he dug his fingers into her eyes, blinding her. He also bit off the tip of her nose, and tore flesh from her cheeks and her right arm.

2017 in Photos: How the First Months Unfolded – “As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most memorable events and images of 2017. Among the events covered in this essay (the first of a three-part photo summary of the year): the inauguration of President Donald Trump; the Women’s March on Washington; the retaking of Mosul, Iraq, from ISIS; observations from Saturn; massive opposition rallies in Venezuela; and much more. See also, the Top 25 News Photos of 2017, and, from this series, the Year in Photos, Part 2, and Part 3. The series comprises 120 images in all. Warning: Some of the photos may contain graphic or objectionable content.” 

NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER: Ex-Gawker Employees Launch Crowdfunding Drive to Buy Website

'Journalism for rent': Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier

EVERYBODY meets in Sydney ...

A MESSAGE TO THE JOURNALISTIC COMMUNITY: “Speaking truth to power involves speaking truth.”

'Journalism for rent': Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier

How Ex-Spy Christopher Steele Compiled His Explosive Trump ...

Few technologies have the ability to stir passionate online debate and baffle the vast majority of the population as bitcoin

Breakingviews - Bitcoin futures set scene for more gambling - Reuters

FOR many it is a reflex as unconscious as breathing. Hit a stumbling-block during an important task (like, say, writing a column)? The hand reaches for the phone and opens the social network of choice. A blur of time passes, and half an hour or more of what ought to have been productive effort is gone. A feeling of regret is quickly displaced by the urge to see what has happened on Twitter in the past 15 seconds. Some time after the deadline, the editor asks when exactly to expect the promised copy. Distraction is a constant these days; supplying it is the business model of some of the world’s most powerful firms. As economists search for explanations for sagging productivity, some are asking whether the inability to focus for longer than a minute is to blame.
Are digital distractions harming labour productivity?

A DECADE ago the idea of paying real money for virtual items was strange and exotic. These days many video-game publishers build their business models around it. Some of the world’s biggest games, such as “League of Legends”, cost nothing to buy. Instead they rely for their revenue on players buying things for use in the game, such as new characters to play with or costumes to put them in.
A new twist on that model has been attracting the attention of regulators in recent weeks. “Loot boxes” are yet another type of “in-game” item that gamers buy with currency. Unlike the usual sort of purchase, however, players do not know in advance what they are buying, for the contents of a loot box are generated randomly. Sometimes they might be desirable, and therefore valuable; prized items include new gestures or “emotes” for a character, or a pearl handle for an automatic weapon. If less alluring, well, players can pay a bit more mone

Video games could fall foul of anti-gambling laws

A BOA constrictor swallowing capitalism. A cyclone dragging the economy into its vortex. If you look back at how people described Walmart a decade ago, it is eerily similar to how Amazon is viewed now. The supermarket chain has “a scale of economic power we haven’t encountered before”, warned “The Walmart Effect”, a best selling book in 2006. But capitalism never stands still. The world’s largest company by sales is now the perceived underdog in an escalating grocery war with Amazon to fill 320m American bellies. The struggle will probably end in a messy stalemate. That will mean mediocre returns for investors—and happy days for consumers.
Just when Walmart’s aura was at its most intimidating, in 2006, stagnation beckoned. Its reputation for bullying its suppliers and staff became toxic. Over the next decade it hit saturation point. About 95% of Americans shop at Walmart at least once a year. It has three square feet of shop space for every adult in the country and has sunk...A BOA constrictor swallowing capitalism

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

TIME Person of the Year 2017 The Silence Breakers

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.

MEdia Dragon aka Feste, in Twelfth Night, introduces a central theme when he tells Olivia that "the future is uncertain, laughter momentary, and youth 'a stuff will not endure'

“Some will not look on suffering because it creates responsibility.” Fulton J. Sheen,Those Mysterious Priests ... read more

29 Wise and Inspiring Shakespeare Quotes | Bright Drops

6 Year Old reviews toys and makes millions

A writer must refuse to let himself be turned into an institution,” wrote Sartre, turning down the Nobel. Thus began the Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal  Sartre 

A Magazine For Southeast Asia’s Literary Scene Strives To Produce Sharp Political Commentary – And Avoid Censorship

The Mekong Review is published out of Sydney, partly to avoid some censorship, and despite a tiny staff and a patchy delivery system, it’s doing well: “The magazine punches above its weight: Its contributors include some of the best-known authors, journalists and academics who follow the region, including Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, and Emma Larkin, the pseudonym for a Bangkok-based American writer who has published several nonfiction books on Myanmar.”

How We Use “Um” To  Control Our Conversation

Things like “ums” and “uhs” signal there’s some delay in processing. But as a speaker, what I can do is exploit those kinds of signals. I can use them dishonestly. I can use something like “um” to give the overt signal that I’m having some sort of trouble with processing, but in reality, all I’m doing is trying to claim more ground and get you to keep waiting for me to finish.

Tax Adviser

Order here

VW executive gets seven years for U.S. emissions fraud Reuters. Adrien: “If only DOJ had pursued banksters with the the same enthusiasm. Still it is a victory ..and it has changed the conversation about diesel in Europe..where the air is, believe it or not, a lot worse than in NYC.”
More on this here.

Economists in 2017: What Can They Agree On? The Market Mogul 
Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children Guardian. UK health secretary on the offensive.

Ruth Dudley Edwards: The trouble with closed minds is that they make for very dull, meaningless conversations

Germany Preparing Law for Backdoors in Any Type of Modern Device Bleeping Computer  Help me. “Force manufacturers to include backdoors”? How about “tell German authorities about the backdoors that already exist.”

Bitcoin Is a Bit of a Miracle at Any Price

Is serialism one of the hot genres of 2017?

TIME Person of the Year 2017 The Silence Breakers: The Voices That Launched a Movement – “…This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along.
They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought…The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe. They might labor in California fields, or behind the front desk at New York City’s regal Plaza Hotel, or in the European Parliament. They’re part of a movement that has no formal name. But now they have a voice…”

Who's listening? Australians are well ahead of Turnbull's ICAC rethink.
Three-quarters of Australians want a federal ICAC and a majority want a greater say in what government does.


Parkinson floats national citizen survey.
Get ready for more disruption, there's more to do, says the APS head. Solving three problems in one, a regular survey could bring the public service and the community closer together, and that would be worth the discomfort.

Lucky Unlucky 13th: To Drive or Not to Drive in Sydney

First, a truck with a long long trailer tries to run our car into the pole on the Wentworth Avenue and then to calm down walk in the park was in order ... And then different kind of hell broke lose in the park ...

'There were guns to his head': Dramatic arrest in Sydney's Centennial Park

NSW Police arrest three people in dramatic operation at Sydney's Centennial Park

As good Vaclav once noted, "The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.

Paul McCartney - Thousand Inefficient Songs and Case Studies. One Story

INK BOTTLE“I believe that one ought to have only as much market efficiency as one needs, because everything that we value in human life is within the realm of inefficiency—love, family, attachment, community, culture, old habits, comfortable old shoes.”

Edward Luttwak (quoted in Corey Robin, “The Ex-Cons: Right-Wing Thinkers Go Left!,” Lingua Franca, February 2001)

“When two evil guys fight in a duel,
the worst of both will be the winner.”  

Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut    

12 days to Lidka's Wigilia ...

What Wigilia Translators Do For Us

Translating literature is not always more difficult than translating other texts—tourist brochures, technical manuals, art catalogues, sales contracts, and the like. But it does have this distinguishing characteristic: its sense is not limited to a simple function of informing or persuading, but rather thrives on a superabundance of possible meanings, an openness to interpretation, an invitation to measure what is described against our experience. This is stimulating.
If the greatest songs elicit an emotional response too powerful to properly explain, it's safe to say no review of Paul McCartney's One on One tour will quite do it justice.  Paul McCartney Beats the Storms With Hits, Jimi Hendrix Stories ...

Paul McCartney review: A musical experience like few others

Paul McCartney brought the hits in Sydney. Picture: David Swift.

Paul McCartney rocks Sydney with three-hour set packed ...

 The U.S. Has Way Too Many Secrets, December 11, 2017 by The Archive. This article originally appeared in Bloomberg.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari won't return to the Senate in 2018 after he resigned amid growing concerns over his links to China and businessman Huang Xiangmo Sam Dastyari resignation

 Feeding frenzy being fuelled by 15x leverage, says exchange FT. “Supply
  from Chinese bitcoin miners and a few early holders.” Hmm.
seems to come
Why bitcoin fever is a bubble waiting to burst South China Morning Post. “Fiat currencies do have an inherent value. The US dollar, for example, has value because the US government insists that Americans must pay their taxes in US dollars.” 
Rhyming riddles and unlocking password-protected chapters. The clues in this interactive digital spy novel by David Wise are found on New York City landmarks.

Psychologist Says Too Much Christmas Music Is Bad for Your Mental Health

Bah Humbug!

Globally, Broad Support for Representative and Direct Democracy

Poor auditing could be 'canary in the coal mine' for financial crisis: ASIC boss

"Never mind, even if you achieve a work-life balance, your blood pressure will probably rise, as the merits of government outsourcing are once again demonstrated & why senior public servants should not be allowed to work for the big banks...

How does a respectable institution such as the University of London become a place of abuse and humiliation? A legal battle could transform workers’ rights University of London ranks among the grandest and most renowned higher education institutions, and it sports values to match: “that every member of staff is treated with dignity … at work”; “equality of opportunity … in which individuals are treated equitably”; “diversity, social inclusion and respect”. I have been reporting on the university for four years, during which time I have met a fair number of its workers. They include a grandmother, Marta Luna, employed as a cleaner at a Bloomsbury student hall, where the supervisor instructed her and her colleagues to throw their coats and bags in one giant box on the floor. Lunch was eaten in the laundry room. At the end of each shift, she remembered, it was like a jumble sale”. Picture your grandma, kneeling in front of strangers to reclaim her own handbag.

Outsourcing - typically justified as being cheaper and more efficient - breeds economic apartheid

Another cleaner, Liliana Almanza, was a mother with three herniated discs that send pain shooting into her neck, hands and legs. Rather than adjust for her disabilities, her supervisor made her work twice as hard and called her a "bitch" and a "whore". This treatment got so bad that at the end of a shift she'd walk to Euston station and stand dangerously close to the platform's edge, just waiting for a tube to come. Imagine your mum, earning poverty pay in a job that drives her daily to contemplate killing herself.

I've got more such stories, but more importantly I have a question: how does a body professing respect, dignity and fairness end up as a site of degradation, abuse and humiliation? The answer, I believe, lies in one word: outsourcing. The cleaners and security guards and others work for the University of London but are under contract to middlemen companies. It's the middlemen who bid for the work, employ the staff - and take the profits. The security guards who could change the face of employment in Britain | Aditya Chakrabortty

ATO 'gave no warning' about hot-desk plan: union - Canberra Times

Smartphones as a security blanket.

The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of the Australian Taxation Office's processes for estimating and monitoring the costs, savings and benefits associated with the Reinventing the ATO program.
Costs and Benefits of the Reinventing the ATO Program

The Generalized Specialist: How Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and Kepler Excelled - Farnam Street
“…A generalist is a person who is a competent jack of all trades, with lots of divergent useful skills and capabilities. This is the handyman who can fix your boiler, unblock the drains, replace a door hinge, or paint a room. The general practitioner doctor whom you see for any minor health problem (and who refers you to a specialist for anything major). The psychologist who works with the media, publishes research papers, and teaches about a broad topic. A specialist is someone with distinct knowledge and skills related to a single area. This is the cardiologist who spends their career treating and understanding heart conditions. The scientist who publishes and teaches about a specific protein for decades. The developer who works with a particular program. In his original essay, Berlin writes that specialists “lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal; their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects … seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all embracing … unitary inner vision.” The generalist and the specialist are on the same continuum; there are degrees of specialization in a subject. There’s a difference between someone who specializes in teaching history and someone who specializes in teaching the history of the American Civil war, for example. Likewise, there is a spectrum for how generalized or specialized a certain skill is. Some skills — like the ability to focus, to read critically, or to make rational decisions — are of universal value. Others are a little more specialized but can be used in many different careers. Examples of these skills would be design, project management, and fluency in a foreign language. The distinction between generalization and specialization comes from biology. Species are referred to as either generalists or specialists, as with the hedgehog and the fox. A generalist species can live in a range of environments, utilizing whatever resources are available. Often, these critters eat an omnivorous diet. Raccoons, mice, and cockroaches are generalists. They live all over the world and can eat almost anything. If a city is built in their habitat, then no problem; they can adapt. A specialist species needs particular conditions to survive. In some cases, they are able to live only in a discrete area or eat a single food. Pandas are specialists, needing a diet of bamboo to survive. Specialist species can thrive if the conditions are correct. Otherwise, they are vulnerable to extinction…”