Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Separate to that breach, PwC Australia has now admitted To more breaches: Democracy Awakening

“You’re nobody until somebody hates you,” Tom Wolfe told his daughter. By that metric he was a great success... Success has many fathers and failure is an orphan »

The Protego phenomenon was propelled by social media rather than AI, but the two are starting to blend and blur as established Big Tech players muscle their way into the AI bazaar.

There is now a real question as to whether agencies like the ATO need a ‘rapid reaction’ or ‘flying squad’ to deal with such threats to public revenue leakage given the size of the hit the ATO sustained and cannot economically recover.

Follow the money: Australian Taxation Office sets the pace for government adoption of AI

Exclusive: Move comes after firm admits partner forwarded papers related to confidential consultation with treasury and ATO officials to colleagues

Separate to that breach, PwC Australia has now admitted that, in 2016, a partner forwarded documents related to confidential consultation with treasury and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) officials regarding the GST treatment of digital currencies to colleagues who had not signed a confidentiality agreement.

Exceptional Circumstances: Mark Dreyfus, Richard Boyle, Gina Rinehart and Oracle Corporation

David Frum in 2018: "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy."

Heather Cox Richardson, author of the excellent Letters from an American newsletter, has a new book out today about the health of American democracy: Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America. From Virginia Heffernan's review of the book in the Washington Post:

She has an intriguing origin point for today's afflictions: the New Deal. The first third of the book, which hurtles toward Donald Trump's election, is as bingeable as anything on Netflix. "Democracy Awakening" starts in the 1930s, when Americans who'd been wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash were not about to let the rich demolish the economy again. New Deal programs designed to benefit ordinary people and prevent future crises were so popular that by 1960 candidates of both parties were advised to simply "nail together" coalitions and promise them federal funding. From 1946 to 1964, the liberal consensus — with its commitments to equality, the separation of church and state, and the freedoms of speech, press and religion — held sway.

But Republican businessmen, who had caused the crash, despised the consensus. Richardson's account of how right-wingers appropriated the word "socialism" from the unrelated international movement is astute. When invoked to malign all government investment, "socialism" served to recruit segregationist Democrats, who could be convinced that the word meant Black people would take their money, and Western Democrats, who resented government protections on land and water. This new Republican Party created an ideology that coalesced around White Christianity and free markets.

Heffernan calls this first part of Richardson's book "the most lucid just-so story for Trump's rise I've ever heard". I'm in the midst of two other books right now (The Vaster Wilds & The Mountain in the Sea) but I might have to make room for a third.

 Ethiopian Tigst Assefa is the new women's marathon record-holder: 2:11:53. The men's record in 1965 was 2:12, but the women are getting faster quicker. Since '65: men are 11m faster while women are an hour faster. (And 5m vs 9m since '98.)

From over 23,000 entered images, the judges in the Bird Photographer of the Year competition for 2023 have selected their winners and runners-up. I selected a few of my favorite images above; the photographers from top to bottom: Nicolas Reusens, Henley Spiers, and Gianni Maitan.

The Norwegian secret: how friluftsliv boosts health and happiness. "Friluftsliv is not a specific activity. Hiking in the forest, kayaking along the fjords and skiing in the mountains could all be part of it, but so [is] simply sitting in the woods."