Friday, January 31, 2003

Media Blogging for Bucks -- Part Time

Nick Denton, former Financial Times correspondent and ex-CEO of Internet news aggregator Moreover, is busily engaged these days trying to build a weblog business that makes money.
Unlike in the go-go days of the Internet, Denton is thinking small this time. His Gizmodo weblog (covering technological gadgets) is operated with 1/4 of the time of a writer/editor (Peter Rojas). Denton's next, Gawker (a Manhattan-gossip blog), relies on one 1/2-time writer/editor (Elizabeth Spiers). Denton estimates that costs for maintaining a small commercial weblog like those are $1,000 to $2,000 a month.
Growth in audience is mostly viral (i.e., no paid marketing campaigns), and revenues come from online retail affiliate referral fees, mostly, and some advertising. He estimates that a successful small blog should pull in $5,000 a month in revenues within six months, as long as the concept is sound and attracts an audience. "That's better (return) than conventional publishing," he says. Denton's weblog strategy: Grow big by building lots of small publishing enterprises. None of this is new, he points out -- the emphasis is simply on keeping publishing costs very low.

The best and worst of PR
Can You Learn Optimism?
Searching for the secret to happiness? Clue: It's not about winning the lottery, says positive psychologist Martin Seligman. Find out how to embrace optimism--and identify other signature strengths you should use to become happy.
Embracing Optimism
Internet Welcome, Amateur

Amateur Hour by Jonathan Peterson has important things to say about the status of creativity and innovation on an individual level:
The rise of mass media in the last half of the 20th Century turned us all into 'consumers' and took away much of the natural human inclination to be creators, performers, singers, musicians and storytellers. Today, the rapid proliferation of cheap professional-quality media-making tools, paired with the drastic decrease in the cost of content distribution is leading to a quiet, but very real revolution in the quantity and quality of amateur content. It's the democratization of media, the 'Big Flip' as Clay Shirky calls it, and we think it's going to play an increasingly important role in how we make, share and consume media.

The True Blue Blog

Yep, The Road to Surfdom has its very own domain name and, Tim Dunlop hopes, a nice reliable server.
Tim just could not resist the urge to be more independent.
Tim Dunlop seems to hold identical views about patriotism and nationalism as Vaclav Havel and Virginia Woolf: 'Please Australia - laugh this one out of existence. Celebrate our Australianness by showing our usual mistrustful, self-deprecating, egalitarian, good-natured detestation of all such symbols of overt self-glorification.
Or just go to the beach.' Hear, hear, hear... & happy new home for this extraordinary Antipodean expat-observer.
· [Roadtosurfdom]

Farewell, Spike
This one feels like the end of an era. The Spike Report is ending its five-year run on Online Journalism Review (and for its first year at Digital City Los Angeles). In his final column Gideon Brower (a.k.a.,Spike) noted: The fact that I've continued to have this steady gig during this tumultuous period (of new-media industry highs and lows) strikes me as somewhat miraculous.

Digital Storymaking
Anyone interested in techniques and theory for digital/online storytelling will want to spend some time viewing The Elements of Digital Storymaking, a research site produced by Nora Paul and Christina Fiebich of the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota.
· Making The Net More Interactive [Elements]
One More Article about Digital Storymaking
Train speeded up before disaster

A passenger aboard the train which derailed south of Sydney today said the Tangara appeared to speed up before impact.
Nonee Walsh, a reporter, was travelling home in the last or second last carriage when the southbound train, with about 80 people aboard, derailed 4km south of Waterfall Station on the Illawarra line at about 7.30am (AEDT).
· Injured Reporter on the Scene of the Accident [Sydney Morning Herald]

Australia's worst railway accident was in 1977 in the Sydney suburb of Granville, in which 83 people died. My wife Lauren used to catch the same train every morning with her friend Erica Watson in order to get to the dancing classes at the Australian Academy of Ballet. Erica was one of the lucky survivors, the passenger right next to her died. Due to the horrific injuries she sustained she never danced again. Lauren was not sitting next to Erica that tragic morning because like her mother she occasionally suffered from painful migraines and remained in the darkness of her bedroom that fateful morning.
[Czechoslovaks remember January 1977 for Havel’s initiative the Charter 77]
· Chronological list of Rail Accidents [SMH]

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Halftime quickies inside a Bowl

Some people say the Super Bowl is all about money. Others say it's all about power. For many, it's all about advertising. A few die-hards insist football's the important thing.
But most of us know that it's really (like everything else) about sex. There are the parties leading up to the game. The groupies. The cheerleaders. A few hot commercials during the broadcast. Halftime quickies, for some big spenders in the corporate boxes.

· Super Max[ESPN]

Fulltime of Nothingness?
Marriage used to provide access to sex. Now it provides access to celibacy
· Barriers [The Atlantic]
Strangest trends of all: Speed dating: trend in modern life
Literature Exile

Once upon a time, diasporic literature was political literature, our interest in it focused, as Joseph Brodsky said by 'the rise of tyrannies' and our engagement in the Cold War. Today, the collapse of old political certainties has fundamentally altered the debate over immigration and the significance of immigrant literature.
Today, the West's attitude to immigration is insular, expressed as a provincial fear of the outside world; but for much of the late twentieth century, the politics of immigration was a window onto that world, a sign of the West's inextricable - if often misguided - engagement with lives and events beyond its borders. Refugees from behind the Iron Curtain were fleeing a tyranny that threatened us all.

· Diasporic writing [Eurozine]

When it comes to writing about Cold River

When an author attempts to render a character's reaction to the cold by having that character say, "Brrrrr," how many "r's" are required to convey bone-clamping, eyeball-clenching cold? Three seems a tad too few; four, a smidgen too many. Five is just showing off.
· Brrrrrrr [Chicago Tribune]

Kurt Vonnegut, whose quote inspires this blog, gives a highly personal version of how his son was stricken by illness.
As I would not be any man's slave, neither would I be any man's master. This to me is the essence of democracy.
- Abraham Lincoln

US/European Relations Any Excuse to Dislike

Pentagon boss Donald Rumsfeld ruffled European feathers last week when he dismissed Germany and France as "old Europe." But Rumsfeld has nothing on America's war party pundits. Ever since Europe's two dominant governments made it clear that they would not be rushed into a war -- or a UN vote on a war -- conservative columnists have been indulging in an orgy of anti-Europeanism.
· Ruffled European feathers [Motherjones]
Politics Oklahoma

A review of state lobbyists' reports by The Oklahoman found that during the last six months of 2002 they gave lawmakers "thousands of dollars worth of free meals, golf outings and other gifts including hard-to-get tickets to the University of Oklahoma-Texas football game and $153 tickets to the upcoming Rolling Stones concert." This despite the fact that the state legislature was in session one day during that time.
· he gift-giving, by lobbyists [Newsok]
Mammoth Nanotechnology
In US Government spending on nanotechnology is increasing, with nearly $1 billion dollars earmarked for the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and other government agencies.
What's more, major corporations like IBM, HP, and DOW are investing $100s of millions of dollars of their own money.

A topic worth regular revisit is how to find information about other countries

Dean C.K. Cox, a Knight International Press Fellow suggests a site he works with subsites called the Knowledge Network. This is a solid collection of stories, facts, analyses, surveys, maps and links for 28 'transitional' countries of Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. There is great reference material for journalists who specialize in these regions.

Shirl Kennedy, a librarian at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University suggests the United Nations Cyberschoolbus InfoNation: Choose up to five countries from dropdown menus and click "go." Five areas of comparison: Overview; Economy; Environment; Health; Technology.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Poetic Justice? The New Jersey State Senate voted last week to eliminate its statewide Poet Laureate position. The decision was sparked by a controversial poem by Laureate Amiri Baraka, which linked 9/11 terrorism to the Israeli government.

Professions Metamorphisms into Murphy’s Law

There is a thin walking line when it comes to Actor / Politician connection. It's all so obvious, now . . .
By definition most professions actors, politicians, librarians, tax collectors will evolve into something unrecognizable as time, technology and expertise advance. Focus on individual capabilities/skill sets/flexibility, and things look brighter/more realistic. I've lost count of the personal career metamorphisms I've gone through.
· Metamorphisms [Instapundit]
Media No More Investment (Losses)

The halcyon days of stupendous newspaper Web site investments (read: losses) are for the most part gone. During the last two years, publishers have reduced staff, cut costs, and increased revenue streams, resulting in a new period of digital prosperity, albeit of the modest variety.
· Good News [Editor&Publisher]

As we all know last year Mr Hewitt became louder about his intention to die at his desk

Now She's Back Sunday Czech Mate
Citizen Packer is Knocking on Jana’s Door as Jim moves on.
· Without the Cheque Book [Media of The Australian]
Politics Online Opinion Latest Treats

· Christopher Reeve and Bob Carr dehumanise disability - stem cell research not the best solution [Erik Leipoldt, Christopher Newell and Maurice Corcoran]
· Easing the transition from welfare to employment requires tough decisions [Tony Abbott]
· A non-means tested, non-taxed government payment for all ought to be Tony Abbott's 'maxi' reform, and it should receive welfare lobby support [Brian Frost]
· The Howard government has given little real incentive to work [Wayne Swan]
· Work less, earn less, live a little: tracking the anti-aspirational voter [Clive Hamilton]

Web publishing skills of creators of Onlineopinion and Shiftedlibrarian are legendary and I am certain that readers will be rewarded with thoughtful ideas and links.
Dobby Leads Russia?
There have been many stories in Russian, German and Italian media discussing whether house elf Dobby from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, with his long nose, buggy eyes and somewhat dour expressionbears a startling resemblance to Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. Seventy-seven percent of readers polled on the BBC's Russian Service voted yes.

At the expense of education

The tax breaks are taking money from kids as sure as the schoolyard bully stealing classmates' lunch money -- just on a scale so large that few have been willing to call it by name.
· Bullies [CommonDream]

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Internet Basic Promotion for Writers

This is the fifth in a series of articles, exclusive to Writer Online, that will guide electronically published authors in their first efforts to successfully promote their books, with emphasis on working with little or no budget.
· Back to Basics [Writeonline]

The Good BlogStuff: Trojka for Andrea who seeks to please readers.
Federal State Relations Senseless Bidding Wars...

State government investment in scientific research and development is problematic at the best of times. A national strategy co-ordinated by the commonwealth using the expertise of the CSIRO, and the funding mechanisms of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council, as well as individual universities and businesses, has much to commend it. However, for as long as state governments run their own separate business development strategies they will inevitably seize on the extraordinary potential of industries such as biotechnology.
· Subsidies v Terminal Decline [The Australian]
Internet News That Comes to You

RSS feeds offer info-warriors a way to take the pulse of hundreds of sites
The explosion of weblogs and niche news sites poses a problem for any info-warrior: Who the heck has time to read all this stuff?
Well, here's one possible solution: news readers -- a new crop of software programs that fetch updated dispatches from your favorite online writers, bloggers or news outfits.

· Info-warrior: Let the Mountains Come to You [OJR]
· Business v Pleasure [News]

Monday, January 27, 2003

Taxes Protecting Public Education from Tax Giveaways to Corporations

The deepening federal and state budgets are causing cuts that affect the most defenseless and least powerful of Americans. That, of course is the direct consequence of plutocracy -- rule by the wealthy. Their ownership and control of the nation's private assets is growing while the poor and middle class are losing. The latest figures show wealth inequality is growing in America and is the worst in the western world.
· Rise & Rise of Plutocracy [Common Dream]
Civil debate needs to recognise the role of society's canaries

One feels so helpless, so small in the face of such awesome power being so recklessly cast about. What can we do? What can I do? The ocean is so wide and my boat is so small.
· The River is so wide and my hands are so small [Herald Sun -US]
Dissident voices are often an important warning sign that organisations are in trouble.
· Highest loyalty is to raise questions within an organisation [SMH]
My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight to announce a historic undertaking, to call on the American people to put an end to our destructive and shortsighted dependence on oil.
· The State Of The Union Address I'd Like To Hear [Workingforchange]
International Politics Clash of Cultures: a Pain in the Butt.

Europe has lost its "moral compass" and France its "moral fiber."[1] This irritation extends to the highest levels of the Bush administration. In conversations with senior administration officials I found that the phrase our friends in Europe was rather closely followed by a pain in the butt.
· Our friends in Europe []NY Books

You can't be anti-American if you love Bruce Springsteen

You can criticize America. You can march against America's actions in the world. You can take issue with the policies of its unelected, unusually aggressive and unthinking Administration, and you can even get annoyed with its ubiquitous cultural and commercial presence in your life. But you can't be anti-American. George W. Bush is like a cartoon stereotype representing the worst side of the US culture. Bruce is real. He's a street man. America can keep Bush but Springsteen can come back here as often as he wants.
· Bruce like Poland is real [Nation]
The heart and soul of Definitions

It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial
repositories, put together well after the languages they
define. The roots of language are irrational and of a
magical nature.

-Jorge Luis Borges, Prologue to El otro, el mismo
· Online Etymology [Etymonline]
Lust is what makes you keep wanting to do it,
even when you have no desire to be with each other.
Love is what makes you keep wanting to be with each other,
even when you have no desire to do it.

- Judith Viorst
· the order of words in one of two of parallel clauses [Chiasmus]
· Dictionary of word origins [Behindthename]

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Corporate Li(f)e Scooby-Doo: Power Point

I don't like myself. I only feel a touch of sympathy, and even less respect, for myself; what's more, I don't interest myself much. As a teenager, then as a young man, I was full of myself; this is no longer the case. The mere prospect of having to recount a personal anecdote plunges me into boredom verging on catalepsy. When I absolutely have to, I just lie.
-Michel Houellebecq

Bloggers of the world, unite! BAN POWERPOINT? --It's a monopoly. --It's inescapable. --It's monotonous. You have nothing to lose but your frames! Thank You!
· Point of Lies[Business2]
Politics Polluting Democracy

Public Interest is the first casualty at election times, with the corpse of commonsense a close second. Nevertheless, as Virginia Woolf once wrote in her diary: ’My comment anyhow is superfluous. We sit and watch.’

A man of many parties: Malcolm Jones cleverly exploited the electoral system to get himself a seat in the NSW upper house. But, like with Michael Costa, his clever exploitation of allowances and what constitutes country residence have made him a laughing stock.
· Part Evil Part Human Part Creation of the Electorate [SMH]

A woman of one nation: The state election offers Pauline Hanson an opportunity to get back into politics and put One Nation back on the map."
· One & Only? [SMH]

Lisa Oldfield: wife of upper house MP dAvid Oldfield, may become Pauline Hanson's rival for the micro-party seats in the Legislative Council election in March.
· Nothing New Under the Sun: Old Field [SMH]

Humans as a species are very sensitive to their relative status in a community. We don't just want to be loved but respected and noticed. So part of what it means to be an Australian these days is working longer hours, experiencing more stress and suffering increasing rates of depression in order to purchase the symbols of success which will make one feel respected. Forty years ago a 120-square-metre house was considered quite acceptable for a family. Now it has to be double that size before one feels adequate.
· Identity [SMH]

Music So what did you think?

There are a few things to be said about going out alone, and one of them is you don't have to say anything. ’So what did you think?’ It's not that I begrudge the presence of another human being -- particularly the one to whom I'm married.
I don't know about you, but we are almost always almost late for almost every show. Split-second timing is something of a specialty around here. You know that couple that the ushers rush in to their seats at the last possible second, after everyone is settled and comfortable?
· That's us. [The Globe & Mail]

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Pollution Misled by Lead

Excellent investigation by the Detroit Free Press on lead poisoning in the metro area, an idea pioneered by the Providence Journal a few years ago. An overview to the series highlights some of the problems: government efforts that reach a tiny percentage of homes, mishandled money and a lack of attention to lead-contaminated soil. The paper tested soil throughout Detroit and found heavily contaminated soil, "the legacy of factories and leaded gasoline." Great stories on the money trail, a local smelter that has contaminated a neighborhood and on the batch of soil tests that found widespread contamination. The product of seven months' work, often against official stonewalling.

[Thanks to the Scoop for the Links]
Politics Open Democracy

Hi, and welcome to another exciting edition of As usual, OpenDemocracy has a number of initiatives and stories going on. I guess they just can't help themselves.
· Entrepreneurs of Memory
· Global importance of e-democracy
· Twists and curls of shaving
Literature A major literary force to be reckoned with in 2003

I keep hearing all sorts of rumours about Cold River that are mostly not true, but it's always flattering.
It's true. Walk into any bookshop in Australia and see what is happening on the shelves, where the best writing is coming from, what is selling. I did. And what I saw was a stream, a river, of non-fiction work by Australian writers in the past five years or so that left our contemporary fiction scene six feet under.
It also true my publisher Double Dragon Publishing did win a Best Performance by a Publisher in 2002 award from In announcing the award, the following was stated: ’With sales stacking up at Fictionwise, books available in five popular formats, a catalog of unbelievable talent and Deron Douglas at the helm, look for DDP to be a major literary force to be reckoned with in 2003. Note to other ebook pubs: you should probably be taking notes from these guys.’
· Interview [City Blog]

Have Booksellers & Large Publishers lost the plot?

Retailers were this week warned of the cost of a possible price war on the year's bestselling book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The opening salvoes were fired by and soon after the publication date was announced last week, as they both offered half-price deals on pre-ordered copies. Yes that's the way to do it - discount books that would sell at full price and push prices as high as possible on books that need every incentive going to encourage people to buy them.

‘This is London’ reports on the new strategy for first time authors to get noticed: you have to pay the publisher. Slush piles are disappearing (we could debate for hours over whether or not this is a good thing), and now many publishers are offering examinations of your manuscript for a price. Even if they don't publish it, which they won't, you get feedback on what's good, what's bad, what needs to disappear. And no surprise here, but people are paying. Large publishers are crafty devils, aren't they? No wonder they are exploiting their power and once your book starts doing well on Fictionwise or WH Smith you get an email czeching if you would be interesting ditching your small publisher. Czech these quotes out:
‘The film rights to self-published books are getting acquired even before the big houses can get them onto bookstore shelves with their own imprints on them.’
- Variety
‘...every single publisher is on the lookout for self-publishers.’
- Simon & Schuster
’We're always watching what's going on with self-publishers. We always ask our reps to keep their eyes open.’
-Random House
’Now it's very frequent for mainstream houses to go prospecting among the self-published books to make them their own.’
-The New York Times

Bush Fatigue Sets In: Nation Weary of War, Economic Strife Bush at 54% in New WSJ/NBC Poll

Bush barely pulls a majority approval rating now. That's practically unheard of even in hypothetical ’wartime.’ Bush is well on the road toward securing his proper historical legacy as one-illicit-term wonder footnote.

Creativity Being a pain in the ass helps creativity

Without innovation we are doomed—by boredom and monotony—to decline. The idea that something called creative class exists in our society is rather old. The missing definitions & pieces, it turns out, have been youth, diversity, and collaboration. Being a pain in the ass also helps.
Richard Florida has been one of my favorite writers since I read Rise of the Creative Class last September (which, in blogyears, was centuries ago). Richard has a bit of Andy Grove’s survival of the paranoid in him as his creative capital theory goes like this: ‘You cannot get a technologically innovative place unless it's open to weirdness, eccentricity, and difference.’

Steve Himmer points out what distinguishes his blog-writing from his novel-writing: It is scattershot, chaotic. It's a scratchpad where I kick ideas around and churn them up and bounce them off others. But he also adds that he's concerned that we (I) lose something by writing so unstructured for so long: there's a value to discipline (I've never said that before!), though there's also a value to freedom.
· Chaotic Discipline [One Pot Meal]

Friday, January 24, 2003

Ethics Enron's corruption & marital misconduct `spread like wildfire'

PIPE DREAMS: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron: It might seem an odd way to try to understand the shocking collapse, amid rampant financial wrongdoing, of Enron, once this country's seventh-largest company. But in Texas journalist Robert Bryce's entertaining, irreverent and compelling account, Pipe Dreams, the numerous extramarital affairs in Enron's upper echelon were symptomatic of a sordid corporate culture.
· Illicit romances became another facet of Enron's corrupt leadership
Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.
- W. S. Churchill

Journalism visavis politics: From the inception of daily newspapers in English, print journalism has followed different philosophies. In the USA, newspapers have been overtly tied to political parties in the beginning. In Britain they have followed individual political philosophies according to dictates of journalistic needs without being overtly tied to any one political party. In Canada, journalists have followed a philosophy in between these two Are the views in Australia tied to American citizen, uncle Rupert?

Opinions Wealth of Opinions

And why have few other commentators, even those as liberal as Krugman, been so ferocious in denouncing George W. Bush? ’It's a very uncomfortable thing to question the honesty and motives of your leaders. I'm saying that the men who are controlling our destiny are lying. Not many journalists or many people want to confront them. . . . I probably have a bloody-mindedness that a longtime journalist wouldn't.’ To some, this makes Krugman, 49, an ideologue, a Democratic partisan whose predictability is exceeded only by his shrillness.
· Krugman off the Kuff [Washington Post]
· How Economics Became What It Is [Chronicle of Higher Education]
· A River of Peaceful People [Washington Post]
Parliament Comic Book: ‘Country electoral allowances’

Rules governing the way NSW politicians qualify for country electoral allowances may be changed following concerns expressed by the Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal. The Police Minister, Michael Costa, has defended his use of the allowance after it was revealed he claimed his Cessnock weekender as home, while spending most of his time living at his flat in Pyrmont which he bought some years before the weekender. When questioned again yesterday about his claim, Mr Costa retorted: ‘The Herald is not a serious newspaper.’
· Seriously, Cost of Parliamentary Abuses [SMH]
Politics Political well can't resist urge to binge

Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal writes about the growth of ‘principal assistants, the highly-paid political staffers hired by Kentucky officials. Such employees have increased by one-third and have swelled the state payroll by almost $6 million. Checking state campaign finance records showed that 62 of the 175 assistants have given money to Gov. Paul Patton or the state Democratic Party since 1995.
· Pork Oh Barrell [Courier-Journal]
Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most always like it the least.
-Lord Chesterfield, 1748

Let's Find Our Elders and Give Them a Go

Rick Farley delivered yesterday Our land, our duty of care, and it is highly recommended read. To Margo Kingston, Rick is already a great Australian, a man who genuinely strives to serve the public interest. He is someone who - if put in a position of power - could be trusted to act with integrity.

Kevin Rozzoli wrote today a story about the courage to reform. Like Rick’s speech, Kevin’s article is peppered with wisdom and suggestions for improvements. I have known Kevin for two decades and I think of him as a pillar of democracy. When Kevin was a presiding officer at the NSW Parliament House, you did not feel you had to be a political expert to state an opinion. He conveyed a sense of knowing how people fit into the world. Kevin encouraged staff to think and feel as the individuals he or she was. That is what democracy is; that is what moral responsibility is. That is the moral burden of a citizen of a democracy. To think, to speak out and to be counted.
In a true democracy, the definition of parlar - to speak, to talk - includes every citizen not just a priviledged few. It is time to do some soul-searching. Do we really want to bring up our children in a plutocracy, or a democracy? So lets heed wise advice from elders and fathers of democracy such as Woodrow Wilson who said, ‘What I fear is a government of experts.’
· The Human Golden Ratio: The Wisdom of Elders [SMH]

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Quality Manifesto: Good Enough is Not

Internet Salon Saga

There's too much media concentration. It's imperative that America has more voices. With the Internet we all thought there would be a 1,001 platforms to reach the public. That, sadly, hasn't come to be. Most of the usual corporate giants have gobbled up the Web. We feel a sense of mission here. There's not much like Salon left out there. We're doing something that's important. Not just for ourselves, but for the nation and American journalism
· New Media [LA Times]

‘Let's face it,’ writes Rusty Coats in NewsFuture, API's newsletter on the Internet and convergence. Fear is why most newspapers first went online - afraid Microsoft, AOL or Joe Blow was going to steal market share. Not having your content available in a medium that is growing in popularity rather than waning may not have immediate ROI, but the long-term prognosis for such ignorance is death.’
War & Peace The media's war-drum beat: the rerun of a bad movie

All the news that's fit to spin. By escalating his threats against Baghdad, and insisting he is unwilling to participate in ‘the rerun of a bad movie,’ President Bush is serving notice on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that the time for prevarication is over. More immediately, he is signaling U.S. allies that he is prepared to go to war with Iraq without their approval.
· Bag, Dad, Sad [Editor]
How dumb do you have to be not to be able to connect the dots here? Law, policy and regulation are consistently shaped to favor the rich over the rest of us, and that, dammit, is not fair, it is not right, it is not the country we want and for which we are asked to sacrifice.
-Molly Ivins

Liberal and a conservative were sitting in a bar. Then Bill Gates walked in. 'Hey, we're rich!' shouted the conservative. 'The average person in this bar is now worth more than a billion!' 'That's silly,' replied the liberal. 'Bill Gates raises the average, but that doesn't make you or me any richer.' 'Hah!' said the conservative, 'I see you're still practicing the discredited politics of class warfare.'
Am I caricaturing the debate? Alas, not at all.
-For Professor Krugman's devotees... the main appeal is his proclivity for writing things before it is okay to write them. Journalists may love to break news, but they hate to contradict the narratives that crystallize around particular politicians or policies.

Taxes Moral Clarity Turns Fuzzzzy: There's no such thing as a self-made millionaire

Last week, I was invited to a reception in Boston where I met Bill Gates Sr., father of the richest man in the world and one of the founding members of an organization called Responsible Wealth . This group of millionaires and billionaires believes in the biblical adage that says, to whom much is given, much is required.
· Much is required [Seattle]
Politics Raided by Police: on online press freedom

Police raided the offices of Malaysian news website yesterday (January 20), seizing 19 computers and resulting in the site being temporarily shut down. Police were seeking the name of an anonymous letter writer who had posted a comment on the site comparing the ruling United Malays National, the party of both the prime minister and president, to the Ku Klux Klan.
Goodness gracious, people. The next Harry Potter book is already topping Amazon's bestseller list, five months before it will even ship. Good Vibration: Guide to Sex appears to be the Valentine's Day Favourite. Time to take a cold shower.

Elections Parliament seems to be a magnet for spinners and country members

Bob Carr, Malthus of ‘Bra, sticks to the good news stories and heart-rending photo opportunities with fire victims. He tends to leave all the tough questions to Environment and Emergency Services Minister Bob Debus, one of the few Ministers who can function without being force-fed lines by a press secretary.
· Good Mountains of News [Crikey]

Residents in a small mountain town near Geneva have voted via the Internet for the first time in Switzerland.
· Cantonal Town Hall [NZZ]

Media Snips of Reputations

Spin doctors now have a vital role in devising corporate strategy. They are nothing like the old-style press officer – the two species have as much in common as the gorilla and the parrot. The communications chief is a strategist, lobbyist, front man (or woman), public campaigner and risk manager.
· Risk Massagers [The Media of the Australian]

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Articles about tax reform drew many email responses in the last few days from readers so here is another story with sentiments so different to the spins executed in most mainstream papers.

Taxes Why Tax Cuts Just Don't Work

One of the most enduring myths of our time is that cutting taxes, slashing public services, and freeing up markets provides the most economic opportunity for citizens and workers around the world.
· Snips v Spins [Common Dreams via Toronto Star]

History - Politics Remembering King's Dream

It is fitting that the legal challenge to the University of Michigan's affirmative-action admission policies arrived around the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
King's stirring ’I have a dream’ speech, delivered August 28, 1963, signified the highest ideals of the civil rights movement. Invoking the promise of the Declaration of Independence -- and reminding all of the terrible injustice of America's failure to make good on that promise -- King took the high ground and set a moral tone that could not be ignored.
Yet, more than three-and-a-half decades later, things still seem amiss.
· Martin Luther King's ‘I have a dream’ speech [Independent]
· The New Betrayal of Black Freedom in America [Independent]
· Losing the Race? Black Progress, Freedom and Independence [Independent]
· Truth and Propaganda in Politically Correct America [Independent]
· Race Preferences: Pro and Con [Independent]

History - Internet The Story That Legitimized Cyberjournalism

Vin Crosbie on an online-news milestone. Today is said to be the fifth anniversary of an event that legitimized the Internet as a news medium. On January 17, 1998, cyberjournalist Matt Drudge broke the story of intern Monica Lewinsky's affair with U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton. Newspaper, broadcast, and magazine coverage of the story followed.
Politics On Line Opinions: From PM to Tigers to Honeymoon

As usual, a few great articles hot off the OLO virtual presses.
But first note the hot topic and the call for February contributions: ‘Law and Order’. The infamous Lora Nauder has been an issue in most State and Federal Campaigns for more than a decade, and is sure to feature in the NSW state election. We've decided to take a closer look. Is Australia becoming more lawless? How do we compare internationally? How effectively are we dealing with crime? What are the alternatives?
· James Cumes on Prime Ministers: from Lyons to Howard forms a complete circle
· Mairéad Browne - From dozy cat to Celtic Tiger in 20 years - and Australia can do it, too · Graham Young on Dow Jones v Gutnick: the Internet honeymoon is over. What's next?

Politics MP allowances

A State MP misused taxpayers' money to set up bogus parties and claim a $20,000 living-away-from-home allowance for a shed on a friend's property. But, there was no intention to deceive and that there were many country MPs such as himself who stayed in Sydney most of the time and claimed the allowance.
· Others Do It Too [SMH]
· Do Well in Hard Times: Become a Political Appointee [CommonDreams?]
At a Low, but Unshattered and Aiming for New Highs

It was like a bomb went off in the Liberal Party headquaters yesterday when Kerry (Bartels) Chikarovski resigned. A rare politician with not an ounce of snobbery or chip on her shoulder. To misquote Dicken, as a woman Kerry was politically dead, to begin with. Still she succeed where other women failed. To boot, the real windows of opportunities are opening for Kerry now ...
· Musings of a former Parliamentary Crown Employee, a.k.a. Glorified Royal Butler [Via city blog]
A shattered Peace

‘My name is Nathan Chester Landers - or is it?’ he writes in his memoir, a 148-page indictment of his childhood. ‘A Walking Peace’ was supposed to be just a book. But what began as a rare account from inside the world of discarded children - pecked out on a laptop and filled with aliases instead of real names - has changed everything for Landers. In the course of writing the book, he not only found his birth mother but heard her stunning revelation: that Landers is the product of a 26-year-old crime, the rape by two city officers that she alleges she suffered as a 14-year-old runaway.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Media/Internet News That Sounds Like Anything But
The addition of hip-hop slang and ‘people-speak’ are two misguided solutions to the same imagined problem: that the TV news has to be changed to accommodate the supposed throngs of young people who aren't interested in, or can't focus on, straightforward information
· Teen-News [PopPolitics]

News That Reads Like Not Making News
NY Times in Action & Circuit: Now you'll get to see how two long e-mails can be boiled down to a paragraph, which is reduced to a sentence, which is then cut.
· Portrait of Bloggers by Mainstream Press [Amygdala]
Fraud Fraud Knows No Borders

The best that the corporate world can take from the Enron & HIH sagas is an opportunity to place dedicated public servants on boards of stronger oversighting bodies.
· HIH Debate Raging [Webdiary]
· HIH: Whistleblowers [Crikey]

Cross-border fraud is a serious problem – and it appears to be growing. For example, consumers in the U.S. and other countries lose billions of dollars each year to telemarketers operating from 'boiler rooms' across the border who pitch bogus products, services and investments. They also lose money to Internet scam artists who operate anonymously from places outside the U.S. The most common cross-border frauds pushed by telemarketers, spam emailers or misleading advertisements involve phony prize promotions, foreign lottery schemes, advance-fee loan rip-offs, travel offer scams, and unnecessary credit card loss ’protection.’
· Crossingover [FederalTimes]
If my hunch is right, tax reforms are going to dominate the first decade of the 21st century. Around the world, and throughout the ages, especially at the commencements of centuries, taxation has had enormous influence on the structuring of society and the status of the individual within society. P. J. O'Rourke once noted, 'every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.'
As we go through the debate let us remember that the goal of democracy should be to raise the floor, not to worry about the ceiling. The democrat should concern himself with the wealth of the rich only so far as that wealth impoverishes others. Beyond that, the wealth of the rich, like the fitness of the Queensland swimmer, the intellect of the wise, the skill of the juggler, or the humor of the comic, becomes merely a goal that others can achieve.

Taxes/Internet New Free E-Filing Tax System

According to this press release from the Department of the Treasury, today the IRS will announce details about a new program (IRS Free File) that facilitates the free e-filing of tax forms by most Americans. The home page for Free File is here.
The IRS entered into a agreement with a consortium of tax software companies, called the Free File Alliance, to ’provide free tax preparation and filing to at least 60 percent of the American taxpayers, or approximately 78 million people.’

· Free Tax Preparation [Bespacific]

The New 1040 Tax Form has been obtained by Max Sawicky. Czech it out. [Ah... BundabergRummers and Vodkapundits of this world-Irony was Intended, Bla, bla, bla ...]
· Hot off the press [Max Speak]
Conflicts of interest remain a soft spot in the underbelly of politics and journalism. Too many politicians and journalists put themselves and their credibility at risk by failing to anticipate and avoid conflicts, or at least purposefully address and successfully resolve conflicts when they emerge.

Politics Pork Barreling

For ten years, Senator McCain has reviewed the annual appropriations bills to determine whether they contain items that are low-priority, unnecessary, or wasteful spending. In this process, he has used five objective criteria to identify programs and projects that have not been appropriately reviewed in the normal, merit-based prioritization process.
· Oh Barrell [Senator McCain]

Commission Recommends Government Overhaul To Meet 21st Century Demands

The federal government should be overhauled into a handful of super departments, governmentwide pay scales and personnel rules should be thrown out to permit agencies more room to manage their own staffs, and pay should be pegged squarely to performance instead of seniority, a high-powered experts.’
· Low & High Morale [Federal Times]
Quote for Our Times
By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

Looking Back to Future WindMill of Inspirational Writing

Surely, this article could not have been written when I was One Year Old ...
Nowadays men often feel that their private lives are a series of traps. They sense that within their everyday worlds, they cannot overcome their troubles, and in this feeling, they are often quite correct: What ordinary men are directly aware of and what they try to do are bounded by the private orbits in which they live; their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood; in other milieux, they move vicariously and remain spectators.
Underlying this sense of being trapped are seemingly impersonal changes in the very structure of continent-wide societies. The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the failure of individual men and women. When classes rise or fall, a man is employed or unemployed; when the rate of investment goes up or down, a man takes new heart or goes broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesman becomes a rocket launcher; a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up without a father.

· The life of an individual & the history [Camden]

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Biographies, Speeches, Chronologies, Education, The Civil Rights Movement and more.
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight, because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee is the sentiment of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal.’ That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

· King Speech Maker [Poynter]

Monday, January 20, 2003


Skippy the bush kangaroo links to this well-writen piece about Bush's Texas National Guard service (actually, his non-service). As you study this table ask yourself why Bush's service record was never a major news story.

Irony & humiliation gets worse for Bush
Bush, in a funny way, seems to be a man of ideas. He doesn't have a lot of them himself, but hand him one and he'll run with it, undeterred by opposition, or by subsequent evidence and logic. He has the unreflective person's immunity from irony, that great killer of intellectual passion. Ask him to reconcile his line on Iraq with his line on North Korea and he just gets irritated. Tell him he can't be for tax simplification and offer a Rube Goldberg contraption like this at the same time and he'll say, 'Oh, yeah — just watch me.’
- Michael Kinsley
[Any quotes on, for, against, about, with irony in them are always appreciated by Media Dragon - email to
mediadragon77 (at)]
Literature Obsessions

Do you know how many times Chekhov mentioned cherries, crocodiles and cabbage soup? Michael Pennington does. But he would hate you to think he was obsessed.
· Anton [Guardian]

Every year on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday, a woman sneaks into a cemetary and like a character from one of Poe's dark tales, the woman then vanishes, leaving behind a half-empty bottle of cognac, three roses and an occasional note — but not a clue as to who she is.
· Man-woman [Famulus via BookSlut]
Politics Taking Liberties: Aryeh Neier

Work, for political rights, civil rights and accountability for policies that indeed violate those rights, is nothing to be taken for granted, and in some respects is historically very new.
· Taking for Granted [Tom Paine]

Where Are The Guardians Of Liberty?
The silence from members of Congress, whose authority has been usurped, and who have ignored their own responsibility on behalf of our rights, is indefensible.
· Without Representation [Tom Paine]
Internet Gone to the blogs

We don't know exactly how many there are. But they number in the tens of thousands. They are everywhere among us. They intend to tear down the world as we know it.
· Tearing the Iron Walls Down [Spiked]

Mickey Mouse ISSN

Most bloggers might have more pressing thoughts on their mind, but has anyone read the site ISSN for Weblog and then applied for ISSN and received something like this:

Dear Jozef Imrich,

Thank you for advising the Australian ISSN Agency of your online serial publication.

Unfortunately, I could not assign an ISSN to your publication as your publication does not meet our ISSN guidelines.

ISSNs are not allocated to blogg pages on the internet only to serial publications (ongoing publication, such as sciencetific journals, annual reports & commercial magazines) which would normally appear in print.

If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Agency.

Yours sincerely,
(name withheld)
Australian ISSN Agency
Canberra ACT 2600

Why should libraries be difficult, when with just a little more effort they can be impossible!
Worst Disaster An Act of Nature’s Terrorism: Storms of Fire

Nature’s unforgiving firestorm forces in the capital of Australia were driven to levels of vitriol normally reserved for Sodoma & Gomorah . The firestorm that killed four people, hurt thousands and destroyed as many houses as there are days in the year in the worst bushfires to hit an Australian city. The Sydney-Melbourne rivalry of biblical propotions was the genesis of the ’bush capital.’
· City in Agony [SMH with much coverage]

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Far better it is to dare mighty things . . . than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt 1904

Future of Civilisation: Tax Debates and Links
Tax History: Promoting Honesty by Releasing Corporate Tax Returns

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, thinks it might.His suggestion recalls an earlier effort to combat corporate wrongdoing through tax publicity. For a few short years in the early 20th century, corporate returns were public documents.
The corporation excise tax (CET), enacted in 1909, included a publicity provision opening returns to public inspection. Supporters believed that publicity would encourage honesty -- an important consideration in an era when business malfeasance made frequent headlines. Most business leaders, on the other hand, decried publicity as an intolerable.

· Public Inspection []

Courage in Tax Policy
But winning or losing is not really the point. Personally, these lawmakers had a lot to lose and little to gain. Yet they kept fighting for a cause in which they believed. If they lose this time around, I suspect that we will be seeing them again. And that is a good thing.
· Defeated, Yet Undaunted []

The complexity and inefficiency of the individual and corporate income taxes have led to great interest in replacing them with a consumption- based tax.
· Simplifying Taxes [CATO]
· Tax Analysis [Wallm Street: Opion Journal]

Calls for tax simplification: Bloggers Have a Say On Tax Policy

It is something of a Holy Grail for some tax lawyers, it is called consumption tax.
· The Advantages of Consumption-Based Taxation [DC Blows]
· Two Cents Worth [Maxspeak]
· Sneaky Comment 1 [Sneakingsuspicions]
· Sneaky Comment 2 [Sneakingsuspicions]
· Debate Raging [Jane Galt]
· Tax Lawyer [Cognocentric]

Links to Tax Sites of Note

Tax Australia
· Taxation Links: Australia [Australian Taxation Office]
Tax Australia: Speeches of Note
· Helen Coonan’s Vision: Challis Tax Debate [Assistant Treasurer]
· The Art of Tax Administration [Michael Carmody: ATO]
· Where There is No Vision People Perish [Michael D'Ascenzo: ATO]

Tax US
· Taxation: US [Internal Revenue Service]
· Online Source for IRS Revenue Rulingsm with US & International Tax Links [IRS]
Tax: UK (Together with sound International Links)
· Taxation Links: UK [Internal Revenue Service]
Tax Law & Accounting Links
· Taxation Links: US & International [U of N Iowa by Dennis Schmidt. A fantastic resource of tax links]
· Taxation Links: US & International [University of Oklahoma Law Center]
· Taxation Policies: US & International [Taxsites]
Taxes Civilisation: 7th Heaven?

For two year the OECD has named and shamed tax havens. The last list included the dirty seven. It's not often that Monaco and Liechtenstein get to share an unattractive spotlight with Vanuatu and Liberia. This is an incredibly effective initiative of the OECD: the original list in 2000 contained 35 countries, but public humiliation has brought reform in most.
If the price of civilisation is taxation there was something rather vital about those Enron corporate legal proceedings that wasn't made clear in most press reports. It was the fact that among the loopholes used to reduce the Enron’s tax liability was the creation of more than 800 subsidiaries in ‘tax havens’ such as the Cayman Islands. Many are not aware that the analysis of financial documents showed that Enron paid no corporate income taxes in four of the last five years-- although the company was profitable in each of those years.

Global corporations are using a sly accounting trick called transfer pricing in 'accountant speak' to bilk the federal government out of billions annually. In the post-Enron era, this revelation may not be all that shocking, except for the fact that this tactic is also being used to launder money that's used to finance terrorism.
Between 1998 and 2001, the federal treasury lost out on more than $175 billion in tax revenue when parent companies hid profits by exaggerating the prices at which they traded goods with their foreign subsidiaries. For example, a U.S. manufacturer might export products to its subsidiary in Papua New Guinea at below-cost prices and then have the subsidiary resell the products at an exaggerated profit. The high profit made by the foreign subsidiary is then offset by the loss, thus avoiding the payment of US taxes.

· The News of the death of trust are not exaggerated [Taxpayer]

It's not our fault. Really it's not. The criticisms are unfair, unreasonable, unbalanced. No sooner had the royal commission lawyers presented their submissions about what - and who - went wrong at HIH, than the targets were returning fire. Don't blame us - or at least don't blame me. Blame, er, him, or, er, them - or just circumstances beyond anyone's control.
· HIH: Placing the Blame [SMH]

Mistrust is not bad in itself. A polity of suckers is no better than a nation of cynics. But both mistrust and trust should be thoughtful, not automatic.
· Trust [The Atlantic Monthly]

Hot Off The Press: Whistleblower demoted
A former international executive for Wyeth, the U.S. drug company, uncovered a worldwide practice of cheating governments out of taxes, only to be demoted after notifying senior executives, according to documents in a state lawsuit that he has filed against the company. The executive, Peter Rost, said that in 2000, as he worked to get the company to correct the first tax problem he learned about, in Sweden, he learned that the practices were common in Wyeth's operations worldwide.
Democracy Global Parla

Open Democracy features John Le Carré, Salman Rushdie, John Berger, Christopher Hitchens, Roger Scruton, David Hair and Gunter Grass with Marina Warner, Anita Roddick and others promising to join what is becoming the best global conversation on Iraq and the War.
Political, ethical and pragmatic arguments against invading Iraq have been made familiar. But the fearful and uncertain atmosphere created by the information warriors makes them sound worn out. We have to struggle to restore their meaning and to invest dissent with moral and cultural authority especially now that attempts are being made to popularise the war by linking the theme of terrorism to a nativist hatred of asylum seekers - the latest ‘enemy within’.
· Dissent [Open Democracy]
Lifestyle Kava

Washington's Kramerbooks has been serving a new drink at their café, the ’Trent Lotte.’ Billed as ‘separate but equal parts of coffee and milk,’ they leave the integration up to the customer. Customers are encouraged to mix them together with a special smile. When it comes to lifestyle reporting and poetry, the Sydney Morning Herald encourages writers to realise that mixing them is best.
Coffee is about life from the bottom up; it is about culture, about the sensual. In the world there are espresso drinkers and there are other people ... In Italy, we are espresso drinkers. Americans are other people.
· Kofi of the Kuff [SMH]

As I sipped my expresso this morning, I was digesting variety of bloggers some stranger than others. Tim Dunlop of Road to Surfdom, made it very clear why bloggers should consider supporting the Road to Real Freedom via good initiatives like Crikey and On Line Opinion.
Now don’t go imagining that drinking cofee or god forbid smoking is good for you or anything. Don’t do it, even to avoid Alzheimer’s. Still, read about the strange truth.
Australia Day: 26 January Ah ... Antipoedian Technicolour Fish, Boon(ah) & Moon(ah)

Tropical glory described by Leo Schofield, Tasmania’s new Bohemian culture invaded by Steve Lazarowitz, Boonah’s innovative winery created by Bob Carroll, and now European tourists setting feet in every part of South East Queensland ... is there any soul Australian beauty can't attract?
Today Antipodean Cultural Commissair, Leo Schofield, describes Nature's tropical glory. And when Leo sings even deaf Parisians and New Yorkers take notice:

I feel ashamed to admit that in my long lifetime, I've never visited the Great Barrier Reef. Here, on our doorstep, is a work of nature to rival the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China or any of the other wondrous achievements of man, yet dills like me ignore it.
I took one of the regular Quicksilver trips out to the reef and was gobsmacked – not only by contact with this miracle but by the efficiency of the aforementioned tour operation. There are many places in the world, from Benidorm to Bournemouth, that have been irretrievably rooted by tourism.
Visitors to the Reef, however, can feel they are treading lightly on this extraordinary and beautiful place. My only regret is that I have no stomach for scuba diving, otherwise I'd have been down there taking an even closer look at the spaghetti coral, the plate coral, the staghorn coral, the turtles and the technicolour fish.

Steve Lazarowitz, a science fiction friend whose paths I crossed many times, gets a second creative breath for writting at Tassie.
It has been all too long since I’ve written an issue of my newsletter. Too much has happened that, in the words of Arthur Dent, seemed to make some sort of sense at the time. These events led me from New York City to East Peoria, Illinois to Fresno, California before finally leaving me at my current location; Moonah, Tasmania.
· Steve’s Newsletter is from Moon [Dream Sequence via Blog city]

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Bits & Pieces Two-Bit Whores

‘You're nothing but a couple of two-bit legal whores.’ State Senator Bill Morrow said this to two lawyers who are being investigated for supposedly unethical conduct.
· Definitions [Volokh]

Bizarre Bits

There is really no word for it but bizarre. Gardening and dancing may never be classed as extreme sports - but they are more dangerous than cycling. Explain this to my two broken arms.
· Danger in the Garden [SMH]

The Digital Bits

With 136 WLAN hot-spots, Vienna is the world champion of wireless internet.
· Vienna [Europe Media]
· Trends [Poynter]
Literature The Psychotic Journey to that Splendid Place called 'Published’

Kafka, the Patron Saint of Unpublished Authors, approves of this letter.
Give these unpublished writers a break, will ya? Encourage your dinner guests to throw a few morsels from their banquet tables of experience. It's not the creme brule' the unpublished author craves. Heck, that only whets the appetite! It's the how-we-got-through-it meat and potatoes that will sustain them on their journey. The second and third helpings of, "There, there, you poor thing. You're gonna survive this, I promise. Now, take that rope from around your neck and get back to work.
· In Letter to Oprah [Books and Authors via my city-block]

Breaking into Books

Independent publishing persists against all odds - because people still dream of making their mark.
· Myths & Realities [CS Monitor]
Internet Tapping Into Digital Community

Thanks Sylvia for the tip. There's a nice-ish ironic observation of my blog and Glenn Reynold now appearing on the RoadtoSurfdom website:
‘The compelling thing about this little look at Glenn Reynolds, the fingers behind Instapundit, is it's breathless fascination with workload. Like simply doing things is an end in itself.’
‘Speaking of Glenn Reynolds, I reckon Jozef Imrich is a sort of Mitteleuropa Instapundit, which I mean as a compliment, as Media Dragon is a great site.’
What this exchange most reminds me of is the variety of deeper reasons which drive many bloggers to tap into the engaging digital world. Recently, I was very touched when Adina Levin pointed to her father's Holocaust experience as one of the reasons she blogs: ‘One of the questions that I had about approaching adulthood was, if the place that I lived started sliding toward totalitarianism, would I be one of the people who spoke up... this is one small thing that I can do to help make people aware.’
· Serving Oxygen & Ideas [Road to Surfdom a.k.a. Tim Dunlop]

Internet The No. 1 Blogger: Outing on Instapundit

The weblog craze hasn't gone out of style yet. The New York Times today takes note of one of the most popular bloggers, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Reynolds, a law professor, has built a large and loyal audience around a weblog that covers a broad range of topics. (He calls himself ‘a Renaissance dweeb.’) Instapundit is a bit out of the weblog ordinary because of its lack of focus; most blogs have a very narrow topic focus (like this one) and have more modest audiences. Few break out to the mainstream as Instapundit has done.
· Renaissance dweeb [NY Times]
Ethics: Legislature DeLay's First Strike

DeLay gutted House ethics provisions to enable lobbyists to cater better meals for members' offices. He ended the need for a congressional vote to raise the debt ceiling.
The majority leader's new House rules offer a vivid preview of his version of democracy. These rules have received very little media attention. Perhaps Tom DeLay's reputation as a lobbyist-hugging right winger have rendered his actions too predictable to deserve ink -- there's no shock factor left. Unfortunately, though, he's now one of the most powerful people in the country and the press should take him to task. Putting these new rules on the books was his first gesture. It took him less than a day. Imagine what the next two years will bring.
· No Shock Factor Left [Tom Paine]

Ethics: Media Weighing The Costs of a Scoop

How a Sniper Story Trapped the Press in an Ethical No-Man's Land
It’s quiz time.
Question 1. Which of the following constitutes an ethical dilemma in journalism?
a. Reporter Bob fabricates a story about an eyewitness to one of October 2002’s sniper attacks near Washington, D.C.
b. Competing reporter Carol plagiarizes Bob’s fabrication.
c. Sniper beat reporter Ted sleeps with his intern, Alice, and sends her to accept his weekly payoff from the cops.
d. All of the above
e. None of the above

· Dilemmas [CJR]

Time magazine names three whistleblowers Persons of the Year

Time and time again we get a proof that every culture needs to recognise on daily basis that democracy is a danerous business. After all, we come across cowboys in many executive positions and legislative carreers have seen rise and rise of rainbows spotted with shady characters.
Rowley, Cooper and Watkins said some colleagues now hate them for exposing the mistakes of their bosses. 'There is a price to be paid. There have been times that I could not stop crying,' Cooper said.
I recommend that the names of these characters appear on boards of key government oversight bodies.
· There is a Right Price to be Paid: From FBI to EnWrong [Time Magazine via my city blog]
Chalk it up to human nature

Irony and humor cannot be prevented from spreading; they have a way of slipping through the patterns of thought which are imposed upon mankind by habit and design.
-Idries Shah

When the Bushes start talking about investment, ordinary folks should start circling their Chevrolets

Let's pause and remember that Americans were far less greedy and stressed as a consequence. Our overall standard of living progressed by the years. Along the way we built an interstate highway system. Our public schools were first-rate. Our industries led the world. There was no shortage of innovation or ambition. And we surrounded ourselves with personal comforts. We congratulated ourselves that we were the richest and freest nation on Earth.
Gated communities were not the rage. You never saw lawn signs warning of immediate response by private armed security. And we didn't have to face the unsettling news that two decades of growth in personal income had come to an end.
So what happens to the dwindling middle class in 10 more years? You can guess the answer.

We are fundamentally a middle class society that works together to solve problems. We're not an I-got-mine-and-the-hell-with-the-rest-of-you society.
· No Words Left [Body & Soul]

Friday, January 17, 2003

Internet The No. 1 Blogger: Outing on Instapundit

The weblog craze hasn't gone out of style yet. The New York Times today takes note of one of the most popular bloggers, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Reynolds, a law professor, has built a large and loyal audience around a weblog that covers a broad range of topics. (He calls himself ‘a Renaissance dweeb.’) Instapundit is a bit out of the weblog ordinary because of its lack of focus; most blogs have a very narrow topic focus (like this one) and have more modest audiences. Few break out to the mainstream as Instapundit has done.
· Renaissance dweeb [NY Times]
Internet A list of Christian bloggers in the Southern hemisphere
· Christian bloggers [Living Room

Micro v LionX Bill Gates is Going to Die as a Very Rich Man, But His Windows belong to Electronic Cemetery

Microsoft plans to announce that it will allow most governments to study the programming code of its Windows operating systems to try to slow the acceptance of the Linux operating system by governments abroad. Under the programme, governments will also be allowed to plug their security features, instead of Microsoft's technology, into Windows.
· Security Features [SMH]
History: Migration The ways immigration has shaped the American character

But I also suspect that the factors that have made America great--lots of hard-headed, independent, courageous, determined, borderline anti-social people from all over the world--may also be among the reasons that it's a pretty violent place. I guess it's true that you've got to take the bad with the good.
· Amerika, Amerika [IntantPundit]

Secret Police Hand Jobs

Members of the former East German secret police (Staatssicherheitsdienst or Stasi) have been accused of many things in the past. Never, though, have they been accused of lacking imagination or a talent for improvisation. Further proof of their skills in these areas is on display at the Stasi's former headquarters in Berlin in an exhibition that focuses on a little-known talent of the eavesdroppers and spies: Stasi members were great with their hands.
· Surveillance devices [FAZ- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung]
Media 'Nice guy' knows CNN from top to bottom

The guy who is about to be in charge of everything at CNN has been known to burst into song at local restaurants. He wants to put foosball tables near the Atlanta newsroom. And he preaches to employees to have a life outside of CNN.
Most of Walton's 22-year tenure at CNN was in sports news, hardly the network's bread and butter. The task that first won him the eye of higher-ups was launching CNN/Sports Illustrated, an all-sports TV channel and Web site that eventually shut down because it could never get enough cable distribution and advertising dollars.
I learned from CNN/SI that you can't be afraid to take chances and risks.
· It is Elementary, Watson [Access Atlanta]

May a thousand critics bloom
When there was a Soviet Union, there were cultural commissars to give directives: Shostakovich good; Shostakovich bad. And, of course, China had Madame Mao. And for decades, New York City had The New York Times.
We want to be as good at telling our readers the history of CBGB as we are about telling them about the Metropolitan Opera.
· Culture, apparently, is back in style [Observer]
Even when the truth has been reached – and this can happen only in a limited and imperfect way – it can never be imposed. To try to impose on others by violent means what we consider to be the truth is an offence against human dignity.
-Pope John Paul II [Pinched from Christian Blogs see last entry today]

Human Nature Lets Stop beating around the bush and consider beating Macbeth

Anyone who has read his/her Shakespeare would not have been surprised by the fact that he knew something that we are increasingly loath to acknowledge. There is no technical fix for the problems of humanity.
Solzhenitsyn was not alone in this view: indeed, one Russian poet wrote a cycle of sonnets from the Gulag, in which he referred disparagingly to Shakespeare’s tragedies as ‘mere trumper’ — a phrase he repeated many times as a refrain to underline the unprecedented nature of Soviet evil. Just as the German philosopher and social theorist Theodor Adorno said that after Auschwitz there could be no more poetry, so the Russians said that after the Gulag there could be no more Macbeth.
· Human Nature [City Journal]
· Mental Capacity of a Presidente [InstaPundit]

Parliamentary Culture Stranger in the House

No one is better qualified to write about parliamentary environment than my former boss, Dr Russell Cope. For over 30 years he was the Parliamentary Librarian of the New South Wales Parliament, and generations of parliamentary officers and students of Parliament have found his writings of great interest. Anybody can write a story about the parliamentary rituals, but only a great observer can consistently distill something profound from the stuff of everyday life at Parliament.
· Mono Kultura [Blog -City]

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Philosophy Disaster movies as the last remnants of Utopia

Political space is always rife with riddles and inconsistency. Thus, politics itself is, in the final analysis, always the politics of fantasy. It needs to imagine answers to antagonisms. Hence, my idea is that rather than interpreting films, and searching for keys to interpretation, we should view movies as direct participants in political reality.
In a famous example, Zizek explains that in 1954, after the execution of the Stalinist secret police chief Lavrenti Beria, all possessors of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia were sent revised pages. They were instructed to rip out the page with the entry ‘Beria’ and replace it with an item about the Bering Straits.
· Philosopher and cultural gadfly Slavoj Zizek. [Haaretz]


Ever since Tomas G. Masaryk, first president of Czechoslovakia and father of his country, was elected at the end of World War I, the Czech lands have enjoyed a tradition of high respect for democratically chosen presidents.
· Characters [Prague Post]

The King Has No Clothes: But Saying So Might Land You In Prison

The hallmark of an effective dictatorship, whether that be Stalinist Russia or Hitler’s Germany, is the wholesale silencing of the opposing voice. Criticism of the government must be eliminated because the foundation of despots crumbles when their authority is questioned in a sober and educated manner. For those of us who don’t live in countries like China or Zimbabwe, a benchmark of how healthy our freedoms are is to judge how our government reacts to criticism
· Hallmark of Leadership? [Pravda]
War & Peace Arms Deals Criticized as Corporate US Welfare

'The Poland arms deal is corporate welfare at its finest. 'The companies are private enterprises, but they are in effect wards of the state when the US government supports and underwrites the deals.
· Is this Arms Sale Real? [Boston Globe]

Is Devil Real?

I was skeptical about whether the exorcisms I performed were doing anything--until an unseen force grabbed my hand.
· Si Si No No [Belief Net]
Vol. 2 Issue 1=2
January 15, 2003

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