Thursday, November 27, 2003

Telstra is not in my best books this week…but that is another story!
My first book Cold River was about an escape across the Iron Curtain. My next book will try to answer some of the questions in this story. I had the pleasure of discussing the skeleton with my former boss Dr Cope recently and on Tuesday with the current Parliamentary Librarian, Rob Brian. My story is boring but I do have a benefit of being able to draw on my parliamentary experience where I came across colourful characters good bad and utterly ugly too…
· Where is my home? [Webdiary SMH]

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Thanks to Telstra my post until Monday will be very thin. Beggars are not choosers!
· Star of Telefoni [SMH]

Monday, November 24, 2003

Who is to take credit for Velvet Revolution?
A stroll through central Prague on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution reveals a city that has embraced capitalism with gusto.
Though John Lennon never visited Prague, he was a hero of the underground rock subculture and a symbol for the city's youth in their pacifistic revolt that brought down the Communist state.
December 8, 1980
John Winston Lennon shot dead in front of his apartment in New York. Shortly after his death, anonymous Prague rock fans create a mock grave for Lennon at a garden wall in a part of the city called "Mala Strana." Flowers, candles and graffiti reappear daily despite the efforts of Communist authorities to keep the area clean. The John Lennon Peace Wall quickly becomes ; a venue for complaints against Communist authorities and remains so until Vaclav Havel leads the non-violent "Velvet Revolution" of 1989 that brings an end to Communism in the country.

· Nezna Revolucia [BBC]
· Communists' downfall [Radio CityNov 2003]
· Havel Is Amnesty's First 'Ambassador Of Conscience' [RERl ]
Opposition supporters hailed a "velvet revolution"
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has declared a state of emergency after the opposition seized the parliament building and his presidential offices.
· Political turmoil grips Georgia [BBC ]

Beyond Conspiracy
This is not a survivable wound... How many times have I thought THAT, but just not had words as beautiful?
· Judge for yourself [CNN ]
Choice and the bench
Justice Michael Kirby is wrong on one crucial point. He is right to avoid the odious literalism of Sir Garfield Barwick. He is, however, wrong to specify that the interpretive posture should involve the people's wishes, the common good, or, especially, some godlike, elitist view of the infinite wisdom of the judiciary.
The only proper interpretive line involves trying to decipher the rubbish that at times emanates from parliament. Has the judiciary ever referred a point of law back to the drafters of that law? Has it ever seen bad law and asked for a clarification before it becomes a problem?
Peter Lander, Neutral Bay, November 23 (SMH)

I fought the law ...
Ironically, my role covering these stories presented my greatest challenge as a journalist. Some of those, especially those associated with the ALP, broke off contact with me, apparently believing that I had betrayed them and their causes. I found this more personally upsetting than not being admitted to practise law. It also confirmed my view that most lawyers, journalists and other professionals tend to hide abuse in their own ranks.
· Greatest Lovers in the World [SMH]
Driving Sales with Purpose
As many began to suspect yesterday afternoon, the release about A PURPOSE-DRIVEN LIFE shipping 10 million copies was way off base. Actually, according to Zondervan president and CEO Bruce Ryskamp, they've shipped 10.8 million copies so far. (On top of that, the Spanish-language edition has sold 200,000 copies here, ranking as the top title in the country.) So aside from Harry Potter's record-breaking summer, pastor Rick Warren's book has outpaced all others-exponentially. But where's the press you see for books by Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Jessica Lynch and others? Ryskamp says: We've asked ourselves that question, over and over again. It's not for lack of effort. We haven't solved this puzzle yet. Another puzzle is ...
· Extraordinary Image of Australian Church [Sunday Wendt]
· Age of Merryness [NY Times]

Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Klokans, Small Wallabies, came close, oh so close, to winning the Rugby World Cup for the second time in a row. But it took the boot of Jonny Wilkinson and a determined England side to ruin Australia's dream, with the Wallabies losing 20 to 17 in the dying seconds of extra time. They say that soccer and rugby are the games holy men play in heaven.

Made in England: Australia's British Inheritance by David Malouf
Charles Dickens once observed that barristers were mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another upon slippery precedents, groping knee deep in technicalities, running their goat hair and horse hair warded heads against walls of words, and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might.
· Australian Dickens [Australian via Wendy of Troppo Fame]
The war on terrorism and the rule of law
Papers from this conference, held on 10 November 2003, are available online. Speakers included the federal Attorney General, Philip Ruddock; the NSW Terror Minister, John Watkins; Jenny Hocking from the National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University; Senator John Faulkner, leader of the Opposition in the Senate; Devika Hovell, lecturer in law at the University of NSW; Stephen Kenny, lawyer for the Hicks Family; and Michael Gawenda, editor-in-chief of the Age.
· Terror [Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales]
Using rewards to catch white collar criminals
In this report Bruce Chapman (Centre for Economic Policy Research, ANU) and Richard Denniss (The Australia Institute) outline a new approach both to detecting and punishing the crimes of insider trading and collusion. They propose that financial incentives be offered to individuals or firms participating in illegal activity in return for the provision of evidence against other participants. In order to ensure that attractive incentives can be offered, and large fines levied, it is also proposed that a revenue contingent payment mechanism be utilised to extract both incentive payments and fines from firms and individuals convicted of these offences. The use of a revenue contingent penalty payment increases the certainty of collecting penalties while reducing the incentive for recourse to bankruptcy.
· Incentive payments and fines [(The Australia InstitutePDF file)]
From Imrich to Being Poor
I am laying out the following blogging manifesto/art statement, a list of "do nots" - a Blogma, if you will - which will hopefully improve the quality, enjoyability, and purity of the reading and writing experience.
· Blog Dogmata [ImPoor BackPages]
Online test designed to test your "digital IQ
What's Your 'Digital IQ'? . This week's Newsweek is all about The Twilight of the PC Era . There are several tech articles, but my favorite is: Test Your Digital IQ . Sixty-two questions and if you score 110 points then you are a certified
· Newsweek Survey [MSNBC ]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Sydney Wall(abies): The time for laughing is over
If our sporting rivalry is a bit of a joke, its deadly serious punchline comes tonight
· Wallabies' wet-weather game plan [RugbyHeaven SMH]

Rain: Like falling off a blog
The best of the crop - Simon Reynolds's Blissblog, a gateway for all others mentioned here), k-punk, Robin Carmody's House at Global's End, World's End, Philip Sherburne's Needledrops, Dave Stelfox's World of Stelfox - wear their learning lightly.
· There is not much to be said about the period except that most Bloggers do not reach it soon enough. [ Guardian(UK)]
More than just a roof
The reality of family homelessness is one of the major social tragedies confronting our society. As this research report argues, thousands of Queenslanders experience this unacceptable reality each year. Social policies which address educational, health and welfare needs all become secondary when finding somewhere secure to live is the critical and urgent need. The report's findings suggest that measures beyond the mere provision of housing are required to address the needs of family groups facing a housing crisis.
· Study of family homelessness in Queensland [(PDF file) ]
· Generation Xcluded: no kids, no house, no money! [(PDF file) ]
· The Hawke Policy Website
Time to Recognize the Politics of Suburban Sprawl
On the pages of nearly every newspaper in the nation, there are daily articles on suburban sprawl. Attempts to get sprawl under control started in the 1950s relatively soon after sprawl exploded after the end of World War II. They all failed. Even now, with a strong national “smart growth” movement, unless sprawl-haters understand sprawl politics and the power of the sprawl lobby, by mid-century with a population lunging toward 400 million, it will be too late to save so much of what so many Americans value, including public greenspaces, rural lifestyles, farmland and social capital.
· Caught in the poverty of wealth [ CommonDreams]

Explosions are rocking Europe
· Disgraceful Brutalism [CNN Terrorism]
School of Assassins
What do Col. Byron Lima Estrada of Guatemala, Lt. Josê Espinoza Guerra and General Juan Orlando Zepeda, both of El Salvador, and General Juan López Ortiz of Mexico have in common?
They are all murderers. They were all trained at the School of the Americas. Because of them, and because of thousands of others like them, many people call U.S. Army's School of the Americas the "School of Assassins."
And what do Panama's Manuel Noriega, Argentina's Leopoldo Galtiere, Peru's Juan Velasco Alvarado, Ecuador's Guillermo Rodriguez, and Bolivia's Hugo Banzer have in common?

· School of Coups: Dictators [CommonDreams ]
· Like Frankenstein's monster, the WTO has turned on the master who created it, the U.S. government. [CommonDream]
War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal
International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal.
· Conventions [ Guardian(UK)]
Prague Revisited
The evidence of an Iraq/al-Qaida connection hasn't gone away.
This month, I went to Prague to meet with Czech officials who had directly handled the pre-9/11 expulsion of a senior Iraqi diplomat, a case that would became known as the Prague Connection. Because it goes to the heart of the issue of whether Saddam Hussein might have played a role in the attack on the World Trade Center, this controversy has continued to rage, without any satisfying conclusion, for more than two years.

· Partners in crime? [ Slate]

Friday, November 21, 2003

Everyone's now a media critic ... But I'm glad about that ...there's so much media out there to critique, there's room for everyone. Yes, everybody is a media critic. And a food critic. But as Mike Kinsley once said, when you go into a restaurant, you don't want the guy who's sitting there talking about the food to cook. You want the chef. Seven media critics tell Glaser when they first got online, how the Net has changed their jobs, what's annoying about the Internet, and what sites they frequent.
· Real media critics agree that everyone's now a media critic [Online Journalism Review]
Bringing Sympathy
Former Reagan staffer, John B. Roberts II, notes in the NYTimes :
There has been considerable discussion recently about whether President Bush has done enough to honor the lives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the president writes letters to the families of soldiers who have been killed and meets privately with them at military bases, he has not attended an open memorial or a military service. That's a mistake.

· Missed Opportunities [Tim Dunlop]

Betrayal in the Ranks
Miles Moffeit and Amy Herdy of the Denver Post have a three-part series on sexual assaults in the military, concluding that the recent investigation of cases at the Air Force Academy are only part of the picture.
· Forces of Evil [Scoop ]
Lit Idol seeks new writing talent
Rowling, once an unknown writer herself, is now worth millions.
Aspiring novelists will compete for the chance to win a lucrative publishing contract in a Pop-Idol style literary talent search.

· London Book Fair [BBC ]
Complete collection of Australian Idol reflections for 2003
· Guy Australian Idol [Living Room]
· Strange Lovesickness [Spinstartshere ]

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Whatever it is worth it this is an amazing analysis by one and only Eurosavant.
· Czechs politics in 2003 [Eurosavant]
· Price of Peace [Webdiary ]
· Bully Boys [SMH: Kirkby]
The Rich ARE different from the rest of us. Their stupidity is MUCH more visible.

Building a Web Media Empire on a Daily Dose of Fresh Links
Thank you, Paris Hilton," exclaimed Nick Denton last week as traffic flowed in to his new Web venture, a pornography Web log called Fleshbot.
Mr. Denton, whose company, Gawker Media, also publishes the gossip site Gawker, had just received what to him was the Internet equivalent of gold: he scored one of the first copies of the now-infamous sex tape of Paris Hilton, an heir to the hotel fortune.

· The timing of his voyeuristic coup could not have been better [NY Times]
While we have your attention, Mr President...
It's not often that we get the chance to speak directly to the most powerful man in the world. Those of you who missed The Guardian yesterday, here they are online - fifty letters to Mr President. And no, they're not all hostile. Everybody's there... Portillo, Burchill, Motion, Salam Pax. A must-read.
· Guardian (UK) [Letters to,]
Is there an element of thruth in this story?
Margie Schoedinger dies as a result of a gunshot wound to the head
Margie Schoedinger, the woman who allegedly filed a lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002, claiming that she had been raped, has died of a gunshot wound to the head, registered officially as "suicide".

· Pravda? [Truth(Russia) ]
From Egotistical Dust to Liberal Accents
Every novel costs its author blood, sweat and tears to write. Isn't the mere effort deserving of some respect?
· No [London]
· English pool frogs have mating calls with distinct accents [ BBC]
· NYT Book Review Has a Liberal Bias? Come now, did we really need FOX News to tell us this? posted by [ Fox]

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Assessing Australia's Innovative Capacity in the 21st Century
Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA)

Innovation is essential to a nation's prosperity. This report assesses the evolution of the Australian innovation environment over the past two decades. It then proposes a 3-part strategy for furthering Australian future innovation: (i) strengthening common innovation infrastructure, (ii) encouraging regional industrial clusters and (iii) upgrading linkages between both. The PDF format paper is available on the internet · .

Why this new brand of fiction is a life sentence
A New York author is 'publishing' each word of a story as a tattoo on the skin of a different volunteer.
Want to be part of a living work of art for the rest of your life? New York author Shelley Jackson plans to 'publish' her short story 'Skin' by having each word tattooed on a different person.

· Skin [The Observer]

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Czeching our brains at the corporate door
Today we live in a world that people feel so compelled to silence any view that differs from their own. This country is very divided right now as a result of the actions of one who called himself a "uniter". I wish it were not this way but it is, perhaps next November will give us a change and some hope for the future.
Given the current climate of intimidation, fear of antidemocratic God was put into me by coroprate business lines so I debated whether to bother posting this, since the main point of this mirrored editorial is pretty self evident, namely that Australians, Britons and Americans who are anti-Bush are not necessarily anti-American (even if Tony Blair and the Republicans would like to paint them as such.)
Today’s Canberra, London and Washington have a whiff of Soviet ways; suffocating internal discipline, resentment of even reasoned, moderate opposition, and a refusal to admit even the tiniest error

Recipe for Disaster
Asking the right Iran questions.
Is Iran producing nuclear weapons?
Tehran says: No.
Washington says: Yes
The European Union says: Maybe.

It is like a chef who brings in all that is needed for making a soup but does not actually start the cooking
· until he knows when the guests will be coming [NationalReview]
· Bush: the Crying Wolf [CNN ]
· CarBomb [BBC ]
· WHY WE FIGHT [Yahoo ]
Someone once wrote to truly observe Australia, it helps to be at least a thousand kilometres away from Sydney. As I live more than once, I have made sure of enjoying the pleasure of living in Adelaide for a few months and Brisbane for almost 4 years.
When I was asked yesterday by my friend, Robert, living in Boonah how I was I said: I feel like a bird in a cage, but Sydney is the New York of Down Under. Robert and I have a lot in common we both have a unquenchable fire burning within us that is hard to contain. We both want to make a difference. Our fear about failing to voice opinions on issues that matter are carry the voice of a drowned escapees from a dirty riverbed in Czechoslovakia to Sydney to my home in High Tatra Mountains to India (where Robert is heading soon) and make us mourn that political bullies' power and that grieve for victims' families.
Our fear about failing to stand up to bullies everywhere is as real as the heart attack suffered recently by Tony, another guy I crossed paths in the sunny Queensland. Even if you are young and living on the sunny Gold Coast stress can get to you.
Do me a favor, after you read this. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. (It is still dark where I am sitting) Don't forget to smile.

Philip Pullman: You Ask The Questions
Did you ever suffer a thwarted passion, like your fictional characters? And what are the defining qualities of a truly great shed?
· Sailing [Independent]

The Power Of The Literary Drunk
Alcoholism is not an entertaining disease, and let no one claim that it is. But drunks do make great literary characters. They are quest-driven and tragic, marked for a destiny they cannot escape, and full of passion... Like all great literary subjects, drinking is transformative; it changes the metabolism of the alcoholic, even the very structure of his cells. It allows for carnivalesque abandon and provides the novelist with a catalyst for visionary truth... The best writing about alcoholics manages to explore the degradation the disease inflicts while respecting the dignity of its victim.
· Absinthe [The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/04/03]

It's a Little Too Cozy in the Blogosphere
It was a cool idea, a fresh kind of media democracy for a new-media world. Thanks to the miracle of blogging technology, any smart kid in Boise or Brooklyn could set up his own Web site and weigh in on everything from regime change in Iraq to snarky book reviews. He didn't need a publisher, a journalism degree or an old-boy network, just a computer, an Internet connection and an opinion (and bloggers have plenty of those). Part reporter, part gadfly, part cheeky upstart, bloggers seemed to scorn the insider mentality of brand-name pundits, and they were often a lot more fun to read -- and more insightful.
· Now I can't live without them, but already I'm feeling betrayed [WashingtonPost ]

Monday, November 17, 2003

Klown Klaus
Problems with integration of Gypsies? Pshaw! That's "such stupidity and such nonsense" that he doesn't even bother to respond.
Tim Sebastian: "...written by George Soros...."
Klaus, cutting him off: "Who?"
TS: "George Soros."
Klaus: "This is not my guru."
Ah. Well then nevermind. Ditto for Amnesty International and its allegations of Czech arms trafficking. Not an organization to be taken seriously, he says. Klaus seems to think that if you dismiss the source of the complaint, the facts will evaporate.

· Serious Blog Trafficker [Scottymac ]
It's a dark day indeed when you have to say "thank goodness for ODS". Karacters like Klaus are making Kommies the second most popular party in Czechia.
· Czech and Moravia [Nic Moc (Not Much)]
Worthy Transport Jungle
Barrie Unsworth, the former premier and transport minister who headed the inquiry, says more money should be poured into making buses run faster. This would include more bus lanes and bus signals at traffic lights, to avoid clogged traffic.
· Costa Congesion [SMH]
Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax
T he Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax In state legislatures across the nation, lawmakers are scrambling to cope with revenue shortfalls. Increasingly, however, they can't look to the corporate income tax for much help.
· Taxes [Tax ]
· Taxes [ Tax]
The self-interest and corner-cutting in the media world of the past few years has produced a seemingly permanent decline in the standing of journalists and editors...

The Elements of Journalism
1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.
2. Its first loyalty is to its citizens...
Most journalists I came across at the NSW Parliamentary Press Gallery would not have a clue where to find or how to interview their conscience. All they care, chase, maher, vass about is which Premier will include them on the payroll as a ministerial minder.
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
10. Journalism must give voice to the voiceless.

· Whispers Voices [ TimPorter]
I trust all leakers and anonymous sources - I trust them to give a selective account that will benefit them, one that pleases their patrons and screws their enemies.
· Identifying Leaks, Plugging Credibility Gap [Tim Porter]
There's even a chance that being a really good journalistl is more difficult than leading the Political Party, not less.

Cursed profession: Conscious Choice parody
Bryan Gilmer isn't really in the running for a Walgreens management trainee slot and has no interest in the Conscious Choice opening. I'm just a smartass who spent 10 minutes trying to be funny and point out a shortcoming of our profession that has long bothered me (that entry-level job opportunities in journalism don't pay a living wage or always offer the chance for advancement that the Walgreens job does).
The main problem is that well educated journalists who want to be thought of as professionals continually demean themselves by accepting these positions at these rates of pay.

· Shouldn't we all insist that a professional writer is worth more? [Pynter]

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Peak into the lives of three virtual women
· Margo [Sun Herald: It is not every weekend my name is mentioned in opinion pages of Sunday papers; judging by the emails even Melbourians and Brisbanites read the Herald.]
· Gianna [Sanctuary ]
· Wendy [Troppoarmadillo ]

Back Doors: Opportunity knocks!
Consider also visiting Naked Back Pages although not written by a virtual sheila still worth many a click
The truth is that however hard Christopher Sheil tried he didn't seem to be able to evade other bloggers during his weblog in progress stage...Like many other hearty bloggers who know well why the human heart beats, he is finding it easy to get traffic to his site. So invade him and leave your fingerprints behind the back pages! CS is interested in hearing from people with a conscience about all his musings...
· Back Pages [Christopher Sheil]
I want to challenge the Bush Administration's implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists. Because it is simply not true.
Al Gore

A Major Bushfire
You have to build a firebreak. You have to choose someone's property as the firebreak. Destroying their property, you will save the neighbourhood. Bill said, It's not pretty. These are hard moral decisions. But you have to do it.
· Destroy: In Order to save the global village [SMH: Webdiary]
I am always opened to new ideas and always value people over institutions. The most evil political systems have been created out of high but blind ideals. Better a politics that sees all of human nature, good, bad, and ugly...
An unphotogenic straw man gets inserted into office and a cabal of shadowy corporate advisers dictate policy and carry out the dirty work. It’s generally every Premier’s and PM’s world...
The truth is that however hard even Bob Carr tries he can't seem to persuade the average punter that he 'walks his talk,' ...Like many other Premiers who loved the political throne, he is finding it hard to reinvent himself as a corruption fighter. Are more (less )criminals running Sydney institutions today than a decade ago? Are Parliamentary debates more meaningless than a decade ago? Why is the main media not answering these questions? John Hatton is only a phone call away and the only human being in NSW qualified to answer the deeper questions. John walked the talk and took more risks than any other politician I have ever known.

Carmen Lawrence our Real hope
Vaclav Havel in a skirt, Carmen Lawrence has just made history in the Labor Party — she's become the first female national president of the ALP and the first person to be elected to that post by the party members.
· Winner: Over 6000 votes [Wendt]

Australia needs a speaker who will encourage healthy debate
Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): In view of the reviewed interest in crime figures, especially on the Tory Benches, will my Right Honourable friend consider whether back-stabbing should become a criminal offence?
· Thrust [Online Opinion]

It is not everyday I discover I am being quoted in a sermon (smile)

A Funeral for the Church
I'm 35 with a young family a long way from home. I love this Church, and yet hate so much of what it has stood for in the past. I believe it can and will change, and I want to be there to see it happen. I'm crazy enough to believe in resurrection, and for that reason have no regrets about saying to the church of my youth 'Rest in Peace'. I will remain at the edge, as only at the edge can I be faithful to the inspiration of my faith, Jesus who took risks, was always open to change and valued people over institutions.
Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. And then out of the ashes something new and exciting will emerge.

· The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do [St Matthews]
Cold Reality
Blogging - The New Voyeurism?
Every morning over coffee I take a peak into the lives of 100 or so total strangers. The windows that I peep through are their blogs. Through them I see all kinds of things.
· Strangers let me glimpse a small part of their life [Living Room]
· Minister of Beer [SMH]
· Irony deficiency sweeps the nation [PHILLIP ADAMS]
Buggers, Klokans and Kiwis!!!
Men with small dogs who own very tidy apartments...
I'm whistling! I'm whistling!
Little boys in grade school are suspended for playing cowboys and Indians, cops and crooks, and all the other familiar variations of good guy vs. bad guy that helped them learn, at an early age, what it was like to have decent men hunt you down, because you were a lawbreaker.
· The Pussification Of The Western Male [Kim Dutoit]

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Literature now is in a dangerous river where there seems to be little separation between the private act of writing and the public performance demanded of writers. Does every writer in 21 st century need to make sounds like the Madonna who once equated blowjobs with fervent prayer?

Welcome to the writer's nightmare
What's worse - addressing a crowd of hundreds, or fronting up to an audience of none?
But even the best book tour can be an exercise in frustration, full of days where you shlep three hours to a bookstore in the middle of nowhere to sing for your supper in front of an audience consisting entirely of bookstore employees and ladies who lunch (but don't, they'll be happy to tell you, buy books in hardcover), or wannabe writers who'll pump you for every detail of the story of how you sold your first novel, up to and including your agent's social security number, and then leave without buying.
· Road Tour Too Much Trouble [Observer]
· The Power Of The Literary Drunk [The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/04/03]
These are dangerous times, and surreal. Soyinka said Americans need to drop their complacency and realize that the same fanaticism seen in Osama bin Laden is also present in the Bush administration. According to Soyinka, bin Laden's assertion that the world is made up of either "believers or non-believers" is equivalent to Bush's assertion that "you are either with us or against us. Such a belief, Soyinka said, poses the greatest threat to the creative mind. I hope the current events in Iraq shatter the glass case of American complacence forever.

Violence in Iraq: Foreign or Home-Brewed?
The large majority of the despicable bunch of thugs that commit the terror-acts belong to Al-Qaida
· Danish Daily [Euro Savant]
· Polish Press
This weekend, the Guinness Book of World Records will sell its 100 millionth copy.

Digital library
So: e-books are handy when I'm concerned only with text, when I want to take a lot of text in a very compact way, and when I want to mark up heavily. The upshot for me of having a growing library of e-books is that I can take better care of my printed volumes and focus a bit more on buying print with an eye toward quality, since I've got this option for uses where aesthetics matter less.
· eBooks [AboutLastNight]
· Understanding Trees and Woods...

Books are fun and interesting to read, but the Sunday Book Review is neither... the review hardly ever helps you answer the key question: Should I spend $4.85 on 'Tis eBook?
· New York Times Sunday Book Review [Boston Globe 11/13/03]
Hornby Offers Peek at Novel-in-Progress
Reading from a novel tentatively titled Kings and Queens of Shambles, Hornby told the story of three people who meet when they’re all trying to kill themselves by jumping from the same roof.
“Out of the way, losers!” yells Jess, as she charges the other two characters already occupying the prime suicide spot.

· A funny tone about sad things [ Crimson]
Like the younger George Bush, who evaded the 1960s Vietnam draft, Howard has never seen military service of any kind. Yet he lives out his fascination with memorials, military leadership and glorifying speeches in reverence of his father and grandfather, both of whom fought in World War I.
Remembrance drowned in rhetoric
W hen was the last time you heard a politician use words that rang with truth and meaning? The minister did very well today. Really, you have to admire the way he hides behind cliches and lies so sincerely.
· Cowardship [SMH]
You represent... desire. You represent... desire.
You sure are motivated. You have a definite knack for getting what you want. You always put your own interests before those of others, and you almost always find youself being satisfied. Though you have determination, try some compassion. Putting others first occassionally can get you even more satisfying relationships.
What feeling do you represent?
brought to you by If we sleep together, would you like me better? [Ms Woods: Quizilla]

Japanese Giants in E-Book Joint Venture
Publishers Shinchosha and Kodansha have teamed with Sony and printer Dai Nippon and Toppan and other smaller partners to form Publishing Link, an e-book company that will distribute books over the Internet starting next year.

Daring Dragons
My publisher is working long days as stories by Double Dragon have been listed with five more new eBook retailers:
Adobe Systems Incorporated ( Ltd )
Follett Higher Education Group
G'day; Me Mates, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch are promoting Cold River... without fear but with lots of convict Humour! Thank yous. Meanwhile Hollywood filmmakers finished shooting the biggest movie in Romania -- Cold Mountain.

The tiny nation-state of Molvania may be among the lesser-known countries to emerge from the old Eastern Bloc, but it seems to share much in common with Slovakia, Belarus and Romania.
· Slaves [SMH ]

Mad red dust in every pore
And all Aussie writing has a tinge of 'make love, not war'.
· Pregnancy [SMH]
· Love's slow burn [SMH]

Friday, November 14, 2003

It is now six months since I walked away from politics, and barely a day goes by that someone doesn't ask me what it is like. Well, it's pretty good.
Sometimes I miss the ability to have real and positive influence in community life, but that is all. I do not miss the non-stop demands of public life, the invasion of privacy, the relentless grind of functions and events. It is wonderful to have flexibility in the working day, opportunities for walks and good coffee, a chance to read something other than official documents and briefing papers.
Politics is a hard business, and it's getting harder. This is cause for concern as down the track it will influence the type of person who puts up their hand for the job. There is a risk that the only ones who will contemplate political life will be those who are beyond caring about public opinion or those who have no past, no sensitivity, nothing worth protecting. Not a good prognosis for healthy robust politics.

· Jim Soorley [exMayor the man who introduced One Book for Brisbane the year Cold River was published: 2002]
When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans.
It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, "Der Feind hoert mit" (The enemy is listening): My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me.

Soros: Beating Bush is my life's mission
GEORGE Soros, one of the richest men in the world, has given away nearly £3 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating the president of the United States, George Bush.
· A matter of life and death [Scotsman]
Fighting Black and Blue Thursday: 13 November
Who, living in the Sutherland municipality, would disagree with the young character, a Lady to be, Mary Wein, whose parents migrated to Australia from Poland in 1920s. In her memoirs Lady Fairfax wrote, ‘I came home to my father one day. I was the youngest, at 22, single, female, wage-earner in NSW. Dad I’ve found out about money. It’s lovely stuff, it makes you free.
My really Black Thrusday experience started with a bad family news at 7.15 am. Then on the train I read the local news about Bob Carr, NSW Premier, reacting with that categoric denial to the threat against the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor while Willie Brigitte admits to French authorities that he was planning a terrorist attack on ANSTO. My meeting with the legal eagle from the Red Dragon was also very nuclear. As you think things just cannot get worse they turn almost lethal. So my day ended with me running against time and finding myself in a company of a gorgeous policewoman who escorted me for the 8:40 pm train. My brother in law, a former chief of the Kiama police station, has introduced me to a number of beautiful women in the uniform, but there is some kind of amazing chemistry when you get the destiny of life introduce you to the blue colours of jazzy life in exile. The street is dark and empty but stormless: just you and this smile stretching all the way to the corners of her blue eyes as those red lips fill with the promise: I will czech you out... I like women that give me a sense of powerlessness, and (Kerrie?) was certainly one that pulled that off with real success.
· Uniformed Women
· Copyright Laws: My Number Plate says IMRICH:=}( [Ananova]
Fighting Junk E-mail
ChoiceMail, from
DigiPortal : everything is presumed to be spam. Unless I've sent that address mail, or unless I have listed it as an approved domain, or unless the text or subject contains words I've named, then every piece of mail is assumed to be spam, is held in a queue separate from my inbox, and is responded (to) by an e-mail asking the sender to register. If the sender doesn't register within, say, 4 days, the e-mail is deleted and I never see it.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Decay of Public Language
The corporate world is awful at using language effectively, and we're all the poorer for it
· World Today [ABC ]
I normally like my opponents. I do not want them to beat me, but I have no problem about their right to express themselves and who they are. It is important that we accept that.
Margo Kingston Webdiary: 13 November 2003

There are many people in the community who have absolutely nothing in common with Pauline Hanson, who do not support her policies, who do not support One Nation and do not support what One Nation stands for but who still have questions regarding this entire process
· Processes [SMH]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

In the Labor Party you are able to hate, even encouraged to hate. Gough only wanted to talk to people who were as intelligent as he was and given that there weren't any, he had no one to talk to.

There's no love lost
FORMER federal Labor minister
Graham Richardson
has pulled out of a big ALP fundraiser to avoid embarrassing NSW Premier Bob Carr.
I'll will get this bastard. I'll do whatever it takes, but I'll get him."
You can always tell who your friends are - they are the ones who vote for you when you're wrong.
Nobody holds a mortage on Labor's leadership. When the new messiah has arrived the incumbent should gracefully retire; if not,

· he should be dragged down [HeraldSun ]
· Fresh inquest [ SMH]
Former Polish President Lech Walesa
Visiting Polish parts of religious Australia.
· Pell [Catholic Weekly]

New Curtain
Hundreds of people turned out in Sydney to protest against Israel's construction of a barrier on the West Bank, describing it as a fundamental breach of human rights.
· West Bank [ SMH]
Chinese Dragon
New entry on a newish blob by former Australian Ambassador in Europe, Dr James Cumes, who elaborates on the economic and political role of China in 21st Century.
· Lakatoi [Blog By James Cumes]
· Articles devoted to Chinese government [OnlineOpinion ]

The Money Trap:
Soros and his Institute has a brilliant new website peppered with engaging ideas and stories.
This paper focuses on the undisclosed deals between multinational corporations and governments that help officials enrich themselves at the public’s expense. And it shows how even strong laws against corruption in established democracies can be riddled with loopholes to benefit wealthy groups that dominate the legislative process.

· Stopping the Spread of Corruption [OSI PDFformat]

Short Story Writer's Debut Explores Cold Rivers
Self-assured and passionate describe both the stories in How to Breathe Underwater and their author, 30-year-old Julie Orringer. This debut collection, published by Knopf in September, showcases the considerable talents of Orringer, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and Cornell University and a recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University, where she now teaches.
· How to Breathe Underwater [BookWeb ]
Googleology of Cooking: True Myths!
Poison Kitchen: The title of this weblog refers to the nickname Adolf Hitler gave to the muckraking journalists of the Munich Post. Sadly they have been almost forgotten.
· Making Love To the Sexiest Spider [Poison Kitchen via Road to Surfdom]

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

New York-based Charter 77: Donor diva

For 14 years foundation head has helped build Czech civil society.
On the eve of Vaclav Havel's first presidential inauguration, Wendy Luers and her husband, Bill, the U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1983 to 1986, were watching history unfold on the BBC -- and in the next room.
They were in Havel's Prague apartment, and the soon-to-be head of state was trying on Bill's neckties. Olga Havlova was donning Wendy's blouses.
I knew Olga for years, and I knew she had very few clothes, Wendy Luers recalls. Dissidents lived sparsely.
Luers had brought more to the country than selections from her stylish New York wardrobe. She carried a commitment of $25,000 in donations from Czech emigres eager to support the rebirth of democracy in their homeland. Money was needed for just about everything at that time.

· 1989 [Prague Post]

Amerikan Slovaks
History cannot be written by heart. Anything that is written must either be lived through or searched for.
A man should listen to a little music every day as music washes off the dust of life. Anything that is written must either be lived through or searched for.

· 1919 [A History of the Binghamton Slovaks]
Red Cross Nothing is Sacred
Red Cross, of all people, are pulling out of Baghdad and Basra, citing an extremely dangerous and volatile situation in Iraq. The Swiss-based agency reduced its international staff last month after two staff members and 10 other people were killed in an October 27 car bomb attack on its Baghdad offices
· 'Bring It On:' Exit [CNN]

As the situation in the Middle East gets more and more alarming, so does President Bush. Last Thursday, speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush linked his own speech to Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" speech in 1918, Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" in 1941, and Ronald Reagan's 1982 Westminster address...
· Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, and standing for ... [SMH: Bush Speech in Fulltext]
Still At Large
While JI may be on the run, it is simultaneously regrouping and planning its next strike.
This investigation reveals JI as a fluid and dynamic network, able to react quickly to circumstances and to regenerate itself.

· 4 Corners [ABC ]
Terrorists stormed past security guards into an affluent, heavily secured residential neighborhood in the Saudi capital Saturday and set off three explosions.
The protection money paid by the Saudi royal family and the support for the Whabbi catachism of hate that has been a fundamental part of the Saudi polity for 50 years is yielding a harvest for those who sewed the dragon's teeth.

· Explosions [CNN ]
Did you hear about the new instant lottery game in India? You scratch the ticket, and if the dot matches the one on your forehead, you win a 7/11 store in Australia.

Lady Luck?
- A Bumper Sticker -
Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
Did you hear about the New 3 Million Dollar Alabama State Lottery?

· The winner gets 3 dollars a year for a million years [NSW Lotteries]
· Healthy Skepticism [Phil Adams]
A glimpse inside the virus writer
When computer security researcher Sarah Gordon was hit by a virus it did not just make her worry about what was lurking in her inbox.
· It's not just technical tricks that make viruses successful [BBC ]
· Women, Bargain hunters, Dangerous Virus [Ananova ]
Put your name initials in this savvy akroname finder and be alarmed!
The web's most comprehensive database
of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms:
JI Jamaat-e-Islami (Pakistani political party)
JI Jemaah Islamiah (Islamic fundamentalist group)
JI Johnston Island
JI Joint Index
JI Joint Inspection
JI Journal of Immunology
JI Junction Isolation
JI Midway Airlines (FAA code)

· Sponsored by Amazon [ ]

Monday, November 10, 2003

Australian Idol
Best of the Australian Idol observations
· Australian Dreamers [Living Room]

What’s My Line?
The world is full of lovely people who like nothing better than sharing their pleasures.
· Lovely Idols [AboutLastNight ]
Jozef & Bush 'have much in common'
We both married well and some accuse both of us of not being able to speak the language...

I never had sex with that woman...Ms Clinton; But
Living through Secret Affair with Hillary Bray Clinton
Martin Sikora reviewed my book back in August 2002 and publishers of Hillary Clinton pinched his idea and now some readers who use search engine download Cold River and Living History. I am no longer rich, but at least I am still a dangerous living history ...(smile)
Customer Rating: (4 stars)
Posted on 8/23/2002
Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can’t ever really know. But a man known as Jozef Imrich lived through it and he tells his story of growing up in communist Czechoslovakia. But ‘Cold River’ is so much more than just a story, a riveting story of trial and escape, and of rebirth. It is, in its essence, a moving and dramatic tale of one man’s quest for freedom; not just in a physical sense, but an emotional one as well. This e-book literally sent chills up my spine. After you finish reading, you can't get certain images out of your head. Even as you are going along, reading it, there are parts where you can't believe you’re breathing. It might seem hard to believe, but there are no photos or maps in this book.

· Jozef [Bookbooters ]
· Hillary [Bookbooters]
Even the most seemingly innocent virtual proximity with a woman can be enough to send male sex hormones soaring.
· Slaves & Senators [Avanova]
· Book Sales Roar In September [Publishersweekly]
Oh no. Barbra Streisand is angry that her husband's miniseries has been cancelled by CBS. Sure, they may have portrayed the Reagans in an unflattering light by making up things that never happened and all, but it's a movie, not a documentary. They should be allowed to take some artistic license.
You know, she's got a point there. When STREISAND! The Movie comes out, I'm sure she wouldn't mind if a few things were exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth to illustrate a larger point. For instance, there could be a scene with a young Barbra Streisand (Mayim Bialik) pushes another singer in front of a bus before going to audition for a role in a musical. Sure, that may never have happened LITERALLY, but it could demonstrate that Babs was driven and ambitious even at a young age. Another scene could show an older Barbra Streisand (Sarah Jessica Parker) beating and kicking her then-husband Elliott Gould (David Schwimmer). Sure it may never have actually happened, but the two did get divorced, so that could show that there were stresses in the marriage.
I'm sure she wouldn't have any problems with that at all. · Why should movies about real people stick to the facts? [AdventuresinBureaucracy ]

Blog Sleuth Hipper
Eurovavant points out this fantastic bit of blogging detective work on the HipperCritical blog. Some lawyer was allowed onto the New York Time's Op-Ed pages yesterday with an editorial arguing that Iraq should be required to pay its international debt in full. Turns out (but the NYT didn't bother to provide any clue about this) that he's a lawyer whose clients are those companies and kingdoms to whom Iraq owes that money. Our sleuth "Hipper" took to the Google trail and found that out, plus a whole lot of other juicy information - such as that the lawyer is on record in the past as urging the forgiving of Russia's foreign debt. (But Russia was the one paying his fees then, you see. That was then; this is now.)
· Hippercritical
With the Melbourne Cup still ringing in our ears, comes the suggestion that God deposited each new species on the planet, fully formed and marked “made in heaven.” However, he also apparently allowed a few minor market adjustments...You know, there just might be a market for this coming to your workplace tv soon

Mondaditis Games at work may be good for you
Playing simple computer games at the office could improve productivity and job satisfaction.
· No Doom or Blood-red moon [BBC]
Reality Czech: Moscovites caught kissing in public places could be fined ...
Scottish Restaurant
Scot, RRRon, to give away 1 billion songs on iTunes ... D-Did they say billion? With a B...Nnnnever!
· I Am Always Right ::Kulture Shock! [NYPost]
· McDonald's CEO Upset Over 'McJob' Entry [ABC (US)]

Sunday, November 09, 2003

How do I start a blog? How do I find readers? How do I change my template? Where should I promote my blog? What tools should I use to make my blog more interactive?

Darren Rowse of Living Room Fame, who serves the internet unconditionally, shares thoughtful Blog Tips right here!
· Engines [Blog Tips: Living Room]

Graham Young of OnLine Opinion Fame, started this week an engaging Blog entitled
· Ambit Gambit []

PS: My appologies if I have not replied to your emails... 90% of my emails get deleted: if I do not recognise the name (I know Darren and Graham) or if I read subject tiles like Hello, Hi etc. Ah, I never open anything with attachments. Please assess my blog and suggest any improvements at the Blog Street.
· Roothless Feedback Sought...@ [Blog Street]
As Plato says, it’s war, not peace, that is most likely the normal state of human affairs... More people are finding life is a vitriolish course...peppered with the greatest own-goals in the history of Australian politics?

This week is taking a toll on Peace Prizes, Political Barometers...
The hatred and vitriol she'd encountered from Australians she'd never experienced before, not even from the Israelis ...
· Hanan Ashraw [Sunday: Nine]

Pauline's life is like some bizarre moral barometer for Australia.

Pauline Hanson Singing a duet with a young Aboriginal singer
I was a person that had my opinion and, yes, I thought I knew everything as a member of Parliament to go and look through the prisons. You know nothing, and these politicians and bureaucrats that make the legislation have no idea. And yes, it's been a very daunting, distressing time. I could never explain what it's done to me, but in so many ways I've learnt so much from it ...
· Money, power and position bring justice; without it, you go to gaol [Webdiary SMH]
· Federal-state law flaw keeps insider trader out of jail [SMH ]

Patrick White Prize
Angela Bennie explains Patrick White's expectations for the prize (endowed with his Nobel Prize winnings) in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Perhaps reflecting his own bitter experience as a writer in his homeland, he stipulated the award, now valued at $ 20,000, was to go to a writer whose work, in the opinion of the judges, had "not received adequate recognition" in this country.
· Janette Turner Hospital [SMH ]
Wen kindly serves short story every Sunday at Troppoarmadillo, my constitutional read. Do Czech this Antipodean talent out
· Peter Kocan: an absolute university [Troppoarmadillo: Wen]

Fact and fiction
In yesterday's issue of the Columbia Spectator Matt Carhart reported that: Rich Says Line Between Fiction, News Disappearing: Frank Rich, the popular New York Times columnist, analyzed the rapidly disappearing line between politics and entertainment in modern American culture in a talk last night entitled 'The Fictionalization of News.'
· Fiction and news have become so intertwined [Columbia ]
· Long utopian road [ALDaily]
· Noble Savage [Sunday Goya]

Saturday, November 08, 2003

I Spy spy, spy, the tip came from the expert on all things relating to Campbelltown - the solicitor John Marsden, who once said: There are two great cities in the world - Rome and Campbelltown.

Khodorkovsky & Marsden
The Moscow and Rome offices of the Soros Foundation and Breen Law Reform Groups were raided...
· Revenge [SMH]

White House Puts Limits on Queries

The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.
· Pesky Times [WashingtonPost]
St Basil
Why do the waters give birth also to birds?’ he asked, writing about Genesis. ‘Because there is, so to say, a family link between the creatures that fly and those that swim. In the same way that fish cut the waters, using their fins to carry them forward, so we see the birds float in the air by the help of their wings.’ If an Archbishop living 1,400 years before Darwin can reconcile God with evolution, then perhaps Dawkins and the ID lobby should be persuaded to do so as well.
· eVolution [Spectator(UK)]
I fell under the spell of extreme curiosity about what the hell Prince Chuck supposedly didn’t do...

Broadcasting secret weapons test by mistake
I have seen too many machiavellian mistakes in my life that somehow tend to accidentally happened on purpose ...
· Missssssile [Yahoo]

A Polish major has died after being wounded in an ambush south of Baghdad, becoming the first soldier from his nation killed by hostile fire in Iraq.
· Slav Killed [Swissinfo ]
He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the lord
· Don't mention the dead [Guardian(UK)]
We have to find meters whose scales are unknown in the world... Fuentes once imitated the snarling-hissing ghost cats he had heard in the air over Kafka's grave in Prague....

The road was hard
The first royalties that allowed me to live on my stories and novels were paid to me when I was in my forties, after I had published four books with the most abject earnings. Before that, my life was always agitated by a tangle of tricks, feints, and illusions intended to outwit the countless lures that tried to turn me into anything but a writer.
He was a young, vital man, and he did his full share of drinking, whoring and carousing, all of which he recalls now with no small wonder that he managed to survive.

· García Márquez [WashingtonPost]
The month I escape Queensland, political prisoner breaks loose...

Hanson assured of path to power
Pauline Hanson was yesterday guaranteed a safe seat in Federal Parliament and breathed life back into One Nation by refusing to rule out a political comeback.
· Pauline: The truth. I said the truth will set us free [SMH]
The best Media Blogs by Forbes
Us & Them
· Media Dragon [Forbes]
Last night I was working on my brain... Tonight I join brainy bloggers @ 3WM

Going for a pint could be good for the mind
Spending more time in the pub could be good for your brain.
· Mon(k)ey Brain [Avanova]

I told you so! Male sex hormone easily triggered ...
Even the most seemingly innocent chat with a woman can be enough to send male sex hormones soaring.
· Men Unmasked Beyond Reasonable Doubt [Avanova]

Friday, November 07, 2003

What's going on in your head?
Playwright Louis Nowra, in an interesting piece comparing Australian theatre to that of other nations, wrote that:
While other nations struggle with their sense of inferiority or guilt, or boast of their success, or, like America, remain proudly resplendent in self-absorption, we, as a nation, seem to have found contentment in hedonism and a lack of introspection.

· Spirit Within [Troppo::Wendy.James]
War &Peace: What's going on here?
Soon after I published the views of two Jewish Australians, Ian Cohen and Antony Loewenstein - Ian on the Brandis accusation that the Greens were Nazis, Antony on Hanan Ashwari - a reader rang my editor to demand the Webdiary entry be taken down immediately.
· Risks Taken for Peace [Webdiary(SMH)]
Judge blasts Howard and Carr over remarks
The Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Premier, Bob Carr, have been savaged in the Pauline Hanson court finding for comments that could have been seen as an attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary for cynical political motives.
· Zero Tolerance: Zero Degree of Separation [SMH]
As the rate rise hits wallets, the Government is sure to deflect attention elsewhere...
14%? All Rise
Home borrowers may be grappling with a second interest rate increase within weeks.
· 14 Kurdish men [SMH]
· Comparison [PDF]
Twilight of the dorks?
Geeks and nerds produced the art and science that define the modern age. But now that everybody's climbing on the dork bandwagon, where's the rage and resentment that fueled their creativity going to come from?
· Surging Creativity [Salon]
· Metaphors & all Zat Verbal Jazz [ Idioms]

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Remembering our past to engage with our present
Ian Cohen & Antony Loewenstein on the healing and repair of the world
· Robert Fisk: tikkun olam [SMH]
· Take risks for peace rather than hatred, Ashrawi urges Sydney [SMH]
Real guest list for the Bush barbecue
How do you swing an invitation to a barbecue at the Lodge with the leader of the free world? You could win the US Tennis Open and become young Australian of the Year, like Lleyton Hewitt. Or you could captain the Wallabies to a World Cup victory, like John Eales.
· Success Breeds... [SMH]Webdiary
Put warning symbols next to stories using leaks
A knife symbol would warn readers that the leaker wants to hurt or destroy the source's political enemy. (Robert Novak's CIA agent disclosure needed such an icon, says Christopher Hanson.) A pointing finger icon would indicate the source is trying to shift blame to someone else. A blowfish symbol, says Hanson, would let readers know the anonymous source is puffing up himself or his boss. This icon should be used for virtually every anecdote leaked from the White House about a president at work.
· Blowfish symbol [Baltimore Sun]
A good publication is like a really good party
When he reads a magazine or newspaper, Reason editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie likes the feel of wandering around "and there's a lot of different rooms you can move in and out of and have a lot of different conversations, some are serious, some are funny, some are totally offbeat and weird. You get into a couple of arguments and start shouting and screaming at each other... I like publications that give me a sense of that, and The New York Observer is certainly one that pulls that off with real success.
· Born to Party []
How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]
· A race to the bottom? [National Europe Centre, Australian National University]

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

What has made in 1980 land of the Oz such a delightful light on the hills Down Under to sole survivors of the Iron Curtain like me is that it has appeared strong enough to let its people debate and criticize government policies without suggesting that the critics are somehow less than human.
Every political observer worth his salt realised that the day Paul Keating lost his tolerance for views expressed by Harry, he moved to presidents of banana republic territory. Now our man of steel appears too be loosing a democratic plot on slippery floor of personal attacks.

Speaking of personal attacks a webdiarist, Bruce Blackshaw, wrote this thoughtful gem today:
It is one thing to disagree with someone's politics. I have disagreed strongly with some recent Howard government decisions, particularly those to do with immigration and the Iraq war. And it is my democratic right to do so, and to vote against the government if I wish (well, if expats were allowed to vote!). It is even my right to criticise the government in print.
It is another thing altogether to disparage someone's character.
Anna starts with a ridiculous shifty eyes comment about John Howard, and goes on to call him a hypocrite. Apparently, he expounds virtues and morals yet he has little to none. This are serious personal accusations, and without a long personal knowledge of John Howard the human being, Anna is ill-equipped to levy them.
I don't know John Howard personally. I do, however, have some small knowledge of one of his sons, having worked in the same area with him in an investment bank. As a worker and a person, I could not have a higher regard for him, and I believe that is at least partially a reflection of his parents. At least, let's give John Howard the benefit of the doubt.
Can we lay off the personal attacks, and get back to the politics please?

Make no mistake parliamentary clerks of Harry stature are shunned by their parliamentary colleagues not only for defending the true spirit of the parliametary story, but also for telling tales out of parliamentary (Marco Polo) school. Characters like Harry suffer greatly at the hands of politicians and their capability to deliver with their acid tongues. Most politicians and their spin doctors have quite amazing abilities to turn democratic truths into democratic lies. Haryy is a human being too and he has nothing to gain only lose by standing up to political bullies of all colours. Simple Onya, Harry would sound sweeter to Harry than all the riches in the world.
PS: The House of Representatives Clerk, Ian Harris, and the Senate Clerk, Harry Evans, have traded bitter insults in a row over who can be compelled to appear before the Senate inquiry into the "children overboard" affair.
SMH By Craig Skehan April 13 2002

Like Vaclav Havel, Harry Evans proves he's always the smartest person in the society.

The shadow opposition
Only one man seems capable of getting under the Howard Government's skin these days. Paul Keating wanted to sack him. John Howard, too, tried to remove him. But Harry Evans, self-appointed champion of parliamentary process against autocratic executive government, survives.
· Irritant values of the Clerk of Parliament [SMH]
People have been looking for ammunition they can throw back at Steve Irvin, but I don't think this does any harm to his reputation...

Expats unchain their krokodile hearts
Another depressing day in Canberra watching public servants under questioning by Senate estimates Committees - the people's chance to ask questions. A new boat and thousands of new islands excised from Australia, the Crocodile Man - 'I love John Howard' - paid $175,000 to do a government commercial, outsourced Prime Minister and Cabinet department's information technology sees its entire email back up tape thrown in the rubbish bin and lost, the same department and the PM fail to send Kylie Russell a video or photos of the wreath laying ceremony for her husband they forgot to invite her to.
· Krokodile Tears: $175,000 [SMH]
Bradbury Reflects
Ray Bradbury says, I was never a science-fiction writer. Science fiction is the art of telling things that can really happen because they exist physically. Fantasy is about things that can't happen, that you make happen anyway, which is what I do. The only completely science fiction story I've ever written was 'Fahrenheit 451.' When 'The Martian Chronicles' came out 53 years ago, my publisher put the science-fiction symbol on the cover, even though it's a fantasy. I made them take it off when they reprinted it the year (Jozef Imrich) was born.
Since his stroke three years ago, he's written five books. His secret: I've never worked a day in my life. All I need is a couple of hours to write each day." I get my ideas early in the morning, just watching the metaphors drift by and then I put them down on paper. I don't fret about things.
NYDN with Bradbury

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

· World drowning in rivers of data

I did not care about glory, or money, or old age, because I was sure I was going to die very young, and in the pub.
My friend George

Attention Sydney Bloggers and Beer Accomplishers!
A hastily convened Blogger Booze Up has been called by Scott of Icon (SMH) Fame and by Ken of Troppoarmadillo Fame:
When: Saturday at 6:30 pm ...(8/11/03)
Where: Three Wise Mon(k)eys[3WM]
555 George Street, near Chinatown
Who: Wen & Whoever wants to show up...
Why: You have to ask? Come and Drown with Us
· Dragon Shouts: A Little Perspective on my royalty Cheque from Cold River [My Shout]
· Draft [Salon]
Dark Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen
George Bush's America, the wealthiest nation in history, faces a growing poverty crisis.
· Amerikan Winter [Guardian](UK)
Google set to rewrite the rules of advertising
When adults sit down to use the web they generally do two things: check their emails and then do a search (teenagers either chat or download music, but that's a whole different kettle of piracy)
· Kettle of piracy [SMH]
· This week Webdiary boils powerful stories and steams them through Amerikan blogs [SHM]

Critical Study Minus Criticism of Justice Dept.
An internal report that harshly criticized the Justice Department's diversity efforts was edited so heavily when it was posted on the department's Web site two weeks ago that half of its 186 pages, including the summary, were blacked out.
· Black, kettle, Pot, Black [NY Times]
Mind the gap
I think I've mentioned before my absolute loathing of what I think of as "hipocrisy". Old-fashioned hypocrisy is bad enough, but my pet hate, spelt with an "i", is far, far worse. Basically, it's what Our Side does; and as we think of ourselves as the opposite of hypocrites - because we're hip! - it's twice as bad. Traditionally, we enlightened types like to think of hypocrites as Those People Over There - the ones with the net curtains and the narrow minds and the lights-out sex lives. These are the people who are really, really weird, so the story goes, not juvenile delinquents and illegal Albanians - because they're doing weird stuff in secret, and only pretending to be normal. And to cover up, they work twice as hard at condemning other people. They say one thing and do another; they are hypocrites, and they are bad.
· Pot, kettle, black [Guardian (UK)]

Monday, November 03, 2003

Sometimes a big 100-watt goes off over my tired, saltier than peppered head and I see things in a whole new light...

The Truth About Pop Culture
Almost everyone, it seems, blames the mass media for the increasingly violent nature of American society. And for the corruption of our children. And for our rampant materialism and consumerism. And for the increasing sexualization of our culture,” writes David Shaw, media critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Karen Sternheimer is one of the few exceptions. The 34-year-old sociologist at USC has written a book, It's Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture's Influence on Children, and in it she argues that the even though the media are a "central force" in our society, "media culture is not the root cause of American social problems."
Though Shaw isn’t ready to let the media off the hook so easily and thinks Sternheimer overstates her case, he praises her central argument: “‘The most pressing crisis facing American children today is not media culture but poverty,’ she rightly says.
“In her view, the other ‘big bad wolves of childhood’ are family violence, child abuse and neglect, inadequate health care and the under-funding of education. But it's easier for politicians to blame the media than to budget the money -- and spend the political capital -- necessary to address these problems.”

· Her finger isn't pointed in the usual direction [LA Times]
· Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own [NY Times]

Don’t assume that bad news is bad and good news is good.

Hear no Evil...Do No Evil...Evilism
All the isms, an English wag once said, are wasms."
What is your own image of evil? Have you ever had an intimate personal encounter with it? Does it have its own taste and smell and configuration? ...
Evil is something that, when you see it, when you know it, it's intimate. It's almost sensual. That is why people who have been tortured know it by instinct. They don't need to be told what it is, and they may have a very hard time putting it into words. ... That's the nature of the phenomenon. It's hard to put into words. But you have to have that intimacy with it, that kind of shoulder-to-shoulder rubbing. ...

· What is your own image of evil? [PBS via Wen of Troppo Fame]
· Afghanistan's Liberation - Now #1 Again in Opium! [Independent ]