Sunday, March 29, 2009

The weather is torn between getting warm and staying cold, and has therefore settled on just being crap ...
- Media Dragon (Really brave ... or really stupid)

The 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia has been documented many times before, but a new English translation of a book by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes not only breaks new historical ground but brings the history to a whole new audience. The everyday occupation

Others take notice Comparing Twitter Growth to FBook, GOOG
It's Twitter's third birthday, and there's been lots of chatter about Twitter's growth lately, so I thought I'd try to find some context.

Google (officially) launched in Sept 1998
Three years later it had nearly 18mm US uniques (comscore)
Facebook launched in mid 2004
Three years later it had nearly 27mm US unique users (comscore)
Twitter launched in March 2006
Three years later it has (roughly) 8 million US uniques users (compete)
I'm a student of history. OK, maybe more like, I am a getting-older journalist following a youngish history, of companies like Apple, a company I covered in the 80s, Microsoft, (late 80s to present), AOL, Yahoo (mid 90s to present), Google (late 90s to present), Facebook (early 2000s to present), and on and on (yes, Twitter is my most recent obsession as a story) …

• Like the fox says in The Little Prince, words are the source of misunderstandings. Twitter is a distributed service; [Perfect one sunny political day in Queensland. Apolitical voters plump for the devil they know Should Anna Bligh be grateful for compulsory voting?; Everyone wants to look good on Facebook ; One-hundred and thirteen years ago, in the midst of the deepest depression of the 19th century, William Jennings Bryan talked about struggle between the "idle holders of idle capital" and the "struggling masses" who produce the country's wealth. We have always hated the moneymakers, rather than hate ourselves ]
• · PODCAST | There’s no turning back for the news media dragons Revolutionary rivers and highways; Draft Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009
Submission to be in on Gabriella’s birthday – Sweetest 17
• · While the majors are in terrified thrall to the bottom line, the shoestring passions of the small presses will carry on regardless How independents will save literature from the recession; It's important to remember evidence-based policy focuses on specific interventions and can't always take into account the context in which they are implemented A good time to be modest
• · · The brothel has its own stimulus package … I'm not saying I watch Desperate Housewives -- I'd feel like I was cheating on my favorite guilty pleasure entertainment, Cheaters … If customers can't even afford to spend money on housing, food, and cars, how can we expect them to spend money on sex? The economy spanks the sex industry. Hard.; As major publishing houses suffer a big knock to their credit, many are now expecting a doom-and-gloom end to literature as we know it Recession a boon for great literature
• · · · Literature is neither a chore, a duty nor a waste of time. It is, first and foremost, a pleasure. But something pleasurable shouldn't be mistaken for something easy. It often requires an effort. A love of reading involves moving on from where we are, journeying into more and more distant territory, passing from easy authors to more difficult ones. And it is often the most difficult texts which yield the most pleasure Why MPs should be taking time to read Proust ; For all its demotic language and popular appeal, this series is television drama at its literary best Underbelly
• · · · · Russia's richest man has a nose for literature; Web Semantics: Storytron How Is It Different from Literature; THEY are the profits from crime which won't make their way into any Swiss bank accounts or police coffers. Counting the cash from love of Underbelly-style true crime books; Watching Underbelly is an exercise in juggling appreciation for 1970s hairstyles and excellent scriptwriting. Underbelly: The Tale Of Two Cities; Fierce fighting, intense rivalry and even murder were all forgotten as arch enemies Can't see the truth for the screen; The Girl who Played with Fire Fiction vs. Non-fiction Writing, by Kari Sperring
• · · · · · It was as if the author was hanging on the gates of literature rather than fully admitted inside because she was only writing short stories Munro heads through literature's gates; Asking me to list my five favorite novels is like asking me to choose which of my internal organs I like best Swapping stories;The major book awards are Booker Prize, Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, and Nobel Prize for Literature, Faulkner Award, Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Literature - and a bowl of soup ; Wood is playing fast and loose here, and you can see how when you read that quote from Child of God in its proper context:
As he neared the town the roosters were calling. Perhaps they sensed a relief in the obscurity of night that the traveler could not read, though he kept watch eastward. Perhaps some freshness in the air. Everywhere across the sleeping land they called and answered each to each. As in olden times so now. As in other countries here. Book awards for quality literature

Monday, March 23, 2009

In order for the wheel to turn, for life to be lived, impurities are needed, and the impurities of impurities in the soil, too, as is known, if it is to be fertile. Dissension, diversity, the grain of salt and mustard are needed: Fascism does not want them, forbids them, and that's why you're not a Fascist; it wants everybody to be the same, and you are not. But immaculate virtue does not exist either, or if it exists it is detestable.
-Primo Levi, The Periodic Table

Submission in advance Such, Such Was Eric Blair
George Orwell saw the problem for a fixed human nature as “how to prevent power from being abused.” Till we solve that one, he’ll remain a living writer...

You have to feel a little sorry for Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan Wilkes, or "Sambo" and "Flip" as they were known to their charges. During the first decades of the twentieth century, they ran St. Cyprian's, a preparatory school in Eastbourne, on the south coast of England. It was no worse than many other such establishments: the food was bad, the building underheated, physical punishment the norm. Pupils learned "as fast as fear could teach us," one alumnus later wrote. The day began with a frigid and fetid plungebath; boys denounced one another to the authorities for homosexual practices; and daily morale was dependent on whether a boy was in or out of favor with Flip. In some ways the school was better than many: it had a good academic record, Sambo nurtured contacts at the most important public schools, especially Eton, and clever boys from decent families of modest income were accepted on half fees. This was a calculated act of generosity: in return the boys were meant to reward the school by gaining academic distinction.

Englishmen of a certain class—especially those sent away to boarding schools—tend toward obsessive memory; [Charles Dickens founded Urania Cottage for fallen women – mostly whores and thieves. He loved the stories they told him, which he wrote down Dickens's Refuge for Fallen Women; Deep in one writer’s soul, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are having their bourbons and hammering away at their typewriters. The bourbon is important Under the Literary Influence ; Why is it that novels about men in boats (Moby-Dick, Huckleberry Finn) are treated as important, while ones about women in houses (House of Mirth) are not?... Why can't a woman write the Great American Novel? ]
• · Lalu Yadav, a corrupt and unapologetic yokel, is also eerily canny. He now heads the Indian Railway System, with its 2.4 million employees.. The Indian Railway King; Baby Boomers had it all: the jobs, the safe money, luxurious retirement at 55. Watching it fall apart can be amusing for their children. Watching boomers in turmoil is worth a recession
• · Niceness is a political sentiment that has undermined discipline and authority in family and classroom. Kenneth Minogue explains how To Hell with Niceness; Workaholic professionals, whose minds 24/7 race ahead to the next encounter, are always elsewhere – the twitterati... Agonies of the Twitterati
• · · Most of what scholars need for research these days is on the Internet. Oh yeah? So you’re trying to trace a judicial duel held before the French King in 1386... Lost in the Archives; Are men really funnier than women? Here are one or two theories of men’s vs. women’s humor. Or is it three, or seven, theories? Beaten to the punchline; >; Ian McEwan once tried to give away novels in a park. Only women took them, not men. He predicts, “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead” The Background Hum
• · · · What are the most ancient words still in our vocabulary? Some of the words we use every day derive from a prehistoric tongue we might call “Ice Age” A handy little guide to small talk in the Stone Age; River and road novels, stories, and gangster films of the 1930s depicted American social mobility as a bitter cheat. We may now relive 1930s art Will This Crisis Produce a 'Gatsby'?
• · · · · “Like Pascal, like Kierkegaard and Tolstoy, indeed like Nietzsche....” Who are you reading? Must be George Steiner. If you don’t care much for high culture, Steiner will care on your behalf.. Our George Steiner Problem -- and Mine ; Every generation is given the annotated Dracula it deserves. Ours is a postmodern version, one with a playful disdain for any claim of truth … In the Blood

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A day after St Jozef's day comes the first Day of Spring...

It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.

ASIC has nabbed its first rumourmonger but its penalty is well short of a deterrent to the market. It raises more questions than it answers. Over the past 12 months, the corporate cop has waged a war of words over so-called rumourtrage -- spreading false rumours with the intention of manipulating the market. The campaign has included a major sweep of the big brokers, subpoenaed emails and lectures on the dangers of spreading false information. ASIC has asked for the laws to be changed to make it easier to bring such charges, by dropping penalties from criminal to civil and attaching conditions to licences that take into account the duty of care in spreading information. All very good, but its first outing as a corporate cop in the field was frankly a joke: Project, After Dinner, Mint. The perpetrator, Richard John Macphillamy of Bondi Iceberg from ANZ's LINWAR (life is nothing without a risk), last September sent 32 emails to clients suggesting there was a run on Macquarie Cash Management Trust. If this became known it would kill the stock price. Now he would not have been the only broker to tell people money was being pulled from Macquarie's cash management trust last September, which was -- so far at least -- the darkest hour in the financial meltdown…Google on Short stoppers

Life is nothing without a risk The power of surprise
New leaders have a special opportunity to engage their team during their first months in a new role. This article looks at four steps leaders can apply to increase their impact within their organisation.

Leaders can practice humility by:
· Allowing others to be in the limelight.
· Learning that trying to be perfect will often fail.
· Avoiding over preaching without permission.
· Seeking others' input on how you are doing.
· Encouraging the practice of humility in your company through your own example: every time you share credit for successes with others, you reinforce the culture of humility for your team

How New Leaders Can Connect Their Team With the Need For Change; [ It seems taxes have always been a sexy issue, at least for the last millennium since Lady Godiva, that notoriously anti-tax Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who - according to legend - rode naked through the streets of Coventry in England in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants. I am rich, are you? Why am I loving this question so much …; ABS; 8679.0 - Television, Film and Video Production and Post-Production Services, Australia Cold River 08-09]
• · The basic problem, says US professor and author George Panichas, lies in “an absence of a culture of shame” of which corporate greed is cruelly symptomatic. How many homes and cars are needed by one individual?” he asks. “When I hear political leaders talk about working hard on people’s business, I don’t think they understand what ‘working hard’ means. To me, working hard is a housekeeper cleaning hotel rooms all day for a minimum wage, a coal miner working in the coal mines all day, and parents working two jobs to support their family An absence of a culture of shame ; Think of the Taj Mahal or the Golden Gate Bridge. Think of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. If such a building catches the world's eye and finds a place there it becomes an icon, or what Wallace Stevens, speaking of poetry, called a "necessary angel": a presence that speaks powerfully to the senses but whose real message is for the spirit David MaloufAn Angel At Bennelong Point ; The sun had just slipped above the horizon to kiss the Opera House sails
• · COURAGEOUS is a word much devalued in bureaucratic circles - by a television comedy about bureaucrats. Sir Humphrey, the devious department head in Yes, Minister and its sequels would use it to terrify his political boss. He would throw the word in the air with a particular spin, so that praise became mockery; it no longer meant brave, but foolhardy or just stupid. Senator Faulkner lets in the light; Australia’s Right To Know Freedom of Speech Conference Freedom to know; Google Control: if you love it, set it free
• · · Matthew Moore Freedom of Information Editor Changes to FoI bring a new era of disclosure; Rolodex of PARLIAMENTARY knowledge Father of the House: The memoirs of Kim E. Beazley
• · · · What blogging is to email, twitter is to instant messaging (IM) Loving and Hating Twitter in Five Easy Pieces; Photographs of the hour-long liaison - Nigel Griffiths Palace of Westminster in Many Pieces
• · · · · THE unravelling of the affairs of elusive Hills art dealer Ronald Coles, whose Bentley number plate BUY ART has not been seen at his usual haunts for some weeks, has advanced to a new stage. Legal action taken over missing art; The media, particularly tabloid papers, broadsheets, TV and radio, paint the current crisis in Armageddon proportions. Nobody can seriously deny the extreme economic dangers we face. However Britain seems to have led the way in recapitalising the economy and our Government is injecting billions in to the economy and running up high and unprecedented levels of expenditure which the Conservative party claim will hamper generations to come. Media
• · · · · · The whole concept of risk appetite is an understanding of an organisation's desire to take on risk when weighed with potential reward What's your risk appetite?; Learn to turn difficult conversations in the right direction, and break free of emotion's grip Biting words

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seeing double: thirty years ago I used to celebrate my confirmation as well as my name day as Patrick and Jozef tended to bring special spiritual cheers to the European Spring … So it was appropriate to invade Hunters Hill and share a beer with Kevin before Pauline Gardner and Lynden Jones reminded us of the German accents in the Deathtrap

Use online portals to explore your interests and share comments with like-minded users. Ten years ago circa 1999, if you liked a political story you read in the paper you might mention it to a friend over coffee . These days, if you read that story online you could link it to bookmarking and sharing sites that are read by millions of people, allowing them to comment on the story and vote on how important they think it is. Double Media Dragon

Champions of reform? ASIO at its peak, says departing chief
ASIO is riding high and in the best shape in its 60-year history, according to its outgoing chief Paul O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Sullivan, who relinquished the top job at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation last weekend to take up a senior diplomatic post, said the big investment in the organisation since 2001 had put ASIO on the "front foot" for the first time in a long while. The most compelling argument for this investment continues to be the prevention of a terrorist attack in Australia.

Antipodean Farm ; [The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) ; AUSTRALIA'S domestic spy agency, ASIO, was dysfunctional throughout much of the Cold War and was probably infiltrated by hostile foreign agents, according to previously top-secret documents from the 1970s. ASIO: the enemy was within ]
• · Most of the real politicians parodied in the Twitter parliament, which has more than 15 fakes - including three bogus Kevin Rudds - have no plans to erase them, crediting satire as being a healthy part of democracy O'Farrell; Burrying the mistakes … One in three of Media Dragon lovers ends up dead
• · Disgraced former judge Marcus Einfeld is being investigated over another traffic offence, this time for not wearing a seatbelt while travelling to court. ; Australian judge Marcus Einfeld was sentenced to two years in prison for lying about a 77 Australian dollar ($54) speeding ticket, while in Indonesia, a lawmaker was sentenced to just six years in jail for accepting a Rp 3.4 billion ($296,000) bribe during a tender process. Two sentences in two countries for different crimes. But crimes nonetheless! 77: When the Penalty Doesn’t Fit the Crime; Google: It was the electronic trail left by Marcus Einfeld the day he was caught speeding that helped detectives unravel his web of deceit and ultimately stained his reputation Prominent Australian jurist Marcus Einfeld Twice married with four children, he is also said to be an accomplished pianist who enjoys theatre and the arts. Google on Marcus Einfeld
• · · Fairness is not an abstract concept. It is essentially practical. Whether one talks in terms of procedural fairness or natural justice, the concern of the law is to avoid practical injustice. Parker v Comptroller-General of Customs; Gary Banks, Productivity Commission Evidence-based policy-making: what is it? how do we get it?; Joan Goodchild: Companies need to run a general social engineering awareness campaign. They need to tell employees what to look for and how to look for it; and teach employees that it's not that the company doesn't trust the people within the organisation, it's that there are people out there trying to hack into systems every day. Social engineering: anatomy of a hack ; Many executives will find themselves trapped in a labyrinth from which there appears no hope of escape. Whether they emerge as heroes or scapegoats is up to them. The road to success is built on ideas
• · · · I hope this movie will finally show people the ferocious face of WORLD, which is the face that really runs things Italy and the world; With the financial world on its head, few would have predicted a year ago that Australia's big four banks would be ranked in the world's top 20 by market Wall St villains now saviours
• · · · · 2009: Big Brother may have been axed from TV, but government bureaucrats are doing their best to keep George Orwell s dystopian nightmare alive. In only the first year government could pry into telecommunication companies customer details under phone bugging laws, 183,099 authorisations were given to 27 federal and state government agencies as part of criminal and civil investigations. 2008: Bug or track people for up to four days without a warrant ; Competitive advantage in today's market is more or less a dream if it is not closely tied to knowledge management. Includes discussion of social network analysis. Knowledge management: it's all about people,
• · · · · · The idea of lengthy, considered and purely rational decision making is not only unattainable but unworkable. You've got to keep the emotion in Better faster decisions ; Career advice: how to prepare if you score an interview ; The world of business has changed and management hasn't kept up. Management 1.0 must move to management 2.0. Inventing management's future: identifying the challenges ; In this report, we explore the successes of analytics in governmental agencies and attempt to develop an assessment framework for those that are yet to embark on the analytics journey or are still in the early stages of it. We focus in particular on four governmental areas: health care, logistics, revenue management, and briefly (because of the paucity of public sources) intelligence... The four sections identify governmental organizations that are exploiting analytics to meet their strategic goals. After the description of these activities and, in some cases, their impact, we discuss key factors that the agencies have faced in implementing analytics. We discuss each agency in terms of the key components necessary for leveraging analytics in our assessment framework The strategic use of analytics in government

Friday, March 13, 2009

It is Black Friday, however, Mal and I have a colourful Autumn planned ahead ;-) Gabbie and Dhillon colourful birds created as sweet omen for us ...

Carved between sand, rock, and sea, Jervis Bay is simply the most beautiful spots in the world and definitely a place to find peace … In an age when coastal villages come more and more to resemble one other, Currarong remains a delightful eccentric, determined to preserve its unique character. The answer to soulful holliday lies deep in the value equation, in shifting from price to priceless. Currarong is a quiet coastal village located 33 km south-east of Nowra at the northern end of the rugged Beecroft Peninsula. The town boasts almost as many tractors as permanent residents. The shops provide take away foods and basic groceries and the bowling club has a restaurant and regular entertainment. Picnic grounds are located adjacent to the main beach near the shops. Abrahams Bosom is a safe sheltered beach which has picnic grounds with wood BBQs at either end. Sue and Gill have a lovely story on the wall of their beach shack about the paradise called Abraham Bosom ... A variety of walks start at from this sheltered cove ranging from the 500-meter stroll to the wreck of the SS Merimbula to the half-day Coomb's walk (try not to slip down the gravel path ... The Beecroft lighthouse and the cliffs of the peninsular are spectacular …

Picture 005

High on top of the curious landmark is the Zac's place with a waiter who knows more about crosswords than any of the customers. Zac's place offers fresh local seafood, dine-in or take away

Picture 078

I couldn't resist putting a link to Kevin again as he has had a 40 year love affair with Rolling Stone and it's great mix of mystery, sensuality and intimacy. Like a Rolling Stone

Anatomy of aE Train Wreck A Modest Proposal to Recoup Homeowner-Bailout Money
President Obama proposes bailing out select homeowners by lowering their interest payments, cutting their rates to as low as 2 percent for at least five years, with the federal government helping lenders absorb some of the loss. To keep the homeowner bailout from becoming an outright giveaway, Independent Institute Research Fellow Stan J. Liebowitz offers a novel idea: make homeowners repay any bailout money they receive:

Specifically, I propose that bailed-out homeowners, for the rest of their lives, give up 80 percent of future capital gains from the sale of their homes until the government gift is paid back. They would be required to pay back only 80 percent of each capital gain to give them an incentive to keep their homes in good shape and sell them at the highest price.... The money [from the capital gain] would be split by the original lenders and the Treasury, based on their share of the [mortgage] modification reduction.
Liebowitz states that his plan is not perfect but argues that it would discourage speculators and non-needy homeowners from seeking a bailout. It would also prevent homeowner assistance from becoming a giveaway. No-strings-attached gifts are a bad idea for the economy and should not be given to homeowners any more than to corporations

Should Bailed-Out Homeowners be Required to Pay Restitution? ; [Causes of the Mortgage Meltdown; The issue of huge payments to CEOs has finally reached crisis proportions. Commonsense fairness - CEO pay ]
• · As Rudd and Turnbull squabble over the bones of the economy it is up to workers to organise to defend their jobs No one’s job is safe; In an era where returns on public sector spending are measured those in the creative arts must show they are embedded deeply in community life Ratbags at the gates
• · Everything feels more complicated in 2009. No one really knows what will happen tomorrow, let alone next month, or heaven help us, next year. When it gets this complex, I always reach for one of the oldest and surest ways to focus Behind the evil list; I was heartened the other day to see that even Warren Buffett can own up to making a wrong call in today's choppy economic waters. Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast
• · · Gone are the days of seeing food as just another commodity to be traded around the globe to where the money is Free markets haven't delivered on food and won't; 'Service to community' is a platitude politicians will serve up when asked about their motivation. But it’s just a job. A career like any other Salaries for politicians? Time for a radical rethink
• · · · An Internet MiniGuide Annotated Link Compilation Knowledge Discovery Resources 2009; Welcome to my first blog post at the Office of Management and Budget. In this blog, I want to open up OMB even more to the public and share with you what we’re doing to address the many challenges that we face as a nation. Discipline, Efficiency, Prosperity
• · · · · Trend spotting 11 signs of a successful ; The world of business has changed and management hasn't kept up Inventing managements future
• · · · · · Why emotional intelligence is not essential for leadership They may have a serious deficit of emotional intelligence, but this fiery, not-always socially adept, brilliant employee can still be a leader. ; Understanding how a particular culture has shaped the identity of an employee will give a leader an insight into that employee. To win the respect of followers, leaders need personality intelligence ; Some leaders like to believe that reasoning and only reasoning governs their decisions. However, like it or not, emotions do rule, from a little to a lot How emotional tagging can push leaders to make bad decisions