Friday, December 30, 2011

Both in Melbourne and Sydney you will find this story today. The Age which Gabbie now reads is our paper for few days Havel's New Year message: we have reason for hope
Twenty-two years ago, on New Year's Day, Vaclav Havel gave a speech to the people of Prague, who had peacefully overthrown their communist government.
In his own words: "We have to abandon the arrogant belief that the world is merely a puzzle to be solved"
Western governments, he said, are organized on a flawed premise not far removed from the Soviet system that had just collapsed. "The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief," he said, "that the world ... is a wholly knowable system governed by finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct ... objectively describing, explaining, and controlling everything."
These bureaucratic structures are profoundly dehumanizing, Havel believed, striving to control choices that should be left to human judgment and values. This "era of systems, institutions, mechanisms and statistical averages" is doomed to failure because "there is too much to know" and it cannot "be fully grasped." The drive towards standardization is fatally flawed, Havel believed: "life is nonstandard."

Vaclav Havel's Critique of the West

Gabbie keeps the garage door open at St Edmonds - at this all day eatery off Greville Street even when Adam and Eve conspire to sleep in Gabbie's Garage

Geoffrey Rush goes Wilde in drag-rags Our Hour With Rush

Monday, December 19, 2011

R.I.P., Vaclav Havel A hero of mine has died. Another great intellectual light has left the planet. The Czech National flag and two black flags wave in front of Saint Vitus Cathedral

I only met Havel twice and wouldn't pretend to know him well. But he mattered as much to me as my father ... I met him once in Prague after he signed the Charter 77 and again in 1995 when Johno Johnson, President of NSW Legislative Council fame, invited me to luncheon in Sydney Parliament House. But I really first met Vaclav Havel at my sister Aga’s deathbead in 1975 when I first came across his classic play, Vyrozumní (The Memorandum). He was something of a bohemian George Orwell. Like Orwell, Havel satirised the 'doublespeak' of the official bureaucratic language of the communist regime …
In 2003 I wrote a short tribute to my hero who even inspired me to grow moustache after the military service in Czechoslovakia circa 1979 to 2003 when I shaved my moustache as Havel’s political era was over Today I Farewell My Teenage Hero: Vaclav Havel
The Cold River: A Tale From My Heart
Message from Vaclav Havel

We are all hugely diminished today by the passing of a man, small of height but towering in moral stature and courage over those he called the "professional rulers" ; Cold River: The Cold Truth of Vaclav Havel’s Freedom

Havel’s talent for the theatre of the absurd, when read in the context of the communist experience, is just mind boggling

Old Mate! In the gusty old weather,
When our hopes and our troubles were new,
In the years spent in wearing out leather,
I found you unselfish and true —
I have gathered these verses together
For the sake of our friendship and you…

Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.
- Vaclav Havel

Bells ring across country to commemorate Václav Havel Vaclav Havel: Living in truth A man for all seasons on behalf of liberty
Vaclav Havel's death is a reminder of something which parts of modern world are in danger of taking for granted, at best, and, at worst, of forgetting altogether.
Candles are placed at the Venceslav Square to commemorate the death of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, in central Prague, Czech Republic, December 18, 2011

How good a dramatist was Václav Havel? Undeniably one with a wry, sceptical, highly original voice. But he defied the easy labels we love to slap on writers. Just as Latin American novelists often claim that what we term "magic realism" is for them a truthful picture of life, so Havel made nonsense of the "absurdist" category to which he was sometimes consigned by critics. His plays are not a cry of protest against a meaningless universe. "The ultimate aim of Havel's plays," as translator Vera Blackwell wrote, "is the improvement of man's lot through the improvement of human institutions."

YOU could hear Vaclav Havel coming down the corridor of the palace a few minutes in advance. Clip-clip, clip-clop: the accelerated walk of a short-legged man in a hurry. And always the loud chatter of his political advisers, their competing voices like birdsong at dusk. Then came the whiff of cigarette smoke, and with a flourish, the man himself - a theatrical entrance for a playwright-turned-politician. As early as 1988, Havel had hatched the idea of a play about power and integrity. Then the world changed and for 13 years he was head of state, first of united Czechoslovakia and then of the Czech Republic. He moved from being a Velvet Underground fan, to being the architect of the Velvet Revolution and a reluctant co-negotiator of the Velvet Divorce from Slovakia.

• Vaclav , shy and bookish, with a wispy mustache ...Vaclav Havel's Lasting Words ; Google on Havel [The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less Quotes ; Cold War icon Havel dies ; To lose either Christopher Hitchens or Vaclav Havel would be burden enough to bear but to lose them both in the same week is cruel punishment, indeed. ; His home village of Hrádeček Images of Vaclav; As a practical politician and playwright, late former president Vaclav Havel would most probably carefully watch who will come for the funeral ]• · The dissident playwright who wove theatre into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War ; Vale Václav Havel ; Czech pay tribute to revolution icon Vaclav Havel ; Havel, a playwright, spent a ton of time in jail for his political writings
• · · Twenty-two years ago, almost to the day, thousands in Prague's Wenceslas Square roared, "Havel to the Castle." Days later, like a house of cards, Moscow's puppet government collapsed. On December 29, 1989, Vaclav Havel, the dissident artist who had begun the year in prison, took the oath of office as president of Czechoslovakia We will live in an indifferent, demoralized and undemocratic society ; The surrealism of encountering Mr. Havel and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright at the tiny Brick Theatre will NEVER leave my mind.
• · · · Vaclav Havel personified the “power of the powerless.” He understood — as John Paul II understood – the value of integrity, the value of truth. Vaclav Havel: I Was Told in 1968, "You Must Become President"*; When Václav Havel and 241 others signed Charter 77 during the Cold War in 1977, they were denounced by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia as "traitors and renegades" and "agents of imperialism." Such were the epithets by which some of the most courageous Europeans of the 20th century were known
• · · · · In the spirit of the season, and in honor of Vaclav Havel, who died Sunday (and whose life I’ve remembered in another post), what follows is a top-ten list, the first entry being Havel’s greatest hits, and the rest books and writers whom Havel admired—contemporaries or near contemporaries who lived in the same region and under similar regimes. (I am sticking here to non-fiction prose.) They, like Havel, are men and women who lived, and wrote within the truth ; The more platforms we invent, the more stories we need. Stories are critical to winning in the "Lifestream" we are in. When you're a marketer with an annual sales target to hit, stories are your best friend for connecting with consumers. Stand Up The Storytellers - New Havels Wanted Openness is fundamental to representative government. Yet the congressional process is replete with activities and actions that are private and not observable by the public. How to distinguish reasonable legislative secrecy from impractical transparency is a topic that produces disagreement on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Why? Because lawmaking is critical to the governance of the nation. Scores of people in the attentive public want to observe and learn about congressional proceedings. Openness is fundamental to representative government
• · · · · · Organised crime has long been big business in the country. But are mafiosi now enjoying protection by the state Who runs Russia? ; News of the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il hit Burma at high speed this week, and many Burmese rushed online to share their thoughts about the leader of the Czech people, who they admired, and the oppressor of the North Korean people, who they disdained. Kim Jong Il and Vaclav Havel: Two leaders a world apart = Farewell to a Revolutionary, Good Riddance to a Despot

Every man should have a fair-sized cemetery
in which to bury the faults of his friends.
- Henry Brooks Adams

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.
- Joseph Conrad, born on this date in 1857

Many characters paid tribute to Tony , a man who has dedicated the better part of three decades to public service, and who has never failed in all those years to put the taxpayers ahead of himself. Tony is a role model for bright young Australians who wish to heed the call to service of President John F. Kennedy in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

There are times when speakers fight to find the right words, but at Tony's farewell, they flowed like water from a spring - Tim with significant others drowned in extraordinary stories...

Extracts from Tony's Reflections … You could see the years of reflection flashing before his eyes ...

The Union
I was signed up in the union in my first week. Terry …in Expenditure was also a union delegate. I got more and more involved in the FCU TOB… Conference delegate and up to National deputy president … Wonderful people and all were committed to improving the circumstances of their fellow tax officers. Some hilarious and embarrassing moments in the union…
• At my first national Executive meeting I drank a bottle of port with dinner… I was sure my eyeballs were on my cheeks the next day…
• Doing the worm on the roof of a hire car at Hume Weir…
• The behind the scenes discussions and preparations when the FCU TOB merged with ACOA to form the now CPSU…
This created a solid foundation on ensuring that all individuals in the [the agency] were valued and respected.

Office liaisons
I started my romance with Narelle, and informed a mate that I was dating this great “chick”, he of course wanted to meet her so next time he was visiting me I took him around to Narelle’s desk… She was not there and before I could say anything my mate said wow your dating a chair… The people I had to put up with …

Things I will not miss
Looking back on a career of 33 years it has been a wonderful journey and has included meeting many great people, but like all journeys there are bits that I will not miss:
• Meeting report deadlines… In fact any urgent report, minute or briefing, especially senate estimates and QONs.
• The frustration of putting forward an innovation or change.
• Governance
• …Internal spin… If we say it often enough we might believe it.
• System instability
• Funding reductions and doing the same output with less. This in itself was not so much the problem as also being hamstrung by being required to use existing procedures.
• Agency Agreements
All of these things make it a pleasure to be walking away and not looking back. I look forward to doing something different.

What I will miss
The downside is what I will miss… The people I have worked with. It is the people that make it a pleasure to work in the (office) and it is the people I have worked with that have helped me to get to 33 years of service. This experience has gone through a range of feelings including: serious, fun, pressured, sad and memorable. It is the people that I will miss. Fortunately I will still catch up with the Sydney and St Leonards golf groups and with those that attend the [sport] Carnival.

It is strange when you think about it. We are a service organisation. It is the “value add” of our people that makes the difference to our outputs. Yet we seem to have an inordinate obsession with our systems and practices. It seems to me on reflection that in an organisational sense we should be putting the emphasis on the people in the organisation. A happy and engaged workforce is a productive workforce… Whilst the intent is to have engaged staff there is no

I look back on my career in the [public service], it is with satisfaction that I reflect on my achievements and joy at the people I have worked with on that journey.

Good luck to all and enjoy the people you work with.

As you all know I like to finish with a quote - I am also a big fan of Richard Bach and he provided this famous goodbye quote:

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.

A collection of colourful movers and shakers and friends of Tony and Johno Johnson:


Once was Camelot in Canberra? Reflections on public service leadership

Dare to be Different

What happens when you gather the world’s most imaginative minds under one roof?
The Idea Factory

Sunday, December 04, 2011

... The Rise of the Fifth Reich?

...  it is clear that too many American policy makers and opinion makers live in a bubble of conventional wisdom, comfortable assumptions and complacent ignorance.  Articles like this one are a useful corrective to that complacency, and even readers who end up thinking Corn goes a little over the top will appreciate the guided tour of European strategic analysis he provides amerika mmxi

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scientists have discovered that we’re engineered for kindness – or not. The caring button is a genetic trait that determines how we respond to oxytocin (aka the “love” hormone); some of us have it, some of us don’t; most people can spot it a mile off.... Who Cares?

Here’s one to rattle the cage of True Blue Aussie Blokes who prefer a handshake to a hug. A study has found that Australian men who love a good hug are happier and healthier than those who don’t, and also tend to bank more. It’s time to embrace change, mate... Come On Mate, Gimme A Hug

A ONE-MAN MARKET - Money and art Evasive tactic
Oscar Wilde claimed to have put all his genius into his life, leaving only his talent for his work. Many a great conversationalist has done much the same thing. Most people (though not all!) find it easier to talk than to write, and some, like the now-forgotten Desmond MacCarthy, talk so well that they never manage to write anything memorable.

For the professional writer, blogging is an intermediate state. It's writing, but writing of a peculiarly ephemeral kind, the postmodern equivalent of penning a thrice-weekly newspaper column, and those who do it too assiduously run the risk of dribbling away the stuff books are made of. Hilaire Belloc once managed to finesse a similar problem by publishing a collection of more than usually ephemeral essays called On Nothing and Kindred Subjects, but the fact that On Nothing is now as forgotten as Desmond MacCarthy suggests that he was kidding himself.

What I won't do is bore you by making constant excuses for not blogging more often. You can henceforth take it for granted that I wish I were doing so--and that
I'll be back on the case as soon as possible. [When we exist without thought or thanksgiving we are not men, but beasts Taking aim at middle-class aspirations, Dwight Macdonald drew a bazooka when a pistol would do. He didn’t open the conversation, he killed it.. ]
• · Jürgen Habermas is angry. “Our politicians have no political substance.” If the EU fails, he warns, democracy will be set back 100 years; The two can’t be disentangled. But some entanglements are more troubling than others. Culture is in retreat before the brute dollar. Jed Perl explains Money and art; Demonstrating the increasing role of the network in people's lives, an international workforce study announced today by Cisco revealed that one in three college students and young professionals considers the Internet to be as important as fundamental human resources like air, water, food and shelter
• · · Economics might act like a science, but it isn’t one, says Robert Trivers. Its key ideas are naive, and it’d take more than a nudge to fix that... Nudge thyself; Americans read Nietzsche without becoming Nietzscheans. As for those few who go whole hog, they’re rarely intellectuals of the first rank. America’s Superman
• · · · Auction prices for his work have jumped 3,400 percent in 25 years. Time for a market correction in contemporary art.. The Warhol bubble - A ONE-MAN MARKET ; The merchandising of Milosz. Pens, postcards, T-shirts, even biscotti – few poets have been commodified and branded with such rock-star exuberance Czeslaw Milosz around the world
• · · · · How a Canadian in a bathtub, together with transgender radicals, and a “mystical anarchist” organized a revolution on Wall Street... Wall Street... The origins and future of Occupy Wall Street ; Advocating for the means to make informed decisions
• · · · · · News must be really hard to follow for an everyday consumer of a newspaper website. First tweets go out, sometimes with no links to additional coverage. Then a few grafs go up on a blog, followed by additional updates, either to the top of that post or as new posts. Eventually, a print story gets started, which is posted through an entirely different workflow onto a different-looking story page. This version is usually written as an hourglass-style narrative, following typical print conventions. For the rest of the day, new updates start going to this story rather than the original blog post. Having a hard time following? Here’s a graphic to help.. The New, Convoluted Life Cycle Of A Newspaper Story, ; Unprecedented news - 99% of NSW Police Force Marching in Macquarie Street ; Escort Tiffanie says minister told her: If you knew who I was you'd be very surprised - On the first day of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry yesterday, counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, SC, alleged property developer Ron Medich and former boxer Lucky Gattellari arranged for Mr Macdonald to "take his pick" of a group of young women "kept" by Mr Gattellari with the knowledge of Mr Medich "for themselves and their guests 'Gross' minister made me feel sick, escort tells ICAC; Google Sexual favours for Macdonald: ICAC

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Never underestimate the role of the will in the artistic life. Some writers are all will. Talent you can dispense with, but not will. Will is paramount. Not joy, not delight, but grim application.
-Alan Bennett, The Habit of Art - There you have your title. I believe that’s why Americans always want to tell the story of the world. They believe that when you master the story or the tale, it is as if, if something were to happen, they would be the first ones informed The Narrator Never

Party scenes. Not big ones, balls or weddings, but more intimate gatherings, friends gathering over dinner, drinking themselves senseless, arguing about profound nonsense. Sometimes the party is a regular event, not really a party at all but just a routine social activity. A little piano playing, some snacks, some cards. The Crime of Father Amaro and Cousin Basilio both structure the entire book around this kind of scene. Sometimes the party is a rarer bird, a chance to indulge. The Maias has some superb scenes of this type. Chapter 2 of The Illustrious House of Ramires has a good one, too ...
Father Soeiro, his sunshade under his arm, made his way slowly back to the Tower, in the silence and softness of the evening, reciting his Hail Maries and praying for the peace of God for Gonçalo, for all men, for the fields and the sleeping farms, and for the beautiful land of Portugal, so full of endearing charm, that it might be for ever blessed among lands

This is the fantastical tale of Dan Dong, an unemployed factory worker whose life takes a series of unexpected twists upon his discovery that simply by posing as a journalist he can eat exquisite gourmet meals free of charge at state-sponsored banquets. But the secrets Dan overhears at these events eventually lead him down a twisted, intrigue-laden path, and his true and false identities become increasingly harder to separate. When he becomes privy to a scandal that runs from the depths of society up to its highest rungs, Dan must find a way to lay bare the corruption - without revealing the dangerous truth about himself. Like Buz Luhrman, Dan Dong, has konektions to the NSW Parliamentary Library

CODA: If they're worried, then it's working:

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.” The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association. CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead. According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.” Undermining the Occupation: Memo to Media Dragon

Monday, November 21, 2011

What the Anthropologists Say about shopping in Sydney (or Broadway ...) - small is beautiful!

Surely that little pseudo-gothic church on Broadway, hidden amongst the skyscrapers, is symbolic of the age! On the whole face of the globe the civilization that has conquered it has failed to build a temple or a tomb.
-André Malraux

Paddington's new place to spot chairs, jars and prints
If you’re cuckoo for curios, say hello to your new nest.

This artfully cluttered emporium is chockablock with colourful genie bottles from the ‘60s, vintage glass pharmaceutical bottles, and brushed aluminium canister sets from the ‘50s. Old bric-a-brac sourced from all over Australia mingles with new wares for a special kind of eclectic magic. And what’s more, these Paddington proprietors have kept their prices down to earth so you can snaffle a beauty for a bargain price
i like birds
14 William Street, Paddington 2021
T: 02 9331 5501 The best deals of 2011 - bric-a-brac

Media Dragon Likes Birds Too Tamara: Once there was season of color crimson lake
If fabulously floral chinaware, retro glassware, vintage ‘kitchenalia’ and adorably kitsch collectables are your cup of tea, then you simply must visit the delightfully charming store, I Like Birds, nestled in the heart of Paddington’s uber-trendy shopping district - William St.

A gorgeous collection of both new and vintage homewares sourced from all over Australia, I Like Birds is more treasure chest than standard homewares store. Upon entering the canary yellow terrace and embarking upon your voyage of discovery through this eclectic store, it soon becomes evident that this is quite a special little shop indeed. Every glass vase, quirky cushion cover, flying duck, cowhide rug, bell jar, mohair basket and vintage apothecary bottle has been carefully and thoughtfully selected by the shop’s inspired and passionate owner, Tamara. Nothing is there without reason; no product chosen without love. Awww!!!

ilikebirds loves modern, urban interior design & classic decorative art ... so much so we go to great lengths to source rare, new & vintage homewares from all around Australia and abroad to bring you that perfect piece for your office, home and garden. We have a hand picked selection of homewares, gifts, prints, collectables, glass, soft furnishings and much more. We also have an urban garden nursery with both indoor and outdoor pots and plants.
Birds, Plants and Past Voices of Silence ; [When price and small size matter Gifts - Labor of Love ; Part Bird]
• · Customers have mixed feelings about Black Friday shoppin ; You're going to spend more this holiday season, you'll probably shop both at stores and online - possibly with a smartphone or tablet computer - and while you're at it, you might buy something for yourself 10 Holiday shopping trends
• · · Many small businesses try to outwit the giants this holiday by offering a personal touch Midnight is new riching hour; Jozef Imrich & Media Dragon When the clock strikes 12 ... the Black Friday shopping will begin ...
• · · · Wall Street Journal open a rare window into a new global market for the off-the-shelf surveillance technology ; Keep it simple
• · · · · Though reluctant to work with the U.S. military, anthropologists have a lot to say about the war in Afghanistan. Alex Star listens...What the Anthropologists Say ; Thanks to the Internet, everyone has a say, everyone is a cultural arbiter. A golden age of criticism? Nonsense. The Web has made criticism obsolete.. A golden age of criticism? Nonsense
• · · · · · Alienation and misanthropy. Stephen Sondheim’s muse is misery – about success, relationships, aging, and mankind itself. With Stephen Sondheim’s second collection of his lyrics, the hyper-articulate, neurotic, modernist master Broadway songwriter takes a curtain call the-art-of-making-art ; If you’ve been at death’s door or your wit’s end, about to bite the dust or cast the first stone, you’ve inhabited the King James Bible With more bone breaks in my body than you've got bones in yours; The Book of Genesis is a bedtime soporific, not a page-turner. God, says Jonathan Rée, is the death of narrative, and narrative the death of God..
• · · · · · · Jonesing for Freakonomics: Social psychologists are addicted to findings that make headlines. Data massaging is warping the field Freakonomics: ; Liberals are stupid, according to a ballyhooed study. Now it’s been retracted. Turns out conservatives are stupid, too..

PS: Can you understand, my father used to ask, the despair of that condemned beauty, of its days and nights? Over and over again it had to rouse itself to fictitious auctions, stage successful sales and noisy, crowded exhibitions, become inflamed with wild gambling passions, await a slump, scatter riches, squander them like a maniac, only to realize on sobering up that all this was in vain, that it could not get anywhere beyond a self-centered perfection, that it could not relieve the pain of excess. Józefina Szelińska - That whole lumber room of ancient beauty has been subjected to a painful distillation under the pressure of years of boredom

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets.
--André Malraux, Antimémoires

A new camera captures hundreds of images and lets you choose your own reality Creative expression is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel alive. Small wonder then, that one of the most enduring forms of self-expression, writing, should turn out to be good for our physical and emotional health. So next time you’re feeling down or out of sorts – write it up! Real stories come from the successes and failures, joys and sorrows of everyday life. And 20 years of research tells us that devoting 15 minutes each day to writing about what we’ve experienced , felt or dwelt on can help improve almost any ailment, body or mind. Write the wrongs ; Putting pen to paper can reap surprising health benefits Time is a river, a violent cold current of events...

Never underestimate the role of the will in the artistic life. Some writers are all will. Talent you can dispense with, but not will. Will is paramount. Not joy, not delight, but grim application.
--Alan Bennett, The Habit of Art

Happy Scribing Sometimes Even to Live is an Act of Courage
Stock analysts are not known for being a rebellious sort. Their jobs generally involve writing up dry technical reports on public companies. But Mike Mayo is not your typical stock analyst.

Since joining the industry nearly 25 years ago, Mayo has shaken up the financial world with his bold and forthright analysis of the banks he researches. In 1999, he told investors to sell all bank stocks. In 2007, he was ahead of the pack in downgrading Bear Stearns Cos. and Citigroup Inc.
Perhaps predictably, this hasn't earned him a lot of love, given that he has worked at banks himself and that his employers wanted to do business with many of the banks he was analyzing. This led to often short and stormy tenures at UBS, Credit Suisse and Lehman Bros. before he landed in his current position at Credit Agricole Securities.
Now, after a financial crisis for which banks have taken much of the blame, Mayo has written a book, "Exile on Wall Street," chronicling the problems he sees with the procedures in place for monitoring the financial system. He contends that regulators, accountants and credit rating firms do not have the right incentives to serve as good watchdogs. He slams his fellow stock analysts for providing misleadingly positive portrayals of public companies because of conflicts of interests.

Watchdogs ; [It is a deep irony that FAMU student Jan Látal's newest documentary is titled Paroubek of a Thousand Faces. The finished product, admits the 31-year-old director, fails to uncover the "real" politician and erstwhile prime minister of 16 months. In fact, Jiří Paroubek wore his "politician's face" for the duration of the shoot, Látal says. Politician has a face for all occasions ; Only two-thirds of Czechs proud of their nationality - poll Only two-thirds ]
• · Having charted Billy Beane’s sports-management breakthrough in the best-selling Moneyball. Billy Beane’s sports-management revolution, chronicled by the author in Moneyball, was made possible by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. At 77, with his own new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, the Nobel Prize-winning Kahneman reveals the built-in kinks in human reasoning—and he’s Exhibit A. Michael Lewis on the King of Human Error ; In novel after novel, he floats lofty, universal ideas, and then unzips his fly. The Grapes of Roth: Solipsism and lust
• · · Pakistan lies to us, sponsors militants who attack American troops, and may have knowingly harbored Osama bin Laden. With a friend like this, who needs enemies? The Ally From Hell; Kurt Vonnegut wrote - We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” He heeded his own advice The novelist and master of self-marketing became an icon of the counterculture
• · · · Fire snowball mask movie: how leaders spark and sustain change, Peter Fuda and Richard Badham, Harvard Business Review, November 2011, p145-148. Transform to become an effective leader using interdependent metaphors - fire (representing ambition), snowball (accountability) , mask (authenticity and movie (self-reflection). It takes utter courage to name the mask.; Going to work is a high-pressure business! Between the state of economic challenges, your personal issues and family concerns—it’s easy to overlook the value of a forgotten virtue called courage (and its intrinsic value). Courageous Leadership—Dare to Take Control
• · · · · Three dead at Moravian factory as gunman was brother of arms dealer Karel Musela opened fire at the Aircraft Industries (AI) plant, killing Pavel Vlach and Petr Veselý, both members of the company's board, and injuring director Ilona Plškova, before turning the gun on himself; A libertarian economist discovers that our political leanings leave us more biased than we think. I Was Wrong, and So Are You
• · · · · · A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but anyone with even a poor sense of smell and negligible knowledge of botany will have noticed that some roses smell sweeter than others. The same goes for the names of books. As some titles evidently smell particularly sweet, there can be some rather unexpected bookish twins. Inside Books: What’s in a name?; Italian clothing company Benetton withdraws publicity shot of Benedict XVI kissing grand sheikh of al-Azhar mosque in Cairo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one - in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success.
---Walter Bagehot

Top Trends

This week Ronda Miller was appointed Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for the NSW Parliament – the first female Clerk of the lower House. She replaces Russell Grove who recently retired after 21 years of service as Clerk

The first female Clerk of the lower House: Asamblea de Ronda Ronda Mary Miller - Magna Carta
The NSW Parliament is the mother legislature of Australia and also one of the oldest public buildings in nation of Down Under. A building where Ronda and Media Dragon used to receive paper cuts from newspaper clippings.
I have very much pleasure in announcing that following recent recruitment action I have requested the Premier to recommend to Her Excellency the Governor approval for the appointment of Ms Ronda Mary Miller as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. The Premier has confirmed that the recommendation will be made to Her Excellency the Governor and the appointment is expected to be made next week. Congratulations, Ronda.


I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the staff of the committee for their untiring work during the year, particularly the director, Mrs Patricia Azarias; Mr Ian Clark, then the senior project officer; Mr Joseph Imrich, clerk to the committee; Ms Caterina Sciara and Ms Debbie Isted, who provided administrative support; and our accounting and auditing adviser, Mr John Lynas, who is now on secondment from the Auditor-General's office. I should like to pay special tribute to Ms Ronda Miller, the Clerk-Assistant (Committees) for her ready and constructive assistance to the committee on many occasions.

Some people suggest that the problem is the separation of powers. If you had a parliamentary system, the struggle for power would not result in such complex peace treaties that empower so many different people to pursue so many contradictory aims.
-James Q. Wilson

The first organised opposition by women to women's suffrage in England dates from 1889, when a number of ladies led by Mrs Ward appealed against the proposed extension of the Parliamentary suffrage to women.
-Millicent Fawcett

The standing orders of the Parliamentary Party, however, apply to me, apply to every other Member of the Parliamentary Labour Party and they put into a context the way in which those rights to freedom of speech should be exercised.
-Ron Davies

Unlike the previous parliamentary Marco Polo, Ronda invaded roads less traveled, but with very colourful characters such as Mr Barry O'Farrell to boot to San Francisco of all placed in July 2003 ...
• · Art of Hansard; Magna Carta of Assembly Lines; [ The New South Wales Parliament presented a Mace to the National Assembly for Wales in recognition of the historical connection between these two parts of the world. The Mace was carried into the Siambr by Ms Ronda Miller, Serjeant-at-Arms of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, presented to The Queen; Robyn McClelland (C’lth) stepped down as Chair of the Committee in 2007 and Ronda Miller (N.S.W.) was appointed as her successor by the Executive Committee. John Mandy (W.A.) and Carol Rankin (N.Z.) were asked to continue on the Committee and Rick Crump (S.A.) was co-opted during the year. Lessons from Abroad; Legislative Assembly and Council Privileges Committee Search Warrants & Parliamentary Priviledges]
• · · All Legislative Roads Lead to Dr Cope Parliamentary Librarian; Sad history
• · · · As the friendliest and considerate President in my time in NSW Parliament, Johno Johnson, noted: In 1991 Dr Russell Cope, the Parliamentary Librarian, concluded 40 years of meritorious service Dr Cope is one of those living treasures that few institutions have; The Clerk advises the Speaker and members impartially on parliamentary procedure and manages the Department of the Legislative Assembly. The current Deputy Clerk of the Assembly is the Assembly's first female Clerk. She became Deputy Clerk in 2004. In 2007 the Assembly appointed its first female Serjeant-at-Arms. Lynn Lovelock has served NSW Parliament (The Lords of the Upper House) in many roles. In 1987 she was a parliamentary administration officer, in 1988 she was appointed as the Usher of the Black Rod—as members know she was the first woman to hold that position—in August 1989 she was appointed Clerk Assistant, and then in December 1990 she was appointed Deputy Clerk. In 2007 Lynn was the first woman appointed Clerk of the Parliaments and Clerk of the Legislative Council Women on Top
• · · · · Machiavelli's teaching would hardly have stood the test of Parliamentary government, for public discussion demands at least the profession of good faith Another book lover; Review of Note on MD first birthday
• · · · · · ... THE 99% of Another WORLD: Many seasoned political professionals in Washington are deeply jealous of the copywriting skills of the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd. The young movement’s slogan – “We are the 99 per cent” – is one they wish they had thought up themselves.The funny thing, walking through “Occupy DC”, the fast-growing little brother of OWS camped a block from the White House, is that the movement’s followers don’t look like 99 per cent of anything other than a ragged modern-day counter-culture. For a better litmus test of the country’s political mood this week, you had to travel far from the tents of McPherson Square in downtown Washington to the bellwether state of Ohio. We Are the 99 Percent; Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world said this year that “There has been class warfare going on... and my class isn’t just winning, I mean we’re killing them”. The onset of neo-liberal capitalism in the late 1970s that saw a shift away from manufacturing because the rate of profit for the corporations therein had flatlined, towards a finance capitalism in particular, facilitated a huge squeezing of the US working class, dashing the American Dream for the majority and massively increasing the wealth of the tiny minority of super-rich. Website lets wealthy 1% show support for the other 99%; Quotes

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I know all about couch grass, and the fearsome bindweed, and the way to get the dandelion with its root . . . . Apple trees and pear trees shed their fruit barely formed and the currant bushes, as if taken by surprise in order to please me, are going back to the wild.

This song was dedicated (and vocalised by Helen's David) to our well-balanced friend, Mark, who was born under the relevant star-sign … Indeed, advanced age is not so bad when you consider the alternative.
We sang So may you live to be 100, Sto Roky, Mark!

Man of the Moment Libra Tango (instead of Libertango)

Having forgotten Petersburg and my criminal character
I found a way to please my wife quite legally:
I sometimes go to a dancing soiree with her
And there I am forced to count “one-two-three” like a lunatic

They teach me there to dance salsa
And tango and a bit of waltz…
But no matter how hard Eugenia trains me
When I dance waltz the freylekhs (folkloric jewish dance) comes through

I want to forget reality when dancing
To think that I am still 20 or at lease just over 30
But there is this orthodox part in me that
Does not let me get away from the Jewish rhythm

My wife dreams that I lead her properly in the dance
But when dancing with other women that I should behave myself
But the moment I see other people
My soul and lips are both ready for a kiss

I don’t get to go to parties on Sundays, -
I just pop in for a minute or two…
Then I spend another 15 minutes kissing
And for the rest of the night I have a party with my passengers

So what if there are cameras out there
And “film directors” hiding in bushes with radars, -
Nothing will interfere with my party -
Neither red lights nor huge fines.

Fellini is crying, Bertolucci is weaping,
As neither of them will get as much attention as me.
I am rushing forward, and I won’t brake,
‘Cos life is beautiful, and that’s what matters!
-Partly composed by his better half, Eugenia, who is a genus of flowering plants in the myrtle family Myrtaceae.

The Bronze Horseman (Russian: Медный всадник, literally The Copper Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Commissioned by Catherine the Great, it is also the name of a narrative poem written by Aleksandr Pushkin about the statue in 1833, widely considered to be one of the most significant works of Russian literature. The statue came to be known as the Bronze Horseman because of the great influence of the poem. The statue is now one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg, in much the same way that the Copper Harbour Bridge is a symbol of Sydney or Statue of Liberty is a symbol of New York City. Saint Petersburg has inspired great works of literature by Russian authors such as Aleksandr Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ivan Turgenev, and Nikolay Gogol. The city that arose from the swamps and rivers in the early 18th century became the grace and wonder of the northern lands; Mark's Petrograd

Peter the Great: Krasny Window to the West World Wide Web of Global-literature Tour
The Guardian's been doing a world-literature tour, asking readers to name "the best authors and books from a series of countries, creating an atlas of literature." (Yes, they already know about Jozef Imrich)

Agreed that the World Lit tour is very valuable when it identifies little-known authors from little-known countries, but the classics shouldn't be neglected just because they are classics (and not everyone has read all the classics). For Russia, I would single out Pushkin ('Yevgenii/Eugene Onegin') and Chekhov's short stories for the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Mikhail Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' (not mentioned yet, I don't think) for the mid-20th century. Don't miss Nabokov's memoirs Speak, Memory
We put the names in a hat and pulled out ... the Czech Republic

On the River Again [Birthdays are like girlfriends, they come and go-unless you enjoy them Job Watch and Media Dragon's Signature; Steve Jobs wasn’t an inventor. He was a tweaker, an idiosyncratic perfectionist who took Media Dragon's ideas and made them better.. The real genius of Steve Jobs ; Wall Street Journal blogger Steve Yang offers insights into the genius Apple co-creator and CEO of the world's second most valued company (and for some moments #1). The key is that much of Jobs' brilliance and the beauty of Apple's creations can be traced back to the influence of Zen Buddhism and an emphasis on absence defining presence...Absence of his Signature Defines Presence ]
• · Social science is wrong: Crowds are not violent forces that submerge individuality and destroy rationality. In fact, they bring out the best in people CROWDS R US ; When the day was done, P.G. Wodehouse returned to his chief pleasure: writing stinkers to people who attack media dragon A life in letters
• · · When obsessive math whizzes mate, it’s bad genetic news for their offspring, says Simon Baron-Cohen. That’s the theory, anyway... Simon Baron-Cohen noticed that children with autism are drawn to 'systems' such as machines and numbers. Geeks in love ; From Lionel Trilling to Huey Newton: What is it about this anti-Christian, antidemocratic madman that appeals to Americans?.. Nietzsche-mania Born in the USA; Vladislav Davidzon's story about reading Isaac Babel in modern day Odessa made Bookslut aka Jessa miss Odessa. (“The Godly city, the star of our exile, that reluctant wellspring of all our troubles!”) Even if the only things I learned there was that vodka with honey drizzled in it is delicious and how to hitch rides without being raped/murdered. (Old cars! Only get into old cars without power locks.) His story will make you miss Odessa, too, even if you have not been
• · · · In private, Samuel Beckett was as you might imagine him: sullenly professing distaste for his own work, too fatigued to do anything new. How I dislike that play now ; The lament of an aging professor: Everything is suddenly a distraction to William Ian Miller. His brain is balsa wood floating in a helium sea. In truth, his brain is shrinking. And so is yours Losing It
• · · · · As creatures of thought, we are thinking all the time, but that does not necessarily mean that we are thinking well. Answering the law school exam, like solving any problem, requires that the student exercise thinking in an effective and productive manner. This Article provides some guidance in that pursuit Thinking' in a Deweyan Perspective ; Will you still house me, when I’m 64?
• · · · · · This highly personalised political sphere provides the perfect environment for populist politics No role for the drover’s dog: the contemporary emphasis on leadership; Strategies without tactics is the slow road to victory . . . it is better to have the right strategy and then work out the tactics - Major General Jim Molan AO Leadership – Strategy rules!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Courtesy of TM (Trademark of Intel):
The Dunning–Kruger effect is acognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them themetacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority.

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others". The effect is about paradoxical defects in cognitive ability, both in oneself and as one compares oneself to others.

Although the Dunning–Kruger effect was put forward in 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger have quoted Charles Darwin ("Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge") and Bertrand Russell ("One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision") as authors who have recognised the phenomenon.

The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, both then of Cornell University. Kruger and Dunning noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

Dunning has since drawn an analogy ("the anosognosia of everyday life") to a condition in which a person who suffers a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of or denies the existence of the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis.

Everyone knows teens live with abandon online—exposing their secrets, likes, dislikes, sexual preferences, home addresses, phone numbers, and so on—in ways their parents can’t understand. But it’s not just this generation’s sense of privacy that’s eroding. It’s their sense of permanence. They act as though the words they write and pictures they post and texts they send vanish into the ether. But in fact they’re leaving a running transcript behind, a digital trail of their hopes, their anxieties, and, in the case of at least one small Canadian town, even their crimes:
When Kruse IM’d Kim to see if she was done babysitting, no response came. But he didn’t expect one. The instant message was a cover. Kruse knew Kim had never made it to her job. She was right there in his house with him and Cam. Bound. Beaten. Raped. And, by the next morning, stuffed in his freezer. Dead

PS: Kimberly Proctor was born on January 1, 1992.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

All eyes are on India as the world awaited the arrival of its seven billionth child and my parents in law might actually meet the baby in the holy gurudwaras.. Good tidings as the spirit of Diwali is still spreading in the land of wonders...

A nice way to finish the week - Chief Executive magazine from New York has named this missive among its Top 10 CEO blogs. KRConnect has been going for five years now, covering whatever comes to mind, falls across my path, or is close to my heart. A rough count makes this post 1,046. KRConnect

The world had changed suddenly, but I hadn’t. I think part of me knew that it passes, and then it moves on. All you have to do is hold on through the wave, so that you don’t get washed away. It does pass. It was very peculiar. You’re turned into some kind of object, and writers are determinedly subjects. Recently people have been starting to say that it’s all about sales, that the companies behind it are very proud of the sales of the books, and nobody’s talking about the books. There’s quite big PR machine behind it, and we know how PR machines are. The writer is a kind of incidental figure in the middle of this global PR exercise. Presumably writers dream of having such a thing happen but actually what we dream of is the fantasy of suddenly breaking free from your critics, which is not actually what happens. You’re freed from a certain amount of financial tension, but if you weighed money too much in the balance you’d never become a writer in the first place. When you get into it, it’s for whatever kind of reward is there. Though I am very interested in what money does to people, because I’ve had money and I haven’t. The years from 1993 to 2007 were pretty thin. I’m interested in how stressful it is not to have money, but also how, if you do have money you cannot imagine what it is not to have it

Man of the Moment Lessons From Leaders: Leaders and leadership are not always the same
Great leadership is uncommon, but given the state of the world, at the moment more than uncommonly necessary.

Major global trend-forecasters are sounding the alarms that humanity is on the verge of entering into the most tumultuous period in our history. The prospects of a global depression, global war on an unimagined scale and societal collapse are increasing.
Governments have been optimistic with all their happy talk. Is the worst really behind us? Raising interest rates is one way to find out! Maybe our leaders need to look at the facts! Is the economy in deep trouble - hence the delay in raising interest rates now?
Worldwide, the economic crisis has many bubbles. The main event on the horizon is the "bailout bubble" and the general world-debt bubble, which could plunge the world into a Great Depression.

• < Is the economy in deep trouble [ The power of political soap opera Stress tops list of long-term absence causes - Stress is now the number one cause of long-term sickness absence as employees struggle with heavy workloads and job loss worries. Mental health problems hit manual and non-manual staff; Tracking the Trackers: Where Everybody Knows Your Username Tracking the Trackers: Where Everybody Knows Your Username by Jonathan Mayer - Click the local Home Depot ad and your email address gets handed to a dozen companies monitoring you. Your web browsing, past, present, and future, is now associated with your identity. Swap photos with friends on Photobucket and clue a couple dozen more into your username. Keep tabs on your favorite teams with Bleacher Report and you pass your full name to a dozen again. This isn't a 1984-esque scaremongering hypothetical This is what's happening today ]
• · Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing - Today’s digital media environment is rapidly evolving, driven by the proliferation of devices people use to consume content both at home, at work and on the goSheding light on the direction of the ever-evolving digital media landscape ; Personal technology at work: IT's Arab spring, The Economist People are demanding to use their own gadgets in their jobs. Trying to thwart them is futile
• · · Risk Leadership: How to be heard, Risk Management Partners, 2011. This risk management white paper has found that the secret to communicating a risk management message to the right people was knowing the audience; learning how to talk to them in their language; and telling them what they wanted to hear while telling them what they needed to hear. Risk professionals needed to draw senior management a picture of what risk management really was. ; The Peter Principle revisited: a computational study Winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Management for mathematically demonstrating that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random
• · · · Anger management: there's an upside to seeing red at work - New research from the Australian School of Business shows tempered anger in the workplace can have a positive effect. Venting may clear the air or have a catalytic impact, signalling a matter of importance. It could even be a necessary "evil", just part of the job. But before letting fly, be mindful that things may turn sour if it's out of control - and the cause of the outrage will affect how it's perceived; GRAHAM Richardson was a 'gifted liar', and an 'archetiypal trickster' as Labor Party warlord, Bob Hawke's biographer and wife Blanche d'Alpuget says. However you choose to describe him, just like his old boss, Paul Keating, he knows when to throw the switch to vaudeville. This week he sprung a masterful media trap for Kevin Rudd to help spruik his incarnation as a political commentator on Sky News Richo a tart for publicity
• · · · · One world many stories ; Edward de Bono recently made an appearance on ABC down under, sharing some typically flamboyant thinking, mostly around the subject of thinking itself. I’ve been a de Bono fan for years and this was fresh as ever. Among his key insights were: Fresh Thinking ; They say bad luck runs in threes, but these crises aren't luck, they are all of our own making. As with diseases of the human body, problems in business become much easier to resolve if detected early. The Australian - We're the richest nation on earth, according to a Credit Suisse report. 20 October 2011. AUSTRALIANS are the world's wealthiest people on a median basis and second in the world behind Switzerland on an average basis, According to a new Media Dragon report
• · · · · ·Increase your productivity by doing less- A change of attitude could be enough to see us doing jobs sooner, easier and better ; Jenni is heading to Praha for 5 weeks Only in Bohemia ;-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

He has endured 12 premiers, eight speakers and sat through countless debates - and scandals - in the bearpit in Australia's oldest parliament. After 21 years, the reign of the longest-serving Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Russell Grove, will come to an end when he retires on November 4. Russell Grove has been Clerk of the Legislative Assembly since 1990, having entered Parliamentary Service in 1971.

I've enjoyed every single day of my working life. I'm very fortunate in that regard.

Reflecting on how the parliament has changed in the four decades he has worked there, Mr Grove said there was ''probably more camaraderie 40 years ago. Civility is a big issue in politics internationally. But there is also more pressure on MPs''.
In the public gallery during the tributes were Mr Grove's wife, Frances, and daughter, Sarah-Jane.

Afterwards MPs joined Mr Grove for morning tea in the Speaker's Garden and he received a standing ovation at the end of question time. Mr Grove said he would tackle a pile of political biographies, but has no plans for a tell-all book of his own. On what makes a good clerk, he said: You just need to keep your mouth closed

It has been a great honour for me to have Russell Grove and his wife, Frances, as my constituents. From their location in Springfield Avenue in the heart of Kings Cross they have given me feedback about the night-time activities in Central Plaza. We also have a common interest in the Pearl Beach area. I know that although Russell is retiring I will still see Russell, Frances and Sarah-Jane.

Over this long period there have been great challenges and many changes. Throughout these times I have come to the view that only by having confidence in itself, and an ability to adapt to the new challenges while respecting the value of past practices, can the House survive as the sovereign body of our State. Unwarranted and unfounded criticism from whatever quarter should not deflect Members from their important duties and responsibility as representatives of the people of New South Wales ... To some extent we are honouring today the man who was not there. The fact is that the officials who sit at the table of Parliaments like ours in the place are invisible. Parliamentary Marco Polo

CODA: The Ghost of Grahame Cooksley is haunting Homer's Springfield...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.
-Alfred Hitchcock

The 19th-century social network. To enjoy the crowd, Baudelaire told us, one must have masks. His love of observing was at war with his fear of being seen...

We live in a world where information is potentially unlimited. Information is cheap, but meaning is expensive. Where is the meaning?

Pinker the Prophet The Better Angels of Our Nature
Hitler, Stalin, Mao – three reasons to question moral progress. But has cynicism blinded us to a worldwide decline in belligerency?

WITH THE United States fighting two wars, countries from Tunisia to Syria either in or on the brink of intrastate conflicts, bloodshed continuing in Sudan and reports that suicide bombers might foil airport security by planting explosives within their bodies, it is hard to be cheerful. But Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker tells us that we should be, that we are living in the least violent era ever. What’s more, he makes a case that will be hard to refute. The trends are not subtle—many of the changes involve an order of magnitude or more. Even when his explanations do not fully convince, they are serious and well-grounded.

Why Violence Has Declined [ Showmanship and luck, but also a taste for secrecy and controversy. Most of all, be a blank slate: What makes a good prophet? ; The Alice books have been interpreted to death: an allegory of Darwinism, a tale of toilet training, a story of sexual desire. All miss the point. Tolstoy of the nursery.; Politics of personality. How to explain William F. Buckley? He had ideas, of course – 50-some books. But what mattered was his charm]
• · . The Jewish wit and the morose anti-Semite shared a friendship and a compulsion: extreme frankness. When Groucho Marx met T.S. Eliot; For Philip Larkin, letters were a crucible in which to refine his poetry. They were also the venue for airing regrets... I’m sorry that our lovemaking fizzled out
• · · Politics between the sheets. Revolutionaries must be monomaniacal, it’s said. But what is a revolution without sex? Without art? failure ; My brain made me do it. Can neuroscience distinguish between an automatic impulse and a self-directed action? Mike Gazzaniga chooses to weigh the evidence Decoding the Brain’s Cacophony
• · · · Take a clear-eyed look at the book biz. Only two major players, Amazon and Google, are still standing. Everyone else is looking for the best way to go bankrupt..; The great illumination. Streetlights changed everything, a fact not lost on those who prefer the dark: thieves, prostitutes, drunks, students...
• · · · · Hemingway’s later years: Ill health, night terrors. Forgive him anything. He writes like an angel ; Why do we exist? asks Richard Dawkins. Why are we here? For the 70-year-old biologist, a compelling answer: to continue deft battle withm intolerably conventional wisdom
• · · · · · Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. The Internet makes it hard to concentrate. Good, says Cathy Davidson. Disruption and distraction spark innovation and creativity ; Fashion, Kant wrote, belongs “under the heading of folly.” But men, it seems, have always been bemused by catwalk-gazing fashionistas
• · · · · · · Ours is a culture of whateverness: Disbelief trumps belief; opinions, buildings, behavior are trivial curiosities. Enthralled by ephemera, we’ve become idea surfers... ; When Ariel Dorfman fled Chile, he left his library behind. His years of roving were shaped by the books he could not read... Exile and identity

Thursday, October 13, 2011

After two hundred twenty days or seven months around the world, from NY to Mexico Argentina, Bohemian Czech land of Prague, Spain and much much more Gabbie is back to swim the Sydney beaches ;-)

The Power of a mistake
Note from NZ When I started my career at Mary Quant in the 60s I was schooled in the fail fast, learn fast, fix fast, mantra. Lines went from conception to launch to discontinuation at lightning speed; it was a great place to discover the power of a mistake as a way of learning and improving.

In a similar vein Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman says he learns more about the human mind when it makes mistakes than he does when everything is working perfectly. Kahneman has been studying intuitive thinking for 40 years, and said this at the start of a recent master class on the science of human nature:
If you want to characterize how something is done, then one of the most powerful ways of characterizing the way the mind does anything is by looking at the errors that the mind produces while it's doing it because the errors tell you what it is doing. Correct performance tells you much less about the procedure than the errors do.
We focused on errors. We became completely identified with the idea that people are generally wrong. We became like prophets of irrationality. We demonstrated that people are not rational. The Power of Failure

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Sitting with my gin or whisky afterwards I would often manage to get into conversation with some lonely man or other--usually an exile like myself--and the talk would be about the world, air-routes and shipping-lines, drinking-places thousands of miles away. Then I felt happy, felt I had come home, because home to people like me is not a place but all places, all places except the one we happen to be in at the moment.
Anthony Burgess, The Right to ...

Steve Jobs, Bohemian Revolutionary

He personified his industry in a way few people do today. Not even Bill Gates has the star power of Jobs. Gates is more of a pure businessman (and now philanthrophist), while Jobs always seemed to be the innovator, the rock-star genius revolutionary. Who is the universally recognized person at the head of the American automobile industry? I guess you could say Rex Tillerson at Exxon-Mobil personifies the oil industry, and of course Warren Buffett is ultimate investor. But by and large, corporations and entire industries are faceless, ruled by come-and-go CEOs Tribute to to a guy who created home for many of us - Steve Jobs

Now we know that the presentation was taking place while the company's co-founder, the man who was the inspiration for everything that Apple did, was in his final hours. As the noted blogger Robert Scoble wrote, apologising for his own harsh words about Tuesday's event, that fact must have been known to Tim Cook and his closest colleagues. Think different and follow Robert Scoble admit to mistakes

Steve Dared to Think Different

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The image of Sydney is similar to New York it is a city of a giant switchboard. It is very social in Sydney among the Japanese Canadian Polish friends who stage parties and friends keep introducing you to other friends …
AussieScan is a small Australian company that focuses on nothing but scanning photos, slides and negatives. We can scan 35mm, medium format and large format negatives and transparencies Jeff

The Grief of Others The Art of Struggle - A Short Life and Its Consequences
There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft - The Kite Runner

Even at their moments of most intense grief, Cohen does not allow her characters to plunge into self-pity. She has faith in their resilience; or rather, she finds the bedrock of resilience beneath swampier emotions. Sometimes the very sources of guilt and shame — acts the individual would wish undone — are the means of building a bridge back to the trust and affection that have always lain under sadness. For all its deep-seated sorrows, this is a hopeful book, a series of striking vignettes illuminating the humanity of these. fully realized characters

• Sometimes i can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives i'm not living - 7 Revolting Things About American Culture Amerika [The mainstream media is still the high culture of intellectuals: writers, readers, editors, librarians, professors, artists, art critics, poets, novelists, and people who think. They are the mainstream culture, even though you may be the dominant culture\The Wrong Side ; The poems are transparent (they need no mediation), yet they tantalise the reader with glimpses of an impenetrable self: so much yearning, so much debility; an eros that self-thwarts and self-finesses ]
• · And into the brown paper bag of my heart, Eddy slipped a smile. - from The River Why by David James Duncan. The book weighs profit and loss in terms of past and present, social and political developments. But its emotional core is in 'private grief / or private fears,' its struggle to reconcile an inner life with external pressures. Profit and Loss - private grief / or private fears ; You can still rely on Media Dragons for a reality check Cold River invented a poetry for its tale ; "You gotta look beyond, beyond the border to understand the history of your country Interview with CS Giscombe
• · · Women fall in love when they get to know you. Men are the opposite. When they finally know you they're ready to leave - J Salter - Such is the danger of first books, and the first poems therein: high expectations. Onward John Beer! Leave these barren fields, cropped and rotated to extinction. There are verdancies ahead that you and we have yet undreamt of. I can see a forest for Some Trees ; Stopping everything is something. Stopping everything and stopping all of that thing is something. Stopping everything and then doing nothing in stopping everything is something
• · · · So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselesly into the past - The Great Gatsby,Nick on resilience = I do not write memoirs. I do not write novels. I do not write short stories. I do not write plays. I do not write poems. I do not write mysteries. I do not write science fiction. I write fragments. I do not tell stories from things I’ve read or movies I’ve seen, I describe impressions, I make judgments. The modern man I sing - When I Look at a Strawberry, I Think of a Tongue; D]espite a love for teaching his students, their generation is not living up to the radical attitude his own almost took for granted. But nevertheless, there is a feeling of bathos. Of sorts an ode to possibility, The Poetry Lesson unfortunately leaves the reader feeling a little deflated. Entertained, yes, and wiser, for sure. But not exactly inspired
• · · · · "[Vasko] Popa thus offers us poetry that does something, that believes in an active language whose intention derives not from an author but from the power of words themselves, simultaneously avowed and disavowed in the impossible exactitude of the curse: ‘God give you a gold coin weighing a ton, so you can’t carry it or spend it, but have to sit beside it begging The Golden Apple: A Round of Stories, Songs, Spells, Proverbs and Riddles ; "[In L.A.] it felt like all the waiters and waitresses were on stage, waiting to be discovered—the smiles were megawatt but skin deep, and attempts at conversation often swayed very swiftly to auditions A Trunk Full of Random T-Shirts
• · · · · · "Freedom is what [Álvaro de] Campos seeks: ‘No! All I want is freedom!/ Love, glory, money – they’re prisons’, he exclaims in an untitled poem from 1930; and freedom is also what the heteronym bestows on [Fernando] Pessoa himself." Unlike a pseudonym, or an anonym, the heteronym is a wholly fabricated persona ; One has the sense of [Arthur] Rimbaud stringing together some of his favorite words to create in a breath a sense of rapturous identity. How does one become a genie? By making love to one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Ruby

Although our hearts ache that we no longer experience the daily joy of living in the same house with our kids, we are comforted by Ecclesiastes 3:1:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Gabriella is in Praha - Prague - this week with my sisters and the rest of the family and my army days come back to haunt me as I was 19 like Gabbie when I was forced to serve 2 years of compulsory service. Many thanks to Janka, Lydka, Gitka and one and all at the good old Czechoslovakia for looking after my muse ;-)

Memories of Cold River Flows Prague’s Bad Dream
THE WEB SITE FOR Prague’s Museum of Communism instructs visitors to make their way to No. 10 on Na Prikope in the heart of the city:

We are above the McDonalds and next to the Casino.” Against these flashy consequences of the Velvet Revolution, the museum itself has a cramped, grubby feeling appropriate to the four decades of Czech life that it memorializes. During my Sunday-afternoon visit, I need to crane my neck over someone’s shoulder to read the display panels, and have to wait in a slow-moving line to reach the de rigueur piece of the Berlin Wall at the exhibit’s end. If for example, a girl received 20 dollars from a foreigner for a night of love-making, she could exchange it in the state bank for about one hundred and sixty Tuzex crowns, which she could sell on the black market for 800 Czechoslovak crowns, which equaled the monthly wages of a shop assistant

Bizarre story from Gabbie from Berlin where the police and British consul staff are trying to identify an English-speaking teenager who says he lived in German woods with his father for five years
Postcard from an awakened city ...; [Lloyd Evans Tara FitzGerald’s beauty is fabulous. Literally, there’s something unworldly about the surfaces and contours of her face. It’s as if the codes of her biology had been transmitted to earth Out of this world; The brilliant foreignness of Australian crime fiction. It is a rare crime novel that doesn’t seem better in the first part, when we are still trying to find our bearings. Perhaps we want to feel the way we did as children, when the genre was so much more thrilling for being slightly over our heads. This is the good thing about Australian crime fiction: as an American, you are never completely at home in it. True, the suburban backdrops appear very familiar, and on the printed page the Australian variant of English is almost identical to our own. But the characters in these novels behave much more differently from Americans than do the Swedes in those Stieg Larsson books, and this never stops feeling odd. Among male friends an intensity of joshing camaraderie is in evidence that even our frat boys would find stifling. At first I chalked this up to over-imitation of Hollywood films, only to read in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature that the Sunburnt Country has a true-life tradition of especially tight-knit “mateship.” Not for nothing did Australian prisoners in Japanese POW camps survive at a higher rate than American ones. Most other characters in these novels interact with a reflexive prickliness, and that includes husbands and wives; there is a constant effect of chips on shoulders. Stephen Knight, the leading expert on his country’s crime fiction, talks of “drily aggressive wit” without explaining the aggression itself. Down Underworld]
• · Our obsession with musical nostalgia is strangling pop. Nostalgia is now thoroughly entwined with the consumer-entertainment complex. We feel pangs for the products of yesteryear, the novelties and distractions that filled up our youth … The passage of our time has become indexed to the procession of rapidly obsolescing fads, fashions, celebrity careers et al. Has pop culture, uh, stopped? Why do the major musical developments of the past decade include Guitar Hero, reunion tours, hip karaoke, the rise of the tribute band, pop stars made entirely from bits of other pop stars, and Van Morrison re-performing Astral Weeks? Lady Gaga, bless her radical retro soul, is Cher after three weeks in Warhol’s Factory. Cee Lo is Motown with swearing. This month, even as Roger Waters breaks temporarily from his transglobal plod-through of Pink Floyd’s 32-year-old rock opera, The Wall, Roger Daltrey sallies forth with a production of The Who’s 42-year-old rock opera, Tommy. One salutes the unkillability of these gentlemen, one reveres their work, but, honestly. And wherefore this pile of rock docs and rock bios, these waves of compulsive historicization? The Making of Frampton Comes Alive! … The Making of The Making of Frampton Comes Alive! … The Making of The Making of The Making of Frampton Comes Alive! … Everything Old; Evil and us. Sloppy historical analogies, amateurish psychological speculations, oversimplifications, tired moral platitudes – we’ve gotten evil all wrong Evildoers and Us: The open secret: Everyone does something illegal
• · · Marvellous mashup - great literature and 80’s pop music! Long live the 80’s ; Klassikal Kozak of my Czechosloval Army days Alexander Lebedev, Russian owner of the Independent, lashes out at property tycoon Sergei Polonsky ; Marx was wrong: Capitalism, not communism, killed the bourgeoisie. Now there’s no escaping the mercurial market forces. Prepare for further upheaval A Point of View: The revolution of capitalism