Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reading Tea Leaves

“You can’t ask me to explain the lyrics because I won’t do it.”

- Lou Reed


Who really knows if reading will make you a better person? More to the point, why should it matter? Reading Cold River

Amazon’s book recommendations are rubbish Amazon reading recommendations

Five (punj) kids’ books that work for adults just as well. The stories of Punjab

Is George Orwell’s 1984 the go-to guide to being a grownup? MLXXXIV

Follow the money. Here’s where it goes in the book industry. Following the Money

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brave Old Feudal World

We’re in the middle of an epic battle for power in cyberspace. On one side are the nimble, unorganized, distributed powers such as dissident groups, criminals, and hackers. On the other side are the traditional, organized, institutional powers such as governments and large multinational corporations. During its early days, the Internet gave coordination and efficiency to the powerless. It made them powerful, and seem unbeatable. But now the more traditional institutional powers are winning, and winning big. How these two fare long-term, and the fate of the majority of us that don’t fall into either group, is an open question – and one vitally important to the future of the Internet…Government power is also increasing on the Internet. Long gone are the days of an Internet without borders, and governments are better able to use the four technologies of social control: surveillance, censorship, propaganda, and use control. There’s a growing “cyber sovereignty” movement that totalitarian governments are embracing to give them more control – a change the US opposes, because it has substantial control under the current system. And the cyberwar arms race is in full swing, further consolidating government power New Feudal Times

The detective, Dan Cohn, owned and operated Docusearch, a website that trafficked in personal information, and at the time, he was charging $35 to dig up someone’s driving record, $45 for his bank account balances, $49 for a social security number, $84 to trace a mobile number, and $209 to compile his stocks, bonds, and securities. The site offered a simple clickable interface and Amazon-like shopping cart. It’sstill around today, boasting similar services. “Licensed Investigators for Accurate Results” reads the tag line, calling itself “America’s premier provider of on-line investigative solutions I challenged hackers to investigate me and what they found out is chilling

It's a story he tells, breaking years of silence, in "Mafiaboy: A Portrait of the Hacker as a Young Man," which chronicles Calce's rise to becoming arguably the most famous, or infamous, computer hacker ever. Hacker who was 12

Chefs who live below poverty lines

In the memo, dated August 3, 2010 James writes: ‘HMRC have seriously underestimated the additional tax etc that was at stake and I cannot stress enough that we really have got away with murder here.’  Former tax officer with HMRC, Trevor James, claims his methods were ‘legitimate, of course’ despite talking of prosecution and admitting that he knowingly removed documents from the company’s personnel files. The memo says: ‘It would have seriously complicated ­matters had I left all the paperwork in... it could, potentially, have cost us many hundreds of thousands, possibly millions. Gordon Ramsays almost got away with murder

It alleges Messrs Gould, Leaver and Ross funded the offshore network by buying life insurance policies from Fidelity Pacific Life Insurance Company, which operates from tax haven Vanuatu and claims on its website that although ''death is inevitable taxation does not have to be''. Offshoring: tax arrangements described as 'Byzantine in their complexity'  The world of tax edens

 Global Witness submission to Select Committee inquiry into oil and mining sectors calls for:
  • a public register of real owners of UK companies
  • speedy passing of new EU standard into UK law ensuring company payments to governments are reported
  • end to lobbying by Shell, others, to delay UK implementation of EU transparency law
  • blocking of attempt to take ENRC private until official investigations completed
  • the UK judicial authorities to freeze funds from a major Nigerian oil deal involving Shell, Eni and various offshore companies Lifting the lid on corruption scandals

The Circle of Corruption

Mr Temby said the inquiry would examine whether Mr Dunn and another former senior public servant, Mark Duffy, engaged in ''official misconduct'' by using their positions to benefit the Obeids. In 1989 Mr Duffy was sacked as Labor Council industrial officer for leaking internal documents he co-wrote with Mr Costa to an executive at transport giant Linfox. He later worked as chief of staff to former NSW treasurer Michael Egan Corrupt Label

Instead of coal, this time around the Independent Commission Against Corruption is examining the Obeids' interests in cafes at Circular Quay, water licences covering the family property near Mudgee and a canny solution to reduce sickies in the public service.  A succession of former waterways ministers, Carl Scully, Michael Costa, Eric Roozendaal and Joe Tripodi, will be called to give evidence in Operation Cyrus about Mr Obeid's alleged attempts to lobby them to renew two retail leases at Circular Quay, for the Sorrentino Restaurant and Quay Eatery, without going to tender. Troika of self interest

John Abood ~ The story behind the doctrine: ''How to live well on nothing a year'' from the classic novel Vanity Fair The money trail

Carr spent three days at Bohemian Grove. As socio-political tourism, it was a brilliant experience. But Carr would have been wiser to spend no days there. As diplomacy, it was foolish. Clayton Bohemians

Monday, October 28, 2013

The First Bohemians: Love and squalor

“Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other ­people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.”

― P.D. James

Before Soho was boho, there was Covent Garden. Its theaters, bordellos, and back alleys gave rise to a modern archetype: the poverty-stricken artist...First Bohemians

What could be more doomed in America than a socialist magazine? Dissent started in 1954 with enough money to put out four issues. Sixty years later... Dissent almost as old as Vaclav Havel

Our collective sense of irony, it seems, has never been in better health. We say, “How ironic!” as a politician’s hypocrisy is exposed; we laugh knowingly as Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter egos eviscerate their prey with perfect Socratic irony; we feel keenly the dramatic irony as Romeo takes his own life, thinking Juliet has killed herself. Irony, in all its forms, pervades our lives. Irony pervades our lives, but it tends to fall flat on the page. That’s an old problem. In the 17th century, the Rev. John Wilkins invented the “irony mark”... Hard core ironies

Big data erects “invisible barbed wire” around our lives, says Evgeny Morozov. The more we reveal, “the denser but more invisible this barbed wire becomes”...Iron curtains and barbed wires

The Land of the Roman Ls: Roberto, Philipo & Jozefo all L category now

Although free societies provide opportunities which criminals can exploit, in totalitarian states the worst criminals are commonly those in power.
Former judge Tony Fitzgerald

Mr Fitzgerald has warned Queenslanders that Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie's new laws are dangerous and unlikely to work.
In an opinion piece in The Courier-Mail, Mr Fitzgerald says it's foolhardy and arrogant for politicians to make major changes without consulting legal experts and then slander critics.
He says the government doesn't have a mandate to ignore ethics and attack fundamental values.
But Mr Bleijie insists his government has the support of everyday Queenslanders.
"We were elected with a mandate to make sure that we rebalance the scales of justice," he told reporters. Opinion tony fitzgeralds verdict on the tough law-and-order

A future without regret. We tell ourselves not to dwell on failure, that doing so is whiny and unuseful. To the contrary, regret is what makes us human... No Regrets?

Boonah, an Anglicised version of the Aboriginal word 'buna', supposedly means bloodwood tree. Located 84 km south-west of Brisbane and 100 metres above sea-level, Boonah is known as 'The Heart of the Fassifern'. It is a very pretty little town with lots of timber houses. Surrounded by hills it was established in 1882 as a service centre for the surrounding farms. The area produces vegetables for the nearby Brisbane markets (notably carrots and potatoes), cereal crops, beef, pork and timber Boonah ~ Drive 90 minutes from Brisbane and you'll reach not the Gold or Sunshine coasts but the postcard-perfect Scenic Rim. The Rim is the name given to an arc of mountain ranges, but the region includes the hills and valleys of rainforest and farmland at the foot of the range. At its heart is the tiny town of Boonah. Rim of Nature

God’s Workshop ~ Terrific first draft, but the female characters need some work. Composing Cold Rivers

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Taxing Times of Mental Jargon at school and work


    The Line of Beauty: The worse they are, the better we seem to like them. Matthew Sweet sorts the naughty, the filthy and the unruly from the just plain wrong Free to be bad
Bre(n)t, the character played by Ricky Gervais in sitcom The Office, regularly used meaningless phrases to try and hide his ineptitude. Earlier this year a survey found that nearly a quarter of workers consider office jargon to be a “pointless irritation”.A campaign group claimed that overused jargon could be holding British businesses back. 'If they use these words, don’t buy their shares'  Steven Poole, who has written a book on "unbearable office jargon" told Radio 4's Today program that office jargon can sometimes have sinister undertones: "it’s all about obscuring the violence of what the bosses are actually doing to people so they can carry on with a clear conscience." Mr Poole said that office jargon became very popular during the dotcom boom and has stuck around in boardrooms across the country. Office trail

spent six years of my life at a private girl's school surrounded by classmates, many of whom exhibited varying degrees of Ja'mie-ness. Lilley has described Ja'mie as "completely self-absorbed, out of control and outrageous".I envy the proportion of the population who can view Ja'mie as satirical, because I certainly cannot. To me, Ja'mie is not outrageous - she is real and can be found at a school near you. 

Jamie is only too real

The uncertainty, as when watching a one-armed juggler, makes for an uneasy experience. The set pieces – a theatre visit, a weekend in Marrakesh – are vivid but, again, overextended

A number of businesses, including Home Swap, Love Home Swap and Homeaway, allow people to holiday abroad without charge if your destination matches with another user who is prepared to stay in your home.

The act of sharingUncertainty

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Far, far from reality

"A man will turn over half a library to make one book."
~Samuel Johnson (quoted in James Boswell's Life of Johnson

Architects have been designing houses capable of surviving extreme bushfire conditions for 30 years - the proof is their survival. My interest in this subject was sparked in 1983, while researching my book Leaves of Iron on Sydney architect Glenn Murcutt. He constructed a dwelling for the painter Sydney Ball at Glenorie in a highly fire-prone section of bush on the ridge with a valley running up that would act as a natural chimney for fires. Murcutt designed water storage tanks with a diesel generator and pumps connected to agricultural sprinklers on the apex of the round corrugated roof. The house was built with steel framing and a corrugated iron exterior so it could be drenched in the event of a firestorm. Living in the bush

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Heads in the Clouds

Dorrigo (italian aborigines called it Don Dorrigo "stringy bark") the Antiopodean Ikaria just judging by the purity of the mixed sea and moutain air. At the top of the mountain one discovers a cosy retreat called the Clouds End which overlooks Belingen River National Park. This is all part of bigger landscapes as you will find that the  Great Dividing Range also harbours DieHappy State Forest (no pun intended). 

"As the name suggests, Clouds End really is like being at the top of the world, with sweeping views of uninterrupted forest cover stretching to the coast. The area is ringed by a chain of national parks and state forests that offer great potential for bushwalking and sightseeing. Clouds End is owned and operated by Beth and Kelvin Henwood, who bought the property 33 years ago "because we fell in love with the view", says Beth. The Henwoods built a residence out of second-hand and new bits and pieces and raised their children there. 

You will find a sense of humour peppered throughout Henwood's amazing garden.  Inside is a picture of Noah Ark with the purest lamb reminding observers of a spiritual cloud. There used to be a hen or chook run at the end of the garden where electric fence and the woods meet. On the edge of the woods or forest one spies 80 or so Angus beef cattle.  
Antipodean Tuscany at Home

The end of mists ~ Belle home ~  Kampen images

Daunting to pick up - impossible to put down - For those unfamiliar with the Czech anthem, the very first words are "Kde domov můj?" which translate to "Where is my home?" This idea of rootlessness, this constant insecurity about what one may call his or her own, is one of the fundamental themes of this show. It attempts to show this age-old characteristic of the Czech psyche in a contemporary light. Where is my home?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Going to Boonah

''Going to the opera, like getting drunk, is a sin that carries its own punishment with it," wrote Hannah More to her sister in 1777

‘We have an obligation to imagine’ … “This is an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday, October 14 at the Barbican Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

"The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table

Friday, October 18, 2013

Out of Control

Covered in smoke ... The scene in Sydney this evening. Picture: Damian Shaw
Covered in smoke ... The scene in Sydney via SMH Picture: Damian Shaw

Freud's Archivists: Janet Malcolm was born in Lidka's Prague

In the Freud Archives tells the story of an unlikely encounter among three men: K. R. Eissler, the venerable doyen of psychoanalysis; Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, a flamboyant, restless forty-two-year-old Sanskrit scholar turned psychoanalyst turned virulent anti-Freudian; and Peter Swales, a mischievous thirty-five-year-old former assistant to the Rolling Stones and self-taught Freud scholar. At the center of their Oedipal drama are the Sigmund Freud Archives—founded, headed, and jealously guarded by Eissler—whose sealed treasure gleams and beckons to the community of Freud scholarship as if it were the Rhine gold. In the Feud archives

Janet Malcolm's Journalistic Relationship With Analyst Jeffrey Masson Seemed as Intimate as Romance. No Wonder Their Libel Trial Felt Like a Divorce Till Death Do Us Part ~ Janet Malcolm

In a fascinating but anecdotal (and probably ultimately pointless) experiment, psychologists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland averaged the faces of young women from around the globe to create "averaged" faces of various nations.
Averaged faces

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Putin's librarian

The Mitrokhin Archive is a collection of handwritten notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate. When he defected to the United Kingdom in 1992 he brought the archive with him Mitrokhin Archive
Disillusioned Soviet archivist whose extraordinary diligence revealed nearly 70 years of KGB secrets to the west ~ Vasili Mitrokhin is that rare creature like john hatton and Vaclav Havel who believe that truth matters and sunshine is thebest disinfectant Putin's archivist
IN DECEMBER 1992, MI6 ran a secret undercover mission to spirit a former KGB officer, Colonel Vasili Mitrokhin, and his wife out of Russia. MI6 was skilled at this. The former London KGB station chief Oleg Gordievsky had been brought out in the boot of a Saab by MI6 in the 1980s.
But the defection was hampered by the need to bring six large trunks buried in the garden of Col Mitrokhin's dacha outside Moscow. MI6 officers, including renegade officer Richard Tomlinson, posing as workmen loaded them into a van. Mr Tomlinson was jailed two years ago after attempting to publish a book about his secret service exploits. He was released in April last year.

Spy Scandal behind Mitrokhin archive : how MI6 stole details of KGB plots

The Boom Towns and Ghost Towns

How the recession changed our economic geography ~ New York, Houston, Washington, D.C.—plus college towns and the energy belt—are all up, while much of the Sun Belt is (still) down. Mapping the winners and losers since the crash. Survival of the fattest

Monday, October 14, 2013

Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography

"The congregation does not believe one thing; we believe a multitude of hazy, crazy things," he writes in "The Three Ecologies of the Holy Desert," the final effort here. "Some among us are smart; some serene; some feeble, poor, practical, guilt-ridden; some are lazy; some arrogant, rich, pious, prurient, bitter, injured, sad. We gather in belief of one big thing: that we matter, somehow."
Richard Rodriguez’s Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography

Cinema is too sacred a Humanity for us to leave in the hands of passionless, creativity-killing, corporate bottom-liners. Who we are as a culture is at stake. Humanity

Because it makes the world seem just. If the strongest win all the battles, there’s no hope for the rest of us, is there? If the same people who have all the power and all the money and all the authority are also going to win every contest, what’s the point of going on for the rest of us? So the underdog story gives all of us who are not on top hope. Story of Our Lives

Clerks of Parliament

“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”

- Anton Chekhov

When Fires Came to Olympic city of Sydney

"I have no desire to prove anything by it. I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance."
~Fred Astaire, Steps in Time

Sweltering one minute, cold the next. A wild fire, with flames as high as a ''power pole'', ripped through a car park in Sydney's Olympic Park on Sunday, destroying more than 40 cars that were heard exploding, causing authorities to evacuate more than 1500 people from the aquatic centre in Homebush. Homebush Fire

A perfect critic looks at every poem on its own terms, but not all terms are equal."
~ William Logan, "Against Aesthetics" (The New Criterion, Sept. 2013)

obj_420_613_med.jpgTerry has  a peek at two short excerpts from the libretti for The King's Man and Danse Russe, my two most recent operatic collaborations with Paul Moravec, which are being produced as a double bill in Louisville this weekend by Kentucky Opera.

The first number, "I Was Born on a Sunday," is an arietta from The King's Man that is sung by Benjamin Franklin, who is attempting to explain to William, his illegitimate son, why he is at one and the same time a "Puritan prig" (in William's contemptuous phrase) and a carefully discreet sexual libertine:

FRANKLIN I was born on a Sunday 

In the shadow of an angry God, 
Baptized on the day of my birth 
Into a gray, Puritan life 
To save me from the fires of hell. 
They believed that a child born on a Sunday 
Must be a child of Satan. 
This was my youth, 
From the Puritans of Boston 
To the Quakers of Philadelphia: 
From same to same, 
Gray to gray, 
Hard work, cold baths, 
Hatred of the joys of the flesh. 
Damn it all! 
God damn it all! 
No God of love 
Would make such a place, 
Cold as ice, 
Sharp as a knife, 
No joy... 
No life.

PS: Media Dragon reached half a devil posts many swelting posts ago this is number 4444 so another 2222 posts and we will reach that dangerous number of biblical proportions. However, whatever you do do not mention Cold Water in front of people where Cold Rivers meet - SnowTown.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Popping the Question

“The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”

― W.E.B. Du Bois

Some proposals are perhaps better forgotten. The following unromantic, bizarre, poorly delivered or conceived proposals elicit reactions less like Molly Bloom’s orgasmically affirmative “Yes I will yes I will yes!” and more like this underwhelmed response to a lackluster offer in David Stacton’s A Fox Inside: “You might at least pretend…that I’m a person. After all, I move and talk like one the best way I can.” A Survey of Literature’s Non-Traditional Marriage Proposals

"It is the beginning of the end when you discover you have style."
~Dashiell Hammett (interview,Washington Daily News, March 1956)

Monday, October 07, 2013

Mariana Mazzucato Stirring Ideas about Incentives

This is going to sound completely heretical to everything Forbes has stood for over 96 years (and The Economist for a few decades longer than that) but here goes: The real innovation engine in the global economy is not the entrepreneurial class blazing capitalist trails through the thicket of government red tape and taxation. 
No. The real engine of innovation is government.
That’s crazy, you say. One Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs is worth ten suits in D.C. or Brussels. If we left investment and risk capital to the state, all we’d get are bad bets such as Solyndra, Fisker Automotive and the Concorde.
Wrong, says economist Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of economics at the University of Sussex. In her new book. The Entrepreneurial State (adapted into a rousing TED talk delivered this week in Edinburgh), Mazzucato argues that long-term, patient government funding is an absolute prerequisite for breakthrough innovation.  
Critics would say that one shouldn’t create direct returns to the state because it is already getting its money back in taxes. But that argument, says Mazzucato, ignores the fact that tax avoidance and evasion are common and only getting worse. Recent research in the U.K. suggests that the country’s tax gap, or income not collected, is 120 billion GBP, roughly the same size as its national deficit.  Forbes at its best
 The only way to make growth ‘fairer’ is for policy makers to have a broader understanding of the role played by the state in the fundamental risk-taking needed for innovation. Entrepreneurial Sate

Beneficiaries of these investments include Apple: “The armed forces pioneered the Internet, GPS positioning and voice-activated ‘virtual assistants.’ They also provided much of the early funding for Silicon Valley. Academic scientists in publicly funded universities and labs developed the touchscreen and the HTML language. An obscure government body even lent Apple $500,000 before it went public.” They also include Google, which received early funding from the National Science Foundation. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies benefit from the $30 billion in annual funding for biomedical research from the National Institutes of Health.

A recent article in The Economist, reviewing a new book entitled “The Entrepreneurial State,” by Mariana Mazzucato of Sussex University in England, makes this explicit. And nowhere is this investment activity more influential than the United States, supposedly the cradle of unbridled individual enterprise.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Orange the Town of Many Colours

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”
- Tom Clancy
Shock reverberates through the writing and reading communities at the news of Tom Clancy’s death. Certainties of LifeRe ading literary fiction will make you more socially potent. It will. Studies show I know how you are Feeling as I read Imrich & Chekhov
Buzzfeed celebrates 14 books that probably rattled you as a child. Bohemian Child

Have I got a tax for you! Certainty of Taxes & Comedies

Friday, October 04, 2013

Even Bees Make Us Think

Before he retired to his room, “not to sleep, but to howl to myself in the silence of horror,” he said: “How everything has crumbled, how everything has dissolved, how all the reference points have shifted, how all fixity has moved, how nothing exists anymore, how nothing exists, you see, how all the religions and all the irreligions and the protracted absurdities of all forms of worship have turned into nothing, nothing at all, you see, how belief and unbelief no longer exist, how science, modern science, how the stumbling blocks, the millennial courts, have all been thrown out and ushered out and blown out into the air, how all of it is now just so much air … Listen, it’s all air, all concepts are air, all points of reference are air, everything is just air …” And he said: “Frozen air, everything just so much frozen air …”
~ From non fiction Cold River courtesy of Thomas Bernhard’s novel Frost Self-Portrait as Catastrophic Success

Take bees, for example. If bees die out, we’ll see die-outs in plants like apple trees and onions that depend on bees for fertilization. Animals that eat the plants that bees fertilize might also go extinct. So famine isn’t just about humans going hungry for a season — it’s about food webs getting frayed, and the network effects of species loss. What writers need to know-about mass extinction

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Visual Art

“The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.”

- Andre Gide

I confess: I read fiction to fall in love. And in fiction, as in life, characters don’t have to be likable to be lovable. 

Here’s a dozen examples of movies that are as good as the books they’re based on, according to Films about Books;

In fiction, as in my nonreading life, someone didn’t necessarily have to be likable to be lovable. Was Anna Karenina likable? Maybe not. Did part of me fall in love with her when I cracked open a secondhand hardcover of Tolstoy’s novel, purchased in a bookshop in Princeton, N.J., the day before I headed home to Pakistan for a hot, slow summer? Absolutely. Likable characters

The Bible celebrates many killings literature about violence

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Intimations of Mortality

After more than a decade to wait, Allan Gurganus has a new book, LOCAL SOULSSouls of Cold River

Death and literature. Great art is suffused with a sense of the transitory, the perishable, the mortal. Narrative is an attempt to delay the inevitable. Death & Literature of Cold Rivers

Sweeping Minds

 "It was  the sweep of his mind, so often lacking at the top of government, that I admired most'."
James Reston

Literary Trysts It Gives Me Great Joy To Think About: Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman oscar-wilde-and-walt-whitman-did-it

The Story of Cate is itself the stuff of a novel: a centuries-old army and parliamentary traditions questioned ...
The person behind the stirring speech delivered by army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison in the wake of shocking revelations about an army email sex ring was his transgender speechwriter, Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor Freedom of Speech and writers and Army of history