Friday, January 31, 2014

Jay Rosen the well informed Media Dragon

"The cult of the individual is now almost as great a social crime in the West as it is a political crime in the East. This is unfortunate, as the cult of the individual is the basis of all art."
~ John Whiting, At Ease in a Bright Red Tie: Writings on Theatre(courtesy of George Hunka)

We don’t have a news system that keeps us informed and helps us grasp the stories we care deeply about. We have one that floods us with reports on a schedule that makes sense for the manufacturers of news. Individual journalists are aware of this problem, but they are working within a system that is not set up to address it. There’s been a power shift in media. We don’t watch TV anymore when the networks decide to put their shows on. The users are more like the boss in my “keep me informed” parable. But in news this shift has been incompletely carried through. Stay informed & Save Time

"I suggest that the voice you hear today in all branches of literature is not the individual voice but the collective voice. And this especially from any writer under forty. In other words, the writer has become the spokesman not for himself but for a group, an organisation, a class or a sect. The danger is that some don't know they are doing it, and those who do know often consider, and are led to consider it a virtue. 'This young man speaks for his generation.' 'This young woman is the rallying point for all young women with big feet.' You know the sort of thing."
~ John Whiting, At Ease in a Bright Red Tie: Writings on Theatre(courtesy of George Hunka)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Searching for Truth

Noel Towell’s article contains a number of inaccuracies.The ATO is restricted from commenting publicly about matters before the courts or disclosing information about former ATO employees and investigations into their conduct.However, we can correct a number of inaccuracies in the article.1. The search warrant was properly issued by a magistrate and executed by the Australian Federal Police with two ATO staff members attending as well as forensic officers and naval police. Evidence was found.2.The investigation was not launched on a ‘hunch’ - the ATO provided evidence that met the Australian Government Investigations Standard to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP). The CDPP independently made a decision that the evidence was robust enough to lay charges.3. Mr Setter has not always denied wrongdoing. Mr Setter has pleaded guilty to four counts of unauthorised access to taxpayer information and is scheduled to face court in January 2014.4. There has been no review into the ATO’s fraud prevention and internal investigations branch. The ATO is yet to receive the final Ombudsman’s report and consider any recommendations. The comments in the article are not from the final report.As a trusted government agency, we work hard to ensure the public is not misled about how we deal with matters as serious as this. This includes working cooperatively with journalists to ensure correct and balanced articles are reported.Fact Finding Mission;

Social Media and Respect
A TAX worker has been jailed after funding a “luxury lifestyle” through a £160,000 Christmas savings club scam.

UK - Tax officer jailed after scamming colleagues pension funds

ATO officer Darryl Adams was punished and senior departmental officials apologised to anti-pornography  campaigner Melinda Tankard-Reist over a Tweet public servant Darryl Adams sent from his “fake Paul Keating” account in January 2012 

Richard Ridings

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crime Linked Stories of Unions ...

Phil and family watched the wolf on Wall Street. A morality tale The Wolf of Wall Street most certainly is not. An immorality tale? Crim Pays in Hollywood & Savvy Scorseses knows It

A Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union official quit on Monday after being told that Fairfax Media was about to reveal that officials from the powerful union are being bribed by corrupt companies that need their support to win multi-million­dollar contracts. One for all all for money

Contracts for government projects in Victoria and NSW have been awarded to crooked companies - including those with organised crime links - as part of rackets involving corrupt union officials. Victorian connections

Monday, January 27, 2014

Australia Day Peppered with Relaxing Faces from Brissie

There's a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you're a visiting American, More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ''We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.'' Australia Day
Love, laughter and living pushing ourselves from comfortable to uncomfortable Food Glorious Food

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Martin Luther & Level Playing Field

This past year, much ado was made about the so-called “IRS-Gate” and concerns that the Obama administration may have used the agency to target Tea Party and other right wing groups. … [W]hat often is not stated during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend is that King, early in his leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), was routinely subjected to IRS audits of his individual accounts, SCLC accounts as well as accounts of his lawyers, first starting during the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower and continuing through the Kennedy administration.
If you audit me, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine…

William Perez, In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  “In 1960, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., was found not guilty of filing fraudulent state tax returns for the years 1956 and 1958.”  That’s why you don’t want politicized tax enforcement.

Kino & Magic of Tax

Each of the nine movies nominated for this year’s Oscar for best film may already have taken home a pile of tax subsidies. Seven brought back state goodies from the U.S. and two got cash for their work in the U.K.
And, according to data collected by the Manhattan Institute, the winner is….Wolf of Wall Street. The $100 million black comedy about (irony alert) over-the-top greed among sleazy stockbrokers got a 30 percent tax credit for making the movie in New York State.
The Empire State isn’t even the most generous when it comes to doling out tax incentives to filmmakers. In Louisiana, moviemakers not only get a 30 percent credit against overall in-state production costs but also an additional 5 percent payroll credit. Even better, filmmakers with no state tax liability can monetize the credits by selling them to firms that do owe Louisiana tax or even selling them back to the state at 85 percent of their value.
Iowa used to do this, until its film tax credit program collapsed in scandal and disgrace following revelations that filmmakers were charging fancy cars and personal items to Iowa taxpayers under the guise of “economic development.   Further revelations showed thatmillions of dollars of pretend expenses were used to claim the credit, taking advantage of credulous administration and almost non-existent oversight.
More from Howard Gleckman:
No doubt these credits are good for filmmakers. And I’m sure residents get a kick out of seeing Leonardo DiCaprio shooting a scene in their neighborhood (assuming they are not steamed over the related traffic jam). But is there an economic payoff in return for these substantial lost tax revenues as supporters claim?
Most studies conclude there is not.
It’s amazing that politicians think Hollywood deserves their taxpayers dollars.  Fortunately, Iowa film subsidies now are limited to housing and meal expenses for filmmakers.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Amendment

Imagine Stalin or Mao reading Eugene's suggestion ...
So holds today’s Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2014) (in which [Eugene Volokh] represented the defendant). To be precise, the Ninth Circuit concludes that all who speak to the public, whether or not they are members of the institutional press, are equally protected by the First Amendment. To quote the court,
The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue — not the identity of the speaker — provide the First Amendment touchstones.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Men, Women @ Work: AMEN

How Not to be the Coworker Everyone Loves  Most of you probably had the same reaction to the advice that Homer did when Marge told him what he needed to do to get to heaven, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…I’m just trying to get in, I’m not running for Jesus.” Ticking off colleagues at work

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What if the Income Tax Is All About Envy?

"Envy is the core emotion driving the current debate about income inequality and the notion that the poor are poor because the rich are ricH. In other words, even if a rising tide lifts all boats, the relative size of everybody’s boat still matters. If some boats are much bigger than others, then a society is vulnerable to political instability.

Switzerland is reportedly investigating at least one Swiss banker -- Renzo Gadola -- ensnared in the U.S. criminal initiative who is cooperating with the U.S.  See Rachel Bade, Switzerland probing banker who is helping U.S. tax investigations(Politico 1/14/14), Swiss Quixotic Efforts to Close the Barn Door After the Horse Has Left the Barn

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy 21st Birthday James


As the Mittleuropean saying suggests, you have made it through a 21 percent of your life...

Like the song says: 'Live your life with arms wide open, Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten

Happy Birthday! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Food for Catholic Thought

Peter Reilly offers Kind Christmas Wishes To Those Behind Bars And The Tax Collectors Too  “So when you think treeabout it, you realize that one of the reasons that Jesus was born in Bethlehem was that Joseph and Mary were tax compliant.”

ChodorowAdam Chodorow (Arizona State) presents Pope Francis, Scripture, and Tax Policy at Pepperdine today as part of ourTax Policy Colloquium Series:
  1. What does the Bible actually say, either directly about taxes and tax-like institutions or indirectly about principles that should guide policymakers, regarding an appropriate tax system?
  2. To what extent should the Bible or religious views guide votes or opinions on such secular policy matters?
Biblical Tax Systems and the Case for Progressive Taxation, 23 J.L. & Relig. 53 (2008) via tax prof

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hollywood is Chasing Taxing Cold River

Reitz is one of Hollywood’s new financiers. Just about every major movie filmed on location gets a tax incentive, and Reitz is part of an expanding web of brokers, tax attorneys, financial planners and consultants who help filmmakers exploit the patchwork of state programs to attract film and TV production.
In his case, he takes the tax credits given to Hollywood studios for location filming and sells them to wealthy Georgians looking to shave their tax bills — doctors, pro athletes, seafood suppliers, beer distributors and the like.
Hollywood financing and locations of Cold River

Money for Hollywood, fixers, middlemen, and the well-connected, at your expense.  Sort of like every other “economic development” tax credit, only even more so.  Fortunately Iowa, sadder but wiser, has turned to jailing film folks instead of subsidizing them.

Monte Media Dragons

Monte Jackel Puts Tax Blog Behind Subscriber Firewall, reports the TaxProf, with a $350 annual subscription rate.  Meanwhile the Media Dragon subscription rate continues to be $0.00 ;-)
The Critical Question:  Should It Bother Us that Boeing Says It Needs a Tax Incentive to Make Its Planes Safe?

The Critical Question: If You Won the Lottery Tomorrow, Would You Still Go to Work? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back to School: Tax Abuse According to Whom?

The Most Successful Tax Reform in History ~ The Treasury Reading Room: Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming A Tax Expert
When enforcement resources are limited, how should the scarce enforcement resources be allocated to maximize compliance with the law? The answer to this question can determine to what extent the law on the books translates to the law in practice. A dominant school of thought in the tax literature suggests that they should be allocated based on a “worst-first” method, whereby the individuals likely to be most noncompliant are targeted. However, “worst-first” methods suffer some underappreciated weaknesses. While “worst-first” methods can encourage all individuals to increase compliance so as not to be deemed the “worst,” they can also provide cover to engage in noncompliance that is perceived moderate for the relevant population. This dynamic can become most problematic in highly noncompliant populations Beyond Worst-First Tax Enforcement
In 1996, US Congress banned the Treasury Department from enacting retroactive regulations but provided an important exception, allowing tax regulations to apply retroactively “to prevent abuse.” Congress did not, however, explicitly define abuse; nor did it designate to any specific actor the power to do so ... Tax Abuse According to Whom? McCormack, Shannon Weeks, Tax Abuse According to Whom?
The Justice Department's settlement (press release) of criminal charges against JPMorgan Chase concerning it role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme prohibits the bank from deducting the $1.7 billion payment to the government:
JPMorgan agrees that the Stipulated Forfeiture Amount shall be treated as a penalty paid to the United States government for all purposes, including all tax purposes. JPMorgan agrees that it will not claim, assert, or apply for a tax deduction or tax credit with regard to any federal, state, local or foreign tax for any portion of the $1,700,000,000 that JPMorgan has agreed to pay to the United States pursuant to this Agreement.
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) on 8 January 2014 introduced legislation to increase transparency of settlements reached by federal enforcement agencies, including mandatory disclosure of any tax deductions and tax credits for settlement payments. What a taxingly interesting start to 2014
In recent decades, (Amerikan, Australian, European) workers have suffered one body blow after another: the decline in manufacturing, foreign competition, outsourcing, the Great Recession and smart machines that replace people everywhere you look. Amazon and Google are in a horse race to see how many humans they can put out of work with self-guided delivery drones and driverless cars. You wonder who will be left with incomes to buy what these robots deliver. What can workers do to mitigate their plight? One useful step would be to lobby to eliminate the corporate income tax Brave New Jobless World; Inside India's Legal Outsourcing Machine
Mr North on Taxation, Tyranny, and Theocracy: A Biblical Response to Susan Hamill
Through a Latte, Darkly: This paper uses Starbucks Corporation, the premier roaster, marketer and retailer of specialty coffee in the world, as an example of stateless income tax planning in action. “Stateless income” comprises income derived for tax purposes by a multinational group from business activities in a country other than the domicile of the group’s ultimate parent company, but which is subject to tax only in a jurisdiction that is neither the source of the factors of production through which the income was derived, nor the domicile of the group’s parent company Through a Latte, Darkly: Starbucks' Stateless Income Planning

Monday, January 13, 2014

Home for Writers

"...Climber of all mounts/as this paper will turn yellow & become the thing I answer to. What interval? as this motion (these words) pass into..." -- from "Node" by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka)

“In a contemporary, literary twist on old homesteading incentives, a new nonprofit organization called Write a House is refurbishing three two-bedroom houses in Detroit and accepting applications this spring for writers to move in, rent free. Poets, journalists, novelists, and anyone who falls somewhere in between are encouraged to apply.” Home for writers

How it feels to be a famous writer, but not in your home country The Times of Cold River

Author spends $25,000 to write in the sky to warn artists off their craft. Bohemians in Exile

Literary success is a math problem. Who knew? They’ve made a machine that can tally up a book and predict its success. Zeros and Ones

Last Day of Holy Days & Trivia Browsing

Trash heapYears ago, when renovating with friends, I took off my rings so that they wouldn’t get damaged. In the flurry of clean-up, the rings got tossed into the trash. Despite going through bag after bag of garbage, we couldn’t find them. I was not happy.

That has to be nothing compared to what James Howells is feeling. This summer, he threw out a computer hard drive containing more than $9 million in bitcoin. Yep, threw out. It is now almost impossible to find. Some Fool 
Threw Away A Hard Drive With $7.5 Million Of Bitcoin On It
While the mind boggles, the tummy retches a little...

“Before this phone call, it had never occurred to Kirkpatrick that her contest winner might have spent the past 25 years in prison, where he’s serving a life sentence for murder.” Mystery writer

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Music of Life...

"During dinner we played CD of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32--for me the greatest piece of music I know. Life, death, all turmoils, sorrows and happinesses seem to be resolved whenever I hear it."
~ Alec Guinness, My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor

Literature is traditionally divided along national lines. But such distinctions are an illusion. Texts transcend borders. Time to imagine new arrangements Altruism of Languages

“The epithet ‘American Jewish writer’ has no meaning for me,” says Philip Roth. Adam Kirsch isn’t buying it: Roth “is a Jewish writer or he is nothing” Identity

The Old West offered no shortage of ways for a man to die. The frontier’s brutality made it so damn dark – and, to Mark Twain, so damn funny Certainty of Life

When the life of the mind reaches an end. Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen combs obituariesin search of companions of the intellect... For someone who was born in mortuary / obituary is not foreign concept

Want to crowdfund your book? Read up. Czech Out Publishers Weekly or Cold River Yearly

GF Newman takes a spin on the self-publishing ride. Here is Why

Icons are Powerful: Byzantine Array of Grassroot Involvements

Icons are a powerful White Beauties
A recent article in the New York Times provides a few justifications for cities and designers to embrace scent ... (Microsoft trivia as its suggestion for "IMRICH" in its dictionary happens to be "EMBRACE") Embrace scent...
Charles Krauthammer flirts with the metaphysics in his new book, Things That Matter. An organized approach to human affairs is an ethical duty, each generation tasked with the unending work of maintaining a sound constitutional order. All things eloquent and beautiful need a foundation to thrive. But "get your politics wrong and everything stands to be swept away."
Right enough, though it's also true that this platform, however impressive, is ultimately insignificant. A Kalahari bushman, uneducated, lacking material trappings and a sophisticated body politic, has the same inward moral capacity to advance Everything Else as a cosmopolitan type at a Park Avenue soirée. Spectacular achievements notwithstanding, the mediating power structures of late-capitalist society cannot satiate the human longing for transcendence. As Krauthammer notes, the lasting glories of a successful politics "lie outside [politics] itself." Properly understood, politics is thus something of a paradox, crucial and yet also utterly impotent. Though not necessarily in that order. Community Precincts; By 2030, it's estimated that five billion people will be pounding the concrete caught up in the hustle of urban living. Over the past two decades, urbanisation has been swift and sustained. There's no sign of it slowing. The rationale is obvious. Cities provide opportunities. We're flocking to where we can find work. The secrets of the world's happiest cities; NSW Public Service Commission, 2013. As well as reviewing world-leading management practices within innovative organisations, the PSC met with people across the spectrum of government service delivery, from chief executives of agencies through to those involved in face-to-face interactions with NSW citizens. This has helped to identify some of the barriers that prevent agencies from providing the best possible services to the people of NSW. Ideas at work: creating an innovative cities and public sector
Our attachment to the Christmas story may be the greatest act of self-deception in Western history, and that might not be a bad thing Beautiful lies?; Thanksgiving in America lends itself to taking stock of the good in our lives. There are many things that make us human. Compassion, grace, love. The ability to forgive. Gratitude is more than simple sentiment; it is the motivation that can save the world
Only through mistakes can we see where we’re lacking, where we need to work. But we hate mistakes so we play it safe. Advice with a musical flavour. Ben Zander on performance and transformation
Being a leader, or even just a do-er, requires stamina and mental strength; the ability to blow-off the personal element of criticism while applying it into your work constructively, ignoring the noise, and identifying your weaknesses so you can become stronger is all part of it. Ann Morin, a psychotherapist and college psychology instructor, provided with 13 attributes deficient in the mentally strong Fail fast, fix fast, learn fast

Friday, January 10, 2014

Amerikan Polish BuKowski

“when we were kids laying around the lawn on our bellies we often talked about how we'd like to die and we all agreed on the same thing; we'd all like to die f****** (although none of us had done any f******)

and now that we are hardly kids any longer we think more about how not to die and although we're ready most of us would prefer to do it alone under the sheets now that most of us have f***** our lives away.”
― Charles Bukowski, You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense

Peoples rescued from financial gurus might cry, as did the boy whom Don Quixote de la Mancha had saved from beating by the muleteers but who was thrashed by them not long later, nevertheless — ‘In the name of God, Don Jorge de la Casablanca, don’t rescue me again!’ "

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is all about excess. From orgies on a plane to cocaine and cash (or “fun coupons” as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character calls them), the financial drama thrives in taking it up a notch Making Sense of Walls Academics who study business love to talk about the power of incentives and the importance of full information to enable the most effective and efficient decisions. Unless it applies to them Who Pays the piper follow the self interest

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Jeff Bezos: A lawyer with his brief case can steal more than a hundred men with guns

In the 1970s, Christian singer Larry Norman made popular the Apocalyptic song lyric, “A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold” based on Revelation 6:6

A lawyer with his brief case can steal more than a hundred men with guns. The former librarian was in early 1990s looking for a name for his company and at a forum I suggested Cold river instead Jeff chose Amazon river Should Amazon have disclosed CEO Jeff Bezos' kidney stone attack?

True change takes persistent radicalism and constant optimism. It takes the will to lift your head up, look around and realize that happiness and success are ALWAYS within your control. In his new book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, neuropsychologist at Berkeley University, Dr. Rick Hanson, contends that this phenomenon can be explained. Hardwiring happiness

.. The legal trade, in short, is nothing but a high-class racket.

Austin Mitchell and Prem Sikka outline just how much a drain on the public purse the private sector actually is ... Clear water is at last emerging between the Conservatives and the Labour Party. New Labour’s enthusiastic endorsement of Thatcherite free market economics made it very difficult to tell which party was which until it led directly to the 2008 crash and the great recession. Now differences are at last emerging as Labour learns the lessons that the party of the people has to regulate energy companies and markets for the benefit of society as a whole Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich

Were you alone or by yourself? Kudos to legal eagles

“Books aren’t made in the way that babies are: they are made like pyramids, There’s some long-pondered plan, and then great blocks of stone are placed one on top of the other, and it’s back-breaking, sweaty, time consuming work. And all to no purpose! It just stands like that in the desert! But it towers over it prodigiously. Jackals piss at the base of it, and bourgeois clamber to the top of it, etc. Continue this comparison.”

– Gustave Flaubert

Apparently it's okay in polite society to say that the Supreme Court has too many Catholics, as Jamie Stiehm does in the US News: The Catholic Supreme Court’s War on Women

Court Jesters records this question asked by a Vancouver lawyer: "what colour were the blue jeans?" As well as the Canadian lawyer who single-handedly (or mouthily) asked these immortal questions:

Q. How long have you known your brother?
Q. Were you alone or by yourself?
Q. How long have you been a French Canadian?
June 1992 - Of the Rankest Sort From Robert Finlay of Honolulu, HI, this testimony from "a hotly contested murder trial" involving a difficult, albeit zoological, point of evidence:
Prosecutor: On the photograph, what are on the brown, blood-like smudge?
Mr. Heu: From my zoological background, I keyed in on it because it had ants on it. [This was significant because it] indicated to me that it was fresh material rather than something that was days or weeks old.
Prosecutor: First of all, is there a difference between worker ants and soldier ants?
Mr. Heu: Yes. The soldier ants have large heads and the worker ants have small heads. The worker ants go out to forage - to find something. If it's a large find, the word will go back to the ant nest. The ants will send out more workers and if it's a big find, they'll send soldiers along.
Defense Attorney: I object to the materiality of the witness' statement.
The Court: Your objection is on the grounds of relevance?
Defense Attorney: Yes, sir. It's also hearsay as to what the ants tell each other.
The Court (wisely): Objection overruled.

I love David Hyman's new essay Why Did Law Professors Misunderestimate the Lawsuits against PPACA? It starts off with a bang:

Law professors love hypothetical questions. So, let’s try a few. What if, in the highest profile case to hit the Supreme Court in the last generation on an issue of central importance to the scope of federal power, virtually every constitutional law scholar was wrong about how the Court would decide the case? And not just a little wrong, but “not remotely in the ballpark” wrong (i.e., declaring that an argument the other way was “frivolous, and deserving of sanctions”)? Worse still, what if when it first became apparent that they might be wrong, what if these law professors threatened that the Supreme Court would lose its legitimacy if it decided the case the “wrong” way? And, when it finally became irrefutable that these scholars were completely wrong, what if they did not do what any rational person would do (apologize, and try to figure out how and why they got it so wrong), but instead condemned the Supreme Court for failing to adhere to their view of what the law required? Finally, what if this behavior was not limited to law professors who actually do constitutional law? What if law professors with no obvious expertise in constitutional law signed petitions and made public statements declaring that the arguments of those challenging the constitutionality of PPACA were frivolous?
Of course, these are not hypothetical questions, but instead reflect the performance of the nation’s law professors before, during, and after the Supreme Court resolved the constitutional challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”).  The Story gets better as taxing humble pie is served...

Tough Teachers: A little lesson in history is good for us

I had a teacher once who called his students "idiots" when they screwed up. He was our orchestra conductor, a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, and when someone played out of tune, he would stop the entire group to yell, "Who eez deaf in first violins!?" He made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.
Today, he'd be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years' worth of former students and colleagues flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country, old instruments in tow, to play a concert in his memory. I was among them, toting my long-neglected viola. When the curtain rose on our concert that day, we had formed a symphony orchestra the size of the New York Philharmonic. Chamilova & Malinic Agree ;-)

The Time magazine person of 2013 is a soul of many firsts (the first to take the name Francis, the first Jesuit, the first from the Americas) was ready with a number of surprises of his own. For those of us who follow the papacy, Pope Francis provides a constant stream of material for reflection. sees the Church as a field hospital after a battle.
“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful,” he said. “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds.”
Heal the wounds, yes. And then awaken society to the greatest resource of all: the human person. That is the path out of poverty ...The joy of teacher Francis

Granted, I haven't read every opinion article written in 2014, but this article by Jesse Myerson really is pretty damned stupid by any teacher who had to endure communism. My sister Gitka was sacked by soviet regime for going to church during the painful time when our sister Aga dies. The combination of democracy and capitalism is a poor system. But all the others are worse. This is hardly a ringing endorsement. But the real world is no utopia, and utopias have had a very bloody history in this century Teaching children about history ; Last but not least as lessons need to be learned ... Teaching children about tax

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Nostalgia of Lost Youth and all that Specter of Approaching Death

“The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
― Milan Kundera, Ignorance

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, and the past perfect!”
― Owens Lee Pomeroy

When the surviving members of the cast of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," which originally ran on the BBC between 1969 and 1974, announced plans to give their first public performances as a group since 1982, tickets for the opening-night show sold out in 43.5 seconds. It's not known whether the comedians will be doing any new material, but I doubt it. That's not why people come to this kind of event, after all. They come for much the same reason that they came to Broadway in 2005 to see Eric Idle's musical stage version of "Spamalot": to applaud their lost youth. Hence they don't want to see anything new, though they'll put up with it if absolutely necessary Terry Teachout

“Some say that time is like water that flows around us (like a stone in the river) and some say we flow with time (like a twig floating on the surface of the water).”
― Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur

"They must hunger in frost that will not work in heat."
John Heywood, Proverbs

Random Reading

As 2013 came to an end, various media outlets began awarding their annual Person of the Year Award. Forbes magazine, for instance, voted Russian President Vladimir Putin as the most powerful man in the world while Time Magazine chose Pope Francis as the man that most influenced the world this past year.  While the Gawker suggest the best stories read in 2013 ...

Australian John Hempton recently wrote a long letter to Deloitte about a company audited by Deloitte in which  he thought there was a possibility that the accounts were fake. Deloitte whistleblowing story from Bronte

Amerikan  Kim Ukura  writes Sophisticated Dorkiness Currently kicking off 2014 right

Monday, January 06, 2014

Love in Literature

Sex Without Rhythm Is Like Poetry Without Words

Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish in Bright Star
“Literature about sex should never be seen as a guide for the uninitiated, she warned; the choices for her Penguin anthology were driven by literary merit, not instructional value.”

Sunday, January 05, 2014

If God loves you, he will make you rich

Money – and the unfairness of its distribution – is much on our minds at the moment. Particularly, it boils the minds of the “sod politics” generation of those aged 20 to 30 – the pinched generation, as David Willetts, the universities minister, has called it.
It is not the first place they would look (the cogitations of comedian Russell Brand would probably be top of the list) but they could, I think, pick up some useful insights by reading fiction of the 19th century – the golden age of the novel. Behind every great fortune, declared Honoré de Balzac, lies a crime – a grim view of humanity that he depicted, at monumental length, in his Comédie Humaine series. Russian novelists of the 19th century had a different view on money and its unfair distribution through the world. That view is articulated in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. If God loves you, he will make you rich. End of problem.How to win, lose and use money in a novel way (via Fin Times) 

"The good things in life still exist" is both the word and deed of Germany company Manufactum, which sources purposeful objects that are made using traditional manufacturing methods and materials.The brand was started in 1988 by the former managing director of Germany's Green Party, Thomas Hoof. Although it is now part of a larger conglomerate (with nine physical stores in Germany) it strives to remain true to the ethos of its founding father.Now to the products – geeze, where do we start? There are over 1500 carefully chosen objects online, which have scored top marks for workmanship and composition. These include sturdy cardboard suitcases, leather footballs, barometres, altimetres, model toys, fire-lighters, shears, sickles and fruity things like this woollen kneeling pad. (What is this for? We are not sure, but we would like one.) Each object comes with a detailed synopsis about its origins and use... and a price. It's not always cheap, but bygads it's quality.  Manufactum : the good things in life still exist via Imrich aka Smith Journal and Dwell of bohemian designs

Friday, January 03, 2014

Dream Time of Living

One of a writer’s most important works—perhaps the most important of all—is the image he leaves behind of himself in the memory of men, above and beyond the pages he has written.
~Hand written note on yellowed piece of paper circa 1980 

Man of steel. As a young man, Jorge Luis Borges sought the company of knife fighters. He even carried his own blade, later inspiring some of his finest fiction Iron Curtains

Hemingway, wary of distraction, focused on essentials: “fighting and eating and drinking and begging and stealing and living and dying” Dreaming

Philip Roth met Primo Levi in 1986. Months later, Levi was dead. “It hit me like the assassinations of the 60s,” Roth says Survivors

Revolution is often a messy, bloody, drawn-out affair. Indeed, exhaustion and disillusionment are what allow democracy to take root The memories of Velvet

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Jay Rosen on the Lessons Learned from the Snowden Effect

“In the battle with the security state, those who might commit acts of journalism have three choices: acquiesce, push back or step away.”
~Philip Bump at the Atlantic Wire

Investigative reporting has impact. It exposes wrongdoing, sparks reform, changes minds, and changes lives... "Before the year ended, Jay wanted to capture a few points that stand out for him about what is unquestionably the biggest news story of 2013" Jay Rosen on the Lessons Learned from the Snowden Effect

The journalist behind, perhaps, the biggest story of a generation had strong words for Western media outlets and journalists who bow to those in positions of power. Rolling Stone turning its eyes on leakers Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald - An extended analysis of Greenwald's background and motivations The Men who rewrote James Bond movies

The New York Times editorial said Mr Snowden "was clearly justified" in his leaks given that current whistleblower laws do not cover private contractors. The editorial listed several ways the NSA had violated the public trust, saying it broke federal privacy laws "thousands of times a year", undermined the internet's basic encryption system and breached the communications links of data centres around the world.
Mr Obama, who has called on Mr Snowden to return to the US, should instead give him "an incentive to return home", it said. Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower: Editorial of real note; The NSA, which has as many as 40,000 employees, has 1,000 system administrators, most of them contractors. [Note: Reuters reported NSA is eliminating 90% of its system administrators.] How Snowden Did It

Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” inevitably stirs a robust debate –as that honor has gone to people infamous for evil as well as famous for good. Last year's pick of Pope Francis has stirred a mischievous strain of debate, suggesting that an agent of good has seized the spotlight from a villain/hero (freedomfighter/terrorist) who had a remarkable impact on the world in 2013: vice person Edward Snowden
“If journalism is to matter, we can’t just raise big topics. We have to spread them, and then sustain them.”In 2014 and beyond, journalists should be inspired by the Snowden effect. They should focus more on critical mass — how to achieve it and how to sustain it. If journalism is to matter, we can’t just raise big topics. We have to spread them, and then sustain them Dan Gillmore digs deep into trends and what really works and why

Interview with Jay Rosen. The Atlantic 3 December 2013
"The third upside is news with a human voice restored to it. This is the great lesson that blogging gives to journalism. NewCo (First Look Media) is trying to learn it" A News Organization That Rejects the View From Nowhere;

It’s true! The FT – and social media – really do move markets
By John Authers Wikipedia visits and Google search linked to swings, research says Newspapers report the news. They should never aim to be part of the story themselves. But in the stock market, that division is hard to sustain. A rigorous statistical study by a group of academics at Warwick Businss School has now shown that we at the Financial Times regularly move the markets we write about. (A similar exercise for our best-known competitors would surely yield the same result; it happens that this study covered the FT.)

The research is part of a growing effort to understand how to interpret people’s use of data, and the trails they leave on the internet through search engines and social media, to predict how they, and markets, will behave. The study looked at 1,821 FT issues published in the six years from 2007 to 2012 – years that included a historic stock collapse and a subsequent dramatic rebound. The researchers counted all mentions of the 31 stocks that were part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during this period and linked their mentions in the paper to their share price performance the next day. It showed a strong correlation – a mention in the morning’s FT meant a greater volume of trading. Interestingly, their study involves the printed edition when much of the news on which the FT reported would already have appeared online the previous day. So the news continued to have an impact on the next day. As there are now many sources that should move markets more swiftly than a printed newspaper, this also implies that it was the news itself, rather than any editorial choice about publishing stories, that moved prices. Financial stocks, led by Bank of America, were most likely to be news-driven during a period when markets were driven by the financial crisis.
So working out how to use social media is hard but the conclusion of Tobias Preis, who led the research, is robust: “Increasing information-gathering in financially relevant information on Google and Wikipedia is linked with subsequent stock market losses.”
...In 2014, we should watch how sentiment is moving – and also read the news ...Power of News

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

How Truth Is Getting Lost

How Truth Is Getting Lost In The New Publishing Reality "The media has long had its struggles with the truth--that's nothing new. What is new is that we're barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional. In fact, the mistakes, and the falsehoods, and the hoaxes are a big part of a business plan driven by the belief that big traffic absolves all sins, that success is a primary virtue." 

One Day In The Life Of A Bookstore Clerk"I'm looking for a book." "Would you happen to have the title?" "It's a long shot, but I was in my car about a month ago and heard an author on the radio. Sounded really interesting."

2014 (MMXIV) will be a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 2014th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 14th year of the 3rd millennium, the 14th year of the 21st century, and the 5th year of the 2010s decade Fireworks

New Every Thing Even New Trillionaire

"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes." ~ G.K. Chesterton, Lunacy and Letters

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever. ~Media Dragon of Neil Gaiman caliber

A taxing blog called "Other Words" by Amerikan tax attorney Bob Lord makes an interesting prediction: if you're under 60 years of age, you're likely to witness the emergence of the world's first trillionaire - yes TRILLIONAIRE - within your lifetime: 'A fortune worth $1 trillion — $1,000,000,000,000 — would today be enough to buy every square foot of real estate in Manhattan. A trillionaire could take everyone on the planet out for a $100 steak dinner, if we had a restaurant that could hold 7 billion people. A $1 trillion fortune would equal the wealth of a million millionaires.' Media Dragon is heading to be the world's first TRILLIONAIRE?

"The nicest thing about being happy is that you think you'll never be unhappy again." ~ Manuel Puig, Kiss of the Spider Woman

Simple Uncomplicated Happy New Year 2014

Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering 'it will be happier'...
~Alfred Tennyson

Reg Mombassa, the artist behind Sydney's 2013 New Year's Eve, said he wanted to use this year's fireworks to look inside people's heads Sydney and its aboriginal history of Boatswan

“A jest,” said Freud, “betrays something serious.” Chaplin, Pryor, Belushi, Grimaldi the clown. Are comedy and happiness incompatible? Split lives

Reading is to the art of writing as experience is to the art of living in the world and knowing about other people and other things,” the very experience of reading him confirms the observation Making the sun stand still