Monday, March 31, 2014

The Terror Of One-Star Book Reviews: Everything about Something

Go find a book you love. Click the one-star reviews – there will always be some. Cancel your plans for this evening. But one-star Amazon reviews are more than a space for performance art or green-ink rantings. Some authors believe that they amount to “bullying” Your book sucks: are authors being bullied with one-star Amazon reviews? 

Polish crime fiction
“And in a field that has been dominated by British, American and, most recently, Scandinavian writers, [Poland] seems poised to grab the attention of crime fiction fans around the world.” The secret ingredient? Poland’s tangled 20th-century history. Such as the Great EscapeGentlemen and ladies, this is the Cold War warming up and you have front row reading seats.

The Next Big Thing in Crime - High Tatra Mountains

  And there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death A Piece of The Mountain of Crime

“The spruce are dense above the lake.
A thick, gray driftwood, sharp and bent,
Margins the shore with heavy lines.
The overhanging aspens shake
Their dry deciduous sentiment
Into the cool, reflected pines. 

“There is a limit here of tree
And water: form has gained its end,
Lost in continual reflection.
Through shades the glossy visions flee
And in a darker calm distend
Downward in shadowy perfection. 

“Across the lake at evening, wild
And distant, like unhallowed ghosts,
The loons converse. Rotten and dank,
The logs jut rudely: split and piled
They slant into the dusk like posts
Unearthed and cast against the bank.” 

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Good can imagine Evil - Evil cannot imagine Good

"Good can imagine Evil, but Evil cannot imagine Good."
W.H. Auden, A Certain World

The ATO's offshore voluntary disclosure initiative, 'Project DO IT: disclose offshore income today', provides a last chance opportunity for those who haven't declared their overseas assets and income to come back into the system before December 2014.

"Now is the time for individuals with offshore income to get their affairs in order and avoid steep penalties and the risk of criminal prosecution for tax avoidance," said commissioner of taxation Chris Jordan. Disclosure

What tax evasion looks like

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Apple A Day as image tells a thousand stories

At this time three decades ago Dr Cope approved my leave without pay so I could visit my Slavic parent who managed to get to Austria - thanks to Wanda.   Havel    and Mandela were the real leaders of the underground movements ... Travelling back ... In time ;-) [Carl Orff died in 1982 aged 87 and is buried in his home town Munich - The cacophonic masterpiece that is O Fortuna was written by German composer Carl Orff in 1935 and is the opening and closing movements to Carmina Burana]

  And it has been 30 years since Apple set out  to put technology in the hands of people. There’s no doubt that their mission has had a profound affect on the world as we know it in 2014, but just what has this resulted in for the human race?

This new ad celebrating those 30 years was shot on one day, around the world, entirely on iPhones.
It’s a testament to what is great about technology and the boundaries that it is pushing forward, but how has it changed our perceptions of reality? Are we still even conscience of a true reality? Do we own the technology – or does the technology own us?

Cold River Lost In Translation

       Quite a few interesting translation-related pieces in the new issue of The Brooklyn Quarterly, in particular:

       Noted Indian literary figure Khushwant Singh has passed away, at the age of ninety-nine.
       A very active writer, he is probably best-known for his novel, Train to Pakistan (get your copy at or, but see the list of his publications at Penguin Books India for an idea of the variety. 

We all doodle, but Meg Wolitzer gets inspired by it. When she was writing The Interestings, she frequently drew her way into her characters. “I sometimes drew crude, Harvey- and Archie-inspired images of my characters, in keeping with the spirit of Ethan Figman and Figland,” she wrote in The New Yorker.
       All well worth your while -- and I hope to see some discussion/repsonses, too. 

Paper & Salt: the Love of Literature

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt. (‘Measure for Measure’ Act1 Sc4 )

  In The Independent Alexander Nazaryan profilesHelen Oyeyemi, a postmodern literary wizard.
       It's worth it just for the mention that:

In 2007, she enrolled in a creative writing graduate programme at Columbia University, which would have likely led to a pat novel about the Anglo-Nigerian experience, perhaps a premature memoir of the sort pumped out by so many writers with nothing but their own slightly-deviated-from-the-average stories. But she found New York a "confrontational city" that distracted her from writing. And the workshop model of teaching proved "stressful".
       That's a a hell of a stretch for a hunch -- "would have likely led to" ? really ? -- but I'll take my MFA-bashing anywhere and any way I can get it (and, as a longtime New Yorker, Nazaryan has a bit more local street cred than if it were a UK journalist making the claims). Oyeyemi's most recent novel is Boy, Snow, Bird; get your copy at or

 At DeutscheWelle Jochen Kürten profiles Sigrid Löffler, whose new book apparently looks at The global expansion of immigrant literature.
       Yeah, there's a term I'm hoping catches on ..... (Dear god -- it apparently has ... see, for example, The Problem with Immigrant Literature by Nora Caplan-Bricker in The New Republic.) 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Marcel, my nephew, with Proust's literary attitude :-) Marcel thoughtfully asks ...

Has this moment happened to you?
My Slavic nephew Marcel is much better then the French Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust. Marcel speaks Anglicky, Czech, German, French, Russian fluently / he can even manage Slovak : trully impossible language for outsiders to master ;-) Cold (Atlantic)River, like Marcel, advise: "Happy endings are famously rare in literature. We turn to great books for emotional and ethical complexity, and broad-scale resolution cheats our sense of what real life is like. Because complex problems rarely resolve completely, the best books tend to haunt and unnerve readers even as they edify and entertain." Happy Endings are rare in life as well as in literature

Okay, so if you're born in Slovakia and want to write, but decide to move beyond your native -- and tough-sell-abroad-- language, Slovakian, of all the languages to choose to write in would you pick ... Finnish ? Yes, the Finns are an impressively literate lot, and per capita they read more than almost anyone -- but that total capita is reckoned at short of 5.5 million (and a significant -- well 5 per cent -- minority is primarily Swedish-speaking, on top of it).
       Nevertheless, that is the unlikely literary route Alexandra Salmela has taken, and at Books from Finland she writes about it; see also her literary agent'spage on her, as well as the Books from Finland (brief) review of her prize-winning 27 eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Human Hide & Human Soul

 University has discovered three books in its collection are bound in human hide.
The details make it sound more like the elements of a novel than of real life. One book was found in the Langdell Law Library, another in the Countway Library of Medicine, and yet another in the Houghton Collection. One book deals with medieval law, another Roman poetry and the other French philosophy. The book Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… doesn’t jump out as bound in human flesh, as The Harvard Crimson reports. Check it out:
The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’
To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. You can read all the lists below, complete with links to each book.
If you want more resources as an author, try our Free Sites to Promote Your eBook post, How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores post and our How to Pitch Your Book to Online Outlets post
Dead Water of Marketing 

'Work aka Dance like nobody is watching’

It’s an encouraging idea to let yourself go, to relive the freedom of childhood when activities like drawing was just fun and didn’t mean that you wanted to enter and win some kind of competition. We all watch TED talks where people with PhDs tell us these things and vigorously nod our heads in intellectual agreement with the sentiment. Corporate team building exercises usually involve the re-enactment of the childlike state – painting, running around with a egg under your chin, being silly, but still – the traumatic fear of public judgement far outweighs our natural curiosity and the joy of doing something in life that others may think of as a waste of time.
Being a responsible adult isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. Paying off debt and being a good corporate citizen takes a lot of concentration and energy – that’s probably why Monday mornings for 90% of the population is such a traumatic time. Putting on theatre make up and a heavy mask everyday is hard work when your heart isn’t naturally in it. We would have far more fun at work if we were paid to act like idiots for a living, plus we’d probably get so good at it, there would be job security for ever. The world would be a super fun place and everyone would dread Fridays.
So it’s not just dancing and our artistic enjoyment that is suffering as a result of us thinking that we need to act and be a certain way to be accepted in the world.
The irony is, that probably according to yourself, everyone else thinks you’re an idiot already – so what have you got to lose?
Most people are just not very good at acting and playing the role society demands of them, so why then do we wonder why so many people are so dissatisfied with their lives?
If you’re not feeling guilty about getting paid money for the work that you do, you’re doing the wrong work.

Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh, one of India’s most prolific and beloved writers, died yesterday at his New Delhi residence at the age of 99.
Singh was best known for his wicked sense of humour, which manifested itself in weekly magazine columns that he wrote well into his 90s, and in books such as The Good, The Bad and the Ridiculous, published last October.

Singh’s multi-volume A History of the Sikhs is lauded as the definitive account of the evolution of the Sikh religion. His Train to Pakistan, an acclaimed novel set during the bloody partition of India in 1947, was made into a film in 1998. During his editorship of the Illustrated Weekly of India, from 1969 to 1978, he raised the magazine’s circulation from 65,000 to 400,000.
Acclaimed Indian journalist and author Khushwant Singh dies at 99

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Crossroads Among the Herd

First a blogger, then a journalist and now a marketer. Passionate about all things weird, I get high on stuff like analytics, retail anthropology and neuromarketing! Yup, messing with peoples' brains is what I love. Dream Date: Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory! =D Virtual Crossroads

VDM claims to publish 50,000 books every month, making it one of the world's  largest book publishers. Unfortunate, given its reputation... Books

Herb and Dorothy on cherryflava

Phil on Epilepsy

Niebuhr on democracy

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

~ Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness

Ambassador for Epilepsy, Professor Martin Brodie, from Scotland spoke at the Q'land Seminar – Epilepsy-Taking Charge Purple Day Speaker

Purple Day is a grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On 26 March each year, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy.
Purple Day was founded in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. Motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy, Cassidy started Purple Day in an effort to get people talking about the disorder and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. She named the day Purple Day after the internationally recognised colour for epilepsy, lavender.
Thousands of people, schools and workplaces have joined the campaign, wearing purple to work and hosting Purple Day events and promotions.
Epilepsy Australia is the official Australian partner of Purple Day and has joined up with other epilepsy organisations from across the globe including Canada, USA, UK and South Africa to make Purple Day even bigger.
Epilepsy Queensland is the Queensland member of Epilepsy Australia and is proud to have the official role of promoting Purple Day throughout Queensland.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Once in Life

"I was a guest lecturer at Oberlin some years ago, at a clarinet conference; somebody asked me, 'Did you ever hit what you really wanted?' And I said, 'Once, in my life.' Well, it's a lot, you know. Once is pretty good."
~ Artie Shaw (quoted in Tom Nolan, Three Chords for Beauty's Sake)

If Bulgaria had a celebrity writer, it was Georgi Markov. The Kremlin, however, was not a fan. Thus the poison pellet in his thigh... Kremlin

Stress is thought to be a bad thing. But there is vitality in anxiety. Kierkegaard called it “the dizziness of freedom,” and it’s perversely pleasurable... The only place without stress is cemetery

Nate Silver does not opine, he analyzes. He thinks only originally, and only about facts. There is a term for this pose: intimidation by quantification... Nate : Love & Hate of journalismFalse Silver

I was at a party at William Dieterle's house which Thomas Mann attended. Also present were a few Hollywood screenwriters--the sort who decided they were the Great American Novelist, but for the moment they were hoping for better things. One of them came up to Thomas Mann and almost bowed as he moaned, 'How can a wonderful writer like you even talk to miserable whores like us?' Mann looked at him for a second and said, 'My dear sir, you are not big enough to make yourself so small.'"
~ Bernard Herrmann (quoted in Steven C. Smith, A Heart at Fire's Center

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lessons Learned

THE right to appoint a lawyer of choice has received an Important boost  after the nation’s workplace umpire found that the ­Australian Taxation Office was wrongly refused permission to be represented by a barrister. Solicitor or barrister, parties must be free to choose

-; Fair Work Commission

In her excellent book on the events and social movements leading up to the First World War, The War that Ended Peace, the noted historian Margaret Macmillan quoted Britain's soon-to-be King Edward's observation concerning the Kaiser's attitude to war and militarism: "William the Great needs to learn that he is living at the end of the nineteenth century and not in the Middle Ages." Just over one hundred years later, after two World Wars, and countless conflicts, Secretary of State John Kerry said of Vladimir Putin, "you just don't in the twenty-first century behave in nineteenth century fashion by invading another country." Some people never learn. Lessons from history

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tales From Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Tales From Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Life's Small Moments Loom Large 

A Closer Look at How Several Passengers Spent Final Hours Before Boarding Lost Plane 

Tales of Travel

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has condemned speculation that the captain of a missing Malaysian airliner - a member of his party and a distant relative - may have had political motives to sabotage the plane.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Capanno: Maiden sunlight times in NSW

Arthur Sinodinos is a rarity among politicians: he has very few, if any, enemies. People speak of his openness, his honesty, his courtesy, his integrity.

In many cases these are people who might be in disagreement with him, whether in another party, faction or on another side in a policy argument. For nine of John Howard's 11-plus years as prime minister, he served as chief of staff and gatekeeper, arguably the second-most powerful political figure in the land.

Rarity among politicians

Should Politicians be thanking the heavens that sometimes minders save people from themselves?
For the first time in a NSW corruption case, cheats did not prosper even in the short term. Is it a turning point?

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry that has enmeshed Liberal minister Arthur Sinodinos may be a turning point in fighting the entrenched bipartisan business of corrupt crony capitalism in NSW.

It's a case, after all, where the system won. Cheats did not prosper, in the short or long term. There's no reason to thank Sinodinos for that, but, on what's been said, he appears more a fool than a crook.

It was not obvious that the con would fail to work, either as a Labor or a Liberal rort. On form, one should have feared the worst. There was Eddie Obeid and his family, with Joe Tripodi in the wings. Businessmen on the make, with few scruples about greasing the right palms to get what they wanted, which was, as ever, the transfer of public wealth to a few smarties. There were Labor ministers beholden to Obeid, and people willing, if needs be, to corruptly fake cabinet documents. And that's merely in the Labor era.
But the con failed. Because of a few honest public servants, who resisted threats and intimidation from some politicians. And because a few politicians not in on ''the joke'' were (rightly) suspicious of those who were. Perhaps premier Kristina Keneally, once accused of being a puppet of Obeid and Tripodi, had finally woken up: hers was the hand that stopped the rort for the time being.
Without fear and favour

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fifti Fifti

"A photograph is a quotation taken out of context."
~ Herbert von Karajan (quoted in Richard Osborne, Herbert von Karajan: A Life in Music)

Designed by Munich, Germany-based company Fifti-Fifti, the Take-Off Light comes with a lampshade made out of laser-perforated paper that lets owners create their own light patterns and designs.
Spoke Creativity

Trends of MMXIV