Saturday, January 31, 2015

Understanding “New Power”

HBR, Dec 2014. Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures. New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it. 
Understanding “New Power”


Friday, January 30, 2015


The really important thing that film does, says Colin Firth, is throw up moments that illuminate our own lives. "It's probably one of the important things about story-telling, that you are seeing little reflections of things. It's a bit like staring into a fire and, because it's dancing about, you see shapes in it. Or you stare at the man in the moon, you know. If something's alive, it'll connect and create dialogue with the things that are alive in you." Dancing fires

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has blasted Tony Abbott's decision to knight Prince Philip in a rare criticism of the Prime Minister. The billionaire derided the knighthood as a 'joke and embarrassment' in a Twitter post on Tuesday morning.  

If in 1150 a few extremists murdered some civilians, the reaction would have been ridicule. Today we are so secure yet feel so threatened

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ray Brownlee of Antipodean Lugano Fame

There is no truth. There is only action. 

~ Blaise Cendrars

Council service: Raymond Brownlee

PSM: Raymond Brownlee.
PSM: Raymond Brownlee.
Raymond Brownlee of Lugarno received a Public Service Medal (PSM) for outstanding public service in NSW through executive roles with a number of local councils and for the introduction of water conservation practices.
Mr Brownlee has been is the general manager of Randwick Council for the past 10 years, generating operating surpluses and solid capital works programs.
One of his most notable achievements has been the annual water saving of 550 million litres, saving $1 million.
During his tenure, the council has extended the popular coastal walkway, collaborated with police, business and the community to achieve a 23 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour incidents during the past four years.
He has also had a hand in securing a major light rail project for the city.
The Leader has collated honours information, by recipients’ current suburb, from the Australia Day Honours List. If you know of any other award recipients from southern Sydney, email
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia.  If you know someone worthy, nominate them at

Ray Brownlee evidence based introduction to the village atmosphere Randwick

The battle against the council amalgamtions is being fought on two fronts with the mayors
The battle against the council amalgamtions is being fought on two fronts with the mayors of Botany Nay and Randwick leading the charge. Artwork: Mark Nulty
The  clock is ticking for Randwick and Botany Bay councils to lead their communities through the politically explosive council amalgamation minefield.
With deadline for the Fit For The Future, the State Government’s latest merger push, looming the two southeast councils are at opposing ends of the amalgamation battle.
According to the Liberal Randwick Mayor Ted Seng, the best way to stave off the threat of a mega City of Sydney, an amalgam of five councils, is to present the State Government with a viable alternative.
But the Labor Botany Bay Mayor Ben Keneally says now is the time to fight to protect the local identity.
Randwick and Botany in different corners on views relating to global city mergers

Fit For Future the mystery drive for global cities

Different Political Colours Different Opinions

Opinions and Facts: Wordsmiths everywhere

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win".  

"Why do we even need to use words like execute, blunt instrument and war room?" she asked me. "Words like these create the psyche that we're at war with each other. To me, work should be a place where employees want to go and collaborate. Not a place to go and hit each other with blunt instruments or wipe each other out." 
"... Just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings and emotions. You'll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction."
War words in workplace massacre morale

Few wrong words destroyed business and cost the UK 17m

Monday, January 26, 2015

Everybody Dies

How a Swiss sociologist gave rise to the café mortel, where the talk is of good deaths and bad deaths, near deaths and grief. Reflection inside Cold River

Reuters Interactive Graph – Journalists killed 1992-2015 – Journalists killed – Click on any person to see more information on the Committee to Protect Journalists website. Users may query by: Name, Position, Gender, Country Killed, Organization worked for; Coverage; Local or foreign; Source of fire; Type of death. Source: Committee to Protect Journalists – Graphic by Matthew Weber/Reuters Graphics

 Everybody Dies: What is Your Digital Legacy? Alethea Lange – CDT – “What happens to your email when you die? For most people this hopefully isn’t an urgent question, but a few high profile cases have made it an issue for lawmakers and judges around the world. You might think that your family could show up with a death certificate and/or a court order and get access to your digital content, but it’s not that straightforward. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) governs what types of information cloud service providers like Google and Yahoo! can disclose and under what circumstances — and it doesn’t account for death. Companies are inclined to point to their terms of service to decide when and how to provide access to accounts, but this is often decided on a case-by-case basis. This has left a confusing and delicate gap in the law that competing entities are rushing to fill. It’s easy to forget the amount of administrative work we conduct in online accounts —many of us only receive electronic statements and bills— and one of the tasks facing grieving families and friends is to close and settle accounts for their deceased love ones. This is challenging without access to email or other digital accounts where statements and other notifications are commonly sent. Additionally, years of family memories can be stored in a password-protected account, often through cloud services. The combination of sentimental and practical reasons to give access, and the serious privacy concerns implicated in doing so, has made this a hot button issue. Several states have already introduced legislation, and we expect to see more this legislative session. Currently, anyone can write their will to include instructions for the dispensation of online accounts in whatever way they wish. ECPA does not prevent account holders from granting access to their own accounts by sharing passwords or other security details. (Pro-tip: Don’t put your passwords in your will because that document will become part of the public record. Instead, leave instructions for where to find a list of passwords to chosen accounts.) This is a good solution — it allows individuals to express their wishes, gives clarity to tech companies, and doesn’t require anyone to look at the U.S Code. However, only 45 percent of Americans have a valid will at death, and far fewer specifically address access to digital accounts, leaving many personal representatives with uncertain fiduciary duties.” Everybody Dies

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mapping Sunday Arguments

John Quiggin  who kindly links to Cold River and Media Dragon has  Three predictions for 2015 and  Did the Romans (Tiberius) try QE

In addition, Paul Krugman on Mongols and the herring trade.

Philosophers on why they went into philosophy

Brendan Greeley has the scoop:
Before she won an Academy Award in 2014 for her role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o starred in two seasons of the TV drama Shuga. Set first in Nairobi and then in Lagos, Shuga features young, attractive people who sleep with each other. It’s wildly popular and shown on broadcast channels that reach 500 million people, mostly in Africa.
“I would say that it’s an African version of Gossip Girl, but with sexual-health messages weaved through,” says Georgia Arnold, executive director of MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, which produces the show with the twin goals of promoting safer sex and removing the taboo around HIV. Shuga isn’t a commercial project; it’s sponsored by donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Now in its fourth season, the show recently added a new member to its production team: Eliana La Ferrara, a professor at the University of Bocconi in Italy who specializes in a mix of behavioral and development economics. La Ferrara wasn’t hired for her writing talent. MTV and its donors want to apply a more rigorous approach to make sure Shuga’s message actually creates change where it airs.

The students sit in pairs at a computer terminal, and after reading Cullen’s synopsis of a particular argument, they try to map it. The room fills up with whispered suggestions, lines tested and rejected, double negatives made positive. Most of the boxes into which they enter text are red or green. The green ones contain evidence supporting the above premise; the red ones offer arguments against it. No doubt you could achieve a similar effect using brightly colored sticky notes, but it’s much quicker mapping an argument with the help of a software program… which generates the boxes and assigns them colors. 

Simon Cullen teaches a freshman seminar called “Philosophical Analysis Using Argument Maps” and has done some highly interesting research about their effectiveness. There’s an article about it here. I asked him to say a bit more about his work with argument mapping, and he kindly sent in the following remarks.

High school curricula are dominated by textbooks and fiction, and engaging with serious argumentative prose, like playing the guitar, is not something we’re naturally very good at. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that many students haven’t developed the analytical skills that college-level humanities courses presuppose. I wanted to design a philosophy course that would address this problem. Teaching students to create argument maps—diagrams that lay bare the structure and content of argumentative prose—seemed to me a promising idea because my own litmus test for whether I understand an argument is whether I can map it.
This three-minute video should give Daily Nous readers a good sense of what the resulting class is all about. The students are working on one to two page arguments that we’ve adapted from papers or written ourselves. They read these in class and then analyze them in groups. Here are two examples, adapted from A.J. Ayer’s “Freedom and Necessity” and David Lewis’ “Are We Free To Break The Laws?”. Each seminar consists of around three such exercises. Students prepare for class by attending a lab and attempting a problem set that requires them to read a reasonably short piece *very* closely. At the beginning of the semester, the problem sets are straightforward fill-in-the-blank mapping problems; by the end, we’re throwing difficult papers at them with instructions like, “Map Chisholm’s argument for the claim that we can be responsible for our actions only if we are the uncaused causes of those actions.”
I can’t make our experimental results public before they’re published (we hope this will happen soon), but I can say that they are, to our knowledge, completely unprecedented. Using the most rigorous standardized test of analytical reasoning skills available, we found improvements far larger than those we found with the control group, and we replicated these findings in the second year of the study. While we were interested in transfer to topic-neutral analytical skills, we also wanted to study the effect of the seminar on students’ writing and their comprehension of the philosophical material covered in the seminar. So we ran an experiment in which blind graders scored both seminar essays and control-group essays, drawn from a concurrent Princeton philosophy course, written on the same topics, using the same readings. Here we found even larger effects on six different scales ranging from how well the student understood and presented the philosophical terrain, to how much of an original contribution they made.
So why do our students seem to improve so much? My guess is that while visualization provides real benefits, the main ingredient has little to do with maps or computers. As with any other sophisticated and acquired skill, the main ingredient is lots of practice guided by regular, targeted feedback. In our class, students work closely with each other and their instructors for upwards of four hours each week; then they spend an additional five to six hours working on problem sets, often collaboratively. They work hard, and it shows. But I also don’t want to downplay the role of visualization. Arguments have structure: this claim supports that one, which, in concert with yet another, opposes some further claim . . . . It’s possible to extract this structure from (clearly written) prose, but it’s far from trivial, especially for students whose cognitive resources are already heavily taxed by the argument’s content. It’s a bit like asking them to play tic-tac-toe in their heads: just remembering the positions of all the pieces is so taxing, they’ll spend hardly any effort on their game. Much better just to draw out the board. And so it seems with students and arguments: much better they just make a map!
Cullen says he would be glad to answer any questions that might come up in the comments.
Before we get to that, though, I wanted to draw your attention to an opportunity to join a group led by Michael Hoffman (Georgia Tech), who is applying for a $325,000 NEH Digital Humanities grant “focusing on using web-based argument mapping software to support problem-based learning (PBL) in philosophy argument mapping.” The grant “could pay for course releases or summer salary so that you can find the time that is necessary to participate in workshops,” learn the software, and design a new course (via Nathan Nobis).
An announcement posted at In Socrates Wake explains how to apply.

A bigger and better classical music meta-list (the mega-meta list?).

Australian Stories inside antipodean backyards

Here is a thing about simple life. Sales of books are eclipsing digital alternatives, while vinyl records, Polaroid cameras and even simple mobile phones are enjoying a resurgence
Books. Remember them? The big lumps of wood pulp that used to clog up your shelves? Well, they’re back, and hotter than vinyl records  Low tech living is back 

Here is a thing about poems. A poem can amuse, disconcert, enlighten, or reassure in moments of crisis. But can a poem be medicine?... Rhymes limricks

Here’s the thing about lying: We all do it – three times in every 10 minutes of conversation – while finding it the most blameworthy of acts...Barbeque three level garden tall stories

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Australia Day Long Weekend - Life is Beautiful Down Under

There are ways of highlighting plays and culture Slavic or Antipodean as one sits around the round glass tables... Instead of Tolstoy Tyson shares recipes for happiness the author of The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live, collect stamps and letters ...Tolstoy on Happiness : Ope. Your Media Dragon Minds

There are ways to create the illusion of space with designers highlighting the need to remain clutter free, using a neutral colour palette, with pops of colour in accessories, and low furnishings.
Create the illusion of space outside the three layer garden

Light Garden Perusal ... Using a technique known as x-ray phase-contrast tomography (XPCT), a research team in Italy has figured out a way to read the text of ancient rolled-up scrolls that had been blackened, warped, and embrittled in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The scrolls were found in 1752 during excavations in Pompeii. Most of the approximately 1,800 (!) scrolls found so far have been impossible to read or even unroll without destroying. According to an article at Smithsonian Magazine, “most of the scrolls that have been unwrapped so far are Epicurean philosophical texts written by Philodemus—prose and poetry that had been lost to modern scholars until the library was found… Modern scholars debate whether the scrolls were part of Philodemus’ personal collection dating to his time period, or whether they were mostly copies made in the first century A.D.” Further details about the technique are also described at the website of the European Synchotron, the particle collider that was needed “to produce the high-energy beam of x-rays needed for the scans,” and at Nature Communications.

What do economists know about love, marriage, divorce, bargaining, and all that stuff?  The difficulty of recontracting is perhaps a relevant point here

Easily date the women of your dreams. Go on more dates by simply placing a bid. Now you can date anyone, anywhere, anytime for the right price.  The Dating Auction

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Media Dragons on Trust

Tonia Ries – Media Sources: Search Engines Now Most Trusted “The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer Trust Barometer reveals a new formula for building trust, one in which engagement carries a multiplier effect.

Selling of Sydney Soul & Green Spaces

“The vast accumulations of knowledge—or at least of information—deposited by the nineteenth century have been responsible for an equally vast ignorance. When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not. And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”
~ T.S. Eliot, “The Perfect Critic”

So toxic sludge and lack of public space is good for Sydneysiders. However, developers want to live themselves on 2 or 3 blocks so their space is not impacted ... Hard irony of limitless greed and selfishness...Dealers and Wheelers

One of Sydney's last undeveloped headlands should be sold to developers, according to a report condemned by local MPs as an "appalling breach of trust" by the Abbott government. The consultants' report, prepared for the Department of Finance, says the Commonwealth-owned Malabar headland is "surplus to requirements" and would generate a "significant return" if sold Headland of Huge Profits
Paid interviews with Sydney siege hostages should be prevented from going to air because they risk tainting future evidence and weakening the coronial process, former state coroner John Abernethy says. Former Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery also fears hostages involved in exclusive cash-for-comment deals may give colourful, definitive accounts to satisfy a television audience, then feel compelled to repeat the same accounts in court, even if their views have shifted.
Making Profit out of Mysery

For Evil To Thrive Just Sit and Watch it Grow

Linguistics tragedy

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Europe ‘faces political earthquakes’

Denmark Just Followed Switzerland And Slashed Interest Rates As Europe Stagnates Business Insider

Fully 46 percent of Polish home loans are denominated in Swiss francs. I am still waiting for figures for Bohemian lands ... classified as top secret.
The Great Leap Rightward Balkan Insight 


More Young Adults Stay Put in Biggest Cities New York Times. Li: “Evidence of the hollowing out of the middle of the country in terms of brainpower.”
Were poor people to blame for the housing crisis? TylerCowed

Michel Houellebecq is not a polemicist but a satirist. And his target is not Islam but spineless French intellectuals... Ouch

…a public outcry has arisen over a town council plan to house refugees in a building that once served as a Nazi Command post at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Schwerte, a community of 50,000 south of Dortmund, has decided to move 21 refugees into the camp’s only remaining building on the outskirts of the town. The move comes, town officials say, because all the refugee housing in the town’s jurisdiction is already filled with 200 asylum seekers, and the town doesn’t have the money to purchase temporary structures. According to the town council’s spokeswoman, “The solution is a practical one.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The most dangerous man

“If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr. – of “I Have A Dream’ speech fame

In Wagner, we encounter a truth: Anti-Semitism is a metaphysical condition that can express itself in unexpected forms, even abstract sound and opera...Wagner of rings... --- Biased Composers

“The most dangerous man in America.” Could it be an unstylish, self-deprecating, confrontation-averse law professor? Risque Akademik

American Orwell. Irving Howe was a tender polemicist, a socialist with conservative cultural tastes and a deep commitment to heterodoxy...Havel and Howe(ll)

Cowardice and courage no longer carry the moral resonance they once did. They now tend to be used as goads to violence... Virtues of Nothingness

Does great expertise make for great criticism? Not always. Knowing everything about a topic forecloses on original and unexpected takes. Experts

Edgar Allan Poe: popular writer, successful editor, and always meagerly paid. Nearly everything he wrote, he wrote for money

Lionized in his own time, Beethoven was nonetheless in a perpetual rage. Thus hisfondness for Exclamation Points

In one restaurant in China, people like Media Dragons, beautiful people, eat for free

The blockchainiacs?

3-D printed drones

British markets in everything: fish and chips chips

In praise of Piketty’s translator
- See more at:

Monday, January 19, 2015


Doesn’t science make philosophy obsolete?

Anne Applebaum writing how Vladimir Putin and cronies looted Russia should add to the title, “How The West Drove The Getaway Car.” To suggest that looting occurred independently of the corrupt offshore system organized by Western banks finesses the truth
When Browder and his partners, billionaire investor Kenneth Dart and New York investor Francis Baker, bought Avisma from Khodorkovsky in 1997, they agreed the corrupt profit skimming would continue...

Komisar Scoop


A close friend, NSW Labor MP Lynda Voltz, said Mr O'Grady was "tenacious and extraordinarily clever, with a little bit of the Machiavellian in there"

Paul O'Grady dies

I should like to place on record my thanks to the Parliamentary Library staff who, over many months, have contributed greatly to my knowledge on this issue. I refer particularly to such people as Richard Baker, Greig Tillotson, Warren Cahill, Joseph Imrich and Margaret Horton, who have continually come up with all sorts of articles and books, an action that I have appreciated. I also thank Veronica, who has typed many editions of this speech. I hope the House finds it worthy of careful consideration. LC Hansard Paul O’Grady 17 October 1989 

Charlie and Theo Project Syndicate (David L). A particularly good piece on the “free speech” angle

 Coda: When I was new to the library world, I learned how to do "reference service work". The library customer would walk through the doors and ask for a subject. Whether it was too broad or too narrow in focus, it was my job to find the answer. I noticed every day that the people who were asking the questions were the same people every day. Repeat business meant you were doing the job right ... Bringing Out the Best ...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The best films of the decade so far?

People who want to make a living in arts and letters are screwed. It’s a sad fact worthy of attention. It’s also not at all surprising... the Media Dragons

The best films of the decade so far? The Best Films of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)

Kurosawa’s favorite movies.  A good list.

And how well can computers judge your personality?

Barbaric Icelandic markets in everything.

Scroll down for research on France and Muslims.

The strange case of Rosemary Tonks. A successful poet and novelist, she smashed her possessions, burned her unfinished manuscript, and  Started Anew       

Clichés in context. At best they help us understand our commonality; at worst they replace our  thoughts entirely

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happiest lawyers are tax lawyers

Of 17,000 associates from over 150 large and mid-sized law firms surveyed by Vault for their annual Law Firm Associate Survey, it's the tax lawyers who clearly they love their jobs. Or rather, are at least more "satisfied" than their counterparts in other practice areas.
Tax law may be satisfying work because it is often described as solving a puzzle, allowing lawyers to find creative solutions to their clients’ problems.
Happiest legal eagles are tax eagles

Howard Gleckman offers Nine Tax Stories to Watch in 2015 (TaxVox)

We are the 1% Admit It: You’re Rich like Imrich (Megan McArdle):
The cutoff for the global 1 percent starts quite a bit lower than the parochial American version preferred by pundits. I’m on it. So is David Sirota. And if your personal income is higher than $32,500, so are you.  
It’s all a matter of perspective.

NEWSFLASH: for the vast majority of taxpayers, there is no gray area to be pushed.
Your income is whatever your W-2 says it is.
Your deductions are whatever they are. Mortgage, property taxes, charitable, car registration. I suppose there could be a gray area if someone is claiming employee business expenses. But even then, those expenses are not likely to end up being deductible anyway.
No matter what the H & R Block commercials say, there is no magic wand that a tax preparer can wave to make a bigger tax refund appear.

Absolutely true. And if a preparer boasts otherwise, it’s likely that there is a perfectly bad explanation.

Robert Goulder, China’s Fiscal Roadmap: Tax Like America (Tax Policy Blog). If you are worried about China achieving economic domination, you can rest easy now.