Saturday, February 28, 2015

Afterlife: 50 Shades of reincabation inside memories

“We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say — and to feel — ‘Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’”
So wrote Nobel prizewinner John Steinbeck - Stanford’s most illustrious drop-out

God is love, we are told. But Exodus tells us that God Himself says only that "I Am Who Am."
Self-criticism is integral to our sense of self. What does this unrelenting, unforgiving, internal nag want? That hazards question... I am Rich?

The biographer: glutton for anecdote, scavenger of detail, prisoner to tired conventions of chronology and storytelling ...

Mom’s hands 

bleed in the deep dishwater

she’s been immersed in 

for thirty years,

serving food to schoolchildren. 

She used to tell me,

“My son, look at my hands, 

so much time in dishwater,

imagine what you can accomplish 

with your mind.”
Maria Imrichova school cook Vrbov

From Gilgamesh on, theafterlife has taken many guises. Our view is an incoherent projection of needs and impulses, irreconcilably at odds
Literary history is male-dominated. Literary journalism, too. But rest assured it is  History of winners

Elephants of Tax Analogies

“Old poets regurgitate
Pellets of chewed-up paper
Packed with shrew tails, frog bones,
Beetle wings, wisdom.”
Snow Water

Smothered by a Boom in Banking Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

What Is Money And How Is It Created? Steve Keen, Forbes. Important. Why you must have banks to have money.

... the tax office has begun to acknowledge the presence of the elephant in the room that is the billions lost to the nation's budget by multinational profit shifting. Albeit, they are still patting this elephant rather than proactively shooing it out of the room.
The very funding of our hospitals and schools is at stake here, our children's future, but the committee's modus operandi was more of a fireside chat than a grilling. It was apparently a matter for pride for the ATO that only one suspect was left on its "high-risk" list of corporate taxpayers (from 14 earlier). Westfield enshrines another challenge to revenue. It has restructured and shifted its tax base offshore and pays no tax here. Besides its $US2.3 billion in related party loans, loans to itself offshore that is, it lumped in income tax in the same line in the cash-flow statement as withholding tax, in apparent contravention to AASB107. Profitshifting tax office settles for-patting the elephant in the room

Mr Jordan claimed the culture of paying sources from banks or ­financial services firms meant there was an incentive to expose individuals with offshore accounts and those that facilitate them.
“You have to realise you can’t trust anyone any more. You either have disaffected employees or you want to sell information for money,” he said. “There was one European bank employee who sold data information to the US a few years ago and he got $102m.” Sunlight ; Ali Noroozi on uncertainties in tax treatments

But in what was the most disturbing revelation, House Member attendees were told that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. That contradicted the prior testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He had testified to the effect that recovery efforts had been thorough, and that the tapes couldn’t be accessed.

 Andrew Lundeen, Corporate Tax Cuts Increase Federal Revenue in the Long Run (Tax Policy Blog):
It’s important to note that this increase in revenue would be in the long run, after the economy has fully adjusted (probably about 10 years in the future). In the early years, federal revenue would fall before investment and growth pick up fully as the economy adjusts to a better tax system.
However, tax policy—all public policy, in fact—should be made with a focus on the long-term.

Fear Business & Sensors and Journalism

INK BOTTLE“Schoolboys, like other primitive people, ill-treat those who scorn them and those who shrink from them.”
- David Cecil, Max: A Biography of Max Beerbohm

CBS is in the fear business. Terror is one of their most reliable profit centers.”

Tow Center for Data Journalism – December 3, 2014. Sensors and Journalism: “This report you have opened is not monolithic. You can match its sections to your needs. The first section introduces our topic. It starts by describing the landscape where sensors and journalism combine, and continues on to define necessary terms for understanding this area of research. Reporters are using sensors in an era when the rapid development of technology is moving data into the mainstream of journalism. The increasing ubiquity of sensors, their increasing capability and accessibility are on the supply side, while investigative reporters, computer aided reporters and journalist/technologists are on the demand side.

Motivational Laozi 

Australia's 20 Best Business blogs: 2015, Broede Carmody, Eloise Keating and Kirsten Robb, SmartCompany, 17 February 2015. This annual list of Australia's Best Business Blogs are ones SmartCompany thinks offer the best free advice for small business owners. From avoiding insolvency to using big data, there's something for everyone. Business Bloggers DownUnder

Retired at Dirty 30 - Blogger Wisdom

Certainties of Life and Work

Watch out, coders — a robot may take your job, too InfoWorld

 "The structure of routine comforts us, and the specialness of ritual vitalizes us," explains Maria Popova. "A full life calls for both — too much control, and we become mummified; too little excitement and pleasurable discombobulation, and we become numb. After all, to be overly bobulated is to be dead inside — to doom oneself to a life devoid of the glorious and ennobling messiness of the human experience."
She rejoices over a book by Anne Lamott on organizing our chaos with hope

cbsnews on hsbc investigation-60-minutes

“`Write shorter epigrams’ is your advice.
Yet you write nothing, Velox. How concise!” 
maptitude1 "Walled world" - the uneven distribution of population and wealth worldwide - Theo Deutinger
observe that the hard red lines indicate some of the most heavily policed borders on earth. that’s not an accident. Walled World via starlingsongs:

Motivational Nietzsche 3
San Francisco Chronicle, Here’s Why Uber and Lyft Send Drivers Such Confusing Tax Forms:
Uber and Lyft say their drivers are independent contractors, not employees. But when it comes to income-tax reporting, they are treated as neither. Uber, Lyft, and the IRS

Blog of the Legal Times, Suit Accuses Feds of Unlawfully Seizing Tax Refunds

BuzzFeed, These Professors Want Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate To Pay A Tax 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Samizdat of Breathing

In a prologue letter to her readers Hawkins says we are all voyeurs, gazing through windows on our morning commute, speculating about the lives of those whose homes and streets we pass  The Girl on the train

We rarely in life say exactly what we mean, or what we want. In real speech, our humour and our pathos comes out in the longing beneath our words. Sometimes this is expressed in non sequiturs, the side-slips of conversation that reveal our lack of attention... He doesn't just show you what these people say and do; he shows you how they breathe. Breath. Dialogue, and its undercurrents, are always about breath. We breathe in, and on the outward breath we speak. Beneath the breath is the pause, the ribcage full of longing. We hold our breath with desire, with shock, expel it with fury. In the rhythm of breath is the secret of dialogue. A writer learns to listen to the words, but also to the silence, the pauses, the hesitation and the longing – the subtext – that lies beneath. All of that is in dialogue that pulls you not just along, but under. But it all begins with that first act, that careful moment of listening. Art of Dialogue

Notes from Underground by Roger Scruton (Czech history, Communism, samizdat)

Notes from underground
 Under Cold River"...attempts at difference had the opposite effect to the one intended. For they emphasized that, in the midst of this randomness, you saw only the one identical expression: eyes staring into the distance, and lips held firmly shut as though against some pervasive infection Our people had collectively solved their shared problem, which was how to keep the mask in place, while showing that it is only a mask. People collaborated in the great deception, so as not to be deceived."

Scruton's book examines Prague life under the unrelenting pressure of communism, and it's desire to create sameness and eradicate personal opinions and choices.  Seen most in the world of literature, where writers were commonly arrested and jailed, sometimes executed, the lack of freedom of expression was so controlled as to prevent personal thoughts.  Just the idea of waving at someone insinuated a further connection, a nefarious plan under way.

The police were calculating and cold in their efforts to cool any uprisings by suppressing everything written, even harmless works of literature. In result, much more harmful (to Communism at least) works were perpetrated in secret in opposition to the force of evil. Dissident authors and writers wrote secretly, as their work (or even having it in possession) could land them into jail.  But they did not quit, and if anything, while its exposure may have been limited to the literary few, it probably saved them mentally.

The novel begins with a woman being arrested who was secretly known for copying dissident works into books. Her son involved, she takes all the blame and is jailed. Lost for what to do, he himself a writer as well, wanders the underground (both literally and figuratively) trying to figure out what to do.  Soon he meets an attractive woman who leads him on a path to produce his literature but with a theory: become famous in the outside world so much that Czech officials can't touch him without political repercussions.

But who is she, and what is her intentions?

"A curious thought entered my mind: that she had quite separate lives. The thought no sooner occurred than it became a knife of jealousy.  The girl who cultivated dissidents, what was exploring the world of the samizdat, who was in some strange way excited by the opportunity to recreate me as a hero and a martyr, was the holiday version of another being entirely."

Filled with beautiful and nuanced sentences, the novel contrasts the barbaric stomping out of words with the subtlety and pleasure of well-written prose. The author contrasts these so clearly that one can't help but feel the tension between the political forces at play and the hearts behind the written word.  It's not idealistic, some of the samizdat writers were jerks too, not to be trusted and often arrogant.  But their opposition, in whole, to the entire movement to destroy them only makes them more fascinating.

Scruton's writing is unusual.  A narrator who thinks wisely and yet makes naive assumptions, who loves and yet distrusts; a complicated man in every sense.

Advance review copy provided by Amazon.

Wendy Bacon

I imagine, therefore I belong and am free.
— Lawrence Durrell, born on this date in 1912

“I rate it as the best board for the best road project in Australia," gushed NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay of his own handiwork to the Sydney Morning Herald in November 2013. He was talking of the board for the Westconnex, a $12 billion 33-kilometre loop of motorways, tunnels and tolls that will link Parramatta in Sydney's west with the suburbs in the inner west and back out to south western Sydney Man behind men behind westconnex

Shining a light on injustice and corruption isn’t an easy job, but it’s a critical aspect of journalism and democracy. Walkley award-winning journalist Wendy Bacon has done just that, examining official corruption in NSW, miscarriages of justice, police corruption, indigenous issues, environmental issues and a plethora of other topics in her several decades as an investigative journalist. She’s a Professor of Journalism at UTS in Sydney and involved with its Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at

Resistance Songs: Mobilizing the Law and Politics of Community

Alfieri, Anthony Victor, Resistance Songs: Mobilizing the Law and Politics of Community (February 24, 2015). University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-09; Texas Law Review, Vol. 93, Forthcoming. Available for download at SSRN:
“In 1925, the City of Miami built a trash incinerator in the de jure segregated Afro-Caribbean-American community of Coconut Grove Village West (“the West Grove”) amid rows of shotgun style houses and Jim Crow schools. Commonly known as Old Smokey, the incinerator discharged airborne carcinogenic chemicals (e.g., arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, cadmium, and lead) and produced residual toxic waste (e.g., ash, liquefied plastic, and melted glass) for 45 years until Florida courts finally ordered it closed in 1970. In 1978, notwithstanding community opposition, the City of Miami converted the 4.5 acre Old Smokey site and incinerator building into its Fire-Rescue Training Center which continues to operate today. In 2013 and 2014, West Grove residents working in collaboration with faculty and students from the University of Miami School of Law learned from a whistleblower-leaked municipal environmental report that long-term exposure to Old Smokey’s airborne carcinogens and toxic waste dump sites had caused extensive soil and possibly groundwater contamination of homeowner properties and public parks in Coconut Grove and across the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County. This Essay investigates the historical absence of civil rights- and environmental justice-incited legal and political mobilization around Old Smokey in light of Professor Lea VanderVelde’s important new book Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott. 

For the record, I strongly believe that bona fide harassers should be chemically castrated, stripped of their property, and hung up by their thumbs in the nearest public square. Let no one think I’m soft on harassment. But I also believe that the myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life, because that’s simply part of the human condition. - See more at:

Professors How Paranoia Strikes

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Whiskey: 15 Seconds of Fame is the basic demand of our age

“Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought.” 

Fame is the basic demand of our age. Attention must be paid to tweets, posts, pictures. Literary fame is a different beast, though no less grubby ...

       In The Korea Herald Joel Lee profiles the The Republic of Užupis-author, in Seoul Literary Society hosts novelist Ha Il-ji (or, as Dalkey Archive Press transliterated the name, Haïlji).
       Among the information of interest:

When writing a novel, he has to finish it within 40 days due to his limited time off from teaching at a university, Ha said. "I finish a bottle of whiskey every two or three days to keep total concentration on my work."
The history of literature is not tidy, and the path of the modern novel is particularly long and improbable. Can its origins be traced to Iron Curtains of Protestantism

“Take those demons, for example. For some of us, writing is not a matter of being driven by them, but casting them out. Difficult family relationships? Sort them out on the page. Horrible love life? Write it again with a better ending. Feeling your age? Slip into the skin of a 20 year old and go off and have some fictional adventures. It’s not a horrible, exhausting struggle; it’s therapeutic.” The Guardian: Writers

       In the Wall Street Journal Jennifer Maloney previews a new site, suggesting Literary Hub Is a New Home for Book Lovers, which: 'aims to carve out a central online space for books'.
       This 'Literary Hub' is scheduled to go live 8 April and -- scroll down -- given the "partners' involved (a really nice mix) should be able to offer some interesting content.

Focusing on literary fiction and nonfiction, it will present personal and critical essays, interviews and book excerpts
       (Maloney observes parenthetically; "Organizers are still discussing whether it should publish its own book reviews".) 

To Keep or Not to keep A Diary Of Parliamentary & Taxing Times

INK BOTTLE“A writer who is afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.”

~ Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder”

Cold River was a first roll of the dice for me as a memoir writer...

At 81, John Hatton is learning to ski and has returned from six weeks in New Zealand, which is why he missed the ACT Supreme Court’s reference last month to Mafia involvement in Colin Winchester’s murder. Organised crime figures who believed they had been double-crossed were said to have a motive for killing assistant federal police commissioner Winchester, but police had been unwilling to reinvestigate Mafia links. John Hatton
Former judge John Dowd Resigns from allegedly corrupt firm lifese pty ltd

Political satire with Mike Baird on tweets

Neil Gaiman explains one of the easy ways to become a writer. You just wake up one day, after having tasted the fruit of a certain tree. You'll see what I mean. Do Not Cite or Circulate

Authors publishing through both traditional and independent methods earned $7,500-$9,999 per year, thousands more than authors who published with either method exclusively.
“While some scholars may shun such developments, others are embracing them, leveraging analytical tools and techniques to account for a landscape of authorship and reading that is no longer confined to simple geometries and lines of influence, and no longer served by the established critical schools.”
~ Can You Really Know An Author If You Don’t Follow Him Social Media Dragon? Los Angeles Review of Books

14 Reasons why you shouldn't dream of being a full time author

“I realize I don’t want any record of my days. I have the kind of brain that erases everything that passes, almost immediately, like that dustpan-and-brush dog in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland sweeping up the path as he progresses along it. I never know what I was doing on what date, or how old I was when this or that happened – and I like it that way.” Why Zadie Smith Will Not Keep A Diary Ever  Rookie

“We often know very little about those who live closely and share the lives of the writers about whom we apparently know so much. Part of this is wilful mythologizing. We like to think of the writer as indestructible as the text, preferring not to imagine who might make them breakfast in the morning or help them put on their shoes when they are too old to manage it by themselves.” A look at “Miss Alice” Lee, Ted Hughes, John Bayley, Leonard Woolf, and Valerie Eliot. Malchkeons Who Stay: The Lives Of Writers’ Companions  Melville House

Why it is better to read on paper

The power to spread and transform the alphabet — once concentrated among medieval scribes, British and French printers, or Christian missionaries spreading words to spread the Word — has been democratized. Now with tablets and smartphones, “the smallest building blocks of the shared written language (i.e. print) are more in your hands . . . than they have ever been.  Washington Post

“The research suggests fantasy stories — or at least those good enough to hold our interest — produce neural reactions that are above and beyond those created by other narratives — even ones that are just as exciting, involving, or humorous.”
Fantasy X Stories subtitled: Parliamentary Library Stack on Level 6 Pacific Standard

“What does this movement in travel writing bear for the genre as a whole? What can the graves of dead poets in Vrbov and Venice, a boat ride down the Amazon to the coast of Brazil, or a visit to the homes of D. H. Lawrence and George Eliot tell us about life, about living?”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“This idea Franzen posits that literature teaches us you’re not the ‘heroic figure you think of yourself as, that you might be the very dubious figure that other people think of you as’ is as deeply embedded in many big YA novels as it is in Munro stories. To say these books are simplistic is to mistake grandness, ease of narrative, and breathless pace for mere shallowness.”
Latitude East Flavorwire
“Getting an author booked on ‘The Daily Show’ was often the Holy Grail for book publicists,” says Kate Lloyd, Scribner’s associate director of publicity. Her authors loved Stewart, she says, because “his audience is made up of smart, book-buying readers who respond to the thoughtful treatment and authentic passion he customarily expresses for the books he features.”
~ Washington Post

Digital Book World’s new survey of just under 1,900 authors found fairly low annual earnings. Dana Beth Weinberg tells the Guardian, “We see for the third year in a row – even though we made a strong effort to get representation in the survey from successful indie authors – that most authors aren’t making much money and most books sell very few copies. We also find that traditionally published authors and authors who combine traditional and indie publishing have higher annual incomes on average than indie-only authors. Last year, we took a lot of heat for these unpopular findings, especially from the indie community.”

The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why They Matter

The End Is Near of Glorious Food and Stability

Fresh off the back of the frozen berries scare, four people have now fallen ill with potentially deadly fish poisoning after eating tuna imported from Thailand. Health authorities say the customers of Soul Origin takeaway in Sydney’s CBD suffered symptoms of Scombroid poisoning on Monday after ordering tuna salad. The cafe confirmed yesterday it had since changed brands. Food poisoning from toxic tuna

Rare Double Cyclones Sock Australia—Where Else Has This Happened? National Geographic

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Observers: Do Not Cite or Circulate

“The public life of liberal Hollywood comprises a kind of dictatorship of good intentions, a social contract in which actual and irreconcilable disagreement is as taboo as failure or bad teeth.”
At first I thought I had walked out of the rain and into a time warp: the Sixties seemed not to have happened.

 Lee Anne Fennell, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, has written a short and amusing paper entitled “Do Not Cite or Circulate.” It’s directed at legal academics, but applies just as well to philosophers. From the opening paragraph:

Law professors, who are generally quite enamored of their own words and not especially reluctant to toss around their..

Check out “Hanti’s Notes on Doing a PhD and Getting a Job in Philosophy” by Hanti Lin, assistant professor of philosophy at UC Davis. It has a lot of good advice. Of particular value is the “When to do what?” 

A Swedish person is extremely unlikely to get in an elevator if someone else is already in there.

Motivational Benatar

Criminal Capital of Dirty Money

Michael Levi of Cardiff University and Peter Reuter of the University of Maryland have studied the global anti-money-laundering system (PDF) and conclude that it has helped facilitate some criminal investigations and prosecutions. But at best, it snares just a fraction of 1 percent of criminal income flows. A lower-end estimate for global laundering transactions is 2 percent of global gross domestic product—or about $1.5 trillion. Global money laundering convictions involve at the most hundreds of millions. In the U.S., a generous estimate of seizures would amount to a mere 0.2 percent of all laundered funds. Why the world is so bad at tracking Dirty Money

Stephen Platt is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University; he also works with the World Bank and educates employees of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Treasury, numerous U.S. law enforcement agencies, Europol, and the Metropolitan Police on how criminals abuse financial services. In the past 20 years, he's sifted through thousands of files on money laundering, corrupt public officials, drug trafficking, and even terrorism and piracy to look at how illicit money moves through our financial institutions. His recent book Criminal Capital explains that our financial system is not just globally interconnected, but also inextricably linked to crime.
How dirty money gets into banks

Motivational Adorno

Bit by bit, we have handed the capital over to pinstriped investors ‘reeking of lunch’. Are we resigned to a grey cloud of commerce, or can we reclaim a hopeful, collective future?
The city that privatised itself to death

Mr Osborne: Well, we have taken a much more aggressive approach. As a result, prosecutions are up fivefold. I have the following parliamentary answer from the then Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown), and this is what he told the House:
“Where serious tax fraud has been committed, the Board”—
23 Feb 2015 : Column 30
the Inland Revenue board—
“may accept a money settlement instead of pursuing a criminal prosecution.
The Board will accept a money settlement and will not pursue a criminal prosecution, if the taxpayer, in response to being given a copy of this Statement by an authorised officer, makes a full and complete confession of all tax irregularities.”—[Official Report, 7 November 2002; Vol. 392, c. 784W.]
That was the approach of the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath to tax policy. [Interruption.]The shadow Chancellor says it was before 2000, but the revelations were made in 2009, and the last time I checked there was a Labour Government in late 2009 and early 2010.
UK debates about Corporate Tax Avoidance