Friday, July 31, 2015

Lady Heather on Jane Dieulafoy

Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record Washington Post

Images from Travellers

Even Sydney was rather pleasant on Friday night especially inside the Nicholson Museum (of the Sydney University fame) where a book launch took place examining the life of Jane Dieulafoy in Persia 1881-1886 ... A fine company, even finer food and finest drops of liquid from the Coriole Vineyards. While listening to fine speeches and sipping the wine no one could take their eyes off the lego ...

Heather Rossiter’s beautifully constructed and evocative work  will at last introduce to a much wider audience Jane Dieulafoy’s  singular tenacity, endurance and character, as well as her  remarkable Middle Eastern travels and descriptions of a now- vanished era in the history of Iran.
-Dr John Tidmarsh, Sydney University

The Louvre Museum, Paris, 20 October 1886

Jane Dieulafoy stood self-contained and poised as the President of the  French Republic pinned the cross of the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur  to her jacket. ‘Outrageous,’ a woman whispered as applause filled the gallery. ‘Scandalous,’ whispered another. It was not Jane’s receiving the honour that upset them, but her dress, or,  rather, her suit – Jane had given up wearing dresses. Her perfectly tailored  plain trouser suit was in stark contrast to the waisted, frilled and trimmed  dresses, trains sweeping the floor, worn by the other women. As much as  Pierre-Auguste Renoir loved to paint them, and they were high fashion,  they were not for Jane. While fighting alongside her husband Marcel in  the Franco–Prussian War, riding for fourteen months along Persia’s dusty  tracks and, later, excavating the secrets of Susa, she had grown accustomed  to trousers. As she had explained to the Shah of Persia in the rose-scented  garden of the Golistan palace in Tehran, they were comfortable, practical  and they kept her safe.

The astonished shah had looked at the petite figure and exclaimed,  ‘What! That sweet boy is a woman?’ ‘Indeed, your Majesty,’

Colonel Dieulafoy replied proudly, ‘she is  Madame Dieulafoy, my dear wife.’
Sweet Boy Dear Wife  (Published by Wakefield Press)

Research scientist in the US and UK, teacher and vine-grower in Australia, Heather Rossiter's articles, book reviews and travel pieces have appeared in Australian and international publications. She was research consultant to the documentary, 'Mawson: Life and Death in Antarctica', screened on ABC and BBC TV in 2007 and her book, Lady Spy, Gentleman Explorer: The Life of Herbert Dyce Murphy was shortlisted for the ISAA Book Award 2002.
A passionate traveller, particularly to Russia and the Middle East to study archaeological sites and the arts of Islam, Heather lives in Sydney.
Heather Rossiter

Lady Heather Rossiter was speaking eloquently. You could have guessed from the way she was wearing her scarf that it wasn't her first time to Iran. I confirmed this assumption with the legendary question: "Is this your first visit to Iran?"
Lady Heather 

What do you think makes the legacy of Douglas Mawson and the other Antarctic explorers so enduring?
Well, that is a loaded question when you're talking to me, because my whole thesis is that Mawson went to the Antarctic and is remembered, but there were 30 other men who went down there too, they have been forgotten, if they have ever really been known. And Mawson is a great man, let us not dispute that. Great organisationl skills, courage and determination, but he had a lot of perosnal failings. One of the was that he would not stand for competition
Interview: Heather Rossiter

Foreign criminals are using the housing and art market

Cybercrime as a service rise

Ekaterina Juskowski was operating the camera as her model friend strolled down the beach, looking as smouldering as she possibly could. All of a sudden, a small boat appears at the shoreline and about nine men jump out, wade through the lq shallow water and scatter into the city, leaving the now empty boat bobbling in the water. “That’s a testament to how confident these organisations are — what we call transnational criminal organisations — who smuggle criminals and narcotics right onto the beach,” U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Frank Miller told The New Times

Foreign criminals drive up London house prices by laundering money into property 
Is it game over for money laundering in London’s property market?  

Foreign criminals are using the London housing market  to launder billions of pounds, pushing up house prices for domestic buyers, a senior police officer has warned.
Donald Toon, the director of economic crime at the National Crime Agency, spoke after a spike in receipts from a tax on homes bought up by companies, trusts and investment funds rather than individuals.
Such corporations, usually based in offshore tax havens, are sometimes used by buyers keen to hide ownership of assets from their own countries’ tax authorities. The secrecy they offer can equally be used to squirrel away ill-gotten gains.  Offshore Tax Havens

World's rich are turning London into capital of inequality and tax evasion'

Australians might think Chinese investors have pushed up property prices, but "we ain't seen nothing yet," according to Colonial First State Global Asset Management chief economist Stephen Halmarick who is tipping the liberalisation of China's capital markets will inflate asset prices acrosss the globe.  We ain't seen nothing yet': Chinese foreign investment in Australian property tipped to surge 

Chinese investment accounted for 12 percent of Australia's new ... in big cities like Sydney or Melbourne, more than any other foreign investor. Corrupt Chinese Government Officials Flee To Australia Amid Hesitation To Extradite Criminals

Sydney to be blessed with MONA Type Gallery 

Walmart's use of tax havens hurts small businesses    

New York Times, New Disclosure Rules for Shell Companies in New York Luxury Real Estate Sales:
  • Seeking to increase transparency in the luxury real estate market, the de Blasio administration has imposed new disclosure requirements on shell companies buying or selling property in New York City.
    The changes will help remove a “veil of secrecy” surrounding high-end real estate sales by requiring that the names of all members of a shell company buying or selling property be disclosed to the city, the finance commissioner, Jacques Jiha, said

REMITTANCES EXPLAINED: How funds are transferred across borders, and why digital is poised to disrupt this century-old industry Business Insider

When the tax was first in operation in 2013/14, it raised £100m from 3,990 houses, with 80% of the revenue coming from two London boroughs - the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, it said BBC 

Noferi, Mark L. and Koulish, Robert, The Immigration Detention Risk Assessment (July 1, 2015). 29 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 45 (2015). Available for download at SSRN:
In early 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) deployed nationwide a new automated risk assessment tool to help determine whether to detain or release noncitizens pending their deportation proceedings..."

Why the Economy Will Be Every Country’s Weapon of Choice CFR

US Tax Avoidance Trumps Greek Tax Evasion 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Arts ... It all began in the Sydney Botanic Garden

Last week MEdia Dragon caught up with John Azarias in front of The Parliament House and I must admit John looks the same as two decades ago when I first met him... John has not lost his storytelling abilities as Gillian (sic) Lester noted in the Great Synagog last month 'John is the most charming man he ever met'. This charm and thoughtfullness is reflected in the following foundation: (Actresses and writers like Bella Imrichova value this kind of foundation even more than bloggers ;-)

It all began early in 2014 when John and Patricia Azarias, the founders of the Prize, took a walk through the Botanic Garden. John Azarias loves Hellenic culture and had seen the original monument in Athens. On that particular day, as he and his wife approached the sandstone replica (commissioned in 1870 by Sir James Martin), they were struck by how eroded it was becoming. He decided then and there to raise the funds for its restoration in readiness for the Botanic Garden’s bicentenary in 2016. John and Patricia Azarias

Sydney businessman John Azarias recently wrote an account, that was published in the Financial Times, of the Greek Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy whose '"constant companions of the mind" were the multi-ethnic worlds of the Seleucids, of the Ptolemies, of Byzantium and of the Ottomans'. It was, as Azarias said, 'a quintessentially Alexandrian spirit'. Again, this culture was untidy, overlapping, contradictory and pluralistic—not a culture demanding conformity to a single religion or language—surely rich enough to fit King Abdullah's ideal of 'an overlap of cultures'. As I remember hearing Bill Clinton say once: 'Our differences make us interesting. Our common humanity is more important.' 

Writer - Patricia Azarias is the product of an immigrant family, born in Egypt, of an English father and a Spanish Jewish mother, speaking several languages. She is a passionate advocate of a multi-cultural Australia & is on the board of SBS Radio & Television, an active member of its Community Advisory Committee. She is the Deputy Chair of CRC (NSW). She worked for the United Nations for many years & was the Chief Auditor (2004-2006). She recently finished a year in Papua New Guinea as a UN expert on public finance and established a foundation for sending kids to school. As the Director of the Public Accounts Committee of the NSW Parliament, she wrote numerous publications. - See more at: Migrant Story

Parliament especially in Sydney is a small and people are still keeping in touch. We evev had the friendliest and considerate President in my time in NSW Parliament, Johno Johnson who is currently in the Prince of Wales hospital. The NSW Parliament is peppered with colourful characters ... In 1991 Dr Russell Cope, the Parliamentary Librarian, concluded 40 years of meritorious service Dr Cope is one of those living treasures that few institutions have

Google Blog: “The Google Translate app already lets you instantly visually translate printed text in seven languages. Just open the app, click on the camera, and point it at the text you need to translate—a street sign, ingredient list, instruction manual, dials on a washing machine. 
See the world in your Czech and Sloval languages with Google Translate  

Search Engine Land: The difference between a halo and a noose is only six inches

American road-tripping has left its mark on literature: Roughing It, On the Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Here are the routes that matter ...

Search Engine Land: “YouTube is arguably the second largest search engine on the Web. It is the third most visited site on the Web, according to Alexa and SimilarWeb. Recent information released by Google has shown that more and more users are using YouTube as a search engine. Searches related to “how to” on YouTube are growing 70% year over year. It is also no secret that video content is more engaging than a page of text and can be much more informative. YouTube’s popularity and reach are also expanded by its inclusion in both Google Web and Video search.”

My dad used to have a saying  that big thieves always hanged the little thieves as he watched the feudalist hanging slaves then during 1940s he watched Fascist hanging jews and gypsies and slavs, but most of his life he spent living under the oppresive communist regime ... He died in 1992 when the Velvet Revolution was kind to most citizens ... As they say the difference between a halo and a noose is only six inches ... Leadership the human connection

Ebay and Paypal users face 'huge' tax crackdown

Australia to tax ALL international online purchases   

re/code: “The Bloomberg terminal makes up a significant part of the world’s financial nervous system. The machine is parked on the desks of over 325,000 financial pros who pay $24,000 a year to use it. And while it’s packed with data and news, its most popular feature by far is its instant messaging function, which traders from thousands of different banks and financial firms use to whip up deals, trade gossip and execute billions of dollars in trades every day…Symphony has been humming along in beta since April with some 30,000 people using the service. A preview was released this week and a general release is scheduled for September. And [French software engineer David] Gurlé has ambitions for it beyond the financial sector. He wants to sell Symphony to law firms, accounting offices, health care companies and companies in any other industry where exchanging sensitive information is necessary. Wall Street, he says, is just a “beachhead.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Local government matters most, new Australian research finds

Just because my story of Cold River is about horrors of absurd communism doesn’t mean I always identify myself with other forms of barbarism such as ruthless capitalism or weird saudisn ...

After the local government closed a public beach on the French Riviera, in anticipation of a visit from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, nearly 140,000 French citizens have signed a petition demanding that the government reopen the beach, which is known as a good spot for fishing, swimming, and public nudity French citizens protest re saudi royals closing nude beach

This major piece of social research, which has never been done before, demonstrates how and why communities value the activities and role of local governments. In the latter part of 2014, we surveyed more than 2000 Australians to find out why local government matters.

Australians prefer their governments local

One of the most startling findings of ACELG’s research is that about 75% of Australians surveyed think local government is best able to make decisions about their local areas. This is compared with 26% for state government and an embarrassing two percent for the federal government.
Australians highly value governments that are ‘close’ to the community and they want local government to be responsible for a diversity of activities with, interestingly, planning for the future being amongst the most important.
Local Government may not be recognised in Australia’s Constitution but we fail to acknowledge its place in our federation at our peril.    Australia’s Federation debate, triggered last year by the release of the issues paper, A Federation for our Future, is focussed largely on the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, the states and territories. We’ll be badly out of step with the community if we do not broaden the debate to more fully encompass local government.
Local government matters most, new Australian research finds

This research offers one of the first detailed insights into the valuable contribution made by local government within the multi-layered crime prevention strategies and initiatives which keep Australian communities safe.  Understanding the local government role in crime prevention

Although the report argues all the agencies had the capacity to measure productivity, it also acknowledged the difficulty of deciding what counts as productivity within the public sector, highlighting two key drawbacks in using physical productivity measures in the public sector... Strengthening Productivity Measurement Treasury

Interview: Paul Mason’s guide to a post-capitalist future Prospect

Washington Post: “As of September, one of the largest companies in the world will do all of its employees and managers an enormous favor: It will get rid of the annual performance review. Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme told The Washington Post that the professional services firm, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers in cities around the globe, has been quietly preparing for this “massive revolution” in its internal operations [Read the full interview with Accenture’s CEO where he breaks the news of the decision].”

Aidan had an amazing capacity for looking right into you as a human being. “Life is all about who and what we are – our values, our gifts, our integrity. Finding our own identity is the first step.”

Siobhan Sheridan, reminded me that Aidan had, in poet David Whyte’s phrase, “the art of asking beautiful disturbing questions”. If there was ever a lull in our conversation, after I’d described the fullness of my life and work, he would catch me out with the same question. Leaning in, his head tilted to one side, he’d say, in his gentle Irish voice: “Ashley, and tell me, are you happy?”
Leadership the human connection

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Cold War Never Really Ended

"They live on in the hearts of those that cherish their memory and in the good deeds that they performed on earth."

“A time comes when you think you cannot bear another thing, but it happens to you, and you can bear it.” ~ Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men
Hateful buildings, brutalist monstrosities, drab concrete towers: Stalinist architecture, once reviled, is now revered. Chalk it up to the rise of Soviet-ruin chic or kitch »

If You Don’t Click on This Classy Post, You Are a Loser and a Moron Mother Jones. Or a Queens-born casino operator.

Culture has declined and society has gone to the dogs in every age. Frivolity is forever on the rise. But for Mario Vargas Llosa, this time is different ...

For the first time in a decade, Russia spent a higher portion of its GDP on defense than the U.S. in 2013.
To those who lived through it, the night of November 9, 1989, seemed to mark a new epoch in human history. The Berlin Wall was suddenly undefended, in a single delirious moment that promised to end the Cold War division of Europe. Two years later, the Soviet Union would be dissolved. Elected leaders would govern Russia for the first time since the country’s brief democratic experiment of 1917. “Europe whole and free” seemed more than a far-off aspiration: it seemed a work in the making. Cold war never ended

Owen Hatherley, Landscapes of Communism: A History through Buildings.  A consistently interesting take on communist architecture, not entirely unsympathetic as indeed corresponds to my own attitude.  Sheila Fitzpatrick wrote a nice LRB review of the book, suggesting that the author must have visited those developments in summer rather than wintertime.

Though at home in the literary and intellectual circles of London and Paris,T.S. Eliot never lost his wry affection for what he called "Amurrikan Kulchur"

Since I first read it in a high school Spanish class, I’ve been fascinated by the theory of language implicit in Borges’s “The Library of Babel.” The story describes a universal library containing, in 410-page volumes, every possible permutation of twenty-two letters, spaces, commas, and periods—every book that’s ever been written and every book that ever could be, drowned out by endless pages of gibberish. Its librarians are addicted to the search for certain master texts, the complete catalog of the library, or the future history of one’s own life, but their quest inevitably ends in failure, despair, even suicide Library of Babel as seen from within

Roughly 100 fantastic pieces of journalism

AUSTRALIA: biggest Island and greatest place for story-telling

Just because my story of Cold River is about horrors of absurd communism doesn’t mean I always identify myself with other forms of barbarism such as ruthless capitalism.

Humpback whales make a comeback in Australian waters as numbers rebound

At least 8M humans may have lived and farmed the Amazon basin Daily Mail 
From 'Robinson Crusoe' to 'Swallows and Amazons', what is it about scraps of land surrounded by sea that makes them such compelling settings for storytellers? Author Julia Bell, whose new novel is inspired by 'The Wicker Man', explores some island adventures 

Why writers treasure islands: Isolated, remote, defended - they're great places for story-telling 

Remember that country pub that was willing to name anything inside the business after you and MEdia Dragon in exchange for help with its renovations

“I no longer regret writing, or the life I have made along the way. I’ve learned too much and come too far, and I am in pursuit of an art form. It took a long time, and a lot of work, to get to this point, and I will never find an end to it. I have a problem that can keep me busy for the rest of my life. I have something to look forward to.”
The New Yorker

“The going gets tough. Then tougher. Now, with the essays just out, an illustrated children’s book forthcoming with a respected Ontario publisher, and a curriculum vitae a juror once described as being ‘as long as [her] arm,’ I’m facing poverty unlike anything I’ve known since the 1980s, when I lived with my little family in a low-income duplex.” LitHub 

Contrary to the myth that authors work best in lonely isolation, the truth is that editors or close advisers have often quietly shaped great books. The 20th century brought the rise of the professional, interventionist editor. The Telegraph (UK) 

“We took it upon ourselves to search the world for authors who have been called ‘the Chekhov’ of their country or, more endearingly in Cynthia Ozick’s characterization of Alice Munro, ‘our Chekhov.’ Chekhovs from Ireland, Canada, India, China, Mexico, The United States, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Japan have made the list so far, but we, as readers, are in perpetual search of the next Chekhov of X …” Literary Hub as Jozef Imrich is Chekhov of Australia ...
“As is true of many American readers who encountered Chekhov first in college, my experience with his stories was both abrupt and brief, and came too early. … Chekhov seems to me a writer for adults, his work becoming useful and also beautiful by attracting attention to mature feelings, to complicated human responses and small issues of moral choice within large, overarching dilemmas.” Literary Hub 

An eight-year-old boy emerged from a medically induced coma with a remarkable story of visiting heaven and meeting a wide variety of people, including a literary agent who encouraged him to sell his story to a major publisher. Seems legit.

When it comes to criticism, Kingsley Amis said it best: “If you can’t annoy somebody with what you write, there’s little point in writing.” That spirit is in far too  short supply...

Joseph Mitchells journalism didn’t stand out. Then he met the anthropologist Franz Boas. Mitchell’s reporting absorbed the ethnographic insights of social science...

A medieval man in modern times, Léon Bloy kept a vow of poverty and suffering, cheered the sinking of the Titanic, and wrote of suicide ... suicide and other isms

How to speak American: Steal words, invent new ones, turn nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns. Smush words together

Whole Foods Exploits Prison Labor for Your Goodies, While Ripping You Off Counterpunch

San Francisco techies hiring Wiccan witch to protect computers from viruses Business Insider.  

A Ukrainian blogger looking into publically disclosed financial documents about President Petro Poroshenko's Roshen candy factory in the city of Lipetsk Russia has calculated that the president's company paid nearly 100 million rubles (the equivalent to about $1.75 million US) in taxes into the Russian budget in 2014.
Looking at the Lipetsk Confectionary Factory's official data, published on the website of AK&M, responsible for the release of public information in the Russian securities market, Ukrainian blogger Oleksiy Romanov found that as of June 30, 2015, the company's shares are 99.9319 percent owned by LLC 'Central European Confectionary Company, located in Kiev. Ukraine's Register of Legal Entities reveals that this company's major stakeholders are the closed investment fund Prime Assets Capital and closed investment fund KonditerInvest, with the final beneficiary (i.e. owner of the LLC) listed as none other than Poroshenko, Petro Alexeyevich. "I have heard this name somewhere. Have you?" Romanov joked.

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian The end of capitalism has begun


The tiny islands where Canada and America are at war

Good Google and Smartest Entities

Google To Provide Free Internet For Public Housing Residents To All Fiber Markets Slashdot

Fish learn fear from their role models Science of Googling

This year, when the editors of MIT Technology Review began our annual search for the smartest companies, we did not have trouble finding big ideas. To make the list, a company must have truly innovative technology and a business model that is both practical and ambitious, with the result that it has set the agenda in its field over the past 12 months. No. 1, Tesla Motors, has added another audacious idea to go with its electric cars. In April, it announced it would be spinning off a line of batteries in service of a big goal: remaking the energy grid for industry, utilities, and residences. Of all the sectors we cover, biomedicine has had the biggest year. Companies have turned research breakthroughs, many powered by genomic analysis, into products that treat challenging diseases. Gilead Sciences, No. 15, sells the first pill that can cure most cases of hepatitis C. Bristol-Myers Squibb, No. 26, is selling an immunotherapy drug that is saving the lives of people with skin and lung cancer…” Nanette Byrnes
How Trees Calm Us Down The New Yorker

“People will be coming to your site to improve their lives, not just learn about yours. Always use the top space of your right sidebar to offer some kind of lead magnet. This means some kind of giveaway that entices people to give you their email address.”
Want to become a star blogger? Here's how to do it 

How Artificial Intelligence is Reinventing the Art of Influencing Human Behavior The Vital Edge

“In a lucky coincidence that would not look out of place in a Charles Dickens novel, an antiquarian book dealer has stumbled across what is believed to be Dickens’s own personally annotated copy of a literary periodical he edited.” Literary Hub calls it “the Rosetta Stone of Victorian studies.” Via The Guardian 

Picasso, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy had them, as did Leonardo da Vinci, Lenin, and Henry Luce. What did they have? Big brows ... like jozef imrich

In praise of boredom. Society worships multitasking, purposefulness, and returns on investment. Why bother with art or literature? Claire Messud explains... Praising Cold River ...

Front pages still matter

Part of my morning routine is to look for front pages. I check Newseum. I check Kiosko. I check the Twitter and Facebook feeds of places where news is happening, such as Kenya on Friday. Newspapers have had a tough time for awhile now, but when something big happens, we still share their front pages digitally. I saw them everywhere after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson almost one year ago, after the murders at Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January and after the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling last month. The (Charleston, South Carolina) Post and Courier’s Sunday front page after nine people were murdered was so powerful. So is the art that the (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Sentinel and Enterprise has published since an artist took over its front page for 26 days. Read more

Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It WIRED. Why, if I ever own a car, it will be as old and stupid a car as possible

Is Advertising Morally Justifiable? The Importance of Protecting Our Attention ABC 

This Food Blogger Dropped Out of School, Quit Her Job, and Chased Her Dream

How the Blitz sent Britain sex mad: New book reveals Hitler’s bid to bomb us into surrender had another startling effect via Google and Daily Terroe or Male

A former engineer says Intel has a ‘meritocracy’ problem Bloomberg

Here’s why we should stop using the term ‘millennial’ as an age group or generation Linkedin. Put down your coffee. 

Interview with Julian Assange: ‘We Are Drowning in Material’ Der Spiegel

A Wizard at Prying Government Secrets From the Government New York Times