Saturday, October 31, 2015

God chose me to write this blog ;-)

God chose me to write this book, writes satirist Al Franken in Lies and the Lying Liars. This isn't hubris. I just happened to be the right vessel at the right time. 

In a nutshell, unlike vessels rivers are free. They come and go as they please, and borders or governments do not bind them. But rivers have stories. For example, Sigmund Freud's Moravian river coined Morava is not different to the Ganges. This is a sacred river, filled with rituals and burning bodies. The ashes tell an ancient story, And thus, these river alphabets tell a story that precedes even the creation of language. Some days light reflected in river's mirror is the color of all / my losses as rivers  hold our histories and secrets ... Cold River, like most books, made life seem more interesting than it is.

"No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark. You only run for the border when you see your whole city running as well. You have to understand that no one puts children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land." 
~'Home' by Warsan Shire

Isaiah Berlin was drawn to those he disagreed with. "They uncover the cracks, the flaws, the places between the ribs where the dagger can successfully be inserted”... SIMPle KINgS of this world »

“Do you understand that God is not looking for ‘the cream of the crop?’” Jared Wilson asks. “He is in the margins, picking the scrubs, the losers, the dum-dums.”

Paul Pastor (you may call him Pastor Pastor) reviews the second volume of David Wilkie’s Coffee with Jesus. He remembers Wilkie saying, “You have to be able to laugh at yourself first, because you might be the problem, not everybody else.”

I always tell my students they need to be aware of the myths and stories they tell themselves about reality, because the story you think you’re in determines the character you become. Neutral time is a particularly popular story. It goes something like this:
I’ve been a good kid in high school. I’ve done my homework, been to Bible study, and didn’t mess around too much or anything. Now, though, I really want to go out and enjoy myself a bit. The “college experience” is calling, and I can’t be expected to go and not let loose a little bit. I mean, I really love Jesus and my faith will always be a big part of my life, but you know, I’ll just go off for a bit, maybe a semester or two, have my fun, and then be back around. You’ll see.
Indifference is a power Aeon. On Stoicism.

Today, I happened to think of the Party slogan from George Orwell’s 1984:

"Night came, and it was such a night one knew that human eyes would not witness it and survive…. Many things were then said and done among us; but of these it is better that no memory remain."
He was terrified of spiders, women, and disappointing his mother. Yet his writing was unsparing, even fearless.  Today it is easy to imagine the young Levi searching for a voice, a manner, that would allow him to tell his tale without being overwhelmed by it and at the same time compel the reader’s attention. The question of  (PL) Primo Levi »

Marx, the German philosopher…once predicted the “hot tears of noble people” would be shed over his ashes… via WSJ article is Cemetery of Karl Marx

“Of seasons of the year, the Autumn is most melancholy. Of peculiar times; old age, from which natural melancholy is almost an inseparable accident; but this artificial malady is more frequent in such as are of a middle age. Some assign forty years; Gariopontus, 30; Jubertus excepts neither young nor old from this adventitious.”

“Never forget.” Like most Mittleuropean children, I heard that exhortation repeated in Sunday school whenever we discussed Hitler. Before the Nazi party rose to power, Slavs assumed that after the Great War Of 1914 they were safe again. The command to “never forget” was a reminder that the hunger for power and domination of races was an ongoing threat. Violence is always possible. The only way to prevent it is vigilance

INK BOTTLE“I doubt if one ever accepts a belief until one urgently needs it.”

~ Christopher Isherwood, Christopher and His Kind

“I suggested that the demands of history and fiction are slightly different – that since a novel is a story, it must be complete, and since a history must be accepted by the reader as accurate, history must be incomplete. He was not convinced.” The Guardian (UK) 

By putting people in situations where they face their deepest fears, they learn they will be OK and the phobia loses its suffocating grip. "Social anxiety is a result of the fear of a possibility that we will not be accepted by our peers. It's the fear of negative evaluation by others, and that is [part of] a very fundamental, biological need to be liked. That's why we have social anxiety." Blogging cure for social anxiety

At night they leave their century.

A necklace hangs loose across her breasts,
And between them lingers—
yet is it a lingering

and not an incessant arrival?—
the perfume of forever.

A perfume as old as sleep,

as familiar to the living as to the dead.

 Pallavi Aiyar, New Old World: An Indian Journalist Discovers the Changing Face of Europe.  I’ve been waiting for a book like this to be written, and now it exists.  It’s fun, and full of good humour

 “A physical book is like eating a great meal in a beautiful restaurant with a fantastic view; an e-book is like eating that same meal from a takeout box on your lap in a basement.” LitHub 

Lord, if perfection is death,
             let me stay here
a little while longer,
            spotted and stained:
Dramatic moments in the evening at the wedding 26 Sep 2015
Washington Post op-ed:  Democrats Protect Each Other Better Than Republicans Do, by Ed Rogers

Words are not up to the task of describing visual art. To experience art, focus on seeing, not telling - showing the story 

No doubt there is a necessary dialogue between catering and creating, but I side wholly with E.B. White, who famously asserted that “writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life,” and that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down.” And yet, half a century after White’s piercing idealism, we’ve found ourselves amid a culture that purveys cat listicles because, the narrative goes, cat listicles are what the people want — a narrative suffused with the insidious implication that cat listicles are all that people are capable or worthy of wanting. Increasingly, our agents of culture are abdicating their responsibility to create more elevated tastes and capitulating to catering 

James Shapiro, The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606.  What was the political and social setting in which Lear was composed?  Recommended, substantive throughout with hardly a wasted page.

The tale of how Flannery O’Connor’s purloined letters – purloined by one David Breithaupt from the Kenyon College library – were pinched and fenced is an example of just how easy it can be for us to lose crucial pieces of the historical record Literary Hub 

“I am a tree: mark how the leaves grow
Sparsely now; here a bunch, there,
At the end of this thin twig, another
And the bark hardening, thickening. I am allowed
No respite from the wind, the long
Thorn trunk and branches stretching like a swan’s neck
In torment. And the hiss
My own malice makes of this wind
Gentle enough, in itself: I can imagine myself
As this tree but what consciousness
Should go with it—that,
Screeching neck, I am blind to.”

“Without any real funds to contribute while they were in the grips of their lenders, Wissler relied on outside organizations to help her maintain the vibrancy of the place. The Mount invited theater companies, prominent writers and intellectuals to come in and give talks to what turned out to be sold-out auditoriums of locals. ‘We see a lot of hunger, even in the off months,’ Wissler said, ‘for intellectual content.'” The Guardian (UK) 

"How can man know himself? It is a dark, mysterious business: if a hare has seven skins, a man may skin himself seventy times seven times without being able to say, “Now that is truly you; that is no longer your outside.” It is also an agonizing, hazardous undertaking thus to dig into oneself, to climb down toughly and directly into the tunnels of one’s being. How easy it is thereby to give oneself such injuries as no doctor can heal. Moreover, why should it even be necessary given that everything bears witness to our being — our friendships and animosities, our glances and handshakes, our memories and all that we forget, our books as well as our pens. For the most important inquiry, however, there is a method. Let the young soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: “What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?” Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self. Compare these objects, see how they complement, enlarge, outdo, transfigure one another; how they form a ladder on whose steps you have been climbing up to yourself so far; for your true self does not lie buried deep within you, but rather rises immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your I."
~ Nietzsche

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Vanishing Flowers and Bees

“Noah, you’re so full of what’s right you can’t see what’s good!”
~ N. Richard Nash, The Rainmaker

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come… We live everything as it comes, without warning.”

A world without bees is a world without our favorite foods. To raise awareness on the plight of the disappearing honeybee, Slovakian artist Tomáš Libertíny enlisted the help of a bee colony to build The Agreement, a 1.6-meter-tall sculpture made of beeswax. The organic living structure is considered a world first for using bee architecture in large-scale fabrication and symbolizes the desired equilibrium between natural and man-made worlds.
Colony of honeybees builds a living hive in the shape of a flower

Our Vanishing Flowers New York Times :-(

 “There are no depths of irony, or bad taste, to which capitalists won’t sink if they think they can make money out of it.”
Tomas Libertiny from Vase sculpture  to 1.6 m flower ...

Facebook wants you to spend all your time on Facebook Washington Post. Furzy mouse: “Help me, Obi Wan.” The idea of FB as a walled garden is hardly news, but some of FB’s ruses might not be familiar to you.

pelican links

That is a classic and beautifully written nature book by J.A. Baker, here is my favorite passage:
The peregrine swoops down towards his prey.  As he descends, his legs are extended forward till the feet are underneath his breast.  The toes are clenched, with the long hind toe projecting below the three front ones, which are bent up out of the way.  He passes close to the bird, almost touching it with his body, and still moving very fast.  His extended hind toe (or toes — sometimes one, sometimes both) gashes into the back or breast of the bird, like a knife...

56 year young Friedrich noted that "No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900), who believed that embracing difficulty is essential for a fulfilling life

Osborne also notes that in Spanish, a hummingbird is known as a picaflor, “flower-piercer,” or a chupaflor, “flower-sucker.” The poets in these tongues observe the feeding habits of the birds. Emily Dickinson saw “a route of evanescence.”

“Whether by theft or by artistry or by conquest, when it comes to time, Venetians are the world’s greatest experts,” Brodsky parried. “They bested time like no one else.” He again insisted that I summon the strength to walk until the first sunlight painted Piazza San Marco pink. “You must not miss that miracle ” Joseph in Venice

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Local Government Chiefs: Brain Freeze

Mr Hua, a former Auburn councillor who is the brother-in-law and business partner of Auburn mayor Le "Lily" Lam, told a Federal Court liquidator's examination last year he had "no involvement" in the day-to-day running of the company. He also didn't have a pool.
It was his second day in the Federal Court witness box and things were not going swimmingly for the deputy mayor of Auburn. His close friend and "right hand man" had already dropped a bombshell by admitting he forged documents given to the liquidator appointed to Cr Mehajer's failed company SM Project Developments Pools cash payments and a big tax bill Salim Mehajer faces liquidator

And in a bizarre twist, it can be revealed that Atanasovski is a shareholder in a company of which Labor MP for Rockdale Steve Kamper is sole director and secretary The Liberal councillor the labor MP and the convicted drug dealer the falcon

Democracy in action public servants take on community spirit
The Windsor bridge community group in court

Loo coup women protest about lack of toilets at NSW Parliament

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."  
~ Michael Jordan via J-P S
Private training colleges have profiteered at the public’s expense, tripling tuition fees in three years and lumping taxpayers with a ballooning $3 billion bill for student loans, reports The AustralianOfficial data reveals the average tuition fee for an information technology diploma soared from $2,779 in 2011 to $18,735 last year. Other degrees have roughly tripled in cost leading to ballooning student debt.

The accent that is Australian 

Betty Dickson works as the lollipop lady patrolling crossings outside a primary school in the Scotland. She’s known for waving at the little boys and girls as they pass but the local council has reportedly “banned her” from doing so in the future Lollipop Lady in Local Orwelean Times

WOOLLAHRA Liberal councillor Andrew Petrie declared “war” on his own party, claiming it had promised Waverley Mayor Sally Betts preselection in the mayoral race in a future, amalgamated eastern suburbs council. The comments came as Cr Betts yesterday extended a peace offering to Woollahra, asking it to drop its independence campaign and consider joining Waverley and Randwick’s merger.
Civil War: Australian Versus South African and Sri Lankan
Sally Bettes with Noel DSouza (sic)

Sculpting Future 

Tools and Information Broking

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it."
~ Oprah Winfrey

INK BOTTLE“We are not in politics to ignore peoples’ worries: we are in politics to deal with them.”
~ Vaclav Havel

The more unequal the country, the more the rich rule Al Jazeera

How do you research thoroughly, save time, and get directly to the source you wish to find? Top 10 Data Research Tools for Investigative Journalists via Bohemian BlogFather

Messing With Your Brain to Reduce Prejudice Pacific Standard

Can stories about paintings teach us more than the paintings themselves? Yes, says Julian Barnes, even if the stories are false»

Decoding the secret lives of typefaces
Hills End Hilton - Almost stayed there on 30 Sept 2015 (Arab Oil Crises)
Global recruitment firm accused of lying lacking ethics and dishonesty

Unclouded vision Economist. On “superforecasting” ...

“Persistence is one of the great characteristics of a pitbull, and I guess owners take after their dogs,” says Annetta Cheek, the co-founder of the D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Plain Language. Cheek, an anthropologist by training who left academia in the early 1980s to work for the Federal Aviation Commission, is responsible for something few people realize exists: the 2010 Plain Writing Act. See Atlantic Story - Complex academic writing

Pavlov and his dogs. Yes, he spent a lot of time getting them to salivate. It was the beginning of the technological exploration of the Mind»

“There are all kinds of different ways to use Wolfram Alpha, and it’s often a better idea to load up the computational knowledge engine rather than your search portal of choice. Here are 16 of the most useful queries that Wolfram Alpha can handle but leave Google stumped…”

CRS – The Internet of Things: Frequently Asked Questions – Eric A. Fischer, Senior Specialist in Science and Technology. October 13, 2015.
“Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through the Internet. 
 Secret KGB Codes from the Past ...

shy roo links

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Great Divide: We Might be Wrong, but that’s a Risk Worth Taking

“The very Truth has to change its vesture, from time to time; and be born again. But all Lies have sentence of death written down against them, and Heaven’s Chancery itself; and, slowly or fast, advance incessantly towards their hour.”
~ Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution

Moving away from a “high welfare country” requires a living wage. There is only ONE policy that creates/maintains a strong sustainable national defense, a strong middle class and shared prosperity, and that policy is: Strong Unions, a very progressive tax system, and proper regulations vigorously enforced. Anything else results in either a high welfare country or serious civil unrest (I’d say “revolution and reintroduction of the guillotine”) instead of  Serious Civil Unrest ...

The Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Has Deep Concerns About Income Inequality Slate

Criminal court charges leave me no choice but to resign as a magistrate Big thieves Hang the littlest thieves - as Noel Says Shame Shame Shame ...

Schumacher, UBS Banker Enabler, Sentenced to Probation Only and Fine. Once again, slapping the real international financial criminals on the wrist while shooting the jaywalkers.

Swedish band the knife nail central flaw of the UN / make extreme wealth history
Klokan Kangaroo Paws on level Three Oct 2015 AD

It is ironic to see that Americans are turning to socialism while Europe gives it up Young American socialism 
Maung Saungkha has been avoiding the authorities for weeks and could reportedly face up to three years in jail for the Facebook post he published earlier this month, reports The Daily MirrorThe poem is titled Image and a part of it reads: “I have the president’s portrait tattooed on my penis / How disgusted my wife is.”

Has It Become Impossible to Prosecute White-Collar Crime? Bloomberg. “But the pattern suggests that law enforcement may have lost the ability to choose the right cases, or that it lacks the expertise to try them in a courtroom in a way that makes sense to jurors, many drawn from the ranks of working people who must struggle to understand the vast, mind-boggling modern financial system.”

Well, you've heard that wonderful Margaret Mead quote about how you should never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, and that, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Well, I think it's time we stopped repeating that quotation and came to some agreement about what we happy few might do over the next five years or so. That is the purpose of my remarks today. 
· People Power [CommonDreams]

Utopian fantasies are a genre of the Left, more a rebuke to the present than avision of the future. The tradition starts with Thomas More 

Up isn't down, black isn't white, and higher taxes on the rich don't do nothing about inequality. The question, though, isn't whether they do anything — it's how much they actually do.
The answer might be less than you think. That, at least, is what William Gale, Melissa Kearney and Peter Orszag found when they simulated what raising the top tax rate would do to inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient. It turns out that increasing the top rate to 50 percent would only reduce the Gini, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality, from 0.574 to 0.571. We would still be the 99 percent.

In Prague and Bratislava people compare their Skodas with BMW, Volvo or Volswagen not with Cadillacs and Jaguars. The Austrian model is preferred to Wall Street's free for all. The Austrian model has worked with rather than against the free market, balancing the requirements of social justice and economic sufficiency. 

Praha's - Prague's Second Spring

 Even Down Under, the word socialism is treated very warily, since more than one communist politician has managed to abuse the concept of socialism. Still the democratic style of socialism practised in West Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Austria is proof that socialism can work.

You see, Money doesn’t exist in the 24th century” FT Alphaville

Six Air France Workers Arrested After Violent Demonstrations Last Week Gawker. Meaning the effort to strip the execs. Although if the execs resisted having their clothes taken off (which you’d expect), one can see ho things would rapidly get physical.

Auction results at the weekend in Sydney reached a “watershed” low with just biblical evil 66 per cent of properties actually selling — down from a mammoth 90 per cent clearance rate in May, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Angry investor stabs China asset manager Financial Times

Man arrested, accused of planting bombs on California golf course Reuters

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cloud Finance and Building the Lucky Country

Building the Lucky Country #5: The Purpose of Place Reconsidered
Deloitte: Place can mean many things to many people - from the good, to the bad, to the ugly. But every place also has potential, and we believe it’s time to reconsider the role our cities and regions can play in creating Australian prosperity.
Full report

The proliferation of digital technology, social media and cloud-based platforms has revolutionised the tax and finance industry. Technological agility and efficient tax practices now go hand in hand across the board. Organisations that are quick to embrace technology not only improve the efficiency of their tax and financial practice, but see reduced costs and improved business opportunities over time.

2020 isn’t as far away as it used to be (to paraphrase Yogi), but the answers show that respondents expect significant changes in the coming five years. Top 13 Predictions for the Future of Banking

Britain’s biggest banks to be forced to separate retail banks from investment armsTelegraph. Note this is “ring fencing,” not Glass-Steagall type splits.

The flashy deputy mayor of Sydney’s Auburn council and his business partner are being sued for almost $700,000 over alleged improper behaviour relating to their construction company, which was liquidated following action by the tax office Wedding deputy mayor Salim Mehajer sued amid tax strife  

A joint investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the NSW Fair Trading Department will allege that the Unique International College in Sydney's western suburbs engaged in "unconscionable conduct" in pushing disadvantaged students into signing up for courses worth up to $25,000 Crackdown on Sydney private college recruiting illiterate and disabled students

Bylong Valley Snake near notorious Eddie Obeid's Property Cherry Dale Park ...

Australian Council of Learned Academies, 23 September 2015. Technology and Australia’s Future focuses on how technology changes, the nature of its impacts, how it can be predicted and the types of interventions that help deal with the complexity and uncertainty inherent in technological change.

Last year, Stephen Littlechild, formerly a U.K. monopolies regulator and now a fellow at Cambridge University, produced a spoof paper, "Applying behavioural economics at the Regulatory Conduct Authority." This took a (real) paper from Britain's Financial Conduct Authority on the mistakes and biases to which consumers of financial services are prone, and recast it.
 Who's Phooling Whom?

The Rise of the Lifestyle Accountant (Chris Hooper, Going Concern).

Decadence and Madness at the Top: Inside Britain’s Secretive Bullingdon Club Der Speigel