Thursday, February 15, 2018

Beware of Strangers Offering Productivity “Gifts”

 All will be lost apart from happiness.
— Jacques Prévert, born in 1900

Readers love to steal Bukowski, Imrich and Murakami from indie double dragon bookstores.

Corporations Will Inherit the Earth New York Times. Resilc: “Coding is a dead end. I have lived in the future. It’s called Guatemala. It isn’t nice.”
German court rules Facebook use of personal data illegal Reuters

Hutt River tax case 'full of anomalies'

“Anyone can declare themselves a sovereign in their own home but they cannot ignore the laws of Australia or not pay tax,” the court said. An ATO spokesman said he could not comment on the tax affairs of any individual or entity because of legal obligations of confidentiality. “However, please note, on 4 ...

Moves afoot for the ATO to disclose tax debt information to credit reporting agencies have raised fears it cause a tougher approach towards small business.
How terrible proposed tax laws can be made fair
Private equity shaken by shock tax verdict
Single Atom Photo
 The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council just announced the winner of their annual science photography contest: a photo of a single strontium atom suspended in an electric field taken by David Nadlinger. The atom is that tiiiiny dot in the middle of the photo above.
Gene activity help forensics scientists reveal time of death

Secrets, like troubles, come in threes. When you possess one of either, two more arrive to keep it company.

Nerine, a sea nymph of the ancient world, knows too much about both.

Each morning, in the chill before the sun’s rising, Nerine and the three Fates stand under the mighty branches of the World Tree, gazing into the depths of the root-girdled Well of Destiny, watching the dooms that must come to pass that day.

When the dawn’s visions show Nerine’s lover—shipwrecked and drowning—all her renounced yearning for him rises anew.

Surely, as handmaiden to the Fates themselves, she might tilt the odds to give her beloved a chance.

Somehow—this day, this morning, this time—Nerine must subvert destiny or lose the companion of her heart forever.

Love and coming of age in a mythic Mediterranean where the gods and goddesses of old shape history.

While American malls close, malls in Asia are becoming more like community centers.

↩︎ Los Angeles Review of Books

“It was like watching a scene from Rushmore.” Drama-prone biohacking CEO locks colleagues out of the lab.

The Register: “Thousands of websites around the world – from the UK’s NHS and ICO to the US government’s court system – were today secretly mining crypto-coins on netizens’ web browsers for miscreants unknown. The affected sites all use a fairly popular plugin called Browsealoud, made by Brit biz Texthelp, which reads out webpages for blind or partially sighted people. This technology was compromised in some way – either by hackers or rogue insiders altering Browsealoud’s source code – to silently injectCoinhive’s Monero miner into every webpage offering Browsealoud. For several hours today, anyone who visited a site that embedded Browsealoud inadvertently ran this hidden mining code on their computer, generating money for the miscreants behind the caper. A list of 4,200-plus affected websites can be found here: they include The City University of New York (, Uncle Sam’s court information portal (, Lund University (, the UK’s Student Loans Company (, privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office ( and the Financial Ombudsman Service (, plus a shedload of other and sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe

Want to have the best chance of becoming a millionaire after graduation? Then engineering is the subject for you.

More existing millionaires have degrees in engineering than anything else according to new data from GlobalData WealthInsight published in association with Verdict, though among graduate degrees MBAs take the top spot.

For undergrads, economics comes in second place, though engineering gets the second spot for post-graduate millionaires.

Completing the top three is bachelor of business administration (BBA) for undergrads and economics for post-grad students.

A Sikh man and a woman sitting on a park bench at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

PHOTO Lewis is capturing the ever-changing cosmopolitan face of Sydney.

Jon Lewis Stree Portrait photographer perfect strangers Sydney

Redfish, a Berlin “grassroots” media group, is a Kremlin-backed disinformation outlet infiltrating Europe’s left.

 First step towards flying cars: Incredible footage shows driverless drone flying people around China Thai Tech 

Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results
Impact of technology on productivity depends on company culture: “Economists have been puzzled in recent years by the so-called“productivity paradox,” the fact that the digital revolution of the past four decades hasn’t resulted in big gains in output per worker as happened with earlier technological upheaval. Many developed economies have actually seen productivity stagnate or decline. A survey from Microsoft Corp. is bolstering one theory about this disconnect. In a poll of 20,000 European workers released Monday, Microsoft, which became one of the world’s most profitable companies by marketing office productivity software, acknowledges new digital technology can, in some circumstances, sometimes not lead to any increase in productivity and actually result in less employee engagement with their work.”

The Recent Rise Of The Fembot

Thanks, big tech companies. "Digital helpmeets like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are fitted with nonthreatening feminine voices and programmed to respond to sexist comments with cutesy repartee. ... With the help of machine learning, a community of Redditors are creating highly realistic fake porn that melds famous actresses’ faces onto porn performers’ bodies." …[Read More]

BrownPOLITICO’s accountability journalism resulted in another high-level resignation last week. In its reporting to keep the Trump Administration accountable, POLITICO investigations have now led to Labor nominee Andrew Puzder withdrawing his nomination and HHS Secretary Tom Price resigning, and have exposed many questionable financial actions from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Poynter’s Indira Lakshmanan checked in with POLITICO editor Carrie Budoff Brown, left, via email about the work going into these stories. The interview has been edited for clarity.

The CDC director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, resigned (last) week after Politico uncovered stock trading in tobacco by the top public health official. What happened — and how did your reporters get the story?

A team of four health care reporters began looking into Fitzgerald's background in the fall when they got several tips that she wasn't testifying before Congress because she was not fully divested of conflicts of interest. They ran into multiple roadblocks. HHS claimed at one point that there was nothing unusual going on and that Fitzgerald had completely offloaded assets. In one big setback, the agency gave documents that our reporters had requested through FOIA to a competitor before us. But the team persisted, submitting multiple FOIAs and using the STOCK Act to request her financial transactions and her ethics paperwork. It all culminated in reporting that she had purchased tobacco, drug and food stocks while in office. She resigned less than 24 hours later.

Fitzgerald is just the latest in a series of top Trump officials who've been forced out after POLITICO exposed unethical practices and conflicts of interest. Briefly remind us about the others.

Andrew Puzder, Trump's first nominee for Labor Secretary, was forced to withdraw from consideration after we tracked down down a 1990 appearance of his ex-wife on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" saying he "vowed revenge" when she made public her claims of spousal abuse.

Tom Price, the HHS secretary, resigned in September after a series of POLITICO articles revealed that his use of private and government planes had cost taxpayers more than $1 million over five months.

In each of these cases, I think it's been your beat reporters who cover the agencies who exposed the violations, not a specialized investigative team. How many reporters do you have doing watchdog reporting — and how do they have time for investigations in a newsroom where speed and daily developments are a priority?

Yes, that is correct. In each case (CDC, HHS and Labor), the beat reporters who covered these agencies were dogged in their pursuit of the facts and broke the stories. Most impressively, they juggled their daily responsibilities with their longer-term investigative targets. We set the expectation early on that editors and reporters needed to be executing on watchdog journalism. When reporting reaches a critical juncture, editors know to make sure their reporters have the time and space to land the story. Some of these policy teams are quite small so it hasn't always been easy to spell reporters for days or weeks at a time. It requires trade-offs, but the effort is well worth it.
At a time when journalism practices are in the spotlight, especially by those who think the press is unfair to President Trump, what cautionary advice do you give reporters scrutinizing the administration?

Stick with the facts, publish only what you know and keep on reporting.

What's your advice to local or national newsrooms that don't have the same resources, but want to do journalism that holds government accountable?

Prioritize! It's always worth setting aside time to deliver distinctive enterprise reporting that none of your competitors are doing.

Joyce affair could never happen in the public service… could it?
VERONA BURGESS: Some officials have survived unscathed, but even with no favouritism, nepotism or misuse of taxpayer money, not all are so lucky.

These unprotected staffers don’t have an HR dept to turn to.
SEAN SAMMON: Unwritten rules were a poor safety net for Parliament House’s political workers. If something positive can come out of the Joyce affair, let it be a real change in processes, says a former ministerial staffer.
Still many concerns about lax rules for ministerial staffer appointments.
YEE-FUI NG: Australia stands apart from other Westminister countries in appointment of political advisers. Can merit rather than patronage prevail?