Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Secret Masters 

Secret Service guy & prankster

Los Angeles Times cartoonist Michael Ramirez says the Secret Service agent who called last week to talk about his Bush cartoon "was very nice, but it was so casual and laid back (that) I really assumed it was a crank call." Ramirez tells Brooke Gladstone: "He said, 'I'd like to meet with you somewhere and talk to you. I'm with the Secret Service.' And I said ... 'How do I know you're with the Secret Service?' And he said 'Well, I've got a black suit and black sunglasses and credentials!'" The agent never got to see the cartoonist, though.
· Cartoonist Draws Attention [WNYC ]

Sunday, July 27, 2003


Washminster POWER PLAY

Great wealth was to be gained through monopoly, through using the State for private ends; it was axiomatic therefore that businessmen should run the government and run it for personal profit...

Washington Post's cover story (sorry about the annoying registration screen) by that title makes the case that the Republican leadership in the House is just as bad as that of the Democrats of years past:

Nearly 10 years after winning control of the House by vowing a fairer and more open Congress, Republicans have tossed aside many of the institutional reforms they promised, increasingly employing hard-nosed tactics they decried a decade ago, according to numerous lawmakers and scholars.
Among the reforms championed by an earlier generation of House Republicans, and subsequently dropped or weakened: term limits for rank-and-file members as well as committee chairmen; stricter ethics laws; and greater power for individual members and the minority party.
Republicans have instead consolidated power in the hands of a few leaders, most notably Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.). In the process, the authority of committee chairmen and the influence of rank-and-file members have waned.

This isn't surprising, given how hunger for political power can consume some party members. No political party seems to have a monopoly on abuse of power, the desire to acquire unlimited power haunts governments of all colours. As a theoretical matter, each of the 435 Representatives should be equal, as they all represent a single Congressional District. In reality, I saw what happened to Czechoslovak communist theory in practice during the Prague Spring of 1968.
There were more surprises in store for me after the 1995 NSW election as I watched how the reforms implemented during the hung parliament under John Hatton and Kevin Rozzoli leadership began to dissappear into a dust bin of parliamentary history. The bureaucrats cannot be blamed solely for not standing up to bullies like Bob Carr as most parliamentary clerks are family men and families must be fed. Some blame must be directed at the media for failing to expose the abuses of executive powers. It is the role of our unbiased ABC and other media sources to shed more light in places where disinfectant is desperately needed. Some of the best former journalists seem to be working for the government in power and who can blame them for placing fresh bread on the table each day? It is time for the public and private media outlets to face the reality and be prepared to match the salaries of investigative journaliststs to remuneration packages enjoyed by spinmeiters slaving for executive branches. (It is 3 a.m. on Sunday morning so I better wake up and stop dreaming the impossible dreams: I am better now I just had a cold shower.)
· Goal of Reforms in House Gives Way To Tough Tactics Party Once Criticized [WashingtonPost ]

Saturday, July 26, 2003


Art opens people up and delves deep. Anyone who's ever poured out his passion on a dance floor, sung John Mayer in the shower or felt rapture at Swan Lake knows it.

The Woman Who Danced Away Her Cancer

It may be a bit new-ageish for some, but more and more people are becoming convinced that art has some profound healing powers. One of the leaders of the art-as-medicine movement is California choreographer Anna Halprin. For more than 30 years, Halprin has been working out the dynamic of art's multidimensional power to heal mind and body, which many believe in but few have experienced in such a visceral, immediate way. Halprin claims to have beaten cancer with an intensive program of painting and dance, and while the medical community isn't about to give a lot of credence to that particular claim, doctors admit that art does appear to have some sort of as-yet-unexplained benefits to human health.
· As-yet-unexplained benefits to human health [San Francisco Chronicle 07/24/03]


Of all the insights literature shares in her medium, I like best those given to us by the sculptor Henry Moore, expressed at age 80: The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is - it must be something you cannot possibly do!

Reading Room Snooping on Readers

OOn the whole, I wouldn't choose to go fishing in a library or a bookstore. The library is a bit dusty, and while the local bookstore may be the final resting place of a forest or two, it's water-challenged.

Nevertheless, the same phrase keeps coming up again and again. As worriers describe the government's ability to search through the records of readers, they label it a ''fishing expedition.'' They define it as part of John Ashcroft's all-terrain venture to catch-and-not-release terrorists.

This fish tale began in the anxious weeks after 9/11 when Congress passed the Patriot Act with hardly a dissent. The Patriot Act became the perfect example of the revised adage: Legislate in haste, and repent at leisure.

Deep in the troubled waters of the 340-page law is Section 215, a provision that gives the feds the right to inspect or seize the records of any reader, Web surfer, book buyer, or book borrower. The government can simply get approval from a secret court without showing probable cause. Moreover, a gag provision means the librarian or bookseller can't tell a customer that the government is reading over his or her shoulder.
This expedition resembles ocean dragging more than fly-fishing.

· 'The True Patriot Act Account [CommonDreams]

Friday, July 25, 2003

The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor 

First Stop

U.S. Department of Labor officials have created two new Web sites aimed at helping small employers learn how to comply with federal law.
The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor helps employers determine which laws apply to their business and provides information on how to comply.
The Employment Law Guide describes laws so employers can develop wage, benefit, safety, health and nondiscrimination policies. That guide is available in both English and Spanish at

· English and Spanish


Welcome to the jungle

· Modernization can be irrational and adopted by any type of political system [The Business of Genocide: The SS, Slave Labor, and the Concentration Camps.]

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Political World 

The big thieves hang the little ones. -- Czech Proverb

Political World History's full house of lies is the stock of politicians

Where others collect autographs, I compile quotations. Shuffling through them, it's clear that people in politics not only admit to lying but seem enormously amused by the practice. Thus, during the Spycatcher trial, in the NSW Supreme Court, Robert Armstrong, head of the British Civil Service, said of a letter in evidence that: It contained a misleading impression, not a lie. I was being economical with the truth. He spoke on behalf of Sir Humphries everywhere, most of all those enjoying close proximity to the uppermost ministerial echelons.
· Autographs [The Australian]


I detest life-insurance agents; they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so.
-- Stephen Leacock

Idi Amin dead dead ? Central Asian Mini-Stalinists

We don't wish death upon anyone, but it's hard to get too worked up about the apparently imminent demise of one of the sorriest dictators of recent times. Yes, the very big (reportedly tipping the scales at some 220 kg these days) and very bad Idi Amin Dada is on his way out.
· Dictators [Saloon ]


The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.
-- Andrew S. Tanenbaum

Leadership Welcome to the jungle

It's a jungle out there in the workplace.
While bosses preach about teamwork and a supportive culture, their actions promote the opposite by pitting colleagues against each other and encouraging office politics.
The result is a "facade of effectiveness" that prevents workers, and companies, from performing at their best.
They found that nearly nine out of 10 Australian organisations were not performing as well as they could be, because of the culture of blame, indecision and conformity. The research was undertaken by an organisational development company, Human Synergistics, which will release it today to
700 chief executives and human resources officers at a seminar in Sydney.

· 9 out of 10 [SMH]


Hollywood Keeping Immigrant Stories At Arm's Length

When this nation of immigrants began flocking to the movies, they went to see stories about themselves. From 1905, when nickelodeons first appeared, to the end of the 1920s, when Hollywood began to create a star system, innumerable romances, comedies and melodramas featured immigrants and working-class laborers as their central characters... [But] in recent years, Hollywood has shied away from exploring the immigrant experience, in part because it's become such a political hot potato, in part because well-heeled studio executives find it hard to identify with the subject.
· Immigrants [Los Angeles Times 07/22/03]


The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.
-- Robert Frost

Slovak Castles A castle for the price of a soul

To climb up to · Lubovna Castle, take the half-hour-long red trail, leading from the Stara Lubovna town centre.
I WANT to build a castle up on that hill, and live there until my very last breath, the old lord, named Lubovensky, told his sons, when he saw the hill rising above the town now known as Stara Lubovna.
· She agreed under the condition that he sold his soul to her [Slovak Spectator]

Slovak Castles Strazky Chateau: A hidden treasure

The village of Strazky, located near the eastern Slovak town of Kezmarok, came into the possession of the Horvath-Stansith family in 1556. From 1584 Strazky Chateau housed the Latin Academy of Humanities, a university-level school for the children of Spis nobles with a rich library.
· The last heiress of the family, Margita Czóbel, died in 1972 [Slovak Spectator]


If your parents never had children, chances are you won't, either.
-- Dick Cavett

History African Sports

On the plantation, a strong black man was mated with a strong black woman.
· Taboos [OpinionJournal ]

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Ashes to Ashes 

If you want to set something afire, you must burn yourself

Prague Winter On Wenceslas Square

In 1969 Jan Palach set himself alight in Wenceslas Square in Prague and ignited a protest movement against the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia. This year in the Czech Republic there has been a spate of copy cat suicides by self-immolation. Encounter this week recalls the death of Jan Palach and considers the ethical tradition in Czech political philosophy.
· Carry out your dream, no matter how unlikely it may seem [Encounter: Our ABC]

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Leadership Imagine there's no money, it's easy if you try...

The August issue of Fast Company magazine has an article for the for-profit corporate set on How to Lead Now (ie, in a down economy), subtitled 'Getting Extraordinary Performance When You Can't Pay for It.' It outlines those astounding business leaders who build a sense of purpose and personal connection among their workers, who extract passionate commitment without throwing cash, who even get staff to work evenings and weekends for no pay at all to advance the company cause.
· How to Lead Now [Fast Company]

Corporate Democracy 

Corporate Democracy Shareholder

Any democracy is only as robust as its electoral process. Elections at U.S. corporations lack several attributes of any good democratic system.

But a corporation is not a political entity. It is an economic entity. An economic entity has different goals from a political entity. In today's Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein senses something is not quite right with this incessant focus on corporate democracy:

In the case of allowing shareholders to nominate directors, for example, much of the rationale seems to be based on the romantic notion that corporations should be laboratories of democracy, with open annual elections for all directors, and majority and minority factions. In practice, I suspect running a corporation requires more stability and internal harmony than the democratic model allows.

· Harmony [CorpLawblog ]

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Manufactured News 

Media Manufacturing the "Daily Drumbeat"

The public gets two kinds of news. There is the unpredictable erupting event, from the great (Berlin Wall falls) to the small (a child goes missing). Then there's the more common type of news, the everyday assembly-line product of press conferences and public events. Some call this "manufactured news," since public figures at the center of the news can orchestrate their spin. But there's a subcategory of "manufactured news," in which the media create a story based on a political agenda. Welcome to the so-called Bush speech "controversy."
· Agenda [Washington Dispatch]


Centre of Expertise Man on sex-slavery charges works for Tax Office

John Davies, who was arrested last week and charged with slavery offences, is a highly placed executive officer with the Australian Taxation Office collecting a salary package of more than $100,000 a year.
Davies, 49, and his wife, Wei Tang, 40, were each charged and appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday after investigators found six Thai women locked in their Rae Street, Fitzroy North, house.
The women were allegedly locked in the house for up to two months and forced to work at a Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, brothel owned by Tang.
The Age has learned Davies works as an executive in the ATO's Centre of Expertise and was based at a Casselden Place office in the central business district. The centre is staffed by officers with high levels of competence in one area of tax specialty.

· Sex & Taxes [Age ]

Horror of human inhumanity I was pregnant - and then my lover sold me and my baby

Human traffickers, no longer satisfied with their income from enslaved prostitutes, are impregnating them and selling their babies.
· Traffickers [Guardian ]

Bitch All The Time... 

Are you bitter? Soon there may be a pill to swallow

Everyone knows people who so dislike their work, their bosses and their fellow workers that they seem to be enrolled in an occupation whose job description is: Bitch All The Time.
Unpleasant to be around, unpleasant to be. But are the Willie Lomans of the world clinically deranged? The answer is an emphatic yes, according to German psychologist Michael Linden.
As a result of his research at the Free University of Berlin, Prof. Linden has proposed that the disgruntled of the workplace be given their own psychological-illness label: Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder.

Prof. Linden describes PTED as a cousin of the generally accepted Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. However, the clinically embittered haven't been exposed to a traumatic event such as war or rape. Instead, they experience "an acute event which can be called normal as it can happen to many persons in a life course," he writes.
After their psychic injury -- which could be family conflict or the death of a close relative, as well as workplace humiliations -- people with PTED become consumed with feelings of embitterment and injustice. They often lose their appetite, have difficulty sleeping, skip work, try to avoid seeing people they worked with and bitch, bitch, bitch -- even if their lot improves.
"Patients often complain, 'There is no justice.' But if there is justice, it is typically never enough," Prof. Linden has written in a recent paper proposing the embitterment disorder be given clinical status (although he says it is "much too early" for it to be entered in the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV).

As an example, he discusses the case of a 55-year-old former children's home worker in what was formerly East Germany. After the unification of the two Germanys, a western religious organization took over the home and "rationalized" its operation by letting go of older workers.
When he was offered a job elsewhere, the man declined, "as this would have meant just to 'forget' what had been done to him," writes Prof. Linden. What did cheer him were thoughts of a general blight being inflicted on everyone who had made his life miserable. His face would light up when imagining the children's home going bankrupt or, even better, the ruin of the reunified Germany's economy.
Work is the predominant cause of bitterness, Prof. Linden has found. A study of 21 Germans who meet Prof. Linden's condition profile showed that 38 per cent developed the syndrome after being fired and 24 per cent as a result of other workplace conflicts. And it is not restricted to wage slaves. Bosses are also driven work-mad.
Prof. Linden has described treating the head of a large company, who broke down when her employees didn't co-operate with her. "She left the room and the place where she worked because she thought of herself as a successful businesswoman and regarded it as a catastrophic humiliation to have broken down in such a way in public," he said.

How do you treat someone driven half-crazy by their work? With difficulty. "There is at present no elaborated treatment for PTED," Prof. Linden writes, other than being "challenged by the Socratic dialogue." In other words, PTED sufferers need to be convinced they are taking their work too seriously and other things can also provide self-worth.
Other psychologists are not sure PTED needs a distinct identification. Prof. Linden's proposal reflects "a larger issue in psychiatric diagnosis, the rush toward greater and greater subcategorization," according to Ian Nicholson, a psychology profesor at the University of Western Ontario.
The field is littered with disputed and discarded categories, he said, such as post-Super-Bowl-battered-woman syndrome, disenfranchised-father syndrome, divorce-related malicious-mother syndrome and post-adoption depression syndrome.

"It is unclear that these new types of subgroups really assist the practioners in their treatments," Prof. Nicholson said.

· Whining workers may suffer new illness [Global&Mail ]

Friday, July 18, 2003


Filthy about pay, striking actors won't have a bar of soap

Actors downed scripts for a one-day strike yesterday, saying they were fed up with producers reaping most of the financial rewards from successful Australian films and TV shows.
· Losers & Winners [SMH ]

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Caught in the (Abusive) Act 

Caught in the (Abusive) Act

This is fascinating: In Singapore, a photo-phone-carrying student
videotaped a teacher berating a student about a poor paper and tearing
up the work in a fit of rage. (Story from ChannelNewsAsia
(http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/todaynews/view/853/1/.html) via
Picturephoning.com (http://www.picturephoning.com) .) Instead of this
being a semi-private act experienced only by the other students in the
classroom, suddenly it becomes public thanks to new technology. Rather
than a teacher's word going against a student's, the balance of power
shift thanks to this concrete evidence. With lots and lots of photo
phones in people's hands everywhere they go, you can easily see the significant impact these new devices will have on society.

The journalistic hook to this episode should be equally obvious: That
abusive-teacher video clip is the kind of thing that increasingly will
turn up in newsrooms, submitted by (outraged, in this case) witnesses.
Is your news operation ready to deal with this?

Legal Eagles 

Workplaces Legal Eagles

While some go into it out of greed, many could not simply - cope with the paltry amount paid by many Principals as remuneration. Some Principals are so tight—fisted and could not care less as to how their juniors manage their way to and from office and have three square meals a day. The question of maintaining a family therefrom does not arise! This is not only deleterious to these young practitioners but also the profession as well. According to Professor M. I. Jegede, former Dean of Law.

"It is herculean for a new corner to the practice of the profession to go it alone irrespective of his brilliance and determination. Some have done it and have been able to weather the storm and they have been able to remain in the main stream of legal practice stricto—sensu.

· Stricto/Sensu [ Vanguard]


Heros Tribute to a living legend

An international Who's Who of stardom will descend on Johannesburg from Friday to celebrate the 85th birthday of Nelson Mandela.
· During the times of tensions, it is not the talented people who excel, it is the extremists who shout slogans [ SMH]

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

White Collar 

Fraud Lack of Resources

But, to his astonishment, the police did not act. They've never done anything because they reckon they don't have the manpower or resources. It should have been a reasonable cakewalk down the trail to get some form of recovery for all the money he had taken, but because major fraud haven't jumped or done anything, we've had to take civil action, and that is horrifically expensive. Smibert's experience reflects a trend in which an increasing number of people and organisations are bypassing police and turning to private investigators to probe fraud and other criminal activities.
· Probing [ AGE]

Third World Mothers  

Maid to Order

The Third World women women who leave their children to take care of ours.
On Sunday mornings, the parks and plazas of central Hong Kong teem with women. They are Filipinas mainly, but Indians, Thais, Sri Lankans, and others as well--women from the Third World who come to the First to scrub floors, care for children, and generally do work that affluent households no longer have the time or inclination to do. They sit on benches and blankets, chat, eat, entrust parcels to friends going home for visits--parcels the friends will carry in big, plastic zipper bags they call:
· Manila Vuittons [WashingtonPost ]

Monday, July 14, 2003

Organisations Usually Get the Managers They Deserve  

Social Ventures

Organisations Usually Get the Managers They Deserve
· S Responsibility [Crikey! ]

Prolonged Mistreatment 

I deplore brutality. It's not efficient. On the other hand, prolonged mistreatment, short of physical violence, gives rise, when skillfully applied, to anxiety and a special feeling of guilt. A few rules or rather guiding principles are to be borne in mind. The subject must not realize that the mistreatment is a deliberate attack of an anti-human enemy on his personal identity. He must be made to feel that he deserves any treatment he receives because there is something (never specified) horribly wrong with him. The naked need of the control addicts must be decently covered by an arbitrary and intricate bureaucracy so that the subject cannot contact his enemy direct.
-- William S. Burroughs, via Naked Lunch
(The Big, Bad, bullies & axemen of this bullying world the day of exposure is coming...)

I think if we throw him in the river and he floats he is most definitely guilty and we should therefore kill him; of course, if he drowns, then he can rest in peace, completely exonerated...
· As One Who Did not Drown, I am Richly Guilty [RoadtoSurfdom]


Corruption Corporate Corruption - legalized robbery!

How is it possible for corporations to get away with things that would have been illegal a few decades ago? This is easy when the guys who are supposed to be their "watchdogs" are them (the same guys). Most people in high level government positions today are intimately connected with big business. Many of them are former CEOs themselves. Many of the decision makers at the FDA (for example) are former high level employees of the drug companies. (Is this what the industries mean by "self-regulation"?) It's democracy of the rich, enslavement of the rest!
As for the corporations, the CEOs are absolute dictators! That's not the way it is supposed to be. Corporate boards of directors are supposed to be "overseeing" the work of the CEOs. Experts in corporate governance say a director should spend a minimum of four hours per week executing his duties for the board, which includes auditing the companies finances.* It's more likely they (the board) will meet a couple of times a year for an hour or two. They probably meet to determine the CEOs (and his staff's) compensation packages. Then this CEO travels to the corporations where members of his boards are themselves CEOs and sits on their board of directors to determine that CEOs compensation!

· It's a nice tight group across the corporate spectrum! [ ThePeople]

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Generic Blogger: one of the most influential voices in media  

Truth is Out Truth, Advocacy, & Scholarship

I care more about the truth than I do about what side I am on. So I frequently criticize arguments offered in support of positions I agree with. I guess that is why I am a scholar and not a lawyer or political activist.
· Truth [Isolum ]

Randiest People

Horny: Bloggers on the other hand are some of the randiest people you will never meet. This is where the medium offers built in protection. If you did meet some of them, your hard-won virtue would be instantly up for grabs -- and I don't mean that metaphorically. Women bloggers who have received one-too-many penis enlargement spams are particularly dangerous in this regard. And the guys, forget it. They were already pervs or they wouldn't be blogging.
· Narcist:(sic) Undressed [RageBoy ]

Traditional publishing is about putting on a show; building a network of weblogs is like hosting a party.
Simon Waldman in the Economist

Underestimate their power at your peril. Just ask former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines... Expect more scalps to follow.
The Guardian cites the generic blogger as one of the 100 most influential voices in media in the UK

Living Page 

As Stimulating as a Tax Cut -- a Living Wage

Are do-gooders actually inflicting greater harm on businesses and workers by relying on the government, rather than the free market, to determine wages?
When President Franklin Roosevelt supported the establishment of a federal minimum wage in the mid-1930s, he argued that "no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country." The minimum wage was always intended to be a living wage. Roosevelt's words, long forgotten in Washington, are finding new life in the cities, where many still believe a day's work deserves a decent wage.

· Deserving a decent wage. [SanFrancisco(viaCommonDream) ]

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Informed We Understand; Misled We Wage Wars 

Infomaniacs of this rather fragile world, sadly peppered with liars & bullies, Unite!

Government Open Government Information Awareness

MIT just opened its Open Government Information Awareness site. The site offers a remarkable amount of information about all three branches of the federal government. The amount of information now at your fingertips is simply daunting. By way of example (and certainly not in limitation), the site gives a list of contributors to the campaigns of members of Congress, a detailed listing of the expenditures of those members, and their financial disclosure filings.
Well designed sites such as this raise any number of questions. For instance, given the proliferation of bloggers of all stripes (both in topic choice and political viewpoint) and the ready accessibility of information, the market for commercial alternatives, newspapers for instance, would seem to be seriously eroding.

· The implications are huge [OpenGovernment ]

Right to Know

The premise of GIA is that individual citizens have the right to know details about government, while government has the power to know details about citizens. Our goal is to develop a technology which empowers citizens to form a sort of intelligence agency; gathering, sorting, and acting on information they gather about the government. Only by employing such technologies can we hope to have a government 'by the people, and for the people.'

McKinley noted wanted to "seed" the site with such information to give people a sense of what was possible.

McKinley built two clever features into the system to help keep the information as accurate as possible. The first one enables users to rank the credibility of other contributors. The second feature automatically notifies the subject of a submission -- whether individual or organization -- and asks it to respond. They can confirm or deny the submission -- and denials are noted, though the submissions are not purged.

For instance, say a scandal breaks, but the politician in question is later exonerated because of a specific fact.
Users can poll the system to see if that fact was logged, and find out who contributed that fact, and when they did, without knowing their real name. They can then rank the credibility of that contributor, and ask the system to notify them if he or she makes further contributions in the future. Thus, they can learn whether they trust or mistrust a contributor, while the contributor still retains anonymity.

As more information gets added to the site over time -- from databases and from individuals -- the Open Government Information Awareness site has the potential to be a great source of ideas and data for journalists.

· I, for one, hope it catches on [ WashingtonPost]


Employee Free Agents in the Workplace

The rise in contract labor in the environmental industry offers employers both opportunities and challenges...
The 20 standards used by the IRS to determine the classification of a worker are: To what degree does the recipient "direct the work?" (Generally, the more detailed the directions, the more likely the worker is an employee and not a contractor.) Under what conditions can the worker be fired? (An independent contractor should not be fired unless contractual obligations are not met.) What are the legal obligations of the worker?

· Directing the work... [Epoline ]

Workplace Crime 

Economic Crime Birthplace of Emails

Most Australians know their country leads the world when it comes to cricket and swimming but until yesterday our prowess at corporate fraud had been sadly neglected. Enter accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers, whose "global economic crime survey 2003" claims 47 per cent of Australian businesses suffered from "economic crime" - that is theft, fraud, corruption or bribery - in the past two years. This puts us well ahead of our Asia-Pacific counterparts (39 per cent) and only slightly behind the world's worst region Africa (51 per cent), the birthplace of emails from Nigerian royalty asking for bank account details.
· Austro Nigerian Empire [Age ]
· Canada [ Ottawa]

Thursday, July 10, 2003


Elite Populism and Public Choice in Australia and Canada

In a number of western democracies such as Australia and Canada populism is increasing its impact on public discourse. Populism seeks to mobilise opposition to elites in the name of the people – argues Marian Sawer, in this paper presented at the Us and Them workshop – focusing on betrayal of the national interest by city-based elites with cosmopolitan loyalties and liberal values. It seeks to displace other cognitive frames, such as the class divide between labour and capital or the gender, race and cultural divides around which new social movements have mobilised.
· Us and Them [Political Science Program, Australian National University (PDF file) ]

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


Constitution of Brothers Trust Is Important

Five and a half days after a U.S. strike against a convoy of vehicles on the road near the Iraq-Syria border, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense claimed they had no details of the action.
· That's not believable [Reese ]

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


Workplace Internet Blogs in the Workplace

For Nicholas Tang, the deluge of work-related e-mail messages became overwhelming. I got to the point where I was getting hundreds of e-mails a day, sometimes more than a thousand.
· Keep track of everyone [NYTimes ]

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Anyone Can Be a Boss 

Wherever You Go Ambitious Lunatics seem to be in charge of the Asylumn called workplace

Masters v Servants Study Says Anyone Can Be a Boss

A new study released this week found that anybody can be a boss.
According to the research most people can fit comfortably into a leadership role, but not everyone is cut out to be a subordinate. People who don't want to be in a lower role are going to fight against it.

· Masters&Servants [News ]


You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'
George Bernard Shaw

Workplace Got what it takes to be a mentor?

Assuming role goes beyond being a coach; it includes sharing wisdom, experience.
· Mentor [Indystar ]

Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist 

George Stigler once wrote that dedication to scholarship is an essential ingredient of a great teacher; students are too intelligent to believe preaching that is not practiced.
This quote is from his autobiography (Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist, published in 1988.) I could not agree more with him.

Big Bad Unhappy Managers are All the Same 

Madness is something rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule.
This quote is from Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche (published in 1866)

Good Lord! Big Bad Unhappy Managers are All the Same: Sick Call on Mum’s Job

A Tamworth community worker has been sacked and abused for answering an emergency call from her daughter’s school.

I was told that answering the emergency (messagebank) call breached management's direction that it was to receive emergency calls from the school on my behalf...
· Mama Mia! [Workers]


Public Service The silent service

No longer aloof from politics, top bureaucrats have learnt they either play the game or get the chop, reports Mike Seccombe.
When he parachuted from the top of the Business Council of Australia into the top level of the public service as part of the Howard purge of 1996, Paul Barratt was seen as an exemplar of the new politicised bureaucracy.

The perception was not entirely fair; he had previously worked at the most senior levels of the service for 17 ministers over 25 years. But that is beside the point. The point is, Barratt was there for the revolution - 30,000 positions cut and six departmental heads lopped in year one. Yet now he is a trenchant critic of what has happened to the federal bureaucracy, and says he is "appalled" by the power government has acquired over the supposedly impartial and apolitical service.

· Masters&Servants [SMH ]
· Land of Short Recreational Time [SMH ]

Memory of Evil Masters 

Two news items today bring out my serious and lightish side:

Iron Curtain Germany, 17 June 1953: politics and memory

Fifty years ago, on 17 June 1953, people in communist East Germany rose against their rulers - and were crushed by Soviet tanks.
· What does this event mean now and who owns it today? [OpenDemocracy ]
· Are the June days trauma or triumph, national wound or source of pride?
· Narrative of June 1953
· Inherent violence of its communist adversary

Borders Iron Curtain Between Poland And Czech Republic

There is a village in the Jeseniky Mountains called Bila Voda (Clinton would like it, because in English it means White Water). It is just a few yards away from the border with Poland and there is a very similar Polish village just that close to the border with Czech Republic. The people from both sides of the border are friends and if they want to visit each other, all that seems necessary to do is to cross a ditch and walk about 50 meters or so.
· They wish it was that easy, though [via Czechout: Petr Bukovka]

Cold War River

You spend the second half of your life getting over your first half:
Cold River has no great debates or brilliant insights about politics. But it is political through and through because the characters are nothing, and mean nothing, outside of the political situation in which they find themselves...
· Overnight Success takes 20 something years for survivor-writer [Dual Loyalty]

Saturday, July 05, 2003


Injustice was as common as streetcars. When men walked into their jobs, they left their dignity, their citizenship and their humanity outside. They were required to report for duty whether there was work or not. While they waited on the convenience of supervisors and foremen they were unpaid. They could be fired without a pretext. The were subjected to arbitrary, senseless rules... Men were tortured by regulations that made difficult even going to the toilet. Despite grandiloquent statements from the presidents of huge corporations that their door was open to any worker with a complaint, there was no one and no agency to which a worker could appeal if he were wronged. The very idea that a worker could be wronged seemed absurd to the employer.
Walter Reuther (on working life in America before the Wagner act)

Culture of Disbelief 

Propaganda exploits a strong human tendency: the automatic and strong tendency to believe what we're told. Believing what one's government tells one is relatively easy. It takes no effort at all. Disbelief, on the other hand, seems to run contrary to human nature. We are, it would seem, inherently lazy in such matters. It actually requires considerable intellectual and psychological effort to disbelieve what our leaders tell us. Added to that is the commonly applied social stigma that comes with disbelief.
-- Richard L. Franklin

Loyalty Koppett's wisdom: Be loyal to people, not to institutions

Be loyal to people, he said. But don't confuse that with loyalty to an institution. An institution is not a person, and when the people in it change, so may its place for you. Take care of yourself, your life.
· Be Loyal to People Not Institutions [Chicago Tribune]

Magna Carta 

Freedom The Magna Carta: Challenged its Mythical Status.

Geoffrey Robertson writes, The appearance of ‘rights’ as a set of popular propositions limiting the sovereign is usually traced to the Magna Carta in 1215, although that document had nothing to do with the liberty of individual citizens: it was signed by a feudal king who was feuding with thuggish barons, and was forced to accede to their demands.
· Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure and Social Change [Boston Riview]

Workplace Culture 

Workplace Workmates' habits drive us mad

One in three workers have come close to resignation because of the irritating habits of their colleagues, a survey has revealed.

Virtually everyone said they hated being sent an e-mail by someone sitting a few feet away. Chief irritations included listening to voicemails on speaker phone, swearing at computers, and refusing to take turns making the tea.
· Escape tactics [BBC ]

Office, The 

How boys' club ruined my career

The Sunday Telegraph, 10 Feb 02
ONE of the Australian Taxation Office's most senior female officers has lodged a $1.5 million damages case, claiming the ATO's "old boys' club" has sexually discriminated against her. Assistant Commissioner Jillian Saint - hired as the fresh face of the ATO eight years ago - alleges she has been
victimised and her career prospects damaged because she is a woman. Ms Saint's complaint to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, says she has been the target of "damaging, scurrilous and inaccurate statements" about her work.

It accuses the ATO's fifth most senior official, Deputy Commissioner Jim Killaly, of "encouraging and condoning" a campaign by disgruntled men whose job performance she had criticised.

Ms Saint, manager of the ATO's international tax unit in Sydney, claims ATO management, including Commissioner Michael Carmody, failed to support her.

"The lack of senior ATO management support around performance issues is considered to be malevolent and retaliatory action, designed to prevent my promotion within the ATO," she says in her complaint.

Ms Saint claims senior management failed "to prevent junior male colleagues acting singly and together in undermining and endeavouring to destroy my professional and personal reputation".

Ms Saint, who has five degrees in commerce and law, was recruited from the private sector, where she was a legal specialist for Australia's most prominent tax lawyer, Mark Leibler.

Chris Seage, a former senior ATO audit manager and now principal of Rambo Taxation Services, told The Sunday Telegraph Ms Saint had been head-hunted to lift ATO standards.

Mr Seage said that when he was at the ATO, "the top echelon was very much a male club sitting around with their cigars and gin and tonics". It is the second discrimination case lodged by Ms Saint. A complaint against

Mr Killaly, her boss, was settled in 1997.
Ms Saint's latest claim alleges Mr Killaly's actions "have vilified me, caused me significant humiliation, concern and distress, and damaged my professional reputation".

Ms Saint also names senior ATO auditor Bob Fitton and her union, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which she accuses of discriminating against female members.
Her complaint seeks nearly $1 million from the ATO, $50,000 from Mr Killaly, $250,000 from Mr Fitton, $100,000 from the CPSU, and public apologies from them as well as from Mr Carmody.

Ms Saint alleges Mr Fitton, her floor's union representative, masterminded the union campaign against her with the help of CPSU official Michael Tull.

"He let it be known he was going to 'get her'," the complaint says. Ms Saint was transferred from Canberra to Sydney after her 1997 complaint was settled and was given responsibility for resolving "cultural" problems in the international tax unit.

An external consultant's report had described the unit's staff as having "limited direction", and a subsequent consultant supported Ms Saint's actions to improve the unit, which included setting performance standards.
Mr Killaly allegedly congratulated Ms Saint on her performance, but asked her to employ a "soft touch" with under-performing staff members.

"I told him that was total hypocrisy," she says. "I told him I was fed up with the vicious allegations of middle-aged men being accommodated." Ms Saint alleges a group of "senior male officers engaged in such disruptive behaviour that complaints from other staff finally necessitated me vacating my office and joining staff in the workstations". "Some under-performing staff consider it 'insulting' and 'harassing' to havetheir unsatisfactory performance discussed," she claims.
When two ATO staff under Ms Saint had annual pay increases postponed, the CPSU was notified of a dispute.
Ms Saint alleges she has missed out on promotion and work-related travel opportunities, and that junior male employees had been promoted to acting positions as her superior.
An ATO spokesman, Ms Saint and Mr Killaly refused to comment on the matter last week.
· The Office [Case ]
· The Office [4 Corners]

Testimonies from survivors of bullying 

How Masters' clubs can ruin servants' careers

The dangerous people are not the ones
Who hit you with clubs or rob you with guns;
The thief won't attack your character traits
Or belittle your abilities to your face.
It's likely to be a 'ill-meaning' manager
Who merely crushes your will to win.
No, he doesn't rob you at the point of a gun -
He simply says: "It can't be done!"
When pointing to thousands who already are
He smiles and says: "Oh they're superior!"
Personality-wise and ability too,
They're way ahead of what others can do.
It matters not that his words are untrue,
For you feel others must know you.
So you're robbed of your dreams, your hopes to succeed,
Robbed of material blessings received,
Robbed of your faith that says "I can!",
And robbed by an ignorant gunless manager.
So the deadliest of men is not he with the gun,
But the one who tells you it can't be done -
For that taken by burglars can be gotten again,
But who can replace your will to win?

· Masters of Mobbing [Law Office]

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