Saturday, August 30, 2003

Leases in stolen peppercorns 

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
H.L. Menchken

Can any rational soul blame Supermen like Packer and Murdoch for attempting to sink Fairfax flagship which seems to be peppered with independent journalists?
The practice of socialising losses and privatising gains is hardly an Australian invention. As Alan Ramsey, of Fairfax Fame, once dangerously observed: Almost always, in politics, money is at the root of the greatest grovelling.

Dangers that Come with Freedom of Information Naked Leases: Shock Horror! Isolated Private Perks Exposed to Prying Public

Big businesses and some of the world's wealthiest people are renting taxpayer-owned land in NSW for peppercorn rates under a system that is riddled with inconsistencies and loopholes.
Office buildings, factories, marinas, petrol stations, restaurants, prestigious golf courses, five-star resorts and homes have been built on the land.
The total rent collected by the Department of Lands for 37.5 million hectares - nearly half the State - is just $60 million a year. That is less than $2 per hectare in the public purse.

· Identifying the Commonwealth Buck [SMH with a link to related article]
· Their Post Political Honor [SMH]

Blackout Beauty  

Beholder: Third Eye

And here was me, a ‘Third Worlder’ in a dark, sweaty, yet swanky New York, revelling on how Thomas Alva Edison, not death, is the world's (or indeed, life's) greatest leveller. And it is really that simple.
Einstein, quizzed on what weapons was World War III likely to be fought with, admitted, “I know not with what weapons WW III will be fought. But World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Before, I never fully grasped what he meant. Now I do.

· I survived the Blackout. August 14, 2003 AD [MidDay ]

Central European Heroism 

Central European Heroism The rescue of Jews in German occupied Western Europe

There is no doubt that stories of sacrifice and heroism should have a prominent place in Holocaust historiography, and in the social histories of the countries concerned. However, the author argues the history of rescue in Western Europe needs to be further contextualised, and that scholarship should provide a more analytical approach to the subject of rescue, both in relation to individual occupied countries and also in comparative terms.
· Rescues [National Europe Centre, Australian National University/PDF]

God chose me to write this book 

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.

Many, Many, Rejections are the Right Vessels

There are more rejection letters now than at any time in literary history. There are more manuscripts than ever - most publishers receive at least 100 a week - and more people to reject them. These days authors can expect rejections not only from publishers but also from the agents who themselves must wait for the work they're representing to be rejected.
Today, it is hard to imagine literature without the work of Primo Levi; but immediately after the war If This Is a Man was an extraordinary challenge to publishers. Nobody wanted to read about the Holocaust, perhaps because of horror mixed with a lingering anti-Semitism, and publishers knew it. One took the risk - a small house called De Silva - and printed 2,500 copies, of which they sold half. De Silva folded shortly afterwards, and only in 1958, after a handful of further rejections, did Einaudi take the book on. The plight of Anne Frank's diary was similar: it was turned down some 11 times before going into print.

· I have been constantly reminded that omnipotent God is a large publisher [Telegraph(UK) ]

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Standing up to the bad customer 

The customer is NOT always right. Standing up to the bad customer

The bottom 20 percent of a company's customers -- the demon customers -- can consume 75 percent of its profitability. It isn't necessarily the customer's problem. In the vast majority of cases, it's the company's problem.
· Facing their demons [Boston]

Max Max
· Max [Max ]

Reporting the facts 

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts...
-- Will Rogers

An entrepreneur's only limit should be his or her own ideas and desire to succeed," states the website of the Small Business Administration, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Nice slogan, but if "empowering America's entrepreneurs" is the SBA's mission, then entrepreneurship includes more than simply the crafting of new ways to offer customers a better mousetrap at a lower price; it includes political entrepreneurship, i.e., milking political connections, gaming the system, or committing outright fraud or bribery in order to procure special favors. This is what has made the SBA notorious for decades of scandals.

Of course, political entrepreneurship is at the core of the SBA, given its reliance on OTM (other taxpayers' money).

Twenty-two years ago Louisiana businessman Kirk Fordice wrote to President Ronald Reagan, complaining that the 8(a) program is snowballing along . . . and leaving legitimate small business contractors bloody, beaten and bankrupt.

The law: A matter of the letter and the spirit

The local Chamber of Commerce was on the march last March – an army of money-makers and money-changers on a mission to make sure voters approved the SPLOST referendum.
Want taxes lowered, streets paved and rain drained? Just vote yes on March 18, chamber members told us time and time again.
The multimedia campaign was devised and delivered with military precision. Call it smart bombardment. TV and radio. Billboards and newspapers. Phone banks and direct mail. No weapon was left undrawn by the business brigade.

· Melting Power [Savannah ]
· Bob, Mate! Screams and howls of the Industry [John Birmingham used be an author]
· Shame of the Cities [INDEPENDENT REVIEW]

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Specialist in psychological self defense Susan Futterman's WHEN YOU WORK FOR A BULLY: Assessing Your Options and Taking Action, showing readers how to leave their current jobs in ways that are dignified and financially practical, to Nicholas Croce at Croce Publishing, in a nice deal, by Robert Wilson at Wilson Media (NA).

Saturday, August 23, 2003


Heard of the Unexamined Life being like Totally Not Worth Living?

As we examine our past, we realise how much it is likely for the future to repeat itsef upon us. Waves of the certainty, often classified as change, continue to break on the shores of our creative lives. In the midst of this onslaught, the way forward can seem confusing and chaotic. Yet, as we enter a new era, beyond the information revolution, the opportunities, as Frank so rightly points out, are endless...

Rich Streams of the "new" Creative Leadership Up Close and Personal: Eternal Spring of Creativity

MD's Note: The following is the text of screenwriter/director Frank Pierson's commencement address to the 2003 USC film school graduating class.
We have to remind ourselves that this viewer is only another aspect of ourselves, that we have also in us-as he does-a better part, that needs to be cultivated and to express itself. There is no single audience with a single personality. There is the larger audience-currently under-served-that has vast variety of appetites that we can, we must, satisfy.
You are now our future, and this is the challenge you face. It is a bigger challenge than it seems because you cannot recapture something you never knew. It is your gargantuan task to create this spirit out of thin air, in the face of resistance and lack of interest, in your own style and out of your own imagination. Something new and as yet unknown.

· Creative Capital: To Reach and Touch the Angel in the Beast [Alternet: Am I Crazy Enough? ]

Telling the Truth  

Clever man deceives by telling the truth

We simply become like the thousands of other low-wage working parents with few options and little hope. We are being set up to fail. Then we are punished for "failing." We "welfare queens" ask you to consider the social costs of current welfare policies as they relate to the future of our society. This is one thing that all of our children share.
· Truth [CommonDreams ]

Freedom And What?

Anger and alienation have infected a system that treats vocal citizens as troublemakers.
Thursday, Aug. 28 is the 40th anniversary of the famous March on Washington, the venue for one of the world's best remembered speeches: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream."

· 40 Years After The Dream [TomPaine ]

Now Is Our Time! Amateur Hour

For democracy to truly work, regular people need to get involved.
· Involvement [TomPaine ]
· Americans have not turned toward Bush; they've turned away from the whole system [TomPaine ]

Anger and alienation 

Freedom And What?

Anger and alienation have infected a system that treats vocal citizens as troublemakers.
Thursday, Aug. 28 is the 40th anniversary of the famous March on Washington, the venue for one of the world's best remembered speeches: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream." However, as various voices and interests have co-opted the speech and the memory of the march to suit their interests, few have taken the time to reach back to its true origin and theme. Called "A March for Jobs and Freedom," the March on Washington focused not only on the equality of whites and blacks, but on the rampant economic inequality which prevented franchised blacks -- indeed, those of any racial background other than white -- from gaining the true economic equality that would grant them genuine power.

· 40 Years After The Dream [TomPaine ]

Bullies Playing Victims!!! 

Welcome To The Dark Ages Fox As Hound

Conservatives once were the media underdogs. But Fox's suit against Al Franken shows that's no longer true. They're just bullies.
· Bullies Playing Victims!!! [Tom Paine


Robot attends Czech state dinner

Robot comes from the Czech word robota, which means drudgery.
· If you are not rich like mmmwwaaa your future as a robot in my Castle looks bright [BBC:; Positions Vacant; Apply@Monster.com]

Friday, August 22, 2003

Man in Little India 

McGreevey's Man in Little India

Jeff Pillets and Clint Riley of the Bergen Record investigate one of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey's top fundraisers in the state's South Asian community, an ex-cabby named Rajesh "Roger" Chugh, finding that Chugh leveraged his friendship with Jim McGreevey to intimidate the immigrant community and become the virtual lord of Little India.
· Chugh offered appointments to state posts [ New]Jersey
· MONEY, POLITICS & POWER Invesatigative Series [North JerseyviaScoop]

Man in Little India 

McGreevey's Man in Little India

Jeff Pillets and Clint Riley of the Bergen Record investigate one of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey's top fundraisers in the state's South Asian community, an ex-cabby named Rajesh "Roger" Chugh, finding that Chugh leveraged his friendship with Jim McGreevey to intimidate the immigrant community and become the virtual lord of Little India.
· Chugh offered appointments to state posts [ New]Jersey
· MONEY, POLITICS & POWER Invesatigative Series [North JerseyviaScoop]

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Hollywood Needs to Look to Social Workers for Heroes 

serious social problems Hollywood Needs to Look to Social Workers for Heroes

The show was called East Side, West Side. It premiered Sept. 23, 1963, and made its last broadcast on Sept. 14, 1964. Thus did one of the most brilliant, well-written and superbly acted television series come to an end after one glorious, albeit Nielsen-ratings-starved, year. In 1963, as in 2003, television executives didn't want shows that were good.
· They wanted shows that got ratings [Common Dreams]

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

If one is to remain human. 

The character in the Quiet American said, Sooner or later, one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.

Ooooole ole ole ole. Ole. Ole Ole too human

What do we do in these crazy times?
I became so disillusioned with politicians and what was going on around me that I decided to write an autobiographical album and reaffirm my own sense of identity," he says. "And reaffirm some fundamentals such as the value of humanity over politicised definitions of what people are supposed to be.
If everyone was to think of themselves first of all as just simply human beings and think of other people then, as human beings, we'd have a very different world.

· feed more lies [SMH ]

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Komputerised Big Brother 

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

Komputerised Operational Policing System (KOPS) A Different sort of Hanging

Traffic files 'big brother gone mad'
· Ka!! Files (Kafka Kome & See) [SMH ]

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Blogs Overrun by the Establishment 

Internet Blah Blah Blog

The most telling sign that the Internet is no longer the cool American frontier? Blogs have been overrun by the establishment. By MAUREEN DOWD
· Troubling signs [NYTimes via Spiegel ]
Note that The New York Times requires registration, but Spirgel lets you to read without it (smile)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

M aking new life 

Beginning with the premise that everyone looking to make a new life migrates to Amerika... or Australia

Are you Worthy Oriental Gentle(wo)men? (WOG) Then Hop on Board for Immigrant Justice

Buses filled with immigrant workers and their allies next month will begin a historic journey from 10 cities, including Seattle, to Washington, D.C., and culminating at the Statue of Liberty and New York City, to demand respect for all people regardless of immigration status.
The Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride, starting Sept. 23, is designed after the freedom rides of the early 1960s that exposed the brutality of legal segregation in America.

· Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride [Common Dreams]
· The Slovaks in America [Loc ]
· The Documents of Freedom series [Salon: Freedom Series]

Step Across This Line  

Rushdie Step Across This Line

It is no surprise that Rushdie's intellectual inquiries have so often centered around the notions of borders and boundaries; transgressions and journeys; the crossing of frontiers, and the struggle to come to grips with that often elusive idea: home.
The imperative title is an entreaty to the reader: “Free societies are societies in motion,” Rushdie writes, “and with motion comes friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.” Free people cross boundaries; they step across lines.
Sadly, that is not always as easy as it ought to be. (Rushdie was not permitted to set foot back in India, which banned Verses even before its public release in that country, until 2000.)
In April 1993, after the publication of a Times of London op-ed suggesting “that fully two-thirds of Tory MP's [Members of Parliament] would be delighted if Iranian assassins succeeded in killing [Rushdie],” a desperately frustrated Rushdie wrote: “Either we are serious about defending freedom, or we are not. ... If these MP's truly represent the nation—if we are so shruggingly unconcerned about our liberties—then so be it: lift the protection, disclose my whereabouts, and let the bullets come. One way or the other. Let's make up our minds.” He notes the difference between borders designed to keep people in (e.g., the Soviet Union), and those designed to keep others out (e.g., parts of the United States). During the Plague Years, Rushdie felt the sting of both.

· As a taut wire cuts through cheese [ YaleReview]

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Loyal Henchmen: The Devil's Disciples  

Loyal Henchmen The Devil's Disciples

Louis Menand has a very interesting essay in the New Yorker on totalitarian regimes and the people who live under them:

Few puzzles in political philosophy are more daunting than the Problem of the Loyal Henchmen. The Problem of the Loyal Henchmen is a subset of the more familiar Problem of Authority. Why does authority command obedience? A man who tells you to pick your gum wrapper up off the sidewalk is generally ignored; a man in a uniform who makes the same request, even if it is the uniform of a bus driver, is instinctively obeyed. People wearing white lab coats and carrying clipboards, with no other evidence of expertise, have succeeded in persuading subjects in psychology experiments to act in the belief that they are torturing other human beings. In these cases, people can persuade themselves that the authorities they obey are benign ... that picking up litter and torturing other human beings in a laboratory are in the interests of civic order and scientific progress. The Problem of the Loyal Henchmen arises when people willingly obey authorities everyone knows to be evil. Why, after the villain has fled in his private submarine, and while the high-tech palace crashes and burns, does the last unincinerated member of the villains private militia risk his life to take a shot at James Bond? Loyalty to Blofeld? Loyalty to the principles of Blofeldism? What could that mean?
The more extreme and outrageous the totalitarian ideology, therefore, and the more devoid of practical political sense, the more ineluctable its appeal. Totalitarian rule, Arendt argued, is predicated on the assumption that proving that a thing is true is less effective than acting as though it were true. The Nazis did not invite a discussion of the merits of anti-Semitism; they simply acted out its consequences. This is why documents like the memorandums for which Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion continued to be believed even after they had been exposed as forgeries, and why the Moscow Trials were defended even by people who knew that the confessions were fraudulent. It is why some of the defendants in those trials went uncomplainingly to be executed for crimes they had not committed.. Blofeldism, an impossible and megalomaniac belief in world domination, is a perfect parody of Nazism and Stalinism just as empty and just as deluded, although, thanks to 007, not nearly as deadly.

· And it gives plausibility to the henchman who sacrifices his life to take a final shot at James Bond [NewYorker]

Saturday, August 02, 2003


The ability to criticize is one of the great strengths of our democracy. ..

Messy Myths The Lunatic Fringe of Spinmeisters

Mike Seccombe offers a sobering assessment of political lunatic fringers in my favourite paper the Sydney Morning Herald this very morning.
Mike profiles John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, the PR Watchers who for months have been busy exposing the president's penchant for marketing - as opposed to truth-telling.
Stauber and Rampton, the Madison-based debunkers of corporate spin, have written up their compelling case against the White House's "case" for war in an exceptional new book, "Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq" (Tarcher/Putnam). It is difficult to imagine a more timely text.
This is not a matter of ideology, but of ethics. The systemic corruption resulting from the new spin is just as serious in Britain or Australia as in the US. The tools of manipulation are as available to the Labor Government of NSW as to the Liberal Federal Government.
I met the authors in Sydney in late 1990s when Wendy Baker invited them to discuss their other books called "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You" and "Trust Us, We're Experts." John Stauber predicted the limited chances of my story ever being noticed by big publishers. Indeed, George Lucas of Simon & Schuster fame repeated Staubers sober observations along the lines of any story of escape dated 1980 would be considered too old by publishing houses. ... I have an email from Lucas to prove that it was not only old it was ancient (spinning smile)
By George [Thanks to the underground connections for this link as it is not available directly from SMH site]
· Unveiling Myth's of Mass Deceptions [Alternet]
· Take people seriously - seriously [SMH ]
(PS:: Seriously, later, much later after the UTS workshop, I found out that Wendy assumed I was some kind of a spy (grin))

The Class Wars: 

The Class Wars: A Regal Obituary

To give the students a real comparison of social extremes related to income the university could send them on field trips to the upper and lower class parts of town and have them analyze their experiences and the people with whom they come in contact.
The students might spend a few nights at homeless shelters learning about the denizens: the homeless families, the single mothers and their children, the mentally ill, the down on their luck, the teenage runaways and throwaways.
Next students can note the appearance and infrastructure of educational facilities at schools in poor neighborhoods.

· Then, onward to the lush lawns, private schools [CommonDreams ]

Friday, August 01, 2003



The Great Depression of the 1930's saw falling prices, staggering unemployment and shattered stock markets all over the world, and the world's leading statesmen seemed helpless to defeat it. Except for one.
· Hitting Dictator [SunTimes ]

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