Monday, November 24, 2003

Choice and the bench 

Justice Michael Kirby is wrong on one crucial point. He is right to avoid the odious literalism of Sir Garfield Barwick. He is, however, wrong to specify that the interpretive posture should involve the people's wishes, the common good, or, especially, some godlike, elitist view of the infinite wisdom of the judiciary.
The only proper interpretive line involves trying to decipher the rubbish that at times emanates from parliament. Has the judiciary ever referred a point of law back to the drafters of that law? Has it ever seen bad law and asked for a clarification before it becomes a problem?
Peter Lander, Neutral Bay, November 23 (SMH)

I fought the law ...
Ironically, my role covering these stories presented my greatest challenge as a journalist. Some of those, especially those associated with the ALP, broke off contact with me, apparently believing that I had betrayed them and their causes. I found this more personally upsetting than not being admitted to practise law. It also confirmed my view that most lawyers, journalists and other professionals tend to hide abuse in their own ranks.
· Greatest Lovers in the World [SMH]

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Using rewards to catch white collar criminals  

In this report Bruce Chapman (Centre for Economic Policy Research, ANU) and Richard Denniss (The Australia Institute) outline a new approach both to detecting and punishing the crimes of insider trading and collusion. They propose that financial incentives be offered to individuals or firms participating in illegal activity in return for the provision of evidence against other participants. In order to ensure that attractive incentives can be offered, and large fines levied, it is also proposed that a revenue contingent payment mechanism be utilised to extract both incentive payments and fines from firms and individuals convicted of these offences. The use of a revenue contingent penalty payment increases the certainty of collecting penalties while reducing the incentive for recourse to bankruptcy.
· Incentive payments and fines [(The Australia InstitutePDF file)]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

More than just a roof  

The reality of family homelessness is one of the major social tragedies confronting our society. As this research report argues, thousands of Queenslanders experience this unacceptable reality each year. Social policies which address educational, health and welfare needs all become secondary when finding somewhere secure to live is the critical and urgent need. The report's findings suggest that measures beyond the mere provision of housing are required to address the needs of family groups facing a housing crisis.
· Study of family homelessness in Queensland [(PDF file) ]
· Generation Xcluded: no kids, no house, no money! [(PDF file) ]
· The Hawke Policy Website

Time to Recognize the Politics of Suburban Sprawl  

On the pages of nearly every newspaper in the nation, there are daily articles on suburban sprawl. Attempts to get sprawl under control started in the 1950s relatively soon after sprawl exploded after the end of World War II. They all failed. Even now, with a strong national “smart growth” movement, unless sprawl-haters understand sprawl politics and the power of the sprawl lobby, by mid-century with a population lunging toward 400 million, it will be too late to save so much of what so many Americans value, including public greenspaces, rural lifestyles, farmland and social capital.
· Caught in the poverty of wealth [ CommonDreams]

Friday, November 21, 2003


Everyone's now a media critic ... But I'm glad about that ...there's so much media out there to critique, there's room for everyone. Yes, everybody is a media critic. And a food critic. But as Mike Kinsley once said, when you go into a restaurant, you don't want the guy who's sitting there talking about the food to cook. You want the chef. Seven media critics tell Glaser when they first got online, how the Net has changed their jobs, what's annoying about the Internet, and what sites they frequent.
· Real media critics agree that everyone's now a media critic [Online Journalism Review]

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


Czeching our brains at the worplace door
Today we live in a < world that people feel so compelled to silence any view that differs from their own. This country is very divided right now as a result of the actions of one who called himself a "uniter". I wish it were not this way but it is, perhaps next November will give us a change and some hope for the future.
Given the current climate of intimidation, fear of antidemocratic God was put into me by Nick via Allan yesterday so I debated whether to bother posting this, since the main point of this mirrored editorial is pretty self evident, namely that Australians, Britons and Americans who are anti-Bush are not necessarily anti-American (even if Tony Blair and the Republicans would like to paint them as such.)
Today’s Canberra, London and Washington have a whiff of Soviet ways; suffocating internal discipline, resentment of even reasoned, moderate opposition, and a refusal to admit even the tiniest error

Recipe for Disaster
Asking the right Iran questions.
Is Iran producing nuclear weapons?
Tehran says: No.
Washington says: Yes
The European Union says: Maybe.

It is like a chef who brings in all that is needed for making a soup but does not actually start the cooking
· until he knows when the guests will be coming [NationalReview]
· Bush: the Crying Wolf [CNN ]
· CarBomb [BBC ]
· WHY WE FIGHT [Yahoo ]

Monday, November 17, 2003

more...Choices, not less.  

There's even a chance that being a really good journalistl is more difficult than leading the Political Party, not less.

Cursed profession: Conscious Choice parody
Bryan Gilmer isn't really in the running for a Walgreens management trainee slot and has no interest in the Conscious Choice opening. I'm just a smartass who spent 10 minutes trying to be funny and point out a shortcoming of our profession that has long bothered me (that entry-level job opportunities in journalism don't pay a living wage or always offer the chance for advancement that the Walgreens job does).
The main problem is that well educated journalists who want to be thought of as professionals continually demean themselves by accepting these positions at these rates of pay.

· Shouldn't we all insist that a professional writer is worth more? [Pynter]

Sunday, November 16, 2003

It is not everyday I discover I am being quoted in a sermon (smile)

A Funeral for the Church
I'm 35 with a young family a long way from home. I love this Church, and yet hate so much of what it has stood for in the past. I believe it can and will change, and I want to be there to see it happen. I'm crazy enough to believe in resurrection, and for that reason have no regrets about saying to the church of my youth 'Rest in Peace'. I will remain at the edge, as only at the edge can I be faithful to the inspiration of my faith, Jesus who took risks, was always open to change and valued people over institutions.
Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. And then out of the ashes something new and exciting will emerge.

· The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do [St Matthews]

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Literature now is in a dangerous river where there seems to be little separation between the private act of writing and the public performance demanded of writers. Does every writer in 21 st century need to make sounds like the Madonna who once equated blowjobs with fervent prayer?

Welcome to the writer's nightmare
What's worse - addressing a crowd of hundreds, or fronting up to an audience of none?
But even the best book tour can be an exercise in frustration, full of days where you shlep three hours to a bookstore in the middle of nowhere to sing for your supper in front of an audience consisting entirely of bookstore employees and ladies who lunch (but don't, they'll be happy to tell you, buy books in hardcover), or wannabe writers who'll pump you for every detail of the story of how you sold your first novel, up to and including your agent's social security number, and then leave without buying.
· Road Tour Too Much Trouble [Observer]
· The Power Of The Literary Drunk [The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/04/03]

This weekend, the Guinness Book of World Records will sell its 100 millionth copy.

Digital library
So: e-books are handy when I'm concerned only with text, when I want to take a lot of text in a very compact way, and when I want to mark up heavily. The upshot for me of having a growing library of e-books is that I can take better care of my printed volumes and focus a bit more on buying print with an eye toward quality, since I've got this option for uses where aesthetics matter less.
· eBooks [AboutLastNight]
· Understanding Trees and Woods...

Books are fun and interesting to read, but the Sunday Book Review is neither... the review hardly ever helps you answer the key question: Should I spend $4.85 on 'Tis eBook?
· New York Times Sunday Book Review [Boston Globe 11/13/03]

Military Service 

Like the younger George Bush, who evaded the 1960s Vietnam draft, Howard has never seen military service of any kind. Yet he lives out his fascination with memorials, military leadership and glorifying speeches in reverence of his father and grandfather, both of whom fought in World War I.
Remembrance drowned in rhetoric
W hen was the last time you heard a politician use words that rang with truth and meaning? The minister did very well today. Really, you have to admire the way he hides behind cliches and lies so sincerely.
· Cowardship [SMH]

Friday, November 14, 2003

Against us 

When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans.
It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, "Der Feind hoert mit" (The enemy is listening): My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me.

Soros: Beating Bush is my life's mission
GEORGE Soros, one of the richest men in the world, has given away nearly £3 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating the president of the United States, George Bush.
· A matter of life and death [Scotsman]

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Decay of Public Language
The corporate world is awful at using language effectively, and we're all the poorer for it
· World Today [ABC ]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Money Trap:
Soros and his Institute has a brilliant new website peppered with engaging ideas and stories.
Corruption has no easy definition—behavior tolerated as normal, or at least necessary, in one place may be seen as deviant and punishable by fines and jail time in another. Yet all forms of corruption, even the seemingly trivial, erode the bonds of society. Corruption must be recognized for what it is: a looming global crisis.
One paper focuses on the undisclosed deals between multinational corporations and governments that help officials enrich themselves at the public’s expense. And it shows how even strong laws against corruption in established democracies can be riddled with loopholes to benefit wealthy groups that dominate the legislative process.

· Stopping the Spread of Corruption [OSI PDFformat]

Monday, November 10, 2003


Australian Idol
Best of the Australian Idol observations
· Australian Dreamers [Living Room]

What’s My Line?
The world is full of lovely people who like nothing better than sharing their pleasures.
· Lovely Idols [AboutLastNight ]

With the Melbourne Cup still ringing in our ears, comes the suggestion that God deposited each new species on the planet, fully formed and marked “made in heaven.” However, he also apparently allowed a few minor market adjustments...You know, there just might be a market for this coming to your workplace tv soon

Mondaditis Games at work may be good for you
Playing simple computer games at the office could improve productivity and job satisfaction.
· No Doom or Blood-red moon [BBC]

Sunday, November 09, 2003


As Plato says, it’s war, not peace, that is most likely the normal state of human affairs... More people are finding life is a vitriolish course...peppered with the "greatest own-goals in the history of Australian politics"?

This week is taking a toll on Peace Prizes
The hatred and vitriol she'd encountered from Australians she'd never experienced before, not even from the Israelis ...
· Hanan Ashraw [Sunday: Nine]

Pauline's life is like some bizarre moral barometer for Australia.

Pauline Hanson Singing a duet with a young Aboriginal singer
I was a person that had my opinion and, yes, I thought I knew everything as a member of Parliament to go and look through the prisons. You know nothing, and these politicians and bureaucrats that make the legislation have no idea. And yes, it's been a very daunting, distressing time. I could never explain what it's done to me, but in so many ways I've learnt so much from it ...
· Money, power and position bring justice; without it, you go to gaol [Webdiary SMH]
· Federal-state law flaw keeps insider trader out of jail [SMH ]

Blog Sleuth Hipper
Eurovavant points out this fantastic bit of blogging detective work on the HipperCritical blog. Some lawyer was allowed onto the New York Time's Op-Ed pages yesterday with an editorial arguing that Iraq should be required to pay its international debt in full. Turns out (but the NYT didn't bother to provide any clue about this) that he's a lawyer whose clients are those companies and kingdoms to whom Iraq owes that money. Our sleuth "Hipper" took to the Google trail and found that out, plus a whole lot of other juicy information - such as that the lawyer is on record in the past as urging the forgiving of Russia's foreign debt. (But Russia was the one paying his fees then, you see. That was then; this is now.)
· Hippercritical

Thursday, November 06, 2003


How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Parliament in Exile 

People have been looking for ammunition they can throw back at Steve Irvin, but I don't think this does any harm to his reputation...

Expats unchain their krokodile hearts
Another depressing day in Canberra watching public servants under questioning by Senate estimates Committees - the people's chance to ask questions. A new boat and thousands of new islands excised from Australia, the Crocodile Man - 'I love John Howard' - paid $175,000 to do a government commercial, outsourced Prime Minister and Cabinet department's information technology sees its entire email back up tape thrown in the rubbish bin and lost, the same department and the PM fail to send Kylie Russell a video or photos of the wreath laying ceremony for her husband they forgot to invite her to.
· Krokodile Tears: $175,000 [SMH]

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dark Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen
George Bush's America, the wealthiest nation in history, faces a growing poverty crisis.
· Amerikan Winter [Guardian](UK)

Google set to rewrite the rules of advertising
When adults sit down to use the web they generally do two things: check their emails and then do a search (teenagers either chat or download music, but that's a whole different kettle of piracy)
· Kettle of piracy [SMH]
· Webdiary exposes powerful stories this week [SMH]

Monday, November 03, 2003


Sometimes a big 100-watt goes off over my tired, saltier than peppered head and I see things in a whole new light...

The Truth About Pop Culture
Almost everyone, it seems, blames the mass media for the increasingly violent nature of American society. And for the corruption of our children. And for our rampant materialism and consumerism. And for the increasing sexualization of our culture,” writes David Shaw, media critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Karen Sternheimer is one of the few exceptions. The 34-year-old sociologist at USC has written a book, It's Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture's Influence on Children, and in it she argues that the even though the media are a "central force" in our society, "media culture is not the root cause of American social problems."
Though Shaw isn’t ready to let the media off the hook so easily and thinks Sternheimer overstates her case, he praises her central argument: “‘The most pressing crisis facing American children today is not media culture but poverty,’ she rightly says.
“In her view, the other ‘big bad wolves of childhood’ are family violence, child abuse and neglect, inadequate health care and the under-funding of education. But it's easier for politicians to blame the media than to budget the money -- and spend the political capital -- necessary to address these problems.”

· Her finger isn't pointed in the usual direction [LA Times]
· Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own [NY Times]


Don’t assume that bad news is bad and good news is good.

Hear no Evil...Do No Evil...Evilism
All the isms, an English wag once said, are wasms."
What is your own image of evil? Have you ever had an intimate personal encounter with it? Does it have its own taste and smell and configuration? ...
Evil is something that, when you see it, when you know it, it's intimate. It's almost sensual. That is why people who have been tortured know it by instinct. They don't need to be told what it is, and they may have a very hard time putting it into words. ... That's the nature of the phenomenon. It's hard to put into words. But you have to have that intimacy with it, that kind of shoulder-to-shoulder rubbing. ...

· What is your own image of evil? [PBS via Wen of Troppo Fame]
· Afghanistan's Liberation - Now #1 Again in Opium! [Independent ]

Sunday, November 02, 2003


All the isms, an English wag once said, are wasms."
What is your own image of evil? Have you ever had an intimate personal encounter with it? Does it have its own taste and smell and configuration? ...
Evil is something that, when you see it, when you know it, it's intimate. It's almost sensual. That is why people who have been tortured know it by instinct. They don't need to be told what it is, and they may have a very hard time putting it into words. ... That's the nature of the phenomenon. It's hard to put into words. But you have to have that intimacy with it, that kind of shoulder-to-shoulder rubbing. ...

· What is your own image of evil? [PBS via Wen of Troppo Fame]
· Afghanistan's Liberation - Now #1 Again in Opium! [Independent ]

Don’t assume that bad news is bad and good news is good. President Bush says that the violence in Iraq is a sign of progress. Seriously. Do you realize how bad things would really be if there were no suicide bombings, guerrilla attacks and anti-American violence in Iraq?

Bushocrats accepting the poisoned chalice
Apparently, according to a USA Today study , companies that received contracts for reconstruction in Iraq donated large amounts of money to the Bush election campaign.
· Contract with Evil Forces [USA Tomorrow]
· Labyrinthine [CBC ]

If war was eliminated as a prime-time Media plot device, a lot of writers would be out of work. Writers have lost the knack for -- or can no longer get paid for -- exploring mysteries of human behavior that don't involve war aggression.

War by Car Bomb
It is possible to win a counterguerrilla war. The British did so in Malaya in the 1950s. The United States may succeed in doing so in Iraq today. It is far more difficult, however, to defeat the car bomb. It is on the car bomb, therefore, that the Saddam Hussein loyalists' hope for victory rides.
The guerrilla war in Iraq is wearing and painful for Americans. The enemy plants the roadside bomb and succeeds with the occasional ambush. The losses are mounting. What makes success for the saboteurs still dubious, however, is that they do not represent a true guerrilla force. They are nothing like the successful Vietnamese, Chinese or Cuban guerrillas, who were, in Mao's famous phrase, "fish swimming in the sea of the people."

· The Saddam loyalists swim in a small lake [Washington Post]

Saturday, November 01, 2003


We might often be thought of as anonymous, but we never want to be voiceless.

Being entertaining and a trust/justice champion
My goal is to be both entertaining and a champion of truth and justice, and to try to prove that those two are not mutually exclusive.
· @ Her Prime [Media Bistro]
· Media's job isn't just to salute [JSOnline ]

Fear of Blogging: Microsoft fires worker over weblog 

Many people post work-related entries on personal blogs, but they don't expect to be terminated.
Michael Hanscom began keeping an online journal, commonly known as a weblog, several years ago. He started his job as a contract worker in Microsoft's print shop last year. Last week, he mixed the two.

· Microsoft land is getting some new apple toys [Seatle]

It's not illegal to hold an offshore account. It's only illegal if one doesn't declare the offshore income in one's annual tax return and pay tax at home.

Antipodean Machiavellis: Israel v Switzerland
For some, the secret world of Swiss banking hasn't been all it's cracked up to be. It reopened old wounds.
It wasn't hard to imagine that half the population of Sydney's eastern suburbs were frantically ringing their offshore accountants and lawyers this week.
It appears that even one's financial activities in the world's great tax havens cannot be assured of absolute secrecy.

· Rene's Swiss connection: Key Links [SMH]
· Swiss and Taxes

The participants in the Offset Alpine affair are some of our best-known political, media and finance personalities. They are the men who stand up for one another in court, on talkback radio and in political circles. Taking leaves out of Trevor Kennedy's book? Like every business wants to controll the flow of currency, every government wants to control the news, and you don't have to shoot reporters or imprison them to do so.

Swiss Code of Secrecy Carr: A Master News Manipulator
We come to NSW where the state is in the hands of a master news manipulator, the Premier and former journalist, Bob Carr. Carr has worked assiduously to snuff out sources of bad news. To this end, he is bundling every independent watchdog agency which caused the slightest hint of trouble to his Government into the NSW Ombudsman's office. The Privacy Commissioner, the Inspector-General of Prisons and the Child Death Review team are being swallowed up by the monster agency.
· Watchdog lost its teeth, bark by new secrecy provisions, legalisms, and the exercise of discretion [SMH ]

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