Monday, January 31, 2005

A special investigation by The Sunday Telegraph shows small businesses, the building industry and backyard operators are key players in thousands of hidden transactions each year. four years after the introduction of the GST, which promised to stamp out Australia's black economy, undeclared cash payments amount to at least $4.6 billion. The complexity remains, families are paying more tax than ever, and the cash economy thrives

Invisible Hands & Markets: Death and Taxes: Fantasy coffins
Think it's crazy to shell out anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 for a casket?

Isaac Adjetey Sowah's showroom in a suburb of Accra, has some of the most colourful coffins to be found anywhere.
The Bible coffin is one of his more conventional designs. The snail in the background has been ordered by a snail seller.

• Click through the pictures: you don't want to miss the beer bottle coffin.
The Bible coffin is one of his more conventional designs [Credits: make-up - If every parent in the world has a blog, then maybe it really will be about the child rather than the parent ; manicure - My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. Aliens Cause Global Warming: A lecture by Michael Crichton]
• · 'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits'
• · · Amid accusations of animal cruelty and blackmail, the Australian wool industry faces a global animal rights group in court next month. Catharine Munro reports on a billion-dollar battle. Eyebrows were raised when Australia's ambassador to Italy arrived at Benetton's ancient villa-turned-headquarters outside Venice. The clothing giant's senior executives had not expected their letter to wool suppliers in Australia would prompt such a serious response. Pulling the wool
• · · · We paid for jobs, then they left: For years, the company now called JPMorgan Chase & Co. has received millions in public money to help create jobs in Tampa. But many of those jobs are gone. Tax Breaks for Jobs ; [IT recruiter sees staff shortages looming]
• · · · · Sydney family guilty of $15m tax fraud Ida Ronen, 71, and her sons Nitzan and Izhar
• · · · · · List a real rags to riches tale

Sunday, January 23, 2005

[Television] business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side ...
Hunter S. Thompson

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Winter of Black Art: What women want
It is summer of 2005 and the unthinkable has happened in Australian television. The landscape of our vision will be without the benefit of Jim Waley. Numero 1, veteran Jim, has been reporting and presenting news and current affairs since beginning his career as a cadet journalist in regional radio and television even before the the Prague Spring of 1968 and even before Mark Ferguson was born. Channel Nine will be like a channel, the deeper part of waterway, without water or opera without the songs those operatic, fat, old man sing.

Sixty is old in terms of the way of thinking of Kerry Packer (around 68), Nine CEO, David Gyngell (early 40s) and John Alexander, the CEO of PBL, who's around 54!
So what about those older people on air: Peter Harvey in the Sydney newsroom, Laurie Oakes from Canberra, Jana Wendt and Helen Dalley, are their times up?
Laurie Oakes would be the last person to be flicked by Nine, if there's any sense still left at Willoughby. He brings credibility to Nine News, and The Bulletin at ACP. Without him they would struggling.

Like being surrounded by vultures: Yes, we're in a war. We have our armies and weapons. They have their armies and their weapons and you look at it as two armies at war. The spokesman was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald Friday as saying Jim Waley was not ' dumped' but could not say what his future with Nine would be. Jim Waley has been dumped as presenter of Channel Nine's 6pm news bulletin, to be replaced by his understudy, Mark Ferguson. It's like we haven't come out of the barbarian age
• Prefering to tread water Marking Jim [Credits: television life - 'Where Thieves and Pimps Run Free...' ; grooming - Waley and Nine's youth obsession]
• · A blog isn't any one thing for people, but I do like the idea of a blog as a house -- or as the facade of the house that says something about the person inside; or its front porch. I keep all sorts of stuff here, and there is even more on the inside. Colourfull thoughts on blogs by Stuart Henshall Giving Up Traditional Blogging [We’re taking suggestions: What does liberalism stand for? Anybody who's ever had to raise money knows the meaning of the phrase "elevator pitch": You're in an elevator with a potential moneybags, and you have, say, seven floors to tell him why he should write you a czech ... The Liberal Media Agenda; This did not necessarily make the backlash more palatable or justifiable. The backlash is something rightwing people do. Like "kempt hair" and "couth behaviour", references to a "leftwing backlash" are rare indeed But the notion that a backlash from the right should first be provoked by a lash from the left certainly made the backlash more logical]
• · · Amid the media din about the tsunami, Dan Rather's implosion, and the usual grim news from Iraq, an amazing story has been unfolding — but has received scant appreciation from the chattering classes. Democracy is on the march. The Right Side of Media story ; [It's a good time to step back and examine a commonly argued, yet totally fallacious, concept from left and right and beyond Any Way You Look At It, You Lose]
• · · · The backstage peek may comfort many of us who wish we spoke as clearly as NPR interviewers and guests. On the other hand, it might disturb folks who think they're hearing exactly what was said. Pulling Back the Curtain ; [Vandalism more likely than data harvesting says administra Australian company takes blame for Panix domain hijack ]
• · · · · Daughters of the 1950s political prisoners remain silent. This is unfortunate for them -- and for society at large. Being the daughter of a political prisoner during the 1950s in Czechoslovakia meant being "bad." After all, the family of a political prisoner was considered unworthy to coexist within communist society. The sustained silence surrounding the experiences of the "daughters of the enemy" suggests that the true horror, or irony, of their situation may never be heard. Silence of the Political Lamb ; [Our Stories ; Killings on Czechoslovak border during Communist era examined in new report ]
• · · · · · I've been following some of the coverage of the Blog Credibility Conference Change is gonna come ; [Notes on Harvard Journalism/Blogging Conference ; After spending $170 million to create a program that would give agents ready access to information on suspected terrorists, the bureau admitted last week that it's not even close to having a working system. In fact, FBI may have to start from scratch. ]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.
-Gen. George S. Patton

NSW Godfather Bob Carr and his new apprentice John Watkins today gained first hand experience of Sydney's late-running trains.
Mr Carr and Mr Watkins were almost 10 minutes late for a media appearance at Sydney's Central Station after the train to Waterfall they were travelling on was delayed. [We've got a plan in place to do that: AAP is actually for real]. Yes Minister re-run series are back harder, grittier and more entertaining than in living political memory As one observer noted re-arranging deck chairs on the infrastructuresque-titanic will do some wonders for the people of NSW ...
One of Australia's three richest men, alongside Kerry Packer and Frank Lowy, he said: "The time has come to take on new debt to help secure our nation's future. Debt is good. At least the right kind of debt is good Debt is good, business leader Richard Pratt

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Hidden Wounds: conspiracy of silence
This was sent to me this week by West Point chaplain, let us never forget. Lets us take out the politicians off the ugly picture in Iraq and think...
"I don't think Americans understand what the country is asking of these soldiers," he said. "They are doing wonderful things over there. Soldiers aren't afraid of bullets, they are afraid of being forgotten."

There are two rules that warriors have lived by across the centuries. Rules that were learned the hard way and passed on from generation to generation. The first rule is that it is okay to weep at a funeral. Every warrior society has understood the need to mourn the loss of a comrade.
The second rule that warrior societies have always understood is that it is not okay to weep at the memory of battle. A warrior who does is like a firefighter who weeps at the memory of fire or a pilot who weeps at the memory of flight. The firefighter and the pilot can mourn comrades killed in fires and crashes but still find satisfaction in what they do. Combat is what warriors do, and if the memory of battle is unbearably painful to them, then they will have great difficulty doing it again. Like a widow dealing with the loss of her husband of 50 year, the veteran must come to terms with what has happened, and he must de-link the memory from the emotions.
Extracted from "On Combat" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, with Loren Christensen

As we often point out, political assessments are frequently viewed through changing lenses. The war in Iraq saw some of the most frightening days over the disastrous Christmas season. An Iraq soldier killed an American policeman during his leave. Two Australian soldiers have also been injured this week. But the war is in such a bad shape that the Iraq election is viewed as positive news. It would help if more western politicians were like soldiers and served more time telling the troops on the ground that their efforts will not be forgotten. Will Opposition leaders be brave in countries like US, Britain and Australia and visit the troops on the ground? We disapprove of torture whether done by Sadam or George. Havn’t we learnt anything from history?
Dave Grossman on War [Review; Mercy Buckets Psychology of killing]
• · Can you imagine this in Sydney? (smile): The Salem Statesman-Journal reports that Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office has billed the Statesman Journal $2,084 to respond to a public-records request for e-mails and other correspondence between the governor’s staff and former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt’s consulting firm The newspaper used the e-mails and Kulongoski’s daily calendar for a Dec. 19 package of stories documenting the Goldschmidt firm’s unmatched access to the governor’s office; [Tim Novak and Steve Warmbir of the Chicago Sun-Times used city contract records to show that the sister of a top aide to Mayor Richard Daley was able to win a city contract for minority and women-owned businesses despite the fact that her company, Toltec, had to purchase supplies from a white-owned firm and subcontract the work to another white-owned contractor Sister gets sweet deal]
• · · Journalists sure do have a hard time of it. Forget reporting from war zones and natural disaster zones, it seems some of the worst conditions hacks have to endure are here at home. On Tuesday, at the less than exotic locale of Ingleburn Park, a gaggle of reporters were obstructed by police and threatened with arrest after Mark Latham's resignation speech, according to the federal secretary of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Chris Warren.
"These actions are in direct violation of press freedom, and we urge the NSW Government to take all steps necessary to ensure respect and promotion of a free and independent media in NSW." NSW police media had no comment yesterday. With hard labor times: The Rise of the Underdogs
• · · · Crime doesn't pay? It does for the Mafia, which is raking in $172 billion a year in Italy alone - nearly as much as General Motors does worldwide. Costa Nostra, N'drangheta and Sacra Corona Unita
• · · · · It is a fascinating coincidence that the release of the 1974 Whitlam cabinet documents, which establish conclusively when and how foolishly the Great Man began to commit political suicide, came just before Latham's own political suicide. P.P.McGuinness is the editor of Quadrant magazine and a great mate of Bob Carr; Editorial states how Mr Carr is fast running out of chances. This is the team which must dig NSW out of the deepest hole it has been in for several decades. Cabinet reshuffle the Premier's last big chance; Son of tram driver, guard and railway fettler and friend of Packer family ]
• · · · · · Mike Steketee: Good reasons to doubt Beazley again ; [ The ailing ALP desperately needs a makeover if it is to win back its supporters. Marketers spell it out Brand Labor ]

Monday, January 17, 2005

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a handy weapon for both sides to wield as his message continues to resonate today (sometimes for the wrong reasons) King's words claimed by many Today is a better, but oppression still remains
Certain politicians try very hard to be all party manifestos and all fashions at all moments in history - and the majority of them fail, some of the time (depending on which fashions and moments and policies they choose).
Gov. Schwarzenegger's bold four-point agenda: Fixing California The Austrian American who has a great gift for fiction would appreciate the reality Down Under

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Left Hand, Meet Right Hand
The same human rights principles that once guided me in the Soviet Union remain the cornerstone of my approach to the peace process. I am willing to transfer territory not because I think the Jewish people have less of a claim to Judea and Samaria than do the Palestinians, but because the principle of individual autonomy remains sacred to me--I do not want to rule another people. Honoring Democracy ]

Typically we criticize our politicians as shortsighted, looking only to the next election, unwilling to take any short-term risk for the long-term nation-al interests. But today's politicians--notably George W. Bush but also some of his Democratic opponents--are fighting for long-term stakes. Sure, they make compromises and back and fill with the wind. But they are also acting with an eye to what America will look like 20, 30, even 40 years out.

Hands and Eyes on the future [Journalism's vacation from the truth ; Paid to help, or paid to blog - there's a difference ]
• · You don't see headlines like that every day even though it happens in various forms often: Canada's immigration minister Judy Sgro has resigned over allegations that she agreed to help a pizza shop owner avoid deportation in return for free food Canada minister in garlic bread, pizza scandal; In public service, managers are addicted to giving Higher Duty Allowance to blood relations or characters who buy the large quantity of beer and vodka during Friday UnHappy Hours ... [It's worse than I thought. Web logs, or blogs, are the hot new medium for commentary. So many have sprung up that one can only tend to a narrow selection or a digest of highlights. Trying the hot medium]
• · · Sutherly Buster presents: Gay bombs: US secret weapon plan OR Planet Pentagon Bombards Earth with Sex Rays! Shingles are up at Titanic Newtown ; [Sex trafficking at its worst is the slavery of the 21st century, yet it has become one of the world's growth industries. ]
• · · · Titan's sea views are out of this world: Scientists are describing Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, as a frigid world of coastlines, wind, mists, and blocks of ice strewn about the landscape Titan site has orange haze, hints of a purring shoreline ; First Image from Titan: Titan may have icy lakes and cold rivers
• · · · · The United States is now rivaling those who burned the Great Library of Alexandria as cultural destroyers. Having deliberately built a base upon Babylon, a new report from the British Museum notes: damage to the dragons decorating the Ishtar Gate, one of the world's most famous monuments, from attempts to prise out the relief-moulded bricks
• · · · · · We say in Slovak, the more languages you know, the more times you are a human being. Jan Figel, the new EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, will manage a budget of EUR 16 billion [Jan Figel’s father was a bitter anti-communist following the "disappearance" of Jan's uncle in 1953, which was linked to the Slovak secret police]. David Ferguson speaks to him for the Slovak Spectator ; [My baby wants to know if she is more / American than Czech, to which I say / that she is what has never been before, / a perfect blending of the two, the play / of what is best in both in one good girl. Prague Poetically Political ; Némirovsky's drama of the Exodus and the Occupation is low-key and human in scale and it has the kind of immediacy found in the diary of Anne Frank ]

Sunday, January 16, 2005

On Cronulla Beach and in churches, Sydneysiders have joined the rest of the nation in observing a minute's silence today as a mark of respect for more than 160,000 lives claimed by the Boxing Day tsunami.
At 11.59am, Australians around the country fell silent, exactly three weeks to the minute after the earthquake struck.
Brotherhood of Men and Women Mourns Tsunami Victims

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Ring of Remembrance: Minute's silence brings us together
Can a day of mourning add anything to what people are already doing? Professor Richard Bryant, a psychologist from the University of New South Wales, thinks it can. "Formally recognising the day gives a lot more weight to the recognition that this terrible thing did happen," he says. "It gives more weight to a communal sense that we care."

It is only the second national day of mourning in Australian history. The first was held on October 20, 2002, to commemorate the Bali bombing. A day of mourning has no legal status; there was no such commemoration for the 1977 Granville train disaster, Ash Wednesday or the Port Arthur massacre. It seems that we have one when the government deems it appropriate to the public mood.

What difference does a mourning day make? [Reflection ]
• · Surfrider's Rings of Remembrance
• · · Giving to charity is for life not just for Christmas; [We and They ]
• · · There's no check I can write that will stop my government from destroying a city in order to "save" it.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Life is a great mystery. Is everybody a different person when they are with somebody else?
Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy

The Moment of Escape: Just One Single Moment Can Change Everything
Everything we see and our brains themselves would just be parts of this simulation.’ Oxford University philosopher Dr Nick Bostrom echoes the thoughts of sci-fi writers and scientists alike. The simulation hypothesis is not sci-fi, it’s serious academic thought. Ach, Are We Real?
Despite various reservations, the following question seems to be in order: How likely are you to read Cold River, based on a real story, this year? Will you be a different person after you read it? If in fact by the end of the year, you find yourself ordering the story of Iron Curtain crossing, you might be able to shift some of the blame onto us. It seems that the simple and apparently mundane act of asking a question can lead to a very intentional response by the respondents or consumers.


By chance or good fortune, Cold River's 15 Minutes @ Digital Palm Reading keeps on Ticking
[ Number of people, mostly in their twenties, who attempt suicide in the world each year: 10 to 20 million; number who actually succeed: about 1 million --- Number of people who attempt to get published in the world each year: 100 to 200 million; number who actually succeed: about 10 million ...
-Source John Croucher, Professor of Statistics; and Media Dragon, Professor of Number Crunching]
Believe it or not - our other book - Sex at the Gate is selling like hot cakes: There is No Discount Like Double Dragon Discount: Dirty Thirty %

Friday, January 14, 2005

You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?
- Comedian Jon Stewart on CNN's Crossfire with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, Oct. 15, 2004.
Lisa Stone traces the origins of spin and the history of how journalists have dealt with it. Lisa describes how the web are changing the fabric of journalism Not a stone left unturned: History of Spinmeisters

The Blog, The Press, The Media: A Cover-Up Is a Cover-Up

Like other powerful institutions confronted by scandal, CBS News is still fighting real reform. And still refusing to admit they have a problem.

LARGE AND POWERFUL INSTITUTIONS do not react well to internal scandal, especially when that scandal threatens to erode a central pillar of the institution's authority. The first reaction will almost inevitably be denial, followed by various efforts to isolate and minimize the scandal, to protect leadership, and then to adopt only such "reforms" as are forced upon it. Genuine accountability and reform typically only accompany a crash so spectacular that no one can persist in the cover-up.

It is impossible to count the number of times I thought about writing something along these lines. The scandal of Abu Ghraib is therefore a sign of both freedom's endurance in America and also, in certain dark corners, its demise. The facts you find out first, the images that are initially imprinted on your consciousness, the details that then follow
Scandals: what's the difference between Bernard Francis Cardinal Law and Dan Rather? [Let’s Blame the Readers Is it possible to do great journalism if the public does not care? ]
• · Blogs are strongest when they are politically diverse, when they are committed to insurgency rather than power, when they belong to no party. I'm particularly worried that the blogosphere has become far more knee-jerk, shrill and partisan since the days when I first started blogging. Some of that's healthy and inevitable; but too much is damaging. In challenging the Main Strem Media, MSM, we should resist the temptation to become like them
• · · Blogs are better, supporters write, because, among other things, they are transparent. No hidden agendas, not hidden biases. Everything is out in the open Well, not really ; [Justices hear arguments about anonymous speech on the real Bunyips of the Web The John Doe has fought to remain anonymous, arguing that releasing his or her identity would be a breach of the right to privacy and anonymity ; [Do I know how my son Tom feels? I do not. Only five million people on the internet know how my son Tom feels. Barrista’s Wishing Well ]
• · · · GM's vice chairman now has a blog ; [I told you so Being interrupted by an email can make stressed workers more productive ; Your Call (and Rants on Hold) Will Be Monitored]
• · · · · Joi Ito provides a selection of clippings from a Good article in BusinessWeek about the future of the New York Times. (Requires registration.) The Times is facing a crisis ; [I like the latest suspect who is about to fly in the shoes of the naughty legal eagles David Marr (size 10), Stuart Littlemore (size 11) and Richard Ackland (size 9 1/2) Media Watch shoes close to being taken Liz Jackson (size 8?)]
• · · · · · As the electronic services librarian at SUNY Cortland, Karen A. Coombs shares her expertise Using Web Server Logs to Track Users Through the Electronic Forest; [Media Bloggers Association - Legal Defense Fund ]

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I am not a serf; I am not a slave Slav; I am not an indentured servant. I am a free man with the right of freedom of expression. The company does not own me, body and soul – conforming to their rules at work is to be expected, but in your own time and space? How can anyone be expected to go through their personal life in fear of saying the wrong thing? No-one should ...
Ellen Simonetti, the blogger who was fired by Delta because of her site, Diary of a the Flight Attendent has started a list of blogophobic companies and is looking to establish International Bloggers Bill of Rights

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Myths On Boards
If you are really quiet, you might hear the wringing of hands of corporate secretaries and general counsel everywhere. The idea that boards might blog or use some similar web technology to communicate directly with shareholders may sound frightening, but it's a development whose time has come.

Many shareowners have been frustrated over the years by what they see as a wall between them and their elected representatives, the board of directors. They feel that they have no input into selecting director nominees, no meaningful choice in their election, and, generally, no hope of ever hearing from or exchanging views with them

Why Corporate Boards Should Blog [ 10 Excuses for Boards NOT to Blog]
• · The mainstream media ended its silence this morning on the racism of The New York Times' prospective new partner With a Nixon-esque non-denial denial [I am outraged at this - if my employer want to control my life, determine what i write in my own free time, then i suggest that they make with the reddies - cos the only way that ANY company will ever tell me what to say and what not to say is if I become a spokesperson of that company. How much do celebs get to 'endorse' products and companies. Yeah.. Bring on a slice of that action. Waterstone's sacks employee over blog Reg Req - Melissa Swan's Ukraine Blog; Blogging Behind China's 'Great Firewall'.]
• · · Tripling Users in Ditital waves Remember my Name Babe: Morphing Media ; [Some fascinating stuff here Selection of files released under Freedom of Information in January 2005 ]
• · · · The CBS Report ignores the heart of the controversy, refuses to draw conclusions, and strengthens the hand of Mary Mapes and Dan Rather. Whitewash ; [Blog about Blogs ]
• · · · · St. Andrew's Face Morpher lets you upload a photo, and then morphs that photo so the person looks more caucasian, or afro-caribean, or older, or younger.. Or drunk ; [More open network cameras Canon's network attached cameras that have pan, tilt and zoom controls]
• · · · · · Unbelievable and fascinating. This is the circa 1998 internal message board used by the support staff of a Florida call girl ring, foolishly left unsecured so Google could crawl it [A few tidbits from around the blogs]

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You know Bernard, I sometimes think our Minister doesn't believe that he exists unless he is reading about himself in the paper.
- Sir Humphrey, A Question of Loyalty

Arthur Chrenkoff: The outpouring of international solidarity and assistance to the victims of tsunami continues. So does outpouring of words. Strange words. Disturbing words

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The road to nowhere fast: Logical Blind Spot
Love has as few problems as a motor car. The only problems are the driver, the passengers, and the road.
- Franz Kafka
Was Lincoln Bisexual?
In a Web-only exclusive, the author examines C. A. Tripp's long-awaited, hotly contested book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln—and ponders American sexuality a century before Kinsey. The father of us all, Gore Vidal graces Vanity Fair online with a Nero Wolfe investigation of the vexing mystery. The young Lincoln had a love affair with a handsome youth and store owner, Joshua Speed, in Springfield, Illinois. They shared a bed for four years, not necessarily, in those frontier days, the sign of a smoking gun’s only messy male housekeeping. A maiden trapped inside a male body

In an endless embarrassment for the Carr Government, Sydney's rail network has lurched from crisis to standstill over the past year. Trains rarely run on time and complaints have trebled in recent years. The network has struggled to find extra passengers, adding only about 5 million a year to the 268 million carried in 1996-97.

Soaring car sales and ever more unreliable public transport create a vicious circle ; [Power stance by state irks business Repeat: The current economic orthodoxy, that debt has no place in the development of a strong vibrant economy, is holding back NSW and should be discarded ]
• · The files reveal a meticulous attention to detail, a sly sense of humour and a fear of the press within the British civil service. Britain's Home Office had not one official cat, but a whole dynasty of mouse catchers, one of which nearly insulted the Queen
• · · I blogged about the communist glorification craziness a few days ago and now even the brilliant Louis Nowra adds oil on the moral fire: Turning communist tyrants into chic motifs of popular culture mocks their victims The moral blind spot that has allowed killers to become kitsch (Thanks Louis) The Greek Orthodox epiphany celebrations have always held special spiritual meaning, but none more so than yesterday. A reminder to respect our earth ]
• · · · A hunt for a scalp rather than a search for truth ...Sacked director wins job battle ; [Canberra Times on December 22, 2004 How the House of Lords has exposed Howard's ASIO Act; Not since the early days of the Cold War have proliferation experts and the general public been so attuned to the threat of nuclear weapons--and with good reason. There are more than 28,000 nuclear devices in existence today The Next Nuclear Wave ; North Korea has launched an intensive media assault on its latest arch enemy The long hair, the wrong scalp of haircut ]
• · · · · No one exposes the UN better than Diplomad. Enough here to inspire a new series of MASH and YES, COLD RIVER. UNICEF proudly boasts it has sent the one item desperate people most want, UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy! Yes, she arrived, took a tour, and gave a press conference. Just think how many people were saved by UNICEF flying Bellamy and her entourage out here first class, putting them up in a five-star hotel, and flying them up and back to Aceh, and then back to New York. Makes you want to rush out and buy those UNICEF cards and go out collecting money for UNICEF doesn't it? Carol Bellamy ; Audits Criticize U.N. Handling of Oil-for-Food Only 400 pages released out of 58 audits ; More UN slicksters involved in bribe taking ]
• · · · · · Muriel Gray believes that life under Tony Blair, where the Prime Minister and his Cabinet can simply ignore the land’s law lords and where indefinite imprisonment without trial is acceptable, is like a horror story of irrational anarchy We were taught at school that Franz Kafka’s The Trial was a dark satire on bureaucracy ; London Calling ... Boilmaker Bill Busting on Boris’s website ; [Crikey! ]

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Because the road is rough and long, shall we despise the skylark's song?
- Anne Bronts

Compared to other disasters across the board, this is nowhere near as bad as those inflicted on the planet in years gone by. After all, more than 3 million died in China's 1931 Yangtze River floods and 655,000 died in the 1976 Tang-shan earthquake - although both figures were hushed up. Jonathan King puts the Indian Ocean killer wave into perspective, globally and historically World's long dance with death - I can speak freely because of the tsunami

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Schtick: Mark Coultan
Amazing irony which is unlikely appreciated by the architects of the Charter 1992. The memorundum of understanding was supposed to create a level playing field, however, the objective has been deliberately misunderstood and twisted to suit the ones who must be obeyed.
The stories of the independent members of parliament are seldom told because, given their druthers, they’d prefer to focus on the issues rather than personal profiles. Their professional lives are often unremarkable, they are usually teachers in the local public school like John Hatton or surburban architects like Ted Mack, except for the passion with which they give their time and energy to the spirit of democracy.
Most independent members of parliament enter politics because something trully evil happen in their local area where they work, live and try to make ends meet. They know that it only takes good people to stay on the sidelines too scared to rock the boat for the evil to thrive. They open their ears to whistleblowers and their hearts to the downtrodden and destitute. John Hatton displayed outstanding integrity when in 1976, the Wran Government with only a majority of one, offered him an extra $4,000 a year as assistant minister with a car, and a world trip. Mr. Hatton declined.
Ted Mack, the former member for North Sydney resigned from the parliament so that he would not be entitled to the generous parliamentary pension, which he strongly disagreed with.
Clover Moore is giving all her energy at the moment to implementing the Lord Mayoral Minutes of November 2004. Despite what many carpetbaggers suggest, Clover wants the City of exiles to lead by example and to develop and expand best-practice standards of public transparency and accountability in relation to its tendering and contractual arrangements. “Open, transparent and accountable governance is a basic democratic right and integral to public trust in our political system. Public trust is no longer something we that can be taken for granted.” [BTW, a main road in London, Exhibition Road, will have its traffic lights and kebs taken away in an experiment aimed at encouraging drivers to have more consideration for pedestrians and Boris Johnson on his bike]

Back in 1993 the NSW Parliament passed an amendment to the Election Funding Act that was supposed to tighten a series of loopholes. It was part of a deal with the independents who held the balance of power during the Greiner and Fahey governments.
But the legislation contained a section that completely changed the way state politics is funded in NSW. The legislation was put on the table one week, and brought on for debate at 1.50 one morning of the next. After three speakers it passed the Legislative Assembly by 2.03am.
The changes established what is called a "political education fund" in NSW. But the money didn't go to schools to educate children about democracy or the electoral system. It didn't go to the parliamentary library, it didn't go to the electoral commissioner, and it certainly didn't go to the various schools of government in the various universities around Sydney.
Instead, the money went to the political parties. In a single stroke, public funding of political parties was doubled.

John Murray: A short, sharp political education [If you were serious about political education, you'd start with how the electoral system works. The trouble about ticket voting is that it takes power away from voters and gives it to party bosses. Theatre of Politics - Democratic Audit: Who Law Makes the Law Maker? ; Arguments for socialism: Self Interest One - socialise loses and privatise profits If you give more peanuts to a house full of monkeys, you just get bigger monkeys! ]
• · Robert Wainwright captures my thoughts in his story on the Division of Labor: Labor controls all state parliaments, but the relentless electoral windmill is still turning
• · · Didn't I say that this guy needs to be watched like a hawk? (Sigh) I guess we reap what we sow. Raising the gavel with a grin, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter opened his first hearing Thursday by allowing more criticism of the Bush administration than his predecessor and by questioning some of the Patriot Act's police powers. Shape of Things to Come?
• · · · Paul and I have been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won't be any nuance: the villains won't just espouse an ideology we disagree with - they'll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels. Worse Than Fiction ; [It's nearly 150 years since convicts last lived in filth aboard prison hulks on London's River Thames, freezing as they awaited deportation to Australia. The bad news for Britain's contemporary spivs, drunks, pilferers, blasphemers, rascals, ne'er-do-wells and prostitutes, however, is that the hulks might be on their way back. Second Fleet is Coming ]
• · · · · Activists beat off coastal developers
• · · · · · Antipodean examples are railing soon under freedom from information Police probe peeping pom ; Any thought that the Labour Government's public relations spin machine would be derailed by the resignation of David Blunkett is wrong. The small pool of senior officials who are trusted by the politicians to deal with intelligence and security matters seems to be a very small one. Are these really the best people available ]

Friday, January 07, 2005

In recent years, the word "underprivileged" has fallen out of use The Poor Haven't Changed — We Have

Invisible Hands & Markets: The Tsunami and the Economics of Catastrophic Risk
Proverbial flips of a coin ...

The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrates a type of disaster to which policymakers pay too little attention—a disaster that has a very low or unknown probability of occurring, but that if it does occur creates enormous losses

Man can move High Tatra Mountains [- S. Schwartz, TCS Saudi Arabia and al-Qaida: Understanding the Double Game]
• · Boris Johnson: It is outrageous that this bra tax should be going to Gordon Brown, and if you start to feel virtuous about the amount of aid we are giving, set that against the quantity we are taking in tariffs. Scrap the Tariffs on textiles from Sri Lanka, Thailand and other flood-hit areas
• · · Gates' digital message to the world: Let me entertain you
• · · · Doctors and nurses must be given more of a say in the running of the health system The sickness in our public hospitals
• · · · · From shelf psychology to 'triangular balance', shoppers need to be wise to the Tricks used to manipulate them during the sales
• · · · · · On crossing rivers: Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float The Guide for the Mexican Migrant

Thursday, January 06, 2005

ASIO take note: This is rather surreal, as the Orwellians are coming ... if your network administrators do not get their security act together. Any googler can Kafka with your security camera be it business office, railway stations, or a vet and even beyond ... There is nothing bad and power-seeking governments fear more that a virtuous and self-controlled population... Introducing the mentality of Bigheads
Speaking of self controlled population and camera heads, an irate CityRail guard had to be restrained by workmates when he tried to punch an elderly passenger in Sydney's Mortdale I asked what was the defect and he wanted to know whether I was thick and told me to 'use my f---ing brain During the melee, a CityRail staffer was also seen trying to prevent a passenger from recording the incident using a mobile phone camera. CityRail guard 'tried to punch elderly passenger'

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Problem with Tsunami and Putin
The big picture and little captions of tsunami updates by Polish Australian blogger Arthur Chrenoff

Among the many ironies of that moment was that the conservatives’ man of the hour has been, at best, a dubious ally in the war on terror. Even as Putin seemingly endorsed Bush, Russia was finalizing its deal with Iran—widely viewed as the chief terrorism-sponsoring state—to help launch that country’s nuclear reactor, despite American and European concerns that it would be used for weapons development. Russia has also remained on amicable terms with North Korea and Syria, and it almost certainly circumvented the sanctions against Iraq to supply weapons to Saddam Hussein’s regime right up to the invasion.

An unreliable ally, an unlikely democrat [Give them a country, they want the world War & Peace Prospects for 2005]
• · And the US has dropped out of the top 10 freest economies in the world, according to the Index of Economic Freedom Hail Estonia! ; [Geographically Close to Zolitude: Naturally, out of curiosity I asked one of my classes if they liked living in the suburbs. No, they all said, with an almost choral degree of harmony. Why not? I asked. There's nothing to do, they replied. A reflection on the philosophical realities of a life in the Latvian labyrinth ]
• · · A NY Times article talks about the fine-line people are walking in this time of tragedy: Don’t capitalize on the tsunami, please ;
• · · · The politics of disaster: Corrupt governments such as that in Burma are only adding to the suffering of their people; [Elections of Disaster: You would think the story would have died by now. What looks like raw exit poll data has been posted by someone on a website Raw Exit Poll Data Leaked ; I d-d-don't care who's got the n-n-numbers brother, as long as I g-g-get to c-c-count the v-v-v-votes. - Stammering Senator Patrick Kennelly, when told before an ALP Caucus meeting that the Left had the numbers Keep counting till you win election ]
• · · · · How the Left Betrayed My Country - Iraq
The opening lines of the Communist Manifesto - "A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism" - were initially translated as "A frightful hobgoblin stalks through Europe".
• · · · · · Germany has an 18-year-old MP - Julia Bonk, a member of the Saxony legislature ; [ We spend a lot of time in the office these days and the more time we spend with people the more likely we are to strike up close bonking relationships with them ]

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Mark Steyn This bulletin is for all areas of the Pacific basin except Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California. ... This earthquake is located outside the Pacific. No destructive tsunami threat exists. At that point, the tsunami was still an hour away from Thailand, and several hours away from Somalia. But whoever issued that bulletin either never thought to call anyone in the Indian Ocean, or had no one in his Rolodex to call.
On Tsunami's Shore
Catastrophes unleash great human energies, Michael Gove reports from the shores A land already drowning

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: We Are The World: Is Nothing Sacred...?
We are the world and Tsunami help is coming with no strings attached.
The UN continues to send its best product, bureaucrats.

Well, dear friends, we're now into the tenth day of the tsunami crisis and in this battered corner of Asia, the UN is nowhere to be seen -- unless you count at meetings, in five-star hotels, and holding press conferences.
Aussies and Yanks continue to carry the overwhelming bulk of the burden, but some other fine folks also have jumped in: e.g., the New Zealanders have provided C-130 lift and an excellent and much-needed potable water distribution system; the Singaporeans have provided great helo support; the Indians have a hospital ship taking position off Sumatra. Spain and Netherlands have sent aircraft with supplies.
The UN continues to send its best product, bureaucrats. Just today the city's Embassies got a letter from the local UN representative requesting a meeting for "Ms. Margareeta Wahlstrom, United Nations Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Secretary-General's Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance in Tsunami-afected countries." Wow! Put that on a business card! And she must be really, really special because she has the word "coordinator" twice in her title!

More UNreality . . . But the Dutch Get It [Act of God; Bill Picked up By UN? ]
• · Ed Brenegar I'd say the United Nations has failed, and has failed for a long, long time
• · · Bill Gates and Bono Demand A Better Deal for the Poor in 2005
• · · · William Pfaff On all sides, the fanatics had a good year ; [Celebrating Political Metaphor ; ]
• · · · · Mr. Obama may indeed be destined for political stardom, but before Obama fever fully takes hold it's worth noting how little national attention has been given to the senator he's replacing: Peter Fitzgerald. The Unsung Maverick: Sen. Peter Fitzgerald took a stand against corruption and pork. ; [Briton Ian Colledge, 29, is a keen diver who has traveled widely in southeast Asia. He was on a diving trip to Thailand with his Czech girlfriend, Petra Vesela, when the tsunami struck the island of Surin Neua. Since then he has been keeping a Web log for CNN.com He lives in Prague and is writing his first novel ]
• · · · · · MI6 double agent was 'betrayed by a journalist' - What’s new! The games adults play

Blogging is dancing to a new beat. Given the ticklish nature of the latest blogging flirtations, hop aboard the blog bandwagon ... If you proscratinate you'll probably find it crowded when you do. Everyone's been saying that blogs are hot. Well, despite the fact that a supposed 62% of us don't actually know what a blog is
The best editor in America today isn't a journalist. He's Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, also known as the "Instapundit." He's endangering my livelihood. Instathreat; [Just as professionals built the Titanic and amateurs built Noah's Ark, it was amateurs with bare hands who crossed the Iron Curtain ... ]

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Invasion of the Blogs: Raising Ticklish Questions

Dan Gilmor, a respected Silicon Valley newspaper columnist, has left his position at the San Jose Mercury News to become a "citizen journalist." Gilmor published We, the Media, last summer, a look at the burgeoning grassroots journalism movement. I commented on it when it came out. Bloggers are the center of this phenomenon. Time magazine even awarded the Powerline blog as a "blogger of the year" for its investigation of Rathergate. Here's a moderate to liberal traditional news magazine recognize quality journalism in a blog by conservative lawyers from Minnesota. When the mainstream media takes notice like this, it means a corner has turned.

Citizen Journalism/ Citizen Leadership [There comes a time in the life of every writer when he asks himself -- as Shakespeare, Tolstoy and Hemingway all surely asked themselves -- if he has any booger jokes left in him. The Last Laugh: Jozef We Hardly Knew You! ]
• · If the line between bloggers and journalists has blurred, it's because too many journalists aren't doing their jobs and it was left to bloggers to find the truth of the matter I think you are an irresponsible journalist wanna-be with poor writing skills at best
• · · Jeff Jarvis writes marginalizing your own public : I smell an editor with a grudge at work in The New York Times' wrong-headed story on blogs today Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate
• · · ·
• · · · ·
Despite the fact that Big Media in general appears to be reconciling itself to the Blogosphere, there remain Big Media denizens who are having more than a little trouble adjusting to blogs. Mainstream Meltdown ; [Journalists shouldn't be cheerleaders]
• · · · · · We dream in digital ink 43 Things to do in 7 different ways ; [Little tiny winie blogs ]

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Google Ranking while Helping Tsunami Victims
International aid organizations:
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
United Nations' World Food Programme
Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders (donate!)
CARE International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Disasters Emergency Comittee (DEC) - comprises a raft of aid agencies, including the below and others
British Red Cross
Save the Children UK

North America:
American Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross
Save The Children

Anders Jacobsen: Webloggers: Give to tsunami victims and I'll give too!

At my maiden, 1982 to be precise, Parliamentary Press party, I had a lively discussion on the subject of parliamentary culture with the self-appointed psychopolitical guru Ron Fisher, the senior chamber attendant, who liked to spring surprises and witty observations. Like ministerial and parliamentary chauffers, the chamber attendants are often in the know. He summed up his connection to Parliament by stating that one does not have to be mad to work in Parliament but it helps. It is great to know that in 2005 the ABC of Australian fame is about bring to viewers a series entitled Altered Statesmen. Last night the show started in a Hollywood style with Ronald Reagan rather than JFK. Lisa Pryor states that You do not have to be insane or drug addicted to lead a nation, though it helps. Lets hope that the parliamentary intellectual, Catherine Watson, who once sent me a rather unparliamentary like email will be watching the series (smile) Some of the most powerful politicians of the twentieth centure were unbalanced, depressive, alcoholic or even senile. Any parliamentary attendent will explain to you if you ask how history proves that any party that dominates the system for long falls into the corruption trap.

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: You are wrong. No You are wrong!
Despite what politicians whisper in your ear during the parliamentary press gallery party, it is OK to like Citizen MEdia Dragon. So many riches, so many opportunities to astonish us, and provide return on bohemian investment ...

Thank God for Citizen Girl. Girl is a self-possessed, moral, intelligent, and open feminist who is not a militant-chic refugee from Lillith Fair or an NPR-tote-bag carrying blue-stater in a hemp dress. She isn't a loveable oaf like Bridget Jones who only obsesses over weight and boys and little else. McLaughlin and Kraus pull it off because they are so wry and so spot on.

The finale to Citizen Girl comes when Girl discovers that the company she works for is nothing more than a shell company for an Internet porn site--one that charmingly encourages men to simulate rape and violence toward women who are provocatively dressed as executives. Oh, and it's run by a successful woman. Girl has had enough: "This is the lazy choice, with your skills you could be making money and a difference," she tells the woman behind the curtain. Can one really do both? Well, McLaughlin and Kraus sure have.
Citizen Girl [Waist-band-and-ironing-board adverse ]
• · Survivors against all odds. Now, imagine if every single day there were headlines in every newspaper in the world and every television show saying: "29,000 children died yesterday from preventable diseases and malnutrition" ... If the story were told that way every day, the goodness of human beings would rebel quickly against these social systems that made all this suffering possible, suffering far far far far far in excess of all the suffering caused by tsunamis and other natural disasters Where Was God in The Tsunami? And where has humanity been? ; [The images play over and over in Jasmin Hasic's mind. Haunted by Horrific Memories ]
• · · Numbering the Dead: A culture in agony ; [Tim Blair: Useful Tsunami links - 1 and 4 January 2005 ]
• · · · The twisted limbs of the frail girl in a blue dress were caught in a garden fence by the sea. She may have already been dead, but no one stopped to check -- there was too much tragedy going on all around, as the water kept coming. The tragedy still hadn't dawned on me until I came upon the girl in the blue dress, caught in a fence
• · · · · It becomes harder and harder to deny that there is a problem at the United Nations when we read International Herald Tribune reports that Kofi Annan met in closed door session with supporters in the Manhattan. What's interesting about the "secret" meeting between Kofi Annan and "veteran [American] foreign policy experts" is how short a time it remained secret An Axe in the Frozen Sea of UN
• · · · · · What do pumped-up athletes, power-hungry politicians and lovers of fast cars have in common? Too much testosterone, or is that just a masculine myth? Hooked on the hard stuff

Monday, January 03, 2005

Trend at workplaces dominated by Haskews and Riches Magazine Toasts Unabashed Alcoholism

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: How Evil Works
Catastrophic political convulsions when the best laid plans of mice and men are smashed in seconds. Dinosaurs either evolve or die ...

Arendt innovatively observed that both European totalitarian regimes ruled not merely through violence, like ordinary dictatorships, but through ideology, education, and propaganda that terrorized people "from within." She noticed that the Communist parties and the National Socialist parties played similar roles within Soviet and Nazi government and culture, and that Stalin and Hitler played similar roles within their parties. She also pointed out that both regimes were obsessed with, and in some way dependent upon, the persecution of "enemies," internal and external. While such observations may now seem obvious, for some forty years that was about as far as any serious comparative analysis ever went.

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives [Human beings have always told stories to explain deluges such as this. Most cultures have deep at their core a flood myth in which the great bulk of humanity is destroyed and a few are left to repopulate and repurify the human race. This catastrophic, genocidal nature is a long way from the benign and rhythmic circle of life in The Lion King ]
• · Look back at Weimar – and start to worry about Russia
• · · Remains of FBI agent's daughter found in drum ; [Diplomadic license Undimplomatic Diplomads]
• · · · PEACE on Earth? Forget it. Nowadays, Christmas is a battlefield in the culture wars. "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" has come to mean that there are endless arguments about nativity scenes, Santa Claus and reindeer on public property, Christmas carols in public schools, and the greeting "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays." What 'happy holidays'?
• · · · · Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed down from generation to generation of a group of Thai fishermen known as the Morgan sea gypsies saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami Sea gypsies' knowledge saves village
• · · · · · Iraq's jailed Mrs Anthrax 'dying'

I do not know if science will uncover enough about my cancer to slide the dial just far enough for me. But we have the technology that could have warned millions about the quake.
Next time people must be given a chance

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Magazine companies & blogging
Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has a good point: The biggest blogging operation in the world is not who you think it might be, not be a long, long shot. It's About.com.

When viewed only in the current context and change the word guide to Blogger and you've go a 700 blogger operation running on top of a Moveable Type platform. The bloggers are getting a minimum of $500 per month and their sites are being monitized by a premium publisher deal with Google.

About Next Year [All awards are stunts, their purpose is to raise the profile of the industry or activity being promoted. Australian wine consumers love to see those little gold, silver and bronze markings on the bottle labels Business blog awards ]
• · Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism New Year, New Role; [Another must read in 2005 - Top Ten Ideas of 04: Content Will be More Important than its Container Jay Rosen 1 Jan 2005 ]
• · · If my blog does not meet your standards, then LOWER YOUR STANDARDS. Who the hell do you think you are, anyway? Rules: Criticize ideas? Yes. Criticize people for holding those ideas? No. So there you have it. New York (Blogging) Man in all his glory. Rejoice Estonia!; [New Year's Resolutions 2005]
• · · · Media loves the story with legs. There is one story that seems to have enough legs to win an Olympic marathon several times over. Actionable intelligence is spy jargon for knowing of a threat and then acting, based on the risk Knowing when it is time to take risks
• · · · · Josef Stalin said that "one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic." As ever, the dictator was precisely wrong ; [I was sad to hear that Mr Sedgwick passed away this past year, and with his passing his account at GTE.net was terminated. James Sedgwick's Certainty Site ]
• · · · · · It's no secret that Jay Rosen is among my five favorite bloggers, if for no other reason that I learn something almost every time I read a post on his site. Thoughts About Jay Rosen's Thoughts ; [The risks and rewards of trendspotting Top Ten Trends for 2005; Good search engines like Google make it easy to find what you are looking for on the world wide web What's Worth Looking for on This Website? ]

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Look, blog: we (royal noun) don’t want to sound big headed here, but the past 12 months has pretty much been the best internet year of our lives. Judging by Blogstreet, top 100 political blogs or flyaway simulation top 3200 Reads, we consider 2004 to be a year of pretty big waves in the sea of digital blogging as well as digging of useful links. We know most of you like MEdia Dragon best when we are broken and crippled with self doubt or facing disasters so as a result 2005 is unlikely to reverse our misfortunes (smile).
Among other things, we believe that fogged memory and slowed wit are not the inevitable consequences of, say, becoming a parent and/or acquiring more and more salty hair. So help MEdia Dragon each day to find that extra thoughtful story, play River Crossing, solve the Sydney Morning Herald crossword puzzle, learn how to make the perfect coffee.

And help us to write that second volume of stories covering 1980-2002 period in Sydney, the city of exiles, of course. Sydney does not get celebrated enough in the written word yet it is the city peppered with wild men and women ....

Tracking Trends Great & Small: 'People flung into the air like confetti': 'Tsunami' born out of disaster
All of us live at the mercy of pitiless political and natural forces beyond our control. Not unlike tsunami, specter of political powerlessness is haunting us everywhere. Internet instills a major shift in mindsets so that egalitarianism is no more merely conceptual. Winner takes its all mentality has successfully spread its tentacles deep into our societal fabric and has infiltrated our institutions. Bloggers stand out as the particularly liberated group of the egalitarian "success" story. [To a certain extend, anyone, anywhere, anytime can be a blogger.] It looks like the entire world is keen to make a creative leap into a new desirable action. Any idea that one and all unites in mercy tends to be saturated in hope.
Why weren't these problems obvious to the Maya kings, who could surely see their forests vanishing and their hills becoming eroded? Part of the reason was that the kings were able to insulate themselves from problems afflicting the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well fed while everyone else was slowly starving. What's more, the kings were preoccupied with their own power struggles. They had to concentrate on fighting one another and keeping up their images through ostentatious displays of wealth. By insulating themselves in the short run from the problems of society, the elite merely bought themselves the privilege of being among the last to starve. Ach, sound like feudalism and communism and out of control capitalism lessons in the nutshell! The Ends of the World as We Know Them
It is clear that a true democratization of our society starts by chipping away at the deeply encrusted institutional practices, which reproduce systemic inequalities of power on the basis of race, gender, caste or communal creed. Dissidents, like a number of soulful bloggers, know that alternatives exist, but their inclusion requires a context of diversity. Shifting to diversity as a mode of thought, a context of action, allows multiple choices to emerge. We need dissent and diversity in the public service, the media, the legislatures as well as at schools and universities.
Vaclav Havel heralded a new era in 1970s when he sang about a wake up call:
The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.
Apparently, it is now an act of treason to laugh at politicians who have three cars yet cannot drive one of them. It is also a treason to offer an opinion on the self interest prevail metality among the union structure that goes against the conventional egalitarian wisdom.
There are a few bloggers that defy classification more than the Samizdat Underground. While blogging is global language, traditional storytelling and colourful vocals mixed with photography are often difficult to place in a frame of reference. Part politics, part celebration of life, part risk taking so click on the links on your left for an uncompromising blogging experience which we can all take something from. I like to enter the world of David, Giana , Tim, John and the list goes on and on. The bloggers I enjoy do not suggest in any way that have a monopoly on truth and trust. They are survivors with human face and action not just rhetorical words to back it up ... I hope they will touch you in a special way, a different way, a risk taking way ...

"Tsunami" has touched the hearts of hundreds of people who survived last Sunday's earthquake and towering wave

A woman who gave birth prematurely in the forests of a remote Indian island sheltering from killer tidal waves named the girl Tsunam [10 miracles of survival in the wake of catastrophe; Google compiles Tsunami sites ]
• · Australia's eastern seaboard bears the scars of tsunami
• · · Donations at ‘unprecedented’ levels Relief Groups Hail Level of Donations by Individuals
• · · · Angel at 10 There was about 10 minutes from the moment the ocean draws out before the tsunami strikes
• · · · · Standing on the shoulders of giants Don't forget, the people of the United States are the most generous people in the world. We don't expect our Government to spend our money for us. We take care of that ourselves
• · · · · · Philippe Van Parijs A Basic Income for All

Saturday, January 01, 2005

While Augustine emphasizes love as continuous movement, as desire, he does this in accord with his understanding of this life as a pilgrimage in which there is no final rest because our final good cannot be found in this world An Augustinian Understanding of Love in an Ecological Context

Invisible Hands & Markets: Loving the world to death
Google the words "sluggish U.S. economy" and "2004," and in 0.40 second you get 4,540 results. "Weak employment report points to still-sluggish U.S. economy," reads a recent headline, on the news that "just 112,000" jobs were added in November. Sluggish Economy: It's still the strongest in the world

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to a conversation I overheard at Starbucks in Nashville last winter. I was distracted from my work on that cold and rainy night by two young men who sat down in upholstered chairs next to my table. One was talking and the other was listening, in what appeared to be an informal college orientation.
What will happen to higher education in America if this fear of "too much education", and this presumption that liberal views are the devil's snare rather than natural consequences of uncensored exposure to science, philosophy, literature and diversity, becomes widespread?"

Be Careful Not to Get Too Much Education [OF ALL THE ethical rules governing the conduct of House members, this is perhaps the most critical. Rigging the Rules ]
• · Ways to fix your life: Quit your job Please continue not letting no one get you down [For many, the work-till-you-die ethic is out of control. It's time to drop the lie and start living ]
• · · On China and Latin America: Magic, or realism?
• · · · The choice between back-breaking human labor and efficient fruit-harvesting machines is approaching fast, just as it did more than 40 years ago when the mechanical tomato harvester revolutionized Cali How to Pick a Pomaranc? ; [ What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find The quotes: You seem indifferent to suffering. Have you ever suffered yourself? ]
• · · · · Average-Wage Earners Fall Behind Blaming The Brown People; [What he was actually doing was spying, using his observations as fodder for a novel.Did you spy and play in the sun?]
• · · · · · The world's rich and powerful - already bowed under the weight of their great responsibilities - were advised yesterday that they must learn to cope with yet another obligation. I think that those who can afford it have a duty to present themselves in the best possible way Plastic surgery keeps Berlusconi young at artificial heart ; [28-year old bricklayer v silver crook An Italian hurled his camera tripod at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ]

I raise my glass to 2005, but for the first time in exile I was sober last night. Totally sober. We did not even dance a first one for me especially when it comes to Silvester aka New Year Eve.
Best of 2004 comes down to simple daily joys; those morning routines and evening rituals. The way Lauren makes the cofee scent travel into every corner of our house. The way I am allow to take risks and still be forgiven. As the legislatures around the world are well aware, 2004 was a milestone in the Imrich journey through this amazing life in exile. Being married to Lauren for two decades feels much less than 2 years drilled inside the Czechoslovak army: Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle...
Best albums we bought this year: Despite my salty hair, I am hooked on Silver(C)hair. Every now and then we are reminded of how rebel music can do more than merely stir us ... One of those albums whose lyrics make you wish you had a richer inner life somehow. I blame Lauren for this as she loves listening to the CDs at 4 am with the girls as they head towards swimming pool ...
Best TV series I saw this year: I fell in love with Love My Way (Warning - May improve your love-life dangerously)
Best book I read this year: I am a big reader to begin with, but I think that being researcher by trade and passion, I read more newspapers, journals and books than most people. I enjoyed reading Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, The Last Juror by John Grimsham and the insightful and daring book by Margo Kingston entitled Not Happy John.
Best Film Festival I attended this year: In Sydney for the first time was the eightth Annual Resfest Digital Film Festival
Best Art Festival since 1981 - January: As the New Australian I discovered the Baracks. Today the Barcadi Latino Festival, also part of Sydney Festival rocks.
Best Parade since 1989 - July: The first Love Parade was held in 1989 and attracted just 150 revellers. Many children of the Velvet Revolutions were conceived under the same spirit. The Love Parade snakes past the Angel of Peace monument in the middle of the Tiergarden and down to the Brandenburg Gate, potent symbol of German reunification
Best kiss I received this year: I am omitting this category for 2004 in the interest of privacy and people who might be scared to reenter the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Destitute Writer’s Motto: Love is like war, begin when you like and leave off when you can ...
David Tiley gives us many reasons to keep going in 2005 Love is blind, but friendship closes its eyes

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: 2000000005 Richer inner life
As we have seen, subjectivism--whether "supernatural," social, or personal--fails to provide proper guidance for human action, because each version calls for human sacrifice and leads to human suffering. If we want to live and achieve genuine happiness, we need a non-sacrificial alternative that is grounded in the facts of reality. But in search of such an alternative, we are faced with a big problem: The world is full of facts. Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It

I have caffeine in my blood. So I appreciate that expresso is a battle between water and coffee. It is great to see cafes using their cultural clout to help those in need. At Starbucks my macchiato is deep and full like a trombone note and the foam sits on my pepperish Moustache until I finish reading the SMH. If you are not too keen to provide credit card details but you still want to help urgently Tsunami victims go to your nearest Starbucks anywhere in the world and tip the jar generously. Starbucks is on a Tsunami crusade: it is high, like a Gabriella’s violin
[I love independent bookshops and cafe, but there are grey areas when it comes to act locally and help globally way of thinking. “There was a mutual realisation that by working together we could achieve more than by working alone”

Quote from a survivor of Tsunami: "The wave was like a cobra," he says, demonstrating with his hand, "it fanned out before crashing down on us." Only days ago Australian surfer David Lines was reading a book about the famed 19th-century eruption of Indonesia's Krakatoa volcano, which warns the region could be hit by a giant earthquake
• · Australian surfer's Krakatoa omen came true ; Responding to tsunami appeal
• · New York Times The Year in Pictures
• · · The Da Vinci crock Too bad it comes from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," a masterpiece of bogus history
• · · · Da Code River Forgers 'tried to rewrite biblical history'
• · · · · Steve Pasvolsky is one of the most promising film talents to emerge from the Australian Film Television and Radio School
• · · · · · And we all are Children of Sex. We may or may not be Children of God, Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha or Isis, but, until we start cloning ourselves, we are all Children of Sex Why do end-of-time beliefs endure? Ach that one is too hard @ Lovemaking Central. Amen and Awomen!

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