Saturday, December 31, 2005

Woke up this morning and I
Stared out the window and I
Searched for ugliness and I
Struggled for something to fotograf...
After all, Alexandra and Gabriella are
The Children of Love: Fathers and Daughters

The World Pyro Olympics, an annual competition for fireworks professionals, begins today at The Avenue Rose Bay where the center cannot hold ;-) Gunpowder, Jimi Hendrix and a big heart to usher in the New Year in Sydney. Seeing out the year (Peace and goodwill to all, except Foolish Dave) with Gabbie, Christopher, Lidia, Jacob and Alex feels like a box of chocolates I get to enjoy at just the right pace: one at a time, stretching the box out to last a whole Silvester evening, parcelling out the sweetness bite by bite World Pyro Olympics Elsewhere: No, not again: summer's great terror returns

How to Feel like Imrich: The usual mixed bag of existential klass, but mostly Lessons In Gratitude The secret to happiness is being grateful for everything

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: THE POTENTIAL POWER OF MANY: Most important books for understanding the future
Why books? Why not articles, or speeches, or university courses, or documentaries, or blogs, or iTalks …? The intent of the readings is to be as comprehensive as possible on each of the topics addressed, so book-length treatments seemed like the best approach.

The mission of the RAND Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition is ultimately to improve the human condition in the longer-range future. While there is no sure path to improving the future human condition, there is no shortage of books that address themselves to some aspect of improving that future.

After a particularly brilliant and spectacular speaking engagement in Canberra, Australia, in the summer of 1973, Professor Manning Clark, a distinguished Australian historian wrote to Chinua Achebe and pleaded: “I hope you come back and speak again here, because we need to lose the blinkers of our past. So come and help the young to grow up without the prejudices of their forefathers...”
50 Books for Thinking About the Future Human Condition [Two Christmass gifts for your non-Iranian friends ; Gooooood morning, Weblogistan! ]
• · Holidays are the days we recommit ourselves to our values Amitai Etzioni ; Speaking Personally ; Most in this depraved later Age think a woman learned and wise enough if she can distinguish her husband’s bed from another’s The forgotten literary canon ; Amid talk of "embezzlement" and "rape" they allege a "massive copyright infringement" of the type they say will do the authors of books irreparable harm, Google has done nothing like this to Cold River. Without Google Cold River would have drowned! On line and print make a marriage in heaven ... Google rocks, but only mainstream publishers! Hardly; A new chapter in the death of the book
• · · At a new theme park in El Alberto, Mexico (near Mexico City), wannabe migrants to the United States can test their survival skills at an obstacle course that Replicates the rigors migrants must endure while sneaking across the border ; Doing good at Fairfield Do you value people and appreciate their differences? Do YOU want to make a difference? ; Larger people are more cheerful than their thin peers CLICHES only turn into cliches because they're true
• · · · If 2005 tells us anything about the direction of culture in the Czech Republic, it's that inspiring art and performance have to be rooted in our own experience. Culture comes home in 2005 ; Time management is not the only issue here. There is often something sinister about the motives of those who press books onto others .... The urge to give "Elwood's Blues" to someone who already owns unread biographies of Franz Schubert and Miles Davis smacks of sadism Wish List: No More Books! ; I heard Lauren/ In a haunted doze/ Say: I know a secret dance/ Nobody knows.) Brokeback Mountain (some spoilers possible)
• · · · · The Gnostics were right, the world is made of shi. I made my life a work of art expressing this Judging the book by its BACK-cover ; As any good Jesuit could tell you, the power of myth can sometimes be more important, more materially helpful, than the cold, harsh glare of truth The Success Curse
• · · · · · Amazon Connect A Chance to Meet the Author Online ; A study finds fear of death may be a factor into who we vote for; The people who stand ready to trade their lives for ours are part of a tradition that goes back 400 years Firefighters ; Blogging's Naked Truth

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hope gives us the capacity to see beyond the mundane and the inconsequential. It motivates us to contemplate preferred realities, by never defining the future on the basis of present circumstances. Hope teaches us to not allow our past to destroy our future. It is audacious and bold. Our present realities should never define our consciousness. But the consciousness of hope should shape and define our ultimate realities. Christmas Story Brings Us Gift Of Hope

Saturday, December 24, 2005

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
- Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

To Those Who Appreciate the Art of Giving Cold River does not Mind Sand in the Spine
While much is left to the imagination, I console myself with knowing that everyone’s first book is autobiographical to some extent. The escape story across the Iron Curtain was a bit like constipation, it had to come out in the end ... When I'm crying, as much as when I'm laughing, I feel completely alive. It works for me. As a writer, the test of my best work is whether it does more than simply stimulate thought -- it must also provoke emotion. Memoirs can mine psychology in a way that films can not. Films are all about surface and speed. Books are all about depth and taking one's time swimming in the deep end of emotions. What other art form allows you to live inside another person's mind—a theater of other people's minds—for days or even weeks on end?
The experience of writing serious non-fiction is comparable to a shamanic journey. We must be willing to let go of our attachment to our everyday lives and concerns and make the solitary pilgrimage into the deepest reaches of our psyches to explore a strange and often frightening landscape. We return changed, blessed and burdened with our most profound wisdom and the need to communicate it. The attempt to shoehorn such an emotionally and spiritually engaging venture into a twenty-first century Western schedule can result in frustration, inhibition, and spectacular rejections ... Two zillion books a year are published, of which top one hundred are given the Big Rush, and all the rest tend to drown without a trace ... They say it's OK to charm, to cajole, to manipulate, to sell your soul if need be. But the most important thing is caring enough to get the story right and tell it well! Thank you for reading ...

Most of us don't like risk and uncertainty. That's too bad, because there's no shortage of either ... Next year will be bigger than ever. Take it easy, run a risk, have fun, go for it! 2005’s been a huge year for Cold River! Skipped the Coldest River the first time around? Here comes your second chance! If great escapes are all about redemption, isn't it kind of fitting this book gets a second chance? Here is a book peppered with gripping account of escape just out in paperback. A staggering achievement, especially considering this was a debut memoir. Cold River created a stark and painful record of what happens to families when death moves in. And showing that he's unafraid to tackle big themes and larger questions, Jozef links to links about writing for posterity. Remember: great books don't only get better with age. They get less expensive. So dive right in as every day in the deep end of life is a good day... The Cold River Comes in From the Cold: Dissent Protects Democracy

Cold River: Fluid Memoir

Gut-wrenching memoir never forgets that cold war was fought by human beings

Sink or Swim: If It Were All So Simple

Iron Curtain Brought to Book: This Book Will Save Your Life

Cold River: Telling tales against the tide

Friday, December 23, 2005

The highest wisdom is kindness.
-The Talmud

We all share in a shattering duality—and by this I don't mean that soggy, superficial split that one so often sees: the kind of thing, for example, where the gangster sobs uncontrollably at an old Shirley Temple movie. I mean the fundamental schism that Newman referred to when he spoke of man being forever involved in the consequences of some 'terrible, aboriginal calamity'; every day in every man there is this warfare of the parts. And while all this results in meanness and bitterness and savagery enough, God knows, and while only a fool can look around him and smile serenely in unwatered optimism, nevertheless the wonder of it all is to me the frequency with which kindness, the essential goodness of man does break through, and as one who has received his full measure of that goodness, I can say that for me, at least, it is in the long succession of these small, redemptive instants, just as much as in the magnificence of heroes, that the meaning and the glory of man is revealed....
- Edwin O'Connor, The Edge of Sadness

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Looking for a Cause: Liquid Marketing
The model used to be, you developed a product, froze it and shipped it and then immediately began work on the next product version. Today the model is, build it, ship it, improve it, ship it, Or better yet, build it, ship it and let your customers improve it on their own. The company that can learn to build, listen, learn, integrate the fastest will have a sustaining advantage over their competitors.

Another piece of insight that came out of the Doc Searls meeting last week was that “Nothing is ever finished”. Everything is a work in progress. The rule applies to software code, as described in the open source model. It applies to blogs, the conversation on the Internet never ends and it applies to product development. The model used to be, you developed a product, froze it and shipped it and then immediately began work on the next product version. Today the model is, build it, ship it, improve it, ship it, … Or better yet, build it, ship it and let your customers improve it on their own. The company that can learn to build, listen, learn, integrate the fastest will have a sustaining advantage over their competitors.

Marketers will come to understand that the story now needs to be liquid [Now that luxury has gone mass market, how are the super-rich to flaunt their wealth? Inconspicuous consumption ; An economist finds that going to church is more than its own reward Wealth from worship ]
• · Russian Dolls Sexist, Moi!; Men with the best dance moves have the most sex appeal It's true, dancing does lead to sex
• · · Devastating storms, a new pope, a White House scandal and the 2,000th U.S. death in Iraq. A look back in cartoons and quotes: Quotes Of The Year and lists for 2005 ; Ian Roberts: If you’re not happy with yourself, believe me, someone else can’t make you happy Marketing and creativity finally intersect
• · · · The year's films were exhilarating, distinctive and sometimes unsettling - and cinemas themselves were in the news The good, the bad and the ugly; Teach, Don't Preach, the Bible
• · · · · Many on the Left, including professed Marxists, believe literature and art are irrelevant to class struggle and the emancipation of the working clas Why Marx Matters To Artists ; Interview with Arthur Danto
• · · · · · If we could retire for good one old expression from the Culture Wars, I’d like to nominate “the literary canon.” Aiming the Can(n)on ; Why do humans prefer to have sex in privacy?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Home was the middle-class Sydney suburb of Sutherland Shire, 'A freaky place where people don't leave'
- Donna Hay

The week I move from Cronulla for Bondi it is the time when the hell opened up at Folly Fortress Cronulla: no way through ...
The Government's dramatic move follows two nights of violence sparked by Sunday's race riot at Cronulla beach, when a drunken mob chased anyone of Middle Eastern appearanc Where the 'other' fears to tread: Emergency powers to stop riot

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: THE SHIRE: Reach Out and Touch Someone ...
Show of force … the police roadblock on Kingsway last night, one of many checkpoints around the Shire where officers screened cars trying to enter the suburb such as Sylvania Waters ...

No society, no matter how tolerant, says Salman Rushdie, can expect to thrive if its citizens don’t prize what their citizenship means: what it means to be French, or British

What this cultural debate needs is more dirt, less pure stupidity [ Prediction is one of the pleasures of life Conversation would wither without it --I won’t last. She’ll dump him in a month ... Political pundits turn out to be as unreliable as psychological research predicts. Maybe we’ll all have to start thinking for ourselves; As Baby Boomers retire, they are set to collect a fortune in benefits: $266,000 for every full-time worker. Might be a bit imprudent Demography is destiny: Must It Be Gloom And Doom For The Baby Boom? ]
• · Both sides of the Sydney street Strike force to track down culprits ; The Cronulla brawls are more proof of a vicious underbelly in our culture 'What is Australian anyway?'
• · · Tax reform? Turn 8500 pages and weep: There are 170 Australians honest enough to declare taxable income of more than Au$2 million a year. Yet they still manage to get their average rate of net tax below what someone on average weekly earnings has to pay How the rich slip through tax net ; Michael Egan: Financial prudence's legacy not to be squandere A user pays infrastructure
• · · · By Morgan Mellish; Fiona Buffini ; Brian Toohey. 12/12/2005. The Australian Financial Review, Pages 1, 4. There is to be a high-level inquiry into the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The Inspector-General of Taxation, David Vos, has confirmed that he will monitor whether the ATO is following its own protocols in all cases. He will investigate whether the ATO is consistent in prosecuting individuals and businesses for alleged tax evasion and sham tax deals. Vos will also look at a controversial settlement that the ATO made with businessman Robert Gerard in 2003. The latter recently resigned from the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, after his alleged tax evasion was made public Tax office faces probe over audits ; Young people - our greatest asset
• · · · · Sydney's racial hatred spills over to rest of the country ; Hard-earned dollars won't buy back time
• · · · · · Freedom for others means safety for ourselves. Let us be for freedom for others.” The neocon credo appeals to both left and right Neoconservatism: why we need it ; If you can afford the many millions you need to live at 720 Park Avenue - and you squeak past the co-op board - you will find yourself in a building with all the advantages New York has to offer. It is one of the great old Park Avenue luxury apartment buildings, with tasteful 12-room apartments and neighbors who grace the social pages, the business pages and the lists of the world's richest people. When It Comes to Taxes, Older Is Better

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I spoke to my Mamka (Mom) this morning it was 5:30 am in seaside Sydney and evening in the High Tatra Mountains. The temperatures also could not be more different as it is nice and warm here whereas it is freezing in my old home country. At 89 ( in February next year) Mamka is bright and alert and can recall so many childhood stories I have forgotten. My sister Gitka is her guardian angel keeping her company as they share stories and sew or knit together. They are an amazing couple of friends - so alike in appearance and temperament - so much more than daughter mother relationship ... Both cannot get over that we have moved again as neither my sister or my Mamka ever left their place of birth and are still living where they were born. I am glad that they have always provided for me with a sense of stability, a place and home to call whenever my heart desired ... My sister and my Mamka seem to agree with the sentiment expressed in the sweet sixteen points below


1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve its full potential, that word would be "meetings."
3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
5. You should not confuse your career with your life.
6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
7. Never lick a steak knife.
8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
13. A person who is nice to you but rude to a waiter is not a nice person.
(This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
14. Your friends love you anyway.
15. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
16. Men are like fine wine. They start out as grapes, and it's up to the women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

'On The Importance of Telling Stories'
My grandmother often told me the story of her father-in-law who found out just before Christmas that he was going to die. Determined to live through the holiday to be with his family, he died right after the new year. She and my grandfather, then very young newlyweds, took that rapid loss as a lesson to live for the day and be happy with what they had - a lesson they truly followed. When she became old and my grandfather died, my grandmother thrived on telling old stories to keep herself going. It wasn't so much that she was living in the past, but the telling of the stories made the past alive and relevant It is that same sense of the need to live in the moment while telling stories of the past that Joan Didion has infused through her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking.

If I had a million dollars, I would slap it all down on the table in front of any jackass that said they could write a fabulous book if only they had a big fat advance, and tell them they could have every single penny if they could bang out a genuinely salable book in six months ... because your basic loudmouth non-writer is no more capable of writing a salable book than I am of piloting a 747, and roughly for the same reason—it’s a skill you have to learn, baby, and one generally learns the writing skill by writing most days of your life (and generally—alas—you’ll be doing that for little if any pay).
– Whatever
Publishing, Writing, Getting Published

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