Sunday, April 27, 2008

Perhaps those Chinese protesters, denying others the right to free speech during the Olympic torch relay, should follow their own advice and go home First byte: A cool idea to warm to by Cold River
Historic nobodies feature in Cold River When fiction is not enough "Wise people store up knowledge - Eternal vigilance the price of freedom

Falling waters Sobel Reflects
Jofie Ferrari-Adler's latest interview in the Poets & Writers series with publishing veterans is with agent Nat Sobel. Excerpts:

It's only been in the last twenty years, or maybe the last ten years, that I became aware, as did Judith [Weber], that we wanted the agency to reflect our tastes, rather than just take on things that were saleable. Our list is our taste. Which means that there are a lot of areas of publishing that we will not go into because we aren't interested in them. So we've never done any romances, for instance.
I think what is evolving today for agents is that they need to be the first line editors for their authors. Judith and I really love the editing process. We have spent years editing nearly every novel we've ever agented. We did that long before we began to discover how little editing was going on in the publishing houses. But today agents need to be far more proactive in almost every other area of the publishing process. We have to be the marketing directors for many of our books. We have to involve ourselves in looking at the jacket design, the jacket copy, the catalogue copy. We have to be very proactive in how we help direct the writer to help sell his or her book. Those are things you never thought about in agenting when I first came into it. You made the deal, you negotiated the contract, and that was it—the publisher took over

• For the life of me, I can't remember when I met Nat Sobel for the first time A Q&A With Agent Nat Sobel; [Writing is hard work-- and there are no shortcuts. When it comes right down to the nitty gritty, it's just you and that glowing computer screen. Discover writing markets from North America, Europe, Australasia and other places. It's free, so come and try it Naked Writing: The No-Frills Way to Write Your Novel!; Like some of the luckiest people in high tech, John Buckman made a mint on his first company and now dabbles in passion projects. Silicon Valley adage: Strike it rich once, you're lucky. Twice, you're smart. Free BookMooching Sells Books]
• · Art of drinking no frill milk in Australia Believe it or not – we have to live with this supermarket ; Technology has resulted in teenagers and young adults having a very different conception of privacy. The new digital paparazzi
• · Mark Story: Good knowledge management ensures continuing access to employees' know how, even when they move on. A look at how one organisation's (State Revenue Office, Victoria) systems mean they no longer rely solely on what's in the heads of individual staff Storing knowledge ; A trickle of cold river books about Australians at war has become a torrent The Digger distilled: When fiction is not enough
• · · Nabokov's last work will not be burned - Dmitri said, I'm a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, You're stuck in a right old mess - just go ahead and publish! The most concentrated distillation of [my father's] creativity; We don't need more books, we need better books. We're going to spend even more time to make sure that the products are right before they go out Elephant in the room
• · · · I love all forms of sisomo but this sisomo card created by artist/designer Julie Ruiz for VH1 is special. It’s proof again that the size of the idea isn’t always about the size of the budget. Light a candle for sisomo; One of the best fast food experiences I've enjoyed recently was in, of all places, Cincinnati. It's called Ingredients and it's healthy, fresh, tasty, a far cry from pizza and fried chicken, and it really is fast. Imagine a large, spacious production line with four production workers... Ingredients: Fast Food Heaven I'm not often in New York over a weekend, but when I am, my Sundays have a distinct pattern. It all starts with a lazy breakfast at one of the many neighborhood joints in Tribeca. Unfortunately, although I'm just across the road from Bubby's, it's become such an attraction it's lost its local charm... Weekend in NYC - The heart is what keeps Agatha’s designs pumping. She is a breath of fresh air in the jaded world of 'me-too' fashion
• · · · · Raymond Baker writes: the primary reason for the existence of Liechtenstein and some 90 other tax havens is to provide secrecy for illegally generated money to move across borders. I've researched this question all over the world (Capitalism's Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System, Wiley 2005) -- what is the basic motivation for use of money-laundering techniques, abusive transfer pricing, disguised corporations, and anonymous accounts? Most people think it is to avoid taxes or the risk of inflation or confiscation. Not correct. The basic motivation is the hidden accumulation of money, hidden primarily as to origin and secondarily as to purpose. Use of these techniques and facilitating structures is about piling up cash secretly in a foreign locale without having to share with employees, family members, and others locally or disclose the provenance or purpose of such funds. Which Is the Bigger Challenge: Tax Havens or High Taxes? ; If you were a member of the Wall Street aristocracy, one of those hedge fund hot shots who makes half a billion dollars a year, which horse would you bet on in the race for the White House? Mr. Obama? He backs something called the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, a measure that would limit all offshore accounts that the wealthiest hedge funds have set up. That’s not something Wall Street wants … So why is Mr. Obama such a popular choice among the hedge fund crowd?
In a word, access. Just like at the Bear pit … Unlike Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama is relatively new to national politics and is therefore open to bringing new people — and new money — into the tent. For money types who want a table, or at least to look involved and get an invitation to the right parties, Mr. Obama is the candidate. Then again, politics, like the markets, can change fast. As one hedge fund manager who is backing Mr. Obama said, “It is very possible I may change my mind.” They don’t call them hedges for nothing Hedge Fund Investing and Politics
• · · · · · I love your region’s energy, audacity and drive to diversify. The Gulf to me is guts, risk-taking and high adventure, supercharged by dreams: Beyond the Horizon; The digital revolution is transforming marketing, entertainment and technology everywhere. The boundaries between media and advertising, content and products, creator and producer, audience and critic are dissolving: To Survive, Print and TV Must Engage Consumers Radical Optimist - Why 'love' is the new black

Sunday, April 20, 2008

By the way, the German Film Festival in Sydney has a good story on Check Point Charlie Border of Despair

TT: Annals of failed flackery
People in my line of work have to sift through a lot of press releases and other forms of flackery, all of which we take with a stalactite or two of salt. It's part of the job. Nevertheless, I confess to having boggled at the blurbissimo I encountered on the back of my advance readers' copy of Andre Dubus III's The Garden of Last Days, which will be published by W.W. Norton in June.
Here it is, in its entirety:
One early September night in Florida, a stripper brings her daughter to work. April's usual babysitter is in the hospital, so she decides it's best to have her three-year-old daughter close by, watching children's videos in the office, while she works.
Except that April works at the Puma Club for Men. And tonight she has an unusual client, a foreigner both remote and too personal, and free with his money. Lots of it, all cash. His name is Bassam. Meanwhile, another man, AJ, has been thrown out of the club for holding hands with his favorite stripper, and he's drunk and angry and lonely.
From these explosive elements come [sic] a relentless, raw, searing, passionate, page-turning narrative, a big-hearted and painful novel about sex and parenthood and honor and masculinity. Set in the seamy underside of American life at the moment before the world changed, it juxtaposes lust for domination with hunger for connection, sexual violence with family love. It seizes the reader by the throat with the same psychological tension, depth, and realism that characterized Andre Dubus's #1 bestseller, House of Sand and Fog--and an even greater sense of the dark and anguished places in the human heart.
I didn't read House of Sand and Fog, so I suppose it's within the realm of possibility that Andre Dubus III is a serious writer. Still, it isn't very likely that I'll be reading The Garden of Last Days, much less reviewing it. I don't mind having my intelligence insulted by publicists--some forms of suffering are hard to avoid--but a critic can only be expected to swallow so much guff, and the Norton publicity department just blew my quota for 200 Garden of Last Days

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Local government elections recently held in Boonah, SEQ had an outcome that was decided by ping pong ball ballot. The second preferences had two out of the three candidates drawn, so rather than decide on first preferences, or have a new election we have the bouncing ball decide. Democracy INACTION I think. (story written by Rob)
We have heard it for some time now: the market is divine, lending its magical corrective qualities to sort out the good from the bad. Socialism for the rich: the unwise free market

Hungry Media Dragon The price of friendship
Parliament is a place where INFORMATION IS POWER- In WA Rayner tipped off the then Clerk of the Legislative Council, Laurie Marquet.
IN a rare public defence, the clerk of NSW Parliament Russell Grove denies he tipped off Labor Minister Milton Orkopoulos in the child sex scandal … THE clerk of the NSW Parliament Russell Grove has issued a rare public defence, denying he tipped off convicted paedophile Milton Orkopoulos and defending his role in the sacking of whistleblower Gillian Sneddon.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Grove rejected claims he had alerted the former Iemma Government minister to police investigations into his activities - which led to a string of child sex convictions. Making an uncharacteristic foray into public life, he also rejected allegations made by Ms Sneddon, Orkopoulos' ex-electoral officer, that she had been sacked because she turned police informant against her boss. "My conscience is clear, absolutely," Mr Grove said.
Referring to a report he was asked to provide to the Parliament's presiding officer, Speaker Richard Torbay, an Independent, Mr Grove insisted he had not acted improperly. He also accused Ms Sneddon of smearing him and his parliamentary colleagues with accusations they had deliberately told Orkopoulos he was under investigation after she alerted the Parliament to the allegations.

Conscience clear on sex scandal ; [Illustrated; Story on Crikey]
• · How do we ensure that political parliamentarians, self-serving and altruistic alike, don’t have access to operational case details, yet can still effectively oversight corruption commissions? How do we prevent corruption within the body itself? This is a case study of the Acting Commissioner having admitted that she advised a friend whom she knew was under investigation by the CCC for a criminal offence that his phone was “was probably being bugged” and not to make any telephone calls. Add into the mix, that the friend is the recently, quickly resigned Legislative Council Clerk of Parliaments, Laurie Marquet, now on his death bed and charged with having siphoned off $227,000 of parliament’s money into a bogus law firm he created, as well as drug possession. Or, as Ms Rayner viewed it in evidence our committee tabled, Laurie knows he’s been caught “with his hands in the till and drugs on his person.” It was in fact the case that Marquet’s telephone calls were being intercepted by the CCC, and as a result the CCC intercepted a call by the Acting Commissioner in early August, arranging to visit Marquet. From that date, the previously frequent and unguarded calls by Marquet on his mobile phone ceased. This raised a suspicion that he had been warned. Getting away with murder ; Laurie Marquet ; Laurie Marquet | Facebook
• · In NSW recent e-security concerns have been mainly internal, which is in contrast to many organisations which are usually more concerned with external security and ensuring that external parties cannot access information. Hackergate Parliamentary stories ; Off the record ;
• · · The spectre of David Draper and Alan Beverstock is spreading over Parliament House. Librarian Mark D'Arney killed himself after blowing the whistle on the discount sale of 3000 historic books from the State Parliament's library March 2004; Parliamentary embezzler blows whistle on MPs ; The view from the other side— Parliamentary consumers
• · · · ABC of The economics of terrorism; As far as I can deduce, beneath the suffocating silences of the state bureaucracy - now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Labor Party - last Monday a group of violent racists acted out their YouTube fantasies and stormed into Merrylands High School at 8.50am White lies about dark crimes; And then there was one … string of woes leaves Iemma isolated IF A journo shits on us we'll shit on them
• · · · · Matthew Benns' exclusive story - PROPERTY developers have handed the NSW Labor Party more than $4 million in donations in the three years since the laws were changed to give Planning Minister Frank Sartor control of large developments. Soil Sickeness in Sydney; Sartor rejects calls for royal commission on donations
• · · · · · Mark Bahnisch Ending political donations? Visions go to water ... Pollies exit stage left for a big cash landing ; MANY developers in NSW know exactly who to call in the Labor Government because many of their key advisers worked for it. Take former premier Bob Carr, for example. After leaving parliament he accepted a $500,000-a-year consultancy role with the state's biggest private investor in public infrastructure, Macquarie Bank. MAC Banc ; Ruthless and grubby: DPP lashes Morris Iemma's team Feels like he has been "crucified" … the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, in his Castlereagh Street office yesterday Ruthless and grubby

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