BohemiAntipodean Samizdat

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Everybody who lives in New York (Sydney), (Praha) believes he’s here for some purpose, whether he does anything about it or not.
Arlene Croce, Afterimages

About Last Night has lived in New York for the better part of two decades now, and you'd think he'd have gotten used to it.
In a way, I suppose I have, but even now all it takes is a whiff of the unexpected and I catch myself boggling at that which the native New Yorker really does take for granted. As for my visits to Smalltown, U.S.A., they invariably leave me feeling like yesterday's immigrant, marveling at things no small-town boy can ever really dismiss as commonplace, no matter how long he lives in the capital of the world...
· Poland is the most pro-Amerikan country in the world — including the United States [ courtesy of The most desirable places to live in Amerika ]

Media Dragon figures out how to get big ratings
One way: Blog a tree-parter called Porn in three Cultures: French, Bohemian and AntipodianQueenslander Warren Cahill whispers to me that Sex is where the money is (smile)

Dirt and light and water conspire to make the most of the little seed...
History is the story of the mighty oaks; the acorns get little ink. There are too many seeds, and their existence is too transient. So historians, in professional retrospect, tell us which of the acorns got lucky.
Racy works like "Anecdotes About Mme. la Comtesse du Barry," the story of the courtesan to King Louis XV presented the king as a very flawed human being - in fact, a dirty old man, incompetent and decadent. Thus a book overlooked by the elite helped to strip the monarchy of its sacred aura and may have ultimately helped to open the royal path to the guillotine.
Revolutions have come from less.

· And it becomes a mighty Australian oak [blatantly pinched from How porno books helped topple the Bohemian & French aristocracy ]

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Polution free cities Alternative Transport
Green ideas for 2004...
· Online Gas Scooters [ via Cheap Electric Scooters ]

Santaless Cities
If we were physical we would have killed each other. In 1986, she quit and didn't speak to her father for nearly a year.
· Then they resumed talking, at high volume... [ courtesy of Murthy ]
· Familiar Families [blatantly pinched from Amerikan v Prahe]

Monday, December 29, 2003

Like most yearbooks, the one from Oakville Trafalgar High School leaves space beneath the photos of graduating students for them to acknowledge the friends, teachers and events that made their high school years memorable. And, as at most high schools, students at the Oakville school tend to write strings of initials, slang and inside jokes that form hidden messages in teenage code.
But this past spring, the message from Grade 12 valedictorian Andrew Ironside was anything but cryptic.

I am not the most popular person, not even close
A lot of you were jerks ... Andrew Ironside, now a student at Brock University, was elected valedictorian at his Oakville, Ont., high school as a joke, but made the most of the opportunity.
A lot of people in our grade, the grade that elected me, do not know my name. They just know me as that blond kid with the freaky eyes.
Mr. Ironside, who had his own page in the yearbook, had been elected valedictorian in a vote carefully orchestrated by his peers and designed to embarrass him.
But when graduation night arrived, he gave a speech that transformed a malicious high school joke into an ad libbed sequel to Revenge of the Nerds.

· If I can be elected valedictorian, anything is possible [ courtesy of Reflection and soul searching: Ordinary Canadians who showed extraordinary courage.]
· If I can be published, anything is possible :=) [blatantly pinched from Canadian Dragon]

> Hidden Donations
Todd Lighty and Mickey Ciokajlo of the Chicago Tribune used internal campaign finance records to show that Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan's campaign committee has failed to disclose thousands of dollars in donations and has hidden contributions made by employees that the sheriff pledged not to accept. In some cases, $125 money orders bearing the names of Al Capone and Dr. Jack Kevorkian and contributions made in the names of deputies' ex-wives were recorded by the campaign. Altogether, there was at least $80,000 in donations from anonymous donors, from employees that were masked in the names of others, or from sources that were not recorded, records show. During the period in question, Sheahan raised more than $2.5 million.
· Al Capone and Dr. Jack Kevorkian [blatantly pinched from Google ]
· Delinquent Taxes Unpenalized [ via Scoop]

The Journalism of Complacency
I know this sounds both personally naïve and institutionally self-serving - after all, I've been a journalist for 40 years, 35 of them with The Times - and I'm aware of not just the blatant betrayals of the public interest by the likes of Blair and Glass but the more systemic, more damaging betrayals represented by what I've come to think of as the four horsemen of the journalistic apocalypse: superficiality, sensationalism, preoccupation with celebrity, and obsession with the bottom line.
· Journalists who are among the comfortable and therefore not among those who wish the afflict the comfortable [ courtesy of TimPorter ]
· Paul Krugman posits a few rules for political journalists in 2004 history will not forgive us if we allow laziness to rule [ courtesy of An Australian journalist gets a taste of Department of Homeland Security hospitality ]

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Sydneysiders stand in front of the estate agents, staring at the photographs, their jaws dropping... Looking back at a year of economic & political carping.

03's company: what a crowd
The scent first went to the Dobermans. A sniff, a whiff in the sultry days as 2003 began, and they quickly divined that the year would be a stinker. Some seasons were like that. And it would probably also stay hot, they figured.
Now at the end of the year, they had been proven right. In the office at Tried and True Trustees, Sisyphus worked the abacus and shook his head and the dogs became very still, though their nostrils flared and their exhalations whistled faintly in nervous staccato.

· AMP. What a dog [blatantly pinched from Finally, there was zzzzzzzzmh. ]
· You've been a good mate tradition is alive and well in NSW [ via SMH Terrigals and Trogs dine out on Carr's fate ]
· Bones to pick [ courtesy of Praguepost]

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Congratulations, Pavel Nedved.

Europe's Football Player of the Year is a Czech for the first time in decades.
· The night Czech Nedved made his absence felt [ via nicmoc ]

Friday, December 26, 2003

Have Yourself a Merry Little Boxing Day
How dare we question our leaders who have blisters and blood from making us and our families safer, richer and happier? Biting the very hand that feeds Us? We are an unpatriotic, flag-hating conspiracy freak if we doubt the regime our honest politicians are sooooo proud of creating! It's stuff in journals like the Wahington Post that makes me sit up. Usually, when political journalists in the trenches say something this momentous, it means something. It speaks of a lack of faith in leadership; a disafection in the fourth estate. Readers sit up, listen and ponder.

Under Bush, Expanding Secrecy
Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would consider an effort by Vice President Cheney to keep private the records of the energy policy task force he ran. On Friday, the White House announced that it has known for two weeks about an attack on a convoy carrying Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer -- but had decided not to divulge the information. Later that day, President Bush announced a disarmament deal with Libya reached during nine months of secret negotiations.
· It is a banner for government secrecy: I Rule, Therefore I'm Golden [ courtesy of Washington Post ]
· Chomsky has written about the selective memory and the morality of convenience [ via Independent ]
· Lord Black: Friendship and Business Blur in the World of a Media Baron [ via Thoughtlines: On the dust jacket: blurbs by an impressive set of conservative thinkers...]

God is not a right-wing boxing zealot
God has given us two eyes, two ears and two arms and two hands, but only one heart. And it's in the center and a little bit to the left.
In the heart of the Bluegrass, a Bible Belt preacher is rallying people to political action around what he calls "basic religious values." Think you can describe his politics? Think again. This man of the cloth wants "regime change" in Washington.

· Washminsters [ via Salon]

It's greed, not ideology, that rules the White House
Why the US wants Iraq's debts cancelled - and Argentina's paid in full
· NO Ideas [ via Guardian(UK)]

Thursday, December 25, 2003

As Krusty, the Klown, would say: ‘Have a Kooky Christmas, a Happy Hanukkha, a Crazy Kwanza, and a...very respectful Ramadan.

The 411 on Faith
Now that we're in the season of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, check out for the 411 on every religion.
Season's greetings to Media Dragon readers -- and a big thank you. We rely on you for tips and feedback and look forward to hearing from you in the new year.
SUBMIT YOUR TIPS FOR THE VIRTUAL 6 DEGREE OF SEPARATION: What websites and stories do you find most ironical, trendy, savvy? Which dragon tails about political and managerial bullies have been missed by the journalistic profession? Send a link and I'll publish a selection.

· Greetings [ via Ideas ]

Messages of peace and remembrance
Miracles do happen, helped along by the unquenchable spirit of human optimism and faith ... all people have the right to be themselves, even if they differ in creed or colour, opinion or ethnic origin.
· It says that the human spirit cannot be dimmed forever [ courtesy of My Reading Stable by Ebenezer Scrooge (smile)]

Welcome to Sydney Warfare
Sydney is in the midst of one of the worst periods of violent crime in more than a decade. Gangsters in charge of the state.
· Yes Minister [ via SMH: Hard Irony Intended]

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

1) You don't have to love everything you're told is great, 2) You don't have to claim greatness for everything you love, and 3) You don't have to dispute the greatness of the works and artists you dislike.

Wishing one and all good and evil, saints and sinners A Very Happy Christmas Eve

In Castro's Gulag—Librarians
Hentoff: While American librarians — whom John Ashcroft calls "hysterics"—deserve credit for being on the front line against this secret fishing for subversives, none have been threatened with prison time by Ashcroft. But 10 librarians in Cuba have been put away for 20 years and more for not going along with Castro's endless Banned Books weeks." So why aren't American librarians protesting that?
· Why Aren't American Librarians Protesting Abuse Of Cuban Librarians? [ courtesy of Village Voice 12/16/03 ]
· a complete poster-size folio of Audubon's 'Birds of America,' valued at as much as $7 million. [ via NYTimes ]

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Judging by the Site Meter, most of you have more important things to do this week than read blogs. For those diehards who can't get enough czech this out...

Let Me Introduce you to our Eight weeks old Lilly
This happy-go-lucky red and white (Blenheim) four legs of smiles is part of my swimming familia.
· Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with Mona Lisa Smile [ via From Bessie to Lilly]

The secret Sydney recipe for earthly delight: get fit, drink and be married
We have all felt the irrational knot welling up inside ...
· Opposite of Life [ via in My Place]
· A little bit tipsy [ via I just might be the happiest man in the world]

Truth and consequences
Michael Kinsley, who has his moments (but oh, those quarter-hours!), recently put his finger on something that’s always irritated me. We all know that politicians never tell the truth, but I don’t mind flat-out lies—that goes with the territory. What drives me wild is their inability to say anything without spinning it. The day any politician of either party makes so blunt a remark within earshot of microphones—and declines to retract, moderate, or invert it before the day is out—you’ll know the barometer of cultural health in America is moving in the right direction. But don't hang by your thumbs waiting for it.
· About Politics [ courtesy of About Last Night]

Monday, December 22, 2003

Is This Legal?
I Spy impulse, families and employers are adopting surveillance technology once used mostly to track soldiers and prisoners. New electronic services with names like uLocate and Wherify Wireless make a very personal piece of information for cellphone users. physical location, harder to mask.
· Are CEOs & SES becoming SS of 2004? [ courtesy of Auction Wagon: ebay trends...]

Dumpster can be a gold mine
It was the first time I had ever been to the dump,'' Massey recalled, wrinkling his nose. ''I said, 'I'm not going to get dirty,' so I wandered over to a shed where the recycling was stored. I notice there's a big barrel for recycled paper that's full of discarded tax forms from an accounting firm.'' Each form had the person's name, date of birth, Social Security number -- all the information necessary for taking out a line of credit.
· Aspiring identity thief [ via Google]

Not normally to blow my own trumpet, but you’re probably reading this right now because you found the link in The Google so there are probably a few things I need to clear up. Without wanting my new found celebrity status to go to my head, I’m still pretty chuffed with the bestselling status along Cold Mountain and Mystic River (smile). And I wouldn’t put it past me that I’ll still be as chuffed this time next week as I drink and drink under the Christmas tree...

Adobe Opens Hot e-Bookstore
Czech out Cold River: Always the Bridesmaid? (smile)
It's hard to believe they hadn't done it before, but Adobe has just now opened an online store to sell e-books in the PDF format ( And they're using with Overdrive's Content Reserve to power the store (
· Well, as traffic goes through the roof, it would seem I rock the e-book market [ via Dude, Where's My eStore ]

Return to the dark tunnel: the writing cure
Sonja Linden on how people who have endured torture can reclaim their lives by writing their stories, and a poem from Zimbabwean Novell Zwangendaba on the language of violence that grips his country.
· Art and healing [ via ]

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Did Anyone Sit Back and Ask What is Right?
No way. They all had their snouts too deep in the trough and their brains too busy working out how much they could get away with to give a damn about anyone else. It's been that sort of year in politics and business, but lots of Australians without the cash or the clout of the elites we can't trust any more took a stand for what's right at great personal and financial cost.
· So much for the rule of law in NSW [ courtesy of Last Column for 2003 by Margo Kingston]

Zuzana Stevichova's Ordeal
The Czech tourist found yesterday after surviving four nights in the Snowy Mountains hopes to join her family at home for Christmas after being discharged from hospital last night.
Zuzana Stevichova's sister thanked rescuers who spotted her sister, dehydrated and hungry, in inaccessible country on the banks of the Jacobs River in the Kosciuszko National Park about noon yesterday.

· Antipodean Bohemian Drama [ courtesy of SMH ]

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The end of the American & Australian dreams
Where is this taking us? Thomas Piketty, whose work with Saez has transformed our understanding of income distribution, warns that current policies will eventually create "a class of rentiers in the U.S., whereby a small group of wealthy but untalented children controls vast segments of the US economy and penniless, talented children simply can't compete." If he's right--and I fear that he is--we will end up suffering not only from injustice, but from a vast waste of human potential.
· Goodbye, Horatio Alger. And goodbye, American Dream.
[ via Roadtosurfdom]
· Aussie $700bn credit binge [ courtesy of Gittins]
· Negative Gear [ via Road to Nowhere]

Back on 10 December Chris Shiel said: Angie, you're beautiful
Many more than three cheers for Angela Catterns for knocking the Parrot on his arse, after 94 consecutive survey wins. Must say, although she has great taste in music, Angie's voice is a touch too strong for Back Pages, which is pretty sensitive at that time of the morning. But Angie, I still love you baby.
GPO Box 9994
Sydney, NSW, 2001
Phone:General: 02 8333 1234
Talkback: 02 8333 1000
Fax:02 8333 1203

· Parrot v Substance [ courtesy of In 2004 Dial 702: Angel Catterns]

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Straight men, fixers and maddies
Politicians in the first category have their appeal, as the elections of John Cain, Nick Greiner and John Bannon attest.
Fixers, however, last longer, as evidenced by the tenures of Bob Hawke, Neville Wran and Bob Carr. That's because fixers aren't too disruptive and tend to get enough things done to create the illusion of progress.
But it's the out-and-out maddies who, for good or ill, change everything. Think of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Joh Bjelke- Petersen and, yes, Kennett and Keating. (Incidentally, far from being in the straight-man category, John Howard is madder than any hatter.) Maddies, for good or ill, make news, make waves, make trouble and make history.

· Ah [ via VOW]

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Jiri Grusa
Two weeks ago Jirˇí Grusˇa (Jiri Grusa) had been elected the new president of International PEN. We were a bit surprised that there was no English-language press coverage at the time, but we figured a fair amount would follow in the week to come. Boy, were we wrong.
Two weeks have now passed, and not only have there not been the big summary articles about the PEN Congress and the changing of the guard we expected, there don't seem to have been any mentions. Not even an AP report tucked away among the incidental arts coverage in any major or minor American or British newspaper or magazine.
Shame on them all !
The best we can do as far as pointing you to additional information and English-language coverage is this pathetic Radio Prague report, Jiri Grusa on his plans as PEN Club President.

· We'll look for additional coverage, but don't hold your breath. [ courtesy of Saloon ]
· What was Atta doing in Prague? [ via Black Cerny]

Writers Pay Ahead of Time
There's a habit they have, not of paying back, but of paying forward; I know of no other branch of literature where the established "names" so keenly encourage wannabe writers to become their competitors. I came back from that event determined to be a writer. After all, I'd shaken hands with Arthur C Clarke, so now it was just a matter of hard work...
· More than half the skill of writing lies in tricking the book out of your own head [ via Bookslut ]

Our sea still girt by the rich
If you need proof that the rich are getting richer, just look at the residents of Darling Point-Point Piper. Not only are they the wealthiest in Australia - again - but their incomes have jumped another $20,000 in a year.
· Be Wise & Rich: Gear Negatively Get Others to Pay Backward; Be Fool & Pay Rent [ courtesy of SMH ]

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny gun
And if you ever saw it
You would turn around and run...

Mikulás, or St. Nicholas Day, is the real kickoff of the Christmas season in the Czech Republic. Sort of a cross between Halloween and Christmas, the streets are full of people dressed in costumes and families taking their children to meet the people in costumes.
Devil Sadam [ via Arellanes ]

The Caught You Red-Nosed--Uh, -Handed
We hold on to an image of ourselves as a nation of people who give others a fair go. While this is often challenged, I’d like to think that we will all continue to aim for a fair society, to share opportunities and be welcoming.
If we think about what it takes to create an Australia where each of us loves and is loved, and dismiss the pressure to have that "perfect" Christmas experience, I believe Christmas can be a powerful time of hope, not trouble, for all Australians.

· Message [ courtesy of OLO]

Monday, December 15, 2003

In a second attempt, London's Mail manages to find someone to accept their award

Books remain a favourite online purchase
Rebel throw–backs livening things up . . .
After decades in the doldrums, turning down awards has suddenly become cool, observes Andrew Crumey, the literary editor of Scotland's The Scotsman newspaper. First there was Hari Kunzru turning down the Mail on Sunday's Llewelyn Rhys Prize, then there was Benjamin Zephaniah turning down an OBE because it reminded him of "how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. Turning down prizes is nothing new"—John Berger gave half his 1972 Booker Prize money to the Black Panthers. However, "That all seemed so long ago. Now, he says, Kunzru and Zephaniah have suddenly reminded us that in an age saturated with identikit wannabes lusting for fame and fortune, there are still people who see writing as a potential force for social change.

· Mixture of rising fortunes and falling profit margins [ courtesy of ]

Modern-Day Slavery
Christine Evans, John Lantigua, Christine Stapleton, Jane Daugherty and Connie Piloto of the Palm Beach Post explore the condition of illegal migrant workers in Florida, finding that "five modern-day slavery cases prosecuted in the past six years by the U.S. government have roots in Florida.
· Masters [ courtesy of Scoop ]
· Modern Day Australia [ courtesy of SMH ]

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Saudi Connection
David E. Kaplan of U.S. News & World Report spent five months tracing the relationship between Saudi Arabian money and terrorism, finding that over the past 25 years, the desert kingdom has been the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism, while its huge, unregulated charities funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to jihad groups and al Qaeda cells around the world. Saudi charities played an important role in a $70 billion campaign to spread the message of the ruling Wahhabi sect. Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis:
· ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries [ via Scoop ]

I don't want to drag the expresident of Czech land into Amerikan presidential race, but there is a moral and civic duty on Vaclav Havel ...I am just curious as many Czech in the blogosphere ...Is Howard Dean electable in his heart?

Some regimes are blogger's wet dream, in the sense that they have absolutely no instinct for morality.
Meanwhile, Australia is shaping up Amnesty International driest nightmare in 21st Century AD.

· Never before has the House of Representatives operated in such secrecy [TomPaine ]
· It is easy fall under the spell of extreme curiosity about what the powerful actually think [ courtesy of Dr Bill McKell, NSW Parliamentary Historian]
· The need to be bolder, take more chances, challenge the notions of traditional journalism [ courtesy of Tim Porter]
Many recent bestselling books have titles stating directly or indirectly that politicians and political partisans in general are flat-out liars; they fabricate, spin, deceive, and prevaricate.
· Politicians, Lying Brain Teasers, Mathematical Puzzles [ via Surfdom ]

This year is Going down in history, film, books and music, more than ever before, old is the new new.
Breakthrough in Berlin Wall
The breakthrough film – the one German film-makers have been after for years – arrived on producer Stefan Arndt's Berlin desk as a five-page fax with much of the text missing.
Five years later, Goodbye, Lenin!, the story of an East German family at the end of the communist era, is the highest grossing European film to date – and it hasn't been released in the US yet. Not bad for a low-budget €5.2million ($8.6 million) art-house venture.

· People don’t like to talk Russian anymore [ courtesy of ABCTales ]

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Sometimes you learn skills in the communist Czechoslovakia that seem to be always in demand. Anyone needs some powerful powder such as anthrax? (smile) Even Australian troops based in Iraq named a dog Antrax. How much is that doggy in the window? Shopping Mall: Map!

You Cannot Trust Anyone This Days...
London's Mirror goes shopping in the Balkans for Semtex and ends up buying 13.5 kilograms of the stuff (they'd paid for 15). That's enough to do some serious damage.
· There Is No Longer Honour Among Thieves [ courtesy of Scotty]

Where Taliban go to find warm beds and recruits
Weapons are everywhere since the Soviet days in Afghanistan. We can fight for another 15 years. We have Kalashnikovs, grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, and explosives. We have all kind of weapons. The only thing we don't have is something to counter B-52s.
· Needed: warriors, not guns [ courtesy of Christian Science]

Cold River: Hot Mega-Sale!
Cold River has come a long way since 1980, and this week it celebrates its spring with 35% off (club members 44.89% off) its Multiformat eBook. Hurry, this sale only lasts through Sunday, December 14.

Is this the Cheapest 400 page tome in the brave new world of publishing?
One dragon eats quiet slice of humble pie and claims dubious literary history. Lock up your reading loving wives!
· Ice backfires on Dragons: All you need is discount! [ courtesy of Missing Jackpots]

Sometimes you learn skills in the communist Czechoslovakia that seem to be always in demand. Anyone needs some powerful powder such as anthrax? (smile) Even Australian troops based in Iraq named a dog Antrax. How much is that doggy in the window? Shopping Mall: Map!

You Cannot Trust Anyone This Days...
London's Mirror goes shopping in the Balkans for Semtex and ends up buying 13.5 kilograms of the stuff (they'd paid for 15). That's enough to do some serious damage.
· There Is No Longer Honour Among Thieves [ courtesy of Scotty]

Classic Literature: To Have or Not to Have
I started Haverleigh yesterday and as the cover promises, I couldn't put it down. I've been moved to tears a few times already. It kind of reminds me a little of Neville Shute's On the Beach, or even an Australian Gone with the Wind. Great for lazing around under the beach umbrella!
· Nothing like a cracking sex scene to open a story, either [ via Sanctuary ]

The literary cash-currency in tulips, hookers, guns, and drugs
Eastern Europe since 1990 has been a crossroads of iron rule, cowboy commerce, old hatreds and new licentiousness. In other words, a place where literature thrives, as it does in the wake of all great upheavals.
· Eastern European fiction [via Bookslut ]

Friday, December 12, 2003

It is possible to commit no mistakes -- and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is writer's life ...a life filled with fear of missing out on something, anything, whatever!

Final Fire Sale: serious and comic relief
Sole survivors rarely enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame, particularly when their work covers an obscure escape.
IMRICH, but I am also the least expensive out of the entire collection ...
You can question the literary value of Cold River as much as you like, but I defy you not to find the story evocative. It is hard now to convey what restricted lives we lived in those far off 1970s in Czechoslovakia. We were watched constantly by secret police...

· I've done what I survived for, to bear witness [ via Palm Digital]

Exclusive Deal: @ Fiction Wise
All descriptions of Cold River are, like the escape itself, bound to end in failure, but that has not prevented readers from making the attempt.
Club: List Price:$4.24; You Pay: $2.75; You Save: 44.89%
· Cold River's First & Last Fire Sale: Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, selling your soul for, and writing for ... [ courtesy of Wisely Sponsored by Google for Christmas]

Corporate citizenship and the role of government
Good corporate citizenship integrates social, ethical, environmental, economic and philanthropic values in the core decision-making processes of a business.
· Public policy case [Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library]

Patricia Andreu and Scott Zamost of NBC6 in South Florida have an undercover investigation of personal injury protection insurance fraud, in which criminals stage accidents and then refer "injured" victims for medical treatment to be billed to insurers.
· Stage [NBC6Scoop ]

Howard Zinn talks about the American government's history of repressing dissent.
· Another McCarthy Era: Dissent [ via Tom Paine]

Thursday, December 11, 2003

No one is better qualified to write about parliamentary environment than my former boss, Dr Russell Cope. For over 30 years he was the Parliamentary Librarian of the New South Wales Parliament, and generations of parliamentary officers and students of Parliament have found his writings of great interest. Anybody can write a story about the parliamentary rituals, but only a great observer can consistently distill something profound from the stuff of everyday life at Parliament.
· Parliamentary Culture [Blog -City]

Parliament Houses Have Evil Within Them
That the combination of alcohol, stress and tiredness should have been the causes of Andrew Bartlett's uncharacteristic conduct in Parliament last Thursday night points yet again to one thing: Canberra's Parliament House is one of the most destructive working environments in Australia.
When citizens lack confidence in the basic institutions of democracy, the nation is in very deep trouble. Parliament is a great institution that selfish parliamentary clerks are in the process of destroying. Let me count the evils ways in my next book entitled Almost Klokan: (Kangaroo)...( Rumor has it you must live long as it will take me 20 years to finish it =:) smile)
· Parliament is on fire (literally) [ via SMH ]

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

It is possible to commit no mistakes -- and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life...
There can be no triumph without loss
No victory without suffering
No freedom without sacrifice
Cold Advise

Meanwhile my short story @ ABCTales received over centenary readers...
Furthermore my long monograph has a dubious honour of being presented on the same page as:
Un Unfinished Life, John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963; Benjamin Franklin; I Am a Soldier, Too; Bill Clinton: An American Journey; (sic) The Jessica Lynch Story; and being stuck between Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton and miserable failures of Bin Laden & Georges Clemenceau statures...
· Reading Palms Digitally [ courtesy of Google ]

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

American With Czech Skills?
Central Intelligence Agency is convinced there must be something in the Czech press that should concern them. Something that might put the entire country [the U.S.] in danger. They need to know what topics we, Czech journalists, cover.
So, CIA posted a job opening announcement for Open Santa Officer (sic) (Media Analyst) His job would be to use foreign language and area knowledge to review and assess foreign open media sources, which include Internet sites, newspapers, press agencies, television, radio and specialized publications.
Read all day. Does it sound about right?

· CIA Wants You To Spy On Czech Journalists! [ courtesy of Mwwwaa Mate Peter]
· Hit & Run [ courtesy of Matt Welch]
· Antony Loewenstein [ via Znet ]

Monday, December 08, 2003

Latham Frontiers
After 7 years of living in John Howard's landscape we had grown used to the scenery. Whether it's hit you yet or not, that scenery has all changed with the rise of Mark Latham to Labor Leader.
· AFR's Laura Tingle [Lateline ]

This is why I admire Jim and Sallyanne, both are amazing ambassadors for writers! Lucky Brissie...

Last week Sallyanne Atkinson and I co-launched Frank Brennan's new book Tampering with Asylum. Yes, you read correctly, Sallyanne and I! Both of us felt it was important to set aside differences and send out a strong message about the shameful way we treat people seeking asylum from persecution, war and civil unrest.
· Those guys in Canberra really do need to get real [Jim Soorley]

Sunday, December 07, 2003


Some remedies are worse than the disease! It is not just speed that kills, try driving from Engadine to Sutherland on the Princes Highway where a huge accident took place last week that caused delays from 6 am till 930 am. Soldiers who served in Iraq can identify with the potholes and even the radiation in the area seems to be an par with Iraq.
Last month pubs and clubs in the Cronulla area were alive with suggestions that the production at Lucas Heights of the most used nuclear medicine had been shutdown for five days because of higher than normal emmission of radioactive gas. Believe it or not, ANSTO did not blame the Sydney weather when it had taken the unusual step of publicly confirming the story via the nuclear regulator, ARPANSA, (another acronym ...ouch) telling them about a greater than usual release of radioactive form of the noble gas, xenon. Do we need to shoot the messengers every time there are facts supporting those who know too well why these gases managed to escape entrapment of charcoal filters?
Back to black potholes, though, as the almighty Staysafe Committee has an answer to the reduction of deaths on the Old South Wales roads... You guessed it ...more police on the roads that seemed to be peppered with potholes and drivers who have trouble absorbing every symbols on the side of the road. It is OK though to have drivers who never ever had undertaken defensive driving.
One does not have to be a genius to observe that today we have so many signs on our ancient roads, spaghetti junctions, that even the georgeous policewoman who recently booked me, in an area we just moved in from Brissie, admitted that it was not too hard to miss the vandalised No Right Turn sign. Even a sinner like me should get some sympathy especially as I am new to neighbourhood ... being caught wearing boxer shorts under the cover of darkness (8:30 pm November nigh) on surburban streets did not help.
As my brother in law, ex copper, used to say revenue is the king to police executives who expect bonuses every Christmas. So the safety does not appear to be the primary motive; as if it was we would make sure that we only have highly visible fluorescent (sic) signs everywhere and only those important life saving symbols on our streets rather that hundreds of sings placed in dark corners, to boot in small letters. So I am more bitter and $130 lighter. So who will not get her second hand surfboard as a pressie for Christmas? My youngest who loves anything to do with ROXY! As I see it, even if I tried I could not have hit anyone nor anyone could have hit me since the shoppping strip has another sign indicating 10 km an hour. Yes. I was actually going less than 10 km an hour! In my defensive driving school at the Czechoslovak army I was told to watch for pedestrians and potholes (especially when transporting anthrax or semtex or nuclear rods) rather than dozen of signs in 10 km zone! The sad thing is that we no longer distinguish between what is really important and what would be nice to obey! What will be my eye on next time I drive in surburban shopping strips...pedestrians? I doubt it; the basic instinct tells me to take a note of any police cars which generally stand out like sore thumbs. Moral of this story is; even if you think you are doing the right thing: such as sticking to speed limit of 10 km, there could be a multiple other signs you might not have known about...or you might have your licence at home five streets away or worst one of your tyres could have less pressure than the others...
· Svety Mikulas and Eight new deaths on NSW roads [ via SMH ]

X-rated films
Consumer Minister Jim Watson said he couldn't account for the sex shop fixation but said the new Liberal government has different plans for the inspectors.
I'm not sure why the previous government seemed so obsessed with X-rated films

· Beauro Madness [Avanova ]
· A Collection Of Pommish Political Cockups [BBC]


Everywhere in the world literature is in retreat from politics and unless resisted the one will crush the other. You don’t crush literature from outside by killing writers or intimidating them or not letting them publish, though as we’ve all seen you can make a big fuss and have a lot of fun trying. You do better to induce them to destroy it themselves by inducing them to subordinate it to political purposes, as you propose to do.
Kingsley Amis, The Russian Girl

Is Copyright Killing Culture?
Culture as we know it is increasingly bound up in the very laws that are supposed to nurture it. Copyright law has gone from promoting creativity to hindering artistic expression, thanks in part to the efforts of a few giant corporations that are sitting on billions of dollars worth of intellectual property. Culture is paying the price for these bad laws.
· The labyrinth of copyright [Durham Independent 12/03/03 courtesy of About Rolex]

Babies, books and a lesson in happiness
The debate between our politicians about reading to kids before bed raises the question: how do we hand our children a love of books?
· Reading [SMH]
· The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy [ courtesy of Informaniac ]

Support creativity and places of literary ventures...So when in Sydney visit the Find at York St and when in Prague head for the Tulip
If in Prague
Together with Prague TV and the Czech chapter of Amnesty International, Scott MacMillan is helping to put together a Christmas benefit party at Tulip Cafe. Mark off Dec. 20 (two weeks from this Saturday) on your calendar. Scott is a writer and owner of Tulip Cafe (Opatovicka 3, Prague 1)
· Tulip Cafe: [EmaiL::scott AT tulipcafe DOT cz]

I see no reason to believe this story is isolated

'Slavery' for American paycheck
Investigation of illegal workers centers on exploited Czechs
· Cleaning and cleaning and cleaning [PraguePost]

Saturday, December 06, 2003


I tore myself away from the desk this morning and went to watch my girls swim. As I watched them splashing H2O everywhere, I thought about all those drowned in Vietnamese boats. Indonesian boats...Thirst for freedom is so universal. It is hard now to convey what restricted lives we lived in those far off 1970s in Czechoslovakia. We were watched constantly by secret police... Then many teenagers had come to terms with the possibility of torture or death and the secret police honestly did not bother me at the time. Of course there were things I would regret hugely like leaving people I loved still by all accounts I have had a very fortunate childhood ... and judging by this account even my exile appears almost lucky

Human kind
Ask most people what they are doing for International Human Rights Day (IHRD) and you're likely to be met with a look of blank incomprehension.
· Looking squarely at the Rights [SMH]

People the law forgot
It is almost two years since the Guantanamo prison camp opened. Its purpose is to hold people seized in the 'war on terror' and defined by the Bush administration as enemy combatants - though many appear to have been bystanders to the conflict. Images of Camp Delta's orange-jumpsuited, manacled detainees have provoked international outrage. But the real horror they face isn't physical hardship, it is the threat of infinite confinement, without trial or access to legal representation.
· Black Bottom of the barrel [Guardian (UK)]

Friday, December 05, 2003

Citizen’s Journalism

Good journalism doesn’t need to be complicated, sophisticated or expensive.
The Brownsville Herald, a 15,800-circulation daily in deep Texas, sent out a few reporters to ask local police and city commissions for various public records such as police logs or expense reports. The result: Runaround, hostility and ignorance by public officials and, in one case, a police car that tailed report Juan Ozuna for more than 20 minutes after he left city hall in Santa Rosa, Texas...
Where do you live? What do you want with this information? What’s your address?
I love this type of journalism. It resonates with truth. It conveys with direct honesty the frustrations of everyday experiences citizens undergo when dealing with government and bureaucracies – and by doing so connects with the public.

· Truth Frustrated [Tim Porter]

White bread & Ham

I used to be a maverick backbencher and then I got the bovver boy tag.
You move through responsibilities. I'm like anybody else, I'm complex, multidimensional. I don't live my life in a simplistic way. Sometimes I drop a clanger, sometimes I make a mistake other times I get it right. I'm not different to anyone else in that regard. If you want me to be some predictable, orthodox, white bread politician, that is not Mark Latham.

· LatHam [ABC]

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Literary truth

We don't know who's telling the literary truth. You decide

An outbreak of partisan warfare on the best-seller list is encouraging authors to stoke the fires of readers hungry for political squabbles.
· Political pot-stirrer [San Francisco]

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Better instincts

There are some things too dreadful to be revealed, and it is even more dreadful how, in spite of our better instincts, we long to know about them.

Oh, all right, one more thing
Just over a week ago, Mike Richards, chief of staff of deposed Labor leader Simon Crean, broke a habit of a lifetime to phone a senior executive at publisher John Fairfax.
The previous day, November 23, Fairfax's Sydney Sun-Herald newspaper had featured on its front page a story speculating on the demise of Crean.
Written by veteran reporter Alex Mitchell, the article stated bluntly: "Key union defections have threatened to end Simon Crean's embattled federal leadership of the Australian Labor Party."
It was sensational stuff, but there was no attribution and it did not mention the name of any union or individual. Richards, a former principal adviser to ex-Victorian Premier John Cain, was livid, telling Fairfax executive Mark Scott it was "irresponsible journalism".


Bordering on disbelief

Ignoring child prostitution along the Czech-German frontier won't make it go away.
Cathrin Schauer isn't likely to become an idol of the Czech public anytime soon. Her new book Children Walk the Streets: A Report From the Czech-German Border has probably created as much commotion as anything published here in recent years.
Politicians talk about the disgrace of the country abroad. Police want to file a legal complaint. The Czech media call her a liar, and even some of Schauer's peers in the nonprofit world don't believe her.

· Acid Tongues are Out: Self Interest Prevails [Prague Post]

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Since government is very bureaucratic and, thus, employees usually have to follow a defined set of rules, it becomes rigid, often to the point of sclerotic. This makes it hard for government employees to adapt to changing circumstances. (It’s also why big corporations, with their bureaucratic structures, often find small businesses running rings around them.) Inability to adapt is not a recipe for efficiency.
· Better bureamaking might be about breaking all the rules (smile) [AdventuresinBureaucracy.]
· Critics blast nondisclosure of weapons sales to global trouble zones []
· Fall of Communism was rocked by rock 'n roll... [Yahoo ]

Government drops treason appeal
Move sets back efforts to hold ex-communists responsible for actions
The two highest-ranking ex-Communist Party officials ever to be prosecuted for acts they committed while in office will escape the seven-year effort to convict them of treason.
The decision to abandon the prosecution of Milous Jakes and Jozef Lenart is the latest in a series of setbacks in the legal campaign to bring communist-era leaders to account for their actions during Czechoslovakia's years as a Soviet satellite.

· ! [The Prague Post]
· Experience teaches us to be cautious, especially when it comes to the judiciary [Slovak Spectator]
· "Good-Bye, Lenin" - Hello, Communism? [ EuroSavant]
· A rift between Australian diplomats and ASIO [SMH ]
· Spies Games [SMH