BohemiAntipodean Samizdat

Friday, December 31, 2004

Bloggers at Front Line of Relief Efforts. If you want to find out more information about this week's tsunami of biblical proportions in Southeast Asia and how you can help the victims, the best place to go is a new blog in the Indian Ocean region that's compiling everything from requests by organizations seeking donations to victim lists. Blogs are at the forefront of the tsunami recovery effort.
Tsunami tragedy is a reminder of life's fragility but also of the strength that carries on through many of the people who will start to rebuild their lives in the wake of destruction. It is hard to comprehend the complete impact of this earthquake Easing the pain and a sense of promise ...

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The true horror emerges
For vivid reporting from the enormous zone of tsunami disaster, it was hard to beat the blogs.
The so-called blogosphere, with its personal journals published on the Web, has become best known as a forum for bruising political discussion and media criticism. But the technology proved a ready medium for instant news of the tsunami disaster and for collaboration over ways to help.Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster

Across the Indian Ocean rim, stories of incredible devastation emerged as one of the largest and most complex relief efforts ever undertaken swung into action.
The UN said that at least a third of the victims across the region could be children. Carol Bellamy, executive director of Unicef, said: We're concerned about providing safe water and preventing the spread of disease. For children, the next few days will be the most critical.

Powerless Children [Tsunami Blog ]
• · Asia Tsunami Death Toll Soars Past 77,000, American ABC News
• · · Global aid organisations have launched urgent appeals for donations to help survivors of Sunday's Indian Ocean earthquake disaster Asian disaster: How to help
• · · · Faced with searing images of suffering and grief in South Asia, people are finding an instantaneous way to reach out to tsunami victims: on their home computers Amazon Donations - 64,734 people donated $3,815,088.37; [Witness the phenomenal response to Amazon's call for tsunami charity -- $3.5 million at midnight ]
• · · · · AS President Bush remakes his administration for his second term, the most important member of his new cabinet may turn out to be the one he was unwilling - or unable - to replace: Treasury Secretary John Snow. The Cabinet of Incuriosities ; [The mandatory sentencing fad that swept the United States beginning in the 1970's has had dramatic consequences - most of them bad. Why Some Politicians Need Their Prisons to Stay Full ]
• · · · · · You Hate Me? I'm Listening... To understand how polarized politics became in 2004, just glance at a blogger's e-mail; [Here's a test of how much trivia you accumulated during this year Pratfalls, Catcalls and Spitballs: A Year in Ephemera ]

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sydney Morning Herald Cares
The sea and wreckage of coastal towns around the Indian Ocean yielded up tens of thousands of bodies today, pushing the toll from Sunday's tsunami close to 71,000. Alexa Moses tells her story: A tsunami, when it approaches, is silent. The sound of roaring thunder ... then screaming. Our resort had about 250 tourists staying in it and perhaps 60 Thai staff. We had watched the tourists dance and eat and drink at the Christmas Eve party on the beach. We don't think more than 20 people survived.
Rich nations have been tight-fisted and too slow in offering help to devastated communities in southern Asia Rich countries poor at lending a hand
If we donated the equivalent of $5 per person ( a cost of an eBook)...
Canadians would raise $185,500,000
Americans would raise $1,470,000,000
Australians would raise $101,000,000
Britons would raise: $298,000,000
That's $2,054,500,000 on top of what the governments are pledging to give. And that's just 4 nations...
email from a friend of Petra Nemcova

Invisible Hands & Markets: HOT Talk, COLD Reality
Unfortunately, there has been no failure of imagination with respect to what pundits (and Hollywood film directors) tell us is an even worse disaster still to come. That is to say, there has been no failure of them to imagine worst-case scenarios that go beyond the evidence.

Unfortunately, as devastating as Sunday's tsunami was, the recent mismanagement at UNICEF, the United Nation's Children's Fund, may be an even worse disaster. Under the leadership of James Grant, who directed UNICEF from 1980 to 1995, the lives of an estimated 20 million children were saved, but under the leadership of outgoing executive director Carol Bellamy, UNICEF switched from promoting the essential health needs of children to promoting children's rights - and with disastrous consequences.
In a world of unlimited options and bottomless pockets, there would be no conflict between pursuing children's health and children's rights," writes Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElory. "But UNICEF's new report cries out for increased funding precisely because money is limited and all goals cannot be pursued in tandem." McElroy further notes that setting sound priorities will be even more important if overall funding of the U.N. is tightened in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal.
Perhaps 2005 will be a year for setting priorities based on accurate assessments of real-world risk.

• "UNICEF's 'Rights' Focus Is All Wrong," by Wendy McElroy Surreal [Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be different and exceptional Slightly bigger than a credit card, a flexible 7cm square scanner has been developed to allow any would-be industrial spys to get their copy on, even over non-flat surfaces ]
• · Howard's $11 billion corporate dole program Where’s the mutual obligation with this dole?; [Tax grab on employees costs jobs ]
• · · Harvard University's Sailing Pavilion, which pays $1 a year for its Charles River digs, a working man's club Math Skills in Decline
• · · · The World's Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations
• · · · · The Ledger is an economic education newsletter published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for educators and the general public A Little Reading: The Ledger
• · · · · · Is the iTunes Music Store finally coming to Australia?

It is a little difficult to square the Christmas message of peace on earth ... and the body bags arriving from Mosul. The rise of Christianity was, as is true with all innovations, spiritual or material, a reaction to a bankrupt & intolerable status quo. Do we consider ourselves so unimportant or helpless that we can't imagine that it is within your power to rearrange the status quo, making the world more sensible place to live? Do we think ourself to be so unaware and undiscerning that we let creative destruction just happen to us? Sir Karl Popper: Conjectures and Refutations

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES
As psychologist Victor Frankl observed concerning Hitler's concentration camps. They, even the SS, cannot steal your ability to choose the attitude with which you will address the day.

The average taxpayer -- whether a hawk, a dove, or somewhere in between -- should ask how these white elephants are contributing to countering the main threat--al Qaeda. They don't.
They merely provide welfare for constituent industries and unions that are far from poor. In fact, buying these unneeded systems takes money away from less glamorous, but more urgent, security needs-for example, armor for personnel and vehicles.... Merely throwing wads of cash at the politicized security bureaucracies does not ensure that the troops or the nation is protected.

• SECURITY NOT MEASURED BY MILITARY SPENDING Greater Government Spending Has Not Enhanced National Security [To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all One Christian feeling hijacked by politics ]
• · Ken Mehlman, Bush campaign manager, reveals the bottom-line marketing strategy that led him to victory. It's the exact same strategy that sells cars: market segmentation. If you drive a Volvo and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat," Mr. Mehlman told an assembly of the nation's Republican governors here. "If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you're voting for George Bush We are Volvo v. Lincoln nation
• · · A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War
• · · · The last personality cults: Self-obsessed despots are out of fashion in most places, but not in North Korea, Turkmenistan and Togo Toughs at the top ; [Nahr al-Bard: Well on March 2nd, 1973, Yasser Arafat transmitted by shortwave radio orders to eight Black September operatives who were holding Ambassador Noel and his deputy Curt Moore hostage in the basement of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. He issued orders to murder them under the code name Cold River twice I Call Him the World's Longest-Living Terrorist]
• · · · · If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, then it is necessary to take a step back from the transient issues of the day, which so often transfix our capital city, and assess the state of liberty in America. Is American Liberty Imperiled? ; [The Voting Booth Project: Where Art and Democracy Meet? Anatomy of a Vote: A barrel of monkeys, a barrel of fun ]
• · · · · · Call it the law of political gravity: What goes down (an economy, a president’s stature) must go up. So why are we always shocked when it happens? Reversal of Riches

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami toll: Millions Now Need Help: Tassie quake linked to Asian disaster
An undersea earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami across southern Asia was set in motion by another quake off the coast of Tasmania last week, a seismologist said.
At least 12,600 people are believed to have been killed as a result of Sunday's earthquake and tsunami waves which swamped the coasts of Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Maldives, and measured 9.0 on the Richter scale.
The quake's precursor was a smaller but "very large" undersea quake - measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale - which hit about 900 kms south-east of the Tasmanian coast at 1.59am (AEDT) on Thursday, the seismologist said.
While it caused no damage and was barely felt by anyone in Australia, Geoscience Australia duty seismologist Dr Cvetan Sinadinovski said the Tasmanian quake set the scene for a much larger tectonic disturbance.
The fact that it also occurred on Boxing Day - which also was just two days before the anniversary of Australia's 1989 Newcastle tremor - was purely coincidence...
• · The Indo-Australian plate is moving northwards at a speed of seven centimetres per year ; [A Rare Tsunami, and a Change in Geography ]
• · · Tsunami Will Require Biggest UN Relief Drive
• · · · The Earthquake: So Catacylsmic It Literally Moved An Island
• · · · · With No Alert System, Indian Ocean Nations Were Vulnerable
(See also yesterday’s links below)

Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
PSALM 126:5-6

Viktor Yushchenko claimed victory today in the rerun of Ukraine's presidential election Yushchenko turns the tables

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Our children are smarter than French kids
But dumber than Canadian kids
For many years, James Bau Graves has been thinking about culture and how our cultural values and choices are influenced by political and economic power. Arts by the people and for the people

We like Indian spices in our home-cooked meals. We're preoccupied with bottoms. Our children are smarter than French kids but dumber than Canadian kids. And almost everything about our lives is getting better.
Those are a few of the insights Australians received about themselves in 2004. It's time to pick through the avalanche of survey data released this year and assess what we learned.
The most exciting discovery was a fat report from the Bureau of Statistics called Measures of Social Progress 2004, which raised the possibility that every day in every way we're getting better and better.

Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek sends you tumbling back toward reality. Far from attaining a better life, consumerists experience alienation and fear. Always wanting more, their sense of accomplishment is ephemeral and they are strangers to contentment. Always in danger of losing what they have but do not own, a sense of urgency and futility are their constant companions.
More healthy, more wealthy: a year of living easier [[Don't Lose Sight of the Real Scandal War on the Floor of UN; Politics: Top 100 links in the world Quiet, or I'll call democracy ]
• · The powerful impulse at the root of suburbanization is the simple desire of ordinary people everywhere to own a piece of land, however humble, where they and their families may live in relative comfort and peace. The suburban house is the idealization of every immigrant’s Dream—the vassal’s dream of his own castle
• · · James Carroll reminds us that the birth of Jesus represented a challenge to greed and empire The Politics Of Baby Jesus; Robert Conquest's The Dragons of Expectations
• · · · Perhaps the tragedy in Mosul should best be viewed in the perspective of history and not the passions of the moment, and in light of other wars that at times went badly and not as planned Nuts: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
• · · · · This week a US woman paid $50,000 for a kitten cloned from her dead pet. The process is risky and misguided The immoral in pursuit of the inimitable
• · · · · · Jesus was for "the least" of us; he was for the poor, sick, hungry and downtrodden. He was radically egalitarian, hanging out with prostitutes and beggars. He was the model of a bleeding-heart do-gooder. If only politicians would shut up about Christianity and instead work harder at living like the bloke who inspired it

Even though I had nothing to do with it, I figured that I would mention that we (well, Rich) rule the world. Didja notice? Forbes 400 Richest Publishers in 2004 Imrich Family: Good to the Last Drop

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Global Storming: Saving Journalism
Ed Driscoll recounts the blogosphere's top-10 media-related stories and achievements of 2004 The Year Of Blogging Dangerously
The only way to save journalism is to develop a new model that finds profit in truth, vigilance, and social responsibility. Saving Journalism would make a fine New Year's resolution, and Professor Philip Meyer in Chapel Hill has a few suggestions, based on years of research and experience

You have probably noticed by now that journalism is being phased out. Our once noble calling is increasingly difficult to distinguish from things that look like journalism but are primarily advertising, press agentry, or entertainment. The pure news audience is drifting away as old readers die and are replaced by young people hooked on popular culture and amusement. We used to think the young would pick up the habit and be more like us as they got older. They didn't.

How to nurse the good stuff until it pays; [Freewheeling bloggers can boost your product—or destroy it. Either way, they've become a force business can't afford to ignore (Dot Blog Boom? Well, a new blog gets created every 3 seconds) Why There's No Escaping the Blog ]
• · The Myth of National Victimhood - All Wrapped and Delivered for Christmas [Americans typically measure their freedom by looking backward or forward—backward to the early republic or forward to their ideal republic How well does America do in its pursuit of olympic freedom, when compared with other countries?
• · · The Most Overhyped and Underreported Media Stories of the Year Geov Parrish: 2004 Media Follies! (BTW, no relation to Ken Parish); Few pundits are as respected on both sides of the aisle as Michael Barone, and he picks up the theme in his latest syndicated essay: Once upon a time, liberals were the folks who wanted to change society. ]
• · · · Britain's new freedom of information law, going into effect Jan. 1. Wow. From schools to prisons, police authorities to government departments, (even Costa type) railway bodies to local councils, any public body must be prepared to release information on its files. The right to know: a guide to digging out the truth; [BUT Hundreds of thousands of government documents are destroyed in the great Freedom of Information Act scandal ]
• · · · · A single Blogger against the Parliamentary Press Gallery (smile) ; Czech out the Blogosphere Round Up with Cold Poem ;
• · · · · · Backpages: Buying and importing song birds ; [Another Christmas, and another grey hair. But don't blame it on the publisher or on stress. Going grey takes on a different hue ]

Monday, December 27, 2004

A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.
- Joseph Stalin

In the age of Internet it is easy to prove how wrong the Man of Steel was ... Each and every story counts! *At 7.34 pm, Barista links to some of the hearty personal stories and links in relation to practical help.
*At Midnight the Fairfax Digital quotes a survivor: How the hell anyone survived gets me [Indeed, it is surreal how I identify with that observation. It is exactly what I said in the summer of 1980] Survivors give surreal accounts of lucky escapes
Humbled by nature's power The great wave demonstrated an ancient truth. Now all that we can do is offer to help

In the Eye of Tsunami: Boxing Day Tsunami's ring of death
So far more than *22,000* people were killed after a powerful earthquake unleashed tsunami waves that crashed into the coasts of South-East Asia.

A warning centre such as those used around the Pacific could have saved most of the thousands of people who died in Asia's earthquake and tsunamis, a US Geological Survey official said.
None of the countries most severely affected - including India, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka - had a tsunami warning mechanism or tidal gauges to alert people to the wall of water that followed a massive earthquake, said Waverly Person of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre.
"Most of those people could have been saved if they had had a tsunami warning system in place or tide gauges," he said yesterday.
"And I think this will be a lesson to them," he said, referring to the governments of the devastated countries.

Devastated Asia counts its dead [This time Threat to Australia has passed, say seismologists ]
• · Up to his chest in raging water, Boree Carlsson clung desperately to a pillar in a hotel lobby as a giant tsunami pounded Thailand's Phuket island. Quiet island holidays turn to terror and despair
• · · via Google hundreds of links: Subjective judgment indicates that ironically BBC (rather than the geographically situated Australian Broadcasting Commission) seems to have the most detailed coverage Tsunami - the killer waves
• · · · Earth churn spawns killer
• · · · · The Independent has a helpful if horrifying country-by-country report on the impact of the earthquake and destruction. Indian Ocean Erupts

Memeorandum compiled the following links:
There is Something Strange Happening With the Sea
WELLIGAMA, Sri Lanka, Dec. 26:
Disaster struck with no warning out of a faultlessly clear blue sky.
I was taking my morning swim around the island that my businessman-brother Geoffrey bought on a whim a decade ago and turned into a tropical paradise just 200 yards from one of the world's most beautiful beaches on the Sri Lankan mainland.
Joe Gandelman: Far away, yet even with newspaper accounts the Internet made it seem MUCH closer...because some local weblogs...Jeff Jarvis: Later I found out that my friend had been rescued by boat with a mild concussion and lacerations from all the wreckage...Orrin Judd: THE FORTUNATE: It Seemed Like a Scene From the Bible; Tim Blair; Laura Rozen: Michael Dobbs has a startling first person account of being swept to sea by a tsunami while swimming off the coast in Sri Lanka this morning; Rickheller @Centerfield: The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs was caught in it, and is lucky to be alive; Lambert @Corrente

*Update:* The tens of thousands killed by the tsunami which devastated South-East Asia could be eclipsed by the death toll from the resulting epidemics unless the unprecedented humanitarian challenge now in front of the world is met Epidemics threaten to double the death toll

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Thank you for diving into Media Dragon, and please keep swimming in the virtual river. I am delighted to share with you colourful topics of interest, rainbow of digital links and resources, tips on new search tools, and techniques. This has been a challenging and productive year for dragons, draculas, as well as Google, and I wish you all good health, peace, the joy of friendships and family, and of course, lots of interesting things to read, in 2005! Remember to share the greatest gift of all at your local Red Cross blood bank Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and Happy Hunting

Eye on 2004 Wrap Up: Rich Get Richer Life, Love, and Crossing over the River
'04: Say goodbye to the year of the monkey. ‘04 AD marked two decades of living under the same roof with with the ballerina of my life. If you ask me, the best gift is a daughter. The best of the best of gifts is to have two daughters. That and letting my three girls to wrapp up a muggie Christmas week with full-fledged Feast of Seven Fishes. Seven fish and seafood dishes at a sitting is an awful lot for a family of four. But I've always loved the idea of this Czech-Australian Christmas Eve tradition, a seven-course (or, in Slavic translations, 12- to 13-course)...
Like the famous soccer adage, 2004 was a game of two halves for the Imrich family. The first half was filled with negative changes as we settled back in Sydney while the second half was full of happy moments, culminating in Alex becoming the swimmer of the year at her High School. Swimming, if it is to be executed properly, is a sport that demands much. It is you, H2O and the clock. To survive in a squad a woman must have talent on top of a soaring ambition, she must learn subtlety as well as power, she must have patience alongside a sense of urgency at 4 am most mornings and, above all else, she must have character.

Has the emotional pendulum ever swung so widely between triumph and despair in a poli-cultural year?
Poli-culture would not be poli-culture without extremes, without the contrasts of joy and despair, success and failure, love and hate. And in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way, memories of the 2004 poli-cultural year can pitch the mind wildly from one to the other, both locally and globally.

• The top 20 reasons why 2005 may be the most interesting year in Washington empire - ever. Expect the Unexpected [The highs; the lows; the oh, no's of publishing! A Tale of Two Dragons ]
• · Gone and best forgotten: Adam's only chore in the Garden of Eden was naming the beasts and birds. When you try to choose a name for a new Internet domain or an e-mail account, you're likely to discover that your first choice was taken long ago. Naming Names
• · · Sang in private, Bohemian Art Show Rhaspody; [Do not make New Year’s Resolutions. Sounds ironic, but resolutions are the worst place to start on the path to success. ]
• · · · I often ask my father, the Dowbrigade, why he spends so much time blogging. It seems like such a waste of time. Even if people are reading it, they don't affect your life so what differnce does it make? Many people now accept the computer as the key metaphor for themselves and for their place in the world without any need for "Room 101" Dowbrigade
• · · · · When only the worst will do ... Jack Kelley was the Jayson Blair of 2004 Journalism itself was responsible for much of bad news; [2004: High-stakes as elsewhere even in Praha]
• · · · · · Some of this year's products: iPod copycats, iPod copycats that smell, laser pointers, Sushi discs. Best and worst gadgets of 2004

Bush waving not drowning

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Capitalizing on a Politician's Clout
Chuck Neubauer and Ted Rohrlich of the Los Angeles Times investigated the family connections of Rep. Maxine Waters, finding that “family members have made more than $1 million in the last eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that the influential congresswoman has helped.” The story is the latest in a series of articles by The Times tracing the activities of elected officials’ relatives.

The husband, daughter and son of Rep. Maxine Waters have business links to people the influential lawmaker has aided.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters' family members have made more than $1 million in the last eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that the influential congresswoman has helped.
In varied ways, they have capitalized on clout she accumulated in a 28-year career as an elected official who built her power base among African Americans in South Los Angeles into a national platform.
Waters has built a strong political base from the under-represented and disenfranchised with a trademark in-your-face style and attention to issues that affect minorities, the poor, women, children, AIDS patients and prisoners.

Special place in the hearts and minds of a lot of African Americans
• · As Davidson Loehr mentioned a few weeks ago (in “ The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul” ), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it. Living Under Fascism [ You may know the story of the frog and the scorpion. A scorpion wanted to cross a swift river, and asked a frog to carry him on his back. The frog asked “How do I know that you won’t sting and kill me as soon as you get on my back?” “Well,” answered the scorpion, who was good with words when he wanted something, “then I wouldn’t be able to get across the river.” “Well,” said the frog, “then how do I know that you won’t sting and kill me as soon as we’re across the river?” “Oh,” said the scorpion, “because I’ll be so grateful for the ride, why would I want to kill you then?”]
• · · Tragedy like this bring many sad memories Who would have thought that in the middle of summer Morava would be as freezing? I still get cramps just thinking about the temperature of the water ... Four members of a family drowned yesterday when a father and his two brothers tried to save his 12-year-old daughter from a rock pool during a Christmas trip to a western Victoria national park. Four members of family drown in rock pool ; The bodies of three children have been found in a van that plunged down a bank into a river in New Zealand. Awakino River ; Casting light on the shadows of drowning tragedy
• · · · Welcome Powerline and Instapundit readers! Glenn and the PL guys were very kind to link to this letter. They got a couple things wrong: first, I am Brian Mattson, and Cpt. Dan is my brother. No nativity scenes or festive cheer in this part of the world
• · · · · An uncertain outlook? Ten Surprises for 2005
• · · · · · Pvt. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, of Biscoe, a tiny town south of Asheboro, pleaded guilty during a court-martial in Iraq to shooting the Iraqi national guard private Falah Zaggam

Naughty and Nice Santa suggests getting naughty pillows for your Girlfriend or Wife This Secret Santa was a Little TOO Secret

Tracking Trends Great & Small: The Persuaders
Men are more likely to want to marry women who are their assistants at work rather than their colleagues or bosses Why men are attracted to subordinate women

Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists—most of whom work for one of six giant companies—spend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think.
Increasingly, these techniques are migrating to the high-stakes arena of politics, shaping policy and influencing how Americans choose their leaders.

Cross Pollination [They spend their days sifting through reams of market research data. They conduct endless surveys and focus groups. They comb the streets, the schools, and the malls, hot on the trail of the "next big thing" that will snare the attention of their prey--a market segment worth an estimated $150 billion a year.
Merchants of Cool ]
• · The Guru of marketing, Jim F. Kukral (Kral means king in Slavic languages) Blog To Riches
• · · Memory loss apparently has its advantages, but I'm here to remind you what 2004 was all about. Remember these? A chemical breast, Christoids vs Halloween
• · · · Love 'em or hate 'em, these guys were hot in 2004Celebs Go Up: Entertainment highs in '04; [John Hart Ely wrote in Democracy and Distrust that the continuance of democracy depends on the meticulous cultivation among citizens of distrust in government. We should all, he argues, be so many jumpy watchdogs. On one level he’s right. We citizens should cast a skeptical eye on all claims made by governing officials and hold them accountable for choices good and ill. But intellectual skepticism about policy is perfectly compatible with efforts to encourage citizens’ trust of one another, and, more importantly, their trustworthiness in the eyes of others. Turning Strangers into Political Friends ]
• · · · · The odds are that when you fire up your browser, you go straight to your favourite search engine The year search became personal
• · · · · · Liberty is indivisible. Our commitment to it is not tested by easy cases: a fair trial for a middle-class Anglo-Saxon accused of driving offences; or a fair hearing for a critic of foundation hospitals or top-up fees. We are tested by hard cases: the potential terrorist who threatens to kill hundreds or even thousands; or the playwright whose work seems to insult deeply held religious beliefs. On such criteria, we often turn out to be less liberal than we thought we were The principles of freedom ; [TRUTH ABOUT TERRORISM ]
• · · · · · Text of Pope's Christmas Day message [An amazing trend is emerging in my old country more foreigners are dipping their toes in the healing springs on my grandfather’s land in Vrbov and tourists love the ancient region of Spis. It is great to see so many strangers to exploit Spis Castle which ovelooks the residence of my cousin Andrej Imrich

Saturday, December 25, 2004

As Krusty, the Klown, would say: ‘Have a Kooky Christmas, a Happy Hanukkha, a Crazy Kwanza, and a...very respectful Ramadan.'
In this holiday season, I love to hear the voices of bright, feeling people. I might not always agree but I enjoy the thinking. These "learnings" from Maya Angelou struck a chord:
-- I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
-- I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.
-- I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
-- I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
-- I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
Kevin Salwen and Maya Angelou on Making a Difference

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Story Of Nick together with Scared of Santa photo gallery
Bishop, legend, saint, fairy story, retail therapist, and film star ... How did a pile of bones in an Italian basilica become the soft drink-swigging patron saint of brides, and our last remaining link with the original meaning of Christmas?

It is probably true to say that no human being in history has ever become so encrusted with layers of religious and secular iconography as St Nicholas. The pile of bones that has been crumbling away for nearly a thousand years in a basilica in the port of Bari on the heel of Italy has acquired a thick, inscrutable patina: bishop, legend, saint, fairy story, retail therapist, and film star

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!; [We loved the variety of expressions as each expression tells a horrifying story Images: Too much eggnog, Santa? (Foto number 7) ]
• · Mikulas, aka Santa, is a child's window to the world Check this list of the best Christmas films of all time
• · · Two economists say that regular sex brings people as much happiness as a $50,000-a-year raise--so no need to kiss up to your boss if kissing your partner is more fun
• · · · During my first year at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a few of us were sitting around one afternoon when several of my male classmates announced -- with far less irony than you'd imagine, that they had become writers in order to attract women. You Can't Get a Man With a Pen
• · · · · In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people... He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. The Long Tail of Double Dragon
• · · · · · We each view reality from our own unique perspective, only a community of minds can show us the truth; [Looking for a New Year's Eve date? Check under fiction at your local bookstore. Best Singles Scene: Barnes and Noble Bookstores Rated New York's Best Pickup Spot; Festivus began on "Seinfeld" and is catching on. Spreading Darkness Fooey to the World: Festivus Is Come]

THE SINGLE most important fact about the birth of Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, is one that receives almost no emphasis in the American festival of Christmas. The child who was born in Bethlehem represented a drastic political challenge to the imperial power of Rome. The nativity story is told to make the point that Rome is the enemy of God, and in Jesus, Rome's day is over. The politics of the Christmas story
Speaking of Santa, have you heard of the patented Santa Detector (U.S. Patent 5,523,741)? For all of you non-believers, I guess this means that the U.S. government acknowledges the existence of Santa Claus. To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act: Anatole France

Eye on Politics, Peace & Christmas: Democracie are like fires. They go out when left unattended...
T here has been so much violence in Iraq that it's become hard to distinguish one senseless act from another. But there was a picture that ran on the front page of this newspaper on Monday that really got to me. It showed several Iraqi gunmen, in broad daylight and without masks, murdering two Iraqi election workers.

Opinion polls show a big majority of Poles want their troops out of Iraq and also want Europe to have a common defense policy, something Washington views as a possible threat to the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Washington's ebbing influence in this most pro-American swath of Europe reflects a broader phenomenon this series of articles has explored: Some of the largest challenges facing the U.S. now flow from the sources of its great power.
Its democratic domestic politics can leave it deaf to even its closest friends abroad. America's sheer size and might breed resentment and, in the geopolitical marketplace, stir competition. Its economic example spurs Europe to band together to compete. Its faith in elections prompts an effort, in Iraq and Afghanistan, to impose democracy through arms. For many abroad, America's goals inspire, but its actions often exasperate.

Why Does Lech Walesa Question Amerika? ; [Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune Democracy Stalls Around the Globe; New York Daily News editorial Darkest before dawn of freedom; China's Third Way could collapse if it goes wrong The snake and the hedgehog]
• · If Richard Face had still been a policeman, he might have been jailed. But arguably because he was a politician he got off with a $2500 fine and a three-year good behaviour bond for lying to the corruption watchdog. Richard Face, former father of the House
• · · Determining parliamentary parties: a real status symbol ; [Sharon Beder takes a look at the increasing use of ‘strategic lawsuits against public participation’, or SLAPPs, by corporations against individual citizens and groups for exercising their democratic rights. Democratic Audit of Australia, Australian National University (PDF file) ]
• · · · The Australian Democrats pride themselves on being a really democratic party. But can they continue to allow all rank and file members to influence policy-making? Policy-making in the Democrats: Time for a Chat ; [ Only the bold need apply ]
• · · · · A touch of madness could be a criterion for membership of the NSW Parliament. Anybody well versed in the tried-and-true maxims of politics accordinnnnng to Yes Minister will be puzzled by the hopes and curious expectations raised in this charmingly told story. Chika: Aiming for the top ; [The only weakness of this Moravian is that you are a hothead... Have you considered anger-management classes? If I couldn't control my temper, half of Prague's journalists would be running around without teeth Mirek Topolanek ]
• · · · · · Remember conspiracy: just because someone with a lot to lose if he's proven wrong says he isn't wrong, doesn't mean he isn't wrong. Uh-oh! I'm channeling Ex-Governor John G. Rowland; [Essential Reading: Provided by the United States Government ]

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Hallelejah! Another spam email from uncle Rupert in my inbox
Office of Rupert Murdoch ( Newscorp )
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 10:07 AM
Subject: Holiday message from Rupert Murdoch
Importance: High

Dear Colleagues,

As children we were taught to count our blessings. But corporations also do well to count their blessings, and News Corporation has none greater than each of you: the men and women whose talents and hard work have made this Company what it is today.
2004 has been a banner year for us. Virtually all our divisions - from our satellite, broadcast and cable television operations to our film and print media assets - performed superbly in competitive markets and helped contribute to another year of record revenues and profits.
This year was also marked by the overwhelming support we received from our shareholders for our proposal to reincorporate in the United States. While this move has had little or no effect on the work you do or on our business operations, I am certain it will be remembered in years to come as a milestone in News Corporation's development as one of the world's truly great media companies.
The reincorporation puts us in an even better position to do what we do best - deliver quality news and entertainment to millions of people around the world every day of the year.
The coming year will present its own challenges. As successful as our company is, we operate in one of the most competitive industries on the planet and our competitors are constantly looking to knock us off our perch. But this company does not fear competition. It thrives on it.
The blessings that we share at News Corporation have been earned the old-fashioned way: through our sweat and effort. At this very special time of year, I want to thank you all for making this company what it is - and offer you and yours my wishes for a joyous and healthy Holiday and Christmas season.

All best wishes,
Rupert Murdoch
News Corporation chairman and chief executive

Kapitalism: He who dies with the most toys, wins.
Hari Krishna: He who plays with the most toys wins.
Judaism: He who buys toys at the lowest price wins.
Katholicism: He who denies himself the most toys wins.
Anglicanism: They were our toys first.
Greek Orthodox: No, they were OURS first.
Branch Davidians: He who dies playing with the biggest toys wins.
Atheism: There is no toy maker.
Objectivism: Toys are Toys.
Islam: You must force the world to play with this exact toy, other toys are forbidden.
Polytheism: There are many toy makers.
Evolutionism: The toys made themselves.
Socialism: You will have toys eventually.
Taoism: The doll is as important as the dumptruck.
Mormonism: Every boy may have as many toys as he wants.
Fascism: We have ways of making you play with your toys.
Libertarianism: You can do anything you like with your toys as long as its consensual.
New Labour: We have firm evidence that masses of toys do exist somewhere.
Voodoo: Let me borrow that doll for a second...
Jehovah's Witnesses: He who places the most toys door to door wins.
Pentecostalism: He whose toys can talk wins.
Existentialism: Toys are a figment of your imagination.
Confucianism: Once a toy is dipped in the cold river, it is no longer dry.
Buddhism: What is the sound of one toy playing with itself?
Bussorah of Wicked Thoughts Cracks the Toy World

This is depressing. Especially when I think that I survived communism without ever being fingerprinted... Orwell 2004: ID cards passed despite abstentions VICTORIA's world-first roadside drug-testing system is in a shambles after police revealed two of the first three drivers to test positive had been cleared following laboratory analysis of their samples. SHHHHH Drug Absentism Embarrasment

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Daily Character assassinations
I think the government is perhaps a necessary evil. Before one can have hope the slaves have to suffer assassination, they have to endure and they have to build characters. It is happening on trains in hospitals at schools. We should be grateful for the opportunity to sweat and even to shed blood at hospital. That reminds me time to give the Red Cross some of my blood (smile)

An ex-employee of the NSW Cabinet Office once told me that the daily routine of he (sic) and his colleagues went something like this:
1. Arrive at office.
2. Read The Daily Telegraph.
3. Prepare briefing papers for Premier and relevant Ministers on the issues raised in each article in The Daily Telegraph.
He assured me this was no exaggeration. According to this public servant, the Carr Government’s daily plan consists of little more than responding to and dealing with anything that appears in the Telegraph.

• Politicians who are looking for a kick, are usually kicked out instead. Make no mistake, Stalin and Hitler used to be back by unpopular demand Putting on Truthful Airs: The Privileges of the MLC ; [Fewer and fewer Labor pollies have been self-employed, privately employed or even unemployed. They belong to a class who comprehend the outside world through focus groups, demographic analyses and what are virtually anthropological observations of voters, rather than direct experience. Is Kerry Packer Really the Picker of Labour Premiers]
• · The immediate reaction of the self-styled Solzhenitsyn of the south, Richard Flanagan, was to rush into print with a portentously titled item for The Age “Is this the end of dissent in Australia?”, so that looks unlikely; [Roddy Meagher: Rarely, if ever, has the departure from the bench of an Australian judge accompanied by such attention in the popular press. Parting gift: Cheerful character assassinations ]
• · · 'Hotel Rwanda': Holding a Moral Center as Civilization Fell Cut down the tall trees ; [Mark your calendars: Unique Auditing: Integrity Initiatives: Patricia Azarias, Director, Internal Audit Division, United Nations, USA
The United Nations Organisational Integrity Initiative
Unique reporting relationships and work environment of the United Nations
Issues of auditing peacekeeping operations Monday 7th March 2005]
• · · · MR HUTLEY: In our respectful submission, your Honour, this is not an appropriate vehicle for special leave.
CALLINAN J: You know, I always think that is a very unattractive formula and not a very good submission. I remember unsuccessfully appearing here once and my client saying, with an expletive, “What have I got to do, drive a Cadillac into Court?” It never impresses me, if standing alone. David Starkoff’s blog Inchoate David has not acquired a permanent blog link, but who cares as his entire blog is a real diamond. Cut into it if you dare and ponder on the streetwise meaning of life ...
• · · · · Ramsubba Reddy, who had served as Housing Minister in the N Chandrababu Naidu government, was one of the main accused in the murder of two Congress activists at Shadnagar in Mahaboobnagar district in December 1991 TDP Minister was given a lifer in a double-murder case
• · · · · · Tony Blair, telling it like it is. Now what a magnificent example of the human spirit - that's the side we should be on ... Full text: Blair's statement in Baghdad

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It was a series of unfortunate events... A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Some mysterious "Iraqi" men might be rebreaking your legs pretty soon Presidential Order [Doublespeak: It is difficult to determine from the second-hand description whether the technique in this e-mail (impersonating the FBI) was permissible or not.]

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Real Reason Kofi Annan Must Go
Genocide, not oil money, is the proof of his failed leadership. The sooner Vaclav Havel takes over the better for one and all ... If you or your friends are still under the delustion that the United Nations is a force for world peace, read this column by a former UN peacekeeper.

A debate currently rages about whether Kofi Annan enjoys the moral authority to lead the United Nations because the Oil for Food scandal happened under his command. That debate is 10 years too late and addresses the wrong subject.

Because of Bosnia and Rwanda, at least as much as the UN's Blood-for-Oil program [Like popes, parliamentary clerks, professors and Penn State football coaches, Supreme Court justices tend to hold onto their jobs forever Politics, courts inseparable]
• · A couple of years ago, I was denied my rights in a Newark courtroom. What happened to me is a dirty little (open) secret of the American justice system. It happens hundreds of times every day during jury selections around the country. It's called a "peremptory challenge." One Angry Man
• · · FCC Chairman Michael Powell on indecency, innovation, consolidation, and competition
• · · · Strange Comparison of the Year Mairead Corrigan Maguire Nobel laureate compares Israeli nuclear arms to gas chambers
• · · · · In the long walk of history between man and dragon, the bark mitzvah could be seen as an unexpected pit stop Today He Is a Dragon; Actually, He Always Was ; [James Capozzola Assembling a List of Tenders of the Best Breed Ever]

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman announced Sunday December 19 that intelligence minister Ali Younessi would “soon” report to the government on an eight-member spy ring that gathered information for Israel. Spy Circle

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: It's a Small World, After All
Americans don't read many foreign writers... Politically, America has become infamous as the beast that feeds only its own appetite.

Well, it looks like the big kahunas of contemporary literature have found a new cause. Responding to the America-first Zeitgeist that has spilled into our political discourse, they're hitting back with New York's first international writers' festival, PEN World Voices, to be held April 16-22 in the Big Apple. Luminaries such as Ha Jin, Vaclav Havel, and Wole Soyinka have already signed on, all in apparent support of the sponsor's underlying concern: the increasing political and cultural isolation of the United States.
We ourselves have experienced the fallout of the world's growing suspicion and antipathy to U.S. policies, says Larry Siems of the New York-based PEN American Center, which is hosting the event. In the post-9/11 world, Siems says, writers here are dealing with negative reaction to America's literary exports, while writers abroad are finding it tougher to obtain visas to come to this country.

Post-9/11 world [The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has two dogs, named Marx and Engels because "they are German, hairy and have no respect for property." Naming Convention]
• · Artificial life' comes step closer: NSW Premier Bob Carr, government ministers and Westfield tried to cover up their involvement in the Orange Grove affair Grove Saga ; Former NSW gaming and racing minister Richard Face today pleaded guilty to lying to the state's corruption watchdog, saying he was under severe stress and panicked. Professional Politicians at State Level Total Political Amateurs at the Local Level: Tzar of Crookedfield (sic); [A Sydney mayor stood down today over allegations he accepted a wad of cash from a developer. Cr Alfred Tsang ; - Cold Revenge Sydney Style: New mayor accused of entrapment ; Those who break the law, pay for the law, ensuring the safety of the community Alfred Tsang said Strathfield Council is part of the State Government's Supplementary Policing Trial... ]
• · · Gross National Happiness. New economic measure: Happiness ; [Now, I can't do an Erin Brockovich and sue a company and I'm no Bob Geldof to organise 'Bandaid' but I need to send a message to the premier, Bob Carr. Professor John Thompson, head of melanoma worldwide ]
• · · · MASSACHUSETTS HAS a tough reputation to live down with the rest of the nation: loony-left liberals, lousy drivers, failed presidential candidates. To top it all off, everyone thinks we're cheap bastards, too. Generosity Index
• · · · · Many of those who were successful under communism were wonderfully prepared to succeed in many a modern corporation Great Expectations ; [Prime mover: John Winston Howard the second longest survivor ]
• · · · · · Boris: My mobile has been throbbing for the past hour with calls from the nice telly people wanting me to go on and gloat about the extinction of David Blunkett, and for the past hour I have been sitting here trying to work up some enthusiasm. It wasn't Nannygate: it was telling the truth about Labour ; [We're all little people in little houses I hope you run the country better than you've managed over the last 15 minutes ]

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bill Moyers has always taken the high road, but it got a little lonely up there. In a country where political discourse grows ever more shrill, his voice was more and more easily drowned out. Last night, at the age of 70 and on the eve of his 50th wedding anniversary, Bill Moyers took the high road home. Bill Moyers Gets In the Last Word

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Road to Freedom via Unfriendly fire
Quote of the year for Tim Dunlop’s money:

This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation. Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive Al-Qaeda. The Spanish people have not said that what happened in Madrid, hideous crime as it was, threatened the life of their nation. Their legendary pride would not allow it. Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community….
[S]uch a power in any form is not compatible with our constitution. The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.

Australia will survive al-Qa'ida as well. But we need to stop empowering the terrorists by abridging our liberties [Chemical Ali appears before Iraqi judge ]
• · Did Stanislav Petrov Save the World? Mark Mcdonald of Knight Ridder says, maybe so Petrov Affair 1983
• · ·
Duncan Campbell, a former Australian ambassador to Rome and Vienna and once a deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Department, says targeting and eliminating known terrorist operatives is more efficient and costs fewer lives than waging conventional war. Kill terror chiefs: ex-envoy ; [Laughing Dragon, Dancing Bear
• · · · Golkar selects Yudhoyono ally as new leader
• · · · · Freedom of Cold War and Dissent
• · · · · · Here's my plan to end the red-blue rift ; [The Orange Grove Revolutions 2004 AD Ukrainian Orange Revolution; This is the Age of I, I am rich revolution of iPods ]

Friday, December 17, 2004

George Orwell in the making Casino Used Cameras to Ogle Women While in Sydney MP is bugged in relation to Orange Grove Affair Are we not all being bugged. My question is Who is bugging the bugger?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Circuitbreaker Rowville Books on Mark Latham
I first became aware of the New Politics of the Outsider at the NSW Parliament House. I was working at the reference area of the Library so I often came across Mark who even then had a sense of urgency about him. Characters like Mark are often too busy to bother attending their own funeral. Mark liked to compare him self to socialists with human face. He likes to clone himself on the idea of the politician who knows how the 'third way' works. To those he liked at the library, be it bubbly Greig Tillotson or the expert historian on Bill McKell, David Clune, he created an atmosphere of the Starbuck cofee club. The Parliament was their third place a place where the cosiness of Tony Blair was served up. Female waitresses seemed to like his style, although he lacked the touch of Mike Cleary or the sex appeal of a certain Bill Clinton.
Gough Whitlam and Bob Carr, his bosses at the time, expected Mark to have the intellectual sophistication of Vaclav Havel. Latham was always charming to me even shared a story or two be it in the lift or the indoor pool. His boyish eyes made you feel like playing on the soccer field. Mark seemed to be just one of us, a servant, an outsider, who was born poor just like the Brittish pollie David Blunkett, but whose eyes followed you everywhere. I always wondered what was behind those blue hazel flaked eyes ... I doubt that any writer or any women would ever be allowed to keep him still for long enough to reach deep inside those two huge pools on his face...
Ach, even if you were a better swimmer he would make you feel that he was actually leading... That is a leadership gift!

In her Quarterly Essay Margaret Simons explores Latham’s spatial political language. It’s a thoughtful essay with some attractive personal notes. She is particularly informative on Latham’s record as Mayor of Liverpool and usefully summarises some of his ideas about welfare, employment, health, taxation, and education. But, like McGregor, Simons exaggerates Latham’s novelty. She manages this once through simple factual error, when she claims that ‘Latham differs from Whitlam and Menzies in having been born on the fringes’ (p. 35). We can take it for granted that Simons has never been to Menzies’ birthplace, Jeparit! Equally, I find it hard to see Menzies, the son of a shopkeeper, having been ‘born into comfort and privilege’ (p. 35). Simons also believes that Latham’s ‘arrival on the political scene has brought to an end the fictions that have dominated politics for the last ten years’ (p. 107).

More hard Labor: Latham inside out [Exclusive Members Only: Bear Pit Pillow Talk ]
• · The Swimming Games Political People Play. It's a game of inches – the line between the politics of sports and the sport of politics. Giving Meaning to 'Never Again'
• · · Foreign Policy, a look at the Top Ten stories you missed in 2004
• · · · Facts are stupid things. There is a little argument from professional historians, for whom context, rather than mute data points, is everything. Of Human Bondage
• · · · · Six degrees of separation rule holds true for Nobel scientists too Six other people, or six degrees are thought to separate any two randomly connected individuals
• · · · · · Borris Johnson on David Blunkett

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made Love, Lust and the Future of Politics and Culture

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Carr behind Orange Grove's scuttling: Black report

The Premier, Bob Carr, and his office sought to "inappropriately direct" a decision to scuttle the Orange Grove factory outlet based on "the improper influence" of Westfield, an explosive parliamentary report has found.
It also concludes there was a conspiracy to cover up the affair.
The final wording of the upper house committee report will be discussed at a meeting of the committee today and will be released next week.
A majority of the seven-member committee support the conclusions, but it is almost certain the three Labor members will issue a dissenting report.
The findings, seen by the Herald, come midway through the Independent Commission against Corruption hearings into Orange Grove. They are scathing about Westfield's role and are likely to prompt another debate about the role of political donations in gaining access to decision makers. Westfield is a big donor to the NSW Labor Party and the Liberal Party.

Orange Turning Black ; [A Sydney terror trial witness admits lying about his combat experiences with a terrorist group and giving the FBI information based on his dreams Ibrahim Ahmed Al-Hamdi ]
• · · Tests Reveal Yushchenko's Dioxin Level Poison level 6000 times higher than normal ; [Who assassinated John Newman? ]
• · · · While the Premier is overseas the Union NSW or former Labour Council is busy drumming up the number for the political survivor who swims on the left side of the Blue Mountains River. In addition, the ABC journalists love him: Next Premier? [At Time like this it must be tempting to do Michael Knight...]
• · · · · · Catching cabinet colleagues by surprise, he decided to fall on his sword only after being told by Sir Alan on Tuesday that a sequence of forgotten, but potentially compromising, faxes and emails would not allow him to deliver a clean bill of health. It was a dramatic end to one of the most tenacious political careers. As a child born blind in a poor home, Mr Blunkett, 57, rose to hold one of the most important and demanding offices in the state - and lost it for love. Blunkett's emotional exit

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The world is filled with pages and pages of stories from Iraq, but Paul McGeough and Anthony Shadid represent the stories most worthy of your time Doctors in Baghdad get no days off [Shadid story -courtesy of the Best Barista in Siberia ]

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: What I Like About Scrooge
It is taxes, not misers, that need reforming.

Here's what I like about Ebenezer Scrooge: His meager lodgings were dark because darkness is cheap, and barely heated because coal is not free. His dinner was gruel, which he prepared himself. Scrooge paid no man to wait on him.
Scrooge has been called ungenerous. I say that's a bum rap. What could be more generous than keeping your lamps unlit and your plate unfilled, leaving more fuel for others to burn and more food for others to eat? Who is a more benevolent neighbor than the man who employs no servants, freeing them to wait on someone else?

Maybe when Scrooge demands less coal for his fire, less coal ends up being mined. But that's fine, too
• · Estonian Economic Miracle: A Model For Developing Countries
• · · Capitalism is a peculiar form of class society. Like previous class societies it involves a minority section of society grabbing the surplus created by the toil of the rest of society. But there are important differences Previous ruling classes simply seized the surplus, while capitalists get it by buying people's capacity to work
• · · · Gianna and her sterling political observations

Fight poverty and inequality to beat terrorism

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Meeting of legislative hearts and minds
Excessive parliamentary entitlements and unregulated private funding give enormous advantages to the major parties

AUSTRALIA’s federal parliamentarians receive generous funding from the public purse. Entitlements range from parliamentary salaries down to a variety of allowances like the printing allowance. A recent Age article (30 October 2004) highlighted the escalating generosity of the deal, reporting that federal parliamentary entitlements have increased from $354 million for the 1999–2000 financial year to nearly $400 million.

The ossification of Australian politics [John Howard’s appointments as Departmental Heads reflect a changing attitude to the public service ]
• · Kasanova Kerik conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously... Mobbing connections; [Double Dragon affair laid bare ; Captain Ed; Josh Marshall; Steve Gilliard; Shenanigans!!! Kevin T. Keith; Steve Soto; Joe Gandelman; Taegan Goddard; The Big Trunk, Steve M.; Lorie Byrd; Ed Driscoll, Roger Ailes; David Allan Pell, Tom Tomorrow; Betsy Newmark; Roger L. Simon; Laura Rozen]
• · · On a receiving end of the stick Does 'stick to the rules' mean not to approve the amendment? ; [God Is With Us: Hitler's Rhetoric and the Lure of Moral Values]
• · · · In a startling challenge to the status quo, Mr Downer refuses to discuss the matter publicly after it was reported that the United States had been spying on the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, as part of a campaign to oust him and replace him with Mr Downer Despite Spying On ; [Czech Style Cold War Warrier]
• · · · · At a recent awards dinner, Bill Moyers laments the rise of theocratic "End-of-Days" types under Dubya. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. The Power of Myth
• · · · · · Bizarre a woman splapped another woman at work today not once three times... It is alleged that the manager thought nothing wrong with that ... Some women carry a gene that predisposed him to violence. Are We Puppets or Free Agents? [Civil disobedience is taking root in China]

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

At the risk of sounding a bit of a kill-joy - and you, Das CEO Commissioners and Kapitalists, will kindly maintain the proper silence of the grave in the performance pay deconstruction that follows - may I suggest that in the first place people revolutions of 1917 have taken place because of the greed displayed by the limitless absurdity of Tzarish capitalistic greed? The world is like a yo-yo as one brutalism is exchanged for another and the top 1% wants to own 100% on this earth. Excellent Review, according to John Quiggin,: Winner Takes it All Mentality

Invisible Hands & Markets: Time for Reformation of the Taxing Time for Families
Peter Saunders:

There is a pressing need for some fresh and radical thinking about tax, welfare and incentives as they affect families, and Dwyer’s paper makes a compelling case for recognising family income sharing for tax purposes. His arguments and proposals should be central to any future discussion of how to achieve a fairer and more sensible income tax system in this country.

Taxing time for families [ ]
• · Orange Turning Black Orange Grove closed 'as favour'
• · · If you've grown up with any kind of sense of entitlement, or if this is the first time you've ever had to struggle -- the first time that things haven't come easy -- then I can imagine that the weak academic job market seems a bit unfair. Those who insist on believing in exploitation ignore their own culpability. So through the power of language, they re-create themselves as weak, helpless, even (dare I say?) infantile. Not Exploited
• · · · Many political agendas seethed in France in 1788. But the poor, who had no interest in politics, had one primary concern — bread. The weather of 1788 was not, of course, the primary cause of the French Revolution. But as Brian Fagan explains in "The Little Ice Age," the shortage of grain and bread — and the resulting social upheaval — contributed in large measure to its timing Weathering the French Revolution
• · · · · Dozen of seats on the world's most luxurious cruise liner have collapsed under the weight of obese American passengers; [Yesterday Sydney experienced the Bear Pit atmosphere: an eerie calm before the deluge To avoid being struck or more like shot by a large hail, I invaded a coffee shop where one and all customers looked rather obese. So it was nice to read a positive story about a politician whose engagement party drinks I attended all those years ago. Before children (BC) The headline screamed: He lost 40kg - Have you heard the one about the fat MP who didn't exercise? (The Daily Telegraph, 13-12-2004, Pg: 13 no link) HE has lost 40kg and 30cm off his waist in less than a year -as well as his leadership aspirations. Rotary Man and now a great example to his oldest son Tom: Barry O'Farrell . The Deputy Liberal leader spoke on Sunday for the first time about an exercise regimen that has sparked a health craze among NSW politicians A stranger who was born in Melbourne and married to beautiful Sydney girl, Rosemary Cowan, now commutes to (R)oseville]

Monday, December 13, 2004

I just read a fascinating profile in the Australian Financial Review of Australia’s Security chief, Dennis Richardson Summer 2004 AFR Magazine p 26- not online. Richardson talks about the challenges of running a revitalised intelligence organisation in a world where everyone is suddenly watching ... The Spy Master is titled and written by Veron Burgess (not related to the famous spy Burgess) It is pure literature, Richardson “has a pair of blue eyes that drill straight through you. And if those eyes start to blaze, watch out ..." "Courage is certainly not in short supply" (in relation to frank and fearless advice.) He is passionate (rugby fan) about Canberra Raider - league and Brumbies - union... Richardson loves to laugh. Norma Allen, social writer, once said: If you are the director general of ASIO, I am the Queen Mother!

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Mungo MacCallum's
A debate like no other ...

Margo: When I'm in my late teens I always bought The National Times, even in Queensland. The National Times and Nation Review. And I just wondered why you think that journalism's gone? Because it's like the young journalists today, they haven't really got stuff that they can say - aspire to. As particularly my generation aspired to -
MUNGO: Yeah. Well - definitely the Times - I mean, the quick reason why that sort of journalism's gone is that it was always run at a loss. I mean The National Times and Nation Review both were always on the red side of the balance sheet, with very, very few exceptions.
And these days, when newspapers and the media are run much more by accountants than by journalists, that kind of opportunity is no longer going to be available.
And also, there is a thing about times and places. I mean, as I said at the beginning, I think when you're going through fairly miserable times, as in cultural terms I think we are at the moment, when we're introverted and selfish and frightened and greedy, then there's not much of a place for that kind of a journalism.
I mean, you see the hard - the sort of bludgeoning type satire of people like The Chaser, some of which I think's very good. And there are some other publications around that do it too. And there's some of it on the net. But it was never a commercial proposition in print terms. And I think in these troubled times it'd be even less of a commercial proposition than it was then.

• He opened proceedings with the annoucement that Mungo's would be the last book he published. Demand for serious books had gone down 40% since the GST, he said. End of story End of at least one of his dreams [ ]
• · From the legal establishment to colonial lords, this absorbing ABC TV series draws back the curtain on successive generations of influential Australian families. The best series ever produced by ABC
• · · A Film by Katey Grusovin and David Grusovin Filmmakers Katey and David Grusovin have discovered that dynasticpolitics can be as fractious as the real thing in the bear pit The Christmas Cake: This is a Classic Elvis Did Eat the Cake!
• · · · The most famous definition of fundamentalism is H. L. Mencken's: a terrible, pervasive fear that someone, somewhere, is having fun
• · · · · Blogs: New Medium, Old Politics