BohemiAntipodean Samizdat

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Brilliant James Cumes Petrov affair dramatises injustices
AUSTRALIAN plays are rarely performed in Europe. But this week a new Australian play, The Lovers The Outcasts, has been advertised throughout the Viennese underground, on billboards and on the sides of buses and trams.
Beneath a picture of a handsome young man stroking the belly of an equally handsome young woman is the declaration that the play, written by James Cumes, a former Australian ambassador to Austria, is about to have its world premiere.
The Lovers The Outcasts is a historical echo: the story of the Petrov affair that transfixed Australia in the 1950s and, in an era of anti-communist hysteria, contributed to making Liberal Party hero Robert Menzies the longest serving prime minister in Australian history.

The affair had all the elements to fascinate what was then an isolated culture: Soviet spies, a beautiful woman in the shape of Evdokia (Eva) Petrov, and scandalous accusations aimed at the highest reaches of the Australian government.
It also led to one of the most famous photographs of the Cold War era: the sight of Eva Petrov being manhandled on to a plane by Soviet agents aroused sympathy and outrage around the world.
The Lovers The Outcasts begins a three-day run tonight at the elegant Schlosstheater in Schonbrunn Palace, one of Vienna's prime tourist attractions, and the curious nature of the play has already attracted attention from Vienna's main media outlets.
Key to the interest has been the remarkable 85-year-old Cumes, who is still regarded with affection and referred to as Botschafter, or ambassador, wherever he goes.
Everything about Cumes is extraordinary. His conversation is dotted with tales spanning the decades from his years as a soldier in New Guinea during World War II to his many years as a diplomat with postings in West Africa, Paris, London, Geneva, Brussels and his beloved Vienna. Since retiring he has maintained homes in Vienna, Monaco, Canberra and Brisbane.
He is hoping The Lovers The Outcasts will soon be performed at Monaco's Princess Grace Theatre. He also hopes the play will be performed in Australia.
Cumes has long been obsessed, he says, by writing: he has written 15 books in all, including four novels and a blog he maintains on his website. His latest work, written while in his 80s, is an economic polemic called America's Suicidal Statecraft: The Self-destruction of a Superpower.
Five years ago Cumes sat down and recounted the Petrov affair, keen to get out a story that had been lurking in the back of his mind since the 1950s.
"Like so many others, I have always thought the Petrov affair was a great story that deserved more dramatic treatment than it has so far received," he says.
The bare facts of his project are interesting enough; that he managed to attract investment from the cultural establishment of Vienna for a story a half century old and from half a world away is even more remarkable.
The Lovers The Outcasts is being performed in English by the well-established Vienna Theatre Company and has attracted several prominent local actors.
Andrea Kunesch, who plays Eva Petrov, is well known to Austrian television audiences. Balazs Schallenberg, who plays Vladimir Petrov, has worked in films and TV, while Australian Brian Hatfield, who plays an ASIO career officer, has worked for the Melbourne Theatre Company. Vienna-born director Roman Kollmer has worked in radio, TV and movies.

• John Stapleton | February 01, 2008 Everything about Cumes is extraordinary.; [ His conversation is dotted with tales spanning the decades from his years as a soldier in New Guinea during World War II to his many years as a diplomat with postings in West Africa, Paris, London, Geneva, Brussels and his beloved Vienna. Since retiring he has maintained homes in Vienna, Monaco, Canberra and Brisbane. James withsHeidi in Vienna ; As James notes We should all be pursuing a lasting victory over world want]

Friday, February 01, 2008

In a morning keynote session at the Tools of Change conference, Tim O'Reilly set out to explain why "free is more complicated than you think" but, for a company like his, an excellent driver of multiple revenue streams.

First O'Reilly reprised and extended some online posts that crunched numbers to show the easy path to business from free--advertising--is illusory given standard online advertising models. A hypothetical $50 million specialty publishing company (like his) will never generate anywhere even close to that amount of revenue through advertising-supported free content.

O'Reilly told the crowd we're facing all the same challenges as the rest of you--but I still think free is a good idea. But the key is that O'Reilly is already in a lot of different businesses in addition to print book publishing that free help to drive--their online reference/library joint venture; conferences; online courses; a magazine; and even venture capital. Significantly, they can be in all of those businesses because they are all targeted at the same focused community O'Reilly serves in all of their products. That's the important and resonant example more than the fact that O'Reilly uses free online content sharing to drive a variety of revenue streams. (For further relevant reading on this point, look back at Mike Shatzkin's speech on the End of Trade Publishing:

Much of the proof, acknowledged by O'Reilly, was right in the room. "In our business, sponsoring is a big part of what we do." Attendees paid to come to this conference, while over two dozen companies paid for sponsorships and bought speaking slots to address that group. O'Reilly on Free

What Everyone Else Is Reading Public Service Website Ripers: Top 10 intranet sites
Local farmers at NSW Department of Primary Industries / ComputerWorld, January 2008, 2p. Press release from DPI and a news article featuring a list of 10 best designed intranet sites from a world wide competition. NSW DPI was the only Australian site; the New Zealand Ministry of Transport also gained a mention for the antipodes.

San Francisco-based Nielsen Norman Group, which has organised the event for the past eight years, says the priority in intranet development has flipped "from information to people".
"It’s now a given to have basic features such as an employee directory on a company’s intranet,” usability expert and principal of Nielsen Norman Group Jakob Nielsen said in a statement.
"What’s new is the polish and sophistication that companies are giving them so that they serve even more useful purposes, which in the case of the directory means providing more than an employee’s name, rank and serial number, but also his subject-matter expertise, for example.”

• An overview of the report is available at ; [HarperCollins Publishers Promotion to Make Select Books Available Online for Free Harper Tries Full Online Access; For those books not provided free by publishers, there's a new scanner from Atix (selling for about $1,600) that the company calls a book ripper. Newsweek judges it more a thud than a snap, the device—an ominous three-foot high construction draped with a thick black darkroom-style shade—looks like a Goth puppet theater and weighs 44 pounds E-Z Book Scanner Isn't, Yet--But It Will Be ]
• · This article explains how a good writing style can help lawyers persuade judges Persuading Judges in Writing: Tips for Lawyers; Terrific writers: As a senator she has learned compromise and negotiation. She has gotten to know red America as well as blue. If she could win over the rednecks in upstate New York, she can win over any American. She knows this country is full of "security" moms as well as soccer moms. From Erica Jong - a terrific writer ; and more Election pundit
• · Wealth Report finds that a typical Australian family spends $537,000 on raising two children from birth to 21 years. Ach Sasha and Gabbie … Honey, I calculated the kids... it's $537,000: Australian child costs in 2007; A bittersweet and wise month-by-month account of the year in her life during which, upon turning half a century and confronted with his own mortality, he chooses to wake himself up, embrace the passage of time, identify what matters (and what does not) -- and finally decide to live Im Alive ;-)
• · · Good Question for Media Dragons How important are author sites?; Imagine saying hello to Kate Jones who was one of the most brilliant literary agents of her generation, and leaves behind an extraordinary list of devoted authors Kate Jones: Literary agent with flawless taste One of the brightest and best in the British book world: a rare and gifted reader, a dedicated and inspiring editor, and an exceptional publisher; Deron Douglas of wider Double Dragon World
• · · · · There used to be a time when the Republicans were known for their fiscal conservatism. Commentary: The Tax Reduction and Reform Act of 2007; The purpose of this Blog is to collate information about psychological research on deception, and the applications of this research. Criminal Resources: False Confessions