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

The bestest (sic) newspaper in the world Sydney Morning Herald Reports and 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 Common Sense [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?

Tuesday, December 28, 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

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]

Friday, December 24, 2004

Don Arthur Halelujas Christmas gifts and the Diderot effect

Ach, that special Grandfather Frost
Mother Russias children are disappearing rapidly. There are 160 deaths for every 100 live births. Cardiovascular disease is on the march. Sexually transmitted infections are rampant. The causes are varied, and solutions are elusive, but one thing is clear:
Big trouble is looming.

Invisible Hands & Markets: Funny kind of guerilla
David, the one and only Barista who deserves the ownership of the Starbucks chain, was the kind of child who adored cubby houses. When visitors came, I had to be dragged away from building mines under the house. Eventually I got into big trouble for setting fire to the roof of one wth my home made miner's lamp. My family would suggest that David and I have a lot in common (smile)

I still love tents. And wee hoosies in the back yard. I have lived in a succession of granny flats; the best had tons of louvers. At a purchase price of just $35,000 this is a genuine short-term housing option that could be used in a variety of applications. It is lightweight, transportable, requires no more skill to erect than an Ikea product, and is very affordable." says Col James, the architect. Bit of glass might help, and some flywire.

• (B)ankers Beware: Child-Turned-Adult Passion Heralds the End of the Era of Mortgages [One of NSW's oldest boarding schools, Hurlstone Agricultural High School, maintains "traditions of bullying and preferencing" where senior students claim privileges over younger ones. The Experiences of the Nitra Army Baracks and The Bear Pit found at Schools as well]
• · Why Are So Many Insiders Selling? Major white collar crime will impact the U.S. economy over the next five years. Note that they wrote will. Not could Three Years After Enron It Looks Like No One Learned a Thing ; [PUBLIC PENSIONS, PRIVATE JACKPOTS: Some government workers retire with big payouts -- funded by you ]
• · · In a sign of Australia's worsening skills shortage, a Victorian transport company has hired 60 "guest" welders from China because it cannot attract locally based tradespeople. Fly-in fly-out; [My Deakin University course in anthropology is starting to pay off at Christmas time: It's good to be seen to give. o post cards and send presents is no mere, harmless indulgence. They are invariably dispatched by social inferiors seeking to curry favour with their superiors. One author explains why he won't be sending any cards or gifts this Christmas ]
• · · · Every now and again a person who reads the newspaper learns something interesting that people who don’t read the newspaper only learn by first hand experience A New Way to Pay Old Debts ; [Let’s say that again: There is no Social Security crisis: 2029 (25 years to go!) The Reality is written in Kabalah; just open your eyes]
• · · · · A multimillion-dollar jury award against Todd McFarlane Bankruptcy latest twist for Valley's McFarlane; [A gang of thieves escaped with as much as $76 million from a bank in Northern Ireland National Australia Bank]
• · · · · · So a comic walks into a bar, does a set and still can't feed his kids. Or his pets. Or his pets' kids. So what does he do? He gets a lawyer, forms a coalition and threatens to strike. Hardened by decades of low wages and even lower self-esteem, some 300 New York comedians have decided to unite to ask the city's comedy clubs for, well, A little respect. (Oh, and more pay) ;
*Reality flash: iPod Users Switch to Mac OS X
For the Wall Street Journal, Tim Hanrahan and Jason Fry write, “In Monday’s column, we predicted that the combination of the iPod’s popularity and the increasing worry over viruses, security holes and spyware in Windows PCs will lead to the second coming of Apple Computer as a home-computing power. To say that struck a chord would be putting it mildly. Boy, did we ever get mail — including a significant number of people who said that the iPod, Windows security concerns or a combination of the two had made them switch to a Mac or plan to do so.” [Paid WSJ subscription required.]

Wednesday, December 22, 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

Sunday, December 19, 2004

With Great Beer, It's All in the Rocks (and That Doesn't Mean Ice) The refreshing bitterness of an English pale ale, the clean light taste of a Pilsener, the dark, almost burnt graininess of Irish stout. To Dr. Alex Maltman, these are prime illustrations of the power of double dragon

Invisible Hands & Markets: Elections and Economy Law

He admitted that the most he'd hoped for was not to lose any seats of his own. The triumph was not foreshadowed by the poll formerly favoured by the pros - Newspoll - and those other polls pointing to a strong Howard win were openly pooh-poohed by their sponsors. The moral is: no matter who you are or how close your ear is to the ground, it's simply not possible to know how an election will transpire. Like forecasting the economy, it's just supposed experts pretending to know more than they do

Debt, dumb politics and dumber politicians [The Topic Should Be China Robert Reich returns from Australia with a reality check: It's China, stupid ]
• · The heard is bolting The Real Estate Bubble Proof in Surreality; Sydney Asking Price: Quicksand
• · · If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss: He was once worth $80 million. Now John Elliott says he has just $293 in the bank (John will be back bigger and better ...)
• · · · The top 1,000 things to know
• · · · · Displaying a taste in sensible gifts, Santa Costello has unveiled plans to overhaul the do-it-yourself tax regime. Pendulum swing back towards ordinary taxpayers
• · · · · · Costello to ease up on taxpayer

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]

Saturday, December 11, 2004

There's a saying that students at Aston University don't graduate: it just takes them three years to find their way out the building As any psychologist knows, lives are not compartmentalised that easily

Invisible Hands & Markets: Which is why historically low are in fact too high
There is a ghost that hangs heavy over the days of our economic lives we are about to fall on harder times. Though most folks move through the December days oblivious to it, some people say they can actually see it. And they see it everywhere:

Americans who were 20 in 1980, when double-digit inflation was at its most destructive, were barely old enough to appreciate what was happening. Yet, those people (now 44) are older than two-thirds of the population. They have no memory of rising inflation. As for declining inflation, its benefits have occurred in a gradual and almost invisible manner. We haven't paid much attention. Our economic debates blame or credit high-profile presidential policies (Reagan's tax cuts, Clinton's budget surpluses or Bush's deficits) or focus on more dramatic upheavals: the Internet or globalization.

The End Of the Age Of Inflation
• · Exclusive I was a key figure in allowing the swindle to take place by providing middle-man services between pipelines and politicos
• · · The 6 Myths Of Creativity So Risk Averse He is Suicidal
• · · · The non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group Judicial Watch has posted a searchable archive of financial disclosure reports for all Supreme Court Justices and Appellate Court federal judges. Judicial Watch
• · · · · New Blog Co-Authored by Nobel Prize Winning Economist and Federal Circuit Judge Becker-Posner Blog
• · · · · · The unexpected successes of a Cold War development project

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The art of luring businesses Our correspondent reports on alleged gifts to Catherine Deneuve and GĂ©rard Depardieu from a businessman on the run

Invisible Hands & Markets: IT PAYS TO STAY: Look both ways before cross

In the late nineties, the city of Toledo, Ohio faced a crisis. DaimlerChrysler, which ran Jeep factory there, announced plans to build new plant, but offered no guarantee that i would be built in Toledo. So the city and th state came a-courting. They promised Daimle a ten-year exemption from all property taxes offered hundreds of millions of dollars in ta credits, and bought out eighty-three homes an sixteen small businesses, in order to give th company more land. Crisis averted: Daimler i still building Jeeps in Toledo

The business of America shouldn’t be subsidizing business
• · By PAUL KRUGMAN: Contrary to what the privatizers are saying, we don't have to destroy Social Security in order to fix it... Inventing a Crisis; [Gregor Alexandrovich Potemkin was an 18th century Russian military leader, politician and lover to Empress Catherine the Great. His name comes down to us partly because of his construction of elaborate fake villages in the Ukraine and Crimea for Catherine to see during her royal tours. She was apparently unaware that the prosperity was a fake. Behind the facade of our miracle southerly bustering economy]
• · · Some people, who are much smarter than me, figured out a way to show the cost of the war in Iraq.
• · · · Timothy Garton Ash, writing from San Francisco yesterday, had this to say, among other things, about liberals after the election: I 'm getting seriously worried about anti-Americanism
• · · · · An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back

Sunday, December 05, 2004

For the virgin time, Amazon, which began in the books business but has steadily diversified in recent years, has sold more of other products than Cold Digital Rivers Amazon - Not Just For The Books Anymore
As big dig holes leak taxpayer dollars by the gallon, as Halliburton overbills the Pentagon by millions, as Enron CEOs go to jail for defrauding stockholders, and as HMOs provide less and less health care for higher and higher fees, it is time to reexamine that great myth spawned by the Reagan revolution: the myth of privatization. How on earth can socialisation of loses and privatisation of profit, Greed and Altruism coexist? The Public Cost of Privatization

Invisible Hands & Political Markets: Taxing Times
If you haven't seen it, a House Appropriations Committee staffer, Richard E. Efford, has stepped forward to take responsibility for the Istook Amendment. His boss is Rep. Istook. But he says he never ran it past the congressman -- at least not until it was too late to do anything about it. Sleepless nights and the agonies of the appropriations process are to blame, we're told, not bad intentions. The Post has an interview with Efford and the details of his story.
A mid-level House aide said yesterday that he was the one who, during last month's drafting of a huge spending bill, added a provision that could give staffers on the House and Senate appropriations committees broad access to Americans' tax returns. A A good Winston Churchill saying: We contend for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Aide takes blame for tax return provision [Most people in government generally want to do the right thing, but it's very easy in bureacratic circles for people to get caught in the thick soup of their colleagues and, hampered by a lack of imagination, fail to see all the public implications of what they are proposing. Taxing times ]
• · Slashed rail needs to recruit drivers; [Sydney 1995-2007 and God willing beyond: Many trains left with briefcases, shopping bags and even bodies protruding from the doorways. At Wynyard, harassed railway police moved up and down the platforms pleading with dense crowds to keep back from the lines It is when we struggle we become one: Back to the Future of 70s ]
• · · California home buyers are catching Sydney disease as the median household income in California is $52,940 and $55,370 short of the $108,310 qualifying income needed to buy a median-priced, single-family home during the same period, the analysis by the California Association of Realtors found Absurd Six-figure salary needed to afford median-price Calif home Median price of $462,510 ; [Landlord/renter: Master/Slave ]
• · · · Blogger Boris's column in the Daily Telegraph touches on his recent sacking experience. He recommends getting humiliatingly sacked as a means of awakening a new compassion, in friend and foe alike. He refers to the tens of thousands across Britain who sadly face the loss of their jobs, through no fault of their own. There is too much political correctness and a massive transfer of wealth has taken place from the productive to the non-productive sectors of the economy. Trust me, being sacked isn't all bad
• · · · · "We had a source inside", former top ranking Russian spy Trust and Betrayal
• · · · · · Bill Clinton: A place in history

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Australian Centre for Tax System Integrity, a joint undertaking of the Australian Taxation Office and Australian National University, has revamped its web site. New Australian Centre for Tax System Integrity Web Site

The massive corporate wave of crime, fraud and abuse rolls on, is undeterred by regular exposes in the business media itself. My favorite corporate crime journal (aka the Wall Street Journal) is a daily newspaper that never runs out of material. a daily newspaper that never runs out of material

Invisible Hands & Markets: New Perspective Toward Auditing Firms
The outside accounting firm is one of the four key gatekeepers. The sentries to the marketplace are: the auditors who sign off on companies' financial data; the lawyers who advise companies on disclosure standards and other securities laws requirements; the research analysts who warn investors away from unsound companies; and the board of directors responsible for oversight of company management.
Sentries of Risk Management ; [The clarity of former tax lawyers like Robert H. Jackson, Harry Blackmun, and Sumner Redstone shows that -- far from being a bunch of crazies speaking in tongues -- tax law represents just the opposite. Much of tax practice consists of trying to find logical definitions of ordinary English words (such as "sale" and "ownership"); and tax tries to root those definitions in the concerns of actual transactions Tax thinking boils a transaction down not to labels but to who gets what why, and it forces you to examine where and how it says that ]
• · Crime may not pay, but blowing the whistle on companies that swindle the government sure can. Jim Alderson got $20 million in one settlement and split $100 million with another whistleblower in a related case, both involving Medicare fraud by the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain and a company it acquired Blowing the whistle can bring big bucks; [Move On, Evil Conspiracy Theorists -- Nothing to See Here! ]
• · · Americans have always hated taxes. And for good reason. There’s a fine line between legitimate taxation and the abuse of power Giving Thanks
• · · · When liberals in the media or in politics start being alarmed about the national debt, it means just one thing: They want higher taxes. The thought of reducing spending would never cross their minds A taxing experience
• · · · · Are You Paying Yourself Enough?
• · · · · · Only the little people pay taxes: How much will the government's crackdown on tax shelters affect ordinary companies? More than you think

Read, every day, something no one else is reading (such as Cold River - smile). Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.
-Christopher Morley, American Novelist, Journalist, Poet (1890-1957)

What better spirit of Christmas than to continue giving year-round? That's part of the idea of the richest 31-year-old in history, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, as he gives away $10 billion dollars Christmas Gifts Year-Round

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Like most readers I follow a good writers wherever they happen to show off their ideas. Brian Toohey of the National Times fame has many features these days with the Australian Financial Review (sub reg req) Yesterday between watching my daughter swim with the squad team and run at the Athletic center, I managed to digest Brian's analysis in relation to Australia's tax policy and the challenges of the ageing population ... (If the author permits I will get some extracts on the web next week)

Invisible Hands & Markets: The Taxing Art of Seeing and Being Seen
Robert Deutsch, professor of law in the Atax Program at the University of NSW, designed a couple of tax modules which I successfully completed couple of years ago. (ATAX recently received a reseach funding to look seriously at the complexity of the tax law.) Anyway, he recently wrote a longish essay (extracts follow):
We need genuine simplification, not just another half-hearted effort, writes Robert Deutsch.
Now that the Prime Minister is safely ensconced in The Lodge with total control of both the house and the Senate it may be time for the coalition government to revisit the periodically recurring theme of tax simplification.
But this time, what needs to be examined is real robust and fundamental simplification rather than the cosmetic pale imitation that has been embraced in the past eight years.
Anyone who believes that genuine simplification has been part of the tax agenda since 1996 has not had a serious look at the tax legislation that has emanated from our federal parliament under various optimistic but misleading titles such as A New Tax System (Simplification) Bill.
This has largely been a "smoke and mirrors" affair that has simply served to rearrange the deckchairs by moving around different parts of the act, renumbering (eg. section 25 becomes section 6-5 and section 51(1) becomes section 8-1 etc) and hoping the outcome will help the average man in the street. Cosmetically, we feel better but little has actually been achieved.
Worse, new legislation such as consolidations (even the name is a turn-off to anything but a complex mind) is drafted in an allegedly simplified fashion that not even tax experts seem to understand.
A case in point is the foundation principle of consolidations, the so-called single entity rule, which sounds simple treat subsidiary companies as if they are parts of the parent company rather than separate entities.
Sounds like a reasonable idea except that in practice we (being the so-called tax experts) don't know exactly what this means and to help us the Australian Taxation Office has had to develop rulings and determinations to help explain how it thinks it works. Whenever that happens you can be certain that the answers are not simple since the ATO rarely rules on simple issues.
The solution to all this is to stop fiddling at the edges and to go directly to the heart of the tax system and introduce major reform. This should, at a minimum, focus on the following possibilities....
* Top rate of 30 per cent on all income and capital gains.
CGT concessions for long-term assets but existing small business CGT concessions removed.
* Standard deduction (10-15 per cent) for every taxpayer.
Strict reporting and compliance for those claiming more.
All tax offsets other than imputation credits eliminated.
* All GST exemptions bar health, education and exports eliminated.
* FBT rate cut to 30 per cent with simpler motor vehicles regime.
* Superannuation surcharge and all tax on super earnings eliminated; super payments taxed at 30 per cent.

Cosmetic change no solution to tax maze 11/11/2004
• · · The level and composition of taxation in Australia and the OECD How highly taxed are we? (PDF)
• · · · Dangers of Pure monopolies: The answer to our taxi problem is ... wait for it
• · · · · President Bush kissed Condoleezza Rice on the cheek last week after nominating her for secretary of state. Later, he laid a quick lip plant on Margaret Spellings, his choice for secretary of education Is the workplace kiss always remiss?
• · · · · · Howard’s appointments as departmental heads reflect a changing attitude to the Public Disservice ; [Rank and file election NSW Public Service Association ]

Thursday, November 25, 2004

We are direct beneficiaries of the economics lesson the pilgrims learned in 1623 Real Thanksgiving Lesson

Invisible Hands & Markets: But Enough About You: Bad Tidings
Income tax is the single biggest expense in all households, followed by food, transport and housing costs, a new 20-year report shows.
Only a third of households spent money on life insurance or superannuation, while ... almost half of all households spend money most weeks on gambling.
A third of households spend money on tobacco (and) 60 per cent spend money regularly on alcohol.
About 15 per cent of households regularly spend more money each week than they earn while a third are able to save money most weeks.
Mothers are the breadwinners for Australian families more than ever before, but most people still think children should be a woman's top priority.

Income tax: Australian families' biggest expense; [Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday that "accountability will be carried out" against whoever slipped a provision into an omnibus spending bill that would have allowed two committee chairmen to view the tax returns of any American ]
• · Using tax dodges that range from perfectly legal to dubious, wealthy boat owners are enlisting the aid of the federal government to keep their luxury yachts on the water Three-part series on tax breaks for luxury yachts
• · · Illinois Judicial Campaign Money Sources of donations in high court race can’t be traced
• · · · Church. Monarchy, State. By the end of the century, the corporation had become the world's dominant institution; [Taking the Trouble to Research Your Market]
• · · · · Simon Castles So many souls drowning in the cult of the individual
• · · · · · WHETHER you want to set up a business, pay that overdue parking fine or even book tickets to Mamma Mia, you now only need to remember one website: ; [Sydney Magazine SMH December issue touches on what could be done better in Sydney: In this context, czech out Reengineering citizen service delivery in Brisbane Public Sector Technology & Management Magazine ]

Monday, November 22, 2004

Marc Faber has published three interesting pieces on historical asset bubbles The South Sea Bubble and Law's Mississippi Scheme

Invisible Hands & Markets: Convict nation: The Unkindest cuts of all
Australia still hasn’t shaken the image that we are a nation of criminals, an unfair label we have carried since our foundation as a penal colony. Australia’s homicide rate remains relatively stable at 1.9 murders per 100,000 people, a rate similar to other industrialised nations such as Sweden, France and Canada, and far below South Africa’s frightening rate of 50 murders per 100,000, or the United States’ 5.6 murders per 100,000.
While Australians don’t murder each other very often, (thank God) we don’t seem to have much shame in assaulting one another. The number of assault cases increased by 40% between 1996 and 2002, and assault makes up a staggering 80% of crimes reported. An aggressive male culture which permeates throughout much of Australian society hasn’t helped this fact.
Despite Australia’s low homicide rate, we poll highest with regards to the number of people who have been victims of crime.

• Source: IBISWorld Australia Newsletter, October 2004 It seems as if Australia’s convict heritage is as strong today as it ever was [Shel Silverstein's famous fable - The Giving Tree - It happens to everyone who gets married, at least, it seems, everyone in my generation. You get Corningware—never enough You get advice—always too much. You save a piece of wedding cake and see it survives a year in your freezer—it rarely does ...]
• · Speaking of Death, good tax policy dictates that the replacement revenue source ought to be the most equitable tax available. Scholars, most economists, many lawyers, and others agree that a progressive income tax is the most equitable. It may not be the most efficient, which suggests that revenue needs to be sourced among multiple taxes A Bad Tax Idea Keeps Breathing ; [Killing the Geese]
• · · ATO and its Youthful staff have released a whole range of information about many basic tax matters, including: Special tax rules for under-18s ; [So Teresa Heinz Kerry releases part of her 2003 tax return and immediately questions jump out Would We All Like This Tax Rate? ]
• · · · People looking for venture capital money will call anything small nanotechnology You cannot, strictly speaking, baptize a technology, for it has no soul. But you could say that something like that rite of passage occurred last Monday
• · · · · Liliana Molina: Accountant deficit hits city: The shortage of accountants in Brisbane is becoming critical; [Social Capital Measurement and Consequences; Deirdre McCloskey [pdf] The Secret Sins of Economics ]
• · · · · · According to Oil & Gas Journal, there's more trouble ahead. Ken Lyne explains why: I notice the moccasins I'm wearing on this cold, wet day. They say 'L.L. Bean' but they also say 'Made in China.' The sole is rubbery plastic, made from petroleum. The sheepskin was boated in from Australia... Like the Second Coming of Christ

Monday, November 08, 2004

While my Apple is being built again, I am digesting lots of trees and paperbacks. Blogosphere is also very actively creating stories and analysis...

Ken Parish gathers posts from various bloggers such as Chris Sheil and Don Arthur who are trying to make sense of the Amerikan elections Land of the Free

Closer home Car chases take a brutal toll: 21 young lives snuffed out Dangerous Pursuits

John Grisham would have struggled to come up with the saga of Jeff Shaw's missing blood sample as Boilermaker Bill McKell explains

Neil Mitchell stole from kids with cancer. His crime shows how easy it is to commit fraud in Australia Art of the Con

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Moon to cast red glow; Ferocious wind and rain lash the city of exiles; could it be an omen? It's impossible to conceal the disastrous state of NSW's health and transport services, so Treasurer Egan tried to cover up the size of the budget deficit instead Auditor-General Bob Sendt
21st century Manning Clark of the Evatt Foundation, Chris Sheil, Creates Ripples in the Blogosphere with His Water’s Fall The Infrastructure Volcano

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: And Now a Few Randy Words About E(l)ections
The air is thick with lies, deceptions, distortions, demagoguery, sleaze and vicious rhetoric, uttered every day by President Bush, John Kerry or their surrogates. Both candidates offer evasion and snake-oil non-remedies for dire national problems, ranging from the existential threat of nuclear terrorism, to the war in Iraq, to global warming, to the looming Social-Security-Medicare-deficit disaster. And each campaign is whipping its most partisan supporters into a frenzy of hatred for the opposing party.
Unfortunately, elected officials have a vested interest in perpetuating the systemic causes of polarization.
It's almost an act of faith to cling to Winston Churchill's wisdom that democracy is the worst form of government -- except for all the other ones

How Our Political and Bureaucratic System Elevates The Wrong People [RANDY KENNEDY And Now a Few Words About Our Candidates ]
• · Never mind opinion polls and focus groups 10 unusual ways to pick a president
• · · Roger Cohen The dirty word 'liberal' boasts a proud history
• · · · Munir Attaullah Root causes of terrorism.
• · · · · Blackouts in the Elitist North Sydney
• · · · · · Charges for water, electricity and other services are likely to rise because the NSW Government has seriously undervalued the cost of upkeep on government facilities. Over nine years, Bob Carr and Michael Egan have ripped out $6 billion dollars in dividends to deal with immediate issues but they have failed to put money aside to re-invest in this state's ageing infrastructure Clouds are Gathering Over Future AAA credit rating

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ready for winter 2006? And who decides what's in vogue And what's in store?

Invisible Hands & Markets: Just how rotten?

The insurance industry is the latest financial sector to have its darkest secrets exposed to the light
First came investment banking; then mutual funds; now the insurance industry is mired in scandal, the latest target of Eliot Spitzer, New York's formidable attorney-general. On October 14th he filed civil charges against Marsh & McLennan, the world's biggest insurance broker, and announced settlements of criminal charges with two employees at AIG, the world's biggest insurer, and one at ACE, a big property-casualty insurer. The charges are part of an ongoing investigation into industry practices that suggest insurers and brokers have acted collectively (and secretly) to betray customers. An added twist is that the three main companies so far involved are led by members of the Greenberg family: Hank Greenberg is the legendary boss of AIG; his eldest son Jeffrey runs Marsh; and his younger son Evan is in charge at ACE

A business often thought to lack personality and drama is now suffering from an abundance of both
• · Knowledge @ WhartonHow human behavior drives investment activity; [ Independent political groups have become the main way for the wealthy to affect events ]
• · · Karl Polanyi and the political economy of the 21st century
• · · · {PDF} Daniel Klein (Santa Clara): Statist Quo Bias ; Very few officers found by police to cause automobile accidents ]
• · · · · Michael L. Eskew The Dangers of Economic Isolationism
• · · · · · On the moral case for outsourcing Who Deserves Jobs?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sexty (60) Minutes is a broadcasting institution. Amerikan 60 Minutes is the longest continuously running prime time TV program ever, watched by 16 million viewers every week. Not only has it been in the Nielsen top 10 for the last 23 seasons, it’s the only show ever to have the highest ratings in three different decades. 60 Minutes is the most honored TV series of all time, with 75 Emmy Awards. It’s also the most profitable, having earned CBS an estimated $2 billion. What’s the secret?
Before 60 Minutes debuted, in 1968, television news was terribly earnest—and terribly dull. It was also terribly unprofitable and was usually subsidized by a network’s hit comedies and dramas. Into this void stepped creator and executive producer Don Hewitt, a protegĂ© of CBS legends Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Hewitt, whose notions of journalism had been shaped by the classic newspaper comedy The Front Page, saw no reason why televised journalism couldn’t be entertaining. He conceived of 60 Minutes as a broadcast version of Life magazine or the Saturday Evening Post. Instead of dealing with issues, says Hewitt, we tell Cold River type of stories.
The show has produced some of television’s most powerful investigative pieces

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Life Beyond the Political Margins: A Blogger's Endorsement
PR blogger Steve Rubel has endorsed John Kerry for U.S. president. He made the pronouncement recently, in what I suspect is now a trend among bloggers to who make their views known and to influence others.
Do you care who a blogger on (predominantly) non-political topics endorses publicly? While I doubt Rubel will influence many of his readers -- if
any -- I can certainly envision other bloggers who do cover politics and current affairs and who have loyal audiences influencing their readers. Why shouldn't bloggers endorse, just as most newspapers do?
Well, I can see reasons for bloggers like Rubel to abstain from public endorsements. Because he covers a non-political field, his endorsement could turn off readers who swing the other way, and even lose him some of his audience. With most current-affairs bloggers, though, the audience knows which way they lean and doesn't need an endorsement to be
published to figure it out.

• Steve Outing (no link available received by email) [ Without saying a word, Jess Ventura gets behind Kerry ]
• · Personal and Confidential? Not on Google Search analyst Chris Sherman, currently finishing up his latest book, Google Power told me something remarkable. If you go to Google and search for
personal and confidential you'll get about 35,000 search results Well, it shows that too many people don't treat online security seriously [Amazon usually gets outsized attention for their quarterly earnings report, but today they are both overshadowed by Google's first-ever quarterly report and slighted by analysts who once again fear the company's growth is declining mirroring (sic) the sales of Cold River - Palm Digital seems to be a way to go for unknown writers in 2004]
• · · The virgin issue of The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy is out Great editorial on the what, the why, the how, and the for whom of inclusive democracy
• · · · On the idea of fairness and balance in journalism
• · · · · Markets are conversations. Markets are now becoming smarter, faster than the companies that service said markets. A good example is what happend with the dear old Kryptonite lock earlier this month (As a bicycle rider, you must have heard about this scandal? Ask any clued-up blogger and (s)he'll tell you). What is true for markets is also becoming true for Governments, as well: Russian by temperament and British by political fortune, Boris Johnson is blogging

Monday, October 18, 2004

Editorial urging further tax reform in the Federal Government`s new term, particularly cutting both corporate taxes and the top personal tax rate. `Treasuries the world over are getting the message that lower taxes can mean more business and higher revenue.
Australian Financial Review, 14/10/2004, Editorials, Page 70 (Subscribers only)
A Must New Subscription for New Matilda ($55 for 365 days)

Invisible Hands & Markets: Australia drops in world ranking
The World Economic Forum`s Global Competitiveness Report 2004-05 has ranked Australia 14th out of 104 nations in terms of the competitiveness of economies, with Australia losing four places. The Australian Industry Group said that, despite Australia losing its position in the top 10 competitive economic nations, the Australian economy was still highly competitive. AIG claimed that the decline in Australia`s ranking was a result of the appreciation of the Australian dollar and the continuing poor savings record.
• Ann Harding, Rachel Lloyd and Neil Warren The slimy trail of economics 14th out of 104 ; [Income distribution and redistribution: the impact of selected government benefits and taxes in Australia in 2001–02 ]
• · The conventional view is that Sydneysiders and New Yorkers are obsessed with accumulation—money, status, possessions. But that gets it only half-right. For every buyer, after all, there has to be a seller. Liquidating Your Exiled Life
• · · There is only one place where you are safe from inflation. The backdoor neighbours of my childhood never experienced the pain inflation causes. Our home was situated in front of the Vrbov cemetery: The report said it was a myth to think that Australia's moderate growth, low inflation and low interest rates could continue forever
• · · · In terms of economics, the paradox of the US electorate is simply this: Kerry accuses Bush of favoring the rich through large tax cuts, which have helped to produce a huge swing from budget surplus to budget deficit. Yet, most of the richest states in the country, as measured by real personal income per capita, are solidly in the Kerry camp Economics of Large Battleground States
• · · · · Edward Prescott: Nobel laureate calls for steeper tax cuts in US
• · · · · · As a businessman and former tax law professor, Dr. H. Peckron, FL
cannot attest to the practical difficulties in the Bush tax policy

Friday, October 15, 2004

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. One begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
-Sherlock Holmes told Watson

The combined wealth of Australians has topped $5 trillion for the first time, thanks to a house price boom and surging sharemarket We're richer than ever - on the funny sand foundations.
Ironically, who determines what constitutes an essential worker (or plum worker) who cannot afford rents in the suburbs where they are most needed? Superworker (2004)

Invisible Hands & Markets: America Is Undergoing a Creative Brain Drain
As the outsourcing of U.S. jobs continues, America is also experiencing the exodus of many of its most creative business, research, and academic minds to other countries, according to the cover story of the latest issue of Across the Board, The Conference Board’s bimonthly magazine.
Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Ireland are among the newly favored hotspots for creative talent in business and other sectors.

America’s Best and Brightest are Leaving … and Taking the Creative Economy With Them [Children of Immigrant Children]
• · The G7 no longer governs the world economy. Does anyone?
• · · If America is richer, why are its families so much less secure? [Citizens for Tax Justice - PDF format Corporate income tax in the Bush years ]
• · · · 400 Richest Amerikans; [All the riches of the east restored How China has become a major player in the world economy ]
• · · · · Russia retreats into repression
• · · · · · Books on crude oil and cruder geopolitics.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

In honor of all the little witches and ghosts out there here is a tribute to Halloween ... Might as well include the articulated Biff Mitchell who is running a promotion on eBay in which he is auctioning off the privilege to be a murdered character in next novel. (He has 16 bids and is up to $330.01) Also Czech out Notes From Underground -- A film by Gary Walkow I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. With those terrifying words begin one of the masterpieces of world literature ...

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Long River: A Brief History Of Supertitles
In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again.
Amazon created the Touching the Void phenomenon by combining infinite shelf space with real-time information about buying trends and public opinion. The result: rising demand for an obscure book.
This is not just a virtue of online booksellers; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for the media and entertainment industries, one that is just beginning to show its power.

Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one [Amazon Interest soars for books by new Nobel laureate ]
• · What Good Is The Nobel? Certainly, great writers deserve wide recognition, but does the Nobel Prize for Literature really come close to delivering such immortality? The Nobel Prize, currently under fire - Some books and writers you just can't believe existed - Jaroslav Seifert (1984)
• · · You read it here first! I could not resist the urge to dwell on why certain Pictures and Names Matter, Even On Double Dragon ; Ach, the Dangerous Double Full Monty Exclusive to Media Dragon Grazers; [ Truth Is Almost As Strange... Code River v Cold River - Scholastic has announced a big 100,000-copy second printing of Cornelia Funke's DRAGON RIDER, published last month, with 250,000 copies in print]
• · · · Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick's classic political satire of the nuclear age, has aged well, and the hilarious yet terrifying premise of the film - that a wacky collection of incompetent statesmen and insane warmongers could destroy the world in a fit of pique may be the most potent reminder we have of the uncertainty of Cold War reality

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Invisible Hands & Markets: Socio-economic Change
The politics of race erupt periodically in Britain. Sometimes the conflagration takes place on the streets: Notting Hill in 1958; Brixton in1981; and most recently, in the towns of Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in
2001. Sometimes it is a politician who sparks the fire, as Enoch Powell infamously did with his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech

Rivers of Blood ; [ Families of Four: Taxes ]
• · John Lennon's counterculture, anti-consumerist anthem, Imagine, has already had its message bastardized by any number of commercial enterprises, and now, a new sneaker sporting lines from the song is selling for $60 a pair Imagine All The People, Investing Too Much In A Song [Financial Times 09/28/04 Reg. Req.]`
• · · Sean Gonsalves: It Takes a Village to Raise a Billionaire
• · · · As Aged Building Breaks Down, Readership Is Up Today, the library is like a fading Hollywood actress: her beauty impaired by a frail body, but her spirit vibrant as ever. Paint is peeling, pipes are leaking, windows don't open, radiators are broken. The 20-year-old carpet in the children's section is so rumpled that children trip on it. The water bubblers are shut off while officials await results of lead testing. The air conditioning leaks. Toilet doors don't close properly. The basement floods periodically because of sewer backups in the street: As patron base expands, a library crumbles
• · · · · Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Oil tycoon When the country’s richest man goes to jail, that must mean something
• · · · · · Death For Sale if the Price is Right: Soubly suspicious experts say accounts may be used for money laundering [An entrepreneur who ordered weapons and ventilators from a Czech firm. The man deposited a large sum as prepayment, but he has not taken possession of the goods]

Monday, October 04, 2004

Some bloggers may take a different personality on their web logs. Others may simply show their true colors ; via Brilliant Boynton

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Spread the Word Far and Wide, According to Soros Wishes
On Tuesday I delivered a speech at the National Press Club in Washington explaining why I am involved in this election. In the coming weeks, I will be traveling the country to speak with more Americans about why I believe President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values. I have started this website and this blog to hear from you. I am eager to engage in a critical discussion about this election because the stakes are so high, and I welcome your opinions here and on your own blogs. I am looking forward to responding to the many comments that I have already received in the days ahead. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
• Words fail me as I never thought George Soros would ever have the time to blog. On the other hand, I never thought the Iron Curtain would come down in my LIFETIME! George Soros joins the blogosphere ; [Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush]
• · Tim Porter: What do we need to do to move forward? How do we attract new readers? Editorial Pages: Pizza vs. Finger Bowls
• · · Tim Porter Puts stop to blogger bash thing: Carry My Notebook, Please
• · · · Lawrence Henry: Oh, the blogosphere is crowing, carrying Dan Rather's head around on a pike, as Keith Olbermann complained bitterly a couple of weeks ago What Blogs Can’t Do
• · · · · Today 2 Million People are blogging in Amerika: Before Applying, Check Out the Blogs
• · · · · · Naomi Klein: You Can't Bomb Beliefs

Saturday, October 02, 2004

It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Paola Totaro and Robert Wainwright give us this Saturday a compelling backstory read about the background required to survive and thrive in the NSW public servants ... knowing where the bodies are hidden and how the system work Butler Gleeson: Servant of the people; General Gleeson sets record straight with parting shots; Carrwering in ranks, says Hard Labour warrior

Eye on Golden Glitter As Substance Takes A Back Seat: Vote Me Out
Ach only in Amerika It's Michael Chabon Calling. Please Vote Me In...
Amid the frenzy of brainstorming, gladhanding, doorknocking and polling, Paul Sheehan asks whether a disconnected electorate is hearing anything but a blast of static.
Billions of dollars promised. Dozens of policies unveiled. Thousands of words. Hundreds of commentaries. And none of it would have had as much impact on this federal election as a decision by John Howard or Mark Latham to wear a bow tie during their televised debate. A bow tie would be bigger than any policy. It would be a disaster.

Such is the nature of politics
• · The shape we're in
• · · Hugh Mackay does not know enough about Mark Latham or what he stands for It takes policy and personality

Friday, October 01, 2004

Show business is a bit like guys that say, You know, that hooker really likes me.
Jay Leno (quoted in Bill Carter, The Late Shift)

Invisible Hands & Markets: The Company of Strangers: Why Inequality Is Bad for the Economy
Whenever progressives propose ways to redistribute wealth from the rich to those with low and moderate incomes, conservative politicians and economists accuse them of trying to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The advocates of unfettered capitalism proclaim that inequality is good for the economy because it promotes economic growth. Unequal incomes, they say, provide the incentives necessary to guide productive economic decisions by businesses and individuals. Try to reduce inequality, and you’ll sap growth
Geese, Golden Eggs, and Traps [Christian virtues won't hurt the economy What Would Jesus Spend?]
• · See Also The Business of America Is Freedom
• · · Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved Max Weber and the Enchanted Cage
• · · · Whoever Wins, More Taxes May Be the Only Way Out
• · · · · Business Week Despite the reforms, corporate profits can be as distorted and confusing as ever
• · · · · · Thunder Road Some of them, especially the young and the childless, are moving back to cities