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