Monday, January 30, 2006

A child asks his mother, "Do all fairy tales begin with, 'Once upon a time?'"
His mother answers, "No, dear. Once in a while they begin with 'I'll be working late at the office tonight.'"
"Does Daddy tell you fairy tales like that ?"
"He used to."
"What made him stop ?"
"One day he told me he'd be working late, and I said, 'Can I depend on that ?'"

Sydney’s reliance on cars is costing more than $18 billion a year through congestion, accidents and air pollution, and threatens to stunt the state's economy: Driven round the bend: tales of a life on the road A city going nowhere fast

Eye on Death, Politics & Taxes: Everyone Dies Sometimes
THE tax on superannuation contributions paid by millions of Australian workers could be scrapped

This is a Labor tax, brought in by Paul Keating in 1988 in a typically desperate bid to raise revenue, which made Australia one of the very few countries that taxes people's contributions to their superannuation

It's time to scrap super tax, says Minchin [Life after politics can be a lucrative business, but at what price for the public? Nice work, if you can get it ; SHOULD the public be worried that Craig Knowles, the former planning minister in the Carr government, has joined the investment bank Investec? Like justice needing to be seen to be done, even the appearance of conflicts of interest in such appointments must be excluded as far as possible if confidence in the rectitude of public administration is to be attained. Too quick off the mark ]
• · The baby boomers tacked left, then right. Where will their politics go in the golden years? The 'I want it all and I want it now' crowd confronts its hardest campaigns The Last Hurrah ; For decades, laws, governments, even popular will were stacked against the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. No way, people thought, would they ever change the way things were. Got grit?
• · · Isaiah Berlin, liberalism’s philosopher-in-chief, a conservative? One was startled from the beginning,” Arthur Schlesinger said, “by the glittering rush of words and wit, the dazzling command of ideas, the graceful and unforced erudition, the penetrating assessments of personalities, the passion for music, the talent for merriment and, most remarkable of all, the generosity of spirit that led him to treat all of us as his intellectual equals. He had the exciting quality of intensifying life so that one perceived more and thought more and understood more.” Sir Isaiah pronounced aye-ZYE-ah ; Removing the current 15% superannuation contributions tax, which raises around $3.3bn each year, would deliver real benefits to workers without putting upward pressure on interest rates, according to the Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator Nick Minchin - "Strong Case" For Abolishing Super Contributions Tax: Finance Minister
• · · · How Class Disappeared From Western Politics ; Australia should increase fines and toughen sanctions against companies found guilty of bribing foreign public officials - PDF version Tax Office needs to effectively detect foreign bribery transactions, says OECD ; No stone unturned in upheaval over spy rock - The spy trail went cold The agent was saying nothing, being, one, in Russian custody, and two, a rock
• · · · · From the Czech Republic, after communism's fall, the scent of marijuana became a symbol of liberation: J.X. Dolezal, a kind of Czech version of the late Hunter S. Thompson who has written the books "How to Take Drugs" and "Stoned County." He opens a box. There's a sprinkle across paper, a nimble roll of the fingers, a lick, a match strike, a curl of smoke — and a smile. A Czech Toke on Freedom: no amount larger than a small amount ; WITH his democracy project in the Middle East having produced a landslide victory for Hamas in the Palestinian elections, the US President, George Bush, is hoping Hamas will renounce terrorism and recognise Israel. But analysts agree the chances of this happening soon are remote Democracy, a faithful dog that bit Bush
• · · · · · An exhibition highlights unusual pieces of legislation which remain on the statute book. Why have they survived, when they appear so at odds with modern life? Ever been drunk driving a steam engine? ; The NSW state opposition wants to make it illegal for retiring government ministers to sign up to private sector jobs related to their former portfolios within two years of quitting the parliament. Call for stand-down period; Business buys hot property - ministers

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

…human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting…[Mythology] helped people to find their place in the world and their true orientation. We all want to know where we came from, but because our earliest beginnings are lost in the mists of pre-history, we have created myths about our forefathers that are not historical but help to explain current attitudes about ourselves, neighbours and customs. We also want to know where we are going, so we have devised stories that speak of a posthumous existence…

Martin Luther King The Smudge of Ashen Fluff: Reverence for the Reverend

Eye on Politics, Death & Taxes: Stumped by cultural problems
Jack Waterford reviews the Public Service Commissioner’s latest State of the Service report

FOR AN organisation which has talked so much and spent so much on leadership and improved management, the Australian Public Service has nothing much to write home about in terms of results – at least if the views of public servants themselves mean anything. A good many public servants find their leaders significantly wanting in leadership qualities and in ideas. Many leaders talk too little about ethics and values, and all too often do not provide good examples of them in action. Many public servants think their bosses poor managers of their fellows and have little confidence in their promotion decisions, or in the allocation of rewards or bonuses for good work

The findings of the Comrie report take us directly to the dilemma inherent in all regulation [How one man defied a Cronulla mob I felt sorry for the guy. It's not right - 30 blokes on one person ; Peoples can be luckier than people. People are only young once. They seize their chances or miss them; then they grow old and die. The Twins' New Poland ]
• · Michael Kinsley on what the wiretapping debate says about freedom. Give Me Liberty or Let Me Think About It ; Debunking five of the right’s favorite myths about universal health care
• · · A few books you should read if you're serious about Progressive politics long term ; World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare
• · · · ASIC's award for 2006 goes to an illegal investment scheme promoted through wealth seminars throughout Australia. ASIC said that, operated by Mr Craig McKim, Pegasus Leveraged Options Group (Pegasus) lured approximately 90 unsuspecting investors and raised $3.7m. According to ASIC, over $2.1m of the funds raised were lost in personal gambling and other personal expenses by Mr McKim Outrageous financial schemes: ASIC's 2006 Pie in the Sky (PITS) awards ; Beijing is now seeking to check unbridled capitalism ; The Future Of Outsourcing
• · · · · Australian Financial Review, 19/01/2006 The case for wholesale reform of the tax system is compelling. The system lacks both vertical and horizontal equity, is excessively complex and is a brake on economic growth. Individuals are paying too much tax. Compliance burdens are killing small business. Poor interaction between the individual, company and capital gains tax systems poses a serious threat to our future prosperity. So does the over-reliance on superannuation taxes as a means of creating budget surpluses. Acting shadow Treasurer Joel Fitzgibbon states that the Tax Office is not performing at par — it is over aggressive towards small business debt. This tax system fails everyone ; The identification of discipline with hierarchy is a dangerous mistake ... The way people work has changed dramatically, but the way their companies are organised lags far behind The new organisation ; Most people have little faith in politicians
• · · · · · ABC chief quits to head Sydney Airport ; After years at the epicentre of NSW power, Bob Carr's sultans of spin have entered the private sector I told West to go on the attack, outing Forrest as a hypocrite, Latham writes. "Then West replied, 'Sounds OK, but I had better ask Walt'. I said, 'Who the f--- is Walt? You're in the middle of a [state] election campaign and the local Liberal MP is up you for the rent. Have a go and fight back.' Apparently Walt works in Carr's media office and backbenchers like West are not allowed to scratch their backsides unless Walt gives them the green light Carr's sultans of spin enter private sector ; Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten, because it does not represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader The new fascism is fed by myths, our myths, the myths by which we rock ourselves to sleep Myths by which we rock ourselves to sleep

Thursday, January 19, 2006

#1 at Technorati as at January 2006: Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Here comes the virtual book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel .. . I have made no mistery that I am a fan of these two, and of the book. So go ahead and order it here. Next milestone: the Silicon Valley launch party in February! Naked Conversations : How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, is out or will be shortly. Check out the Amazon page for it.

• · Naked Conversations passing a million little pieces/lies, a get rich quick book, and the latest Harry Potter to be the most blogged about book of about book of the last 99 hours ;-) More buzz than a controversial Oprah Book Club choice, that's some good work guys. Congrats! A Small Virtual Key Open Big Door
• · Direct marketing still works. 2 out of every 100 people will always buy from you on the first meeting. Permission marketing gives people a chance to trust you by developing a relationship before they make a decision. But many of today's permission marketing strategies are still monologues. Naked Conversations demonstrates how an authentic dialogue is the best way to develop a business. The Media Dragon Loves us

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

If you can't laugh at yourself, at least laugh at those who govern you. Bullying and harassment are prevalent throughout Victoria's Government departments and public agencies, and many workers are unwilling to complain because they fear it will do them more harm than good Bullying rife in public service

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Can Congress matter?
Congress, more than the court, scholars say, is the branch that's supposed to keep executive power in check

IN 1973 THE historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. published a book called ''The Imperial Presidency," tracing the way in which the White House had, over the course of American history, grabbed more and more power until it threatened to overwhelm the rest of the federal government. Then-president Richard Nixon-who carried out a secret bombing campaign of Cambodia, eavesdropped on his domestic rivals, and impounded federal funds that Congress had earmarked for programs he didn't like-was to Schlesinger only the latest and most brazen example.

If it has failed, it has no one but itself to blame [Tax breaks for bribes revealed ; Reputation for good corporate conduct is at risk ]
• · With limited government incentives, Australians have been slow to install solar power A power station in every home ; I'm a great believer in doubt. At least I think I am
• · · Antony Loewenstein As an anti-Zionist ; The dawn of the year 2006 has been marked by Howard Government’s Orwellian “anti-terror laws”, which have sought to violate human rights principles as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the UN General Assembly. The quest for universal human rights
• · · · Making societies more civil ; Why game shows have economists glued to their TVs. Deal or No Deal: His risk appetite is really abnormal
• · · · · Clive Crook on how the CEOs of too many public companies enjoy the power and rewards of ownership without the risks Executive Privilege ; When Madeline Raison started feeling run-down, lethargic and more susceptible to colds and flu she had little doubt about the cause: stress. Memo to boss: stress is sickening
• · · · · · The specter of Communism is still haunting Europe. If the Nazi symbols were to be forbidden, so should the Communist symbols ; Wheat exporter AWB may have made a profit from some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it paid to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's government under an elaborate scheme of kickbacks Bribes turned big profits: inquiry

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I am a part of all that I have met
Tho much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are–
One equal temper of heroic hearts
strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

How did Europe come to be ruled by sullen ideologues? Blame it on the “68ers,” once fresh and youthful, now gray and oppressive Three Radicals

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: A meeting of minds
The point is that everyone is an entrepreneur to a greater or lesser extent and the direction and outcome of our efforts depends a great deal on the situation where we are located

One of our old books is called “Every Man His Own Mechanic”. It is actually a 130 year old version of the Readers Digest book for home handwork, renovation and repairs. It dates from a time when tradesmen of all kinds, including the building trades, were called mechanics (hence the “mechanics institutes” as the forerunner of the Workers Adult Education system).

Everyone an entrepreneur [via Tim Dunlop ; One of the elder statesmen of the Oz blogosphere john quiggin ; She is going to take the reins of this country as if it were a big house. Look at us men, we do one thing at a time, while the mom is cooking, talking on the phone, feeding the children and listening to the radio! Victim of Pinochet era asks Chilean voters to make history ]
• · James Howard Kunstler's new book, The Long Emergency, depicts humans as parasites who might benefit from a mass die-off. Speak for yourself Down with catastrophism ; The year 2005 has been the hottest year on record for the planet, hotter than 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2003 The Coming Meltdown ; Antony Loewenstein links to The brewing storm
• · · via Caroline Molloy: Analysts believe AAPT may be worth less than half its book value of $1.35 billion, due to increased competition and reduced fixed-line earnings in the Australian telecommunications market AAPT still for sale ; A Donor’s Congressional Allies
• · · · Anticorruption tools could be effective — but there must be political will to implement them Cops and robbers ; A Broken Contract ; Corporate crooks watch out: ASIC
• · · · · An article on the New Etiquette of Lobbying: Emily Post, meet Jack Abramoff; Jacob Weisberg on Swindlers and fixers: which kind of Washington lobbyist is worse? ; The Government has produced an official list of 12 national icons to kick-start a £1million website-based project designed to encourage an interest in culture. Are we English icons or not? ; Stonehenge, the FA Cup and the red Routemaster bus are among England's most popular icons, according to a new poll. But what do the choices say about the English? And what about the rest of the UK? The making of icons
• · · · · · Lawyers and accountants who allegedly recommended the secretive tax haven services of Jersey Islander Philip Egglishaw are being targeted by both clients and criminal investigators Tax haven clients turn heat up on their advisers ; Cossie's going to need more that tax tinkering in 2006 Taxing times for Peter Costello ; Politics is a game of compromise

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fortune 500 Blogging Wiki ( amasses blogs maintained by employees of the biggest American corporations. A Blog That Blogs Corporate Blogs ; Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Deal with reality before it deals with you
- Matt Savinar

If the world was made of oil there would still be a finite supply of it ...

If kindness and comfort are, as I suspect, the results of an energy surplus, then, as the supply contracts, we could be expected to start fighting once again like cats in a sack.
- George Monbiot

The infrastructure of suburbia can be described as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world
- James Howard Kunstler

No civilization can survive the physical destruction of its resource base
- Bruce Sterling

How could it be otherwise ? - Jay Hanson

It may be eclipsed by the anti-EU musings of the current Czech president, but the influence of Vaclav Havel lives on Exporting Dissent: Made in the Czech Republic

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Welcome to Sydney Doctors - Bulk Billing listings
Bulk billing is almost dead, and we're noticing the smell ...

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and there family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

• At Bondi 8 Hall Street Dr Ursula Christopher Medical Bulk Billers [Saudi Arabia seems a law unto itself: rich, unequal, uncompromising and unchanging. But, cautiously and almost imperceptibly, it is moving forward Moving forward ; An article on Henry Louis Gates and the Times: Unfit to print "Ghanaians' Uneasy Embrace of Slavery's Diaspora ]
• · G.O.P. Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Deal With Prosecutors ; Does money always find a way? ; Samuel Alito Tackling a judge's ideology My Alito be the worst choice? Court nominee to face Congress
• · · What's behind the rise of female politicians in Latin America? ; Hype has become a commercial reality Believe the hype?
• · · · What Albert Camus and the "little-ease" say about U.S. torture policies Bush vs. Camus; From ZNet, an essay on progressive political fiction A bias against explicit, progressive political fiction is widespread among critics and commentators, publishers, editors, and many authors Progressive Political Fiction ; Immigration Scandal Claim
• · · · · Few things matter more in the next decade than how we approach human rights within the new economic superpowers We must not kowtow to these undemocratic giants ; The 1964 Warsaw Pact plans saw things going hot real fast Nuclear war in the Czech lands? ; Responsible horticulture and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Nipping evergreens in the bud ; Countries with weak institutions that undergo incomplete democratic transitions are four times more likely to become involved in wars than other states... Prone to Violence
• · · · · · Since September 11th, and perhaps before, conventional wisdom says the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. But it is? Not necessarily. The data shows that in the case of violent conflicts things are actually getting better. The Positive Power of Negative Thinking . . . . promotes the practice of "defensive pessimism", a strategy of imagining the worst-case scenario of any situation. Tracking Global Violence: Are things Getting Better? ; The Embrace of Unhappiness ; Dragon Slayers or Tax Evaders? Buying and selling imaginary goods in computer-game worlds is big business. Now let's figure out whether gamers should pay real-world taxes on virtual treasures. IRS to tax your World of Warcraft booty?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It is only 2006, and people have already dubbed this new century the Information Age, the Digital Age or the Connectivity Age. I have a more accurate name for the 21st century, and I encourage us all to start using it today: The New Middle Ages. Rousseau once wrote: Nothing is more depressing than the general fate of men. And yet they feel in themselves a consuming desire to become happy, and it makes them feel at every moment that they were born to be happy. So why are they not? Information Age? More like the New Middle Ages via my mates at School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales

Politicians no longer govern, somebody has observed, they perform. More important yet, are the main party leaders hot or cool? Are you hot or cool?

Eye on Politics & Taxes: The Victory of Reason
It is quite plausible that Christianity remains an essential element in the globalization of modernity

Augustine and Aquinas had a faith in progress and reason, which led to our notions freedom, moral equality, and human rights

The Christian roots of capitalism [Democracies often find it strangely difficult to reorient themselves in such a way as to produce a change in government Political uses of catastrophes ; Sri Lanka’s Tigers on the loose ]
• · The big five privatizations of 2005 wrought more than scandals — some have shaken the government to its foundation Up for grabs ; Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne of the Chicago Tribune published a three-part series on the presence of mercury in fish sold in supermarkets The Mercury Menace ; Biological Weapons
• · · Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents Stalin's half-man, half-ape super-warriors ; Australians have now lost one of their most fundamental rights in a democracy -- the right to withdraw their labour The right to strike -- put with powerful simplicity ; If there is a real winner in the walkout that hobbled the city, it is the workers who went out on strike, and their leader. New York Transit Deal Shows Union's Success on Many Fronts
• · · · The spotlight has shifted in the Robert Gerard tax saga. DPP can still prosecute Gerard; Oops: Tax Office sums out by almost $7b
• · · · · There were lots of starring roles, though no others quite like Ronald Miller's A whizz of a year for the common law ; It's not just the common agricultural policy: the corporate sector relies on state handouts that dwarf their profits Never underestimate the self-pity of the ruling classes Free market does not exist
• · · · · · As widely reported, at the daily press gaggle yesterday, US administration mouthpiece Trent Duffy claimed that, among much else, the George jr. Bush was actually reading some books while on vacation When Trumpets Call ; The Peace Epidemic The world isn't so dangerous after all