Friday, July 29, 2011

They both seemed to have arrived there with an extraordinary innocence as though a series of pure accidents had driven them together, so many accidents that at last they were forced to conclude that they were for each other. They had arrived with clean hands, or so it seemed, after no traffic with the merely curious and clandestine.
-Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Book Cover Love)

Does Facebook spell the end of human interaction as we know it? Or is it just bad news for psychics, dating services, and women’s magazines? Henry Alford hopes some of Mark Zuckerberg’s romance-spotting superpower will rub off on the rest of us.

Get Outta River 'Where the River and Dogs Runs
It is no exaggeration to say that Trixie was the hand of God for Koontz. He recounts his difficult childhood, his dysfunctional father, and the many challenges that he had to overcome on the road to becoming a world-famous novelist. But with that fame came commercial caution: telling stories in the same old familiar way and a consequent dulling of his creativity.

Like all great writers, Koontz has the ability to transform the ordinary--his daily life with Trixie--into the funny, the moving, and the sublime. Trixie’s accidentally gashing him while they play fetch turns into one of the great set pieces of medical comedy as Koontz ends up in the emergency room with a lacerated hand. On another occasion Trixie’s saying “baw” for “ball”--straining to say it, but saying it nonetheless--becomes a memorable recounting of all of our attempts to communicate with beings from another species. And Koontz’s simply watching Trixie move, her lithe golden body shimmering and flashing in the sun, takes on the quality of the divine as he expresses what so many of us have subconsciously thought about our own dogs: “The more I watched her, the more she seemed to be an embodiment of that greatest of all graces we now and then glimpse, from which we intuitively infer the hand of God.”
Then came Trixie. With “baws” and balls, with warning him of fires and intruders in the house, with humor, with stoicism, and with unflinching love, she restored his diminished sense of wonder and impelled him toward taking new risks with narratives, themes, and characters, the very ones millions of us now enjoy.“Some dog, huh?” he says. “Some dog, yes,” we must agree, also concurring when he adds, “The only significant measure of your life is the positive effect you have on others.” For all of us who have had our lives made better by our dogs, or for that matter by any loving being, A Big Little Life is a welcome reminder of the power of love to turn our hearts into mirrors, reflecting compassion back into the universe--as Trixie most surely did for Koontz and Koontz now does for us.

Trixie ; [Like Bessie of Cold River fame, Trixie is unique. She is a literary dog Two Girls ; Cold River tells the oldest story in the world, a story familiar to anyone who has read the Old Testament, Greek myths, or Shakespeare's tragedies. It's the story of full-force collision between an older generation's best intentions and a younger generation's intractable resistance ]
• · Faye Dunaway had a great line in the movie Chinatown. She said:
I don’t get tough. My lawyers do ; The economic blog Naked Capitalism has a fascinating post looking at some breathtakingly murky company business, in an investigation, via Panama, of New Zealand. We have known about New Zealand's role as a secrecy jurisdiction for some time, but have not yet researched it in any detail. That time will be coming soon enough. Before reading that post, take a look at this company registered at 9/22 Curran Street (pictured): Trillion Private Wealth Management Ltd. What does it offer? Well, for one thing, "protecting" your assets
• · · 10 Worst Horrible Movie bosses!; The death of News of the World is Rupert Murdoch’s current big trouble — but just the latest in decades of big trouble that haven’t noticeably harmed him. While his current scrape may look bad at first glance, chances are good he’ll escape unscathed yet again It's like Al Capone getting caught for extortion instead of tax fraud Welcome to the world of Nineteen Eighty Four: The U.K. scandal and Australia Is an independent inquiry and an independent regulator needed in Australia? In his brilliant novel Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell depicts a nightmare world of the future. The State is all-powerful
• · · · Simon Johnson, a leading U.S.-based intellectual, has written an excellent piece in the New York Times with the above headline. It concerns an issue we've written about several times in the past: that the tax system in many countries has encouraged a bias towards debt, rather than equity financing. The resulting indebtedness made the financial system more dangerous, and we are now finding out the consequences of this. The simple reason is that borrowing is, in many cases, tax-deductible, whereas equity financing is not. So instead of raising money through the stock market, say, they borrow it. And banks, of course, are among those over-borrowers. And this creates risks to society - a form of economic pollution. Johnson notes:
It is also ironic — perhaps even bizarre — that while we try to constrain how much banks borrow through regulation, we give them strong incentives to borrow more through the tax code ; What is your local or regional council doing?
• · · · · Inspiration ; Gooogle Loove ; Ah
• · · · · · I don’t know of any history of pulp fiction publishing in Australia in the sixties and early seventies 80s yes; The planet's booming population is a mega trend reshaping everything. Over coming decades our growing presence and rampant appetite for resources will shake up every form of life on earth. Writing for The Guardian, Robert Engelman paints a grim picture of what population acceleration means for the planet... Population Acceleration

Monday, April 11, 2011

I used to be an atheist until I realized I am God

Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other
-Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Precise in focus yet epic in scope and ambition , Mr. Bezmozgis’s novel takes place over the half-year the members of the Krasnansky family spend in limbo outside Rome, awaiting visas that will permit their passage to North America. The temporary Italian setting has been appropriately chosen, for it represents a passage between two worlds, much like the state of the Krasnanskys themselves, who have left their status as outsiders in one land to become outsiders in another. And in representing three generations of this family, Mr. Bezmozgis is able to condense more than a half-century of the pre-glasnost Jewish experience. an oasis of culture ;

Lives of Others We're all spies now: Life's voyeuristic twist
Surveillance is now a multibillion-dollar global industry, and an increasingly pervasive part of our daily lives.

IN THE late 1940s, George Orwell wrote his nightmarish novel 1984, depicting a future world where an all-seeing but unseen tyrant, Big Brother, ruled over his citizens by watching their every move. In this paranoid dystopia, surveillance was purely a ''top-down'' affair, a government tool for controlling the hapless masses: privacy was a crime, the Thought Police punished dissent and history was rewritten daily for political ends.
More than half a century later, it is worth considering how Orwell's fictional prediction weighs up against reality. If Big Brother's gaze dominated that imagined future, who's watching over us now?

Bezpecnost KGB and Stasi of the Modern Ages [ Bond Stories; Thesis ]
• · Readers Digest; Congratulations! Your richly imagined novel – or memoir, or vampire trilogy – is about to be published. But here’s some tough love: Don’t expect glory, or even respect. You’ll get none A Sea of Words - Cold River Words; Grief is a lonely yet enticing place. Burrow in too far, however, and sorrow becomes all you know. Write about it and risk being branded a solipsist The Solitude of Grief
• · · MOST STORIES ABOUT inequality in America miss an important point: rising disparities are not just about investment bankers versus auto workers. They’re about entire communities of “winners” and “losers.” And as these communities continue to diverge, the idea of “an American economy” looks more and more like an anachronism How income inequality is fracturing our economic landscape ; An ambitious study, detailed here for the first time, finds that the super-wealthy—of all people—are isolated, unhappy, and brimming with anxieties. Why Secret Fears of the Super-Rich
• · · · We know all the old arguments about the faults of the new media. But as coverage of the Egyptian uprising shows, the digital landscape is also alive with possibilities. We should make our peace with it now–while we have a choice. Learning to Love the (Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable) New Media ; Those who talked loudest about the ideals of the “new” organization, as it turned out, had the least love in their hearts. How many tons of pig iron bars can a worker load onto a rail car in the course of a working day?
• · · · · Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses." Hell is other people at breakfas ; Unhappiness, in other words, may be a bit like second-hand smoke The Poison of Unhappiness
• · · · · · But literary journals — a long-tail publishing phenomenon before the Internet made other niche offerings accessible — are thriving. Literary Journals Thrive, on Paper and Otherwise; Maybe a rising tide does lift all boats. Or maybe you’re a heartless crank for thinking so. Joseph Stiglitz v-v Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Monday, February 28, 2011

Life's meaning has always eluded me and I guess it always will. But I love it just the same.
-E.B. White, letter to Mary Virginia Parris

Wikileaks can't ethically dump anything it feels like, as a publisher there are constraints and limits There is nothing to do today except bow our heads and hope and pray and send our love These three books are essential reading for anyone who really wants to understand the WikiLeaks phenomenon: Rate Inside WikiLeaks; Underground; Inside Julian Assange's war on secrecy: Inside WikiLeaks

Throwing the book at the WikiLeaks story

-Has WikiLeaks information served humanity?

Galaxy: Anna Bligh approval up 35 per cent Exotic Delights- By a Nose
To expand the mindset, Kevin Roberts keeps a look out for anything far out on the edge, thoughts that run a mile from the ordinary and thoughts that look to the brighter side of life and was quite taken by Encyclopedia of the Exquisite – An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights for its many gems

Running a global creative enterprise throws out challenges that travel across strategy, innovation, imagination, operation and execution (on a slow day!).

The most satisfying work is voracious for unconventional blends of insight and ingenuity. To expand the mindset, I keep a look out for anything far out on the edge, thoughts that run a mile from the ordinary, thoughts that can connect disparate strands, and thoughts that look to the brighter side of life.

Literary morsels are good for this, and I was quite taken by Encyclopedia of the Exquisite – An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins. This delectable compendium weaves curiosity, obscurity, luxury and story to uncover small pleasures down through time.

Subjects range extraordinarily; Ach Anka Captain Bligh [The strong feeling in NSW is that any change will do - we want people to think about what kind of change they want Real change but little difference in campaign slogans ; Reports that public service jobs will be at risk if the coalition wins government at the NSW election in March are "rubbish", an opposition spokesman says. "(NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell) has said we will need more public servants, not less, to fix NSW so the report is rubbish," the spokesman said on Sunday. But the man behind the sacking of more than 50,000 public servants during the Greiner and Fahey Liberal state governments, Garry Sturgess, and the head of former prime minister John Howard's department, Max "the Axe" Moore-Wilton, are both advising Mr O'Farrell, Fairfax media claimed on Sunday. NSW opposition denies it would cut jobs ; Opinions flow from his tongue in torrents, aided and abetted by a pair of hands in constant movement. Lunch with ... Mark Textor, strategist ; O'Farrell is now like a bloke on a bicycle at the top of the last hill before the finish line. He does not need to pedal much, just grip the handlebars, refrain from lairish behaviour and ignore cheers or taunts from the kerb. O'Farrell will be made to earn it ; Political strategists Bruce Hawker and Grahame Morris, along with program host (and politics wonk) Janine Perrett, will try to answer some of these questions in Sky's newest offering, So, You Want to Be a Politician? Reality show to revel in political dark arts ]
• · The NSW Liberals kicked off their election campaign while angry protesters screamed their concerns over party plans. THE Coalition's $400 million household energy rebate plan was quickly derided by Labor yesterday as 'Fairness for Families-lite ; Forget the vision, just smell the pork
• · · "We don't renegotiate our commitments, we deliver on them," said Mr Albanese, adding that Mr O'Farrell might have a change of heart. NSW Labor election strategy 'destroyed': Opposition; The time will come very shortly where the leader of the opposition and the Liberal Party will have to make a decision whether they are going to simply continue to oppose every health reform that we deliver for patients or whether they will act in the national interest to back this plan Despite talk of renewal, unions maintain stranglehold on NSW Labor
• · · · No devil dealing with the Greens in NSW election - Barry O'Farrell ; Labor's plan: let's just make it all up
• · · · · In terms of national success honesty and transparency do not necessarily bring reward Corruption and economic success can cohabit; Many on the move are young, smart and searching for a dream that has evaporated. In Southern Europe, A whole generation - the best educated in the history of the Mediterranean - is fearing for their future. Says one young jobless women with a law degree, a masters, and fluency in five languages: I have everything except a death certificate...
• · · · · · When speeding laws say one thing and a large majority of people demonstrate they have a different view, it’s time to recalibrate Let the people decide how much; This year the first of the baby boomers will hit retirement. They’re the wealthiest generation in history, the first mass market, and in many ways the main shapers of the world as we know it. The Media Dragon Generation is coming of age

Monday, February 07, 2011

Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women.
-Groucho Marx

The NSW state elections are on the 26th March. If you believe in the old two party paradigm you have the choice of total incompetence on one side and no policies on the other. A salutory reminder that there are other options, greens independents etc. Multi party governments work quite successfully in other parts of the globe. For instance Swedens multi party government has given rise to the most social and economic success story in Europe.
‘Politicians are the same all over – they promise to build a bridge where there is no river’ Time to get political...

NSW Legislative Assembly speaker Richard Torbay backs the People's Parliament NSW People's Parliament Initiative

A tale is told of a man in Paris during the upheaval in 1948, who saw a friend marching after a crowd toward the barricades. Warning him that these could not be held against the troops, that he had better keep way, he received this reply, " I must follow them. I am their leader."
-A Lawrence Lowell, 1856-1943, President of Harvard University,Conflicts of Principle
Whither the revolution?

New Year, same politics? Stopping that sinking feeling Quick Sand: You can't explain real estate bubbles by zoning controls
The Age reports that Wendell Cox’s Demographia has released a study showing Melbourne to be 321st on a list of 325 most affordable world property markets. Decreasing land taxes is the real villain creating land and housing bubbles …

In other words, we’re almost the world’s most unaffordable market: almost the world’s dearest city. Incredibly, London, with a population of 7.6 million is said to be cheaper than the city of Geelong which is home to a population of only 200,000 souls. Amongst more important things I’ll mention later, it could be argued that homes and sites in Geelong are generally larger than those in London, but that’s not mentioned by Cox. Instead, he shoehorns Melbourne’s astronomical residential property prices to square with the extraordinary claim that they're a result of its zoning regulations. Perhaps this means Melbourne also has the 321st worst residential zoning regulations in the world?

The Ship is Sinking: Leaders and the Tough Decisions [Malcolm Mackerras who unlike Anthony Green tends to get the pendulum right All the signs continue to point to a historic rout for Labor in March ; WHEN Julia Gillard announced on Monday her chief of staff, Amanda Lampe, was leaving her job at the end of March there was plenty of talk in the national capital about her role in the Government and what her departure might mean PARTY GAMES: Wisdom in short supply ; In the eyes of many foreign journalists, India is a nation of Gatsbys and Babbitts engaged in a manic quest for status and wealth Time for a reality check ]
• · Speaking to Lindsay Tanner at this Wheeler Centre event, George Megalogenis considers what has happened to political leadership in Australia. In a brilliant analysis, ( Quarterly Essay "Trivial Pursuit: Leadership and the End of the Reform Era" ) Megalogenis dissects the cycle of polls, focus groups and presidential politics and explores what it has done to the prospect of serious, difficult reform and the style of our leaders. He argues that politics-as-usual has become a self-defeating game and mounts a persuasive case for a different model of leadership. He shows clearly why and how politicians are losing, or have lost, their will to reform due to incessant polling and the 24 hour news cycle. It touches on the Green vote at the last election, and the creeping dichotomy of red states and blue states in Australia. Talk-back radio in the 90's, and how this encouraged newspapers to "shout" more ; They also cover how the shift of the medium of the media affects the pre-existing quality of journalism and coverage on issues. For example, the shift of evening newspapers to the 6 o'clock news. Talk-back radio in the 90's, and how this encouraged newspapers to "shout" more. And of course, the rise of the internet.; It is not a new criticism that today’s poll-driven politics is not delivering policies in Australia’s long term national interest. However, George Megalogenis argues that the hung Parliament resulting from the 2010 Federal Election should be a wake up call to politicians: the current model is not serving the interests of Australia’s major political parties either.
• · · The WikiLeaks cables read like good literature. Both diplomacy and fiction, after all, feature plots, moral ambiguity, and casual deception ; The Czech political funding system is so opaque, it would be amazing if it were not corrupt. Behind the Curtain
• · · · The real story of a biographer in a celebrity culture of public denials, media timidity, and legal threats Unauthorized, But Not Untrue: Opraholics” and “Winfreaks” ; Sadly, mentally ill IBRAHIM Siddiq-Conlon has a message for Australians, whether they want to hear it or not. Full-bred Aussie with a longing for sharia law
• · · · · Leaders in a revolving door... state governments falling... the machinations of the machine men... politics over policy - and the opinion polls holding up score cards like judges at a diving contest so we can all keep track ; Blaming Palin will not help the healing in Tucson
• · · · · · GRAHAM Young is the founding editor of a well-regarded e-journal called On Line Opinion, and is a regular contributor to The Australian. I'd describe him as belonging in the centre of the political spectrum, perhaps tending to mild conservatism. Oversensitivity can only compromise debate ; The removal of our advertising should not be viewed as a violation of free speech; it's simply that we choose not to advertise on blogs that do not align to our organisational values Troppo bullied by corporate thugs; Wanted - new financial backers

Monday, January 03, 2011

I wish for all of you the happiest and most hopeful of new years. May you laugh often, cry only when you want to, and never be bored in MMXI! Happiness seems an unintended side effect, like hives or a dry cough, the occasional byproduct of right living ;-)
And men go about to wonder at the heights of the mountains, and the mighty waves of the sea, and the wide sweep of rivers, and the circuit of the ocean, and the revolution of the stars, but themselves they consider not…
Is happiness ever unmixed, a pure state like pain or terror? And doesn’t it tend to evaporate as we become conscious of its presence? It’s not synonymous with pleasure, though like some pleasures it seems dependent on self-forgetting. Aquinas says happiness is rooted in "goods of the soul." Davis’ idea that being in a Haydn symphony may constitute uncomplicated happiness is suggestive. Being in implies not passive hearing but engaged listening – but listening to what? Music that is elegant, ordered, intelligent and spirited, with an impression of unlikely inevitability. Davis’ friend Edgar Bowers put it like this in From J. Haydn to Constanze Mozart (1791):
I carry one small memory of his form
Aslant at his clavier, with careful ease,
To bring one last enigma to the norm,
Intelligence perfecting the mute keys.
Many ideas we once thought were true turned out to be hard to unlearn...
History should never be used to inculcate virtuous citizenship. Yet it offers the richest imaginable source of moral examples – The essence of great fiction, drama, and life itself

The old year passeth Earlier the roadside dust was sweet. The fermented fruit, the brandy, is sweeter still, carried into the world on the walker’s boot
This has been quite a year for Mrs. MD and me, in some ways challenging, in others gratifying.

We've seen a hundred movies, dozen of plays, read every Vanity Fair magazine (the Spectator or the Financial Times if time permitted,) taken a full-fledged vacation, driven up to Kings Canyon and Uluru, spent a wonderful month in the red center reading books and more books ....
What Mrs. MD and I won't do is take our good fortune for granted, starting with the astonishing fact of our being together. It is, I suspect, exceedingly rare for two people in the middle of life to make a marriage as close as this one has become. When you survive Iron Curtain, every day is a surprise and a blessing. Like Theodore Dalrymple we have never been a one-book reader, devoting attention to a single volume at a time:
Often I read more than one book at a time. When I tire of one I fly to another. This is because the world has always seemed to me so various and so interesting in all its aspects that I have not been able to confine my mind to a single subject or object for very long; therefore I am not, never have been, and never will be the scholar of anything. My mind is magpie-like, attracted by what shines for a moment; I try to persuade myself that this quality of superficiality has its compensations, in breadth of interest, for example
Like Dalrymple, we are no scholars of anything but enjoy learning something about almost everything. Shakespeare was the keenest of cullers, and in that we also recognize ourselves. To cull is to select with discernment, whether the sweetest blueberry or the tartest book.
No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist?
-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (May John Hatton Movement rocks in 2011)

... Turn the clock to zero, honey [How AK-47, more than A-bomb, changed history: If somebody were to tell you that the long tragedy of human warfare entered a new and deadly phase in the fifth decade of the 20th century, the historically literate mind almost certainly would jump to the invention of the atomic bomb, which ushered in an age of anxiety and the long balance of terror between the United States and the Soviet Union. Avtomat Kalashnikova - How the rifle I used in Czech Army change the history of the world ; The man of science, like the man of letters, is too apt to view mankind only in the abstract, selecting in his consideration only a single side of our complex and many-sided being. Hopes for 2011]
• · Father Dionigi recognized in his charge’s spirit a state similar to that of St. Augustine in his youth. He gave Petrarch a pocket copy of the Confessions, which the poet had not read. The book was Petrarch’s cherished companion for forty years. It journeyed with him to a mountain top, and once, in its owner’s pocket, it was near drowning with him in the sea. The Nativity of Our Common Adam; As Much as Can Be Made of Life Here’s a profound hole, yet no deeper than a coffin
• · · “To light a fire is the instinctive and resistant act of men when, at the winter ingress, the curfew is sounded throughout nature. It indicates a spontaneous, Promethean rebelliousness against the fiat that this recurrent season shall bring foul times, cold darkness, misery and death. Black chaos comes, and the fettered gods of the earth say, ‘Let there be light.’” Voltaire possessed an endless appetite for putting himself in harm’s way: duels, insults to nobility ; We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist. Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life. When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute -- the foundation of the human condition -- and should be better. What makes music sad
• · · · Art as Empathy,” David Foster Wallace noted in the margins of a Tolstoy essay. Wallace’s archive shows he was not such an abstruse postmodernist…While many children are capable of conjuring imaginative tales, the grade-school Wallace has an unusual empathy for the adult double-bind of finding purpose in a job that also brings misery Art as Empathy ; On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer? Cold River or computer?
• · · · · With Amazon, publishing is now beholden to one profit-obsessed company. What happens when you sell a book like it’s a can of soup?...Where once a publisher had to worry about competing for shelf space, now its entire list of books could be available to customers. Amazon; Depressing Russian Literature
• · · · · · Describing the paintings in words risks sentimentality or banality, which they never possess And thus abstract art is brought to shame, Even if we do not deserve any other; Ever dream of quitting your job and moving to a farm? This book will make you rethink that dream. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love