Tuesday, June 29, 2004

As the late Roger Straus, one of the great postwar publishers, notable for his plain speaking, was fond of observing: Even a blind pig will eventually find his truffle.

Invisible Hands & Markets: The Slovak Dragon
From problematic baby brother in a fringe region to tax haven and industrial centre, the small Slovak republic has come a long way, but at least it's on the right track. It's been called the Detroit of Europe, even though the Hong Kong of Europe might be more appropriate. Recently Deutsche Welle labeled Slovakia A Monaco on the Danube. Even more importantly, it's not out of the question that soon we will hear about the Slovakias of Africa or South America (or Iraq).
Ask anyone who's been traveling in Central Europe to name the first thing that comes to mind when they think about the Slovak Republic. The most likely answer you will get is a baby brother complex. True, a hiker might think of the Tatra Mountains, and anyone with a broader historical perspective might mention the Bratislava cathedral and the fact that for a period the Habsburgs used to be crowned there. But it's still there, this feeling of inferiority. Or is it?
There are more important things than politics, and that government should not mess too much with peoples' lives or the economy.

· The Slavic Tiger [history first seen at Muddy History]
· · See Also Changing mindsets and fortunes in the poorest nations
· · · See Also Sir John Templeton donates $1 million to counter George Soros
· · · · See Also Ach Europa: Questions about a European public space
· · · · · See Also Dialogue of the deaf: Europeans talk a lot about each other but less with each other
· · · · · · See Also Housing eats up 40% of income

Smooth Move The early handover of authority (two days) by the Coalition to the new Iraqi government was clearly an intelligent maneuver. It also steals much of the thunder for attacks in the next couple of days. As Tim Dunlop put it: Anything that puts a dint in the plans of car bombers and armed insurgents has to be a good thing. It probably won't stop a single attack, but it does give a slight psychological edge to the provisional government that shouldn't be discounted.

To Dream a Salam Pax Dream of Democratic Iraq: 0.
No more occupation

Iraqis retook control of their country in a furtive Baghdad ceremony yesterday intended to wrong-foot any insurgency plans to disrupt a formal handover that was to take place tomorrow
· A handshake, and Iraqis are in charge
· · Paul McGeough: Now for the wrath of the oppressed
· · · Ambassador Bremer handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi people; Zarqawi stated: Surprise handover decision welcomed
· · · · Bush hails transfer of power
· · · · · See Also The war was over but where was the defeated enemy? History repeats itself, though no two historians agree quite how

Monday, June 28, 2004

Try not to regret the past too much. Most often, the past drops away from you because it’s ripe.
Colette, letter to Germaine Patat (undated)

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: You didn't care if you were brave or weak. You just became nothing
One of the great things about life is that it can always get worse, just when you think it can't. Some kinds of storytelling are built on this grim joke, and Touching the Void is a very pure and powerful illustration of it.
Indeed, it's full of the most acute moral dilemmas, terrible physical suffering and unbelievable endurance. Several earlier attempts to turn Joe Simpson's best-selling book into a feature film have failed. When life is stranger than fiction, fiction often fails. It shirks the void, trying to tame it. Non-fiction can leap over the edge, shouting: Shut up! This really happened.
Yates has been vilified, even assaulted by a fellow climber, but Simpson says Yates saved both their lives. Simpson wrote the book, while recuperating from his injuries, in order to defend his friend's actions.
Yates is no less candid and it's clear that surviving has had its own toll. Simpson has grown stronger; Yates appears to live with a terrible doubt about his own character.
Much of the writing on the film bangs on about the triumph of the human spirit. There is that, but it's just as much a great film about human frailty and regret.

· Touching the Void [link first seen at Simpson's website ]
· · Barista: The Day After Tomorrow: This movie was awful. Everything was absurdly amplified and accelerated: centuries of gradual change isn't fast enough, it had to be compressed into weeks
· · · See Also Critic: Coverage of best-sellers is like absurd comic theater (( Love in the Time of Cold War))
/· · · · See Also Transcript of The Poor Editors' regular Saturday-night poker game with Dick Cheney
· · · · · The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks…. And therefore I raise my glass to you, writers, the engineers of the human soul Summer reading suggestions with Cold War River ((Clinton Book Sets Non-Fiction Sales Record: Clinton's My Cold River sold more than 400,000 copies in the United States in its first day of release))
· · · · · · See Also What you should know about jobs in publishing ((Who'd have thought that the biggest reviewing-controversy of the year would be Cold River and the Pillar of Storge @ Amazonia))
· · · · · See Also How the terrorists' own words can help us stop them: Making two fundamental errors. The first is imagining that the enemies can be beaten back, largely unilaterally, with Cold War tools

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Vaclav Havel comments on the country's struggles for democracy

Just let me say to each of you who have worked so hard and taken such risks to cover this story, I extend a heartfelt apology and hope you will accept it,
writes Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Congressional Language
Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice
#@%* !!!!, said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.

· Yay! One of us! One of us! One of us! [ Parliamentary language If you can't say something dillish ... ] [[Jack Ryan and the politics of meta-sins Politician's private life is sacrosanct
· · See Also Carr's gift to Howard: Labor Party's fractured policy over US relations [ via Axis of Deceit]
· · · The state controls everything, even ridicules people for suspicion of blogging Big-Time Egan: Life after debt (( Where The New Right is Going Wrong )) ((( 2004 AD Socialism)))
· · · · See Also New head gives ALP factions ceasefire hopes
· · · · · See Also Not happy, Tony, say Britons
· · · · · · Alan Ramsey: Not only flags flying in a lot of hot wind
· · · · · · · David Hanson: Year Three Again, 9/11, summing up our current position in this disorienting war: the pulse of the strategic, tactical, and ideological theaters (( On the parallels between Russia's Chechnya and America's Iraq))

Friday, June 25, 2004

[The last time the Czechs beat the Germans in a competitive match was in 1934, four years before France and England sold us to Hitler. Who gathered the most points during the group stage? No, not France. The Czech Republic, who won all three matches (against Latvia, Holland, and Germany) Jesus saves...but Baros gets the rebound and scores. GOOOOAAALL! How the mighty have fallen. Ha ha. Falling to the Czech reservists 2-1 ]

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of dissenting bravery
Of Special Interest to Moravian Freudians
Page 14: Hillary says the first time she ever saw me, I was in the Yale Law School lounge bragging to skeptical fellow students about the size of Hope watermelons.
Clinton Goes to Jail
Page 175: In 1971, Clinton hits a Volkswagen and discovers he doesn't have his driver's license. They stripped me of my belongings and took my belt so that I couldn't strangle myself, gave me a cup of coffee, and put me in a cell with a hard metal bed, a blanket, a smelly stopped-up toilet, and a light that stayed on.

· Dragon reads all 957 pages of Clinton’s memoir, My Life, so you don’t have to [Larry McMurtry waxes elegantly on Clinton’s My File]
· · See Also Want to attract single voters? Drop the dragon underpants...[Do Not Mention the s genetics and political correctness ]
· · · See Also Why do politicians lie?
· · · · See Also US war crimes immunity bid fails
· · · · · See Also All I ever needed to know about China I learned at BBC
· · · · · · See Also The Democratic integration of Europe

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Last night Tony Fitzgerald launched the book Not Happy, John that soulful and caring Margo wrote @ Gleebooks. It was also great to hear Antony Loewenstein speak. Indeed, it is not every day that you hear people describing Antipodean events as almost a religious experience...Even Jack Robertson had hallo around his head (smile). Fearless Fitzgerald gave his deepest blessings to this politically charged book in which the Independent Senator Brian Harradine is described in the warmest of terms...

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Nuremberg Tribunals: Noam Chomsky
If George Bush were to be judged by the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunals, he'd be hanged. So too, mind you, would every single American President since the end of the second world war, including Jimmy Carter.
· America's Quest for Global Dominance [ via Noam Chomsky ]
· · See Also 1968: The year that changed everything: 'The Dreamers' taps into the myth of a time of thrilling sex and violence
· · · See Also Attempt to address asylum myths [link first seen at New Abuse Charges: a class action filed in California on behalf of former detainees raises the specter of brutal physical abuse ]
· · · · See Also Top 10 spy terms: Going grey - learning to become invisible
· · · · · See Also The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced [follower], but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (standards of thought) no longer exist
· · · · · · See Also Federal judge Guido Calabresi: President Bush’s rise to power was similar to the accession of dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler

Monday, June 21, 2004

War and peace and fire in her blood as well as the redemption of love

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Hazzard county
n The Great Fire, one of the leading characters speaks of his joy in escaping from Mosman to embark on the great journey, the pilgrimage, to Europe. Only when the equator had been passed did he feel safe. Hazzard points out that she is not bashing Australia, but attempting to portray the boredom of the late 1940s, when the only way to leave was on a ship that took six months.
World War I was called the great adventure. The young men must have had the feeling of so little to lose. They were destined to toil, as their fathers had toiled. There must have been the feeling that 'I could just go on having the life that everyone was having around me ... I would have gone, [but] not the second time to the Second World War.
In conversation, and in The Great Fire, Hazzard stresses the word trapped when talking of those times. Trapped, you were trapped. You couldn't leave ... This idea that there was no future.

· Shirley Hazzard: Characters who can't wait to escape [Elsewhere A diplomat's daughter ]
[Elsewhere with Jana Wendt The Great Fire I nearly died there. I died spiritually there]
· · See Also Cold River cools @ Amazon, but there's no iceberg ahead...
· · · See Also Brilliant debuts: Artistsque Bloggers
· · · · See Also The best book club
· · · · · See Also It was seventh time lucky for Australian author Anna Funder, whose book Stasiland won Britain's richest award for non-fiction
· · · · · · See Also Sydney Film Festival 2004
· · · · · · · See Also The scent of horror that can't be washed away

Thursday, June 17, 2004

From ZNet, a response to Stanley Fish's recent op-ed in The New York Times

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Revisiting the Hanan Ashrawi affair
I'm getting pretty tense because my (second) book 'Not happy John! Defending our democracy' will be launched on Monday in Canberra, Tuesday in Sydney, Thursday in Melbourne and Friday in Brisbane. Webdiary columnists Harry Heidelberg, Jack Robertson and Antony Loewenstein have each written a chapter. Antony dissected the Hanan Ashrawi affair for the book. To refresh your memory, a director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Prize committtee, Professor Stuart Rees, who also heads Sydney University's Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, reflects on the scandal and the politics of media derision.

· [link to Second Book] [link to First Book: Off the Rails: The Pauline Hanson trip ] [Czechout Margo Kingston] [visit Antony Loewenstein ]
· · See Also Democracy's Children: Pain-in-the-ass Democracy
· · See Also Killing the Big Other: Concept of Irony and Either / Or
· · See Also Medieval Jewish Philosophy
· · · See Also First-Time Author Wins BBC Book Prize: Debut author Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall[ courtesy of The Little Literary Magazine That Could: Border Crossings ]
· · · · See Also Doctors of Preaching or the Practicing: People with the Spirit and people with Ph.D.'s
· · · · · See Also Barista:So you thought the internet was free...
· · · · · · See Also Yann Martel: Life After The Booker

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

All that I have produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy-three, I learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes and insects. In consequence, when I am eighty, I shall have made still more progress. At ninety, I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at 100, I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage; and when I am 110, everything I do, be it a dot or a line, will be alive.
Hokusai, A Hundred Views of Fuji (Tatra Mountains)

Invisible Hands & Markets: No More Escapes Across Iron Curtains As The Next Velvet Revolution will be Bogged: Between hither and yon
Most of the youth of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are not optimistic -- social services have collapsed and life expectancy is down.
The young largely brought about the collapse of communist regimes. They were the ones who went to demonstrations and meetings, and led the strike actions.
Now their children are disappointed and mistrustful of politics. Average youth unemployment is twice the general level. Many feel they have been failed by the adults who promised beautiful living and freedom that for many has turned into poverty, fear and loneliness.

· We expected better [link first seen at Prague Post]
· · See Also America is the land of the sex-discrimination lawsuit: the world's biggest award, of $10.6m, was made by an American jury in 2002 to a former employee of Hoffman LaRoche
· · · See Also William Powers on how it pays to be wrong in the news business
· · · · See Also I find BMW's with number plates like "IMRICH" really a bit rich: How to treat corporate criminals
· · · · · See Also U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell “was trying to steer a no-bid contract to a software company called Thinkstream Inc.
· · · · · · See Also Bio-terror is the name of the dream that post-modern societies dream in their self-appointed state of war, and "anthrax" the fulfilment of that wish [Extract from Cold River State of communist economy]
· · · · · · · See Also Getting pollies & crats to care about any future other than its own: Rail bureaucrats cash in as service crisis mounts [linked with ICAC: Senior ministers believe that a single command would overcome jurisdictional clashes and streamline operational activities ]

I will be straight about it: politics is an imperfect game... And yet it is the best game we have for making the country work better.
Petter Garrett

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Meet Joe Blog: MEdia Dragon
Why are more and more people getting their news from amateur websites called blogs? Because they're fast, funny and totally biased
· Blog Fathering [ courtesy of IHT: The Blog father of 'www' finally gets his due ]
· · See Also I Believe the National Enquirer: Why don't you?
· · · See Also How Google Took the Work Out of Selling Advertising
· · · · See Also Website Analysis Isn't a Game: VisitorVille, a website-traffic analysis package that essentially crosses the DNA of SimCity with that of the traditional chart- and graph-centric tools businesses
· · · · · See Also What purpose, apart from the blood sport that it affords readers, does savage reviewing serve?
· · · · · · See Also CRAP & WEE (WAR & PEACE) : Look within the self-organizing anagrams, double meanings, homophones, charades, containers, and hidden kabalahs...

Monday, June 14, 2004

No bossy blogs? I shudder at the thought

The Blog, The Press, The Media: John Quiggin: A Real Bargain
For those of you who like end-of-financial year bargains, here's one that's hard to beat. The Australian government has a scheme under which it matches donations to certain aid projects on a $3 for $1 basis1.So if you give $500, the matching funds can bring the grant up to $2000 which is enough to buy books for an entire school in a poor country. In addition, the donations themselves are tax deductible, so if you're one of those groaning under our top marginal tax rate, the effective cost is only $250.
· $$$ WOW [ courtesy of VictoryOverWant ]
· · See Also BBC 'will not ask for more cash' [ We all have a crush on Bookslut]
· · · See Also Is PBS Finding New Politics? US PBS is supposed to be neutral politically. But now some critics wonder if PBS is adopting more of a political slant...
· · · · See Also Amazon Gets Into The Hollywood Movie Business (Los Angeles Times 06/05/04) [ PR Bloggers and the Evolving View of Marketing ]
· · · · · See Also Newsroom management: It should be invisible to readers
· · · · · · See Also This White House and administration are far more secretive than the Nixon crowd

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Morry Schwartz, Australian Developer of Black Inc, adds another story Schwartz, meaning black, has a knack for rising from the near-dead. This Antipodean publisher specialises in building circulation for literary nonfiction as well as literal office blocks

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Quest for Good and Fight against Evil.
As popular fiction, Rowling's novels perform a feat that's a bit like what John Le Carre did when he made the world of Cold War.espionage into an endlessly fascinating game of chess.
It's also the point where the vision and the encircling atmosphere of the Harry Potter world gets distinctly darker and creepier. It's not only Voldemort and his followers who are dark and malignant. This is a world where the Ministry of Magic can let loose its Dementors on those it deems to be outside the law and allow them to suck any identity or happiness out of them.
It's potent, imaginative stuff, and these hooded, faceless ghouls who swirl through the Azkaban world are symptomatic of the way Rowling sees the wizarding world as existing on a knife edge between impulses towards good and evil; and the way the legal, official world can be very black indeed, and there is no just society for anyone to take shelter in.

· It sometimes seems that Potty Harry Potter is going to take over the world rowlingova [Are They Out to Get him? What, exactly, makes the richest author so universally unpopular? ]
· · See Also After 23 publishers' rejections silent fury for author who lifted stones of Germany's scared senseless past - Stasiland [Link Poached from In Search Of Book Buzz: political books have been gold for more than a year, and more are on the way]
· · · See Also Should we care who the next Pope is? For millions of Catholics in the developing world, it’s a matter of life and death
· · · · See Also Hegel hits the beach & Royal George pub: Basking in the blinding Antipodean light

Communism is neither an ec[onomic] or a pol[itical] system—it is a form of insanity—a temporary aberration which will one day disappear from the earth because it is contrary to human nature. I wonder how much more misery it will cause before it disappears.
Ronald Reagan, Reagan, In His Own Hand (written 1975, collected 2001)
· · · · · See Also Put aside for a moment your opinion of Reagan (either way) and think instead about the implications of these Amerikan letters
· · · · · See Also Reagan's impact on culture: mixed bag of a controversial figure with legions of detractors as well as admirers
· · · · · · See Also Lost In Translation [Link Poached from But one thing I can't live with, which I would criticize, is to be in competition with my book. A writer should allow the work to speak for itself ]
· · · · · · · · See Also Literary giants in the running for Franklin award[Link Poached from Judging A Lit Prize - Exhausting: Alpha literary transparency?]

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Text of the eulogies to freedom-loving Ronald Reagan who won America's respect with his greatness. And won its love with his goodness. The most compelling was Mulroney's Tribute to Reagan even the Iron, Curtain, Lady made soulful contribution at Reagan's last farewell

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Bestia: Neither a Fox nor a Hedgehog: a Belgian Shepherd
The use of unmuzzled dogs to terrify prisoners was approved military practice in Abu Ghraib: Smith said military intelligence personnel asked him to instill fear in detainees. He said that he would bring his dog, a black Belgian shepherd named Marco, to the tier specifically to scare prisoners ...
· Marco Ghraib [ via Andrew Sullivan]
· · See Also A badly mauled Tony Blair: Labour takes a beating [Link Poached from Newcastle upon Tyne had fallen: Losing the city which boasts Tony Blair's favourite football team]
· · · See Also US President Can Order Torture (Will Someone Send Them The Geneva Convention?)
· · · · See Also Globalisation: the dangers and the answers [link first seen at Liberal vs. illiberal democracy ]
· · · · · See Also How does capitalism as a system reproduce itself? [Link Poached from On-line fantasy games have booming economies and citizens who love their political systems ]
· · · · · · See Also Are we inherently good?

Friday, June 11, 2004

My older brother, Vladimir Imrich, who sadly passed away in March this year was named after Lenin, as during Second World War Russians were seen as liberators. By 1958 when many Czechoslovaks ended up in jail, Russians were seen as rapists. (I will not bite into the temptation to elaborate on the Iraq comparison here.)
So by the time I was born I was more likely to be named after John Lennon rather than Stalin. In fact, I was named after my father and my Polish grandfather...

My brother never left Czechoslovakia or the soil of the split brotherhood. In fact, he never travelled anywhere. But, one of the few politicians he admired was Ronald Reagan! Why? Intellectually, the facts can be twisted by the historians according to the colour of the political pendulum. Soulfully, what Reagan provided is beyond historical facts as he was one of the people who gave hope not so much to my brother Vlado, but hope to some of his four children: Aga, named after my sister who died as a result of working in a chemical communist factory, Marcel, Lukas, Tomas. The last born, Tomas came into the world four months after the Chernobyl explosion so he, like many others, was born with many disabilities. Tomas will forever be a little child who must be cared for fromthe time he opens his eyes till he goes to bed again...

Many past and present world leaders and veterans of the Cold War struggle against communism are making their way to Washington for the funeral service.
They included former Soviet communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who will formally represent Russia ...Reagan returns to capital for last time

Tim Dunlop came, saw, Kingstonised, and blogjammed yesterday #12 Blogjam and now more than dozen dirty penended comments rule the blogosphere.
Tim also observed that Ronald Reagan died and I would've liked former Czech citizen, Jozef Imrich, to say a bit more about his opinion of the former US president. You kind of get a sense of his feelings from this brief post...

Today, Czechs and Slovaks are full of praise for the American people who greatly influenced the fate of millions living in Central and Eastern Europe.

Way back when (pick your date), exiles had a simple goal for themselves and their country: to be politically incorrect Amerikan leaders were important, but the models for future were closer geographically and politically to Prague

It is the nature of human existence that we know that sometimes in history "things happen" unexpectedly, overnight: one day Man leaves our planet and walks on the moon; in one day, symbolising Charter 77, you rock the river and the Iron Curtain; in one day you become a beach boy and marry a balletina; in one day, the Berlin Wall crumble; in one day your daughter of Velvet Revolution, named after Alexander Dubcek is born, and the world is never the same again.

There is no history, only biography and few write about it as well as Milan Kundera!

The Unbearable Lightness of Being had a remarkable success when it was published in English in 1984, the year Lauren my soulful mate crossed the Iron Curtain by herself to meet my family.
By 1984 Orwell's dystopian vision of a world ruled by totalitarian ideologies was seen to have been frighteningly prescient, particularly from the perspective of the eastern bloc countries. The cold war was at one of the hottest stages it had ever reached, with Reagan in the White House and Andropov in the Kremlin.Yet even in those bleak years, those with hearing sufficiently sharp could detect the first faint creakings of the ice-cap as it began to shift. Kundera was one of the keenest listeners to the break-up of the international order ...

Vaclav Havel said on many occasions before his death that Ronald Reagan was certainly one of the greatest statesmen of the recent era. The Czech President Havel, recalling the experience of the people in communist Europe: "The previous circumstances in our lives could be compared to a shroud of thick, impenetrable and stifling fog hanging over our whole lives. All of a sudden, with incredible speed, the fog we used to take as something virtually irremovable dispersed. Suddenly we saw an amazingly colorful landscape that had until then remained unseen. The first moments after such a radical change were marked by a universal feeling of joy. We were amazed at the beauty of the world which had until then been hidden from us, surprised at how dazzlingly bright the light of freedom was. But soon the amazement and elation passed away and we all found that the world which the fog had for so long concealed from us contained a great deal of surprising phenomena, new interrelationships, new problems and new tasks. An urgent need to build a whole new world became obvious."

Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of a new book entitled Reagan's War makes many thoughtful points about the so-called bumpkin who won the Cold War.

Czech political scientist Jiri Pehe offers his assessment of the Reagan legacy in ending Soviet communism. There is an irony to Reagan's masterful intuition in that even his closest advisers describe him as uninterested in the intricacies of politics

Like the Hungarian Amerikan journalist Andras Szanto, I too realised when I was serving in the Czechoslovak army from 1977 to 1979 that the Emperor did not have clothes. There were just comedy of mismanagement errors wherever one looked. I escaped from communism in 1980 a year before Reagan became the President.
In the current orgy of commemoration, Ronald Reagan's steely resolve in the face of the communist threat is taken as an article of faith.
The Great Communicator, we're reminded, put the world on notice that he was serious about bringing down the "Evil Empire." And that he wasn't afraid to spend big to win.
But the burnished vision of Reagan as St. George, single-handedly slaying the fire-breathing dragon of totalitarianism, is an exaggeration. In fact, communism's epic meltdown was more of a suicide than a capitulation.

Crooked Timber provides a critical biographical look at the contribution of the US President. However, some of it flies in the face of what people like Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel believe was Reagan’s contribution.

Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel advised that He was a man of firm principles who was indisputably instrumental in the fall of Communism.

Ronald Reagan was no god. But he understood that however mortal he was, he was, for eight years, the President of the United States.
Tomorrow will mark the anniversary (June 12, 1987) of his remarks at the Brandenburg Gate. That week I was using the email at the NSW Parliamentary Library and the boss Dr Russell Cope observed on a number of occasions the foggish salty eyes on this Bohemian. There were many hopeful comments about the speech broadcast on Radio Free Europe poring in from friends who were stuck behind the Iron Curtain.
This speech was delivered to the people of West Berlin, yet it was also audible on the East side of the Berlin wall: General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

We blog and link to stories because as bloggers, many of us seem to project hope even if we link to shocking stories of our corrupt times and when we despair we just remember:
When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always.
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Parts of what I may say may strike readers as a statement of the obvious. Unfortunately, in an era of fiscal conservatism and lowest-common denominators, it needs to be said . . . [it is] a pressing time for Canadians to position culture at the centre of the social agenda.
– Max Wyman, Lions Bay, B.C.

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Does culture matter? A practical guide to making it matter
Talk about the benefits of the arts in our lives is all very nice. So is talk about the value of culture and the importance of nurturing a Canadian identity (especially one that does not have Idol anywhere in its title). Unfortunately, few authors today can afford themselves the luxury to talk about art’s grandeur, all of its wonderful promises for bettering our lives and still be taken seriously the morning after.
· The Defiant Imagination [link first seen at ]
· · See Also Script Supervision: Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies, and part 3 of there's no such thing as paranoia [Are They Out to Get him? Richest Author of all Times]
· · · See Also Multinational Grab in Multicultural Garb
· · · · See Also Most everybody lies... and here's why: Men, women see it differently
· · · · · See Also A consulting firm, wins the right to compete for work advising legislatures of young democracies
· · · · · · See Also It is amazing how much you can tell about a society from its laws

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

No writer ever truly succeeds. The disparity between the work conceived and the work completed is always too great and the writer merely achieves an acceptable level of failure.
Phillip Caputo, A Rumor of War

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush
A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.
The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

· Legal Memorundum [ via A bizarre set of circumstances: The Government will censor intelligence whistleblower Andrew Wilkie's insider account of the spy services ]
· · See Also Mikhail Gorbachev: A President Who Listened [link first seen at UK Parliament, the finest advocacy web-app in the world www.theyworkforyou.com]
· · · See Also It was Mr. Reagan's good fortune that during his time in office the Soviet Union was undergoing profound change, eventually to collapse [Reagan May Replace Hamilton on $10 Bill]
· · · · See Also Cigarettes Will Kill You -- Twice: Cigarette Smuggling Linked to Terrorism as not only do terrorists kill people, but they cheat on their taxes, too
· · · · · See Also Mosul Car Bomb Explosion Kills Five Troops in Iraq - Polish Army [ via Anatomy of (Another) ‘Un-newsworthy’ Story ]
· · · · · · See Also The rich have been warned to leave Baghdad. But for the poor, there is no escape from crime

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Why do political theories so often fail the test of common sense?<

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: America’s prayer
Can America find its universal soul in being complexly human rather than eternally innocent? And can Europe's former dissidents find a fresh language of truth in which to challenge unjust United States power?
When I first heard the Czech singer Marta Kubis?ová’s song Modlitba pro Martu (“Marta’s Prayer” or “Prayer Made for Marta”), it was just after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. I was almost 12 years old. I awoke from my childish dreams into the world of politics and its conscience. During the next ten years, my conscience was formed by this courageous song, which was banned and yet remained a national rallying cry. I was further impressed by two essays of Václav Havel, Politics and Conscience and The Power of the Powerless, as well as by his Open Letter to Gustav Husák (Husák was the president of “normalised” Czechoslovakia, installed after the Soviet occupation in 1968).
Today, after spending half of my life in the United States, I am reminded of Marta’s prayer:
May peace remain with this land; may anger, envy and hatred, fear and strife, pass; may they soon pass, now that the lost governance of your affairs returns to you, oh people...

· May my prayer speak to the hearts that were not burned by the time of hatred. . .
· · See Also Universal soul in being complexly human rather than eternally innocent?
· · · See Also Voters who say they go to church every week usually vote for Republicans
· · · · See Also Dooh Nibor is Robin Hood in reverse, as in "Steal from the poor, give to the rich
· · · · · See Also Let the partisan and polarized talk begin!
· · · · · · See Also The pros and cons of extremist websites

This is the topic which is the important achievement of Karl Popper who showed that dictatorship from Sparta in Ancient Greece to Communism and Fascism of industrial world, has been in lack of acceptance of open society, and showed that from Plato's Republic, with its rule of Philosopher-Kings, to Hegel's theory of state, and finally Karl Marx, with its rule of the proletariat, the issue of allegiance to a closed society is the reason for creating despotism. In fact, even Ayatollah Khomeini in his book Velayate Faghih has used Plato's thought, and he even mentions Plato by name.
Why the problem is not utopianism, but the lack of an open society...

Repeating History Classes: How the Czech Story Plays Out
Western knowledge of 'contemporary' Czech culture often hackneyed and limited to Kundera, Klima, Havel, et al.
Today, the global prestige of mitteleuropean culture in the last years of communism and the immediate aftermath of the 1989 revolutions is a distant memory. No creative stars have emerged from these countries since the coming of democracy. Where are the books that insist on being read by an international audience? Where are the books from behind what used to be the Iron Curtain, which used to produce a classic a week?

· There [i.e., in communist Eastern Europe] nothing goes and everything matters; here, [i.e., in America and in the democratic West] everything goes and nothing matters [[The Richest writer of all His Story: Cold River]]
· · See Also Literary tango: Franz Kafka bookended by two significant dates: June 3, the anniversary of his death, and July 3, the anniversary of his birth [ via What Has Happened to Historical Literacy?]
· · · See Also There are no more villages to burn: Why Darfur's agony is the world's shame [ via The Task of the Modern Historian ]
· · · · See Also Bloody history: Historians used to ignore violence and horror, but a new generation places it centre stage [Link Poached from Historians and Economists]
· · · · · See Also Let's Get Serious About Getting Serious [Link Poached from By Lenin, from Pravda, April 11, 1913: tag cui prodest? Meaning "who stands to gain?" ]

Sunday, June 06, 2004

In my book Cold (War) River I paid tribute to Pope Paul II, Vaclav Havel, George Soros and Ronald Reagan, as the key crusaders who devoted their lives to winning the Cold War, today heartiest of tributes flow for the former President of the US of A

World pays tribute to Ronald Reagan

Shouldn't we expect that the rich and powerful organise things in their own interests. It's called capitalism Bilderberg: The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory

Invisible Hands & Markets: Who pays the lion’s share of personal income tax?
We have grown accustomed to the idea that so-called 'progressive taxation' is 'fair', but a proportional tax system (in which everybody pays the same proportion of their income in tax) would be much fairer. Sinclair Davidson argues not only that income tax in Australia is high by international standards, but also that higher rate taxpayers are paying much more than their fair share.
· Taxing Debates (PDF) [link first seen at The Centre for Independent Studies ]
· · See Also Curing sick hospitals: ONE THING John Menadue
has learned is that the so-called "health debate" is between insiders - doctors and minister

· · · See Also Despite marked improvement in the lives of American children, a new study finds rising numbers of [disconnected young adults]
· · · · See Also Economic measures can lead to bad decision-making
· · · · · See Also Here's a crusade sure to infuriate the vast majority of penny-pinching traditionalists
· · · · · · See Also Arabia's field of dreams: How Dubai has become one of the world's most successful business ventures

Saturday, June 05, 2004

CIA Director George Tenet states the obvious and (will wonders never cease?)

Tracking Policies & Investigative Stories: James Kelman: Look back in anger
The Booker winner James Kelman has been rocking the literary establishment for more than 20 years. Lesley Mcdowell talks to him about radicalism and rage
My culture and my language have a right to exist, James Kelman said in his 1994 Booker-night acceptance speech, after winning the prize for How Late it Was, How Late, and no one has the authority to dismiss that right. This foot-soldier of fiction and class warfare, it would seem, has finally won his place among the literary elite. The battle is over.

· You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free
· · Soros: Abu Ghraib = September 11
· · · See Also Some of the most keenly watched polls, especially in the months before an election, are those on party support, leadership and political issues
· · · · See Also Kim Un-yong: Olympic committee vice-president jailed for embezzlement
· · · · · See Also Rogueish Failures: President Bush likes to claim that Iraq is the central front in the war terror, but what you won't hear him saying is that it is only that because his actions have turned it into a failed state

Friday, June 04, 2004

The first installment in a five-part series excerpted from William F. Buckley Jr.'s The Fall of the Berlin Wall
part 2, par 3, part 4, and part 5)

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Keeping the contemporary threat environment in perspective
Rarely a day passes without us being told that terrorism has evolved from a tactical nuisance to a strategic threat. The attacks carried out by Al Qaeda on 11 September 2001 and throughout the previous decade represented a decisive escalation in the scale and intensity of violence used against civilian targets. One of the most striking features of mainstream commentary since the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been the frequent assertion that the present international climate is ‘the most dangerous period in living memory’
· The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts [References via The nuclear sword of Damocles was the pervasive threat of the Cold War ]
· · See Also Legisprudence as a New Theory of Legislation (PDF)
· · · See Also Margo Kingston: Avoiding the Geneva Conventions: how Australia does the job [ via The administration's gravest alleged misconduct is treating the Geneva Convention with contempt ]
· · · · See Also Professor Donald Rothwell: Our 'special responsibility' betrayed at Abu Ghraib ... Geneva IV in relation to protected persons[ via Memos to White House on Geneva Convention by Yoo/Delahunty/Philbin ]
· · · · · See Also Peter Funnell, ex soldier: Misleading Hill asks fellow Abu Ghraib misleaders to inquire into themselves
· · · · · · See Also Sections of Victoria's police force are riddled with corrupt officers who were not dealt with as far back as the 1970s and 1980s

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The virtues of polymathy, and why Brave New World is scary.

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Nothing lasts for ever
It is a melancholy thought for published authors that, as they speed home hopefully towards their word processors, they may be supported by crushed literary dreams. A recent newspaper report revealed that the aggregate sold by the tonne for use as landfill and in motorway foundations often includes pulped books.
In the week of the Britart blaze in east London, this strange image raises the larger question of the shelf life of culture. The way that a No 1 paperback can end up as M1 asphalt shows that publishers are ruthless about the pulping of unwanted stock. But the mere fact that a company such as Momart can make a huge business from artwork warehouses around London demonstrates the existence of a taboo about the art.

· Literary Taboos [Diving Into Ice cold river, anyone?][ A survivor can't be too careful in his choice of reviewers Unfortunately, in exile life you are often forgotten by your readers and only remembered by your enemies ]
· · See Also Anna Karenina on Oprah: The newest selection (the 5th) for classic book club choice is the first on her long list that she admits she's never read
· · · See Also [ Soulful Gianna Sharing, photographic, His Story]
· · · · See Also Excellent Research Art & Science Databases

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Real World, just like college, is a series of choices to be made with imperfect information

Invisible Hands & Markets: Corporate Amerika
In corporate boardrooms across America, they're warning that the sky is falling — again. Shareholders have heard this before, and it has usually been about money: companies resisted new rules to change how they account for stock options, for example, or how they value certain complex investments in corporate financial reports. And when the Securities and Exchange Commission wanted to restrict the types of consulting work an accounting firm could perform for an audit client, the cry was familiar.
· Let the Little Guy in the Boardroom [link first seen at Lost in America ]
· See Also ALP plan to put brakes on executive payouts
· See Also Why we should get rid of stop signs and red lights and let cars, bikes and people mingle together
· See Also Europe's Market Solidarity With Ukraine
· See Also Experience of living and working in the USA
· See Also Albert Einstein's essay Why Socialism?
· See Also How to lift the working poor
· See Also The longing of so many people for escape
· See Also Poor Economy Is Driving East Germans From Home
· See Also Tipping is incompatible with the notion that all men are created equal