Monday, August 30, 2004

Marry and you will regret it. Do not marry, and you will also regret it... Laugh at the stupidities of the world, and you will regret it; weep over them, and you will also regret it. Hang yourself, and you will regret it. Do not hang yourself, and you will also regret it... This, gentlemen, is the quintessence of all the wisdom of life.
-Soren Kierkegaard

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: The desire to appear in a more flattering light
Simone Weil said in her book The Need for Roots (Routledge and Paul, 1952) that truth is a need of the soul. She went on to say: The need for truth is a need more sacred than any other need. Yet it is never mentioned. One feels afraid to read once one has realised the quantity and monstrousness of the material falsehoods paraded in even the books of the most reputable authors. Thereafter one reads as though one were drinking from a contaminated well.
Australia's Raimond Gaita on the need for truth.; [Inescapably, we learn by being moved, and that would be so even in heaven ]
• · Teachers and public-service announcements pound the reading-is-good-for-you message into children from an early age. But by the time many people reach adulthood, they've lost sight of what marketing gurus might call the takeaway value of books.
• · · Off The Wall Poetry The loo, the dunny, the can, restrooms, facilities, conveniences. Call it what you want - the toilet is one of our most interesting cultural spaces; [Dunnies changing the world!!! ; My Partner in Crime, Slavoj Zizek, Reviews Toilets: Russian, English, German, French etc ...]
• · · · How vanity is just a wistful form of ambition; [ The two creepiest words in the English language are Christian rock]
• · · · · A review of the funniest philosopher who ever lived: The Humor of Kierkegaard No one should be allowed to own any property, he says in a digression in Either/Or on how to solve the national debt. An exception should be made only for me. I shall set aside for myself one hundred rix-dollars in a London bank, partly because I cannot manage on less, partly because I am the one who provided the idea.
• · · · · · Modern biographers stick too closely to a Victorian formula but change will surely come A good biography is like a good portrait: it captures the essence of the sitter by being much more than a likeness

Monday, August 23, 2004

People want to feel that their presidents know what they're doing, that our artists are capable of masterpieces, that our weapons are invincible. That we're No. 1 in everything...
Dissent Wanted

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Author! Author! This Is Your Den
The authors of the past, as distinct from the run-of-the-press journalists who often write about them, have tended to be remote figures who would rather hide under a rock, typing, than stand on top of it, speaking.
Book Dens, Towns, have bookshops aplenty and second-hand bookshops in profusion. But it is more than these. It is also representative of the reading culture that encourages these places to begin, develop and thrive. Any bookshop worth its paper knows how to satisfy the fundamental requirements of its readers. For example, knowing when to help or to leave one to browse in peace; or not using store demonstrators; not putting handwritten or typewritten "staff pick" notes under books, but letting us decide for ourselves what is worth reading; and certainly not playing radios or music of any description. The other day, in a formerly favourite secondhand bookshop, we asked for the radio to be turned down. "This is the first time in eight years that anyone has complained," said the man at the counter. Would they do the same in a library?

Australian writers lack balls! [Of Critics And Political Opinions ; Ach Can You Teach Pleasure In Books? ]
• · lot of it comes from book-jacket blurbs, which produce a repertoire of sentences that publishers would like to see in book reviews The book world has a language all of its own [Amazon DigitalRiver Reviews Drowning not Waving: James Marcus's Book Boom And Bust]
• · · Judge: Booker Sludge Tibor Fischer slogs his way through 126 novels
• · · · Like immigrants of earlier generations - the Italian stonecutter tuning his radio to opera, the Irish stevedore reciting Yeats in a tavern, the Jewish tailor viewing a Yiddish production of King Lear The Classics Will Set You Free? The agents of our true liberation
• · · · · Cold Beer Anyone? Real River, Real Ale, Real Books, Real Men? Manly Men's Reading Club Wins Reading Prize
• · · · · · See Also We're living in a global village now and there's no "there" anymore

Sunday, August 22, 2004

In My Humble Linking Mode This Editorial Must be Dedicated to My Golden Angels: Alex and Gabriella who are starting to spread their teenagish wings and Tracey If they didn't have a coach like Gaven, Elle, Bruce and Tracey, they wouldn't be swimming
Why reading Cold River is the last refuge from the tyranny of time. Our cleanest instruments have produced an illness worse than the one they treat, infecting us with the contagion of real time .
Ach, at the 440 B.C. Olympic Games, a hot young Bohemian author made the scene

Feeding the Soul: Life in the lounge: Telling Where it Hurts
Next month sees the release of The Terminal, Hollywood's take on the true story of a man who lives in an airport. But what is life among the baggage carousels really like?
Burdened with debt and uncertain where his future lay, George decided it was time to walk out on his life.
Looking for somewhere warm and dry to sleep, he pitched up at Heathrow Airport and stayed for the best part of two-and-a-half years, surviving homelessness in its relative safety and comfort.
George is not the only one to have found a place amid the benches, shops and restaurants provided for the world's travellers.
How can our children, born to former Easter Europeans who swam across the Iron Curtain, learn swimming is magic?

What is life among the baggage carousels really like?
• · I guess I own the full set said Ian Thorpe, who now has five golds, three silvers and a bronze from two Olympics [Thorpe Corp: Hall of Heroes]
• · · I'm not one to make rash predictions when it comes to sport but sometimes you have to go out on a limb: Thorpe's the best of all time
• · · · Stuttering Philosophy (PDF version) Besides us, in memory [Grant Hackett - strokes of genius; World record and gold in women's relay: Petria Thomas unbelievable butterfly]
• · · · · Nick Cohen there was a time when some used to burn with anger against oppression and were united in fraternity .... Where have all the children of the left gone? [Joshua Holland, Gadflyer Why Conservatives are Winning the Campus Wars ]

Like democracy, culture is not an exclusive game played by experts such as artists and their admirers; it is an ongoing conversation within and between communities. It is a meeting place for different arguments and perspectives, an arena in which large and small problems are ventilated. Is cultural conversation becoming a monologue?

Even in a culture of winners take all, a book's power lies in its ability to erase us, to expand or contract without limit, to circle inside itself without beginning or end, to defy our imaginary timetables and lay us bare to a more basic ticking. The pages we read are a nowhen, unfolding far outside the public arena. As long as we remain in them, now reveals itself to be the baldest of inventions.
- Richard Powers

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Four poker faces: Esoteric Gem
The novel written after a smashing debut is supposed to be a writer's combat zone, but for Sydney writer and high school teacher Melina Marchetta it was smoother the second time round.
James Thurber combatly stated: All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.

Top prize for second book [Artist finds truth in literary hoax ]
• · Her literary hoax was bad, but Norma Khouri's frauds against loved ones reached $1 million: How Norma made a dishonourable killing; [ Hoax author's twisted tale]
• · · wood s lot [One Stop Book Review ]
• · · · Making a Web Search Feel Like a Stroll in the Library Many students use the Internet as their library [ Law library still relies on hard copy in time of Google ; Italy's Senate library is getting tough on forgetful lawmakers demanding they return books ]
• · · · · From Morava River to digital river, forever ... I have been told by the Digital Media that book lovers live in every time zone, not just Sydney or Vrbov or River to Surfdom There is something deeply satisfaying about having readers in every time zone ...The slovo is spreading! My emailbag is full!
• · · · · · Let me count the ways Sydneysiders would line up for the priceless seats in order to eye outstanding Cate Blanchett who plays the leading role in the Sydney Theatre Company’s Hedda Gabler (Henrik Ibsen's play by the same name) Cate gave him some consoling pats on the knee, thereby further endearing herself to the audience ... How much do we love this woman?

PS: Ach, Maria Vandamme, the founder of the Melba Foundation, managed to bypass the government’s arts funding white elephant, the Australia Council, to appeal directly to the federal government. In May 2004 Maria was rewarded with a $5 Million grant, over 5 years, to assist her in the production of 35 Cds for the Melba Recordings which produces high-quality classical Cds of Australian musicians for international distribution.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Wendy Lesser, Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Josef Skvorecky, and Nguyen Qui Duc are interviewed on NPR about The Genius of Language: Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongues. Near the beginning of the piece, Lesser raves about Gary Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. She says, “I loved it and I rarely run across a first novel that I love. I mean, if you were in the literary review business you would feel the same way. There are just tons and tons of over-hyped and not very good novels out there and then there was this gem.”
But that’s just an aside. The interview focuses mostly on the authors’ bilingualism and reveals interesting tidbits such as the fact that Josef Skvorecky started to learn English at the age of 14 so that he could write a letter to July Garland.
Also: Philip Marchand writes about The Genius of Language for the Toronto Star.
The pronunciation of our names determines how sexy Josef or Jozef is. Aha!;
Jozef’s poetic piece in the Olympic newsletter has the officials say, Whosoever believeth in me, go nuts. That alone, my friends, is well worth the free Google click

Speaking of the need for slight craziness in our strange world, it is clear that one fake story of an ordinarily crazy woman is enough to justify the next huge wave of publications of stories about extraordinarily crazy celebrities; yet we all know many celebrities are complete fakes except when they speak from their deathbeds. There is no reason that, once dead, these celebrities should create any more fake dust.
Leopold Tyrmand once wrote about an ordinary Polish writer Marek Hlasko: Even in his lies -- and he was a man built of lies, some of them scurrilous, some of them charming, he conveyed always a truth. A truth we need.
Hlasko the exile writer of the Killing the Second Dog fame observed: My future? That's a word I won't be needing anymore, says the first-person narrator, who in partnership with a failed stage director makes his living romancing older ladies and almost dying. In the face of those women beyond love or despair he finds only a kind of miserable wisdom that prevents them from doing reckless things . . . you can screen yourself from sadness and anger with the image of a face like that. I could use her face the way a child brings up his hand to shut out the view of something he's afraid of

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Requiem for a Great Slavic Poet, the Polish emigre writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980, in part for a powerful pre-mortem dissection of communism, in part for observing that the defection from the homeland would not be easy, but that it would be worth it! Czeslaw Milosz will be burried in Krakov 77 km from Vrbov.
Like Czeslaw, Czech exile Milan Kundera believes that reading and storytelling have historically functioned as the most dependable form of nourishing our moral compass.
Ach, before we cast the first stone at Khouri, we should examine what kind of pressure the reality of the publishing industry places on migrants in order to see their bloody stories in ink. I am not sure whether Norma is a good or a bad woman, but one thing I know is that everyone has her/his Amerikan/Jordanian/Bohemian story (real or imagined) of the way he became to live a life of a surreal stranger. For what is a stranger, if she is not a wondering creator of post cards who dreams of being a gypsy? Everything inside the world of a gypsy is preordained by mysterious and implacable forces. It is a world without history or geography. In such a world even raw and powerful human-interest stories of rootless migrants are helpless. Rarely someone can help invented or true stories to see the light of the day. Back in 1999 on the 1st Floor of 20 Alfred St Milsons Point I was advised by Jane Palfreyman of Random House fame that my story was evocative enough, but too risky even for the esteemed power house of the publishing industry. When a great publisher admits such a reality, it is a blow that shatters our whole image of the world.
Shakespeare suggests to speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. Images that to others seem simple or even banal become a raging and screaming truth. Without any doubt, the act of writing stories of survival threatens the storyteller with dual curses: that the stories will be overdone, that the tragedies will be understated ...

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Publisher pulls Khouri book
The Australian publisher of Norma Khouri's book Forbidden Love has withdrawn it from sale permanently after she could not prove her life story was true.
Earlier this week Ms Khouri submitted documents to Random House to demonstrate the book was a factual account of her life in Jordan.

Bribery (sic) Island (Most of the time the publishing PR experts provide the tools to develop a complete public relations strategy, win media favor and deliver any message effectively); [Money plunges modern literature into chaos Are lovers of literature a dying breed in Russia?]
• · After lucky 13 years of experimenting, veteran Net publisher Adam Engst has finally stumbled on a good business model -- fast-turnaround e-books
• · · The openness of Weblogs could help explain why many readers find them more credible than traditional media. Can mainstream journalists learn from their cutting-edge cousins? Transparency Begets Trust in the Ever-Expanding Blogosphere
• · · · Arna's Children won the Best Film award at Prague's One World Film Festival in April 2004. Days later, it received the Best First Documentary award at the Canadian International Documentary Festival. The following month, it was named Best Documentary at New York's Tribeca Film Festival. Sadly, by the time Arna's Children received this international recognition, all but one of the movie's leading characters were already dead We are losing the good film habit; [Multicultural Literature Recommends Vibrant Suggestions How to Up your sex life
• · · · · Orhan Pamuk: I Was Not A Political Person... Turkey is a somewhat surreal country, where secular nationalists and theocrats compete to impose what seem to be equally dubious ideas of how to force people to be free ; [ Real reading, real writers, real issues; [Colin Friels: We are so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture, that is associated with being alive, is what it’s all about ... I want to try to tell our own stories in our own place]
• · · · · · Literature and Sociology Unbound: It is like a bone-deep memory that binds us deeply to each other

Friday, August 13, 2004

Margo Kingston is the Liberal with the small l and the Down Under alternative to Vaclav Havel!
For webdiarist of all political colours who already know how partionate and egalitarian Margo happens to be this speech might mean doubling up of her caring ideas about democracy, but for people just introduced to the legend of the Webdiary, this speech to the Sydney Institute is a neat introductory package of the best pearls of wisdom. Margo’s passionate speech should serve as an ominous wakeup call and siren warning about the dangers of capitalism without human face.
Reflections of a Webdiarist: Ode To the True Liberals i.e. Robert Menzies ... For all its faults, and there are many, I believe the election of a Labor Government and a strong Senate will give the people a breathing space to mobilise to make the health of our democracy a crucial issue during the term of the next government and at the next election.< In a speech last year, the author Norman Mailer described democracy as 'a state of grace that is attained only by those countries which have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labour of maintaining it'.
PS: The Menzies Foundation needs to get its act together and match the skills of people like Chris Sheil of Evatt Foundation fame if it wants to be a serious player in the battle of ideas. During her time as the head of the Menzies Foundation, the late Dr Marlene Goldsmith planted many breathtaking flowers at the Foundation, however, for the last five years the garden has been locked and the keys thrown away. So lets hope someone soon opens the gate and shows us around the garden of liberty and ideas.

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Blogging for Business
With readers flocking to their Web postings, execs are finding blogs useful for plugging not just their products but their points of view
Jonathan Schwartz, president and chief operating officer of server maker Sun Microsystems (SUNW ), first suspected that his blog was a success when his salespeople began reporting that customers were reading his posts and sealing deals faster. Then, the blog started getting a surge of traffic from users with e-mail addresses ending in "" and "" -- folks who work for Sun's rivals. Schwartz saw that as irrefutable proof that his blog, started on June 28, was a gold mine.

Blog Mine High-profile people don't have the freedom to speak with authenticity [ courtesy of Jonathan Schwartz ]
• · The dead hand of modern democracy: Extreme Democracy blog
• · · Weblog Tools Market
• · · · Kozoru It's always exciting to read about new efforts in search
• · · · · Jan Amos Comenius, the first blogger ever: Bohemian in Amsterdam
• · · · · · For many young people, caring about the world's problems can be both too painful and seemingly futile

We are all Olympians in the eyes of God: While My Favourite Paper tracks Exclusive Olympic Stories, Robert Scheer types at all hours at his Summer Olympics blog

OLYMPIC GAMES With the countdown entering its final phase high hopes enter our hearts: On Your Marks
Finally, someone else gets to host an Olympics and Sydney is relegated to the role of married older sibling watching with patronising amusement as a younger brother or sister prepares for the big day.
First thing first, Czech Out the official home for Athens 2004 Greece will make history once again, as it did in 1896 with the revival of the Games.
The graphics are eerily familiar and much of the information reflects all those issues we were so concerned about four years ago: tickets, transport, volunteers, etc. There is an impressive interactive schedule of every session of every sport. So if you simply have to see the Preliminary Duet Free Routine of the synchronised swimming, you'd better keep the morning of August 24 (Australian-time) free.
The other big "official" Olympics site belongs to the IOC, where you are left in no doubt that the international sporting fest is a Very Important Thing Indeed. This dry effort is short of anything resembling fun or excitement.
Here, for example, is the bizarre entry under a section entitled Passion: Over and above sporting exploits, Olympism is a source of multiple passions which unite the worlds of sport, art, culture and collections. Olympism is a state of mind and the Olympic Museum is its symbol. Glad we got that straight.

ATHENS OLYMPICS ON LINE [A hit of escape, the suggestion of Olympic stamina, balanced with a surreal experience: If I could get every teenager to memorise it, the future world would not be peppered with bullies]
•· · Olympians barred from blogging? No blogging from Olympic village [ Making the case for Milo of Croton, winner of 6 consecutive Olympic wrestling titles before 500BC, to be named as greatest Olympic champion of all time]
•· · Great Aussie hopes for gold All that glitters is gold, they say. See who amongst the Australian team is most likely to reach glittering glory in Athens
•· · · PVRBlog: Tips and thoughts and comments; [ The idea doesn't have to be Olympic. It just has to change the world]
•· · · Will Athens win a gold for security? [ GREEK SECURITY TEAM FAILS TO NOTICE GIANT HORSE ; Security Czech and Slovak Style anti-chemical warfare specialists to help guard the Olympics: The country's specialised troops were the only ones to detect traces of nerve gas in the Saudi Arabian desert during the 1991 Gulf War]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: We are not all destined to be Hemingways, nor would most of us want to be
The premise that in many cases writers entertain, move, and inspire us less by what they say (their matter) than by how they say it (their manner) would seem irrefutable. To name some obvious examples, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, and Dave Barry are read and honored hardly at all for their profound insights about the human condition, much more for their intoxicating and immediately identifiable ways of expressing themselves -- their styles.
This idea, that the how is more important and revealing than the what, goes without saying when it comes to other creative endeavors. Think of Michael Jordan and Jerry West each making a 20-foot jump shot, of Charlie Parker and Ben Webster playing a chorus of All the Things You Are, of Julia Child and Paul Prudhomme fixing a duck à l'orange, or of Pieter Brueghel and Vincent van Gogh painting the same farmhouse. Everyone understands that the content is constant, frequently ordinary, and sometimes banal; that the (wide) variation, the arena for expression and excellence, the fun, the art -- are all in the individual style.

Style as a pleasure for the reader or the writer - Ooh, aah, look how eccentric and demanding I am [I believe a good teacher should be, that little voice inside my head pipes up, telling me ... Come on now, don't be that guy..]
• · See Also After denying Hollywood for years, Gabriel García Márquez agrees to sell the rights to his 1985 novel
• · · Kurt Vonnegut: I Love You, Madame Librarian; I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves
• · · · Books and Politics: Poli-tainment is a bizarre sort of political Cliffs Notes
• · · · · Commentary on Open Access Publishing and Its Costs: The devil you don’t know: The unexpected future of Open Access publishing by Joseph J. Esposito
• · · · · · See Also You'd call him the grandfather of stand-up comedy, if grandfather didn't seem altogether too cosy. He's Richard Pryor

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

As the blogosphere keeps growing competition for gaffs and definitions has become cutthroat. Civility seems to be dead. However, our enemies are innovative and resourceful - and so are we...

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Hidden in the annex
American Journalism Review recently asked why the American media took so long to report on prisoner abuse in Iraq. There are reasonable excuses (dangerous conditions in Iraq made a lot of first-hand reporting almost impossible) and inexcusable ones (fear of bucking the patriotism police), but one was especially disheartening -- the press couldn't believe that our military would do anything bad.
I'm skeptical. Even a reporter with no interest in history must surely know something of the history of his profession, and in the pantheon of journalistic heroes how many people rank higher than Seymour Hersh, and his coverage of My Lai? Are there really no reporters left who remember (or at least have read of) My Lai and want to be the next Hersh -- other than Hersh himself, that is? How is it possible for anyone who doesn't depend on Fox for all his knowledge of the world to believe Americans never do anything bad?

Were reporters naive, or willfully ignorant? [ courtesy of Body & Soul ]
• · Here’s a guide to discern what journalists really mean when they write certain things.
• · · On how the Web makes the Szirine zine
• · · · The blog busters Mighty corporations ignore the whispers on web diaries at their peril
• · · · · Syndication sold like viagra: The site is a piece of blisteringly cheezy marketing aimed at selling RSS to non-technical people as a site-traffic-builder
• · · · · · What is your daughter reading? A casual thumb through the August editions of Australia's top four girl glossies is revealing

Monday, August 09, 2004

Russia introducing a new law to scrap the highly inefficient, Communist-era welfare system

Invisible Hands & Markets: Contract Figures Show Halliburton's Startling Growth
Halliburton, the giant services firm formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, saw a sixfold increase in earnings from contracts with the Defense Department last year, making the Houston-based company the nation's seventh largest defense contractor.
Halliburton received Pentagon contracts worth $491 million in 2002; that figure shot up to $3.1 billion in 2003.
Data on the top 200 federal contractors was compiled for Government Executive by Eagle Eye Publishers Inc. of Fairfax, Va., from information collected by the General Services Administration.
The bulk of Halliburton's 2003 federal revenues derived from two contracts let by the Army to Halliburton's engineering and construction division, Kellogg, Brown and Root, before the invasion of Iraq. Under one contract, the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, which ultimately could be worth up to $5.6 billion, the company provides logistical support to troops, such as cooking, laundry, housing and other services. The other agreement, known as the RIO contract, worth $2.5 billion, was to fight oil-field fires that U.S. commanders anticipated before the start of the war and to restore Iraq's oil infrastructure during reconstruction.
Both contracts have been controversial. David Walker, the head of the Government Accountability Office, told the House Government Reform Committee in June that a GAO audit showed that the LOGCAP contract was poorly managed.

GAO found that the Corps properly justified the sole-source contract to KBR to restore Iraq's oil infrastructure ; [To pursue profits: The American President Calvin Coolidge once said that the business of America is business ]
• · Economics does not contain all the answers of life, nor does it claim to: It does, however, show how the morally acceptable desire for profit leads to spontaneous social cooperation that obviates the need for a bloated state apparatus to direct production [ Free Raid Agreement: Interview: Tony Abbott]
• · · CickiRail Excuses for same old grind In October next year Rail of NSW will be 150 years old: Sydney trains and railway stations are like a scene from some post-apocalyptic movie -- a futuristic, industrial detention area from a Mad Max [This coincides with the death of Ruth Morrison, 82, of Bayview, Sydney, who fell from an Indian Pacific carriage early on Monday: Great Southern Railway Safety]
• · · · Invisible Marketing Reed-Elsevier Boss Defends Profits ; [Search rival Google owns one of the better Blogging solutions, called And right now, when it comes to Google, all bets are off!; [Dear Media Dragons, Media Discover Promotional Potential of Blogosphere]
• · · · · Making Fatal Headlines ; [Forget the Media Dragons, it's the Video Dragons showing the way on the internet ; Internet fraud targets John Kerry supporters]
• · · · · · When oil was found in 1996 in Equatorial Guinea, the former Spanish colony in West Africa was one of the poorest countries in the world: The Boom that only Oils the Wheels of Corruption

Thursday, August 05, 2004

When Walt Whitman picked up the work of his older contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was a carpenter, framing two- and three-room houses in Brooklyn. He had been a journalist; he had written some mediocre fiction -- he looked to be someone who would never amount to much. After reading the great essays, Whitman purportedly said: I was simmering, simmering, simmering. Emerson brought me to a boil.

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Antipodian Euphorism, Myths, Realities and Plain Facts
Three recent books on Australian politics - one brilliant and infuriating, one worthy but narrow and one just plain vacuous.
Margo Kingston's Not Happy John is already into its third print run. It deserves to be. It is superb - if you can read the damned thing. It should have gone through three editors before it went to three editions.
Margo pinpoints everything that's wrong with the Howard Government - but, being Margo, wants to talk about more. Much more. Too much more.
Eighty odd pages of brilliant polemic on matters ranging the corruption of the system supposed to protect the integrity of Australia's electoral system downwards is obscured by 350 pages of tangents. It's so Margo. Passionate, captivating and utterly infuriating all at once.

Read the damn thing [via Crikey ]
• · Rob Schaap with an open eye on irony writes: There once lived a writer who gazed into the future and made a name for himself tracing the bewildering sojourns of hapless little individuals as they fall into the gargantuan maws of pointless rational organisations, pointlessly and rationally executing the bureaucratic and totalitarian procedures they are there pointlessly and rationally to impose Kute of the US Navy Kafka
• · · New Kafkas on the Web, Gianna, James Cumes, Tim Dunlop and Other unexpectly rich Amerikan or Viennese villages or Antipodian country towns: Calling a weblog literary does not require content that is about literature or even content that aims to be literature: Imagined Community of Instant Publishing [NY Times: Can't wash politics out of art, but you can avoid a hard sell]
• · · · Get the books you want to read through Progressive Book Club and help restore balance to the public debate by supporting progressive voices and ideas
• · · · · My Mate, Dan Gillmore placed his book in PDF version under Creative Commons at OReilly: We The Media Dragons Reading, you hear, is necessary to maintain democracy. It can produce informed citizens
• · · · · · Pecking Order NYTBR editor: I like to think I feel sympathy for writers [Australian Iron Bark and Monk; boxers, tacklers, shouters All the bathroom graffiti was about Abbott, but Latham was inhaling it all it!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Most journalists bloggers don’t tell the story straight. Self-importance prevent them from having the obvious, visceral, personal reaction that our leaders deserves. They don’t write what they see. They write what they think they’re supposed to see, what they’re told to see, what the media owners folks want them to see. . .
We are just trying to extract some news from an event where there isn't any. We knew that the Globe was going to give it a big blow job. If I produced a newspaper as boring as the Globe, I’d kill myself.

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Bloggers were at DNC to give mainstream reporters a story
That's Andrew Ferguson's thinking:
I noticed something curious in the convention blogs, during those jam-packed few hours before I stopped reading them altogether. If there was a common thread running through them it was a casual mention by the blogger of being interviewed by mainstream journalists. ... And as these convention-blogger stories piled up in the establishment press -- there were several dozens of them by midweek -- the real purpose of inviting bloggers to the convention suddenly became clear: They were there to be interviewed.
Stopping Reading Altogether Now! [More convention-related stories: Art of political blog came out of DNC with plenty of momentum (NYT); SacBee ombud gives paper credit for Heinz Kerry quote restraint (SB); Oregonian readers suggest ways to improve convention coverage (Oreg.); Convention helps Boston Globe website hit record numbers (USA Today); Why Fox News didn't interrupt "Factor" for Gore's convention speech (WP); Cox: I feel like I know less about politics than I did pre-DNC (; Critic missed authority that network anchor brings to convention (NYT); Papers have more responsibilty now that TV shuns conventions (Sun); Rivard: Conventions still matter even with political choreography (SAE-N)]
• · Suicidal Newspaper Clipping Librarian, Chain-Smoking Slob Discover Life's Elusive Symmetries Life or death; which one has the nastier sense of humor? Yes, this is my life, the one I insist in complicating
• · · Yahoo Launches New Local Search Engine: Yahoo Locally
• · · · See Also How to Bypass Most Firewall Restrictions and Access the Internet Privately > [ courtesy of Hacking and hackability on the rise again ]
• · · · · See Also Promiscuous Blogosphere
• · · · · · See Also Toxnet Search Engine

Monday, August 02, 2004

How some truths tends to stay the same. Hell yeah! The article linked below triggered many surreal memories of months and months of lining up for work with other migrants at the dollar wall in Traiskirchen, the Viennese refugee camp. Although in Sydney one had to travel from Villawood to Flemington at 4 am for a prospective heavy lifting yakka, the longish trip seemed to be generally lot more productive than the short side walk in Traiskirchen. Even if the pay was pathetic the fruit from Queensland was just divine ... and the Greek and the Italian lessons were always free!
As bloggers of broken English, we metaphorically line up along the cyber-wall and most days we get a satisfaction of being part of some kind of human experiment whose little joys include a simple comment here; a thoughtful link there; and building hope everywhere. There is even that prospect that one day we might enjoy a hearty multicultural lunch accompanied by home made grapa which will allow our conversations to puncture the surface with amazing stories about survival skills ...the perils and wonders of exile are embedded in our destiny. While the possibilities might be infinite, they can make the bravest man feel scared. We all know too well that an imperfect beings cannot make perfect decisions.
The wailing immigrant wall, is not a topic that has been explored too often in literature or movies. It's a place that reinvents itself almost on a daily basis, especially when the surreal (de) inflation hits. Who, living in the Villawood (Our Australian Hollywood) Hostel in September 1980, would disagree with the young character, a Lady to be, Mary Wein, whose parents migrated to Australia from Poland in 1920s. In her memoirs Lady Fairfax wrote, I came home to my father one day. I was the youngest, at 22, single, female, wage-earner in NSW. Dad I have found out about money. It is lovely stuff, it makes you free. (Ach, according to my Irish spies that Lady Mary will soon feature on the cover of their very own Vogue magazine.) Through the lenses of my favourite paper, the Fairfax press, I learned about Frank Lowy, Czechoslovak-born Australian, who emerged as a successful entrepreneur whose rags-to-riches story one might have expected to google on the screen of the real Hollywood.
By sheer coincidence, it was John Newman, the Australian Yugoslav, who spread the word of various job opportunities in the Slavic pub at Cabramatta and during the October Fest of 1981. Newcomers piggybacked on tips, networks and contacts over a beer. In the life of a migrant, the big news event is not who came in first in the Bass Hill election. It was the paying job for me and for my friends. The Slavic pub, situated opposite the rail station almost next door to the Austrian Club where my Bay St, Croydon, neighbour Frank used to play on Saturday nights, was not far from a home where John Newman, the member for Cabrammatta, would be shot fourteen years later. As I later learnt the area around the pub was practically the Grand Central Station of the Sydney drug trade, where on average one person a month overdosed. [My next big dream is to examine in more details the story of migrant experiences in the 1980s so if you know of any souls who happened to cross their paths with hostels at Traiskirchen or Villawood or Coogee please let them know about it.]

Invisible Hands & Markets: Brick wall is all many Poles find in London
They call it the wailing wall, but the only act of devotion on this west London street corner is to mammon not God.
Dozens of young, newly arrived Polish men line up here every day, often all day, waiting in vain for the promise of jobs in the new Europe to materialise.
They look like a ragtag collection of heavy-set male prostitutes.
For many the days are turning into weeks as optimism turns to desperation, dreams to poverty and squalor. London was not supposed to be like this.
Back home the papers had told them by joining the European Union on May 1, hard-working Poles would be welcomed in Britain with open arms. There were tens of thousands of well-paid, legal jobs.
But the truth is the opposite. There are jobs ads at the wall, the window of Mr Patel's newsagency in Hammersmith just down from the Polish cultural centre. And, as members of the newly expanded 25-nation EU, the Poles are free to work in Britain. But most of the jobs are either gone, non-existent or so poorly paid (about $9 an hour) that they barely cover rent and food. The day's best outcome is for a builder's van to pull up looking for workers. Then, witnesses say, there's a mad scramble. But that is if the employer actually pays them.

The local Polish newspaper, Dziennik Polski, has been deluged with calls from Poles who say they were dudded after a week of hard labour and sacked with a minute's notice [link first seen at Isn't it really terrible to be an adult in the Free Speech Zone? What ideas are we willing to live and die for? ]
• · Chilly Puritanism defined by H.L. Mencken as the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time:
Dancing in the Streets: Revolution with a Smile

• · · James Hardies and Ethics: Duties to rich clients
• · · · See Also The IMF says its policies crippled Argentina
• · · · · On postmodern slogans and the difference between Christian practice and a Starbucks purchase
• · · · · · · Prague Post has a photo and a story which has over 200 links on Google this morning. One and all news agencies are covering this story as athletes from different countries are heading to Europe for the Athens Olympics hand grenade exploded outside a casino on Na Prikope, a street near Wenceslas Square; Scotsman: A car exploded injuring at least 16 people in a crowded shopping area in Prague

There ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it, and ain't agoing to no more.
Samuel Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: The Waiting Game Begins
As athletes prepare for the opening of the Olympics in Athens, Nigel Spivey tells the story of a legendary hero of the Games, and looks for clues to the function of sport in the modern world
M.F.K. Fisher, The Measure of My Powers (The story of a legendary hero of the Olympic Games:)
I was horribly self-conscious; I wanted everybody to look at me and think me the most fascinating creature in the world, and yet I died a small hideous death if I saw even one person throw a casual glance at me.
The agones and the ecstasy; [Bloggers dish the dirt in another literary hoax; Book Database for Locating New and Used Titles ]
• · See Also If Bush is such a dictator, why can't he even stifle dissent in his own bookstore? [ Authors and publishers face credit card barrier to anonymously puffing their books Amazon halts tit-for-tat critics ]
• · · Now Rowling(ova) takes internet by storm Website: JKRowling
• · · · Smugglers: Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so
• · · · · Since I began writing Cold River, Book Sense has embodied the passion, personality, character, community, and knowledge of independent bookstores: The Best of Book Sense From the First Five Years
• · · · · · Not Just By the Book ... The power of this unconventional escape is only heightened by the knowledge that the story is true You Mean There Are People Who Don't Like Jozef Imrich? ; [Leopold Page spent years trying to persuade people to make a film about the man who had saved him and his wife from the Nazis. At last he found someone. Thomas Keneally tells how he stumbled on the story that became Schindler's List: Man to man]

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Attorney General John Ashcroft has put a plug in the whistle of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Ms. Edmonds, a naturalized US citizen born in Turkey, is at the center of one of the most interesting government secrecy debates in... Office of Inspector General backs FBI whistle-blower

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: The Spectator has hit rock bottom
No individuality. No dissent. No private property. No choice. No freedom. And Matthew Parris, political columnist for the freaking Times, loved it. He concludes by admitting that communism failed - you're really going out on a limb there, Matthew - but falls back on the tired "it was great in theory but failed in practice" line.
This is what The Spectator has become. Now that they've published apologias for Saddam Hussein and the Soviet Union, I wonder what's next? North Korea? Fascist Italy? (It's not yet acceptable to praise Nazi Germany, but give it a few years...)

Matthew Parris praises the hope and decency of Soviet communism ; [No cover-up - and victims' families outraged; Ach, the good old days, when for a pair of Levis and a pack of Marlboros you could buy anybody ]
• · An extraordinary archive of some of the most important documentary evidence from the Revolution, including 338 texts, 245 images, and a number of maps and songs Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring The French Revolution
• · · It was the week the US Democratic Party held its quadrennial national convention in Boston Hope is on the way, culminating in the crowning of Senator John Kerry as their presidential candidate [ John Kerry is a good man, who knows how to steer a ship through troubled waters ]
• · · · A Chat With Middle East Expert Bernard Lewis: Europe Will Be Islamic By the End of the Century
• · · · · Mordechai Vanunu was the Israeli atomic spy: Atom Expert Warns of a Second Chernobyl in Israel
• · · · · · · van StrpkaSlovakia: The Past is Now: I cut an apple in two, yet it remains whole ; Ivan Klima - Czech Story: put my trust in God, that after the wrath of the storm has passed by, the storm that we have brought over our heads through our sins, control over your own affairs shall return to you, oh Czech people!

How To Be Creative: Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me.... your company needs you now more than it ever did

Invisible Hands & Markets: We Have No Shame: Global Hunger
Malnutrition makes the poor less productive. To beat poverty, hunger must first be defeated
PEOPLE in very poor countries are, on average, less intelligent than those in rich ones. Some readers may be shocked by this statement, so let's rephrase it. Some 800m people do not have enough to eat. Without proper nutrition, the human body cannot develop properly. That includes the brain. Those who are ill-fed tend to end up both physically shorter and less mentally agile than they otherwise would have been. Hunger also spurs millions of children to drop out of school in order to scavenge for food, and those who manage to attend school despite empty bellies find it excruciatingly hard to concentrate.
Famines grab more headlines, but chronic malnourishment is a far more serious problem because it is so widespread...

Empty bowls, heads and pockets [On a more Positive Note The Economist Encourages Readers to Czech Out The New Golden Age of Philanthropy If money can't buy you happiness, why do they look so pleased with themselves?]
• · Is Dems' Biggest Money Man Mob-Connected? Stephen Bing, a wealthy film producer
• · · See Also Taxable income and tax paid in Commonwealth electoral divisions, 2000–01 ; [Paying off your house can be a fate worse than debt]
• · · · The continent of my birth is now known as The Land of Leisure; [Norway is looking for ways to keep its workers on the job; Workplaces in Germany and France Undergoing Velvet Revolution; Speaking of Revolution the Britons have taken a leaf out of Bohemian book and are Leaving in Greater numbers than ever before.]
• · · · · Bradford DeLong: The Era of Incompetence when it comes to Inflation, Deflation, Anti-flation: Time to Blow the Issues Up?; [ Banks relearn the value of branches]
• · · · · · Baring all for Canada Pitty the Immigration officers who have to pore through naked pictures of hundreds of exotic dancers to keep impostors out of Canadian lap dancing market