Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Grassroots Challenges: and a question: “Is this all there is?”

Matraville chemist and Labor councillor Noel D’Souza has been elected as the new Randwick mayor. The Indian-born son of a printer who immigrated to Australia at the age of 10 becomes Randwick City’s 83rd and first Indian mayor. Cr D’Souza said the coming year would be very challenging and he would focus on maintaining high quality services, Indigenous issues and protecting staff ahead of the Government’s Fit for the Future amalgamation program.
In a controversial move, Cr D’Souza nominated himself as the mayoral candidate without the support of his Labor councillors who nominated Cr Kathy Neilson for mayor. Cr D’Souza didn’t win any votes from his fellow Labor councillors, but thanked senior members of the ALP for supporting his nomination saying “they know who they are”.
Labor’s Noel D’Souza elected Randwick mayor without support of fellow Labor councillors

This buffalo had a very intense stare but frankly I couldn't take her seriously with the oxpecker on her nose
This buffalo had a very intense stare but frankly she was bluffing 
with the oxpecker on her nose ...

The Premier has urged the state's councillors to get behind his government's push for fewer councils – even if it means some of them would be out of a job. Mike Baird was greeted by applause and repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he used his address to the Local Government NSW annual conference to push the case for reforms viewed with hostility by many in his audience. "There's no doubt that if we have less councils we have hundreds of millions of dollars that we can put to work for our ratepayers." 

The Premier also used the speech to call out "all types of myths" he said were being circulated by campaigns opposing mergers, including that sporting fields would close, libraries would be lost and rates would rise.
"Not one part of that is true," Mr Baird said.

"Oh come on," a heckler shot back.
Permanently Smiling Premier Mike Baird heckled: Amalgamation of Councils

The TPP and metadata retention have been delivered by faceless public servants ...
The power of secret bureaucracies that can not abide democracy

Whether it's waterfront trophy homes or apartments off the plan, or even massive commercial developments, Chinese investment in our real estate has surged by more than 400 per cent in just five years, with as much as A$12 billion spent in the previous financial year alone. Property is now the number one Chinese investment in Australia.

Police are no longer guarding the Ecuadorian Embassy where WikiLeaks' Julian Assange has been taking refuge, Scotland Yard says UK police drop guard at Assange's embassy refuge

A shock incident in which a police officer used her service-issue weapon to take her life yesterday has sparked Victoria Police to consider a review of ­suicide in the force.
Police confirmed the death of a female leading senior constable, believed to be a mother, at the Seaford Multi-Disciplinary Centre. It is understood she died about 3pm, reports The Herald Sun

Fairfax columnist Sam De Brito was a provocative yet poignant, passionate though polarising, figure of Australian journalism. Readers of his popular Fairfax column fell into two categories; they either loved him (mainly men) or hated him (mainly women) Sam de Brito a polarising writer who wore his vulnerability on the page

Style of predictions: We long for conversation

“If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from,” Carl Sagan wrote in his meditation on science and spirituality, “we will have failed.”
~ “One cannot accumulate love.”

Prediction markets predict public events such as election outcomes better than do polls or other forecasting mechanisms. Internal corporate prediction markets in events such as sales forecasts, product launch times, and product feature demand have been less well studied. Internal corporate markets tend to have fewer participants than public markets and the participants often have strategic interests and biases. Thus, it has been an open question how well these markets operate.
Cowgill and Zitzewitz report on a number of different types of prediction markets run by Google, Ford and Firm X and although they find evidence for some biases they also find that corporate prediction markets also work better than alternative forecasting methods.

“Of all her contemporaries, Austen is the only one to have made it through with her best-seller status intact, and that’s not just because her girls meet her boys without any help from Tinder.” The Telegraph (UK) 

“Two and a half years ago, the critic and editor John Freeman abruptly resigned his post as editor in chief of Granta, the tweedy British literary magazine that he’d spent several years remaking for a 21st-century readership. … Finally, last summer, Freeman announced the more long-term venture everyone was waiting for:Freeman’s, a Granta-like literary magazine-meets-anthology that he would publish regularly in partnership with Grove Atlantic.” The first issue arrives next week Vogue 

In what is being referred to as “an unprecedented example of library-author-publisher collaboration,” a new philosophy book and accompanying digital archive of its material were recently launched. The book is The Ethics of Suicide: Historical Sources, by Margaret Battin (Utah).
Ethics of suicide

Kate Manne (Cornell) has an opinion piece in today’s New York Times about professors’ use of “trigger warnings,” by which she means “notice in their syllabuses, or before certain reading assignments” that the course material may discuss or depict “common causes of trauma.” Such warnings have been criticized (here, for example) as a sign of the end times of higher education, but Manne makes some rather reasonable points about them
Warning: This Post Is About Trigger Warnings

This research investigates psychological differences between individuals of different political orientations on a social networking platform, Twitter. Based 

Gupta, Sonam and Dhillon, Ishneet, Organizational Restructuring and Collaborative Creativity: The Case of Microsoft and Sony (2015). The IUP Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. XII, No. 1, March 2015, pp. 53-65. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2671723
“The need for innovation and cross-dependencies among the departments is forcing organizations to restructure from divisional to functional organizational structure. This paper presents one such case wherein Microsoft and Sony carried out restructuring efforts to move towards a functional organizational structure when they faced cutthroat competition from other technology majors such as Google and Apple.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Story of Resilience

INK BOTTLE“Show me somethin’ dat caution ever made!”
~ Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (courtesy of Laila Lalami)

A great example of the incredible resilience of a Sydneysider commuter of Manly fame James Pittar
blue heron links

Riddles continued unabated in Column 8's David Astle competition. Today's entries include – Ian Cooper of Cabarita Beach: Where is Glenn Innes? (Next to Godliness); Patricia Slidziunas of Woonona: What did Brutus say to Caesar's threatening dog? (Et Tumut); Jennifer Coote, also of Woonona: What does the Governor-General give to Order of Australia recipients in winter? (A Wollongong); and Ray Mullins of Wagga Wagga: What did the visitor from Woy Woy ask for in the library at Wagga Wagga? (Book Book, which is a small place near Wagga Wagga). Column 8 Stories of note 

Orloj - Prague's astronomical clock makes Google's front page

Please sir, I want some more! IFLS

Marlon Brando in The Godfather ... Don Corleone may have spoken in a whisper, but you hung on his every word...

Elise Andrew, the woman credited with making science sexy and interesting for millions around the world, says she was offered $40.1 million to sell her runaway success Facebook page and websites. But her achievement appears to have come at huge personal cost. Andrew launched the IFLS aka  I F----- Love Science website and Facebook page in 2012, posting news and Internet memes, jokes, pictures and factoids about popular science and nature:
 "Sharks are attracted to blood in the water because they mistake it for ketchup".
I F******* Love Science - the Silence of the Facebook

“Goethe … peered into the mysteries of human existence with a hope of solving the imponderables that hold the lives of men enmeshed.”
~ RLC PHD - The things that are most real to me are the illusions which I create with my painting. Everything else is quicksand

“It does feel incredibly strange to be right about something.”
 A new, more modern penalty rate system proposed by the Government this week would give those working in retail and hospitality the freedom they need to earn lower wages. theshovel.com
Air France Workers Rip Shirts From Top Managers in Jobs Protest Bloomberg  Much better than pies in faces. The French still remember the days of the barricades. And despite the claim that the workers were “violent,” the chant suggests that their intent was to strip the execs, not hurt them.
You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.
So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.
When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad, inaccurate or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.
Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had suddenly open to the scrutiny of the Internet public.
The piece is by the excellent Caitlin Dewey.  Currently the company is valued at $7.6 million.

Laura Miller: “Much of a writer’s rep emerges informally, in the conversations that writers, readers, and critics have amongst themselves. Whether another writer is spoken of respectfully, whether you get the impression that ‘everyone’ is reading his or her new book enthusiastically, or how well people think he or she comes across in interviews – these and a dozen other imponderable factors constitute a reputation during a writer’s lifetime, particularly in the early part of a career. This stuff – let’s call it litchat – may be ephemeral, but it absolutely shapes the formal reception of a writer’s work.” The New Yorker 
Arras Doors so Intriguing ...

“Something nameless hums us into sleep,” the poet Mark Strand wrote in his beautiful ode to dreams.
~ What your brain’s chemical lullaby has to do with how screens are making you perennially tired

About the Center for Audit Excellence – Given the demands and challenges of today’s world, government accountability is more important than ever.

“In all my life, I have never met a single person who could, or would, precisely tell me what he wanted. I am, however, constantly meeting people who tell me what other people want.”

Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings MarketWatch

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Putting More Tax Information “Out There” for the Tax Database Thieves

Until and unless the protection of online data is heightened to a point of 99 percent confidence, the IRS should not create yet another vulnerability, another door through which the robbers can force their way in. In the meantime, why not focus on the problem rather than the symptoms? The underlying cause of some noncompliance is the complexity of the tax laws. Treating the symptoms does not cure the illness.

Former health CIOs Paul Madden and Michael Walsh will join fellow electronic health experts on the 11- person steering committee charged with guiding the revised implementation of personal electronic health records in Australia Erecords

 Roberton Williams, US New Estimates Of How Many Households Pay No Federal Income Tax (TaxVox). “We now figure it is 45.3 percent, nearly 5 percentage points higher than our 2013 estimate of 40.4 percent.” 

“I’ve been particularly strong in this book about leadership and Rudd’s leadership and I think it needed to be said,” Mr Peter Garrett told the program. “Rudd wasn’t someone who was easy to work with in that way, and his vanity and his exercise of power as prime minister was contrary ultimately, to me, to what good leadership is.” “He was (a megalomaniac). I am not the only one to think it either.” Read more here 

The Gap of Time: Haberdasher

“Discovery, like surprise, favors the well-prepared mind.”

“Shakespeare”, as Jeanette Winterson succinctly puts it in the closing pages of her latest novel, The Gap of Time, “was not an enthusiast of family life.”
It’s a resonant understatement, and one that hardly begins to encompass the chaotic series of wilful or random tragic turns and bizarre coincidences that determine the plot of what has gone before — a “retelling” of Shakespeare’s strange late play The Winter’s Tale.
The Gap of Time

From a family-placed obituary in Maine that dealt openly with the deceased’s heroin addiction and the closure of the state clinic that was treating her (it was noticed nationwide), to the news obituaries (now less strait-laced) that run in big-city papers, the genre is getting multiple makeovers Pacific Standard 

If you are an American aged under 25, then much of your social life probably consists of sitting around with your friends sending messages to absent friends. You will sometimes even message people sitting next to you. You rarely do one thing uninterrupted for as long as three minutes. You never experience boredom, uninterrupted conversation or even solitude — because the moment you are alone, you turn to your phone. And young Americans are merely extreme cases. Most of us have these dysfunctions.
Sherry Turkle directs the “Initiative on Technology and Self” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her new book, Reclaiming Conversation*, based on many years of interviews with young Americans, arrives at a moment of tech fatigue. Most people are now ready for Turkle’s findings: how smartphones have damaged human interaction, and how we can recover.
Logging Out ...

Undergrad at Philosophical Crossroads


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Freedom and Hughes: Ted's Understatements: The Jackal Andrew Wylie

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has published the 2015 edition of its Journal of Academic Freedom. The volume covers a variety of events and issues. Several pieces are on Steven Salaita’s “unhiring.” There’s a piece on the personal ethics of academic freedom, one on the emergence of institutional review boards as threats to academic freedom, and one on the relation between Title IX compliance and academic freedom, among others.

 Henning Mankell obituary
“Henning Mankell, who has died aged 67, after being diagnosed with cancer last year, established almost single-handedly the global picture of Sweden as a crime writer’s ideal dystopia. He took the existing Swedish tradition of crime writing as a form of leftwing social criticism and gave it international recognition, capturing in his melancholy, drunken, bullish detective Kurt Wallander a sense of struggle in bewildered defeat that echoed round the world…He campaigned against Aids and landmines; where drugs against Aids could not be afforded, he encouraged an oral history project, so that the lives and struggles of those who died might be remembered – he dreamed this would be read in a new library of Alexandria in centuries to come. “Africa has taught me that there is so much needless suffering in the world. We could stop it tomorrow: to teach every child in the world to read and write would cost no more than we in the west spend on dog food,” he said. Most of his working life was split between novel writing and theatre work. He was extraordinarily prolific, publishing as many as three novels a year, and his sales figures eventually topped 40m. The quality might have been uneven but there was no mistaking the passion and generosity behind them. He wrote, always, about subjects he thought really mattered…”

Jonathan Bate was given what he took to be a green light to write a “literary life” of Ted Hughes. He was never “authorised”; but the sole owner of the estate, the poet’s widow, Carol Hughes, gave Bate what he regarded as “a symbolic anointing”. She did not, alas, give him a signed contractual letter, and authorial unction — perceived or otherwise — has no standing in law. Faber & Faber, Hughes’s publisher, confidently commissioned Bate’s book.
Ted Hughes with Sylvia Plath in 1958
Ted Hughes with Sylvia Plath in 1958

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, by Jonathan Bate, William Collins, RRP£30 / Harper, RRP$40, 662 pages
The fraught background to this important, flawed but ultimately triumphant biography has been a running news story.
The formative event for Hughes came when he met Plath, an American visiting student. At this point Bate’s narrative thickens. Like Ted, Sylvia was a poet of precocious promise; and, like him, passionate. They married — imprudently, as regards money and career prospects. Two children were born. The couple travelled and quarrelled and evolved distinctly separate styles of verse. There were “snarls and bitings”, broken crockery, slaps and black eyes. How necessary the turbulence of their relationship was to their evolving arts is carefully scrutinised by Bate. Possessed of insatiable sexual appetite and film-star looks, Hughes was flagrantly unfaithful. Plath was, his supporters allege, unstable. His most extended adultery was with the poet Assia Wevill — his dark lady. There was, she said, an “animal thing” between them. He was unfaithful to Assia, and others, eventually choosing to marry Carol Orchard, a young woman who had minded his children. In a ghastly echo of Plath’s death, the betrayed Wevill had killed herself by gas oven. She took her and Hughes’s child, Shura, with her. “All the women I have anything to do with seem to die”, said Hughes.
It is too easy to see Hughes as a villain. Bate avoids such judgment and mounts a subtly constructed explanation (it is not an apology). Hughes, Bate points out, “believed that all artistic creativity came from a wound”. The wound in his late work, from Crow (1970) onwards, was, of course, Plath’s death.
Bate draws, as closely as he is legally able, on Hughes’s dream journals to argue that he was haunted by her. The image that recurs — one that was played with by Ted and Sylvia in their early relationship — is Wuthering Heights. He is “Hughescliff”, she is Catherine, the ghost who will never let go. Bate also suggests, rather less credibly, that Hughes’s “infidelity in later relationships was partly a function of his fidelity to the memory of Sylvia”. Certainly in his years of fame, married to Carol, his infidelities went beyond flagrant into something resembling satyromania. It is not easy to see it as fidelity.
Ted Hughes

Friday, October 09, 2015

Stark Truths

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ..."

“Writing might be fishing through the ice
Where images elude the worried line
And words rise isolated into sight
Hooked upon a safety-pin of wit.”

 It’s not just words that reveal people’s truths “When he’s on a job, leaving fake signs and objects in his gym, at IKEA, in book stores, in chain stores, on the street or at a museum, he tries to be sneaky. Once the deed is done, ‘I run away as fast as possible,’ he says. Since January, Wysaski, a Los Angeles comedy writer who runs the website Pleated Jeans, has been planting jokes in the real world. “ Atlas Obscura

 “They called me The Book.”  The story of a super face recognizer.

St Augustine is supposed to have once prayed for chastity, but not yet. The great thing about social media is that it’s where the people are! Think about it where else can you find hard ironies of eccentric lives ...

In 1962, Tom Wolfe was a young, out-of-work journalist. Eighteen months later, he was famous. He knew what the public wanted: eccentricity »

Constable vs. Turner; Newton vs. Leibniz; Edison vs. Tesla. Does having anintellectual rival spur creativity? History suggests so ..

At 27, Charlotte Brontë, a poor, despairing student, walked into a church confessional for the first time. Within a year, she was writing her virgin novel ...

dog and birds links
In my long experience men and women who go for cheap shots tend to be both bullies and economical with the truth amen! Yet the only place without a stress tends to be a cemetery so it is certain that it is only one thing in our wild life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about ...

If, as Oscar Wilde famously put it, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about then Media Drago could certainly have things worse. To be sure, people are talking.

However, of course, one never wishes to be merely criticised. To be criticised well—that is the tacit compliment one must hope for or with an attitude that is not exactly cordial ;-) Stark truth about Robert Stark

Best of all was the library room full of blank books. More my level. I sat down and flicked through the pages, before a dude with a badge gestured at me and with a loud whisper told me I must be some sort of uncultured ignoramus to be touching the art. moan--moan--mona

“Leslie Jamison and Charles McGrath discuss whether, 50 years after Sylvia Plath’s ‘Ariel’ was published, the confessional mode has been co-opted by the memoir.” New York Times Book Review

Google Virtual Reality Gets Real with Share Economies

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. New York Times ...

The promises—and pitfalls—of the emerging technology

Virtual Reality Gets Real

Using Google’s new domain buying service, Sanmay Ved purchased world’s most popular website for $12 before transaction was cancelled
Sanmay Ved’s ownership of Google.com lasted a mere minute. The company quickly emailed to say it had cancelled the order and Ved was refunded
OMG Google

MacLean’s – Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data – Records deleted, burned, tossed in Dumpsters. A Maclean’s investigation on the crisis in government data, by Anne Kingston, September 18, 2015.
cute anteater links

The sharing economy is now a playground for Wall Street Gillian Tett, Financial Times

Government outlines ‘smartphone state’, via Uber and blockchain Wired

Jason Ward, known for his landmark report on Australian corporate tax avoidance last year, said the strong association of Uber with Netherlands “raises immediate suspicion” of tax evasion by the company Experts suspect tax avoidance by Uber Australia  

It’s not checkmate yet: Beijing to counter US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact South China Morning Post

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Nature Cure

  Antidote du joUr Mother Nature Network

Why some doctors are writing prescriptions for time outdoors. The Nature Cure

Can we moderns no longer understand Shakespeare?  If not, when will ...

The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals NYRB

Retrotopia: A Change of Habit The Archdruid Report on culture and nature around Commonwealth Bank Darling Harbour Sydney ...

Baseball player Yogi Berra — whose birth name was Lawrence Peter Berra — died in September

It is  appropriate to note the death of someone who is well known for sayings that have provoked the public to thoughts of puzzlement and paradox — and in such an amusing way.
A few quotes:
“I never said most of the things I said.”
“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
“There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell ’em.”
“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.”
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
“I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering that question.”
“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
We understand he had some achievements in baseball, too. The New York Times has an obituary.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


As Confucius has once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

I practised my Faulty Towers acting skills and according to the feedback I achieved mountain of glory - Still I am not good for the Chasers yet ssss ;-)

dog and birds liniks
Jon Kingsbury and I sent out an all-staff email to our Nesta colleagues inviting them to participate in an initiative we called Randomised Coffee Trials (RCTs) to encourage staff to speak and connect with co-workers outside their daily routines.
The art and science of network weaving

Cultural appropriation has become fair game for a drubbing at the hands of race activists. But who, after all, owns folklore? Tatranka re »

Speaking of networking, it was interesting to meet Mark Ponniah who is a charming Australian of Sri Lankan origin, who helped to mentor many finance related careers in his lifetime. Like Dr Cope, Mark has a fascinating philosophical background as Doctor of Philosophy Genetics... Cybercrime summits

Impossible to Fail

World Bank president: corporate tax dodging ‘a form of corruption’ 

The Twitter Government and Elections Handbook Twitter 

High-Frequency Firms Dominate Treasury Trading in Near Secret Bloomberg

ASIC: Avestra 'diverted cash to tax haven'  (22 Sep 2015

Mental As - A Rare Philosopher Inside the Sea Horse
Surprising Data on Who Owns U.S. Firms and How Much They Pay in Taxes Wall Street Journal

Global Corporate Cash Piles Exceed $15 Trillion Telesur

Disaster capitalism is a permanent state of life for too many Americans Guardian