Thursday, March 26, 2015

All Roads Lead to Sydney in 2015 AD - Infrastructure is Worse now than in 1980

By 2060 Sydney and Melbourne are forecast to have populations greater than the whole of Australia in 1950. Overcrowding and under-resourcing has put huge pressure on our cities.

good vs. bad deflation
EXCLUSIVE. Bidders: Rapid population growth in Sydney is putting pressure on housing stock and property prices. The population of NSW will increase by about half a million during the next term of parliament – that's roughly equivalent to adding another Newcastle. But neither major party has a detailed policy on how to respond to the projected increase. The Sad Story; Sydney

The operator of a Chinese-language real estate website says the Foreign Investment Review Board crack down on illegal property buying is "racist" while Ray White Real Estate chairman Brian White urged calm in response to fears Chinese buyers are pushing up prices...  Chinese real estate buyers

The Ausie V Chinese cement comparison

AUSTRALIA'S biggest toll road operator has warned Sydney's congestion will become much worse than gridlocked cities such as Los Angeles unless motorists are charged a user-pays fee based on how far they drive. Tolls and Bells

Hundreds of overseas sourced workers in Australia's booming off-shore oil and gas sector could be plunged into illegal status from Thursday when the Federal Court is due to rule on the application of law governing their employment.
The case could have major implications for the offshore slice of the $200 billion sector which, according to the government, accounts for some $28 billion of economic activity. 
IIlegal Slaves

Self-reporting to authorities of suspected foreign bribery and corruption by Australian companies is failing to occur, with top accounting firm Deloitte revealing it has investigated at least 100 potentially illegal acts involving local firms in the past two years. Bribery 

CODA: Daniel Davies reviews New Zealand

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bohemians on Book Jackets

Jozef  likened reading footnotes to 'having to go downstairs to answer the door while in the midst of making love.' 

The bestselling book in each year

Prague, Czech Republic rounded out the top five. 
One of Britons' favourite places to visit in North Africa has been named the world's top destination by TripAdvisor users.
With its desert landscape and bustling souks, Marrakech came out on top in the website's annual Travellers' Choice Awards for the first time.
It finished ahead of Siem Reap in Cambodia and Istanbul in Turkey, which finished second and third, respectively. London missed out on a spot in the top five, finishing sixth.
Lidka and Eva are Happy About this Survey 

How to succeed as an Bohemians, Slavic  or Indian writer: Write about India, but in English and for the West. “It is a shameful experience; it produces feelings of irrelevance and inauthenticity”... Anglicke Rozpravky

Roots of the Bohemian Characters

Bad Kulture Drives Out Good

Too bad it wasn’t holy water

No second-rate apparatchik, young Stalin could be shy or gregarious, vindictive or solicitous, ideological or pragmatic: Whatever the situation required... Stalin would make a great CEO in 2015 AD ...

Ben Yagoda reviews Culture Crash
  Universities have become businesses, and businesses now generate knowledge and culture. In such a world, what’s the role of change agent and devil's advocate?

When did difficulty become suspect in orhanisation or communities with good culture? The ideal of seriousness was never widely shared, but it used to be seen as worth striving for ...

We live in an injury culture. That’s not cynicism, it’s fact. Pain is a fount of creative inspiration. And self-indulgence.. Insults to injuries

Have you heard the story of the Duchess of Argyll’s sex scandal? Gore Vidal’s salacious, sardonic tales were well rehearsed... Practice Makes Perfect Play

Chris Rufer on corporate welfare and cronyism

Why trade unions are so opposed to TPP

As conceived by its creator, Matt Weiner, the television show Mad Men is a running catalogue of dissolution: Its various characters lie, cheat, steal, drink, smoke, and fornicate their way up the corporate ladder in a 1960s New York advertising agency. Weiner frames their sins as occupational hazards, the natural result of a Madison Avenue culture that peddles deception and excess. Each episode alternates brainstorming sessions for the agency’s ad campaigns with scenes from profligate lives led away from the office, a narrative parallel that suggests advertising—and, by extension, the marketplace—is a uniformly corrupting affair  The bard of Madison Ave. L.E. Sissman – poet, critic, advertising executive – had an “amiable, attentive intelligence,” according to John Updike. Sissman’s muse: the office... Welcome to the Workplaces Everywhere in 2015 AD


“His whole future seemed suddenly to be unrolled before him; and passing down its endless emptiness he saw the dwindling figure of a man to whom nothing was ever to happen.”
~ Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

Fail until you fail completely. Mow grass that does not need mowing. Dig holes. The free advice and deadpan humor of Samuel Beckett... No one fails as well as Media Dragon ...

For writers, who thrive on isolation, fame is an odd goal. Elusive, too, because the world no longer cares about literature. Our Imrich is Steve Jobs... 15 Minutes of Fame

Frustration and desperation are the lot of most writers. Even the lucky ones endure lean years. But few things are so compromising as success...
Your Best Tweets Can Live On as Art Prints

Onehundredforty does away with mass-produced prints by offering Twitter-produced decor

Traditional divisions between NGOs, charities and businesses are blurring with new collaborative projects on water

Yet another reason to eat beans (the Hispanic Paradox)


Mapmaking mystery. How did a 13th-century cartographer do work so accurate that you could still navigate the Mediterranean with it?…Map thief

A good metaphor allows you to see the world in new ways. But there aren’t many good metaphors. Most annoy and distract rather than illuminate ...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

666: the joy of hating

The idea of hell has evolved over millennia. Where did it come from, and why does it endure? A brief history of eternal punishment... 666

“Nature seems (the more we look into it) made up of antipathies,” William Hazlitt, the British critic, wrote in his 1826 essay, “On the Pleasure of Hating.” “Without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action.” Hazlitt was in his forties when he wrote the essay and had suddenly realized that he hated a lot of things—more, it seemed, than he loved—and for reasons that didn’t seem very good. He hated people for how they dressed; he hated books, even some that he had once liked; he hated himself. Were Hazlitt born two centuries later, in this country, the chances are good that he would have added the men’s basketball team at Duke University to his list The joy of hating

Dear pedantic grammarians: Your rules are just stylistic conventions. We’ll split an infinitive or end a sentence with a preposition anytime we  Want To

“For the most part, M.F.Astudents who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy.” But candor is no excuse for incompetence... We told you so ...

Follow the Money: Fifty Shades of Fraud Counterpunch

Are the methods and terms by which we’re collecting all this financial intelligence to use against some bad guys precisely what prevents us from holding the even bigger bad guys — the ones affecting far more of us directly, in the form of the houses we own, the towns we live in, the opportunity costs paid to financial crime — accountable?

 To move beyond boom and bust, we need a new theory of capitalism Paul Mason, Guardian. Terry Jones to popularize Hyman Minsky (!).

New study points to link between weedkiller glyphosate and cancer Financial Times (David L). Holy moley, Monsanto is finally fingered in a big way. If the connection is shown to be tighter, Monsanto could be on the way to suffering the same fate as asbestos companies.But the evidence is deemed “thin”.

Richard Roberts and David Kynaston, The Lion Wakes: A Modern History of HSBC.  This is an important book for the historian, but it is not written for the eye of the economist

What is the relationship between the economics blogosphere and academic economics? Alex on Quora

The behavioral economics of how restaurants can try to trick you

Meet the 26-year-old who’s taking on Thomas Piketty’s ominous warnings about inequality Washington Post. *Sigh”. Tons of people pointed out that r>g was bollocks, including a particularly devastating and rigorous critique by Lance TaylorPhilip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer, Amar Bhide, a group of young researchers in France, and a long list of “liberals” and leftists. Yet which critique does the Washington Post deign to notice? One from the right of center.

The SEC’s Andrew Bowden: A Regulator for Sale? Bill Moyers. We appreciate sites that cross post NC regularly like Truthout picking this story up. The fact that Moyers wanted to run it (a first for his site) means it is reaching an even wider audience.

Bush of Balances

"What will it take for the major parties to prioritise the nation's food security and water resources for current and future generations of Australians because CSG is risking things that are priceless ..."  
Coal-seam gas mining to safeguard food and water security

A ministerial briefing to the then minister for home affairs, dated October 25, 2010, said the officer was "part of the team involved" in the 464-kilogram seizure but was "not part of the planning" of it. He was on duty in Port Macquarie only in case the Mayhem of Eden sailed there.
Accustomed to drugs

Labor says it's prepared to embrace new "sharing economy" applications such as Uber and Airbnb on the condition that they pay tax and don't erode workers' rights.
In launching a discussion paper on the sharing economy at the National Press Club on Tuesday, shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh will say Labor would be "squibbing" its responsibilities if it tried to shut them down Labor to embrace the sharing economy: imrich, uber and airbnb

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Six Days to Election NSW: Reinvented Orwell

Irony on Polls and Poles

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has requested information about the operation of the bank's "Chinese Wall" - designed to separate its advisory and research arms - ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft confirmed on Monday.
The 14-page report, originally titled "Bad for the budget, good for the state", was later reissued with the new title "Good for the state". The earlier version said the long-term lease of the state's "poles and wires" to finance transport infrastructure would "likely have a negative impact on state finances in the long run" as the government increased spending on infrastructure and lost revenue from the electricity assets.
UBS what is Good for the State

Attention is a finite resource. Everywhere it is harvested by advertisers. Searching for silence amid the cacophony of commerce? Good luck with that... E*ection in s*x Days

Darwin didn’t argue with politicians. But politicians tangle with him. Indeed, evolution is a litmus test: Do you stand with reason even if it costs votes?... No Bloody Way!

The Wall Street bonus pool for last year is roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who work full time at the federal minimum wage.

A new claim that liberals are at least as happy as conservatives

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Day of Reckoning

Maybe We should leave our office doors open. A tax office official in Finland who died at his desk was not found by his colleagues for two days (BBC, via the TaxProf):

The man in his 60s died last Tuesday while checking tax returns, but no-one realised he was dead until Thursday.
The head of personnel at the office in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, said the man’s closest colleagues had been out at meetings when he died.
He said everyone at the tax office was feeling dreadful – and procedures would have to be reviewed.
Procedures? Like what? I can see the memo now:
To: All Employees
From: Pekka Raanta, HR director
Re: New Procedures
The recent unfortunate incident involving our dear colleague highlights a need for new procedures for preventing a recurrence of the incident. The presence of unauthorized dead in the office poses both safety and administrative issues.

TaxGrrrl has more on this important story.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reinventing the ATO: Chris Jordan, AO

In a speech to be delivered at the Tax Institute's annual conference in Gold Coast on Thursday morning, Mr Chris Jordan says he is confident that the number will significantly increase as the Australian Taxation Office gets better information through treaty and exchange agreements. ATO Speech

Reinventing the ATO

Chris Jordan, AO
Commissioner’s speech to the Tax Institute’s 30th national convention
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast
(Check against delivery)


It is a pleasure to be here today delivering my third speech to the Tax Institute on the occasion of your 30th national convention. I’d like to acknowledge the ongoing work of the Institute, now in its 72nd year, and the critical role your 13,000-plus members play in our tax system as:
  • enablers and advocates for participation in the system
  • champions of tax policy and reform; and
  • our partners in the good administration of Australia’s tax and super systems.
I’m now into my third year as Commissioner, and I describe it in private sector terms, as a growth and development phase.
In the first year or so, we established new directions for the ATO; with a new mission and vision.
In the second, we set a course of transformational change, got some quick runs on the board and set plans for an enduring effort to improve the tax and superannuation experience for Australians.
Now in the third year, we are consolidating, building, evolving, listening and delivering on the promise of Reinventing the ATO – using our mission as the platform.
Our mission is:
‘To contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in the tax and superannuation systems.’Commissioner's Speech on St Jozef's Day

Reinventing the ATO 19 March 2015

EPIC: St Jozef's Day

Media Dragon and Birds that bring gifts

Diky za pozdravy Eva, Gitka, Lidka, Magda et al ;-)

Our social and political life is awash in unconsciously held Christian ideas broken from the theology that gave them meaning, and it’s hungry for the identification of sinners—the better to prove the virtue of the accusers and, perhaps especially, to demonstrate the sociopolitical power of the accusers.
from Jozef (sic) Bottum

Some souls are lucky to come across teachers like Marta Chamilova and mentors like Dr Cope in their long days but short year lives ...

In an excellent piece on Lemov for The Guardian, Ian Leslie emphasizes that these subtle skills are often not recognized or even discussed by those who talk about education policy, or even by those who evaluate teachers.
David Brooks on what are the new skills we need, and also need to describe

Science of People research reveals specific nonverbal communication techniques that increase perceptions of TED influence Pat, Punj, 5 Secrets to Every Successful TED Talk

EPIC – “In a closed-door meeting, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2015. The bill would allow the government to obtain user information from private companies without judicial oversight. Companies would receive immunity for their disregard of existing privacy law. Senator Wyden, who opposed the measure, stated, “If information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections then that’s not a cybersecurity bill – it’s a surveillance bill by another name.” Last year, EPIC won a five-year court battle against the NSA for NSPD 54—the foundational legal document for U.S. cybersecurity policies. The Directive reveals the government’s long-standing interest in enlisting private sector companies to monitor user activity.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Dangers of Intelligence without Creativity or Judgment

“Typically, we don’t judge leaders on the quality of
their questions, nor do we design our educational
systems or corporate training to develop this crucial
skill. If anything, we do the opposite. Television
game shows reward contestants who know answers
to preset questions — and usually very trivial questions
at that. Having encyclopedic knowledge may
win you a million dollars on a TV game show or
yield good grades in school, but it won’t necessarily
make you successful in today’s complex business
world. In changing environments, the big prizes go
to those who ask better questions and learn faster.
In organizations, this comes down to leaders teaching
and coaching others to think more strategically
and ask deeper questions. If you think like everyone
else, you are likely to be average. The best strategic
thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs distinguish
themselves by how they frame decisions, the kinds
of questions they ask and their mode of inquiry.

The Dangers of Intelligence without Creativity or Judgment Ian Welsh. One minor quibble re Larry Summers: even though he is famed for his intelligence, having seen him in action, his reputation rests at least in part on his debating skills (and being a highly dominant personality). Despite economics’ fetishization of mathematics, it also prizes argumentation (without, as debaters would, giving demerits for tricks like straw manning and ad hominems, which Summers uses routinely).