Monday, September 29, 2014

Crasses of Fragile Wealth

Grasses, leaves, bark, clay, and dirt were once staples of a famine diet. Now they’re served at the world’s most exclusive restaurants... World going gaga

Sydney Push

One Liners

Donald Antrim, chronically underrated, had a year of recognition, which he calls “a very unexpected occurrence.” He didn’t expect to still be alive... Life of Mysteries

Karl Miller, founding editor of the London Review of Books, master of the aper├žu and the clever one-liner, is dead at 83...Karl of Wit

In theory, all languages are equal. In practice, chauvinism reigns. Enter the radical linguists... Bohemians Rule

Pirate, hobo, prisoner, prospector, Jack Londonpreferred life to literature. “Every time I sit down to write, it is with great disgust”...Man in a Boat is an island

The making of Jozef Imrich. The master of Bohemian escapes was a heavy-drinking ex-writer, repeatedly unlucky in love... Hard core irony of life

Enter any research library and you’ll find introverted academics with disheveled hair. The modern archetype for genius is Einsteinian... Only inside libraries

Behavioral economics has taught us to be wary of our own cognitive biases. But placing too much faith in our own irrationality is itself irrational... irrational : the act of thinking

Friday, September 26, 2014


“Sixty is not a bad age—unless in perspective, when no doubt it is contemplated by the majority of us with mixed feelings. It is a calm age; the game is practically over by then; and standing aside one begins to remember with a certain vividness what a fine fellow one used to be. I have observed that, by an amiable attention of Providence, most people at sixty begin to take a romantic view of themselves. Their very failures exhale a charm of peculiar potency. And indeed the hopes of the future are a fine company to live with, exquisite forms, fascinating if you like, but—so to speak—naked, stripped for a run. The robes of glamour are luckily the property of the immovable past which, without them, would sit, a shivery sort of thing, under the gathering shadows.”
~ Joseph Conrad, “The Inn of the Two Witches” (courtesy of Lance Mannion)

“Be prepared to see something that you will not like,” Freud told his doctor. He opened his mouth. It was cancer. Freud started to plan how to die... Bohemian Boy Born and Bred on the bank of Morava River who escaped to Vienna

Sting of Betrayal: George Soros and Cristina Kirchner Wolf Street. A tad overwrought but the general point holds

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Ex-GSA Executive Jeff Neely Indicted for Fraud. “Jeff Neely, the General Services Administration executive viewed as the ringleader of the lavish spending on a 2010 training conference in Las Vegas, was indicted on five counts of fraud on Thursday by a federal grand jury in San Francisco. The 59-year-old former head of region nine of the Public Building Service faces charges of making fraudulent reimbursement claims and false statements, according to an announcement from United States Attorney Melinda Haag of Northern California and GSA Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge David House.”

The United Kingdom Nearly Died for Margaret Thatcher’s SinsBob Kuttner, American Prospect
Australia’s Prime Minister Gives a Master Class in Exploiting Terrorism Fears to Seize New Powers Glenn Greenwald, Intercept. Really sad to see what is happening in Oz. It was a bastion of (comparative) sanity when I lived there ten years ago. Of course, they did elect Tony Abbot.

Argentina Uses Drones to Root Out Wealthy Tax Evaders

INK BOTTLE“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind and Other Aphorisms
The Argentine government has used drones to catch out wealthy tax evaders who had not declared mansions and swimming pools.

Freeports: now Luxembourg adds to the sleaze 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Digital Cemeteries

There's Now An Online Will Which Distributes Your Social Media Accounts And Digital Assets When You Die Digital & Media Dragon Assets Undertakers ; Dying at 75

 Then I realized that he had clicked on a phishing email or had his computer somehow compromised. I wish that there was some sort of antibiotic for this sort of situation but, the reality is that security awareness is a constant battle to be waged You are hunted on social media

Spy agency ASIO will be given the power to monitor the entire Australian internet and journalists' ability to write about national security will be curtailed when new legislation Entire internet needed

Originally formed for self-protection, prison gangs have become the unlikely custodians of order behind bars—and of crime on the streets How gangs run prisons

Rooms go quiet when you enter. Your name mysteriously disappears from group reports and email lists or, perhaps a peer routinely criticises your work in boardroom meetings. Watch out. You may be prey to a Corporate Snake

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Imagination: Our greatest skill

Imagination: Our greatest skill New Scientist

More reassuring, I think, would be a candid assessment of what might go wrong with nudging. One of Sunstein’s many books (from before his time in the White House) is entitled Worst-Case Scenarios. Could we please have something like that as a companion to Nudge?
I am afraid there is very little awareness in these books about the problem of trust. Every day we are bombarded with offers whose choice architecture is manipulated, not necessarily in our favor. The latest deal from the phone company is designed to bamboozle us, and we may well want such blandishments regulated. But it is not clear whether the regulators themselves are trustworthy. Governments don’t just make mistakes; they sometimes set out deliberately to mislead us. The mendacity of elected officials is legendary and claims on our trust and credulity have often been squandered. It is against this background that we have to consider how nudging might be abused.
The full piece is here.  

By the way, there is a new Cass Sunstein book out, which I have not yet read, Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State.

The Economics of Violence Project Syndicate

How Insurers Are Finding Ways to Shift Costs to the Sick New York Times. From midweek. Note we took note of this issue weeks ago, but good to see in-depth reporting.

Water Edge

FBI & Secret Service Files: Aaron Swartz The Black Vault. From FOIA.
Lunch with the FT: Sir John Sawers FT. First on-the-record interview with the Chief of MI6 (!).

Tax Breaks

Academic Fraud and the Ponzi Scheme of “Higher Learning”Counterpunch. Jamie Galbraith anticipated some important related developments in his book The Predator State. While college (at least once upon a time) produced graduates with general skills, advanced degrees produce graduates with much more highly specialized skills. Their employment options are narrower and their economic fall is generally further if they can’t find work that uses those skills (which has been happening to law school grads). Yet as the credentialing of college became more common, more people saw getting a graduate degree as a way to further differentiate themselves. From a societal standpoint, even before you factor in the ridiculous escalation of education costs, producing this many highly specialized graduates is a questionable investment.

House GOP Bill Combines Worst Tax Break Ideas of 2014 for Half-a-Trillion Dollar Giveaway. (Tax Justice Blog). When they know that the Senate will ignore whatever they do, it’s easy to accommodate anyone lobbying for a tax break...

Mad Scientist Gets Prison Time for Using His Dog and Cat in a Tax Avoidance Scheme (Going Concern). Creative PETA .,.

Congress Cries Wolf Over Internet Access Taxes (TaxVox). “Unable to do anything important before its election season recess, Congress is about to knock down a favorite digital straw man—It will extend for a few months the about-to-expire federal ban on state taxation of Internet access.”

60 Minutes: The Tax Refund Scam

(Click here to view video directly on CBS to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

Flach has fresh link on  Buzz, including links on the cost of tax compliance and “7 deadly tax sins.”

A Hail Mary or Two on the Hill.  The TaxVox tax headline roundup covers inflation adjustments and beating up on the NFL with the tax code, among other things.

Will Software Really Replace Accountants?  I suppose it’s possible, but not with a tax system anything like we have.

Norton Street filled with Italian Flemish Stories

“Why should we expect the young to show us any consideration? Seeing us can only remind them of death. And old people’s diseases. I’m not surprised to see them stay away.”
~ Terence Rattigan, Separate Tables(courtesy of D.G. Myers)
This year’s Opening Night Selection is a gloriously entertaining biopic that tells the true story of beloved singer, songwriter and accordionist, Rocco Granata, from his early life as an immigrant in Belgium to his emergence as a worldwide musical phenomenon with his 1959 song Marina, one of the biggest international hits of that era Norton Street was rather hungry at this year's opening night

The movie Marina, Marina, Marina highlighted some of the occupational health & safety issues circa 148 ... Nothing much changed in 2014
 Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs Alternet (RR)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Youth has no age - Pablo Picasso: So Hope your day is simply terrific! Happy Birthday Ruby

  • 50 years
  • 600 months
  • 2,609 weeks
  • 18,263 days
  • 438,312 hours
  • 26,298,720 minutes
  • 1,577,923,200 seconds
  • Age in Dog Years: 213.0
  • Age in Galapagos Turtle Years: 23.8
- Zippy and Pasha would have said Awooooouuu.... [Keep your friends close, but your birthday cake closer. (The Godfather)]

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. MA

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even...

You lose nothing when fighting for a cause ... In my mind the losers are those who don't have a cause they care about.
( Muhammad  Ali)

May your birthday and every day be filled with the warmth of sunshine, the happiness of smiles, the sounds of laughter, the feeling of love and the sharing of good cheer. May the kindness you always give come back to you doubled ... What we all need is more people who specialize in the impossible such as those outlaw brothers!

May you stay Forever Young - Bob Dylan (Sydney Opera House September 2014)

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts. - William Shakespeare

You were born an original. Don't die a copy. - George Burns

“Above all, cultivate easy and sincere friendships with kindred spirits and enter into them with generous sympathy.” – W. V. O. Quine gives some life advice.

 It takes a long time to become as young as you are. May the Force be with you on your birthday. (Star Wars)

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. - Jimmy Dean

CODA: Nice to be here? At my age it's nice to be anywhere. - brother-out-law Jozef

Sto lat! Sto lat!
Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Sto lat! Sto lat!
Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Jeszcze raz! Jeszcze raz! Niech zyje, zyje nam.
Niech zyje nam.

Niech ci? gwiazdka pomyslnosci nigdy nie zagasnie,
nigdy nie zagasnie! 
A kto z nami nie wypije,
niech go piorun trzasnie.
A kto z nami nie wypije,
niech go piorun trzasnie.

Sto lat! Sto lat! Sto lat!
Sto lat! Niechaj zyje nam.
Sto lat! Sto lat! Sto lat!
Sto lat! Niechaj zyje nam.
Niech zyje nam! Niech zyje nam!
Zdrowia, szczescia, pomyslnosci!
Niechaj zyj

100 years! 100 years!
They live, live (among) us!
100 years! 100 years!
They live, live (among) us!
Again, again! They live, live (among) us!
Live (among) us!
That for him the star of happiness never goes out, never goes out!
And those who do not drink with us, as lightning strikes!
And those who do not drink with us, as lightning strikes!

100 years, 100 years,
100 years, 100 years live (among) us!
100 years, 100 years,
100 years, 100 years live (among) us!
Live (among) us! Live (among) us!
In health, happiness, and the happiness he lives (among) us.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If Books Can Change Your Life, Can They Also Make It Far Worse?

If Books Can Change Your Life, Can They Also Make It Far Worse?

“Novels might not make us worse, but they can unlock parts of us that were already there, already dark, already violent or ruthless or self-destructive.”