Dual Loyalty

As writers and bloggers are so fond of saying; you couldn't make it up. You don't cross the Iron Curtain and come out without scars ...
· Jozef Imrich, Survivor of the Iron Curtain Crossing

Sunday, July 29, 2007

National Libraries in Australia and Czech Republic are filled with biographies, memoirs, deaths and taxes A Dead Certainty of Chance: Feelings and More Feelings

If you read literary blogs you know that hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned. For their part, serious writers assume that those who can, do, while those who can’t, blog. The Scorn of the Literary Blog

End of dreams, return of history. With the Cold War over at last, many thinkers blissfully hoped that conflict between nations would fade to a memory...
End of Dreams, Return of History

How can a country be so rich and yet have dreadful health care, a declining population, and a corrupt political system with almost no opposition?... The Russian Conundrum: Growing Economy, Failing Society

The body count among Russian reporters is now thirteen murders since Putin came to power. In each case the reporter was working on a story critical of government or business officials. Once upon the time Media Dragon had a price on his head by the KGB Putin Strikes Again

Can a woman with a literary bent, an editor, find the man of her dreams on the internet? Maybe, though it is clearly asking too much that he should learn to spell her name. One day, as a cure for a broken heart, a heart that had only barely survived a head-on collision with another heart, a heart just out of intensive care, bruised and limping and still shying at the sound of any traffic Mal - A Woman of His Dreams

Psychologists reduce happiness to a sensation and then regard it as the only thing that matters. Sure, but the Greeks knew a thing or two as well... More Happiness Please

Polygyny can benefit women, while men do well from monogamy. And beautiful people really do have more daughters: strange truths of human nature Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature: Handsome Media Dragons have daughters ;-)

Sure, some girls can sprint well and lift weights. But on the whole, boys are more excited than girls by the use of urine as secret ink. Let’s face facts. In Praise of Skinned Knees and Grubby Faces

What’s the relation between punch lines and laughter? What’s So Friggin' Funny? Nothing—laughter is simply how we connect

A-bombs, or the final particles of matter. There are some things that are so serious that you can only joke about them ... Last laugh before the cold war

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Why Speak?

In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Creativity is what makes humanity move. We were created to participate.

I was among soulful friends this weekend at French Pause at Bronte and the Kellet Street Aparatif and dining with Dr Cope at Mal's - Ach, Aristotle understood friendship, its uses, its pleasures, and its ultimate good. He would also have understood how deep conversations can keep it alive. Tides of opinion about creativity have ebbed and flowed at the Leichart (sic) markets of Orange Grove school fame - so what length one should go to in order to pursue our dreams and our creativity... Midlife is the perfect time to reinvent yourself. It’s time to stretch your wings and try something new, something exciting, something … creative. To write. To paint. To dance. What food do we need to feed the wings and the soul?

As the season of believing seems to wind down let me gently remind you that many dreams still wait in the wings. Many authentic sparks must be fanned before passion performs her perfect work in you. Throw another log on the fire.
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Some people like Richard McSweeney are put on this planet to live an extraordinary life. Some people are born with innate knowledge of their own abilities. I'm sure you know someone who decided to be an actor or a painter at a young age, and stuck with it until reaching their goal. Most of us, however, spend our lives searching for that purpose feeling fearful and unhappy, yet afraid to take the risks involved with change. Richaed's creations are the most impressive debuts at Julian Ashton of an emergent painter in recent memory. But how recent is that memory: hours? minutes?

Each of us has natural talent and/or passion . You may not know how yet, but you have something to contribute with your life. You were put on this planet to live a joyful life. You were put here to be happy and through that happiness - you will improve the lives of others around you. It is my belief that part of what we all need is to connect with our own creativity.

The scope of creativity is vast. Creativity is a part of the way we live our lives. The choices we make. Creativity is a way of living, painting, capturing the world around us ... Sunlight, water, and air are passed about more equally than coal and oil.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
-Joseph Chilton Pierce

Creative people revel in making something out of nothing, so when a new year and a blank calendar appears, the possibilities seem endless. Suddenly, impossible editors aren't so intimidating, artistic debuts are only one workshop away and sales goals are easy to achieve. Inherent within the human spirit is the desire for fulfillment, a longing to carry out our creative aspirations by reaching new heights of accomplishment. Yet often the yearning can be suppressed by fear. Perhaps we aren't feeling good enough, smart enough or able enough to pursue and fulfill our dreams.

Art Links: Still Glides the Cold Stream

There are no problems - only opportunities to be creative.
-Dorye Roettger

What’s to tell between a banal work of art and one that takes banality as its theme?
The problem with assessing much modern art is that it's hard to tell the difference between a banal work and one whose theme is banality. So, how might we make a case against Damien Hirst? Damien Hirst's new skull is studded with thousands of flawless diamonds—but does that make it a flawless work of art? Doubting Art

Negative freedom is freedom from tyranny, while positive freedom is the freedom to realize your desires.

Digital technology will end the archaic film distribution system and hasten the decline and fall of the Hollywood empire. Is Tinseltown really about to disappear from our cultural radar screens? Maybe... Terry McGee: Reel Glides on the Cold River

What is prayer, and how can it work? This is not just a question of religion, but of neurophysics – and logic... Are silent prayers transmissible to, or readable by, a supernatural being?

I would have been a happier man if I had been a painter, says Clive James, and indeed a happier man if I had been a gravedigger Don't worry, be happy

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A sweet word that i used to hear
From my lover's mouth to my ear
Tis, it sends me shivers
Like I was swimming in a cold river
But one day i heard no more
Even just soft tappings from the floor
I said to you
But you cant say " I love you too"
Aches started to feel my heart
Longing and waiting for another start
I wait for those lips to open
And utter those words that would fly me to the heavens
But hopefully thinking it might be tomorrow
So atlast it would end all my sorrow
Just a thought why cant you say it again?
You still love me, and I know and feel
Even with your restrain of showing
Still I long for those words or word
Of I love you and I love you too

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Internet discussion forums: eternal vigilance the price of freedom?

by the amazing Craig Subocz RUSSELL KENNEDY SOLICITORS

The popularity of blogs has captured the attention of the online community. However, this attention tends to neglect other forms of online interactive discussion. Discussion forums reflect the pre-world wide web ‘bulletin boards’, which were popular through their encouragement of interactive discussions between people who shared a common interest.2
Often, discussion forums are maintained by volunteers who ‘moderate’ posts submitted to the forums to ‘keep the peace’. Well-run discussion forums encourage lively debate on topics of interest to the participants; others may not be maintained and vanish into obscurity as participants lose interest and drift away, or end in slanging matches.
However, given that these forums discuss topics of interest to many people, entities subjected to such discussions are keenly monitoring online forums to enforce their rights against the forums’ operators when necessary.3 This article illustrates key points about moderators’ potential liability if they fail to comply with their legal obligations. It briefly summarises the key characteristics of a typical discussion forum, then highlights five legal issues that confront moderators. It concludes with a number of guidelines to help moderators minimise the potential for liability.
A typical discussion forum
Sport is often interesting as a topic of debate among participants in a forum. For example, each club in the Australian Football League has an ‘unofficial’ discussion forum devoted to discussing its club’s fortunes.4 Other forums may discuss topics such as politics, music, software and even parenting.
Generally, an applicant for membership of the forum must nominate a user identity (ID) and password, and accept the terms and conditions of use. The applicant is verified through the clicking of an automatically generated link sent to the person’s nominated email address. Once verified, the user may participate. More exclusive forums require applications to be verified by a moderator before acceptance. Forums might restrict membership to applicants sponsored by current members.
Once a member, the person may participate in any of the forum’s discussions. Moderators constantly review new threads and new posts in order to detect any problems that might arise, and to keep the forum ‘clean’.
A survey of the legal issues arising from forums
There is a number of legal issues arising from the operation of forums. These issues include:
• infringement of a third party’s copyright;
• defamation of a third party;
• religious or racial vilification of a third party;
• compliance with Australia’s privacy laws regarding the collection, and so on, of individuals’ ‘personal information’; and
• disclosure of confidential information.
An important issue that moderators face is the issue of the infringement of a third party’s copyright. Users often post links to materials uploaded to servers not affiliated with the discussion forum or its moderators, where third parties own the copyright in the materials. This may expose the moderators to liability for copyright infringement.
In Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Cooper,5 Cooper operated a website in Australia that provided links to digitised sound recordings, the copyright in which was owned by the 31 applicants.6 They argued that Cooper authorised others to infringe their copyright.7 Cooper relied on statements on his website, which disclaimed any responsibility for or control of the sites linked from his website, and asserted that the user took full responsibility for downloading a song to which his website linked.8
At trial, Tamberlin J rejected the applicants’ argument that Cooper had directly infringed their copyright by linking to the digitised files containing the infringing sound recordings.9 However, his Honour found that those websites, to which Cooper linked, had made available online and electronically transmitted infringing copies of the applicants’ sound recordings to the public.10
Tamberlin J found that Cooper had authorised copyright infringement by providing links to digitised files containing infringing sound recordings, notwithstanding Cooper’s disclaimers. His Honour commented that the disclaimers did not ‘amount to reasonable steps to prevent or avoid’ infringement, but indicated Cooper’s knowledge ‘of the existence of illegal MP3s on the internet’.11 Cooper’s failure to attempt to ascertain the legality of the files to which he linked meant he ‘abstained from action which … would have been reasonable to take’ and ‘exhibited a degree of indifference’, from which the authorisation of copyright infringement could be inferred.12 Therefore, Cooper had authorised copyright infringement by the internet users downloading files and the website operators who had made them available in the first place.13
The Full Federal Court of Australia dismissed Cooper’s appeal.14 Branson J considered that Cooper had ‘establish[ed] and maintain[ed] his website in a form which did not give him the power immediately to prevent … internet users from using links on his website’ to download infringing copies of the applicant’s sound recordings.15 Kenny J held that the website’s ‘warning that some downloading could be illegal did not lessen the force of the invitation’ made by the website to use the links to download infringing copies of the sound recordings.16
The Cooper decisions are significant for moderators. Often, users post links to externally-hosted files, which may infringe a third party’s copyright. Cooper’s disclaimers were ineffective in defending the applicants’ contention that he had authorised infringement of their copyright. Both decisions emphasise that moderators must be vigilant in patrolling the activities of their users, particularly when users are posting links to external websites in the discussion threads.
Users often adopt ‘avatars’, which are small graphic files uploaded by the user to the discussion forum’s server and appear beside each post made by that user in the discussion forum. Where the user has simply taken a graphic file from an external party, it is unlikely that the user is licensed to use the graphic file for this purpose. This may infringe the owner’s copyright. Therefore, moderators should consider disabling users’ right to use avatars so as to not authorise their users’ copyright infringement.
Often, discussion forums allow users the ability to ‘quote’ previous posts as part of the latter user’s new post. If a user exercised sufficient skill and labour in creating an original post, then under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), copyright subsists in the post and vests in the user who submitted the post to the forum. Therefore, ‘quoting’ the earlier post reproduces a copyright-protected work. Unless the moderators have carefully drafted the forum’s terms of use, this may infringe the earlier user’s copyright.
Moderators should be careful that their forums’ users do not post anything that might be defamatory. Gina Ford, a former maternity nurse who wrote several books on raising young children, threatened legal action for defamation to disable a forum specialising in the discussion of child-rearing techniques, in which several allegedly defamatory posts had been made.17 It is clear that after Dow Jones & Co Inc v Gutnick, Australian courts will recognise that, where the elements of defamation have been satisfied, the fact that the defamatory material is online will not alter the court’s conclusion that a person has been defamed.18
In Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd,19 the defendant was an internet service provider that carried Usenet. Usenet enabled authors to publish posts on any number of topics, grouped by particular subjects in ‘newsgroups’, and disseminated on the internet by internet service providers.20 The plaintiff detected posts to a particular newsgroup that he was purported to have written, but were actually forged, and were defamatory of the plaintiff.21 The plaintiff demanded in writing that the defendant remove the posts from its Usenet news server.22 The defendant did not, and they remained available through the defendant’s service until it expired, two weeks after it was posted.23
Morland J upheld the plaintiff’s claim because the defendant failed to remove the offending post once notified.24 His Lordship rejected the defendant’s argument that it merely owned an electronic device through which postings were transmitted, finding instead that the defendant chose to store the newsgroup postings on its computers, and therefore could delete the defamatory post once notified by the plaintiff.25
According to Australian common law, ‘innocent dissemination’ of the defamatory publication, available to ‘subordinate distributors’, is a defence to defamation.26 A ‘subordinate distributor’ must show that it did not know the publication contained defamatory matter, that such ignorance was not due to any negligence, and that there were no grounds to suspect that the publication was likely to contain defamatory matter.27
However, in Thompson v Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd, the High Court of Australia found that, while the defendant did not control the defamatory material, this was due to the defendant’s broadcast configuration. So, the defendant could not use the innocent dissemination defence.28 Furthermore, in several states, legislation has replaced the common law, narrowing the ‘innocent dissemination’ defence.29
Once the forum’s moderators become aware that defamatory material has been posted to the forum, the moderator is under a duty to remove the defamatory material as soon as possible.30 Once moderators who can remove defamatory material have been notified of its existence and have been requested to remove it, they are potentially liable if they fail to do so within a reasonable period of time.31
Religious and racial vilification
The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) prohibits a person from:
… on the ground of the religious belief or activity of another person or class of persons, engag[ing] in conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons …32
In Catch the Fire Ministries Inc v Islamic Council of Victoria Inc,33 the Islamic Council of Victoria alleged that the ministries had breached the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act by publicising on its website an article entitled ‘An insight into Islam by Richard’, dated 24 September 2001.34 Nettle JA found that the nature of the audience to whom the conduct was directed was a factor in determining whether the conduct constituted incitement.35 Therefore, publishing statements generally, for example, by ‘posting on a web site’ may breach s 8 of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, whereas saying the same thing ‘as part of intellectual discourse within a seminary or faculty of theology’ may not.36
As noted above, discussion forums are generally only available to users once they agree to a series of terms and conditions, and access may be further restricted in the manner described above. Therefore, some discussion forums might be easily accessible to any person who wishes to obtain access. Others, however, may not be so accessible and therefore the materials published on the forum are disseminated to a much more exclusive audience.
Nonetheless, this is only one of the factors in determining whether the conduct breaches the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Clearly, if a discussion forum is established for the purpose of inciting hatred against a particular ethnic group, then regardless of the fact that the forum is exclusive to members that share the same views as the forum’s moderators, if the other factors are established, then the moderators will be liable for a breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
Australia’s privacy laws
On 21 December 2001, the 10 National Privacy Principles (NPPs) became effective for bodies other than Commonwealth departments under the amendment to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). The NPPs deal with the collection, use, and disclosure of ‘personal information’, data quality and security, access and correction, identifiers and anonymity, and transborder data flows.37 The Privacy Act defines ‘personal information’ as:
… information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can be reasonably ascertained, from the information or opinion.38
The Privacy Act applies to ‘organisations’. Individuals, bodies corporate, partnerships, unincorporated associations, and trusts may all be ‘organisations’.39 However, the Privacy Act applies only when then the ‘organisation’ has an annual turnover exceeding $3 million.40 If the Privacy Act applies, the ‘organisation’ must prepare and make available a privacy policy which set out clearly expressed policies on its management of personal information.41
The Privacy Act is therefore unlikely to apply to many moderators of forums, who volunteer their time to run the forum and generally earn little or nothing in return. However, if an entity uses a forum as a value-added service to promote goods or services bound by the Privacy Act, it may be required to make available a privacy policy which clearly expresses its policies on managing personal information collected through the forum.
When a user signs up to a forum, the user selects a username and supplies certain information to the forum’s moderators. If the user’s identity can be reasonably ascertained from such information, it may be ‘personal information’ under the Privacy Act. Therefore, if moderators must comply with the Privacy Act, they should establish a privacy policy clearly expressing their policies on managing personal information and comply with the NPPs’ requirements.
Disclosure of confidential information
In Australian Football League v Age Co Ltd,42 the Australian Football League (AFL) sought an injunction restraining the defendants from publishing the names of three AFL players who had allegedly twice tested positive under the AFL’s Illicit Drug Policy.43 Kellam J granted the injunction, rejecting the defendants’ argument that the players’ names had already entered the public domain because they had been posted by various persons to various internet discussion forums.44
After considering expert evidence concerning internet discussion forums,45 especially the capacity for anonymous or pseudonymous posts,46 Kellam J held that the lack of accountability in discussion forums meant that, if confidential information was posted to a discussion forum, it was unlikely to be in the public domain. To hold otherwise was to create an unrestrained ‘opportunity for [the] unethical and the malicious to breach confidentiality and then claim that there is no confidentiality’.47
His Honour distinguished between internet discussion forums, which contain unverifiable ‘speculation’, and publication of material by a newspaper, television station or ‘authorised web sites’ operated by media outlets. Kellam J considered that the latter sources were ‘accountable for the information they publish and are, to an extent at least, trusted by the public to report material … accurately’.48
It is, of course, difficult for moderators to police the forum for disclosures of confidential information. But the moderators should act quickly to remove posts that contain confidential information once their attention has been drawn to the fact that such information has been disclosed.
Guidelines for moderators
The above discussion highlights a number of lessons for moderators when operating their forums. This section outlines guidelines that may assist moderators.
Moderators should require users of their forums to agree electronically to the terms and conditions of use, regulating users’ forum interactions. Although so-called ‘browser-wrap’ contracts have not been tested in Australia, US case law gives useful guidance on how to maximise their effectiveness.49 In Feldman v Google Inc,50 the court enforced Google’s ‘Adwords’ program terms and conditions because it was clear that the advertiser could not proceed any further without positively indicating its acceptance of Google’s terms.51 Therefore, moderators should adopt a similar approach when presenting users with the terms and conditions of use of the forum when a user applies to become a member of the forum.
The terms and conditions should, as a minimum, contain the following provisions.
• A provision granting to the moderators either a licence or, preferably, an assignment of intellectual property rights in all posts, which then acknowledges that the moderators may sublicense the rights to other users.
• A provision granting moderators the right to edit or delete posts without infringing the user’s moral rights. This right is especially important because it will give the moderators the opportunity to remove posts that may be defamatory, or which may incite hatred in breach of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Further, it allows moderators to remove any posts containing confidential information posted without permission. Having regard to Cooper, moderators should have the power to remove links to files that infringe a third party’s copyright.
• The moderators should make no guarantee as to the availability of the forum and reserve the right to disable the forum for whatever reason. This gives moderators the opportunity to take the forum offline to remove any posts which, for example, may infringe copyright or defame a third party. It also allows moderators time to deal with any technical issues that may arise in the operation of the forum.
• Inclusion of enforceable undertakings that the user will not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party, defame any third party, or vilify or disclose any confidential information belonging to any third party. Moderators should emphasise in the terms that they have the power to suspend or terminate a user’s account if the undertaking is breached.
Nevertheless, it is clear that it is not enough for moderators to include these terms and conditions in their terms of use with the users of their forums. Moderators must enforce the terms and conditions where appropriate, to minimise the possibility that they have authorised copyright infringement or failed to respond to an assertion that they have continued the publication of defamatory material.
For moderators who are volunteers and simply run an online discussion forum in their spare time, this may be an issue, because it may not be feasible for the moderators to be online 24 hours per day, seven days per week to moderate what is being posted to the forum. However, provided that the moderators act reasonably quickly after being alerted to the issue, then it is less likely that a court will find adversely against the moderators.
It is increasingly clear that the internet is subject to similar laws to those that apply to any other medium of communication. Discussion forums provide a valuable opportunity for users to interact, but the users and moderators must be at all times cognisant of the laws governing such discussions. Moderators especially take on a large degree of responsibility for the conduct of the forum and they need to be clear as to the extent of their rights and obligations. l
Craig Subocz, Solicitor, Technology Law Team, Russell Kennedy Solicitors, Melbourne.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Russell Kennedy Solicitors. All errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the author. The author is indebted to the advice of Kent Davey, Partner, Russell Kennedy Solicitors.
See, for example, Artinian A and Shirm J ‘Blogger beware: IP and defamation implications of the popular online communications tool’ (2006) 9(8) Internet Law Bulletin 89.
See, for example, Sterling B The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier Bantam Books, New York 1992. Sterling discussed the popularity of bulletin boards in the context of ‘hackerdom’ and noted in an electronically published afterword that in 1993, there were more than 60,000 bulletins boards in the US alone. See Sterling B ‘Afterword: the hacker crackdown three years later’, available at (last visited 3 April 2007; copy on file with author).
See, for example, Blake M ‘Going spare in cyberspace’ The Saturday Age 10 March 2007, available at

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We writers are thieves, magpies stealing bites of glitter and tinsel and straw from unlikely places and weaving them into a nest of words."
-Alison Luterman

"My primary concern is that we over-invest in things and under-invest in people."
John Kenneth Galbraith

"I wanted to plug her into my story and make it work until it didn't." -
Writer at Sydney Writer Festival in June 2007 grieving divorce from first wife

"I'm wanted at the traffic-jam. They're saving me a seat."
Leonard Cohen, Boogie Street

"I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury."
Groucho Marx

"If I were to marry again, I would like to marry a woman who is happy with herself."
"The hero, the saint, is often the one rejected. Look at Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Gandhi, and any number of good people divorced by a spouse who said "I don't love you any more."
-Harry Holleywood

"Traitors in high places take my money, tell me lies
Take a walk past Parliament, it smells like something died
They ask for trust, but somehow I've got serious doubts
Open up the window, let the bad air out"
-Bruce Cockburn, "Let The Bad Air out" from Breakfast In New Orleans, Dinner In Timbuktu

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
-John A. Wheeler

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Short History of Tax Shelters
A. Tax Planning Over the Ages.
1. Tax advisors have been figuring out ways to reduce taxpayers’ tax liability forever.
a. In Ancient Rome, farmers of small farms would obtain relief from taxes by transferring their lands to the nearest military chief or large landowner and rid themselves of tax obligations. The peasant farmer was better off. Tied to the land anyway, he could live in the same house, farm the same land, and use the same animals. Only the tax picture had changed; the Roman tax man would now have to deal with the small farmer’s master, who had the wherewithal to handle the Roman tax man. Adams, For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
(London and New York: Madison Books, 1994) at pages 113-14.
b. During the Middle Ages in Syria, Egypt and other areas of the Islamic world, the land tax could be avoided by newly conquered native populations if they became Moslems—unfortunately for the tax collectors, mass conversions of native populations to Islam drained off a large percentage of their tax revenue. Adams, For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization (London and New York: Madison Books, 1994) at page 132.
c. In the 1600’s, landlords in Russia developed an interesting tax avoidance scheme. A new landlord would pay off a peasant’s debt and refinance the peasant on his own land. Poll taxes were based on a census, which was conducted every five years. Before the census was taken, new serfs would not be taxed since they were not on the census rolls. (The Russian government eventually had to pass a law preventing this practice.) Adams, For Good and Evil:
The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization (London and New York: Madison Books, 1994) at page 169.
d. In Charleston, South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century, real estate taxes were based not on the value of the house or other structure situated on a lot but on the footage of the portion of the lot directly next to the street. Tax planning led to houses being built on deep lots which were very narrow where they fronted the street. Thus, a typical house built during that time might be 10 foot wide but 80 or even 100 feet deep—many of these houses still exist today.
2. The search for shelter continues. See The Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) on
10/13/05: The Search for a Safe Tax Shelter

A Short History of Psychopaths
Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. By Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.; published by ReganBooks, www.harpercollins.com (Web); 353 pages; $26.95.

Psychopaths and the damage they inflict on others are a popular topic in books these days. Nearly all of these books, however, concentrate on criminal psychopaths and are based on prison interviews. Snakes in Suits fills an important gap, examining the chaos that can result when a psychopath enters the workplace.

One hallmark of psychopaths, who make up about 1 percent of the overall population, is that they seek opportunities to promote their own self-interests unburdened by conscience.

With that as a motivating factor, psychopaths in the workplace operate in three general ways: some bully, some manipulate, and others are "puppet masters," adept at operating through others.

The authors provide advice on what the average employee should do if he or she believes that a coworker or boss may be a psychopath: Document everything, never confront the individual, and be prepared to seek work elsewhere.
Psychopaths may come to a corporate security department's attention when they cross the line of what is permissible behavior in the workplace, which could result in an investigation into harassment or criminal activity.
Perhaps the book's most valuable advice is that companies always conduct preemployment screening—checking educational, technical, and work references thoroughly. Doing so may give the human resource department the red flags it needs to spot the signs of psychopathic behavior before the person is hired. But the authors also note that it is not illegal to be a psychopath. What companies should be focusing on is whether someone exhibits inappropriate workplace behavior.
The authors also warn readers not to try diagnosing psychopaths, but they do describe behaviors and recommend actions that can protect a company and its employees.
The authors mix discussion and case studies to explain how psychopathic behaviors can cause problems in the workplace, and the liability companies can incur if those problems are not addressed.
Written exclusively for Beautiful Minds and Hearts

Monday, July 16, 2007

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so confident while the intelligent are full of doubt.
-Bertrand Russell

They can't get inside you.
-J[ozef], 1984, George Orwell

Just an ordinary life: When it comes to appropriating other people's stories - all the great, sexy things …Like attracts like - by thinking negatively, you attract negativity. Think positively about attaining something you desire, and you attract that outcome. The bien-pensant pissants and detectives of my dear Watson, those newtownish arch-Machiavellian characters, tend to provide much of parliamentary commentary such as how Mark Swinson is missed due to the pelvis. The stories are not the same in Russell Groves office occupied by Patricia and Rebecca and Francis. Terror and Travel suspects: Time to uncork the enormous potential of clerks

Can we change the heart of parliamentary bureau? Who’s Who and What’s Where
This year, the popular television show The Sopranos, a fictional account of a mob family, comes to an end. Unfortunately, in the real world, organized crime is not ending, it’s booming … It is taking off like a Bondi tram

Fraud is an ancient and familiar concept. The Bible, indeed starts off with two fairly stark cases of deception (I must say immediately, with a murder sandwiched between the two), one of which, indeed, if committed nowadays. Right at the beginning of the Book of Genesis, some of you may recall, the serpent deceived Eve, an unwitting accomplice, into inducing Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and thus precipitated mankind into the mess we are in now. In relation to a mess of a different kind, a few pages further on, Jacob, rightly described as a "smooth man", defrauded his father Isaac of the mess of pottage due to his brother Esau ("an hairy man"), by impersonating his brother.

Build your House of Parliament upon the River ; [Oddities and Numbers – between the lines Sydney man drowns in Munich river ; Ah, Mr Bond, we weren't expecting you ]
• · What Your Sign-off is Really Saying - Find out what business etiquette experts have to say about the expressions we use to end work-related e-mails. Avoid using any word you wouldn't want to see on the front page of Media Dragon or The New York Times with your signature next to it.; IT was a bold plan to scam $150 million and send it to offshore banks, nutted out in the confines of a downtown Sydney pole-dancing club. It almost succeeded. Now Sydney's own Ocean's 12 are in court, charged over a conspiracy to rip off the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme. Former Lady Jane's nightclub boss Thomas Anthony "Tony" Vincent, 66, and his 11 co-accused faced a commital hearing yesterday on a range of charges including recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, conspiring to cause a loss and dishonestly obtaining financial advantage. Former Lady Jane's nightclub boss ; Reading Hansard and poetry of parliamentary life and death
• · There's only been writing in Australia for just over 200 years, compared to this endless oral tradition. It does seem that it's a difficult place to write about, because it's so big and so old and there's been so little writing so far. 'I'm a giant fraud' ; I've become a lot more spiritual because of him. You've got to tell these stories
• · · The internet has given people the anonymity to say what they like - as rudely as they like Cyberspace: it's the new toilet wall ; Not even in George Orwell's wildest nightmares would he have suspected we could be so naive. Even in his most dystopic visions it is doubtful he would have suspected the change over the past decade in the Western world's approach to privacy Say goodbye to that quaint notion, privacy
• · · · Better than the real thing: virtual friendships thrive despite bans; Should we all lie down on the highway and let the author drive back and forth on top of us because he is the author? Grand theft author
• · · · · GERALD Stone's top-selling book, which makes explosive claims about the decline of the late Kerry Packer's beloved Nine Network, has ruffled media feathers since its release a week ago. I was dying to publish Nine expose

Friday, July 13, 2007

A cigar," said the altruist, "a cigar, my good man, I cannot give you. But any time you need a light, just come around; mine is always lit.
-Karl Kraus

He will aways be a slave who does not know how to live upon a little.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbour.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away...

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two giraffes.
The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of
credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a
debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all
four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a
Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who
sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows.
No balance sheet provided with the release.
The public then buys your bull.

You have two cows.
You shred them.

You have two cows.
You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and
produce twenty times the milk.
You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market
it worldwide.

You have two cows.
You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month,
and milk themselves.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You decide to have lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.
You charge the owners for storing them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.
You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.
You tell them that you have none.
No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your country.
You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy....

You have two cows.
The one on the left looks very attractive.

You have two cows.
Business seems pretty good.
You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Today my best friend, Christopher, is celebrating golden birthday. How time flies as we both remember Bondi in the 1980s, the English classes under Tatiana, Spanish club with Saturday cabaret. How nice to hear Christopher to say - I'm old enough to know better, but still young enough to do it anyway ;-) Play something we can dance to!

The Russian Odessa is never the same after Nokolai and Irena, Anna with Rudi, Yvona with Anthony and Lidka with Mal invaded the dancing floor. Goral dancing brings together people from all walks of life... and erases their differences! It does not matter how old you are... it does not matter who you are or what you do for a living... all that matters is that you want to dance! One of the luckiest immigrants to the Australia has to be Christopher who now has Lidka, Olek and Kuba

Words are important. Their history. The weight of centuries of connotations built into their very structure like fossils. I have known Christopher for over 25 years and we have not exchanged one crossed word … Do we see some memoir as short vignettes, like a mosaic, that make up the total; sort of like an impressionist painting? Or as everything related? Words in Deep River

A fish-out-of-water memoir Our search for meaning
Christopher and Media Dragon are pleased that this month our favourite Czech film maker, Milos Forman, once again returns to the international screen with Goya’s Ghosts

As a young man, Forman saw his parents dragged into the Auschwitz concentration camp, never to return. He saw his country nearly ravaged by the Russian troops in 1968 and became part of the Czech New Wave after attending the Film Institute at the University of Prague. But in 1971 the director started to lay claim to international territory when his first American film, Taking Off, landed the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then he has won two Best Director Oscars and led eight actors to Academy Award-nominated performances, including Jack Nicholson’s first win for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and F. Murray Abraham’s only Oscar statuette for Amadeus.

Riverdeep Emotions; [Another day, another billion-dollar capital raising - Valad Property Group became the latest ASX-listed property group to tap into a buoyant market for property securities to fund a significant strategic offshore move. Valad is poised to become Australia's 10th largest listed property group with its $2 billion acquisition of the British property funds management company, Scarborough. To help fund the acquisition, Valad has raised $1.3 billion through the issue of new securities under a non-renounceable entitlement offer. Recent capital raising by property funds including Centro Property Group, Centro Retail Group, ING Industrial and $3 billion by Westfield Group total more than $6.7 billion. Marvell: Is Going Private Its Best Option?; Two new High Court justices will be the pick of the crop, but whose crop. YOU may not know it, but the Howard government is about to appoint a new High Court judge. This is likely be announced soon so the new judge can take over from Ian Callinan. The Constitution requires that he retire on 1 September, when he turns 70. This will mark the start of substantial change to the High Court bench. The Chief Justice, Murray Gleeson, must retire by August 30 next year, while the greatest dissenter in the history of the court, Michael Kirby, will retire on March 18, 2009. The result is that during 18 months three of the seven, or nearly half, of the High Court will be replaced. Two of these appointments will go to the winner of this year’s federal election. Discerning judge of character ; A feeling of helplessness is a huge problem facing us all today. The sense that nothing you do will make a difference, so why try? Many people give up at the immense scale of the task of making the world a better place. There is a saying I love: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time"...One Pizza at a Time ]

Monday, July 09, 2007

Renowned physicist, Francis Maitland Balfour may well have had Vaclav Havel, John Hatton and Tony Vinson in mind when he said:

The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness
to an opponent, tolerence
to a friend, your heart
to your child a good example
to a father deference;
to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you;
to yourself respect;
to all men, charity.

Today is 7 July 2007 such a significant date 07/07/07 comes once in a lifetime for 6 Billion Others who are sharing this small world. 27 Years ago I would have loved if more people realised that for everyone to have enough food, receive medical care and have a decent home. That's the good life. When you have everything and your neighbor has nothing, you aren't happy in life. At Parliament House one rarely comes across large number of public-spirited individuals who believe, as I do, that in a democracy all citizens should be treated the same. Memory Almost Full

Ach, a certain Tax Investigator in UK has this to say: I can offer you an anecdote from my own experience when I was lured to Slovakia by the Foreign Office. They had recently set up a police unit specifically to investigate what they described as corruption but what we might describe as plundering the State's assets by those in power and their chums. The officer in charge of the unit had recently been denounced by the Prime Minister in their Parliament as an enemy of the people because he had started to investigate some of the Prime Minister's friends and business colleagues. The call for his dismissal was refused by the Minister of the Interior I am pleased to say but I did find myself being wheeled onto the local telly to assure them that I would be very happy to investigate our Prime Minister's business associates and friends ...In Central Europe the Communist Cancer will take many more decades before it is eliminated ..

Can we change the heart of politics? Changing the rules
How often have you heard the phrase, “Rules are meant to be broken”? I have to admit I have been a king rule-breaker, especially around my teens and, ok, my twenties. Breaking rules brings up one big challenge though: you just end up being defined by the rules you tried to break in the first place. These days I don’t want to just break the rules. I want to change them.

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne recently penned a story Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant. According to them Blue ocean strategy challenges companies to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant...This book not only challenges companies but also shows them how to achieve this. We first introduce a set of analytical tools and frameworks that show you how to systematically act on this challenge, and, second, we elaborate the principles that define and separate blue ocean strategy from competition-based strategic thought …
My favorite example in the book is Cirque du Soleil. They changed the rules of the circus. They dropped the animals and kept the extraordinary physical skills, dropped the sawdust and opened theaters, dropped the circus menu format and told stories. Amazing stories of dreams and magic and emotion. Lots of emotion. They added to the attention-grabbing spectacle of the traditional circus, the attraction drama of great theater. That’s a lot of rules to change in a business that has defended its traditions for centuries. The rewards for Cirque have been huge, with global audiences and the inspiration of great artists like Canadian theater director Robert LePage.

Cirque of Ocean Colours ; [ Laugh and the world...; Back in July Webdiary completed its divorce from Fairfax When Webdiary went independent ; The Lives of Parliamentary Others Trolleys of Truths Down Under; Blue Oceans of Wages of Spin: Walter Secord ]