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

Monday, April 27, 2009

What makes you a Central European writer? That is a subject for another day, and one that's not likely to be resolved anytime soon. One consideration, though, must surely be the ability to convey a sense of place when writing about Slavic Bohemia. I left home in search of happiness, sorrows were lurking on my liquid path and they came along. In exile is the experience of someone living inside strict laws, bound by them, marked by them, yet oddly sustained by them. Nothing seems stripped away, nothing made nice for the sake of restoring the semblance of hope. Here is sin, but also belief, doubt, compassion and vengeance:

This book is one thing
My fist is another
You take this
And you'll get the other
Beautiful song, scary lines
Nawal El Saadawi: How Does the World Change?
“They told us that the year 1989 is a crucial year in world history. Europe saw the fall of a wall. In China, a tank stopped for a man. In the United States, Bush senior became president. The end of the Cold War heralded a new era. States disappeared, new areas of conflict arose. What impact have these crucial changes had on us?
When I read these words I feel I do not…

A third of the world's biggest and most vital rivers have suffered significant changes over the last half century. Natural habitats – trees, water, wildlife – give us a sense of deep pleasure. At the same time, we feel anxiety about the possibility of nature’s loss World's Major Rivers Are Drying Up

Cure for an obsession: get another one Bound to Burn: Those super powers who own God, absolute truths, nuclear weapons, money, and media
Truth is one, but error proliferates. Man tracks it down and cuts it up into little pieces hoping to turn it into grains of truth. But the ultimate atom will always essentially be an error, a miscalculation. (René Daumal, The Lie of the Truth)

We can talk up wind and solar power all we want. But billions of people in China and India will never trade 3¢/kwh coal for 15¢ wind or 30¢ solar. Time to get real … Like medieval priests, today’s carbon brokers will sell you an indulgence that forgives your carbon sins.

Humanity will keep spewing carbon into the atmosphere, but good policy can help sink it back into the earth.; [Knowing East Germany would soon fade into memory, West German photo journalist Karlheinz Jardner set out for points east in 1990 East Germany, Up Close and Personal; Suicides AHEAD … Think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a politicized financial disaster? Just wait until pension funds implode… When Did Your County's Jobs Disappear? An interactive map of vanishing employment across the country Slate: An interactive map of vanishing employment across the country ]
• · We want political leaders to be like us, but at the same time not like us .. SO, THE PRIME MINISTER snapped at a flight attendant for serving him a meal that he had not ordered. Irregular guys; Nearly ninety years ago, prime minister Billy Hughes returned triumphant from an overseas trip and announced a public private partnership to construct a nation-building communications network Kevin Rudd's partner
• · Research Service, Parliament of New South Wales - my old stomping ground Homelessness in NSW ; An upcoming audit finds strengths and deficits in Australian federalism The trouble with federalism
• · · Asia looks and feels very different now compared to the days of the Cold War. The sense that Asia now works differently can be traced to a single source - the re-emergence of China Rising China: power and reassurance ; Our love affair with China is cooling but far from over: I reached a point a few years ago where I stopped reading anything on China that included this quote from Napoleon: China is a sleeping dragon. Let him sleep. If he wakes, he will shake the world. China is a sleeping dragon. Let him sleep ; Michael McHugh has shifted the terms of the rights debate A different approach to a charter of rights; Workers of the world, unite!” Karl Marx said that workers had “first of all to settle things with their own bourgeoisie.” Now may be the moment, argues Leo Panitch Thoroughly Modern Marx
• · · · Carr urges action against rights charter; Now, I'm very fond of Bob Carr, one of the few true intellects in Australian politics. If you want to discuss books or US politics, Bob's your uncle. NEW South Wales? New? There's nothing very new about South Wales. It's become Elderly South Wales, even Old. Oh, what a state I'm in
• · · · · Premier Nathan Rees told the service Neville Wran and Bob Carr would never have become premiers and Bob Hawke would not have been Prime Minister if not for Short Short remembered as Labor's saviour; Roger Wilkins to the Rescue: Bumbling Bob Debus was useless as the NSW Attorney General in the Bob Carr NSW Govt and now in Kevin Rudd's Labor-Union Govt is doing what he does best Looking clueless trumps egg on face
• · · · · · I reckon Geoffrey Robertson is a bit of a Trickster, so are Andrew Denton and Tina Fey, as are most great story-tellers, as was Bill Hicks. Tricksters ; Art entertains, inspires, and goads. But it also deepens our grasp of the human condition by taking us into the minds of others Art in Darwin's terms

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Although I'm a heart guy, I don't let my allegiance stop me from taking an interest in recent work on the soul and soulful music: it is a landscape of creativity, energy, and enthusiasm

Winter muse. Um … When DoJo Cuts sing, they are in effect singing for the Whole Wide World. Their hip-hop calling card is We Love Universal Language Flowers bloom, rainbows arch in the sky and love is painful … Dojo Cuts - 1-2-3
played on The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show - BBC 6Music. Listen carefully Jeden Tva Tri - Ek, Dore, in You might get Dvorak, Handel and Bach, but you might also get Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Pirates Of Dojo Cuts ... Sasha: Musician for all reasons and seasons

Some Internet memes are meant to last more than a day or two. Like everybody else, I watched the moving Susan Boyle performance on YouTube earlier this week, and then I watched it again and again. What makes this so special? The quality of her singing alone doesn’t account for the craze (and maybe that’s why there’s already a backlash brewing). What makes the performance so magical, I think, is the transformation we are allowed to witness Susan Boyle: A plus for homely singers

Media Dragons Soapbox in cyberspace: best blogs
Let blogging addict Bryan Appleyard guide you to a pick of the world's best blogs, with The Australian's pick of best homegrown blogs at bottom. BLOGGING allows you to instantly broadcast your thoughts to the world - and for the world to answer back. So how do you join this global conversation?

The Australian Online at theaustralian.news.com.au/opinion/blogs has a swag of bloggers covering everything from social statistics (George Megalogenis’ Meganomics) to literature (Stephen Romei’s A Pair of Ragged Claws) to House Rules, the new political blog straight from Parliament House in Canberra. There are also blogs from writers, correspondents and columnists – Janet Albrechtsen, Geoff Elliott, Amanda Meade and Caroline Overington, Jack the Insider – and a new economics blog called Current Account.

The Australian Online ; [A police officer won the blog prize for his account of life at the front line of fighting crime Patrick Cockburn wins Orwell prize for political journalism ]
• · • · Italian-style Cittaslow (pronounced Chittaslow) slow-food … Dr Raj Patel is an activist, an academic and also the author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Today, in a lecture recorded at Melbourne University, he asks why there are hundreds of millions of people who don't get enough to eat and, at the same time, hundreds of millions of people are overweight! How did the global food system get so messed up Food glorious food ; HOW TO COOK A MEDIA DRAGON Novels and memoirs with food memories and recipes have become all the rage
• · Contrary to the image of Generation Y as the Net Generation, internet users in their twenties do not dominate every aspect of online life. Generation X is the most likely group to bank, shop and look for health information online. Boomers are just as likely as Generation Y to make travel reservations online. And even Silent Generation internet users are competitive when it comes to email (although teens might point out that this is proof that email is for old people) Generations online in 2009; Gabbie only wants the best … If you need proof that new iPhone models are just around the corner, check out the latest refurb deal from AT&T: you can now get a refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G for just $149 Get a refurbished 16GB iPhone 3G for $149
• · · · · An address to the Naval, Military and Air Force Club of South Australia (Inc) by Jeremy Cooper, Deputy Chairman, ASIC ASIC - Investing in 2009; Don't give a five cent problem five dollars worth of worry . 75% to 90% of all doctor visits, medical and psychological, are now recognised as financial worry and stress related. Here are two tips to avoid paying such a high price for worry. New York Times' Financial Pressures Intensify
• · · As per Rabindranath Tagore's famous poem, when God told Valmiki to write the Ramayana, the life-story of a king yet to be born, Valmiki reportedly asked God: "But how can I write an accurate account of what has not even happened?" God then told Valmiki: "It does not matter what Rama will be or what he will do. What the ages will remember is simply what you shall write. That will be the only truth." This piece is not about the epistemological nature of truth. No. It is not. While the humor is brilliant at times and the writing style very "catty" in the best style of gossip journalism, there is also no denying the fact that some of it (especially the more salacious bits) may be thought to be defamatory (whether the rather transparent monikers make the defamation legally defensible is of course another matter). Relying on bitter bloggers bad for journalism; Break Journalism Rules When You Blog?
• · · · No one can deny the Internet is a life-changer. As a social networking tool, it is nonpareil. Many married couples would never would have met but for the Internet. Employers find employees and vice versa from around the globe—people whose paths never would have crossed but for the magic of cyberspace. But the Internet has its downsides, and one of those is that it is causing the demise of American journalism—as we know it or have known it for centuries. The Internet is single-handedly responsible for the death this year of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, and the conversion to online publishing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Christian Science Monitor Internet, Bloggers' Half-Truths Are Killing Newspapers and Journalism; US Now Has Almost As Many Paid Bloggers As Lawyers
• · · · · There is only one God Role of Faiths in Building Peace & Harmony in Australia & the Asia-Pacific Region: Bawa Singh Jagdev - Sikh Council of Australia ; Like Mr Jagdev, a winner of the prestigious award for volunteering, Andrej Imrich has worked tirelessly for the little people Andrej Imrich
• · · · · · In the case of memoirs, trust and authenticity are fundamental to the unspoken contract between reader and writer. How much do authors owe their readers? ; Why did you leave grandma?; Papa Bear blogger visits Family Life blog

Glasgov ... Vrbov Boiling Susan

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What do we call today, the day before Easter? Maundy Thursday is the day before the Good Old Czechoslovak Friday. Anyway over Easter I received the good, bad and the ugly news from old home. My sister Gitka has been travelling between Poprad and Prague to look after my eldest sister Eva and my brother in law Franto as both are recovering from operations. My youngest nephew, Tomas, has also been taken to hospital. Sadly, Tomas bore lots of crosses in his life as he came to this world profoundly blind and deaf. His mum, Magda, was pregnant during the Chernobyl fallout and his is one of the sad statistics of the nuclear disaster. Tomas, however, has given lotof joy to my family especially my late parents, Jozef and Maria, who found him very easy to look after as he was a real miracle in so many other ways ...
We managed to invade the Blue Mountain on Easter Saturday and have dinner with my old boss Dr Cope. On Easter Sunday June treated us to blessed lunch in a circle of 12 friends and family. On Sunday night Lidka repared authentic Central European meal which rivals my late mum's skills. On Monday, in a melting pot style, we celebrated to coming of Sikh new year Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi. It is an ancient harvest festival in Punjab, which also marks beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season. Baisakhi also has religious significance for Hindus and Sikhs. It falls on the first day of the Vaisakh month in the solar Nanakshahi calendar, which corresponds to April 14 in the Gregorian calendar. The cooking at Dial's was again outside this world ;)

DURING THE 1970S AND EARLY 1980 S, AUSTRALIANS WERE SLOWLY being forced by a number of Royal Commissions into the uncomfortable realisation that organised crime had established itself quite firmly in their country. First, there was:
the Moffit Royal (commission into Licensed Clubs in NSW (1973-74) then:
the Woodward Royal Commission into Drugs (1977-79)
the Williams Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs (1977-80)
the Costigan Royal Commission into the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia (1980-84); and
the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking (1980-
Each inquiry revealed complex webs of organised crime that none of the existing law enforcement agencies had the necessary powers, the national scope or the resources to effectively attack. Highly sophisticated criminal networks were identified spreading across State and Territory borders and, in some cases, into the international arena as well.
Over time, it became clear that these inquiries were not revealing isolated pockets of organised crime, but a culture of organised criminal activity that was steadily gaining hold in Australia. It was no longer a question of whether organised crime was operating here in Australia but what form the action against it should take …

Enemy of the corrupt A royal commissioner does not make an allegation
Australia's fight against tax cheats owes much to Frank Costigan, who shone a torch on the grubby habits of the rich

Thirty years ago Frank Costigan, QC, took on three untouchables: the media mogul Kerry Packer, the criminal combine of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, and the tax evasion industry.
Bottom-of-the-harbour tax schemes had been revealed by this time. Indeed, it was in the early months of Costigan's work that Fraser and his young treasurer John Howard introduced - to uproar and disbelief - criminal penalties for those promoting or taking part in these scams. But then Costigan discovered two things: members of the crooked union he was investigating were the backbone of the bottom-of-the-harbour industry, and these frauds were being committed by even the most "respectable" families in the land on an unimagined scale.
Names were faked. Documents were junked. Suing was pointless because the signatories were broke. Prosecution was dangerous. The then commissioner of taxation admitted "he would not be prepared to have his officers exposed to the possible physical danger which might flow from close contact with painters and dockers".

To open the files of yellowing press clippings from the early 1980s is to return to a lost world where the rich took it for granted that they should pay little; [So rather than rely on the wisdom of even the best-intentioned Left, I went off and read the thinkers that many humanities academics opposed.Politics and truth; Google On Costigan ]
• · Bottom of the harbour schemes divulged a big drug smuggling ring; Speech by Dr Ken Henry, Chair - Australia's Future Tax System Review Panel How much inequity should we allow?
• · The Prime Minister would be better employed attending to the glaring tax haven immediately under his nose — at Westminster. It has been revealed that in addition to trousering vast sums of public money in bogus expenses claims; A Democratic Initiative for VICTORY OVER WANT (VOW) The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.
• · · You know, maybe I'm just a naive liberal. It is not for nothing that power does go to our heads. Then again, maybe I just have seen enough under totalitarian system and also under subjective democracy that largest animals do believe that they deserve to go through needle tiniest opening. It is easier for camel to pass through the eye of the needle than to find a public servant who is willing to serve the nation without first asking what is in it for me… Servant is greatest among you ; Going for the bankers is tempting for politicians—and dangerous for everybody else A time for correction and brown paper bags
• · · · THE rich are paying more tax; the rich aren’t paying enough. Depending on which statistics you use, you can make a convincing case either way. Heads-I-win-tails-you-lose capitalism; Figures released in Britain this week show that, much like in the United States, the savings rate tripled in the last quarter. Despite monetary and fiscal efforts to the contrary, people are relearning to live within their means Whistling in the dark ; Efforts by the United States government to interdict the supply of drugs coming into the country have failed. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mexican drug cartels operate in 230 cities in the United States How to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels ;
• · · · · There is at least one bit of good news out of the global recession: tax havens are on the run. Now the Group of 20 is threatening to apply the blowtorch. Send in the cavalry and watch the tax havens run for cover ; Why bother with the G20: The G20 discussions of tax havens, bonuses and regulation are distractions from the real issues facing the global economy
• · · · · · Has the G-20 Learned the Lesson? ; Big economies are leaning on offshore tax havens. But greater abuse may be taking place at home. Geneva bankers are insisting that Gordon Brown, the champion of deregulated markets in London and the British Isles, favors tax cheats at least as much as he says they do. The G20 and tax: Haven hypocrisy ; In yet another sign that financial centres are losing each other's confidence, Geneva bankers are insisting that Gordon Brown, the champion of deregulated markets in London and the British Isles, favors tax cheats at least as much as he says they do Geneva bankers have a word for Brown's tax attacks: hypocrisy; British Prime Minister speech on tax havens The beginning of the end of offshore tax havens and offshore centres

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I once was an over-achiever
A true journalistic believer
But now I relax
With a phone and a fax
And a large curly-coated retriever.
(actually the retriever has passed on, but there are other dogs).
-Mungo MacCallum

I know in my bones that theatre is one of the greatest human connectors. It's communication, it's entertainment, it's engagement, and it's emotion. Gabbie’s teachers and mentors are moving in a powerful territory. As James Longenbach noted: when a student complains that a poem is boring, I say, That’s fine. But it’s your fault … Richard III

Can we change the heart of theatre? SILLY, wordy and almost terrifyingly quick, Travesties is a theatrical treat, but only for those able to keep up
People who a few months ago were still keen on making major purchases, are putting all, or some, of that cash aside for a rainy day. One rainy night in April before Easter we went to check out Travesties. While Newton was rather disappointing last year in Stoppard’s Rock n Roll, everyone shines in the new production of Travesties. A road accident in old Czechoslovakia always attracted a crowd of onlookers and road to hell and travesties in Sydney is no different … Even Neil Brown treated himself to the play which he first saw in London in 1974 when a quote along these lines was used in the play: My art belongs to dada; and mamma’s not too bad.

In belt-tightening times, making the case for more theatre more difficult than ever.
One of the characteristics of modernist culture at the beginning of the twentieth century was the radical liquidation of the inherited structures and the creation of a bold phantasm for the organizing of an unprecedented society and a revolutionary art. In respect to this historical project, the political aesthetics of Dadaism, Joyce's fictional innovations that marked the height of high modernism in Ulysses, and the Soviet Proletcultur in Russia which Lenin spearheaded, ran parallel courses and allowed for extraordinary travesties in merging the concepts of aesthetic, literary, and political action. Shaping these political and aesthetic dimensions into one vision, Tom Stoppard's Travesties brings together Lenin, James Joyce and Tristan Tzara in a dazzling display of a time when an incipient communism expressed the last political installation of the left modernist project and when the work of art was used as a special kind of laboratory for designing and testing this project.
Like The Importance, Travesties is a shocker built on the simple structure of the paradox and parody. It is pure sport of the mind, with obscene limericks, Beethoven's Appassionata and Every Little Breeze Seems to Whisper Louise, and Carr playing the role of raconteur of the WWI days when Zurich, swarming with cafe conspirators, exiles like James Joyce, Lenin and Tristan Tzara, was the place where ideology merged with reality.

Exiled to the Far End of the Opera House; [ In praise of a great teacher ; We were lucky last year to watch I Sydney Rush’s knockout portrayal at exit the King. Geoffrey Rush Debuts on Broadway in Ionesco’s Exit The King]
• · Stories and storytelling are passions The name game; Because people lack the brainpower to weigh someone's true merits quickly when first meeting them, we may mistakenly rate the person high or low on imaginary scales of intention and capability - or simply - warmth and competence Just because I'm nice - don't assume I'm dumb
• · · The stories on the weekend reminded me of Sir Humphrey asking Sir Arnold how the FOI was going. Sir Arnold replied Sorry I cannot tell you. It is a secret. ….Allan Kessing was accused of leaking two highly-confidential Australian Customs Service reports to The Australian newspaper in 2005, sparking the biggest overhaul of airport security in the country's history. Former Customs official convicted of leaking confidential ; Monica Attard: When Allan Kessing worked for Australian Customs he was charged with writing two reports on the state of airport security in Sydney Allan Kessing
• · · · This week Allan Kessing, the whistleblower who says he's been wrongly convicted of passing on information about the parlous state of Sydney Airport security to the media. As he prepares a final appeal to the High Court, he talks to Sunday Profile. Allan Kessing, Sydney Airport whistleblower ; Kessing s report on the security problems at our airports was gathering dust until it found its way onto the front page of The Australian. So to thank Mr Kessing for his efforts, a grateful nation charged him with leaking the report. Media Watch: Democratic Sabotage (16/10/2006)
• · · · · Whistleblower protection: a comprehensive scheme for the Commonwealth public sector - report of the inquiry into whistleblowing protection within the Australian Government public sector, Blowing the whistle, or speaking out against suspected wrongdoing in the workplace can be a very risky course of action. Outcomes can fall far short of expectations...Australia is blessed with a very high standard of public administration and professional conduct within the public sector. However, wrongdoing within the sector does occur from time to time and legislation on whistleblower protection is piecemeal at best." Whistleblower protection