And good night from the ABC

I remember driving along Victoria Road in Sydney one day years ago, and stopping the car so I could hear the rest of the marvellous Book Reading on the Australian Broadcasting Commission Radio National station I had accidentally turned to on the car radio. I am sure you all have similar stories. I discovered that the reading was from Patrick White’s “Voss”. I had read the book decades ago, but this audio version was a wonderful surprise: word by careful word it was thrilling and amazing. But this will never happen again. You will never again hear on ABC radio a radio drama, or a Book Reading, or a thoughtful, extended biography of a writer’s life (two evenings on Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse from the 1970s come to mind) or a whole evening facing up to a new philosophy (Existentalism, perhaps, with interviews with Sartre, who rejected his Nobel, and de Beauvoir, from the same era) if you live in Australia. Britain yes: there, local radio drama and features production is thriving, according to a producer from Birmingham I spoke to in Perth in 2011. In Australia, no.

Herman Hesse

I remember thinking when Malcolm Fraser took control of Government in this country, back in the early seventies (I was in the middle of recording a stereo radio play for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Brisbane when that happened), that the Liberals would destroy the ABC. They didn’t have to: the ABC managers did it themselves. Let enough time pass, and society changes, and the bureaucrats and the cultural bimbos* gain control, and — using silly economic arguments — destroy what made the ABC great. This is what happens when you let the Managers in: (from The Australian)
Continue reading “And good night from the ABC”

Evernote, Moleskine debut techy Smart Notebook

If you think the word “debut” is a verb, keep reading.

[Note-taking service Evernote and Italian paper firm Moleskine introduce a 21st century notebook that aims to make written notes easier to digitally archive. On the CNEt site, from a story by Christopher MacManus. Here’s what they say: my comments in square brackets.]

Keyboards schmeyboards. Whatever happened to writing with stationary? Before we totally descend into a touchy-feely world of screens and buttons, at least the new can co-exist with the old through the Evernote Smart Notebook, made in collaboration with Italian paper company Moleskine.

[Spelling alert… A stationer sells stationery, my primary school class was told back in the 1950s.]

But to continue… Supposedly, the tiny dotted lines on the “smart” notebook paper allow Evernote app users to take pictures of written pages of text that later become searchable in the app through handwriting recognition technology.

moleskine_pagecam3The dotted lines ensure that the app knows the correct orientation of the document, which makes for more accurate scanning. The notebook’s debut coincides with an update today [2012-08-25] for Evernote’s iOS app, which adds “Page Camera,” a feature that makes document photo shoots easier by enhancing contrast and removing shadows.

Dozens of “smart stickers” also come with the notebook. Pictures of pages that contain a sticker automatically become organized under the related tag in the app. The Evernote smart notebook, now available for preorder, comes in either pocket or large sizes ($24.95 and $29.95, respectively), and includes a three-month subscription to Evernote premium.

Crave tried taking a photo of a regular written document with the Evernote app, but could not get the handwriting recognition to function initially.

An Evernote representative warned us via e-mail that “the app does handwriting recognition, but the app does the processing on the Evernote server side. Thus, it might take some time to work, and you’ll have to make sure things are synced.”

Evernote says — and I quote — “To use the Page Camera, launch the camera inside of Evernote, then tap on the new Page Camera icon at the top of the screen. Hold your camera above the page and center the image inside the rectangle. Snap a photo, then move on to the next page. Using your flash ensures that you’ll get the highest quality image. Tap on the page numbers to review the images you’ve taken. Tap the checkmark when you’re done.”

[So, before you can use this paper notebook, you need to invest in a two thousand dollar (contract over two years) pocketable computer/phone/camera device sold by Apple. Ernest Hemingway, with his school exercise book, his jar of one dozen sharpened pencils and his talent — total cost, three dollars — would have groaned aloud.]

Pi in the Sky

Many denizens of the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley noticed a long series of cloudy numbers in the skies around noon on Wednesday, September 12. No, their coffee wasn’t spiked with hallucinogens.

The ephemeral event, known as Pi in the Sky, utilized five aircraft with dot-matrix skywriting technology to write out a thousand numbers of the beloved mathematical constant pi (3.14159..) at a 10,000-foot altitude. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the numerals of pi written in the sky each stood nearly a quarter-mile tall, stretched for a 100-mile loop, and undoubtedly caused mass inspiration and confusion all at once.

Quoted with thanks from: C|Net’s Crave site. Photo credit: Bradley Bozarth.

Only in San Francisco…

The Best Australian Poems, 2011

In 2011 I was asked to guest-edit The Best Australian Poems anthology, which turned out to be very popular. My Introduction mentioned in passing Homer, rock’n’roll, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ashbery, Luis Buñuel’s funny and clever movie «The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie» (1972), Freud, Slavoj Žižek, the Australian hoax poet Ern Malley and Henry James.

I have reprinted my Introduction, and an Interview conducted by the publishers, Black Inc, in Melbourne, on my Main Site at

Altogether the material adds up to about 9 printed pages.

I am currently compiling the 2012 edition of the anthology. In 2013 a new editor will take over.

Tweet in Morse code


A brilliant hack lets you post to Twitter using Morse code. (From a story by Bonnie Cha at CNET News Crave Magazine)

With Twitter Peek getting the axe, you’re probably wondering, “Now what will I use to post my tweets?” How about the Tworse Key?

Yes, forget your smartphone, tablet, and laptop. The telegraph key is the wave of the future for sending tweets via Morse code. […] Tworse Key is the brainchild of Martin Kaltenbrunner, who submitted this amazing project to Hack A Day. Kaltenbrunner created the standalone device using a built-in Arduino Ethernet board and an integrated standard LAN cable (cleverly covered in cloth to give it a more old-fashioned look) to connect to the Web.

As you compose your tweets using Morse code, the Ethernet board decodes the signals and transmits your message using the Twitter API.

Kaltenbrunner created a Twitter account (@tworsekey) for the Tworse Key so you can check out some tweets composed by the device. Even better, you can build your own following these set of instructions. Now, we just need to learn Morse code.

For much more information, especially relating to the poetic “iambic key”, see Wikipedia. (Credit: Photo from a video screenshot by Bonnie Cha/CNET)

Pudding Island

herring-girlIt’s strange: you’d think that Great Britain would be high on the list of countries that look at my Journal: after all, they speak English, nicht wahr? After Australia and the US? But they are fourteenth on the list of viewers by number. After (in this order: hurray for the Dutch!) the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Algeria, China, Slovenia, France, Italy, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Hong Kong. Then, in fourteenth place, Pudding Island, as Lawrence Durrell called Britain. Amazing!

Jacket: Gone to Philadelphia

Cognac Jacquet

‘The Elephant Has Left the Room’: Jacket magazine and the Internet

by John Tranter

Available now on the website of the Journal for the Association for the Study of Australian Literature


Australian poet John Tranter trained in most aspects of publishing, from hand-lettering to editing, from litho platemaking to screen printing, and developed an early familiarity with computers. The development of the Internet in the 1990s found him armed with a formidable array of skills. He published the free international Internet-only magazine Jacket single-handed in 1997. Jacket quickly grew to become the most widely read and highly respected literary magazine ever published from Australia. In late 2010 John Tranter gave it to the University of Pennsylvania, where it continues to flourish. This memoir traces John Tranter’s publication of literary materials on the Internet including the technical and literary problems faced by Jacket, and outlines the many other projects that resulted in the Internet publication of over fifty thousand mostly Australian poems, articles, reviews, interviews and photographs.