Category Archives: A new Era

How To Live In The Now: Eckhart Tolle

Okay, I’ve joined the new social media. My Facebook is up and running. Twitter is tweeting. My blog is blogging. My smart phone is smarting. The old telephone keeps ringing. The fax has stopped working but the email inbox is a tidal wave that King Canute can’t stop. It reminds me of why I was drawn to Eckhart Tolle, and why I should come back to him.

How To Live In The Now - Eckhart Tolle by David LeserHere’s an admission. I take Eckhart Tolle to bed with me every night. I share him with others, of course, but he’s the constant companion. He’s the one that’s always there. Sometimes when I don’t sleep I turn to him for comfort or advice. At other times, deep in the grip of some dreamstate, I feel him guarding the night like my own personal shepherd.

We’ve never met in person – although that’s about to change – but I can honestly say I love him. I love what he has to say and how he says it in those German-laced dulcet tones of his. Yes, he’s even on my ipod favourites playlist! And I’m happy to say my wife fully understands our relationship. She’s an admirer too, although hers is not as deep a bond as mine. Call it a case of “each according to their needs.”

A few years ago I foisted him on my unsuspecting, but surprisingly receptive, 80 year-old father, then onto my brother and sister who’d actually seen the light months earlier. Last year my 19 year-old daughter took him with her all through Europe. She says he’s now become her friend too.

I know what you might be thinking. That we’ve all stumbled badly, lost our moorings and joined some wild-eyed religious cult. In fact the opposite is true. We’ve found … let me speak for myself  … I’ve found something deep inside myself that has always been there. It just needed a perfect stranger, a pixie of a man with shining eyes, to point the way.

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Ethics in Journalism

Here’s my recent chat with George Negus on ABC North Coast radio with Joanne Shoebridge. We discussed media ethics in the wake of the Craig Thompson affair, and the collapse of the old business model in funding investigative journalism.

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Julian Assange: The Most Wanted Man In The World

As Julian Assange awaits a British Supreme Court challenge to his extradition to Sweden this story looks at the early life of a computer wizard who became one of the most wanted men in the world.

Nearly two decades ago in the hills outside Melbourne Julian Assange would go to sleep in the early hours of the morning dreaming of police raids. He would hear footsteps on the driveway gravel, see shadowy figures hovering near his house, and imagine armed police bursting through his backdoor at dawn.

Julian Assange: The Most Wanted Man In The World

Photograph: Carmen Valino

He was often paranoid and exhausted, mainly because he’d been up all night hacking his way into Australian and overseas computers. His lack of sleep compounded his paranoia. He believed the police were watching him, tapping his phone and about to raid his house.

He was dead right about that.

In late October 1991, this 20 year-old computer wizard was a key member of an elite underground movement in Melbourne known as International Subversives, arguably the most sophisticated hacking group on the planet.

Comprising three brilliant, obsessive young men from dysfunctional family backgrounds – they met initially on computer bulletin board systems, not in person – the group had managed to break into some of the most secure networks in the world, including NASA, the Naval Surface Warfare Centre in Virginia and the Pentagon itself.

We know this because Julian Assange was to tell us himself six years later in a book called Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, published to great international acclaim in 1997. Written by Australian post-graduate student, Suelette Dreyfus, with Assange’s close co-operation, Underground lifted the lid on the exploits of this rogue sub-culture operating out of Australia’s second largest city.

Their maxim was: “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.”

The book, in part a ghost-written autobiography of Assange’s early life, never actually revealed the names of the Melbourne hackers, but rather online nicknames such as Phoenix, Electron, Prime Suspect, Trax and Mendax.

Court documents and biographical details on the Wikileaks website would later show that Mendax was none other than Julian Assange. He’d chosen his moniker from Horace’s splendide mendax, meaning “nobly untruthful.”

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Post Heritage

David Leser Journalist
I have been sitting in a bottle of aspic for the past ten years, curing and pickling in the world of heritage journalism. Social media? Who needs it. Facebook? Forget it. Twitter? For narcissists and Liz Hurley’s parrot. Okay, I’m washing myself down, stepping – gingerly – towards the 21st century. It feels like someone is hauling me off the horse and buggy, and pointing me toward the electric car that is parked just beyond the hill. `Come hither old man and get with the times.’
Here we go.
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