Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All Talk - Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha Night at Samoa house was very interesting. I think I would like to have a go at it myself.

The talks that were best were those that related to personal insights and experiences - rather than simply being about a thing - one of the speakers, form JASMAX was obviously earnestly concerned about sustainability but his topic was abstract and he reported third party thinking and experiences, rather than his own.

By contrast Pip Cheshire's talk about nnhis trip to Antarctica to help in the preservation of an historic hut was fascinating and well illustrated with photos of something I would be unlikely to be able top find anywhere else. I used to own a home designed by Pip so it had a different dimension for me too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fashion Without Victims?

Green Fashion: A New Trend to watch
The BBC has launched a web site dedicated to 'Ethical Fashion'. According to TrendHunter Magazine:

The online magazine seeks to address issues many fashion-conscious and environmentally-responsible people constantly grapple with such as the damage sustained by the environment due to irresponsible and unethical practices on the part of the fashion industry, sustainability, human and animal rights, fair trade practices, etc.


It looks interesting (aside from the rather pointless Flash ditty on the home page - which fails as apiece of information architecture). But on the positive the site has a number of features I found fascinating.

The A-Z of Ethical fashion terms is illuminating. I hadn't heard of the terms Swishing/Swapping/Shwopping – which are parties or websites where people exchange clothes they no longer wear. Obviously buying less stuff and moving stuff you no longer use to someone who will is a good idea. (I am a big fan of passing books on - they serve no purpose sitting on a shelf - especially if it unlikely that I will need to refer back to them).

Also on the list is Bamboo. I didn't know it could be converted to fabrics and yarns. However there is this footnote:

…the process of turning bamboo into yarn and cloth can involve chemicals and may use a lot of water – some factories are better than others. To make sure the bamboo has been sourced environmentally, it’s a good idea to ask where the raw bamboo comes from and how it’s processed.


…which highlights an obvious problem. Sometimes what seems right can be wrong. Creating demand for products that are actually worse than the one they replace is a negative solution. The bio-fuel frenzy is an example of this. Food prices are rising as farmers convert their crops to bio-fuel producing plants which not only places pressure on world commodity prices of staple foods like grains but is also likely to have dire environmental consequences - some bio fuels produce more Nitrogen than fossil fuels produce Carbon Dioxide - Nitrogen is more dangerous to the environment.

The videos on the site are interesting. Try Green is the new black. Of course some of the logic is troubling. For example if I refuse to buy cheap cotton T-Shirts (the presenter cites '3 for a fiver') and seek out the fair trade logo then what are the consequences? The people who are paid low wages - whether it is 5 pence an hour or not - won't be paid anything. The people who sell the Fair Trade or organic cotton shirts will exploit me instead by inflating the rice of the garment, applying a premium to salve my liberal conscience. The consequence of that is that I have less cash to spend on health and education for my children.

All things considered, the site is worth a look. It's nice to find a BBC site that allows non UK residents to view the video material.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pecha Kucha Auckland

I am excited to be going to my first Pecha Kucha night in Auckland tomorrow night.

PECHA KUCHA NIGHT AUCKLAND VOL. 07

Tuesday 29th april
Doors open 19:30h(7.30pm)
start 20:20h(08.20pm)
Samoa House, 283 Karangahape Rd, Auckland City
admission $7

Rapid-fire presentations at the fale pasifica inside the Maota Samoa House on K-Road.


Updated list of speakers:
Sam Hamilton // artist // sound in the jungles of South America
Martin Horspool // about recycled robots
Jerome Partington // architect // accelerating global sustainability
Sale Pepe // artist // non-samoan art by a somoan artist
Nora West // arts manager // MALAGA SAMOA
Albert Refiti // Senior Lecturer, Head of Spatial Design, AUT // on Pacific architecture
Pip Cheshire // Cheshire Architects // on the conservation of Antarctic huts
Judy Cockeram // Senior Tutor, University of Auckland School of Architecture // on teaching in Pakistan
Barbara Holloway // Manager KBA // K ROAD – THE FINAL FRONTIER
Edward Bennett // an extraordinary landscape
Also check our website for updates www.pechakucha.co.nz

There will be a $5 cash bar.
Come early, there will be limited seats.

Pecha Kucha - which originated in Tokyo - is a unique, rapid-fire format in which each speaker shows 20 images, each for 20 seconds. With each presentation lasting just 6 minutes and 40 seconds, the audience experiences an exhilarating variety of ideas and projects. Pecha Kucha Nights are now happening in 120 cities worldwide.

Losing it

I am feeling pretty bummed. Someone stole my laptop from my car. Admittedly it was coming to the end of its useful life - where my hands rested when I type all of the metal finish had worn down the bare plastic. It is very distinctive wear. I don't know how useful it will be - it is password protected.

Luckily I had only recently backed all of my data - not something I am famous for doing. So, unlucky and laucky in the same breath.

It has been a day of hustling to get a computer and software to put a presentation together for a major client. Still, mission accomplished. Phew.

Leaving valuables in view in your car is dumb. Not locking is dumberer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

American Idol

I have to confess enjoying the spectacle of American Idol. It is an entertainment industry tour de force. But it demonstrates the fickle nature of celebrity in the 21st Century. By having an expert panel of judges, well experienced music industry insiders with various perspectives, the finalists are selected on merit and their possible bankability if they can show over the course of the series that they have the ability to appeal to a populist vote. It all makes good sense so far, right?

The format is genius. Ratings are spectacular and the show is franchised around the world - think about that when you are naming your products - leave room for the local variation. We have NZ Idol here in New Zealand, though its lack of a second series is telling. Sponsors Coke and Ford seem to get great exposure and have remained with the show over its many seasons. The voting system where viewers pay for the opportunity to cast a ballot for their favourite supporters generates millions in revenues for the programmes owners. Spin-off merchandising of the contestant music on iTunes is another revenue stream and, I don't know the content of the contracts with winning artists but I imagine their is some long term gain if the artist's career succeeds - as it has for the likes of Kelly Clarkson.

SPOILER WARNING: I will reveal who has been eliminated from shows that have not aired in New Zealand yet (possibly in your country too).

I was just reading a Reuter's report that two of the more talented performers have been eliminated from the show.

Carly Smithson, the Irish singer with distinctive tattoo on her arm was bumped after a rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar. Each of the judges praised her performance but she was voted off by the public. It has been floated that the song would have rubbed people in the 'bible belt' up the wrong way.

Also sent packing was Australian singer Michael Johns.

Both Johns and Smithson seem to be well placed for the final showdown.

It has been interesting how often Simon Cowell has said that it will be an interesting contest if it remains a singing competition and not a popularity contest.

Sadly I think it has been the latter.

The Official American Idol Site

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Art as a bit of a giggle…Sarah Maple




In a rather random outburst I have to say that I like this young artist's approach and ideas. Heiress to the vacancy left vacant by Warhol?

I'm not sure what to make of her. But, then, I'm not sure that she knows what to make of herself.

It's ok. She was born in 1985. There is time (If Hilary Clinton doesn't nuke Iran in an act of accident bravado).



Visit Sarah Maple's site

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Secret Societies

“…Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy… censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, ‘This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,’ the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives.”

Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ode to joy

“Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”
Charles Bukowski

Can the most mundane source of inspiration offer the most profound insight? I think so.

Today I watched my daughter listening to my friend Monique talk to her and tell her jokes. She threw her head back in pure uncomplicated joy, loving the absurdities and 'getting' them all, losing her inhibition and shyness over meeting for the first time. Letting go and leaving exhilirated with the possibility of ideas and unlocking the flood of her own in the car…all the way home.

NSU Ro80 designer dies


"Claus Luthe, a towering, but tragic, figure in the history of car design, died in Munich last month. His first job was at Fiat where he worked on the Cinquecento. Then he moved to the German firm NSU to work on the Ro80, launched in 1967. The most radical car ever made, its astonishing appearance, a perfect compliment to its astonishing technology, was Luthe's responsibility. He invested his creative effort in a dramatic wedge shape, made possible by the compact rotary engine. His aim was 'sleekness and elegance'. Its sculpted form looks and is aerodynamic, but this was entirely intuitive: the Ro80 was only tested after the shape had been decided. In 1990 Luthe, by now head of design at BMW, was jailed for two years for murdering his drug-addict son. BMW gave him back his job, but could not repair his reputation. - The Guardian"


I've always wanted to own an Ro80. Although the car was designed with pen and paper Luthe was an early exponent of the computer assisited design tools that are standard now and which seem to homogenise auto design. Ironic.

Feeding your inner wolf.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside everyone of us.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, conceit, sorrow, hatred, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride, lust, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Warren Zevon - My Shit's Fucked Up

I know the feeling…

Philistine Me.

In the statistics of this blog there is an analysis of the key search terms used. They never fail to surprise me. One search that is increasingly common is for Hone Tuwhare, the recently demised poet, author of Rain.



I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence
rain

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see
you

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me
rain



I wrote a post that was dismissive of him as an obscure figure by comparison to Rudyard Kipling. That, of course, is an unfair comparison. Kipling's work was of an entirely different form, it seems to me he expressed events and his perception of them in an outer form while Tuwhare revealed ourselves through the opening of his own heart. I have enjoyed getting to know his work (thanks to the public library) and I regret my previous ignorance. I apologise to anyone offended by my earlier, ignorant sarcasm.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." - Emerson

I can't find a copy of his work to link you to - his collected work is $99 on Amazon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Story of Stuff



I thought I had mentioned this before. Apparently not. The Story of Stuff is a succinct presentation addressing the issue of consumption and sustainability. In parts it is a little biased but on balance I think it is an important message that you should hear and think about.

This is just the first chapter. I recommend visiting the web site Story of Stuff to watch the entire number in Flash.

let me know what you think.

RSS - made simple



I have had a number of colleagues look at me blankly when I talk about RSS.
This presentation is excellent.

VIA Presentation Zen

ThoughtSpur - Monday

Do not speak - unless it improves on silence.

Inspiration from Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Discovery Channeling



I really like this ad for the Discovery channel. Who said that things that are interesting and edifying have to be dull or worthy? Watch the news for long enough and you will begin to think everything is negative. Fear is the key that unlocks the compliance of the population. Short format news bites iterate and reiterate UnSpeak of the day. News reporting is devolving to converge with propaganda and advertising (at its worst - say something often enough and loudly enough and it becomes the 'truth').

Going back to the Discovery Channel, I was reminded once again of Randy Pausch, the author of the Last Lecture - based on his lecture at Carnegie Mellon which has become an internet phenomenon. (I am reviewing the book at the moment). Pausch says that people learn best when they think they are doing something else. In the case of the Discovery channel your own channels are open because you feel entertained.

Thanks to the excellent Bad Banana Blog
for the heads up - I haven't visited for a while and was reminded of just how good it is.


Order the The last Lecture from Amazon

New Zealanders: order from Fishpond The Last Lecture

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rock The Vote

My friend Monique Rhodes is participating in the Amplifier competition Sounds From Your Hometown. You can vote for Monique here. When you vote you go into the draw to win $500 cash. Enough for an iPod Touch or a weekend in Sydney.

At the moment she is in the lead for the Auckland region.

Better still. Buy a copy of her album Awakenings from her web site. Perfect Mother's Day present.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Photoshop Express

I follow Ben kepes' blog with some interest because, in part, it has become a habit and, in part, because I am interesested in developments in the world of SaaS (Software as a Service) - which I think I am beginning to understand.

Adobe have launched a cut down version of their indispensible software Photoshop that you can use online for free. You can also store and share images on their servers. So social media and SaaS bump and grind.

I must have a play with it when I get a minute. As you might have guessed I have a penchant for mucking about with Photoshop.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cool Friends





I recently met Beth Clapperton. She is a kiwi who worked for Disney as an imagineer. Isn't that one of the finest titles a person could have? She is a lovely person, bright, inquisitive and challenging (in the good way). I hope she finds a niche here in New Zealand where she can add her considerable value to the economy. What the heck - she can invent her own…

This is my 1000th post.

Who'd have thunk?

Singing from the same hymn book

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Olympic Flame

Olympic flame makes its way to Beijing

Click to enlarge. Feel free to pass it around.

You may think that the Olympic torch relay is part of an ancient tradition, dating back to 770BC. But it isn't. The ritual of running the torch from Athens to the venue of the modern games was invented by the Nazis for the 1936 Olympics. The idea was to draw a link between the ancient Greek ideals and the cockamamie ideas of racial purity and a master race whose origin was Germany. It was part of a Fascist spectacle - as is the current fiasco.

World leaders should follow the lead of Gordon Brown and Sarkozy of France and refuse to attend the opening ceremony (at the very least).

My guess is the whole thing is going to blow up in the face of the Chinese. They are not going to be able to cope with the western media or an influx of athletes who will feel a strong moral obligation to make a protest.

As for sponsors of the Beijing Olympics - I think they should get the cold shoulder.

White Gold is White Gold


One of the classic ad campaigns of the last twenty years is 'Got Milk'. The ads by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners were simple and an example of the power and influence of planning (the process of creating the idea is well documented in Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning).

Well the agency that created the Got Milk Campaign has launched a new programme to sell milk for its nutritional benefits - which sounds all rather worthy, doesn't it? But meet White Gold, a rock god and his two band mates in a baroque parody that I think you find amusing.

The creative feels familiar, there was an MTV promo campaign created here in New Zealand with an unlikely guru - and the new Mike Myers film (also about a guru) seem to be in the same genre).

It is a bit of fun, but I doubt it will enter the cultural consciousness the same way as 'Got Milk' managed to do.



Visit the no expense spared web site
(My favourite is the stage suspended beneath a Montgolfier styled hot air balloon).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dear Burger king

Midgets are passe - not funny.
Referring to Jack Black movies doesn't constitute an 'idea'.
Trying to be cool makes you uncool.

Yours sincerely…

etc.

There are none so blind

I have been wearing glasses with a very old prescription for over two years. In that time my sight has changed. I can't see anything much close up to match the fact that I can't see any distant thing either. I won;t claim to be be blind as a bat because bat's faculties are quite different.

Anyway I have new glasses. The graduated lens kind. In another time I would have had bi-focals.

So I am going to spend the weekend reading as much as I can. Perfect timing because I have just got some review copies to read and, well, review. I am going to start with the book version of Randy Pausch's Last lecture. I have written about him on the blog before. It looks like a nice little book. A good looking package.

I CAN SEE!

Agreeing isn't thinking…

I'm depressed. No one seems to care enought to agree or oppose me on my points of view.

Am I wasting my breath?

Should I just close the blog down and go make money like everybody else?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lucky me

What a sensational day in Auckland today. Blue sky. Sparkling water. It all made the stress of work seem like a summer's day.

I am enjoying working with the team at BrandWorld. It is an interesting business that defies the conventional advertisng model in ways that you wouldn't expect. The population of experienced brains from advertising, marketing and publishing is (I'll have to use the technical term, sorry) gobsmacking. Since I sold my stake in the business - when it was still fledgling - it has progressed phenomenally to become an influential force in the marcomms landscape.

It doesn't hurt that the office overlooks the sensational Auckland viaduct - ring side.

Olympic Ideals

Beijing olympic logo design
Beijing olympic logo design
Beijing olympic logo design
Beijing olympic logo design
Beijing olympic logo design


Watching the fiasco surrounding the running of the Olympic flame - which becomes more like the running of the bulls in Pamplona every day.

It looks as if the Olympics could bring down the bamboo curtain once and for all.

Either that or the regime will become even more oppressive than it is now.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood



Spent the day with my daughter. Goofing around. We're both jazzed about seeing the movie Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss. Well, the story is by the late and very great Theodore Giesel but the film is by the creative geniuses who delivered ice Age to the world.

I had some library books to return and a DVD of a film about Bob Dylan's 1965 trip to England that was overdue and costing me .40 a day in fees. I thought Zoe might enjoy reading the original. Takapuna didn't have a copy but the catalog system said Albany Village did. We went there. (It's not the same without the chickens). The book wasn;t there. But a team of librarians helpfully found an anthology with the story.

Though the decision to slaughter the iconic chicken population was about as heavy handed and stupid as any council has ever made (the village even has chicken lampposts - paid for by the council) the investment in the flying fox is brilliant. We had great fun there…I must have tested the chain to breaking point…


Zoe hoovered up the book and complained the story was too short. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing? At least she's reading.

I like the message of the story - that every voice matters. No matter how small.

So I sit here on my speck…

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Green Machine

saab 900 aero 1993
I have a new toy. A Saab Aero (another one). There's just something about them that I like. This one is a 93. The last year they were manufactured and the last of the hand made Saabs before General Motors bought the brand and pushed all of their models onto a common platform with Renaults and other badge engineered cars. It's not the turbo. Oddly it is perkier than my old turbo, which was disappointing.

The Aero coupe is a good example of iconoclasm in design - The One & Only - it is curiously gothic, tall, curved screen, long profile; apparently referring to the Saab aircraft manufacturing tradition. To me it seems a bit of a stretch to associate a car with a plane, but I suppose the cockpit is reminiscent of a Cessna or something like that. I took flying lessons in the 80's and I have to say, in truth, their ain't no similarity whatsoever.

There was a terrific article in Fast Company magazine a while back that talked about (ironically) the Renault:

Le Quement's work proves that innovation doesn't necessarily have to be pretty. But it does have to be original. One of the auto industry's most provocative and uncompromising designers, le Quement has scored huge hits with small cars such as the Clio, Twingo, and now the Megane -- a cheeky little compact that has overtaken Volkswagen's conservatively designed Golf to become western Europe's best-selling car.


Fans fete him for reviving French style and injecting cars with personality again. Either way, le Quement says, bland, lowest-common-denominator design is the kiss of automotive death; better to anger some potential buyers to win the love of some others. "The future does not belong to designers creating products that do not displease the customer," he says, citing a J.D. Power and Associates survey that says carmakers that polarize opinion make juicier margins on the cars they sell. The study found that cars that people either love or hate -- such as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Infiniti FX -- "sell quicker and at a higher profit margin" than cars that get lukewarm reactions.


I love it. Quirks and all.

Fast Company Article


Saturday, April 05, 2008

What's in a name?

I am thnking of changing my name to Oswald Montechristo or Zanzibar Buck Buck McFate.

I've developed a lot of names for one thing and another over the years:

Living Earth - a compost company (designed their logo as well - on a napkin in a restaurant)
eMale - an online magazine for men, popular in its day, but I took a job and let it slide.
WellSpring - an online resource for people interested in wellbeing information
Personal Best - a gift shop (for people who have everything else).
CEX - The Creative Exchange
Family Health Diary
- masthead/IMV for health information and remedies
Eating Well - masthead/IMV for good food advertisers
OutSmart - a consultant collective
The Windmill
- a speakers bureau
Natural Habitat - magazine for customers of a natural gas supplier
The Brainforest Press - self publishing
Writer's Bloc - writing pool

Trying to think of a name for a mate's food vending operation...nothing good is coming to mind. Might have to sleep on it.

House Porn


I have flipped through hundreds, possibly even thousands of home magazines. My favourites are titles like Dwell and Metropolitan Home. I can say with confidence that I have never once read any of the stories that accompany the photographs. I might read a caption or headline but never the text. For all I know it might be lorem ipsum the mock language used in layouts to indicate where the text will go. I don't assume that other people are the same or any different for that matter. A colleague suggested the other day that people use these magazines as a form of voyeurism, scanning other people's homes for inspiration or with a sense of aspiration - ideas that can be adapted to their tastes and budgets. For me though I can definitely tell you, I don't read them for the articles.

The Real Secret

I have begun reading chef Gordon Ramsay's second autobiographical book Playing with Fire. It is obvious from the start the Ramsay believes his success is attributable to his fierce determination. He describes a competitive nature where winning is not enough.

I wonder if this kind of motivation has gone from our culture, leaving us exposed and weak. Even the lowest of the low will be fed and housed, they will be granted 'benefits'. Even very capable people have migrated to mediocrity. Why excel when just coasting and conserving your energy can produce a lifestyle that would have been inconceivable just a generation ago.

We've become cosy and lack a competitive drive. I wonder how many people's plans for the future involve winning Lotto - effectively making it no plan at all?

Maybe it is the message of The Secret that is the problem. Just because you want something is enough for it to be given to you by a benign, abundant Universe. I don't think so. History is littered with people who won because they stormed their neighbour's castle and took what they wanted. How do you think the world was colonised by Europeans? Growing up I was taught that empires were good things - great accomplishments. Today our post-modern, post colonial, politically correct society is ashamed of its heritage. It conveniently forgets that Maori people were warriors who competed with their neighbouring tribes for scarce resources (New Zealand wasn't an easy place to live in when all you had were stone-age tools and technology - Maori populations increased and decreased with the availability of protein - like the Moa - which they extinguished). Maori still fight among themselves - it has taken 20 years from Bay of Plenty Iwi (tribes) to a agree on the split of a half billion dollar settlement over the massive Kaiangaroa forest.

Go get 'em

Friday, April 04, 2008

Carly Simon



I was flipping through Vanity Fair, last month's edition at Borders the other day. It features a story about three amazing women of Rock. It reminded me that I think Carly Simon is one of the most astonishingly attractive wome on the the planet. maybe it is becasue I so rarely smile that I like her gigantic smile.



I saw James Taylor play at Mt Smart Stadium in the 80's. It was the most laid back concert I have ever been to. The elderly lady seated next to me offered me a boiled sweet. A member of the audience called out to him to come home for dinner. I think he considered it. Megan, my son's mother introduced me to this stuff, she loved Micheal Franks and I have to say that I can't hear Micheal Franks' album then Art of Tea without floods of memories. Soemtimes that's why I listen to it. The album is mad. Every tune has a food theme. Popsicle toes, Eggplant - please watch this. Its a thing of beauty and calories. Make love to it.



The video above isn't from the Art of Tea album but you get the flavour.

I caught up with the astonishingly talented Monique Rhodes quickly today. She is so much fun. Talking to her (in an outrageous Latvian accent - hers better than mine - the misical ear) I developed a theory that smart people are funny people. Humour is a creative function. Twisting the tale. making surprising connections. We're putting a showcase together for people in advertising. It will probably be back at the Honey. If you will be in Auckland and in the Biz please email me for invitation,≥da?

We'll talk about music some more in the next few days. Maybe dentistry too.

Bohemian Like You

A colleague asked if I was going to La Boheme. Hmmm. Not sure. Last time I went wasz in London. The IRA incoveniently bombed my train station on Canary Wharf. Naturally that made me think of the Dandy Warhols' Bohemian Like You.




Two friends have taken me for food at Chow in one week. I recommend it. Good food. Fair (if slightly expensive - considering Food Alley is 800m away and half the price for better food). Food Alley doesn't have cool; let alone supercoolbaby.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

People people.

I suppose I expected a flurry of complaint about my remarks on the Olympics and Beijing's treatment of the people of Tibet. But you have all been thunderously silent. So I will take it that you are indifferent to the subject or are simply not keen to express an opinion - which may be wise, once the Chinese get their hands around the neck of the New Zealand parliament, who knows what reprisals will be made on Kiwi dissidents? I jest, of course, or do I?

On the home front I have been concerned that my daughter has been in a little trouble at school. She can be high spirited and that doesn't necessarily go down well in a classroom filled with thirty eight year olds. But while it is distressing to have a one's child singled out for special treatment it is hardly the end of the world. To quote the iconoclastic rogue Francis Fulford “Crisis point? I wouldn’t call this a crisis point. One of my ancestors was hung, drawn and quartered in 1463. That’s what I call a f***ing crisis point.”

Sometimes we just need a little perspective.

I am going through the process of casting for talent for a new television commercial property. The process reminds me of how small the talent pool is in New Zealand - principally because the total pool is so darned small. You could loose the entire population of New Zealand in Manhatten. In fact, if you want to get a little perspective on population and relationships…our new best friends, the Chinese, killed 45.75 to 52.5 (median - based on 14 cited sources) Cultural Revolution. Nearly two million Tibetans were killed or died in concentration camps between 1950 - 1960. Charming folk indeed.