Sailing or just being blown?

Overhead at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club…

… At that point you’re not sailing,
you’re just being blown.

Interested to know more, I stopped and asked the slighty battered-looking yachtie what he meant …

2008 Race Start by Will Calver — Yachting NZ (click)

He recounted how he’d recently been sailing in heavy weather and found himself with too many sails rigged. (He gave me details but, …whoosh!)

He explained that because of his rig, instead of making forward progress, in that weather, his boat was ‘just being blown over’.

In those conditions:

Less sail area = More progess.

I’m sure there are parallels…

Debt as a property investor?
Overheads in business?
Time spent online?

Any others? – P

Perfect Symmetry, Episode 6

The Bethlehem: its passage through space, indistinguishable from the darkness.

James shuffled slowly to the edge of the railing.  He was afraid of what he might find.  No human could survive in this atmosphere without the proper apparel.  The girl had been wearing a dress of all things!  Something like one might wear to the summer picnic at the lake!  James gripped the railing, knocking his own dust cloud into the thin dark air.  He peered over the edge.  The black cave-like hulk of the giant space below plunged downward into nothingness.  If there was anything hiding over that precipice then it hid far beneath him in the blackness below.   

James stepped back from the railing puzzled.  He had seen the girl.  No doubt about it.  And, here and there, is the evidence of her presence he thought, looking at the scuff marks in the film of dust that was almost fifteen hundred years thick.  He checked his atmospheric readouts:  100 Kelvin, pressure readout of 20 kilopascals, and 0.8 gee.  These numbers were to be expected, nothing was out of the ordinary, but the girl…  No amount of atmospheric accounting could explain her.   

James pondered the encounter.  All paths led to a conclusion of fancy.  There was no girl!  His continuing nightmares had been playing havoc with his sleep; he was fatigued, nothing more.  There was no girl!  Also, James had the nutritional issue from the lack of real food; his diet of algae — it could not be good for the mind.  There was no girl!  He had imagined her — that was all – a waking dream, nothing more.  He turned back to the train and stopped dead in his tracks, there, etched into the dust, was the drawing of an arrow. Continue reading →

Paul Henry: gracious in victory

So, in keeping with my general policy of confronting and directly answering criticism, here’s a response…

OK, that’s actually what I said (sorry to quote myself) but it seems Paul Henry subscribes to the same philosophy.

Paul Henry reads a 'fan letter' at the Qantas Film & Television Awards. (click to watch video)

Henry’s acceptance speech at the Qantas Awards is worth watching (video below the fold) because his delivery is almost flawless.

And good on him for reading that ‘fan letter’ out. That’s much better than stewing on it, or being wounded by it.
As someone who’s had my fair share of anonymous sock-puppet abuse and castigation (and some not anonymous) well, as I said, good on Henry, even if I’m not always a fan myself.

Nice work at what must have been a sweet moment for him. Continue reading →

Good ideas, well expressed

I’m reading the fascinating and cleverly written book about the worldwide spread of the English language:  Globish by Robert McCrum.

Gosh it’s a good read. I am learning a lot, and I’m really enjoying the care he takes with his writing. He uses long sentences (like wot I do) and carefully, sometimes exquisitely chosen words.

Maybe he’s a poet who doesn’t know it? Read this:

Then, in June 1381, scarcely five years into the reign of the young king Richard II, the riotous sequence of popular protest known as the Peasants’ Revolt was a vivid demonstration of the ideas that had been fermenting in the country at large. In truth, these few days of violent dissent were not led by peasants, and were, at least in the early stages, less a ‘revolt’ than a rolling tide of rowdy rustic revelry converging London from Essex and Kent.

Nice. Any writer (or reader) will know that a phrase like “rolling tide of rowdy rustic revelry” doesn’t just fall onto the page.

Also note: Peasants’ Revolt: (a) not run by peasants, (b) not actually a revolt (and all this with the Advertising Standards Authority not invented for another 700 years! Tsk.)

Later in the book, he describes the ‘revolt’: “In a manner characteristic of English social protest ever since, the atmosphere was a mixture of riotous assembly and Cup Final, in which celebrations of a ‘world turned upside down’ were combined with rough declarations of loyalty to the crown.’

And look at the admirably sardonic use of the word ‘thoughtfully’ in this passage:

Richard II never commanded his people as much as he should have done to ensure the survival of the Plantagenet dynasty. Large parts of England were in the hands of some half-dozen barons, any one of whom had the means to challenge the crown. When in 1399 Richard’s cousin Henry Bolingbroke, who had been in exile, landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, conducting the first effective invasion of England since 1066, with troops thoughtfully supplied by the King of France, aristocratic rebellion turned into a popular uprising, and finally expressed itself as parliamentary ‘trial’.

Pretty good, huh? I’m really enjoying it. – P

Taking a direct approach

Remember my comment from ‘When ‘gurus’ attack …’

I was encouraged by a comment recently in a BBC interview with John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff and Obama administration transition head… Podesta says he sets out to be an independent even critical voice, and adds this proviso:

“If you’re going to be critical of your friends I think you ought do it on the record — not behind their backs.”

Yes. That, for me, makes a big difference. How you criticise is important.

The value of a direct approach

I recently met a really bright guy in the early stages of his career as a personal development guru.

It was a real pleasure to talk with him — he is mentally alert, has a keen sense of humour, a good memory for relevant quotes and appropriate anecdotes.

He also seemed abundantly ambitious to grow himself and his personal brand while, it seems to me, painfully aware that he needs to avoid the corrosive effects of unsubstantiated hyperbolic claims.

We talked pretty frankly about some of the “types” we’ve both come across in the personal development/’wealth creation’ (bleurgh) game and I was open with him about my reaction to the tactics I’ve seen used by those who market themselves as … well, as things they are not.

I could see (and he told me as much) that he wasn’t used to such straight talk.

We agreed that many people seem to suffer from a terrible debilitating “Will you like me?” anxiety … which can shred their authenticity and credibility. It can prevent them telling the truth.

Continue reading →

An utterly useless waste of a person’s time

This popped up in a random Google search this morning …

He does “gaming” of the computer game kind. I told him I had a blog and that while blogging was an utterly useless waste of a person’s time, “gaming” over the age of 10 seemed to be a hundred times more futile.

– from a quite funny blog post ‘Thursday Night Dating Horrors’ by Cactus Kate

Made me chuckle.

Below the fold, James Taylor’s That’s Why I’m Here, featuring a lyric which rang out to me in the late 1980s…

“Try to remember, working’s no crime
Just don’t let ’em take and waste your time.”

Continue reading →

Backstabbing, conniving, and insensitive — just what we need?

Image: ovako.com (click)

From a New Yorker profile of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg:

“He stole the moment, he stole the idea, and he stole the execution,” Cameron [Winklevoss] told me recently. The dispute has been in court almost since Facebook was launched, six years ago.

… To prepare for litigation against the Winklevosses and Narendra, Facebook’s legal team searched Zuckerberg’s computer and came across Instant Messages he sent while he was at Harvard. Although the IMs did not offer any evidence to support the claim of theft, according to sources who have seen many of the messages, the IMs portray Zuckerberg as backstabbing, conniving, and insensitive.

… which reminded me of a comment in Deborah Hill Cone’s recent NZ Herald review of Wall St 2: Money Never Sleeps:

The world needs Gordon Gekkos. Contrary to Stone’s whimsical view of human nature, they don’t tend to be late-blooming family men but they have other attributes when it comes to pushing the boundaries of human achievement. If someone does make a history-changing breakthrough that solves, say, global warming, betcha it will be a Gordon Gekko bastard – not an earnest plaid shirt-wearing loft-dwelling liberal. If all the Gekkos in the world don’t lose their balls, that is.

Sometimes what Deborah Hill Cone calls ‘the narcissistic character of power addicts’ can eventually Iead them to approach the line bordering immorality or criminality — then, like Gekko in the first Wall St movie, there comes a time when they cross it.

Then they’re sociopaths or criminals. (Balls or no balls.)

I get an uneasy feeling about Zuckerberg, as I have said before. Here’s a substantial interview with Tyler Winklevoss in (not my favourite paper) The NY Post.

BBC – ‘The Interview’: Tony Blair

Former UK PM Tony Blair and the BBC's Owen Bennett Jones (BBC - click)

I listened to this interview twice last night (as a podcast).

 

I was impressed with Blair and his argument, I have to say. I always thought he was a great communicator, but didn’t expect to be struck, even inspired by his reasoned resoluteness and his thoughts about the challenge of radical Islam and Iran’s nuclear ambitions … and his self-doubt/questioning his own decisions and positions.

It was also interesting to hear him say ‘I remain basically a public service guy’ and indicate he would go back into it, given the chance (European Parliament etc.)

Listen here at the BBC:

Owen Bennett-Jones says Blair’s book is ‘suffused with disdain for the media …’ and the conversation takes an interesting twist (about 22 mins in), with Blair describing the ‘rancorous’ relationship the 24/7 media machine has developed with politicians.

Check it out.

Mr Phil Jones: re-heating cold horseshit

Ugh. I’ve just been slimed (again) by a man I personally regard as a dishonest and obnoxious bully-boy. So, in keeping with my general policy of confronting and directly answering criticism, here’s a response: (Only read it if you’re actually interested … OK?)

Mr Phil Jones (Consumer.org.nz)

It was a case of ‘speak of the devil’ — A couple of weeks ago, as discussed in ‘A little backlash?‘, a sock-puppet called ‘Don Smith’ popped up on spruiker Steve Goodey’s only-if-you-agree-with-Steve comment stream to praise fellow spruiker/internet ‘guru’ Dean Letfus … and to tell the world what a terrible, stinking hypocrite I [allegedly] am.

He referred to when I was a plaintiff with others in a lawsuit against a now-defunct get-rich-quick outfit called Richmastery run by former electrician Philip Ronald Jones, formerly of Hillsborough and Takanini.

The dispute followed Richmastery’s substantial copyright infringement of the books Commercial Real Estate Investor’s Guide and The Rascal’s Guide to Real Estate published by Empower Leaders Publishing.

In an effort to prove I’m no ‘Mister High and Mighty’ (yeah, he actually called me that!) ‘Don Smith’ alleged that Empower Leaders had included plagiarised material in the book How to Survive and Prosper in a Falling Property Market [supposedly, according to ‘Don Smith’] infringing the copyright of ‘another leading author’. (Yeah right.) Continue reading →

Google Is Now Officially Evil

Google CEO Eric Schmidt — image: Business Insider (click)

Google Is Now Officially Evil — Business Insider

Worth reading, and so is the lawsuit filing from Skyhook (PDF hosted at Daring Fireball)

In short, Skyhook says that Google effectively forced Motorola to cancel a deal with Skyhook in which Skyhook would have provided location-based services in Motorola phones — because Google wanted Motorola to use Google’s own location services instead.

Google’s leverage was threatening to withhold certification of Motorola’s Google Android-based phone, according to Skyhook CEO Ted Morgan, which would have prevented Motorola from selling it.  — Dan Frommer Business Insider

Bully-boys. This episode also shows the mythical ‘openness’ of the Android platform is an illusion too.

Quote of the week (from Jake at comments):

If Google had never played the altar boy angle, I’m sure this would be seen as just another corporate tussle and not news.

viz: Vic Gundotra, Google vice-president for engineering:

If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android.

Ouch. Dontcha just hate it when one’s own good intentions come back to bite one on the arse?

Disclaimer: I ain’t a saint. Or an altar boy. I keep saying it. – P

Thanks to John Gruber and Dan Frommer.

Agree or disagree?

Montgomery Clift in Alfred Hitchcock's 'I confess' (click)

A Member of Parliament admits he has a criminal past. But he does it very badly, slowly, and destroys his own credibility in the process.

I agree with this comment from my old Press Gallery colleague John Armstrong:

When he was asked on Tuesday if there was anything else in his past which warranted mention, he replied that there was nothing other than a few speeding tickets. He made no mention of the identity theft.

Maybe he thought his name suppression in that case meant he could not mention it. Or maybe he thought the suppression order would protect him.

This is not good enough. An MP’s words must be able to be trusted. Garrett’s have been rendered worthless.

But I’m not so sure I buy this logic from Annette King:

Mr Garrett, who led the party’s “three strikes” policy on tougher sentencing for serious violent offences, also admitted this week that he had been convicted of assault in 2002 in Tonga.

Labour deputy leader Annette King asked: “Is this strike two and is there a strike three?”

While the issue was quite old, “it’s about the hypocrisy of taking a strong stand when you’ve got a past“, Mrs King said.

How does having ‘a past’ disqualify one from taking a ‘strong stand’? Don’t past mistakes (hopefully) teach us something? Doesn’t ‘a past’, properly processed, actually empower us? I know in my own case, some of my own ‘negative’ decisions and experiences have made me a better man — and determined to live a better life.

This question: “Is there anything else in your past which warrants mention in these circumstances?” is a real test for a public figure. Garrett flunked it.

But I’ve never really bought ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ as an injunction not to judge — just not to condemn. So for me, the fact that Garrett had criminal convictions does NOT reduce his credibility as a thinker on justice issues — they are ideas that will stand or fall on their own merit. Politics is, after all, partly the competition of ideas.

Of much more import is how he conducts himself.
And sadly, he has let himself down in that score, I agree.
These issues will be seen to ‘go to character’, as our American cousins say.

UPDATE 3:15 PM: Oh. He’s resigned.

One of the best lines I’ve heard about someone’s criminal past was in a multi-layered monologue, one of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads scripts performed by the wonderful Patricia Routledge (paraphrased from memory):

I asked: ‘Do you think it will matter that I’ve been in jail?’
She said, ‘Love, with your qualifications it wouldn’t matter if you’d been in the SS.’

View another example of the Bennett/Routledge magic below the fold. Continue reading →

Playing along

One evening a little while ago I was driving home and encountered a Police ‘booze bus’ breath-test checkpoint.

image: BOP sunlive (click)

Cars queued up in a funnel pattern set up with cones and flashing lights … when it was my turn, the police officer reached in through my car window, held the breath screening thingy in front of my face and said:
“Please say your name and address.”

I replied (into the machine) “You don’t really want my name and address, you just need enough breath for a sample.”

This was not well received.

“Look here. It’s the law that when a police officer asks for your name and address, you must supply them,” he said sternly and scanned the display of the breathalyser.

“Well yes,” I said. “That’s if the question is being asked as part of an inquiry. Not just when you need some breath for a blood alcohol screening device.”

He looked at me hard.
He looked at my car and who else was in it.
He looked again at the reading on the breath-testing thingy.

Then he frowned at the queue of cars building up behind me, thought about it, and waved me on without another word.

I was reminded of that episode by a blog post I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions from Paul Karl Lukacs about his experience refusing to answer questions at a US Customs and Border Patrol…

“Why were you in China?” asked the passport control officer, a woman with the appearance and disposition of a prison matron.

“None of your business,” I said.

Her eyes widened in disbelief.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I’m not going to be interrogated as a pre-condition of re-entering my own country,” I said.

This did not go over well. She asked a series of questions, such as how long I had been in China, whether I was there on personal business or commercial business, etc. I stood silently. She said that her questions were mandated by Congress and that I should complain to Congress instead of refusing to cooperate with her. …

Paul’s post, and his follow-up 10 Brief Responses To 700 Comments About Refusing To Answer Questions At Passport Control are well worth a read in their entirety.


image: TV3 (click)

Now, look, I’m all for getting drunk drivers off the road, and if these ‘booze bus’ checkpoint campaigns work, GREAT. I’ll also be the first to concede that maybe Paul and I were being pedantic and uncooperative — even oppositional. But haven’t we each got a point?

Paul: the U.S. government does not have the power to prevent a citizen’s re-entry. You have the right to remain silent.

Me: A person in NZ must tell a police officer their name and address if asked — but only if there’s an actual purpose in the question.

Any thoughts?

Creative genius

I’ve been thinking about the Shepard Fairey vs AP copyright dispute I referred to yesterday. As clever as Mr Fairley is, there’s no doubt his Obama HOPE image rests as if on a foundation on the Mannie Garcia photo (copyright owned by AP, it transpires).

As the side-by-side comparison demonstrates, without the Garcia photo, what would Fairley have? The original deserved to be acknowledged/credited/licenced it seems to me.

For fun, consider my original ‘art work’ of Auckland supercity mayoral candidate Len Brown (who I had a brief chat with at the opening of the Going West literary festival at Titirangi last Friday.)

What do you think?
Am I a creative genius or what?

But how does your appreciation of my staggering artistic powers change when you see my source material?

Continue reading →

Propaganda?

Shepard Fairey 'painted' Olivia Wilde for the ACLU. (Click to enlarge)

Here’s a ‘new’ poster, designed by Shepard Fairey, the guy who adapted an AP photo of Barack Obama into a HOPE poster etc which sold gazillions, sparking AP to come after him for using their intellectual property without acknowledgment or royalties. (I personally think they had a point. Fairey’s unacknowledged use of the AP image went beyond ‘fair use’.)

Mannie Garcia's photo and Fairey's treatment

Anyway, this new poster features a gorgeous actress/model Olivia Wilde) dressed reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty holding a bullhorn and a clipboard — to promote the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU is an organisation whose courageous activists/whiste-blowers have been at the forefront of the civil right movement for decades.

‘Leading freedom forward’ — yeah it’s propaganda, but sometimes we need the encouragement of a slogan. Good on them.

The actress who acted as model for the poster, Olivia Wilde said this:

I believe we have to judge our society not by how we treat the privileged and the empowered, but by how we treat the silenced, the condemned, the undocumented, and all those whose views and rights are deemed inconvenient. The ACLU works tirelessly to uphold the promise of the Constitution, and I am proud to support their courageous and necessary work.

A friend of mine, and fellow inconvenient truthteller, recently copped a nasty, threatening curse-filled phonecall from someone who feels aggrieved by having a whistle blown on their dodgy activities. As I said elsewhere, it takes guts — “courageous and necessary work” to use Olivia Wilde’s epithet.

(Thanks to Huffington Post.)

Nasty and devious

From the New York TImes:

Above the Law

Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

By CLIFFORD J. LEVY | New York Times | September 11, 2010

Surveillance video shot by the police shows plainclothes officers confiscating computers from Baikal Environmental Wave. (NY Times)

IRKUTSK, Russia — It was late one afternoon in January when a squad of plainclothes police officers arrived at the headquarters of a prominent environmental group here.

They brushed past the staff with barely a word and instead set upon the computers before carting them away. Taken were files that chronicled a generation’s worth of efforts to protect the Siberian wilderness.

The group, Baikal Environmental Wave, was organizing protests against Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to reopen a paper factory that had polluted nearby Lake Baikal, a natural wonder that by some estimates holds 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

Instead, the group fell victim to one of the authorities’ newest tactics for quelling dissent: confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software.

Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of similar raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government.

Read on at NYTimes.com

Basically, stealing the tools of the trade and archives on a pretext. Nasty and devious.
+
UPDATE 14/9/10

Microsoft condemns use of anti-piracy laws to stifle dissent

NZ Herald

WASHINGTON – US software giant Microsoft has expressed concern over a report that anti-software piracy laws were being used to stifle dissent in Russia and announced steps to try to halt the practice.
Continue reading →