Subscribe: Jack Yan: the Persuader Blog
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
blog  bush  decade part  decade  google  history decade  jackson  new  page  part  people  president  show  shy  time 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Jack Yan: the Persuader Blog

Jack Yan: the Persuader Blog

Jack Yan—branding consultant, typeface designer, author, speaker, media owner—blogs his thoughts on his fields, and on trends, globalization, policy, business and social responsibility.

Updated: 2010-03-08T22:15:33.823Z


The old blog is still here


Tired of all the BS from Google and Blogger, we’re just changing over to Wordpress (as discussed in my last post of 2009). (The good news is that the theory worked about installing Wordpress in to the existing directory.)
   For the old blog, click here. We’ll have everything integrated very early in 2010 and I’ll kick the year off with a “best of” series, just to get this home page looking a bit more populated.

My last post for this blog on Blogger (fingers crossed)


(image) Folks, this is the last post of 2009, and I might see you here in 2010.
   When I asked if there was an easy way to shift from Blogger to Wordpress at the same domain, no one had any clues, apart from our usual go-to web guy, Nigel Dunn.
   Nigel’s thought was I could create a new domain: instead of blog, maybe I could use wordpress. I could use the Wordpress import, get the old posts into the new directory, and then rename the Wordpress directory. Simple.
   I dug around a little bit today and I might be in luck: I do not need to do any of this.
   Because I never hosted any of these entries on a Google or Blogspot server—which means that Google can’t go around wiping anything and pretending that the blog never existed in the first place—Blogger actually published every one of these pages in full on our server.
   No databasing, no PHPing, nothing—they exist as fully fledged pages, with the entire CSS stylesheet, the meta tags, everything, on each page. Even the month pages are not database ones: they replicate every single post, in full. Blogger’s only record is keeping an index of my posts and maintaining some drafts.
   Needless to say, this is a terribly inefficient way of storing data, although it is remarkably safe—I am not subject to the whim of a database crash because the posts are all here in “longhand”.
   There are some problems with Blogger. It won’t allow us oldies to have the simplest things, such as a ‘Previous page’ and ‘Next page’ link. New users can get these, but if you have a custom template—as I do—and started in the early days, then Blogger won’t supply you with some easy code that you can plug in to your blog.
   Also, as mentioned, it republishes every single tag page when one enters a new post—even when that particular tag has not been used. This is also terribly inefficient and, as I discovered when poking about on our server, unnecessary.
   All told, the shift to Wordpress is on principle. Google has proven itself to be highly untrustworthy and has engaged in deception when it came to deleting Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog. I had also discussed this shift many years ago with readers, all of whom encouraged me to make the change.
   If all goes well, I will start 2010 with a new blog at this same location. The home page will look rather empty initially, because I will be starting fresh. However, the entire archive of posts from 2006 to 2009 will remain, hard-linked from the new home page, to pages that Google has published in full.
   I will keep the old Blogger account in case I need to make template changes, which are very likely. But no new posts will go via Google or be managed by the company. See you in the Gregorian New Year.

History of the decade, part 11: man and woman of the decade


Yesterday: 2009

Here is the final part of my satirical series today as 2009 draws to a close. Who were the most influential people this decade? Who expressed the 2000s and changed the way of our collective culture?

Man of the decade
   Nicolas Sarkozy, for glamourizing the presidency more than Ségolène Royal could.
   Carson Kressley, for his contribution to the styles of world leaders.
   Al Gore, for trying to look stylish, but still falling short of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
   Vladimir Putin, for posing topless.
   Tiger Woods, for having a name like a porn star and acting it out.

   Peter Jackson, for helping millions of people find New Zealand on a map when the rest of us could not, and for making it OK to be a successful man with a beard.

Woman of the decade nominee, Elin Nordegren: Part of the reason she got a nomination was to sex up this blog. And because she looks far less of a slag than the women her husband has cheated on her with.
Woman of the decade
   Sarah Palin, for creating Tina Fey.
   Elin Nordegren, for being the hottest woman associated with golf since Caddyshack.
   Jenna Bush, for calling her Dad at work live on the Ellen show.
   Angela Merkel, for getting a back rub from George W. Bush.
   Martha Stewart, for comparing herself to Nelson Mandela.

   Oprah Winfrey, for actually meeting Nelson Mandela.

There you have it, folks! Happy 2010!

If you want to read the whole series, this link should deliver the whole lot. Or, jump back to part 1 here.

Why Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood


(image) [Cross-posted at Lucire] When Lucire first broke news yesterday about Peter Jackson’s knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours’ List, I was particularly delighted.
   Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood not just because he makes marvellous films. Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood because he continues to believe in New Zealand even after certain bodies and their bureaucrats gave him grief.
   Before he was a big name internationally, there was reported tension between Jackson and the New Zealand Film Commission in the 1990s.
   Because Jackson believed in this country so much, he got over it. A lesser man would have thought, ‘If the establishment won’t accept me, I’ll leave.’
   Many of the big Kiwi names in movies are based in California, because when they left there was no centre for movie production in New Zealand. And they wanted somewhere that could understand their vision for making movies.
   Instead, Jackson fought to make his Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand—setting up a world-class hub for film in Wellington.
   While some politicians would like to give credit to the Tourism New Zealand 100 Per Cent Pure campaign for lifting the national image, I’ve always argued it was the effort of one man—Jackson—for bringing the country to the world stage.
   Destination branding can be ignored, passed over as just another tourism ad in a travel magazine. Peter Jackson alone gave it that hook, and if any one man can take credit for the first decade’s economic boosts, it is him.
   Through Jackson not only did the films become nice earners for New Zealand, the tourist industry boomed because of the trilogy. And the Film Commission came right in the end.
   And in many respects, Peter Jackson kicked the tall poppy syndrome idea out of the country’s psyche where it could only be entertained by a few foreign companies who use it to keep Kiwis down. Peter Jackson changed our culture.
   This knighthood is long overdue, but I applaud this honour for Jackson. He is a patriot, a word that should not have politically incorrect shades. His level of pride is just what New Zealand needs. Sir Peter Jackson is an inspirational figure and one hopes many others will have faith in their own beliefs, in the way that he does.

History of the decade, part 10: 2009


Yesterday: 2008


Swine ’flu becomes the “in” illness, becoming more popular than the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. Unlike SARS, no drink is released.
   Michael Jackson dies, finally causing the internet to break down. When Mollie Sugden dies, Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy, in a fit of rage, causes Twitter to break down.
   Sarah Palin starts her Facebook page, and gets more followers than Oprah Winfrey, forcing Oprah to end her show after 25 years as she is convinced this was one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
   With his wife Hillary as Secretary of State and busy on other matters, Bill Clinton wants to prove he still has his charm. He goes to the one last place where he does not have
November: Tiger Woods kept looking over his shoulder at tournaments all year. In November, it was revealed why: his wife had taken up women’s golf and had her own set of clubs. It was the first time golf looked like a cool sport to non-golfing males since Cindy Morgan appeared in Caddyshack.
women who have issued restraining orders against him: North Korea. Upon arrival, he realizes that Kim Jong-il has captured two female American journalists. After a persuasive conversation, Kim Jong-il realizes that if Bill Clinton wants to take two women home, he will.
   Roman Polanski, who prefers far younger women than Clinton did, is arrested in Switzerland, but some French politicians lobby to have him released, based on the premise that as long as the ages added up to 60, it’s no big deal. Eventually, Polanski rejoins his wife, who is younger than his 1977 victim, in Switzerland, under house arrest.
   China becomes the world’s largest car market after the Oscar gaffe in 2007, showing the Japanese once and for all who is boss (‘Don’t mention the war’).
   President Obama misunderstands his advisers’ remarks to ‘bow to the electorate’, and begins bowing to the unelected when he sees King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.
   Tiger Woods is reminded by his wife of the strict rules of golf: if you play the wrong hole, there is a penalty. In an effort to make up the lost sponsorship after his gaffes, he releases a Christmas single, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Mistress’.

Tomorrow: Man and Woman of the Decade

The newer the program, the buggier it gets: a reminder of departed software


One reason I love working with the NZCS as a client is that they promote professionalism when it comes to ICT.   That brought my mind to software in general, especially if I am to shift this blog to Wordpress.   If you follow my Tweets, you’ll know that I suffer a daily Firefox crash ever since I upgraded to 3.5. The earlier 3.0 was fine, and it still runs successfully on my Asus laptop, running Vista.   Today I took the PageMaker 7 trial off my desktop machine after discovering many files crashed on opening. The old 6.5.2 works fine. We still have a few stationery templates on it, not to mention my résumé—important in those expert-witness cases.   It’s not the only program to be more buggy with a newer edition. Others that come to mind include:WordPerfect. The DOS 5.1 version was fine. Even the first Windows one did what it said on the tin, though the print driver updating was tiresome. On 5.2, I found it could not support italics. Nothing I entered italicized, without selecting the italic variant from the font menu. Version 6 could not handle columns—what you fed in to the program was not what you got on paper. Around this time, Microsoft Word kicked WordPerfect’s ass—I do not believe Word’s wide installation base was what killed it, but WordPerfect’s own incompetence. In fact, version 8 still could not handle columns, while version 14 (X4 to Corel) still has some issues with letterspacing;Netscape. There were nice, gradual improvements to 4.7, which were all quite welcome. Netscape skipped 5, and that was a worry: the engineers forgot how to count. When 6.0 came out, it was so bloated and—worse for me—it no longer supported Adobe Type Manager. In those pre-OpenType days, I preferred the hinting of PS1 fonts to TrueType ones. I still upgraded to 7.1 just so I could use the newsgroups’ browser, but it was around the time of 6 that I switched to IE5;Fontographer. You will still find some of us old-school font guys who think the world of 3.5, and Robofog was based around that version. When Altsys came out with 3.5.2, it was discovered that it would forget the width of the space character—we were asked to put a single point in there so it would remember that it needed to save the width. I went back to 3.5.1, and had (and still have) 4.1 alongside FontLab 5—which might be the only program that has not got worse with age;Internet Explorer. Version 5.0 was actually quite good. It supported all the fonts I had (4 did not), even 6.0 was not too bad at the time. Around this time I discovered Maxthon, the Chinese-designed browser using the IE engine, and stuck with that till Firefox came out with 3.0. I liked the IEs these years because they supported speech marks and ligatures. Firefox did not—quotation marks would, for example, display in a different font. I guess the beta testers never used quotation marks and it was not picked up for versions 1 and 2, or the programmers deemed quotation marks superfluous. IE7 tended to crash within a few minutes of being open, as does IE8, and neither are worth entertaining;ACDSee. I tried version 3.1 many years ago and liked it, and a friend suggested I give version 6 a go on her computer. It was rubbish. The whole point of ACDSee was being a practical file browser, especially for images, as it was far quicker than Windows Explorer. The newer version was slower;Microsoft Word. Actually useless for word processing (I use WordPerfect—despite its bugs it still does a better job), Microsoft Word is good for two things: as a search-and-replace tool, and as a HTML converter. Or at least Word 97 is. When Word 2000 was released, its HTML export created so much superfluous code that the program became useless. I never tried any newer versions, though apparently I have a 60-day trial on my laptop. I have kept 97 going on my computers;Adobe Rea[...]

Any how-tos on shifting to Wordpress?


(image) Before you answer that, I know there are heaps on going from Blogspot to Wordpress or to a self-hosted domain.
   I wouldn’t mind finding one which allows me to go from a self-hosted blog run on Blogger (this one, residing at to a self-hosted blog run on Wordpress that has to reside at the same URL.
   Does, for example, installing the Wordpress blog to tamper with what exists here now?
   Will I expect to have down time?
   You see, I’m sick of Google. I believe, that if things were to go awry, no one will help. No one helped when Google deleted the blog home page at Beyond Branding for three years. And, as you’ve read, Google has engaged in obstruction and censorship in our latest battle, learning a few tricks from Red China.
   Technically, since I started using the labels here at Blogger, which I assume to be tags, the publication time is immensely long. It seems Blogger has to republish every single label page, regardless of whether that label was used in the most recent post or not. That sounds like a recipe for disaster—and I’ve had more than my share of long-loading tags.
   There are now over 1,100 posts here, and while Wordpress certainly is buggy, at least Wordpress geeks, judging by their forums, tend to be far more intelligent than Blogger ones.

History of the decade, part 9: 2008


Yesterday: 2007


Raúl Castro becomes Cuban president as the dislike for khaki tones, which hit the US earlier in the decade, finally arrives there.
   President Sarkozy fulfils his hot-women election promise by marrying Carla Bruni.
   César winner Mathieu Amalric plays President Sarkozy in a film loosely based on his life, Quantum of Solace. In the film, Amalric plays a speech-making Frenchman with a hot girlfriend and plans for world domination, and ticks off the British Government.
   With his Powerpoint market secure after the Bush administration’s botch-up, and with so much money from Warren Buffett, Bill Gates decides that there is no more need to work at Microsoft.
   Unable to locate the Queer Eye guys after the show’s cancellation, Radovan Karadžić is arrested in Beograd.
February: Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy marry, as part of the French president’s election promise to put someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal.
   The solar eclipse is visible in Canada though in China, they are unsure whether it was an eclipse or pollution. This makes the Chinese realize that Beijing needs to be cleaned up ahead of the Olympics. Beijing stops making cars briefly, delaying its aim to have the largest car market in the world in a contest with Japan till the following year.
   Tired of the unchanging fashions of the Bush administration, Americans head to the polls. The Republicans, realizing that the Democrats lost because they concentrated too much on khaki tones with Al Gore and on hair with John Kerry, select a boringly dressed bald guy, John McCain, as their presidential nominee. The plan backfires when the Democrats, thinking third time lucky, believe Barack Obama is the snazziest dresser and choose him.
   Realizing that McCain is not fashionable enough, and seeing how women were sweeping into power the year before, the GOP introduces Sarah Palin as its vice-presidential nominee on the strength of her candidacy in a 1980s’ Miss Alaska pageant. It was too late. Americans had already decided they preferred Obama’s style, more so when George Clooney himself said he liked the cut of his suits.
   Tina Fey is hired by Sarah Palin to be her double and to do the talk show circuit in advance of her book, Going Rogue, being published. Palin becomes wildly popular, while Fey is criticized by the mainstream media for being less funny than 30 Rock.
   O. J. Simpson goes to jail for 15 years, after a Nevada jury evaluates his earlier performances in the Naked Gun movies. Disgusted, they set out to make an example of him.

Tomorrow: 2009

Research isn’t that important if you write in an encyclopædia these days


Here’s a very good example for why I don’t think Wikipedia can be trusted. Below is a screen shot of a page at Wikimedia Commons, which I assume is where you can submit pictures for Wikipedia. I applaud those who give up their copyright on images (and have done so myself from time to time), but it might help if they were in the right place.
   Here are some pictures on a page about the Hyundai Sonata Y1:


Problem: not a single one of these cars is the Hyundai Sonata Y1. (Here’s what it actually looks like.)
   On the Y2 page, two out of twelve people got it right, which is roughly how the population works, anyway: for every two smart people, there are ten thickos.
   Granted, Hyundai itself has not helped things by calling the third-generation model, even in Korea, the Sonata II, which I suspect is how this error propagated. That, and people wanting to contribute to an encyclopædia but who refuse to do any research. It’s a dangerous mix.
   Just because a bunch of people believe in erring doesn’t make it true. Which summarizes my attitude toward Wikipedia. And Rogernomics.
   Incidentally, I recognize there are some positive aspects to Wikipedia’s existence—these were covered in the comments to the earlier post. I agree it is a landmark in the growth of the internet. Maybe one of the commenters is right about the science articles having fewer disputes (or, it shows the relatively good training of scientists and their willingness to settle things in a civilized fashion, rather than any merit on Wikipedia’s part).
   And without MediaWiki, there would be no Autocade. (In fact, if Wikipedia were accurate, I would never have started Autocade. It’s partly because of errors like the above that I did.)
   However, it remains the only volunteer site to my memory where a senior admin has gone out of her way to send me email abuse privately (while exposing that you don’t need to be particularly smart to be an admin there). After the Wikipedia defenders came to the site’s rescue in June, along comes one of their own to undo their diplomacy—and then some.

We are running out of time


I posted this on my Tumblog earlier today but it is worth repeating here:


I captioned it, ‘We probably will keep thinking this is someone else’s problem till we encounter threats like the Maldives and other places do: if we don’t do something, our country will disappear. But this graphic is a heck of a good reminder.’
   The pic says it all, really.

Unlike Jimmy Carter, some of those peanut growers are mean


(image) Found in David Vinjamuri’s Accidental Branding (one of several books I have still to go through), talking about the founding of the Clif Bar:

Gary loved the package, but he was reluctant to name the bar after himself … As they were finalizing packaging a couple of months later, they ran a trademark search, only to learn that the name might infringe on a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. Erickson wrote a letter to the company, who promptly threatened to sue them.

What the heck?
   The incident is in another book, Raising the Bar, which founder Gary Erickson himself wrote:

We did a trademark search and found a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. We thought, “Well, it’s not exactly a bar. Let’s write them a letter and tell them what we are doing.” In no time flat we received a letter from the large multinational company that made the product telling us that they would come after us with all their attorneys and sue us for so much money that we would regret ever thinking of Gary Bar.

   I’d love to tell you who the multinational is, but a USPTO search does not reveal this trade mark. There is, however, one for plain old Gary’s for a company called Gary’s Peanuts, Inc., but I dare not presume it’s the same one. (It’s owned by Severn Peanut Co., Inc., a subsidiary of Meherrin Agricultural & Chemical Co., Inc., which owns Hampton Farms. Not sure if these guys are a ‘multinational’ as they look pretty local to me.)
   Whomever responded to Gary Erickson, this is abysmal business behaviour, Peanut people. Here’s a new company trying to do the right thing and probably wrote a very polite letter. Your first response, if the above is correct, is to resort to lawyers.
   Where I come from, formal proceedings are a last resort. Most people are able to work out their differences professionally and show some responsibility for their positions first. But if you want to enrich the legal profession and look like dicks when the story is retold, be my guest.
   It still amazes me how gutless some people are. And we wonder why the US is in the financial poo. Could it be because money is going to the wrong department for things that most normal people can sort out with a letter or two?

PS.: Below is a response from Tom Nolan of Hampton Farms, confirming it was not his company who threatened Gary Erickson, and that they are not a multinational—so it more than gets them off the hook. It makes me wonder, now, just who Erickson wrote to, as the Gary’s All Natural Peanuts trade mark does not come up in a search.

Here’s some more evidence for you to delete, Google


Remember this? Well, you would if you’ve followed this blog, and I go on and on about it.
   As the last entry on the page, and seeing as Nitecruzr pasted the incorrect code from the Yahoo! cache frameset, I decided I would furnish the correct code from the actual frame from Yahoo!. That way, we would all have the evidence we needed, and demonstrate that there was, indeed, a cache of a page from Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog. (A copy of the original cached page that Nitecruzr claimed to be unable to see, but everyone else could, is temporarily at; a screen shot of this page at its original location is here.)
   Good ol’ full disclosure and transparency, right? And, as a senior Google forum person was allowed to paste HTML code into the forum, it should be all right if I followed suit.
   Well, not really. That entry’s now been unilaterally deleted. Bit like Vincent’s entire four-year-old blog.
   A friend of mine, known to some of you, mentioned to me that he had read the dealings on the support forum. He could clearly see the cache (as could everyone Vincent and I asked) and thought the obstructiveness was ‘insane’. So it’s not just me.
   Google, I’m not sure what your problem is with honesty, transparency and information.
   But we’re going to keep pursuing this.
   Those holding Gmail accounts, be alert.

History of the decade, part 8: 2007


May: Despite donning miniskirts during her campaign and raising the hotness stakes above what Geena Davis could manage, Ségolène Royal fails to become the president of France.

Yesterday: 2006


As Queer Eye draws to a close, it was discovered that the show had had little effect on making the world’s dictators nicer. They only dressed better.
   Therefore, more women were put into power after the well dressed men could not be trusted, with Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female US speaker, Drew Gilpin Faust becoming Harvard’s first female president, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner becoming Argentina’s first female president.
   Nicolas Sarkozy becomes French president, promising that France would have someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal, his opponent. Spurred by his victory, he begins checking out hot women. Frenchmen rejoice at Sarkozy’s respect of traditional French values and the sport of les reluquants.
   Tony Blair says he has done all he can without dying his hair, and Gordon Brown takes over.
   Karl Rove resigns his position in the Bush White House and considers starting his own TV show, Rove, only to find that the name had been taken by a short Australian gentleman. He is hired instead by a slightly taller Australian gentleman, Rupert Murdoch.
   After discovering that his attempts to sing Elvis Presley tunes in Memphis were lamer than the everyday karaoke bars’ ones, Shinzo Abe is replaced by Yasuo Fukuda as Japanese prime minister.
   Rick Astley becomes an internet millionaire after his video for the song ‘Never Gonna Give You up’ becomes popular online. After collecting millions in royalties, he promptly invests them with Bernie Madoff.
   The Nobel Peace Prize, which Hollywood-watchers now observe to see who might be deserving of a future Oscar, goes to Al Gore.
   For now, Martin Scorsese wins the Oscar after remaking a Hong Kong Chinese film, but all Chinese are upset when the American presenter calls it ‘Japanese’. (It is worse than the 2001 incident when Russell Crowe was called ‘Australian’, which offended both Kiwis and Aussies.) The usual jibes about WWII ensue, which pushes the Chinese to beat the Japanese and, in one of the last points of contention, have the largest car market in the world.
   As part of its strategy, the Chinese dress up a Mandarin-speaking diplomat as a white man and have him elected as American president, so he can arrange to have more Buicks sent to Shanghai. He is asked to meet a man with the same initials—Karl Rove—to get advice, but accidentally winds up on an Australian TV show. His popularity with Chinese Australians, his use of Mandarin, and his proficiency with karaoke get Kevin Rudd elected as Australian prime minister.

Tomorrow: 2008

When Chrysler had world-beaters


Remember when Chrysler made cars that people (even the industry) salivated over? It wasn’t that long ago.   The original, base LH cars went up on Autocade today. It’s a real pity these were not widely exported: Chrysler could have cleaned up Down Under if there were right-hand-drive versions, especially as the Holden Commodore was beginning to march up the sales’ charts during these model years. (We also put up all the Triumph Spitfires.) Chrysler Concorde (LH). 1993–7 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/F, 3301 cm³ (V6 OHV), 3518 cm³ (V6 OHC). Chrysler’s version of the LH large cars, similar to Eagle Vision and Dodge Intrepid of these years. More upscale than either Dodge or Eagle, but below LHS. Huge interior room thanks to the cab-forward design. Interior trim still a bit tacky, despite upmarket pretensions. Dodge Intrepid (LH). 1993–7 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/F, 3301 cm³ (V6 OHV), 3518 cm³ (V6 OHC). Dodge version of Chrysler’s LH (rumoured it meant Last Hope) cars, with chassis elements derived from Renault Premier. Very good handling, even by European standards. Cab-forward look meant greater space, with three sitting across back comfortably. Well built range. ES had stiffer suspension. Eagle Vision (LH). 1993–7 (prod. 105,000 approx.). 4-door sedan. F/F, 3301 cm³ (V6 OHV), 3518 cm³ (V6 OHC). Handsome cab-forward sedan, twinned with Chrysler Concorde (1993–7) and Dodge Intrepid (1993–7). Eagle was considered the most European of the three, and meant to fight the imports. Still modern looking and striking many years on, with excellent use of space thanks to the cabin extending far forward. Excellent handling and grip, but some plasticky interior trim not particularly appealing. Exported to Europe as Chrysler Vision. Last Eagle, as Chrysler retired the marque in 1998, and its successor was badged as the Chrysler 300M. [...]

History of the decade, part 7: 2006


Yesterday: 2005


Newspapers scared of declining circulation decide to publish cartoons of the prophet Muhammed, causing outrage and no noticeable long-term rise in readership.
   Warren Buffett decides he is sick of money and decides to give it to the poor. His PA misunderstands and thinks that the money has to go to the ‘poorly dressed’. It winds up with Bill Gates.
January: Camberwick Green spin-off Life on Mars begins, with Philip Glenister as the voice of DCI Gene Hunt, who takes over from PC McGarry. The animated show, which brings Camberwick Green’s and Trumpton’s citizens from the 1960s into the 1970s, is such a hit that a live-action version follows.
   The Bush administration says that its Guantanamo Bay terror suspects are entitled to basic human rights under the Geneva Convention, after President Bush finds Geneva on a map.
   Political incorrectness returns in the form of Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, in Life on Mars. His use of insults against homosexuals becomes popular among homophobes who do not watch Queer Eye, though both straight and gay men find his camel hair coat appealing. Glenister unwittingly starts a new fashion trend and British men in 2006 look suspiciously like those in 1973. An American remake of the show later flops when Harvey Keitel fails to don the same coat.
   With Glenister’s rise, overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobes with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding become sex symbols to British women. In other words, nothing changed in the UK.

Tomorrow: 2007

History of the decade, part 6: 2005


Christmas Eve: 2004


Pope John Paul II dies, leading to speculation that Robbie Coltrane would be the new Pontiff. However, he is too busy making Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was discovered that two films he made in the 1980s were insulting to Catholics. The Vatican chooses Joseph Ratzinger, who becomes Pope Benedict XVI.
   Tony Blair is re-elected as British Prime Minister, after the Tories fail to field a candidate with a better smile. Michael Howard, who could only manage a scowl at best,
September: Geena Davis becomes US president, but only in certain parts of California. She raises the hotness stake for female politicians, and serves as the inspiration for Ségolène Royal and Sarah Palin.
subsequently resigns as leader.
   Iranians, wanting greater harmony with the west, elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, because he wore western-style suits and often went tieless, after advice from Carson Kressley. Fooling the electorate proves to be the undoing of the Bravo TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which began dipping in the ratings soon after.
   Seeing all the hassles surrounding Queer Eye around the planet, Germans decide they would elect a female Chancellor in Angela Merkel.
   Geena Davis becomes US president, but only on TV and certain parts of California not under the control of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her reality TV show, created by the Democratic Party in the hopes of having Hillary Clinton elected in 2008, backfires, and winds up inspiring a little-known former small-town mayor in Alaska.

Tomorrow: 2006

Another bad TV concept idea


With the 1980s in vogue as evidenced by Ashes to Ashes, how about a spin-off of Roger Hall’s Gliding on?
   After their department is privatized, some of the staffers are forced to work as civil servants at the Department of Social Welfare. After one of their own is threatened, the Minister requests that they all be given code names, based on the NATO phonetic alphabet (Echo, Sierra, Victor, etc.).

Above: The title card for Dolehouse shows an office fan.

   To get the lowest common denominator, you’d hire a good-looking lass as Echo. An attractive female boss will get bloggers talking about MILFs. Make sure the majority of the actors have ethnic-sounding names to get more New Zealand on Air funding. Voilà, Dolehouse.

In the Christmas panto tradition: oh, no, there isn’t! Oh, yes, there is!


As far as I can tell, this is how my experience of getting Vincent Wright’s wrongly deleted-by-Google Social Media Consortium blog restored has gone.

   1. Follow the Google Captcha and expect Google to stick to the ‘two business days’ review for July to September. Nothing happens.
   2. Blog gets deleted.
   3. Complain on one thread. Nothing happens.
   4. Complain on another thread. Follow the suggestions provided.

   Finally, a dialogue begins. Very helpful Google forum person responds, with my answers in parentheses. This is a summary of the last 35 days. The more we talk, the more the available evidence disappears as search engines renew their caches.

   1. You probably didn’t follow the suggestions. (Yes, I did.)
   2. You didn’t do it at the right time. (Yes, I did.)
   3. Wait two days. (Waited, nothing happened.)
   4. Wait till this afternoon. (Waited, nothing happened.)
   5. There’s no cache of it. (Yes, there is.)
   6. You’re not the owner of the site. (Owner steps in and says I am allowed to follow this up for him.)
   7. There’s no cache of it. (Yes, there is.)
   8. I’ll ignore the main link you give and focus on a second one that is less useful. (Look at the first one then.)
   9. There’s no cache of it. (Yes, there is.)
   10. There’s no cache of it. (Yes, there is.)
   11. Your search term is not relevant to this. (But it shows you a cache of it.)

   I don’t have it in for Nitecruzr. If you look at his Google help pages, he’s one of the most tireless and generous people on there. It’s just a shame that for whatever reason, we don’t click.
   Then, when you look at some of the idiots he has to deal with, it’s not a huge surprise his experiences have been coloured.
   If it were my own blog, I probably wouldn’t be as stubborn about it. I’d move on. But when it’s a mate’s, and you know that he and several others count on you, that spurs you on a bit more.
   Google people: this isn’t about oneupmanship and deliberately being obtuse. This is about finding an outcome we are all happy with and reviewing the evidence which directly addresses your concerns.
   Anyone willing to bet that there’ll be some new excuse for step 12?

Are Hewlett–Packard’s webcams racist?


Evidence (hat tip to Tari Akpodiete) that the Hewlett–Packard webcam’s face-tracking feature is racist, and does not like black people:

(object) (embed)

If there’s some whites-only thing going on, then it might not work with Chinese, either. That’s one big market these folks will be missing out on.
   It’s an extra reason for sticking with my Asus, thank you. I have a facial recognition log-in, which is pretty cool. And I hear from a white friend that these Chinese-designed computers even work on minorities like her.

History of the decade, part 5: 2004


Earlier today: 2003


Martha Stewart goes to jail and likens herself to Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela says his ANC newsletters had a far bigger circulation than Martha Stewart Living ever did and that the comparison is unjustified.
   John Kerry reports for duty, but gets hassled by Republicans for having too good a hairstyle and undergoing Botox treatments.
   Enemy agents inside the Ukraine, seeing how obsessed electors are with looks, try to give west-friendly Viktor Yushchenko an extreme makeover, but in reverse, to harm his
August: The original version of The Apprentice was set at McDonald’s, with contestants vying for an assistant manager’s position. If they failed, they would have to be demoted to make French fries, with the famous catchphrase, ‘You’re fried!’ The original host, Jim Cantalupo, CEO of McDonald’s, died in April 2004, after which Donald Trump, and his hair, negotiated to take over for the second season. Cantalupo was paid $50,000 per episode, but Trump negotiated a fee 10 times as much, and due to a typo, read the famous catchphrase as ‘You’re fired!’ The new catchphrase proved more enduring. Like the Miss Universe pageant, Trump has an ulterior motive: to find the best hair transplant donor.
chances. The urban population of Ukraine, cynical of all reality TV-themed propaganda, still overwhelmingly support Yushchenko. However, the rural population, who did not get decent reception, were still convinced by the agents’ efforts, and preferred the other guy.
   John Kerry’s hairstyle fails to win the US presidential election. John Edwards’s hair helps little, although the Democrats put as much emphasis on that as they did Al Gore’s khaki tones in 2000. The US re-elects President Bush and Vice-president Cheney, despite both men having less hair, in an upset victory for the Republicans.
   Donald Trump’s hair starts its own reality show, called The Apprentice. The object is to find the best hair transplant donor. During the show’s history, no bald man has ever won.
   The US concludes that it would have to stick with Microsoft Powerpoint after discovering there was, indeed, no new software inside Iraq.
   Peter Jackson feels vindicated by his experimentation with weird puppets in Bad Taste (originally developed as Kermit’s Worst Nightmare) as he takes home a lot of Oscars for The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King.

Returning Boxing Day: 2005

History of the decade, part 4: 2003


October: Arnold Schwarzenegger travels to Sacramento to attend the première of Terminator III, only to find himself stuck at the Governor’s mansion. He has been trapped there since.Yesterday: 20022003Colin Powell says Iraqi WMDs are threats to global security, but fails to convince other Security Council members except the UK because they did not like Microsoft Powerpoint. This sparked the development of Open Office.   Hu Jintao becomes the president of Communist China, giving rise to jokes in the White House about ‘Hu is the president of China?’ and other fun quips between Bush and Cheney.   SARS becomes a trendy illness, and even becomes available in canned form in Australia.Photographed by Michael Spencer/ BY 2.0   The US and UK go in to Iraq after being tipped off that there was new software there that was better than Microsoft Powerpoint. They believe they find it in the first few weeks, leading President Bush to declare ‘Mission accomplished.’ However, when the software is brought back to the US, it is found that it is only compatible with the Apple II.   President Qaddafi of Libya admits that his country was to blame for the Lockerbie bombing and the two terrorists in Back to the Future. As a sign of good faith that he did not want Doc Brown’s plutonium back, he announces he will give up his weapons’ programme.   In a return goodwill gesture, Great Britain says it would end the series Crossroads, after killing off both Benny and Diane.   Arnold Schwarzenegger accepts an invitation to what he believed was the Sacramento première of Terminator III, only to find himself trapped at the Governor’s mansion. Barred from returning to Hollywood, he decides to do the Governor’s job anyway, calling his Democratic opponents ‘girly men’. Ted Kennedy shows up, but is unable to get his nephew-in-law to stop quoting from his movies.   UN votes to stop Israel from erecting a border between itself and the Palestinian areas, after China says it was bad feng shui.   Saddam Hussein finds that his doubles have disappeared, and that his disguise as a Baghdad cab driver has failed him. This leads to US networks wondering whether Queer Eye for the Straight Guy should be revived as a concept, with Saddam Hussein as the first aired subject. A lessy bushy makeover is done by Carson Kressley for Saddam’s trial, and the show becomes a hit.Later today, as a Christmas special: 2004[...]

Merry Christmas


I wish all family, friends and whanau a merry Christmas. And god Jul, 聖誕快樂, joyeux Noël, kαλά Χριστούγεννα. And yes, the weather finally looks summery, thank goodness.
   Take it easy out there and have a great one.

History of the decade, part 3: 2002


Yesterday: 2001


The euro is introduced in Europe as the most boringly named currency in the world.
   Enron, the winner of climate change awards and a self-proclaimed leader in green energy, and often bragged about by consultancies such as McKinsey’s, finds that saying the
September: John Major would later receive a knighthood from the Labour government, after the media revealed he Curried favour with a fellow MP.
right things could not dissuade the Feds knocking at the door asking to see the accounts.
   President Bush, after learning that the original ‘President George W.’ had an axe, decides he needed to create axes that people disliked as well, to balance the original legend and shine light on his own administration. This gave rise to his ‘axes of evil’ speech.
   Bush’s tough talk inspires numerous imitators on television, as even daytime TV hardens up with Phil McGraw and his new show, Dr Phil. Contrasting the softly, softly approach of Oprah Winfrey, McGraw screams at guests in an effort to have them “scared straight”.
   Hugo Chavez of Venezuela moved out of his house, then changed his mind and moved back.
   The media reveal that John Major had an extramarital affair, for which he later receives a knighthood.
   ImClone states that it dislikes Martha Stewart, kicking off a chain of events that would see her behind bars.
   Although A Beautiful Mind wins the Best Picture Oscar, the Academy is careful not to give another Oscar to Russell Crowe. No one has been able to figure out where he is from, and the Bush administration become concerned about illegal aliens coming in to the US and taking American jobs. The borders are tightened up, and the Minutemen in Texas begin patrolling the southern border for other actors.

Tomorrow: 2003 and, as a Christmas special, 2004

History of the decade, part 2: 2001


Yesterday: 20002001Britain was embroiled in all sorts of diseases with its livestock and foot and mouth, blamed on a threat by Telly Savalas in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In fact, it was a millennium prank orchestrated by mathematics’ geeks gone wrong.   Osama bin Laden records an angry message directed at the US over the cancellation of Baywatch. Translators discover a hidden message, where bin Laden vows to record David Hasselhoff in a drunken state if given the chance.   George W. Bush abandons the Kyoto global warming treaty, largely because he could March: Wellingtonian goes back in time, gets mad, wins Oscar. It would establish Russell Crowe’s fighting hobby. Crowe, as Doc Brown and Marty McFly did in the 1980s, confirms that only humans with five letters in their surname can time-travel. Later in the decade, Rose Tyler, Sam Tyler, Alex Drake, Donna Noble, Amanda Price and Martha Jones would do the same. The rule also applies to Vulcans.not find Kyoto on a map. He estab­lish­es an excel­lent rap­port with Mexi­can pres­ident Vicente Fox, thank­ing him for the sup­port of his news net­work.   Slobo­dan Milo­šević believes he is hired to be the new Perry Mason in a TV re­make, set at the Inter­national Crim­inal Court, but begins going off the script when he said that the person play­ing the judge was not a good enough actor.   To get the UK’s collective mind off livestock diseases and 9-11, Tony Blair promises to help the Americans retaliate against the terrorists by hiring Britain’s most skilful mercenary, Simon Cowell. Cowell unleashes a devastating weapon called Pop Idol, disguised as a talent contest, where the rejects of the early weeks are hired by MI6 and recorded on compact discs. These are then air-dropped on to known Taliban hideouts using a ‘shock and awe’ policy, in the belief it would smoke out the terrorists.   Judging this to be a good idea, the Americans remake Pop Idol and hire Cowell to strategize the attacks. They also hire a man who uses the code word ‘Dog’ (in the same way Americans used ‘Charlie’ in Vietnam) and a drunk woman.   Deputy PM John Prescott starts beating up voters on the campaign trail in the UK. The public brawling, and the fact Prescott gets off scot-free, inspire Russell Crowe.   Crowe stars in Gladiator and wins an Oscar. Scholars are still puzzled by the outcome. New Zealanders are puzzled by the American media’s claim that Crowe is Australian. Australians are puzzled by the American media’s claim that Crowe can act.Tomorrow: 2002[...]

History of the decade, part 1: 2000


I have had a busy decade. I was best known in 2000 for designing typefaces and I start the new decade running for mayor. Somewhere in between I wrote and co-wrote some books and still publish a bunch of fashion magazines. But how has the world changed in the last 10 years?
   My memory is a bit hazy after this time, but I think it goes something along the lines of the following.


The year began with a hangover, with people waking up from millennium celebrations to discover that there was nothing wrong with their computers. Everyone had celebrated, except math geeks, who insisted that the millennium actually began in 2001.
   Vladimir Putin became Russian president on the promise that, ‘If it’s not right, we’ll put it right. It is the Putin right that counts,’ which appealed to Russian appliance owners, who voted overwhelmingly for the judo black belt.
November: Texas governor George W. Bush begins to form a government, regardless of whether he won in Florida.
   The Olympics opened in Australia, with New Zealanders outnumbered by other nationalities for the first time on Bondi Beach.
   Vice-president Al Gore appears in an unaired pilot for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and is advised to wear khaki tones if he is to win the presidential election. Democrats claim victory.
   Meanwhile, George W. Bush decides to start forming a government regardless of whether he won or not, because his Daddy had won twelve years before, and he was just following his lead.
   When Americans see the winter 2001 ranges at their department stores, to discover khaki was not in after all, Bush became president the following January. Queer Eye is shelved temporarily as a TV concept.
   Saddam Hussein hires an extra double.

Tomorrow: 2001