I have just created a cloud via a site called Wordle…a nice experience using something which has no intrinsic value other than making something nice to look at.


Go to http://wordle.net and either copy and paste text, or enter an URL for an RSS feed, then create a tag cloud that looks a lot better than the one out of the box with WordPress.

Here’s the result of mine. You can change the font, and the layout, and the colour…too much choice.


Henry vs. Deans

What a great game. Fast and furious. Exciting to watch, and a cliff hanger until nearly the end.

The Australians played with real passion. And there was no doubt that Robbie Deans created that passion. Team members spoken to during the week spoke of how Robbie makes the game fun. Hmmm… I’d be surprised if an All Black came out and said the same of Graham Henry.

While the win for Australia wasn’t a shock to me it was very surprising to hear Assistant Coach Steve Hansen speak after the game and express surprise that the Australians had kicked like a team from Canterbury. You’d surely have to be an idiot to think that Robbie Deans wasn’t going to coach the Aussies in the winning way he coached the Crusaders – wouldn’t you?

This is the second biggest margin that Australia has had over New Zealand in test history. The game in Auckland next week is bound to be a ripper.

7 x 7

Wellington, refined and cultured capital of New Zealand, kicked off tonight a new series of 7 x 7 lectures. For those who haven’t experienced these events seven speakers each have seven minutes to espouse their view of the world.7 x 7

The theme for this evening was “Seven Foundations – our reality 2008, our future 2028”.

Standout speaker for me was the curmudgeonly Brian Easton. He writes a fortnightly economics article for the Listener. Blatantly left-wing I’m sure he ruffled the feathers of Brian Sweeney and Dr David Skilling when he questioned why we actually needed to produce more so we can buy more. “Does that make us happy?” he asked. Indeed, I’m coming to the conclusion that it doesn’t.

David Skilling from the New Zealand Institute backed his contentions up with a lot of OECD statistics, which told us nothing other than we are below the norm. The rhetoric was entertaining, and I know in seven minutes there’s little opportunity to offer solutions, but having heard the tenor of his speech many times isn’t it time for some?

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth was dynamic and provided some chilling data on the number of science graduates we churn out each year. Not many compared to Arts, Culture, and Social Sciences. Somehow we need to tip the balance the other way, and quickly. Her comments about results-driven research struck a chord as well…it’s hard to discover new things when you have to follow a prescribed course of action. Let’s encourage wandering off on tangents!

Dr Morgan Williams, ex Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, implored us to think more wholistically about the world…to find new ways of growing crops without raping the landscape…to teach sustainability so that it becomes second nature…and to persuade those in power to drop the in-fighting and come together on issues such as the Emmissions Trading Scheme.

There are four more 7×7 sessions throughout August.

  • Seven Trailblazers: Monday 4 August
  • Seven Directions: Tuesday 12 August
  • Seven Connections: Monday 18 August
  • Seven Imaginations: Tuesday 26 August

Judging by the full house I think you’ll be hard pressed to get a seat.

Tackling weight loss in Japan

OK, to everyone who has criticised me for coming down heavy on larger people – just be pleased you don’t live in Japan.

Japan has become increasingly concerned with the surge in obesity, due in whole to a westernised lifestyle – too much fat, and not enough exercise. As the New York Times reports the government has decided to do something about it.

The new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches. For females it’s 2.0 inches more.

…companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population…

The onus goes onto the company or local government to ensure the employees lose the weight. And if they don’t then financial penalties are imposed.

…the ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society‚Äôs ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today…

Ah, the good sense of the Japanese. Preventive measures!

Even I concede this might be is an extreme measures. But you have to hand it to the Japanese – they never do anything by halves.

Pulse of the Nation

Who else is playing Pulse of the Nation?Pulse of the Nation

Brought to you by the folk who invented Virtual Super 14, Pulse of the Nation lets people predict the outcome of the general election. Each fortnight, if you are a subscriber, you get to pick the percentage you believe each party will get at the general election. Essentially you are playing against your mates.

With only 6000 people registered it’s not exactly scientific, and it’s hard to get really enthusiastic as the fortnightly results aren’t measured against a real outcome – yet. But it’s election year, there are prizes to be won, and predictions to be made.

So get to it.

Matthew Ridge and Tony Veitch

Matthew Ridge said today he would reconsider his appearances on A Game of Two Halves knowing what he now knows about Tony Veitch.

I am pleased that Matthew Ridge has publicly condemned Veitch’s behaviour. It was a bit of a surprise because on the surface I wouldn’t have expected a man such as Ridge with the public persona of a larrikin and loud-mouth to be so forthright in coming forward. It is proof of the widespread condemnation of Tony Veitch’s actions. Good on you Matthew.

I’m trying to work out who actually was ever a fan of Tony Veitch. I asked around at work.

The young guys in their mid to late twenties all said they couldn’t stand him. “Bloody loud-mouth”, “up himself wanker” I think were the terms used.

Some of the women at work (same age as the guys) didn’t even know who he was…

Then there’s me. OK, so I admit it – before this event I thought he was bloody good. He had energy. I thought his sports reading on TV One was vibrant – he made me want to pay attention. And the on-screen energy between him and Bernadine Oliver-Kirby was very relaxed. They appeared to be good friends. Compare them to Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie and you’ll soon see what I mean.

He’s now lost his accreditation to the Olympic Games on behalf of TVNZ. I can’t see how they can keep him on as a presenter even after the games. Radio is looking a little more hopeful, perhaps because we don’t have to look at him. Visual cues are so much more powerful than audible ones.

Back at the end of 2007 there was a story that appeared in the NZ Herald about stars and celebrities getting off with lighter sentences than the general public in similar circumstances. The story related to Brent Todd:

“…within days of sentencing, the news was out: the 43-year-old had been seen lounging in the sun and lifting weights at best pal Matthew Ridge’s home, where he is serving his sentence.”

And a little later in the article:

Preventing Violence in the Home executive director Jane Drumm believes celebrities – particularly sports stars – often receive an easy run when they fall foul of the law.

“With the glory of being a famous person, you also should have the some sense of responsibility to be a role model, because that’s what you are being put up as.”

Ms Drumm says when celebrities seem to get away with violent behaviour – whether against a wife or partner, or a stranger in a bar – it tends to trivialise the offending.

“I think that regardless of who you are, everyone should have the same access to the law.”

Women’s Refuge chief executive Heather Henare agrees celebrities have long appeared to get lenient treatment from the courts, and wants some “fairness across the board”.

“Each person should be treated on the merits of their case, as opposed to who they are.”

Tony Veitch is now under investigation by the police. He may well face court proceedings. He has been publicly humiliated. He’s probably lost his income (rumoured to be $600K a year across the three positions).

Violence just doesn’t pay.

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