Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Lion's Game and 9-11

On improbable premises…
Philippe: This airliner has no radio communication with the tower on approach, it lands and stops at the end of the runway.

David: So?

Philippe: Well, the fire department opens a door and finds that everyone, pilots, attendants, passengers, has passed out.

David: Could a plane land completely on autopilot?

Philippe: It’s not impossible, but very, very unlikely.

David: I couldn’t read a book starting from an impossible premise like that.

Philippe: But the suspense is relentless. DeMille specializes in such plots.
A predictable plot provokes yawns.
An outrageous event occasions gasps.

Ironically, Nelson DeMille in researching “The Lion’s Game” (2000), had heard from New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in 1999 something even more outrageous. They predicted even then that …”jets would be flown by suicide pilots into the World Trade Center.” Le fait est étrange que la fiction.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Simpifying into Three Types...

Great leaders are 
almost always great 
simplifiers, who can 
cut through argument, 
debate and doubt, 
to offer a solution 
can understand.
Colin Powell
Reductio ad..?
Branson: Why is it that people who like to simplify often divide people into three groups?

Powell: Do they? Who do you mean, “they”?

Branson: Malcolm Gladwell did it in The Tipping Point. Mavens, connectors and salesmen.

Powell: I see your point. I just ran across some postings on Quora by people who like to divide others into “puzzle-solvers”, “tool-users” and “storytellers”.

Branson: I’ve seen that distinction before. It popped up in an obscure academic book in German containing a reference to Jerome Bruner. So you say others claim it as their own paradigm? It happens. Anyway, what’s magical about three? 

Powell: Indeed. Why not four or five? Some home in on “seven”. “Seven Habits….” But I think three has a pedigree of simplicity and authority. The triple, the trio, the triangle. The tripod, the triathlon, the trinity.


Mavens: Connect us with new information. They have knowledge, social skills and an ability to communicate.
Connectors: Know large numbers of people and provide introductions. They have active social networks of over 100 people.
Salesmen: Good at persuading others. They are charismatic people with charm and negotiation skills.

Puzzle-solvers: Tend to minimize emotional and social context of thinking.
Tool-users: Focus on tools to make changes in the environment.
Storytellers: Use narratives to show causal and consequential relations.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A pot of four leaf clovers

Four leaves good luck
At a plant market...
Owen: A bunch of four leaf clovers? Genetically engineered, surely.

Prunella: Not genetic. Natural selection.

Owen: Darwinian culling? Perhaps inbreeding?

Prunella: If you will.

Owen: Will they proliferate?

Prunella: Don't keep them in the pot. Plant them in a garden. More will appear.
Under natural conditions, one four leaf clover occurs among 10,000 three leaf clovers. That is said to bring luck. Buying a punnet of genetically manipulated or selectively grown four-leaf clovers ... could this be called pushing your luck?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Purposes of Slitty Windows

Viewing a new house…
Pablo: It’s going to be part art gallery.

Fred: So that’s why it has no windows?

Pablo: Just so. Except for little slits to let in a little light.

Fred: Shy paintings?

Pablo: To protect their delicacy.

Fred: I saw a museum recently with slitty windows.

Pablo: To protect the art?

Fred: Actually it was a military museum. The slitty windows were a motif for gun slits.
Architects sometimes draw inspiration from nature or culture.
An aquarium might be designed as a round shape, like a seashell.
Or a military museum might recall a gun turret. 

As in the Waiouru Military Museum...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

White Chocolate Rabbit


Though why the judgemental hare carrying colored eggs for good children at Easter morphed into a chocolate bunny is a bit of a mystery. Can anyone shine a light in the rabbit hutch on this one?

Hoppy Epril Aster!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Agriculture Culture

Passing through Taihape

Kiri: Grotesque.

Fred: I don’t know. I
t’s a bit of local culture.

Kiri: More local than culture. I mean, a giant gumboot? And in corrugated iron?

Fred: It’s a symbol of the “Throwing the Gumboot” event. Every March.
Gumboots are part of farming clothing.
Agriculture is culture.
Therefore a gumboot IS a cultural artifact.