Monthly Archives: July 2006

creative class of ’06

View product details on The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent at AmazonI’ve been reading the Flight of the Creative Class – it hasn’t been difficult reading, but it has been somewhat uncomfortable. For years I’ve been uncomfortable about New Zealand’s potential as an economic powerhouse in the future. On a global scale we’re a bit more like an economic outhouse. I just couldn’t see NZ cutting it in the so-called export led recovery. After all, our fish exports don’t consitute more than about 5% of the world fish supplies. There’s only so much butter and dairy products. Trees, yeah. Altogether it’s all about primary products, at commodity prices.

Manufacturing – yeah, right. When was the last time you bought a manufactured product 100% made in NZ? I doubt there’s anything 100% made here anymore – perhaps the kete or two. A muka enhanced paua shell necklace. Not much else. So what’s left? Software? Games? Call centres? Oh yeah, as if. Somehow NZ’s trying to compete on numbers – as if we have more numbers of skilled programmers than say Brazil or India.

So what’s New Zealand – Wellington, specifically, to do? According to my professor of choice, Peter Murphy, a port is a hallmark of city of distinction, throughout time. Ok, Wellington could be the Hong Kong of the New Zealand. According to Richard Florida, the other card Wellington could (and does play) is the creative card. And there’s no doubt Peter Jackson, winner of the Peter Murphy look alike award, has done great work in terms of creating a forum for the development of creativity in Wellington and NZ in general. I know of one film clan who shoot in their garage on weekends. I know a low power radio guy. I know an artist. All here in Wellington. And there are others. And it’s great.

Florida suggests a way forward. If I have interpreted his writing correctly, NZ needs to open its doors to creative individuals, ideally those with investment funds, and entreprenurial aspirations. Well, if it expands the creative vibe here in the capital, bring it on. As for Florida’s book – interesting reading. I can imagine living in other places, but now I’d be interested in rating the creative base as well as the rest of the aspects of any new society being considered.

ignis inextinctus

image from http://indeterminacy.blogspot.comCoelia had spent the last ten years as a teacher, before that, ten years in service, and before that, ten years in training. She could barely remember the years before that. Certainly, her hand-ground grain childhood had been transformed into an ostrich pâté, dormice stuffed with nuts, and fricassee of roses in pastry shells maturity. In all that time she had kept, true in her heart, a flame which could not be quenched – ignis inextinctus she called it, being true to the romantic that she was.

And now, after the years of waiting, Coelia could be free of the vestments of the refined living, she would finally be free to follow her heart’s desire.

In the fleeting moments, the throbbing silences, she made herself even more beautiful using the unguents and the colours available to her in that time, anointing her most secret pulses with rare fragrances from the East. Coelia donned her gown, and fixed the sacred ribbons in her hair like a bride. Her breath was uneven as her heart pounded with the excitement. The years of training coupled with the ever present burn of the flame, had honed her desire, her lust, her passion to an intoxicating frenzy that now, finally could be made manifest.

Quaking, she stepped forward, and a voice, animal with desire, called from the core of her heart – ‘I seize you, beloved.’

No woman, none, neither before nor since, has ever felt so sure about wallboard.

the lost tribes

I’ve been struggling lately to write here. Not because I suddenly can’t write any more, but because I haven’t been able to find the words the express how hateful I find the interaction between the lost tribes – Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the rest of the neighbours squirming like worms on a hook. This distresses me – I look on the area as one of the cradles of civilisation. Today the cradles are blood spattered and there’s not much civilisation to be found. I’m really reminded of the old story about in the next war it won’t be decided by who’s right, but rather who’s left.

It’s all too big, too out of control, too crazy, too much money, too much oil, too many weapons of mass destruction in hands already using them. But as the two tribes try to score, all they end up doing is tearing the heart and souls out of the present and the generations to come. It’s just too endlessly stupid to be true. Is it religion? Is it blood? What is the excuse? The insanity goes back countless generations – nothing new there. What seems so stupid to me is, I can’t believe there hasn’t been the occasional inter-tribal nookie cross border relations. After all this time the mix has meant it’s become brother pitted against brother.

Thanks to modern dna testing it turns out one of the lost tribe tribes of Israel turns out to be the very staunchly Moslem, the Sunni Kurds. Yep, whilst wandering they gradually changed language, and changed religion, but it doesn’t matter, their dna speaks fluently across the generations.

No-one wants to live next to a mad dog, but bombing the entire neighbourhood back to the 19th century will only serve to till the soil and fertilise the beds for the next generation of zealots. Arab or Israeli.

lilac, violet

On Friday, last week, I treated us to some new aquarelles. I like drawing with coloured pencils – I always have, and aquarelles – or, more accurately in this case, watercolour pencils – are happy combination of the control I like to have in terms of the colour is always the same, and the unpredictable blends that water adds to the image. I’ve even found some lovely biro style pens that are able to have a variety of line widths and are not overly waterproof; yet not as soluble as watercolours.

Remember that Radiant style ink we used to use in school? I don’t recall anyone ever actually emptying a bottle, at least not for school work purposes. Biros (ball-point pens) were verboten. I learned to write with a pencil – we weren’t allowed to be promoted to a fountain pen until our handwriting was of sufficient quality. My handwriting never was – I think my parents moved me to another school lest their shame of the young ‘un with the bad handwriting should become public.

While making the choices of the colours, I had some misgivings about buying purple pencils, and in the end I didn’t. Real artists™ have no need of purple watercolour pencils, they can take a 18 inch roller, dip it in liquid cow manure and paint Persian miniatures, in three shades of murex, with their eyes closed. Us lesser beings buy ready-made purple. Heliotrope. Mauve. Whatever.

As I reflected on the two gaps in my pencil bandolier, and thinking about the names of purple, I remembered my two grandmothers. I associate them both with variants of purple.

At my father’s mother’s house there were violets growing. I can clearly remember the lush dark green heart leaves, and the simple elegance of the single flower. Violets speak to me of love that is forgives. When you first smell the fragrance of violets it’s strong, lusty, and provocative – like those heady lust-filled days of early love. And then as lust fades there’s a period of almost no detectable odor, before the fragrance returns, changed, different, deeper, richer. And you forgive the change, because it is more like mature love.

My mother’s mother and I share the same birthday. I remember helping pick and taking her lilac flowers for her birthday. I still like to see lilac on my birthday to keep the memory alive, and I usually locate a lilac bush nearby in anticipation. There’s one just a few houses down from where I live, so I don’t have far to go. Lilac, like the violet, has a fragrance all of its own. I can’t bring it to mind as I write, but there is a nagging thought in my perfume memory of sweet beer. It’s probably wrong. Some days, when I’m feeling anxious, I remember Sophie Tunnell’s quote – Fear is a slinking cat I find beneath the lilacs of my mind – and I think about the lilacs and how I used to love lying under the bush, looking up through the wonderful translucent celadon green of the valentine heart-shaped leaves, into the bright spring skies.

I probably don’t need the pencils – I can mix the colours myself. But I’ve decided I’m going to get them anyway. One for each, for old time’s sake. Wherever my grandmothers are, there’ll be lilacs and growing underneath, violets.

breaking new ground

In some views of gardening, winter is the time to dig the garden. Ideally there’s a been a hard frost or two, and then you turn over the sods, there’s a few more hard frosts, and the nasty critters get killed off, while the sensible earthworms are deep in the warmer soil. Where I live that kind of gardening could happen, but this year has been so wet that I’m thinking of investing in a water buffalo and putting in a crop of cold-resistant rice…

Nevertheless, this posting celebrates the breaking of new ground – that anticipation of new growth in the warmth of the new spring days, hopefully not too far away. So, what’s growing, what’s germinating?

Somewhere in the posting I will write the word of words – the amazing, earth shaking word that will turn the counter over to the new starting point – 100,000 words. I started writing here on August 1, 2005. Within the year I have written the (to me) astounding volume of words, writing that has given me much cause for reflection and reconsideration of what and who I am. And I have to say, without wanting to appear smug or snotty, I’m pretty pleased with my writing. Some is better than others, but it all builds into a portfolio of work.

And there it goes. According to my calculations, builds was the word that turned the number over. That seems like a good word to work from to me.

While I haven’t been writing here recently, I have been writing and working, building and cultivating, over in our AkoNet web site. Marica and I have both done considerable research into various forms of reflective practice. My particular interest has been in the improvement and development of people who are already demonstrating a high level of competence.

One method for people who are already skilled is to look at areas of their experience that they don’t normally consider. You don’t know what you don’t know, so it’s useful to get some external provocation to start thinking in new ways. We’ve created a couple of options – the On Reflection Journals, and the Thumb Journals (both are available as free downloads).

Thanks for stopping by – it’s nice to have readers. Please check out the journals, and give them a try. I can attest to the surprisingly beneficial and effective impact using them can have on your creative potential. The garden might be mud, but that’s not a reason why the mind can’t be well tilled.

myco vegetation

My Dear Wife
It has been so long since we have been allowed bandwidth to enable private writing. The charging panels have not worked as well as we had hoped as the light strength is more inconsistent than was expected, and we have had to make efforts to conserve energy to ensure the datastream is as strong as possible. Despite this, and the incessantly wet weather, we are in good spirits. Our days are spent exploring, mapping, scanning and gathering as much information as is possible before we depart back aloft.

Vast numbers of species have been scanned – some look similar and may even be in the same species – as on Earth where juveniles can look different from adults, not just in smaller, but in radically different forms – even in the extreme examples such as caterpillars which are so vastly different in every respect to the adult butterfly.

podplantWe came across a thicket of strange trees – perhaps four or five meters tall – with the most unearthly ‘flowers’. The flowers turned out to be more of an adaptation we might see in carnivorous plants on Earth. The sticky tips of the ‘tongues’ are charged with a form of bioluminescence which attracts the many ‘fireflies’ seen at night. It is unclear if the insects detect the glowing tips as food, social companions as in an urge to form a swarm, or whether as an invitation to mate. Not that it matters, the end result is the same, the insect is captured and delivered into the cup at the base of the stem. The lips of the cup fold over and the contents are digested without dilution from the rain. It is as though the plant has considered the initial plans for the Earth species, Drosera, Dionaea, and the Sarracenia, and added its own unique variations. One of the adaptations is the leaves are exceptionally densely packed, and quite thick and leathery. The leaves, as so many species here, are reddish in colour on the underside, to take advantage of any reflected light. The dense leaf cover achieves three outcomes – the ‘flowers’ are sheltered from the driving rain, there is less light underneath the canopy so the bioluminescence is more obviously for longer times periods, and the darkness also help suppress other species from growing underneath.

bio-lichenBioluminescence appears to be a common technique employed by a number of species here. It is common to see rock walls covered in ‘lichens’ – fungi perhaps, glowing blues and greens eerily in the dark. Most nights, unless the rain is too heavy, we are treated to vibrant swarms of glowing insects, flying like madly animated fireworks.

Some nights we have seen insects produce a red light which allows them to hunt. It appears to be of a wave length near infra-red, visible to them, and ourselves (barely), but not to their prey. They garner a clear advantage in the short dark days here. I’ve taken to calling them ‘Malacosts’ – their technique remind me of similar specialised species back home.

rockeatAnother interesting form of ‘lichen’ we have encountered is found in the drier places – they’re rare enough, but they do exist. The lichen eats into rock surfaces – pock marking it into lunar-like surfaces – in what appears to be remarkably rapid time frames. If the rock surfaces were exposed to heavy rain the craters would fill with water and waterlog the lichen. We can’t tell if the lichen ‘eats’ the rock surfaces, or whether it secretes some sort of corrosive enzyme to extract the nutrients from the rock, perhaps in something like the way a house fly drools saliva on its food before re-consuming the saliva and nutrient solutions. rockeater2It may be possible that the lichen has some kind of micro-roots, similar to the nano-fibres on the feet of geckos. These micro-roots could split out minute chips of the stone – dust at the largest, part of the on-going erosion and rebuilding of a planet.

My darling, I have to end this message, I have so much more to tell you about this fascinating place, but it will have to wait until we have some break in the weather to further charge the cells. I am very well; we are eating the food stores supplemented by some of the edible fungi and mushrooms that grow so prolifically here. I have no problems sleeping, even in the cramped quarters of the Odonata – the days of exploring while carrying the recorders and scanners is strenuous.
All my love,


image from - story psycho-babel from“Yep, he also said, Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.

Jin leaned forward. “Freud said that? I get it. So after humanity tested the existence of God with World War I, and completely proved his non-existence with World War II, there was a gaping void; and the entire multi-billion dollar psycho-babble industry neatly filled it. No wonder these wankers try to drape it in scientific respectability.”

“He also said, No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.

“Wow – very ‘deep and meaningful’. What a great father-figure for the psycho-charlatans. Truly, you can see why he was the Dan Brown of his day. Now, let’s think about this – we have to come up with a religion based on the known, but just off the edge of the familiar, with mothers and fathers…money, lots of money…hmmm…”

mr macaw

image from http://www.aviary.orgLately I’ve been spending altogether too much time playing with the calculators over at I’ve found it fascinating building my pantry and figuring out what I eat during the day, to what seems like the nth degree of accuracy. I’ve been able to look at the now legendary macaw diet, and find that I really need to add an apple, some bean sprouts, and a few dried apricots. It gets better all the time. All I need to do now is add in just a tad more walking and *bing* – it’s a snack at my desk, jungle around, macaw thing going on.

shine on

View The Piper at the Gates of Dawn details at AmazonIt seems like a hundred years ago from the time when this gawky kid sat in the front row in a seminar room of the old Wellington Polytech and listened, rapt, as a very much younger Ian Athfield reignited the kid’s dreams of design, architecture in particular. I remember with real delight that Ian was clear that plastic buckets were a reasonable solution to roof leaks, and the other, more wistfully, a number of members of Pink Floyd were architects. Who knew? My previous experience of architects hadn’t lead me to believe architects and creativity, of the order of Pink Floyd, were possible bedfellows.

I was saddened to read of Syd Barrett‘s passing – I finally got a chance to read some of the international comment today. I always feel sad when I read of a uniquely creative individual passing. It’s not as though they’re being replaced by such brainfarts as ‘Rock Star Supernova‘ – make it stop someone. It’s interesting to think that such astounding creativity found its own wings in The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in contrast to the inspid construct that will be supernova, which, given the sweaty thumbing of txts from around the world will create an instant celebs out of non-events.

The most interesting snip I discovered in my reading today is that, according to wikipedia, Johnny Depp has shown an interest in a biographical film based on Barrett’s life. I think Johnny Depp could pull it off. That’s a great idea, Johnny – my joy runneth over.

feeling down in the mouth…

Had an ‘interesting’ interlude with the Scottish dentist (och aye, laddie, I can save ‘ee one, but yee could be looking at two rrrrooot canals) … that was scary, I have to admit, but I did very quickly become fond of the way she said ‘rrrooot canals’… on the way back I was uplifted by the sooty black oak behind parliament. I assume it’s sooty because of the political smut oozing out of the building next door.

In spite of the ad lib weather lately, the oak has managed to figure out that the days are getting longer and the first bud burst is underway. Yay! Spring has sprung. I love the way the trees can detect the change in day length long before I do. I love the roar of Spring. I hope it’s really obvious this year. Bring it on!