Archive for the ‘Comment’ Category

There is a Doctor in the house. 

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Dr. Stainsby

Last night Hayden defended his PhD thesis to an adjudication panel at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

His paper was titled, ‘Triangular Basis of Integral Closures’ 

I didn’t understand a word, however the panel seemed to, and now Hayden has a Doctorate in Mathematics.

Needless to say we are very proud of him.

I want to ride my bicycle.
I want to ride it where I like.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Over the course of our travels in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, I have come across bikes in all sorts of environments.

Being relatively cheap to buy, easy to maintain and requiring no fuel, except the rider’s sweat, they are the the world’s most popular mode of transport.

These bikes aren’t owned by lycra wearing, latte drinking, road racing followers of the Tour de France, but simple people who need their bikes for everyday living.

There are over a billion bikes in the world – here are a few of them.

Sapa, Vietnam

Same, same but very different.

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Automobiles really haven’t changed much in the last 100 years.

A box on 4 wheels with seats, lights, windows and something to steer the whole thing with.

It’s what the designer does with those elements that sets each car apart.

Take these two for example.

On the surface they look very similar. It’s only when you look closely that the quality of the design shows through.

The designer of Hyundai has integrated all the elements – the curve of the lights blends into the boot and bumper.

While the same features in the Lexus seem to be thrown together, with little regard for harmony or aesthetics.

Admittedly I am only looking at the surface features and not the build quality or engineering.

On face value the Hyundai, at $36,390, is better value, at least visually, than the Lexus at $91,138.

Automotive design

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Increasingly companies, organisations and governments are entering into CSR programs. CSR is primarily an attitude that can be implemented in many ways.

It’s about being a good corporate citizen.

The customers or consumers can benefit from the CSR program of an organisation, as they are rewarded by choosing an ethically and socially responsible product or service.

Look how the Nike brand was damaged by using Sweat Shops to produce their products. The garment factory fires in Bangladesh has also had repercussions on retailers here and around the world.

CSR benefits the brand and its reputation, by giving the consumer another reason to chose it. When all else is equal, a brand’s reputation can make the difference.

There are many benefits in developing a meaningful CSR program, the obvious one is the associated good-will that is generated towards the organisation. However a ROI is also counted as a primary objective and benefit of the program.

The second day of the New Year’s cricket test, at the Sydney Cricket ground, is traditionally a day given over to the the McGrath Foundation and is known as the Pink Test.

This was the sixth Pink Test and to-date over 5 Million Dollars have been raised to provide Breast Care Nurses throughout Australia.

This year, as the major sponsor of The Ashes, the Commonwealth Bank were involved for the first time.

I watched it on TV and it was a fun day, with the involvement of both the Australian and English cricket sides, the Chanel 9 commentary team and of course the spectators.

The biggest surprise to me was that the Commonwealth Bank actually changed their logo for the day.

It’s a brave company that messes with their corporate identity, but it paid off.

The pink logo would have been noticed more in this test than any of the four that had gone before.

 The Pink Test players

Why does a video go viral?

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

On Wednesday January 15, during the Melbourne heatwave, my son Evan posted a video on Vimeo.

It was a simple time lapse shot of a Lindt Chocolate Ball melting in the 42°C heat.

In just 3 days over 150,000 people have viewed it and it has been syndicated by news agencies around the world.

It was even aired on the Channel 7 News here in Melbourne.

For years advertising agencies have been trying to identify the formula that makes videos go viral. There are many theories but no real answers.

It simply comes down to the right idea at the right time, viewed by the right people.

But that’s easier said than done.

 

The worst drivers in the world.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

It doesn’t matter if you are in Barcelona, Brisbane or Berlin, the world’s worst drivers are the ones that drive taxis.

Japan is a country where manners and civility are part of the culture. Road rage is non existent and people respect each other.

Here the taxis are retro 70s’ Toyotas and Nissans, with the occasional ‘green’, Prius. The drivers all wear ties and hats and many also have white gloves. They will even get out of the cab and help you with your luggage.

But, and there is always a but with cabbies, once they are behind the wheel they are as rude, arrogant and selfish as any of their counterparts around the world.

Cabbies are professional drivers who spend 8 to 10 hours day behind the wheel. They should be the best drivers in the world but almost to a man (and most of them are men) they are the worst.

 

The church and I don’t normally agree.

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

I am an agnostic and it’s my belief that a dogmatic adherence to religion has been one of the biggest encumbrances to human harmony since faith became organised.

However this poster, hanging on the facade of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, struck a chord.

It’s a direct reaction to the politicisation of refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

Both sides of politics, in an attempt to win favor with the electorate, have demonised people escaping the horrors of war, famine and persecution.

They aren’t criminals, they are just people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) reports that there are currently 45 million refugees worldwide. This year people arriving in Australia, to claim asylum, rose to 15,800 people. That, according to UNHCR, is about 3% of the total asylum claims made in the industrialised world.

The politicised fear of immigrants in Australia isn’t new.

The Chinese were welcomed in the gold fields in the 1850s, until the gold ran out, and then they were sent packing. In the late 1940s the Ten Quid Poms, although sponsored by the government, were despised by the average Aussie, who believed they would take their jobs. Then there were the original ‘Boat People’ – the refugees from the Vietnam War who came here in the late 1970s.

With the civil war in Syria and sectarian violence in Egypt, the flood of refugees will continue.

It’s about time both sides of politics developed a bipartisan policy to welcome these people rather than ostracise them.

I agree, Australia can do better than this.

Made in China.

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

When I was growing up in the 50s, we scoffed at products that were ‘Made in Japan’.

They were seen as massed produced, poor quality copies of quality goods made in the UK, Europe or the US.

Over the last 50 years that has all changed.

Japan’s manufacturing industries developed the intellectual and engineering skills to become world leaders in automotive, computers and consumer electronics.

Their companies now compete on every level with the products they originally copied.

Japan is home to six of the top ten largest vehicle manufacturers. In fact the top selling luxury car in the US, is Lexus.

With a population of over 1.3 billion people and an ever increasing middle class, the growth of Chinese manufacturing has been fueled by internal consumption.

Owning a car, TV or mobile phone has been a priority. The quality of these new possessions hasn’t been that important.

Now internal consumption in China has slowed and manufacturers are looking abroad to expand their markets. They will soon realise that quality is just as important as price to these new overseas consumers.

Many Apple products are ‘Designed in California’ but ‘Made in China’ so it won’t be that long before the Chinese learn how to design as well as make desirable consumer products.

Once that happens we may be soon proudly driving our new ‘Made in China’ luxury car.

 

For Turkey’s sake, I hope history repeats itself.

Friday, June 7th, 2013

In our 12 months of travelling, Turkey was high on the list as being our favourite country.

The people were friendly and open, the country was beautiful, easy to get around and we always felt safe.

What also impressed us as tourists was the secular society, where religion didn’t dominate life and the freedom of the people.

Secularism was a primary principle of Mustafa Kemel Atatürk (1881-1938), the first President of the Republic of Turkey.

An excellent example of Atatürks strategy of unification and conciliation, was the way he dealt with the sensitive subject of Hagia Sophia.

Built in 537 as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, Hagia Sophia was to become a Roman Catholic Cathedral an Orthodox Cathedral again, and then in 1453 an Imperial Mosque.

In 1935, under the direction of Atatürk, it became a museum and it still is today. Thus diffusing the divide over what religion this ancient and important building should represent.

Atatürk transformed the Republic of Turkey into a modern state by introducing social reform and separated politics and religion.

As we travelled throughout Turkey we spoke with many Turks about their society and the possibility of them joining the European Union. The consensus was that their country was doing well, especially compared to the EU, and that they might be better off staying out of the partnership. There was also a feeling of disquiet about the current regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Especially his desire to move Turkey from a secular, Eurocentric society to a more Islamic, Middle Eastern one.

When we travelled to Gallipoli we were overwhelmed by the Turks love of all things Atatürk. There are quotes, statues and monuments everywhere on the peninsula. It’s therefore not surprising to hear that the average Turkish citizen is mistrustful of a government that seems to want to distance itself from the legacy of what many see as their founding father.

In fact the name ‘Atatürk’ was bestowed on Mustafa Kemel in 1934 by the Turkish Parliament and means “Father of the Turks”

This name is forbidden to any other person.

The last 10 years have seen the economy strengthen under the rule of the AKP, but this growth seems to have been at a cost.

It would be a disaster for Turkey if this current civil unrest plunges it into the rule of fundamentalism and it goes the way of many other countries in the Middle East.

It must be remembered that Turkey is a democracy and the current government have been elected to power.

What is going on right now is a struggle for that power.

The only real way change should take place is by the democratic process, but that requires an opposition capable of winning the vote.

Currently this doesn’t exist, which has allowed the present government, feeling  invincible, to deal harshly with any form of dissent.

However what does appear to be a bi-product of this conflict is the emergence of a meaningful opposition. It’s to be hoped that they will find a leader that has the intelligence and vision of Mustafa Kemel Atatürk.

Right now, Turkey needs him again.

The camera never lies but photographers cheat.

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

When framing a photograph I like to eliminate superfluous things like power lines, satellite dishes, garbage, solar heating panels and graffiti.

I try to get rid of anything that makes the scene look less than idyllic.

My snaps therefore give a false view of what I have seen.

In a moment of total honesty I decided to take a few shots that show things as they are, warts and all.

I often wonder why governments, local authorities and individuals,visually pollute the locations that they try so hard to get us to see?