April Miscellany

**********

Spotted early in the morning on a drizzly Auckland morning: Two elderly/old/baby-booming couples playing tennis while the rest of the world  slept in.

**********

Did anybody notice something missing from the Great Debate on the future of   Super? Media dutifully followed the pollies who repeated their party line mantras. Should the retirement age go up? Should it stay put. Older people worked and lived longer said some commentators and pollies (as if that was in itself a crime). But the real question – what work there would  be in 20 years –  was never discussed, and given the pace of technological sprints it should have been. But… not a peep on that score.

And then we spent days on that other national controversy, naughty school boys boasting about having sex with drunken  girls. Lots of fizz in this bottle, but again another question, unexplored and unanswered: Our liquor laws. So it was a case of collective shtum.  Silence please. This is the alcohol industry we’re talking about.

**********

‘Shyness, that single emotion that encompasses so many different things -embarrassment, timidity, a fear of rejection, a reluctance to be inconvenient- is, despite its extreme commonality, also extremely mysterious. Is it a mere feeling? A personality-defining condition? A form of anxiety? While shyness is for some a constant companion, its flushes and flashes managed in the rough manner of a chronic disease, it can also alight, without the courtesy of a warning, on even the most social, and socially graceful, of people. It can manifest as the mute smile that appears, unbidden, when you’re alone with a stranger in an elevator’. Read The case for shyness at The Atlantic.com.

**********

How concerned are some Americans about the Trump era – even before he has completed his first 100 days in office? Here’s what Alternet.org, a liberal site, is  now saying to its readers:

We are very concerned that authoritarianism is taking root in the U.S. Aggressive people with destructive agendas are in charge, defunding government and eroding our rights, while trying to stamp out truth itself. We are feeling a real sense of emergency.  Fighting creeping fascism is our top priority. We have to be prepared for the worst – a terrorist act that could set the stage for serious repression by a President who lies compulsively.

It’s hard not to be drawn to the political drama evolving in America whose President, unlike any other before him, has/had a crush on Russia. This is a story much bigger than Watergate, though with leaks everywhere it is unraveling in the same way. The clash of values and principles have brought out the fight in some Americans – here’s a sample of street level wit, then highbrow commentary from the confused land of the free:

Seen on a street march, a placard reading:

‘The most dangerous immigrants were the ones who landed in 1492!’

**********

And at another level here’s an American Conservative, yes a capital C,  conservative writing in the Washington Post:  ‘We have as a President a man who is erratic, vindictive, volatile, obsessive, a chronic liar, and prone to believe in conspiracy theories” – Peter Wehner, former top policy strategist in George W. Bush’s White

House. And finally, anyone who prizes balanced, insightful  commentary read the  now famous editorials written by the Los Angeles Times  last month on Trump, his vices and his unsuitability for the Presidency. No punches pulled there either.

**********

But wait there’s more – leading American intellectual Noam Chomsky on Alternet.org: … ‘there also is something called world opinion. What does the world think is the greatest threat to world peace? Well, we know that, from U.S.-run polls, Gallup polls: United States. Nobody even close, far ahead of any other threat. Pakistan, second, much lower. Iran, hardly mentioned. http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/noam-chomsky-trumps-first-75-days

**********

It may come as a blow to the egos of advertising creatives, but Coca Cola is examining ways to use artificial intelligence to do their jobs.

“Content creation is something that we have been doing for a very long time – we brief creative agencies and then they come up with stories that they audio visualize and then we have 30 seconds or maybe longer,”  says Mariano Bosaz, the brand’s global senior digital director. Can an AI bot replace a creative? Bosaz wants to find out, according to AdWeek (Algorithms can already pick music and write copy. Eek!)

**********

Share this:
Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.