Boris Johnson’s speech to the Conservative Conference raises morale

October 1, 2014

It is widely reported that Boris Johnson is positioning himself to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and then Prime Minister. His Conference speech illustrates why.

His speeches are coded messages. They are also irresistibly witty. Today [September 30th 2014] he addressed the Conservative Party annual conference. You can see a report of the speech here.

On the eve of the Conference, UKIP announced the defection of a Conservative MP Mark Reckless to its Party. Boris brushed aside this near-crisis PR story with a humorous nautical riff about throwing the Kippers overboard along with [Alex] Salmond.

Boris banishes bad thoughts

The assembled Party activists roared their approval. Boris had banished bad thoughts. Wit had magicked away melancholia.

Compulsive watching

It was compulsive watching. Like any great performer, he succeeded in captivating his audience. I suspended disbelief. I warmed to Boris’ World.

The world beyond Boris

But I didn’t believe a word in a world beyond Boris. Particularly when he outlined why there was the only one man to lead in Europe. He was building up to saying that man was David Cameron. And he did, with a touch of irony suggesting that his words are funny and charming and not to be taken literally.

And I did find his words funny and charming and not to be taken literally. And if I had been in the Hall, I would have smiled and clapped. Just like David Cameron did.

These are my leadership questions

Will Boris influence the influencers? Will The Conservative party decide it needs Boris as leader before the General Election? Will he be in good position to take over from David Cameron if the Conservatives lose the next election?

Perhaps. And if so, he will deploy an unmatched skill at making people forget their problems. Until, sadly, they have to re-emerge from Borisland.


Murray beats Janovicz in Beijing

September 30, 2014

Match report 30 Sept 2014

Live reporting

Andy Murray fights back to win a title in Szechuan last week, and moves on to Beijing. He risks an early exit to an opponent who beat him comfortably in their last encounter

Murray starts in hesitant mood against Janovicz. He doesn’t look a player capable of beating this opponent.

Murray loses first service game then goes 0-2. Then 0-3 to a second break.

Immediate and longer term problems

The immediate problem is a flatness to his play. Former coach Mark Petchey lists the problems. A tough schedule the previous week. 1500 mile trip to Beijing. Murray likes to feel his way into the game.

Longer term problems

Murray admitted in an interview that negativity had crept into his play. Maybe, he said not entirely convincingly, the win will help.

The match continues

First serve 30% . Overall play poor.

Breaks but then is broken. 1-4.murray has been broken three times in succession. Has one 1 out of 13 second serves. Can’t deal with J. ‘s drop shots.
1-5. Still hasn’t won a serve. J is winning without being tested. Murray wins a serve by J errors. 2-5 j takes eye drops.

M loses first point to another drop shot. But due to his own weak return. Still mostly winning points by J errors. Enough to win game.
‘He carried a bit of momentum forward.’ Petchey. Gets two first serves in. Back to 5-4.

‘He’s got some momentum’.

Tighter game. Murray breaks again. Wins serve. M playing better

Murray reaches tie break. Gets to 5-5. 6-6 7-7 8-8 9-9 11-9 J wins tie break
Murray could have been more aggressive

Second set

J. wins serve 1-0

Games closer. J still the more aggressive. Neither player precise. 2-2 3-3 4-4 M still too timid in rallies.

Murray breaks. 5-4 Both players played nervous game. And serves out

1 set all

First games follow similar pattern. Murray little less nervous than before?
1-1

Murray breaks. And then holds serve 3-1 3-2

And 4-2

J drops a second serve. 5-2

Murray serves out and wins two sets to one

Was there a momentum swing? If so, how did it disappear as AM led in tie break and then lost tie break in first set?


Che perfume manufacture banned as a counter-revolutionary action

September 28, 2014

Che Guevara (Korda)Che Guarera remains an iconic figure in Cuba. The government has banned disrespectful perfumes named Ernesto Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez.

According to media reports, The Cuban government is to take disciplinary action against a state pharmaceutical company that created the perfumes.

The colognes – Ernesto and Hugo – were unveiled in Havana on Thursday [25th September, 2014] by Labiofam, a state laboratory.

Labiofam said that Ernesto, the cologne named after the Argentine-born revolutionary who helped Fidel Castro take over in Cuba in 1959, would be a woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder.

In a statement in the official Granma newspaper, the government described the project as “a serious error…The symbols of the Revolution are and will always be sacred,” it read.

The ultimate charismatic

Some years ago, Che was described as the ultimate charismatic in a LWD post. Recently, visits to the post increased.

It seems the perfume is already exerting its disrespectful magic


NFL’s Roger Goodell in re-run of Custer’s last stand

September 24, 2014

The National Football League faces serious criticisms for its policy and actions against players found guilty of off-field violence. The specific case of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens has opened up the broader questions of the competence of Commissioner Roger Goodell

The elevator punch

Ray Rice was videod knocking his then fiancée unconscious in an elevator of an Atlantic City casino. The assault on Janay Palmer took place last February. Initially, Commissioner Goodell banned Rice for two games for his off-field actions.

When the video appeared on the Internet in August, there was a belated reaction from Roger Goodell and the Baltimore Ravens. Rice was delisted from the club, and banned indefinitely from the league.

More abuse problems

More abuse problems were uncovered involving NFL players. Media interest in the story grew. Commissioner Goodell appeared to be ducking Press Conferences, and ‘went missing’ at a prestige event he was expected to attend.

The damaging press conference

When Goodell surfaced at a Press Conference, he was already appearing in the role of Colonel Custer with the Indians approaching rapidly. He appeared nervous and weakly apologetic. He is unable to explain his silence and unavailability for comment as the story developed. Videos of the event go viral.

The Media sound off

His conduct and competence become headline news. Rachel Nichols of NFL is among those in war paint. Goodell’s future as NFL’s chief honcho seems less than secure.

Leadership lessons

The conventional wisdom of Press Relations 101 is enough to start the discussion. Goodell allowed the story to build up by failing to make himself available to the Media. By the time he did face the press, he needed to have sorted out his symbolic acts of contrition. He missed his last chance to manage the dilemmas he faced.

Goodell could have taken lessons from the sad case of the even more beleaguered Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, as he attempted to cling to power earlier this year. Ford, facing the media after his various misdemeanors had a wonderful line in self-criticism and contrition.

Acknowledgement

To LWD subscriber Mike Langley, who drew attention to the developing story.

The story will be followed

The story will be followed here in updates to this post.


Thoughts on a chocolate teapot

September 22, 2014

Teapot
Chocolatiers in York have produced a chocolate teapot that can be used to brew tea. A very English project?

York, home of the Chunkie bar, can lay claim to being one of the two great chocolate centres in England, the other being Birmingham, home of the venerable Cadbury site at Bournville.

Chocolate is a wondrous material for product development, being perfect for liberating the creativity of food technologists in ideas for a near infinite array of shapes, sizes, flavours, colours, and fillings of chocolate products.

The uselessness of a chocolate teapot

The uselessness of a chocolate teapot has become an ironic saying about futility. Another example is the uselessness of a concrete parachute.

The chocolate challenge

Anyway, there were these food technologists who were challenged to make a chocolate teapot to see if it could do the one thing it was reputed to be useless at, namely brewing a cup of tea.

Cue for action. With no little ingenuity the techies produced a chocolate teapot that could hold an infusion of tea leaves in boiling water until ready for pouring. The result, a nice cup of tea with a slight chocolate favour. Well done all.

The impossibility of uselessness

When gainfully employed as a new product team trainer I liked to argue for the impossibility of uselessness. A chocolate teapot might not brew a cup of tea but it might be a nice retirement gift, or a present for the cricket captain too often found in the double teapot pose.

Not so impossible, and a nice exercise for creativity workshops

Next week

Thoughts on a chocolate chess set


A few reflections on the Scottish Referendum

September 20, 2014

The Scottish Referendum ended with a win for the Better Together campaign and devastation for the devolutionists and its leader Alex Salmond. Here are a few unedited impressions of the end-game

September 18th 2014

An emotional roller-coaster of a final day of campaigning and a night waiting as the results were counted. The process is hailed as a template for democratic elections. The commitment was impressive, the over ninety percent registration, over eighty percent turn-out.

Hope and denial

Hope in bucketfuls from the Independent Scotland ranks. For that dreamed-for freedom.

Freedom from the auld enemy, reborn as ‘the politicians in Whitehall’. Denial in bucketfuls, too. Denial that Scottish leaders were of a similar moral standing and competence to Whitehall’s toffs and scoundrels. The anger of one old-school socialist brought memories of an earlier age of fire-breathing working-class Scottish Union leaders with a long rehearsed loathing of his class enemies.

The pain of loss

The expressions of a lost dream in which a free Scotland would have been free from Trident -that was often mentioned. Free from perceived unjust laws imposed from Whitehall. For some, free from fears of what might happen, for example to the NHS [National Health Service].

From under a duvet

A distraught and inconsolable young caller to a phone-in. Upset after campaigning all day, staying up all night. Polls show the Better Together win. More questioning. She is nineteen. Tearful. In bed. I imagine her curled up, foetal position, under a duvet, clutching her I-phone.

Whitehall. It’s politics as usual

Early morning. A prepared statement from David Cameron confirming concessions to Scotland but also to the other constitutive parts of the [still] United Kingdom. Seized on as an electioneering ploy.

The agony of Alex

Alex Salmond, indefatigable leader of the Yes campaign for two years. Final speech had been as confident as ever. Within hours of the result, he announces he will step down as first Minister of the Scottish Parliament. The mask of command had been wearily taken off.

World reaction

Excellent International review from BBC Scotland.

Local reaction

Just heard two Labour politicians in deeply-divided discussion [BBC Radio 5] much easier for the Better Together camp to seek reconciliation. Sad.


It depends what you mean by Independent: what you vote for and what you may get

September 16, 2014

I believeThe six words on the voting slip ask the ‘simple’ question: Should Scotland be an Independent Country? But independence is more a state of mind than a constitutional matter

The map is not the territory

When my local store sells me a copy of The Independent, its electronic screen says I have been sold an Independant. Experience, tells me I have not been sold the wrong product. Or, to use a term from the social sciences, the map is not the territory.

The independence being voted for or against is a concept constructed in the mind of each individual cross-maker. It will turn out to be the concept acted out in the future not just by cross-makers but a wider group of consequential cross-carriers.

I offer a few thoughts from the sidelines and beyond the geographic borders of Scotland.

How to become independent

Believe. Believe you have removed the ties that bind you to a state of dependency. Believe you will be independent fiscally, even if you have restrictions imposed by currency power brokers in London, Frankfurt and New York. Believe you will be independent militarily because you will not share military resources with England or America, who will not seek some compensation for the collateral damage produced through logistic disruption of their nuclear forces. Believe in the revenues accruing from oil both discovered and waiting to be discovered. And that the revenues will be directed through the wisdom of politicians to address the longer term well-being of an aging population.

But above all

But above all, believe you, the individual voter, will be liberated. You will be able to say truthfully ‘I am no longer under the control of a malign or at best uncaring foreign power. I am free and independent.’

And maybe the dream will come true.


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