Island Life by David Slack

Anything will do

There is a long and proud tradition of writers finding anything, but anything, to do instead of typing the next line. Who am I to break with tradition? This morning has been a bit of a slow start. If, like me, you're having some trouble buckling down with the sun blazing outside, here are a couple of diversions for your entertainment.

I learned in a tribute to Johnny Carson that he offered this welcome to democracy to the former Soviet republics in 1991:

Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties. ... Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto -- usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money. ... Democracy means free television, not good television, but free. ... And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head -- this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle. I thank you.

Meanwhile, over at Scott Rosenberg's blog, you'll find a link to a fascinating example of screen casting. All presenters of lame Powerpoint shows, please face the front and listen carefully. This is how you connect the audio with the visual and make it compelling. You'll learn more than you ever thought you would about the way a wikipedia page evolves, about the heavy metal umlaut and about how a German reference in this context is okay but a Nazi one is something only a dense heir-head would countenance.

If this a bit too pointy-headed for your taste, try these 99 pictures of the year just gone. Viewer advisory: you can't flick through 99 unusual images without finding the odd one a bit disturbing.

And finally: the update I promised on the win-an-iPod-or-at-least-a-CD promotion, otherwise known as the Anniversary Project. All you have to do is click here and nominate a memorable moment in New Zealand's history. Best contribution wins an iPod and the 10 most prolific contributors each get a Real Groovy CD voucher. The leader board is as follows:

Peter Clayworth
Ross Mason
The Keene Family
John Shears
Kent Atkinson
Stephen Walker
Matthew Bywater

Tied in 8th place are:

Andrew Llewellyn
Richie Dyer
Peter Johnston
Reremoana Te Kani
Jake Pollock
Shirley Jones
Aaron Chamberlain

Now, if you're wondering if it's too late to catch the top ten, the answer is hell no. It doesn't actually take a lot to qualify for 8th place - just three contributions will do it, at present. I'm looking for any interesting date in the country's history, from the momentous to the mundane. If you'd like to make a contribution but you're stumped, here's a suggestion. Go into any newspaper library and pick out a paper from many years ago. Just take a completely random stab. It's bound to be interesting. When you have your item, just click here, and add her to the database.

And then one should really get back to work.