“A mile wide and an inch deep.”

There is a paradox in Kiwi ingenuity that lies in the disparity between our ability to invent and our ability to implement ideas, especially at a global level.

Drawing Hands. M C Esher

“A mile wide and an inch deep” was a phrase used by a successful business leader to describe the characteristics and techniques of New Zealand entrepreneurs. The point he was making was that Kiwis tend to be ‘jacks-of-all-trades’. Because we come from a commercial environment where resources are thinly spread, we have to be versatile. …


How a stuffed gorilla outwitted the New York Stock Exchange

A stuffed gorilla


SR71 Blackbird (Popular Mechanics)

This story is a reflection on irrational behaviour and unreasonable men.

Particularly irrational behaviour around investment of money and resources that enabled things to happen that otherwise wouldn’t.

George Bernard Shaw’s view was that a reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man tries to get the world to adapt to him. Therefore, Shaw argues, all progress is due to unreasonable men.

This has probably been true since time began, certainly since the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs and their grandiose pyramids.

There’s a strong link between grandiose architecture and delusions of grandeur. It seems the longer people…


“The longest journey is the journey within”

Dag Hammarskjöld

Austin Chan ‘It’s a Sign!’

150km west of Athens, on the steep slopes of Mount Parnassus lie sprawled the ruins of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Ancient writers tell us that the words; “Know Thyself” were once inscribed on the portal above the temple entrance, although they have now long vanished, eroded by time and neglect.

Variously attributed to a host of ancient notables; Socrates, Pythagoras or Heraclitus, the aphorism implies we understand life best if we understand ourselves. …


Regardless of whether you are motoring, boating, or staying at your bach for the holiday, a water-pump of some kind will break down. New Year’s Eve is the most likely time for this to happen.

Plumbers Nightmare. Photo — Liam Briese

I reckon that going on holiday is the most domestically dangerous time of the year. I’m convinced that more divorce proceedings must start during this period than at any other time.

There are seven distinct thresholds within the holiday span which can tip a normally sane person into psychotic rage.

· Packing the Car or — How do you fit 67 cubic metres of food, bedding, 2 mountain bikes, a sea kayak, TV set, hair drier and remains of the Christmas cake into a…


We should be very grateful that the electronic age has arrested the incoming salvoes of Christmas cards. Historically, they were the emotional artillery of elderly aunts, each card exploding on our consciences as reminders of loving contact lost.

Those with any interest in trivia might want to know the sending of cards at Christmas began in the Victorian era. Although in the Middle Ages wood engravers produced prints with religious themes, the first commercial Christmas and New Year’s card is believed to have been designed in 1843. At the suggestion of the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, John…


My strategy for coping with a lack of success in girth reduction was to focus on increasing my height.

In our society of abundance we can spend more money on food which we don’t eat, than on food we do.

This is due to our national predilection for embarking on commercial diet plans, failing to shrink discernibly and then signing up with yet another plan. These plans cost us lots of money to eat very little.

Having been circumferentially challenged in the past, I feel that I should share a secret with you. …


This blog is a lament for the loss of skills that should be second nature to all of us. It’s all due to the Law of Unintended Consequences

Most of us have to watch a TV weather forecast to find out which way the wind will blow tomorrow and whether it will be wet.

In this age of abundance we have a propensity to throw out a carton of milk, not because it’s ‘off’, but because an arbitrary date on the pack has told us it’s too dangerous to drink. A whole generation has lost the art of sniffing things to test their freshness. It’s one example of how ‘Best-before’ dates printed on perishable goods have trumped the need for a sense of smell.


Why the world is for the quick and the clever.

Regulations are for the stupid.” — General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

It took a German military mind to tell us that clever, lazy people make the best leaders.

I remember being told years ago that the Prussian Army would promote clever, lazy men to become Generals, because they would find quicker and simpler ways to solve problems. Being of a naturally indolent bent myself, I thought I should do some research to support my bias for finding shortcuts.

I came across German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s name. Although it is a name less familiar than those of Bismarck, Hindenburg, von Clausewitz or Rommel, he gave us the intriguing if counter-intuitive notion…


Horace Walpole said, “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not. A sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is.”

Jesters in the courts of kings were masters. By roasting sacred cows, cartoonists and stand-up comics offer a healthy antidote to leaders who take themelves or their institutions too seriously.

Laughter can have some serious consequences. Curiosity and humour are two of the most powerful accelerants to innovative thinking. “Hmmm?” can quickly lead to “ha ha!”, which often leads to “aha!”

When I was a kid I was taught to question everything, which got me into a bit of strife, until I learned to ask cheeky questions with a smile on my face. …

Mike Hutcheson

Mike’s an Adjunct Professor at AUT. He’s written four books, and is a regular TV guest and commentator. He has a Master of Philosophy degree (1st Class Honours)

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