The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Winning At Something No One Wants …
October 5, 2015, 10:16 am
Filed under: Culture, Guns, Social Divide

First of all I want to say this is not an anti-America rant.

Nor am I suggesting I have answers to the problem I am going to talk about.

And finally, I fully accept, this is a theoretical perspective, rather than one fact-checked to within an inch of it’s life.

However, the events in Oregon these past few days have bothered me immensely.

What has made the horror of it even more real for me is, ironically, a Canadian Police Drama [19-2] that, coincidentally, featured a storyline similar to the events that unfolded at Umpqua Community College.

The way they conveyed the horror, fear, desperation and senselessness of the situation really affected me so my heart goes out to those affected because I can only imagine the reality is so much worse. [episode 1 of series 2, if you’re interested]

As you have probably guessed, this is about gun control.

As we have seen, it’s a subject that polorizes countries, communities and people.

Of course there’s an argument to say that with so many dead at the hands of guns – and with so much evidence to suggest America’s casual approach to gun ownership and control is a contributing factor – it’s amazing we are still in this situation. But we are.

As with most things in life, there is no single reason for why things happen, but a million.

Complicated reasons.

Reasons with merit.

Reasons with agenda.

Reasons which no one wants to talk about … from an attitude of dealing with the mentally ill through [over]medication to the outrageous and disgraceful level of influence [and ignorance] held by the NRA.

But what if it’s not just about the amount of guns that reside in the US?

Let’s face it, there are many countries in Europe with a huge proportion of gun ownership and yet their level of gun related murder – let alone mass killings – is very small.

From a personal perspective – and this is something few people know – my Italian family has one of the biggest private gun collections in the World and yet they have never been in any situation involving the illegal use of firearms.

So here’s my question …

What if this is less about guns and more about cultural DNA?

America may be the land of the free but it’s also the country of meritology.

Like the days of the wild, wild West … everyone is painfully aware that your success is in your own hands.

If you make it, life is amazing … you are bathed in glory and pearls.

But if you don’t … well, then you are placed upon the metaphorical scrap heap.

Discarded. Denied. Ignored. Dismissed. Invisible.

For all the amazing things about America – and there’s countless things – it has a pathological fear of socialism.

They – and I absolutely acknowledge I am being generalistic here – see socialism as giving lazy people a “helping hand”. It doesn’t matter if these people are desperate, alone and in need, the thought process is they’ve somehow brought it on themselves and to offer aid would be to reward apathy.

Of course this is ridiculous, but it is, in some ways, the backbone of the American belief system – work hard and you will prosper – despite the fact millions upon millions of people work multiple jobs and are still broke.

The reason I say this is because a funny thing happens when people are desperate … when they feel discarded by society … they become desperate.

Of course there are, sadly, people who feel this way in England, Switzerland, Austria etc etc … but there is one significant difference.

They have a social welfare system.

Financial aid.

Of course, many of these countries governments are trying to minimize this because they see it as an expense, but while they could and should be better funded, more positively promoted and better managed to make sure some people can’t fall through the cracks, there is something there.

Something that can help. Advice. Be connected to. Not let you feel alone.

While it might be tragic that people need it, the welfare state is humanities last resort … a system designed to leave no one behind … and it’s a wonderful thing and a perfect reason why we should pay our taxes and demand our governments treasure it rather than destroy it.

But my point is this.

Could America’s anti-socialist, meritology based value system be contributing to the spate of gun crimes?

Could people feeling they have already lost lead to a desperation to survive.

From having food to being heard?

I know this can’t be the only answer. I know this is very uncomfortable and I know there are probably lots of answers and reasons. But despite my relatively privileged situation, I felt the flimsy line that separates comfort and desperation when you are in the American system and yet when I lived in England or Australia, I never felt that … I always felt there was a net for me … something that could catch me.

Sure, I knew it wouldn’t bathe me in riches, but knowing it wouldn’t let me fall all the way down was a very treasured thing, even if I only realised when the situation was a possibility.

Now if I was to ask some of the people in America – not just the misfits and the lonely, but average, middle-of-the-road Americans – I’m not they would feel that same level of protection.

Please don’t mistake me for trying to defend what these killers have done … I’m not, it’s tragic, barbaric and cowardly, nor am I trying to be abusive to US, it’s a wonderful country that I regard highly and there’s a bunch of problems in other nations that America has ensured they will never face … I’m just trying to understand why it could be happening in America more than any other nation on Earth.

I tell you what, given China’s attitude to survival is quite similar to America’s [your family is your only security] I’m greatful gun ownership is against the law because potentially, if there is any merit to what I am suggesting/thinking/wondering, we would see similar tragedies over here as we have seen far too many times over there.

I hope anyone who bothers to read this can see I’m looking for answers rather than abuse because this issue doesn’t need anymore political rhetoric, just some honest, objective discussion between people.

Thank you.

Let Out The Jail Cell …
September 30, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Sometimes good things happen that you never saw coming.

It could be a person who enters your life.

A promotion you weren’t expecting.

A gift for no other reason than you are just you.

True, it doesn’t happen very often … but when it does, it gives you a sense of happiness that even transcends things like your birthday or Christmas.

Well, today you can experience that feeling because this is the last post I’m writing until – get this – 12th October.


Don’t thank me, thank the Chinese Government for giving the nation ‘Golden Week’, though I am pretty sure that despite being a nation of 1.4 billion people, not one of them will be as happy as you are right now.


When Did The Guardian Become The Sunday Sport?
September 29, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Brand Suicide, Daily Fail

A few weeks ago, a guy called Oz – based, unsurprisingly in Australia – wrote to me about where to get some weird t-shirts from.

While some [read: all] would read that as a bit of an insult, I was very touched and notified him where my extensive collection of fashion horror-show could be obtained from.

The bad news is the predictive text of my phone decided to slightly alter the name and so when he clicked on the link, he got taken to a site that infected his computer with a virus rather than a place where he could purchase the sort of items only worn by the fashion illiterate.

When he told me what had happened, he mentioned that he had thought I did it on purpose – which some would take as a massive compliment but I took as a massive insult – so to ‘make up for my inadvertent mistake’ he sent me an article that he wanted me to write about.

Which leads to the headline of this post.

And the photograph below this sentence.

Yes, the Guardian Newspaper really did cover this.

Whereas once they were the bastion of good taste for the upper-middle class, they’ve now become the bastard love child of the Sunday Sport, Daily Mail and YouPorn.

Mind you, with the recent publication of Ashley Madison’s [supposedly anonymous] members data online, it is possible the managers at The Guardian felt they could attract the ‘middle class pervert crowd’ with some cheap innuendo and smut because they know they’ll be looking for it given they sure-as-shit won’t be getting any action at home ever again.

Oz did say my final punishment was to link this story to planning in some way, but as bad as planners may sometimes be, even we would never suggest this would be a good idea.

Which is proof of how ridiculous The Guardian is becoming.

Read the story here.

According To Y&R, This Is What A Strategist Should Look Like …
September 28, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Agency Culture, Comment, Marketing, Planning

Not only that, but according to Y&R, strategists should …

+ Be trend savvy.
+ Have a passion for creativity.
+ Be in love with presentation.

Now I know Oliver – the head of planning at Y&R Bangkok – and he’s very smart and very nice so I’m going to put this down to ‘lost in translation’, however if the photo reflects the sort of planner he has in his team then I guess I have to accept I will never get a job with him. I also have to accept, most planners in the region – especially the male ones – will want to start working there immediately.

Now that’s devious strategy.

The West Is Not Best …
September 25, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: China, Chinese Culture, Comment, Culture

As this week has been a stream of daft posts – or should I say, dafter than usual – I thought I’d end the week on something semi-serious. No really.

Don’t worry, it won’t happen again for a very long time.

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in China’s attitude in the 5 years I’ve been here is their attitude towards ‘the West’.

When I first came here, the general attitude amongst many was 'the West was better'.

Better choice.

Better products.

Better life.

But while there are definitely some elements of the West that are still regarded as being more favourable than China, it has changed significantly over the past few years.

Some of that was due to the global financial crisis.

In some respects, it was the perfect storm for helping the Chinese population see their country with fresher eyes.

The West – a place they had revered so highly – was collapsing.

China – their home – wasn't just thriving, but was being courted by the West to 'help'.

And thanks to internet penetration reaching critical mass, hundreds of millions of people were able to see this 'once-in-a-lifetime' event unfold in front of their eyes.

Suddenly their homeland wasn't so bad after all.

There was the potential for a bright future.



Improved standards of living.

Of course certain Western brands were still highly revered – Apple for instance – but it was no longer a case of 'West Is Best' but 'Whatever Is Best Is Best'.

The final proof – at least to me – was I was seeing the attitudes of students changing.

When I first arrived, many dreamt of going to the US to study and then getting a job there to start a new life. Now? Well many still talk about going to the US to study – especially at an Ivy League School – but instead of staying there, they want to return to China to make their fortune and then maybe return to the West when they want a more relaxed life.

In other words, for many, the West is a place to learn and retire.

Think about that for a second.

But things are starting to change again.

Scandals … economic uncertainty … heightened competition … degrees that no longer have the cache they used to have because so many people now have them … they’re all causing questions to be asked and uncertainty to be felt.

What prods this feeling even more is how the US – for example – seems to be rising again.

Whether that is true is open to debate, but from a Chinese youth perspective, it seems that way.





And this is leading to more and more things being created with a ‘Western model blueprint’.

One of the byproducts of this – and the importation of many Western brands – is that we are now seeing many cities across China become indistinguishable from their Western counterparts.

Sometimes I am in a city – whether that’s Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu whatever – and I realise I literally could be anywhere in the World.

While that brings some sense of familiarity, it also makes me sad.

One of the most wonderful things about China is it’s unique way and perspective on things.

While I am not suggesting that will fundamentally change – at least in the short term – this new energy to replicate the West is definitely going to have an impact and while there are some things in the West that are beautiful, powerful and valuable … China needs to remember the best things of the West have come as a result of time, and simply replicating the ‘end result’ doesn’t mean you get the same effect.

Proof Of Persuasion …
September 24, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Brand Suicide, Cunning, Entertainment, Perm

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I thought I’d convinced a perfectly sane [well, moderately sane] creative to get a perm.

And why would I think that?

Because I’m an immature, manipulative bastard.

But I was sort-of wrong … because thanks to some misunderstanding, they gave him cornrows rather than a perm.

Sure he looks stupid.

Sure he looks like some white, American, fratboy trying to look like Snoop Dog.

But that isn’t good enough. I paid for a perm and so I demanded a perm.

And you know what … despite already looking a total twat, he agreed, which is why he went back in yesterday for another hair humiliation which ended up looking like this.

I know what you’re thinking … it looks pretty good. And you’re right, it does.

Sure, he looks like Kenny G, but it’s nowhere near the embarrassment I was expecting.

Or should I say ‘hoping for’.

In fact, I would say it’s a vast improvement on how he used to look.

I don’t mind telling you, I’m utterly devastated.

Before I saw the results of the ‘proper perm’ I had written this:


Nick Finney is a giant among men.

Actually, he’s more than that, he’s a gladiator of masculinity.

A man so full of testosterone, that Hugo Boss want to kick Gerrard Butler from fronting their latest preposterously ridiculous campaign.


So many of todays heroes and stars claim to have unlimited levels of power and influence … but Nick Finney trumps all of them.

Each and every one.

And that’s good, because with that hairstyle, he’s going to need something to hang his self-esteem onto given he’s never going to get laid again.



But the fact is, he IS going to get laid.

Sure, they might all be a bunch of Brian May groupie-types, but the reality is I’ve helped him get more action than he will know what to do with.

As Viz magazine once said in one of their utterly brilliant spoof ads … he’ll have to beat them off with a shitty stick.

The only positive out of this – and I use that word very cautiously – is that when my son saw him [Jill brought him down because lets face it, his inheritance was paying for it], the reaction wasn’t one of admiration, inspiration or pride, it was this …

Yes, Mr Curly Head made my son cry.

A lot.

His curls literally scared my baby.

The bastard.

But all that aside, I have to admit defeat.

I wanted this to end with him crying a river of tears but it ended up with me [and my son] sobbing in disappointment.

Karma is a bitch.

That said, I have to applaud him … he’s a total legend for doing it and not chickening out which is why I can honestly say his madness has given me one of the few high points in my pretty crappy year.

Mind you, when I think that I’ve inadvertently ensured 2015 is going to be the year he has more action than Ron Jeremy I feel sick … which is why the only way I’m able to cope with it is to think of this …

If You Thought Donald Trump Was A Moron, You’ve Not Met Dean Dacko …
September 23, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

This is old news.

So old that the marketing director it relates to – the Dean Dacko in the title of this post – has since left the company.

When you read what he said, you will think that may be the first smart thing he did.

I should point out there is a chance his comments were taken out of context. Only he – and the journalist who recorded the conversation – will ever know.

However, even if they were, I can’t imagine a scenario where someone could ever see ‘the brand benefits’ of 2 airlines going down, killing hundreds of innocent lives.

Yes folks, I’m talking about Malaysian Airlines and the response the [ex] marketing director, Dean Dacko, gave when asked ’should you change your brand name’.


“Prior to MH370, globally Malaysia Airlines’ brand awareness was in the low single digits. But after MH370 and MH17 it is 86 per cent worldwide. The name is now in the range of Coke and Pepsi.

That kind of awareness takes decades and billions of dollars in investment to build. To abandon that, from a commercial marketing perspective, would be a tragically bad mistake to make.”


Yes, he really said that.


Can you believe it?

I swear to god, even the most stupid person who lives in Stupid Avenue, Stupidsville would know that was a ridiculous – not to mention tasteless – statement to make.

Imagine how that makes the poor families of the lost ones feel.

Or the loyal employees of Malaysian Airlines.

Or the people of Malaysia, a nation full of wonderfully warm and compassionate people.

And this guy is from Canada … a place that is supposed to make labrador puppies look dangerous.

The fact he wasn’t fired the second he made this comment literally blows my mind.

I have no idea where he will turn up next, but if a brand suddenly starts poisoning their customers or committing genocide, I’ll have a good guess about who was behind it.


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