Friday, November 23, 2007

Stormhoek - my favourite wine!

Last night, in Johannesburg, the Council of judges for South Africa’s Marketing Excellence awards gave a gold medal and trophy to Stormhoek as the best Brand marketing campaign of the year (Small Budget).

They gave the same awards to other brands for Medium Budget and Large Budget and Extra Large Budget.

Finally, they gave a bigger trophy to the Grand Prix winner for the overall brand campaign winner and this went to Stormhoek.

Gold awards and trophies were handed out for sponsorship campaigns, arts and culture campaigns and an ex-advertising copywriter (now Absa Bank marketing manager) called Happy Ntshingila was crowned Marketing Man of the Year.
[Full story from]

Not only is Stormhoek my FAVOURITE WINE OF ALL TIME – but they have a brilliant marketing strategy as well: Blogging. Yup - go to: - that's it! Brilliant.

Probably my favourite part of the Stormhoek image - is Hugh Macleod's (he of gapingvoid fame) cartoons that are used as their labels. A few of them are posted below:


Creepy but cool

I found this via Digg... this must have taken hours and hours and days and days and...
New York Decay (JPEG Image, 2000x1351 pixels) - Scaled (51%)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mommy I want one!!

Now this is a concept car I'd gladly give my front teeth for!

Mazda Taiki reflects one possible direction for a future generation of Mazda sports cars aimed at helping create a sustainable society. The fourth concept car in the Nagare design series, Mazda Taiki further evolves the "flow" theme to establish a breathtaking presence that clearly distinguishes it as the culmination of the series, and to visually express the atmosphere - called taiki in Japanese - that wraps the Earth in its protective belt. The next-generation RENESIS ("16X" rotary engine) sets new standards for environmental and driving performance and serves as the base for pursuing the sports packaging that is synonymous with the Mazda name and unbeatable aerodynamic performance. From stem to stern the Mazda Taiki concept represents the culmination of the Nagare design series, while standing as a life-size icon indicating the road to the Mazda sports cars of the future.(Designed by Mazda Yokohama Design Studio)To give form to the concept of a next-generation Mazda sports icon that operates in harmony with our planet’s environment, the challenge became to create "a design that visually expresses the flow of air". This inspired the image of a pair of Hagoromo - the flowing robes in Japanese legend that enable a celestial maiden to fly - floating down from the sky.. The lower of the layered hagoromo flows from the front fenders to the sides, where it wraps under the body and gracefully curves up at the rear. The other hagoromo flows from the hood through the shoulder lines it etches, past the unique independent rear fender design, and lends a seductive curve to the rear deck. The fusion of these flowing upper and lower surfaces not only creates a visual depiction of flowing air, well-toned appearance, as well as creating a sense of floating lightly on air. The design also achieves an excellent drag coefficient of 0.25 and zero lift.

Check out the rest at:

Oil, Clarke & Dawe

Oh my... this has to be one of my all time favorites!

So listen, kids - if it's outside the environment - I suppose it doesn't matter if the front falls off.

Thank you Digg!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Knoetze Bloodline

If anyone wondered where I'd gone to - or why I've been relatively quiet lately - check this out! I've been researching and building my family tree - and am at a place where I can show the world!!


Click through to and have a peek. If you happen to fit in there somewhere - drop me a line and I'll register you as an administrator!!

All my love,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

MadV - inspire

I've missed the Nov 5 deadline for the Remember project . Wasn't all too happy with myself - but then I realized that 5 Nov wasn't a deadline - it was the birth of a project.

After seeing MadV's latest video - I'm amped as ever to get it together!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour...

Click through to the original article on the "4 Hour Work Week" blog and end up discovering a whole new world of ideas :0)

For those not prone to that level of exploration - here's a glimpse:

Deconstructing Arabic in 45 Minutes

Conversational Russian in 60 minutes?

This post is by request. How long does it take to learn Chinese or Japanese vs. Spanish or Irish Gaelic? I would argue less than an hour.

Here’s the reasoning…

Before you invest (or waste) hundreds and thousands of hours on a language, you should deconstruct it. During my thesis research at Princeton, which focused on neuroscience and unorthodox acquisition of Japanese by native English speakers, as well as when redesigning curricula for Berlitz, this neglected deconstruction step surfaced as one of the distinguishing habits of the fastest language learners.

So far, I’ve deconstructed Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Norwegian, Irish Gaelic, Korean, and perhaps a dozen others. I’m far from perfect in these languages, and I’m terrible at some, but I can converse in quite a few with no problems whatsoever—just ask the MIT students who came up to me last night and spoke in multiple languages.

How is it possible to become conversationally fluent in one of these languages in 2-12 months? It starts with deconstructing them, choosing wisely, and abandoning all but a few of them.

Consider a new language like a new sport.

There are certain physical prerequisites (height is an advantage in basketball), rules (a runner must touch the bases in baseball), and so on that determine if you can become proficient at all, and—if so—how long it will take.

Languages are no different. What are your tools, and how do they fit with the rules of your target?

If you’re a native Japanese speaker, respectively handicapped with a bit more than 20 phonemes in your language, some languages will seem near impossible. Picking a compatible language with similar sounds and word construction (like Spanish) instead of one with a buffet of new sounds you cannot distinguish (like Chinese) could make the difference between having meaningful conversations in 3 months instead of 3 years.

Let’s look at few of the methods I recently used to deconstructed Russian and Arabic to determine if I could reach fluency within a 3-month target time period. Both were done in an hour or less of conversation with native speakers sitting next to me on airplanes.

Six Lines of Gold

Here are a few questions that I apply from the outset. The simple versions come afterwards:

1. Are there new grammatical structures that will postpone fluency? (look at SOV vs. SVO, as well as noun cases)

2. Are there new sounds that will double or quadruple time to fluency? (especially vowels)

3. How similar is it to languages I already understand? What will help and what will interfere? (Will acquisition erase a previous language? Can I borrow structures without fatal interference like Portuguese after Spanish?)

4. All of which answer: How difficult will it be, and how long would it take to become functionally fluent?

It doesn’t take much to answer these questions. All you need are a few sentences translated from English into your target language.

Some of my favorites, with reasons, are below:

The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.
He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.

These six sentences alone expose much of the language, and quite a few potential deal killers.

First, they help me to see if and how verbs are conjugated based on speaker (both according to gender and number). I’m also able to immediately identify an uber-pain in some languages: placement of indirect objects (John), direct objects (the apple), and their respective pronouns (him, it). I would follow these sentences with a few negations (“I don’t give…”) and different tenses to see if these are expressed as separate words (“bu” in Chinese as negation, for example) or verb changes (“-nai” or “-masen” in Japanese), the latter making a language much harder to crack.

Second, I’m looking at the fundamental sentence structure: is it subject-verb-object (SOV) like English and Chinese (“I eat the apple”), is it subject-object-verb (SOV) like Japanese (“I the apple eat”), or something else? If you’re a native English speaker, SOV will be harder than the familiar SVO, but once you pick one up (Korean grammar is almost identical to Japanese, and German has a lot of verb-at-the-end construction), your brain will be formatted for new SOV languages.

Third, the first three sentences expose if the language has much-dreaded noun cases. What are noun cases? In German, for example, “the” isn’t so simple. It might be der, das, die, dem, den and more depending on whether “the apple” is an object, indirect object, possessed by someone else, etc. Headaches galore. Russian is even worse. This is one of the reasons I continue to put it off.

All the above from just 6-10 sentences! Here are two more:

I must give it to him.
I want to give it to her.

These two are to see if auxiliary verbs exist, or if the end of the each verb changes. A good short-cut to independent learner status, when you no longer need a teacher to improve, is to learn conjugations for “helping” verbs like “to want,” “to need,” “to have to,” “should,” etc. In Spanish and many others, this allows you to express yourself with “I need/want/must/should” + the infinite of any verb. Learning the variations of a half dozen verbs gives you access to all verbs. This doesn’t help when someone else is speaking, but it does help get the training wheels off self-expression as quickly as possible.

If these auxiliaries are expressed as changes in the verb (often the case with Japanese) instead of separate words (Chinese, for example), you are in for a rough time in the beginning.

Sounds and Scripts

I ask my impromptu teacher to write down the translations twice: once in the proper native writing system (also called “script” or “orthography”), and again in English phonetics, or I’ll write down approximations or use IPA.

If possible, I will have them take me through their alphabet, giving me one example word for each consonant and vowel. Look hard for difficult vowels, which will take, in my experience, at least 10 times longer to master than any unfamiliar consonant or combination thereof (”tsu” in Japanese poses few problems, for example). Think Portuguese is just slower Spanish with a few different words? Think again. Spend an hour practicing the “open” vowels of Brazilian Portuguese. I recommend you get some ice for your mouth and throat first.

The Russian Phonetic Menu, and…

Reading Real Cyrillic 20 Minutes Later

Going through the characters of a language’s writing system is really only practical for languages that have at least one phonetic writing system of 50 or fewer sounds—Spanish, Russian, and Japanese would all be fine. Chinese fails since tones multiply variations of otherwise simple sounds, and it also fails miserably on phonetic systems. If you go after Mandarin, choose the somewhat uncommon GR over pinyin romanization if at all possible. It’s harder to learn at first, but I’ve never met a pinyin learner with tones even half as accurate as a decent GR user. Long story short, this is because tones are indicated by spelling in GR, not by diacritical marks above the syllables.

In all cases, treat language as sport.

Learn the rules first, determine if it’s worth the investment of time (will you, at best, become mediocre?), then focus on the training. Picking your target is often more important than your method.

[To be continued?]

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Getting Physical

If anybody knows where this morphing facility is - let me know!