Monthly Archives: June 2011

If Volkswagen ads were a person, I’d propose

Check out the latest Volkswagen ads making fun of the iPhone’s auto-correct system:

No doubt they got their inspiration from this website…

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Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’…

This is an on-going photographic project by Diego Goldberg of Buenos Aires.

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Cravendale Milk ads

As regular readers may have remarked, I’m a very big fan of a clever/entertaining ad campaign. I don’t have a TV, so this often means I miss some of the better ones, but I came across the latest Cravendale campaign this morning and, after watching every single one of their ads, have decided it’s worthy of a blog post. In fact, I’ll probably do a couple of them. In this campaign, Cravendale and the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy use stop motion to great comedic effect, introducing us to the Cravendale Trio: a one-legged pirate, a cow and a cyclist.

I may just switch milk brands.

This last one was accused of racism. Ha!

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Volkswagen make music!

One of my favourite films growing up was Big with Tom Hanks. The movie contained one of my all time favourite scenes and probably one of Hanks’ most famous – the FAO Schwartz giant piano scene:

As you can imagine, it has since been a dream of mine to find one such giant piano and play on it. These are the kinds of dreams you rarely think about realising because, let’s face it, it’s just not going to happen. Then Volkswagen gets involved…

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MTV’s AIDS awareness ads don’t mess around

Ireland’s rate of HIV infection is relatively low, according to our 2001 census statistics. However, ten years have passed since then and there has been a massive cultural shift in the country during that time. The age of first sex is dropping steadily and sex education in Irish schools is an unmitigated and disgraceful disaster. In 2009 alone, it was reported that some 74% of Irish children received no sex education whatsoever. At the moment, we can afford to sit comfortably as there has been no great indication of a dramatic increase in rates infection (in fact, last year rates of infection dropped – although this is measured only on numbers of people diagnosed). However, this vacuum of essential teaching, caused, I suspect, by the strong position of power still held by the Catholic Church within the Irish education system, leaves young Irish people vulnerable to diseases they believe they can simply ignore because they’ve never been told otherwise.

I have never seen an ad campaign in Ireland which directly addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS , but I’ll never forget the first time I saw one of the (now famous) ads shown by American music network MTV as part of their ‘Staying Alive’ campaign.

And the French know how to make you squirm too:

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Thorium – the next step for nuclear power?

Since the Fukushima incident which followed Japan’s massive earthquake and consequent tsunami in Marcj of this year, the issue of nuclear energy has been at the forefront of current affairs across the globe. Germany made headlines when its coalition government declared it was to terminate its nuclear energy programme by the year 2022. There had been widespread mass-protest against nuclear energy in Germany in the wake of Fukushima and the decision has made Germany the largest industrial power to commit to giving up on nuclear power.

The news had a hugely positive effect on share prices for renewable energy companies with German solar manufacturer, Solarworld, up 7.6% whilst Danish wind turbine maker Vestas gained more than 3% within a day of the German government’s announcement.

Nonetheless, there is still speculation from sceptics who say that, in order for Germany to make up for the amount of nuclear energy it will be disposing of (currently 11% 0f total energy consumed), the country will have to burn more fossil fuels, thus doing more harm than good to the environment. They believe that, although the German economy can survive without nuclear power, such a quick phase-out is negligent. A stable power supply is taken for granted in Germany – and any suggestion that this was no longer 100 per cent guaranteed might deter investors. According to Dorothea Slems of German paper Die Welt, “A look back at the oil price shocks in the 1970s shows how sensitive the question of energy is.”

This leads me to what could be the greatest energy technology breakthrough of this century, and could potentially change the global energy landscape forever. Thorium is a radioactive chemical element which is around four times more abundant than Uranium and far less hazardous. Some countries, most notable India and China, are now investing heavily in research to build thorium-based nuclear reactors. India has also made thorium based nuclear reactors a priority with its focus on developing ‘fast breeder’ technology (nuclear reactors that create more fissile material in fuel than they consume).

Some of the benefits of Thorium, when compared with Uranium are:

  • Weapons-grade fissionable material (233U) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from a thorium reactor;
  • Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste;
  • Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U-235;
  • Thorium cannot sustain a nuclear chain reactor without priming, so fission stops by default.
Norway appears set on running its post-oil economy on Thorium-based nuclear energy. The technology’s supporters say it will be the saving grace of a world hurtling towards a massive energy crisis based on Asia’s ever-expanding economies and the West’s evermore entrenched commitment to guzzling fuel.
Germany’s decision to end all nuclear energy within its borders may have been rushed and may not have been entirely environmentally sound. But it has sent out a loud and clear message to the rest of the world: It’s time to re-think the way we produce the energy we rely on. If such economic behemoths as India and China are listening, that can only be a good thing.

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Happy Father’s Day!

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