Thursday, December 27, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Friday, October 12, 2012
Monday, October 08, 2012
To begin with, Hauwei and ZTE are both world-class companies, with operations in the U.S. and over 100 other countries. Huawei is the world's second-largest maker of telecommunications equipment and a major customer of dozens of U.S. firms. ZTE makes cell phones and related products for AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, among others. The linkages are so tight between these firms and their U.S. suppliers and customers that it would be easy for Huawei and ZTE to retaliate for the blackballing.
The House panel charges that the two Chinese firms are so heavily dominated by the Chinese government that they cannot be trusted with critical elements of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure. Most of the evidence in being withheld on security grounds, but the allegations are plausible. In most advanced countries, the governments and their telecom companies are in bed together. U.S. telecommunications companies are known to collaborate with the government in wiretapping, and our security agencies are not likely to welcome outsiders to the party.
One complication is that thousands of U.S. jobs are at risk. Many capital-equipment makers count Hauwei and ZTE as customers. ZTE recently announced a $2 billion expansion of its U.K. operation, and Prime Minister Cameron rolled out the red carpet, touting the boost to the U.K economy. Huawei and ZTE can offer the kinds of jobs that most countries want, and if the U.S. pressures Cameron to call off the deal with ZTE, some other country would welcome them with open arms.
Cyberwarfare and protection of intellectual property are sensitive issues, and they certainly make technology trade with Chinese firms difficult. But igniting a trade war is not the answer. The topic should be at the top of the agenda in any bilateral trade negotiation between the U.S. and China. Another complication right now is presidential politics. I am sure the two campaign teams are hard at work today, each trying to position itself as "tougher on China" than its opponent.
But the possible consequences of today's announcement are serious. Unfortunately, they also include a nightmare scenario.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Winner: Romney. I expected that, in a debate with the President, Mitt Romney would sound like a blithering idiot. Wrong. Mitt was energetic, agreeable, smart. It was the Mitt Romney the Republicans kept telling us we would eventually see. The President, a master orator who shines with a scripted speech and a teleprompter, was so-so but a pale shadow of the Obama we saw at Grant Park in 2008. The only question is whether "the real Romney" emerged too late in the game. I am still in the undecided column, waiting to hear the candidates discuss foreign policy - not a major issue for most voters, but a big issue for me, because after Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, I think another military crusade would destroy what's left of our economy and our credibility among the 95 percent of the world's population who don't live in the U.S.A..
Loser: Bobby Valentine. He should have been fired the day after he publicly questioned the commitment of Kevin Youklis (of all people). In fact, from the outset he was the wrong man for the job. There's enough blame to go around, since the front office made several questionable trades. The 2012 season left a bad taste with Red Sox nation, and next year you may see a rarity at Fenway Park: thousands of empty seats.
Winner; Matt Ryan. Here's the setup: Atlanta is trailing, 28-27, with less than a minute left to play and Atlanta on its own 1-yard line. Hopeless? No. Quarterback Ryan heaves a long pass, which is completed, and the Falcons kick a field goal to win the game. It was the third last-minute comeback of the young season for Ryan and the Falcons.
Winner: Steve Martin. His new 3-DVD set, "Steve Martin: The Television Stuff," is a fine collection of Martin's early stand-up work, before he decided to quit comedy-club gigs and TV specials in favor of the movies. The routines are not all choice; he is sometimes too crude for my taste, but the best of the humor is really hilarious, and he displays more talent than any one person should be allowed to have. He is a virtuoso on the banjo. He juggles. He is a magician. He tap dances (creditably) with Gregory Hines. And of course he is a master of visual comedy, especially in his "wild and crazy guy" skits. Accompanying the routines is an interesting interview with Martin, who is now in his late 60's. (Where did the years go?)
Loser: Hewlett-Packard. I am sad to see H-P falling into the scrap heap of American business because, although I spent a considerable part of my career competing against the folks in Palo Alto, I always respected H-P, and I regarded them as a class act. But the former titan of the test world has now become an also-ran of the digital world. What happened? For openers, H-P chose to look outside the company for their last four CEOs, including the current leader, Meg Whitman. What does it tell you when a company considers none of its 100,000-plus employees presidential material? Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard would have been ashamed.
Monday, September 17, 2012
For the past century, we have been beneficiaries of the advertising model for financing the delivery of news and entertainment. We buy newspapers and magazines for far less than it costs to produce them, because of the subsidy of advertisers. and we listen to the radio and watch television “free,” because advertisers pay for the privilege of slipping in a commercial every few minutes.
The system is breaking down. Newspapers are dying everywhere. The New Orleans Times-Picayune, a once-proud old paper, has decided that it can no longer afford daily publication. Most newspapers are running deeply in the red, and magazines, even hallowed journals like Time and Newsweek, are wafer-thin. The old Business Week, a once influential magazine under McGraw-Hill, is now called Bloomberg Business Week, and rigor mortis is obviously setting in.
Radio, until recently supported by drive-time advertising, now must compete with all sorts of mobile gadgets, including phones that let you talk hands-free to your wife or secretary through your car radio – or what was your car radio till you found a better use for it. On a 100-mile drive today, I listened to what used to be a source of good music. But today the station was playing endless help-wanted commercials for – people to sell air time on their station!
Most radio stations deserve to become extinct. Here in Kennebunkport, the one classical music station recently changed hands – and format. Now it plays music that is indistinguishable from the music every other station plays. It’s bad enough losing Beethoven and Stravinsky; now there is no place on the dial for Kern or Rodgers or Berlin or Porter or Gershwin. So stations will all compete for the vanishing teen-age dollar, and one by one they will all give up, until all is news and weather and traffic reports.
But, you may say, the TV channels are full of political ads, presumably at premium rates. But how many of these ads will you see in December or next year? You may also note that Google, Facebook, and other social media are raking in tons of money and that the advertising model isn’t dead; it has just changed hands. I wouldn’t be too sure. General Motors has expressed disappointment over returns from Facebook, and everybody I know (a small sample, I grant you) claims never to look at the ads on their iPad screens.
Humans still have only two eyes and one brain, and there are still only 24 hours in a day, minus time for working, sleeping, and eating. Shopping? You know what you want, you access it on Amazon or eBay, and you buy it. Click, click, and you’re done. Browsing is something you do on your computer, never at a store.
Some day people will watch reruns of Mad Men for their historical value. Yes, son, there were advertising people who made big money thinking up slogans and catchy jingles. We called their advertising “commercials,” and advertisers paid handsomely for the space or air time, because they wanted to reach millions of viewers or listeners or readers.
All that, of course, was before the Internet.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
From: President Obama
To: CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, all bankers, insurance providers, and millionaires and billionaires
I don’t like you. You make far too much money, and you got it by off-shoring jobs, by paying obscene amounts of money to lobbyists, by overcharging customers for your products, and by cheating. I can’t say this in public, because I need your money, but you know this is how I feel. When I win this election (and I will, because there aren’t enough of you to stop me), it will be payback time. I will go after the one percent of you who control too much of this country’s wealth. Now, some may argue that there will always be a top one percent, but at least they will be good people, unlike you and your ilk.
From: Mitt Romney
To: the leaders of Russia and China
I don’t like you. Your governments are riddled with corruption. You throw innocent protesters in jail without a trial. You brazenly conduct military exercises in Asia and excuse them on the flimsy argument that this is where you live. You (Russia) are our most significant geopolitical foe, and you (China) are a currency manipulator. When I win the election (and I will, because most Americans want a muscular foreign policy), on my first day in office I will brand China a currency manipulator. I will also encircle all of Asia with our aircraft carriers, and see how you like that.
President Obama’s message may play well in Venezuela or even in Sweden, but, like it or not, ours is a (relatively) capitalistic economy, and a president who believes that business leaders are the enemy may get elected, but he will never succeed in developing a prosperous economy. Businesses need cheerleaders in Washington, not hecklers. Obama bundles his heckling in soaring oratory, and he may well be sincere in his missionary zeal, but if he is, those who believe that a victorious Obama will pivot to the center may be in for a rude surprise.
As for Romney, Henry Kissinger’s philosophy of realpolitik says that in a tri-polar world, you never want to be one against two. Thus Nixon’s opening to China. So today, you should not needlessly provoke both Russia and China. Today’s Times has an interesting article (subhead: A Nation Rich in Land Strengthens Its Ties To One Rich in People) about the forces that unite these two Asian superpowers. Romney’s bellicose rants and his alliance with hawks like Dan Senor and John Bolton may pick up some yahoo votes, but they may foreshadow dangerous times should Romney and his warriors control Washington.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
What's more, his opponent is one of the best orators the White House has ever seen, and he has in Jon Favreau a very talented speech-writer. You can count on Barack Obama lighting up the stage in Charlotte, oozing common sense and clipping his g's ("payin" rather than "paying" a little more in taxes) to sound like just plain folks. It is a given that Obama's acceptance speech will be dynamite. So this week, for Mitt Romney, is High Noon, and he is Gary Cooper.
I don't know who Mitt Romney's speech-writer is, or even if he has one. But the evidence to date is not good. If I were writing his speech - and I have written dozens of speeches - I would start by confessing that my opponent is a master of oratory, then segue into "but if oratory were the answer, we'd have millions of new jobs today." I would in short give the devil his due, acknowledging that he is a decent man and probably a great drinking buddy. For inspiration, I would reread the speech Shakespeare gave to Marc Antony in Julius Caesar: "for Brutus is an honorable man; so are they all, all honorable men."
There is no shortage of material for a barn-burning speech. The headlines are full of grim economic statistics, But they must be packaged artfully. Just reciting statistics will not energize viewers, but just put them to sleep.
If Mitt Romney blows it this week, the election is over. There will be other speeches to give, but no one will be listening.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
"The dynamic of modern liberal democracies is to grow. It is hard to put a welfare state into reverse without ripping the whole gear-works apart. Mr. Ryan is right that the US system of benefits is unsustainable. He must now win that argument against Mr. Obama. If he does, the Republicans will deserve to win. If he doesn't, they won't. Either way, the US election has suddenly turned into exactly what it should be: a decision about which of the two parties that colluded to get Americans into such a fiscal mess can best be trusted to get them out."
To that excellent precis I will add only this: Paul Ryan will tell the American electorate that the time has come to take some castor oil. Many, maybe most Americans won't like that message, and the Republicans may lose the election. President Obama will have a cheerier message: Just raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" and everything will be all right. But one way or another, we are all going to swallow castor oil - no matter who is elected.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Some candidates win because their opponents are weak. In 2008, Obama won because the Republicans chose a weak candidate, John McCain, who then doubled down by choosing a totally unqualified running mate. George H.W. Bush won because his opponent (Michael Dukakis) was weak. Mitt Romney won the governorship of Massachusetts, not because he was a born politician, but because his opponent was Shannon O'Brien. (Who?)
Romney could still save his candidacy by throwing a Hail Mary in his choice of running mate, but at this point his chances look bleak. Who would have been better? Not Gingrich or Trump, certainly. But Pawlenty or Daniels would have had broad appeal. (My top choice, for the past several elections, was Colin Powell, but his time has passed, alas.)
I still count myself in the 8 or 9 percent of voters who are undecided. Romney and his circle are too hawkish. Obama is too sympathetic to statist rather than free-market solutions. I did not vote for president in 2008, and I may wind up passing this time, too. (I will vote in the other races, though.)
The two-party system, which has served us well for so long, is starting to look very tired.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
The public's resentment about China is palpable, especially in the heat of a presidential campaign. Candidate Romney promises that his first act upon becoming president will be to brand China a currency manipulator, setting in motion a list of retaliatory measures. President Obama attacks an opponent who, he says, favors outsourcing jobs to China. The race, it seems hinges on who can sound more hawkish on China and Iran. The hawks never ask what happens if relations with China escalate to the point where armed conflict is triggered. The lesson of Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan is forgotten: It is easy to start a war, tough to end one.
The China question is thrown into focus by products like the one pictured here. It is a 40-piece screw-driver set with a high-torque ratchet. The plastic cover opens to reveal an impressive array of tools, all nicely organized in a neat, rugged carrying and storage case. And of course, it was made in China.
The set, marketed under the trade name Workforce and offered by Home Depot, sells for $10.
Think of it: The 40 parts were manufactured in China, the case was made in China, the product was assembled in China, and the whole shebang was shipped to the United States, where Home Depot was able to sell it at a profit for $10! Now consider what the product would have cost if it was made in, say, Illinois.
Multiply that by the thousands of products made in China and South Korea and Thailand and Vietnam and sold in the United States, and the bottom line is hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars of savings for American consumers. Politicians complain about the American jobs lost, but they rarely acknowledge the other side of the ledger.
What's more, many American companies, especially in high tech, depend on overseas markets for 40 or 50 percent of their sales. Is it realistic to expect these companies not to staff their foreign sales and service centers accordingly? At General Motors, the fastest-growing market these days is China. Does anyone complain that GM is exporting sales and service jobs to China?
So, the next time you hear a politician thunder about "getting tough" with China, ask yourself what the consequences of getting tough will be. If someone seriously suggests risking a trade war, let him or her prepare the American public for soaring prices on a long list of manufactured products - and for a long list of unintended consequences. Our relations with China are not perfect, but they are pretty good - for the moment.
Sunday, July 01, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
Naomi Watts is an excellent Kitty, and Edward Norton is a passable but passionless Walter. The supporting cast is good, and the cinematography, shot in shades of blue, grey, and brown, is appropriately depressing. The Maugham ending, which I thought clumsy, was abandoned in the movie, which made do with a short scene in England, five years after Kitty leaves China. That was a significant improvement.
But it was definitely not a feel-good movie, and if you favor this type of entertainment, avoid this one.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
There were glitches in the system, certainly. But buying stock in an IPO expecting to flip it for a quick gain (as most were) is a gamble. I was not a player in this game, but I do trade stocks, and decades of experience have taught me that profits are never guaranteed, no matter how euphoric the CNBC talking heads are. In fact, the more giddy those folks are, the more you'd better watch your wallet.
The rules have changed. The old paradigm, in which new ventures siphon talent from established companies by offering stock options and grow, creating jobs and wealth aplenty, is under attack. The new President of France wants to outlaw stock options. In the U.S., the whole economic system is being challenged by the "Occupy" movement, backed by large segments of the press. Never mind that this is the same system that lifted millions of immigrants into a prosperous middle class and saved the world from communism and fascism. The new war cry is "What have you done for me lately?"
Blame the banks for the economic meltdown. Blame investment bankers. Blame private equity. Blame anyone but the people who borrowed recklessly, because those people vote. We are going to hear more of this nonsense in the next six months, because the blame game plays well in a sound-bite world. Candidates Obama and Romney are equally culpable because both are telling voters what they want to hear. Telling them what they need to hear is politically lethal.
I have no sympathy for those who lost money on Facebook. Maybe if they hold their stock, they'll recover; maybe not. The losers will complain that the system was rigged against them. If they really believe that, they shouldn't have put their money at risk. They should have stowed their dollars under their mattress.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I was one of 900-plus people lucky enough to squeeze into the auditorium of the Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA the other night. The occasion was the one and only performance of Wegmans…The Musical!. The production, staged by Algonquin’s Advanced Drama Class, began as a 20-minute skit, but the class kept hanging subplots and musical ideas on the tree until it blossomed into a full, two-act musical. The concept was inspired, and the execution was terrific.
If you’ve never heard of Wegmans, some explanation is in order. It is a chain of grandiose grocery stores in the northeast, and its first venture into New England was the Northborough store, which opened last fall. The Northborough Wegmans is as innovative as it is huge – so innovative that a battalion of Russians, armed with cameras and notebooks, descended on Northborough to capture the store’s essence, with an intent to clone it in Moscow. (Good luck with that.) Words can hardly describe the Wegmans experience, but let’s say that a hurricane has just hit the New England grocery scene.
The story of Wegmans….The Musical! pivots around twin brothers. One (Teddy) manages Wegmans, and the other (Roy) runs a competitor, Acme Foods. Teddy is all good, and Roy is all bad, jealous, and determined to rain on Teddy’s parade. Roy hires a young clerk, Sheldon, and convinces him that his destiny is to become a Jason Bourne and save the world from the evils of Wegmans. So Sheldon takes a job at Wegmans and tries to dig up dirt on Wegmans and its manager, Teddy. There are enough subplots to keep the cast of 18 busy. There are a couple of romances and there is a senile old man who is determined to walk to Wegmans with his walker (think of a shuffling Tim Conway). It’s all over the top, but once you accept that, it’s hilarious.
The music is “imported” from Les Miz, West Side Story, Rent, Fiddler, and other Broadway hits, with situational lyrics grafted onto the familiar tunes. Examples: Act One closes with a parody of the barricade scene from Les Miz, with the faux marching and, in place of the tricolor, a waving Massachusetts state flag, all to lyrics that celebrate “One Great Store.” And the show opens with “Seasons of Love” from Rent translated into “Wegmans We Love” (“525,600 square feet”).
Only two members of the cast could really sing: Steve Tzianabos (Teddy) and Juliana Fiore (a Wegmans worker). (Few hit musicals have more than two good voices, and many, like My Fair Lady, don’t even have two.) But the entire cast could act, which is what you’d expect from an Advanced Drama Class, and the enraptured audience helped create a sense of jubilation. Among the enraptured were representatives of Wegmans, and a video record will surely find its way to Wegmans’ Rochester headquarters.
So hats off to Maura Morrison’s Advanced Drama Class at Algonquin (known to its students as “the Gonk.”) They showed great enterprise, imagination, and talent in pulling this together.
Saturday, May 05, 2012
I read a lot, and most of what I read in the New York Times, the Economist, the Financial Times, and other periodicals is depressing. There are little wars raging all over the world. Not big wars, but little wars, with mobs on the streets, soldiers shooting at them and the mobs shooting back. It’s the same story in Syria, Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen. The world is awash in guns, some of them supplied by us to help throw the Russians out of Afghanistan and now in the hands of the “insurgents,” shooting at the “coalition forces.” The guns outlive their owners and are passed from hand to hand, from the graves of one generation to a new generation of liberators, en route to new graves. Depressing.
Among the more depressing statistics I came across the other day was this: In this country, 73 percent of black babies were born out of wedlock last year, 53 percent of Latino babies, 29 percent of white babies. It seems the so-called nuclear family is on the way out. Technically, “out of wedlock” doesn’t have to mean that, but it seems to. That is the most worrying trend of all. Families are the glue that holds our civilization together, and, though I can’t prove it, there must be a link between the collapse of the family and all those little wars, the collapse of order in the streets, in politics, in diplomacy. There may be a better way to organize humanity than in family units, but I certainly don’t know of one.
The state of the economy is often blamed for the decline of the family. If the father can’t find a job, the story goes, of course the family will break up. Nonsense. We’ve been through tough times before – much tougher, in fact. In the 30s, my mother pushed a baby carriage, with me in it, around the streets of Dorchester looking for a rentable flat, while my father looked for a job, any job. Millions of Americans were in the same boat, but in those days half the babies weren’t born “out of wedlock.”
Maybe technology has made things too easy for us. Want to be entertained? Click. Want to find out something? Google it. Want to communicate with someone? There’s Facebook, iPad, iPhone. Who needs family?
I watch the News at 11, where the anchor says “Good evening,” and then proceeds to tell you all the reasons why it wasn’t. A car crashed in Scarborough, a house burned down in Kennebunk, a child molester was arrested in Freeport. That’s the way it is, not just in Maine, but everywhere, because tragedies are part of life, and you can’t click your way out of them. But somehow even the worst tragedy is bearable when a family decides to get through it together.
Monday, April 09, 2012
It’s a problem, but not the only one faced by the series. Another is the commercials. One of the features of the series has been its use of actual sponsors (Lucky Strike, American Airlines, Vicks), which adds to verisimilitude. But the actual sponsors of Mad Men (including Clorox, Miller Beer) are represented by commercials that would make Don Draper throw up. Whatever else you may think of the creative team at Sterling Cooper, they do show good commercial judgment, which is in short supply at Mad Men’s actual sponsors.
I was an advertising manager in the late 60’s, and I have to admit that Mad Men’s client-agency meetings are reasonably authentic. Whoever handles the costumes, hairdos, and general ethos of agency life in that era knows the territory. To a point. The smoking and on-the-job drinking are overdone. My own experience was in Boston, and New York agencies may have been more licentious, but I wonder. As for womanizing, the writers would have us believe that Madison Avenue was just one orgy after another. I, Claudius revisited.
I have watched every episode of Mad Men, and I am tired of the falling people. I watched the most recent episode, in which Don Draper did a lot of coughing. Maybe his chain-smoking will finally do him in. Maybe poetic justice will finish off all the characters of this once-gripping, now tiresome series. Maybe that’s the moral of the story: Quit while you’re ahead.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
After Vietnam, we thought that the lesson had been learned. After Iraq, we thought it had been etched in our psyche. With the recent tragedies in Afghanistan, there is no doubt, right? Wrong. The hawks are in control, as they always seem to be, and a weak president, in an election year, is afraid to stand up to them. We must not cut and run, he says, when it is becoming obvious to a majority of the public that this is exactly what we should do.
Among the Republican candidates, there is only one voice that has been consistently right on foreign policy, as he is on the financial challenges we face: Ron Paul. It is unlikely that he will be the Republican candidate, but if he is, I will vote for him, enthusiastically. If he is not, I will vote for the candidate I believe is the least likely to involve us in a war where the security of this country is not directly and unambiguously threatened.
In those Republican debates, carried endlessly on Fox News, there was one topic that never came up: the circumstances that led this country to invade Iraq in 2003. No wonder. Arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder in U.S. history occurred on a Republican president’s watch. But the words of Seymour Hersch, in his book Chain of Command, are worth remembering.
How did eight or nine neo-conservatives who believed that a war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange long-standing American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress, and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?
Sunday, March 04, 2012
If you asked the passengers on the Rotterdam which was the most beautiful island they visited on the cruise, most would probably choose Moorea. The island is beautiful, to say the least, so beautiful that it was chosen to stand in for Bali H’ai in the film South Pacific and was used in the filming of several other movies. It has a mountainous coastline which is easily seen from Papeete, the chief city in Tahiti. Papeete is ,for that matter, the metropolis of French Polynesia.
I had been to Moorea, Bora Bora, and Tahiti before, and I had taken “grand tours” on all three islands, so my curiosity was easily satisfied by short walks around the ports. A fourth island, Raiatea, was easy to navigate because the ship docked right “downtown,” as it did it Tahiti.
I had remembered the islands as conspicuously successful, with resorts (like the Club Med at Bora Bora) doing a thriving business. Alas, the recession has reached Polynesia, and a number of resorts have closed their doors. Tourism is the economic driver for these islands, and when it's weak, Polynesia suffers..
The top photo shows the bustling streets of Papeete, the middle one shows the Rotterdam anchored at Moorea, and the bottom one shows a church at Bora Bora. The traffic in Papeete is heavy, but if a pedestrian makes just the slightest move to cross the street, it all comes to a dead stop. Either the drivers are impressively polite or the gendarmes are very strict.
In Papeete, a native lady was selling tours at dockside. Struck by her charms, I complimented her. “Polynesian women must be the most beautiful women in the world,” I said. It was hardly an original thought, but she thanked me sweetly, and then, pointing to her garland of flowers, added this:
“My flowers are not real. But I am real.”
Gauguin would have appreciated that.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
After sailing 1000 miles to reach Tabuaeran Island, we had even farther to go, 1500 miles, to reach our next island: Rarotonga. Rarotonga is in the Cook Islands and is one of a 15-island archipelago tightly linked to New Zealand (though it is an independent country). The village you see in the photo is Avarua, the capital of Rarotonga.
We did not anchor off Rarotonga; we drifted, as did another cruise ship nearby, the Seabourn Odyssey. At the point where I took the picture, the sea was 6000 feet deep, so anchors were impractical. The sea was more turbulent that it looks, so passengers were advised to tender ashore only if they were ready for a rough ride. Still lame from my experience at Tabuaeran, I decided to forego the pleasures of Rarotonga – a decision that I now regret.
Just off the right-hand edge of the photo is the small Rarotonga airport. While perched on the Promenade Deck, I noted a couple of propjets taking off and figured they were ferrying people to nearby islands. That conclusion was probably correct, but I greatly underestimated the distances within reach of the island. Twice a week an Air New Zealand 777 checks in to Rarotonga en route from Los Angeles to Aukland. Why? The population of the island is only 14,000, much greater than most of the other islands we would visit, but still, fewer people than live in Biddeford. The answer probably lies in the posh resort hotels that New Zealanders and Australians patronize.
At some point, I may catch up to Rarotonga. It looks like a fine place to spend some time when the snow sweeps down on Maine.