It's a terrible thing, FOMO.

The fear of missing out. It makes us go to parties we know deep down will bore us witless; it makes us wait weeks to get into the latest fashionable, over-priced restaurant; and it makes us spend $53 million to be represented at Expo 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

All the cool countries are going, so we have to go, too.

In fact, according to the expo's website, at the time we paid our deposit to secure our booking, countries attending were France, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.


All, with the possible exception of France, countries with nothing else to do with their time.

Its themes are sustainability, mobility and opportunity.

It's lucky for the UAE that the themes aren't freedom of expression, women's rights and fair labour practices.

Simon Bridges, Minister for Economic Development, Getting Over-Excited and Spending Money We Don't Need To, is mad keen.

Apparently, "Expo 2020 will provide a springboard to promote us as an innovative, solution-focused economy".

Apparently, Bridges is getting Siri to write his press releases.

Also keen as is the NZ Middle East Business Council, which is always happy to have an excuse to rock up to the United Arab Emirates.

And the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council says our presence is vital and gives our country "another great opportunity to tell our story to high-value consumers".


Clearly, if it does nothing else, the expo will boost jargon production to undreamed of levels.

I don't know how many school lunches for children in poverty that $53m could fund. The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council could probably work it out - but it's all tied up telling our story at the moment.

What's most embarrassing is we're gagging to be part of something whose concept is well past its use-by date.

For those unfamiliar with the notion, international expos are like the Easter Show, except they don't have those clowns you throw ping pong balls at.

Participating countries have a stand at which people show off their wares.

Our representatives will be there using best-practice marketing skills, handing out show bags with samples of genuine paua shell and real Rotorua mud, getting names for our mailing list, and putting people in the draw for a signed Lorde CD.

There will doubtless be showcasing of top New Zealand performers.

Perhaps that explains why the cost is so high, although I'd have thought John Rowles' fee might have come down a bit recently.

And there will be a highly visible Maori presence, showcasing the myth of a harmonious bicultural society, rather than the reality of health, poverty and crime statistics.

It's like the internet never happened.

Before mass, instantaneous global communication became the norm, such expositions served a purpose.

You got in a ship and sailed several weeks to see examples of things you otherwise would not be able to imagine. Now you can stream them.

Nevertheless, there's no denying many influential and successful business people will be attending. Many are expected to leave their homes in Wanaka to do so.

• Anzac Day, as usual, brought out numerous protesting peaceniks.

It has been suggested it's inappropriate to protest on Anzac Day.

Have your antimilitaristic say on any other day, the critics implore, but leave that special day alone.

The point they're missing is a protest is only effective if it's noticed.

That's why protesters, for example, wanting to see the Treaty of Waitangi more robustly implemented make their protests on Waitangi Day rather than Ash Wednesday.

Whether they meant to or not, one of the rights those who fought under the New Zealand flag sought to preserve was the right to protest.