Sometimes for a true sense of the big picture you need to look at the small stuff. This occasionally occurs to me when I switch on the Teletext for an update on the local news. It's scary how often the headlines there relate to incidents stemming from that old ogre of ours - sectarianism.
An attack on property here, an Orange Hall burned down there, young people assaulted, skirmishes in the street, threats, court cases ...
The list is seemingly endless. The incidence of sectarian crime seemingly unending.
These individual stories are covered widely in other media. But, as I say, it's only when you see so many headlines about sectarian assaults and attacks and incidents clumped together on one small screen that you get a clear picture of the sheer scale of the problem.
Not that they appear to notice up at Planet Stormont.
Up at the big house they're apparently too busy chuckling to notice that out here in the real world, a vicious, low level virus of hate still infects this place.
What, if anything, are our leaders proposing to do about confronting and tackling this ongoing sectarianism and the crime it creates?
True, there was the One Small Step Campaign launched some time back. But surely it's time we took a much bigger step.
The Stormont line seems to be that bonhomie and brotherly love will eventually filter down to the rest of us as the Assembly is seen to be working. That gradually the rest of the population will join in the cross-community chuckling, too.
What this line of thinking glibly overlooks is the fact that Northern Ireland remains deeply divided with the Catholic and Protestant working class in particular still living separate lives in their separate enclaves.
Of course, that's long been a problem here. But with the coming of the peace process you would have thought that more effort might have gone into measures to address it. As recent events have underlined, there are paramilitary influences on both sides just champing at the bit to get back to the conflict. In this place we are ever just one small step away from lapsing back towards horror. And it doesn't take an awful lot to play on the fears and suspicions of either side of the community. If our leaders are truly aiming for a day when paramilitaries will be seen as totally irrelevant, they need to try to eradicate the inter-community bitterness those paramilitaries still play on.
Taken individually sectarian incidents might seem small scale compared to the horrors of the past. But taken together they're a reminder of how fragile the process really is.
They need to switch on to this reality up at Stormont. They need to focus on the big picture.
Kylie's highly wise on kids ...
Words of wisdom from Kylie Minogue answering speculation about whether she will have children. "I might never have a 2.4 nuclear family - but I don't know that that makes me any less fulfilled or happy than anybody else." At last. A female star who recognises that having a child - and parading it in public - may not be the only route to happiness
Pressure's off you, Santa
Never mind the countdown to Christmas. No sooner will Santa have completed his annual rounds than another deadline will be upon us. And this one will have major implications for the children, too.
By the end of January the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment is expecting to hear from Stormont Education Minister Caitriona Ruane and what she intends to do about the old 11-plus.
The current system (children will sit the second part of this year's exam on Friday) is due to be axed next year. What Ms Ruane intends to replace it with is anybody's guess. Up until the time of writing there hasn't been a peep out of her. She's keeping her plans well wrapped.
It has enormous ramifications for children currently in P5, for their long-suffering parents, for their teachers and for the teachers in the secondary schools they will eventually attend. Whatever Ms Ruane is planning - and it goes without saying that getting it wrong will rebound badly - people need to know soon.
At the moment the situation has, frankly, all the making of an 11-plus question: "Caitriona has 70 days in which to make up her mind about an exam which will affect tens of thousands of 11-year-olds. She may replace it with a new system which will in turn affect tens of thousands of 14-year-olds. If it doesn't work, how many hundreds of thousands of people will blame her?"
Norn Iron fans win through
What has been so spectacular about the performance of Northern Ireland in the European Cup qualifying competition is that it has been so unexpected. A few years back everybody had written off Northern Ireland. Everybody that is, except for the fans. And what superb fans they are ...
Tonight they're back in action in Spain. The fans, not just the team. Whatever the score-line, the Green and White Army have been the real winners.
Granted there was that bit of rowdiness that reportedly held up an internal Spanish flight. But it wasn't a major incident.
The overall picture of local fans from throughout this competition has been of happy, smiling faces.
On Saturday night they danced, they sang and they cheered their team on to glory despite wind and rain. A few hardly souls even whipped off their shirts. God knows what the Danes made of it.
We're not Brazil?
Apparently we're not chilly either.
A ringtone featuring King Juan Carlos telling the despot President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to shut up is currently a big hit in spain. The king had reacted when Chavez called a former Spanish PM a fascist. The ringtone is now so popular that it has made over £2m. Who says plain speaking doesn't pay?