Values in tension (2): resource allocation

How we allocate our scarce resources – particularly money, time and attention – shines a bright light on how we prioritise between values. Most of us can have most of the things we value: wealth, physical beauty, time to ourselves, family, a sense of meaningful contribution, a fabulous car, deep friendships, fitness, artistic accomplishment, solidarity with those who have less,…

Systems thinking: Gall’s Law

Gall’s Law: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system. As described by David Perell in his very interesting 50 Ideas That Changed My…

Nothing precious (tools for the job)

Of course you want good quality tools. Definitely not the cheapest available. (These usually get in your way.) Probably not the most expensive. (These usually take you out of the 80/20 performance/price sweet-spot.) You want things that are highly functional: free from frills (or bells, or whistles) but still designed and executed in such a way that it they give…

Neil Gaiman on character, motivation and plot

The next [building block of story] is the characters. Who are they? What do they want? I’m going to harp on a lot about what characters want. I’m going to harp on about what characters want because over and over again you’ll find that when you’re plotting, when you’re putting something together, it’s the only question that opens the door…

The unglamorous work of doing good (2)

I recently delivered some food parcels to families in our area. This was “helping those who have less” in one of its clearer and more concrete forms. I was happy to do it, but it didn’t feel that great: I loaded up my car, delivered the packages to some people who said thanks, and then drove home. It didn’t feel…

The unglamorous work of doing good (1)

The side of the tracks Among the most rewarding pieces of “good” that I’ve ever done was to start a micro-savings group for a small community of men and women who lived along a railway line in West Jakarta. It was hard: hot, dusty, dirty and smelly from the rubbish that they recycled for a living, always smokey from cigarettes…

7k

Happy to announce that we’ve made it past 7,000 views. Thanks for coming, and HT to the Tyler Cowen spike. See also:Build it up (buttercup)The Patience of a spider [7000; seven thousand]

Values in tension (1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about values recently. I mean things like justice, peace, loyalty, family, courage, etc. etc. I think it’s super important to understand your values, to make good decisions for yourself and for the world, but it’s also easy for those values words to replace thinking. You can use the word in a sentence without really having…

Build it up (buttercup)

Reality checks Last October I ran the Jakarta half-marathon and found it much harder than I expected. There were mitigating factors – it was hot and humid, and I was running with very low weekly mileage (about 10 miles a week!) – but even so, it was a tough finish. Up until that point I’d always assumed that the marathon-I-never-quite-got-around-to…

What do you miss? McKinley Valentine on newsletters in general and BookRiot in particular

I kind of wanted to put the entire medium of newsletters as my tool because I do love them, but I’ve chosen Book Riot’s science fiction and fantasy newsletter, which I think comes out about twice a week… It just gives recommendations of science fiction and fantasy books, pretty much. It has the cover, it has the blurb – they’re…