Inconvenient values

A good test of your values is asking when they last cost you something else that you wanted. For each of your values ask: Do you donate to the cause, or otherwise pay to make it happen? Do you give up opportunities? Do you pay a financial penalty for avoiding something? Do you work to change things by writing or…

Recommendation: Econtalk with Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works

I highly recommend this episode of Econtalk with Matt Ridley talking about how innovation makes inventions useful by making them available, affordable and reliable. The Academy of Ideas podcast is a good overview of the book’s key points about how innovation works and made me feel that I probably didn’t need to read it. This excellent interview with Russ Roberts…

Educated (2): How to learn to learn

As the pace of technological change accelerates, we will spend most of our lives as – in Kevin Kelly’s words – perpetual newbies. Even so-called “digital natives” will find themselves out of their comfort zones in a few short years, jealous of how the next generation seems to find the newest technology so easy. In this context, the ability to…

Not long ago, or Little by little (4): Dolly Parton on the scar on her toes

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… Somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains c1950… Jad Abumrad: She told me one story about how one day, when she was about seven or eight, she…

Podcast recommendation: Dolly Parton’s America

I came across Dolly Parton’s America in a list of the best podcasts of 2019, and it’s been sitting in my podcast player unopened for the last few months. I started listening on a whim at the weekend, and now find myself six episodes in. It’s a fantastic show. If you… Are vaguely interested in country music or Dolly Parton…

Variable speed

Rushing is usually a bad idea. We get flustered or anxious, we forget or ignore important things, and we often feel guilty about it afterwards. Rushing is usually a way to make up for a deficiency in your processes, and it’s generally best avoided whenever possible – by planning ahead, by setting off in good time and allowing slack, by…

Matt Ridley: 15 principles of innovation from “How Innovation Works”

I think it [Innovation] is the most important thing that happens in history, bar none. It’s what explains all the trends that happen in the world, it’s what explains the prosperity, but it’s also what explains all the other cultural trends – it explains how social media has gone crazy and things like that. Innovation is at the heart of…

Not long ago, or Little by little (3): scarcity and subsistence in rural Suffolk

[For those who came in late… Start with Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening… A village in Suffolk [in the east of England], circa 1900: There were seven children at home and father’s wages had been reduced to 10…

Not long ago, or Little by little (2): Indoor plumbing

[Not long ago, or Little by little (1)] Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s the Chinese city of Kunming in 1980: Li Kunwa and Phillipe Ôtié’s A Chinese Life is an amazing memoir – a lens into sixty years of struggle and upheaval…

Not long ago, or Little by little (1)

Not long ago, in a place not far away and directly connected to you, something like this was happening, little by little: It’s London in 1930. Ethel has left her work as a lady’s maid; Ernest is a milkman. Raymond Briggs’ Ethel and Ernest is a brilliant book – very funny, very poignant. I share it here as an example…