Sometimes you just have to stop and take your brain out.

Recently I had a Tuesday 4am wakeup to get the 7am flight to Edinburgh. All the way there I was thinking about a series of articles for which I had missed a deadline the day before. When in Edinburgh I stay with Jon and Lisa, my brother and sister-in-law, dermatologists both, Tuesday is a home day for them, Jon for reading and writing (he’s an academic), Lisa has a 4 day a week NHS contract and chooses not to get involved in private practice.

They go to the gym on Tuesday so I joined in and used the swimming pool for an hour.

I sat on my own tried to write again, no joy.

Watched a couple of movies in the evening and relaxed. Funny how much easier it can be in other people’s homes.

Had an early night, got up at 5.30am. Opened laptop, the words flowed, job done.

Sometimes you just have to stop and take your brain out  – but it’s knowing when to do it that matters.

The Clock of Life

The Clock of Life by Robert H Smith

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just where the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more.
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
As no man can restore.

The present only is our own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in ‘tomorrow’
For the clock may then be still

The Monday Morning Quote #500

“Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth, and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

John Hume

The 500th Monday Morning Quote and a very personal one.

Quote of the Day – On reviewing all series of The Apprentice

Sam Woolaston writing after 14 years as a TV reviewer.

“The Apprentice, maybe more than anything else, drives home that I have been doing this long enough; too long, some might say. I have written 20 – twenty – reviews of The Apprentice, and that’s not including The Young Apprentice, plus interviews with winners, with Lord Sugar and with Sugar’s sidekicks. I have nothing left of any interest to say about The Apprentice.

They are all tossers – I have said so too many times.”

It’s not just the show that is tired – I am, too.”

I bailed out after series one having come to the same conclusion, so glad I didn’t waste any more of my life on it.

Sam’s gone and now Cook retires.

Today (weather permitting) will see a great sportsman applauded on and off the pitch at the Oval when England face India in the fifth and final test of the series. I remember Alastair Cook being plucked from the relative obscurity of an ECB Academy tour of the West Indies in February 2006 to fly out (or around, or possibly over?) to India as a replacement for the injured Michael Vaughan & Marcus Trescothick. From his 60 in the first innings and century in the second he looked the part, he played in the second test on that tour but could not play in the the third due to illness (it was India after all), since then he has not missed a test match and his records are the stuff of legend.

You can read reports about the man and his stats elsewhere, but what I admire about him is the way he has shown dedication and concentration and brought sportsmanship to his role. He is not the most forceful, fluent or stylish of batsman but he became the very best Alastair Cook that he could be. Opening batsmen are up there with golfers and tennis players in my estimation of the hardest “jobs” in sport, whilst they have the support of the team they also feel they have let a team down if they fail (which they do with regularity). One slip, one mistake and that’s it. In most sports you can have another go, not as a batsman.

Over the past decade I have admired hugely two young men who have captained their countries with dignity, skill and diplomacy, not only captained but led by example and have rarely put a foot wrong. Both have retired from the international stage, one from the sport completely. Can you have heroes who are 30+ years younger than you? Of course you can if they are Cook and Sam Warburton. They have both used what talent they have been given, worked incredibly hard, put their bodies in harm’s way and missed out on normal life (whatever that may be) to make the most of their talents. Thank you both for your inspiration and service.

(Ironically only Cook has “Welsh” blood – his mother is from Swansea – whilst Sam’s parents are both English.)

When the time comes I hope wherever you are you will stand and applaud a true great as he takes his bow at The Oval.

I can’t think of a better excuse to play Roy Harper – enjoy.

 

 

Our society is being highjacked

Thanks to Cal Newport for pointing me towards this site in his latest Study Hacks blogpost, “Beyond Digital Ethics”.

He talks about the work of Tristan Harris and The Centre for Humane Technology from whose website I have taken a page.

What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental healthdemocracysocial relationships, and our children.

What we feel as addiction is part of something much bigger.

There’s an invisible problem that’s affecting all of society.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google have produced amazing products that have benefited the world enormously. But these companies are also caught in a zero-sum race for our finite attention, which they need to make money. Constantly forced to outperform their competitors, they must use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued. They point AI-driven news feeds, content, and notifications at our minds, continually learning how to hook us more deeply—from our own behavior.

Unfortunately, what’s best for capturing our attention isn’t best for our well-being:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into streaks, redefining how our children measure friendship.
  • Instagram glorifies the picture-perfect life, eroding our self worth.
  • Facebook segregates us into echo chambers, fragmenting our communities.
  • YouTube autoplays the next video within seconds, even if it eats into our sleep.

These are not neutral products.
They are part of a system designed to addict us.

Take a look here.

 

 

Global Warning….

Taken from John Naughton’s blog post “Global Warning” about Nick Harkaway’s new novel Gnomon where he shares the author’s blogpost which you can read in full here. These paragraphs struck a chord with me.

…..I remember the luxury of saying “we must be precautionary about surveillance laws, about human rights violations, because one day the liberal democracies might start electing monsters and making bad pathways, and we’ll want solid protections from our governments’ over-reach.”

Oops.

I remember the halcyon days of April 2016 when I thought I’d missed the boat and I hadn’t written a warning at all, but a sort of melancholic state of the nation, and I really did think things might get better from there. Then Brexit came – I was half expecting that – and then Trump – which I was really not – and now here we are, with the UK boiling as May’s government and Corbyn’s Labour sit on their hands and clock ticks down and the negotiating table is blank except for a few sheets of crumpled scrap paper, and the only global certainty seems to be that this US administration will try to wreck every decent thing the international community has attempted in my lifetime, with the occasional connivance of our own leaders when they aren’t busy tearing one another to bits.

And now I’m pretty sure I did write a warning after all. ….

 

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