Blog posts August 16 - 22

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The friends we made along the way (August 22)

I first wrote a post on this blog on 22 August 2003. It wasn't much, just a bunch of quotes, rather like I do today. But it was the beginning of one of the things I've done most in my life. I haven't done many other things for 18 years. Been a father, lived in our flat, been a partner.

I think it's been worth it. Overall. It's worked at the scale of a good career decision. It's mattered in my life at about that size - choosing the right job, meeting the right people.

I've loved bits of it. And bits of it have scared me.

It's one reason I'm slowly withdrawing from social media before my book comes out. I can't take feedback from the crowd.

But the best bit has been meeting all the people. The people I've met via this thing have been great. That and all the bizarre spam.

It is what it was be (August 21)

This Word of Mouth episode about the language of cults introduced me to the idea of the Thought Terminating Cliche: a bit of language used to stop further discussion or questioning. It was first used to describe language structures of the Chinese Communist Party. In everyday life it's things like: 'it is what it is' or 'I'm just saying' or 'that's just your opinion'.

It struck me that corporate life is full of these things too. Injunctions to, basically, please stop asking questions and just get on with stuff. 'Carpe diem'. 'JFDI'.

And in some senses, and in regular life too, a thought-terminating cliche might have some utility. Sometimes the thinking has to stop. Sometimes we need something to gee us out of our analysis paralysis. 

Doing nothing, being wrong (August 20)

Max Barry on the lowness of the bar for 'good' men. And being wrong about it.

Utilijog (August 19)

I heard on a radio panel show that Jeremy Bentham invented jogging. Turns out it was true.

And next came one of the best pictures ever.

Fierce (August 18)

There's a little bit in my (forthcoming) book about how, when you're presenting, it's good if you can be you, but a bit more so. If you can dial your yourselfness up a bit.

I quote Ella quoting Dolly Parsons: "Find out who are you and do it on purpose.

There's something related in this programme - about the power of alter egos. That's going further than I meant, but I like the bit about Beyonce constructing Sasha Fierce as a person to be. And then realising she didn't need that any more.

The details (August 17)

Every little detail in this paragraph from The New Yorker is fascinating:

"In 1989, twenty thousand public-health researchers around the world received a floppy disk purporting to contain an informational program about AIDS. But the disk also included a malicious pro-ord gram that is now considered the first instance of ransomware. After users rebooted their computers ninety times, a text box appeared on the screen, informing them that their files were locked. Then their printers spat out a ransom note instructing them to mail a hundred and eighty-nine dollars to a post-office box in Panama. The malware, which came to be known as the AIDS Trojan, was created by Joseph Popp, a Harvard-trained evolutionary biologist. Popp, whose behavior grew increasingly erratic after his arrest, was declared unfit to stand trial; he later founded a butterfly sanctuary in upstate New York."

If your bin is currently presented (August16)

It's easy to rail against vague and unhelpful corporate language but sometimes the jargon is too good to get angry with.

We got email containing this: "Unfortunately, due to operational issues, the Councils garden waste collection service has had to be suspended with immediate effect. If your bin is currently presented, please return it to your property and we will issue further information as soon as we know when the service will resume."

Presented! Of course it is. That's the perfect word. Made me think of govbins.