Category: Random

Settled science – the Cultural Offering of @HardenKurt

Pressed for time but eager to keep pace with the latest scientific developments?

Cultural Offering brings you Settled Science:

All this plus inspiration and more music than you can shake a stick at (as they say, but as I’ve never quite understood).

And, via Cultural Offering, here’s Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs:


Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Is your social media addiction changing your perceptions – Jaron Lanier

Here’s the always thoughtful and excellent Jaron Lanier in a 20-minute interview on Channel 4 News, talking about the effect of social media.

Lanier is a fascinating, new-Renaissance man: a writer on computer-philosophy, a computer scientist and programmer of very high regard (one of the fathers of VR), an artist and a musician.

His theme here builds on a point raised in his 2010 book You Are Not A Gadget:  that our perspective on the world is imperceptibly shaped and limited by the tools we use to perceive it: if your spectacles are the wrong prescription, you don’t see things far away; if your search engine tailors results to your tastes, you don’t see what you don’t know. Here, he adds the impact of social media algorithms tailoring your world view based on your response to what you see.



Image: LAVREB University of Siena

Amuse-bouches for the brain – @execupundit

Amuse-bouches for the brain: a fresh batch of random thoughts from Execupundit, including:

  • Meetings favor people who do not like to read.
  • Secret worries far outnumber the open ones.
  • A good guide can turn an old trail into a new path.
  • Those looking into a room often see more than those who are seated.

Read the rest, and search for older thoughts, here.


Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Entrepreneurs, parasites, fat cats and mice

Here’s a fascinating piece from the Times.

A few years ago, I was intrigued to read how the toxoplasmosis parasite modified the behaviour of mice it infected so that they were more likely to be caught and eaten by cats, thus achieving the parasite’s (presumed, none have been interviewed) goal of moving up the food-chain and perpetuating its species.

The parasite increases risk-taking behaviour in infected mice: they are less scared of cats and more likely to explore unfamiliar spaces. I read somewhere else that they are more likely to be seen during the day, too.

The Times’ Tom Whipple reports on a study by Stefanie Johnson at the University of Colorado, Boulder to see if the parasite had a similar effect on human behaviour:

To investigate that theory, they looked at three groups. The first was a sample of 1,500 US students who were studying biology or business. Those on the business course were almost 50 per cent more likely to have the parasite. The second was 200 people attending entrepreneurship events. There, infected people were 80 per cent more likely to have started their own business.

Finally, they investigated how global infection rates — which range from 9 per cent in Norway to 60 per cent in Brazil — correlated to an index of entrepreneurial activity. Again, the presence of the parasite was linked to being more orientated towards starting a business, and less troubled about a fear of it failing.

Stefanie Johnson, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, said that she was not surprised by the findings. “Other data has looked at autopsy results from people who died doing risky things — riding a motorcycle without a helmet or skydiving,” she said. They were more likely to have toxoplasmosis than people who died from less risky causes.

The Times article is here.

The University of Colorado’s piece is here.

As we so often find, we are never quite the masters of our fate that we like to think.

Thus, I confidently predict that we sovereign professionals are a parasite-ridden bunch. Happy Friday!


Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash


Need a New Year’s resolution? Avoid 24-hour news

I’m late in flagging Michael Wade’s post on News Noise.

He makes a great point:

There is an Orwellian twist to how the press hypes certain stories and then, as interest wanes, reverses course with a “Never mind, but look at this exciting new report!”

Twitter, other social media 24-hour news channels, even the “quality” daily  newspapers are over-filled with breathless excitement and journalists interviewing other journalists. What you eagerly watched or read yesterday is obsolete today.

Better to devote your reading time to a considered viewpoint like the Economist, or other weekly. Better still:

If the subject is truly important, read a couple of books on the subject and scout out magazine and newspaper articles from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

Read the rest, here.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Contemplation, inspiration and thanks

Happy Contemplation! It’s a week of sleeping and walking, eating and drinking, reading and pondering. Plans for the coming year will hatch, but slowly.

Goals will be set, and scratched, and set again.

Current sources of inspiration:

Established inspiration:

  • Nicholas Bate – always, always a source of pithy perspective. When I was at Microsoft, I was lucky enough to attend several of Nicholas’ courses.
  • Michael Wade – the Execupundit, I love Michael’s blend of business and military wisdom, …
  • Kurt Harden – music, life, perspective, food, politics, life

I can’t now recall which came first, but these are essential daily reading. Highly recommended. I dip into a long list of blogs and find inspiration, but these three are established, regular reading.

My thanks go to all three for their commitment and continued, high quality output.


Image: Winchester Cathedral

Brunswick Green

London. Around the corner from Brunswick Square (not far from Charles Dickens’ home on Doughty Street) and opposite an ugly development called the Brunswick Centre, I found a row of dark green doors and a childhood memory.

During a brief and unsuccessful flirtation with Airfix kits, I fell in love with the rich range of exotically named Humbrol enamels. Brunswick Green was one of my favourites, along with Prussian Blue.

Back then, it never occurred to me to ask where (or what) Brunswick was. Good old Wikipedia.

Brunswick green is a common name for green pigments made from copper compounds, although the name has also been used for other formulations that produce a similar hue, such as mixtures of chrome yellow and Prussian blue. The pigment is named after Braunschweig, Germany (also known as Brunswick in English) where it was first manufactured. It is a deep, dark green, which may vary from intense to very dark, almost black.[42]

The first recorded use of Brunswick green as a color name in English was in 1764.[43] Another name for this color is English green. The first use of English green as a synonym for Brunswick green was in 1923.[44]

Deep Brunswick green is commonly recognized as part of the British racing green spectrum, the national auto racing color of the United Kingdom.

Brunswick green
About these coordinates    Color coordinates
Hex triplet #1B4D3E
sRGBB  (rgb) (27, 77, 62)
CMYKH   (cmyk) (65, 0, 20, 70)
HSV       (hsv) (162°, 65%, 30%)
Source [Unsourced]
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
H: Normalized to [0–100] (hundred)

Honoured and flattered by Cultural Offering

I’m honoured, flattered and, frankly, quite chuffed to find the Sovereign Professional on Cultural Offering’s annual list of 25 Blogs Guaranteed to Make You Smarter.

Kurt Harden’s Cultural Offering was one of a handful of blogs that inspired me when I started blogging more than 10 years ago. The Sovereign Professional is a new venture and I’m honoured to make Kurt’s list in such esteemed company.


Photo by wu yi on Unsplash