Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall earlier this year.
Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall earlier this year.
The above represents the number of planets in our solar system over time. This is something I was thinking about the other day. Depending on how you define something, data that you might expect can only go one way sometimes goes in another direction.
From the Sumerians discovering Venus, to the Babylonians, the sun and moon defined as planets, to the modern understanding of the solar system, and ending in the decision to cull Pluto from the list in favour of defining it, amongst others, as “minor planets”.
“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.
So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.
“This porridge is too cold,” she said
So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.
“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.
i write a lot of reports. i read a lot of reports. nothing infuriates me like a board report. for a start there are a bunch of things that have to be reported on for legal / corporate governance reasons. then there is the stuff produced so that the producer feels he/she has justified their existence. meetings last for ever and, when you finally get to any point of substance that requires discussion, it’s time to head off to another meeting / home. it’s frustrating.
this has been true since meetings began, i’m sure. but we know now that it doesn’t have to be this way. it’s time for meetings to get out of the 18th century. i want nothing but baby bear reports. not too much, not too little, but just right.
my recipe is as follows:
• For the Board to become less of an update, more of a discussion and a decision-making forum (talking about what REALLY matters).
• Increased VALUE (to the Company and attendees)
• every 6 weeks
This gives enough elapsed time for things to actually happen between meetings and avoids the feeling that one meeting has just ended and the Company’s senior staff are already having to prepare for the next. More value would be gained, and significance of the meeting enhanced, from an extended interval.
• simpler, shorter (with appendices if necessary)
•looking back at the key things in the previous period
•looking forward to the key things in the next period
•appendix (including standard reports, preferably in a graphical format where possible)
• sent 3 days in advance
The focus of the report should be on the items that require airing at the meeting. Reports seeking to update the attendees should be in the appendix to be READ. These can always be raised by others when the report is discussed. “Help needed” is intended to raise special items that would benefit from the attention and help of the Board. It helps to ensure that everybody has read the pack (and can, therefore, concentrate on salient issues) if it is received several days prior to the meeting. Attendees can then have considered matters in advance and come primed with more valuable questions or input.
• One or two strategic topics per meeting at the very start
• Reports in turn
There are generally a number of larger issues that the business faces and that would benefit from discussion at this level. Getting to these first gives the best focus and attention to the matters of greatest importance. Thereafter, individual reports should be presented as if all present have already read them.
the BBC has done a great job with iplayer. it’s fantastic not to be tied to the schedules and to hear about a programme from others and then go watch it. but there are several things that are a PITA.
* the programmes are generally only available for 7 days
* the number of podcast shows is small and availability is, again, restricted
* many programmes are not available to download
now, i like to close my eyes on the train into town and listen to something worthwhile (books are for the return journey when i’m no longer conscious that i’ve had too little sleep). i have a nice mp3/radio player that cost me twenty quid (iphone has no radio and is pants with a linux machine), and all i want to do is listen to simon russell beale in “the secret pilgrim” on the journey tomorrow. why, mr bbc, can’t i do that?
it so happens that i can, as long as i’m prepared to fart about a bit (when i should be writing a board report). the script here works well and i’m all loaded for the morning.
ita’s car was hit from behind. just a bump, which caused a bit of a dent. once we sent off the pictures, wisely taken at the scene on her iphone, the driver admitted responsibility. today we get a letter from this insurer’s solicitors offering, in addition to repair etc, £1000 in full and final settlement of any potential personal injury claim. i’ve never heard of this before. ita hadn’t claimed anything or intimated that she might. odd and welcome.
When you order something from Wickes, builders merchants, they send you an orange balloon and a piece of string. You tie the balloon to your gate, thus speeding up delivery and minimising missed deliveries. Nice.
This is the UK without the nice warming effect of the gulf stream. This is described on the weather reports as “the gulf stream taking a vacation”. But is it? I remember reading articles predicting this as part of the continuing change in climate. A quick google reveals quite a few articles, like this from the Times.
Such a change could have a severe impact on Britain, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder. The Gulf Stream transports 27,000 times more heat to British shores than all the nation’s power supplies could provide, warming Britain by 5-8C.
But could this happen so quickly?
However, Wadhams suggests the effect could be dramatic. “One of the frightening things in the film The Day After Tomorrow showed how the circulation in the Atlantic Ocean is upset because the sinking of cold water in the north Atlantic suddenly stops,” he said.
“The sinking is stopping, albeit much more slowly than in the film — over years rather than a few days. If it continues, the effect will be to cool the climate of northern Europe.”
Time to move?
Obama’s recent announcements on future military policy in Afghanistan and Iraq came after a well-publicized deep think. He wasn’t going to come to some snap formulation, but ponder deep and hard with real experts. The results are a little disappointing. Here was a BIG opportunity. He missed it. The end result will be protracted and costly insurgency / counter-insurgency and eventual withdrawal with tail firmly between legs.
What could he have done? What he should have said:
Complete withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. We no longer seek to impose, or actively facilitate, any kind of political system or institutions in any other country. That is the business of the people of that country alone.
However, we have shown that we can act decisively in deposing regimes that pose a clear and present danger to the United States. In Afghanistan we successfully, and at the cost of few American lives, deposed the Taliban who actively assisted Al Qaeda in their terror campaign on the United States. In Iraq, regardless on your view on the rights and wrongs, we deposed the regime, and its leader was captured, tried and convicted.
The United States clearly sets out its intention from this point forward. Any country that poses a direct threat to the United States, either through state directed military means, or through the active support for those that threaten terrorism against the United States, shall be viewed as a clear and present danger. Where America strikes it will be decisive. We will depose the regime responsible, we will pursue any individuals wherever they may flee. That is the Obama doctrine.
A withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, otherwise seen as weak, thus becomes a stronger shift in policy and statement of intent. There is a meaningful veiled threat against Iran and the Yemen. Policy objectives would be matched by realistic military abilities. It’s all win. It’s a shame.
I like the iphone but there are things I don’t like, primarily that it just doesn’t like ubuntu, which means it’s hard to sync music etc. I also don’t like the hassle in connecting it to different computers where it assumes nefarious intent at every stage. So i ordered one of the first batch of the Motorola Milestone (Droid in the UK). It arrived this morning and I’ve played with it for 20 minutes or so. I already hate it. it’s horrible in many ways. If you’ve used an iphone then you get used to things that work. The Milestone’s browser is ok, although the touchscreen is hit and miss. Actually the slide-out keyboard also works quite well. But everything else is clunky as hell. Looks like I’ll wait for a better Android phone.
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