Category Archives: ideas

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How to simplify your life

Follow the one rule found here: swissmiss | One Basic Decision. 

However, feel free to swap out “happy” with “good” or other worthwhile aims. Regardless of the one thing you decide, your life will get simpler.

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Why math is great, and other interesting ideas, from Steven Strogatz

It’s hard to say why this interview with Strogatz is so good, other than to say he covers much ground on a variety of interesting topics and speaks lively on them. (Ok, I find game theory, “elegant” math, math education, etc, interesting, but you likely will too).

If you enjoyed this interview, he has a recent book out, “Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity.” Worth a look. 

Interview is here: Steven Strogatz interview on math education and other related topics

How to be a better conversationalist, starting with 100 questions


When you meet someone at an event or at a party, the inevitable questions come up: What do you do for a living? Where do you live? Whom do you know? These are safe questions, and they lead to tepid conversation most of the time. If such conversations had a colour, it would be beige.

For a list of colourful questions, try some of these (unless beige is your favorite colour)” 100 questions to spark conversation & connection. | Alexandra Franzen

Some of them would still be pretty safe at a work function, such as: What’s your most urgent priority for the rest of the year? Others could lead to some pretty funny stories, such as: What’s something you’ve tried, that you’ll never, ever try again? or What’s the strangest date you’ve ever been on? (These may result in the same story!) Some are fairly personal, such as: What’s one mistake you keep repeating (and repeating)? (You may want to have your own example in case you stump someone). Finally, the last question is one most people should have an answer for, and is likely one that will tell you lots about the person: What are you most grateful for, right now, in this moment?

A great list. Throw some of them in a list on your phone and use them at the next get togther you attend. Better conversations await.

A great tool to help you with any 30-day challenge

is this simple calendar:

A very effective way to motivate yourself to take on a new habit or break an old one.
For more on this, head over to Austin Kleon’s web site and this page: 30-day challenge

What is wrong with minimalism (and how to fix that)

What is wrong with minimalism? If you were to read this piece by Mark Manson on the Disease of More, you would be right in thinking that less is what we need. The less you have, the better off you should be. In which case, approaching minimalism should be the idea.

Yet minimalism taken to an extreme is just another form of More is Better, which seems to be the point of this Guardian article, Minimalism: another boring product wealthy people can buy.  (And the truth is, minimalism can be difficult to achieve, as this article shows.)  So, is minimalism a good idea or not? Should you give up on minimalism?

What both minimalist and anti-minimalists miss in their arguments is what is required to have a good life. What should be pursued is not to have more because more is better, or having less because less is better, but to have just what is essential for you to have a good life.

Of course what is essential depends on who you are. For some, this is a perfect environment:


For others, it’s this:

There is nothing wrong with a minimal environment if that is essential for you to be happy and content. Likewise, having a room jam packed with stimulating items may be essential to you.  You have to decide for yourself, rather than sticking with a simple formula of Less is More or More is More.

What you should have is  what is essential for you to live a good life. The fix for minimalism is essentialism. Preferably a lean essentialism. But again, that is up to you.

On parenting and the freeing and closing of your mind

There are stages in parenthood when your children occupy all of your mental time, and when they do, you may find your mind is closed. If before parenthood you found yourself open to contemplate and examine ideas, after parenthood you may find that your ability to do that has shutdown. I found that for certain stages of the life of my child, all of my time was spent either focusing on their care or worrying about them. But then there were stages when they settled down and there was less to worry about and my mind freed up again.

If you are a parent and you find yourself wrapped up in the state of your child, you should believe that that will pass, and while you never stop thinking about them, you will find you think / worry about them less. This is a good thing.

YouTube’s fight with its most extreme creators highlights the problem big IT has on it’s hands

Here’s a really good piece highlighting a big problem the Frightful Five / Big IT have right now with user generated content: YouTube’s messy fight with its most extreme creators – Vox.

Some background is in order. For years, content creators on Youtube (part of Google/Alphabet) have been jacking up the extremism in their videos to get more views. Extremism in all senses of the word, including political extremism. Some do it for Fame, but many do it for Fortune. This was going well for them until….

In March this year, 250 advertisers pulled back from YouTube after reports that ads were appearing on extremist content, including white supremacist videos. As a result, YouTube demonetized a wide range of political content, including videos that didn’t include hate speech but might still be considered controversial by advertisers. Creators called it “the adpocalypse” — they saw their incomes from YouTube evaporate without fully understanding what they’d done wrong or how to avoid demonetization in the future.

And this is the problem for Youtube and other platforms…how to maximize both traffic and profit. For a long time the formula was simple: more extreme videos = more traffic = more profit. Now they are hitting a wall, and advertisers and consumers are fed up.

The question big IT will be struggling with is: how to draw the line? In case you think the line is easy to draw, I recommend you watch the video by Carlos Maza of Vox. He makes a case that it is very difficult, even if at first glance it should be obvious what should be removed.

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this. If anything, it is going to be one of the major political debates of the first part of the 21st century, as global IT companies deal with national laws and policies.