Hello! I got The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Bottton for Xmas, and it was such an absorbing read that I finished it in 2 days. It is quite a slim book. I learnt more about Epicurus – he says that the most important thing in life is to indulge, to indulge in friendships/relationships and food. That’s why I’ve been very happy the past eight days. I have spent it with great company and eating lots of nice food!
Jamie's Italian restaurant
I would also add ‘spectacle’ – nice spectacle that is, not horrid or macabre ones. For NYE 2008 I saw on a big screen at an East End pub how wonderful the London fireworks were. Since then I harboured a wish to be close to the action, in relative comfort. I’d have to be on a boat. So I got entry tickets to a boat/floating pub on the Thames right in front of the London Eye. Wow! The fireworks were so amazing, it was the best! It felt like heaven! Like I could walk amongst the sparkling stars! 10 whole minutes of fantastic pyrotechnic action! Then we danced to some great music. Although the journey home was quite apocalyptic, I will treasure my NYE experience forever!
Fireworks on the Thames
Epicurus got a house and filled it with his friends, dining together most of the time. I think he also said never to eat alone; you should always enjoy food with company. He and his mates also tried to be as self sufficient as they can – growing veg and rearing farm animals. That would be fantastic I think, to be able to buy a great big house with enough privacy and space for everyone and share one big kitchen and hire a part-time maid to keep communal areas tidy (rota system is a bit… student-like). Even if we are not in the same house, living close by to friends/family is so helpful. I recall being able to cross the road and visit my collegemates when I fancied a chat. That alleviated many a lonely time!
So anyway, happy new year… I am starting to read Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis – another Xmas gift and recommended by Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek guy, I think!
I’ve recently (re)started wasting hours of my life going through the rightmove website. It’s a fun hobby I tell you.
“Can I find a house/flat for less than £60,000 within 40 miles of Waterloo?”
“Where can I find the cheapest flat north of Crewe that isn’t in a shithole (haha)”
“What can I afford for £900,000 up my street?”
It’s amusing to see listings saying “Studio flat” alongside a picture of a garage. In Mayfair. Or anywhere in the South. Taking “future potential” a bit too far, like Enron.
So what I have resolved to do is, instead of letting my youth slip away amongst pictures of decrepit and luxury houses, I’m going to blog instead. About anything. In fact it does appear that my mind thinks best while walking or on the train in the morning or about to sleep at night. Anywhere but in front of the computer.
That is exactly what Richard Watson said recently in his speech Future Minds. Amongst other things he says the best place to think is not in front of the computer. Although I have spent more than half my life in front of a computer, I agree with him. I can think of doing specific things on a computer, like emailing, buying, or saying impulse stuff like leaving a comment. However new thoughts I find are generated elsewhere – because when I’m on a computer I’m invariably doing something. Which is not conducive to clear thinking.
The unfortunate fact is that all my wonderful thoughts are forgotten once I’m in front of a computer… or even a paper notebook. I’ll try harder next time… for my sake…
For a wonderful Asian food blog, visit the Catty Life. Wonderful pics, and unsurpassed Asian foodie.
“Schmidt said the long term goal here is to ensure everyone lives a happier life. Central to this is information, which is where Google comes in as a company driven by organising all the world’s data and making it accessible.”
Isn’t it dangerous to trust one private company with the world’s data? Was it George Orwell who said smth like, he who controls the present, controls the past; he who controls the past, controls the future. The word accessible has such a positive meaning these days, but what is being made accessible and to whom? What is in data? What is considered information esp in the digital age are at times beyond simple comprehension – as in, why would anyone want to know that? Like how many people visit my website, what websites I go to, what I download, who I speak to, who emails me, what I search for (indeed this has been used by police to track someone’s motives) and many more I cannot think of.
Also…. one data= one culture? The homogenization of world society well under way? We’ll generally aspire to similar things and dreams? Hence widening the market across the world to keep the demand going? Things and dreams that sap time and life so that we don’t have time left to think (only on trains and planes… oh wait, there are free newspapers to distract you)?
“In the future, he remarked, “We can suggest where you go next, who to meet, what to read…What’s interesting about this future is that it’s for the average person, not just the elites.”
Another mechanism to curb human thinking and natural ability to explore? Thinking is like a muscle. Anything that directly saves labour (like washing machines) is ok – anything that attempts to save thinking should be viewed with suspicion.
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This evening, I thought I’d be a busybody and attend an event for the launch of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. I’d never heard of the lady, and I imagined her to be kinda older and from a titled background (I don’t know why, maybe it’s the name). Turns out she sailed around the world, at 28 years old, broke records, became a Dame off that, all pretty impressive. I think she’s a really inspiring character and a goal-setter who actually seeks to achieve those goals to the highest standard possible. She was very emotive, confident and great speaker/presenter I think – no notes, held our attention, all the sentences in one piece. The video presentations were also very professionally done and informative.
Superficial impressions aside, I think the message really resonates. ‘Rethink the future’ means creating a sustainable future. Because at the moment the status quo is to take stuff from the ground, make something with it, (buy it), use it, throw it away. But where is ‘away’? It festers in the landfill, and with a growing population and increasing consumption, that is not sustainable. So we should use technological know-how to create material and products that can be reused again and again or are thoroughly biodegradable. Electric cars that run on renewable energy. Fridges that can be made into something else at the end of their life. Even we humans are biodegradable! So we need to put more effort into the stuff we make to make them sustainable. It’s not merely recycling. It’s actually producing things in a different way, through a different product cycle model. Ellen MacArthur mentioned ‘circular economy’ and apparently China are onto that now. So things don’t get thrown away and instead go on to be different things or can decompose. Waste should also be minimized on production, be it material or energy. For example, in the exhibition just now, a textile student came up with a weaving machine that creates the fabric pattern pieces to spec, so there is no cutting involved and no wastage; just sew the pieces together.
Seems like an exciting but also challenging future to face. I say, it’s definitely a very great time to be in science, design and engineering!
An acquaintance of mine appeared on TV the other day to debate the fate of ‘our generation’. I think the programme was trying to set up a slagging match between kids young people and people who are as old as their parents. Did it work? I don’t know. It’s like trying to ask someone who’s been happily blindfolded what he saw. The blindfold’s off, it ain’t pretty, but how did we get here?
Every cloud has a silver lining. Cliche. In the so-called age of austerity (hmm, austerity with laptops and iPods) , we have to learn to live with less, learn to cope. This is what the world needs; it cannot support unlimited, unbridled consumption. The older generation will eventually die out and we’ll inherit a surplus of stuff (houses, clothes, bad ideas) as there’s more of them – at least where the population is declining. We cannot expect our generation to enjoy exactly the same privileges – as it is, we probably have the best childhoods, historically, and the best prospects. People can get the sort of job that are a better match to their individual abilities, rather than being forced to work in t’pit, just ‘cos that’s what people do’. Technology has destroyed jobs and created exciting ones in its place.
It is a fair point though that some have been excessively greedy. I’m not talking about bankers – they get enough flak – I’m talking about university vice-chancellors. How is it justifiable that a student struggles through uni and leaves with thousands of debt, while a vice-chancellor gets paid over £250,000 a year, and urging for tuition-fee rises? I believe more of tuition fee costs must be shouldered by corporate firms, who ultimately benefit by employing such well-educated people. Also, there are plenty of positions it seems, that pay much more than what the prime minister gets paid – is their job much harder? They should be running the country then.
Somehow had the urge to research the future. Looked through Richard Watson’s site – Trend Blend 2010 is not up yet it seems. Imagine earning a living as a futurist. Dreaming all day. Also ended up on Trendhunter, with an E!News-esque showpiece about the top 20 trends in 2010. Cue pop-up tailing, next besting and life swapping. Some of it is already happening though – “trends” is partly an extension of what’s happened, partly scientific progress and partly what capitalists want it to be.
Fashion-wise, neon and bright 90s hues are making a comeback, which in my young life I’m beginning to notice that trend in itself – for the future, just rewind 20 years. Maybe because people glamorise their childhood memories, what they saw etc and they can’t live it out then, so now that they’re entering legal age they can look like 20 years ago and catch up on “what they’ve missed”. Or maybe it just looks really cool, right now. Granted it’ll always be different the second time round, with different technology, music, even food, to hand. Bring on the “I’M TOO SEXY FOR MY SHIRT” T-shirts!
In the nearer future… Hot search!
Check out a video on Google’s real-time search facility. This is happening over the next few days! Awe galore.
All I knew, growing up, was ‘queen control!’ cos my 2nd toes are bigger than my big toes. I saw an old school friend do this quiz – since I have so much free time this bank holiday I did it too:
“You are pretty average in your expressiveness. You can express yourself well, but you don’t always want to. You are a very passionate person. You are highly charged and easily inspired. You are an assertive and aggressive person. You are determined and not likely to ever give up. You take a while to fall in love, but once you do, you stay pretty attached to your partner. You are not afraid of anything. You are brave and courageous, even when most people would be terrified. You are intellectual and philosophical. You are more concerned with thoughts than action. You are an amazingly hard worker. You aren’t spoiled and you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. You are not easily influenced by other people. You hold your ground and are true to your beliefs. ”
Take the quiz yerself.
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Tagged funny, life, time