One article of faith in science is that dinosaurs became extinct 60-odd million years ago and couldn’t have been around at the same time as early hominids. Article of faith in the sense that evidence for it refutes any possible young-earth creationism. Herewith a current story pointing out the elements of chance in evolutionary progress, if anyone needed reminding.

However here also a couple of stories [CSUN Story] [Smithsonian Story] that show why it really is an article of faith amongst scientists, rather than good science. When evidence of (potentially) shorter lifecycle occurs in the fossil record, (potentially) supporting young-earth creationism arguments – actions to reject and suppress the evidence (rather than find better explanations) are anti-religious and far from scientific. [Hat tip to Rick on Facebook for the CSUN Story.]

Maybe some pockets of population did survive longer, niche-habitats are crucial to many evolutionary stories. Maybe there are mechanisms of soft-tissue preservation and /or substitution that do occur protected inside older fossils of larger bones. Maybe the original interpretation of having found preserved soft tissue is misguided or wishful thinking. Maybe a hundred and one other hypotheses – one rule of scientific method is that potential hypotheses are infinite. Who knows, without the science, but failing that, let’s bash the perceived “enemy” of science anyway (*).

Anyway, I can’t research all the circumstances and motives of all the people in the linked stories – some individuals clearly do have creationist religious views – but the scientific community response to evidence is far from scientific. My call is for neurotic science to wake up from turning itself into its own religion in order to counter the kinds of religion of which its consensus doesn’t approve.

[(*) Post Note ; Following up more "Speculative Realism" sources - ones I can read and understand. Recently bought, but found too turgid after the excellent introductory chapters Quentin Meillassoux's "After Finitude", so went back to my previous reading of Levi Bryant's "Democracy of Objects" to restore faith. In the context of this post, and the previous post on democratic "consensus" in science, I found this previously quoted passage spot on the mark:

On the one hand we have the pro-science crowd that vigorously argues that science gives us the true representation of reality. It is not difficult to detect, lurking in the background, a protracted battle against the role that superstition and religion play in the political sphere. Society, at all costs, must be protected from the superstitious and religious irrationalities that threaten to plunge us back into the Dark Ages.

Where "at all costs" includes the unwise corruption of science itself. Anyway, faith restored, I've now also ordered Levi Bryant's (ed) "The Speculative Turn":

... the new currents of continental [including UK] philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the [PoMo] past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself.

What I’ve been refering to as PoPoMo. More later.]

Science is an appeal to authority, but where does that authority come from? An interesting Guardian piece by Graham Redfearn on Naomi Oreskes (with a TED Talk of hers at the bottom)

There really is no scientific method.

  • Inductive of hypotheses and predictions, true, but actually a rare case
  • Deductive of observed evidence, true, but much judgement and interpretation of evidence and experience and of correlation and causation, and with varying faith and trust in people and reports – very little evidence is direct observation causally related to any hypothesis or law.
  • And, both confirmation and falsification logic can be flawed by unrecognised assumptions in your model.
  • So in practice, almost “anything goes” (Feyerabend), there is much creativity and imagination involved.
  • Ultimately science is the emergent and evolving collective consensus (of scientists).

Paradox of modern science:

  • Science IS an appeal to authority (albeit the authority of a collective consensus).

This is the root of a large part of the agenda here – where the topic is at the boundaries of accepted science, even questioning the accepted boundaries of science, the consensus cannot come entirely from those who are scientists or with declared interests in science.

Fact: The quality of thinking and questioning required to achieve such consensus cannot be derived entirely the received wisdom of the existing scientific consensus.

Blogging live from the Conway Memorial Lecture at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square.

Lisa Jardine’s subject is her father Jacob Bronowski, public intellectual and humanist responsible for inspiring a generation, myself included. When I blogged about my “Bronowski Moment” some years ago, I discovered it was a moment shared with many, including Lisa herself. The impassioned Cromwellian plea grasping a sod plucked from the pond of human ash at the gates of Auschwitz from The Ascent of Man. The first time I became aware of Lisa as Bronowski’s daughter was when I followed- up a piece by her on the Auchinleck Manuscript. After that, Bronowski’s A Man Without a Mask (William Blake) and Science and Human Values followed naturally.

In his introduction, host Laurie Taylor recalled Michael Frayn on the difficulties of writing on the inheritance of a parent, anticipating what we might expect from Lisa’s title. Not even Laurie I suspect actually anticipated what we were about to receive. I’m not certain what I was expecting – surely something on science and humanism or the history thereof or maybe, as Laurie suggested, the third culture blurring of science with art and the humanities. Well no.

Lisa’s title “Jacob Bronowksi – Things I Never Knew About My Father” is the working title of the biography she’s currently writing and the subject of the lecture was the draft of a single chapter, one of two devoted to the MI5 file on Bruno collated from the 1930′s to 1954. The same year 60 years ago when he had given the Conway Memorial Lecture.

The irony for Lisa is that examining fragmentary one-sided unreliable archives is her day job, as director of the Centre for Editing of Lives and Letters (above) and as professor of 16th & 17th century history at UCL. All writing about archive material is simply fragments filled in with creative fiction. Her main objective, other than exposing what having a secret MI5 surveillance file can mean to a person in general – think Stasi, think Lives of Others, think NSA, think Edward Snowden – is to shed light on the thing she and we never knew – the fact that despite an illustrious public career, Bruno never had the life or career he actually sought.

Following Lisa’s lead this blog post can only be fragmentary – there was just too much fascinating revelation to be typing and not listening. Just two bookending thoughts:

Lisa can of course bring her own family memories and access to her father’s contemporary diaries to supplement what she finds in the MI5 file(s) – of course they’re notoriously unreliable too, but they do lend corroboration of time and place and subjects. After introducing us to initial informant reports – during the 1939/40 phoney war prelude to the real WW2 when Bruno was a maths lecturer at that hotbed of leftie intellectuals and agitators – the newly created Hull University, she also gave us glimpses of the files and the diary pages. On the 20th January 1950 the same week Bruno records Klaus Fuchs being sentenced for his treasonable wartime spying, Bruno also records a conversation with Tesla on Einstein’s Unified Field Theory ideas.

She concluded with another sad irony. So often the natural German, Russian and Eastern European passion of Jewish emigres for the allied cause against the Nazis was exploited, but with such suspicion that when the war was won they could be dumped by the allies. This contrasted with German brains that continued to work for the Nazi cause during the war and were welcomed by British and American teams afterwards(*). Bruno was one of those under constant suspicion whilst working for the allies during the war, he was turned down for the important science posts that were the natural aspirations of his academic and writing career. Instead he carved out a career in BBC radio and TV, where it was probably only the fact that he was taken to heart by the British public, that counteracted MI5 pressure on the BBC to pull any number of his media projects.

And that was just the one chapter. Even there, much left out above on British class-based culture and British vs US differences and so much more on the machinations of secret surveillance and petty internal politics, the C. P. Snow connection – Nick Humphreys “sabotaging” the BBC Bronowski Memorial Lectures after just one year – and not for the first time is academe seen as a hotbed of cruel personal competition compared to commercial business. All utterly fascinating and important if not entirely surprising. Look out for the book in the new year.

[Note - Conway Hall home of The Ethical Society had its origins South Place Chapel in Finsbury Square as the congregation led by William Fox rebelled against key dogmas and was inherited by Moncure Conway an American. The connections - Ethical Society / Bertrand Russell / Reith Lectures / BBC.]

[(*) See earlier operation paperclip references to Werner von Braun / Ernst Stuhlinger.]

A classic edition  of In Our Time from on Robert Boyle from last week. Classic in the sense that like all the good editions, the enthusiasm of the experts could fill the 45 minutes ten times over.

I’m personally still frustrated that Melvyn doesn’t apply the same “anachronistic” approach to highlighting the religious and scientific (natural philosophic) entanglement we take for granted in the mid-17thC with his more modern subjects. Maybe Melvyn has a  more subtle long terms game plan than I give him credit for? Interesting in terms of other recent agenda items that Simon Schaffer hesitates slightly, to insert the term “anachronism” to maybe distance what he says politically-correctly from current received wisdom.

But I digress – forget my agenda – just enjoy a wonderful edition of IOT about an extraordinary individual by any standards.

From John Brockman at The Edge, remembering Frank Schirrmacher:

we have a population explosion of ideas,
but not enough brains to cover them.
Schirrmacher quoting Dennett

the quest for a second enlightenment,
one which would be built on the ideas of the third culture.

Researchers such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, anthropologist Gregory Bateson, mathematician Roger Penrose, biologist Lynn Margulis, geographer Jared Diamond, psychologist Steven Pinker …”come from the ‘exact’ sciences, take care of basic questions of human existence. And they write about their work in thick books in which they—like ‘real’ humanists—take hundreds of pages to present their own thesis.”
Brockman quoting Schirrmacher

(Born in 1959, he was younger than me. I like the scare quotes on ‘exact’ science to make the point about ‘real’ humanism. On a par with Bronowski.)

Whilst searching for a decent reference for my own published writings – this blog is generally at the trashier end of the scale for personal consumption only – I came across a technical article I’d created over 20 years ago before publishing on the web was much of an option. What I found was a PDF version that one of the tool suppliers (ANSYS) had presumably preserved as a reference article as an application of their product.

In all it’s glory is my write-up on one of the more interesting (both challenging and successful) projects I’d done in my time at Foster Wheeler. The Liquid Nitrogen Injection Rakes for the European Transonic WindTunnel Project.

This was a unique project for Foster Wheeler.
Indeed, engineering the LN2 injection rakes for the ETW project
would have been an unusual technical challenge for anyone.
In addition, given the acute budget and schedule constraints,
it was a brave commitment for FW to accept the challenge
and a significant achievement to meet it

For those of you who jet-set around the world in Airbus aircraft beyond the original A300, the design of your transport was tested in this facility. You’re welcome.

[I'll have to see if I can also find the previous article referred to, which described the overall project, not just the components I was responsible for. Quite a few unusual engineering aspects to this project, which I followed right through to completion and commissioning - and an official royal opening. Doesn't show up in any on-line searches - so may have to ferret out and scan a hard copy.]

One of the threads from the “Bang Goes The Big Bang” and “Out of Darkness” talks, both featuring Laura Mersini-Houghton, is that whatever is wrong with big bang theories, they really seem to describe a succession of universes in time. There are no singularities in the space-time of our universe. Most of the “succession” ideas come from needing to account for boundary conditions or effects that must have pre-existed what we think of as the universe before “our” universe, whilst accounting for mass-energy anomalies in observed consequences of the (obviously flawed) big bang models.

Well, what if that continuity were even more continuous – there wasn’t really any need for big bang inflation. That’s exactly what is predicted by Rick Ryals and Cormac O’Raifeartaigh revisiting Einstein’s work. If Einstein knew what we knew now, he’d have stuck to his guns and we’d have a very different standard model of the universe.

Baffled by this. Same issue on two counts.

(1) That the common House / Tree Sparrow is logged as the most commonly seen UK garden bird.

(2) The Dunnock (aka Hedge Sparrow) doesn’t even make the top 10.

Are people just reporting “sparrow-like” birds and are the RSPB not differentiating what is reported. Dunnock and House Sparrow are not just different species they’re quite different types of bird. In my experience of several gardens in different locations, Dunnocks are much more common these days than Sparrows.

[Also incidentally - no Coal Tit ? At least as common as the Blue and Great Tits surely? And Goldfinch increasingly common yes, but no Greenfinch?]

This evening Nick Maxwell presented “How Universities Can Help Create a Wiser World” launching his latest book of the same name. Alan Sokal and and Philip Ball provided responses.

Some 50/55 in the theatre as the UCL Grand Challenge on Human Wellbeing is introduced.

Nick describing his main theme that science has enabled the technologies that have contributed, even created, many of the global problems we face, but blaming science is the wrong response. Obviously science and technology are to be credited with immense positive progress. The problem is a damagingly irrational conception of “enquiry” that dissociates the pursuit of knowledge from how we apply technologies to achieving what is of value in the world.

The idea that Human Well-being is seen as a grand challenge by an academic institution like UCL is an indication that some part of the necessary revolution is already under way. But the rationality of Wisdom Enquiry is not yet recognised as part of this. The problem is that Knowledge Enquiry excludes value-based aspects of problem definition and problem solving – objectivisation and even hyper-specialisation often, without any interaction with the values and aims of the bigger picture. And that’s true even though the concern with the bigger picture may be exercising the minds of the same participants in their wider social world, evenings and weekends.

If you’ve read Nick’s earlier works, the continuing arguments are well recognised and rehearsed. (From Knowledge to Wisdom and Is Science Neurotic for example.) His 7-level model of Aim-Oriented Empiricism / Rationality. In fact as Nick concludes, it’s the same message he’s been pushing for over 40 years.

Feeding AOR into “Social Life” –  the task is social methodology or social philosophy, not social science. Methodology notice, philosophy of action, about doing not theorising

Dr Philip Ball responds, mainly to the book itself. Science is much less methodical that it appears, than it might formally admit (Maxwell’s scientific neurosis?). Trend to have to define and justify (funding) aims in terms of economic benefit. (But must aims be economic – bean-countable?) Dr Ball sees the solutions as essentially economic, even if they may require alternate market models and incentives. The recently recurring reminder that Adam Smith was a moral philosopher before and above his position as an economist. (Very Benthamite – reducing all issues to cost-benefit, even justifying art projects on relevance and benefit.) Democracy is not a necessary part of scientific progress. Agree focus must shift from knowing, but to doing.

Alan Sokal responding;  Science does make metaphysical assumptions, even though it would deny it. Scientists take weekends off, but we all know when non-unified scientific hypotheses are crazy. Nick’s work on the hierarchical AOE/R are important contributions to the philosophy of science, but the lack of “Wisdom Inquiry” in academic institutions is not really the fundamental problem preventing progress, rather than say economic incentives. Nick’s wisdom inquiry claims are probably more targeted at the social sciences than the natural sciences. (Quite the opposite in fact.)

My take is this.

Alan Sokal is well known for his fighting on the side of strict rationality against social constructivism, and yes we can all shoot PoMo Social Constructivists like fish in a barrel. Nick Maxwell’s “Aim Oriented Empiricism” basis for wisdom is however at that interface of rational knowledge with the social.

Yes, the rationality of the processes of gaining and applying knowledge may be strictly objective, logical, scientific. But, the rationality of aims is more than that. It’s also about what we value and how we agree what we should value. That is philosophical, even subjective and clearly social. They’re “problematic” – the task as Nick says is social methodology or social philosophy, not social science - requiring more than rational knowledge to manage and solve. Wisdom.

So, does Alan Sokal believe there can be more to applied wisdom than strictly logical, objective, scientific rationality and knowledge? Apparently not.

Ultimately disappointing, the discussion drew out into very general criticisms of “too hard”, and wider questions of national, resource and conflict governance – the arithmetic of democracy not excluded (*1) – well beyond academe. In fact both respondents really failed to pick up on the social values aspect of Nick’s “Aim Orientation”, slipping too easily to see aims as quantifiable economic goals (*2).



(*1) Sure, the one man one vote emancipation, epitomises the importance of the value of any human, but we’re talking here about methodology and doing, We can’t all take equal roles in every action, let alone deciding every action by popular poll.

(*2) Sure, technology is universally recognised as the main driver of global economic activity, and science as the main enabler of technology (Kondratiev, Schumpeter, Kuhn, you name them). But as well as enabling, what we do needs enacting, requiring populations of people with hearts and minds, hopes and fears, that ultimately determine what is achieved; Hiroshima or Hinkley.

Tiff Jenkins in The Scotsman today, writing on the problem of the “Quantified Self” movement. Short, sweet and to the point, so no excuse not to read. A reflection of the danger of applying new app / tech possibilities to exaggerate the slippery slope of giving privilege to those aspects of life that can be objectively quantified.

In summary – outsourcing (value) judgement to (quantifiable) calculation – doesn’t make judgement any easier, rather it bypasses, disconnects judgement from real empirical experience – making it easier to shirk the personal responsibility for applying judgement. What we should really be doing is making it easier for humans to connect to reality and take responsibility for it. Log personal “data”, sure, but treat it as audit / reality check for that human, not as an independent app, or a competitively shared “game”. Judgement is not a popular-voting – bean-counting – democracy.

Guidance of the wise, enslavement of the foolish comes to mind, again.

[Reminds me of the two cases noted earlier, of the UK MP and US Representative, counting the tweets in their inbox before voting on house motions. And - listening to BBC R4 Today interviews by Sarah Montague at the Tory conference - as old as the 20th century (and probably more) - the "cost of living" being objectified - something we can reduce to an index, as one interviewee warns - it's not some free floating "object". What matters can't be measured, etc. Turning "objectives" into "measures" destroys their value .... and a thousand more.]

[Post Note : Another response here.]

The need to blog is fairly intense at the moment, not just many interesting things happening in the world to comment on, and significant things happening in my world to write upon, but also multiple communication initiatives that look like opportunities to turn talk into attention and opportunities into progressive action:

I am a fully-fledged grown-up adult,
I’m trying to make a dent, I’m trying to get a result
I’m holed up in a Hollywood hotel suite,
with tequila to drink and avocado to eat.
[Loudon Wainwright III]

My Left Knee – the story of my knee replacement surgery. [Truly inspiring life experience - to me anyway - in which I have been fortunate to come into contact with many wonderful individuals making the NHS work - and it ain't over yet. In draft based on text notes and name-checks.]

Where Soul Meets Body – a stream of consciousness vignette within the above. [Based on the anaesthetic-and-morphine-fuelled immediate post-op euphoria, paying attention to the music collection on my Android phone whilst exercising my leg under the covers in fearful anticipation of the true pain level kicking-in. Rolling like thunder - that's why they call it the blues - is not in that playlist, but much Roy Harper in there. Draft in chaotic notes.]

Leadership – an essay on what is really missing from society’s decision-making structures. [Prompted by a Facebook exchange with Martin. Near complete draft; a bit rambling and losing it's way towards the end. Needs at least one good editorial session.]

Greatest [Currently Most Famous] Thinkers – revisiting the April 2013 Prospect Magazine poll on World Thinkers. I’ve expressed disappointment before, more than once, at the popular confusion between famous scientists and great thinkers, but thought it worth analysing the comment thread on the original article, in the light of the recent Comments in Crisis piece on the destruction of valuable debate. Also want to dig up that piece on how far most readers get beyond the headline – if at all – yet still immediately comment, share, like, link, embed, you name it. Meme’s in action. [Draft in mind only.]

The Cyprus Connection – transitioning from reading Sir Ronald Storrs’ Orientations – where he ended up as the first British governor of Cyprus, having been the first such governor of Jerusalem and Judea / Palestine post-Balfour pre-Herbert Samuel – into Mak Berwick’s Langkawi Lair, whose opening scenes witness an atrocity associated with the 70′s Makarios revolution in Cyprus. [Draft in mind only.]

‘Twas Ever Thus – the latest in a series of dozens, in which I often quote Horace explaining the impression, reported at least as long ago as 4000BCE, whereby ubiquitous and continuing aspects of human enterprise, are invariably dressed up as the latest problem “of our times”. Here goes ….

Prompted by reference to Terrence Rattigan’s falling out with John Gielgud – a topic on BBC R4 Today this morning – when “Johnny” elected to play the Dickensian anti-hero Sydney Carton, rather than appear in a production he’d already been working – fully cast and rehearsed – with “Terry”. An archetypically camp Cambridge gay set lovers’ tiff. Quite sweet to hear contemporary recordings of the luvvies actually, and I’m a fan of Rattigan, but the conversation brought up how significant Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was, still is, to our times (yet again).

Tale of Two Cities is apparently my mother’s favourite book, or was until she started reading the Russian classics more recently. And, it’s a book I know I should know. It’s been on my reading list for ever. I’ve owned a copy for years. It’s been on the bedside cabinet and the desk beside me where I work, dozens of times before. I’ve read the opening chapter, and got up that muddy south London hill in the horse-drawn coach more times times than I can count, made the Dover meeting and the channel crossing several times, I’ve even got to meeting the heroine’s father in the Paris garret a once or twice, but …. I’ve still not got through it. No idea why.

Anyway, It’s one of those books – like Anna Karenina, similarly I’ve never completed – with mythically famous opening lines. So famous Sylvia and I lay there trying to recall them as we listened to the radio. Nope? OK …

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

And, in one long sentence, it goes on, ….

it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we are all going direct to Heaven,
we are all going direct the other way
in short, the period was so far like the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities insisted
on its being received, for good or evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Sound familiar ? Plus ca change, ’twas ever thus.

Not only is science a branch of economics, so now is art.

See: BBC Story and Guardian piece.

In fact if you think about the current scale of funding into fundamental physics, actually science is the branch of culture being funded for it’s own sake. Mad. The world turned upside down. (Follow @TiffanyJenkins)

Full transcript here.  Lees bleak than the journalists’ selective headlines.

Terry Eagleton & Roger Scruton on “Culture” (Hat tip to David Morey on FB)

[Post Note : The price of everything and the value for nothing.
Deputy London major Munira Mirza, via @TiffanyJenkins]

Dan Pink’s “Drive” caught on as a best seller in the last couple of years in promoting the concept of “Motivation 3.0″. Of course, the terminology catches the fashion of the internet generation, and good luck if the brief readable book, with its “Toolkit” of ideas does lead to more management catching on in more organizations. (Hat tip to Robin for bringing up Pink’s Drive in a business call.)

Some may resist its obviously “faddish” looks, and some will be attracted precisely by that latest-fashion aspect, but like all good messages, there is nothing new under the sun. Absolutely nothing, and that’s why you can tell it’s good, despite the tag line “the surprising truth” – nothing could be less surprising. The core idea is very simple, far from rocket science, and not difficult to implement providing one overcomes the fear of letting go.

In a word – Autonomy.

People perform better if given a reasonable degree of autonomy. The hard bit is working out for your own particular case how much is reasonable, but even then, Pareto’s 80:20 rule of thumb says, anything less that 20% autonomy ought to be considered suspect, 32% autonomy a normal case, and 80% autonomy about as good as it gets. Go figure. No need to read on if that’s self-evident already.

Anyway, between then (F.W.Taylor and Abraham Maslow say) and now (Dan Pink say) there have been a thousand management gurus plying their trade in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st. Each standing on the shoulders of giants, though as I often point out, in order to do that, you have to recognize the giant. Even the original Psybertron agenda (About >> Agenda) includes recovering from the status quo where “management mistook itself for a science” – a thinly veiled allusion to the errors of Taylorism. Very old news. (Gurus that spring to mind, all referenced in this blog, include; Taylor, Maslow, MacGregor, Ouchi,  Argyris, Parker-Follett, Drucker, Handy, Peters, Godin, Gladwell, Ariely, Pink to name but a few, and not to mention the myriad of empirical anthropologists, behavioural-psychologists, scientists and philosophers of mind on whose research they depend. You no doubt have your own favourites.)

If we go back to Maslow, we can superimpose quite easily the evolving story that management gurus are trying to communicate to us. In fact he has been much maligned and, as I already blogged, there is a significant movement to rehabilitate Maslow in the “positive psychology” school.


Naturally, the first three levels of Maslow, are pretty much accepted as basic human rights anywhere in the developed and developing world, so they quite rightly look antiquated as motivators these days. They remain important of course, if you understand the hygiene rule. And like all generalizations, exactly what motivates / demotivates in each band varies by individual and circumstance; any general rules implied are “for the guidance of wise men and the enslavement of fools“. And, as Theodore Zeldin reminds us we all have limits to our own competencies whatever our motivation. In the modern “professional” world most people find themselves somewhere through Motivation2.0, with diminishing returns on, even seemingly-perverse negative responses to, extrinsic rewards as motivators. As Pink highlights, we’ve been struggling with variations of Motivation2.x (ref any number of management gurus) on our way to recognising Motivation3.0 for what it is.

The other main thrust of Drive is Engagement.

Once properly motivated and empowered (yeuch!) by autonomy, the point is that people can properly engage with tasks, achieving a sweet-spot in performance. Zen and the Art … of doing what you do well … Optimisation is achieved when the task and the person effectively become one – there are no extraneous distinctions between the task and the person – what a radical empiricist / monist like James or Pirsig might call “dynamic quality” – or kinetic quality, relationalism, inclusionality, you name it – what has become dubbed “flow” these days.

And finally for now, this is all closely tied to the movement that suggests we all recognize the difference between our life’s work and our day job. Or to express that the other way around, the closer our day job – the one that pays the bills – comes to our life’s work – that which we find intrinsically valuable to our purpose and meaning in the world – the better for all of us.

[Post Note - Oh and look, the following day Dilbert is on topic too:

Post Note 2 : This from Gaping Void


Further Reading ?

If any of this looks  new or unbelievable to you,
or you can't imagine how you would apply it in real life,
then read Dan Pink's Drive, it's an easy read with practical advice.

Pink has his own list of further reading, so I won't put a spoiler here;
suffice to say Peter Drucker is amongst them.
In this up to date context, Drucker is interesting and impressive;
generally recognized as having been the guru of management gurus,
he himself acknowledged his own debt to Mary Parker-Follett.
(Drucker and Parker-Follett jumping off points already linked above.)

If you want some deeper background on the psychology,
or more generally on "how the mind works" in these contexts,
my recent favourites are Haidt, Kahneman, Kauffman and McGilchrist.
Not to mention recognizing the "flow" in the "peak experiences" writings of
James and Dewey, much used by Maslow.]

An underused word (like the word “grace”). Nice piece from Hugh McLeod at Gaping Void (hat tip to tweet from Dave Gurteen). Message to the next generation to notice the difference between a life’s work and a career in a day job. In this case, based on the advertising business, but good for bringing in this Joe Campbell quote too:

“Follow your bliss.
Find where it is,
and don’t be afraid to follow it.”

Joseph Campbell - The Power of Myth

A common message from the wise to those starting out. Here my favourite plea from Richard Russo in his 2004 commencement address.

“While you search for this work, you’ll need a job. [It's] a fine thing to be good at your job, as long as you don’t confuse it with your work, which it’s hard not to do.”


Interesting listening to the excellent BBC R4 documentary “Lawrence of Arabia – Man and Myth by Allan Little. I’m a long time fan of TEL as a humanist moral philosopher and poet, but amazing to hear that his opus Seven Pillars of Wisdom was regularly used by the Americans in Iraq, Gen Petraeus no less, “virtually every briefing meeting” even. Wow.

Good to see the significance of TEL being realized at many levels in modern middle-east geo-politics. (And an excellent documentary, BTW.)


Many interesting points, re Armenians, Kurds, Arabs and Iraqis, but one in particular. Palestine as envisaged by TEL was to be for the Palestinian Arabs. Yes, he knew there were plans to grant a zone for Jewish settlement rights – a “homeland” – but the (explicit) point was for Jews to integrate with the natives in their state, not create an independent Israeli state with a Jewish majority dominating and/or excluding the locals. Effing Balfour!