The old days weren’t actually simpler – not really

I have never really understood the claim that the ‘old days’ were somehow simpler or easier. Actually, they usually weren’t. We only think they were. The cause is a curious mix of cognitive illusions, including the ‘recency’ phenomenon – by which whatever happened last week looms larger than something that happened last year or last… More The old days weren’t actually simpler – not really

It doesn’t take much to be kind – if we pay attention

An elderly woman boarded the train I was riding the other day. The carriage was crowded, but someone immediately gave up his seat for her. Random acts of kindness like this are what should happen in the world. They don’t – not nearly often enough. A lot of the problem, I think, flows from the… More It doesn’t take much to be kind – if we pay attention

Lessons of Paris: how to use kindness to defeat humanity’s dark side

The news from Paris has horrified me on so many levels. Part of the horror flows from the way the dark side of human nature has been – once again – starkly revealed by last week’s terror attacks. If we look across the world today – and back through history – that darkness is also evident in many… More Lessons of Paris: how to use kindness to defeat humanity’s dark side

What is it about ‘boy racer’ thrill-seekers?

A ‘boy racer’ car jammed with kids bra-a-a-atted past a while back, in apparent disregard of traffic rules, speed limits or other motorists, giving me pause to think about what happens inside the minds of teenage drivers, other than the dull buzzing sound some gadgets make when not under load. Put one of these inexperienced kids behind… More What is it about ‘boy racer’ thrill-seekers?

Thoughts about Shakespeare spurred by Fay Weldon’s ‘Letters to Alice On First Reading Jane Austen’

A while ago I found myself glancing at a copy of Fay Weldon’s Letters To Alice on first reading Jane Austen (1984) and wondering if such a book could ever be published today, mainstream. Call it meta-literature; a book by a writer thinking about someone’s response to another writer’s book. Which makes this post meta-meta literature,… More Thoughts about Shakespeare spurred by Fay Weldon’s ‘Letters to Alice On First Reading Jane Austen’

A small but justifiable rant about international computer phone scammers

In these days of cellphones and social media our landline barely rings. Cool. But when it does, nine times out of ten it’s someone with a strong accent, further clipped with VOIP distortion, purporting to be from Microsoft. Yup, these barely intelligible strangers insist they have detected a virus on my computer. Of course they want to help me fix… More A small but justifiable rant about international computer phone scammers

‘If it’s free, you’re the product’ – and what that means for Facebook

A few days ago I belatedly joined approximately 1.2 billion other people – more than one in seven of the world’s entire population – on Facebook. I’ve had reasons to be laggard. Only one is time.  I set up a Facebook placeholder do-nothing page in 2013, to protect my name – but my main leeriness with actively engaging… More ‘If it’s free, you’re the product’ – and what that means for Facebook