The Do Lectures

http://www.thedolectures.com/ will be with us again in 2017. Apparently they sold out in a day last year so register your interest in advance and you’ll get an email telling you when tickets are on sale. Good luck!

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Celebrating delayed gratification

http://www.slow-journalism.com/ is the website home of the brilliant magazine Delayed Gratification. Delayed Gratification tells the news three months after it happens, after the frenzy has passed and we can reflect with some disctance on what actually happened. It also comes with some really cool infographics and no adverts! Because there are no adverts it costs £10 for each copy, which is expensive, but then again it must be worth it to support a magazine which is both extremely good and free from commercial influence. It must be one of the very few magazines in the world that is content only. Pick up a subscription and get it delivered to your door.

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Utopia coming to London this weekend

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/utopia-think-tank-weekend coming to London this weekend. This looks great. I might try and get there.

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Brexit is still Brexit

Well, we learnt today that Britain will no longer be in the single market, but are we any the wiser to what that actually means for all of us. One thing for sure is that we were not voting on whether to stay in the single market or not, we were voting on whether to leave the EU. Why are we not having another referndum to decide whether we want to leave the single market. Here is an unelected prime minister making decisions she actually has no mandate for. Democracy as dictated by tabloid headlines.

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The purpose motive

Check out this great animated talk from the RSA looking at what motivates people at work. The science tells us that beyond the completion of simple mechanical tasks people are motivated not by reward but by purpose. This is the purpose motive. Worth watching at any time but especially now if you’re starting the new year with a dilemma about what work to do next.

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The Lord of Misrule

By the end of wednesday – day four of 2017 – top earning CEO’s in Britain had already earned as much as the average person earns in a year. This means that for 361 days of the year they are just adding on wealth the rest of us have to get by without. This wealth inequality has been growing every year for several decades so presumably the fat cat date is moving closer to January 1st. I had a conversation with someone in their mid-seventies recently who blamed the younger generation for causing the loss of interest on their savings by taking out mortgages they could not afford and thus causing the financial collapse and the credit crunch. This seemed to me to be topsy-turvey economic thinking of the worst kind. Who were the bankers and politicians who facilitated the collapse – certainly not poor young people trying to get a toe-hold on the fabled ‘property ladder’ (what ever happened to buying a home). They were greedy speculators who created a credit system that helped them get rich but put all the costs when it went wrong on society. This wealth has been sucked out of society never to be seen again most likely. His generation by in large hold all the wealth, they also benefited from the welfare state, received free university education, experienced wealth equalisation in a period of stable growth and  made money from government give aways such as the council-house sell offs and privatisation. No one younger than me is likely to see the kind of wealth equalisation policies experienced after the second world war, brought in by the great reforming labour government of 1945 and sustained through the post-war consensus by all political parties until 1979. The social fabric, the idea that we are truly ‘all in it together’ hardly exists in government policy, or in the media that sustains in. Margaret Thatcher said there was no such thing as society, and did her best to make sure that became the truth. But all that is left without society is self interest and empty loneliness. This conversation made me think ‘do many older people think like this’. Are they angry for the wrong reasons. Are they punishing the young by voting for governments and policy decisions that the young by in large simply do not want. If so this is a double tragedy. Last night we celebrated 12th night, a tradition to end mid-winter festivities stretching back thousands of years. 13 people gathered around a table made heavy with shepherds pie, plum cake and wassail ale, and made light with candles and conversation. We read the new Christmas poem by Carol Ann Duffy (The King of Christmas), passing a mobile phone around the table, each in turn reading a verse. In it she describes the Lord of Misrule tradition of 12th Night whereby the person who finds the bean in the plum cake turns the world upside down: ladies become gents, lords beggars, husbands wives. For one night only, we step in to the world of the other and see how the other lives. We see the pleasure and misery that comes with another’s life, and revel or reveal in the new light we have been afforded. This is the journey we are all on, to find the magnitude of character to look beyond ourselves. It is not easy. It will sound old-fashioned to some but simple virtues like faith, hope and charity should not lose their lustre as time passes. They are gifts well remembered on 12th night, as gold, frankincense and myrrh. And who was the Lord of Misrule in our house last night? Well, in our case no one found the bean, perhaps baked somehow into the cake, or more likely swallowed mistakenly. There’s a lesson in that too I’m sure.

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The media is the kitchen table we all sit around

The last two mornings I’ve woken up wanting to make a juice. I’ll report back whether this toadish enthusiasm for the early morning liaison with Red is habitual or a short lived fad. At the moment it feels good to start my day watching whole vegetables have the dear life crushed out of them. And the juice that comes out of Red really does wake you up and make you feel alive. Much better than any juice I have ever bought. Today I made two juices and put them one each in small bottles in the fridge with labels for me and my house mates to enjoy later. I live with three other people and it feels great that the whole house will benefit through the day. 2016 was a year of political disappointment for those of us who occupy centre, left and even centre right politics. 2017 is going to be a hard year. One positive thing we can do to keep ourselves alive to the possibility that better times will come is to cherish our friendships, community, family and our own individual wellbeing. We need to be strong for whatever lies ahead of us. Following the oil pipeline protests of the first nation peoples of America I listened to one reporter describe the media as the kitchen table around which we all sit. If what arrives at our kitchen table is an unhealthy vested interest diet of negative distorted news stories we become bloated with fable. Community and friendship become subsumed by a violent anger that is disproportionate to what most people actually feel given the opportunity to breathe and reflect. I am fortunate to sit around a kitchen table that includes critical thinkers, who are able and determined not to take news stories at face value but to look behind them and see how they are framed to distort the truth. Feels like we can nourish one another whilst creating opportunities to challenge the dissemblers. The vested interest is not and cannot be as great as the human spirit. Juice number one: several small carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, handfuls of kale and ginger. Juice number two (a thing of aniseed beauty): 2 apples, half a bulb of fennel, 2 oranges. Have a great day!

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