The Paula Principle

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More

Enlightenment

I've just finished Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now.  It's a thoroughly bracing read - bracing in the sense that you sometimes feel that you're having buckets of cold water thrown over you, but also that you emerge as, well, a more enlightened person:  inevitably better informed but also better equipped to defend the values of inquiry, evidence and rationality that are so often missing in today's discussions (cf Brexit passim). Pinker's basic approach on any given issue is to beat you about the head with data, but to do it in such an accessible and stylishly written way that it's mostly a pleasure as well as a lesson.  He covers an implausibly wide…
Read More

GPG reporting

We're into Year 2 of mandatory reporting on Gender Pay Gaps, and there is a certain frisson of excitement around what progress has or has not been made since the first results were published last year.  Three data points are of course much better than two, so next year might be the first one to give us a true sense of trajectory, but there will be a lot of interest to see how far companies have moved.  And in what direction - it's not at all certain that they will all see a narrowing of the gap. I attended one meeting, organised jointly by London Business School and King's College…
Read More

Gloria’s crossover

I'm just back from a very invigorating couple of weeks in the US.  We found ourselves visiting a number of new museums, in Washington, Atlanta, Montgomery and New Orleans, all of them dealing more or less directly with the history or legacy of slavery.   American museums seem to me very well designed, and make good use of interactive technologies. I've listed them at the end in case you're interested. But this post is prompted by the final event in our holiday - a theatre visit in New York to a play dealing with Gloria Steinem's life.  I say a play, but in fact it was to our minds a…
Read More

Networks, twice over

You may or may not recall that the fourth factor underpinning the Paula Principle is lack of vertical networks. Men are more likely to know people working at levels above them.  As a result they get better access to those levels, either for specific reasons such as hearing about job opportunities or for much more general ones such as understanding how organisations or systems work, the vocabulary that gets used at senior level and so on.  Nepotism may play a part, but in a way that's the least interesting aspect of this somewhat vicious circle: men are more likely to know more senior people, and so to become more senior themselves.…
Read More

Working Like A Woman

Work Like A Woman is Mary Portas' manifesto for change in the way we look at how our places of work are run.  Mary and I swapped books a little before Xmas, and I've just emerged from her bracing account of what she's learnt from a somewhat unusual life.  I say 'bracing' but I did also feel as if I needed a short lie down after finishing it. The manifesto itself comes at the end and is tailored for different age groups.  Her proposals make eminent sense to me, and my daughters will be getting copies of the sections for their respective decades.  They are stuffed with challenging and yet…
Read More

Violence and cranial feminisation

A slightly unusual title for a blog you might think.  I went last night to the Royal Institution to listen to Richard Wrangham talking about his new book The Goodness Paradox.  I won't even try to summarise the very rich lecture, which covered swathes of evolutionary thinking as well as graphic detail on the brutality of chimps. Richard draws a basic distinction between two types of violence:  proactive (premeditated, calculated) and reactive (spontaneous, sudden).  His basic thesis is that as humans we differ from other animals in being much less inclined to exhibit the latter.  Apparently we do only a thousandth of the 'scuffling' that chimps and even the more peaceful…
Read More

A Reskilling Revolution

We're at that point - it swings around about once a decade - when lifelong learning becomes something people seem to want to talk about as if it mattered.  One prompt for this in the UK is the centenary of the 1919 Report on Adult Education, on which Paul Stanistreet has written so powerfully.  A Commission chaired by Dame Helen Gosh (Master of Balliol College Oxford, whose predecessor in that role chaired the original) is looking at how we might use the date to generate some fresh impetus and thinking. Both of which, plus huge amounts of political effort, are needed if we are to turn around this country's extraordinary…
Read More

This little world – and Brexit

After over 200 posts, this is the first one that is not in the slightest related to the Paula Principle (unless a link occurs to me as I type).  Last night we went to the Almeida Theatre's production of Richard II, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, and in a t-shirt like the rest of the cast. It's set in a bleak ferrous cube, and there's no escape - no-one leaves the stage and it's 100 minutes with no interval. By the end, buckets of blood have been sloshed around, as well as water to wash the dirt out of Richard's hair as he struggles to come to…
Read More

Chicken Behaviour and Collective Intelligence

I've just finished Robert Sapolsky's Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst.  It's a massive book, covering the development of our brains and our behaviour from the moment of conception, set firmly in the context of long-run evolutionary trends.  The early parts were tough going for a scientific illiterate, notwithstanding Sapolsky's breezy humour,  but if you persevere there are huge numbers of plums in this rich pudding. Sapolsky's overall message is (and I quote), "It's complicated."   Life, development and behaviour are all a matter of a vast number of interactions that take place in a wide variety of contexts.  We may have learnt a lot, but at…
Read More

Speakers for schools, and caring

I do the occasional gig for Speakers for Schools.  This admirable organisation was started by Robert Peston. He kept being invited by private schools to give talks to their students, and felt that students in state schools should also have access to the kinds of insights that he and other public figures bring.  So SfS has built up a panel of people willing to go and talk at state schools, on whatever issues might help to enlarge students'  perspectives on life. I do not, of course, generate quite the buzz that I'm sure RP does, but I've enjoyed talking about the Paula Principle in a range of schools over the…
Read More