Short one this month

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The best month. I will never not be cheered at the prospect of not going back to school or university.

  1. Buried inside a BBC documentary about Liverpool FC winning the Premier League was a little comment from former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier:

    Leadership is a transfer of emotion.

    The most useful thought about leadership I’ve heard, maybe, ever.

  2. This is just so fantastically done. If I tell you what it is it’ll put a lot of you off. So just go look, please.

  3. Optimism! Proof that Moral suasion works. People can be prevailed upon to moderate public intolerance and incivility - by robots!

    “A simple appeal, a reminder of our better natures, had an effect.”

    (WARNING: Also contains more depressing findings.)

  4. Truth on twitter :

    It blew my mind when someone said, “Stop thinking about this year as the warmest for the last 100 years, but the coolest one for the next 100.”

  5. Joy on twitter:

(There are 617 of you. The RAF’s 617 Squadron - ‘The Dam Busters’ - practised in Derbyshire.)

Oprah using screens

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You may not have noticed but this didn’t happen last month. It hadn’t been an easy week and just as I sat down to newsletter we had a power cut. I took that as a sign and gave up. I can’t imagine anyone noticed but apologies anyway.

Five things:

  1. I’m writing a book about PowerPoint (which is really a book about presenting [which is really a book about communicating] ) which means I’ve been getting slightly obsessed with lists. Lists force you to be definitive. Things are on the list or not, they’re in or they’re out. That clarity is useful. I wrote my own list as an anti-homage (is that a thing?) to the 48 Laws of Power but these are better:

    Things Nicky Haslam finds common

    What Agnes Callard is for, on the fence about, and against

    (both via Favejet)

    Chuck Jones’ cheat sheet for Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote

    (via Storythings)

  2. Alex Mitchell interviewed Kelly Wright about using algorithms to uncover unconscious bias. And data, race and language. It’s a quick, fascinating read. I guess thoughtful use of algorithms can be as productive and illuminating as careless use is destructive.

  3. I think a lot at work about how to talk to people about their ‘carbon impact’. This thread from Jay Owens is brilliant. She points out that the notion of the carbon footprint was first popularised by BP (presumably as a way of shifting responsibility away from themselves and onto the rest of us) but then, persuasively, argues that we still have to think and act at an individual level.

  4. We’re spending time at the moment in a semi-rural bit of Derbyshire. There were Black Lives Matter protests here which seemed very cheering. In a Guardian interview Reni Eddo-Lodge explains the cheeringness:

    Consequently, what have you found encouraging?

    Black Lives Matter protests in rural areas. I saw a protest happening in an English village surrounded by greenery, and that’s not usually an environment you see BLM protests happening. Angela Davis said on TV the other day, that she’d never seen anything like this in her lifetime. And I thought, if Angela Davis is going to be optimistic, I will be.”

  5. Look at the way Oprah is using screens! Genius.

(There are 583 of you. The 583 series were limited express electric multiple unit (EMU) train types introduced in 1967 by Japanese National Railways that ran on the through services express Kitaguni and other special trains until 2017. Their seats could be transformed into three-berth beds, enabling the trains to be used on both daytime and night train services.)

A main plank of the BBC lawyers

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  1. I have a friend who dives into a spreadsheet when they’re stressed or overwhelmed. When they need a few minutes of controlled space in their own head. They normally emerge from the spreadsheet with clarity, a new understanding of the problem and a way forward. It’s a great thing to see.

    I was reminded of this by Alex’s analysis of where best to donate your bail-out funds. Thoughtful. Powerful. A small way forward.

    Another is this initiative to mentor black businesses. A lot of people who read this newsletter have signed up. More is better.

  2. Walking round town during lock-down I’ve been seeing loads of fly-posters for Benergy by BenjiFlow. I think they went up just prior to lock-down and have stayed up. It’s such a lovely coinage. Ben-ergy. B-energy. I rolled it round my head a lot. But I’ve only just properly listened to it and it’s fantastic. All kinds of musics, melodies, ideas, benergy.

  3. I enjoyed this judicial reckoning with TV men in The Observer’s interview with Samira Ahmed. (She sued the BBC because she and Jeremy Vine did the same job, presenting the same kind of programme, and he got paid vastly more than her.)

    “A main plank of the BBC lawyers’ expensive case against her was that the enormous discrepancy was explained by Vine having “a glint in the eye” and being “cheeky”. The judge in the case was not convinced. “Jeremy Vine read the script from the autocue,” the judgment noted. “If it told him to roll his eyes he did. It did not require any particular skill or experience to do that.”

  4. I was listening to a podcast the other day. The interviewee said that Richard Ayoade had described the job of a film director as being ‘the custodian of tone’. I like that. Lots of jobs have an element of that. It’s very often what gets you engaged in a piece of creative work but it doesn’t get written and theorised about like plot and story do.

  5. In a week of powerful words Clara Amfo’s speech on Radio 1 really stood out and sunk in.

    (There are 580 of you. 2 down on last month. The decline into irrelevance is picking up speed. 580 is palindromic in bases 12 (404/12) and 17 (202/17). Fun if you’re into Roland samplers.)

Funk, disco, boogie, jazz

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What to say? You don’t need another newsletter. I don’t need to be writing one.

Yet here we are.

I’ve been immensely cheered this month by the people-playing-records-at-home genre. I hope some of this works for you…

  1. This Vinyl Factory set with Sarah Evans is particularly joyous. No show-off mixing, just choosing oddly marvellous records and playing them in a good order. “funk, disco, boogie, jazz and a touch of techno”. Infectious and comforting.

  2. And here is Avsluta introducing some ‘introspective electronics’. It’s like having a knowledgeable pal come round and play you some music. Good house plants too, that seems to be a DJ staple.

  3. La Fleur’s 5 Favourite B-sides is similarly splendid. Maybe this is the future of ‘music discovery’

  4. And then there’s Nelly Cook (10-year old daughter of Fat Boy Slim) with a set of tunes that will bounce you round your bedroom. Things to note in here: a) her father cannot resist leaning in to fiddle with some controls, something that appears common to both DJs and Dads and b) Nelly’s lip syncing to Greta Thunberg. That’s cultural potency; when the 10-year olds know your speeches.

  5. It’s a bit off topic for this list but ‘using TikTok to make ambient music’ is a must as well. It is what it says, but in a way you can’t quite imagine. Give it a look.

    And finally, it’s Not Music, but I enjoyed these posters by Annie Atkins. They evoke vintageiness without being all Keep Calm And Etc. You can buy them and contribute to a good cause. Her book looks fantastic too.

    That’s it. Make Your Bed!

(There are 582 of you. One more than last month! Perhaps we have plateaued and this will be our merry band forever. You can unsubscribe but you can never leave.)

Every day is like Wednesday

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I’m not a big going out person. I like a coffee out. And a breakfast. But mostly, most of the time, I’m in.

So lockdown has surprised me. Not with any hardship, there’s no hardship for us, but by the loss of rhythm. I lose where I am in the week. It turns out that I measure out my weeks with the mileposts of a regular breakfast out with friends on Friday, fish and chips on Friday night, coffee out on Saturday morning, Match of the Day (not out) on Saturday night, coffee out on Sunday morning and a bath on Sunday evening (also not out). With these things gone I flounder around in the week like a broken time machine.

And I have no idea when to bath. Government - where’s my bail-out?

  1. I like people who are early to take things seriously. They notice, a bit before everyone else, that some phenomenon isn’t just a fad and is actually worthy of serious attention. Please Like Me does that, paying proper attention to the culture and commerce of influencers.

  2. Exploding Topics is sort of similar. They track emerging things. Not like ‘trend spotters’ but like a trivial early warning system. Their newsletter is bite-sized. No links to long reads. And you feel like you’ve heard about something new.

  3. Here’s an idea that seems appropriate for now, about mediation retreats: “Experienced retreat-goers, it turns out, have a term for this phenomenon. They call it a ‘vipassana vendetta’. In the stillness, tiny irritations become magnified into full-blown hate campaigns..” Oliver Burkeman The Antidote

  4. And people who are good at zooms/hang-outs reminded me of this bit of Olivia Lang: “..she ran the conversation like a world-class tennis player, serving generously, returning every ball.”

  5. Also appropriate for now, some Emily Dickinson: “There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away”. Though, actually, lately, we’ve been watching a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I like Jürgen Klopp’s sign-off: Please look after yourselves and look out for each other.

(There are 581 of you. In 581 the Emperor Maurice wrote the Strategikon. It’s good that there was an Emperor Maurice.)

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