43 things to teach at school, gift giving idea
I turn 43 and reflect on things they don't teach at school. I argue that hand-made gifts and experiences are cheap, more sustainable and more rewarding. Also, ESG and HIV stigma.
I turned 43 and feel enormously blessed, outpacing the dreams of 18 year old me.
Nassim Taleb has suggested the true test of success is whether the young version of yourself would be happy and proud of your achievements. I am thankful that I think that’s the case.
"For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation" (Taleb)
ESG/Stewardship report from UK’s FRC
HIV awareness: HIV is, in rich countries, undetectable and untransmissable
This letter has two main ideas this week. On gift-giving, and a list-poem-thought now I am 43, on what we should learn.
43 Things they should teach more at school
What is the colour of love
What is the sound of friendship, how it echoes, breaks and chimes over years
How to be curious, open-minded and have the strength but flexibility of bamboo blowing in the wind
What investing means and how to manage a budget
How to write to a politician, a CEO, a lover, and on the death of your mother/father
How to roast a chicken, steam a fish and cook mushroom risotto
How to unblock a sink, repair a washing machine, iron shirts
How to change a nappy, burp a baby, function on little sleep
Be happy in your body
Meaningful conversation with strangers
How to inspire people to be the best version of themselves
How to know when is enough
How insurance works
Persistence, stamina, grit; grace under pressure
How to assess and choose good friends, good team mates, good people
Be a good friend
Make the most of a dinner party
How to listen
How to negotiate
How to manage time, schedules
How to work in flow
How to be sad and not let it destroy you; also death and grief
Empathy; what thinking through the lens of disability and other minorities can show
How to spot scammers
How to speak to an audience
How to change a tyre
How to de-escalate tension with words and empathy
How to start a business
How to find purpose; also how to do what you love, or love what you do
How to understand culture; also bias
How to sew, darn, and knit a scarf; also a good mix tape/list
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
When to stand, when to pivot, when to let go
How to be a mentor, how to find a mentor
Methods to manage email
Running an UnConference, citizens assembly and other participatory events; or a good party.
Resist peer pressure, especially drink and similar
Learning to learn, and the difference between testing for an exam and learning for life
How to think for yourself; critical but humble, open-minded but principled
Happy if you have more ideas here. Let me know.
Gift Giving. I’ve written about this every year for a few years now. In rich countries, holiday season gift giving (and I say holiday as Christmas giving has transferred to Chanukah and other festivals to become a culture in itself) has become over the top. Degrowth advocates can certainly point to much of this as wasteful excess. Strict economists further note that the dollar value of gifts given are rated at significant discounts by receivers of gift. A 100 dollar gift is often rated only between 50 to 70% or less by the receiver. (The Deadweight of Christmas)
However, we know that we value experiences over items. This is because experiences linger in the memory. We value uniqueness.
This year, I am going to add - take someone on a walk that this is special to you either in terms of memory and place or in terms of something you like about the walk and spend time walking together.
Time + Unique + You = Priceless a gift of time and attention and thought.
Poetry/Writing: Write them a poem. Write them out your favourite poem. Record a video or audio of you reading a poem (or short story) to your loved one.
Even for the young child who has everything, they won't have a video of you reading their favourite book.
Write a letter about a time together or why they are important to you.
Recipes: Collect recipes from friends and write them in a book. A short story about their importance is a welcome touch.
If you take the time to create/make/cook some thing, this has “positive value” both economically and socially. There are many items in the read/eat/drink category that most people enjoy.
Cook some thing, make a cake; confit a duck leg (recipe here, keeps for 6 months); order some green coffee beans, roast them yourself for a coffee lover, present them with roasted beans (worth over 10x the green bean value plus 30 minutes or so roasting time, I’ve done it in a pan similar to this). You can brew your own gin, make ginger beer or lemonade.
You can make simple jewellery. With a little more time you could learn to knit or sew to actually make a garment, though I appreciate that is probably above what can be easily achieved.
You can make them a mix tape / CD / online mix -- with personal commentary. The mix tape was a teenage rite of love in decades past.
Busy parents might appreciate a "voucher" for baby sitting time offered by the gifter. We value experiences more than objects when it comes to happiness.
One final note, for those who mostly have what they want. A charitable donation to the receivers’ favourite charities - most countries, you gain some tax back, could also be a positive return.
On my podcast a few weeks back I spoke with Meaghan Kall. While we spoke a lot about COVID we also discussed HIV. In rich countries, HIV is now a manageable infection and if you are HIV positive you can live a normal lifespan, with undetectable virus levels and no risk of transmission.
Mark Ravenhill recently wrote on how we still have HIV stigma. So if you don’t know about how medicine has mostly defeated HIV (it’s now a social determinant problem more than a science problem). You should find out!
Latest from UK’s FRC on Stewardship reporting:
Financial Reporting Council (FRC) on effective stewardship reporting: "The UK Stewardship Code rightly sets a high standard for investor stewardship. At the same time, the FRC recognises that signatories will have different approaches to fulfilling their responsibilities. The purpose of stewardship reporting is for investors to demonstrate how they are protecting the hard-earned pensions and savings entrusted to them, by ensuring that they are managed responsibly, creating long-term value for their clients and beneficiaries.”
In theatre world, sadly after Sondheim.
UK Theatre offer:
Slow fashion and old Chinese crafts
My friend Hana’s critique on street votes
UK CCC onUK climate post COP26
Chris Stark @ChiefExecCCCHere's our assessment of #COP26 and the Glasgow Climate Pact. https://t.co/epplRlYuSE We've taken a global outlook and considered the implications for the UK. After Glasgow, there are important new considerations for UK climate policy. The UK must not walk away now. @theCCCuk
Extremes… from the defense of Elizabeth Holmes:
Internal Tech Emails @TechEmailsElizabeth Holmes's daily schedule Circa 2005–2009 https://t.co/hhWUBHhpbe
Shrigley’s Tennis balls. Worth a visit
Drugs and homelessness in SF.
Profile on Tony Kushner
Protect the weak
Nassim Nicholas Taleb @nntalebAdded the *ergodic* argument: "Why is it so difficult to grasp that by killing seniors, you reduce your own life expectancy ?" https://t.co/l6UU6ncygR
Archive of my livestream
Benjamin Yeoh @benyeohbenThanks so much to @daveralf and Mags and @theatredeli for making my show: How We Die, such a success. It will be coming back in 2022… https://t.co/l9thDJSpte