A New Easter Tradition

The Water Of LifeWhen the children were small, Easter eggs were a repeat of the excitement of Christmas. But now they are adults, I’ve decided we need a new Easter tradition that’s safer than all that sugar and more authentic than eggs.

There are two data points I’ve considered. First there’s the evidence of Dr Robert Lustig’s research on the effects of sugar. You can watch the video (which is probably the most important hour of video I have watched recently) but the relevant advice in this context is to treat sugar as if it were alcohol – in moderation and knowing it will harm you otherwise.  Second, the Gaelic expression for “water of life” is uisge beatha, which has given us the English word whisky.

Joining these together, it does no more harm to drink whisky than to eat chocolate; in fact, since it’s easier to detect the effects of whisky on your body, it may well be safer than chocolate. Whisky is also sufficiently symbolic of the message of new life at Easter to make an ideal token. As a consequence, I’ve decided on a new tradition for the adults in our extended household who consent. Instead of chocolate eggs, they each have 200ml bottles of single malt whisky.

This year it’s Caol Ila, and we’ll be toasting new life with the water of life a little later. Happy Easter!

Tina Dico at Union Chapel

Tina Dico at Union Chapel, originally uploaded by webmink.

We had an evening out last night in London at Union Chapel, an excellent venue for acoustic gigs. We saw & heard Tina Dico, who has a wonderful voice and writes strong, reflective songs.

Not Risk But Trust

In her warm and enjoyable TED Talk, Amanda Palmer ends with an exceptionally important comment.  She says (at 13:08):

I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is how do we make people pay for music. What if we started asking, how do we let people pay for music?

As Neil Gaiman says, her talk is about much more than just music. Palmer says earlier (at 11:29):

For most of human history, musicians, artists they’ve been part of the community,  connectors, and openers not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance; but the internet and the content we are freely able to share on it are taking us back. Its about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.

When Palmer speaks of Celebrity, she’s describing an artists view of the industrial-style society —  a society of mass centralised production and physical delivery. That industrial society had a natural scarcity that allowed monetisation by control of the pinch-points of production, delivery and payment. The sheer volume focussed through narrow pinch-points created opportunities for massive wealth. But Palmer is speaking a heresy here; she speaks not of unbounded wealth, but of sufficiency. Something has changed.

While plenty of opportunists are trying to grasp the effects of the Internet as if they were just another artefact of an industrial society, a few — like Palmer — are conducting brave experiments to determine new models that embrace both the human connection that arises from a mesh of peers and the scale that the Internet draws together. Palmer says (at 12:01):

So a lot of people are confused by no hard sticker price; they see it as an unpredictable risk. But the things I have done – the Kickstarter, the street, the doorbell – I don’t see them as risk. I see them as trust.

You can see why the winners of the 20th century industrial society hate this. Corporations can’t trust and models that embody trust are largely unavailable to them. If Trust is the key, it’s the brave experiments that are the future.  The successes among them are not the few making industrial volumes of money but the ones who are able to sustain a life that’s rich and enough.

Those experiments succeed to the extent they embody a reliance on humanity — reputation, influence, trust. The Internet, along with the collapse of control-point-based capitalism, are propelling us to a place where we need a new approach trading control for influence. Social business, whuffie, reputation economy, singularity; call it whatever you want, but it’s just about real enough to see its outline now.

Rome’s Answer To Milton Keynes

High Roman Wall, originally uploaded by webmink.

We went walking yesterday around the remains of the Roman town Calleva Atrebatum in Silchester, Hampshire. This was an large, bustling town at the focal point of England’s road network in Roman times. It appears to have been the distribution hub for Roman Britain, just like the modern purpose-built town of Milton Keynes.

It declined when the Romans left, and was finally killed off in the 13th century by the Black Death. A great deal of the enormous town wall remains standing, enclosing otherwise almost empty farm land.

Eat Your Heart Out King Arthur

Made locally by D B Fletcher.


A Real Love Song

For Valentine’s Day, here’s a song about real love.

That’s Who Are We Fooling, by Brooke Fraser and Aqualung.  Amazon UK will give you £1 to buy any track if you have a Facebook account and tell them your favourite today (assuming you’re in the UK).

Body As Instrument

Fascinating video of Imogen Heap explaining her “gloves” – actually a set of instrumentation that detects body position and gestures and provides haptic and visual feedback to the performer.



Icicles, originally uploaded by webmink.

The thaw in the Deep South is in full swing; even these icicles have dripped away from the office window now.

Snowy Branches

Snowy Branches, originally uploaded by webmink.

Snow is something of a novelty where we live, despite being in England. The mildness that results from being on the coast seems somehow magnified by the rivers and the shape of the landscape, with the result that snow almost never settles here. To make the most of the novelty, we took an evening walk and enjoyed the brightness present even at a cloudy dusk.

Dawn Tree

Dawn Tree, originally uploaded by webmink.

One of the advantages of the irregular sleep patterns I’ve been experiencing lately post-travel is I get to see the early dawn sometimes. This was the view from the bedroom window this week.

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