Make Elephants Fly

December 13, 2017

*****

elephants

I thought this book was very good!

It stems from the author’s experience in  the world of Silicon Valley start-ups, where venture capitalists will invest in promising enterprises and also take a seat on the board, with the idea of making lots of money at a successful IPO.  So they can involve themselves in at most 10 ventures and one of them has to win big.  Mere survival is hardly sufficient.

The book makes many interesting points, one important one being that technology is not enough, you have to meet a real customer need.  And meet it not too early and not too late–timing is the key here, so it helps to have a diverse team to catch the latest trends.  The success of Silicon Valley can be attributed to having a mixture of technical, artistic and business types in the same place.

It is best to use an off-the-shelf product and adapt it to what you want to do.  As a corollary, a very good place to start is the targeted prototype, where the customer sees a front end but the actual work can be done by hand if necessary.  Similarly, If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. The important thing is to figure out the one thing that customers want, and this is linked with the question What important truth do very few people agree with you on?

If you don’t want to innovate, try to get it right first time.  The important thing is to get to failure as quickly as possible, so that you can change direction and try something else.  Facebook has the principles 1. Move fast and break things  2. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  3. Put people at the centre of things.

Details:  Make Elephants Fly: The Process of Radical Innovation by Steven Hoffman ISBN-13: 9780349418834.

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Rachel’s Hebrew classes at City Lit

November 29, 2017

 

Hebrew96-1

Rachel Montagu (email) writes to say:

I’m teaching 4 classes at City Lit, Level 1, beginners, Level 2 from about the middle of the EKS book, Level 3 reading biblical texts and learning those grammatical forms which the EKS book omits like Pual, Hophal, Polal and pause, Level 4 reading biblical texts – list of texts for this year below.

City Lit Level 4

Autumn Term Module 1 28th September 2017 to 14th December 2017

1) 28/9/2017 Ps. 96:1-13, Ps 103:1-10
 5/10 no class
12/10 no class
2) 19/10/ 2017 Ps. 103:11-22 Daniel 1:1-10
3) 26/10/2017 Daniel 1:11-21, 2:1-3, 8:1-6
4) 2/11/2017 Daniel 8:7-27
5) 9/11/2017 Daniel 9:1-20
6) 16/11/2017 Daniel 10:1-21
7) 23/11/2017 Ps.105 1-22
8) 30/11/2017 Ps.105 23-45
9) 7/12/2017 Geminate verbs – forms and verses to illustrate
10) 14/12/2017 Ezekiel 1-20

Spring Term Module 2  18th January 2018 to 22nd March 2018

1) 18/1/2018 Ezekiel 1:21-28, 2:1-9, 3:1-3
2) 25/1/2018 Ezekiel 3:4-15, 17:1-9
3) 1/2/18 Ezekiel 17:10-24, 18:1-5
4) 8/2/18 Ezekiel 18:6-25
5) 15/2/18 Ezekiel 18:26-32, 20: 1-12
6) 22/2/18 Ezekiel 20:13-26
7)1/3/18 Psalm 106:1-24
8) 8/3/18 Psalm 106:27-48
9) 15/3/18 Grammar revision
10) 22/3/18 Genesis 25:19-34, 27:1-5

Summer Term Module 3 19th April 2018 to 28th June 2018

1) 19/4/18 Genesis 27:6-25
2) 26/4/18 Genesis 27:26-46
3) 3/5/18 Genesis 28:1-4, 10-22, 29:1-3
4) 10/5/18 Genesis 29:3-23
5) 17/5/18 Genesis 29:24-35, 30:1-6, 25-28
6) 24/5/18 Genesis 30:29-42, 31:1-7
7) 31/5/18 Genesis 31:8-16, 36-50
8) 7/6/18 Genesis 31:50-54, 32:1-15
9) 14/6/18 Genesis 32:17-33, 33:1-14
10) 21/6/18 Ps.130, Ps.131, Psalms chosen by class
11 28/6/18 Psalms chosen by class

Unmet requests to be reconsidered next year: Jonah, Nehemiah, Deuteronomy

Rachel’s Hebrew class at Liberal Judaism

November 29, 2017

nahum

 

Rachel Montagu (email) writes to say:
The Wednesday evening class derived from the Birkbeck class still meets, This year’s schedule attached below, although because I’ve found more biblical texts on prayer, we recently decided to extend our prayer theme and Nachum will probably get bumped back to next year

Wednesdays 6.30-8.30 p.m., at Liberal Judaism, 21 Maple Street, London, W1T 4BE

Autumn Term

Some Biblical prayers and encounters with God

18th October               Gen.4:26, 14:18-20, 20:7&17, 22:3, 24:12-14&62-63, 25:20-23, 26:25, 28:10-22

25th October               Gen.32:10-13, 23-33 & 33:10, 35:1-3, 49:18,

1st November             Ex. 8:24-27, 9:27-29, 10:16-18, Gen.48:15-16&20,Num. 6:22-27, Num.12:1-5,

8th November              Numbers 12:6-16, Ex.32:7-14, Num.14:11-14

15th November            Numbers 14:15-24, Deut.8:6-10, Jud.15:18-19 1Sam.1:1-8

22nd November           1Sam.1:9-28,

29th November            1 Samuel 2:1-10, 7:5-6 & 8-9, 12:14-25

6th December              2 Sam. 7:18-29, 12:13-16, 15:31, 1Kings 3:4-14

13th December            1 Kings 8:22- 40

Spring Term

10th January                i Kings 8:41-53, 18:36-39, Ps.141:1-2, 5-6

The Prophet Nachum

17th January                Nachum 1:1-2:9

24th January                Nachum 2:10-3:19

The Prophet Ezekiel

31st January                Ezekiel 17:1-24

7th February                Ezekiel 18:1-25

[14th February             Half Term & Ash Wednesday ]

21st February              Ezekiel 18:26-32, 20:1-15

[28th February             Purim]

7th March                     Ezekiel 20:16-26

Wicked Queens

14th March                   1 Kings 9:1-9, 11:1-14

21st March                   1 Kings 16:29-33, 18:13, 19:1-2, 21:1-19,

 

Summer Term

Wicked Queens cont.d

18th April                      1Kings 21:23-26, 2Kings 9:30-37, 2Kings 8:16-27

25th April                      2Kings 11:1-16, 20, 1Kings:15:9-15

Is it Wicked to Worship the Queen of Heaven? Or Make Figures for the Eternal’s Shrine?

2nd May                       Jeremiah 7:16-20, 44:15-19, 24-26, Judges 17:1-12, 18:31

Queen of Solomon’s Heart?

9th May                        Song of Songs 1:17, 2:1-8

16th May                      Song of Songs 2:9-17, 3:1-11

23rd May                      Song of Songs 4:1-10, 5:1-10

[30th  May                    Half Term]

6th  June                      Song of Songs 5:11-16, 6:1-11, 7:1-5

13th  June                    Song of Songs 7:6-14, 8:1-14

Psalms

20th June                     Ps.90:1-17, 134:1-3

27th June                     Ps.130:1-8, 131:1-3

4th July                        Ps.145:1-21

Unmet requests for consideration next year; Abraham’s journey,

What is this nonsense?

November 19, 2017

subjearn

Following our earlier discussion, the BBC has published an article on the financial benefits of a university education, with some results as shown above.  But it’s difficult to know what to make of it, since they don’t say anything about data or methodology or (perhaps more realistically) give a link to where these questions might be covered.

Questions which are not answered include what data are they using, what years are they covering, what is the definition of these subjects, what students are they covering.

What data are they using?

The real question is income data.  If it comes from self-report, then you will get low coverage and also inaccurate answers.  If it’s HMRC data, then you might also get some regrettable inaccuracies and omissions and you will miss foreign students and UK students who went abroad after graduation.  There’s also a question about what coverage you get of UK students who don’t take out student loans.  The work is ascribed to Dr Jack Britton from the IFS and there is a recent IFS study that covers similar ground.  Perhaps it’s the same data…the same years…whatever.

What years are they covering?

Search me.

What is the definition of these subjects?

It is hard (for me at least) to work out the coverage of Medicine & Dentistry, Nursing, and All Medicine.  I suppose that All Medicine does not enter into combined, but you never know.  Then you could ask whether Languages is just Modern Foreign Languages, or does it include Classics, Welsh, Irish, Linguistics…and so on…

What students are they covering?

At a guess, it might be UK-based students who have done first degrees at UK universities and who can be followed up.  But then in some subject areas many of them will have done higher degrees and a PhD would probably depress earnings at the 5-year mark.

gradearn

Finally, the figure above is interesting for its inclusion of the Open University, whose students may well be different on entry and retired on exit…

The value of adjectives

October 31, 2017

adjectives

We apply our previous methodology, using the Indeed site that allows one to search for job postings according to particular keywords in a particular location and gives a summary in terms of numbers and estimated salaries. So we can compare these results for postings containing various adjectives popular in advertising, as shown above.

We see that more than a third of the jobs are exciting and more than a quarter are fantasticStunning and amazing are very close in meaning and in salary too.  Groundbreaking is rare but commands a massive salary premium while innovative is also well paid (but creative may well be a noun in some of these ads).

Lovely is the Cinderella here, both unpopular and ill-paid, as befits a word that belongs to human beings rather than advertising.

 

Antigone, Greenwich Theatre 30 October

October 30, 2017

**

antigone_drone

From AoD trailer

This was the first Actors of Dionysus production I had seen.

It was noisy.

For a large amount of the time, I sat huddled-up with my eyes closed wishing it would do away.  There was no poetry and no heroism and very little chorus, just people running and shouting and 1980s radiophonic effects.

Antigone did what she did with no inner conflict or anguish and she and Ismene shouted at each other.  Then Creon’s world fell on him and it was over.

I think the generality of the audience may have understood what the obeah woman Tiresias was saying but I didn’t.

On the positive side, well, drones, it was the first time I had seen a drone and know I know what they look like.  Three lines of actual Sophocles at the end suggested what might have been, in another world perhaps.  The description of Emily Davison’s death might also have become something if given a chance.

Dismiss me.  Enough.

The Death of Stalin, Curzon Goldsmiths 29 October

October 29, 2017

**

stalin

So going to see this at the Curzon Goldsmiths meant that I paid £ 8-50 rather than £ 5-99 at the Peckhamplex, but my cold and I had an easier cycle ride and the New Cross Gate Sainsbury’s was a bit better than the Morrison’s in Peckham. I suppose it was worth £ 2-51 (the kind of sum which does not grow on trees) to avoid the fascist bag search…

The film is…err…not very good. It seeks to satirise the members of the Soviet leadership panicking and plotting after Stalin’s death, but unfortunately it does this by making them student politicians from Oxford University from the early 1980s. In particular, Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana Stalin not only looks terrifyingly English but seems to be starring in Bad Day at Somerville College with Rupert Friend not so much her brother but more the louche boyfriend from Worcester say.  Simon Russell Beale as Beria–and I can remember him being very, very evil as Iago–too often seemed to be a rather kindly old gent who had somehow got mixed up with allegations of mass murder and raping underage girls.

It’s the ingrained English politeness and gentility that is the problem–there’s no point in trying to replicate the manners of another time and culture, but you need to ask yourself if people do and say such things, what are they like and so how do they do and say them.  Here, they need to be both terrifying and grotesque, not naughty ex-public-schoolboys having their day of fun and destroying their country in the process.

Contrariwise, Olga Kurylenko as Mariya Yudina clearly had the right reactions but her character was undercut for the sake of a cheap joke.  There were some signs that either she (had she not been so undercut) or Svetlana Stalin (had she ever got out of Somerville College bar) might have become some kind of positive pole, but that was clearly not what was required.

There’s nothing wrong in principle with the idea of reducing these monsters in scale to bring out just how grotesque they are, but cockroaches would have been more the level than student politicians.

The jokes got a few laughs a few times.

Even leaving aside contributions from Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky, the cod-Shostakovich of the score was a great deal better than the cod-history shown on screen.

On disobedience

October 28, 2017

disobedience

Fascist Italian police tired of growing their bellies demand your passport.

The management decide you can take on new staff as consultants rather than employees.

The boss decides you can take on his daughter, just because he says so, and she gets employee rights.

A hotel-keeper demands to see your passport just because she feels like it.

Your new employer sends you some demeaning documentation to fill in after you have conscientiously requested the contract terms before joining in the first place.

So, what to do?

I suppose as ever the things to do are keep calm, run through the options, realise what your objectives are, realise that it is you that you have control over, but first of all do not obey.

Do not obey

They want you to obey now, grieve later–when it’s too late.  But you can ask:

i)  what the requirement is exactly;

ii)  what the justification is;

iii)  for the points above to be put in writing;

iv)  for relevant rules/codes/enactments to be cited.

The demands on skills in logical reasoning and literacy may well be enough to defeat senior management, at least for a time.

Keep calm

If the enemy can reduce this to a direct conflict, they can pull rank and also accuse you of being irrational, irresponsible, unreliable, female…Let them explain why what they want is a good idea–they’re normally keen enough on the sound of their own voices–and help them to become thoroughly enmeshed in a paralysing mass of fabrications and contradictions.

Know your objectives

In a just world, your presentation of the facts should lead the enemy to a full realisation of their unworthiness and hence to death by self-castration.  /in fact, what you can aim at is them whingeing and whining and kind-of forgetting about it with an infantile display of ill-grace.  And that’s the triumph you’re aiming at.

You have control over yourself

Not over them.  Nor are they going to crawl away and die–they got where they are by shamelessness, treachery, bullying, and disregard of all decent principles.  Focus on your objectives.  Make it easy for them to whine and forget by suggesting a way out.  But a record in writing that they cannot wish away is also a good thing.

romans-13-1-2

What they want you to think–but we know better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That looks interesting too…

October 27, 2017

bathhouse

Some more things to remember not to forget:

The Bathhouse:
http://calderbookshop.com/pagebathhouse.html

Mark Bebbington plays John Ireland:
 https://www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-171101/

Angela Brownridge:
https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/angela-brownridge

Bruckner Symphony No.8:
https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/96422-london-philharmonic-orchestra-bruckner-symphony-no8-2017

Are there any good Russian words in English?

October 26, 2017

Bistro

That is a question I have often asked myself over the decades.  Russian words in English tend to fall into two categories:

i)  specifically Russian/Soviet referents:  tsar, rouble, Gulag, commissar, perestroika, glasnost, vodka, cosmonaut [Russian spaceman], sputnik [Russian satellite], samovar and so on

ii) terms with a negative connotation:  Gulag, commissar, ukase, pogrom, [actually maybe this is not a separate category].

So what might there be that is neither Russian nor pejorative?

It seems hard to derive bistro from быстро on chronological grounds, whatever the sign above might say.

Sable

The sable is tenné, not sable

Sable, as well as being an animal that lives in Russia and Poland is a highfalutin term for black as used by Shakespeare among others.  There are a lot more соболь in Russia than there are soból in Polish, but Poland is nearer.  Intelligentsia with that kind of spelling looks Russian rather than Polish (inteligencja) and the concept itself is just foreign rather than specifically Russian.

I quite like the word bolshie as a candidate here.  While it is clearly derived from Bolshevik (so Russian rather than Polish) it has no trace of Russianness attached to it and indeed has a semi-affectionate diminutive quality.  While the meaning of ‘difficult, recalcitrant, uncooperative’ may not seem especially positive, to the English mind these are not necessarily bad qualities–it may be different elsewhere, of course…