The Saturday Miscellany: How to achieve (fast); dirty money; Simon Singh's bookshelf
How to: Achieve (fast)
By Oscar Quine
Ah, the year ahead. So much to do; so little time. Fear not, Josh Kaufman, author of 'The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything... Fast!', shares the secrets of swiftly tackling those dastardly resolutions...
1. "Set your 'target performance level' – a concrete goal. What exactly do you want to do? Why? How skilled do you need to be? The biggest barrier to getting started is often deciding what to achieve."
2. "Most of the things we think of as skills ('cooking' or 'playing the piano') are actually bundles of smaller sub-skills. Breaking it into manageable parts makes practice easier and less intimidating."
3. "Make time for 20 hours of practice. Include an hour of research, identifying the most used sub-skills, which you should practise first. Eliminate distractions, then practise by the clock. Practise the skill in context, as you're planning to use it in daily life."
Rotating column: Penny thoughts
By Simon Read
Plastic money's on the way, bringing cleaner notes by 2016. But when it comes to dirty money, surely it's time to do something about coppers?
Have a look at your small change. It'll be old and tarnished, with some unusual-looking growth embedded in the grooves. If we did away with coppers, shops would cut prices as the smallest change they had would be 5p. So no more £19.99, hello £19.95.
But scrapping coppers would be catastrophic. There would be no more penny-up, that enduring game of chucking coins at a nearby wall with the nearest taking all.
Even worse, it would hit magicians. The sleight-of-hand involved in making a penny disappear takes years of practice. Think of those hard-working entertainers and fight to keep the coppers.
Micro books extract: Getting older
"'Keep young and beautiful, if you want to be loved', we sang mockingly when young; we do not sing it any more. It is certainly challenging for an older woman to know how to talk about and deal with desire."
Taken from ‘Out of Time – The Pleasures and the Perils of Aging’ by Lynne Segal (£16.99, Verso)
By Ellen E Jones
Q. My evil mother-in-law has created a family photo collage including pictures of everyone except me. How should I retaliate?
A. The best tactic for dealing with passive aggression is active pleasantry. Apologise profusely for failing to provide a picture of yourself, then make her a gift of a framed one and invite yourself round to hang it.
Four play: Fleming name origins*
1. James Bond (ornithologist)
2. Ernst Blofeld (Eton school chum)
3. Felix leiter (combo of two us friends)
4. M (MI5's Maxwell knight)
*Real James Bond born this day, 1900
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Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
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artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
- 5 Watch Richard Dawkins read his own hatemail: 'I hope you do get sodomised by satanic monkeys in hell'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'