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
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Idris Elba responds to comments he's 'too street' to play James Bond as 007 author apologises for controversial comment
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up