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
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Disney announces new female-led film Moana
Eight seconds of white noise is top of the Canadian iTunes chart because people love Taylor Swift that much
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt is intriguing as unsympathetic war hero
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - TV review: Sensitive, silly and sensational
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world