Issue #433
Thought Shrapnel logo

👋🏼 Hello!

I've spent most of August away, and therefore haven't posted as much on Thought Shrapnel. As a result, this is a bit of a 'lite' edition! A heads-up that I've moved my Mastodon account back to, if you're looking for that.

Wondering how to support this newsletter? Send it to your friends! Share it with others! Use this link
Did someone forward this to you? Sign up for yourself here 👀

💥 Best of Thought Shrapnel

Of the 14 posts I published during August 2022 on Thought Shrapnel, these were my three favourites.
composite image

The UK is in crisis

I’m writing this outside a coffee shop in Tynemouth. The place is absolutely heaving on a sunny summer’s day, but it’s takeaway only as they can’t get enough staff. Elsewhere, everywhere from postal workers to bin men to lawyers are on strike

An editorial in Le Monde comments on the “worst crisis since the 1970” in the UK:
The pre-eminence of ideology over pragmatism – a supposedly British virtue – has already led to the Brexit disaster, and risks prolonging and even worsening the deteriorating situation left by Mr. Johnson, whose lies have widened the divorce between public opinion and politics. An economic crisis and instability could feed the temptation to resort to anti-European and nationalist rhetoric. At a time when threats are mounting across Europe, highlighting the need for strengthened solidarity, the crisis in the United Kingdom is a warning to all its neighbors.

Charlie Stross goes further:

Politics is dominated by an incumbent party who have ruled, except for a 13 year period (during which they were replaced by the Tory-Lite regime of Tony Blair), since 1979—43 years of conservative policies. They’re completely out of new ideas, but the next leader of the nation is intent on recycling the same tired nostrums indefinitely, using an astroturfed culture war on wokery as cover rather than trying to address the deep structural problems of a state that has been hollowed out and looted for half a lifetime, so that there is no resilience left in our institutions.

This is the sort of crisis that brings down nations.
Sources: The UK’s downturn is a warning for Europe | Le Monde, and
The gathering crisis | Charlie’s Diary
Image: DALL-E 2
Cartoon with an energy cloud sitting at a corporate meeting table with the words "I like your energy, Doug"

Being busy isn’t a badge of honour

If you think I’m sharing this image because my name is Doug and I find the accompanying image amusing then you’d be 100% correct.

I used to think being swamped was a good sign. I’m doing stuff! I’m making progress! I’m important! I have an excuse to make others wait! Then I realized being swamped just means I’m stuck in the default state, like a ball that settled to a stop in the deepest part of an empty pool, the spot where rainwater has collected into a puddle.

Being swamped means probably not getting enough rest, making things more complicated than they need to be, wasting time on petty decisions, and not thinking deeply about important decisions.

Now, I’m impressed by people who are not swamped. They prioritize ruthlessly to separate what’s most important from everything else, think deeply about those most-important things, execute them well to make a big impact, do that consistently, and get others around them to do the same. Damn, that’s impressive!
Source: Being Swamped is Normal and Not Impressive | Greg Kogan
Distorted fish

Mathematical models of evolution

I have no idea if this has since been debunked, but it’s fascinating to me.
Biologist and mathematician D’Arcy Thompson advanced a strange new idea in his 1917 book On Growth and Form: He found that if you draw the outline of an animal or plant on an ordinary Cartesian grid, and then you put the grid through some mathematical transformation (stretching it, for example, so that its squares become rhombuses), very often the resulting shape is that of a related real creature.
Source: A Stretch – Futility Close

✍️ The rest of Thought Shrapnel

There are other nuggets, but it's up to you to find them! Here's the other 11 posts I published:

📅 Weeknotes

  • Weeknote 34/2022 — "I returned to work this week on Thursday, after three weeks away. At the start of the year I agreed with my wife..."
  • Weeknote 33/2022 — "We’re in Reims, France. It’s been a great week. Today is a milestone birthday for my sister, so happy birthday..."
  • Weeknote 32/2022 — "Team Belshaw is currently in Rouen, France. As I seem to have said quite often this year on this blog..."
  • Weeknote 31/2022 — "I spent most of this week in the beautiful environs of Boulder, Colorado. Travelling there last..."

Until next month!

Doug Belshaw
Thought Shrapnel Weekly is published by Dr. Doug Belshaw. You can connect with him by replying to this email, or via LinkedIn or the Fediverse.f

Some say he's relaxed. Others say he remains unwaxed. No-one thinks he's under-taxed.
Many thanks to Bryan Mathers of Visual Thinkery for the Thought Shrapnel logo.

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners and are used in this newsletter are for identification purposes only.

Unsubscribe | Manage subscription

🤘 Super-secret link to reward those who scroll to the bottom of newsletters!