Writing for income – some options

Some thoughts and useful links about the options for earning an income from writing are here, Philip Yana – Notes on Writing and Language.

Includes discussion of which places seem to pay peanuts, and which ones look worthwhile, and sites of interest to people that love writing and language.

Posted in life, money, writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sustainable Happiness?

Some interesting research on happiness is highlighted by Tasty Research.

In a nutshell, it suggests that while gains in happiness from changes in circumstance are fleeting, gains that are achieved through our own actions are lasting.

For example, the happiness that comes from a windfall like a lottery win generally does not last. But the happiness that comes from taking action to become fitter is more permanent.

All these studies need to taken with grains of salt as social science research is always pretty provisional and always open to many interpretations. But this does fit well with my own experience and what I have observed in others.

Though the original paper doesn’t look into this, there are schools of thought that say a large component of happiness comes primarily from your own view of yourself. So if you see yourself as someone worthwhile, someone who has overcome challenges and fears, has worked and achieved something of substance, that will make you happier.

Taking actions outside of your past patterns of behaviour can change your view of yourself, whereas changes in circumstance generally don’t have that impact.

This also has a bearing on the topic of welfare, which can keep people from material want but does nothing for their self-esteem or happiness.

The original paper on which this is based can be found here.

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Wonderful Things

I’m bumping into a lot of wonderful things that seem to be sprouting up all over the place.

To keep track of them and share them, I have made a wonderful-things tag on delicious.


Posted in all, internet, life, society | 1 Comment

Persistence and Flexibility

Reading about the experiences of a web startup, the following comment caught my eye:

The key lessons I’ve learnt are the importance of being persistent and flexible in your mindset. It’s inevitable that you will go through tough times, and that your idea will evolve a lot, but what differentiates you as a startup founder is the determination you have to stick with it, and your ability to adapt.

Persistence and flexibility – two things that often seem to people like opposites. Either you are fully committed and let nothing derail you, stubbornly ploughing on oblivious to setbacks and failures, or you learn from experience, and when something is going very very badly, bite the bullet and give up.

Like a lot of important traits, what is important is learning to work with seeming opposites, and that is something that can’t be taught by just telling someone “be persistent”, “be flexible”, or even “be persistent and yet flexible”. It’s something that must be learned experientally.

Other such opposites, at least for entrepreneurs, are described in the book Smart Luck.

I described another pair of paradoxical qualities in my post on Patient Energy.

That is once again topical, as the Northern Ireland peace process reaches another huge milestone. Many people deserve great credit for that, including Tony Blair who has demonstrated incredible patience, energy and resilience in that area over ten years.

Posted in current affairs, life, meandering, social enterprise | Leave a comment

The Future of Microfinance

The conference described below is now over, but follow the links and you will find summaries of the discussion, which are a good picture of what the microfinance community is thinking about.

* * *

You may be interested in this virtual conference on microfinance:


Sessions are from 2pm-5pm GMT every day this upcoming week.

There are background papers and other stuff on the site, which are interesting in themselves.

A video that introduces the conference themes can be found here.

Before clicking, be aware this is a 66Mb MPEG-4 movie, and runs about 20 minutes.

Closely related, with more video of presentations by major players in microfinance and relevant papers here:


Posted in international development, microfinance, poverty | 1 Comment

Life’s Ironies: Prizes, Success, Points-of-View

On winning a Best Actor award at the Golden Globes, Bill Nighy commented:

I used to think that prizes were demeaning and divisive, until I got one, and now they seem sort of meaningful and real.

Also today, we got the news that Bob Dylan has apparently bought a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. Which somehow I think the young Bob Dylan would never have imagined that he would ever do. Probably he’d have associated buying mansions with selling out. I don’t know, I’m not that knowledgeable about him, but that’s my guess, based on what he sang about, and what I saw in No Direction Home.

And the greatest irony of all – John Lennon sang:

… Imagine no possesions… I wonder if you can…

And Yoko Ono is still collecting truckloads of royalties from that.

My point?

People are rotten judges on what their point-of-view will be in the future. They think their point-of-view represents some unchanging essence of who they are. But the view you have on life just depends on where you happen to be, and which way you’re looking. The same as the view out of a window depends on where that particular window is.

If you’re poor, you imagine that if you got rich, you wouldn’t behave like rich people do. (And maybe you have unprintable names that you call them.)

If you’re a success, you imagine that if you’d been born in different circumstances, you’d have been just as dynamic. That you wouldn’t give in to hopelessness and despair unlike the sad cases you see on the streets, and either pity or look down on.

If you’re blissfully in love, you imagine that your relationship will never descend into the squabbles and pettiness and stupidity that you’ve seen in other people’s marriages.

And you imagine that if you’d been born in a village in southern Afghanistan, or Victorian London, or a slave-owning Roman family, you somehow would have the same thoughts and values and personality that you do now, not the thoughts and values and personalities that people there have and had.

All of which makes you, and me, and all of us, far too ready to pass judgement on others, thinking that in their shoes we’d do something different than they do.

Posted in all, life, society | 2 Comments

Mobile Phones – Impact in Africa

Tonight there was an excellent piece by BBC Newsnight on the impact of mobile phones in Africa generally, and Kenya specifically. See the 18 minute video here. (Or a short text article with alternate video link here.)

It’s also a vivid picture of life in Kenya generally, quite removed from a lot of the more cliched media pictures. It made me feel like going back there.

This reinforces the message of stories like Ringing the Changes in Nigeria and plenty of other evidence that mobiles are having a major impact on life.

As I said about this before: The kind of revolution that actually works.

Posted in international development, internet, life, microfinance, poverty, society, video | 3 Comments