A peep behind the curtain
People often think that the upper reaches of government are glamorous - the sort of world portrayed in Spooks and The West Wing. This amazing video which shows it more like The Thick of It is also one of the best short introductions to modern geopolitics.
One of the people there at the time said to me that this was the moment when the power structures of the world changed almost overnight with the older powers too weak to do what was necessary, and the new powers unwilling to shoulder the burden. Here you can see it.
The IP debate
Occasionally big organisations make decisions that are beyond parody. Salesforce is quite a progressive company. But its attempt to trade mark the term social enterprise is so misjudged you have to wonder what planet they're on. IP law is very much in the news - and like electricity it's something we both need, but also have to handle with care. It's right to protect the genuine inventions of creative people and businesses. But anyone who tries to use IP law to own everyday words and phrases or, for that matter, parts of nature, should be treated as a pariah.
August is for lying in hammocks and reading books. I watch a lot of TV and film comedy, so tend to stick to serious books to compensate. Two I particularly enjoyed were Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which I had always assumed was a grimly forbidding book but is instead a gripping story, full of humour as well as horror, colourful vignettes and memorable scenes. The other was Jon Agar's brilliant overview of science in the 20th century, packed with analysis and information and guided by a convincing thesis that even apparently basic research and science has been strongly influenced by the working world.