What I learned about learning from a year in northern Nigeria

And a major reason children learn faster than adults I spent my national youth service year in northern Nigeria and managed to pick up quite a bit of Hausa, the lingua franca in that part of the country. And by “a bit,” I mean, I started off needing an interpreter to communicate with my patients, and […]

What I learned from a dislike of cooking

I don’t much like cooking. I like cooked food, mind you. And I like the sweet smell of food that’s cooking. It’s just the act of actually doing the cooking that I struggle with. I mean, think about it. You spend thirty minutes—sometimes even all of an hour or more—making this thing, only to devour […]

I’m scared: is anyone listening?

I’m afraid there’ll be an end of listening. I’m worried we’re no longer listening to people we disagree with. And it won’t matter how strong their arguments are… We won’t listen. It won’t matter if there’s truth in they say… We won’t listen. It won’t even matter if they’re really saying the same thing as […]

Allow me to give you feedback on giving feedback

When someone says they want to give you “feedback,” you know it’s lion-feeding time, and you’re dinner. And when they ask for feedback, you know what they’re really saying. “Tell me you like my stuff, and that you think I’ll go places.” We’ve gotten it all wrong. Feedback is not those things. It’s not telling […]

Why mouth odour is a difficult subject

(Hint: it’s not just about mouth odour) A mouth odour problem is like a snoring problem: the person with it is always the last to know and hardest to convince. That’s why it’s hard to tell someone they have bad mouth odour (aka halitosis), and why most people simply don’t bother trying to: how do you […]

Complex vs complicated? Better know the difference if you lead.

Hint: this has nothing to do with grammar First, a way to think about the difference: Something “complex” involves many things. Something “complicated” involves extra things. My computer, on which I’m writing this, is complex, as machines go. My computer crashing because I dropkicked it (don’t ask why I’d do that) would be a complication. Human […]

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