This cheeky slogan, on postcards, mugs and screensavers, provides as much encouragement and motivation to modern office workers today as it did to the US Army Corps of Engineers during the Second World War. Whoever coined it, though, was certainly not talking about human decision-making, as the opposite might well be the case: tough decisions take a while, but impossible ones are easier.
In a recent ‘behavioural’ review of the biblical tale, the Prodigal Son, I was finally able assuage my usual annoyance with the counter-intuitive reaction of the title character’s father to the boy’s return. I understood the wisdom of the father’s action for his own personal well-being, but the parable still irritated a little. This is because, as a father, I struggled to imagine myself being able suppress the urge to scold the child for having squandered half of the family wealth. The expression “I told you so” would probably have rolled more easily off the tongue than “kill the fattened calf for a feast.” It was only after reviewing the episode for a second time that I realised my hasty conclusion was mostly due to the way the story was told.
Over Christmas I became reacquainted with the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a frequently told story from the New Testament, yet it so often provokes grumbles amongst its audience. And this muffled disapproval always concerns the father’s behaviour. Although everyone can understand the actions of the selfish but ultimately repentant title character, and one can also sympathise with his steadfast but ultimately resentful brother, the father’s response to the return of his lost-but-now-found son strikes many as disproportionate. ..Read more on TCAM’s website
Most people would spend less time to ponder a decision to buy a lottery ticket than they would to buy a share in a lottery company even though, pound-for-pound, the latter is certainly the better investment.
Read more of Herman Brodie’s latest article on TCAM’s website
“My book got a great review today,” my colleague announced proudly.
“Aren’t you supposed to say ‘our’ book,” I interjected, “there were two of you who wrote it after all?”
“Of course, I meant ‘our’ book,” he replied in voice that was fully one octave lower.
There is an old saying that goes: a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled. Whoever came up with that was certainly not thinking about the co-authors of a book because when it comes to reviews, it seems that great review shared is a great review halved. Continue reading
The first task given to the attendees of a recent team-building seminar was to go out into the nearby woods on a treasure hunt. I heard about it from one of the disgruntled ‘treasure hunters’. Suffice it to say he was not best pleased by the request to search through damp undergrowth on a frosty January morning. Nor was it clear to him how this would improve the performance of his team of auditors and analysts.
Is an octogenarian capable of managing a multi-billion-dollar fortune? This is a question a French court is now trying to settle in the case of Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress and France’s wealthiest woman. At least ten people are currently being accused of having taken advantage of the cosmetics billionaire. The legal drama will be closely watched by a French public, who doubtless believe that one must be dotty to give 400 million euros’ worth of gifts to a photographer. It is intuitive to believe that elderly people are less able to make good money-related decisions. But is this really true? Continue reading
Julia Roberts is a superb actress. All too often, though, she headlines in movies whose themes I find uniquely unappealing. This means, when I do see her films, I have been dragged reluctantly to the cinema by my insistent other. This simple observation partially explains my lack of appreciation for Ms Roberts’ choice of scripts: how could I confess to having liked a movie when I had protested my disdain 90 minutes earlier? Nonetheless, I am willing to confess here that one of her films did contain a scene I appreciated very much. This was the one in which a lady leaves some US city and embarks on a voyage of emotional, romantic and cinematographic self-discovery in Italy, Bali and India. The highlight for me was near the start of the film when she packed all of her belongings into self-storage before her grand departure.
I bit my tongue today. Not one of those unfortunate nicks that catches the tip and leaves me rubbing it ruefully against my inner cheek for the rest of the day, but a full, bare-toothed clamping of the tongue. My mouth filled quickly with blood and, trembling, I had to spit out the half-chewed remains of my croissant into a serviette. The agony silenced me mid-sentenced; apparently, the cadence of mastication and that of my articulation had slipped out of sync. My mother’s rule about speaking with my mouth full had been painfully vindicated. It was unfair. She only cautioned about the danger of hurting the sensibilities of polite company. Had she told me that I might inflict self-injury severe enough to bring tears to the eyes of a grown man, I might have listened.
I was recently fortunate enough to have been able to attend a lecture by French economist, Professor Thomas Piketty, at Frankfurt’s Goethe University. So celebrated is the author of ‘Capital in the 21st Century‘, the packed amphitheatre had to wait fully 30 minutes before the professor was allowed to open his mouth. First we had to endure a speech from the university’s chancellor, then the French ambassador (who had been flown in from Berlin, even though France has consular representation in Frankfurt scarcely three kilometers from where we sat). Thereafter came the obligatory word from the sponsors, and an unusually lengthy introduction from the moderator. Everyone wanted a piece of the action – a sprinkling of Piketty Dust.