That’s how John Julius Norwich characterises the early 1500s in his book Four Princes. The four were all born in the 1490s and went on to shape Europe for centuries to come:
- King Henry VIII ruled England. He broke from the Papacy of Rome, established the Church of England, created a superb administration and transformed the navy.
- King Francis I ruled France. He was the Renaissance man. He brought Leonardo da Vinci from Italy to France. He transformed the Louvre from a medieval fortress to a vast Renaissance Palace. He made French, rather Latin, the official language of the country.
- Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire. He created a single code of law, expanded the number of schools and was extremely tolerant. He gave artists professional status and encouraged every form of artistic creativity by attracted artists from all corners of Europe whether Muslim or Christian.
- Holy Roman Emperor Charles V combined rule in Germany, Spain and parts of Italy to create a new heart of Europe. Under his rule, European rule expanded to the New World defeating the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru.
But these highlights mask the violence and divineness of religion that was unleashed during the period. Continue reading “Never Before Had Europe Been Overshadowed By Four Giants – Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman”
Freud and Jung are the two godfathers of psychoanalysis. The former tended to focus on mummy issues and repressed desires, while the latter tended to focus on culture, myths and spirituality. Perhaps, the most intriguing work of Jung was his work on alchemy. Rather than seeing it as the debunked method of turning actual lead into gold, he viewed it metaphorically as the process for human transformation or as he called it individuation.
You may ask what this has got to with James Bond, well I came across a great article in the excellent movie magazine Beneficial Shock! that applied this Jungian idea on the four Daniel Craig James Bond movies. So I thought I’d lay it out: Continue reading “Imagine if Carl Jung Pyschoanalysed James Bond…”
There are so many books and articles about the right diet that it can be bewildering. There is the GI, Atkins, Paleo, Ketogenic, Dukan, Scandinavian LCHF, Banting, Bulletproof, South Beach and I’m sure many more diets.
All of these have there strong advocates and so it’s hard to decide which one to opt for. Thankfully, I came across the work of Professor Valter Longo,an expert on ageing, at USC Davis School of Gerontology. His work focuses on diets that can help you live longer and healthier, rather than diets that focus on weight loss and six-packs and is featured in his book , The Longevity Diet. His approach is based on five pillars: Continue reading “How To Eat Your Way To 100 Years Old (3 min read)”
Sometimes I can get so lost with the day-to-day of life, I forget what is the purpose of living. The cartoon Wall-E captured this well. Humans are forced to live on a spaceship as Earth can no longer sustain life. All their needs are met – they are fed and entertained, perhaps too well. But when the Captain discovers that Earth can sustain life and tries to return, the main computer AUTO stops him saying “[Staying] on the Axiom [the spaceship], you will survive”. The Captain replies “I don’t want to survive! I wanna live!”.
I wanna live too! But what does it mean to live? For that, my favourite source of inspiration has to be Rumi. Continue reading “Revitalising What Really Matters In Life With Rumi (3 min read)”
I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Listening to them forms part of my daily routine and I get many of my insights from them. I typically list my favourite podcasts, but this time I thought I’d list some of my favourite specific episodes. These may give you a springboard to enjoy the rest of the episodes of those podcasts. So here they are for this year (episode name first, followed by podcast name): Continue reading “My 23 Favourite Podcast Episodes So Far This Year”
I’ve worked in so many teams over the years – sometimes as a team member and sometimes as the team leader. I’d love to say that these teams were super high-performing ones, but I’m afraid they were not.
How do I know this? Well, according to Patrick Lencioni, teams suffer from 5 dysfunctions: they lack trust, fear conflict, lack commitment to decisions, avoid holding each other to account and not paying attention to team results. In that light, I think most my teams have been dysfunctional even the ones I have lead. Continue reading “Why Most Teams Are Dysfunctional and How To Fix It (5 min read)”
After my blog on What I Tell Young Researchers, a friend of mine suggested I add the annual shareholder letters of Warren Buffet * (Berkshire Hathaway), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan) to my recommended readings. I read their latest letters and my friend could not have been more right. This trio of leaders talk about bureaucracy, high standards and the dangers of debt: Continue reading “What Buffet, Bezos and Dimon Told Me About Being Successful”
Deciphering China’s AI Dream An Oxford University study that systematically compares the state of AI in China vs the US. Punch-line “China’s AI capabilities are about half of those of America”
Huawei Probe Adds to U.S.-China Trade Tension Ahead of Talks The real trade war is happening in the tech sector as the US probes ZTE and Huawei – big Chinese tech companies. See President Xi’s response in next article.
Xi’s Speech at the Work Conference for Cybersecurity and Informatization . Well worth a read. China is desperate to become self-sufficient in tech hardware and not rely on the US or others. Continue reading “22 China Stories That Caught My Eye”
I loved it – Avengers: Infinity Wars, that is. It somehow manages to carry thirty Marvel heroes, has some excellent and humorous pairings of characters and has a meaningful storyline. Best of all, it also has a metaphysical angle. Thanos, the villain, clearly has a God-thing going on, the fate of the universe itself is at stake and we deal with ultimate good and evil. Continue reading “Avengers Infinity War Revelation About God (SPOILER FREE)”
James Comey, the former director of the FBI, recently published his account of working under the Trump administration in the book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”. It’s the second high-profile book of the workings of the Trump administration – the other being Michael Wolf’s “Fire and Fury”. That was revealing in parts, and Comey’s book is also revealing, though not in the way many reviewers have focused on. Continue reading “The James Comey Book – Be Afraid, Very Afraid (6 min read)”