The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Currently reading two Xmas presents.

Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. This is essentially an informal guide to how and why people make wrong decisions, or why they stick to wrong decisions even after they’ve been given new information. A better title for the book would have been ‘Why Other People Are Wrong’. Full of interesting ideas; for instance, that rewarding success financially actually has the effect of devaluing a task - that by paying people more you are effectively encouraging them to be more mercenary and discouraging those who have other motives for work, such as creativity or public-spiritedness. And how committees tend to make bad decisions; why being in a situation where your boss decides your fate leads to sycophancy of opinion and people concealing bad news. It’s all obvious, after the fact, but compelling stuff all the same.

Also reading Michael Palin’s diaries of the 80’s. Which, even though he’s carefully selected and omitted diary entries, still feels like I’m stalking him retrospectively – following him to the chiropodist to have his corn treated, peering through his window as he fails to write a film script, sitting at the next table in the restaurant as he has an amusing meal with JC and TJ – and sometimes even visits GH at Friar Park. It’s not as revelatory as his account of Python, but it’s quite an addictive read, as one spots the early hints of projects later to come to fruition – JC spending years on the script of ‘A Fish Called Wanda’, TJ never quite getting his viking film to work, TG flying over to the States in the hope of funding ‘Baron Munchausen’, EI constantly trying to get Python to do another film, GC doing bugger all. Along with MP himself slowly forming the ideas of ‘The Missionary’, ‘East of Ipswich’ and ‘American Friends’.

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