Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Month: October 2010

The great to-do

I think I’ve road tested every to-do system on the web. It’s not an exciting topic, but it’s an important one. Remembering stuff is a nightmare. As David Allen says, “capture, process, do” or something like that. A good to-do list system can change your life.

Anyway, the one I’ve settled on and used for a couple of years now is remember the milk. The name is different from all the other todoist, toodledo, teuxduex variants out there. But forget the name. There are a few features that make it fantastic.

  • You can sync it with your BlackBerry, Android, iPhone / iPod touch. I have all three, and it works a treat.
  • You can tag stuff really easily. And then create lists from a combination of tags and, say, due date, or priority.
  • It’s ridiculously easy to use – other systems fall down on adding tasks, or tags, or other simple things
  • It looks good without being flashy
  • It integrates with google calendar, and loads of other clever things like that

It’s so ingrained now, I don’t think about using it anymore, I just automatically go to it. Downside – it’s subscription – $25 per year. But it’s money well-spent. Other to-do systems have some nice features too, but across the board this is the best.

Now to actually do the things in my list, that’s another matter.

In the red, twice over

The Premiership football bubble has yet to completely pop, despite Portsmouth going into administration. But the situation at Liverpool, and the (financial) results of Manchester United make alarming reading.

For the best summary of ManU, David Bond crunches the numbers (dare I say he’s perhaps a better financial journalist than sports writer?).

And the peerless David Conn’s reporting on Liverpool was the best around.

300 to 1 (billion) – what China and the Vatican have in common

I’ve spotted an interesting similarity between China’s ruling party and the Vatican. Not their policies on anything controversial – that would be too easy, and rather crude. It’s the ratio of the ruling to the ruled.

According to my colleague Richard McGregor, China’s 1.3bn people are governed, indeed managed, by just the 300 members of the Central Committee of the Communist party of China.

And, as observed by Brian Appleyard in his recent piece on the Pope in the Sunday Times magazine, 1.3bn Catholics are told how to live by what boils down to a few hundred men in the Vatican:

For an obscure reason, the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics bow the knee to a capricious, largely Italian bureaucracy, which they believe is the gatekeeper of heaven. About 3,000 people work at the Vatican. This includes support staff. So, in effect, no more than a few hundred people run this city state, which aspires to care for every human being on Earth.

Now, I’m not comparing life in China with being catholic – it’s obviously spurious or even ridiculous. But the interesting thing here is the numbers. In simple terms, both China and the Vatican are in the business of setting doctrine, and trying to get it adhered to. China is a state which uses more forceful means, the Vatican basically plays on faith, and to a certain degree, guilt.  But 300 to 1.3bn? That’s 4.3m people per committee member or priest.

The modern US is approximately 400m governed by 435 in the House of Representatives, plus 100 in the Senate. India is a population of 1.1bn with a government of around 800 (545+250) – about 1.4m people per parliamentary member. And that’s a fairly extreme case.

Great empires come and go, but in terms of ruled to ruling, there’s been nothing like this.

My blog revived

There’s been a hiatus of two years on this blog – too long, obviously. I won’t bore you with excuses. Just to say that the posts prior to this one are mainly about sport and statistics, whereas from now on, who knows. Sport will figure highly, of course.

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