An Idiotic Idea

In 1878 Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell his invention of the Telephone to Western Union, the largest telegraph provider of his day for $100,000 ($2.42 million in current dollars). Based on a report from their internal committee they refused the offer:

"The Telephone purports to transmit the speaking voice over telegraph wires. We found that the voice is very weak and indistinct, and grows even weaker when long wires are used between the transmitter and receiver. Technically, we do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles.

Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their “telephone devices” in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States?

The electricians of our company have developed all the significant improvements in the telegraph art to date, and we see no reason why a group of outsiders, with extravagant and impractical ideas, should be entertained, when they have not the slightest idea of the true problems involved. Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy …

In view of these facts, we feel that Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s request for $100,000 of the sale of this patent is utterly unreasonable, since this device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase."

Ben Horowitz comments: 

"What mistake did all these very smart men make in common? They focused on what the technology could not do at the time rather than what it could do and might be able to do in the future. This is the most common mistake that naysayers make. 

Who does the Can’t-Do Culture hurt the most? Ironically, it hurts the haters. The people who focus on what’s wrong with an idea or a company will be the ones too fearful to try something that other people find stupid. They will be too jealous to learn from the great innovators. They will be too pigheaded to discover the brilliant young engineer who changes the world before she does. They will be too cynical to inspire anybody to do anything great. They will be the ones who history ridicules."

From Ben Horowitz original article: Can-Do vs. Can't Do Culture


Pippa Middleton worked for a while in an office behind ours. Fairly frequently on my way to work I'd get caught up in the crossfire between her and the paparazzi. Turns out they don't particularly appreciate you taking photos of them, after doing so these two followed me up the road. Haven't spotted my picture in Grazia yet though...


A Pap catching the Ecclestone's out shopping at Christies. The number plates on the Lamborghini, Rolls Royces, and Security Cars, were S7UNT.  29.4.14

Pap-a-Pap: the Hollywood Costume Party at the V&A

A photo posted by Dan Millest (@danmillest) on

My Most Important Achievement

You know that moment where you are torn between trying to write down the exact words someone is saying and absorbing everything that is said?

Tonight I attended the 90th Birthday concert of composer Ray Steadman Allen who over the course of his career has composed and had published over 2000 compositions, gaining a global influence for his technically brilliant writing and acclaimed music.

When asked what his most important achievement was he replied: "Being part of telling people that Jesus died for their sins and that he has risen again. That is the most important thing and it has been a great privilege to play my role."

My phone died half way through writing down the next bit but he went on to say that the highest calling is not to be a composer, although the music had been important, but the highest calling was to be a child of God.

I really want to know this, in a way that effects everything that I am. To run with the gifts God has given me, doing my best, whilst knowing that whatever happens I will always be his Son.

That would be a good use of 90 years, a great achievement. 

Arbitrarily Ever After...

"It's not that humans don't have rights, they do, it's that secular humanism is incoherent in articulating these rights and impotent in acting to defend them."     - Stephen Backhouse

I posted this quote on Facebook and got some interesting backlash from both sides.

Not to sure how much I agree with it, on the one had liberal freedom is founded on 'freedom-from' so does tend toward the individual having to arbitrate on moral issues but on the other it created a society which arbitrates amongst itself so the individual is not totally alone.

Saying that despite arbitrating together we do seem to be very lonely as a society and Stephen went on to suggest why:

"The freedom of secular humanism, its foundation of liberty and self determination, is a freedom from. Freedom from the restraints that hold us back; superstition, religion, aristocracy et al. So having cast them off the soul finds only one restraint left, itself. The only horizon for which to aim, itself."