Games people play

Charles Cowling



Posted by Kathryn Edwards


California economist Glen Whitman’s preoccupation with ‘Two Things’ is such fun that it’s no wonder it gets whirled around the papers every now and again, most recently in Saturday’s Guardian.  Its premiss – laid out by a man whom Professor Whitman met in a bar – is this: for every subject, there are only two things you really need to know.  “Everything else is the application of these two things, or just not important.”  

“Oh,” said the professor.  “OK, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  

Not content to limit the analysis to his own game, Whitman has quizzed those from other worlds to discover the lie of their lands.  These are some of the perspectives he’s been collecting:  


The Two Things about Medicine

1.  Do no harm. 

2.  To do any good, you must risk doing harm. 



The Two Things about being an Executive Assistant

1.  The boss is always right. 

2.  The boss is always wrong. 



The Two Things about Marketing: 

1. Find out who is buying your product. 

2. Find more buyers like them.



The Two Things about Writing: 

1.  Include what’s necessary. 

2.  Leave everything else out. 

Nicholas Kronos  


The Two Things about Civil Engineering

1.  Dirt + Water = Mud. 

2.  You can’t push a rope. 

Todd Grotenhuis  


You can see where my thinking’s going: can we usefully hitch a ride? 

Okay, over to you.

What are the Two Things about Arranging a Funeral

Answers in a comment box below, please. A cigar will be awarded for the best.  


13 thoughts on “Games people play

  1. Charles Cowling

    1. Do to the deceased as you would be done by.

    2. Try not be done.

    Charles Cowling
  2. The Good Funeral Guide – Two to the power of… Funeral Directing – The Good Funeral Guide

    […] remember Kathryn’s post here setting out the rules of the Two Things game? Here’s how it […]

  3. Charles Cowling
    Jon Underwood

    – Prepare for the worst
    – Hope for the best

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    X Piry

    1. Do what the family wants.
    2. Don’t be suprised if they don’t know what they want.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Belinda Forbes

    1)He/she is dead: what’s the worst that can happen?
    2)He/she is dead: each detail is of vital importance.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Kathryn Edwards

    I thought:

    1. The bereaved are free to arrange pretty much whatever they want for a funeral.
    2. The bereaved are often too blasted by grief to know what they want.

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling

    No, come to think of it, he’s not your client, is he?

    2 Wake up, Jonathan

    Charles Cowling
  8. Charles Cowling

    1. Count your losses
    2. Count your blessings

    Charles Cowling
  9. Charles Cowling

    1 Listen to your client

    2 Outlive him

    Charles Cowling
  10. Charles Cowling

    1. It’s all about the dead person
    2. It’s nothing to do with the dead person

    Charles Cowling
  11. Charles Cowling

    1. Pay attention to every body
    2. Pay attention to everybody

    Charles Cowling
  12. Charles Cowling
    gloria mundi

    1. Prepare thoroughly to avoid uncertainty and confusions

    2. Don’t over prepare, allow for spontaneity

    Charles Cowling
  13. Charles Cowling
    Ru Callender

    Do what needs to be done.
    Do NOT to what doesn’t need to be done.

    Charles Cowling

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