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August 22, 2005



Double whammy: Wish....at 20, and the best song lyric ever.

"Life can be delish, with a sunny disposish."

Somebody and Gershwin. Available with Bix on cornet. What more can you need to know?

James Hamilton

Ah, but I'm writing from the professional shrink's point of view. "Code of the Woosters" is much more a book for magistrates or marriage counsellors. "Right Ho, Jeeves" is the only one in the canon where you would be justified in casting Lance Armstrong as Bertie, so it has to be the winner, really.


I've just realised that my comment pretty much repeats something I said here a few months ago.

8. Repetition is OK if you are right.


5 is oh so very true. (Although being an ugly toad hardly helps.)


I'm 20. I wish I knew a whole lot more than I do.

Paul Davies

Being but a lowly 21, this isn't really one for me, but a couple of things...

1. Don't care so much about what others' think about you.
This, though, is easier said than done...It takes years to learn to overcome this norm.

Bollocks does it. I dunno, maybe you're right, but as it's just a question (broadly) of shipping an insecurity, it should be no harder than giving up smoking. Personally, I used to give a shit, but took a step back, realised it was an irrational waste of time and ditched it. Simple when ye think about it.

2. Learn to play a musical instrument.

A good 'un, but I'd replace with 'learn another language', and add to the 'list of things I'd wish I'd done when I was 10.' But then I guess that wouldn't be terribly British of me. :)


I only wish I'd known the result of the next Grand National.


9. In corporate life, it is better to be wrong in the right company than to be right on your own.

Tim Hicks

Paul Graham is pretty good value on this (as he is on most other things he writes on):


Angry Economist

Things I'd wish I'd known when I was 20 - take more cheap and adventurous holidays when I am in my 20s, as roughing it on a budget ain't so much fun in 30s. Plus no time in my 30s to take an 8 week trip anywhere. bugger.

Also I spent 5yrs doing postgrad stuff in my 20s on paupers money and stayed the whole time in Blighty. I reckon I could have spent at least 3 years physically in some cheap sunny country living a life of relative affluence whilst still doing the research. Bummer, eh?

Overall in 20s - don't do 5 years of postgraduate study. Have fun or earn cash instead.

Paul Davies

Being under the (possibly fallacious) impression that most people spend their twenties having fun and entering the big scary real world, I think it would be more generally beneficial to give advice to younger types - not that they'd listen, of course, they're too busy having just as much fun as twenty-somethings, only less fuelled by alcohol.

Anyway, some things, often very useful life skills at that, are really rather difficult to pick up once you hit 20. Learning a language, muscle flexibility, knowledge that if you really want to be a professional sportsman you're gonna have to give up on many of the joys of childhood...that sort of thing. But other than the language thing, which should just be added to the curriculum for four year olds, kids aren't really gonna pay attention to the other stuff, and the cost of pushy parenting is probably too high to bear.

So all in all, life's great, and fun as looking back on it like this might be, there's not a lot it can solve eventually (idiots excluded, of course)


Re: things difficult to learn after 20 brings up the general problem of plasticity. If you're planning to have an annus mirabilis, you should probably aim before your 30th birthday. Your 20s are the best time to study, and the best time to have fun and abuse your body. How to strike a balance?

Maybe spend your 20s solving the problems of aging and death, win a nobel, then live it up from here to eternity.

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