This was one of those weeks when it felt as though I got nothing done. Everything takes too much time, and then I am pulled in too many directions at once. This is the story of most semesters, if I’m being honest. So I didn’t manage to finish either my academic book for the week or any of the four draft posts in various stages of completion for this site, and I am trying to resist adding anything else to my plate. At this point I would like to focus on making more time for the things that I’m already doing. After all, as Oliver Burkemann argued in Six Thousand Weeks and the late Randy Pausch talks about in his time management lecture, our time is finite so we should pay more attention to how we spend it. Squeezing every last ounce of efficiency or sacrificing sleep (as I have done in the past) on the altar of rat race culture is both not sustainable and means enjoying life less in the meantime.
Admittedly, I am very bad at this. I have too many interests and a bad habit of saying yes to things before considering how much time they will take, but I now recognize this as an issue. I have more thoughts on these issues and their intersection with academic hobbies and living to work, but I’ll save them for a subsequent post. For now, just a range of links from the week.
This week’s varia:
- An excellent blog post from Alexandra Sills that addresses both the academics who are demanding to debate people on the Joe Rogan Experience and the ones who are condescending about even the idea of engaging the public. Her post reminds me that I really ought to get back to answering posts on Ask Historians Reddit, but I don’t use Reddit for anything else and there are only so many hours in the day.
- Pasts Imperfects this week profiles a new book on ancient art, and public writing on global antiquity, including the genetic dispersal of cats.
- Matt Reed on ChatGPT talking about disinformation: we’re getting the AI we deserve.
- Jacob Browning and Yann Lecun at Noema had a fascinating essay last August about AI, language, and learning, pointing out that the algorithms can mimic language, but it cannot discern between the words and the actual objects that the words describe. But there is also this: “Outside the humanities especially, being able to talk about something is often less useful or important than the nitty-gritty skills needed to get things to work right.”
- Kelly Baker continues her reflection on coming back to writing, with a post about the fear of rejection that comes with any submission.
- Eater has a piece on 1980s California cuisine, with an interesting discussion of both style and labor.
- Customers are suing the company that makes Fireball because the mini-bottles of the beverage don’t actually contain whiskey.
- A new lawsuit alleges that ServSafe, a training platform for restaurant workers, directs money that workers (sometimes reimbursed, often not) pay for certification to the National Restaurant Association, a trade lobby group that pushes legislation that often hurts workers.
- NPR profiles The Mindful Drinking Festival, which is dedicated to alcohol free cocktails. The founders don’t advocate for a return to prohibition, but expanding the range of what is considered normal for a night out.
- Türkiye is facing massive economic challenges that are threatening Erdogan’s chances in the next election. Naturally, he’s using massive amounts of government spending to shore up his base.
- At Slate, the World Economic Forum may look and speak like the Pandemic is over, but they have actually taken extraordinary precautions that most institutions cannot or have chosen not to afford.
- In absolutely grotesque dereliction of responsibility by the British government, unaccompanied children are being abducted and trafficked from the hotels the British government has been putting them up. One hotel saw 136 of the 600 children who passed through it get abducted.
- Details are only slowly emerging about the Monterey Park shooting, but the early reports are showing someone with issues of paranoia. The suspect in the Half Moon Bay shooting is in custody. There are too many guns in the United States.
- The Washington Post has a story about the people who George Santos tried to bring into a Ponzi scheme in one of the multiple shady activities before running for congress. One described the feeling of being in a mob movie.
Album of the week: Amanda Shires, My Piece of Land
Currently Reading: Brandon Sanderson, Tress of the Emerald Sea; Rabun Taylor, Roman Builders