So far this year, I’ve watched “The Knick,” “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones,” “Outlander,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Downton Abbey.” Oh, I complain about the various anachronisms – the clothes are too clean, the lives of the servants are far too easy and don’t even get me started on, um, almost everything in “The Knick.” But these are forgivable errors, occasionally almost lovable.
The thing I find harder to forgive is the shows’ inability to commit to that drama – to try to actually engage with what was actually dramatic and interesting in those eras. They can’t resist moralizing from the point of view of a 21st-century modern – and so they sap the conflicts they’re portraying of their meaning.
There’s this dispute in Minnesota where an artist couple has been claiming tax deductions to keep doing their various art things. Trouble is, in the eye of the law, you can’t claim deductions unless you’re (on the way to) running a business that makes profit. Years and years of losses or minimal profit are just asking for an audit. Hilarity ensues.
I’m not sure how revealing it is that people in rural China and Africa have chosen something that is relatively inexpensive and available, over something that is fairly expensive, and isn’t. Saying “Well, they didn’t install this totally inadequate substitute” doesn’t really persuade me.
I’m not about to get all gun talk here. Mostly tumbling so I can mention that Megan McArdle is a great, thoughtful writer.
Tenured academics has worked a great scam. They’ve managed to monetize peoples’ affection for regional football teams, and their desire for a work credential, and then somehow diverted that money into paying academics to work on whatever they want, for the rest of their lives, without any oversight by the football fans or the employers.
In addition to enjoying this nice little zinger, definitely read her 12 hypotheses about the college system in the wake of distance-learning disruption. Good stuff.
It strikes me as plausible that a world in which kids spend more time unsupervised requires a parenting style more reliant on swift punishment for detected wrongdoing than rewards for good behavior.
This is probably the best summary I’ve ever seen for 1) why I got spanked every so often, and 2) why I don’t really feel bad about that.
Today’s kids seem to be not only supervised but regimented; most of their time is supposed to be spent in some sort of structured activity. This makes it very easy to create elaborate reward systems, because there is all this elaborate surveillance that makes it very easy to monitor compliance.
File under: parenting.
Ending the Infographic Plague – Megan McArdle – The Atlantic. “Remember: only you can prevent viral media from spreading.”
Robin Hanson on Steve Jobs’ commencement speech:
Now notice: doing what you love, and never settling until you find it, is a costly signal of your career prospects. Since following this advice tends to go better for really capable people, they pay a smaller price for following it. So endorsing this strategy in a way that makes you more likely to follow it is a way to signal your status.
It sure feels good to tell people that you think it is important to “do what you love”; and doing so signals your status. You are in effect bragging. Don’t you think there might be some relation between these two facts?
The problem is, the people who give these sorts of speeches are the outliers: the folks who have made a name for themselves in some very challenging, competitive, and high-status field. No one ever brings in the regional sales manager for a medical supplies firm to say, “Yeah, I didn’t get to be CEO. But I wake up happy most mornings, my kids are great, and my golf game gets better every year.”
She continues, talking about talking about her own awesome job with aspiring young folk:
Usually, what I tell them next is that it’s not a tragedy if they don’t do what they thought they wanted to do at 22; that they have more time than they think to figure out “what they want to do with the rest of their lives”; and that the world outside of school and words is more interesting than they probably suspect.
Similarly, Will Wilkinson on commencement advice:
“Find what you love and never settle for less” is an excellent recipe for frustration and poverty. “Reconcile yourself to the limits of your talent and temperament and find the most satisfactory compromise between what you love to do and what you need to do to feed your children” is rather less stirring, but it’s much better advice.
Leisure is as much about our pleasant fantasies as it is about what we’re actually doing.
A thoughtful, elaborate gift guide from an enthusiast. Great ideas here. And I like this bit at the end: “There is as much snobbery in what food people won’t pay for as in what they will”. Also applies to people in general.
It’s fine to go through life happy, in other words, but I suspect we also want to go through life without becoming big fat self-absorbed jackasses. Children really help in that regard.