This caught my eye at the library. I skimmed the first chapter and would like to finish it some day (I need to finish a few other books first!) SeemsThis caught my eye at the library. I skimmed the first chapter and would like to finish it some day (I need to finish a few other books first!) Seems to be a history of "slackers" in US popular culture and how it interacts in curious ways with the history of the Puritan work ethic.
I like the cute intro about how the author is frustrated with his son's way of "doing nothing" in a sort of post-high school gap year: The son's alleged plan is to get a low-key job while he focuses on playing the bass & starting a band... but in practice he sits on the couch with his laptop all day watching Internet videos. This grates against the author's memories of his own youth spent "doing nothing" in a far more active way: traveling the country, taking odd jobs, learning a zillion different trades and skills, and doing tons of drugs along the way.
I myself wish that, when I was hunting for a "real job" during the summer after college and then the one after getting a master's, I'd spent less time on the laptop/couch and more time taking odd jobs to learn new skills or at least just have different experiences. As Gax says, "approach job opportunities as if someone had asked you, 'Will you accept this sum of money to learn _____?'"
p.11: "Tending the automated French fryer has nothing to do with what we mean by work when we talk about the value of work ... McJobs are much more likely to fuel than to defuse class rage, much more likely to teach people the futility than the value of work."
p.30: Idleness vs inactivity: if you work as a fisherman for a living, sitting still while you fish is inactive, but it isn't the kind of refreshing idleness you get from, say, going for a walk (when you are physically active but still idle).
p.39: "Everyone I know is in the same boat. We are all lazy imposters, and we are all workaholic slaves." It's too easy to feel I spent too much time on leisure (reading silly books, playing computer games, surfing Facebook---that last one especially doesn't leave me feeling refreshed or relaxed!) when I could be working... yet I also feel I spend too much time obsessed with work (doing homework, planning out projects, sitting in meetings). Where's the balance? How can I raise my kids to have a good work ethic but in a healthy way, not to feel like a guilty slacker whenever they take a break?
p.45: The author and his buddies started a farm/commune in his youth: they felt good about exiting the rat race, but it was still a ton of hard work. "Like Thoreau, in fact, my quasi-communards and I were proud of both things---proud of all the work we did, how proficient in the traditional crafts and labors, and, at the same time, proud of our early, irregular retirement from the world of bourgeois employment. I had a sneaking suspicion that the unresolved contradictions wouldn't bear looking at too closely if I wanted to retain my sense of moral superiority, and so, again like Thoreau, I was careful about what I decided to examine closely." :)
p.46: "Ten o'clock at night on the phone with someone, it isn't uncommon to hear, 'What are you going to do now?' 'Try to get a little work in.' ... We may or may not then go back to work. It isn't dishonesty; it's like a loyalty oath, a pledge of allegiance." ...more
p.12: "Someone asks 'why do zebras form herds?' You could answer this by an analysis of zebra sociology, psychology, and so on ... or you could ask ap.12: "Someone asks 'why do zebras form herds?' You could answer this by an analysis of zebra sociology, psychology, and so on ... or you could ask a question of a very different kind: 'What would happen if they didn't?' One fairly obvious answer to that is 'They'd be much more likely to get eaten by lions.' This immediately suggests that zebras form herds for self-protection---and now we've got some insight into what zebras actually do by contemplating, for a moment, the possibility that they might have done something else." [Somehow this reminds me of good usage of null-hypothesis significance testing in statistics. Is this effect real? Well, what if it weren't---would we still see an estimate this big? Ah, no, probably not, so I guess it's safe to assume it's real.]
p.14: "Sometimes scientists change their minds. New developments cause a rethink. If this bothers you, consider how much damage is being done to the world by people for whom new developments do not cause a rethink."...more