Recently perused articles

  • In Democracy Journal, a review of Jared Diamond’s (of Guns, Germs, and Steel fame) new book, The World Until Yesterday. The article explores how we can learn from traditional societies, and preserve cultural diversity and our environment.
  • On Brain Pickings, an article on the grim state of employment satisfaction, citing that “Most surveys in the West reveal that at least half the workforce are unhappy in their jobs.” It explores the idea of satisfying work. This is an interesting issue given that prior to the 20th century there wasn’t a whole lot of choice involved in what jobs people held, as one was more or less born into their line of work correlating with class. Especially since the emphasis on personal growth and leisure time since the West’s cultural revolution in the 1960s and onward, finding happy and fulfilling work is more of a concern — for myself included. Whether even the majority of people can live up to this goal is another matter altogether.

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Recently perused articles

Here are some articles that’ve captured my attention in the past few weeks:

  • A piece from The Atlantic on Finnish educational success — apparently they kick ass in international test scores. The writer, using the Fins as an example, also focuses on how the American education system may do best veering away from obsessive standardized testing, its lack of focus on individual needs / creativity, and the fixation upon excellence (for some) over equality (for all) that rests at the heart of the American ethos.
  • A fascinating and lengthy account in The New Yorker from last December on a former California DMV employee named John Quijada who created his own language, Ithkuil, from scratch. It’s even more interesting than it sounds.
  • A review in the TLS of a new biography of the late great scribe David Foster Wallace, incorporating the writers’ works.
  • A particularly encouraging article in The New York Times focusing on the connection between beer (and other lightly fermented beverages) and the start of human civilization, as early as 10,000 years ago: “With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts,” and expand their socio-biological boundaries.