Saturday, June 13, 2009

time value of time

what's on your mind? what's really important to you? what makes you happy or feel sad? what's worth your time? i love a liet motif, a theme, an organizing principle so i'd been thinking about the frame (and if there were one) around my seemingly nonsequitur interests in food, art & architecture, traveling, work/business management, self-improvement and "success," shopping and fashion, and flea and antique markets.

to figure it all out, i'm reading a mix of books, journals and magazines. periodical-wise: the harvard business journal (for theory); inc. (for business management practice); the nonprofit quarterly (one of my trade's rags); vogue, elle and w (now as skinny as the models who appear therein--fewer ads!); martha stewart living and bon appetit (homage to cocktail serving, apron-wearing, housewives of another era); and best life and men's health (great for fitness and tips for the men in your life).

in books: the nine by jeffrey toobin about the supreme court gives you a sense the justices are and how they change intellectually during their tenures. the section on the bush/gore post-election issues sets out that game and the legal issues related to gitmo are clearly set forth. i was a little disappointed that it seemed thin on scalia (maybe his clerks wouldn't talk?). i didn't get a real sense of the man, but maybe i just wanted more on him because he's so smart and, like many lawyers, find his confidence in, and principled application of, his worldview refreshing and a relief from much of the pc equivocating that passes for reasoned thinking among jurists and politicians even if you don't agree with him. o'conner's role gets a lot of play (fitting under toobin's theory that she controlled the outcome of important cases during many years of her tenure) and thomas gets the most generous write-up i've ever seen. incidentally, if you live in dc or are in the area when supreme Court is in session, you really should go down to see an oral argument, it's surprisingly intimate, awesome and free!

another book really resonated with me, shop class as soulcraft: an inquiry into the value of work by michael crawford. to dip into the subject, check out the 2006 essay that grew into the book. the more philosophical and historical aspects of the book, talking about changes in the labour market, the intrinsic satisfactions in certain types of work (here work that relates to material objects) and what do and can we expect from our work were more interesting to me than where many reviewers put their focus. i didn't read it as a paean to manual labor and i certainly didn't see, as one reviewer proposed, that it was sexist and that it left women out for some bad reason. ideas that make you think include an exploration of the connections (mystic and sentimental) we feel with material objects (hey, who hasn't fallen in love with a cartier, a bmw, a super-sharp #2 pencil or a frosty coke bottle?) and the need to feel our work is connected to something real--whether it's a material object or an idea or ideal that has meaning for us at some deeper level. another cool thought by alexandre kojève: "the man who works recognizes his own product in the world that has actually been transformed by his work: he recognizes himself in it, he sees in it his own human reality, in it he discovers and reveals to others the objective reality of his humanity, of the originally abstract and purely subjective idea he has of himself. the satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. they seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. he can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world." (sounds like howard roark, no?)

my next read is by the philosopher, alain de botton. options are a novel about love or his new book, the pleasures and sorrows of work. i've decided i love him because he writes about what i think is the only stuff that counts: travel, love, architecture, shopping, and work. he also founded a school in london that has weekend courses on the areas identified as the five big issues in life: love, politics, work, family and play.

odds and ends. for a laugh, make a jello fish bowl with vodka. ok, the vodka was my twist, a la jello shots. this is a really easy, fun and funny project. in red (swedish fish are the best), white (tic tacs for bottom of the bowl gravel) and blue ("berry" flavoured jello), it's july 4 picnic fun (not for kids of course!).

query de blog: anyone up for an october weekend in london for a class about work at the school of life?

peace out, flatsie