What I'm Reading (Aug. 12) 

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The creative class, the elites and the bobos, deep concentrated work, death and evolution, shopping, and of course, COVID-19

“The creative class has converted cultural attainment into economic privilege and vice versa. It controls what Jonathan Rauch describes in his new book, The Constitution of Knowledge, as the epistemic regime—the massive network of academics and analysts who determine what is true. Most of all, it possesses the power of consecration; it determines what gets recognized and esteemed, and what gets disdained and dismissed. The web, of course, has democratized tastemaking, giving more people access to megaphones. But the setters of elite taste still tend to be graduates of selective universities living in creative-class enclaves. If you feel seen in society, that’s because the creative class sees you; if you feel unseen, that’s because this class does not.

…Part of the problem is that, steeped in an outsider, pseudo-rebel ethos, we never accepted the fact that we were a leadership class, never took on the institutional responsibilities that go with that acceptance, never got to know or work with people not in our class, and so never earned the legitimacy and trust that is required if any group is going to effectively lead.”

Another view of our fracturing societal infrastructure, from The Atlantic, How The Bobos Broke America

I am a big fan of deep work, the kind of work where you set aside a long period of time and focus solely on that. It has been a touchstone for me, perhaps because as a surgeon, your “work,” the best part of your professional day, is measured in hours operating. How many hours are the sweet spot?

“There aren't many hard-and-fast rules of time management that apply to everyone, always, regardless of situation or personality (which is why I tend to emphasise general principles instead). But I think there might be one: you almost certainly can't consistently do the kind of work that demands serious mental focus for more than about three or four hours a day.”

From The Browser, The three-or-four-hours rule for getting creative work done

I guess I am of an age where death is becoming, slowly, I hope, more of a reality than a distant concept, so this caught my eye.

“Embedded in the theory of evolution by natural selection is the idea that life is paid for with death. I mean this not in the poetic or sentimental sense that the price we pay for our time here on Earth is the sadness of our final departure. I mean it, rather, in the more prosaic and definite sense that the attributes we observe and admire in living creatures—precise adaptive fit to an environment, intricacy of construction, astonishing and diverse capabilities—are all built by a process that requires a certain quantity of death.”

It is time to speak of sex, death, and how we evolve; from Natuil.us, Why Do We Have to Die?

Can we talk for a minute about shopping?

“Higher-spending customers access varying levels of luxury and prestige, often in full view of everyone else. Exposure to these consumer inequalities has been found to spark antisocial behavior in those who don’t get to enjoy their perks, the classic example of which is air rage—coach passengers who are forced to walk through first class to board a plane are more likely to become violent than those who board from the rear, directly into their own seating class.”

From The Atlantic, American Shoppers Are A Nightmare

And it wouldn’t be a week in the pandemic without something on COVID.

“First, there is a diehard core of individuals who just won’t get vaccinated.  That is highly unfortunate, but possibly it is better if those individuals get Covid sooner rather than later, at least provided they are not so numerous as to overwhelm the hospital system all at once.  The Covid case is in essence their preferred form of vaccination.  Stupid, yes, but later is not necessarily better.”

From Marginal Revolution, Don’t judge Covid conditions by the current rate of Covid growth