Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Praise of (Blogging) Idleness

This entertaining essay by Bertrand Russell begins:
Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: 'Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.' Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.
So why the dystopia of the world instead of Russell's four hour work days? Scott Aaronson provided a good explanation of why it has to be this way:
Why can’t everyone just agree to a family-friendly, 40-hour workweek? Because then anyone who chose to work a 90-hour week would clean our clocks.


Again and again, I’ve undergone the humbling experience of first lamenting how badly something sucks, then only much later having the crucial insight that its not sucking wouldn’t have been a Nash equilibrium.
And Parkinson's Law surely plays a role in the dynamics of it all:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Whew, well that's enough posting for me - back to another 6 months of leisurable, blog-free bliss...