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Sixteen hours on, eight hours off.

I do like posts about people’s routines and, in fact, I contributed to a website which became a book of them! This particular one is by Warren Ellis, who seems to live quite a solitary existence, at least when he’s writing.

Being alone can bring an intensity to one’s work, I’ve found, which may or may not be relevant or welcome given on what you do for a living. Given Ellis is a writer of graphic novels, novellas, and screenplays, it’s absolutely fitting, I guess.

I work until I get hungry. I’ll watch something – a tv episode, part of a film – while eating lunch, which is either cold meats and flatbreads or salmon with vegetables or something with eggs. I keep it simple and repeatable. Also I have constant access to eggs, as mentioned above. At some point in the afternoon I’ll have an apple with walnuts and cheese. Eight espressos a day, two litres of water. I mention the food because the one thing productivity notes tend to forget is that thinking burns calories, and the first things to kill thinking are thirst and having no calories available to burn.

Source: Morning Routine And Work Day, January 2022 | Warren Ellis

Getting serious

This is a great article by Katherine Boyle that talks about the lack of ‘seriousness’ in the USA, but also considers the wider geopolitical situation. We’re living at a time when world leaders are ever-older, and people between the ages of 18 and 29 just don’t have… that much to do with their time?

The Boomer ascendancy in America and industrialized nations has left us with a global gerontocracy and a languishing generation waiting in the wings. Not only does extended adolescence—what psychologist Erik Erikson first referred to as a “psychosocial moratorium” or the interim years between childhood and adulthood— affect the public life of younger generations, but their private lives as well.

[…]

In many ways, the emergence of extended adolescence was designed both to coddle the young and to conceal an obvious fact: that the usual leadership turnover across institutions is no longer happening. That the old are quite happy to continue delaying aging and the finality it brings, while the young dither away their prime years with convenient excuses and even better TikTok videos.

[…]

So in 2023, here we are: in a tri-polar geopolitical order led by septuagenarians and octogenarians. Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin have little in common, but all three are entering their 70s and 80s, orchestrating the final acts of their political careers and frankly, their lives. That we are beholden to the decisions of leaders whose worldviews were shaped by the wars, famines, and innovations of a bygone world, pre-Internet and before widespread mass education, is in part why our political culture feels so stale. That the gerontocracy is a global phenomenon and not just an American quirk should concern us: younger generations who are native to technological strength, modern science and emerging cultural ailments are still sidelined and pursuing status markers they should have achieved a decade ago.

Source: It’s Time to Get Serious | The Free Press

On the economic pressures of Covid

This is data from the USA, but the picture I should imagine might be true on a smaller scale in the UK. The difference, I guess, not being an economist, is that we still have a larger state over here and some vestiges of union action.

So how this plays out in terms of the pressure it puts on the workforce, and especially those employed directly or indirectly by the government, is different. It’s why we’re having lots of strikes right now.

It strikes me as extremely disingenuous of the UK government to be spinning the current crisis as being about them trying to avoid ’embedding 10% inflation’ in the economy. It’s not like we’re going to see a reduction in prices if inflation levels decrease. People will still have had a real-terms pay cut.

As an historian by training, I can’t help but think about the parallels with the Black Death and the collapse of feudalism due to the lack of workers…

Chart showing labour force shortfall in US

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell struck a particularly somber note at his press conference earlier this week when he mentioned that one reason the labor market is so tight right now is that many workers died from COVID-19.

The big picture: Economists have theorized for a while about the impact of COVID deaths on the labor market. Now, research has started to emerge and key public figures like Powell are starting to talk about it explicitly.

Source: Fed chair Powell on the U.S. labor shortage: COVID, retirements, missing immigrants | Axios