The Archive of Childhood, Part 3: Earliest Memories

The third in my occasional “Archives of Childhood” series. The Archive of Childhood, Part 1: Crayons (27 Dec. 2014) The Archive of Childhood, Part 2: The Golliwog (13 Jan. 2015) What are your earliest memories? Recent conversations with family and friends have challenged my assumption that most people remember early childhood. I now wonder if it is…

Farewell to Facebook. Mostly.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few months. Over the past year or so, I’ve been gradually drifting away from Facebook. Lately, the drift has become a decisive move. Last month, I downloaded my Facebook data — in order to better see precisely what Facebook was collecting.  Then, I removed Facebook from…

Running Out of Time

Following a December blog-conversation about Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (occasioned in part by her own chemo), my friend Alison Piepmeier asked me to send her a contribution to her blog, Every Little Thing. It appeared there on Monday. I’m reposting it here now. In case you’re wondering, I got permission from the close relative (named below) to quote…

Upgrade Vortex

upgrade vortex, n. The hidden temporal, cognitive, and/or financial costs of getting a new electronic device (tablet, smart phone, computer, etc.). We need a term to describe the experience of obtaining a new technological item, and then the (guaranteed but never mentioned) troubleshooting and cost that inevitably follows. I propose “upgrade vortex” — upgrade both because this is…

The Meaning of Life; or, How to Avoid the Midlife Crisis

Why do successes sometimes feel like failures? As philosopher Kieran Setiya points out in a wise new essay, “Our achievements, whatever they are worth, are always numbered” (10). Each time we accomplish something, it’s done, finished, and we must move on to the next thing: “the completion of your project may constitute something of value,…

In Search of Lost Time: Further Reading

With thanks to all who have read and shared my “In Search of Lost Time” (an essay on why academics work so much, published in Inside Higher Ed today), here are a few links for further reading. Most of these were embedded in the original piece, but didn’t make the transition to the Inside Higher Ed website….

How Much Is Too Much?

Though I often attempt to dispense advice from this blog, I now have a question of my own. How much is too much? There’s one request that I never turn down: when I am asked to write a letter on behalf of someone going up for tenure and/or promotion, I always say “yes.”  I don’t…

Telemarketing Kills Charity

Unless I am expecting a call, I try to avoid answering the home phone.  9 times out of 10, it’s a solicitor — telemarketer seeking funds for a charitable organization usually, but sometimes a company conducting a poll.  If I have the energy, I ask to be taken off the organization’s call list (a strategy that…