Wednesday, May 14, 2008

At Capacity

At one point last year, a lifehacking management book with what might have been a Mormon slant mysteriously set up residence next to the toilet in the old Beijing apartment/IT office.

Given its location, it got read. Nobody made it cover to cover, and I don't think there was a whole lot of attention paid to most of it, but it did start one thought bouncing through the house.

It got us talking about productivity and production capacity. As I remember, the book's basic point was that you'd better be careful if you ever asked someone to work late too many nights in a row or come in too often on weekends. At a certain point, when people get tired and burnt out, they start doing more harm than good.

Perfectly reasonable, and definitely worth considering, given the amount we had all been expecting each other to work at LanguageCalls.

I think tonight's probably one of those at capacity nights for me. There's heaps I want to write, heaps I should write, but I just don't think my brain's up for it.

I want to write about labeling and ratings and carbon footprints and quantitative measures of social and environmental responsibility.

I want to write about investing in forests: "According to one recent calculation, during the next twenty-four hours the effect of losing forests in Brazil and Indonesia will be the same as if eight million people boarded airplanes at Heathrow Airport and flew en masse to New York." (From this article from a late February issue of the New Yorker.)

I want to write about the fact that I might get a chance soon to make my second ever guest blog post. The first was about tropical fruit. I left it as a comment in August 2006 on my friend Tom's since abandoned food blog, and Tom decided to promote it to the big show. I actually like my comment about figs better than my post about durians, soursops, and miracle fruit.

I want to write about my conversation with one of the founders of Oso Eco today. They live out in Ken Kesey's old neighborhood, and they're about to launch something very cool.

And, finally, I want to write about another sentence from this week's Wall St. Journal Op-Ed Page that raised my hackles a little bit. There's a new book out called Gross National Happiness, and, apparently, according to the reviewer, according to the book, the distilled version of the recipe for happiness in the USA is:

Get a job, get married, go to church and don't listen to wild-eyed utopians.

Bummer. Maybe I'm crazy, but if there's one thing I think the world needs more of, it's people that haven't lost sight of utopia.

Nothing wrong with being realistic. Nothing wrong with baby steps. But wouldn't it be complacent of us to fully accept imperfection?

We won't ever get to perfect. Zeno's paradox stands in the way. But there's no reason to think we can't take it right up to the edge. And there's no reason to think we can't have fun doing it.

Ok. Enough. I'll be back with something more coherent in a couple of days.