Jack’s a dull boy
July 26, 2011, 6:17 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , ,

In America employers are not required to give their employees paid days off which is a minor scandal when you consider that Greece, Italy and Spain have 20 or more paid vacation days.  Well those economies are nearly defaulting, you may feel inclined to argue.  Except that Europe’s economic powerhouse economies also get much more paid vacation:  France gets 30, Germany 24 and the UK 20.  Where’s the line to trade in passports?

Following are a few more scandalous details from the chart:

  • 86% of executives say their company expects more time from their employees.
  • 59% of employees say more time is demanded of them.
  • one in three employees report feeling chronically overworked.
  • 33% worked more than 44 hours per week in 2009.
  • 36% of employees don’t plan to use their full vacation days.
  • 37% take less than a 7 day vacation, when they do take time off.

The Overworked American, Good


pleasure and welfare coexisting

Context is a pesky thing.  In isolation, we’re free to believe what we like, what suits us.  Ignorance and bliss and all that.

When we talk about happiness for instance, it seems we have removed ourselves from the context of our own shared history in which the understanding of the important emotion was very different and arguably a lot more optimistic.

Today in America when we talk about happiness, we mean personal fulfillment, generally.  Or at our most generous, fulfillment for me and mine, for my family and my company, and so on.  Furthermore, there is a visceral suspicion of any broader definition of our most beloved of emotions.

As the following excerpt from Gus Speth’s book review makes clear, the originating idea of happiness in the American context included both personal fulfillment and public welfare.

The image is of an octopus of ideas at America’s founding that through abject misuse constricts and deforms and ends today as a simpering, undifferentiated, limbless, more than a little toxic mass.   The splendid and multivalent ‘octopus’ came from many sources:  the Ancients – happiness comes from devotion to public good and civic virtue; the Enlightenment – everyone has a right to happiness; Bentham – the greatest happiness for the greatest number; and our very own Jefferson – the pursuit of happiness.  The mass we are left with today is basically and depressingly:  get what you can and get out.

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world map of useless stereotypes

World Map of Useless Stereotypes, Christoph Niemann, New York Times

leda and the swan
July 5, 2011, 6:00 pm
Filed under: unseen world | Tags: ,

Sam Taylor Wood, That White Rush