Monday, May 28, 2012

The simple brilliance...

I don't even know where to start. 

In the research science world, it is not uncommon to write articles, even whole books, that the authors fully expect maybe 30 people to read.  My seniors' research papers on capital punishment were read by more people than that.  They do it because it's important to increase the body of human knowledge.  And who knows?  It may turn out that your obsessive attention to mating strategies in prarie grass will be the thing that saves the earth from extinction; it's been the premise of many an action flick.

The Ig Nobel awards are given to scientists who make people laugh, then make people think.  In a world with titles that stretch on forever, giving precise summaries of the article to the few people who can understand them, it's easy to forget that the profound can also be funny. 

This is all a run-up to the most useful piece of self-improvement advice I've seen since Gimli's "Breathe" speech from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  The 2011 Ig Nobel award for Literature went to John Perry of Stanford University on his article, "How to procrastinate and still get things done."  (Chronicle of Higher Education 1996). In it, he lays out the principles of structured procrastination.  The key tenent of this idea, and the life-changing (or possibly life-reaffirming) concept, is simple: "the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely, and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important."

With nothing further to add, I will leave you to comtemplate the wisdom, as I go search for something less important to do.

No comments: