The Point of Pointless Work, by Almossawi

Monday October 19, 2020

The title's not quite right, but there's some on that. It's mostly Almossawi's personal adventures in publishing: the stories of Bad Arguments and Bad Choices. I enjoyed it.

I liked the detail about publishing, including buying a pack of ten ISBNs, and agonizing about getting pallets of books from a ship and into Amazon fulfillment centers.

I also think he's right that it's good for people to do things not just out of economic necessity, and we're fortunate when we're able to do so.

Selected quotes and commentary

"Anatol Rapoport has excellent advice about how to criticize. A critic, he says, ought to begin by stating the other side's position in a fair and objective way, then mentioning the areas of agreement, and only then mentioning the areas of disagreement. The approach does wonders when the goal is to turn something into a better version of itself rather than to posture." (page 42)

I also found more on this in a post based on a book by Dennett which is in my to-read pile.

"I was surprised to find that the copyeditors were all freelancers. ... When [prior employee copyeditors] retired, the publisher determined that it made economic and organizational sense to outsource that responsibility to freelancers." (page 74)

Yet another example of trying to get work done by contractors rather than employees.

"... Abraham Flexner's essay from almost a century ago on useless knowledge." (page 100)

This is The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.