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A month without Internet

January 20, 2010

I spent the holidays without convenient Internet access. Contrary to my expectations, I loved being disconnected. I read six books, one of which was over 900 pages, and none of which were related to my academic work. I began teaching myself to play the piano, and I can now pound out a recognizable Hungarian Rhapsody #2. (Also: time with friends, family, etc.)

What did I miss out on? I think, mainly, suffering the elevated heart rate that comes with following back-and-forths on things like Obama’s handling of the underwear bomber. Seriously, I’m delighted I missed out on that whole conversation.

This is all as prelude to saying how much I appreciate this quote from Yglesias:

Some time over the summer I was on a panel with Tyler Cowen and he convinced me that a lot of people interested in politics spend much too much time thinking about in-the-now partisan political controversies. If you think back to the year 1602 and who was making real contributions 400 years ago, it’s not the people who played a key role in winning some early 17th century political controversies. Rather, the people who made a difference are the people who were promoting better, different ways of thinking about things. Promoting science and rational inquiry, tolerance, whatever.

I should be honest about where my comparative advantage lies: I will never be described as having my finger on the pulse of the nation. But I could be a halfway decent advocate for under-appreciated and little considered big ideas. In short, I hereby declare that I will pay less attention to the news.

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