I've noticed when people say "how are you" these days they mean it, it's not just a phatic noise you make after "hello". Even strangers genuinely want to know how you are. I've been answering it for real and having some good convos.

Like today had a nice chat (through masks) with the guy at the local (open for takeout only) coffee shop.

About how we hope some things don't go back to the way they were. Like commuting.

Sometimes there are social conventions that nobody really likes, but the cost of individually defecting is too high. So changing it is a collective action problem.

And sometimes a crisis gives us a chance to hit the reset button on the social convention.

Way back in like 1999 we were talking about how the internet would eventually liberate white-collar workers from going to the office. But up till 2019 there was still social pressure to show up face-to-face, so commute we did.

We're finally living in the telecommuting world that was predicted. And I hope we never go back. Millions of white-collar workers going to the office every day was pure waste. Waste of fossil fuels, waste of time, massive CO2 emissions.

I think a huge amount of our "economic activity" is basically that, turning fuel into CO2 to produce nothing other than social proof that we're hard workers and deserve wages.

The guy at the coffee shop thought we should all have 4-hour work weeks. I agree.


In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted 15-hour workweeks due to gains in efficiency from mechanization.

Today we can automate so many more jobs than Keynes could even have imagined in 1930, but instead of having 15-hour workweeks, all the productivity gains have gone to the 1% while we struggle to invent work for people to do, because you have to have "a job" to "deserve" food and a roof over your head.

@nindokag Well, but Keynes also imagined that people would be content with the comforts of 1930's life.

We could probably survive on part-time jobs if we were content to live in a wooden house without heating, no hot water, no cars, no electronics, mostly drinking only water and eating only basic food.

@nindokag The biggest obstacle I see is that there aren't a lot of part-time opportunities for well paid jobs such as engineer. I know because I've been trying to go part-time for years, and the best I could get is 80%-time (working 4-days a week).

At least in tech, it's mostly a cultural issue, not an economic issue.

@codewiz @nindokag Oh yes, the psychological distance between a 40hr/wk job and 32 is a lot bigger than the numbers suggest. For me at least, job goes from dominating my life to the way that I get money to sustain my life. It's great.

I'm curious about productivity, too. There is ample research showing sustained hours above 40 actually lower total output. Could it be that 32 is actually more effective still?

@mkb @nindokag My manager said multiple times that he thinks I'm more focused and more effective than before.

After 1 year on part-time, he told me: "you seem to have found your rhythm".

This is especially remarkable because my manager works long hours almost every day and tends to praise those who do the same.

@mkb @nindokag Managers are also reluctant to approve part-time requests because they can't hire anyone to fill that fraction of headcount, so they get stuck with 5.8 reports instead of 6 😅

@codewiz @nindokag I'll take half of those comforts in exchange for working 10 hrs a week and gardening for 20.

@wilbr @nindokag You mean you want two part-time jobs?

I heard that working two part-time jobs is stressful for most people, but I guess it depends on which jobs, whether they require commuting twice a day and other circumstances.

Personally, I would love to teach programming for 50% of my time (not in a public school, though!)

@codewiz @nindokag more like programming for a few days and then taking the rest off for general self sufficiency

@wilbr @nindokag Ah! You obviously intended gardening for food self-sufficiency. We use separate words in Italian for horticulture gardening vs flower gardening.

Ok. That's what my grandma was doing, and it's good exercise for the elderly and results in delicious seasonal salads, but...

...small-scale food production using pre-industrial techniques is no way economically efficient. If this became a trend, we might end up using *more* land for agriculture and working *more* hours than in 1930.

@wilbr @nindokag Perhaps I'm reading too much into what you said: having a garden is a great hobby if you enjoy it, and we could definitely afford to find the time for it, given that engineers are paid several times the national average wage (at least in the US, perhaps less so in Europe and Asia).

Agree. We were constantly lamenting this point. Yet no amounts of blueness in the face sufficed.

#NoMoreCommutes unless you need to serve a customer.

You might be excited to learn about a country that just announced a permanent #UBI (#UniversalBasicIncome). It'll be this country and #Iran that'll now treat humans with some dignity.

We can't stop tooting about it. :)

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Mastodon instance for attendees of Refactor Camp, and members of various online/offline groups that have grown out of it. Related local groups with varying levels of activity exist in the Bay Area, New York, Chicago, and Austin. Kinda/sorta sponsored by the Ribbonfarm Blogamatic Universe. If you already know a few people in this neck of the woods, try and pick a handle they'll recognize when you sign up. Please note that the registration confirmation email may end up in your spam folder, so check there. It should come from administrator Zach Faddis.