My post-Christmas self-isolation is done, and I haven’t had COVID symptoms. And I haven’t heard bad news from my family, so it seems that by some mixture of hard work and luck, we avoided disaster.
My eyes were glued to the news during the Capitol incursion. At first I was uncertain what was happening and worried about how it would be resolved. Then I was angry that the rioters had the gall to attack the heart of our system of government. It was a line I never thought anyone here would cross. Now I’m intently watching the aftermath and a little worried about when and where the insurrectionists will try again and if we’ll be ready. I have to say, though, that the arrests are pretty satisfying.
I didn’t get much further with my Elastic Habits tracker. I was hoping to get to some other life maintenance tasks during January, but the way my time is going, this tracker may be it for the whole month.
I’m trying Pomodoro again with the Seconds app as a timer. I gave up on it last time because I stopped paying attention to the timer, but last week I needed something to help me push through work, so I’ll see what I can do with it now that I won’t be relying on its newness for my motivation. It’s been helpful so far.
I started reading the Oxford Bible Commentary. The past few years I’ve made it my Lent project to listen through an audio Bible. After last year’s listen I decided the practice needed a change because my reactions were basically the same each time and I wasn’t gaining much new. If I was going to go through the Bible again, I needed some extra input.
I decided on the Oxford Bible Commentary to give me a detailed sense of what critical scholarship had to say about each part of the Bible. This is a question I’ve had in mind ever since grad school. My degree was in biblical exegesis, but our emphasis was more on interpretative method than on biblical content, so my knowledge of Bible scholarship has had gaps, and this commentary will be a good way to start filling those in. These scholarly details will both give me a better idea of what’s going on in the Bible and help me in my continual wrestling match with inerrancy.
My first idea was to read the whole thing while listening to my next audio Bible over Lent, but that was going to be too much work, so I made a plan to spread out the audio Bible and commentary over the whole year. Fortunately I made this plan only a few days into January.
I started reading Russell and Norvig’s Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Really I started when I got the book on Christmas, but I started over when I made a year-long reading plan for it last week. This is by far the most popular AI textbook, and this is the latest edition that came out less than a year ago. It covers a wide range of issues, I enjoyed Russell’s Human Compatible and the interview I heard with him, and I’m getting a little impatient with my lack of progress in this area, so for numerous reasons I was motivated not to put off this book.
William Isaacs’ Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together offers a thoughtful framework for creative dialogue. His work is an extension of physicist David Bohm’s model. I listened it to keep thinking about respectful discussion along the lines of Mick West’s Escaping the Rabbit Hole, but my original purpose for it was to collect some group processes for my modeling framework. Despite supporting his techniques with various types of woo, Isaacs digs rather deeply and I think plausibly into human nature and group dynamics, and I’m looking forward to studying his approach when I get into group modeling processes.
I started reading Making Hard Decisions with DecisionTools by Robert T. Clemen and Terence Reilly. This is the third book I’ll try spreading out over the year. My motivation for this one is that I’m increasingly seeing that many of life’s troubles and conflicts come down to the difficulty of making decisions, and so I want to find out how the most serious thinkers give themselves the best chance at it.