September 18, 2008

Comrades!

Just thought I'd mention two blogs by two friends of mine- Doug and the Organic Viking- both are interesting and thoughtful and both of their blogs are worth reading. Anyway I thought I'd introduce them by providing an examination of two of their posts. The Organic Viking has recently posted what looks like a delicious courgette fritter recipe (she is running the risk of being as bad for me as Welshcakes Limoncello- whose blog I can never read without feeling hungry) however that is not the post of hers I wanted to highlight.

She works on Vikings- and a couple of days ago spent her time in Cafe Nero on King Street in Cambridge working on her thesis and knitting at the same time. One of the things that I think is underrated in working life today is the ability of people to relax and get more out of what they are doing. I know exactly what she was up to- in the sense that what you do as a historian is absorb texts and then try and work out what in that morass of pages is interesting and what provides something that you can work with. Often when you are doing that, changing your surroundings and doing something else whilst you are doing it helps- because it keeps the mind active and also supple. The mind in a sense is a muscle that you need to keep in exercise- one of the things that I wonder about modern jobs in offices is that whilst they provide you with assurance that all your employees are there all the time, I'm not entirely sure that they provide work of the best quality.

Doug on the other hand is a lawyer- a breed not known for their ability to relax and for whom lateral thinking is called all sorts of names (don't worry Doug is the kind of lawyer who can see minature golf courses in ancient monuments!). What Doug provides though is an example of the way that lateral thinking benefits a group of the best entrepreuneurs in the world- the Italian mafia. In times of financial crisis with food prices rising, they have diversified into the smuggling of bread and mozarella. Its interesting to reflect on the capacity of crime to change its nature depending on the law throughout history- people are often after the fast buck whether that's drink in the Great Depression or the corporations of crime that emerged after the second world war. The nature of crime tells us a lot about the society we live within- in a society in which commodity prices are rising, where health and safety laws are proliferating- it was only a matter of time before someone decided to ignore the latter in order to keep the former down: the fact its the latest evolution of the Italian Mafia is merely a testament to their creativity.

Anyway back to Livy!

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