What are you reading?

Persuasion by Jane Austen. I’ve seen the movie and never read the book so I decided it was time to finally rectify that situation.

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That is some heavy reading you have going on there, literally. Definitely far from the land of Drizzt Do’Urden.

I finished A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny. I think it was one of the better Gamache books both in plot (old and new murders and old and new characters mean you’re not sure where the book is going and what is relevant or connected, and it kind of builds as it goes) and there’s maybe even a little more introspection by Gamache than normal.

I’ve got several I could start, but I think I’m gonna wait a few days to see if Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow shows up as I expect it will, as it is a playaway, which I"ll have to return fairly soon.

If it doesn’t show up, I think I might move on to The Winners, the 3rd book of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown trilogy.


I’ve since read a review of A World of Curiosities and it was a pan. I can see how some might give a low rating due to plot low plausibility and extremely high coincidence. That didn’t bother me as much as the reviewer, obviously. But I kind of feel I should mention this.

Just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was not what I was expecting, which might be why I didn’t care for it.

Finally finished reading Bullshit Jobs. It was quite confronting (actuarial was listed as one those jobs) and even though I wasn’t on board with all of the viewpoints, it made me think a lot.

The premise was that some decades ago, Keynes predicted that by now we would we be working 15 hour weeks or less, with all the advances in automation. What he did not foresee, was all the redundant jobs that would arise (in the book 30-40% of jobs). A lot of these jobs are in the public sector, large consultant firms and large companies (such as banks) where it is hard for new competitors to start in the sector.

Another driver is our need to have full-time employment (which includes child-rearing) to satisfy our self-worth. This was not always the case - prior to the Industrial Revolution, middle-class skilled weavers only worked 30 hours a week and worked from home.

UBI is mentioned as a possible way to get rid of many of these bullshit jobs. If people can get by without working, they won’t voluntarily sign up for soul-destroying jobs and instead spend their time doing something they like or only take on work that is satisfying.

I ain’t reading all of that

I’m sorry for you

or happy for you

or probably you need Jesus

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Come again?

Okay, to be less snarky:

I believe we’ve definitely had the bullshit jobs discussion before, but it probably was before goactuary was around. And no, UBI will absolutely not fix the bullshit job “problem”, if the problem you think is that people are not finding meaning in their jobs. Seeing what people do with their leisure, they’ll still feel empty and meaningless, and that the world is full of bullshit.

When somebody was feeling down on how little their own work mattered as an actuary, back in 2011 I wrote the following:

It’s long, and I’m not about to quote huge parts here, but was mainly about how actuarial work can be interesting, even if in the back office… but Im about to take a turn by quoting the end:

So no, we’re not saving lives. The people we help don’t know our names (and we don’t necessarily know theirs…but a big part of my job is checking over claims files. And that can get depressing.) And we won’t be remembered long after we retire. But we do have some impact on people.

Amusingly, after having written that bit back in 2011… I’m here to invite folks to a free webinar on Thursday… by the Insurance Collaboration to Save Lives. Yes, that’s really what it’s called: https://www.insurancecollaborationtosavelives.org/

Open Industry ICSL Presentation

Date(s): September 21st, 2023 from 11 AM-12 PM CST

Where: Zoom Webinar

Did you see us at one of these previous events? Join the team, ask questions, dig deeper.
Registration link:
ICSL Open Industry Presentation: "A Peek Under the Iceberg" | LinkedIn

I will be one of the presenters… I will post elsewhere about this.

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A little cringe-y, in spots. Still looking forward to book #2 in November though.

It felt like the story was abandoned for awhile with all the horniness, then it picked back up again.

Schoolmance Series by Naomi Novak. Deadly Education, The Last Graduate, and the Golden Enclave.

Follows teenage El Higgins, would be prophesied dark sorceress, though a magical school with a high mortality rate. It’s one of the better fantasy series I’ve read in the past few years through the first book and a half which is where I’m at. Book one picks up in her junior year, book two her senior year and book 3 presumably her post graduation exploits as the series is intended to be a trilogy. Book 1 has a movie deal as of the end of 2022 which I look forward to see when they eventually get around to it.

That series is weird. The first book seems pretty clearly aimed at a teen fantasy demo. The protagonist is 15-16?, so I would guess the primary audience to be 14-16 year olds? The second book is similar. No surprise that they get pitched as a littler older, darker, Potter-esque series.

The third book is NOT for that age group, purely from an “adult content” perspective.


El is a card-carrying member of the mile high club. And there’s more after that…

The problem-solving sophistication is still a bit juvenile - no one really seems to understand anything substantive about magic - but the problem being dealt with is more interesting than, say, the Potter books. (Voldemort is a sociopath with a gun who is not afraid to use it. So scary. We have millions of those, Mr V, get in line - there’s a spot behind the guy who killed more children in 30 minutes than you have killed in your entire life/undeath.)