It’s difficult to think about anything at the moment while the situation in Ukraine rages on. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine as they put up what seems to be a dogged and existential fight; if you’d like to help them deal with the horrendous situation they’re facing, there’s a list of ways to help here and another one here.
I’m particularly reminded of my time in Bosnia, which faced an eerily similar situation thirty years ago this year. Like Ukraine, it asserted its independence in the face of its larger, more powerful neighbour; like Ukraine, it suffered a brutal invasion; like Ukraine, it put up a determined fight for its very existence. Bosnia was failed by the international community, which imposed an arms embargo that left it virtually defenceless, maintained a bogus neutrality, and botched the peace process – with disastrous consequences. I can only hope that Ukraine avoids a similar fate. The early signs – of international coordination, of supplying arms to those on the ground, of implementing punishing sanctions against the aggressor – are at least somewhat encouraging. Let’s hope they keep it up.
This week’s article is about finding a balance between living in the past, the present, and the future. A life that focuses too much on one – that’s nostalgic and lives only in the past, that’s trivial and lives only in the moment, or that’s dreamy and lives only in the future – is a life that misses something quintessentially human.
Finding that balance means getting the right perspective on time. Focus too narrowly, and you’ll never do anything significant; focus too broadly, and you’ll either be overwhelmed or tempted to put off until tomorrow what could be done today.
How do you strike a balance between the past, the present, and the future? The trick is finding the right period of time to focus on – not so long that it allows your ambitions to float off into the æther, but not so short that you never tackle anything tough.
Adam Tooze gets characteristically to the point on the unfolding war in Ukraine and how it might escalate, at what feels like a particularly critical juncture:
“Over the last week, we have seen how the reality of war, the shock of moving from hypothetical to reality, changes the calculus. That is the stage we are reaching with the economy next week. The shooting has started. What will be the fall out? The truly concerning prospect should be that a general panic in Russia, triggers a further dangerous and unpredictable military escalation.”
Putin’s nuclear threats might be a tactic – “escalate to de-escalate” – but they might not be, either. As Tooze cautiously concludes:
“…the worrying thing is precisely that, as far as the economy is concerned, the chaos is just about to get started. Clearly the economy has not been the determining factor in Putin’s calculus so far. Sanctions were intended to get his attention. Next week will reveal how that message lands.”
An incredible story of hustle culture, a con artist, and an introduction (for me at least) to the word “jobfishing”:
“The Zoom call had about 40 people on it - or that’s what the people who had logged on thought. The all-staff meeting at the glamorous design agency had been called to welcome the growing company’s newest recruits. Its name was Madbird and its dynamic and inspirational boss, Ali Ayad, wanted everyone on the call to be ambitious hustlers - just like him.
“But what those who had turned on their cameras didn’t know was that some of the others in the meeting weren’t real people. Yes, they were listed as participants. Some even had active email accounts and LinkedIn profiles. But their names were made up and their headshots belonged to other people.
“The whole thing was fake - the real employees had been ‘jobfished’.”