Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year's Scorecard 2005

I now undertake the painful exercise of revisiting this year's resolutions.

Will complete bulk of thesis research so I can graduate in 2005-2006 academic year.
Verdict: Done. There's some significant (though mostly uninteresting) technical work that remains, but I plan to defend in summer 2006. I'd probably be done with the technical work, and in the midst of writing the actual dissertation document already, if it weren't for the fact that I've been simultaneously looking for a job. Blech.
Will donate larger fraction of income to charitable organizations.
Verdict: Failed. I did not donate a significantly larger fraction of my income to charity this year, and I'm not in a position to remedy this in the next two days.
Will limit blog-reading to two times a day, or fewer.
Verdict: Mixed. Most days I keep to this. Having my XML feed reader hacked into a more usable form helped. Some days I don't read blogs at all, because I'm confident that I can catch up on anything interesting the next day via my feed reader. However, other days I fall off the wagon, particularly if I'm trying to avoid something.
Will strive for more generosity of spirit and less petulance in my blogging.
Verdict: Failed. My most popular post this year, by far, was this rather obnoxious post on Intelligent Design (which, incidentally, is now the #5 hit on Google for "intelligent design debate" [UPDATE 6 Jan: And also one of BlogPulse's top 25 blog posts of 2005. Wow/argh.]). The runner-up for most popular post was this evisceration of Jonah Goldberg. And, although most of my posts are less vitriolic than these, I feel that my tone has been splenetic more generally as well.
Will publish one, preferably two conference papers.
Verdict: Failed. I did, however, get two conference papers rejected, which is something of an achievement I suppose. On the brighter side, my reviews have been decent, and I'm presenting at a workshop in the coming year.
Will learn how to deal with conference deadlines without skipping the gym, spurning my friends, and generally dropping off the face of the Earth.
Verdict: Mixed. The degree to which I drop off the face of the Earth has diminished somewhat, but I do live a pretty lousy life in the month leading up to a deadline. On the other hand, my papers get rejected, so maybe I should learn to drop off the face of the Earth more. Paul Graham has interesting things to say about this.
Will buy and read:
Verdict: Mixed. Of the above, I only read Collapse, and about half the books I bought over the holidays. I did read some other interesting books (though I didn't finish as many as I'd have liked), of which I'll recommend a couple:
  • Iron Council by China Miéville. The folks at Crooked Timber have said volumes about this, and I don't have anything new to add for now, but it's a lovely book. I also read Perdido Street Station on a plane; it's less good, but managed to keep me up on the red-eye from Seattle to Newark. I'm going to be flying around a lot in the next couple of months, and I'll most likely be reading more of Miéville --- at least The Scar, to complete the New Crobuzon novels.
  • Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, by Albert O. Hirschman: I'm still in the middle of this, but if you're even vaguely interested in politics, economics, or game theory, then you really owe it to yourself to read this sometime. It's a slim little volume, easy to carry around, and easy to read, though digesting the ideas fully will probably take me a lot of mulling (which, of course, I don't really have time to do these days, but whatever, I'll probably do it anyway).

Well, all in all, it was a pretty mixed year. I suppose I'll be making new resolutions (or renewing the old ones) soon. Have a Happy New Year all, unless I'll be seeing you in the next couple of days, in which case I'll wish you Happy New Year in person I suppose.

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