Readings: Jobs and Genetics, Booking Flights, Roger Ebert

Here’s what I read over the weekend:

(1) “The Genetics of Job Choice” [The American] – This is an interesting piece suggesting that the kinds of jobs we seek, how satisfied we are in the workplace, and our propensity to “be our own boss” is highly impacted by genes. The most interesting paragraph to me:

Like the character Michael Scott on the hit TV show “The Office,” many business people daily supervise others. Amazingly, your interest in this kind of work is more heavily influenced by your genetic endowment than by how your mom and dad raised you. A study by Betsworth and Bouchard found that about 25 percent of the variation in interest in managing people is attributable to genes, while family environment accounts for only 8 percent of this interest.

(2) “Booking Flights the Frugal Way” [New York Times] – From the Frugal Traveler blog at The New York Times, this is a great post to bookmark. There are a plethora of tips on finding the cheapest flights, for domestic (in the U.S.) and international travel. One of the suggested websites to use is, which I love as well:

My first stop is, as it’s been for years now, It’s the simplest airfare search engine — minimal graphics, no discount vacation deals to confuse me, and it searches almost every other site out there — and also the most flexible. I can not only choose a window for my departure and arrival times but also decide where I want (or don’t want) to spend a layover, or which frequent-flier alliance to stick with.

(3) “Roger Ebert: The Essential Man” [Esquire Magazine] – a sobering account of how Roger Ebert’s life has changed over the last few years. He has undergone a number of surgeries on his jaw and throat, and in the process, has lost his ability to speak. Everything Ebert says must be written, either on his writing pad or on his computer:

But now everything he says must be written, either first on his laptop and funneled through speakers or, as he usually prefers, on some kind of paper. His new life is lived through Times New Roman and chicken scratch. So many words, so much writing — it’s like a kind of explosion is taking place on the second floor of his brownstone. It’s not the food or the drink he worries about anymore — I went thru a period when I obsessed about root beer + Steak + Shake malts, he writes on a blue Post-it note — but how many more words he can get out in the time he has left. In this living room, lined with thousands more books, words are the single most valuable thing in the world. They are gold bricks. Here idle chatter doesn’t exist; that would be like lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills. Here there are only sentences and paragraphs divided by section breaks. Every word has meaning.

Roger Ebert writes a lot in his journal, which for all intents and purposes, is his autobiography. The entire article is a must-read, but Ebert’s thoughts on how to live a life resonate with me:

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

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