from the finally-getting-around-to-posting-this dept.
Ponca City writes "Every year, millions of Americans pay needless penalties because they don't file their taxes on time, forgo huge amounts of money in matching 401(k) contributions because they never get around to signing up for a retirement plan, and risk blindness from glaucoma because they don't use their eyedrops regularly. James Surowiecki writes that procrastination is a basic human impulse, a peculiar irrationality stemming from our relationship to time — in particular, from a tendency that economists call 'hyperbolic discounting,' the ability to make rational choices when they're thinking about the future, but, as a future event gets closer, short-term considerations overwhelm their long-term goals. Game theorist Thomas Schelling proposes that we think of ourselves a collection of competing selves, jostling, contending, and bargaining for control, where one represents your short-term interests (having fun, putting off work, and so on), while another represents your long-term goals. Philosopher Mark Kingwell puts it in existential terms: 'Procrastination most often arises from a sense that there is too much to do, and hence no single aspect of the to-do worth doing. Underneath this rather antic form of action-as-inaction is the much more unsettling question whether anything is worth doing at all.'"
"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers."
-- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a
particularly vivid fantasy)