What a different world we have been living in over the past year, both of us working from home and finding ourselves busier than ever. The list of tasks is the same. Claire continues to research the history of psychiatry, write blogs and edit newsletters, grow vegetables, make jam, and do beautiful Hebrew and Arabic calligraphy. Claire’s book Civilian Lunatic Asylums during the First World War is available on line for free, and has now had 9,000 individual chapter downloads. You can access it here.
Michael continues to teach classical Greek, train student rabbis, mentor some of his colleagues, campaign with Harrow Citizens, plan and attend interfaith conferences, and teach adult education classes at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. And both of us continue to pursue our classical Arabic studies with the help of our wonderful teacher, Nazmina Dhanji.
Sadly, a number of Claire’s older colleagues, who had also been of such help with her history, have passed away over the past year. We attended the stone setting for Professor Tom Arie at the Jewish cemetery at Wolvercote, Oxford, which we managed to fit into a two week tour exploring former asylums and mental hospitals across Kent and into Sussex, and in the Epsom, Brighton and Oxfordshire areas. Claire has written a number of blog articles about what she learned on the trip, Including on asylum cemeteries, asylum chapels, water towers, and even cricket. She also wrote “A History of Psychiatry in 1500 words,” which led to a fascinating interview with Radio New Zealand, which you can hear here.
As for Samuel, Jacob, and Benjamin, they have developed a remarkable synergy with what they want to do with their lives. It all began when Samuel was at Oxford, when he got involved with the Effective Altruism (EA) movement, founded by Professor Peter Singer, and Toby Ord. Effective Altruists research the most effective ways to relieve extreme poverty in the world, and also research existential risks to the future of humanity. Samuel went on to be a founder and trustee of Effective Altruism UK, and is now working as a researcher for Charity Entrepreneurship, an EA organization that helps start multiple high-impact charities annually based on extensive research. Jacob continues his work for Open AI in San Francisco, which has an effective altruist aim of researching how to make General Artificial Intelligence a safe enterprise: and San Francisco itself is now the world headquarters of the EA movement. Benjamin has just complete a year working in the Cabinet Office, where he has been serving the Brexit Committee, and is completing a part time MSC in Economics at Birkbeck College. So far as we know, the Brexit Committee of the UK cabinet has nothing to do with EA, but watch this space for Benjamin’s future plans.
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