Lessons on leadership & failure

Eleanor Konik

Eleanor Konik

Professionally, I teach pre-teens about ancient civilizations. In my downtime, I enjoy combining storytelling with my love of sharing obscure history and science.

2022-Feb Updates

It's the first Friday of February, so that means you get an update from me! I like to do these as a scheduled check-in instead of spamming you with all the neat things that happen to me in a month, but if you prefer following along with my projects in real-time, I'm pretty active on Twitter these days.


My big reading project for January was that I finally finished Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer. It's the final book of the Terra Ignota series, and Ada Palmer is an incredibly thought-provoking author with some really complex ideas: in "real life" she's a Renaissance scholar at the History of Chicago. If you like complicated, inspiring fiction with a lot to say about potential futures, I highly recommend the series.

In other recommendations, I really enjoy the Resident Contrarian, whose piece on the artist / craftsmen divide I wish I'd stumbled across before I wrote the Art edition — he speaks to some things I was thinking about when I said:

The ancient Egyptians didn't have a word for 'art.' They considered sculptures and statues to be religious tools.

He also has a nice piece on marriage that made me smile; it caught my eye because it was a reaction piece to the wedding of a blogger we both follow; Scott Alexander, who I've linked to before — mostly recently in the bugs edition; he was how I found out about weird ways parasitic worms can kill someone.

Viral Traffic

The biggest news this month was that one of my articles (Yet Another Hot Take on "Folders vs Tags") got mentioned by a couple of popular newsletters. It wound up hitting the front page of a "social news website" / aggregator — the resultant traffic actually took down my website for a few hours, sorry! I'm back up and running, but as part of that process, I've moved most of the articles that used to live at eleanorkonik.com over to either

I'm still finalizing the migration — setting up redirects is a surprisingly tricky problem when you're using a static site — but hopefully it'll all be done by this time next month.

Lessons on Leadership & Failure

My newsletter drip campaign / deep dive into the history of food did pretty well, so Refind (here's an affiliate link) invited me to do another one, this time about some lessons we can learn from obscure leaders in history. It's less Caesar & George Washington, more Brasidas & Shajar al-Durr.

Don't know who they are? Go find out!


I also wrote a bunch here at the Iceberg!

This month's flash fiction was The Magic of Marsh Protection, which is about an indigenous protector of the rainforest who fights to keep a dangerous invasive species from destroying his homeland.

The afterword for Acumen touched on how research into iconoclasm, idolatry, and religious icons supports the underlying complexities of my worldbuilding — the story itself is about the consequences of not creating the sacred idols a particular god commanded his people to make.

Stint continues the storyline about a young mage coming of age in a society that treats mages like crap, and how the bureaucracy that exists to protect her uses tough love to keep her safe.

Lastly, Wither is the first poem published on the Iceberg; it's about a woman's refusal to commit suicide after her abusive husband dies. The afterword explores the role of human sacrifice throughout history.


In other exciting news, as part of my exploration of my options for employment in the fall — when I'm scheduled to go back into the classroom — I've set up a Consulting Calendar, and I've already had the opportunity to help a few people optimize their setups for writing, which has been really exciting.


There were some great comments on January issues of the newsletter, especially for the Jewelry edition. If you want to learn more about Neanderthal art and wearable German coins, join the conversation. We also discussed how to cook with bison heart & liver and Egyptian art.


Everyone is welcome to check out the rest of my public notes, but my complete setup is available to paid subscribers. The plain text notes, when opened with a program like Obsidian, show how the stories I write connect with one another and my research.

Until next time,



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