Tag Archives: books

Crows, Zoey Ashe, and other Novels

I’ve been making friends with the crows at work. This week, one of them did the clicky rattle call at me. I think it might be a friendly sound? I think most of their communication is body language, but it’s cool when they vocalize at me.

I just finished the second in Jason “David Wong” Pargin’s Zoey Ashe series. I put off reading it because of the title, Zoey Punches the Future in the Dick. It’s embarrassing to even talk about the book thanks to the title. I’m just going to call it Zoey Ashe 2. I aksi made a video review about it. It’s my second Sci-Fi and Mixology video.

Something in Zoey Ashe 2 stood out to me: Zoey is serious about the responsibility that comes with wealth. She inherited a huge fortune in Book 1. At one point in Book 2, Zoey gets her people to fix a squeak in her air conditioning system. It costs twenty-six thousand dollars. She freaks out. She knows that, before she was rich, that much money would have changed her life. And she just spent it to fix a squeak. And the money didn’t come from reputable businesses, either. Twenty six thousand dollars represents a few percent profit on a lot of human misery. She is struggling to come up with something to do about it.

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Brief Kindle Review and Q&A

I love the kindle… Here’s the Q and A I would have liked before I bought it.

Q: Can I get G-mail on the kindle?

A: Yes. The web browser is “experimental” but it works with gmail. Conceivably, Amazon could remove this feature at any time.

Q: Does web access cost anything?

A: No. It’s free.

Q: How long does it take the screen to refresh?

A: About 0.5 seconds. It’s fine for reading at my reading pace (about average). It would be great if you could set it to turn the the top of the page only then the bottom only. That way as you got close to the bottom of the page you could page forward and only the top would change, getting ready for you. Then when you hit the page-forward again as you start the top of that page, the bottom would flip over. Alas, this is not a feature.

Q: Is Harry Potter available on the Kindle?

A: No. It seems that J. K. Rowling doesn’t allow it. You can’t legally download Harry Potter.

Unconscious thought and an aritcle on the Unseen Mind

I’m back! I’ve just read a perspective over at Science that made me think of Blink.  I have mentioned Blink before. It’s even linked over in the sidebar. It’s a book I like to think about. Some have denigrated it as anti-intellectualism, but I disagree. In fact, I think the mistake is revealing.

An MRI of a human brain: how much is below the threshold of self consciousness

I will explain. The subject of Blink is intuition and unconscious thought. It turns out we have a lot of unconscious processing going on all of the time. The world we ‘see’ is a necessarily greatly filtered. If you had to deal consciously with facts like the number of spokes in every bicycle wheel that passed you or the color of the shoelaces on each stranger’s feet, or the smell of every room you entered, it is doubtful you could stay sane.

Our brains have mechanisms for dealing with these stimuli (‘inconsequential’ sights, sounds and smells). The filter is very effective, but not perfect. That is to say, sometimes it ignores things that are consequential, and other times it flags trivial things as important.

The point of Blink is that we can train these parts of our brain (the parts of which we are not consciously aware) to make them more effective. People do it all of the time. Sports coaches often can read subtle cues about an athlete’s movement that the average person couldn’t notice. And they may not even be able to express consciously exactly what it was that they noticed. But by being ale to see, they can help the athlete refine their skill anyway.

Intellectuals think that this is counter to rational thought. It’s a cop-out, they say, to rely on unconscious parts of your brain. People who see Blink as anti-intellectual have the notion that reasonable, intelligent people don’t have to resort to such mystical clap-trap to solve problems. Thinkers, they suppose, will rely on their conscious rhetoric and careful analysis just like they always have. But this misses the point. It only reveals that these intellectuals see a false division between their rational selves and their more intuitive unconscious faculties.

The truth is that nobody can avoid relying on these parts of their brain. We rely on unconscious parts of our brain whether we like it or not. The part of us that is our ‘self’ is not just the part that is narrating the internal monologue. It is an indefensible claim that the whole of our body including these lower parts of our consciousness is only present to get our higher cognitive faculties to meetings. The unconscious is as much a part of the whole as the conscious.

The part of me that is ‘me’ is more than the narrator of my internal monologue. Buddhists, who (arguably) have made the longest running investigation of consciousness, have known this for a long time. Science is finding it, too: “Studies such as that by Galdi et al. are documenting how the adaptive unconscious works and people’s limited introspective access to it. As these studies become more widely known, people might realize that … their conscious thoughts and feelings are but a small part of the workings of their minds.”