So this is going to be a quick update. I'm going to be visiting my parents in California & while I plan to get lots of work done & actually must get a fair bit of revising done on The Orphan Pearl before the end of the month, it's possible some of the non-essential tasks might fall by the wayside.
So. Here's the news...
I'm having trouble with Barnes & Noble and iTunes--I don't know how long it will take to get my vendor information straight with them. Hopefully not too much longer. I'm working on it.
Lastly, I finally finished Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This was a really dense book and I listened to it on audio. It took me forever because couldn't listen for too long without getting one of those strain headaches. You know, the kind you get from concentrating too hard for too long? So I listened in dribs and drabs and only when I was feeling really alert.
But man, it was such a good book. Mind-blowing. Enlightening, hideously depressing...it also really made me feel so compassionate towards other people. It's a book about decision making, how we make choices. In particular, how much control our unconscious mind has over our decisions. Or, often: how our unconscious mind makes very important decisions and our conscious mind is following behind, without much more to offer than after-the-fact justifications.
Kahneman won a Nobel prize for experimental psychology & the book mostly follows his own research projects. Listening to this book really compromised my ability to believe that human beings are thinking, rational creatures who can be held responsible for their thoughts and actions. There are so many examples of how an average person interprets information poorly. Almost worse are the cases of statisticians who can't eyeball statistics very well; judges who make decisions based on hunger rather than a review of the facts; military personnel who use magical thinking to interpret the results of a battle.
Even the author, at the very end, says that a whole lifetime spent studying the ways that people act irrationally hasn't really taught him to be any more rational, or to avoid the common pitfalls he discusses. It's only helped him figure out when he needs to say, "Okay, I need to question my judgment here."
I have a general rule that I try to be sympathetic to human nature. Understanding human nature is a lifelong project, of course. But what we are is what we are, and being kind to yourself--loving to yourself--means accepting that the base material, our common humanity, is what it is.
Now, I also think that people are pretty fundamentally shitty, so this is, you might say, a way of reinforcing a point of view in which I'm already well entrenched. True enough. I think people are more or less awful and I seek out examples of how we're permanently and inescapably flawed. And then I try to make peace with that.
That's my bias. But Thinking Fast & Slow is a pretty phenomenal book about our biases, the purpose they serve, how they can be identified and circumvented. You might read it and come to a different conclusion.
It's worth the time and effort.