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In and around trips to S's family in Michigan, my family on Cape Cod, and [livejournal.com profile] papersky and [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel for New Year's in Montreal.


Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic, by Dan Ariely.  I'm not sure what to say about these.  They are, in fact, good introductions to the psychology of irrationality, biases, and heuristics.  The phenomena described in them are illustrated in an interesting, entertaining, and mostly accurate fashion.  But, but, but... Ariely is egotistical in a way that gets on my nerves.  You might well come away from these books with the impression that most of the work on these topics has been done by Dan Ariely, since he mostly cites himself.  He has the decency to give Kahneman and Tversky a nod in passing, mentioning one or two of their papers.  (If you haven't heard of them, they won a Nobel for founding the field.)  And he occasionally goes overboard in attempting to be entertaining--in particular, he mis-presents statistics to freak out about the sexual predilections of college males, and he misuses one of the very phenomena he's talking about to be alarmist about the "increased" prevalence of crime.  It's bad enough when the evening news uses the availability heuristic to screw with your head, but a behavioral economist bloody well does know better.


I'm now in the middle of Kahneman's recent book on the same topic.  In addition to being deeper and more intelligently written, Kahneman isn't trying to boost his own ego.  It's refreshing, and I'd recommend it over the Ariely easily if you're interested in the topic.


Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, by Sarah Monette ([livejournal.com profile] truepenny


Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer.  Reviewed elsewhere.


Brokedown Palace, by Steven Brust. This was the only Dragaera novel that I hadn't read, so I read it.  It's very different from the others, more like the in-between-chapters fairy tale bits in The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars.  This turns out to not quite work for me at novel length--in particular, the resolution feels a little too deux ex machina.  "And then a thing happened, and it was all okay."  But I picked up a couple of puzzle pieces for the rest of the series, so I'm glad I read it.



Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, by Jane McGonigal.  Why games, particularly video games, are so appealing, and how that appeal can be turned to solving real world problems.  Read because I'm involved in a serious games project at work, and wanted some background.  If you like McGonigal's TED talk, you will like this book.  My only quibble is that she's so excited about video games that she neglects the power of other sorts of games.  I certainly feel like I've gotten much of the reward she talks about, and learned many of the lessons, from tabletop RPGs.  And probably from Chess, too.


Other Media Consumed:


Hadestown (Anais Mitchell and a variety of other cool people).  This is a "folk opera" version of the Orpheus and Euripides story taking place in, more or less, a Depression-era mining town.  Which turns out to work really, really well.  With Persephone running a speakeasy that sells moonshine.  No, literally, moonshine.  The two levels of story come together perfectly, with the bonus that in this version, the female characters are real people who do things and make choices, rather than merely being quest objects or implicitly present queens.


Plus the usual assortment of podcasts.

Total Books: 6
Recent Publication: 3/6
Rereads: 0/6
Recommendations: The Arielys were for work, but recommended only in the sense that we decided to do a book club on them, pre facto, and technically that was my idea.  Going to be an interesting discussion tomorrow; I'm not the only one who found them annoying. [livejournal.com profile] papersky reviewed Brokedown Palace some time ago. [livejournal.com profile] robling_t is, um, responsible, for Twilight. Hadestown was recommended on the SF Squeecast.
New Music: 1 album
New Media Produced:Some Aphra Marsh, some Highways and Labyrinths
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