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Subject: "Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink." This topic is locked.
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B
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Fri May-12-06 09:18 AM

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"Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink."
Fri May-12-06 12:46 PM by johnbook

          

(Had to make a spelling correction in the subject line, thus the edit. -JB)

I'm about halfway thru. If you're reading or have already read it, post your thoughts. Also, for Gladwell fans, let us know how you think this one compares to The Tipping Point?

B
--
now playing: The African American Student's Guide to Excellence in College
on deck: another installment of Okaybooks
archives: Spoken Words | Move Over Girl

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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
I'm going to have to read it, I read The Tipping Point
May 12th 2006
1
The individual cases are all interesting, but cumulatively
May 12th 2006
2
that's more or less what I expected from Blink
May 12th 2006
4
Great post
May 12th 2006
6
      Before I saw him speak, I was less inclined to give him a pass
May 12th 2006
7
RE: The individual cases are all interesting, but cumulatively
May 17th 2006
9
while I know it's politically very unpalatable
May 17th 2006
11
RE: while I know it's politically very unpalatable
May 18th 2006
12
      well he does recognize that in the article
May 18th 2006
13
           political will and cost/benefit analysis
May 18th 2006
15
                Right, But
May 18th 2006
16
                     yes, of course
May 18th 2006
21
                          But if it was politically easy
May 18th 2006
22
                               the better article
May 18th 2006
24
                                    agreed
May 19th 2006
29
                                         I know, sigh, I hate those.
May 19th 2006
30
                                              hahahahaha
May 19th 2006
31
                                                   You ARE me.
May 19th 2006
32
                                                        I didn't have the subscription yet at that point
May 20th 2006
34
thanks for focusing my unease with this book
May 19th 2006
33
Great Book
May 12th 2006
3
RE: Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.
May 12th 2006
5
RE: Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.
May 12th 2006
8
i couldn't decide what his conclusion was....
May 17th 2006
10
agreed
May 18th 2006
14
his conclusion is that, since we all make these kind of decisions
May 20th 2006
35
That nigga ugly.
May 18th 2006
17
very interesting reading
May 18th 2006
18
Wordman says...
May 18th 2006
19
Best promotion for Kenna's album I've ever seen
May 18th 2006
20
yeah, that really made me happy
May 18th 2006
23
come on.
May 18th 2006
25
I got it from the library
May 18th 2006
26
      good thinking.
May 18th 2006
27
**** Somewhere I was expecting // Book Club Paperback****
May 19th 2006
28
can we get a collection of all his New Yorker essays?
May 22nd 2006
36
yes
May 22nd 2006
37
      This is why you're awesome
May 22nd 2006
38
           oh honey
May 22nd 2006
39
better late than neva
Jun 01st 2006
40
how are books chosen?
Jun 01st 2006
41
      At this point...
Jun 01st 2006
42
           welllllll
Jun 01st 2006
43

explizit
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Fri May-12-06 12:29 PM

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1. "I'm going to have to read it, I read The Tipping Point"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

really enjoyed it, recommended it to all my friends. Blink sounds really interesting though.

http://myspace.com/bambumusic

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http://www.individualsole.com/?p=5256

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGH3OuP9Sek

  

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stylez dainty
Member since Nov 22nd 2004
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Fri May-12-06 01:40 PM

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2. "The individual cases are all interesting, but cumulatively"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

they don't amount to much of a point. For all the talk about our potential to change our lives through thin-slicing, his examples are almost exclusively about people who have a lifetime of experience and study in a certain discipline, and are able to parlay that into remarkable thin-slicing abilities. It makes sense that those people would be able to develop that ability. But I didn't feel like he ever presented a case where the ability wasn't the result of serious study and experience. So, it was kind of a no-duh message to me. He never made the transition to how normal people can apply thin-slicing WITHOUT needing an intense level of knowledge and experience on whatever they are thin-slicing. We already know that people who are experts are better equipped to make quick decisions in their chosen fields.

Also, I found his theory of temporary autism to be pretty ridiculous and thinly supported. It's like he came up with the idea, liked it, and did whatever he could to back his way into a rationale for it. For example, in the case of the police shooting, he talks about how officers saw the victim pulling something out of his pocket and pointing it at them, and then acts as if their focus on this movement over everything else that was going on was somehow INEXPLICABLE, comparing it to an autistic child watching a movie's most dramatic moment, and focusing intently on a clock in the background. Of course that would be your main focus if you were a police officer chasing someone you thought may be a criminal. An autistic response would be to focus on anything BUT the unidentified object being pointed at you. (Note: I think the officers were in the wrong and made a really shitty decision, I just think Gladwell tried, and failed, to use the incident to illustrate a spurious point.)

Anyway, I haven't read The Tipping Point, but I have read a lot of Gladwell's New Yorker work, and he always really makes you think with fascinating theories, but rarely arrives at any useful real-world application of his theories.

For example, and I'll shut-up soon, he wrote about the homeless problem, and in theory his solution was very interesting. Long story short: only a small fraction of a city's homeless are perpetually homeless. These are the ones that are the most expensive burden, in terms of medical and psychological care. So instead of focusing money to feed and house the thousands who will most likely only be homeless for 48 hours at most, we should just pay for apartments and round-the-clock nurse care for the most hopeless cases, because from an economic stand point, this makes the most sense. And it's fascinating to think about. But if you actually try to think about applying this theory to reality, it becomes obvious that it cannot work, for different ethical and logistical reasons. So you have some great food for thought, but that's about it.

Anyway, I honestly look forward to reading more of Gladwell's work, but find its best to use his intriguing case studies on perplexing problems and issues as a springboard for my own thoughts and conclusions, because unfortunately, I don't usually get much out of his.

----
I check for: Serengeti, Zeroh, Open Mike Eagle, Jeremiah Jae, Moka Only.

  

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janey
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4. "that's more or less what I expected from Blink"
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

and that's why I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback before reading it.

Did you see the thing I posted a few years back about Gladwell & The Tipping Point (and some other stuff)?

http://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=23&topic_id=17643&mesg_id=17643&listing_type=search

~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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stylez dainty
Member since Nov 22nd 2004
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Fri May-12-06 03:52 PM

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6. "Great post"
In response to Reply # 4


  

          

I hadn't seen your post before, but my post sure reads like I had.

It seems like we both, as well as a lot of other people, acknowledge the problems with his work, but still kind of give Gladwell a pass. Why do you think that is?

Because he's an interesting writer?
Because we like his politics?
Because we like him personally?
Because even if they are incorrect, his ideas are generally not dangerous?
Because the New Yorker rides for him?

If Gladwell wrote exactly the same way, but to use the example of two recent New Yorker essays, used his theories to say:

a) Racial profiling is effective. So are bans on pitbulls.

or

b) We need to get tougher on the most problem-prone homeless people.

he would have platinum hate posts on OKP, and I'm sure I'd be a major contributor. It makes me feel less justified in attacking similar methods when employed by those I don't agree with.

----
I check for: Serengeti, Zeroh, Open Mike Eagle, Jeremiah Jae, Moka Only.

  

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janey
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7. "Before I saw him speak, I was less inclined to give him a pass"
In response to Reply # 6


  

          

I loved his article on airport security that came out in about October 2001. Loved it. I think what I really like about him is what he says about himself -- that he's an enthusiast. I really do get the impression that he only writes (essays) about things that he thinks are just really interesting, and his enthusiasm is infectious.

I have been a little less enamored with him lately, in particular with respect to the two essays you note. But then, his essay on single payer healthcare systems was marvelous. Wunderbar. Even though it didn't always stay on topic. Or maybe because of that.




~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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Shingon
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Wed May-17-06 03:55 PM

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9. "RE: The individual cases are all interesting, but cumulatively"
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

what about the some of the examples at the begining like the card playing one?

or the example of how word sets in a quiz can change peoples behavior?

OkayNinja

  

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johnny_domino
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11. "while I know it's politically very unpalatable"
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

and seems "unfair", what are the other ethical and logistical reasons you don't think it would work?


>For example, and I'll shut-up soon, he wrote about the
>homeless problem, and in theory his solution was very
>interesting. Long story short: only a small fraction of a
>city's homeless are perpetually homeless. These are the ones
>that are the most expensive burden, in terms of medical and
>psychological care. So instead of focusing money to feed and
>house the thousands who will most likely only be homeless for
>48 hours at most, we should just pay for apartments and
>round-the-clock nurse care for the most hopeless cases,
>because from an economic stand point, this makes the most
>sense. And it's fascinating to think about. But if you
>actually try to think about applying this theory to reality,
>it becomes obvious that it cannot work, for different ethical
>and logistical reasons. So you have some great food for
>thought, but that's about it.

  

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stylez dainty
Member since Nov 22nd 2004
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Thu May-18-06 01:31 PM

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12. "RE: while I know it's politically very unpalatable"
In response to Reply # 11


  

          

Ethically: How do you give a rent-free apartment to the addict who just can't get his act together, but tell the single mother working her butt of and getting nowhere that she's not desperate enough to get a free apartment? I think it would cause an outrage. It would become an issue of who deserves, not who needs. Maybe that is more political than ethical, but I guarantee the average person would see it in an ethical light.

Logistically: When you're putting up the most desperate, hopeless cases, wouldn't these apartments attract a strong criminal element, making them dangerous places? How would you keep them from becoming hang outs for addicts, dealers, etc. without turning them into little prisons or rehab centers? How would you keep tenants from selling their furniture for money? Basically, imagine the most irresponsible, un-trustworthy person you know, and imagine how it would go if you gave them their own rent-free apartment, and you became the person ultimately responsible for their lives and behavior. Do you think it could ever work out? Once again, maybe logistically wasn't the best word... perhaps realistically?

Anyway, I understand that this is just my perspective, but it just seems so impossible when you bring in all these real-life considerations. To me, it's a solution that looks great-on-paper, but that's as far as it goes.

----
I check for: Serengeti, Zeroh, Open Mike Eagle, Jeremiah Jae, Moka Only.

  

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johnny_domino
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13. "well he does recognize that in the article"
In response to Reply # 12


  

          

that these solutions, while they have proven more effective than the conventional approaches, strike people as unfair and thus are extremely difficult to implement. That's part of why I like that article so much, he recognized the same problem with the emissions testing: it strikes people as unfair, so even though it's thinking outside the box and is most importantly effective, there are going to be serious problems implementing it.

As to other downsides of the homelessness thing, you may well be right, I'd just like to see how it worked in practice on a larger scale first. 'Cause the current approaches to homelessness have plenty of drawbacks too, even if it created other side effects, it might still be better in the long run, just depends on the political will and the cost/benefit analysis.

  

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janey
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15. "political will and cost/benefit analysis"
In response to Reply # 13


  

          

don't always go hand in hand.

In addition to the concerns voiced above, and just as a side note to the question of political problems with the idea, given the majority viewpoint of people receiving AFDC or foodstamps as leeches on the system, resulting in tremendous cutbacks in the last ten or so years, can you just imagine what kind of backlash a program like this would cause? No politician could support it.

  

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johnny_domino
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Thu May-18-06 03:19 PM

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16. "Right, But"
In response to Reply # 15
Thu May-18-06 03:27 PM by johnny_domino

  

          

The article in question wasn't just about "here are possible solutions to two* civic problems", it was "here are these unorthodox, but potentially more effective solutions, but the paradox is that they are extremely politically unpalatable, they seem unfair to the general public". It seems silly to cite that as a "weakness" of the article, when it was part of the article's content, and the parallel with welfare reform was noted.

Here's a link to the actual article:

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060213fa_fact

* Actually, now that I look at it again, it goes into three civic problems, though chronic homelesness is the primary focus.

  

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janey
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21. "yes, of course"
In response to Reply # 16


  

          

I read the article when it was published (I pretty much religiously read his essays in the New Yorker), and I get it that he was just pointing out that there are paradoxical alternatives that aren't really under consideration, and just musing on them.

And that kind of brings us back to the whole Who Is Malcolm Gladwell And Why Do We Like Him question. He's great at pointing out these funny little inconsistencies, like how increased airport security yields fewer incidents with increasingly horrific results, but he's not great at finding solutions. On the other hand, that's not his intent. His intent is to noodle. And what a great noodler he is.

But it's when we say, well why NOT try it? that we have to face the real reality world and see why it wouldn't fly.

By the way, I thought he might be at a new low point in this week's New Yorker. I depend on MG to find me people and things I would never hear about otherwise -- the diaper guy, for example -- and I gather that the Dog Whisperer has a television show.

  

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johnny_domino
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22. "But if it was politically easy"
In response to Reply # 21
Thu May-18-06 05:02 PM by johnny_domino

  

          

Some politician would have already done it and loudly claimed credit for it. Gladwell's doing what he can, getting these ideas out there, it's up to other people to sell them politically.

Agreed on the dog whisperer article though, I didn't even realize that was Gladwell.

  

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janey
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24. "the better article"
In response to Reply # 22


  

          

is the one on co-opting dissent re: the Da Vinci Code

  

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johnny_domino
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29. "agreed"
In response to Reply # 24


  

          

It was just a sub-par issue, unfortunately. But at least it wasn't a food or style issue.

  

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janey
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30. "I know, sigh, I hate those."
In response to Reply # 29


  

          

I saw David Remnick speak the other day. That man is so smart it just kills me.

The last time I saw him speak, during the Q&A someone asked, "Do you have anything to do with the choice of poetry for the magazine, and if so, WHY?" lol

  

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johnny_domino
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31. "hahahahaha"
In response to Reply # 30
Fri May-19-06 03:41 PM by johnny_domino

  

          

That's great. I used to take the time to read the poems, the only ones I tended to like were the ones translated from Polish. And even those disrupted the flow of whatever I was reading. Now I just look past 'em like I do the ads. I do love the New Yorker though, in general, it's the only magazine I read regularly, aside from whatever crap they have to distract me at the gym.

  

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janey
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32. "You ARE me."
In response to Reply # 31


  

          

You know that one that was in the first issue after Sept. 11, 2001? "Try to praise the mutilated world"? Translated from the POLISH (side note: Why do we say "from THE Polish"? That ALWAYS bugs me.)

I printed that fucker out and have had it at my desk ever since.

And that is probably the only poem printed in the New Yorker that I have ever actually liked. lol

  

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johnny_domino
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34. "I didn't have the subscription yet at that point"
In response to Reply # 32
Sat May-20-06 01:09 AM by johnny_domino

  

          

I've only had it for the past 2-3 years. I hear you on "the polish", it's like a 21st century equivalent of "I met a chinese the other day".

P.S. Does the fact that I am a dude make me more you, or less you?

  

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ear2ear
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Fri May-19-06 07:05 PM

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33. "thanks for focusing my unease with this book"
In response to Reply # 2


          

I read it and was interested throughout, but in the end I was left wondering what conclusion he was actually trying to make.

Interesting and entertaining short anecdotes and factoids, but they don't build to much. And yes, the police part was very sketchy. Why try to defend those actions as being somewhat natural in a high adrenaline situation?

~
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Unique1ne
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Fri May-12-06 02:08 PM

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3. "Great Book"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

cause we all make snap judgements, don't think it's something we can change but we'll have to learn to control them

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tmoline
Member since May 12th 2006
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Fri May-12-06 03:38 PM

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5. "RE: Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink."
In response to Reply # 0


          

Hey, no...
i finally just got the hint and read the tipping point.
interesting book. i'm reading "Bitching" by Marion Meade,
then i'm reading blink.
can't wait.

where is the discussion about the tipping point?

T

  

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sl_onIce
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Fri May-12-06 06:59 PM

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8. "RE: Okaybooks - Discuss Malcolm Gladwell's Blink."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I liked it when I read it. Right now, the only thing that really sticks in my mind is the racism/unconscious test. As a training psychologist (which psychology of racism and categories is my area of interest) it was good to see this in the book, and also it shows just how much our unconscious motives affect our actions.

Also, the other part that really resonated with me was the sculpture thing at the start of the book. It basically showed me that if you break down something enough and analyze its elements early, then in the future, when evaluating the quality of something, it becomes much more of a snap-judgement thing, much more efficient.

Liked The Tipping Point more though.

__________________________________

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theprofessional
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10. "i couldn't decide what his conclusion was...."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

was it to trust your snap judgements (statue hoax, card game) or not to (racial bias, diallo shooting, president harding)? or maybe it was to only trust them when they're right.

still a great read.

"i smack clowns with nouns, punch herbs with verbs..."

  

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johnny_domino
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Thu May-18-06 02:01 PM

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14. "agreed"
In response to Reply # 10


  

          

I liked it a lot, even if the conclusions were somewhat contradictory, there was still a lot to be learned and enjoyed.

  

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magilla vanilla
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Sat May-20-06 09:22 AM

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35. "his conclusion is that, since we all make these kind of decisions"
In response to Reply # 10


  

          

it is best if we are at least aware of how the process works so we can build our thin-slicing ability. Also, his argument is that systems which allow rapid, autonomous decision-making (single-officer patrol cars, the abolition of bureaucracy in the military) are more efficient, and will produce better results than systems that require decisions to go through levels of approval.

---------------------------------
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Galatasaray
Member since May 11th 2006
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Thu May-18-06 03:23 PM

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17. "That nigga ugly."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

.

  

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Iltigo
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Thu May-18-06 03:32 PM

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18. "very interesting reading"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

but it can be done "magazine style".

out o order since the chapters are al about seperate aspects of a main topic.

the diallo chapter was the most impressive.

he broke done the shooting, action by action. it takes about a solid minute maybe two to read it. but the entire thing took maybe 30 seconds to go down. it was the most haunting chapter, as wel it should have been.

the chapter on autism was interesting too.

i really enjoy his style. he makes complex things simple and interesting.

oh and the chest pain chapter, very interesting.


________________________________________
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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
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Thu May-18-06 03:50 PM

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19. "Wordman says..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

...I don't think he hit paydirt with this one like he did with The Tipping Point, but I did really like it. The arguments I've heard about his writings and his books is that he doesn't offer great conclusions or solutions, but I don't really know if I can fault him for that. Coming up with a great solution to homelessness - can ya blame him for not coming up with that? I don't know that he writes with the conclusion/solution in mind, so much as he writes so you'll think about the subject. In that sense, the book was a success because he makes you think about it and come up with your own conclusions.
He has that nasty habit of making me interested in crap I never thought I'd be interested in. Chairs? Muscles in your face? Tennis?
I wasn't expecting Blink to do as much as The Tipping Point, but I did find it provacative.

"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
11224 posts
Thu May-18-06 03:51 PM

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20. "Best promotion for Kenna's album I've ever seen"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          


"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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johnny_domino
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Thu May-18-06 05:08 PM

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23. "yeah, that really made me happy"
In response to Reply # 20


  

          

  

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WhiteNotion
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Thu May-18-06 06:34 PM

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25. "come on."
In response to Reply # 0


          

at least wait until it's out in paperback, so us poor folks can read it and discuss too.

http://www.audioscrobbler.com/user/whitenotion/
http://www.myspace.com/flowtron
http://mynameisshaun.blogspot.com

  

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johnny_domino
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Thu May-18-06 06:50 PM

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26. "I got it from the library"
In response to Reply # 25


  

          

you probably could too

  

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WhiteNotion
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Thu May-18-06 08:44 PM

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27. "good thinking."
In response to Reply # 26


          

i usually share books with my friends and i always forget to use the library. i'm a dummy.

http://www.audioscrobbler.com/user/whitenotion/
http://www.myspace.com/flowtron
http://mynameisshaun.blogspot.com

  

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MONIQUEE
Member since Feb 13th 2006
301 posts
Fri May-19-06 01:52 AM

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28. "**** Somewhere I was expecting // Book Club Paperback****"
In response to Reply # 0
Fri May-19-06 01:58 AM by MONIQUEE

  

          


Personally the book is Educational, and entertaining. I enjoyed having certain visuals from page 189.... .

It is somewhat like a short story book with each one giving us the list I so expected.

" Mind......" Another page.

Somewhere along the way,
I was expecting like
maybe a 1-10, laid out explanations as a summary .

But with each story, and explanation, I guess he gave us enough to
use our own Mind Power and

BLINK
The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking

And. Make a list.

Book Club PaperBack Purchase.
Helping me to replace Sula , Song Of Solomon and more.

D'Angelo : @ www.myspace.com/dangeloarcher

NELLY: COME ON OVER TO (OUR ) PLACE

D'ANGELO: www.myspace.com/dangeloarcher <<< PUSH IT TO THE LEFT

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
11224 posts
Mon May-22-06 01:49 PM

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36. "can we get a collection of all his New Yorker essays?"
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"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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janey
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Mon May-22-06 02:28 PM

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37. "yes"
In response to Reply # 36


  

          

http://www.gladwell.com/archive.html

  

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Wordman
Member since Apr 11th 2003
11224 posts
Mon May-22-06 04:37 PM

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38. "This is why you're awesome"
In response to Reply # 37


  

          

amongst other reasons.

"Your current frequencies of understanding outweigh that which has been given for you to understand." Saul Williams

  

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janey
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123101 posts
Mon May-22-06 05:42 PM

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39. "oh honey"
In response to Reply # 38


  

          

I wish it were that easy.

  

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B
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644 posts
Thu Jun-01-06 09:12 AM

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40. "better late than neva"
In response to Reply # 0


          

finished it a week ago but haven't had time to post. it was an interesting book. one that you can read in chunks, but i think that if i read it straight thru, i would have gotten more. maybe not though, from some of your comments. it did feel a bit disjointed, but i took it for what it was - some interesting stuff, a bit connected. i like that he dealt w/ both sides of thin-slicing - when it can potentially work and potentially fail. i also liked how he made an attempt to bring it all together - like he kept going back to the statue from the opening story. even when it seemed like a bit of a stretch, it at least reminded me of the previous points and made me try to piece together some relations.

it was b/c of this that the end felt a bit empty. not that i expected a neat summary and a "what to do w/ this info" guide, but the symphony auditions didn't seem to capture everything. or maybe that was just me. the autism piece was interesting, but a bit forced i felt. he gave an example of how the autistic dude focussed in on key things that you wouldn't expect then took that theme and ran. there are other aspects to autism that may not have worked in well w/ his conclusion, but i got what he was trying to say, and i found the tunnel-vision concept pretty interesting. it's terrible that tragedies (diallo shooting) play out this way. i mean, how can you thin-slice the value of someone's life - which is essentially what happens when you have a gun in your hand. pull the trigger or not? crazy.

good book. if anyone's still reading (or waiting for the paperback - i see you), feel free to add on to this thread whenever you'd like. next book coming.

B

--
now playing: The African American Student's Guide to Excellence in College
on deck: another installment of Okaybooks
archives: Spoken Words | Move Over Girl

www.chance22.com
www.lionsstory.org
www.okayplayer.com/books

  

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janey
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Thu Jun-01-06 01:37 PM

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41. "how are books chosen?"
In response to Reply # 40


  

          




~~~~~

Breathe and know you're breathing.

  

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B
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644 posts
Thu Jun-01-06 03:07 PM

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42. "At this point..."
In response to Reply # 41


          

It's really random. I used to post a thread for suggestions. Now I just see what people are talking about on the boards, what's in the news, what seems interesting, and roll w/ it. Some people still e-mail suggestions as well. When Okaybooks is relaunched (no timetable right now), there will be a more exact science to it.

Got suggestions? Post or e-mail chance22ATgmail.com

B

  

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janey
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Thu Jun-01-06 03:12 PM

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43. "welllllll"
In response to Reply # 42


  

          

one thing that's nice about this one is that it has the book club discussion guide at the end, so you've got a natural jumping off point for discussion.

Also, I mean, having re-read it recently, I'm once again taken by the overwhelming message of Paul Farmer's life -- which is not that you yourself must cure the world, but that you do need to do what you can in the way that you can for those in need, wherever you find them. I just find it incredibly inspirational and also something of a kick in the pants AND it's really really engaging.

***Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

The biography of Paul Farmer. Farmer is a doctor (specialist in infectious diseases) and anthropologist who has undertaken the treatment of AIDS in Haiti and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Russia (and elsewhere), and who looks at disease as social/cultural ill and poverty as the single most significant factor in healthcare issues. He makes a powerful case in his own writings for a radically new picture of the politics of health and the allocation of resources, and this book is a great introduction to him and his writings, because he tends to disappear in his own books. His own story is very much worth reading. He scoffs at the idea of "sustainable" programs (i.e., AIDS prevention to the detriment of AIDS treatment) and just tackles what is in front of him with all his force and determination. In the offices of his non-profit org, one of his co-workers has a little sign posted that says "If Paul is the model, we're fucked." And that's a good reminder. I mean, this book could totally inspire you or it could make you throw your hands in the air and think that if you can't give everything, the way the Farmer does, there's no point in trying. But Farmer, via Kidder, would say with Gandhi that everything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

  

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