30 November 2007

Jolie Holland

Jolie Holland is the most enchanting folk singer I've ever heard. A few of you have enjoyed her work while held captive in my car. Your curious inquiries rang sweet in my ears.

"Crush in the Ghetto" is so bittersweet a song I almost wish I had reason to sing it. "Mexican Blue" puts me at peace without fail. And "Faded Coat of Blue" is my new favorite Civil War song!

I sometimes find myself listening to the drums instead of Jolie. That's a credit to Dave Mihaly, who was just as ensnaring heh heh when I saw Jolie et alia perform. The live show is almost as polished as the recordings.

28 November 2007

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I apologize if my edits caused duplicates in your RSS feeds. I hope they didn't! Someone let me know either way with a comment?

Ignorance is OK, indeed

Ignorance is OK. My newest mantra. It's a refreshing thought. Obviously, it can be misconstrued, but it's memorable, eh?

The notion is intended to help you relax when making decisions of any kind. It is not intended to let you claim, for example, that purposefully not reading warning labels excuses feeding puppies drain cleaner (cf. Sarah Connor's technique, 0:30 mark). I'll elaborate while you rid yourself of that visual. (The puppies are happy. Wagging tails. So trusting.)

Donald Rumsfeld said it best, emphasis mine.
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
I quote Rumsfeld just to paraphrase him. There are things that we know we don't know but we refuse to acknowledge it. There's so much pressure to make a decision nowadays. I'll take "WMDs" for the win, Peter. Take a moment and consider how awesome it would be if high ranking civil servants admitted to not know what was best for us all. Of course we ought to attempt policies, just stop assuring me that it's a sure shot.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has two popular books, Fooled by Randomness (didn't read it) and The Black Swan (did read it). This is the first place I saw the notion presented on its own. Taleb's work is rooted in the stock market, where people are payed fat cash to make decisions. There is uncertainty à gogo, but people can't resist claiming to have conquered it. (... fat cash? Who am I?)

To be fair, sometimes it's tricky to know what we don't know even in simple situations. Daniel Gilbert writes in Stumbling on Happiness about results of psychology experiments related to making decisions, big and small. One notable result: we are hard-wired to be unaware of our ignorance (à la our blind spot) about some things. Not only is it a habit to make decisions, it's an instinct. I'm sure it's served us well for millennia, but I think it helps to be aware of that automatism.

Next time you're weighing the alternatives and it's looking too close to call and they're breathing down your neck, consider shrugging your shoulders and smiling. It could be the most professional, mature, honest choice.

What do other people title their first post?

I am inspired by o t h e r s. I would be remiss if I neglected to acknowledge the longevity of Dan.

Entries will be thematic.
  • research stuff that may bore everyone but me; maybe you'll see why I like it
  • lots of whining about various sorts of decision making (personal, finance, politicals, ...)
  • clever plans I probably won't remember to execute
  • thoughts I'd like to share (current events, music, lifestyle, ...)
And crafted.
  • brevity is key; I'd like to you read these after all
  • thoughtfulness over frequency
  • entries will be tagged according to theme, so you can easily find similar entries