Monday, September 25, 2006

Sierra Nevada Brown Ale

This weekend I picked up a sixer of the new Brown Ale from SN. I have been looking for something new to try out along with the changing weather, and since the only seasonal on the grocery store shelves is the Sam Adams Oktoberfest I turned to this brew. First impressions was it had a very light head with little or no lacing. A decent smell, just a hint of alcohol. Tried a taste and it was nice. It had the nice nutty flavor I was expecting from the color, but there was some hop and alcohol hints to it too. Overall this beer makes a great session beer with great drinkability.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blink: The Power of thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Let me start by describing what I am trying to accomplish here. Since November 2002 I have been keeping a list of every book that I read. It was mostly about a challenge I made to myself about a claim that I wanted to make. I said that I read over 30 books a year, but had little evidence of it. I can now prove this with a list of books that I have read. Starting last October when I attended a software conference where a number of authors spoke, I have been trying to round out my reading with a good number of business books. My hope was to create a quarterly book club at work. That hope has been dashed as I have repeatedly asked if anyone was interested and finding no takers.

So here we are. I will have a one man book club where I discuss some of my thoughts on the non-fiction books I read. Staring with the latest book: Blink.

I read Malcolm Gladwell's first hit, The Tipping Point a few weeks ago and was quite interested in the concepts found within. This led me to pick up Blink. This turned out to be another great book, but it wasn't until I sat down to write a review that I realized something. Business books almost all have the same general format, they start with amusing anecdotes about their subject and then move to ways where you can improve or implement. Blink and its cousin The Tipping Point never move to the latter part. They are informative, telling great stories and even backing it up with hard science, but they never teach you how to harness the principals laid out in their pages.

Blink teaches great things about how our minds work on a subconscious level. It explains why we are often incapable of providing a logical rational for any number of behaviors because we have none. It is useful to know the types of things that are "locked behind the door" f your unconscious, but they book is unclear on what to do about it. I walked away wanting to use this newfound power, but failing to find ways to do it.

Part of the problem with this book is that it as it even documents you can't change many of these thought processes. True understanding or knowledge can help give better snap insights but you can't just turn you subconscious off just by knowing about it. In some ways this is disturbing. If you associate certain images or words with violence, they are likely to remain so, despite your best efforts to shove them out. In the end the books best message is that you should embrace these snap insights and decisions. They are often as statistically to be correct. I know that when I have taken tests I always worked quickly, letting my mind tell me which ones I knew the answer to and which were going to be guesses no matter how long I stared at them. I am not a expert test taker, but some of the anxiety is removed when you grasp that you either have the answer or you're guessing rather than worrying over whether that arcane piece of knowledge is going to float to the surface.