What I'm Reading (Oct. 20)

Related articles

The real art of the deal
Being conscious is different from being awake
Should we stop teaching algebra?
Reality is an illusion.


“Loewy had an uncanny sense of how to make things fashionable. He believed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces: neophilia, a curiosity about new things; and neophobia, a fear of anything too new. As a result, they gravitate to products that are bold, but instantly comprehensible. Loewy called his grand theory “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”—maya. He said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.”

Understanding what makes things “cool.” From The Atlantic, The Four-Letter Code To Selling Just About Anything

This is a short article from a wonderful book on a very big topic.

“So what underlies being conscious specifically, as opposed to just being awake? We know it’s not just the number of neurons involved. The cerebellum (the so-called ‘little brain’ hanging off the back of the cortex) has about four times as many neurons as the rest of the brain, but seems barely involved in maintaining conscious level. It’s not even the overall level of neural activity – your brain is almost as active during dreamless sleep as it is during conscious wakefulness. Rather, consciousness seems to depend on how different parts of the brain speak to each other, in specific ways.”

The book, Being You is best taken in small sips. I’ve been through it twice and am just getting deeper in my understanding. Make no mistake, it is well written, but the concepts take some time to get used to. Aeon provides an excellent introduction. The Real Problem. Heartily recommended.

I am lucky to have two handcrafts, surgery and woodworking. They both inform one another and have made me better, although I would claim that I remain a far better surgeon than a woodworker. In any case, I am currently reading a book about proportion, how measurement was for craftspeople a necessity only with the advent of machines; until then proportion was the best guide. Then I ran across this piece in The Atlantic by Temple Grandin,

“Students need more exposure to the way everyday things work and are made. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the teaching of math, where we persist in a rigid approach that rewards those who “get it” and leaves the rest—including those with the very kinds of minds our economy and our future most desperately need—with a sense of profound failure.

… the fact that some people are visual thinkers while others are auditory- or language-oriented is better understood than it was when I was growing up. There are two types of visual thinkers. Some visual thinkers, like me, are “object visualizers”—we see the world in photorealistic images. Many of us are graphic designers, artists, skilled tradespeople, architects, inventors, mechanical engineers. “Spatial visualizers” see the world in patterns and abstractions. They are the music and math minds—the statisticians, computer coders, electrical engineers, and physicists.”

Her lament about the algebra requirement puts the recent kerfuffle over organic chemistry at NYU into perspective. From The Atlantic, Against Algebra

Is it not a Zen belief that our experience of the world is an illusion? That line is often coupled with the suggestion that if you believe that to be the case, go run out in front of a moving car and see how illusionary that might be. But what we perceive as reality, what our senses take in, is subject to the whims of our nervous system created over evolutionary eons. Here are 12 optical illusions that show that, in some senses, it is, indeed, all in your head. From Nautil.us, 12 Mind-Bending Perceptual Illusions