Posted by: Gram | June 11, 2010

The Massive Racist Test

I mentioned last time that I was reading “Blink”, a popular book on psychology, a subject I’m finding more interesting after being recommended the excellent Oliver Sacks book, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat“.¹

Another case of judging a book by its shiny cover, it proved to be more like Sacks’s book than I originally thought, dividing its points and observations via a series of case studies which ultimately conclude the following:

  • If you describe someone’s experience, you’ll forget what actually looked like
  • Instinct is good, and often better than studying
  • You can tell if a couple will get divorced by having just one conversation about their dog
  • Micromanagement is not suited to war
  • We’re all massive racists²

Why? Well, basically, despite efforts to promote equality, the majority in society will always be associated with “good” whereas minorities will be associated with “bad”.  And the test to find this out is the Harvard University Race IAT, where you are simply asked to press a button as ask what race a picture is, or whether a word is “good” or “bad”.  The speed of your response dictates how difficult it is to associate each with each, and thus, your own prejudgement.

Give it a go³.  It’s well worth it.  Then post your shame below if you like.

This of course, is either nonsense or common sense.  Depends on my own liberal-voting, quasi-socialist, possibly secret Commie result.  And it was?

“Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American.”⁴

H-what!?  Ah screw your silly unscientific test, what does it know…

¹Yes, I’ve basically turned this blog from a restaurant review to a tourist report to a book review site.  Meh. sue me.

² Including the book’s author, a half Jamacian afro’d genius

³ Unless you are Nick Griffin, the result may well blow up the internet.  Unless it’s this Nick Griffin.  Poor bloke…

⁴ Most worryingly, they ask you for your postcode at the end of the test.  After doing so, the rozzers arrived outside our house.  Thankfully, they just collared and knicked some other racist who was on the street.  Phew…

Posted by: Gram | June 5, 2010

Organised Fortuity

A little over a year ago, I discovered a little known author in the UK, Christopher Moore.  This was of course, by pure luck, so it’s somewhat fitting that the last book I read was called “Fluke“.

The route to getting to this book was somewhat erratic as my strict book rotation system required me to find the next Moore.

One of the great problems of less known authors is that it’s quite tricky to track down their books.  As a trip round Cambridge’s many bookshops proved¹.  Having finished the book I was reading, a poorly translated book of, well, I’m not sure  (Hope over difficulties I guess), I had to read the only book I had, “Around the World in 80 Days” as I travelled back to Reading with some lovely sunburn.

A return to the office allowed me to raid my windowsill of literature³ which meant I traded this book (not due to be read for another *6*) for “Blink“, the book I was to read after the next Chris Moore.  So alternatives are sorted, but what of my precious rotation system?

With the rise of Amazon, most stores only ever have what they think you want⁴, so Reading was a failure, just as Preston had been some time before, so that required a trip to Nodnol.  I’d planned to go Elephant Spotting so a quick detour to Piccadilly Waterstones which has most of the books you ever want, as well as the tat, when heading to Sloane Square⁵.  That was one week before I returned to “Blink”.

Yes, ultimately it paid off.  The thorough enjoyment of that book (that included binary whales, disturbing doorknobs and pastrami), smashed my record for reading a book⁶.  A 400 page book in 7 days is pretty damn good for me, especially since I remembered to go to work and did quite a lot with my weekend⁷.

And I suppose I should point out, this scenario does not make me mad.  Just, well, organised, whilst not planning actually ahead.

¹ Though one bookstore allegedly will have it soon.  Word-of-mouth is always good.  Though beware, there are quite a lot of, er, bodily fluids in this one Charlotte.  And not just innuendo “bodily fluids”, some much worse ones too…

² Unfortunately, not this amazing animated version

³ I’m reluctant to buy a massive IKEA bookcase and install it in the office.  It’s rude if nothing else…

⁴ Which is the latest Jordan book it seems.  Shame on you WHSmith!

⁵ Side note, Sloane Sq is the most polluted place in London.  Vile, and my throat is still recovering from the fetted mixture of supercar and bus fumes there.  Shame on you Chelsea!

Take that Oscar!

⁷ Including wedding #1 of 2010, playing lots of pool and laughing at England vs Japan.

Posted by: Gram | April 30, 2010

Short Becks and Sides

Tuesday proved to be an interesting night.

As the original plan, to see “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” at the Barbican sold out, I was left with seeking an alternative London adventure.

The usual Tuesday fair of heading to the Coronet would have resulted in seeing “Date Night”, which has that font that means it’s a bad film, and everywhere else was showing the unimpressive looking Agora, I Am Love and The Ghost*.  I also passed on a Ukulele gig in Kings Cross, I’ll save that for later.  “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” was on at the Prince Charles late, so there was some time to kill.

So, with nothing better to do, and since my barber in Reading has done AWOL, I headed to Jack’s of London in Wimbledon**.

Whilst it’s somewhat too cool for school, everywhere in Reading is cack handed.  Given it was something a bit different, would allow me some good  and I’d never been the this end of London.  There’s pubs to be found.

But as it turned out, this was a pub***.  Sorta.  Most places will ask you what kind of cut you want, where you’re going on your holidays and what what.  Spotting I was half asleep, I was asked “would you like a beer?”.  Naturally, there is only one answer to that question, but it took me a while to understand it.  Was she going to wash my hair in beer?  Had I misheard?  Have I finally gone full blown alcoholic?

Nope, I’d just gone to the best damn barbers in all Christendom.  There’s one in Brum too, check it out

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