– Blink by Malcolm Gladwell –

You know more than you think you know, as long as you are not misled by what is irrelevant. Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. You could probably sum this book up in one sentence: Have faith in your intuition, but do not be misled by irrelevant information. The tricky part is in not being misled, and that is what a lot of this book is about. The first story starts with a marble sculpture, supposedly 2,500 years old, if genuine it would be worth about ten millions dollars. But what if it was a fake? It was given over to scientists to test with all their elaborate equipment: electron microscopes, X-ray fluorescence, high-resolution stereo microscope, mass spectrometry, (I’m sure you’re familiar with these).  After fourteen months of painstaking study, the scientists proclaimed it to be the genuine article. When it was unveiled in front of art historians, with a two-second glance, they instinctively felt it was a forgery. Two seconds. The problem was they didn’t know why they thought it a forgery; it just didn’t feel right. Eventually, they were proved right. This is what BLINK is about. What the author calls “thin slices”—a brief “view” of something,… Continue reading

– True history of the Kelly gang –

I have not always been a fan of Peter Carey’s novels. When I saw this book had won the 2001 Man Booker Prize I was not amused. And writing a novel about Ned Kelly seemed to be a cultural cliché. Done to death, you might say with a smile. Even Mick Jagger portrayed Ned Kelly in a movie back in the 60’s. But from the first paragraph of the novel, I was surprised and delighted at the innovative prose — written in the style of Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter. The first thing you notice is: no commas, then no quotation marks, very little punctuation, yet it reads smoothly, concisely, comprehensibly; all done with an Irish accent. Ned Kelly is probably the most well-known person to have lived in Australia; most people think of him as a folk hero, while others see him as a murdering bushranger. His story is simple enough. He was born in Victoria in 1855, his father an ex-convict, and both parents Irish. The Kelly family were in constant trouble with the police, particularly for horse and cattle stealing. They made enemies with the local police, who then took every opportunity to harass and arrest them, including… Continue reading

– Happiness is a journey, not a destination –

Alfred D’Souza said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” “I’ll be happy when… We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice vacation or when we retire. The truth is there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to… Continue reading