Jan 2020.

As since my injury I’ve not been able to read books ( or at least maybe have no urge to, for some reason ) I prefer audiobooks. Well you just ask Alexa to begin where you / it / she left off, and you can listen whilst otherwise engaged doing other things. For me that works, though I have to say if I don’t get my bean flicked in the first 30 minutes I tend to just abandon the title and do summat else.
Anyway, on the back of seeing Malc Gladwell speak a month or so ago, I bought his book ‘ Talking to Strangers’ on audiobook. Doh, as it happened, ChrisCats bought me a ( signed !) copy for Xmas… isn’t that always the way ?!

Anyway ( again ) its a bloody fascinating listen. All about human interactions with one another and ( essentially ) how we by and large are ever so likely to NOT be able to make accurate judgements about the person ( stranger ) we talk/ listen to. On that basis then I’m undoubtedly wrong about Malcolm Gladwell in thinking he’s a good bloke, and he’s probably a nasty psychopath…

There’s all sorts covered in the book, from interactions between cops and drivers, to cracking spies under interrogation. All the time, we believe people who are lying, and disbelieve people who are telling the truth. We ‘ rely ‘ on ‘ a feeling ‘ about a person’s character, rather than the sometimes rather obvious evidence to the contrary. Judges in court are no better at it than anyone else, and FBI agents get it wrong nearly all the time! There was a lot about Cuba and the US, and the spying that went on in Cuba by the Yanks. The Americans thought they were SO clever, having ‘ infiltrated’ the Cuban system but in fact ALL of their spies were double agents. They had a system whereby they’d use lie detector machines to interview their spies when they came back onto American soil, but when they nearly all failed the tests ( ie the machine said they were all lying ) rather than abide by the machine evidence, in their absolute arrogance and certainty that USA had the best spy network ever, they scrapped the lie detector tests and instead relied on ‘ instinct ‘ when interviewing their agents. As a result Cuba fed the USA complete nonsense for a decade, and ‘ the world’s most powerful nation’ was toyed with by an island no bigger than Florida state. What the book impresses on you is that you should judge ( if you have/want to ) based on the EVIDENCE rather than on any impression someone makes on you via their personality ( or lack of ). We’ve all done it. … you like or dislike/ trust or mistrust someone based on how nice/ smart/clever/ handsome/pretty they are, rather than on what the factual evidence of their behaviour… and we all make mistakes all the bloody time. Think about it – who are you most likely to believe when they tell you a hard luck story, the pretty, smiling, smartly dressed young woman carrying the tiny baby, or the tattooed skinhead smelling of beer telling exactly the same story?
They conducted a trial using a ‘computer Judge ‘ to give verdicts based on evidence, and nothing else, using thousands of real trial transcripts. If the defendant reoffended upon release, he was deemed likely to probably been guilty too of the crime he’d been charged with but released ( for the purposes of this experiment ). The computer Judge would have banged him up 80% of the time compared to the human Judge who only found him guilty 54% of the time.
So we can expect not only driverless cars to improve road safety in future, but also robot judges who aren’t swayed a jot by tears/ skirt length/ expensive hair or smooth talking.
Bring it on, I say. Since there are quite clearly so many wrong verdicts already, using humans, what’s the logical objection to trial by computer …?

Ref the Americans – well they may think they’re always gonna win, but time and time again they don’t really, do they. They certainly have the firepower, but they aren’t so good at the other stuff, and tend to find their presence ‘ misunderstood’. Their intentions may be good, but their presence/ interference in others countries is more often than not objected to. Peoples just don’t understand the strangers… it’s all a bit tense in the Middle East just now, and once again the Americans may have messed up. There’s trouble ahead for sure, and there’s are now ‘ unstable ‘ people with their fingers on nuclear buttons/ missile controls all over the world. We may yet not die of global warming, instead being fried all of a sudden by missile warfare.

On a lighter note….Me, our Wend, and Marky P went to a comedy club on Saturday. After about 30 gigs in the last 3 months, I’ve not got ANY in January, but there’s still lots to do in The Smoke.
Roger the Lodger is leaving next week ( oh I’ll miss his cheerful chatter ….. mmmm ) and I’ll no doubt get another one ( perhaps ‘ choosing more carefully’ next time – not that he was a bad guy, for sure. The Invisible mute Man might’ve been more engaging, but that’s not all bad! Let’s see what happens next.. ) Tonight I see Steve Backshall ( the telly adventurer ) at the Royal Geograpical Society and I embark on something on Wednesday ( watch this space then ) that’s new in my life.

I’ve been taking Probiotics for 2 months as well as a dietary enzyme help, and also changed my diet a fair bit. Cos Im paralysed and don’t have use of the lower bit of my colon, my gut is rather compromised. Raw food like salads is healthy but hard to digest, particularly if not chewed to smithereens before swallowing. So I’ve cut out fibrous salads and also liquidise fruit into smoothies so it’s easier to break down inside. Result – far less tendency to bloat and less spasms. That’s a winner then. I could take it further and eat nothing at all? But it might be a fairly short trial and a slow death.

2 thoughts on “Jan 2020.

  1. Dear Russ, it was a very overwhelming read and a very personal one. Your take on use of Alexa and audiobooks are very fascinating and also lets one be inspired enough to go ahead and invest in an Alexa. Appreciate your emphasise on Malcolm Gladwell as a writer and also the view on his investigative book. Thank you for the very intuitive perspective of the same.

  2. I have to say that you’re responsible for me now having Alexa, too. I saw how good it was at your house and got one, too. And I listen to stacks of audiobooks on it. I will have to put that Malcolm Gladwell one on my wishlist.

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