Calling it for Hillary

Well it appears Hillary Clinton is the winner of the New Hampshire primary, at least the AP and NBC are calling it for her right now. I spent the day up in New Hampshire canvassing for Barack Obama, and it was an experience. However even if at the end of the night Obama loses, it's not by a wide margin. What we end up with is an open race, and Obama can still take it. I think we might really have a Super Tuesday that is much more meaningful than ones in years past.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink is a look at the human subconscious and the how people use it to effectively make decisions in a split second that are just as reliable as decisions made after long periods of study. Gladwell actually makes the case that often these split second decisions are in fact superior to ones made after a long period of self-deliberation. He explains that this decision making process, he refers to as thin slicing, allows us to ignore extraneous information that might confuse us if we study something carefully. At the same time, he also touches upon the problems with blink decisions, and explores this through the election of Warren Harding and an unfortunate killing of an innocent man by police officers in the Bronx. Sometimes our blink decisions are wrong, and our subconscious needs to be trained before it will make the correct decisions.

The book manages to keep your attention through its series of short stories and characters that Gladwell follows to demonstrate his point. He starts off with small simple examples to convince you of his basic ideas, and then moves on to the more intricate examples that involve car salesmen, orchestra rehearsals, a hospital in Chicago, and war games put on by the United States in order to show how blink affects decision making in these diverse areas. Gladwell manages to be both insightful, and persuasive at the same time. This book is was well worth the read.

Larry Lessig on the Culture of Corruption

Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Professor, gives an interesting and insightful lecture on corruption. Lessig has founded Creative Commons and has done a lot of work with technology policy.

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Create an Inexpensive Whiteboard with a Wiimote

An interesting project from a CMU student.

Talk about Digging up the Past

The other day the Hillary Clinton campaign issued a press release attacking Barack Obama for being ambitious, and managed to dig up a third grade essay he wrote. I think it is preposterous to criticize Obama for this. When we are young, and even in college making life plans, we all have ideas and dreams as to what we'd like to be when we grow-up. They are not all serious. When I was in first grade I wanted to be an astronaut.
In spite of all this, having worked on campaigns and such, people do not normally get elected by accident. It's a lot of work to be a candidate, and you need to want it if you are to get elected. Of all the issues and differences between the candidates in this campaign, I find this one to be rather petty. If you are running for an office, including President, there is always going to be a component of ambition there.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.