The Bomber Mafia

I didn’t really try to learn from it – more took it as a story. I was interested to see that Beirne Lay was mentioned in the section on the Schweinfurt/Regensburg raid. I have his book I’ve had it on my to-read list for a while now. My only knowledge of Schweinfurt before this was as a city where I walked a long way to the youth hostel only to find it closed.

The conclusion wasn’t super satisfying. In the end, in WWII, practicality carried the day, and since the Norden bombsight didn’t live up to its promise, and relied on cloud-free skies, that meant flattening or burning whole cities. The idea that modern technology has made high-altitude precision bombing possible is discussed briefly, along with the question of even though you can do it, should you? But I feel like the discussion should have been expanded or removed completely.

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After being held up by a bit of a brick, I’m working on reading the rest of the books that I got for Christmas and just finished Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Blink is a book about first impressions and other split-second thinking that we don’t think we’re doing, and how to get the most value out of those thoughts by understanding how they work, what causes them to be wrong, and what to do about it.

While these fast, subconscious thoughts and decisions happen all day every day in most of our lives, the area of first impressions is a great example of near-instant subconscious thought in action. When we first meet, or even first see or hear, someone our minds take in all kinds of information about that person and we form an opinion of, and often a reaction to, that person. The reaction might be to run if it’s someone brandishing a knife in a dark alley, or to stare if it’s someone really attractive at the beach, or anything in between. Often these reactions are exactly the right reaction, but often they’re not the right reaction at all, and that’s what Blink talks about: Our unconscious thoughts, how they work, how they can work much better than painstakingly working our way through a problem, and what to do to stop them from taking you down completely the wrong path.

Blink is easy to read and very interesting. Extremely interesting. After reading it I hope that I can learn how to make “Thinking without thinking” work in my life, especially now that there’s an election on.

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