The Knowledge Illusion

Today’s Free Daily Blinkist is The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Slomon and Philip Fernbach. I decided to give Blinkist another try, considering I have both a lot of time and a limited ability to focus right now. Blinkist is like Audible for minimalists. Or people with debilitating headaches. Either way, I thought I’d share with you what I learned. We think we know more than we actually do– this is called the illusion of explanatory depth. For example, just because we know how to ride a bicycle or use our zippers, we think we can explain how bicycles and zippers work. This extends to nearly everything in our life. The human brain did not evolve to store information– the size of human knowledge in computational terms is about 1 GB. That means the average human’s knowledge could fit on a 1 GB flash drive. This shows that our brains are not designed to function as repositories of knowledge. This is

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Free DIY Master of Arts in English

In the age of the Internet, I think it’s backward to pay outlandish tuition, constrain yourself to unrealistic time commitments, and cut through the unnecessary exclusivity of graduate programs in English literature and creative writing. Who has the time, money, and energy for all that? I don’t, which is why I set out to create my own master’s curriculum. While the following program does not conclude with an accredited or official master’s degree (I emphasize this because it’d be a real bummer to do all this work expecting something like that!), it does include all the components of a traditional master’s program. And more. What is a DIY MA in English? A DIY MA in English is a curated course of study that uses a combination of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), books, and other online resources to deliver a high-quality education for a fraction of the cost of a traditional university. Courses range in length and intensity, so while

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Acts of Service as Habit: why I made a love language calendar

I recently discovered a way to make household chores fun. “Serve one another in love.” – Galatians 5:13 It’s rare that I read a book that fundamentally changes the way I live. Earlier this year I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, a book given to me by my mother-in-law. The Five Love Languages has panned out to become perhaps the most inspiring and life-enhancing book I’ve read so far this year (here’s my 2018 reading list, if you’re like me and always looking for book inspiration). Chapman says we all express and experience love in at least one of five ways, and if we can learn how to best communicate and receive that love, our romantic and personal relationships will deepen. I highly recommend you read his bestselling book to learn more. Acts of Service is the fourth love language, the others being Quality Time (my #1 love language), Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, and Gift Giving. After reading his book

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How I learned entirely too much about tea: 3 books to get you started

I’ve been nerding out on tea for a while now. Sometime around January 2017–that classic time of year when I join millions of self-evaluating people around the world and consider various personal goals to pursue–I decided to more or less quit coffee and get into tea. I wanted to quit because I had a wicked afternoon slump. I also recalled hearing somewhere that tea is supposedly better for your health. To be clear: tea is not better than coffee, nor is coffee better than tea. In the last 17 months, I’ve learned a fine appreciation for both. While I do prefer tea or herbal blends on most days, coffee has its occasional warm place in my life. But today we’re here to appreciate all things tea! The first thing I do when I suddenly become interested in a new subject is buy a bunch of books and learn about it from all angles. Then I cherrypick the information I find most

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Boring (and less boring) books…and vegan cupcakes

I doubted my ability to do it, but I finished the last 2.5 hours of the Audible version of Jane Austen’s Emma yesterday. I listened to most of the 14-hour book in 2.3x speed during my morning and afternoon commutes. I never want that much Jane Austen in my life again. I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads because if you like Victorian classic lit, this is probably not a total snoozefest. But if you are like me and firmly planted in the 21st century, there is no reason to read this or anything else in the canon. That’s what I learn with each old boring book I read, the likes of which I will continue to force upon myself because my ego won’t let me stop checking classics off my “read in this lifetime” list. Next up is Mark Twain, which I have much higher hopes for. One 4-star book I recently read was Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk.

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The 4 best books I read in 2017

I should have written this post in January, but I didn’t think about it in January. I thought about it this fine Sunday morning, in mid-April. So here we go. This list is equally relevant today, so enjoy! I read 36 books in 2017 and some of them really sucked. For example, never read Ego is The Enemy. Why did everyone like that book? It was tedious as fuck. The Biology of Belief was also particularly terrible. I finished that book and then immediately wanted all my time back, which fortunately wasn’t much. Over a decade after its original publication, I also finally read Eat Pray Love, which while I understand its popularity and then went on to read Gilbert’s Big Magic as a result, didn’t quite do it for me. Most other books just kind of sat in the middle as average. But then there were the gems. The books I truly loved. That’s the list I give you

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The charm of self-published authors

The worst part about having a fulltime job is the decreased time available for reading. But Reading Is Fundamental, so I just finished reading my friend’s book, Bahamian Rhapsody, a chronicle of his time living in the Bahamas with his family. I read most of it during layovers, plane rides, and soaking in the hotel hot tub. All other hours of my existence are occupied by work, studying, or drinking too much beer on a Friday. Is that what they mean by balance? One of my 2018 goals is to read 50 books. It’s April and this was book number 16. A few books ago I read my grandma’s memoir, which is not available on Amazon so is therefore not listed on Goodreads or my online reading list. I read the first 15 books before March, while unemployed. I’m losing speed. This new job is really getting in the way of my personal accomplishments. Jimi’s book is the second memoir

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Blue Zones by Dan Buettner: this book makes me want to actually make friends (but not stress about it)

February’s book club book was Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. And like January, I was both the only person to read the book and also the only person still in the book club. Also like January, I let someone else pick the book because I thought it might encourage them to actually read it. The acquaintances-soon-to-be-friends both officially bailed on the whole thing. Some variation of “I’m busy” seemed to be the problem. Quick rant: if you’re too busy for book club, your priorities are wrong. If you’re too busy to follow through with your commitments, your priorities are wrong. If you’re too busy to nurture your relationships, your priorities are wrong. Am I right? But I read Blue Zones because I’m committed to this book club, whether or not it technically still exists. 2018 Ashley commits and shows up. You can count on that. The people of the Blue Zones would agree. Social relationships are a key factor in

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The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown: fuck this book and everything that led me to read it

One of my goals this year was to start a book club with likeminded women. It’s item 22 on my Manifestation List. By the way, I need to look at that list and make some adjustments based on recent life developments. I should also probably start working on that 5-minute plank hold. One of my lifelong struggles has been connecting with other women. My friendships have always been with men, and even then they’re spread thin because I don’t genuinely click with many people. Nurturing relationships is hard for me because I would almost always rather be at home with mammals that I can pet. As a result, I’ve literally never had close female friends, but I’ve always wanted them. So this year I am forcing it and using books as an excuse. Books are my love language. (Another 2018 goal is to read 50 books, so this book club serves multiple purposes.) I invited 2 female acquaintances-soon-to-be-friends to join and

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Rejection, sci-fi, IT, and being conspicuously chill

The rejection emails trickle in. Yesterday, it was Geico. Today, it was the local school district. At least Cheese Specialist is still on the table unless it’s another ghost. No word yet on the Office Lady jobs at either of the local colleges. Maybe I’m being ghosted again. But that’s alright because my future is still waiting for me. I truly am okay with all these rejections and ghosts. Despite my current struggles in securing employment of any kind whatsoever so help me God, I still hold strong to the belief that things are going to work out in the most marvelous way for me. Somehow, this will all climax with a great opportunity. For that reason, with each rejection and with each ghost, I feel like I’m just that much closer to where I’m going. This is all part of the journey and I am thankful for it. Lately, I’ve been focusing on appreciating this downtime instead of judging and

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