What I’m reading (4/4)

The Art of StatisticsA final set of some of the books read between October and December 2019.
Artful – Ali Smith 

‘We’d never expect to understand a piece of music on one listen but we tend to believe we’ve read a book after reading it just once. Books need time to dawn on us, it takes time to understand what makes them, structurally, in thematic resonance, in afterthought and always in correspondence with the books which came before them, because books are produced by books more than by writers; they’re the result of all the books that went before them.’

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

‘she still straightens and dyes her hair, currently an unseemly grey at the roots, pulled back from a face that’s gone slack except for a mouth that holds all her misery like a drawstring tightened around a pouch’

‘I made choices, and then having made them, I had fewer choices. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most travelled by. It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them.’

‘…the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are – not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving – and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad – or good – it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.’

‘The more democracy is taken for granted, the more chance there is to subvert it without having to overthrow it. In particular, executive aggrandisement – when elected strongmen chip away at democracy  while paying lip service to it – looks like being the biggest threat to democracy in the twenty-first century.’

‘House prices have a very skewed distribution, with a long right-hand tail of high-end properties, which is why official house price indices are reported as medians. But these are generally reported as the ‘average house price’, which is a highly ambiguous term. Is this the average-house price (that is, the median)? Or the average house-price (that is, the mean)? A hyphen can make a big difference.’

‘How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Rate your overall mood from 1 to 5, 1 being poor. Rate your stress level from 1 to 5, 5 being severe.’

‘Everything that reduces our conscious control over our work environment, or our rational choice or our freedom has to be resisted. Not in the name of technophobia, but in pursuit of better machinery; better, more transparent algorithms; more control.’

‘What mattered most in creating a successful team has less to do with intelligence and experience and more to do with where the desks happened to be located.’

‘An individual human existence should be like a river – small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea and painlessly lose their individual being.’

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