Bryan Haut is Marketing Director at Flocabulary, an online library of educational hip-hop songs, videos, and exercises for grades K-12 that is used by over 20,000 schools to engage and inspire students. Before joining Flocabulary, Haut spent several years as a teacher and educator, in both foreign-language and domestic environments, and as a copywriter at a variety of advertising agencies. You can reach him here.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Despite having won the Nobel Prize in (yuck) economics, psychologist Daniel Kahneman is actually a pretty bright dude. I picked up his book because I’m fascinated to learn about why people think the way they do, and, in some ways, marketing is the twisted hunchback brother of JDM: psychologists study why people make the decisions they do, then we figure out how to use that to our advantage. This book has been pretty eye-opening showing me when biases and associative tricks actually supersede my deliberative thinking (for instance, I’m actively afraid of Ebola, but don’t think twice about jay walking. Which do you think is more likely to kill me?). And as often as I think I’m using the gorilla part of my brain, I’m actually making snap decisions with the lizard half. ‘Cause why eat bananas when you can eat flies! NOW 50% OFF!!!!!
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Poo-tee-weet. Listen: Bryan Haut has come unstuck in time.
This is one of those books that I’ve read just about annually since I was 12. When I was 12, it was an awesome war and sci-fi book about a guy who, through trauma, was given amazing whiz-bang zap pow abilities. When I was 18, this was a book about a guy who’s alienated from the people around him because he doesn’t know how to get past the war. Now, it’s a gut-punch about PTSD, and a plea to stop sending children off to war.
The thing is, I think all of us are a bit unstuck in time. I suppose most people would call that “baggage,” but we all act irrationally sometimes and don’t have the ability to explain why we’ve done so, or we’re baffled why other people think it’s irrational. In many ways, this is no different than why I like that Kahneman book way up there in the previous entry–I’m fascinated that so often we think we are in control, but the driver’s seat is actually filled with gremlins.
So it goes.
Here’s the thing. I’m a straight white dude. I’m a straight white dude who is upper middle class. I’m a straight white dude who is upper middle class in his late 20s. I’m a straight white dude who is upper middle class in his late 20s with an Ivy League degree. Perhaps — y’know, once in a very, very, very great while — things are easier for me, or go my way because of who I am. So, I think it’s important to keep up with points of view that aren’t my own (which, I should point out, is a pretty swell point of view). And Jezebel is a fairly mainstream way to do that (also, I should point out, it’s probably the only way I stay abreast of pop culture). It’s the perfect mix of inclusion-ist voices, but also dick jokes and pictures of dogs. Read it.
Feature header by the brilliant Jay Roeder. You can see more of his great work here. Portrait of Mr. Haut by the scintillating Mike Caplanis. You can see more of his work here.
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