Kafka on the shore

I just finished my first book by Haruki MurakamiKafka on the shoreMy reading experience was slightly disrupted by a busy period, but I loved the book. 

There was a sense of quiet mystery about it – that neither you, nor any of the protagonists (and possibly not even the author) quite knew what was going on. But there was something beautiful in it too – a sense of beauty in the mystery. 

I’m looking forward to trying some other pieces by him (1Q84 has come particularly recommended) – but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, this one worked for me. 

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Bitcoin – a cool explanation

In a little bit of downtime recently I’ve been working through a few blog posts on Bitcoin. I don’t understand it, and (as the writer in the blog post I’m about to link to says), there seems to be quite a bit of fluff, and quite a bit of technical analysis, and not a lot in the middle. 

So I haven’t finished it yet, but so far this series of blog entries is about the right level – some math, but its’ purely conceptual rather than the detail of Bitcoin. 

Speeches

I’ve been reading a few speeches recently. Commencement season has just finished (at American universities), and Jon Lovett gave a speech on fighting bullshit that wasn’t terrible. I liked even more David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon address. I also stumbled recently across Kruschchev’s Secret Speechwhich I’m intending to read. 

I think it’s really hard to give good speeches. You have to have something to say, which isn’t always easy. Then you have to communicate it well, which is another challenge. And it can be difficult not to let expectations, either of what people think you will say, or of the medium itself, influence your message. 

Reading time!

I’ve had a little time to catch up on reading recently.

The Shadow of the Wind was a very fun read. Baroque, gothic, but with a good sense of humour too (you can see the author laughing at himself as he revels in what he’s doing). It’s not the greatest thing you’ll ever read, but it’s lots of fun.

The left hand of darkness was also fun. Somewhat dragging at points; my feeling is that it’s very hard to do a compelling narrative unless you have some level of character development, or at least interesting characters, at the centre; this didn’t cut it for me. There is, of course, some history about it being one of the early pieces to write about gender from a different perspective – I don’t feel qualified to comment intelligently on that though.