Some books I've read since ~2014 in chronological order.
- Breakfast with Socrates: Way more boring than I anticipated.
- The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test
- The Dharma Bums
- Coronado High: Fun, short, crime story.
Money is energy. A frictionless medium for amplifying your will.
- How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia: Beautiful book with a unique style. I loved the ~1 page descriptions of the lives of minor and background characters as Hamid crafts relatable and recognizable characters. The esoteric vocabulary was slightly frustrating, but maybe my vocab is just shit.
- The Stranger: Maybe the book was just beyond me, but I thought a lot of it was boring. I get that Camus wanted to depict Meursault's emotional detachment through the frank writing, but that didn't make the book less boring. I feel like I didn't need to read a hundred pages of apathy to get that Meursault was a nihilist. I also felt that the ending was a wash, I can't concretely describe what Camus was trying to convey. Is Meursalt creating a purpose for himself by embracing the role of the stranger that everyone hates? Does that not contradict the whole "benign indifference of the universe thing"? I don't know whether he's accepting meaninglessness or making some futile grasp for meaning at the end of his life. I enjoyed the straightforwardness of the Myth of Sisyphus much more.
- Ghost in the Wires: I love reading hacker biographies, but this book got old fast. It's mostly about social engineering, not actual computer hacking, and the author seems like an arrogant chode.
- Gang Leader for a Day: Compelling portrayal of the Chicago projects. Sudhir is one brave dude.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: It was alright. Funny at a few points, but I had to slog through it, and this is coming from a dude who loved The Wolf of Wall Street. I get that it's a critique of American culture, but that didn't make it any less boring. Kind of like The Stranger in that way
- Everything Matters: A big page turner and a good read, but I felt the question of why everything actually matters was never thoroughly answered. The protagonist just kind of suddenly started believing everything mattered through some internal conflict resolution not presented to the reader. I still don't think anything matters.
- Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
- Downtown Owl
- Moth Smoke
- Crime and Punishment
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
- One More Thing
- Consider the Lobster
- Taipei: I have a little Tao Lin fan page over here.
- On the Road
My favorite articles
- The Beat Generation Worldview in Kerouac’s On the Road - Great article explaining the Beat Generation's infatuation with life.
- What Happens When a State Is Run by Movie Stars?
- Article about South India's fucked up politics.
- How a German Soda Became Hackers' Fuel of Choice - The story behind mate soda.
- Dangerous: an in-depth investigation into the life of John McAfee - John McAfee is one interesting dude.
- Great explanation of Hough Transforms
- Your Move: The Maze of Free Will - The last quote is my view on determinism and moral responsibility.
I see no necessary disjunction between having no free will (those arguments seem watertight) and assuming moral responsibility for myself. The point is ownership. I own my past, my beginnings, my perceptions. And just as I will make myself responsible if my dog or child bites someone, or my car rolls backwards down a hill and causes damage, so I take on full accountability for the little ship of my being, even if I do not have control of its course. It is this sense of being the possessor of a consciousness that makes us feel responsible for it.
- The Myth of the Soul - My favorite argument against immortality and the existence of a soul.
When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys and unavoidable pains; when we accept the facts that all men and women are approaching an inevitable doom: the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate of each other. This feeling should make men and women use their best efforts to help their fellow travelers on the road, to make the path brighter and easier as we journey on. It should bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death.
Quotes I've Kept
Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.
We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly.
Playing away games is like taking a shit in someone else's house.
Leisure is permissible, we understand, because it costs money; idleness is not, because it doesn’t. Leisure is focused; whatever thinking it requires is absorbed by a certain task: sinking that putt, making that cast, watching that flat-screen TV. Idleness is unconstrained, anarchic. Leisure – particularly if it involves some kind of high-priced technology – is as American as a Fourth of July barbecue.
Am I a good person? Deep down, do I even really want to be a good person, or do I only want to seem like a good person so that people (including myself) will approve of me? Is there a difference? How do I ever actually know whether I'm bullshitting myself, morally speaking?