Thursday, 10 February 2005

Train reading

One thing about taking the subway to work - you get a lot of reading done on the way there and back. Lately, I've finished two very different books, each stunning in its own right. The first was Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (click on link for a full review), which starts off with a missing cat and turns into a tour de force of a novel, spanning philosophy, Japanese history, and mysticism. Highly recommended.

The other is Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, which I've talked about elsewhere. It's like an epistemological guide to first impressions. The amount we can glean in a short span of time is quite vast - but how can we create the best conditions to extract the most value of that impression?

Blink made me think about situations such as this one described in John & Belle Have a Blog, where there's a discussion of why there are so few female comedians. I wonder if there's a parallel here to another situation: there used to be few female classical musicians until they started conducting auditions from behind a screen. Even though there was no overt sexism and those conducting auditions thought they were being objective, there are inherent biases that serve only to cloud one's judgement.

Tangential link: my list of "top 10 comedians in the spirit of Lenny Bruce". Only one woman on my list (Sarah Silverman), unfortunately.



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