Monday, June 17, 2013

Books of Summer

The LMM and I are really, really boring. We go to the beach  Have been here at Wrightsville Dunes for 8 nights now, and have gone out to dinner exactly once (though it was fun, visiting with Aaron and Laurie King, and went to Bluewater)

That means I get some reading done.  With Kindle, you can read old stuff, new stuff, all sorts of things.

The good:

1.  The Code:  Baseball  Ross Bernstein.  Solid, interesting, but mostly stuff I knew.

2.  The Code:  Hockey  Ross Bernstein.  Fascinating, partly because I don't know much about hockey, but also because there is a lot going on behind the scenes.  Some of the chapters are good enough, in terms of institutions, to be used in the sort of class where you talk about Olson, Ostrom, Leeson, and Skarbek.  Really, really great.

3.  Three Nights in August  Buzz Bissinger.  The story of a series between the SL Cards and the Chi Cubs, in 2005.  Probably more, and deeper, stuff about how baseball works and how pitchers protect their teams than the Bernstein book.  But then maybe I just like it because it is a story of how the Cards beat the Cubs, back before the Cubs starting sucking so bad that this outcome is a near certainty.

4.  Havana Nocturne  TJ English.  How the Mob tried to run Cuba, and how Castro ran out the Mob.  As interesting and vivid a history as I have ever read, and gives one sympathy for poor Cuba.  Recommended by T. Pino; thanks!

5.  The Economics of Beer  Edited by Johan Swinnen.  A bit academicish, but some great stuff on beer's history and economics.  The chapters on beer in China, the largest beer consumer (total, not per capita) alone are worth the book.  And John Nye's chapter on beer and wine in England is a classic.

The Bad

1.  The Code:  Football  Ross Bernstein.  Can't blame Bernstein, and football is useful as the missing case in the instiutional story in his triloogy of "The Code" books.  Query:  What happens when there is no code, because players are allowed to cheat and take cheap shots, because they are wearing protective equipment that covers their entire bodies, especially their heads and faces?  Answer:  Football.  Hockey and baseball have codes to prevent violence.  Football just promotes violence, and that's all there is to it.  Boring, repetitive account of injuries and mayhem without form or control.

The Next

1.  Just got The Story of Spanish JB Nadeau and J Barlow.  Spanish is the second most frequently spoken language on earth, after Mandarin.  Why?


Dr Obvious said...

About the Football Code book - Strange, and too bad. From a bit of high school experience, and from years watching the Steelers and Ravens do everything short of knife each other on field, I feel pretty confident that there are many unwritten rules to football. Maybe they are hard to see until either a) they are broken or b) the NFL tries to change them through untested, top down dictates.

Ken said...

Football just promotes violence, and that's all there is to it. Boring, repetitive account of injuries and mayhem without form or control.

It's clear you don't watch football at all. If you don't like it it's fine, but the above description is boring and stupid.

Ken said...

As for Spanish, there seems to be conflicting rankings. It looks like there are more native Spanish speakers than there are native English speakers, but more people speak English than Spanish. Additionally, 115 countries use English (making it number 1), whereas only 20 use Spanish (making it number 4) and Chinese is used by only one country.

But as to why so many people speak Spanish is due to Spain's aggressive imgerialism, which was greater than any other for nearly two centuries with a long head start on many other imperial powers. In addition to this they had very effective and aggressive Catholic missionaries.

John said...

When I go to Wrightsville, it's usually to... Walk the loop. Which is probably much more boring, but necessary, given how much the inlaws like to cook for guests.