I read a lot. Not as much as I’d like. Not as much as Donna over at Moorewatch. A few books a month. But enough to add up to over 1100 volumes in my personal library, which ain’t bad for someone who reads as many science journals and blogs as I do.
I thought I’d start putting up the occasional post about books I’ve read. Not reviews — I don’t have time for that. But mention what I’ve read and whether it sucked or not.
So today I’ll start with an outstanding book I read recently – MIchael Lewis’ The Blind Side, which is really two books in one. The first describes in fascinating detail the rising important of offensive line play in the NFL. I did not know, until I read the book, that the blindside tackle is typically the second highest paid player on an NFL team.
The second story is about Michael Oher, an LT at Ole Miss. (Michael Lewis can be seen telling the outline of the story over at YouTube). Oher was a poor black boy from one of the worst parts of the country who was accidentally enrolled in a Christian academy in rich white Memphis. He had been held back for two grades, had a measured IQ of 80 and scored in the 3rd percentile of tests. A rich white family practically adopted him and began giving him non-stop tutoring. By the end of high school, he had a GPA high enough to get into Ole Miss (where he’s made the Dean’s List) and had a measured IQ slightly over 100. It’s astonishing to see the change in the young man and painful to think of all the black kids out there who have similar unrealized potential.
(Political aside – the system that almost permanently crippled Michael Oher’s mind is the same one that liberals utterly refuse to introduce competition to. What precisely are we preserving when we keep the money in “the system”? Granted, competition may not have helped Michael Oher, whose mother was a crack addict. But it couldn’t have hurt.)
The books also gets into some of the more disturbing things that define white southern culture – sports, God, class and new money. I wouldn’t want to live in either rich or poor Memphis.
Anyway, I thought to bring it up today because Lewis (whose more famous Moneyball is also outstanding — even if most people miss the point) has an article on placekickers in the NFL. Among other things, it confirms my belief that Bill Parcells is a horse’s ass. I’m so happy to see Dallas doing better without him. It also contains a new word I’m going to have to steal – Fanthropomorphism.
I’ve also recently read: It’s Getting Better all the Time by Simon and Moore, which is inspiring but already outdated. It catalogs how dramatically life has improved in this country and in the world over the last century; Summer of ’49, which was entertaining, in its way; and Without Feathers, which wasn’t as funny as I remember it being in college. Oh and another Asterix and Obelix comic, which are not only good but are reminiscent of childhood for me — I used to get them in both german and english as gifts from my godparents.