27 June 2012

51. Fair Ball

Fair Ball - Bob Costas

I had to take a short road trip a few days ago and threw this book into the CD player for the ride. I am glad I did. Bob Costas would get my vote for Major League Baseball commissioner. I like the way he thinks.

This book was not a bunch of baseball stories turning ballplayers into larger than life heros. This book discussed what Bob would do to fix some of the problems with MLB as he sees it. Well, as he saw it in 2000 anyway.

I liked it. I think his ideas for revenue sharing were sound, though the owners will never go for it without twisting their arms. I think his ideas concerning salary caps were sound, though the players union will never go for it without twisting their arms. Maybe if, like he says, both sides thought of the game rather than themselves it would work.

His comments about realignment were great. Some of the crackpot ideas are just ridiculous. Especially the radical realignment into strict geographical regions. I hate it. I am glad he sees it the same way. Realign into two fifteen team leagues with five per division...Houston moves to the AL West. I get it. I like it.

I love his comments on the wild card playoff spot. I hate it too. It takes so much away from the pennant races in each division. I love the idea of winning each of the three divisions to get into the playoffs with the number one team getting a bye in the first series. All the teams would be busting butt to be that number one team all year long.

As far as the DH? Yeah, there was a time for it. That time has passed. Lose the chump and make the pitchers hit. It adds so much to the strategy of the games. That is what baseball is all about.

He also said something that made a lot of sense concerning a great team compared to a crappy team. It comes down to the same result of a seven game series ending 4-3. If a crappy team adds all the wins after splitting 4-3 all year long you will end up with 60 something wins. Bad teams do that.  If a great team does the opposite and wins 4 of each 7 game series it will end up with 60 something losses. Prescisely what a great team ends up with, 90-100 wins. So, the difference in the best and worst teams comes down to winning or losing ONE game in each series all year long....and that is why the baseball season needs so many games to figure out who really is the best. That is also why the wild card should be eliminated. It allows chump teams a second chance with no risk. Silliness.

I love baseball!

25 June 2012

50. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

My wife gave me this one. I put it to the top of the list for a number of reasons. 1. It happened to be on the same subject we were discussing at church. 2. My wife got it for me. ;-)

The author is correct. Using Matthew 10 as the example of what discipleship is supposed to be he points out how culture, prosperity and materialism have given Americans an "excuse" to avoid being a real biblical disciple. It was fascinating, and I agree.

19 June 2012

49. 100 Quotations To Make You Think

100 Quotations to Make You Think - Wolfgang Riebe

Really, it is. It is 100 quotes. Did they all make me think? No. Have I heard them before? A few. Mostly they are new to me.

One that I liked and it made me think...

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

That one made me think. It was also one of the shortest in the little book, but it made me think more than any of the others.

What did I conclude at the end of the massive pondering I undertook? Well, it really depends on what kind of tree they are planting as to whether I agree with the quote or not. There, think about that.  :-)

48. Rules For Patriots

Rules For Patriots - Matt Kibbe

Supposed to be modeled as a response to Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals...put out by Freedomworks...a Tea Party group.

Eh. It left a lot to be desired and has taken a good idea and made it into a political organization that becomes so big that it means nothing any longer. Too many differing opinions and compromises to bring in others lead to watering down the message.

I used to agree with Freedomworks much more than I do now. Not because I have changed my views, because they have changed themselves to include more "issues" and then I have more to disagree with than I did before.

What makes a patriot? When did patriot become synonymous with falling in line with all the political agenda crap of a single party? Puhleeeeaase.

17 June 2012

47. The Highest Treason

The Highest Treason - Randall Garrett

I read this description and was intrigued...

"Set in a future in which humanity’s dream of total equality is fully realized and poverty in terms of material wealth has been eliminated, humanity has straight-jacketed itself into the only social system which could make this possible. Class differentiation is entirely horizontal rather than vertical and no matter what one’s chosen field, all advancement is based solely on seniority rather than ability. What is an intelligent and ambitious man to do when enslaved by a culture that forbids him from utilizing his God-given talents? If he’s a military officer in time of war, he might just decide to switch sides. If said officer is a true believer in the principles that enslave him and every bit as loyal as he is ambitious, that’s tantamount to breaking a universal law of physics, but Colonel Sebastian MacMaine has what it takes to meet the challenge."

It turned out to be a great little sci-fi story that damned socialism and also a severely patriarchal society where women are considered property. It was fascinating to read along as the author pushed further and further into the extremes of the doctrines of the two societies.

I loved it.

14 June 2012

46. From October to Brest-Litovsk

From October to Brest-Litovsk - Leon Trotsky

Trotsky was a Russian Marxist revolutionary who was instrumental in the Russian Revolution and afterward. He was a Soviet politician and the first leader of the Red Army.

He wrote this book about the Russian Revolution. It was very interesting to hear the story from the point of view of the revolutionary.

It was not exciting. It was downright boring at times, but those periods were fleeting. Overall it was a decent read that added a little understanding to my history database hidden deep in my brain.  :-)

12 June 2012

45. Frenzy

Frenzy - Jonathan Craig

This was a foray into an old pulp fiction crime novel. It was kind of fun. An enjoyable plot with characters that were interesting and full of the expected stereotypes. The book was originally published under the name "Junkie!".

Steve is a trumpet player in a jazz ensemble. The chics really dig him. Kathy is an ex-heroine addict that he has fallen in love with. She is being framed for murder...by Lois, who is in love with Steve but married to Mel. Lois and Donna also happens to run a call girl service disguised as a secretarial pool. Hey, if Lois can get Kathy to work for her then maybe she can get her hooked on drugs again and Steve will be free again... Wait, Donna is also a nymphomaniac? Wow! There is a real twist.

Poor Loreen. All she wanted to do was go to work as a secretary. She did some work at the Pentagon and then embezzled a grand from Lois thinking it would be OK because Lois would not want to make noise. I will bet Loreen's dying body sure made a noise as she was run down by that huge Chrysler! 

Steve needs to be taught a lesson. Ahh...let's frame him for the murder of Mel. If Lois can't have him then NOBODY WILL! Lois and Donna will run off to Mexico with the profits from the call girl business and start a new life... but the double-cross happens and Lois kills Donna and tries to force Steve to go on the run with her...   Oh, the tangled webs that get woven.

It was great fun.

10 June 2012

44. The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki - US Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan District

I wish I could call this science fiction or dystopian or even an alternate history. Sadly, the events were real.

This book was an assessment of the effects of the nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It reads much like a battle damage assessment. It is very "scientific" in the way things are reported and how the findings are translated.

Then, at the end of the book, is a great first hand account of a man who witnessed the bombing and the aftermath. Talk about a change of direction. Wow. It went from statistics and distances from x....to emotion and opinion. It changed from the effects on concrete or metal frame buildings at carrying distances from ground zero to how people were in a dazed and bewildered state of confusion and unable to gather themselves together to for any kind of rescue efforts.

As for myself...I hate nuclear weapons and find them useless. I hope this type of assessment never needs to be done again.

05 June 2012

43. On Loving God

On Loving God - St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Another one of those outstanding Christian classics that get lost in all the horse poop interpretations and modernizations of modern writing.

I enjoyed it. Not as much as All Of Grace, but more than The Practice of the Presence of God. Worth a read.

02 June 2012

42. The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi

This is definitely not your Disney Pinocchio! Yes, Disney adapted the story, so, technically this is the Disney Pinocchio. What I mean is that the story is much different. It is not so kid friendly. It is dark and mean and full of stuff that would never be in a Disney flick.

Pinocchio is hung from an oak tree until he dies so a gang of deviant con-man animals can steal his money.

Pinocchio is sold as a donkey to a circus trainer that abuses him until he is lame. He is then sold to a man who tries to drown him in the ocean so he can use his hide to make a drum.

Gepetto is abusive, jailed, and eaten by a huge shark.

The talking cricket (Jimeny in the movie) is killed by Pinocchio when he throws a hammer at the little fella.

Pinocchio is purchased as a slave by a farmer. He is tied to a dog chain outside and is told to bark if some weasels come and try to steal the chickens.

Lampwick is sold as a donkey and works very hard until he dies.

A serpent laughs at Pinocchio's misfortunes in some mud. He laughs so hard his heart bursts and he dies.

Pinocchio finds Gepetto inside a giant shark...which just happens to be asthmatic and has a weak heart so it has to sleep with it's mouth open.

These kinds of things made the story great for me. They are definitely not Disney. There are many similarities and some common story lines, but the book is much much better...for an adult.