What we read while signing up for Obamacare (just kidding)….
What we read while rioting in Happy Valley, resigning in Italy, and, um, what’s the third one?
- NPI favorite Joe Posnanski finds himself in an awkward position, having moved to State College this fall to write his biography of Joe Paterno. Posnanski quasi-defends the coach at SI.
What we read while being snookered by Fox News…
A few years ago, I tried to force one of my friends to watch The Masters. I tried to explain how watching a major golf tournament was different from watching any other sporting event, with the way the leaderboard constantly evolved and, by Sunday night, you laughed at yourself for thinking a few hours before that Y was going to win when X had it in the bag all along (and this doesn’t even mention Z, who looked like a shoo-in a day earlier).
His ignorant response was that none of that was interesting at all, and that since the constitutive shots of golf themselves lacked suspense, drama, or an opposing force, you might as well just look in Monday’s paper to see who won.
This argument, of course, can hold for a lot of sporting events—provided we don’t find their constitutive elements all that exciting. Any real sports fan, then, should dismiss such a specious objection.
Except when it comes to the NFL Draft.
What we read while practicing torch lighting for 2012….
- French pop-philosopher Bernard-Henry Levi rips Immanuel Kant in new book; too bad basis for said ripping is a critique of Kant written by a non-existent philosopher who was invented by a satirist. Even if BHL had claimed it was for philanthropic concerns, Kant would not have approved of the lie.
- And because we’re not entirely sure if 1988 was better than 2000 in the dunk contest, a bonus video:
One clear development in nonfiction during the Aughts has been the rise of popular economics. Popular economics nonfiction existed before this decade, but the genre proliferated in 2005 with the wild success of Freakonomics. Discover Your Inner Economist, More Sex is Safer Sex, Predictably Irrational, The Economic Naturalist, and SuperFreakonomics among others followed.
What is popular economics? Well, this nonfiction is popular in the sense that it’s written in a way that any moderately intelligent person could understand the material without any previous exposure to economics. While none of the authors of these books have writing skills as superb as Malcolm Gladwell’s or Michael Lewis’, several of the authors employ quite deft prose. Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics were co-written by a journalist, Stephen Dubner, which explains why they’re the best of the bunch in terms of writing style. Their focus on anecdotes to tease out concepts and findings is a method used to some degree by all of the authors to make their books accessible. But, perhaps the best part of their writing is their explication of their findings. For instance, they explain why the correlation between blacker names and lower income is not causal: