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Happy International Literacy Day.

How to read a bookToday is International Literacy Today.  If you are reading this, you are literate.  Many people in the world (even many in the US) are illiterate.  I love reading, and I am thankful that my parents raised me to love reading.  I think literacy-building programs are great.  I used to help elementary kids that struggled with reading, and I recommend for you to do the same.  It is not that difficult to help, and if you have the time, volunteering your time to help the next generation is a very honorable thing to do.  In honor of International Literacy Day, I would like to give you a list of ten of books that I have enjoyed over the past couple of years.

Ten Books I’ve Enjoyed in the Last Two Years (and You Might Like Them Too)

(In No Particular Order)

1. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Non-fiction/Theology)

I have blogged about this book before (Life Together), so I won’t say much about it.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes.  In my opinion, this book is one of his best.  I highly recommend it.

2. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (Fiction/Mystery)

Micahel Chabon Final SolutionThis is a great detective story.  Michael Chabon is a superb writer.  There were times that I would interrupt Jen from whatever she was doing to read her a paragraph from this just to share the wonderful prose Chabon had produced (nerdy I know).  This is a detective story set during the Holocaust era (hence “Final Solution).  The detective is a once-great, now old and feeble detective (meant to be Sherlock Holmes), and this is his final case (hence “Final Solution”).  It is a very short book, and it is well worth the time to read it.

3.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Non-Fiction/Biography)

American Lion Andrew JacksonI am not an American history buff, so I can’t really critique the history of this book.  I can say that I enjoyed it, and that it won the Pulitzer.  I have blogged at least twice about the manliness of Andrew Jackson.  Although I differ from Andrew Jackson in some ways politically, I respect him as a man and a leader.

4. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (Fiction)

That Hideous StrengthI just recently read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  I have been wanting to read them for almost 10 years, and I finally got around to it this summer.  I was not disappointed.  I recommend reading all three.  That Hideous Strength is the third volume, and, I think, the best.  It is a book about the clash of worldviews and the academy.  It is very entertaining, and Lewis’s pithy humor shines forth throughout.

5.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (Non-Fiction/Auto-biography)

A Severe MercyThis book is beautiful.  It tells the story of a couple and their journey of faith and suffering.  It is well-written, and you will cry if you read it.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Fiction)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows BookI loved reading the entire Harry Potter series (even though most of it was via audio-book). And yes, I am a Christian and I like Harry PotterDeathly Hallows was a great book.  It tied the story together well, and it was LOADS BETTER than the movies.

7. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll (Non-Fiction/Christian History)

Turning Points by Mark NollThis is my favorite general Church History book.  Mark Noll is a superb historian – and a friendly person.  I have recently been in some correspondence with Mark Noll, and I have found him to be extremely personable.  This book is a great introduction to Christian history.  I have read it twice in the past three years, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Christian history.

8. The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (Non-fiction/Sports)

The Code: Baseball's Unwritten RulesIf you like baseball, you’ll love this book.  It answers all the great questions like: “When should you charge the mound?” or “Is it ok to steal signs?”  I love the cover too.  Nolan Ryan is a beast.  There are a score of great stories in this book from former and active players, coaches, and umpires.

9. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler by Victoria Barnett (Non-Fiction/History)

For the Soul of the PeopleVictoria Barnett’s work on the Confessing Church is great.  This book details the resistance of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoeller, and Karl Barth to the Nazi regime.  It has proven invaluable to my research, and I heartily recommend it to you history buffs out there.

10. When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 by Bernard A. Weisberger (Non-Fiction/Sports)

When Chicago Ruled BaseballI love history, I love baseball, and I love the Cubs. So, this book was a great purchase for me.  It is very interesting reading about a World series where tickets cost less than a drink at a MLB game now.  This World Series featured Tinker, Evers, and Chance, as well as Mordecai Brown and other great players.

Happy International Literacy Day. Go read a book.

Until later friends…

Links to Get These Books

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Yesterday, I mentioned the greatness of the 1908 Cubs.  Much has been made of the 102+ year World Series Champion drought the Cubs have experienced, and as a result, many people are not aware of the true greatness of the 1908 Cubs.

(Side note: although this post is about Cubs history, I will say that this year’s team is going to be better than last year’s. I predict at least 2nd in the division, but I personally think they will take the division. We loyal Cubs’ fans are terminally optimistic.)

1908 Chicago Cubs

The Cubs won the World Series back-to-back in 1907 and 1908 (after making the World Series in 1906 and losing to their crosstown rivals).  This team contained 4 Hall of Famers: Mordecai Brown, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance.

Mordecai Brown, also known as “Three-Finger” Brown, was one of the best pitchers to ever play the game.  His throwing hand was badly damaged in a farm equipment accident in his youth.  Brown, however, was able to use his mangled hand to his advantage.  He was able to use the remaining nub of his index finger to put an extra spin on a baseball, resulting in a wicked curveball completely unique to him.

Mordecai Brown Hand

Tinker to Evers to Chance

Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were the Cubs’ shortstop, second baseman, and first basemen respectively.  Along with Harry Steinfeldt, they were one of the best infield sets to ever step on the diamond.

1908 Chicago Cubs Infield(Left to Right: Steinfeldt, Tinker, Evers, Chance)

All four were great hitters, but they have been remembered in history for their defensive prowess.  This infield combination was immortalized in a poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, a Giants fan (the Cubs’ biggest rivals at the time).  The poem is entitled “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.”

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

These are the saddest of possible words:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,

Tinker and Evers and Chance.

Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double –

Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:

“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Unfortunately, this ode to the double-play left out Steinfeldt, who by the numbers has as much of a right to the Hall of Fame as Tinker or Evers.

Baseball-statistics.com lists the 1908 Cubs infield as the second best in league history. I disagree, but I’d be interested to see what you think.  I’ll give you their Top Ten, but you should go to their list to see the rosters and statistics to make up your own mind.

Baseball-Statistics.com’s Top Ten Greatest Infields

1.  1969 Baltimore Orioles

2. 1906 Chicago Cubs (Which was also the 1907-8 Cubs)

3.  2000 Cleveland Indians

4. 1980 Philadelphia Phillies

5. 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers

6. 1982 St. Louis Cardinals

7. 1999 New York Mets

8. 1959 Chicago White Sox

9. 1968 Chicago Cubs

10. 1998 Baltimore Orioles

Since it is Friday, I will make this a poll question.  I realize that this is a major sports nerd poll, and most of you are not the biggest baseball fans in the world.  Bear with me, and I’ll give you a non-dead-ball era post soon.

I hope you enjoy the poll. Make your arguments in the comments. Until later friends…

Franklin Pierce Adams

The end of the semester is fast approaching.  I only have two more exams and a translation of a German flyer from the White Rose standing between me and Christmas break.  I have been greatly anticipating this for awhile.  So, here is my top ten list (in no particular order) of things I am excited about that are coming after finals.

1.  Spending a heck of a lot more time with my super cool wife.

2. The upcoming Prima Coffee Barista Bash (which I posted about here).

3. Watching some great Christmas movies with my wife:

The Muppet Christmas CarolErnest Saves ChristmasElf Movie

4. Finishing the Harry Potter books and seeing the first installment of Deathly Hallows with Jen!

5. Not parsing a single Hebrew verb from December 3rd until the end of January.

6. Going to see Behold the Lamb with Jen.

7. Using my Bodum French Press for the joy of it – not for mere caffeine consumption.

Bodum Chambord French Press 8. Seeing the new Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (For Aslan!)

Dawn Treader 9. Sleep

10. And many other fun and exciting things!

Until later friends…

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I mentioned in my post yesterday, that Louisville is a yankee city. I stand by this.  Some people, like this guy, think that Louisville is part of the South, but they are gravely mistaken.

I am from the South, and I am proud of it.  Am I proud of the slave-owning past of my culture? No – an emphatic no.  I am, however, proud of the South and Southern culture.  I am proud of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and their fight for States’ Rights – once again, I repeat that I am not proud of the role slavery and racism played in the War of the States.

I am proud of Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Johnny Cash, Frances “The Swamp Fox” Marion, David Crockett, and a host of other Southern heroes that, despite their faults, have made America better.  The South does many things better than other areas of the country: Food (a fact admitted by one yankee), Football (SEC – all that needs to be said), Winter (Your chances of freezing to death in a snowdrift in the South are next to zero), and many other things.  Now, I agree with my friend that it is nice to have a cup of coffee from a Chemex or a shot of espresso from a Mypressi Twist V2 on a cold winter’s day, but I contend that it is more enjoyable to enjoy said cup of coffee in Southern winter temperatures that are always well above o°.

Ten Reasons Why Louisville is not a Southern City

10.  It’s named after a French guy (King Louis XVI)…Southerners generally don’t like the French, although we will partake of French Fries and French Toast.

This Guy Would Get His Butt Kicked in the South

9.  Louisville was a Union stronghold in the War of Northern Aggression, whereas much of the rest of Kentucky was loyal to the South.

8. It snowed 18 inches in two days last Winter!

7. There are far more establishments where you can purchase sushi than where you can purchase catfish.

6.  Louisville is within walking distance of Indiana.

5.  Chick-fil-a and Cracker Barrel are the exception, not the norm in Louisville.

4.  Cars outnumber pickup trucks by far too great a ratio for Louisville to be part of the South.

3.  People look at you weird if you say “sir” or “ma’am” to them.

2.  It snowed 18 inches in two days last Winter!

1.  Sweet Tea is not available at every single restaurant in town.

So, sorry Kirk, you are not yet well-informed enough about the South to make any value statements.  Until later friends…

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