in: Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends: June 16, 2023

“What Makes a Truly Great Basketball Player?” I recently stumbled across this 1965 New Yorker article by John McPhee about basketball player-turned-politician Bill Bradley and really enjoyed it; it’s a long but wonderful read. McPhee explores what made Bill Bradley such an exceptional basketball player as well as a first-rate intellect (Bradley attended Princeton and was a Rhodes Scholar). Like these 25 other eminent men from history, he developed both his body and his mind. McPhee finds the explanation for Bradley’s excellence in his unmatched self-discipline. Reading how a young Bill Bradley spent his time both convicted and inspired me. 

Ian Bogost’s wry observational tweets. Ian Bogost is a professor of media studies and a writer at The Atlantic. We had him on the podcast several years ago to talk about his book Play Anything. I follow him on Twitter and enjoy his wry observations about life. The ones that delight me the most are his observations about really small annoyances or weirdnesses that you encounter whilst navigating the modern world. He’s a less cranky Andy Rooney. A few of my favorites:

He tweeted this out when Kate and I had started a hunt for a new kitchen faucet and had the same frustrating experience. Let me just see the faucet in person and how it works! Nope. All you get is a picture.

I will happily die on this hill as well.

I notice this when we take our kids for ice cream. They order a single scoop, and the ice cream scooper proceeds to pile a waffle cone with enough ice cream to surely constitute two or three scoops. It’s more than enough ice cream for a grown adult, let alone a small 9-year-old. I guess it’s a nice problem to have, but it’s a funny change in our ice cream culture. 

Lems Primal 2 sneaker. Several months ago, I developed foot pain after running around in some clunky running shoes. I figured I’d try out a pair of zero-drop shoes and picked up a pair of Lems Primal 2 sneakers. I’ve been wearing them for the past four months as my daily kick-around shoes and love them. Foot pain is gone. They’re comfortable and have a wide toe box, allowing your toes to spread out. 

The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch by Jonathan Gottschall. Research shows that men are drawn to violence, be it the criminal or sporting kind. Why is that? In The Professor in the Cage, English professor Jonathan Gottschall takes us on a personal as well as interdisciplinary tour to answer that question. Using his experience training to be an MMA fighter and his research from biology, anthropology, and sociology, Gottschall argues that men are both made and conditioned to fight. We’ve got a fighting spirit inside of us that can be used for good or evil — depending on how this energy is directed. I had Gottschall on the podcast back in 2015 to talk about this book, but for some reason I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot lately. 

Quote of the Week

Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other.

—George MacDonald

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