Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Just Finished Reading this Book

Each colored post-it means that’s something significant that I want to remember. It’s a library book (overdue, and beyond my ability to renew again), so I couldn’t underline in it. So I’ll have to take these marked passages and try to type up the most quotable for future use. Or buy the book.

I’ll be talking about some of the concepts in it, in relation to the Spherical Model, in the coming days, but for now I’ll recommend the book for your reading pleasure. (Note: this is a totally different kind of reading experience from usual book club fare, so be warned.) It’s Radical-in-Chief by Stanley Kurtz. I became familiar with him some years ago when he wrote a series of articles about the decline of marriage in Scandinavia and accompanying social decay, which was well researched and supported. So, for some reason when it was brought to my attention a couple of months ago, I quickly put it on hold at the library.

I’m not a fast reader, but I read pretty steadily. I get through about three dozen books a year. (Just for comparison, Pres. George Bush and Karl Rove used to have an ongoing sort of competition, comparing their reading. They averaged between 50 and 60 books a year, with a limitation on how many light reading novels would count.) During the weeks I spent on this book, I also got through a couple of novels (including rereading Jane Austen’s Emma, which is sizable.) So in the meantime I was pleased to find an interview with Kurtz online, talking about the book, on Uncommon Knowledge. You can get it here:  Be sure to see all five segments.

I'm about to reveal something personal. Uncommon Knowledge interviews are my favorite late night viewing pleasure—way beyond Leno and Letterman. (I could view them anytime, but late night is my least interrupted.) If I were to have a crush on someone in media, it would be the gentleman who does these interviews. [I am putting this here as a test to see if Mr. Spherical Model reads my blog.] He’s relatively nice looking, in a staid and conservative way, and he’s also very smart. I might call him “cool,” but probably no one else would; when I use the word, it clearly doesn’t translate the same way as when my daughter, Social Sphere, uses it.

His viewpoint as a conservative is evident, but he never asks gotcha questions; he asks questions that show he understands what he’s read and wants the author(s) being interviewed to have the opportunity to explain his line of thinking as thoroughly as possible. The format is simple (and unchanging over the years). They sit at a solid wood table on a nice rug, with nothing else visible, so all the focus is on the conversation. (Although there's an old episode where he comes in on a motorcycle, while still appearing just as "cool" by my definition, before an interview with the late Milton Friedman. A classic.) It’s all very civilized. In the Spherical Model definition of civilized. So, now you know the kind of person you’re reading—someone who gets excited when a new Uncommon Knowledge interview becomes available. I know; I’m not normal. But I'm OK with that.

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