Book Review: Super Freakonomics

I read Freakonomics a couple of years ago and was eager to get my hands on the new book, SuperFreakonomics. I managed to snag a copy at a Walden Books (RIP) that was closing in Chicago a few months ago. This book was a touch edgier than the first one, which was a bit out of my comfort zone to begin with. The first book spent quite a bit of time talking about drug dealers while this one gave the inside scoop on prostitution.

The subtitle of the book is: Global cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance. With a subtitle like that you can imagine my heart skipped a beat when I got stopped by airport security to have my bag full of books inspected one by one. Fortunately the “SUICIDE BOMBERS” phrase did not catch their attention.

The premise of the book is to show how that not every conclusion is as simple as seeing a few facts and making assumptions. The first book was subtitled A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything and gives you an idea that the purpose of these books is not really to solve any specific problem, but to let you know that sometimes there is much more to an issue than what you might first conclude. Some of the topics discussed in the book I imagine are, or will be, subjects of much discussion since the authors contradict conventional wisdom and popular myths in several areas. One of the controversial topics I hoped would be in the book was the subject of a TED Talk that one of the authors, Steven Levitt, gave a couple of years ago. He shows the power of scare tactics and powerful lobbyists. In that talk Levitt goes against what we “know is true” about the effectiveness of car seats compared to seat belts.

I enjoyed the book, but I have to say it is not for sensitive eyes. I had to make sure no one was reading over my shoulders at different points in the book. It is quite graphic in some areas. I don’t know if I can say it is a must read, but I did like many of his conclusions.

SuperFreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. William Morrow Publishing. 288 pages. 2009.

Wanna Trade?
I am offering this book to anyone who wants to send me a good book. This is an experiment to see how long it takes to send a book from Argentina to wherever you are and vice versa. Leave a comment with what you have to offer in trade.

Deaf Nation 2010 Trip

This summer I am taking a trip to Las Vegas to attend Deaf Nation. Please check out the post about the trip at my ministry website.

The purpose of this article is to share with you about why I am raising money through friends and individuals as opposed to going to our normal supporters.

By informing you about this trip through Facebook, Twitter (both accounts) and other outlets (blogs and email), I will have more individuals praying for this trip than I normally would by sending a prayer letter once every 2 months. There are thousands of people who could potentially read my prayer letter and pray for the event; however, I believe you, my on-line friends, can stay better informed by my regular updates. While I don’t want to make everything I write over the next 2 months be about the event, I do want to keep it before you.

There are two ways I can help connect you to this event. One is through information. The more of it you have, the more you will know how to pray for me and the team leading up to Deaf Nation World Expo and the events of July 18-23.

The second way to help you pray for the event is to give you an opportunity to financially support our evangelistic efforts. A (tax-deductible) donation of $20 can help focus your intensity in prayer.

Maybe you would like to participate in an evangelistic outreach such as being able to pass out tracts and witness to 50,000 Deaf. You may not have the skills or the time away from work to reach out to the Deaf community from around the world in this way, but you have $50 you could give towards the trip. God has given me both the skill and time for this ministry, I simply need the financial backing for this to be possible.

Please check out my post at to see how you can donate, or click the ChipIn widget above to donate on-line with a debit or credit card.

I will post here and in other venues about the trip as the weeks progress. Please join me in prayer and finances to make this trip an eternal reward for both of us. Together we can see Deaf come to Christ.

Run around the block

Saturday I was glad to get a nice run around the block done. While it is a very large block, it is still mostly a run-of-the-mill block. There is a little variation on the shape on the top corner though.

I have not talked about my running much lately not because I haven’t been running, but because I haven’t been very excited about it. The numbers have not been too thrilling. I am motivated by what my training log tells me. While I am not really discouraged when I have to log fewer miles, I get excited when I log the higher miles in a week or month.

Saturday’s run was a bit over 6 miles which brought me up to within a few miles of my best month so far this year. I should easily be able to top my best month by the end of the coming weekend.

The year started out with me still recovering from an injury back in September. As I was able to run more consistently in February, I was thrilled to see the miles pile up that month. March and April were paltry months because of moving to Argentina and not having a place to call home for almost 5 weeks. But all that changed in May. We have gotten settled into our house and have a regular schedule that allows me to know when I will be able to run for the week. It is nice to feel like I am getting my running back in control.

For the first time in over 6 months I feel like I am going the right direction with my running again. I have a half marathon planned in the fall, but would also like to look at training for a marathon distance again. My goals through the summer (winter for me) is to get my miles back up to 20+ miles a week. When I start my half marathon (and maybe marathon) training the end of July I should be ready for a 20 to 30 mile per week training schedule. That will put me back to where I was 2 years ago when I started training for my first marathon.

Running is getting exciting again.

New tires for the bikes

tiresMy wife was in desperate need of new tires. When you buy a used bike you don’t always get a good set of tires. We got a good price on it anyway. It really is a nice bike for getting to and from the store. However, the tires were really bad. We have been using the bikes as our primary transportation for the last month, and even more so recently as we have gotten used to where things are and how to get there.

She needed tires and I have been wanting narrower tires for my bike. Her’s is a “beach cruiser” style bike; a single speed bike that you sit up-right on and has fatter, mountain-bike style, tires. Mine is a mountain bike with 18 speeds, of which I generally only use 4. I had fairly good used tires on mine (it was a used bike too), but wanted the narrower tires for lower rolling resistance. I picked out the tires I wanted at the bike shop, but he only had one. He ordered a set for me on Tuesday which were to be ready for pick-up on Thursday. I knew that meant that it might not be until sometime next week before I got the tires, but at least they were on order. When I stopped by the shop on Friday morning the tires were not there yet. I had not planned to go back to check on them until Saturday, but ended up having to buy a new tube later on Friday afternoon. I was pleased to find that my new tires had arrived by then.

The reason I needed a tube that afternoon was that my wife’s front tire was so bad that the tube protruded out of one of the holes and got punctured. I patched the hole in the tube, but when putting it back together I broke the valve stem. That tube already had 3 patches in it. It had served its time.

A simple 45 minute job of removing her tires and transferring mine onto her bike while installing the new tires on my wheels ended up taking 2.5 hours. On top of that I managed to puncture one tube so badly that it needed 3 patches! I also broke another valve stem, but was ultimately able to salvage it.

The narrower tires roll better and will be much faster with less effort. There are downsides to the skinnier tires though. The ride is smoother on smooth roads, but much rougher on rough roads. Any linear crack in the road (going the same direction as I) tends to suck the tires in and makes it harder to control the bike. Those were things I knew and was prepared for since I have done my time switching between a road bike and a mountain bike back home. What was a funny surprise though is that the new tires make my bike considerably shorter. My kickstand is now too long!

The difference between a podcast and a podcast episode

Over the last week I have been working with to improve my Spanish. Much of the reading I do at their site is transcripts from podcast episodes. You can also play the audio while reading the text. Several of the texts I have read and or listened to were originally podcast episodes.

I have heard a few times at that site something that sounded funny to me. Since then I have also noticed a couple of podcasts I listen to make, what seems to me, the same mistake. They talk about “the podcast” when referring to the individual episode. For example one that I heard today was talking about the particular episode (not the series) and said “here we are at the end of an eclectic podcast.”

To my thinking the podcast is the complete package. You wouldn’t refer to one episode of a TV show as the “series”; it would simply be an episode of that series. It sounds odd to call an individual episode a podcast.

What do you think?