Sunday, November 25, 2007

Two Mini Book Reports 

Another one of my activities is participating in a book club. This one is a bit unusual - the members are mostly current and retired college professors. The intellectual discourse that occurs can be hyper polysyllabic but it is interesting. I've read two books recently and decided to share my thoughts.

Most of our selections are non-fiction, covering a wide range of subject matter areas (history, politics, economics, philosophy, religion, etc.).

We just completed Infidel by Ayaan Hersi Ali, the Somali woman who was elected to the Dutch Parliament. She is seeking asylum in the USA because of death threats in Holland. There she was under 24 hour a day security because she dared to speak out against Muslim treatment of women. The Dutch are now refusing to protect her in the US yet want her out of Holland. It appears for now that she is living in Holland while security issues are resolved. I thought the book was incredible in many ways. Her life story is absolutely amazing: from Somalia, to Saudi Arabia, Kenya, to Germany to The Netherlands and the US. She is multi-lingual and an excellent writer. Her story is one every woman should read - it is real, it is sad, it is uplifting.

The other book I just completed is Freakonomics, the best seller by Steven Levitt and Setphen Dubner. The book was interesting but after going through all their logic, ideas, stories, results, including sumo wrestlers, real estate, etc.) what I found most valuable was the classic demand/supply theory of economics, as applied to oil prices. Pages 268-271 take the reader through the impact of high and low oil prices, and the ramifications in the West, China, and Saudi Arabia. This is one of the best, clear summaries of oil prices (and any other commodity for that matter) I've read anywhere. You can substitute ethanol, corn, etc. for oil and you get it.