In our new installment of written work worth checking out, we encourage you to think about the history of the soccer ball, the awesomeness that was the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, the expanding ramifications of the oil disaster in the Gulf, the many things we receive from our parents, and one former Marine’s problem with the “hearts and minds” strategy in Afghanistan.

If you want to pass along stories you think we should include in future lists, please don’t hesitate to send them along via email or Twitter.


In search of the perfect round rolling object” by Ian Jack from The Guardian online (via Jack looks at the evolution of the soccer ball in international affairs from Kashmir in the 1890s to this year’s World Cup in South Africa.

The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series — The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, by Joe Posnanski (via Tommy Tomlinson).

Tony Perez was standing at home plate, ready to hit. They called him the Big Dog, or Doggie for short. Doggie had grown up in Cuba, before Castro’s men came rushing down from the mountains. He had been raised to spend his life lugging bags of sugar at the refinery near his home. That’s what his father did, that’s what his brothers did, and when he turned 14, that’s what he did too. He would never forget the way his body felt at the end of those days. And he would always tell his mother that he wanted something more, he wanted to play baseball in the United States under the bright lights. She told him to grow up and stop dreaming about nonsense.”You will work in the factory just like everyone else in this family,” she told him.


Not surprisingly, now that the oil has begun to come ashore in the Gulf states, classic storytelling about human-petroleum encounters have begun to appear.

Oil blankets Pensacola Beach,” by Ben Montgomery from the St. Petersburg Times, with a nod toward the Book of Revelation.

The tide came in Tuesday night, under a moon almost full, and when the sun came up and the water retreated there it was: a broken band of oil about 5 feet wide and 8 miles long. It looked like tobacco spit and smelled foreign, and it pooled in yesterday’s footprints as far as you could see.

Seven Days in the Life Of A Catastrophe,” by Gary Smith from Sports Illustrated. The svengali of sports profiles looks at the Gulf spill up close for a week, from the God’s-eye view to the perspective from the ground, and tries to figure out what it has to do with athletics.


Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure” by Thomas Goetz from Wired. Goetz looks at Google co-founder Sergei Brin’s odds of getting Parkinson’s, the $50 million he’s plowed into research and the ways in which the flood of data made possible by technology will change the way medical research will be done.

A love of story was my Dad’s gift to me,” a Father’s Day remembrance by Roy Wenzl from The Wichita Eagle (via

Dad grinned a half-grin. He was dressed in the grease-stained denim jacket he wore to drive the tractor in winter. “Why is Achilles interesting?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Because he is great?”

Dad frowned, and opened the door to walk outside.

“Achilles is interesting because Achilles is flawed.”

“What flaw?” I asked. “WHAT FLAW?”

“Figure it out,” he said.

Where I Was,” a blog entry from Laura Zigman on (via @susanorlean).

Everyone has had a phone call, or a moment, like that — one that divides the present and the future: who you’ve been and who you suddenly become. My phone call came on a cold quiet day in early January. It was from my mother telling me she’d gotten her CAT scan results back and that there was a growth on her pancreas.


From Vietnam to Afghanistan: Not winning hearts and minds,” from former Washington Post editor Henry Allen.

I’d done some counterinsurgency work as a corporal in the Marine Corps. This was in 1966, three years earlier. I was at Chu Lai, south of Danang. We gave away truckloads of flour, cement and roofing tin. The Vietnamese were cool with their thanks, but that was understandable. We’d gotten a warm response from one village chief we worked with until the Viet Cong worked with him too, by cutting off his head. I think of him when I read of Taliban reprisals against Afghans who work with Americans.

One day our 105mm howitzer battery was particularly noisy, taking out a Viet Cong hamlet. Then came a cease-fire order. It seemed it wasn’t a Viet Cong but a friendly hamlet. We’d leveled it.

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