Matt Ridley does an excellent job telling the story of our Genome by selecting one characteristic from each chromosome and exploring in depth what itMatt Ridley does an excellent job telling the story of our Genome by selecting one characteristic from each chromosome and exploring in depth what it may imply about our genes. Granted this was written 17 years ago, but I still managed to gain a lot of insights into the cutting-edge applications of gene therapy. The book serves as a great introduction for those not familiar with the field and would like to take a stab at it. And though I didn't agree with all of his viewpoints, I had to give him credit for providing strong arguments on the positions he held. Some of the more shocking chapters, such as the "battle of the sexes" between genes and the history of eugenics, are things that really stand out in my mind, elevating this book from being a simple outline stuck in its time, to a classic of scientific writing....more
The flaw in Nietzsche's idea of the "Superman" is that greatness is relative. We can't all be figures of excellence like Napoleon and Julius Ceasar. AThe flaw in Nietzsche's idea of the "Superman" is that greatness is relative. We can't all be figures of excellence like Napoleon and Julius Ceasar. A great many underprivileged people are required to elevate the status of someone and make them great. In order for everyone to be great- or what this thought experiment about the next step in our evolution would detail- ambition must yield to equality so we can all progress together. This is pretty obvious to me, so maybe I have missed the point....more
I tried really hard to get into this. The first chapter was extraordinary, but the next few didn't come close to matching it. I skipped ahead and readI tried really hard to get into this. The first chapter was extraordinary, but the next few didn't come close to matching it. I skipped ahead and read a couple other breathtaking chapters, including The Warp on the Loom and The Meat Ax. I'm sorry, but Robert Moses was just too much of an ass for me to dedicate over a thousand pages of reading. The extra stars are for Caro's ambition and the quality of his writing....more
Though Seneca was an old man’s philosopher, young readers can benefit a lot from his letters. While I disagreed with some of his views on conservativeThough Seneca was an old man’s philosopher, young readers can benefit a lot from his letters. While I disagreed with some of his views on conservative living, many others would have helped me mature faster when I was young and restless. Particularly the letters about moderation, patience, and friendship:
“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.”
“All this hurrying from place to place won’t bring you any relief, for you’re traveling in the company of your own emotions, followed by your troubles all the way.”
“But when you are looking on anyone as a friend when you do not trust him as you trust yourself, you are making a grave mistake, and have failed to grasp sufficiently the full force of true friendship.”
Insights like these are in great abundance through the book, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with them. Others, however, were more questionable. I found his insights on exercise and limiting ones reading material detrimental to personal growth. Personally, nothing changed my life for the better more than exercise did. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. However, I’m not 60+ years old like Seneca was, living in opulence under the influence of a crazed emperor like Nero. Things would sure be different walking in his shoes!
Secondly, while I do feel that some books should be returned to from time to time, reading only a select few over the course of one’s life would become stale and dogmatic. In another letter he says, “The more a mind takes in the more it expands”. Well, what better way to do this than by reading a variety of materials? He seems to contradict himself there, but to be fair it’s the only time he does so among the hoards of his healthy axioms. (Side note- as a testament to its greatness, this is probably one of the books I'll be re-reading in the future.)
Many of these axioms have relationships with eastern thought, such as the ones seen in Buddhist teachings. He writes about the release of desire as a means of achieving wholeness in a world that causes imbalance with all its temptations. I don’t know if the Buddhists and Stoics ever came into contact during ancient times, but if they did they might have thrown quite a, um, *subdued* toga party....more
In which this is the book that got me through detention, and is responsible for my insatiable desire to run naked across a desert island; all thanks tIn which this is the book that got me through detention, and is responsible for my insatiable desire to run naked across a desert island; all thanks to Friday, that lean Adonis, former cannibal, neutered for civilization by the jolly old erudite Robinson Crusoe after his faraway adventures at sea. ...more
If the results of the 2016 election are any indication, racism is still a relevant issue in our country. Though few will admit it, having a black presIf the results of the 2016 election are any indication, racism is still a relevant issue in our country. Though few will admit it, having a black president in the White House horrified many people for a very superficial reason: the simple fact that he was black. For this reason I decided to pick up Ta-Nehisi Coates' modern classic: Between the World and Me, just to get a sense of the mindset of black America in post-segregation society.
Written as a series of letters to his son, Coates provides a wonderfully written catalog of experiences that highlight his fight for social justice as a student and journalist. Wisely he avoids crossing the thin line between whiney and provocative. His insights show few traces of anger and serve more as a beacon for hope against police brutality, incarceration, and any reversions to pre-60s social norms (and not just the 1960s, mind you). He uses the American Dream as a platform for white suburbia's rejection of the slums, using references to the black body to prove his point. The black body has been beaten black and blue in white America's efforts to keep segregation a reality, despite all the civil rights laws that were passed to try and eradicate it.
He is spot on. I grew up up in the suburbs, and only one black kid went to our school. Any notion that our races have been united is an illusion. Though we may be slightly more tolerant, the laws haven't done enough to erase the memory of our bleak past. We are reaching a dangerous point in American history, similar to the time when Rome feasted so much on its glory that it reverted to villifying social groups as scapegoats for its inner turmoil. We should know better than that, but we clearly don't....more
A classic "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" story. What's especially provoking is that the victim is based on the fate of John the Baptist. AsA classic "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" story. What's especially provoking is that the victim is based on the fate of John the Baptist. As you can imagine, it caused an uproar of controversy in the 1890s, yet still managed to be translated many times.
Oscar Wilde subdued his famous wit in Salome and experimented with poetry and passion instead. It worked like a charm- I was thoroughly enthralled by this dramatic play....more