There's definitely a lot of stuff in here that is questionable. And some of his central theses apparently (according to people who are knowledgeable a...moreThere's definitely a lot of stuff in here that is questionable. And some of his central theses apparently (according to people who are knowledgeable about anthropology and whatnot) not really tenable - though they seem reasonable enough to me. Since I listened to this as an audiobook, I don't know what the foot/endnotes are like. If they exist. (Somehow we don't own this book in physical form.)
But on the other hand, so much of what he talks about is real and important. His discussion especially of sugar, and how a) almost everyone is addicted to it and b) it re-invigorated the slave trade and just in general is _horrible_, made me re-think things. I'm glad I'm not addicted to caffeine or tobacco, and I'm all right with most of my addictions (I think I manage them well and they enhance my life, rather than diminish it) but I need to address my addictions to sugar, and to a lesser extent to television, and to a lesser extent chocolate. (I think that if I can handle the sugar thing, the chocolate won't be a big deal.)
It's sad that McKenna is gone, because I think that things *have* improved since this was written (witness the progress that's being made towards ending marijuana prohibition) and I'd like for him to have been able to see it himself, and to hear what he has to say about it.(less)
This book was sort of cute. There were some weird terminology things but maybe it's just because it was written 15 years ago? She keeps saying "telesc...moreThis book was sort of cute. There were some weird terminology things but maybe it's just because it was written 15 years ago? She keeps saying "telescopes" when I think she probably means "spotting scopes." And she rarely says "birders," they're "birdwatchers."
For someone who actually is a birder, some of the explanations (especially in the beginning) are a little tedious and the descriptions of birds and people a little precious. And she anthropomorphizes the hell out of the birds but at least she acknowledges it. And I rolled my eyes at lot. Like at the dumb names they named the hawks ("First Love"? Gross.) And how when she encountered a human skull (in a laboratory setting) she "shuddered." Basically the people all sound like a bunch of over-enthusiastic dorks but that's birders, right? Who am I kidding.
Also the only reason that anything that happens in the book is remarkable, is because it's happening in the middle of New York City. Every once in a while I'd think "oh, I'd like to see that! Maybe we should go up -- " and then catch myself. Because there are SO MANY opportunities for so much more amazing stuff (naturally speaking) between me and New York, but if you yourself are already stuck in the middle of Manhattan, then this is great! And wondrous! And amazing! But if you're not, then this shit's small potatoes. Ooh boy a killdeer family. @@
But yes, it was very nice, and the next time I'm in New York anyway, for some other New York-only reason, I'd like to take the time to check out Central Park now that I know a little more about it. And maybe I would recommend it to New Yorkers who were thinking about taking up birding (you know who you are.)(less)
I am abandoning this book. I only got about 85 pages in before my book club meeting (partly this was because a shady Amazon retailer ignored my order...moreI am abandoning this book. I only got about 85 pages in before my book club meeting (partly this was because a shady Amazon retailer ignored my order and I had to order it again; partly it was because I take forever to read non-fiction) and most people at the meeting hated it. So oh well. Life's too short.(less)
So, this book is amazing and everyone should be required to read it. Boviously that will never happen.
The differences between drug use and drug abuse...moreSo, this book is amazing and everyone should be required to read it. Boviously that will never happen.
The differences between drug use and drug abuse are discussed. The bulk of the book consists of information on many (all?) types of mind-altering drugs: where it came from, how it's used and by whom, how it's abused, how it can be used responsibly. It was so . . . mind-bending to read that it's okay if you use cocaine or amphetamines on occasion, just don't overdo it. (As always, though, stay the fuck away from heroin.) Also the authors have a lot of anger towards doctors mis- and over-prescribing medication, which is completely justified.
My edition is from 1998 -- I bought it in 2004 (hooray for Amazon's long memory!) but just got around to reading it now. As such, some stuff is out of date, particularly with regard to marijuana and MDMA, and I'd be interested in the latest edition. (Also: the concept of a "designated driver" had apparently not been invented/popularized yet -- he bemoans the fact that this exists in Sweden (I think?) but not the US -- I forgot that that wasn't always a thing.)
The book wraps up with an appendix filled with testimonials of drug users. That part's fantastic as well. It's interesting to hear one person say "PCP is a terrible drug and I can't see anyone having a good time with it" directly contrasted with someone saying they've spent years using it responsibly. Also the one about the dude addicted to running. Because that is a real thing.
So, yes. There's a ton of information in here that SHOULD be common sense, but isn't because of the amount of propaganda we're fed from day one. All teenagers should read this book. If you tell kids pot will kill them, and they try it anyway and it DOESN'T, they're going to discount any information you've ever given them about drugs. How about telling people the truth instead, and letting them make decisions for themselves? A remarkable thought, I know.(less)
Okay, first just the narration: the narrator does "accents." It didn't bother me when she was doing all these African-American people, but when she bu...moreOkay, first just the narration: the narrator does "accents." It didn't bother me when she was doing all these African-American people, but when she busted out the Asian-American "ah so" thing, I was sort of horrified. Does that make me a racist? I'm not sure. Anyway, she was fine with everything else.
I originally gave this three stars but busted it down to two (that means "It was OK.") It's not a bad book, per se, I'm just a little bewildered at how successful it apparently was. There are two parts, intertwined: there's the part about how the HeLa cells affected scientific research, and some things that came out of it. Then there is the story of the family of the woman from whom the HeLa cells were taken.
The science part is . . . interesting, but not fascinating. Like, it's okay, and I'm glad I read it. It was magazine-article interesting.
The Lacks family part . . . it's only sort of interesting as well. Poor black family from the south, and some of the members of the later generations clearly have mental issues. (Which may or may not be related to the fact that cousins married cousins. I thought it was determined that cousin-on-cousin love is actually not that big a deal? No? I was not as appalled as I apparently was supposed to be.) Hardworking mother who has a jillion kids! Dad who drinks and slaps the wife around! Molesting uncle! It's like a Toni Morrison novel without the poetry.
I don't mean to make light of their situation -- it's compelling to them, and to the author, who came to be so personally embroiled in their lives. But narratively speaking, I don't think their story is actually too interesting. And when you come down to it, their troubles had NOTHING to do with the HeLa cells. Nothing whatsoever. They thought they were -- because they're ignorant and educated (I don't intend either of those descriptors to be insulting, it's not actually their fault that they are uneducated and ignorant,) and because they have been screwed by the system in general, being poor and black. But whether or not their mother's cancer cells had turned out to be immortal, their lives would not have been different.
Lacks's sons are convinced that they are owed money because of these cells, but the original researcher charged nothing for their distribution; he was just super-hyped that he had found these things. Later, other labs produced HeLa cells on a massive scale, and you can purchase them for research -- but is the Lacks family entitled to any of that profit? The author doesn't seem to think so, as sympathetic as she is to the family, because she didn't try to convince me. So, sorry, guys. I do think that you are entitled to health care, but that has nothing to do with the fact that your mother changed scientific research as we know it; it has to do with the fact that you are human beings.
One last thought, and that's regarding the mental issues I mentioned above -- clearly, Deborah and Zakariyya [oh man, I wanted to KILL the narrator for pronouncing it "za-KAH-ree-yah" until it was explained, 3/4 of the way through, that that's the way he pronounces it] [she did keep pronouncing in situ incorrectly, though, as far as I know, and that made drove me crazy as well] are mentally ill to some degree, and whenever that was made clear, it made me feel . . . uncomfortable. As though they were being exploited for their entertainment value. The author tries to treat them with respect, and I'm not sure what she should have done differently, I just . . . I dunno. It made me feel dirty.
Anyway. There you have it. I didn't NOT like it, I just didn't see what all the fuss was about.(less)
This was a really great book on dog training using behavioral conditioning (I think that's what it's called. I read this a while ago.)
Don't Shoot the...moreThis was a really great book on dog training using behavioral conditioning (I think that's what it's called. I read this a while ago.)
Don't Shoot the Dog is a better book (if we're going to compare the two) but this one is specifically geared towards dog training, and is quite valuable. You should read (and own) both.
The first third (if I recall correctly) describes the concepts involved. It was useful, but man, this lady is SO into positive training that it is a little crazy. Like, she beats herself up because she used a cap gun twice (2ce) on a dog to teach him not to chase horses. A cap gun. TWICE. After all other positive techniques were attempted. Give yourself a break, lady, the dog will be fine.
The middle third of the book is a training schedule that describes, step by step, how to teach each command. It is perfect. I've only really done "down" so far because I'm lazy but it was really easy to get Indiana to do what I wanted, and then to learn to do what I wanted. Basically, here is the theory: first, you use "shaping" to get the dog to do what you want. Repeat. Then you issue the command AS the dog is doing what you want. Repeat. Then you just issue the command, and hopefully, they'll do what you want.
I just skimmed the third third because it discusses how to address behavioral problems, and Indiana is perfect and doesn't do anything that needs correcting.(less)
I abandoned this because I am just no good at reading non-fiction. But it was really good and interesting, I swear! I just didn't retain very much of...moreI abandoned this because I am just no good at reading non-fiction. But it was really good and interesting, I swear! I just didn't retain very much of it.(less)
Man, I only got like 50 pages in and this is BO-RING. Again, no sense of humor? At all? Seriously?
The title is taken far too literally (except for the...moreMan, I only got like 50 pages in and this is BO-RING. Again, no sense of humor? At all? Seriously?
The title is taken far too literally (except for the "provacative" part.) It's like a super-sized essay on how the role of "wife" has changed over the years, and the contradictory things it can mean today. Gee, thanks, I've been an alive feminist with a computer for the past twenty-odd years, I know . . . stuff. Like what you just said.
I got about halfway through this book and got bored. There are no jokes in it. I mean NONE! How can you write something that has no sense of humor in...moreI got about halfway through this book and got bored. There are no jokes in it. I mean NONE! How can you write something that has no sense of humor in it at all? (Can you tell I'm unaccustomed to reading non-fiction?)
I read this book because: well, because before I do something, I like to read a lot of books about it. So I got this book about getting married (specifically, about women getting married.)
The premise seems to be this: getting married is an important and significant transition in a woman's life. In modern Western society, we don't recognize and acknowledge important life transitions -- although getting married is actually an exception, as we still have big important weddings. However, since we're not accustomed to acknowledging these transitions, we tend to focus on the "party" part and not what this transition really means. It's a death of sorts, an ending of one identity and the birth of a new one. If we don't take notice of and acknowledge this death, and allow ourselves to grieve properly, it can create issues in our own happiness, and in the relationships between ourselves and our husbands, families, and girlfriends, into the first few years of the marriage.
There. Now, that all sounds reasonable, right? I don't necessarily disagree with that. However, I disagree that it takes over 200 pages to talk about it. This is the thesis for a magazine article, not a book. She includes some first-person talk from brides, but could have included a lot more -- I'd be more interested in reading what real (modern) women have to say, than in another analogy based on the Eros/Psyche myth.
Additionally -- and this is a personal note, not really interesting to anyone who doesn't know me -- although I think (as I mentioned) that the author has some good points to make, I don't think that they're very germane to my actual situation. I did go through transitions as my relationship with Chris advanced. Just committing to a boyfriend at all was difficult for me at first. As was moving in together -- after years on my own, it was tough at first, and even nine months later I think we're still adjusting (well, I know I am.) But I recognized at the time that it was okay for me to have difficulties, as long as I acknowledged them, and figured out what, exactly, my difficulties involved, and worked to communicate with Chris (and with myself) and figure them out. And I did. But I managed to do this without reading a book.
And maybe I'm naive, but I don't think that suddenly being a "wife" is going to change my life, nor do I think it's going to change how Chris and I relate to each other. As I said, that change happened years ago, when I recognized that I would be spending the rest of my life with this kid. Maybe it's different for women who are going straight from their parents' house to a shared house; maybe it's different for women with closer relationships with their parents; maybe it's different for women who make a lot less money than their husbands. This book claims that ALL women will go through this painful transition, even those who have been living on their own for 14 years -- but personally, I don't find that to be the case.
But so anyway. What a long review for a book I didn't even finish! Ladies: know that getting married is a transition from one identity to another; it might happen on your wedding day, or it might have happened already. But acknowledge it, and know that parts of that transition are going to be painful, and that's okay. The end.
There, I just saved you time and money. (Although you can have my copy if you like, though this was hardly a ringing endorsement.)(less)
I wish I had read this when I first started planning my wedding!
Really truly wonderful. The author is someone I wish I hung out with, but the book is...moreI wish I had read this when I first started planning my wedding!
Really truly wonderful. The author is someone I wish I hung out with, but the book isn't just "here is what I thought was bullshit, and what we did differently." I mean it IS that, but it also talks about how to figure out what works for YOU. Both inspirational and instructional, and I recommend it to everyone (dudes and girls) planning a wedding -- even if you don't think it's going to be "Off-Beat," you have opinions, and this book gives you tools to back those opinions up.(less)
I try to maintain calm-assertive energy at all times after reading this book.
No but seriously, Cesar is awesome. I haven't watched more than an episod...moreI try to maintain calm-assertive energy at all times after reading this book.
No but seriously, Cesar is awesome. I haven't watched more than an episode of Dog Whisperer, but his reputation precedes him. The things he talks about in this books aren't necessarily things I've seen before (not that I've sought out different techniques on dog training before now) but once he says to do something, and why it should be done, it seems so obvious and so common sensical.
Though I haven't had an opportunity to test out his theories on an actual puppy (yet,) I do recommend this book to anyone thinking of getting a puppy -- even if it's not your first dog. It really is for working with a young dog as a clean slate, though -- if you're trying to correct behaviors in an adolescent or older dog, I'd search out one of his other books.(less)
I think that if I had been reading a paper copy of this, or even just listening to it in the car, I would have been bored. But I had it on whilst I pa...moreI think that if I had been reading a paper copy of this, or even just listening to it in the car, I would have been bored. But I had it on whilst I painted and re-painted twenty (20) kitchen cabinet doors, and I enjoyed it.
I think I really like Hemingway. And I learned a lot about bullfighting. And now I would like to see a bullfight; but since Hemingway bemoans the current state of "modern" bullfighting in 1932, who knows what it's like now.
The narrator was pretty good, by the way. At first I was disappointed he wasn't Brian Denehey (who narrated True At First Light) but this dude can actually do voices. And accents! The way he pronounced Spanish words was elegant without being pretentious. Also his "old lady" voice cracked me up.(less)
A well written, fair account of a dumb kid. I thought that by the end I'd feel either pity or derision for him, most likely derision -- but Krakauer m...moreA well written, fair account of a dumb kid. I thought that by the end I'd feel either pity or derision for him, most likely derision -- but Krakauer made me feel more sympathy for him than I thought I would, and helped me to understand him. So good on him.