Another pickup off the New Books shelf at the library - With my interest in post-apocalyptic fiction, I thought I'd see how Dartnell approaches how we...moreAnother pickup off the New Books shelf at the library - With my interest in post-apocalyptic fiction, I thought I'd see how Dartnell approaches how we might pick up the pieces after a worldwide catastrophe. After addressing several common scenarios (meteorite, nuclear war, global warming) - he chooses the deadly epidemic scenario. He then proceeds to walk the reader thru how to rebuild society, starting with the necessities of food and shelter. He touches on quite a bit of history, and science in this realistic look at how we got to where we are now and how we might return to a similar lifestyle after an apocalypse.
While he refers repeatedly to this work being a "quick-start guide", it's more an overview than a step by step manual; a thought experiment versus a how to. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed his well-researched exploration of humanity's trip towards technology and found his insights into what steps we might skip over next time quite intriguing. (less)
Spotted this on the library shelf and it sounded interesting. Complete with a lurid cover reminiscent of the classic 1950's EC Comics, this middle-gra...moreSpotted this on the library shelf and it sounded interesting. Complete with a lurid cover reminiscent of the classic 1950's EC Comics, this middle-grade book takes a look at all the stuff that is supposed to be bad for kids/teens (comic books, video games, skateboarding) and whether or not it really is. Surprisingly well researched, with many historical references, this engagingly illustrated and pleasantly snarky book would be a great resource for social studies teachers or anyone wanting to challenge what They Say.(less)
I believe I spotted this on the New Books shelf of the library; I picked it up & found it to be a somewhat repetitive, but interesting contemplati...moreI believe I spotted this on the New Books shelf of the library; I picked it up & found it to be a somewhat repetitive, but interesting contemplation of how we perceive time.
Hammond weaves together research in neuroscience and psychology with real-life narratives of hostages and other isolated individuals, sprinkling in literary items as well (Proust, Constantine, etc). Synesthesia was touched on, as well as several amnesia cases. She wraps up the book with some general techniques for dealing with time passing too slowly or too quickly, based on the findings discussed previously.
One scenario to determine how you view yourself relative to the passing of time I found quite interesting. A meeting you have scheduled for Wednesday was moved up two days. What day of the week is meeting now on? My answer was "Friday" ... which she linked to the perspective of the self moving forward to the future. An answer of "Monday" relates more to the feeling that the future is moving towards you. Either way - there's a potential of mis-communication with the other meeting attendees!
I did have one minor quibble - she states that while we often speak of time in distance terms (a "long" time) - we don't do the reverse. Maybe that's her UK bias showing, but here in the MidWest US, it's common to speak of destinations being X hours away... (where approx 60 miles = 1 hour).
Recommended to those with an interest in pop psychology and case studies - worth at least a library read.(less)
I didn't get around to reading this book (courtesy of the local library) until after the holiday, and perhaps it's just as well; the hyper-consumerism...moreI didn't get around to reading this book (courtesy of the local library) until after the holiday, and perhaps it's just as well; the hyper-consumerism of the subjects of the book combined with the author's snark might have made it harder to get into the spirit of season. The book comes off much better post-Christmas, IMHO.
Serendipitously set during the holiday seasons of 2006-2008, Hank Stuever visits with three families of Frisco, Texas - an up-and-coming exurb of Dallas - to examine their holiday preparations from a semi-sociological viewpoint. Starting with Black Friday thru the first week of January, Stuever spends time with the Trykowski's whose extravagant exterior Christmas lights (and yes, in Texas it's "Christmas" not "holiday", bless your heart) have turned into a side-business for the husband; as has Tammie Purnell's penchant for interior Christmas decorating. He also spends time with single mother Carroll Cavasos who provides entry into the megachurch Christmas phenomenon.
And while I mentioned snark earlier, Stuever at no time makes fun of the individuals he interacts with; his sharpened pen treats them almost more as victims of the larger Christmas/Giftsmas madness. As balance, he spends time with the volunteers at Frisco Family Services, helping organize and hand out the donations received as a part of their Angel Tree Drive, as well as picking out gifts for a few angels on his own. Stuever is quick to point out the foibles of his fellow man (and woman), but admits to his own flaws as well, regarding the expectations of the season, both past and present.
It was an interesting read, both in its sociological and personal insights; plenty of human interest without being too glurgey. I'll have to check out more of Stuever's work. (less)
I checked out the e-text version of this book based on a SDMB recco (ChinaGuy) and a general interest in the topic.
The author basically explains why...moreI checked out the e-text version of this book based on a SDMB recco (ChinaGuy) and a general interest in the topic.
The author basically explains why he does what he does and how he feels about his life, with some fictional interludes. It's very different from Temple Grandinin both style and content, yet with some similarities. For example, they both discuss difficulties in dealing with people, and how they feel much more connected to animals/nature.
There's plenty of skepticism about whether or not Higashida is really the author & how much his assistant really just "assisted" in getting the words down versus adding to the text, but I'm not sure it matters too much. A lot of the basic explanations held true with what I've heard and read about people with autism; and the extra little stories included felt very Japanese to me.
It was an intriguing read - and I'd recommend it if you have an interest in the topic. (less)
Another library read, recommended over on the SDMB by Alba.
It was an interesting blend of pop-science/sociology and personal experience. Foer explore...moreAnother library read, recommended over on the SDMB by Alba.
It was an interesting blend of pop-science/sociology and personal experience. Foer explored the history of memorization, including the "memory palace" technique first used by the Romans. Foer also touched on at the neuroscience of memory, and visited with a man suffering from one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever documented; he forgets who you are during the course of the conversation. Foer became intrigued by the world of competitive memory training after covering the World Memory Championships, and starts training in order to compete the following year.
Foer's writing is engaging, and the science is solid, tho if you've read Oliver Sachs, you've seen some of this before. I appreciated the detail he went into on the memory palace and PAO (person, action object) techniques, and can see where they would come in handy in certain circumstances; however, as someone who misplaces her keys regularly and has terrible trouble with names, I found this book to be more of a diversion than a self-help manual.
Worth a library read, at least, if you're interested in the topic and/or enjoy participatory journalism. (less)
Emmins' first contact with Neal Smither, the proprietor of "Crime Scene Cleaners" paints Neal as more than a bit of a jerk. While he is all polite business in front of the customer, once he's on the job - he sings disrespectful ditties about the deceased, and tells Emmins that most of the people he cleans up after are freaks and scumbags. However, as the book continues, Neal is shown to be an incredibly driven man, who loves his family fiercely and supports his workers 100%. Gallows humor is perhaps the only way to deal with a job where you cope with gore, decay and pestilence on a daily basis.
I was intrigued by Emmins' approach to following one of the cleanup cases through the associated criminal trial (apparent murder, with the victim left in a bathtub for weeks), talking with acquaintances of the victim, and even providing excerpts of the arraignment and trial. It gave a sense of humanity to the larger story; much more so than Emmins' personal tales of woe - how he felt caged by his hotel room in suburban San Francisco, waiting almost like a junkie for a call from Neal about the next job.
While Mop Men is almost too self-centered, IMHO, it is a fascinating look at a profession most people never even think about, filtered thru a bit of a whiny prat's viewpoint. I'd probably recommend Aftermath, Inc. over this book, but they were both worth the read.(less)
While Roach brings her same intensely curious, yet tongue-in-cheek approach to this book, I didn't find myself quite as caught up this time around. I can't quite put my finger on why; whether the material was at fault, or if her schtick is starting to wear thin... I'm leaning a bit toward the former.
I did buy the Kindle version of the book, as it was on sale (and I had a gift cert burning a hole in my virtual pocket) and I'm sure I'll re-read it, tho perhaps not as often as Stiff, Bonk or Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. Recommended to those interested in food science, GI ailments and cures or just have a general interest in the human body and how it ticks. (less)
Lesley has as To-Read; SDMB recco: Le Ministre de l'au-delà "The Storytelling Animal has a lot of really interesting ideas behind it, but I couldn't h...moreLesley has as To-Read; SDMB recco: Le Ministre de l'au-delà "The Storytelling Animal has a lot of really interesting ideas behind it, but I couldn't help comparing it (unfavourably) to the outstanding Daniel Levitin's This Is Your Brain on Music and/or Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia."(less)