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)
I quite enjoyed this collection of historical scientific tales. While I was familiar with a couple of the stories, I learned a bit along the way about...moreI quite enjoyed this collection of historical scientific tales. While I was familiar with a couple of the stories, I learned a bit along the way about bathyscapes and zoophagy and whatnot. The venereal disease section in particular was quite disturbing in terms of how many scientists self-experimented (and not always on oneself - the Tuskeegee Experiment is a dark blot on medical science).
The research seemed solid (tho I don't think Norton cited much in the way of sources) and the writing was entertaining, if a bit twee at times. I may have to look up Trevor Norton's other books at some point. (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)
I picked up this book from the library thanks to a SDMB mention (bup).
I find explorations of animal cognition and emotions interesting in and of them...moreI picked up this book from the library thanks to a SDMB mention (bup).
I find explorations of animal cognition and emotions interesting in and of themselves, and Morell has found some excellent research to write about - including laughing rats and grieving elephants. I found the story of Alex the grey parrot fascinating - and wonder how much more we could have learned if he hadn't died early (age 30 vs the 50-60 year expected life span) of heart problems.
Morell writes engagingly about her interactions with these researchers and (when applicable) with the animals themselves. It's becoming more obvious that a large range of animals have cognitive abilities far beyond those traditionally thought - even into the realms of fish and insects. I haven't finished the book yet, but would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in animal psychology. (less)
I checked out the audiobook version from the local library & was excited to see it was read by the author! Tyson does an excellent job of reviewin...moreI checked out the audiobook version from the local library & was excited to see it was read by the author! Tyson does an excellent job of reviewing Pluto's history, its cultural impact and the uproar that was triggered by the overhaul of the Hayden Planetarium exhibit on the solar system.
Tyson refers to contemporary sources throughout - including examples of the multitude of letters and emails he received as the visible spearhead of the "demotion" of Pluto. Tyson's wit and humor shines throughout, even more so being presented in his own voice, I think.
If you're wanting an in-depth, scientifically rigorous look at this topic, this isn't going to satisfy you; but for we astronomical dilettantes, it fits the bill nicely, IMHO. And anyone who quotes Jonathan Couton lyrics is all right by me. I think I'll be picking this up soon - as I missed out on the visual elements of the book. (less)