Ok, I didn't read it. Don't want to. Came here to say that I am looking forward to my rocking chair, my senior discount, and the elbow hold of the youOk, I didn't read it. Don't want to. Came here to say that I am looking forward to my rocking chair, my senior discount, and the elbow hold of the youth as I cross the street. You who have the energy, go ahead, speak up for yourselves. But don't speak for me.
Btw, I'm getting close. I do limp; I do have lots of gray. And I've never felt any sort of discrimination....more
Reread. Long ago, I used to somewhat a fan of Heinlein. Glad I didn't first read this when I was very young & impressionable, but rather I did soReread. Long ago, I used to somewhat a fan of Heinlein. Glad I didn't first read this when I was very young & impressionable, but rather I did so just a couple of decades ago. Then, thought it fine but sort of preachy. This time, read for book club, was mostly nauseated.
Some readers say that Heinlein presents provocative ideas to sell books, and doesn't necessarily believe them. Evidently he published a Stranger in a Strange Land right after this - and the two have surface philosophies diametrically opposed. But look a little deeper, and you can see a core attitude from the author.
In any case, his stories are not complex, the philosophies are not nuanced, the characters not human. Blech....more
Just one book of a set, of Corliss's project to catalog all the reports of the world's mysteries that he could find by spending hugeSkimmed/reference.
Just one book of a set, of Corliss's project to catalog all the reports of the world's mysteries that he could find by spending huge (and unfunded) amounts of time in the library. The problem, of course, with the mysteries that intrigue Corliss, is that they're 1. ephemeral 2. un-replicable 3. irrelevant to those who would fund research. But, should ever anyone find justification & means to study them, I hope this set of books is still available. Meanwhile, any curious layperson should investigate Corliss's 'greatest hits' book: the Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena This includes reports not only on the luminous, but on earthquake weather, rains of fish, mirages, etc. etc....more
Sort of like a 'greatest hits' of Corliss's (unfunded!) project to catalog all the reputable reports of the world's mysteries, from St. Elmo's fire toSort of like a 'greatest hits' of Corliss's (unfunded!) project to catalog all the reputable reports of the world's mysteries, from St. Elmo's fire to rainfalls of frogs to animals' predictions of earthquakes. While the catalogs are valuable resources to any scientist or person curious about less-studied (because ephemeral, usually) phenomena, they are so thorough as to be dry to the lay reader. Otoh, this Handbook is worth a thorough skim for the reports on the subjects that interest you.
Of special interest to me was Earthquake Weather, as reported by Richard A. Proctor for Living Age in 1884: ... "There is an ominous hush in the air, with a corresponding lull in the conversation for a few seconds, and then somebody says with a yawn, 'It feels to me very much like earthquake weather.' Next minute you notice the piazza gently raised from its underpropping woodwork by some unseen power, observe the teapot quietly deposited in the hostess's lap..."
(Well, to clarify, not all passages are so evocative... and the rest of the report is worth reading for the graceful style, too. Most are earnestly objective, too, the majority are written by scientists and other trained observers.)
I'm also interested in the evidence that domestic animals behave oddly just before earthquakes, as if they are predicting them. Corliss included some reports, but not enough to do more for me than re-invigorate my curiosity.
Corliss doesn't add many of his own ideas, or a narrative, but he did make an interesting observation in his preface to 'Fish, Frogs and other Living Creatures' within the section of "Falling Material." He points out that, of all the anecdotes and reports he has collected in his extensive research, the noteworthy thing about Raining Fish, etc, is how "fastidious" and selective the 'rains' are. Generally the fall is just a certain size, or even a certain species, without the accompanying debris, without other kinds of critters from the same habitat.
J.R. Norman, in the Natural History Magazine of 1928, theorizes that some of these Falls can be explained: "in the case of frogs it possible that numbers of tadpoles may undergo metamorphosis simultaneously, hide if the weather is at all dry and come out into the open with the first rain so suddenly that the appear to have fallen from the sky."
I hope your nearest archival or university library has a copy of this, so you can spelunk for gems for yourself.
The first part of my review is actually in my reading progress comments below - if you really want to know what I think, you have to read those. ;)
NowThe first part of my review is actually in my reading progress comments below - if you really want to know what I think, you have to read those. ;)
Now I'm done. Overall, I love the book, and would have read it several times if I'd owned it when it was new & I was a teen. Now, I just don't know how much is still relevant, and what the current understanding of how nature works is compared to what it was back 4 decades ago. I do know I'm not convinced by the author's argument, in the last chapter, about how human animals live and human societies grow.
But it's a fairly easy read, and the author's voice is engaging and relatively light. And he keeps saying things in fresh way, in a way that helps us think, in an idiom that sticks. For example, consider herbivores as hunters of plants. As far as the genes of the plants can cope, cows etc. are predators.
Also, it's a great read because the author admits that science is a process. It looks for deeper answers and is not satisfied with intuitive understandings or data that doesn't fit popular theories. As he puts it at one point, "Ecologists are still inclined to argue about these things, but it does look as if we might have the general answer to these questions, all the same." Research is still needed, for example by wildlife management research scientists like my middle son.
But there's a lot in here that makes wonderful sense, just as it is, too. Things that I'm sure Colinvaux and his sources have figured out, things that educators and policy-makers have yet to learn. For example, did you know that the ocean is mostly an infertile 'desert' and that we're already getting pretty much as much sustenance as we can from it?
And did you know that there's less competition than peaceful coexistence in nature? Fighting takes a lot of energy that is better used towards reproduction, after all. If you read only one chapter from this book, read the chapter titled "Peaceful Coexistence." Here's some of it:
"Animals and plants in nature are not... engaged in endless debilitating struggle, as a loose reading of Darwin might suggest. Nature is arranged so that competitive struggles are avoided..... A species lives triumphant in its own special niche....
Natural selection is harsh only to the deviant aggressor who seeks to poach on the niche of another."
Now the above is about inter-species interaction. Consider something even more potentially relevant to discussions of humans' warlike nature: wolves cull the young, old, and sick large herbivores, because if the pack took on a healthy adult, "some of the wolves would get hurt, and a hurt wolf can hunt no more. Natural selection see to it that the strain of brave aggressiveness in wolves is purged from the wolf gene pool because such individuals would incur more than an average share of being fatally hurt. and thus would leave fewer descendants."
Now, the problem with humans is that we create new niches. Colinvaux, in his concluding chapter, says we "Change our niches without changing our breeding strategy." To a certain extent, and from the perspective of 1977, he's right. Fortunately, we've seen evidence that empowering and educating women has led to them choosing smaller families. I am more optimistic than the author that this trend will continue, and that we will somehow develop strategies to share a healthy planet with whales, wolves, frogs, and plankton.
But who is far-sighted, who is looking at the big picture? Ecology doesn't even seem to be a thing anymore - can anyone tell me who is following in Colinvaux's footsteps? Can anyone tell me what has been learned since about the topics he studied?
I was wrong! ******************* I'd probably have liked it more if it were the first book on the subject I'd read. Or if I were a competitive birder myI was wrong! ******************* I'd probably have liked it more if it were the first book on the subject I'd read. Or if I were a competitive birder myself. But after reading Big Twitch and The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession (and I think one other but I can't remember enough of it to search for it) I've had enough.
At least Kenn hitched and mooched, and actually watches the birds when he gets a chance - the others spend so much money, leave such a huge carbon footprint, and don't seem to care about the birds at all. Nowadays (apparently) there's so much instant communication, apps on smart-phones, etc., that all birders need to do is follow directions - Kenn did need to know something about likely habitat, time of day, songs and calls, etc. for himself. Or at least his companions did - apparently Ted Parker was brilliant at the gestalt. (Was - died at age 40 back in '93, so, didn't see how much technology has made his kind of birding obsolete....)
Tbh, I haven't yet finished this. I came here to check other reviews to see if I should. I've decided to sit down one more time with it, but if it doesn't get more thoughtful, richer, then this review will stand exactly as so. ******************* It did get better, after the first third or so. Kenn gradually came to realize, as he grew up & matured, that birding is more than a checklist, and life is more than birding. The afterword is interesting, too. If you're only going to read one book in your life about Big Years or competitive birding, I believe I do recommend this.
Btw, I did a little googling, and I found that some effort is being made to be more green - some listers go after 'most birds to be ID'd in a year traveling by bicycle.' So that's cool.
"You had to make the effort to have the luck."
"'You can always take Spanish again next year, but the gnatcatchers won't wait.'"
re' Fort Robinson: "The whole thing might have been erected by a demented billionaire -- which it was, I reflected, since it had been built by the U.S. government." (he goes on to explain the particular folly).
"As a crass young bird-lister, I might have said: a trip to the Tortugas is good, because it adds species to the total. But a better viewpoint would be: working on a list is good, because it gives me an excuse to come to the Tortugas."
(at that point I realized how much competitive birding resembles geocaching, at least in how some cachers play that game)
Pathos and puns, wry wit and wisdom, all in a charming little picture-book. I really enjoyed it just on my own. But, if my boys were still young, we'dPathos and puns, wry wit and wisdom, all in a charming little picture-book. I really enjoyed it just on my own. But, if my boys were still young, we'd read this over & over again. Every time, we'd enjoy the pictures of the flying dragons, the intricate clocks, the beguiling village, and the dancing people. We'd also appreciate the theme about slowing down and taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Disclaimer - I received a free PDF from the author, and I do consider her a 'friend' on goodreads. However, I vow this is an honest review and written without bias....more
Negative reviews compare it to Moloka'i and Honolulu. Unfair. It's like ppl who complain there's too much romance in a book by Jude Deveraux just becaNegative reviews compare it to Moloka'i and Honolulu. Unfair. It's like ppl who complain there's too much romance in a book by Jude Deveraux just because they saw words that implied mystery in the blurb. If you want a mystery, read a mystery. If you want Historical Fiction, read Hist. Fic.
If, like me, you want an original & poignant love story, the kind the Brennert writes so well in both the SF and HF genres, consider this. I'm going to try to find it, esp. after enjoying Her Pilgrim Soul and several of the other stories in that collection....more
Just because Tom is confused while getting to know the different peoples doesn't mean the reader has to be even more confused about them and about theJust because Tom is confused while getting to know the different peoples doesn't mean the reader has to be even more confused about them and about the plot (is there one? something about the Yauntries?). After all, he at least spent real time in the physical presence of them.
And, you know what? I found the details of the different species interesting, sure, for example how Gwyngs are marsupial and sleep in puppy piles... but the underlying 'being-ness' of each species is not so alien, actually. That is to say, all the Barcons are healers, all the different bird-peoples have a defensive chip on their shoulders... but one species has more in common with any other one species than, say, the "breeds" (yes, that's Ore's word) of humans (say, Anglo vs. Chinese, perhaps) have with one another.
Heck, readers who can understand Ore's ellipticalism and flirtations with plot are alien to me. ;)
So, if this is straight SF it's over-rated by the measure of how alien the aliens are, and if it's a parable about different human cultures irl it's over-rated by the measure of the comprehensible impact it makes.