There's an old joke about two people eating in a restaurant. One says, "The food here is terrible!", the other one says, "I know! And such small portiThere's an old joke about two people eating in a restaurant. One says, "The food here is terrible!", the other one says, "I know! And such small portions!" Reading Countdown reminded me of that joke.
I'm not trying to make light of the serious issues raised by Countdown, nor am I a climate change denier, but I was frustrated by this book. Alan Weisman spends most of the book describing the dire consequences of too many people using too many resources and how the planet is likely unable to sustain the uncontrolled increase of both. The frustrating part, however, is that he spends some time on topics like China's one child policy and the declining birthrate in Italy that should be viewed as positive in light of the remainder of the book. These topics are described just as negatively as the overpopulation story, however, thus I was reminded of the joke....more
I admit that I am an easy target audience for a book like this. I am an unabashed dog lover and find them endlessly fascinating, so I will give a posiI admit that I am an easy target audience for a book like this. I am an unabashed dog lover and find them endlessly fascinating, so I will give a positive review to just about any dog book, except Marley & Me, but that's a subject for another day. What's a Dog For? is John Homans attempt to explain the dog's purpose in our current world. On the whole, the book is fascinating look at how dogs came to be where they are today. My only criticism is that because he tries to cover so much ground, I think each reader will skim some of the book. In my case, I found the behavioral sections tedious. ...more
Cameron McDonald is a biology professor in Vancouver who one day realizes that he doesn't have enough first-hand experience with endangered species Cameron McDonald is a biology professor in Vancouver who one day realizes that he doesn't have enough first-hand experience with endangered species of North America. Fair enough, but his way of rectifying this is to pack up his wife, toddler, infant and dog(!) in a minivan and spend weeks driving around the continent to observe these animals. I am sympathetic to liberal and environmental causes, but McDonald and his wife are caricatures of hippies. It's hilarious to read his bemoaning that he has to eat fast food and shop at Walmart while traveling the American interstate. I think McDonald expected to find food co-ops and organic markets at every exit. We also learn that McDonald is highly susceptible to seasickness, so naturally he and his wife sign up for a 4 hour whale watching tour and take their very young children with them. The wife ends up getting sick first, leaving McDonald to care for both children until his seasickness hits and then he has to vomit profusely in the ship bathroom while controlling both children! The children of course have preposterous names, a boy named Finn and a girl named Brora. We learn that Brora is named after her ancestors' birthplace in Scotland. I guess I'm glad the family didn't come from John O'Groats. Sometimes travel books are entertaining because authors find themselves in preposterous situations despite their best efforts to travel responsibly and prepare for contingencies. What entertainment I got from this book was due to the absurd behavior of the author. I couldn't put it down because I had to find out what stupid thing the author was going to say or do next. ...more