Some things, of course, haven’t changed: the feminine mystique (that is, societal pressure to be “feminine”) is alive and well: girls experience more pressure to be pretty than to be smart, there is no social stigma to claim your occupation as “housewife” (though I find today the phrase “stay-at-home mom” to be more popular), and very large employers like the University of Chicago get away without day care in the surrounding neighborhood.
However, as profoundly important as this book is as a call to arms to find a higher purpose in your life than waxing your kitchen floor, I don’t think it needs to be as long as it is. Many parts are repetitive, and the dissection of Freudian psychology is unnecessary. The result is, as persuaded as I was by the book’s message, there was many I time I set the book down and had no temptation to pick it up again to learn another fascinating nuance of Freudian psychology or Meadian anthropology.
Therefore, I would recommend to read only the following chapters:
1. The problem That Has No Name 2. The Happy Housewife Heroine 3. The Crisis in Woman’s Identity
4. The Passionate Journey – optional if you want to read about the history of feminism, but not at all necessary to the book’s point
8. The Mistaken Choice 9. The Sexual Sell 10. Housewifery Expands to Fill the Time Available
14. A New Life Plan for Women
The intervening tracts on Freud, Mead, and how overprotective mothering causes autism and homosexuality, are completely unnecessary.
The New York Times appears to also have a review, but they seem to have completely missed the point.
10/20/13: I'm only partway through this book, but I cannot contain my exuberance. This is finally the book that I had just assumed otherpregnancy books would be, but was sadly disappointed to discover they were not.
For a given risk factor (such as caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco), she lays out the studies that have been done, highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each study, shows what they found, and then leaves the reader, now armed with data, to decide her own appropriate course of action.
For example, caffeine. There are a number of studies linking caffeine to miscarriages, which have led different doctors to give their different recommendations: some doctors say up to three cups of coffee per day is ok; others say two; still others say absolutely no caffeine at all. The problem with most of these studies is that it turns out that nausea is actually a sign of a healthy pregnancy, and the more nauseous you feel, the less likely you are to miscarry. Of course, if you're feeling nauseous, you want to drink coffee less than you otherwise might. So any study comparing coffee-drinking to non-coffee-drinking women might not be studying the effects of caffeine, they might actually be studying the effects of nausea.
Fortunately, there was one study in Denmark (that paradise of public health data) that issued free instant coffee to a large cohort of coffee-drinking pregnant women, and instructed them to replace the coffee they would normally drink with the free instant coffee, which was either caffeinated or decaffeinated. The women assigned the caffeinated coffee consumed on average 200 mg more caffeine per day than the women assigned the decaffeinated coffee, but when the researchers looked at birth weight, length at birth, gestational age at birth, or head circumference, they found zero (zero) difference between the two groups of babies. It's pretty clear that caffeine has zero impact on the outcomes measured.
Now, of course coffee has a lot more in it than just caffeine (I could have sworn I had a molecule of the day post on cafestol and kahweol, but I can't find it now), so after reading that study, you might still decide that for your own pregnancy, you might prefer to err on the side of caution and cut down on coffee anyway, and that's fine. But perhaps you might think twice before hassling someone else for the choice she's made for herself.
Like Emily Oster, I find this kind of information a lot more useful for decision-making than simple rules like "only one cup of coffee per day".
10/20/13 (later that day) update:
"My best estimate, based on the data, was that avoiding ham sandwiches would have lowered my risk of Listeria infection from 1 in 8,255 to 1 in 8,333. Would you want to do this? Maybe. Someone certainly could make a case for doing so. However, this change is really, really small. For me, it wasn't worth it."
How do we determine how much we eat? Surely it depends on how hungry we are and how tasty the food is, but Brian Wansink argues that it depends just...moreHow do we determine how much we eat? Surely it depends on how hungry we are and how tasty the food is, but Brian Wansink argues that it depends just as much on external cues, like how much is on our plate, the shape of our drinking glasses, how fast other people at the table are eating, and so forth.
The best parts of this book are when he describes his experiments: the famous bottomless soup bowl, for example, or the chicken wing Super Bowl party experiment. (In the former he finds that if your bowl surreptitiously refills itself, you will eat far, far more than if it doesn't, because you are relying on the visual cue of how much soup is left in the bowl to tell you to stop eating, and in the latter he finds that if the bones aren't cleared away, they provide a reminder of how much you've eaten, and you'll eat fewer wings than if the bones are continuously removed from your sight.)
The weaker parts are when he tries to extend his findings to produce dieting advice. If our mindless eating causes us to eat a few extra calories a day and cause us to gain a few pounds a year without noticing, then theoretically we could change our habits to give ourselves slightly smaller portions, so slight in difference that we don't even notice, and so we can lose a few pounds a year without even noticing the difference. Fair enough, but I could pick that up from reading the experiments, and I thought the diet advice was a bit heavy-handed and repetitive.(less)
I first heard of Sudhir Venkatesh even before he was featured in Freakonomics, when my husband took Steve Levitt's course, "The Economics of Crime"...moreI first heard of Sudhir Venkatesh even before he was featured in Freakonomics, when my husband took Steve Levitt's course, "The Economics of Crime". Ever since I first heard the anecdote of the first-year sociology grad student who showed up to the housing projects on the South Side with a questionnaire asking "how do you feel about being poor and black? Very good, good, neither good nor bad, bad, or very bad", and who somehow endeared himself to the local Black Kings crack-dealing gang, I wanted to hear more stories about his experiences.
However, between the Economics of Crime, Freakonomics, the Freakonomics blog, and Sudhir Venkatesh's various appearances on the Colbert Report and the Daily Show, I apparently had already heard all the best anecdotes.
It was still worth reading, since I certainly never had the courage to cross Cottage Grove, 63rd, or 47th Street on foot to talk to the people who live there. However, I don't know how representative or up-to-date his account actually is.
I also think it's very disappointing that after Ms. Bailey asks Sudhir if he plans on talking to white folks, implying that he's not getting the whole story about poverty in the projects without looking at its context (why don't ambulances come? why don't the police come? why were the projects built in the first place? who's assessing whether they're meeting their goals?), he never does look into it.(less)
When Goss and Subby showed up, this book took a turn toward the seriously weird, and it only got weirder in the next chapter when we met the Tattoo. Imagine my sincere disappointment, then, when the ultimate denouement didn't even require Goss and Subby and the Tattoo: it was all there from the beginning.
I had a Lolita-like moment when one character asks another whether he's on lolcats ("I can has squid back?"): it made me wonder what other cultural references I was completely missing. So it's possible that the novel's incoherence results (in part) from my own ignorance.
Also, this novel appears to take place in an alternate universe in which "alright" is a word.(less)
For some reason the title here does not give the proper subtitle: "A Tale of Love and Fallout".
Marie Curie was in what we would now call grad school from 1895-1903 (eight years), and had a baby in 1897 (her third year). In 1903, Marie Curie became the first woman to earn a doctorate in France, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work later that year. Why isn't the turnaround that fast today?
She did earn her doctorate, and inherited Pierre's professorship after his untimely death, so I'm not entirely sure why we call her "Mme Curie" and not "Prof. Curie" or "Dr. Curie".(less)
Witches includes a cute story about Bufkin holding down the fort in the Business Office (wherever that is). His wrath is slow to waken, but terrible t...moreWitches includes a cute story about Bufkin holding down the fort in the Business Office (wherever that is). His wrath is slow to waken, but terrible to behold.
But, elsewhere, not much happens. Flycatcher learns that governing is even more difficult than nationbuilding (didn't we already know that?), and Frau Totenkinder (eventually) sets off in a quest to defeat Mister Dark, leaving a power vacuum in the 13th Floor that Ozma hopes to exploit.
Our last glimpse of Frau Totenkinder shows her transformed to be a younger version of herself. Morgan interpreted the artistic decision to mean that, apparently, only young and beautiful people are allowed to be protagonists, whereas I though she bore a striking resemblance to Snow White (the erstwhile protagonist of the series, but who doesn't even have a speaking role anymore), which will presumably get explained in a later volume (since, as I said, not much happened in this book). Depends on how much we can trust the illustrator, I guess.(less)
**spoiler alert** Ok, I understand what work chapters 1 and 2 were doing, but I still think this book would have greatly benefited with some editing t...more**spoiler alert** Ok, I understand what work chapters 1 and 2 were doing, but I still think this book would have greatly benefited with some editing to do something about the pacing.
I was really glad that Charlaine Harris got (at least somewhat) back to the original "whodunit" format: if nothing else, it makes sure that some plot happens (unlike many of the recent installments).
But I have a really hard time sympathizing with what seems to be the central drama of this book (Sookie's relationship with Eric), because I have a really, really hard time liking Eric. (And, in fact, I thought the whole source of the drama of Dead to the World and, indeed, "Dracula Night", is that Eric is usually an unlikeable character.)
And I don't know how many more times Sookie has to learn the lesson to stay away from Were ceremonies. This is at least the fourth by my count.
Thank goodness this series is ending imminently.(less)
From an evolutionary biology perspective, the battle of the sexes isn't just a metaphor: it's a war.
Consider when male and female interests are not al...moreFrom an evolutionary biology perspective, the battle of the sexes isn't just a metaphor: it's a war.
Consider when male and female interests are not aligned: for many species, it's in a female's interest to mate with multiple males, in order to improve the genetic diversity of her offspring. Of course, it's in the male's interest for the female to mate only with him, so that he can fertilize all of the eggs and not have to worry about his offspring competing with their siblings. If the male has a trait that helps him in his goal, his genes will spread through the population; contrariwise, if a female evolves a countermeasure, her genes will likewise spread. It's an ongoing arms race, and a gruesome process: for example, the colony of feral sheep on Ile Longue in the Kerguelen Archipelago, which "makes Lord of the Flies look like a teddy bear convention". Rams will try to knock other rams off of ewes: from the male's perspective, if the female dies from the incessant battering, it's unfortunate, but not much different from the situation where another male besides him mates with her. We'll see how long the colony survives: maybe females will evolve to fight back. In fact, in many species the female kills and eats her mates, possibly as a response to just such a situation.
Judson also addresses those most sexually deviant among all of creation: the true monogamists. (With the advent of DNA testing, it turns out there's even fewer of them than we thought.) A number of hypotheses have been proposed to account for this bizarre practice: there's the Danger Theory of Monogamy (in which leaving to find another mate entails a long or dangerous journey), the Pop-'Em-Out Theory of Monogamy (in which females are ready to breed again in less time than it would take to find another mate), the Sociopath Theory of Monogamy (in which individuals kill off any other members of their own sex, so there are no rivals to be had), and, of course, the Mutually Assured Destruction Theory of Monogamy (in which the female and her offspring absolutely require the male's presence to survive). Lest you think these are all pipe dreams, species exemplify each mode: the mantis shrimp Lysiosquilla sulcata, the Djungarian hamsters of Mongolia, the banded shrimp, and the hornbill, respectively.
Judson closes with that timeless question, Are Men Necessary and concludes "usually, but not always". It's not uncommon for a species to revert from sexual to asexual reproduction, but such species usually go extinct shortly thereafter, with the glaring exception of the bdelloid rotifers, who, with more than 360 species without having reproduced sexually in the past 85 million years, seem to be doing just fine.
Mammals, in fact, seem to be the only clade of animals without any known examples of asexual reproduction. For the most part, mammal sex isn't terribly interesting (only two sexes, no hermaphrodites, we don't gift one another with chemicals that protect us from predators, etc.), with the exception of the spotted hyena, which, I can only say, is truly remarkable for having survived as long as it has (more than 10% of females die the first time they give birth, and more than half of firstborn cubs are stillborn. Take that, intelligent design.)(less)
I can identify with Harper Connelly a lot more than I can with Sookie Stackhouse. She's uncomfortable in social situations, and no one except her brot...moreI can identify with Harper Connelly a lot more than I can with Sookie Stackhouse. She's uncomfortable in social situations, and no one except her brother likes her. I also admire her a lot more: she has found a way to use her gift/curse as the basis for a small business she has founded, with which she is able to support herself and her brother (whereas I always wondered why Sookie couldn't come up with something more useful to do with her talents).
And yet. And yet.
The first chapter of Dead Until Dark is possibly the greatest first chapter I have ever read. Within just a couple of pages, Charlaine Harris not only conveys a rather complicated premise (the Japanese have invented synthetic blood, so now the vampires, who have been living secretly among us all this time, have come out and are trying to integrate into society, since they have a new violence-free way of sustaining themselves; plus, the protagonist is a telepath), but goodness gracious plot happens. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't read it, but a lot happens in that first chapter. The pace is thrilling.
Contrariwise, Harper and Tolliver seem to spend most of their days tacitly detained in unfamiliar towns, but, instead of exploring the local culture, they sit by the phone and wait for cops to call with updates, or else indulge in utterly generic pastimes you could do anywhere. The pace is frustrating, and connections make no sense. Harper and Tolliver go to see a movie for seemingly no other purpose than that the author really liked the idea of the scene of their psychic acquaintance tracking them down and accosting them outside the multiplex; true, it's a dramatic moment, but couldn't the arrival to that point have been a little more well put-together?
So I find myself in the very unfamiliar situation of liking Harper more than I like Sookie, but liking the Southern Vampire novels more than the Harper Connelly novels. It's a little unnerving.(less)
Depressing. The protagonist's unhappiness all seems to stem from not marrying the woman he loved and marrying a woman he didn't love, and while that's a fine lesson to take away, couldn't he still have found some way of finding happiness in his life, even after making mistakes?(less)
I also thought the way the dialect was spelled was an unnecessary barrier. Unnecessary, because if someone says...moreStudying up for Gleam.
I didn't get it.
I also thought the way the dialect was spelled was an unnecessary barrier. Unnecessary, because if someone says "I", and pronounces it like the transliteration "Ah", it's not that that person is saying "Ah": they're saying "I" the way they think it should be pronounced. To spell it "Ah", I think, suggests that there is a correct way to pronounce "I", and this is not it (when in fact there is one correct way to spell "I", thanks to the invention of the dictionary, there still is no one correct way to pronounce it: the way a British, Irish, Scottish, Australian, or American person pronounces it is no more or less correct than the way any of the others pronounce it: that's just how it's pronounced in that region).
The spelling really slowed the pace at which I could read the book, and I wasn't really sure what it was supposed to be adding. Was the author worried that I wouldn't notice the characters were early twentieth-century African-American Floridians otherwise?
I had hoped that Gleam would make everything clear, the way that the Court Theatre's production of Pericles did, but it just didn't.(less)
1. A manned mission to Mars would only cost ~$500 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but allow me to pu...moreRealizations while reading this book:
1. A manned mission to Mars would only cost ~$500 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but allow me to put that into perspective: just last month, our Congress approved a $700 billion tax cut for millionaires. We could have had a trip and a half to Mars for that.
2. I will probably never travel to Mars, the moon, or even to space. I had sort of a subconscious assumption that the Moon would have a Disney-style resort for the middle class sometime in my lifetime (just like I had sort of assumed I would have a flying car and a jetpack by now): but we're definitely not on that trajectory.
So given that we only have the resources to send very few astronauts into space, the odds of me being one of those astronauts is just about nil. I get motion sick too easily. The personal hygiene challenges would also probably be stressful.
Another fascinating fact I learned: when designing space food, you should probably consult a pet food engineer rather than a veterinarian.(less)
This book is worth reading just for the prayer in Gethsemane.
After reading The Amber Spyglass, I was surprised by the commonly promulgated analysis that the His Dark Materials trilogy was an atheist answer to C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, I guess because I was expecting such an atheist tract to read like something from Richard Dawkins or the other New Atheists, who dismiss religion as merely fictional. But if religion is merely fictional, then why be so bothered to write a novel about it? In other words, if the Authority doesn't exist, then why do you need to go kill him?
Upon further reflection, I think the distinction between Philip Pullman and the New Atheists is precisely that Pullman is a novelist. He understands the power of fiction, and thus cannot dismiss religion as "merely" fictional: literature surely has a great power to change the course of human events, perhaps even as much as science does.
And it is that attitude that makes this book so powerful. This is not an atheist who isn't interested in Scripture and never made an effort to understand it. This is someone who knows the stories as well as anyone, and it is only someone who has really carefully thought about them that could be so angry: someone who understands how these stories could be a force for good, and so often haven't.
I'm not quite sure what the title's getting at (besides getting the passer-by's attention, in which case it worked), because "scoundrel" always makes me think of Han Solo, and is not the word I would choose for this character. Nor am I convinced that "good man" is appropriate, either.
Nor can I figure out what the story about the colored cloth is doing.(less)
**spoiler alert** Apparently Tim Burton is making this book into a movie.
Creepy. Best read all at once (and with its small pages, large print, illustr...more**spoiler alert** Apparently Tim Burton is making this book into a movie.
Creepy. Best read all at once (and with its small pages, large print, illustrations, and empty space on the page, you can do it in one sitting), because it's really one exciting story (as opposed to, say, The Graveyard Book), which is more episodic and whose chapters provide more natural breaking points).
***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*** At first I thought that Coraline was not especially bright (she walks through the door after being told not to, she doesn't look through the stone after being told to), but she is a very little girl. But upon further reflection, I think Coraline, being who she is (an explorer) had to go through the door, even if she knew it wasn't a good idea, in the same way she had to go into the empty flat even though she definitely knew it wasn't a good idea. It's not just required for the plot: exploring is an integral part of who she is.(less)
**spoiler alert** In this volume, Jack seems to have finally dispensed with all of his likeable qualities, but at least the author seems to recognize...more**spoiler alert** In this volume, Jack seems to have finally dispensed with all of his likeable qualities, but at least the author seems to recognize that.
The volume opens with a short story, Jack'n'Apes, and then moves into The New Adventures of Jack and Jack. Jack comes to a bad end (we can only hope, but we've learned in the past not to trust those little addresses to the audience), and the narrative shifts to Jack Frost, a gallant hero (for now). He meets MacDuff, a mechanical owl, and together they start a traveling hero business. It gets off to a slow start, but with a little help from modern advertising, he goes on a proper adventure, replete with nation building and a happy ending. We can only hope that the new Jack doesn't turn out like the old one.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book had some very funny moments in the first half.
This book is a parable about sustainability, and hits a surprising number of...more**spoiler alert** This book had some very funny moments in the first half.
This book is a parable about sustainability, and hits a surprising number of different aspects: how to sustain the quality of life a rapidly growing population, short-term vs. long-term interests, even invasive species put in an appearance.
But, despite those desirable features, this book only gets three stars because
1. I don't like Louis Wu. He's not very smart (an alien called a "puppeteer"...is manipulating us?!), and doesn't seem to have any desirable qualities for such an expedition. My judgment was confirmed by his truly disastrous first contact with the Ringworld inhabitants. No really, it seemed like he had to try to make sure the first contact went that badly. The only explanation I could come up with was that he was the control for Nessus's experiment, but even so, I don't enjoy spending time with dumb jerks. (Incisively witty jerks, like House or Sherlock, I can handle, but if they're not very intelligent, then what's the point?)
2. This book is steeped in misogyny. The females of the nonhuman species aren't even sentient. The only human females that show up are there specifically for their relationships to men (even Teela Brown, it turns out, had to be female for the plot), and the women are clearly less intelligent than those men. (Louis Wu has a moment where he realizes he had misjudged Teela Brown when he thought her to be an airhead, but she goes right back to being an unimaginative airhead for the rest of the book.) Nessus is referred to as "he", even though, as a puppeteer, sex is clearly not easily translatable into human terms, and even though his voice sounds like Marilyn Monroe's. In fact, that's the very first thing we learn about him. So why isn't he a she? Because all females are unintelligent and without their own lives and motivations, is the only way I can parse it. (If you have another interpretation, do let me know.)(less)
I liked the ending, and I liked the basic idea of the story, but the execution was terrible. I knew in the first panel that the art was going to be te...moreI liked the ending, and I liked the basic idea of the story, but the execution was terrible. I knew in the first panel that the art was going to be terrible (because, really, if you're waiting to meet someone in the woods, you might lean against a tree and fiddle with your phone, or sit on the ground and read a book, but you're not going to strike a sexy uncomfortable pose and gaze into the middle distance, even if you are a female), and I knew in the second panel that the writing was going to be terrible ("One of the drawbacks of our heightened senses"...in case the reader is so dumb not to suspect that the first characters you meet in a book called Werewolves of the Heartland might, in fact, be werewolves, even if they didn't pick up that the other character was concerned that any conversation in town might be overheard).(less)
**spoiler alert** After the Adversary took the Homelands, Fables live among us, the Mundanes, in New York City. Those who can pass for Mundies can liv...more**spoiler alert** After the Adversary took the Homelands, Fables live among us, the Mundanes, in New York City. Those who can pass for Mundies can live in the community of Fabletown, whereas the less human Fables have to live upstate in the Farm. In order to get along, they have all agreed to amnesty for anything back in the Homelands, so the Little Pig crashes on the Wolf's couch with impunity, but that still doesn't keep Bluebeard from being a key suspect in Rose Red's apparent murder.
Whodunit? Detective Bigby Wolf is on the case, but King Cole is putting pressure on deputy mayor Snow White to get the case wrapped up by Remembrance Day. Was it her fiance Bluebeard? Was it her boyfriend Jack? Was it a guest at one of her notoriously wild parties? Was it Snow White herself, who hasn't gotten along with Rose ever since she caught her in bed with Prince Charming?
In the rest of Fabletown, life goes on normally: Beauty and Beast are having marital problems, Pinnochio wishes he could grow up, and Prince Charming is trying to find a way to pawn off his now useless titles in the Homelands.(less)
Dear world: fantasy was a genre before Harry Potter, so every fantasy book does not have to be a critique of it. Really.
Favorite line so far: "What if he'd stumbled into some third-tier magic college by accident? He had to think practically. He didn't want to be committing himself to some community college of sorcery when he could have Magic Harvard or whatever."
So now that I've read the book, I should amend the above comments to note that, yes, The Magicians is indeed aware of Harry Potter, and makes a couple of overt references to quidditch and to Hermione's cosmetic spells, because Harry Potter is a book that the kids in this story would have read.
Read, but not loved. In this way, this book might turn out to be very dated indeed, for it turns out the protagonists are just about exactly my age: young enough to have read Harry Potter, but too old to have been really influenced by it. Thus Harry Potter gets a couple of references in this book (as do a few other relics of our times, such as The Karate Kid), but when the young magicians find a gate to another world, the first place they think of visiting isn't Hogwarts. It's Narnia, of course.
Well, except when the magicians actually go to Narnia and start wreaking havoc it gets a little beyond fair use, so while Hermione can remain Hermione, and while the password to the Physical Kids' cottage can be friend in Elvish, Narnia has to be thinly disguised as Fillory, a magical place described in a series of five (not seven) novels by a British Professor, describing the adventures of five (not four) children on holiday in the country during WWI (not WWII), and which was originally reached through a grandfather clock (not a wardrobe), and is inhabited by talking animals, including the stately twin rams Ember and Umber who always arrive at the end of the novel to deliver a sermon and send the children back to the real world (not, well, you-know-who).
And this is key here: Fillory is a place that exists in novels. The Magicians is one of those rare books that captures how reading literature is the closest thing we mere mortals have to real magic.
I disliked Quentin, and very nearly put the book down during the first chapter just because he got on my nerves so much. (If any of you male readers out there do think that that's what being an adolescent boy is really like, please, keep that thought to yourself and don't disillusion me.) At the same time, he's probably the character I can most identify with that I've found in literature yet (excluding those adolescent boy parts). Consider one passage early in the book, during the admissions exam:
"The room filled with a collective rustling of paper, like a flock of birds taking off. Heads bowed in unison. Quentin recognized this motion. It was the motion of a bunch of high-powered type-A test killers getting down to their bloody work.
"That was all right. He was one of them."
Grossman also captured Quentin's double-think that I experience, too: at the very moment that his teachers ask him to consider skipping a grade because he's doing so well, he's convinced that he's on the verge of flunking out (even though he knows at the same time that he's a "test killer").
For anyone considering reading this book, I do feel obliged to warn you that it is very dark. It's trying to address the question, what if Narnia were a real place? Not another Narnia fan-fiction: but what if Narnia, which we know is a place in a fictional novel with talking animals and where Aslan Ember and Umber always comes and makes everything right, were, in addition to having novels written about it, were also a real place? What if you find out that C.S. Lewis really did meet someone who traveled to Narnia, and wrote down those stories?
What if you found out Narnia was a real place, but it's just that: a real place with real problems?
I should also mention that Morgan found this book very depressing because one of the characters reminded him of me (which, once pointed out to me, was obvious, but it didn't occur to me while I was reading it, because she's a side-kick, not the protagonist), but my experience was very different, because Quentin didn't remind me of Morgan at all. (Thank goodness.)(less)
**spoiler alert** The heroes' boat stops for fuel in Sydney, so of course Yorick eventually persuades Agent 355 to let him off the boat long enough to...more**spoiler alert** The heroes' boat stops for fuel in Sydney, so of course Yorick eventually persuades Agent 355 to let him off the boat long enough to try to locate Beth (the first one). In that short amount of time, they run into a tabloid journalist who takes his picture. Meanwhile, Dr. Mann lets her defenses down enough to make a new friend, and back in the States Hero delivers a letter from Yorick to Beth (the second one) only to be kidnapped by the highest-ranking woman in the Catholic Church (which is like the leggiest guy in the Rockettes) who is convinced that Beth will give birth to an immaculately conceived boy, who can become pope, who can talk to God and tell us that it's ok for women to become popes (which Hero dismisses as "retarded").
The journalists are the source of the volume's title, "Paper Dolls". Whether it's because they've arrived in Australia or simply that enough time has passed since the plague, society seems to be gradually putting itself back together. The newspaper industry exists, and airplanes and telegraphs are once again crisscrossing the sky. Australia's tremendous drug problem, however, shows that there is much work yet to be done.
The volume closes with a flashback that reveals more of Agent 355's past.(less)
Joshua Gans's blog Game Theorist was first called to my attention on Freakonomics. It's a blog that accounts his attempts to use the principles of eco...moreJoshua Gans's blog Game Theorist was first called to my attention on Freakonomics. It's a blog that accounts his attempts to use the principles of economics to get his children to do what he wants (i.e., "parenting"). It's very well written, so I eagerly anticipated the arrival of his book Parentonomics, which, I must say, took its sweet times getting to a library in Maryland (one contributing factor is that the author is Australian, and apparently such things matter, even though they do in fact speak English in Australia).
As a result, I had been following the blog for over a year by the time I read the book, so I was a little disappointed to note that I had already read much of the book, which was either a rehash of his blog, or his blog has been publishing excerpts from the book while I was waiting for it to arrive. (This was very similar to my experience seeing DisneyNature's Earth after seeing only a couple of episodes of the BBC's Planet Earth, of which it was apparently a rehash.)
But if you haven't likewise been reading his blog, this book is certainly worth reading.
I'm not entirely sure it meets its stated goals, though. In the introduction, he says that the goal of his book is to teach the principles of economics using concrete examples from an easily relatable topic, i.e., parenting. For example, how can you use incentives to get your children to eat healthy food? And while he does talk about incentives in regard to eating, toilet training, and punishment, most of the rest of the book is, in fact, just a memoir of parenting, and not especially economics-related. It's cute that Child No. 1 is a pack rat, but I'm not really sure what that has to do with economics.(less)
Update: I just heard on Point of Inquiry that the original subtitle for this book was "Murder and Chemistry in Jazz Age New York", but the publisher thought that no one would buy a book with the word "chemistry" on the cover, and wouldn't budge despite the author's pleas. That makes me cry inside.
Not quite sure if this was a gift or a loan from my brother, but I hear that possession is nine-tenths the law.
"The Poisoner's Handbook" as a title is really a misnomer: this is not a cookbook for poisons (thank goodness), but rather a history of Charles Norris's tenure as chief medical examiner of New York City and how he changed the field of forensic medicine, with an emphasis on poisons, the most popular being arsenic, cyanide, carbon monoxide, chloroform, tetraethyl lead, radium, and especially methanol.
The culprits here are not just those seeking an early inheritance or double-indemnity life insurance payout, but also corporations (radium was once thought to be not only harmless but also healthy, tetraethyl lead was added to gasoline to reduce knock, and cyanide was used to fumigate apartments), and, especially, the U.S. government (who added methanol to "denature" alcohol during Prohibition in order to discourage people from drinking industrial ethanol, never mind the fact that Americans died every weekend from methanol poisoning).
My question had always been: couldn't you tell that you were drinking methanol and not ethanol? But apparently this is precisely why mixed drinks were invented in the 1920s: if you add enough lemon juice, sugar, and club soda, you can cover up the bad taste of bootlegged alcohol (which tastes bad because it might kill you).(less)
I would have appreciated a greater explanation (an introduction, perhaps?) of how much was text from On the Origin of Species and how much was artistic license. About a third of the way through, I concluded that one particular font was Darwin's words, and another kind of font was used to illustrate examples of Darwin's principles using what we know now about evolutionary biology.
The selection of Darwin's text was quite dry: it's not really the kind of book that makes me want to rush out and read On the Origin of Species. But is it really an adequate substitute?(less)