qebo's 2023 books (1)

KeskusteluClub Read 2023

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qebo's 2023 books (1)

tammikuu 1, 10:23 am

I'm Katherine, a computer programmer (currently working remotely for a small medical imaging company) in Lancaster PA. I haven't been reading much in recent years, but I still have aspirations, so here I am again.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 26, 4:22 pm

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 28, 9:33 pm

#16: Robert E. Lee and Me by Ty Seidule -- (Apr 2)
#17: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver -- (Apr 12)
#18: Beasts Before Us by Elsa Panciroli -- (Apr 15)
#19: Taking Wing by Pat Shipman -- (Apr 30)

#20: Walk With Me by Kate Clifford Larson -- (May 24)

#21: Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond -- (Jun 17)
#22: Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman -- (Jun 23)
#23: The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman -- (Jun 28)

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 20, 7:48 pm

#24: Stargazer by Anne Hillerman -- (Jul ?)
#25: The Grimkes by Kerri K. Greenidge -- (Jul 18)
#26: Rush by Stephen Fried -- (Jul 27)

#27: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery -- (Aug 9)
#28: Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith -- (Aug 23)
#29: Patient H. M. by Luke Dittrich -- (Aug 29)

#30: The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis -- (Sep 8)
#31: The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea -- (Sep 20)

tammikuu 1, 10:23 am

4th quarter

tammikuu 1, 10:25 am

Books have been piling up on my office floor, a constant irritation but also a daunting task. The holiday break from work is typically when I get momentum going on a winter project, and the books had risen to a level of ridiculosity. After an attempt to sort the haphazardness into rough categories, an unwieldy stack toppled onto the cat who is blind and bumps into things in unexpected locations. Judging from my LT catalogue, the last time I seriously organized books was 7 years ago when I moved into this house. I catalogued and shelved books for a few years after, but didn't think through the collections or tags. Then for the last few years I haven't bothered with anything; tags are too complicated, shelves are stuffed full, other things to do. This is the kind of problem that gets worse with neglect, because of course I haven't stopped buying books. Turns out the job is not hugely difficult given focused attention. Empty a shelf, cluster books that clearly belong together, dust everything off, search for the old and enter the new, tag with a significantly simplified system (do I really need categories and subcategories and subsubcategories with meaningful punctuation? no, I just need approximately shelf-size buckets), shelve, repeat, reduce the problem to a manageable number of strays. With some strategic deaccessioning and rearrangement, I have enough space. I've done math (1 bookcase), computer (2 bookcases), language (1 bookcase), genealogy and travel (1 bookcase -- a common factor is maps), science (3 bookcases), nature (2 bookcases). Still have crafts (1 bookcase), history & culture (2 bookcases), fiction (1 bookcase -- most are electronic). Then I'll need to do another round of tag refinement for consistency. I have re-realized that I don't have the brainpower to absorb everything I'm interested in, but I consider many of these books to be for reference, not reading, and it is satisfying to know where they belong, and to have every book briefly fresh in my mind. So far I've encountered only 5 duplicates, which have gone to the Little Free Library.

tammikuu 1, 10:59 am

Welcome back, qebo! Isn't it nice to start off the new year with a new thread? I can't believe you've been in your "new" house for seven years! I remember pictures as you started organizing the yard and all the weeding you did. Do you still participate in the LT gardening group? Your book cleanup project sounds like it's progressing well. I'm contemplating a reorg of my children's books. Now that I'm homeschooling my nieces, it's getting out of hand. Not sure yet what I want to do though. Happy New Year!

tammikuu 1, 11:35 am

>7 labfs39: My last garden thread was in 2017! The actual garden work continues, but spring of 2018 was discombobulated employment-wise just when I would've started a thread, and I fell out of the habit.
I saw your post about separating out the children's books in some manner, but more knowledgeable folks had already offered practical advice, and so much depends on what you want to achieve. I clicked through to your library to see what you were dealing with and... that's a lotta books, and quite a disconnect between your Depressing Books Club and the children's books; I can see why it's a problem algorithmically.

tammikuu 1, 12:09 pm

>7 labfs39: quite a disconnect between your Depressing Books Club and the children's books

Exactly. Plus I feel a need to separate "work" and "personal", although with homeschooling, I guess that's an oxymoron.

My last garden thread was in 2017

LOL. Time flies. I particularly remember your butterfly photos and discussions with pleasure. My daughter was into entomology at the time, as you may remember. I used to open up the freezer to find all sorts of weird things: bugs, invertebrates to be dissected. Those were the days. Ha!

tammikuu 1, 12:53 pm

Happy New Year, Katherine. It is fun to organize books. I also have some piles I need to address, a good New Year's resolution.

tammikuu 1, 3:24 pm

>9 labfs39: I do remember! And she had a blog about guinea pigs.
>10 BLBera: Well it's less fun when they've been neglected for 7 years. I see the first Question for the Avid Reader is which books you'd purge, but alas textbooks don't count and that's exactly how I've cleared off shelf space.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 6, 2:56 pm

Happy new year, Katherine! (eek, sorry, wonky vision)

>6 qebo:

I would SO need to do something like this, but I'm so short on space where I could move stuff to temporarily (well--there's the bed and the bathtub I guess).

Also, not yet mentally read to toss out textbooks. Still, the example is fortifying. :)

tammikuu 2, 12:42 am

Happy new year, Katherine. I too remember when you moved house! Looking forward to attempting to keep up with you this year.

I'm also giggling at the description of Lisa's books as Children's + Depressing Books Club. In our house my husband's label for a chunk of my books is "Your Turbulent Decade books" which kind of covers all my books about US or UK political things. There aren't that many of them...

tammikuu 2, 7:30 am

>13 cushlareads: Hey, I did read a happy book once! I can't remember it too well, but I know I did! LOL

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 12:04 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed organizing and purging your books Katherine. Looking forward to following your reading this year.

tammikuu 2, 12:25 pm

Happy New Year, Katherine! I'm in the process of slowly relocating my books from Atlanta to Philadelphia, and in the next few days I'll assemble the bookcase I purchased a few weeks ago and start shelving books.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 7:16 pm

Happy New Year, qebo!
I used to do a book inventory every year or two, but I haven't done it since COVID started. Thanks for the reminder I should do one again!

tammikuu 2, 7:57 pm

>12 LolaWalser:, >13 cushlareads:, >15 markon:, 16> Thanks, and Happy New Year to you! I think I've gotten to all of your threads...

>12 LolaWalser: I was hesitant about the textbooks too, and I didn't ditch them all, just a bunch that are of no practical use (to me) and also have no aesthetic appeal which is maybe the more significant factor. I feel a tiny bit sentimental about the trigonometry and calculus textbooks that are identical to or closely approximate the ones I used in high school, but not enough to justify limited shelf space. The local public library has an annual book sale, and apparently textbooks are in high demand for home schooling so they may get a second life.

>13 cushlareads: "Your Turbulent Decade books"
Glad you can view it from a distance?

>16 kidzdoc: "the" bookcase?

tammikuu 2, 8:10 pm

>18 qebo: "the" bookcase?

My thoughts exactly! Perhaps it is a floor to ceiling 12' long monster of a case...

tammikuu 2, 8:14 pm

>18 qebo:, >19 labfs39: LOL! You'll notice I wrote "the bookcase I purchased a few weeks ago", not the bookcase!

tammikuu 2, 8:18 pm

>20 kidzdoc: We'll want to see photos, Darryl :-)

tammikuu 3, 1:12 pm

Happy New Year Katherine. Reorganizing books can be great fun, hope you enjoy.

>20 kidzdoc: well, Darryl, I guess there are all other bookshelves, but also the bookshelf. :)

tammikuu 4, 11:27 pm

I think any book inventory in my house is years away, but I love reading about other people's.

tammikuu 9, 7:45 pm

Hi, Katherine, happy reading!!

tammikuu 15, 9:14 am

#01 : Teach Yourself Regular Expressions in 10 Minutes by Ben Forta -- (Jan 14)

why now: Used RegEx with some uncertainty for a minor work task, remembered I had this because I'd just reorganized all the computer books, decided since it was quick to go through the entire thing for a more solid foundation.

Helpful for the basics which is all I need. 10 chapters which can be reasonably absorbed in about 10 minutes each, and a few appendices for various implementations and common problems. Starts simple, builds to complexity example by example.

tammikuu 16, 2:27 pm

>25 qebo: It's nice when you can find a nice introduction to something that strikes the balance between too simplistic and too detailed and is efficient as well.

tammikuu 16, 6:04 pm

Hooray for book sorting!

I'm the opposite in that I like to enter everything on LT as soon as I get it through the door. But I definitely need to figure out a system for knowing where my books are, as well as purging.

tammikuu 16, 6:54 pm

>27 streamsong: enter everything on LT as soon as I get it through the door
That's my ideal also, now that I've mostly caught up. I still don't have a completely reliable system for knowing where the books are. I have a list of which shelves hold which tags, but there are issues of spillover, and physical size or space limitations in the logically correct location, and I tend to keep all books by the same author together even if the tags are different.

tammikuu 21, 2:19 pm

#02: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer -- (Jan 21)

why now: RL native plant garden club selection for annual book discussion. RL non-fiction book group January selection (by coincidence someone else suggested it).

I read Gathering Moss several years ago when I was specifically interested in moss, and I was hoping for something of the same treatment here with sweetgrass, especially as I am currently taking a class in grasses. So in this respect the book fell short, but that's my agenda, not the author's. Although sweetgrass is woven throughout, the chapters are essentially standalone, and meander into many other traditional ecological relationships, generally presented as memoirish episodes of family or community or students. I skimmed some, wanted others to be longer. She impresses me as an excellent teacher. Sweetgrass is native further north and wants more sun and moisture than I can provide; otherwise I'd give it a try.

tammikuu 21, 3:21 pm

>29 qebo: I read this with a nature group on Litsy in Nov/Dec, and struggled with it. But there were parts I liked. (And she does present some great teaching ideas and perspectives.)

tammikuu 22, 10:47 am

>29 qebo: My in-person book group will be discussing this in April, so I'll be reading it in the next month or so. I might start earlier; it feels like a fairly hefty book.

tammikuu 28, 2:29 pm

#03: Something to Hide by Elizabeth George -- (Jan 26)

why now: Because it was there and I've read most (all but one, and others who follow the series will know which one) previous books of the series over several decades.

I started this book a few months ago, set it aside, picked it up again a few weeks ago. It's long, 562 pages as an e-book, and sprawling with distractive drama, and I've gotten somewhat bored with the cast of detectives who seem increasingly caricatures of themselves. The mystery revolves around female genital mutilation, not especially graphically though it doesn't take much graphically to evoke a reaction of nausea. The things people think up to do to each other. I'd expect the cultural portrayal by an American author writing a story set in England about immigrants from Nigeria to be not super deep, so on my agenda are memoirs.

Book lists for future reference:

tammikuu 28, 6:53 pm

I read a couple Georges but I was too squeamish for them--don't think I could take her on FMG... It's appalling how widespread this still is and how even educated people find they can't resist the cultural pressure, the fear that the girls would otherwise be unmarriageable.

tammikuu 31, 9:02 pm

#04: Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe -- (Jan 29)

why now: In my RL book group it kept getting suggested but not chosen because it's so long. After watching Dopesick which portrays the machinations of the Sackler family in an otherwise fictionalized drama, I really wanted to read it, so I got the audio version (read by the author); somehow 18 hours seemed more manageable than 560 pages, as I could listen in short installments while walking.

Highly recommended. A family saga of four generations spanning more than a century, told in chronological order and meticulously detailed, which sounds plodding but it's fascinating, coherently organized and with the pacing of a suspense novel. The Sacklers vigorously elevated the family name through philanthropic donations to arts and educational institutions, while obscuring connections to the entanglement of advertising and pharmaceutical companies that were the source of their wealth. Watching from the start, it sure seems that things could have gone so differently. Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler were the sons of immigrant grocers, and all three became psychiatrists, an admirable trajectory. Arthur sold advertising to earn money as a student, and segued his considerable skills into a career. The family fortune began with his aggressive marketing of Valium. Along with Mortimer and Raymond he purchased Purdue Pharma, and it became the core family business, with a number of the brothers' children and grandchildren involved in management, and others merely benefiting from the income which over the years amounted to billions. After Arthur's death, the family fortune expanded with OxyContin, marketed with similar strategies. So much ingenuity went into wooing doctors, promoting products under the guise of scientific objectivity, co-opting government regulators, threatening critics with legal action, disparaging victims of addiction, and completely denying moral responsibility. If only they had prioritized medicine over marketing, and applied that intensity and intelligence toward the common good, instead of raking in obscene gobs of $.

tammikuu 31, 9:30 pm

>34 qebo: Sounds fascinating.

tammikuu 31, 9:53 pm

I can't think of a better example of preying on the weak than aggressively promoting drug use, and that to a chorus of praise because, that's business, these are magnificent captains of industry! It's not a coincidence nor the result of ignorance that the US (and increasingly UK) have so much laxer guidelines when it comes to drugs and food safety. Health should not be treated as a consumer product. Where it is, you get and will keep getting scandals like the opioid crisis.

helmikuu 3, 7:25 am

SassyLassy reviewed a book from rebeccanyc's TBR that I think you would love: Gingko: The Tree That Time Forgot by Peter Crane. Her review, Goethe's poem, and some photos are here.

helmikuu 3, 8:53 am

>37 labfs39: Hah, thanks, you're right, I would. Though gingko trees are sort of inert wildlife-wise here so not necessarily to be encouraged. However, often planted as a street tree, and a notable feature is that every single tree drops all of its leaves at exactly the same time, so suddenly one day there's a carpet of yellow. Here's an explanation.

helmikuu 3, 9:16 am

>38 qebo: That's interesting. Although they may no longer be a part of the current animal ecosystem, it would be a shame to let such an ancient and unusual plant form go extinct.

helmikuu 3, 9:20 am

>39 labfs39: go extinct
They're in no danger of that here... and yeah, there's a balance and the ancient history is cool.

helmikuu 5, 2:13 pm

As of 1:45 this afternoon, all of my physical books are catalogued and shelved. Still need to do a round of tag cleanup for consistency, and enter the e-books that have accumulated since 2015. I have about 8' of shelf space to spare, though it isn't necessarily where I want it to be. 3 books are missing, borrowed years ago by a former neighbor.

helmikuu 5, 3:05 pm

>41 qebo: impressive.

helmikuu 5, 3:09 pm

>34 qebo: audio sounds like an easier way to approach this. I might do that. Great review.

helmikuu 5, 4:50 pm

I read Empire of Pain and agree that it's an excellent book. Maddening, though. It definitely changed my ability to fully trust the FDA and any prescription. I think that's a good thing - I'm embarrassed that I didn't know how much marketing and money is thrown around in the pharmaceutical industry. Hard to know where to look for the real answers about any drug.

helmikuu 5, 5:10 pm

>41 qebo: Woo hoo! Time to buy a book to celebrate, lol!

helmikuu 6, 8:45 am

#05: A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson -- (Feb 5)

why now: After a month of doorstoppers, I scrolled through the e-books seeking something short and light. Also I recently joined the local bird club.

This isn't really about birds, though the author is a naturalist and surely knows more than appears here. I did learn about unexpected places where birds can be found, if not much about individual species. The birds are a silly competition, but depths of character are revealed. There's a followup novel A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa which I'll read to find out what happens to the people. Also a novel about a platypus in Australia which is intriguing.

helmikuu 6, 10:00 am

>41 qebo: As of 1:45 this afternoon, all of my physical books are catalogued and shelved.
What a commitment of time and energy, but well worth it.

>38 qebo: I love that day when all the leaves drop, although it is bittersweet since it signals winter. It looks so beautiful, as if the tree just stepped out of its clothing. I record the date every year.

helmikuu 6, 10:41 am

>46 qebo: I thought this was a great comfort read. I didn't know there was a sequel. I'll look for it.

helmikuu 7, 11:09 am

>44 japaul22: changed my ability to fully trust the FDA
Yeah, that's one of the more disheartening aspects of the story.
>45 labfs39: Time to buy a book to celebrate, lol!
LOL indeed. What I should do of course is read the books I already have. So many pleasant surprises as I was going through them one by one.
>47 SassyLassy: I record the date every year.
Has it changed over time?

helmikuu 7, 12:47 pm

> Great review of Empire of Pain. I should read it, but it will take some working up to.

Hooray on being finished with the organizing! I have one small pile out of the living room - many more to go!

>49 qebo:What I should do of course is read the books I already have. So many pleasant surprises as I was going through them one by one.

Ha! I feel that way too as I'm working to read several off my shelves each month. My fondling is mostly e-fondling as I choose a book from my tbr LT inventory that fits a challenge. Still it's very satisfying.

helmikuu 10, 1:49 pm

Empire of Pain was a real eye-opener... I mean, I knew that the pharma push was behind the opioid epidemic, but not to that degree—or how culpable the Sackler family was. It was not only incredibly informative but well-written. I'm interested to read Keefe's new one, Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks, though I bet it's not as much of a heavy hitter as his first two were.

helmikuu 11, 5:16 pm

Today I want to the final day of the PA Sustainable Agriculture conference, an annual event that was held in State College for many years, switched to the downtown convention center in Lancaster somewhat experimentally maybe 4 years ago because of some issue with the venue, went virtual for 2 years because of COVID, and returned in person this year. An acquaintance who is involved in the planning told me that attendance increased with the change; State College is at the geographical center of the state but Lancaster is more accessible to densely populated areas. So I'm hopeful that the conference will continue here, because it's a convenient 2 miles from my house and I can walk. My overlapping interest is native plants (two presentations today were on hedgerows and forest bees), but we all gotta eat, and this organization emphasizes not only sustainable agriculture but also ethnic/cultural heritage and economic/social/racial justice and always has an eclectic lineup of speakers (e.g. in 2020 with a surprising connection to Lancaster just before the world shut down) that you wouldn't necessarily expect if you think of Lancaster PA as Amish country.

Between the morning sessions I went to the trade show, and after pausing to listen to a presentation on green burials, I perused the books on display and bought 3, a restrained number because I had to carry them home and I wanted to get to the next session and the trade show closed before the plenary speakers.

helmikuu 11, 5:31 pm

>50 streamsong: working to read several off my shelves each month
I feel vindicated for holding onto so many books when I pluck one off the shelf that has been sitting around for a decade and is suddenly just the right thing.
>51 lisapeet: but not to that degree... Keefe's new one
Yeah, I'm hesitant to corporation-bash, but sheesh. The new one is a collection of essays which doesn't have the same appeal to me. I'll remember few details of Empire of Pain, but I will remember that they occupied 18 hours.

helmikuu 11, 8:44 pm

>52 qebo: My aunt runs a green cemetery, and the last time I was there, my daughter and niece spotted a fawn curled up under a tree waiting for its mother. I can think of worse places to be planted.

I love the idea of a forest garden, a term I'd never heard before seeing your book.

helmikuu 12, 9:33 am

>54 labfs39: My aunt runs a green cemetery
Oh, interesting. Not something I'd been aware of until recently when a local Mennonite church gave a public tour of its native plant landscaping and the guide mentioned that they're considering green burial in an adjacent area that is in the planning stages.

forest garden
When I was scouting around for a smaller house with a bigger yard 8-9 years ago, I envisioned a blank slate, and I turned down this house because of the trees; trees are good! but I wanted sun for a meadow. But everything else was right, the size, the location especially, and after going round and round and not finding what I was after, I vowed to choose from the actual houses that were actually on the market instead of waiting another year. So one hot summer day I revisited, walked through the alley and peered into the back yard. In the 90 degree sun, the shade in the yard was highly attractive, and it occurred to me that Pennsylvania used to be trees and surely a garden is possible...

helmikuu 12, 12:40 pm

>56 labfs39: and surely a garden is possible...

And has it been?

helmikuu 12, 1:38 pm

I love the idea of a forest garden, as well as a semi-shady English type garden with little sitting areas. This past fall and winter, someone bought the house behind us and the work crews have cleared out a lot of the thick vines on their trees that kept my yard looking slightly underwater all summer—not necessarily a bad thing in August, but not great for the plants—and it'll be interesting to see how that changes this year. But someday I'll get it together to actually landscape the yard—it has a lot of promise but I have very little time.

My husband wants a green burial. Not in our yard, though we do have a lot of cats laid to rest there.

helmikuu 12, 2:01 pm

>56 labfs39: Yes, but I have to pay attention to site conditions. One year during the week of the summer solstice, I photographed my yard from a number of designated spots every hour to map the duration and quality of sunlight. A few small spots on the edges get full sun. Everywhere else has dense shade, or dappled sunlight, or a couple hours of sunlight at specific times. Lots of native plants are perfectly happy in full shade; I get loads of bumble bees buzzing around the zigzag goldenrod under the oak trees for example.

>57 lisapeet: Yesterday's speaker said it's legal to have backyard burials in Pennsylvania, but I'm sure there are local ordinances that apply constraints. In my neighborhood, we can't even keep a single chicken in the yard (I know this because it's been an issue and several people have asked); the township permits them in theory, but requires a distance from neighbors that in practice doesn't exist this close to the city. So I can't imagine they'd allow decomposing bodies.

helmikuu 13, 4:50 pm

>52 qebo: Thanks for posting the link - that looks like a really good organization.

Not sure if I should thank you for posting the photo of the books, since two have now been added to my list: Managing Alternative Pollinators and The Home-Scale Forest Garden!

helmikuu 16, 7:43 pm

#06: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh -- (Feb 9)

why now: I moved the fiction books to what had been a mostly decorative bookcase in order to accommodate an excess of non-fiction books near others of their ilk. This included revisiting tags, and while I was on LT I idly clicked through to reviews and saw that some of them are quite negative: Harriet is bratty and mean and rewarded for bad behavior and doesn't learn a lesson. My edition says it was printed in November 1975 but the back cover blurb describes the author as still alive though she died in November 1974. I'm pretty sure this was a pre-college replacement for my well-worn childhood edition. I hadn't reread it in 30-40 years.

Hmm, yeah, Harriet's notebook really is mean, disparaging other kids and adults as fat, ugly, stupid, etc. As an adult and in these times, I see the potential for her to become a bully. But writing in the notebook is also an effort to puzzle out how the world works. While peering through windows and eavesdropping on private conversations is perhaps not behavior to encourage, it is in pursuit of observing alternative lives and the commentary is amusing and occasionally insightful. (Of course I was inspired to have a spy route for awhile as a kid, but I was not nearly so daring.) As a kid, I noticed not that Harriet was mean, but that she was unapologetically herself. Harriet is an only child with parents who are decent enough but delegate much of the parenting to the nanny who has been a fixture for years and abruptly leaves. Harriet is reeling from the loss and disruption when she misplaces her notebook, and classmates find it and read what she has written about all of them including her two best friends. The entire class gangs up against her, and everyone is angry and awful, and then things are resolved with a combination of adult intervention and reemergence of differences among the kids. Is Harriet rewarded for bad behavior? Does she fail to learn a lesson? She's given an opportunity for more responsibility that makes use of her talents, and she makes concessions that are difficult. She's a kid. She doesn't magically transform, but she does mature a notch. Her parents step up to the challenge also.

helmikuu 16, 7:49 pm

#07: Unmasking Autism by Devon Price -- (Feb 14)

why now: RL book club selection by someone who identifies as ADHD and whose father and brother she suspects are on the spectrum. I took a couple of online quizzes and was completely unsurprised to score moderately high for autistic traits.

The author is both autistic and transgender, so there's some entanglement of issues. Also a reluctance to describe autism too definitively because the reality is much more varied than the stereotype of white male geek. Also an effort to welcome overlapping neurodiversities. As a consequence, what exactly is autism remains murky all through, though there are lists of typical characteristics and areas of difficulty so people can recognize themselves. The purpose of the book isn't formal diagnostic criteria; it is about masking and unmasking, essentially ways that autistic and other neurodiverse people attempt to compensate for social and sensory misfitness, and encouragement to present authentically and advocate for acceptance or accommodations. And several exercises for reconsidering perceived weaknesses or weirdities as strengths or unique contributions. This all didn't resonate with me as much as I'd expected, partly because I'm 40+ years removed from the phase of peak problems, partly because it's spun for the modern world of online interconnectedness with niche communities and creative opportunities. As it is, I've mostly found what works for me, and made my peace with recalcitrant personality traits.

helmikuu 17, 8:26 am

>60 qebo: Harriet the Spy was an important book for me as a kid, although like you, I haven't read it in decades, and I don't know what I would think now. My memories of it are of a girl who has to learn to blunt the directness of her observations in order to fit in. I didn't feel that she was mean, but that she hadn't learned that even though something might be true, it could be hurtful. Learning to tell white lies and not say what we think is important in fitting in to our society. I related to Harriet's struggles to understand the social niceties, as well as her general tomboyishness. I certainly didn't feel that she was badly behaved or that she went unpunished. Social condemnation and ostracization is a powerful punishment for a kid.

>61 qebo: I've read a number of memoirs by neurodivergent people, but few books like this. It seems that it would piggyback well off from Harriet the Spy, who in my memory had a few autistic traits herself.

helmikuu 17, 9:01 am

>62 labfs39: I related to Harriet's struggles to understand the social niceties, as well as her general tomboyishness.
Yeah, me too. I was 5th or 6th grade in the late 1960s when the rules were changed so girls could wear slacks to school. It was a big deal at the time, some teachers didn't approve, and that was the era in which this book arrived. I HATED dress-up, and the behavioral expectations that go with it, and I still dress not so much differently than Harriet's spy outfit.
seems that it would piggyback well
The thought occurred to me too, though it was complete coincidence that I read these two books at the same time.

helmikuu 18, 5:23 pm

#08: A Guide to the Beasts of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson -- (Feb 17)

why now: When I finished A Guide to the Birds of East Africa I discovered it had a sequel, figured I'd read it before I forgot everything.

The same cast of characters, four years later. An unsolved murder from decades ago is debated. A corrupt politician connives to shut down a critical newspaper. A marriage is on and off. A safari is conducted and beasts are observed. Charming without much heft.

helmikuu 18, 5:27 pm

#09: The Hummingbirds' Gift by Sy Montgomery -- (Feb 18)

why now: I bought this book at the Philadelphia meetup last summer, shelved it recently during the great reorganization project, and unshelved it to read after watching a David Attenborough documentary on hummingbirds.

A story about rehabbing two baby hummingbirds whose mother disappeared. The rehabber is Brenda Sherburn La Belle who had met the author previously and invited her to California to observe. Baby hummingbirds have to be fed every 20 minutes during the day and are extremely tiny and fragile, so require significant dedication and expertise. These two also had to be treated for mites.

Incidentally, a mention in the book that evolutionarily hummingbirds split off from swifts led me along an internet path to this fantastic web site which will zoom into the evolutionary tree at the requested branch.

helmikuu 18, 8:49 pm

>65 qebo: Every 20 minutes, wow, that's dedication. I enjoyed the author's book, The Good, Good Pig. I have a soft spot for pigs.

helmikuu 20, 1:56 am

>61 qebo:

This is only tangential to autism, but as the boundaries for any mental pathology are so vague, I always wonder, who gets to define what is "normal", when so much of our behaviour is culturally and socially imposed and regulated? It's enough to look at the historical record to realise that we change what is "normal" all the time.

I have low tolerance for psychology but one of the rare books that mostly made sense to me was The normal personality. Some of what I wrote at the time:

... What I liked: Reiss chucks all "psychodynamic" schools of psychology out of the window--Freud, Jung, the lot. He admits we don't know how genetics and history create personality and motivation and says immediately that is not his focus. Reiss totally rejects Freud's "psychopathology of everyday life", which links personality to mental illness and is a large part of why people (especially in the United States) are getting overdiagnosed as mentally ill.

Reiss's approach saves individuality from abnormality by recognising that different people have their axis of normality in different places. Instead of thinking of people as created by murky and unknowable childhood experiences and motivated by the mysterious (and equally unknowable) "subconscious" or "the unconscious", Reiss proposes to take people's motivations and desires as indexes to personality and resolve their problems practically in view of what they now value most--not the supposed unresolved traumas of their childhood.

... the question is what is normal for you. If you're happy, or not more unhappy than the average, that is a good indicator that you are leading a normal life. ...

helmikuu 20, 6:36 pm

>67 LolaWalser: I agree - the more I read about neurodivergence, the more often I find myself thinking, "but lots of people have this kind of feeling/reaction/emotion", and I am not sure it is helpful to label everything as "divergent" because that implies the existence of a norm, and implies that the majority of people fit into that norm. But maybe in the US there is genuinely a narrower band of what is seen as acceptable ways to behave?

helmikuu 20, 8:04 pm

>67 LolaWalser: One way I get myself out of the doldrums is to consider there are 7 billion (well now it's 8 billion) people on the planet and surely I am just one of many variants. The book looks interesting.

>67 LolaWalser: who gets to define what is "normal"
Well yes, and the author of this book criticizes some autism "treatments" that aim to make the autistic person more palatable to others.

>68 wandering_star: implies the existence of a norm
Or a range along some axis into which most people fall, rather than a single point of purity. And outside that range may be a good thing! But can also make life difficult, depending on an ever-shifting interplay between individual and social/cultural surroundings.

>68 wandering_star: but lots of people have this kind of feeling/reaction/emotion
Absolutely, and the recognition can be a route into empathizing with the extremes where this kind of whatever becomes a problem for either self or others, e.g. more overwhelming or more persistent.

helmikuu 20, 9:26 pm

I very much enjoyed your gardening conversations and thoughts. I moved to a new house after cultivating a garden for 26 years, and so I'm back at figuring out what I'm dealing with.

I also enjoyed your comment on Harriet the Spy. I would have read that around 1974 and I remember it not working for me at all. But my daughter read it when she was in elementary school and really liked it. If Harriet was a big rule breaker, that would have made me uncomfortable back then. A girl was raised to be pleasant, after all. Or that's what I'd been told.

helmikuu 20, 9:26 pm

>68 wandering_star:

That's a very interesting question but probably the answers are too subjective to be useful. (I started writing down my take but realised I'd be again committing an "essay" in another's thread--maybe the topic will resurface somewhere more appropriate).

>69 qebo:

I read it in 2016 and would overall recommend it. I didn't post a review but if you're interested, the whole post is here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/136227#5677920

the author of this book criticizes some autism "treatments" that aim to make the autistic person more palatable to others.

Yeah, Reiss doesn't go for that sort of thing, he suggests respecting every person's strengths and needs and being mindful that everyone has their own "normal". (Which, clearly, doesn't extend to ALL kind of behaviour--but the limits would tend to be set more by what can be reasonably tolerated than some absolute "scientific" knowledge of what is healthy or pathological).

helmikuu 21, 8:59 am

>70 Nickelini: I moved to a new house after cultivating a garden for 26 years
Your new house is very attractive! I suppose you have to wait for spring to see what's already there.

rule breaker
I was a extremely rule-abiding kid, but with no social graces.

>71 LolaWalser: if you're interested
Yes, thanks, and I've put the book on my wishlist... which, note, is multiple lifetimes long so who knows.

helmikuu 22, 7:58 pm

#10: The Secret of Life by Howard Markel -- (Feb 22)

why now: Mentioned on labfs39's thread in the context of The Double Helix, which I read 45 or so years ago, along with Rosalind Franklin and DNA. This book was published recently and seemed an ideal candidate for an audio book. I find that I really enjoy listening to a saga on my walk around the perimeter of a bland neighborhood park, and a 500-600 page book fits nicely into a month. I tend not to have the mental energy for factually dense tomes in the evening when I typically read.

Very detailed, sometimes day to day or even hour to hour, unfolding of events leading to the DNA model of 1953, based on memoirs and interviews and archives of reports and correspondence, written by a medical historian. I didn't understand all of the explanatory science but appreciated its presence and got enough of the gist. (I don't have the print version so don't know whether it includes illustrations.)

The book is focused on James Watson and Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin, and also Maurice Wilkins and Linus Pauling and various other scientists who had made progress in x-ray crystallography and molecular structure, and determined pieces of essential information that had to be accounted for. The structure of DNA was at the confluence of biology and chemistry and physics with a hefty dose of mathematics, and different scientists had different areas of expertise, few the whole picture. Whatever Watson lacked in knowledge he more than compensated for in ambition; he kept an eye on the prize and maneuvered into position and was obsessively on the lookout for relevant research and connections. For example, he encouraged the Cavendish Laboratory to hire Pauling's son despite a sketchy background in order to have a line of communication about what Pauling was up to, as Pauling was considered serious competition due to his work on proteins, and was far afield in California. Crick was more knowledgeable but notoriously undisciplined, a wild fountain of intuitions and insights, some wrong and some brilliant. It was chance that they landed in the Cavendish Laboratory together, and also chance that Jerry Donohue (who I'd never previously heard of) shared an office and was on hand to offer a tidbit of corrective information at just the right moment. Neither Watson nor Crick was actually supposed to be working on DNA, which was bureaucratically the territory of King's College with Franklin and Wilkins. In a confusion of roles that somehow was never clarified, Wilkins thought Franklin was supposed to be working for him, whereas she had been explicitly hired as the lead on a specific project, so had to direct effort toward maintaining boundaries of independence. Wilkins and Watson had narrow ideas of how women should behave, and Watson was influenced by Wilkins who constantly disparaged Franklin as prickly and unimaginative. Franklin steadily improved technique and accrued facts (with a level of x-ray exposure that may have contributed to the cancer that killed her in 1958) with nobody to bounce ideas off of aside from her grad student assistant. She had warm relationships with friends but was deemed difficult professionally, though she was no more difficult than any of the men surrounding her. She was meticulous about confirming scientific facts, but taking public leaps of unsupported speculation was risky. Her lab notebooks reveal more insight and potential avenues of investigation than she conveyed in formal settings, and she had few informal options for collaboration. The men were always lunching together or going out for drinks while she was either not allowed on the premises or not invited. Her critique of an earlier model proposed by Watson and Crick had resulted in a significant rearrangement of molecules, and there is no question, after decades of the men who got the credit attempting to weasel out of accountability, that Franklin's x-ray images (which Wilkins showed to Watson and Crick without asking her permission) were crucial, providing important clues to DNA structure and tethering an otherwise hypothetical model to reality.

Watson and Crick were nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times in the early 1960s, sometimes with and sometimes without Wilkins. When the author interviewed Watson in 2018, he dared to ask whether Franklin might have shared the prize if she had lived. Watson reacted intensely, with bulging eyes and red face and pointing finger: "You don't usually win the Nobel Prize for data you can't interpret." So, the author asked on the following day when both had relaxed, then why Wilkins, who had access to the same data, and similarly failed to solve the puzzle? Watson replied: "We all liked him."

So many of these scientists were inspired by What is Life by Erwin Schroedinger that I think I should read it...

Also, Rosalind Franklin's sister Jenifer Glynn wrote a biography.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 10:58 pm

>72 qebo: Your new house is very attractive! I suppose you have to wait for spring to see what's already there.

Thank you! It's new enough for us to still be excited about it. Yes, I'm waiting for spring. We bought the house in March and I remember the garden and yard being very blah, while my own 12 month garden had all sorts of things going on. Certainly they had no spring bulbs, while I had thousands (those grape hyacinths and Spanish bluebells do go wild). We got the keys June 30, so I was able to identify most things between my knowledge, my daughter who is also knowledgeable about plants, and apps on our phones. But some things (including some trees) had bark and leaves that were a blank for all our resources. So the next few months will be the tell.

As with my other house, I think I really need to look at the garden for a year before I get too many ideas

helmikuu 23, 7:32 am

>73 qebo: Do you think it worth reading Markel if I just read The Double Helix? Did you like it?

helmikuu 23, 8:38 am

>74 Nickelini: I really need to look at the garden for a year
Yeah, that's what they say, but it's difficult to stick to...

>75 labfs39: Well, I think The Double Helix should be viewed with suspicion, and perhaps the ideal time for an alternative account is while it is fresh in your mind, but really it's a question of your interest level! This is a 576 page book, a rather daunting commitment if you're only mildly curious. And yes, I liked it quite a lot, so much so that I've chosen another book by the same author as the audio book that I'll begin today.

helmikuu 23, 9:23 am

>76 qebo: The Double Helix should be viewed with suspicion

Absolutely, and that's part of what made it such an interesting book club discussion book. The woman who led the discussion worked in the lab down the hall from Watson at Harvard, and she cut him no slack. :-p

I am interested in the topic, and Merkel is supposed to be meticulous in his research, but I think I'll wait a bit before tackling such a tome. Which of his books are you reading next?

helmikuu 23, 9:46 am

>77 labfs39: she cut him no slack
Oh, I'd be interested in what she had to say!

Which of his books are you reading next?
The Kelloggs I wanted something long, historical or biographical, not dependent on illustrations. I considered The Code Breaker as a nice followup to The Secret of Life, DNA 70 years later, but I'll need to look stuff up and I have a paper copy.

helmikuu 23, 3:01 pm

>73 qebo:

Excellent write-up. I've no patience for rehashing this, I feel sort of haunted by that stuff.

The men were always lunching together or going out for drinks while she was either not allowed on the premises or not invited.

This is still a thing, even as archaic crap like "not being allowed on the premises" is not that common anymore. I worked twice in all-male environments and it was hell trying to stay in the loop (although in one case a colleague "helpfully" suggested becoming the boss's girlfriend would solve the problem).

helmikuu 23, 7:19 pm

>79 LolaWalser: a colleague "helpfully" suggested
Yeesh. So very helpful.

helmikuu 24, 2:43 pm

I loved Harriet the Spy when I read it eons ago. Perhaps I need to reread it, since my tact can be lacking and I blurt things out.

I enjoyed A Guide to the Birds of East Africa but have never followed up with the sequel. Another to look for when I need some lighter, fun reading.

>77 labfs39: Sounds like a wonderful book club discussion!

>73 qebo: >78 qebo: Great Review on the Secret of Life. I really liked The Code Breaker.

helmikuu 26, 10:14 am

>81 streamsong: I really liked The Code Breaker.
I just read your helpful (especially as you have expertise) review, from 2021 when I wasn't paying attention to LT... I read A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna a few years ago, pre-COVID, sitting in on a seminar where they invited a supplementary professor to answer questions. It was fascinating, but I don't know how much of whatever I understood at the time I'll be able to retrieve from my brain. So I'll want to be home with a computer at hand.

helmikuu 26, 10:23 am

As of yesterday evening, every single book I possess is in my LT catalogue, including the paper books I've acquired since the last round which are also properly shelved, and all the e-books. I'd like to say never again will I let things get so out of control, but my track record on never again isn't great. I've also gone through all my LT threads to mark books as read, but I didn't keep threads in 2020 and 2021 so probably the best I can do is see what my RL book groups were up to which from March onward in 2020 was nothing.

My RL non-fiction group has finally decided to read Empire of Pain over two months, and I've already read it. My RL fiction group... I haven't attended in months, and made the decision with some relief to stop paying attention to the online posts. The meetings switched to Zoom with COVID, and I have trouble enough inserting myself into group conversations in person; in Zoom it's next to impossible, and as my reaction to most of the books is lukewarm nobody is especially eager to hear from me. Anyway, the upshot is that I am free to read whatever I feel like, and it happens that after a slump of several years I actually feel like reading. I actually took notes on a book yesterday, which I hadn't done in ages.

helmikuu 26, 3:21 pm

>65 qebo: that link! wow ( https://www.onezoom.org/life/ )

>73 qebo: this was a terrific review. I'm really grateful to have read the parts about Rosalind Franklin, who sounds human and normal in your review. That along draws me to The Secret of Life: Rosalind Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, and the Discovery of Dna's Double Helix by Howard Markel. And noting it worked on audio.

>83 qebo: yay for freedom and enjoying reading again.

helmikuu 27, 9:34 am

>83 qebo: Congrats on getting all your books into LT. It's nice to feel caught up even if it doesn't last. the upshot is that I am free to read whatever I feel like, and it happens that after a slump of several years I actually feel like reading Another nice feeling. I'm still upbeat about my RL book club, but it's only been four months. So far two of the books were winners, one was okay, and one was a dud, which I DNF. Next month is a book of my own selection, so it's one I've already read.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 3:02 pm

Great review of The Secret of Life, Katherine. I read The Double Helix when I was an undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology, so I'll definitely add this book to my wish list.

I bought a copy of The Code Breaker last year, and I would like to read it sometime in the spring or summer, along with The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

maaliskuu 2, 7:23 pm

>86 kidzdoc: The Code Breaker ... The Song of the Cell
I have both physically on shelves. When I'll get to them... who knows, but I'll be interested in your reviews regardless.

maaliskuu 2, 7:55 pm

>87 qebo: I look forward to your reviews of those books as well, Katherine.

maaliskuu 4, 5:02 pm

#11: Synapsida by John C. McLoughlin -- (Mar 4)

why now: I've been participating in (really mostly observing) an informal seminar on evolution at a local college off and on for several years, and this semester's book is a recent one about mammal evolution. I got this older book in 2015 on the basis of sibyx/sibylline's review, and plucked it off the shelves as a supplement.

The only other LT review says the book is outdated without specifying exactly how and where. Unsurprising, and I would've assumed anyway, as it was published in 1980 (my copy was discarded by a library where it was purchased in 1981 and last checked out in 1995), but I am not knowledgeable enough to notice errors and omissions, and I'm not going to remember the details whatever their accuracy. The narrative has a conversational style that is both informative and engaging, and it is amply illustrated with a chart showing the major groups and their relationships, closeups of bones and brains showing significant changes, and drawings of the animals as imagined in life. It begins prior to synapsids, with the environmental pressures and evolutionary responses that occurred with the transition from water to land, then step by step the crucial evolutionary changes in jaws, teeth, digestion, locomotion, sensory processing, temperature regulation. The author I believe is a paleoartist, not a paleontologist, so the emphasis is on the illustrations and the evolutionary sequence is probably oversimplified. However, it is just the sort of thing that works for me: a focal chart, a narrative that refers repeatedly to the chart, visual representations of verbal descriptions, a minimum of distracting clutter.

The other book I'm reading is at the pace of one chapter per week, and I aspire to determine where it agrees and disagrees, but it's more cluttered in words and more sparse in diagrams.

You can see the style of illustration with commentary here.
He is also a science fiction author and this themes of interest occasionally pop up as asides.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 7, 12:15 pm

>89 qebo: What's this semester's book? The Rise and Reign of the Mammals?

I don't have the attention span to read as much academic science as I would like to, but I've been listening to Darren Naish and John Conway's podcast Tetrapod Zoology to get my fix

maaliskuu 7, 12:46 pm

>90 norabelle414: What's this semester's book?
Beasts Before Us. I also have The Rise and Reign of Mammals because the seminar read his dinosaur book awhile back.
I didn't know about the podcast, have just subscribed. Most of my podcasts are political and it would probably be better for my mental health if they weren't.

maaliskuu 7, 2:59 pm

>91 qebo: Ooh, that looks good. I wonder if I could convince my zoo book club to read it.

Tetrapod Zoology podcast has been very sporadic during the pandemic but they seem to be on a more frequent schedule now so you picked a good time to start listening. The recent episode about the cougar P-22 was particularly good.

maaliskuu 10, 9:20 pm

Powell's Bookstore is have a "Scientifically Proven Sale": 20% off select science books.

maaliskuu 11, 8:12 am

>93 labfs39: Do I seem like a person who needs more books? :-)

maaliskuu 11, 9:03 am

>94 qebo: LOL, never want you to run out! And who doesn't like a sale?

maaliskuu 11, 9:47 am

#12: Platypus by Ann Moyal -- (Mar 10)

why now: Nicholas Drayson (author of Birds/Beasts of East Africa) wrote a novel about naturalist William Caldwell which is alas not readily available. And coincidentally this book was recommended in the mammal evolution book I'm reading.

In 1799, a preserved platypus specimen was sent from Australia to Europe and caused much consternation among scientists because it seemed an amalgamation (and possibly a hoax) of mammal and reptile features. The time was midway between Linnaeus and Darwin, so the primary occupation was classification, without an understanding of why nature would be arranged so. For decades, scientists argued about the limited specimens available for study, with no access to the living animal and only sketchy reports about its behavior that they didn't entirely trust. Was it a mammal? It had hair but not nipples, and while some anatomists claimed to find mammary glands others said no. Its internal organs suggested that it laid eggs, but this was conceptually difficult to accept. It was assigned a genus and species, was grouped with the echidna at a higher level of monotremes, but then what? Gradually enough information was acquired to declare it a mammal, but the mystery of how it reproduced remained. The platypus spends much of its time in burrows at the edge of water, and is extremely skittish.

William Caldwell was born the same year that On the Origin of Species was published, and represented a new generation of scientific thinking. In 1883, funded by a university scholarship, he traveled to Australia with a mission to determine the reproductive physiology of the lungfish and the platypus. This was an actual scientist on site for a duration instead of the scattered collectors of the past, and also he took the novel approach of asking Aborigines. The result was success, from a scientific standpoint, officially announced in 1884: monotremes, both echidna and platypus, lay eggs. Since then research has established that while monotremes branched off from other mammals, they are not primitive holdouts, but evolved in a different direction, with an sophisticated system of electroreceptors in their snouts.

This is a delightful book, a history of science with a colorful cast of characters, focused on one intriguing animal. Be warned though that many platypuses died in the process; the standard method was to kill and dissect, or to capture without the slightest clue of caretaking.

A video about platypus physiology, behavior, and evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh2du5SOjmY .

maaliskuu 11, 9:58 am

>96 qebo: That sounds fascinating

maaliskuu 11, 11:14 am

>89 qebo: >96 qebo: sounds like a great seminar and some fun supplemental reading. I’m curious if you pick up on problems in the 1980 take.

maaliskuu 11, 12:40 pm

>98 dchaikin: I have extensive notes on both books, but it'll take awhile to organize them, and I may not know for sure until the seminar is done in April.

maaliskuu 12, 10:22 am

#13: Tunisian Crochet Mosaic by Selwyn Cadogan -- (Mar 11)
#14: Mosaic Crochet Stitch by Selwyn Cadogan -- (Mar 11)

why now: I've been considering getting back to some sort of craft work again. Used to do more, then I (a) acquired cats who got into things and (b) took up computer programming which in my mind is pretty much the same thing. I tried quilting several years ago, because the geometrical patterns appeal to me, but I find the work tediously hand cramping and eye straining, and I dislike using a sewing machine and also don't have a good place to keep one set up. I don't know how to knit, though I could learn if sufficiently motivated. I learned how to crochet during the summer 1972 Olympics (Mark Spitz, Frank Shorter, Olga Korbut, terrorists), and went through a phase in my 20s. Scouting around, I discovered mosaic crochet and I've been watching videos. These two books (really printouts of e-books) are tutorials that I got to step through the basics because there are several techniques. I'm using cheap yarn that's been sitting around for years, so that's something I'll have to look into. I used to have consistent tension and rhythm but I've lost it, so that'll take practice.

Tunisian Crochet Mosaic includes a photo of a stitch it doesn't explain, and explains a stitch it doesn't use; in a short step-by-step beginner tutorial, this just introduces confusion. There is an initial 10x8 pattern demonstrated with (says the book) orange and gray yarn which I imagine contrast nicely in color photos, but not so much in black and white, so I had to supplement with online videos to see exactly what I should be hooking into. I went through the simple pattern a few times to experiment with different hook sizes. Then a 24x24 square, which is demonstrated with dark and light yarn so the contrast is obvious but it's also explained in less detail. I had to redo the first pattern row several times to get it right because I wasn't clear on the first and last stitches, but once the pattern was established it was fairly simple to keep track. There is a pixel diagram and also a row by row sequence with a glossary of stitch abbreviations. I prefer the visual but the verbal stitches are helpful confirmation. So the book did its job well enough, but could've been better. It ends with a section on repairing mistakes, again mentioning stitches that are not in the mosaic tutorial, which I read but didn't use because my solution to mistakes was to start over and be more careful.

Mosaic Crochet Stitch is even more muddled. It notes that UK and US terminology are different, and claims to present a conversion chart but actually presents two lists of the same UK abbreviations differently formatted. For absolutely beginners it demonstrates how to hold a crochet hook and how to make a slip knot. Which is fine... but this is followed by a few pages on how to make a knit stitch? Then how to make a crochet chain stitch, again fine and intended for beginners. A demonstration of how to make the stitch known in the UK as double crochet and in the US as single crochet, but the photos show several rows already completed and don't show what to do at the beginning and end (OK for me, I'm beyond this, but odd in the context after multiple pages of slip knot photos). Then it leaps into a mosaic pattern, overlay style, starting with single crochet, and therefore using US terminology though it doesn't explicitly say so. And on row 3... there's a stitch that has not been encountered previously, and is not in the list of abbreviations. Ah, OK, a few pages later there's a reasonably explanatory photo. With the mosaic done, there's a section on post stitches for texture. Why? No context, no pattern, not mentioned elsewhere, just inserted on whim. And finally, inset style. Which begins straightforwardly enough but switches to UK terminology, and includes yet another stitch that is not in the list of abbreviations though it is demonstrated with photos. Oh, not finally. The brief inset style section is followed by a brief overlay style section, also using UK terminology, with the same pattern and more detailed photos than previously so it should've been placed before the main tutorial.

Oodles of videos on the internet, I'd just wanted the basics immediately on hand. These books cobble together bits of instruction without overall coherence.

I did not find the author's name anywhere in either book; it appeared when the ISBN grabbed it from Amazon.

maaliskuu 12, 11:48 am

I really don't know how people used to learn how to craft before YouTube, because every book I've read on learning how to knit (Knitting for Dummies, Vogue Knitting, I Love Knitting, Knitting Pretty, etc.) is inscrutable. I guess it was just assumed that a person could find someone who knew how to knit to teach them the basics?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 12, 12:05 pm

>101 norabelle414: find someone who knew how
Probably the best way, and there are several in-person groups and classes around here, but that's a commitment to a specific block of time. YouTube is amazing; google a specific sub-skill I'm confused about, and there it is.

Curious. They don't even need a complete beginner to road test these books, just anyone who can translate step-by-step instructions into action and will notice the gaps and inconsistencies.

maaliskuu 12, 12:08 pm

>102 qebo: Oh yes, I definitely think YouTube is the best way to go. I like feeling like I can watch the same section of a video over and over again, or if I don't like the way a particular instructor is instructing I can find a different one without hurting anyone's feelings or wasting their time.

maaliskuu 17, 11:07 pm

>96 qebo: Great review of Platypus, Katherine.

>94 qebo: LOL. Is there anyone in this group who needs more books?!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 28, 7:24 pm

#15: The Kelloggs by Howard Markel -- (Mar 26)

why now: I liked The Secret of Life so much that I chose another by the same author as my next audio book.

John Preston Kellogg of Hadley MA moved west to MI with his wife and children in the 1830s, enticed by a friend who had gone before him. The family settled in to farming, but the early years were rough, as his wife became ill and died of tuberculosis. John Preston married the woman who had been hired to care for the children, and they produced ten more children including John Harvey and Will Keith. John Preston had exacting standards for religion and local churches fell short. When prominent 7th Day Adventists James and Ellen White relocated to Battle Creek MI in the 1860s, the Kellogg family relocated too, and John Preston established a broom factory which both promoted the virtue of hygiene and brought in money for the church. This association set the life trajectory for John Harvey and Will Keith.

John Harvey was the favored son and perceived by all as remarkably intelligent and charismatic. The 7th Day Adventist complex included a printing press and a sanitarium. The Whites hired him to set type, but he went far beyond, absorbing articles about health and eventually contributing his own, so the Whites supported him through medical school, then hired him to direct the sanitarium, which he developed into a nationally renowned institution attracting famous clientele, advocating a mixture of cutting edge medicine and weirdly idiosyncratic ideology, with an unsavory side involvement in the eugenics movement.

Will Keith was eight years younger and socially awkward, but showed an early aptitude for management at the broom factory. The Whites sent him to other broom factories to assess and improve operations, then John Harvey hired him at the sanitarium to keep things running smoothly. The sanitarium recommended a plant-based diet, so the brothers experimented with processing grains into cereals that could be offered to patients. John Harvey was the public face, and Will Keith felt chronically underappreciated and disparaged, and also believed that more could be done with cereals, so after 25 years at the sanitarium he started an independent business.

The relationship between the brothers was both synergistic and dysfunctional, and even after going ostensibly separate ways they remained entangled, with vehement disagreements about who had invented what escalating into lawsuits.

Chapters are straightforwardly chronological and themed, focused on medicine and industry circa 1875-1925 when the brothers were most engaged in their fields. Although the brothers are the central figures, much of the detail is of general historical interest.

maaliskuu 27, 11:55 am

>105 qebo: Nice review, qebo. I had no idea breakfast cereal started in a sanitorium. Makes sense, I guess.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 28, 8:25 am

I've just started crocheting, myself! Have you heard of Ravelry? I've found it a fantastic resource. Lots of patterns, with comments and photos. It has knitting, too.

maaliskuu 28, 12:20 pm

>107 Julie_in_the_Library: Ravelry
Yes, because several LTers are there and have mentioned it over the years. I set up an account recently, haven't posted anything (don't have anything to post as I'm just experimenting with stitches and yarn) but wanted a place to collect ideas.

maaliskuu 29, 7:36 am

I used to knit but the arms on my sweaters were always too long.

huhtikuu 2, 12:08 pm

>108 qebo: There's also a fairly active group here on LT called Needlearts. Lois (avaland) posts on it.

huhtikuu 2, 12:28 pm

>110 arubabookwoman: I've actually been lurking. :-) Several 75ers and CRers are there.

huhtikuu 2, 1:27 pm

>73 qebo: Think I'll try the Merkel book as an audio (I'm trying to jumpstart walking my neighborhood, but it's boring without a dog. Maybe an audiobook will help.)

>65 qebo: I'm with Dan, that tree of life website is amazing!

huhtikuu 4, 8:56 am

#16: Robert E. Lee and Me by Ty Seidule -- (Apr 2)

why now: Purchased in large print for my mother's birthday in 2021 (backstory here), but almost immediately afterward she stopped reading because of failing eyesight. Then last fall she asked me to read to her. At about 15-20 pages per weekly visit it's taken awhile.

This book is mostly not about Robert E. Lee the person, but rather about Robert E. Lee as symbol for the Lost Cause mythology. The author grew up revering Robert E. Lee, which he attributes to southern culture though it's to such an extreme degree that it's surely a personality inclination too. Even now, he really wants to be 100% devoted to an ideal which strikes me as bound for disappointment.

The book entwines autobiography and history. The author was born in the early 1960s and grew up in Virginia and Georgia. He attended private and almost exclusively white schools where his father was superintendent, sheltered from the external world and oblivious to ugly episodes of local history, distant and recent. He went on to Washington & Lee University and became further entrenched, joined ROTC for the scholarship money and stayed with the military, and eventually took a position at West Point teaching military history in the 1990s. This is when he began questioning his hero. After the Civil War, West Point severed ties with officers who had rejected the United States in favor of the Confederacy, but on campus were numerous buildings and monuments honoring Robert E. Lee. In researching why, he found that every one of them was a backlash response to a step forward in racial equality.

As the author is a military historian, his tales are filled with generals and battles and such, about which my level of interest ranges from subzero to vague recognition of names. The last chapter focuses on Robert E. Lee himself, and his decision to join the Confederacy, which is portrayed in the mythology as gentlemanly loyalty to Virginia but was actually investment in slavery both culturally and financially.

This is a brief interview.
This is a lecture at Washington & Lee University.

huhtikuu 4, 10:08 am

Great review of Robert E. Lee and Me, Katherine. That topic is of great interest to me, and since my local library has a copy of it I'll add this to my summer reading list.

huhtikuu 4, 12:17 pm

>113 qebo: Very interesting. You might also be interested in former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu's memoir, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History. Although partly a memoir of Landrieu's entire political career (which included being Louisiana's Lieutenant Governor during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and so interesting in many ways in its own right), it also gives a blow-by-blow account of the political and legal dust-up that occurred when Landrieu, as mayor, made the decision to remove the famous Robert E. Lee statue from its pedestal as well as three other statues that were there to commemorate the "Lost Cause" and/or white supremacy. My longer review is here in case you're interested: https://www.librarything.com/topic/328303#7684204

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 4, 1:01 pm

>115 rocketjk: I'm adding In the Shadow of Statues to my wish list. Thanks, Jerry. (ETA: Fortunately my county library system has a copy of it, so I can get it from my local branch.)

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 4, 8:40 pm

>114 kidzdoc: It won't be up to your literary standards.
>115 rocketjk: Thanks. I've added it to my WL for future reference.

huhtikuu 4, 2:01 pm

Great reviews as always, Katherine. I love the variety of subjects that interest you!

I've put in a request for Robert E. Lee and Me, but I've deferred it until September since I currently have 18(!) books home from the library. I'm struggling to understand the current political situation.

huhtikuu 4, 8:31 pm

>117 qebo: Can I assume that you were referring to me in >117 qebo:, Katherine? Since I can borrow Robert E. Lee and Me from my local library I'll still give it a try.

huhtikuu 4, 8:40 pm

>119 kidzdoc: Yes. Fixed. :-)

huhtikuu 4, 8:42 pm

>118 streamsong: I'm struggling to understand the current political situation.
Will 18 books help?

huhtikuu 15, 9:03 am

#17: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver -- (Apr 12)

why now: Recently published, mentioned frequently on LT, and I generally like Barbara Kingsolver. It's based on David Copperfield which I'd never read, and at 800 pages didn't wish to, so in preparation I watched the 1999 miniseries to get the gist.

I set the book aside at around 100/600 pages because it was so bleak, then forced myself back to it and got engaged enough with the characters to continue. The David Copperfield miniseries was helpful in that I could see the corresponding characters, but the down side was knowing she's going to die, he's going to die, and watching the doom play out. It's well done, the voice of Demon Copperhead particularly, but I preferred Barbara Kingsolver in her nature phase and she seems to have moved on.

huhtikuu 15, 9:39 am

>122 qebo: I just finished this one as well. It took me forever to finish because I could only handle small chunks - it is very bleak indeed! With David Copperfield I just kept telling to myself that times have changed (although sadly they haven’t changed in many ways). With Demon, I see this playing out everywhere. Thankfully it’s not my reality, but it’s the reality of people I know. Well done book but yowsers…

huhtikuu 16, 10:58 am

>121 qebo:! Ha! Most of the 18 books are /were to distract me from the current political situation.

Nice comments on Demon Copperhead.

huhtikuu 16, 12:49 pm

Catching up. Terrific review of Robert Lee and Me. Also interesting about the Kellogg family. (I caught a little about them on Salt, Fat, Sugar.)

kesäkuu 11, 10:52 am

June already. Not a lot of reading happening here, and I'm behind in reviews: two on evolution that involve reviewing notes, one an audio book. I have two other non-fiction audio books in in progress, plus a fiction e-book and a fiction paper book that I've begun but not gotten pulled into. Gardening demands predominate in April-May. I messed up my back after an especially intense weekend about a month ago, and in the two days off work I began watching Succession which I'd previously avoided because I generally don't care for dramas where everyone is awful, but I got hooked after a couple of episodes and watched the finale this weekend. Now I aspire to get the annual yard cleanup done before the weather heats up too much. We've had next to no rain in a month, so I've been hesitant to put plants in the ground, easier to keep them watered in pots in the shade on the porch.

kesäkuu 14, 10:46 am

>126 qebo: I’m not reading much either, for rather similar reasons

kesäkuu 18, 5:13 pm

>126 qebo: >127 Nickelini: Ditto. Although my problem is too much rain. After a couple of scorching hot days back in May, it started raining and hasn't stopped. Digging and transplanting is easier when the ground is soggy, but not bagging leaves and mowing.

kesäkuu 22, 5:43 pm

SNiP was named as a kitten by my microbiologist niece: Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. When he was about two years old she got married. Her husband was severely allergic, and managed for several years with medications, but as their lives became more stressful with kids and job/school changes and inadequate insurance, she asked if I'd adopt him. At the time I had two other cats who bullied him for months so I had to keep him separate until they calmed down, and he was visibly depressed. Eventually they became buddies. The other cats were significantly older and died some years ago. About four and a half years ago, I noticed that something was off with his eyes and took him to the vet. He had suddenly gone completely blind with detached retinas. Numerous $$$ tests later, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that had caused inflammation all over including optic nerves, and within a few months caused diabetes also. He was put on several medications multiple times per day, and stabilized. He had three vets: general, internal medicine, ophthalmologist. All the while he continued to go about life as if nothing was wrong; appetite fine, navigated the house perfectly well, sought attention, was actually more friendly toward strangers when he couldn't see them. Over the winter, a tumor appeared at the edge of one eye. A special trip to the ophthalmologist, who suspected it was cancerous, said he could remove the eye but no guarantee this would solve the problem, and even investigating would be brutal, so there I drew the line. The tumor continued to grow rapidly, and about two months ago a tumor appeared on the other eye also. Still, the cat acted as if life had something to offer. Last week I took him to the regular vet to discuss euthanasia, and decided to keep him going with yet another set of medications so long as he seemed content. Today I took him in for a recheck, and medication had done nothing to reduce sky high pressure in one eye. The vet suspected internal tumors behind the visible ones. This was going to be awful however it played out, so I decided today was the day. RIP SNiP. Photo from about a year ago, blind but tumor free.

kesäkuu 22, 6:24 pm

I'm sorry, qebo. Never an easy decision. It sounds as though SNiP was VERY lucky to have you on his side. Still, the cat acted as if life had something to offer. How amazing animals can be.

kesäkuu 22, 6:38 pm

I’m sorry about your losing SNiP. That is a lovely post.

kesäkuu 22, 7:21 pm

I'm so sorry, Katherine. Beautiful post for a beautiful cat.

kesäkuu 25, 10:22 am

>130 labfs39:, >131 dchaikin:, >132 LolaWalser: Thanks. Will take a bit for the muscle memory to fade: start the morning coffee, pivot to the cat supplies to prepare and administer insulin and eye drops, ending with the reward for tolerating it, a spoonful of canned food mixed with yet another medication. Also I don't have to close the office door when I leave, don't have to worry about the cat getting up to the windowsill then crashing down to the floor because he can't see the intervening chair.

Reading-wise, it's mysteries...

kesäkuu 26, 10:20 am

>129 qebo: So sorry for your loss, qebo! You gave him such a nice life.

kesäkuu 26, 10:44 am

Hugs to you and thank you for sharing your memories of Snip.

Mysteries are my go to comfort read.

heinäkuu 4, 8:23 pm

Sorry for your loss of Snip. He sounds like a great cat.

heinäkuu 28, 11:00 am

I'm sorry about Snip. Sounds like you gave him a really good, secure, and healthy life. It's always so hard to make that last compassionate decision. Thanks for sharing his story and photo with us.

heinäkuu 28, 1:15 pm

>137 lisapeet: A visitor! Thanks.

I am still here. I've read a few books. I have several crochet projects going. I just haven't been sitting at the computer composing sentences.

elokuu 1, 7:34 am

>138 qebo: I've been on LT only sporadically too. Have you been doing much gardening? I had a 6' long gardening bed this year and had good luck with swiss chard and green beans, but the lettuce rotted in all the rain, and my tomatoes have yet to turn even the faintest shade of red. The kids dumped a whole package of carrot seeds in a small area, so they didn't do much although the greenery is pretty.

elokuu 1, 6:53 pm

>139 labfs39: I have a yard full of native plants and manage a community garden where I have a "plot" of native plants along the fence. It's mostly been too hot to do more than the minimum of making sure nothing horrible is getting out of control. I get curious about plants and experimented with different food crops each year for awhile, and sometimes I grew crops for the bugs... e.g. tobacco hornworms on the tomatoes, black swallowtails on parsley/dill/fennel/carrots, silver spotted skippers on soy beans, but I don't care for cooking so find harvesting a nuisance. The community garden donates to the local food bank so nothing goes to waste, but the garden has been in high demand since COVID (I expected a drop in interest this year, but actually it was the first year we had to turn people away) so I gave up my crop plots a couple years ago.

Attempting to grow food in a 10' x 20' plot has significantly increased my appreciation for agriculture. Sooo many things can go wrong and it's a lotta work. A good education for the kids.

elokuu 7, 11:17 am

>140 qebo: I used to have large garden beds when I lived in Seattle, along with strawberries, three types of blueberries, and apple trees. This year was my first year gardening in a while though (eight years?). I learned a lot. I plan to purchase another 6' raised bed/table for next year plus I'll put the tomatoes in large pots as they took too much real estate this year. My beans are nearly over now, the peas were put in too late to do much, and as I mentioned before, the kids dumped too many carrot seeds in too small an area for any to mature. The Japanese beetles were horrible this year, perhaps due to all the rain? They are munching my newly-planted birch trees too.

elokuu 8, 1:58 pm

shudder Japanese beetles ugh They live that far north? I got introduced to them in Georgia, but never saw a one growing up in Iowa.

elokuu 9, 8:42 am

>142 markon: never saw a one growing up in Iowa
This got me curious as they've been around here forever. Wikipedia sez introduced in New Jersey in 1916, and has a map of the range in 2006, and indeed, not Iowa. Since then they've spread further, every state east of the Mississippi and a smattering west. Except Florida.

elokuu 9, 6:30 pm

>143 qebo: As I understand it, after they brought the Japanese beetles here for some specific reason, they had to import the ladybugs that feed on their larvae so that the beetles didn't destroy the roses. Or at least that's what I think. I'm too lazy right now to look it up.

elokuu 19, 10:51 am

#22: Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman -- (Jun 23)
#23: The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman -- (Jun 28)
#24: Stargazer by Anne Hillerman -- (Jul ?)

why now: Seeking light reading, and was prompted to revisit these when the TV mini-series Dark Winds appeared in a streaming feed.

Anne Hillerman picked up the series after her father Tony Hillerman died. I had started reading the series probably in high school (the first one was published in 1970). No idea how they've held up over time; it's been decades. I read the first few of the continuation and thought they were... OK. These too were... OK. The main characters are decent people and I like procedurals. The mysteries lack psychological depth. The author is an outsider and cultural references seem awkward.

The TV series Dark Winds is produced by, among others, Robert Redford and George R. R. Martin, who both have homes in Santa Fe NM, and has a predominately Native American cast as well as writers and filming crew. The police are the same people as the novels but the backstories are... not as I recall. The mysteries are pulled from multiple novels.

elokuu 19, 10:55 am

#20: Walk With Me by Kate Clifford Larson -- (May 24) -- audio

why now: RL book group selection for May. Suggested by me on the basis of rocketjk's review.

This is a biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, whose name was familiar but that was about the extent of it. She spent most of her life (1917-1977) in Ruleville, Mississippi... a place that does not defy stereotypes. Her family, born into and married, were sharecroppers on a cotton plantation. During surgery to remove a tumor, the doctor also removed her uterus without her knowledge or consent. In the late 1950s to early 1960s, she was drawn into voting rights activism by organizers from SNCC, and for her efforts was evicted, beaten, and raped. In a classic of what doesn't kill you... her moral core and charismatic presence elevated her to national prominence. We still have a long way to go, and this is a reminder of the currents that remain with us.

Videos of her testimony to US Congress and her (adopted) daughter and other family.

elokuu 19, 10:56 am

#21: Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond -- (Jun 17) -- audio

why now: RL book group selection for June. Matthew Desmond had been making the rounds of interviews.

Themed chapters on how we could significantly reduce poverty if we wanted to, but the rest of us benefit from the systemic imbalances.

elokuu 19, 10:58 am

#25: The Grimkes by Kerri K. Greenidge -- (Jul 18) -- audio

why now: RL book group selection for July. Someone else suggested it, but also I remembered japaul22's review.

The Grimke sisters Angelina and Sarah were abolitionists from a prominent white slave-holding family in Charleston, South Carolina. They moved to Philadelphia in the 1830s and became famous through writing and speaking. Which has its admirable aspects, but the darker aspects are the reason to read this book. Their brother Henry fathered children by one of his slaves, and the sisters were in some degree of denial. His sons Archibald and Francis moved north after the Civil War, became prominent themselves, and had a fraught relationship with their aunts who could not fully accept them without delving into things they'd rather not. There were tensions in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) between white and black abolitionists; the Grimke sisters wanted to redeem the souls of white slaveholders, while the Forten family, for example, wanted equality. The Philadelphia Quakers were less progressive than one might've hoped. If I ever knew about Philadelphia in the 1830s, I'd forgotten. The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society is one point of intersection.

elokuu 19, 11:05 am

#27: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery -- (Aug 9)

why now: RL book group selection for July. I'd prepared a few book suggestions, but then one person said she wanted a break from depressing social issues and could I suggest a science book with just the facts? I can't usually get this group to read about science so it was quite the opportunity. I quickly entered search terms into my phone and got a few lists of narrative science, and... I'd read nearly all of them. But I hadn't read this one, and I've had it on the shelves for years. And it's short.

The book focuses on a few individual octopuses at the Boston Aquarium (where I've been, but some years before this book was written), and a few scuba diving episodes. Also aquarium people who are an interesting bunch.

Got me interested in revisiting My Octopus Teacher, which I'd begun watching maybe a couple years ago but got annoyed by the narrator, but this time I kept going for the octopus. Also I plucked Other Minds off the shelves and I'm about halfway through. From it, I discovered that there is a local octopus expert who would've been a colleague of my (retired) neighbor so I'll ask. And I bought a book about octopus evolution.

elokuu 19, 11:09 am

Not caught up with reviews, but reduced to what I hope is a manageable number.

elokuu 19, 12:13 pm

>146 qebo: I read Walk With Me earlier this year and thought it was a terrific biography of a truly inspiring woman who endured a lot, to put it mildly.

elokuu 19, 1:40 pm

>151 rocketjk: Yeah, as noted it was your review (thankfully more thorough than mine) that got me interested. What she endured was brutal and would have defeated me.

elokuu 19, 1:51 pm

>149 qebo: Would you recommend it? My book club just picked the fiction book Remarkably Bright Creatures which features an octopus.

elokuu 19, 3:12 pm

>153 karspeak: I have my eye on Remarkably Bright Creatures. Yes, I'd recommend all of the things I mentioned, as different perspectives.

elokuu 19, 4:00 pm

I have Remarkably Bright Creatures on a physical pile of books and keep rotating it to the top because I like to see that cover when I walk by.

elokuu 19, 9:56 pm

>150 qebo: I love that "getting caught up on reviews" feeling :-)

elokuu 19, 10:13 pm

>152 qebo: Whoops! Missed that reference to my review. I was busy jumping down to see what you thought of the book. And, yes, her endurance and determination were almost incomprehensible.

elokuu 20, 2:50 am

>147 qebo:


Does he mention anywhere the c-word, capitalism? It drives me crazy that the world is sooner likely to turn to cinders than Americans acknowledge the systemic problem with their society.

elokuu 20, 9:03 am

>158 LolaWalser: capitalism
Probably but I have it as an audio book so can't check easily. It's a word that stands out to you and not so much to me.
Guardian review that isn't paywalled.
New York Times 1619 Project article that I can't find a way to unpaywall but it begins with:
This is a capitalist society. It’s a fatalistic mantra that seems to get repeated to anyone who questions why America can’t be more fair or equal. But around the world, there are many types of capitalist societies, ranging from liberating to exploitative, protective to abusive, democratic to unregulated. When Americans declare that “we live in a capitalist society” ... what they’re often defending is our nation’s peculiarly brutal economy. “Low-road capitalism,” the University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Joel Rogers has called it. In a capitalist society that goes low, wages are depressed as businesses compete over the price, not the quality, of goods...

elokuu 20, 2:37 pm

>159 qebo:

Thanks, the Guardian article addressed it. It's not so much about the word as the implication that one mentioning it recognises a systemic problem--meaning that the solutions must address the system too. I saw some reviews online and here but I couldn't tell from them whether this is another one of those water-is-wet "discoveries" that in the end eschew calling things by their real name (and thus getting anywhere close to offering real solutions)--and unfortunately it looks that way.

And, not to start a discussion, but the idea mooted in the second link that there are "better" capitalist societies--no doubt there are (from the vantage point of the comfy NYT-reading middle class in particular) but not for long. There isn't a single capitalist country that isn't undergoing the same process of deterioration as the US--not its mini-me the UK, not Western Europe, not the Scandinavian social democracies, not the Eastern European banana republics and wannabe-fascist black holes, not the Chinese dictatorship, not the South American countries... everywhere, but everywhere, it's either happening or it's being threatened, wages are falling, social benefits and welfare is being done away with, privatizations are rampant, and unemployment/underemployment on the rise.

By the way, I mean no attack on Desmond. I can almost understand, given what I saw in the US, why his first priority after all his work is to defend himself from "accusations" of being a Marxist. But it's sad.

elokuu 21, 12:19 pm

>149 qebo: I should probably read the book and find out for myself, but in a few words, can you tell me why octopi are interesting? I think they are fairly intelligent, right? I think I read a news article once about one that could open it's door.

elokuu 21, 6:16 pm

>160 LolaWalser: not to start a discussion
Hah, you wouldn't get a discussion from me. I don't know enough.
Is there an existing society that you regard as an ideal model, or as the best we've managed to achieve so far?

>161 labfs39: in a few words
Well, interesting is in the eye of the beholder but... The last common ancestor of us and octopuses was a bilateral wormlike creature with neurons and eyespots about 600 million years ago. Complex intelligence evolved in both, but while we have a centralized brain, octopuses have a distributed system with a differently organized brain and also peripheral neural structures in their tentacles which operate semi-independently. Also, as they evolved along a different path, they are, from our perspective, physically weird.


elokuu 21, 6:23 pm

>162 qebo: Thanks, qebo, I'll check out the ted talks.

elokuu 23, 9:49 pm

#28: Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith -- (Aug 23)

why now: I've had it around for years, and it was the obvious choice after The Soul of an Octopus.

The author is a philosopher of science and also a scuba diver, based in Australia. The book is an informative companion to The Soul of an Octopus with biological explanations for behavior. There's a chapter on evolution of multicellular creatures and neurons going back to Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, a chapter on evolution of cephalopods (a squishy thing, acquired a shell, shell divided into compartments with a muscular foot, foot became tentacles, some lost or internalized shells), a chapter on how the skin produces color patterns (chromatophores with sacs of colors and muscles to shape them, iridiphores which filter light through stacks of plates, leucophores which reflect light), chapters on cognition that I don't have the background or sufficient interest to fully understand.

The author has an old blog http://giantcuttlefish.com and a new blog https://metazoan.net/ .

elokuu 24, 6:24 pm

>162 qebo: Wow. I had no idea octopi/octopuses and cuttlefish could change their skin texture as radically as that. Katie and I enjoyed the TED talks, thanks for sharing.

elokuu 24, 6:35 pm

>165 labfs39: Yeah, it's kinda freaky, intricate patterns and rapid changes, and poorly understood, both the how and the why. There's a camouflage aspect and possibly a signalling aspect, but they are apparently color blind. Glad you enjoyed the TED talks. I hadn't seen them either until I was searching for something to answer your question.

elokuu 25, 6:17 pm

>164 qebo: Fascinating. Now I wish I had heard the entire interview on CBC radio the other day, in which an oceanographer said there was evidence that some creatures that are capable of colour changes can still change colour after death. I will have to track that down

it was the obvious choice after The Soul of an Octopus Of course! but it does sound funny.

elokuu 26, 10:33 pm

>164 qebo: Another octopus lover here since reading The Soul of an Octopus. I have Other Minds on the pile too.

syyskuu 3, 10:51 am

#29: Patient H. M. by Luke Dittrich -- (Aug 29) -- audio

why now: Scouted around for audio books, historical/biographical and scientific/medical, and this one caught my attention. And it was more interesting than I'd expected. I'd started mildly curious but was eager to play the audio each time I went out for a walk.

Patient H. M. was Henry Molaison, who became an anonymously famous medical subject after brain surgery in 1953 destroyed his memory. The surgeon was William Beecher Scoville, grandfather of the author, and grandson of Henry Ward Beecher, which makes for plenty of intertwined family lore. Also Suzanne Corkin, the primary researcher from 1962 on, was a friend of the author's mother. I had supposed for much of the book that she'd become a friend through the professional connection, but it was actually the other way around; she lived across the street from the Scoville family as a child, and became a neuropsychologist.

Psychosurgery was in vogue during the 1930s-1950s, with sometimes incompatible goals to cure psychiatric illness and understand brain function. William Scoville became a neurosurgeon in the 1940s, with personal and professional entanglements. His wife had a mental breakdown and was institutionalized off and on when their children were young, and endured treatments of the time such as electroshock. He was hired at the hospital where she had been a patient, in Connecticut.

H. M. was born in 1926, and was a normal kid until a bicycle smashed into him in 1934, and he developed epilepsy with increasingly severe and debilitating seizures. He too resided in Connecticut, and his family consulted with William Scoville. Who was not the sort of person to proceed with caution. When he opened the skull and didn't see anything physical that might cause the seizures, he could have stopped, but instead he cut extra. As a consequence, H.M. lost both semantic and episodic memory. He could remember facts from before the surgery, but few from after. He had no context for facts, could not describe how this happened, or where he was when. He supposed that he was age 30-something when he was an old man and the number didn't match his appearance in a mirror. He did not recognize people he had seen regularly for years. He was frequently taken to MIT where he would stay for weeks while Suzanne Corkin and colleagues and students conducted tests. This was his life for nearly 50 years, but he did not remember the repetition.

There are issues of medical ethics, obviously. The surgery. The testing. An MRI in 1992 despite concerns that it could be dangerous. Who gave consent? H. M. could not remember from one minute to the next what he had been told or asked. H. M. lived with his parents, his father died, and when his mother's health deteriorated the two were taken in by the ex-wife of a relative, whose son eventually became the legal guardian but had little or no contact with H. M., while other relatives were not informed. Allegedly, during a gap in custody the researchers gave themselves permission to research. With consent from the guardian, Suzanne Corkin lined up, in anticipation of H. M.'s death, neuroscientist Jacapo Annese to take the brain for anatomical study. H. M. died in 2008. A few years later Suzanne Corkin and Jacapo Annese had a falling out over ownership of the brain and associated data, and rights to publication.

The author is a journalist, and we learn well into the book how it came to be. A local article got noticed at a national level, and an editor advised him to focus on stories that he was in a unique position to tell. So in 2004 he went looking for H. M., unsuccessfully. Suzanne Corkin was a family friend but in this situation was the gatekeeper and denied access. He was able to expand H. M. into a full name from clues in publications and searching government records, but was unable to locate H. M. As it happens, H. M. was in a nursing home, and staff had a strict protocol to deflect inquiries (by then H. M. had dementia so an interview would've been questionable anyway).

The book is controversial for assertions about Suzanne Corkin that MIT disputes. Also I listened to the audio version so wasn't aware, but reviews note its lack of source citations. Suzanne Corkin died after the book was written but before it was published.

interview with the author : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7akPs8ptg4
dissection of the brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9r2J2Yeooo

syyskuu 3, 5:12 pm

>169 qebo: That sounds interesting, qebo. Immediately reminds me of Henrietta Lacks with the lack of consent and questionable research ethics. I'm intrigued, but will look more closely at the issues. Lack of source citations is a problem with this sort of book which could be someone trying to be sensational.

syyskuu 3, 5:12 pm

>169 qebo: That sounds interesting, qebo. Immediately reminds me of Henrietta Lacks with the lack of consent and questionable research ethics. I'm intrigued, but will look more closely at the issues. Lack of source citations is a problem with this sort of book which could be someone trying to be sensational.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 3, 7:55 pm

Sorry for the duplicate posts, qebo. LT is acting up tonight. Or is it just me? I haven't even been able to log on. Weird.

syyskuu 4, 10:06 am

syyskuu 7, 7:25 am

>169 qebo: Joyce Carol Oates wrote a novel about the H.M. case which I read several years ago, The Man Without a Shadow, which I read several years ago. After I read it, I bougot the book you read to find out more, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

syyskuu 7, 8:05 am

>174 arubabookwoman: Thanks, that looks interesting.

syyskuu 17, 11:45 am

>169 qebo: I've had Patient H.M. on the virtual shelf for ages, I think since I listened to a Longform podcast about it. I do want to get to it one of these days...