I love Jared Diamond's writing. Every time I read one of his books, it resonates so clearly that I can't help but enjoy his thoughts tremendously. In The Third Chimpanzee, Diamond ranges widely in his thoughts of this odd third chimpanzee (us) and sometimes goes in rather unexpected places.
Some highlights include how testes correlate with number of partners in sex and how public/private sex is, and the arts are a social method of sexual selection.
The migration of some of human kind can be studied by the transformation of proto-Indo-European language, but he includes a fervent discussion of the loss of human languages as the few powerful languages consolidate their power and their populations on the world.
He includes wonderful comments on genocide in chimps and genocide in humans across time. How we have permission to kill "them," but we must attempt to refrain from killing "us."
Most disjointed was his theories of life on other worlds, which covers a part of a chapter.
What is most interesting is the echoes of his other writings you can hear in this book. Echoes in the sense that it doesn't matter if the book came before or after this 2006 publication. His themes have remained constant: Ecological collapse, success of an area and the people controlling that area based on resources, and domesticate-able plant and animal species.
I love Jared Diamond. I enjoy how he sees the world, how he explains complex material and makes it understandable. He makes a great deal of sense. This one is about tradition living as exemplified primarily by villages in Papua New Guinea (with scattered examples elsewhere) compared to the modern western world. While Diamond clearly admires some aspects of the traditional cultures he has experience over the decades, this is no sonnet to the noble savage. He brings out the infanticide and elder murder as easily as the community relationships and natural multi-lingualism. Highly entertaining, it will seep into your sub-consciousness and influence how you think about a great many things, and help you appreciate the glorious state that allows us to walk around and not kill or be killed by the strangers that walk by us in the mall. (Read the book; you'll get it.)
The joy of this book isn't the science it presents, which must be pretty well known for anyone who has even a passing interest in science. The joy of it is the combination of the knowledge into one large tapestry, making the information feel new and exciting. Bringing in information from physics and astrophysics, plate tectonics, evolutionary biology, genetics, and more the reader moves from the stars to a time when water was the happening place for life, and land was barren, to that great moment 200 million years ago when the birth of the Atlantic allowed for the oxygen necessary for mammalian gestation. If our high schoolers were reading science this fun, we might have more scientists.
An enjoyable story within a story within a story; there are four narrators embedded within each other. Don't let that throw you off; this is one of those horror stories that makes you tense and nervous without blood or grime. It is the reader's imagination that provides the horror behind the loss and the mysteriously-powered painting. A concise, quick-read novella, the author of the Woman in Black has created a tight tale, an old-fashioned horror/ghost story that is a real pleasure to read and makes fear and literary anxiety fun.
I'm not much of a sci-fi reader, but as this is something of a classic of the genre, I felt it was time. I was not the least bit disappointed in the production. The value is high, ambient noise to appropriate, voice acting very good and at times excellent. The plot and story and completely enjoyable. At 18 hours, boredom was a concern for me, but I found myself eager to do chores as long as I could listen.
While the book doesn't present any information I didn't know ("Attention! You create stress in your own mind; it is not created by outside forces."), but it does have a nice way of thinking and reasoning your way from arguing with the present. And there are free worksheets on the Web to practice and guide you through the thinking process described in the text. Anyway, it clicked with me.
I am torn by this book. On one hand it was a fun read. But it lacks some of the mental challenge that I enjoy in a book of popular science. I enjoy a little more depth to the explanations of research. Did he do any of the research or was he borrowing and cribbing from real researchers? I lean toward the second. If you have a lay person's interest in neurology and the workings of the mind, much of the first 4-5 chapters is nothing you haven't read before. Interesting condition upon interesting condition is quickly discussed for the "oooh" and "aaaah" factor. Chapter six has a mad, voice-crying-out-in-the-desert quality. It reads something like, "Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I have the answers that will solve the world's problems with crime and criminals!" Frankly, it can get more than a little redundant and tedious in that section. Still, I can't completely trash the book. Though it wasn't as scientific as I prefer, it was a fun quick read about the brain, its functions and malfunctions. Perhaps I've read too much popular neurology for this to be fresh for me. If you haven't read that much you might enjoy it greatly. It could spur greater interest in the field.
Amy Webb's story, for all of her anal-retentive, control-freaky, color-coded spreadsheets is a pleasure to read. Her story of travel, work, family, and online dating resonates well as a plain fun narrative. The only place it falls short is the title's hint at a how-to. Since it took 8 years to bring the book to its audience, its how-to component is out of date. She acknowledges this in the last pages of the book, that interfaces and options have changed in online dating, so her precise experience isn't what exists currently, making it less relevant. However, her overall method, be clear and honest about what you want in a partner, prioritize, and don't waste time dating people that you know don't meet those needs. So don't read it for the how-to, which few of us would perform to her level of complexity, but for the story of a smart woman, a little heartbreak, a lovingly patient sister, spreadsheets, and finding a loving, compatible partner with whom to share your life. The narration, performed by the author, isn't professional, but isn't poor either. She narrates capably.
There really isn't anything new here. The authors, Fein and Schneider, have written several books that all say the same thing: Don't be too easy. Men will treat you like a free hooker if you treat yourself like a free hooker. It's a tough message for both young women today, the primary target audience of this book, as well as older, professional women who are used to going after what they want and not waiting for a man to make all the moves. But that's the message, and it is uncomfortable, irritating, and true with some men. There is no research support for their frequent anecdotes, but there is a great deal of marketing for their rules-dating consultation business. Lastly, relating to the audio version of this book, what were they thinking bringing their daughters in to read? The authors' reading was tolerable enough, perhaps 3 stars. One daughter was only young and unprofessional. But the other daughter was incapable of enunciating clearly. It was horrible, waiting for her little reading to end so my torment could also end. Her reading is a glaring statement against the dangers of nepotism. However, with all my criticisms, which are sincere, I still will make sure my daughter reads this book before going to college. Many young men will not give young women respect; they must demand it. That is the strongest, best message of the book.
An enjoyable science read. Just enough science to be intellectual, just enough anecdotal human interest to be fun. The basics are that oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, makes for pro-social behavior. The author examines what behavior releases oxytocin and how it effects behavior after it is released. In addition, he comments on how it interacts with testosterone, a rather anti-social hormone, and cortisol, the stress hormone. The author closes with how we can create a more oxytocin-filled, trusting, and happier world one oxytocin-inducing act after another. If you like a good pop-science read, you'll enjoy The Moral Molecule by Paul J. Zak. However, the author read the book himself and he is no professional reader. It's rather like if your not-so-into-reading-aloud spouse read the book to you. Rhythms are off, emphasis is little. It's just not pro-level, even for an author. For the sake of the enjoyable information, you can get through it, but they really should have hired a profession reader to showcase the information to best effect.
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