(k) The 23 books I read in 2014 :)

(k) The 23 books I read in 2014 :)

Only counting books I read (or soon will have read) in their entirety…
Faves: 13. Best: The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature by Steven Pinker! 😀
Below are starting dates, titles, authors, and some comments / quotes that I could think of. :p

18-Jan-2014: 1. The blind watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
"… It isn’t just zoological classification that is saved from awkward ambiguity only by the convenient fact that most intermediates are now extinct. The same is true of human ethics and law. Our legal and moral systems are deeply species-bound. The director of a zoo is legally entitled to ‘put down’ a chimpanzee that is surplus to requirements, while any suggestion that he might ‘put down’ a redundant keeper or ticket-seller would be greeted with howls of incredulous outrage. The chimpanzee is the property of the zoo. Humans are nowadays not supposed to be anybody’s property, yet the rationale for discriminating against chimpanzees in this way is seldom spelled out, and I doubt if there is a defensible rationale at all. Such is the breathtaking speciesism of our Christian-inspired attitudes, the abortion of a single human zygote (most of them are destined to be spontaneously aborted anyway) can arouse more moral solicitude and righteous indignation than the vivisection of any number of intelligent adult chimpanzees! I have heard decent, liberal scientists, who had no intention of actually cutting up live chimpanzees, nevertheless passionately defending their right to do so if they chose, without interference from the law. Such people are often the first to bristle at the smallest infringement of human rights. The only reason we can be comfortable with such a double standard is that the intermediates between humans and chimps are all dead.

The last common ancestor of humans and chimps lived perhaps as recently as five million years ago, definitely more recently than the common ancestor of chimps and orang-utans, and perhaps 30 million years more recently than the common ancestor of chimps and monkeys. Chimpanzees and we share more than 99 per cent of our genes. If, in various forgotten islands around the world, survivors of all intermediates back to the chimp/human common ancestor were discovered, who can doubt that our laws and our moral conventions would be profoundly affected, especially as there would presumably be some interbreeding along the spectrum? Either the whole spectrum would have to be granted full human rights (Votes for Chimps), or there would have to be an elaborate apartheid-like system of discriminatory laws, with courts deciding whether particular individuals were legally ‘chimps’ or legally ‘humans’; and people would fret about their daughter’s desire to marry one of ‘them’. I suppose the world is already too well explored for us to hope that this chastening fantasy will ever come true. But anybody who thinks that there is something obvious and self-evident about human ‘rights’ should reflect that it is just sheer luck that these embarrassing intermediates happen not to have survived. Alternatively, maybe if chimpanzees hadn’t been discovered until today they would now be seen as the embarrassing intermediates."

12-Feb-2014: 2. Asperger’s on the job by Rudy Simone

21-Feb-2014: 3. Satori in Paris by Jack Kerouac

22-Feb-2014: 4. Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Looking forward to the movie… Dude, I must have crossed the Pacific Crest Trail by bus several times on my Epic Greyhound Trip of 2013. 8o

25-Feb-2014: 5. Cell by Stephen King
Looking forward to the movie… Cusack, Jackson, and King! 🙂 Just keep in mind… And stuff…

7-Mar-2014: 6. The magic of reality: How we know what’s really true by Richard Dawkins
Fave! Dawkins’s book for 11-year-olds, but anyone can enjoy it. 😀 Give it to your local child.

31-Mar-2014: 7. Off the road: My years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg by Carolyn Cassady

9-May-2014: 8. Dog stories by James Herriot
Fave! *BAWL* And a re-read, although I hadn’t read them in English before.

24-May-2014: 9. On the beach by Nevil Shute
Fave! And a re-read.

15-Jun-2014: 10. An appetite for wonder: The making of a scientist by Richard Dawkins
Fave! Autobiography, part 1. 🙂

28-Jun-2014: 11. A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson

14-Jul-2014: 12. History: The definitive visual guide by Adam Hart-Davis
Coffee-table book. I’d been wanting to read something like it for a while. Several months in, I’m… ahem, far from finished, but I’ll fucking get there, RAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Just short, basic texts, which is fine with me as I was previously completely clueless about pretty much everything. It didn’t help that school taught me about the French revolution twice (grade 8 and 12 or something) and zero times about ancient Rome. Not to mention all the obscure times and places that I don’t see any school randomly squeezing in…

29-Jul-2014: 13. Gone girl by Gillian Flynn
"Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: ‘I like strong women.’ If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because ‘I like strong women’ is code for ‘I hate strong women.’)"

6-Aug-2014: 14. The handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood
Oh, it was the sociobiologists who dunnit?! Siiiiiiiiigh. -_-

14-Aug-2014: 15. Utvandrarna (a.k.a. "The emigrants") by Vilhelm Moberg
Fave! Part 1 of a superfamous Swedish book series (I don’t know, possibly superfamous everywhere) concerning a poor and oppressed group who emigrate to the US in 1850. I first heard about it and read an excerpt in geography class when I was 10, and always kind of meant to read at least the first book. When I did, I liked it from page 1 or 2 and onward. 🙂 "En gång skulle jag dränka en gammal utlevad katt i bäcken. Jag knöt in honom i en säck, men begrep inte att jag skulle ha lagt in en sten innan jag kastade säcken i vattnet. Nu ville den inte sjunka. Katten levde därinne och simmade omkring med säcken, som såg ut som något levande i vattnet: den flöt omkring som ett otäckt, ludet vattendjur. Byltet sparkade och rörde sig, det kunde inte sjunka. Jag kastade stora stenar på säcken för att få ner den i vattnet, jag tror jag kastade tio stenar innan den sjönk. Det var otäckt, jag blev rädd och grät. Jag var tio år, jag hade inte bättre vett då. Många gånger har jag ångrat vad jag gjorde. Jag har inte dränkt någon katt sen."

15-Aug-2014: 16. Älskade lilla gris (a.k.a. "Runtle the pig") by Ulf Nilsson & Eva Eriksson
Fave! And a re-read… from when I was two apples tall. An urban family adopts an industry piglet, who grows up to be huge (kind of like… ESTHER THE WONDER PIG! 😀 ) and eventually runs away. I vaguely remembered the book, and spotted it at someone’s house this year, so I finally had a title to look for. I don’t recall noticing the various anti-meat messages when I was a kid. xC

26-Aug-2014 (?): 17. Invandrarna (a.k.a. "Unto a good land") by Vilhelm Moberg
Fave! "… Hon hade dock sett andra levande varelser dö: Djuren på slaktbänken. Och hon hade alltid betagits av en sådan medömkan med kreatur som skulle avlivas, att hon inte velat närvara vid slakten. Men hon hade varit tvungen att vara med, när de inte hade haft någon annan som kunde ta emot blodet. Hon såg de stuckna djurens plågor, hon hörde deras skrik och vrål där de låg snörade och fastbundna och såg deras hjälplösa sparkande så länge de hade kraft att röra sig. Och hon grät över människors grymhet emot de oskäliga djuren, som intet ont hade gjort dem, och över sin egen svåra skuld, för hon kände sig medskyldig, när hon stod invid slaktbänken och tog emot det sargade djurets blod i sin kittel."

12-Sep-2014: 18. Nybyggarna (a.k.a. "The settlers") by Vilhelm Moberg
Fave! "Och manfolken gick därborta i ensligheten och blev så blödiga och känsliga, att de svimmade vid åsynen av en kvinna. Det var många guldgrävare som inte förmådde härda ut, och de nyttjade sina mulåsnor. Dessa djur luktade inte så gott alltid, så att karlarna stänkte över dem med parfymer; sedan doftade de som kvinnor brukade. En man ville ha vällukt kring det hela, han vill att det skall vara någonting grant över det; guldsökarna var ömtåliga och känsliga på det sättet. De köpte tyger av finaste siden och silke och bredde dem över mulåsnornas ryggar. De hängde upp spetsar på kreaturens öron, band rosetter över deras nackar och fäste smycken av guld och ädla stenar på deras pannor. De klädde och prydde åsnorna som om de hade varit sköna kvinnor, innan de gav sig på dem. För de ville ha det hela vackert, som det borde och skulle vara; karlarna på guldfälten var veka och ömsinta av sig på det sättet."

24-Sep-2014: 19. Sista brevet till Sverige (a.k.a. "The last letter home") by Vilhelm Moberg
Fave! I wonder if these books contributed to the legalization of abortion or something. :’)

10-Oct-2014: 20. The precariat: The new dangerous class by Guy Standing
Fave! I’ll just throw in the description from Goodreads.com: "Neo-liberal policies and institutional changes have produced a huge and growing number of people with sufficiently common experiences to be called an emerging class. In this book Guy Standing introduces what he calls the Precariat – a growing number of people across the world living and working precariously, usually in a series of short-term jobs, without recourse to stable occupational identities, stable social protection or protective regulations relevant to them. They include migrant workers, but also locals.

Standing argues that this class of people could produce new instabilities in society. They are increasingly frustrated and dangerous because they have no voice, and hence they are vulnerable to the siren calls of extreme political parties. He outlines a new kind of good society, with more people actively involved in civil society and the precariat re-engaged. He goes on to consider one way to a new better society — an unconditional basic wage for everyone, contributed by the state, which could be topped up through employment.

This is a topical, and a radical book, which will appeal to a broad market concerned by the increasing problems of job insecurity and civic disengagement."

By the way, before you decide that basic income sounds like a fucking stupid idea – please, at least read this article. 🙂 Or, ya know, "The precariat".

30-Oct-2014: 21. Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

29-Nov-2014: 22. This changes everything: Capitalism vs. the climate by Naomi Klein
Fave! A good summary from the back of the book: "You have been told that the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. You have been told it’s impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it – it just requires breaking every rule in the ‘free-market’ playbook. You have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight back is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring."

The neoliberals think they do have a Planet B up their sleeve after they’ve raped the rest of us dead. Mars. I hope it doesn’t work out.

Here’s a fabulous quote: "… Then about three years ago, I started to notice that green energy programs – the strong ones that are needed to lower global emissions fast – were increasingly being challenged under international trade agreements, particularly the World Trade Organization’s rules.

In 2010, for instance, the United States challenged one of China’s wind power subsidy programs on the grounds that it contained supports for local industry considered protectionist. China, in turn, filed a complaint in 2012 targeting various renewable energy programs in the European Union, singling out Italy and Greece (it has also threatened to bring a dispute against renewables subsidies in five U.S. states). Washington, meanwhile, has launched a World Trade Organization attack on India’s ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, a large, multiphase solar support program – once again, for containing provisions, designed to encourage local industry, considered to be protectionist. As a result, brand-new factories that should be producing solar panels are now contemplating closure. Not to be outdone, India has signaled that it might take aim at state renewable energy programs in the U.S." YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!

BUT WAIT! "[T]he well-kept secret behind these [trade agreements] is that they are only as powerful as our governments allow them to be. They are filled with loopholes and workarounds so any government that is serious about adopting climate policies that reduce emissions in line with science could certainly find a way to do so, whether by aggressively challenging trade rulings that side with polluters, or finding creative policy tweaks to get around them, or refusing to abide by rulings and and daring reprisals (since these institutions cannot actually force governments to change laws), or attempting to renegotiate the rules."

And basic income gets a mention. 🙂 Etc etc etc.

26-Dec-2014: 23. The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature by Steven Pinker
Fave! (So far. 🙂 ) May sound Trilby’d, but isn’t. Here’s one of the many great bits (one I technically haven’t got to yet, but I keep reading ahead because it’s interesting).
"There is, in fact, no incompatibility between the principles of feminism and the possibility that men and women are not psychologically identical. To repeat: equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group. In the case of gender, the barely defeated Equal Rights Amendment put it succinctly: ‘Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.’ If we recognize this principle, no one has to spin myths about the indistinguishability of the sexes to justify equality. Nor should anyone invoke sex differences to justify discriminatory policies or to hector women into doing what they don’t want to do.

In any case, what we do know about the sexes does not call for any action that would penalize or constrain one sex or the other. Many psychological traits relevant to the public sphere, such as general intelligence, are the same on average for men and women, and virtually all psychological traits may be found in varying degrees among the members of each sex. No sex difference yet discovered applies to every last man compared with every last woman, so generalizations about a sex will always be untrue of many individuals. And notions like ‘proper role’ and ‘natural place’ are scientifically meaningless and give no grounds for restricting freedom."

Vegan FAQ! 🙂

The Web Site the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want You to See.

Please watch Earthlings.

Posted by ratexla (protected by Pixsy) on 2015-01-03 13:41:59

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