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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-23 15:03
Glowing Fish & Bucketfuls of Spider Silk in Goat Milk, Frankenstein’s Cat by Emily Anthes Showcases Some of the Wonders of the Biotechnological World While also Raising Some Important Questions!
Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts - Emily Anthes

 

 

 

The penultimate installment in Project Frankenstein was a joy to read. It was relatively short and full of stuff that I find interesting. I am dividing this review into three parts:

 

1. Here is a Snippet from the book:

 

 

2. Then there were these Sciency Bits that I enjoyed ruminating upon:

Cloning other adult mammals reinforced the discovery that nuclear transfer can reset genes contained in specialized cells back to their embryonic state.

It meant that the genetic clock could supposedly be turned back if things didn’t go so well the first time!

It is my content that the northern grasslands would have remained viable…had the great herds of Pleistocene animals remained in place to maintain the landscape.

This occurred to me for the first time. Yes, the Ice Ages may have changed the landscape physically but it also caused the extinction of the grazers and caused changes in a roundabout way.

…(tuna) are warm-blooded, which makes them oddities in the fish world but keeps them toasty…

They are what?! Why are you doing this to me world? I was so happy, thinking all fish are cold-blooded but no! I hate nature!

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

While The Sixth Extinction left me without hope, this book helped me see that we aren’t all bad eggs. Yes, humans have brought the onset of Anthropocene and change environment wherever they go…

We have harvested so many of these large deer, elk, and sheep over the centuries that many species have evolved smaller body and horn sizes. Similarly, fish have adapted to human harvesting by developing thinner bodies capable of sneaking out of nets.

Yet, organizations like ICCAT are keeping track of the number of bluefin tuna that are being pulled out of water annually. The Integrated Ocean Observing System is tagging elephant seals and other swimmers to gather information about the marine environment. Then there is Ocean Tracking Network that has been busy installing underwater listening stations that will pick up on tagged animals. The list of scientists and researchers trying to collect information goes on and on. There is even an attempt to engage the public and increase awareness via animal Facebook profiles. The point is, it took us decades if not more to wreck things. We will need some time to put them back together and it is a pity if nature doesn’t grant us that respite.

 

3. And a Franken-Bit that I shook an admonitory finger at:

The manufacturers of AquAdvantage salmon think that by producing only sterile female fish, they can keep them from reproducing or passing along their genes.

 

 

Even though the book raises pertinent questions about whether animals can incur psychological damage from being tagged, it doesn’t answer them. To be fair, most of us won’t be able to say no to a drug, if it would save a loved one, even if one or two clauses of animal rights weren’t observed!

 

Could you?

 

Image

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 23, 2017.

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text 2017-08-30 11:37
Wringo Ink. Short Story for the Genre “Starts with a Phrase”: Not. A. Story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once upon a time, sharks flew across the sky.

 

Or so one would think if one hadn’t been living in that era.

 

It was an age where people thought they had the right to punish people in God’s stead.

 

It was a time when it was okay to turn the sacred ground of universities into abattoirs.

 

It was just one of the moments in a string of moments when masks slipped off faces. With the carapace removed, you could see the hideousness underneath. The beings that had been masquerading around as animals were found to be much much worse. They might have been playacting to be civilized animals but the reality was abhorrently bad. When the masks were gone, we realized the torturers had been human.

 

Only the most unfortunate were alive at this instant in history. Could there be any doubt about their luckless nature if one looked at their accursed existence?

 

It was an epoch when nests were raided and the nestlings would never be safe. A false sense of optimism and security lay on the world like a thick heavy blanket. It seduced the birds to keep breeding, thinking their cygnets would be the only ones to be blessed. They never were; their fates had been anointed with humanity. There was no way those nestlings would remain unaffected.

 

It was a phase in human history when the Painbearers were taught their place. Untouched but still sullied, they plodded on. The chinks grew larger and each time, they glued the pieces back with hopelessness. Freedom was an illusion and the idea that they would ever be anything but the bearers of pain, a mirage.

 

It was an interval that had stopped being an interval a long time ago. It was like a pox-ridden Cronos but who refused to die.

 

In short, it was everyday o’clock.

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 30, 2017.

 
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text 2017-07-21 22:25
Go Wild!
The Extinction Club - Jeffrey Moore

This was my first experience of work by Canadian author, Jeffrey Moore and perhaps to the author's credit 'The Extinction Club" isn't easily pidgeon-holed. It's certainly thrilling, but there are also elements of brutal crime, a key character (Celeste) is a teenager, but it's not really a 'young adult' novel, at one point crumbs even seemed to be leading down the path of a ghost/monster story, but no. What does stand out is the use of the book as a brash exposé of the abject capacity of man for cruelty and the depraved abuse of wild animals, as well as their own kind. Designed to be hard-hitting, in parts the book adopts the tenor of a documentary and yet the tension builds from the classic clash of good and evil.

 

Nile Nightingale is an unlikely hero. Hiding out in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, from a series of stateside misdemeanors and a litigious ex-partner with designs on his inheritance, the recovering alcoholic is in poor shape. However, when he rescues a discarded burlap sack from sinking into marshland, he discovers inside 14 year-old Celeste, beaten and stabbed. Both damaged by their respective experiences. Nile and Celeste contrive to rehabilitate each other and rediscover the spirit to not be cowed, but rather to find the courage to stand up for what it right.

 

For Nile especially, the adventure smacks of a chance for redemption, but brimming with challenge, the temptation to take the path of least resistance is palpable. In describing the burgeoning connection of the main characters the book is also touching and ultimately demonstrates that humankind is simultaneously capable of great virtue and altruism, which can set the species apart.

 

Thus, by casting a light on the dichotomy between the hunted and the hunters, Moore alludes to the possibility that the abuse of power is the greatest weakness of all. Still, for all the uncompromising wildlife protection zeal, Moore's inclusion of wacky cameos, such as Welshman Myles Llewellyn, at least confers a little lightness to the barbarous gloom. Bore da! 

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text 2017-07-13 19:54
BT's Science Shortlist
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean
Life in a Shell: A Physiologist's View of a Turtle - Donald C. Jackson
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution - Rebecca Stott
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction - Beth J. Shapiro
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright
Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid
Human Universe by Professor Brian Cox (7-May-2015) Paperback - Professor Brian Cox
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments Of The 20th Century - Lauren Slater

Inspired by the posts my fellow future potential Science Reading Buddies, I've browsed my shelves, my tbr, and library catalogues for Science-related books that looked interesting.

And when I say inspired, I mean I stole lots of books off those lists also. ;)

 

There are lots and lots of other books I would like to read, but I needed to narrow down a short list.

 

Also, I have created a shelf for the long-list and science books I have read.

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text 2017-07-13 19:00
Nonfiction Science Book Club: My Suggestions
The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug - Thomas Hager
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness - Sy Montgomery
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben
Adventures in Human Being (Wellcome) - Gavin Francis
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari Dr
The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman
Herding Hemingway's Cats: Understanding how our genes work - Kat Arney

Just my two cents :). I´m really looking forward to be reading some more non-fiction.

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