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review 2017-12-05 18:32
The Great Starvation Experiment / Todd Tucker
The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved so That Millions Could Live - Todd Tucker

Near the end of World War II, thirty-six conscientious objectors volunteered to be systematically starved for renowned scientist Ancel Keys’s study at the University of Minnesota in the basement of Memorial Stadium. Aimed to benefit relief efforts in war-ravaged Europe and Asia, the study sought the best way to rehabilitate starving citizens. Tucker captures a lost moment in American history—a time when stanch idealism and a deep willingness to sacrifice trumped even basic human needs.


This was a fascinating read in that can’t-look-away-from-the-car-accident kind of way.  If you’ve read any books about dieting, you’ve probably heard about this study.  Indeed, if you’ve ever been on a restrictive, low-calorie diet, you know how your world begins to revolve around food and you have a hard time giving a damn about anything else.  Now I know exactly how normal this is!


It was an especially interesting book when read shortly after Night by Elie Wiesel and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  Both men describe the centrality of food in their lives during their incarceration in the prison camps.  They talk about not having the energy or the brain power to spare to help others, even family members.


Ancel Keys’ experiment would certainly never be green-lighted today.  Despite the fact that his subjects were volunteers (conscientious objectors who chose the experiment rather than military service) and they knew the experience would be difficult, they had no idea how grueling it would be.  It didn’t take long for their sex drives to disappear (Frankl mentions this in the concentration camps, that it actually kept the experience from being worse because no prisoners had the drive to victimize anyone sexually).  Some of the Keys’ guinea pigs (as they were known) continued to go to classes and listen to lectures, but it rapidly became too hard to pay attention.  Keys advised guest lecturers to mention food, which would rivet the men’s attention, at least momentarily.  Meals became the focus of their days and they would become angry & abusive if service was the slightest bit late or if the food was not piping hot (they also felt cold all the time, as their bodies tried to save energy).  A group of men who started out happy, healthy, and social became touchy, angry, and prone to sudden outbursts.  They performed strange rituals with their food—sometimes stirring it all together into a pile for instance.


The supposed object of the experiment was to find the best way to get people back to normal after periods of extreme hunger.  It turns out that the conclusion was to feed them!  The guinea pigs ate at least 5000 calories per day when they were permitted to eat freely again and one man distinguished himself by eating over 11,000 calories in one day!  No supplements made any meaningful difference—just food.  That’s the saddest part really, that these men suffered through the experiment and so little was actually learned as a result.

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review 2017-12-03 17:01
A feel-good story without the over exaggerated drama...
Until It Fades - K.A. Tucker


Book Title:  Until It Fades

Author:  KA Tucker

Narration:  Shayna Thibodeaux

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Setting:  Balsam, Pennsylvania

Source:  Audiobook (Library)



Add to Goodreads









Plot:  4.3/5

Main Characters:  5/5

Secondary Characters:  4.3/5

The Feels:  4.5/5

Pacing:  4/5

Addictiveness:  4.5/5

Theme or Tone:  4.5/5

Flow (Writing Style):  5/5

Backdrop (World Building):  4.5/5

Book Cover:  4/5

Narration:  4.5/5

Ending:  4.3/5 Cliffhanger:  Nope.

Steam Factor 0-5:  4

Total:  4.3/5 STARS - GRADE=A-




This starts out feeling like it's one of those books about a student/teacher relationship…but it's not that at all.  This is about the ugly side of that, and the aftermath.  Ultimately, I really fell for these characters, I found myself rooting for the fairytale ending for Catherine and her daughter.   For all the serious issues it deals with, it's actually low on angst.  Yeah, it has insta-love, but it's also super sweet too, and I liked it. 


Will I read more from this Author  She is one of my favorites…so, yeah!


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text 2017-11-24 18:45
A Weekend with Few Plans!
The Mummy Case - Elizabeth Peters
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts - Joshua Hammer
Hide and Seek - Ian Rankin
The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved so That Millions Could Live - Todd Tucker

Such a rarity and I appreciate it very much.  Saturday will be errand day and Sunday will be for cooking.  With lots of breaks for reading.


And I will finish The Mummy Case, dang it!  Don't know why I've been so easily distracted from it, but I will finish it this evening.


The Great Starvation Experiment is surprising--I am finding it somewhat creepy!  Who would do this to their fellow human beings?


Have a great weekend!



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text 2017-10-26 00:33
A quote from The Lion in the Living Room
The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World - Abigail Tucker

The mutual failure to communicate puts indoor cats in a precarious position, since once sealed in our homes they have no way to survive without human patronage. To complicate matters, due to what Bradshaw describes as their “weakness in social skills”, cats are almost impervious to punishment, fixated on food exclusively as a reward, and so are very tough to train. We can’t teach them our ways.


Which is where cat-human interaction studies take a fascinating turn: as they so often have in their relationship with humanity, cats take the initiative and tame us. Trapped in a house and with no other recourse, every pet cat sets about the daunting task of bringing its thick-skulled human to heel. Since this chore is well beyond the scope of normal feline (anti-) social life, the cat must more or less start from scratch, performing what amounts to a set of tests on human subjects. Indeed, it turns out that what we think of a cats’ affection or love for us is not only not unconditional, it is actively conditioning. Cats are the experimental architects; we are Pavlov’s dogs.


Some of this is obvious and even delightful to cat lovers. “Honeybun is the biggest love-mush,” says an owner quoted in one study. “She demands affection and will actually ‘hit’ people with her paw to get them to pet her or keep petting her.” But we are oblivious to much of the taming process.


Many cats somehow figure out, for instance, that humans respond well to sound. Take the pleasing trill of a purr. Among cats, this tonal buzzing in the vocal folds has no fixed significance—it can mean anything from “I am happy” to “I am about to die”. But to humans the sound is welcome and even rather flattering. So within our earshot, many cats apparently rejigger their purposeless purr to include a barely audible,  very annoying, and insistent signal, a cry—usually for food—that resembles a baby’s wail. “The embedding of a cry within a call we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response,” purr researcher Karen McComb has said. She described this “solicitation purr”, which people register subconsciously, as “less harmonic and thus more difficult to habituate to,” and claimed that cats increase the behavior when they realize it gets results.


—The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker, p. 131-132

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review 2017-10-25 03:36
The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker
The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World - Abigail Tucker

Although not exactly a scientific book, this was informative, and Tucker mentions many studies. She covers the history of our "domestication" of cats (although she suggests that it may be more their domestication of us), the changes in cat lifestyles (indoor) over the last few decades, the recent advent of cat "breeds", the increases in their population levels, feral/pet cats, and cat memes, among others.


Some of the studies show that pet owners with cats may not enjoy all of the health benefits that other pet owners seem to, but this may be a selection effect since people in poorer health would tend to pick a cat over a dog as a pet. Apparently there's been some speculation among researchers concerning schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis as well as linking the latter to some other diseases. I remain somewhat skeptical, naturally. The correlation data wasn't exactly smoking-gun quality.


Anyway, it was an interesting read and I was satisfied with Tucker's style. I'm also pretty sure that my own little hypercarnivore has me well-trained. I should try to take possible noise pollution into account when I encounter apparently aberrant behaviour on his behalf, I think. I must admit that I don't really understand this modern desire for fancy cat breeds. My own little rescue is cute on his own despite his lack of "parentage".




Previous update:

page 81 of 187


A quote from page 131 (for Themis-Athena)

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