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review 2019-02-04 06:15
Civilization Critical by Darrin Qualman
Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future - Darrin Qualman

TITLE:  Civilzation Critical:  Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future

 

AUTHOR:  Darrin Qualman

 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:  1 May 2019

 

FORMAT:  Netgalley ARC

 

ISBN-13:  9781773630861

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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DESCRIPTION:

"With human civilization hurtling closer and closer to the brink of collapse, big-picture solutions are needed. Fast.

In Civilization Critical, Darrin Qualman argues that in order to understand our present situation and our possible futures, we must focus on material and energy flows. The dominant patterns of nature are loops — circular flows of nutrients, seeds, water, carbon and other materials — while human systems are linear: moving from extraction to the factory, the store, the consumer and the landfill. Our petro-industrial systems are misshapen and cannot be sustained by the biosphere. Sustainability requires reconfiguring the linear flows of human systems to match the circular, recycling flows of natural (and pre-industrial) systems. Once we undertake this transformation, many of our problems will begin to abate; until we do so, most will intensify.

In this sweeping work, Qualman pushes the boundaries of existing environmental analysis by looking across the millennia to identify the core processes that give rise to environmental and economic problems and reveals how our sometimes-wondrous, sometimes-monstrous civilization really works and how it is threatened."

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REVIEW:

 

This is a book that examines the interaction between the Earth's natural cycles and the evolution of human civilization and progress - a cmbination of technology, culture and biology.  It examines how out petro-chemical "mega-civilization" has decoupled from nature's cyclical processes, the sustainability of this type of civilization and the recommended paths to take in future.  In my opinion this is an important book that sheds light on our history, our future, and how we came to live in our current civilization.  However, I did find some sections to be repetitive and some too generalized.  The author also fails to discuss the elephant in the room:  overpopulation.  Otherwise an interesting and informative book.

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 17:08
Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager
Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine - Thomas Hager

TITLE:   Ten Drugs:  How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine
 

AUTHOR:  Thomas Hager

 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:  5 March 2019

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13: 978-1-4197-3440-3

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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DESCRIPTION:

"Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be an oddball researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. Piece together these stories, as Thomas Hager does in this remarkable, century-spanning history, and you can trace the evolution of our culture and the practice of medicine. 

​Beginning with opium, the “joy plant,” which has been used for 10,000 years, Hager tells a captivating story of medicine. His subjects include the largely forgotten female pioneer who introduced smallpox inoculation to Britain, the infamous knockout drops, the first antibiotic, which saved countless lives, the first antipsychotic, which helped empty public mental hospitals, Viagra, statins, and the new frontier of monoclonal antibodies. This is a deep, wide-ranging, and wildly entertaining book.
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REVIEW:

 

Ten Drugs is an entertaining, yet informative look at a number of drugs that have shaped medical history and today's world.  This isn't a scholarly history of the pharmaceutical industry, but rather a collection of chapters about a variety of drugs that have shaped medical history.  This book is a nicely written (and fascinating) introduction to the history of drug discovery and medicine, as well as providing information on how the pharmaceutical industry evolved and functions.  Each chapter deals with a specific group of drugs and are bound together by common themes such as drug evolution, growth of the pharmaceutical industry, changing public attitudes and changes in medical practices and laws.  Chapters are devoted to the following topics:  opium; smallpox and vaccinations; chloral hydrate (the first totally synthetic drug and original date rape drug); herion, opiates and addiction; the not so "magic bullet" antibiotics; antipsychotics; lifestyle drugs, viagra, and birthcontrol; opioids; statins; and monoclonal antibodies.  The book concludes with a look at the future of drugs, with personalized and digitized medicine.

Hager states that this book is aimed at people who know a little about drugs and want to learn more.  In this regard, Hager has succeeded in writing a book that is (in my opinion) accessible, entertaining, informative and interesting, to the general public. I particularly appreciated the author's (mostly) objective and clear writing style.

 

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 05:32
Why We Dream by Alice Robb
Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey - Alice Robb

TITLE:   Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey
 

AUTHOR:  Alice Robb

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  20 November 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13: 9780544931213

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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DESCRIPTION:

"A fresh, revelatory foray into the new science of dreams—how they work, what they’re for, and how we can reap the benefits of our own nocturnal life

While on a research trip in Peru, science journalist Alice Robb became hooked on lucid dreaming—the uncanny phenomenon in which a sleeping person can realize that they’re dreaming and even control the dreamed experience. Finding these forays both puzzling and exhilarating, Robb dug deeper into the science of dreams at an extremely opportune moment: just as researchers began to understand why dreams exist. They aren’t just random events; they have clear purposes. They help us learn and even overcome psychic trauma.

Robb draws on fresh and forgotten research, as well as her experience and that of other dream experts, to show why dreams are vital to our emotional and physical health. She explains how we can remember our dreams better—and why we should. She traces the intricate links between dreaming and creativity, and even offers advice on how we can relish the intense adventure of lucid dreaming for ourselves.

Why We Dream is a clear-eyed, cutting-edge examination of the meaning and purpose of our nightly visions and a guide to changing our dream lives—and making our waking lives richer, healthier, and happier. "

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REVIEW:

 

Why We Dream is a clearly written, well researched book about dreams that combines science, history and current research, with an anecdotal narrative that isn't overwhelming in terms of the book topic.  The author explores connections between dreams and health, problem-solving, creativity and other interesting topics, such as lucid dreaming.  Robb has written an accessible book about dreaming that would nicely complement any general book about sleep or that would provide a great introduction for those interested in dreaming.

 





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review 2018-10-02 08:53
The Golden Ratio by Gary B. Meisner, Rafael Araujo
The Golden Ratio: The Divine Beauty of Mathematics - Gary Meisner,Rafael Araujo

TITLE:  The Golden Ratio:  The Divine Beauty of Mathematics

 

AUTHOR:  Gary B. Meisner, Rafael Araujo (illustrator)

 

PUBLICATION DATE:  23 October 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC PDF

 

ISBN-13:  9781631064869

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NOTE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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DESCRIPTION:

The Golden Ratio examines the presence of this divine number in art and architecture throughout history, as well as its ubiquity among plants, animals, and even the cosmos. This gorgeous book features clear, entertaining, and enlightening commentary alongside stunning full-color illustrations by Venezuelan artist and architect Rafael Araujo.

 

From the pyramids of Giza, to quasicrystals, to the proportions of the human face, the golden ratio has an infinite capacity to generate shapes with exquisite properties. 

 

With its lush format and layflat dimensions that closely approximate the golden ratio, this is the ultimate coffee table book for math enthusiasts, architects, designers, and fans of sacred geometry."

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The Golden Ration by Gary Meisner is an exquisitely illustration, beautifully and clearly written introductory book about the Golden Ratio and related subjects.  There are lovely full-colour illustrations and photographs on nearly every page.  The book begins with the unique properties of the golden ratio and then continues on to its appearance in art and design, architecture (pyramids, cathedrals, musical instruments), nature (leaf and petal arrangements, fractals, spirals, facial proportions, buckyballs, quantum physics, golden DNA, the nautilus controversy), and many other interesting mathematical goodies such as tessellations, platonic solids, the Fibonacci sequence, Pascal’s Triangles etc.  The book also includes appendices that deal with critical thinking, notes and further reading, and “Golden Constructions”.  There are a number of equations and geometrical illustrations, but nothing particularly complicated.  In the author’s own words:  “not everything is based on the golden ratio, but the number of places in which it seems to appear is truly amazing and we are sure to uncover it more and more as technology advances and out knowledge of the physical universe expands”. 

 

This is definately a book I will be adding to my library.

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review 2018-10-01 07:42
Growing a Revolution by David R. Montgomery
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life - David Montgomery

TITLE:  Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

 

AUTHOR:  David R. Montgomery

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780393356090

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DESCRIPTION:

"For centuries, agricultural practices have eroded the soil that farming depends on, stripping it of the organic matter vital to its productivity. Now conventional agriculture is threatening disaster for the world’s growing population. In Growing a Revolution, geologist David R. Montgomery travels the world, meeting farmers at the forefront of an agricultural movement to restore soil health. From Kansas to Ghana, he sees why adopting the three tenets of conservation agriculture—ditching the plow, planting cover crops, and growing a diversity of crops—is the solution. When farmers restore fertility to the land, this helps feed the world, cool the planet, reduce pollution, and return profitability to family farms."

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In this book, we follow the author on an investigation of various agricultural methods all over the globe to see what works and which methods rejuvinate depleted soils.  This is a rather pleasant book to read - no doom and gloom.  The author is optimistic about humanity's ability to feed itself provided the methods described in this book are followed.  No fancy technology or equipment is necessary.  It doesn't matter if you are an organic produce farmer or a conventional farmer, farm with animals or plants, have a huge farm in the USA or a small family farm in Africa, the principles described in this book make farming profitable, improve the soil, reduce erosion, retain water, minimize weeds, reduce input costs in terms of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide.  These principles can in all likelihood be modified to the home garden too.

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