Category Archives: Books

Kids Self Help Meets Everything Is A Narrative

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Humans not only know a story when they see one, but they are stories. This revelation, that our symbolic, linguistic mind is also our culture and that we are products of that culture, has been slowly seeping into areas outside the obscure halls of academia, and has finally reached the kids self help book market in the form of the new volume The Life Heroic: How To Unleash Your Most Amazing Self by Elizabeth Svoboda.

Zvodoba is a science writer who leans towards psychology, and the book is illustrated by Minneapolis based artist Chris Hajny.

The book is marketed for kids 10 and up. There is a lot of good advice, using the “Hero’s journey” model for how all things must be as a framework. However, the book is not written for the 10 year old reader. The style and focus of the writing is for an adult, with no obvious adjustment for younger kids. I’m not talking about themes (the book is kid safe). I’m talking about sentences. Sentences like,

The Greek philosopher Aristotle called this kind of lasting happiness eudaimonia–and he called short-lived, ephemeral happiness hedonia. Eudaimonia is much more profound than the momentary pleasure of hedonia, such as eating and ice cream cone or pranking your best friend. Eudaimonia is the lasting satisfaction you get from knowing that you’ve lived up to your highest potential. “As it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring,” Aristotle wrote, “so it is not one day or a shor time that makes a man blessed and happy.

There are many kids who could use a good self help book that won’t fit into a model of “read this book and improve” that all kids-oriented self help books follow, which means most books (including this one) have to be tested on a a given kid to see if there is any help to be had.

There is also a certain amount of Southern California Privileged soaked reality disconnect here. For example, we are told that one does not have to safely land an airplane in the Hudson River to be a hero. One merely has to develop program to distribute soccer balls to poor children in Mozambique.

Having said all these negative things, it is possible that this book will work for some kids, with certain adults moderating or mediating. From the supporting information, consider this:

“Aimed at kids, this book is also fascinating for adults. With thorough research and drawing on her expertise writing about science, Svoboda offers some remarkable takeaways about heroism”:

  • Most heroes are ordinary people
  • There is a hero inside everyone
  • The ability to be courageous can be strengthened, just like a muscle
  • Going through tough times can sharpen heroic instincts
  • Being a hero doesn’t have to involve tackling an intruder or fishing someone from an icy lake—and in fact, most often doesn’t!

This thought provoking guide can be read chapter by chapter or by skimming through the bolded font. Svoboda’s book is a powerful read for tweens and teens interested in the big questions in their minds about what kind of life to lead and what actually creates meaning.

If this feels right, The Life Heroic may be a good investment.


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Encyclopedia Of Animals: Time to upgrade the science shelf in your library

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When I was a kid, I had an encyclopedia of animals. I cherished it, read it several times. For a long time, until I was in middle school, I knew more about animals than anyone else I knew because I had read that book. I also used it as a jumping off point to learn more about each type of animal, looking them up in the two general encyclopedias we had in the house, taking notes, drawing pictures, all of it. That one single book probably is the reason that I went in certain academic directions. In fact, I had flashbacks to the pages on the leopard and the Cape buffalo while poking around actual wild leopards and Cape buffalo in Africa.

There have been a lot of encyclopedias of animals in print, and now there is a new kid on the block, and it is probably the one you should get for your emerging naturalist. Encyclopedia of Animals by Jules Howard, illustrated by Jarom Vogel*, covers 300 species. Unlike my old volume, which only had large mammals and a snake or two, this volume gives a much more uniform treatment of “animal” with roughly equal treatment for six Classes. The book uses bleed-tags to quickly find the inverts, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, or mammals.

There are over 500 illustrations across 192 nicely laid out pages, interesting facts about each animal exemplar, including Latin binomial.

It is hard to define the age range for this book. Adults will find it useful as a reference. Kids from about 3rd grade and up will browse it. It aligns with the kinds of science taught in fifth grade and up (10-11 years old.) A middle school science teacher will want this handy in the classroom library.

Jules Howard is science writer and presenter, regularly contributing to The Guardian and BBC Wildlife Magazine. Jarom Vogel is an illustrator, designer and digital artist.


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An Excellent Science Oriented Book About Horses: The Horse, a Natural History by Busby and Rutland

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How much do you know about the natural history of the horse? Not enough, I’ll wager, considering that the horse is a key, central element to much (but not all) of human history. The evolutionary story is classic, and central to much interesting conversation. The spread of the modern species across the globe, its domestication and eventual diversification through breeding are fascinating stories.

Consider The Horse: A Natural History by Debbie Busby and Catrin Rutland*. Most books about horses are about how to take care of your horse, or how to learn to ride your horse, or some other thing about your horse. This book is about the horses themselves, about their biology, behavior, and history.

This volume is loaded with excellent illustrations including graphs, charts, and photos. If you leave it on your coffee table, people will pick it up and thumb through it, and be glad they did, once you start letting people into your house.

This is the best horse book out there currently, and is a perfect holiday gift for your horse loving relative who, once they recieve it, will surely not look it in the mouth.

Debbie Busby has degrees in applied animal behavior and welfare and psychology, specializing in horses, and is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Catrin Rutland is associate professor of anatomy and developmental genetics at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nottingham, UK, and writes for a number of outlets including the Telegraph and the Guardian.


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Excellent Book Series for Kids and their Adults

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An odd group of adults, including Mr. Benedict, his two live-in assistants, and his usually not at home spy, contrive to attract and collect an odd group of children, each with a unique and stunning set of abilities, in order to enlist them in a dangerous and critically important adventure. Then they do that again and again several times until there are four volumes of this engaging, must read story.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward is an award winning young adult mystery series dating to the last half of the 2010s.

The process of introducing the characters and the story settings results in a hilarious first third of the first book in the series, then it settles down a bit. The side-plot twist found in the first volume (no spoilers) is one of the most gut-wrenching I’ve ever read, as in my gut is wrenched because I’m laughing so hard. The plots are good and quirky and the the characters are quirky good.

Oddly, the books teach that families can be made up of people that are not really related, and that at the same time some of the most closely related people can be so opposite that one can embody true good and one can embody true evil. There is nothing too edgy here for kids, the only lower limit on age is the complexity of the plots. There are very vague generic parallels to the Harry Potter series, in that unrelated kids become thick as thieves, and do battle against a powerful enemy who seems to not be defeated again and again. Unlike Harry Potter the characters don’t really age through a long period of time, though there is definitely growth and development. Then suddenly they are adults in the last book.

A key feature of the stories is the frequent need to solve puzzles or interpret vague clues in order to save someone, get away from the bad guys, etc. One of the characters is extremely good at figuring out riddles. Another has a didactic memory and reads a lot, so he simply knows everything, at a factual level. Another character exhibits stunning physicality for a kid, and will climb to the top of a building or through a series of vents to discover the answer to a question while the other kids are busy thinking it through. The fourth kid’s main super power is to be very whining and complaining, and she is also unnaturally clumsy. These features end up being startlingly important, though it takes a while to figure out how. The four children survive and solve the mysteries they are faced with by being different, each contributing something unique to the problem, while the Mysterious Mr. Benedict himself seems to have the big picture in mind, but not in control, the whole time.

The story is laid out in four books following the same main characters. Then, there is a prequel that explores the origin of the main adult character (Mr. Benedict himself). A sixth book is a collection of puzzles and fun activities that are inspired by the riddle and mystery based nature of the books themselves.

I’ll also mention that there is yet another book not in the same series but with a similar look and feel (but I have not yet read it) by the same author. I’ll include it in the list below.

You can get a a boxed set of these books (as far as I know in paperback) but that won’t include the quiz book. I found a very good used copy of each of the books in hardcover. If you know a family with kids between 8 and 14 (roughly) who don’t have these books, this is an excellent Covid-era bunch of reading for a holiday gift. Start it in mid January, finish them all, then go get your Covid vaccination!

The Mysterious Benedict Society Books In Order


with links to Amazon*

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages

Prequel: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

Activity book: The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious

The other book by Trenton Lee Steward: The Secret Keepers


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Unhappy Columbus Day!

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We live in a flat world. What I mean is, anything that is multidimensional is crushed by our limited monkey brains, facilitated by facile modalities of communication and conversation, into senseless flatness. For this reason, one may never really learn that Columbus, as a person, and the Spanish exploration and colonial enterprise in which he was engaged, is a critically important story. All most people will do is uncritically accept the poetic version (which rhymes “ocean blue” and “1492”) or, the alt-history version, that Columbus came to “America” and destroyed it. (Spoiler: The latter of these two is closer to the nuanced truth, but is not in fact the nuanced truth).

Columbus day itself is a different matter than Columbus. Columbus day is as much about statues, and naming things after people, and holidays, as it is about history. History is interesting because of the importance of context and the intricacies of nuance. There is no nuance in knocking down a statue, or in arguing that the statue should not be knocked down. That matter is one of activism and socio-political upheaval and change, and has almost nothing to do with History.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that if you act now you can obtain for the low low price of $1.99 (restrictions apply, like this may only be good in the US) a copy of a reasonable biography of Christopher Columbus. This is one of the books people read to discover the nuanced version of that history. Check out the kindle copy of Christopher Columbus by Anna Abraham. I’m not sure if this is the definitive Columbus biography (probably not) but it is inexpensive and only 25 pages or so, so there is that.

The definitive Columbus is probably Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504 by Laurence Bergreen.

“He knew nothing of celestial navigation or of the existence of the Pacific Ocean. He was a self-promoting and ambitious entrepreneur. His maps were a hybrid of fantasy and delusion. When he did make land, he enslaved the populace he found, encouraged genocide, and polluted relations between peoples. He ended his career in near lunacy. But Columbus had one asset that made all the difference, an inborn sense of the sea, of wind and weather, and of selecting the optimal course to get from A to B. Laurence Bergreen’s energetic and bracing book gives the whole Columbus and most importantly, the whole of his career, not just the highlight of 1492. Columbus undertook three more voyages between 1494 and 1504, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. By their conclusion, Columbus was broken in body and spirit, a hero undone by the tragic flaw of pride. If the first voyage illustrates the rewards of exploration, this book shows how the subsequent voyages illustrate the costs – political, moral, and economic.”


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Superlative Beauty and Beautiful Superlatives in Nature: Books

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Superlative: The Biology of Extremes is almost as extreme, or shall we say, hopeful, in its marketing-cover claims as the animals discussed are outlandish. If the cure for cancer was going to be found in a shark, we would have already found it. But despite what the book promises on its cover, Matthew D. LaPlante’s book is a detailed, engaging, and informative look at ongoing and recent scientific research from the perspective of an experienced journalist.

There are three categories of science book authors: Scientists, who write the best ones most of the time, science-steeped (often trained-as-scientists) science writers, who can write some pretty good books, and journalists who delve into the science and sometimes write amazing books, other times write books that are good books but not necessarily good science books. Superlative: The Biology of Extremes is in the higher end of the last category. It is about the scientists, the teams, the work more than the cells and polymers.

Also, LaPlante has another set of credentials: He is deeply, severely, hated by Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Oh, also, the book is at present deeply on sale.

Animal Beauty: On the Evolution of Biological Aesthetics (The MIT Press) is sort of the opposite.

This is a series of essays by biologist Chrisiane Nusslein-Volhard, engagingly and skillfully illustrated by Suse Grutzmacher (and translated by Jonathan Howard) about the aesthetic sense talked about by Darwin, its evolution, distribution, function, meaning, across animals. The essays take a Tinbergian approach to explore most aspects of how thinks look or are looked at, how paterns, colors, and other features play ar ole in sexual selection, and how the underlying genetic connect to these important surface features, allowing us to understand the phylogeny of this physical-behavioral nexus. This is the scientist talking about the science. The book itself is also a bit unusual, as it is designed to fit comfortably in a pocket or purse. Take it to the dentist office or hair stylist! (When the Pandemic is over.)


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Overthrowing The Big Bang Theory

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Dear Professional Physicist,

I have a new theory of the origin of the universe.

(You’re old theory vs my new theory)

I would like you to stop what you are doing and listen to my theory, which simultaneously explains why everything you know is wrong, but that’s OK, I know what is TRUE INSTEAD.

There are still some details to work out….

No, but seriously, check out this new book: The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook: (Or: How to Beat the Big Bang) by Luke Barnes and Geraint Lewis.

If you read a lot of books about cosmology and the universe, you will not find much new in this book, but you will find new ways to think about all that old stuff. If you really do have a new theory of everything, this book will give you some useful advice on how to buy your ticket into the physics game. Like, that you have to make sure your theory of everything works in a way that does not result in the night sky being as bright as the day sky, or makes light do something it does not do, and so on. Also, do not use many different TYPE FACES AND all caps in your write-up.

Interestingly, one of the things the actual-cosmologists-authors do NOT say is something I often hear from pro-physicists about TOE-pushers. They don’t say “if you don’t have a mathematical formula for your theory, it isn’t a theory.” I hear that all the time and I always thought there was something wrong with that. Seems to me that a totally wrong mathematical theory is too much of a likelihood.

The best overview of this book, which you SHOULD read, is from the authors themselves who made a video talking about the book. Here:

See? Visual proof that this is a good book. Check out The Cosmic Revolutionary’s Handbook: (Or: How to Beat the Big Bang). As of this writing, on sale now.*


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Radical Conditions: Books

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A selection of fairly new books that seems suddenly more appropriate than usual:

Food or War by Julian Cribb, author of Open Science [OP]: Sharing Knowledge in the Global Century

Ours is the Age of Food. Food is a central obsession in all cultures, nations, the media, and society. Our future supply of food is filled with risk, and history tells us that lack of food leads to war. But it also presents us with spectacular opportunities for fresh human creativity and technological prowess. Julian Cribb describes a new food system capable of meeting our global needs on this hot and overcrowded planet. This book is for anyone concerned about the health, safety, affordability, diversity, and sustainability of their food – and the peace of our planet. It is not just timely – its message is of the greatest urgency. Audiences include consumers, ‘foodies’, policymakers, researchers, cooks, chefs and farmers. Indeed, anyone who cares about their food, where it comes from and what it means for them, their children and grandchildren.

Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education edited by Robert Haworth.

Important and challenging issues in the area of anarchism and education are presented in this history of egalitarian and free-school practices. From Francisco Ferrer’s modern schools in Spain and the Work People’s College in the United States, to contemporary actions in developing “free skools” in the United Kingdom and Canada, the contributors illustrate the importance of developing complex connections between educational theories and collective actions. Major themes in the volume include learning from historical anarchist experiments in education, ways that contemporary anarchists create dynamic and situated learning spaces, and critical reflections on theoretical frameworks and educational practices. Many trailblazing thinkers and practitioners contributed to this volume, such as Jeffery Shantz, John Jordon, Abraham de Leon, Richard Kahn, Matthew Weinstein, and Alex Khasnabish. This thoughtful and provocative collection proves that egalitarian education is possible at all ages and levels.

Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective (Routledge International Studies in the Philosophy of Education (Numbered)) by Judith Suissa.

Arguing that the central role of educational practice in anarchist theory and activism has been overlooked by many theorists, this examination of contemporary educational philosophy counters the assertion that anarchism reflects a naïve or overly optimistic view of human nature. By articulating the philosophical underpinnings of anarchist thought on issues of human nature, freedom, authority, and social change, the case is made that the anarchist tradition can be a rich source of insights into perennial philosophical questions about education. This theoretical exploration is then bolstered with a historical account of anarchist education, focusing on key defining features of anarchist schools, their ideological underpinnings, and their pedagogical approaches. Finally, a clear explanation of how anarchist education is distinct from libertarian, progressive, Marxist, and liberal models defines the role of anarchist education in furthering and sustaining a just and equal society.


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Charles Dickens’ Stories in Kid Friendly Form (New Book)

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It is an interesting idea, taking a classic work and rewriting it for a modern audience, with adjustments. I took on the task of doing this with a Lovecraft tale a few years ago. I’m still working on it. I wanted to eliminate the racism and the misogyny, and I did. But that helped reveal the fact that the story itself was more of an interesting treatment than a fully formed story, so my work has expanded considerably.

Award winning author Angela McAllister did the opposite with Charles Dickens. Instead of expanding, the stories in A World Full of Dickens Stories by re-written by McAllister and illustrated by Jannicke Hansen distills, or in literary terms, digessts, Dicken’s classics, including Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby and A Tale of Two Cities.

How does it come out? Pretty good, given that giant novels summarized tend to try up or lose power. The stories are still good stories, and the writing is good, so the short stories convey the sense Dickens was going for, and the reader learns what these classics are about. The reading level is rated at 9-11. I agree with the low end of the range just because littler kids tend to like sillier stories. I would not put the upper end at 11; older kids and adults can enjoy these stories as well. But the combination of writing and illustrations are designed to be read to 8 year olds and read back (like David Copperfield reading to Peggotty at older ages.

The book itself is large format and very well designed and printed.

To give you an idea of what the book looks like, here’s a typical page layout:

A World Full of Dickens Stories is a good book to get, an would make a very presentable gift to a ready kid or a family with children in that age range, or any adult who happens to be a major Dickens fan.


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What are those spiky strange lights I keep seeing?

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Sometimes it is because my glasses are dirty. Sometimes it is a sundog, or a light pillar, or, if I happen to be near an exploding volcano….

Nature’s Light Spectacular: 12 stunning scenes of Earth’s greatest shows, written by Katy Flint and illustrated by Cornelia Li is a top notch earth and science book across a very wide age range, but classed as a 4-8 year old book. This book sits across that divide of read to vs. read by, and I think it is a great read-by (the kid) book for up to 10 or 11 years old.*

There is a story that pulls it all together, about two young explorers who improbably encounter several different light phenomena in nature, some common like sun dogs, some much less common, like the waterfall of fire at Yosemite National Park. Each two page layout demonstrates the phenomenon, with additional graphics and well written text to explain the science behind it. The format is large and guess what: The book glows in the dark.

Good science, good teaching, good book. The glowing in the dark part is not the reason you want this book, but you do want this book if you have a kid in elementary school.


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My Best Friend: New Toddler-age Kid Book

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Mouse is a small rodent with a cigarette shaped, elongated nose that actually kind of looks like a kitchen match. Mouse is either very clever, and knows how to gaslight a predacious bird, or is the most clueless rodent in the forest. Either way, this dark tale in a picture book is ideal to help 3-6 year olds understand some of the key realities of life … and near death.

My Best Friend,* a new, fresh, amusingly and skillfully illustrated book by Rob Hodgson, author of The Cave, could be your toddler’s first relationship book, or first nature book, depending on what the child takes from it. Let me know how it goes. The three kids I tried it out on loved it.

The Cave is pretty good too.


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Automate The Boring Stuff with Python Coding

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If everyone in the world understood and had a working command of regular expressions, everything would run smoothly. Especially if all of our interfaces to text allowed for their use. This has been pointed out. And, Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, 2nd Edition: Practical Programming for Total Beginners has a whole chapter on this.

What is a regular expression? We can talk about that in detail some other time. Briefly, it is a string of symbols that is designed to match a specified set of symbols, or a range of a set of symbols, in a larger body or stream of text. For example, if you pass a stream of information (say, all your emails) through a filter with the regular expression:

‘\d\d\d-\d\d\d-\d\d\d\d’

then any part of that stream of information that looks like a phone number (not using parens), such as 636-555-3226, will be isolated.

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python is a book that teaches beginning Python computer Augean programming focusing on examples from day to day life, including but well beyond REs.

The new edition includes pattern matching with regular expressions, input validation, reading and writing files, organizing files, web scraping, manipulating Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets, PDF and Word documents, CSV and JSON files, email, images, and automating your keyboard and mouse.

The great benefit of a book like this is that you learn Python (the first part of the book gives you all you need to know to program in Python) in the context of things you actually want to do with Python. If you are interested in learning Python, or coding in general, this can be your first book.

The book is well done, as all in this series are, and fun. There are strong on line resources including all the code, and that information is regularly updated. Generally, “No Starch” press books are great, and this is one of those!

I would like to have seen at least sidebars on manipulating things using Libreoffice software, but note that the book focuses on documents, and OpenSource software does work with normal Excel and Word documents, so it is there.

The second edition adds a new chapter on input validation. The Gmail and Google Sheets sections, and the information on CSV files is also new. I plan on using the software tips and tricks to develop my own highly specialized and targeted search software. I’m often looking for files that have specific extensions, and certain kinds of content, in certain locations. Just the ability to hard-wire where to search for files will save me a lot of time and trouble.

Author Al Sweigart is a professional software developer who teaches programming to kids and adults, and who is author of Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, Cracking Codes with Python, and Coding with Minecraft, all of which are quite nice. We need a new edition of Coding with Minecraft, by the way, that looks at a wider range of coding options and keeps up with the major advances in that software environment! So, get to work, Al!


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Your Cranky Uncle vs Climate Change

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It is said that scientists are lousy at communication, lousy at telling everyone else about their science, in understandable and compelling terms.

This is of course absurd. There are tens of millions of scientists, and dozens of them are really excellent communicators!

This IS the book you are looking for.
Among the many sciences, there is a science of science communication. It overlaps, unironically, with the science of conspiracy ideation, and borrows a great deal from the broader communication fields.

One of the leading science communicators of the day is cognitive scientist John Cook. John is at George Mason University. He is so tightly linked to the founding and development of the Skeptical Science project that “Skeptical Science” is the name of his Wikipedia entry. This binds John and his mission to a lot of us. Where we once might have said, “I am Spartacus,” we now say, “I am Skeptical. Science!” For John, it is just “I am SkepticalScience.”

Cook is likely known to you for the Consensus project. There were two main projects, a few years back, in which scientist attempted to measure the degree of consensus over the idea that anthropocentric climate change is real. (It is real, and the consensus is near 100% in both peer reviewed literature and the conclusions of actual scientists.) John and his colleagues did one of those, and beyond that, widely promoted the results so that everyone knows about it.

Guy from 1917 (left) and cognitive scientist John Cook (right). Whatever made me think about that sticking the head up out of the trench analogy?
Like I said above, there are tens of millions of scientists. Developing and disseminating the results of consensus research in climate scientist was equivalent to being the only guy sticking your head up out of the trench in that movie, 1917. Science deniers, both avocational and bought-and-paid-for, got all over cook like skin on a grape. Didn’t phase him, though. He continued to develop a series of new projects including a massive online course (Making Sense of Climate Science Denial), an artificial intelligence system for detecting fake science, and most recently, the Cranky Uncle project.

Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers” is a crowdsourced book (and an app). There will be a book launch on March 4th in Arlington. This book gives us the whole ball of wax that is the science of climate science denial in a very funny, really well produced, and compelling wrapping. It will amuse you, and it will advise you. Your cranky uncle is done for.

I don’t have a cranky uncle anymore (he died). But I do have a lot of neighbors who like to write in ALL CAPS. They show up when I give a talk on climate change, and they bring their conspiracy theories, logical fallacies, cherry picked “facts”, absurd expectations, and references to fake research done by fake experts. It is a lot to deal with. But now, I can use the Lewis Black technique for dealing with evolution deniers, but instead of pulling out a trilobite, holding it up and saying “Fossil!” I can pull out a copy of Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change and say “Oh yeah? Imma look up what you just said in this BOOK!” or words to that effect.

Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers is the book now. Pre-order it!

For completeness, here is Lewis Black demonstrating the fossil technique:


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Books I read this year.

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Everybody is doing it, so here is mine.

This list does not include children’s books (usually STEM) that I reviewed, books Huxley and I have read (which is mainly Lord of the Rings this year, frankly… taking forever), computer or technology books, or video game references or books. It also does not include manuscripts or books that pre-date 1900 and you probably can’t find anywhere, unpublished material, and racist volumes that I read because I hate them but wont’ link to them (and similar). I list one John Sanford book to represent several that I read (I decided to read them all over, in order … yes, I had a reason for that, and it was great fun. But that was like 20 books.)

I’ve read 100% of 80% of these books, substantial parts of others. I have not included books I only read a few chapters of, such as a biography of FDR and one of Washington, and some books on Minnesota history.

They are not in any particular order. I probably missed a few. One I finished during the current year but I started it in 2019.

What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal

Free Market Environmentalism for the Next Generation by Anderson, Terry L., Leal, Donald R. (2015) Paperback

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Time in Ecology: A Theoretical Framework [MPB 61] (Monographs in Population Biology)

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

Lethal White (A Cormoran Strike Novel)

Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (The Revolution Trilogy)

Junction City, Off the Record: Tales From Ogden, Utah’s Notorious Underworld in the Roaring ‘Twenties

Junction City, Off the Record: Tales From Ogden, Utah’s Notorious Underworld in the Roaring ‘Twenties

The Importance of Small Decisions (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1)

Grant

The Blizzard of 88

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times

Hidden Prey (The Prey Series Book 15)

Fear: Trump in the White House

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

How To Go Viral and Reach Millions: Top Persuasion Secrets from Social Media Superstars, Jesus, Shakespeare, Oprah, and Even Donald Trump

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings (Penguin Classics)

A Taste for the Beautiful: The Evolution of Attraction

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

Harbinger

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Superlative: The Biology of Extremes

Food or War

Our Changing Earth: Why Climate Change Matters to Young People

In Search of Sungudogo


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Chernow’s Rockefeller Bio So Cheap JD Rockefeller would Buy It

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JD Rockefeller believed himself to be something of a gift from god, a gift to capitalism. I’m not big on the god thing, but Ron Chernow is a gift of some kind to the art of biography. He writes big thick books that are actually about 25% less thick than they look because the last quarter is footnotes. He is famous for writing the biography that became the famous musical known as Hamilton. You know of whom I speak.

I recently read Rachel Maddow’s excellent and compelling, must read Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth. You must read it. Rockefeller’s story is an important part of the contextual lead-up that Dr. Maddow does so well, and for this she leans, appropriately, on Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. So, when I saw that Titan was available on the Kindle, cheap, I thought you should know too, and now you do!


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