Category Archives: Other

Cheap Books: Gaiman, Anderson, Storr

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Cheap on Kindle right now:

The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse* by Neil Gaiman and others.

Before The Road by Cormac McCarthy brought apocalyptic fiction into the mainstream, there was science fiction. No longer relegated to the fringes of literature, this explosive collection of the world’s best apocalyptic writers brings the inventors of alien invasions, devastating meteors, doomsday scenarios, and all-out nuclear war back to the bookstores with a bang.

The best writers of the early 1900s were the first to flood New York with tidal waves, destroy Illinois with alien invaders, paralyze Washington with meteors, and lay waste to the Midwest with nuclear fallout. Now collected for the first time ever in one apocalyptic volume are those early doomsday writers and their contemporaries, including Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Lucius Shepard, Robert Sheckley, Norman Spinrad, Arthur C. Clarke, William F. Nolan, Poul Anderson, Fredric Brown, Lester del Rey, and more. Relive these childhood classics or discover them here for the first time. Each story details the eerie political, social, and environmental destruction of our world.

The Star Fox* by Poul Anderson in wich “An intergalactic privateer resolves to rescue a human space colony taken captive by alien aggressors.”

The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (1st Edition) by Will Storr.

Why, that is, did the obviously intelligent man beside him sincerely believe in Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and a six-thousand-year-old Earth, in spite of the evidence against them? It was the start of a journey that would lead Storr all over the world—from Texas to Warsaw to the Outer Hebrides—meeting an extraordinary cast of modern heretics whom he tries his best to understand. Storr tours Holocaust sites with famed denier David Irving and a band of neo-Nazis, experiences his own murder during “past life regression” hypnosis, discusses the looming One World Government with an iconic climate skeptic, and investigates the tragic life and death of a woman who believed her parents were high priests in a baby-eating cult.

Using a unique mix of highly personal memoir, investigative journalism, and the latest research from neuroscience and experimental psychology, Storr reveals how the stories we tell ourselves about the world invisibly shape our beliefs, and how the neurological “hero maker” inside us all can so easily lead to self-deception, toxic partisanship and science denial.


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Don Prothero Book Cheap!

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Reality CheckHow Science Deniers Threaten Our Future* by my close personal friend Don Prothero (author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters*) is now on sale in Kindle form for cheap! Get it while they last!

A thought-provoking look at science denialism “for popular science readers who want better to be able to explain and defend science and scientific methods to others” (Library Journal).

The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country—all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line. To shed light on this darkness, Donald R. Prothero explains the scientific process and why society has come to rely on science not only to provide a better life but also to reach verifiable truths no other method can obtain. He describes how major scientific ideas that are accepted by the entire scientific community (evolution, anthropogenic global warming, vaccination, the HIV cause of AIDS, and others) have been attacked with totally unscientific arguments and methods. Prothero argues that science deniers pose a serious threat to society, as their attempts to subvert the truth have resulted in widespread scientific ignorance, increased risk of global catastrophes, and deaths due to the spread of diseases that could have been prevented.

“Prothero’s treatise will give the science-minded something to cheer about, a brief summary of the real data that supports so many critical aspects of modern life.” —Publishers Weekly


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Shindler, Eugenics, Ancient History: Cheap books

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Shindlers List* cheap on Kindle now.

The History of the Ancient World*: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome cheap now on Kindle. I’ve been listening to the Our Fake History podcast and this is a handy reference to position some of the pods on older time periods.

One you might no know, but related to a writing project I’ve go going: The Orphans of Davenport: Eugenics, the Great Depression, and the War over Children’s Intelligence*, Kindle format, cheap.

“Doomed from birth” was how psychologist Harold Skeels described two toddler girls at the Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Davenport, Iowa, in 1934. Their IQ scores, added together, totaled just 81. Following prevailing eugenic beliefs of the times, Skeels and his colleague Marie Skodak assumed that the girls had inherited their parents’ low intelligence and were therefore unfit for adoption. The girls were sent to an institution for the “feebleminded” to be cared for by “moron” women. To Skeels and Skodak’s astonishment, under the women’s care, the children’s IQ scores became normal.
Now considered one of the most important scientific findings of the twentieth century, the discovery that environment shapes children’s intelligence was also one of the most fiercely contested—and its origin story has never been told. In The Orphans of Davenport, psychologist and esteemed historian Marilyn Brookwood chronicles how a band of young psychologists in 1930s Iowa shattered the nature-versus-nurture debate and overthrew long-accepted racist and classist views of childhood development.

Transporting readers to a rural Iowa devastated by dust storms and economic collapse, Brookwood reveals just how profoundly unlikely it was for this breakthrough to come from the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station. Funded by the University of Iowa and the Rockefeller Foundation, and modeled on America’s experimental agricultural stations, the Iowa Station was virtually unknown, a backwater compared to the renowned psychology faculties of Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton. Despite the challenges they faced, the Iowa psychologists replicated increased intelligence in thirteen more “retarded” children.

When Skeels published their incredible work, America’s leading psychologists—eugenicists all—attacked and condemned his conclusions. The loudest critic was Lewis M. Terman, who advocated for forced sterilization of low-intelligence women and whose own widely accepted IQ test was threatened by the Iowa research. Terman and his opponents insisted that intelligence was hereditary, and their prestige ensured that the research would be ignored for decades. Remarkably, it was not until the 1960s that a new generation of psychologists accepted environment’s role in intelligence and helped launch the modern field of developmental neuroscience..

Drawing on prodigious archival research, Brookwood reclaims the Iowa researchers as intrepid heroes and movingly recounts the stories of the orphans themselves, many of whom later credited the psychologists with giving them the opportunity to forge successful lives. A radiant story of the power and promise of science to better the lives of us all, The Orphans of Davenport unearths an essential history at a moment when race science is dangerously resurgent.


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Cheap books: Ohio fossils, Le Guin, Heinlein, Midwife

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A Sea Without Fish: Life in the Ordovician Sea of the Cincinnati Region (Life of the Past) Kindle Edition* is an interesting looking book I’ve not read, but I’ve looked for. It is a case study of a particular (long) time period represented in a particular (large and rich) location, including the history of research, the relevant history of life in the region, and the fossils. Ohio is one of those states where people really love their state, and Cincinnati is one of those cities where people are all over the place with their love of city. If you are Ohio or if you are Cincinnati, you will need this book in order to document that you have the BEST FOSSILS.

The classic Starship Troopers* by Heinlein is two bucks now.

The book on which Call The Midwife is based (“The Midwife”), or more exactly, the first in the trilogy, is cheap in Kindle format. This is another book I’ve not read but I’m advised that a lot of people want it so here it is for two bucks.

Another classic: The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula Le Guin.


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Queen Elizabeth’s Death …

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… considering how long she was monarch, makes you think.

The vast majority of people in the British Empire were born during her lifespan, and there can not be very many people in this world that remember the time before she was born. She has been monarch for longer than most people have lived. I remember as a child seeing film of her coronation, so I have a sense that I remember that, but it is of course a false memory. What I’m remembering is some anniversary jubilee or celebration, which involved a major parade and the showing of films of her coronation.

There are some 68 entries on the lists of English or UK monarchs. Some are disputed, but that’s not my fight, so I count them when I consider who has been in this situation in the past. Also, we assume that the list REALLY goes back to King Arthur and early kings or queens are missing, to the extent that any of them actually existed.

The average time on the throne across these centuries is about 16.3 years. Some 11 throne-sitters spend less than a year (sometimes just a few days) in that position, 16 less than 3 years.

The time-on-throne for Queen Elizabeth exceeded record-setter Queen Victoria, the former at 70 years and the latter at an impressive 63 years. Only five monarchs held the position for 50 years or more. They say that when Queen Victoria died, there was a sort of extra trauma across the British Empire, since she had bee queen for so long. I believe they invented a “Queens Day” to allow people to continue to celebrate her even though she was passé in the truest sense of the term.

The distribution of years-on-throne is no more normal than having a person on a throne is these days. Indeed, it is quite like a poisson distribution with all the “zero values” being MISSING VALUE as one might imagine is the case for pretenders and would-be throne-sitters. (Sorry, inside stats joke.) How long you are on the throne is a function of the chance of a bad thing (ie death or displacement) happening, plus average age of dethronement. So, this:

Dumb Excel histogram of time on English/UK throne ever.

Also, finally, I have a direct(ish) connection to the British Monarchy, finally. My friend and former advisor-type in grad school, David Pilbeam, was for a time Charles’s tutor, I believe at Trinity. I may have some details wrong.

British Life Expectancy for males is about 79.3 years, so Charles will not be King as long as his mom was Queen.


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Niven, Stieg, Clarke, Liquids Cheap Kindle Books 4U

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Cheap books in Kindle format) I know you will want if you don’t have them already.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth*. Needs no description.

Liquid Rules* by Mark Miodownik. “Sometimes explosive, often delicious, occasionally poisonous, and always fascinating: the New York Times bestselling author of Stuff Matters offers an “entertaining discussion of the various ways our lives are enriched by fluids” (The Wall Street Journal). We know that we need water to survive, and that, for some of us, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine can feel just as vital. But do we really understand how much we rely on liquids, or their destructive power? Set on one of the author’s transatlantic flights, Liquid Rules offers readers a tour of these formless substances, told through the language of molecules, droplets, heartbeats, and ocean waves. We encounter fluids within the plane—from hand soap to liquid crystal display screens—and without: in the volcanoes of Iceland, the frozen expanse of Greenland, and the marvelous California coastline. We come to see liquids with wonder and fascination, and to understand their potential for death and destruction. Just as in his bestselling, award-winning Stuff Matters, Mark Miodownik’s unique brand of scientific storytelling brings his subject to life in ways that will inform and amuse science buffs and lay readers alike.

In case you feel the need to expand your collection of “Girl” books: The Girl Who Played With Fire* by Stieg Larsson.

Ringworld* by Larry Niven.


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The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider

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Everything you thought you knew about Brown Recluse Spiders is wrong. There is now a book,The Brown Recluse Spider, to set you straight. This is my review of that book.

His name was Bob. I was a kid, he was an adult that all the other adults seemed to think was cool. He used to have a job launching nuclear missiles for the Air Force, but then later got a job as a Hippie. He, another person or two, and I were sitting on a rock pile out in the woods, checking out the patch of marijuana planted, mysteriously, on the neighbor’s property. The neighbor was the head of the local John Birch Society. Whoever planted the patch of pot figured it would be better found, if ever found by the cops, on his property than on the property occupied by the hippies.

Somebody moved a rock. Bob said, “Oh, look, a Brown Recluse spider. They are deadly, but they hardly ever bite.”

I watched the Brown Recluse spider very carefully for a while and memorized it. I found many more over that summer, and in subsequent years. I became very good at identifying them.

This is what it looked like: Continue reading The Truth About The Brown Recluse Spider


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Darwin’s Armada (book) Cheap on Kindle Now

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In Darwin’s Armdada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution* cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his staunchest supporters: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of Darwin’s funeral—Darwin’s Armada steps back and recounts the lives and scientific discoveries of each of these explorers, who campaigned passionately in the war of ideas over evolution and advanced the scope of Darwin’s work.


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