Books

Category archives for Books

The End Of American Childhood

Childhood is the most important human adaptation. If you don’t believe me, read this highly convincing essay. But childhood is also one of the most diverse aspects of our shared human culture. You know the aphorisms that incorporate the phrase “Kids these days…” You also know that most of the time the utterance is foundationless,…

Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies is about fireflies. How do they light up? Why do they light up? It is axiomatic in nature that flashy displays are related to mating. Among the flashy displays various animals have come up with, a few actually flash, and among those, the flashing of the firefly is…

Bovids Of The World

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are 143 species of bovids. The Animal Diversity Web is a bit less precise, indicating that there are “more than 140 extant and 300 extinct species.” That second number is highly questionable because today there exist sister species that are so similar I doubt they could be told apart…

Photographer Jesse Cancelmo was struck by the general lack of understanding of the sea life and ecology of the Gulf of Mexico that became apparent with the big oil spill in 2010, and this inspired him to carry out a major photographic project in the Gulf. He felt many had written off the Gulf as…

There are three kinds of books that count as animal (usually bird) guides. 1) A pocket field guide of the critters of a reasonably circumscribed geographical area, like the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America. This is a small book that can fit in a big pocket, and a classic…

Climate Change: A Wicked Problem

Climate Change: A Wicked Problem: Complexity and Uncertainty at the Intersection of Science, Economics, Politics, and Human Behavior, by Frank Incropera, is a textbook suitable for use in advanced high school or college classes, but also an excellent primer on the topic for anyone interested in it. Incropera spares little details in describing how the…

Wildlife of the Gal├ípagos: Second Edition (Princeton Pocket Guides), by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter, and David Hosking is both a field guide and a travel guide, focusing on the Galapagos Islands. It includes basic information about each island and each town or tourist destination, and a comprehensive guide to how to visit, what to bring…

The Great San Francisco Earthquake(s) On October 8th, 1865, the “Great San Francisco Earthquake” hit south of the city of San Francisco, magnitude 6.3. On October 21st, 1868, the ‘Great San Francisco Earthquake” hit near Haywards, east of the city, across the bay, magnitude 6.8. On April 18th, 1906, the “Great San Francisco Earthquake” hit…

Feeding Wild Birds

When the Texas A&M University Press asked me to consider reviewing Feeding Wild Birds in America: Culture, Commerce, and Conservation by Paul Baicich, Margaret Barker, and Carrol Henderson, I had mixed feelings. Was this just another backyard bird feeding guide? That would be nice, but not too exciting. After all, feeding birds is just a…

Sean B. Carroll is coming out with a new book called The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters. This is the molecular biologist Sean Carroll, as distinct from the physicist (who wrote this). Homeostasis is one of the basic principles of biology. The term can be applied broadly…