Let’s face it, my friends; by the time this review is published on 20 January 2017, the United States of America as we know it – and indeed the entire world – will have been forever changed. The idea that it is acceptable to distort information for one’s own advantage – indeed, to make things up out of whole cloth when it suits one’s purposes, to outrightly lie – will have been vindicated. Never again will we be able to counter an erroneous, misleading, or simply false proposition with the retort “that’s simply not true,” as the new masters of the universe have secured their positions as such by demonstrating beyond the shadow of a doubt that they view the very concept of truth itself as quaint but irrelevant. It is not a new day dawning; it is the sun setting on what looks to be a dark, dark, night without a foreseeable end. Keep reading…
Recent Book Reviews
They were special books – you could tell that just from the fact that they were kept in an unique set of shelves all by themselves in my middle school’s library. And of course by their size – they were so large that the set of shelves in which they were kept had a slanted reading stand atop it just to hold them in place while they were being used. No student could check one of them out; they always remained in the library so the librarian could keep them under close supervision. Keep reading…
As I lay on the dark blue lounge chair at the Portland Red Cross, quietly contemplating my blood flowing through the 16-gauge needle inserted into my median cubital vein, through the tube taped to my forearm, and down into the bag suspended just beside the chair, like any good naturalist I began to wonder just what it was about this dark red fluid that made it so special. After all, we all have it continually coursing through us from before our first and until our last drawn breath. Without it, we die; and should something unusual happen to it while we still live, the consequences to us can bring that last breath sooner than we might expect or prefer. Keep reading…
Newly Noted Books
Written by Paul Waring and Martin Townsend, and illustrated by Richard Lewington, this forthcoming third edition of the “Field Guide to Moths of Great Britain and Ireland” promises to be fully revised, updated, and restructured.
Every so often, a report is made through one of the better international news agencies of a large, very public destruction of a cache of elephant ivory. These spectacles are generally intended to draw attention to the illegal trade in the substance, as well as to draw attention to the dwindling number of elephants in the world.
Show of hands: how many of you didn’t know what a Fossa was the first time you watched Madagascar? I’ll admit, I didn’t (I actually thought it was some sort of fictional monster they created for the film).
There are times when the publication of a particular new natural history book can only be appropriately reported with song; “Rays of the World” is such a book.
In the days, months, and – God help us – perhaps even years to come, those of living in the United States are likely to see a rejection of science at the highest levels of government, in some of the most visible media outlets, and amongst not insignificant segments of the citizenry.
Even those bird watchers who might not be quite up-to-speed in their history of natural history likely know Alexander Wilson – or at least his last name. After all, a warbler, a storm-petrel, a snipe, a phalarope, and a plover all carry it in his honor.
Unlike James Taylor, I will soon be going to California not only in my mind but in an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737. I’ll be there for a week to attend to some business for Celestron in Los Angeles and to speak at the San Diego Bird Festival. Thus in keeping with my preferred practice of taking along a book or two with relevance to my destination, I’m planning to pack copies of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of California by Alvaro Jaramillo and the recently published third edition of Insects of the L.A. Basin by Charles L. Hogue and James N. Hogue in my shoulder bag.
The Well-equipped Naturalist
For as long as I’ve ventured afield in search of whatever nature might wish to show me, I’ve gone fully vested. That is to say, I’ve worn a field vest. Not that I have anything against day packs or shoulder bags, mind you; I just find that vests (or as my British friends call them, waistcoats) allow me to carry what I need in a way that allows me easy access to all of it while still letting me move about with a feeling of being unencumbered.
The CBC’s 24 December episode of Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald is entirely dedicated to interviews with authors of recent science-themed books. While not exactly natural history proper, the conversations are indeed interesting. The authors appearing are David Grinspoon, author of Earth in Human Hands; Shaping Our Planet’s Future, Melba Kurman, who along with […]
I opened the just-arrived volume 38, number 24 of the London Review of Books to find Mary Wellesley’s “No looking at my elephant;” which takes Caroline Grigson’s “Menagerie: The History of Exotic Animals in England 1100-1837” as its subject.