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J. Harris "bookish" RSS Feed (Denver, CO, USA)
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Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation
Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation
Price: $9.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Fascinating Science Here, November 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book was a huge disappointment. It's really an illustration of why blog posts should not become books. I have a degree in zoology, and one of my favorite topics is animal behavior. From the title and the flyleaf, I had the impression that I would have the opportunity to read fascinating science. What I got instead was the intro to the fascinating science and then Bekoff's conclusions regarding the fascinating science. But no fascinating science. So disappointing.

Just a couple of observations:

In many of his essays, Bekoff comes across as smug, arrogant and dismissive of those who disagree with him. He regularly cites his own essays in other essays. There was even an essay where he talked about a colleague who had a book idea. He shared how he let the guy down easily by explaining that he had already written a book on that very topic, but followed up by encouraging him to continue because there was always room for another point of view.

The writing was choppy and cumbersome. He insists on describing humans as "human animals" and other animals as "non-human animals". He also refers to his dog his "companion dog". While I agree, dogs are companionable animals, it makes for clunky writing. Also, I am accustomed to thinking of a "companion dog" as a highly trained individual who does complicated things for humans who need assistance.

The format is the same for every essay. There is an idea presented, there is a vague reference to some study or other, then there is a "what we should do now" section which invariably carries a strong note of self-righteousness. It's overbearing and ultimately a turn-off.

There are many ideological pretzels. Bekoff is firmly in the "animals are people too" camp, writing essay after essay on the topic of "speciesism" and how human animals should not consider themselves to be a higher order animal than non-human animals. I don't really see how this works, especially from an evolutionist standpoint. The entire point of evolution is to, you know, evolve.

My favorite pretzel was the contrast between the story of the child who fell into the African painted dog exhibit and was killed by the dogs and the story of the child who fell into the chimpanzee enclosure and was rescued by a female chimpanzee and returned to the human animals. In the first case, Bekoff deplores the idea that the dogs should be put down. He says the dogs were just following their instincts. Just doing what they do. They can't be blamed for being themselves. In the second case, Bekoff lauds the empathy and compassion of the female chimpanzee. Do not, however, make the mistake of assuming chimpanzees to be a higher order non-human animal than the African painted dogs. Speciesism!

There is deep inconsistency in the Darwinian idea that all animals, human and non-human, are following a biological imperative, and then claiming that humans, while part of that evolutionary chain, are not a higher animal. At the same time, humans are somehow required to be more empathetic, responsible, caring and just better. That said, if we are just doing what we do, can we really be blamed for it? Either we are a higher order and we are responsible, or we are not.

I really like (non-human) animals. I've had companion dogs and companion cats, and even a companion rat or two. Even on their best days, they can't be compared to my companion children. Not in communication skills, developmental ability or future potential. I absolutely believe that human (animals) have a responsibility to care for our world and the animals in it, not because we are equal, but because we are a higher order animal.

Recommended if you are a vegetarian/vegan animal rights activist with a lower than average interest in fascinating science.


Blendtec WildSide Jar
Blendtec WildSide Jar
Offered by Etailz
Price: $99.95
12 used & new from $78.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Blendtec Wildside Jar is awesome, November 1, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Blendtec WildSide Jar (Kitchen)
If you're already a fan of Blendtec then you know how great this jar is. It's bigger, and blends better than the four sided one, which is to say that it's awesome. Cleans up quickly and easily too.


Philips O'Neill SHO9552/28 Sound-Isolating In-Ear Headphones (Royal Specked Blue)
Philips O'Neill SHO9552/28 Sound-Isolating In-Ear Headphones (Royal Specked Blue)
Offered by TnsDeals
Price: $13.97
5 used & new from $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best earphones we've ever bought for our kids, November 1, 2014
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Our teenage son is terribly hard on headphones. These have the best sound and are the longest lasting of any we've tried. Highly recommended.


HOTCOOL Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Case Cover - The Thinnest And Lightest Leather 201a For Both 2012 Kindle Paperwhite Cover And 2013 Kindle Paperwhite 2 Case (With Smart Auto Sleep/Wake feature), Black
HOTCOOL Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Case Cover - The Thinnest And Lightest Leather 201a For Both 2012 Kindle Paperwhite Cover And 2013 Kindle Paperwhite 2 Case (With Smart Auto Sleep/Wake feature), Black
Offered by USCshop
Price: $14.99
2 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value Kindle cover, October 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great lightweight cover. Happy I chose it. Good value for the price.


The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic
The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style: Secrets to Shopping Cheap and Looking Chic
by Lilliana Vazquez
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.20
81 used & new from $3.44

5.0 out of 5 stars And I'm not all that into fashion..., October 27, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Ohmigosh! My new fashion Bible! I picked this up at random at the library and when I picked it up to read, I just ended up reading it cover to cover. Smart tips, secrets to shopping in store and online, vintage clothing buying and restyling older clothes, it's all here. She's at www.cheapchicas.com too. Feeling inspired to clean out my closet and make a list...
If you like looking good, but aren't a fashionista (or if you are). If you like nice clothes but don't want to spend a month's rent on a pair of shoes. If you don't love shopping unless you know what you're getting and where (or if you do love shopping). This book is highly recommended.


The Old Gringo: A Novel
The Old Gringo: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Too many streams of consciousness., October 27, 2014
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Written in stream of consciousness - and not just one person's stream of consciousness either - The Old Gringo is a unique and provocative book. For me, not really provocative in a good way. I really hated it. Full disclosure: I really hate stream of consciousness. I prefer not to know that much about what other people, even imaginary people, are thinking. I like filters. In terms of historical value, I think it's marginal. I think there are better books for getting a real historical perspective. In terms of defining the political relationship of America and Mexico at the time, or the attitude of Americans to Mexicans in the early 1900's, maybe. Of course, that has never been a simple and straightforward relationship, so it may be a simplistic point of view. Also, I have to say that my sampling of Spanish and Latin American literature this year has given me the impression that, at the very least, male Spanish and Latin American authors, have a tendency to misogynistic, tortured, Gothic fantasies about women and sex. This was no exception.


The Innocent: A Novel
The Innocent: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.04

3.0 out of 5 stars A great story gets hijacked., August 11, 2014
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One of my 2014 challenge categories is Berlin. I wanted to read books set in Berlin, but not set during WWII. I was especially interested in Cold War Berlin, reconstruction, that sort of thing. The Innocent started off as a book about British/American collaboration on a project - essentially spying on the Russians. The main character, Leonard, is a young British man who has come to Berlin to help with the electronics part of the project and the entire story is told from his point of view. I liked it well enough, until it was hijacked by Leonard's falling in love which begins his improbable love story. I sort of got used to it, but was then rudely interrupted by Leonard's "I am the conqueror" rape fantasy scene, after which he must grovel in order to gain forgiveness. The love story temporarily gets back on track but is once again derailed by a grisly, if accidental, murder. We are then instructed graphically on how (or how not) to hack up a body in order to hide it in a couple of suitcases. Then the American gets involved and saves the day. Well written and full of innuendo, clever, but a bit much for my taste.


Dixon Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened with Erasers Pencils, #2, Yellow,  Box of 30 (13830)
Dixon Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened with Erasers Pencils, #2, Yellow, Box of 30 (13830)
Price: $5.93
53 used & new from $4.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Old Fashioned Pencils, August 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pencils! Just can't get pencils like this in New Zealand.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hooray for Introverts, August 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was an interesting book. I like the premise that introverts are undervalued in western culture and most of the research and studies cited were well reported and interesting. Some of the stories and other things referenced seemed a little dated to me, but not so much that the book was less useful.


Before I Fall
Before I Fall
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a favorite., August 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Before I Fall (Kindle Edition)
I will give this one maybe 2.5 stars. There was some skill involved in weaving a tale with such potential for repetitiveness without it being boring. I just didn't like it. If you like reading about teenage popularity queens obsessing about sex and drinking too much and being mean to other people, maybe you will like this book. Even the changes that occurred for the main character end with her and her potential influence on others is foiled by the ending.


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