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Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever Paperback – October 1, 2013
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Chapter One offers everything you’d want to know (and not know) about cockroaches—from what they eat (toothpaste! human hair!) to the fact that a roach eye has 2,000 lenses, compared to our one. And who knew that there were people who keep cockroaches, which Wagner tells are called fanciers.
Chapter Two, “It Came From The Deep” takes us into the ocean. I had no idea that an octopus has three hearts and blue blood, or that a giant squid can grow as long as a school bus, or that flying fish can soar up to 665 feet. Amazing.
Chapter Three, “Curious Critters” shares some incredible stories about Hawaii’s animal kingdom. Did you know Geckos can hang by one toe, even on a smooth glass surface? I didn’t either. There are also some fun (and scary!) accounts, such as a six-foot boa constrictor found on the Big Island. My favorite section of this chapter is the true story about the wallabies (small kangaroos) who live in Kalihi Valley. According to Wagner, they escaped a private zoo in 1916, and now call the valley their home. How fun.
Chapter Four, “The Supernatural” goes into everything from ghost stories to old Hawaiian myths. I liked the background of why people no longer take black lava out of the state (a park ranger came up with a daunting story, to prevent folks from pocketing the material). Now, says Wagner, people who took the lava regularly report their resulting misfortune, from lost luggage to a dog getting sprayed by a skunk.
Chapter Five, “Creepy Crawlies” is dedicated to “creatures that make you shriek,” like centipedes, which apparently can live up to 10 years, and mosquitos, whose wings beat 500 to 600 times a second. Who knew?
Chapter Six, “What A Horrible Way To Go” shares morbid tales of how people pass along, such as eating the liver of a puffer fish. Wagner shares that some cultures still eat the fish (prepared carefully) nonetheless as delicacies, and for the weird, lip-tingling effects that follow.
Chapter Seven, “Diseases You Definitely Do Not Want to Catch” goes into, well, just that. There’s interesting scientific and historical context in here, such as why King Kamehameha never invaded Kauai; he probably got cholera.
The last chapter, “Bonus Bizarreness” is a catch-all of fun, wacky facts, like when albatross poop was sent from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to fertilize Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations. Or, a list of some very old folks, like a man on rural West Maui who lived to be 112.
I really loved this book. It’s an easy, fun read that you’ll really enjoy sharing with your kids, and you’ll learn a ton, without even realizing it.