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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Ninefox Gambit
Yoon Ha Lee, Emily Woo Zeller
The Black Tides of Heaven
JY Yang
Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Progress: 125/314pages
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization
Nicholas P. Money
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Reading progress update: I've read 2 out of 336 pages.

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

So apparently I can't even get past the second page of the introduction without having to comment.

"People in core countries seem to expect to die at age ninety in a nursing home. They do so with good reason: if conditions continue uninterrupted, 50 percent of the children born in the year 2000 will live to be a hundred years old."

What in the blazes is a "core" country? Has the Earth been physically re-organized while I've been out doing non-book stuff? Have we turned into some kind of cylinder with shorter-lived countries out on the periphery? Yes, I'm being ridiculous. Talking about "core" countries is also ridiculous.


Furthermore, I realize I don't have any real statistics on hand to back me up, but Wright doesn't cite hers either, and I'm pretty sure her claims are just plain wrong here. Living to be a hundred is still a significant goal even in this day and age and has a lot to do with genetics and sheer luck. Claiming half the children born in the year 2000 will manage it just seems like a misuse of extrapolation.


I glanced a few paragraphs ahead and found this on page 3:

"I recently read in a history book that you ought not to view the past through a modern-day lens. It supposed that instead you should consider different eras as entirely separate, like, I imagine, sausage links. I thought the writer seemed to show a fundamental lack of understanding of how time works. The past does not exist under a bell jar. Moments, ideas, and tragedies of the past bleed into the present. Alas, some of the ideas that make it into the present consciousness are not the best. I found, for instance, that some people still feel justified hating Jews because they think they started the bubonic plague by dumping diseased materials into wells. (This is, as we'll examine, impossible.) Worrying whether people preparing your food are washing their hands thoroughly has a lot to do with the contagious disease-carrying cook Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary. If moments from the past seep so seamlessly into the present, maybe moments from the present can help us relate to the past. After all, the past was no less ridiculous than the present. Both eras were made up of humans."

Sigh. I don't think I'm going to make it out of the introduction on this one. I'm going to have to apologize to Huggins. This paragraph explains perfectly why Wright apparently insists that the past should be criticized according to modern expectations. I disagree with this because although the past affects the present, this flow is one-way. The present doesn't run back into the past, and trying to make it do so is simply unfair and generally unproductive. The present can apply new techniques and technology to add potential facts to the past, but I disagree with the rest of her viewpoint.


I read history books to learn about what happened. I read historical fiction to try to figure out how people thought. Using modern-day lenses on the past without a scientific focus simply isn't my cup of tea.


Maybe I'll pick another Doomsday book. I had a YA book all picked out that fit.