#BookReview: The Story Of Sushi by Trevor Corson

Interesting Combination Of Case Study And Academic Disciplines. This was an interesting approach to the topic of sushi where rather than just look to how sushi is prepared at the time of the writing of this book (18 yrs ago as I write this review) or just the science and history of the various elements of sushi, Corson instead used the case study of a particular group of students learning how to make sushi at a particular school at a particular point to then springboard from there into the history and the science. He does both quite artfully, though the contemporary scenes he describes feel a touch dated nearly twenty years later, as Corson describes sushi in both Japan and America as on the cusp of either greatness or collapse here. While I can’t speak to how it plays today in Japan – I’ve barely crossed the Missisippi River in the US more than a handful of times, and I’ve never so much as seen the Pacific Ocean absent some picture or screen – in America, even in the Deep South I’ve called home nearly every day of my 40+ years on Earth, sushi has become quite common. Perhaps not prepared exactly the way Corson describes here and perhaps with a distinct lack of the traditions behind it that Corson so eloquently shows, but the food itself has exploded to be seemingly everywhere. Within just a mile or two of my home in Jacksonville, FL, I can name at least a half dozen different spots to get some form of it, from prepared overnight grocery store level sushi to actual sushi bars to even an all-you-can-eat sushi/ Asian fusion food place. And yet, the book, given its time and place, truly tells its story as it is known within that time and place quite well. While I can’t know how documented this was due to having listened to its Audible form, and *perhaps* a text based reading of the same material would have led to a star deduction for lack of bibliography… again, the way I consumed this tale I simply cannot know this, and the benefit of the doubt from not knowing goes to the book keeping the extra star. Overall a fascinating and informative book, one that compels the reader to keep reading and find out more both about the people being detailed and the food and culture they are working with. Very much recommended.

This review of The Story Of Sushi by Trevor Corson was originally written on May 16, 2023.

#BookReview: Our Tribal Future by David R. Samson

Contempt Is The Dissolver Of Unions. Yes, that is a particularly memorable line from the book – and a warning. Here, Samson discusses the history, biology, and sociology of our “Tribe Drive” – ongoing and apparently bleeding edge research in all three fields – and shows how it has brought us to where we are… and how we can better utilize it to achieve a more peaceable and prosperous future for all. Yes, some of this book is a touch… out there… for some, such as Samson’s admitting to basing some of his thinking of this topic on his use of psychedelic mushrooms, peyote, and similar compounds. And yes, there are things here that partisans left and right will likely complain about – some legitimately, some less so. And yes, in ultimately recommending a form of at minimum confederation of federated governments – if not outright anarchism, which he discusses without ever using the term, yet never precludes that the groups he discusses could become official “governments” – perhaps Samson is even a touch idealistic. And yet, the documentation is solid at around 20% of the text (not counting footnote discussions at the end of each chapter, which may bump that to around 22-25% of the text). Further, the book lays bare in scientific terms that which I’ve largely understood and have been advocating at various points for the last 15 years or so, through my own active political activism days and into my efforts to promote reading and literacy now.

Overall an intriguing, thought out book and one that adds greatly to the overall conversation around groups, governments, coalitions, and politics, and thus one that anyone who seeks to truly understand and use these concepts truly needs to read and understand. Very much recommended.

This review of Our Tribal Future by David R. Samson was originally written on April 1, 2023.

#BookReview: The Darkness Manifesto by Johan Eklof

Dark Spring. I read this book and write this review as someone who longs to see that which I’ve never seen in nearly 40 years of existence on this Earth – the Milky Way as the Ancients did. Here, Eklof makes a case as to why the light pollution that is so prevalent in so many areas of the world needs to be treated just as seriously as any other form of human-made pollution. Indeed, at least in his claims, this is as strong a book against light pollution as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was all those years ago.

HOWEVER, where Eklof fails a fair degree – and the reason for the star deduction here – is that while he makes a lot of strong claims, there is scant documentation of these claims – coming in at just 15% or so of the text here, when more fully documented books come in closer to 20% – 30%, and books that are particularly well documented can reach 50% or so of the overall text.

Still, as a sort of primer to these issues for those who may not be aware of them already, this is a strong book that will allow for further research after reading it. Very much recommended.

This review of The Darkness Manifesto by Johan Eklof was originally written on October 25, 2022.

#BookReview: Where We Meet The World by Ashley Ward

Interesting, Well Written, Readable- But Needs Well-Sourced Bibliography. This book was an utterly fascinating mid-range dive into each of the human senses (even including at least one chapter on senses *other* than the “Big 5”), their biology, evolution, and overall impact on the human body and mind. It was truly well written for most anyone who can read at all to be able to understand, without too many technical or highly precise and specific terms that would require specialized knowledge. It was humorous enough to increase its readability, while still being serious about its subjects and discussions. Really the only flaw, at least in this Advance Reader Copy form, was the lack of a bibliography at all (where 20-30% is more common in my experience), and I also want to call out the inclusion of a page listing a “selected further readings to come” or some such, indicating that the final version of the book would only have a limited bibliography. To my mind, this would be a mistake, and I hope the publisher sees this with enough lead time to hopefully correct that direction before publication. This dearth of a bibliography was the sole reason for the star deduction here. Still, if nothing else changes about this book at all from the time I read it nearly three months before publication and for decades following publication, this is truly a strong book giving the reader a complete overview of the human senses as we currently understand them. Very much recommended.

This review of Where We Meet The World by Ashley Ward was originally written on January 2, 2023.

#BookReview: Life Time by Russell Foster

Approachable Combination Of Science And Self-Help. This book is exactly what I said in the title – an approachable combination of the hard science (explained in such a way that anyone with a roughly high school education should be able to follow along reasonably well enough) and practical self-help type recommendations showing just how much sleep and the circadian rhythm affect virtually everything about the human mind and body, even down to things we may not associate with them such as cardiovascular troubles or the effectiveness of cancer treatments. It doesn’t hurt that includes one of my favorite short jokes at the beginning of one of the chapters as well. 🙂 Clocking in at around 29% bibliography, the narrative here uses a sequential numbering system for its footnotes that I distinctly remember was at least approaching – and may have surpassed – 600 individual citations. It also has an almost “FAQ” section at the end of each chapter, briefly answering common questions the author has encountered about the ideas discussed in that specific chapter. An excellent book for anyone seeking information about this topic, particularly those who may have questions about how sleep and circadian rhythms could potentially be affecting their own health. Very much recommended.

This review of Life Time by Russell Foster was originally written on August 28, 2022.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Spite by Simon McCarthy-Jones

This week we are looking at an alarming and disturbing book showing insights that have the potential to control humanity ever more subtly. This week we’re looking at Spite by Simon McCarthy-Jones.

You’ve Heard Of The Imitation Game. Meet The Ultimatum Game. McCarthy-Jones does a phenomenal job in this text of analyzing what exactly spite – which he defines as a behavior that harms both oneself and the other – is, why it is seemingly necessary for human advancement, how it seems to have come to be, and even some of the biological bases of the behavior. In the process, he gives some startling and many times counter-intuitive insights on how exactly spite manifests, often using a tool developed in the 1970s called The Ultimatum Game as the basis of the science. Both a fascinating and disturbing book, this could potentially provide saavy operators yet more ways to control the masses in ways that most wouldn’t even realize they are being controlled – and yet by exposing these methods to the masses in question, gives us ever more effective tools to question the propaganda we are so incessantly bombarded with through so many modern communication channels. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Eloquence Of The Sardine by Bill Francois

Poetic Narrative More Memoir Than Hard Science. This is a memoir of a man who was afraid of the sea as a small child and who had one chance encounter that turned his life around… and inspired his life long study of the sea. This book really is as much about the author’s own experiences and thoughts as it is the actual scientific facts he states throughout, which is seen perhaps most glaringly in the extremely short bibliography (at least on this advance copy I read). But truly poetic and beautiful regardless, one is almost inspired to pursue a career (or perhaps second career) in something that gets one out in, on, or under the water just from the sheer awe Francois shows here. All of this noted, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the actual title: “eloquence” is “a discourse marked by force and persuasiveness”, according to Webster. And while I found quite a bit of beauty, wonder, and awe within this narrative, I found little truly forceful or persuasive. Francois doesn’t seem to be making any major point or trying to persuade anyone to any particular position other than the sheer wonder of all that exists under the seas. Truly an excellent work, even with the quibble over a part of the title. Very much recommended.

This review of Eloquence Of The Sardine by Bill Francois was originally written on April 11, 2021.

#BookReview: What Are The Chances by Barbara Blatchley

The Chances Are Good That This Is A Solid Book. Blatchley does an excellent job of looking at the various reasons why we believe in luck, from the societal to the social to the psychological and even the biological. And she does it with enough precision to do justice to the mathematics involved, but with enough generality to be enjoyable to a non-mathematics-oriented public. Overall an excellent “popular science” level look at the subject at hand, and very much recommended.

This review of What Are The Chances by Barbara Blatchley was originally written on March 10, 2021.