Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Scientific Revolution by Robert Freeman

The Scientific Revolution in 50 pages.

The Scientific Revolution by Robert Freeman lays out the basics of the scientific revolution in 50 pages. The author is/was an AP history teacher and has published a whole series of "one-hour histories," that one assumes originated as distilled lectures from years of teaching.

The Scientific Revolution emphasizes the how and why with just enough names and dates to support the big ideas. For example he distills the conflict with the church to be a one of faith, revelation and authority on one side and reason, theory and evidence on the other.

As might be expected from high school lectures, the ideas are clear and accessible to a wide audience - no footnotes, no references, no index, no bibliography, no academic pretension. A fun read for all ages.

On another level the science vs church dichotomy has many similarities to the 21st century, so as should be expected of all good history, this little booklet has a pleasant subversive quality.

I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway on April 21, 2014. I received my copy on April 25, 2014. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fukushima by Union of Concern Scientists ****

The sky is falling. The sky is falling.
Fukushima by Union of Concerned Scientists is an hour-by-hour recap of the 2011 disaster at the Daiichi nuclear power installation in Japan. This disaster joins Three Mile Island (1978) in Pennsylvania and  Chernobyl (1986) in Russia as one the three largest nuclear disasters.

The Chernobyl and Fukushima were particularly disastrous in that the area around the power plants will be uninhabitable for years to come.

The Union of Concerned Scientists have a strong bias against the nuclear power industry and their regulators, but they do identify the key questions: How safe is safe enough? Even though the book implies that nuclear power plants are not safe enough over and over again, the reader is still left to look at the data and decide for themselves.

I felt they completely ignored the most important trade-off with nuclear power. The choice is not nuclear power or long, happy lives free from risk and radiation. The real choice is nuclear power or climate change. One big accident every twenty years sounds better to me than the implications of climate change.

The book has a lot of good information, if you can wade through the repetitive whining.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaason ****

Crazies from Florida. Forget stand-your-ground. Here be zany people and fun. 
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen is another in the series of absurd, humorous novel set in Florida.

This latest installment one with a tourist catching a severed arm on fishing excursion. This arm turns out to have better luck and more lives that the rest of the body.This story expands the series geography with a visit to the Bahamas.

Real estate speculation and medicare fraud are among the serious issue presented, though in a way that doesn't interfere with the absurd humor or general frivolity.

Once again Hiaasen does not disappoint, though I enjoyed Nature Girl more.

Available from Amazon: