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Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

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Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body
Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 3, 2013

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


“A marvelous, organ-by-organ journey through the body eclectic…Irresistible [and] impressive.” —John J. Ross, Wall Street Journal The human body is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal fact of our lives. It is the inspiration for art, the subject of science, and the source of some of the greatest stories ever told. In Anatomies, acclaimed author of Periodic Tales Hugh Aldersey-Williams brings his entertaining blend of science, history, and culture to bear on this richest of subjects. In an engaging narrative that ranges from ancient body art to plastic surgery today and from head to toe, Aldersey-Williams explores the corporeal mysteries that make us human: Why are some people left-handed and some blue-eyed? What is the funny bone, anyway? Why do some cultures think of the heart as the seat of our souls and passions, while others place it in the liver? A journalist with a knack for telling a story, Aldersey-Williams takes part in a drawing class, attends the dissection of a human body, and visits the doctor’s office and the morgue. But Anatomies draws not just on medical science and Aldersey-Williams’s reporting. It draws also on the works of philosophers, writers, and artists from throughout history. Aldersey-Williams delves into our shared cultural heritage—Shakespeare to Frankenstein, Rembrandt to 2001: A Space Odyssey—to reveal how attitudes toward the human body are as varied as human history, as he explains the origins and legacy of tattooing, shrunken heads, bloodletting, fingerprinting, X-rays, and more. From Adam’s rib to van Gogh’s ear to Einstein’s brain, Anatomies is a treasure trove of surprising facts and stories and a wonderful embodiment of what Aristotle wrote more than two millennia ago: “The human body is more than the sum of its parts.”

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Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body – Hugh Aldersey-Williams

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The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

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The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Michael Finkel

Genre: Nature

Price: $12.99

Publish Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.   A  New York Times  bestseller In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.

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The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel

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A brief history of fake climate news in the mainstream media

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A brief history of fake climate news in the mainstream media

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A top scientist ‘felt bullied’ to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff.

The new Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, California, explores “the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism.” Surprise! One of the most detrimental legacies of capitalism is … climate change.

Bear with us (and the museum’s curators): The fossil fuel production that drives climate change is due to global (read: American) desire for profit and growth.

The museum — funded largely through a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation — exhibits several works examining how humans despoil the environment in our quest for more things. Some are simple, like a bright blue baseball cap emblazoned with “COAL = JOBS” in white, akin to the ubiquitous MAGA accessory.

“American Domain,” an exhibit curated by Erin Elder (below), explores the ways in which land in the U.S. has been “continually staked and claimed.” Photographs of the Mexican-American border hang alongside images of drilling equipment, suggesting inconsistency in the United States’ attitude toward borders when it comes to fossil fuel access versus immigration.

“American Domain”Brea McAnally/Brea Photography

In another section of the museum, a video by Kota Takeuchi shows a worker undertaking cleanup of the Fukushima disaster. The worker slowly points at the audience through the camera lens, a designation of blame lasting over 20 minutes.

It’s a succinct gesture that gets to the point of the whole museum: We’re all complicit.

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A top scientist ‘felt bullied’ to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff.

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Strange Medicine – Nathan Belofsky

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Strange Medicine

A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages

Nathan Belofsky

Genre: History

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: July 2, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Strange Medicine casts a gimlet eye on the practice of medicine through the ages that highlights the most dubious ideas, bizarre treatments, and biggest blunders. From bad science and oafish behavior to stomach-turning procedures that hurt more than helped, Strange Medicine presents strange but true facts and an honor roll of doctors, scientists, and dreamers who inadvertently turned the clock of medicine backward: • The ancient Egyptians applied electric eels to cure gout. • Medieval dentists burned candles in patients’ mouths to kill invisible worms gnawing at their teeth. • Renaissance physicians timed surgical procedures according to the position of the stars, and instructed epileptics to collect fresh blood from the newly beheaded. • Dr. Walter Freeman, the world’s foremost practitioner of lobotomies, practiced his craft while traveling on family camping trips, cramming the back of the station wagon with kids—and surgical tools—then hammering ice picks into the eye sockets of his patients in between hikes in the woods. Strange Medicine is an illuminating panorama of medical history as you’ve never seen it before.

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Strange Medicine – Nathan Belofsky

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A Crack in Creation – Jennifer A. Doudna & Samuel H. Sternberg

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A Crack in Creation

Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

Jennifer A. Doudna & Samuel H. Sternberg

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: June 13, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


A trailblazing biologist grapples with her role in the biggest scientific discovery of our era: a cheap, easy way of rewriting genetic code, with nearly limitless promise and peril . Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR—a revolutionary new technology that she helped create—to make heritable changes in human embryos. The cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known, CRISPR may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis. Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad, unforeseeable consequences—to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create “better” humans.   Writing with fellow researcher Samuel Sternberg, Doudna shares the thrilling story of her discovery, and passionately argues that enormous responsibility comes with the ability to rewrite the code of life. With CRISPR, she shows, we have effectively taken control of evolution. What will we do with this unfathomable power?  

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A Crack in Creation – Jennifer A. Doudna & Samuel H. Sternberg

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Just as John Oliver predicted, a coal tycoon is suing him.

The nation’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy, just filed a lawsuit against the Last Week Tonight host over the show’s recent segment. Oliver had criticized the company’s CEO, Robert Murray, for acting carelessly toward miners’ safety.

Murray Energy’s complaint stated that the segment was a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray by broadcasting “false, injurious, and defamatory comments.”

Oliver shouldn’t be too concerned, according to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Los Angeles firm, who told the Daily Beast that the complaint was “frivolous and vexatious.”

The lawsuit is hardly a shocking development. Before the show aired, Oliver received a cease-and-desist letter from the company. He noted that Murray has a history of filing defamation suits against news outlets (most recently, the New York Times).

Oliver said in the episode, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said.”

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Just as John Oliver predicted, a coal tycoon is suing him.

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Congress says the EPA will get more money than Trump wants.

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a new initiative to combat climate change–augmented extreme heat in the city. It comes down to: Plant a tree! Make a palThose are actually not bad ideas. 

The $106 million package — dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC, which, yikes — will largely go to tree-planting across more heatwave-endangered communities in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. Funding will also further develop the unpronounceable NYC °CoolRoofs program, which aims to cover 2.7 million square feet of city roofs with foliage.

But, to me, the more noteworthy component of the plan is Be A Buddy NYC — again, yikes — which “promotes community cohesion” as a means of climate resilience.

“A heat emergency is not the time to identify vulnerable residents,” explains the Mayor’s Office’s report. “Rather, it is important to build social networks that can help share life-saving information prior to such an emergency, and can reach out to at-risk neighbors during an extreme heat event.”

The new policy supports the argument that this whole community engagement thing is a crucial tactic in the fight against climate change.

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Congress says the EPA will get more money than Trump wants.

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More peas or less Pepsi? Researchers compare how food policies could save lives.

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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More peas or less Pepsi? Researchers compare how food policies could save lives.

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What has Elon Musk been up to since ditching Trump’s advisory councils?

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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What has Elon Musk been up to since ditching Trump’s advisory councils?

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