A GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHT

BIOENGINEERING AND THE FUTURE OF FOOD

If the thought of a farm straight out of Woody Allen's Sleeper, overrun with mammoth chickens and gargantuan vegetables, scares you, then this book will fuel a thousand nightmares. Mather, food editor of the Detroit News, raises the specter of an industrial agriculture run amok, a system of food production governed by short-term economics and quick-fix technological solutions to profound problems. In this milieu, feed costs are cut by filling animals with growth hormones, some known or suspected to be dangerous to humans, and increased market demands are met by accelerating vegetable production with a Pandora's boxful of petrochemical fertilizers. Mather visits farms, markets, and laboratories in her tour of the new biotechnology, indicting along the way the likes of Upjohn, Monsanto, and Dow for their role in reducing food to an industrial commodity but reserving her harsher criticism for a society that demands that foods be quick to prepare and cheap to consume. Those demands, Mather argues, have led to a disconnectedness with the simplest element of life: putting food on the table. She writes that few of us have ever seen up close how our food is raised, humorously recalling that one of her readers asked whether the direction ``skin chicken breasts'' meant removing the plastic wrapper from the package. Mather offers reasonable solutions to our overdependence on technologically produced foods. She argues that New York State could grow a local broccoli crop rather than importing broccoli from California, saving money and fuel, creating local jobs, and getting fresh produce in the bargain. And she prescribes a regimen of home cooking with fresh produce that she calls ``the first key act in a life that supports [small] farmers struggling to stay on the land.'' Full of good sense and good reportage, Mather's book deserves wide attention. (author tour)

Pub Date: June 19, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-93864-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more