Obedience to authority

In the 1960s Stanley Milgram and his associates carried out a number of experiments on obedience. They were set-up a situation where people thought they were helping in a memory/learning experiment, and how it related to punishment. So they subjects were asked to administer electric shocks to learners every time …

Grave’s end

In 1982 Elaine Mercado and her family moved from an apartment into what they hoped would be their dream home. This house, in the Gravesend section of south Brooklyn, needed some work, but the family felt they could convert this three floor house into both a home and a place …

The dogs of war

Received free from NetGalley. I’m a sucker for an animal story, especially a dog story, so although I thought this would be a fairly fluffy book about US military dogs I decided to give this a go. Written to tie in with the publicity army dogs received following their role …

The moral animal

moral animal

What does the theory of evolution have to do with morals? Can it explain why we feel guilt or love? Or why men cheat?

Evolutionary psychology is an attempt to use evolution to explain why people are the way they are. The theory posits that the many many cultures have many items in common, these commanalities cannot be explained by conicidence alone, there must be some reason that humankind has developed these cultural norms. Wright, and other evolutionary psychologists would argue that as human beings evolved certain psychological traits were more conducive to an increase in descendents and therefore became the norm.

The chimps of Fauna Sanctuary

chimps of fauna sanctuary

A true story of resilience and recovery

In Fauna Sanctuary Gloria Grow rescues animals. There are dogs, horses, swans, a donkey, and of course the chimpanzees. Most were retired from research facilities where they were the subjects of medical research into Hepatitis, HIV, and the like. There are a few who were circus chimps. Some of them started life as pets, cute little chimps to dress up and play with, until they grew too big and strong and dangerous. Anyone who heard of Travis and his attack on Charla Nash knows that a chimp is not to be taken lightly. And yet people continue to try and keep them as domestic pets.

In this book Westoll spent a year working in the Fauna Sanctuary. He gets to know not only the people who work there but also the chimpanzees themselves, and their horrific lives spent as test subjects, being knocked out, biopsied, infected, and isolated.

Old Burnside

A memoir of a Southern Girlhoodold burnside

In 1913 Harriette Simpson Arnow moved to Old Burnside, Kentucky, with her family. This is her recollections of life in the once bustling lumber town. She was only four years old at the time, and yet she still manages to recreate the town and people she knew back then. It is a small book, only 125 pages in the edition I read, but there is plenty going on.

Cinderella ate my daughter

cinderella ate my daughterAfter a career writing about feminism and girls in culture Peggy Orenstein found herself the mother of a girl. And so brought face to face with the practicalities of what she had been theorising about, how to raise a girl to believe in herself and how to try
and avoid the madonna/whore dichotomy. And then her daughter entered her “Disney princess” phase.

Ghosts of Vesuvius

It is hard to blurb this book. On the one hand it is about Vesuvius and volcanic explosions and disasters both natural and man-made. But it is also a book about the origins of the earth, of the universe, and about how precarious our existence is. How so much of what we are today is dependent on natural events a thousand years ago, or a millennia ago, or so long ago that it is almost pointless to count the time because it is so difficult to grasp those sort of numbers.