The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change , and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James Howard Kunstler
I've read Stephen King, I've read Dean Koontz, I've read Clive Barker, Lovecraft, Poe. I have read some scary shit, but this is the scariest book I have ever read. It's about all the bad stuff which is coming down the pipe: the inevitable flu pandemic, climate change, and the end of the fossil fuelled economy. Basically he says, if we get through all this without blowing ourselves up or dying of thirst, we will be back in a pre-industrial-type society (he doesn't think much of the alternative fuel options), along with a vastly curtailed population. He thinks cities are doomed, he hates suburbs with a vigor unrivalled since my office mate Rajko, and he thinks towns and small cities are where it's at. He also thinks you should work on a post-industrial trade. He plans to publish a newsletter.
The guy is deadly serious. I have to find out if he's a kook or not. The book has no bibliography or index, which is certainly a bad sign. On the other hand it's clear to me that our society relies on fossil fuels to an alarming and unneccessary extent. Do we really need mangoes in February? Holidays in Hawai'i? Hot showers every day? Well, maybe that last one.
The fact that the oil reserves and other fossil fuels are running out sheds an interesting light on the issue of global warming. We're going to use all the available fossil fuels sooner or later. Does it make any difference if we use them up in fifty years or two hundred? The process of climate change is so slow and gradual and complex that I don't think it would make a difference, although as always I could be wrong.
Bottom line, this was a thought-provoking and easy (and scary) read. Kunstler is a cranky old man -- he hates the suburbs and he has some rude things to say about Southerners -- and it's always fun to hang out with the cranky, for a little while at least.
Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau
My problem with daylight saving time has always been that I don't understand why people don't just get up early, if they're so keen to have more sunshine. It drives me nuts when they say "you get more daylight". No you don't! There is the same amount of light, idiot! And, despite the fact that people stare at me uncomprehendingly when I say that now, apparently that was one of the main objections to DST when it was first proposed. Apparently the deal is that, sure the individual could just wake up early, but it's really hard to get businesses to open earlier and close earlier, so just fake 'em out by changing the clock. Having read the book I am now a proponent of DST, or double-DST, or whatever it takes to fit clock-time to sun-time.
It was a pretty good read, although I got a little tired of daylight saving time by the end of it. There is only so much you can say about people arguing over the clock, I guess.
The Everything Potty Training Book by Linda Sonna
Everything it certainly is. This book covers plenty of different methods, including a hard-core one-weekend method which requires you to be a drill sergeant, and a potty-train-your-infant method which sounds intriguing.
Every other book mocks the grandmotherly claim that babies were trained before a year of age in the days of yore, but apparently it was done. Which, having read the Long Emergency book, makes sense. No-one is going to put up with handwashing shitty diapers every day for three years if there is any possible alternative. It seems the baby-training method is more like training a puppy, whereas the toddler training methods require more conscious effort on the part of the child. She recommends a couple of books on the infant training method, so I will read further.
The problem with this book is that it covers many different methods and they get all muddled in your head. With some methods, you get the kid to help clean up their accidents, with some you don't. With some methods you reward success on the potty, with some you don't. It's hard to keep track of which is which, let alone which one you are using.
Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy by Candace Havens
As you may guess from the title, this is pretty much a 162-page fellation of Joss Whedon. It's kind of cheap and tacky too, with a large font, lots of pull quotes and pictures, and some fairly bad writing. I think people would take Whedon more seriously if stuff about him and his work wasn't so Tiger Beat-ish.