Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez

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Invisible Women is about how women are missing from data collected and used to, say, create crash test dummies for cars, plan bus routes, design cell phones, etc. She points out that disparity in collecting data about women leads to dangerous situations for women. For instance, women are more likely to die in a car accident because seat-belts are designed to safely hold a man in place, and does not account for the difference in body composition and fat / lean mass location. The bus routes are planned around where men go to work, and not so much around shopping trips, which are more often performed by women. This creates very inconvenient travel for women.

The thoughts in this book were well-expressed, and interesting. I did feel at times that she was over-stating her case, but that is often true of books with a strong bias (in this case feminism). Not that I’m saying feminism is a bad bias, only that it IS a direction that can be leaned too heavily upon at times (like every other social issue). Overall, a highly suggested book for those interested in feminism.

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Update November 29, 2019

Well, my week went well. D loved her birthday slumber party, despite the fact that only one guest was able to come.

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I think IL had a stomach ache after all that cake.

I also took IL to see a very special Santa – the stepfather of a life-long friend. He didn’t appreciate it very much.

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I met up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in 5 years, and I watched all three Hobbit movies with Aaron, who hadn’t seen them before. The kids did end up going on their trip with their mother, despite the storm and other unexpected difficulties, so I’m getting my readathon on. I’m hoping to get lots read this weekend. 🙂

Deb at Readerbuzz is hosting an Thanksfully Reading Weekend BINGO, which I’m going to participate in. There’s a purple dot on all the stuff I’ve done so far, but I hope to get a lot more done through Sunday.

I had Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and Aaron. It was a small feast, but the turkey was delicious. Unfortunately, my car wouldn’t start on Thursday, and I had to have it towed today, thus missing my doctor appointment for my hip. I’ve had a hip problem ever since my pregnancy, and it seems to be getting much worse lately, so I was hoping I could get some physical therapy. I took a 2 mile walk on Thursday morning, and that loosened up the hip for a while, but made it hurt more in the evening. I will try taking walks more often and see if the exercise helps.

I wasn’t a productive reader this week, having difficulty concentrating. But I’m hoping next week as well as readathon weekend will be much more helpful.

Cheers! And I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving Readathons

So, the weekend I’ve been looking forward to has arrived! The two older kids are (supposed to be) gone with their mom, leaving me with spare time! Ok. So they’re not gone. Things beyond our control have happened, but I’m going to readathon anyway! Either that, or we’re marathoning Hobbit and LOTR, and the kids will have to suck up the scary parts. lol

There are two readathons being hosted this week.

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The one at Death by Tsundoku already started on Monday, but I was unable to participate at that time. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time to participate.

The other is Thankfully Reading Weekend, hosted by Jenn’s Bookshelves

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Here are Jenn’s kick-off questions:

  • How will/did you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Well, I was going to have a quiet dinner with my husband, baby, and parents – but the group may have expanded to include my two step children. The more the merrier! (But hopefully they can go on their trip still, they really want to.)

  • What’s in your TBR pile for the weekend?

I want to work on the first two chapters of The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

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I am buddy reading this with a friend on LibraryThing at a chapter a week, and I’m half a chapter behind already!

I also hope to start and finish Maelstrom, by D. J. Schuette. It’s an indie book published by a friend of mine. I really loved the first book in the series, and am looking forward to this one.

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Finally, I hope to finish listening to Becoming Ms. Burton, by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn

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  • How much time do you think you’ll have for reading?

Oh, please tell me I’ll have lots! Please, please, please.

  • What book are you starting out with?

Any of those three will do.

  • Are you reading print, ebooks, or audio? Maybe a bit each?

All three.

  • What books will you be talking about during Thanksgiving dinner? Be sure to keep track of any recommendations you receive and share when you have the time.If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, don’t worry, this is a weekend for everyone throughout the world.

I don’t know. I guess I’ll see!

Genetic modification: To do or not to do

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I noticed an interesting commonality in the New Scientist and The Economist a couple weeks ago: they both had articles about genetic modification.

The New Scientist (November 9, 2019) article entitled Spray-on CRISPR described how scientists are creating “better” crops by coating nanoparticles with CRISPR DNA and spraying it on plant leaves. The DNA then enters almost all the cells that it comes in contact with, and codes for genes which are desirable. I’m not a GMO avoider by any means, but I do wonder what kind of impact those nanoparticles will have on creatures that eat the plants? Will we incorporate the DNA into our cells too? The article said this effect is unknown and will have to be further studied.

The Economist (November 9-15 2019) had an article entitled A Design for Life about using a new form of genetic profiling, single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), to check the DNA of potential babies that can then be implanted in vitro in human mothers (IVF). They could make sure the potential baby didn’t have any genetic disorders. Furthermore, they could code for less tangible aspects like intelligence, athleticism, etc. The author suggested that this, compounded over generations, could produce a super-race of humans like in the movie Gattaca or the alphas in Huxley’s Brave New World. Not exactly a world we want to see, right?

But there are potentially good things that can be done with genetic engineering sometime soon, too. For instance, I read an article By Pam Belluck in the New York Times on November 4, 2019 entitled, Why Didn’t She Get Alzheimer’s? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the Disease. It was discussing a woman whose family carried a gene for early onset Alzheimer’s. But one of the family members never got dementia. It turns out that this woman has another mutation that counteracts the dementia gene. Could CRISPR or other technologies be used to help avoid Alzheimer’s? Furthermore, there was an article in New Scientist back on July 4, 2019 entitled Exclusive: Five couples lined up for CRISPR babies to avoid deafness. I wonder what the Deaf Community feels about this, given how tight-knit they are? Of course, some people may make the choice to let their child live an easier life by not being deaf in the first place, even though they’re losing out on that community. But where does it stop? Could people use CRISPR to, say, code for heterosexual offspring to make sure their lives are as easy as possible? (This said with the understanding that many people in the LGBTQ+ community have very difficult lives.) Is it a parent’s choice to decide what sort of communities they want their children to belong to?

 

The Dark Fantastic, by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

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In The Dark Fantastic, Thomas writes a study of darker-skinned people in fantastic popular culture. She covers Rue, from Hunger Games, who is described as “dark-skinned” in the book, but got a torrent of horribly racist comments when Rue was cast as black in the movie. To the white mind, and sometimes even to the brown or black mind, innocent characters should not be cast as black. Another rage emerged when Guinevere was cast as black in the TV show Merlin.

Thomas mentions that there is a paucity of dark-skinned people in fantastic literature, and that could be part of the reason why dark-skinned people tend to not be considered the audience of fantastic literature – because they can’t relate to the characters. It is quite possible for dark-skinned people to find heroes in white people, but why not have some dark-skinned people that they can view as heroes?

In most shows / books, dark-skinned people are shoved off to the side as supporting characters to white characters like Luka Martin in Vampire Diaries. They are meant to serve, not to be powerful characters themselves.

I had heard previously that fantastic literature lacked in diverse characters, but had never spent much time thinking about it. Now I feel like reading books more carefully to see how they are portrayed. This was a fantastic piece of nonfiction for anyone interested in diverse voices in literature.

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