Some More Summer Reading


It’s been about 100° outside for the past few days, and I’ve been spending a lot of time in at work nursing a dead Microsoft Exchange cluster back to life, so I’ve not been riding my bike at all lately. Watching email databases defragment does not exactly demand one’s undivided attention, so I’ve had the opportunity to do some more reading.

An Essay on the Professional Life of Mira Lloyd Dock

Mira Lloyd Dock

I bought this book at the Wildwood lake Nature Center . It’s a short biography of Mrs. Dock, who got the Greenbelt started, cleaned up Harrisburg (did you know riverfront park used to be a garbage dump?), and was ultimately appointed to the new State Forestry Commission. She was the first woman ever appointed to a government post in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
You can read more about her on the Department of Environmental Protection Website.

The book is only about 50 pages, so you can read it in an hour or two. If you are interested in local history, especially the history of Harrisburg’s ONLY piece of cycling infrastructure (don’t get me started…), you might like this one.

4 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 4 Jihadis out of 5.

Once Upon a Time in the North
Once Upon a Time in the North
I am a huge fan of Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. Once Upon a Time in the North is a prequel to that story. You get to learn about how Lee Scoresby got his balloon, and how he met Iorek, which is kind of fun, but this one is much more obviously a children’s book than the HDM books, and there’s really not a strong higher-level story for grown-ups that the Trilogy had.

3 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 3 Jihadis out of 5.

The World Without Us
The World Without Us

The World Without Us is a really weird book. The premise is that every single human being on the planet is instantaneously removed (like we all get abducted by aliens or something). It then goes on to catalog how long it would take to various bits of the infrastructure human civilization to fall apart.

Houses fall down, bridges collapse, wildlife comes roaring back to fill niches humans have driven it from. Evidently the dead zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, is teeming with bears, and the waters around the bikini islands (where all sorts of nuclear weapons testing went on) are full of (slightly mutated) fish, simply because humans aren’t there to mess things up anymore.

There are lots of things in this book that are very interesting. It seems to hold out hope that maybe humans haven’t totally fucked everything up, and that we could, at least theoretically fix up the environment.

On the other hand, it feels like the worst kind of diabolical environmentalist wish fulfillment fantasy, where it seems like the author genuinely thinks the world would be a better place if humans went extinct.

That’s kind of fucked up.

3 Jihadis out of 5
I give it 3 Jihadis out of 5.

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