Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bookshelf: Genes & Julia

Latte ArtI've been reading Steve Olsen's Mapping Human History, which looks at genetics through the lens of ancient history and describes possible migration patterns that brought the human species from the couple of people we're descended from who lived in Africa 100,000 - 150,000 years ago to the 6.7 billion humans we are today.

The big reveal: A few mutations and 150,000 years and it turns out we're all descended from a half-human, half-Cylon hybrid kid named Hera - if one were inclined to mix their media like that. But really, he spends a lot of time methodically disproving the teabagger-types and talking about how, genetically-speaking, we're all much, much more similar than we are different and how race is a social construct and not a genetic fact. The actual surprise is that that's still news.

One of the more interesting sections examines the biologically Jewish population, a distinction that it wouldn't have occurred to me to make. The discussion also reminded me that I've never read the Bible and maybe I should. Ultimately I found the cultural implications of migration more interesting than the biological ones, but still glad I read this.

Also, just finished Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. For the most part, I'm inspired to stay far away from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But then, I'm biased right now since I didn't like Julie Powell's book - maybe the movie's better? It got better the less time she spent feeling sorry for herself.

I'm feeling burnt still from the last few months of craziness, so I've been burying myself in books and the television I've missed. On the reading, I think Freakanomics is next. And I've finally caught up to television on Mad Men and How I Met Your Mother and now have a crush on Neil Patrick Harris. Dollhouse next?

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