Newsletter, Sept 2nd 2022
There are days when this idea of mine - books and science and a store - seems utterly absurd! Therefore, if Einstein is to be believed, there must be some hope in it :). Thank you for joining me in this absurd journey!
September 11th - 4p - SmartReads Book club for middle graders - Ages 7-12. If your middle grader is interested in meeting once a month with like minded kids, please join us Sunday Sept 11 at 4p. We will discuss club structure, frequency and books to read. All kids will also have a chance to make an origami crane.
September 15th - 4p Ribbon cutting: I know, I know, we've been open almost 9 months and ribbon-cutting now? Well, we finally decided to act all grown up and join the local Chamber of Commerce! It means, we can't pretend to be Arun's personal library anymore :) In honor of joining, Wayzata chamber of commerce ambassadors will join us for an official Ribbon cutting - you know, the kind with fake large scissors :) The mayor might even show up! Will you join us, for moral support? Can I bribe you with some snacks, drinks and a raffle box for a chance to win free books? Hope to see you then!
September 18th - 2p - Our Science Book Club - Yoga for the Mind - is now reading “An Immense World” by Pulitzer prize winning Author Ed Yong. As before, we will be reading and discussing the book in 3 sections. First meeting for chapters 1-4 will be Sunday Sep 18th 2p. Join us!
Teachers Night Out - A big thank you to all the Educators who attended and all those who helped spread the word. Thanks to all the partner organizations and their donations, we had more raffle items than attendees, so everyone got to take home something!
Battle of the Books is now over for the summer. A big shout-out to our Smart Reader of Summer 2022 - Alex! She not only won the August Battle but she won an extra prize for attending (and reading the books) for all 3 months! And, she completed the entire summer Bingo card! That is one motivated reader and we are very proud to know her and support her reading!
Summer Reading Bingo Cards - Can still be returned until Sep 15th. Free books await those who return the cards.
Science News of the week
Have you heard of DALL-E ? The increasingly popular tool for generating art from descriptive text using machine learning? Crazy, right? And DALL-E isn't the only one. There are several new ones that are increasingly accessible to everyday folks.
The rise of text-to-Image generators has only just begun, but already, these programs are sparking heated debates about the nature of art, whether software poses a threat to artist' livelihoods, and whether or not the companies that create these systems owe anything to the artists whose work their programs are trained on - AI generated artwork wins state fair competition.
Arun has been playing around with this technology and is putting together an event around Generative AI - what is it, what can you do with it and what to watch out for. Watch for more information coming soon in this space!
Have a great long weekend, keep reading and see you at The Spot soon!
New Releases this week
By Marian L. Tupy
This controversial and counterintuitive new book examines why population growth and freedom to innovate make Earth's resources more, not less, abundant.
Generations of people have been taught that population growth makes resources scarcer. In 2021, for example, one widely publicized report argued, “The world’s rapidly growing population is consuming the planet’s natural resources at an alarming rate . . . the world currently needs 1.6 Earths to satisfy the demand for natural resources . . . [a figure that] could rise to 2 planets by 2030.” But is that true? After analyzing the prices of hundreds of commodities, goods, and services spanning two centuries, Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley found that resources became more abundant as the population grew. That was especially true when they looked at “time prices,” which represent the length of time that people must work to buy something. To their surprise, the authors also found that resource abundance increased faster than the population—a relationship that they call “superabundance.”
On average, every additional human being created more value than he or she consumed. This relationship between population growth and abundance is deeply counterintuitive, yet it is true. Why? More people produce more ideas, which lead to more inventions. People then test those inventions in the marketplace to separate the useful from the useless. At the end of that process of discovery, people are left with innovations that overcome shortages, spur economic growth, and raise standards of living. But large populations are not enough to sustain superabundance—just think of the poverty in China and India before their respective economic reforms. To innovate, people must be allowed to think, speak, publish, associate, and disagree. They must be allowed to save, invest, trade, and profit. In a word, they must be free.
Gale L. Pooley is an associate professor of business management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He has taught economics and statistics at Alfaisal Univerity in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Brigham Young University-Idaho; Boise State University; and the College of Idaho. Pooley has held professional designations from the Appraisal Institute, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and the CCIM Institute. He has published articles in National Review, HumanProgress.org, The American Spectator, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Utah Bar Journal, the Appraisal Journal, Quillette, Forbes, and RealClearMarkets. Pooley is a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, a board member of HumanProgress.org, and a scholar with Hawaii's Grassroot Institute. His major research activity has been the Simon Abundance Index, which he coauthored with Marian Tupy.
Marian L. Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, and coauthor of the Simon Abundance Index. He specializes in globalization and global well-being and the politics and economics of Europe and Southern Africa. He is the coauthor of Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting (Cato Institute, 2020). His articles have been published in the Financial Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Newsweek, the UK Spectator, Foreign Policy, and various other outlets in the United States and overseas. He has appeared on BBC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, and other channels. Tupy received his BA in international relations and classics from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his PhD in international relations from the University of St. Andrews in Great Britain.
Tornado of Life
By Jay Baruch
Stories from the ER: a doctor shows how empathy, creativity, and imagination are the cornerstones of clinical care. To be an emergency room doctor is to be a professional listener to stories. Each patient presents a story; finding the heart of that story is the doctor’s most critical task. More technology, more tests, and more data won’t work if doctors get the story wrong. Empathy, creativity, and imagination are the cornerstones of clinical care. In Tornado of Life, ER physician Jay Baruch offers a series of short, powerful, and affecting essays that capture the stories of ER patients in all their complexity and messiness. Patients come to the ER with lives troubled by scales of misfortune that have little to do with disease or injury. ER doctors must be problem-finders before they are problem-solvers. Cheryl, for example, whose story is a chaos narrative of “and this happened, and then that happened, and then, and then and then and then,” tells Baruch she is "stuck in a tornado of life.” What will help her, and and what will help Mr. K., who seems like a textbook case of post-combat PTSD but turns out not to be? Baruch describes, among other things, the emergency of loneliness (invoking Chekhov, another doctor-writer); his own (frightening) experience as a patient; the patient who demanded a hug; and emergency medicine during COVID-19. These stories often end without closure or solutions. The patients are discharged into the world. But if they’re lucky, the doctor has listened to their stories as well as treated them.
Jay Baruch, a practicing emergency room physician, is Professor of Emergency Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the author of two award-winning short fiction collections, What's Left Out and Fourteen Stories: Doctors, Patients, and Other Strangers.
A practical illustrated guide to exploring, observing, and understanding nature Chris Packham will pass on his passion for nature and make you an enthusiastic and knowledgeable amateur naturalist Chris Packham’s Nature Handbook reveals how easy it is to enjoy and learn about plants, animals, habitats, and ecological processes. It features visual studies of habitats – full of photos of the animals and plants that live there and illustrations of how they interact. All the habitats in your region (Europe in the UK edition, or North America in the US edition) are included, from accessible urban and farming landscapes to wilderness areas. This book reveals the sights, sounds, and smells you can encounter and shows you how to connect with nature without intruding. It provides illustrated guides to activities for every season. Many of these, like pond dipping and raising butterflies from caterpillars, can be done close to home and without expensive equipment. The book promotes conservation and demonstrates simple ways to contribute to the health of the natural world. First published in 2010, this edition has been extensively revised to present more local information relevant to the habitats where you live, and to include the latest equipment and conservation issues. A blend of inspirational guide, essential reference, and “how-to”, this book will make you wild about the natural world.
Chris Packham is a top tv naturalist and an award-winning conservationist, photographer, and author. As a young scientist, he researched kestrels, shrews, and badgers, and studied zoology at Southampton University. His tv career began with the award-winning Really Wild Show for the BBC, and he is now co-presenter of the BBC’s Springwatch, Autumnwatch, and Winterwatch. His 2017 memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar was a no.1 Sunday Times bestseller.
What Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us
By Mike Mariani
“A bold and intricate exploration of catastrophe as not just . . . a test case for resilience, but something that completely reinvents us—a reincarnation.”—Robert Kolker, author of Hidden Valley Road “A masterpiece—a book that truly captures what it means to be changed by tragedy, and a necessary salve for our troubled times.”—Ed Yong, author of An Immense World "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger," Nietzsche's famous maxim goes. But how much truth is there to that omnipresent statement? Tracing the lives of six people who have experienced catastrophic, life-changing events, journalist Mike Mariani explores the nuances and largely uncharted territory of what happens after one's life is cleaved into a before and after. If what doesn't kill us doesn't necessarily make us stronger, he asks, what does it make us? When his own life was transformed by a chronic illness, Mariani turned inward, changing his bustling existence into a more contemplative one. In this ambitious work of reporting, he uses his own experience and the lessons of psychology, literature, mythology, and religion to tell the stories of people living "afterlives." Their experiences range from a paralyzing car crash to a personality-altering traumatic brain injury to an accidental homicide and a sentence of life imprisonment. Their afterlives, Mariani argues, supercharge their identities, forcing them to narrow and deepen their focus to find their sense of meaning—whether through academia or religion or helping others—in identities that have been struck by tragedy and then dramatically reinvented. Delving into lives rarely seen in such detail—lives filled with struggle, loss, perseverance, transformation, and triumph—Mariani leads us through the darkest aspects of human existence, only to show how much we can become.
Since graduating with his MA in English literature, Mike Mariani has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Newsweek, GQ, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, The Believer, Slate, The Guardian, and more. Mike has written about the ethical quandary of expert witnesses in criminal cases involving mental illness, the opioid crisis and its impact on mortality rates, the neuroscience of inequality, and other topics. He lives in Northern California with his wife.
By Han Yu
Alzheimer’s disease, a haunting and harrowing ailment, is one of the world’s most common causes of death. Alzheimer’s lingers for years, with patients’ outward appearance unaffected while their cognitive functions fade away. Patients lose the ability to work and live independently, to remember and recognize. There is still no proven way to treat Alzheimer’s because its causes remain unknown. Mind Thief is a comprehensive and engaging history of Alzheimer’s that demystifies efforts to understand the disease. Beginning with the discovery of “presenile dementia” in the early twentieth century, Han Yu examines over a century of research and controversy. She presents the leading hypotheses for what causes Alzheimer’s; discusses each hypothesis’s tangled origins, merits, and gaps; and details their successes and failures. Yu synthesizes a vast amount of medical literature, historical studies, and media interviews, telling the gripping stories of researchers’ struggles while situating science in its historical, social, and cultural contexts.
Her chronicling of the trajectory of Alzheimer’s research deftly balances rich scientific detail with attention to the wider implications. In narrating the attempts to find a treatment, Yu also offers a critical account of research and drug development and a consideration of the philosophy of aging. Wide-ranging and accessible, Mind Thief is an important book for all readers interested in the challenge of Alzheimer’s.
Han Yu is a professor in the Department of English at Kansas State University, where she teaches scientific and technical communication. She is the author of The Other Kind of Funnies: Comics in Technical Communication (2015) and Communicating Genetics: Visualizations and Representations (2017).