The Cockroach Papers

Author: Richard Schweid
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022626050X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Skittering figures of urban legend—and a ubiquitous reality—cockroaches are nearly as abhorred as they are ancient. Even as our efforts to exterminate them have developed into ever more complex forms of chemical warfare, roaches’ basic design of six legs, two hypersensitive antennae, and one set of voracious mandibles has persisted unchanged for millions of years. But as Richard Schweid shows in The Cockroach Papers, while some species of these evolutionary superstars do indeed plague our kitchens and restaurants, exacerbate our asthma, and carry disease, our belief in their total villainy is ultimately misplaced. Traveling from New York City to Louisiana, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Morocco, Schweid blends stories of his own squirm-inducing roach encounters with meticulous research to spin a tale both humorous and harrowing. As he investigates roaches’ more nefarious interactions with our species—particularly with those of us living at the margins of society—Schweid also explores their astonishing diversity, how they mate, what they’ll eat, and what we’ve written about them (from Kafka and Nelson Algren to archy and mehitabel). Knowledge soon turns into respect, and Schweid looks beyond his own fears to arrive at an uncomfortable truth: We humans are no more peaceful, tidy, or responsible about taking care of the Earth or each other than these tiny creatures that swarm in the dark corners of our minds, homes, and cereal boxes.

Invisible Nation

Author: Richard Schweid
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520966090
Format: PDF, Kindle
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"By the second or third day that you’re homeless, in the car with all your clothes, your pots and pans, everything, having to wash yourself in a public rest room, you logically start to feel dirty. You prefer to use the drive-through [at fast-food restaurants] where no one will see you. You begin to hide your family."—Invisible Nation More than 2.5 million children are homeless in the United States every year. In every state, children are living packed in with relatives, or in cars, or motel rooms, or emergency shelters, the only constant being too many people in too little space. In a vividly-written narrative, experienced journalist Richard Schweid takes us on a spirited journey through this "invisible nation," giving us front-row dispatches. Based on in-depth reporting from five major cities, Invisible Nation looks backward at the historical context of family homelessness, as well as forward at what needs to be done to alleviate this widespread, although often hidden, poverty. Invisible Nation is a riveting must-read for anyone who wants to know what is happening to the millions of families living at the bottom of the economy.

Cockroach

Author: Marion Copeland
Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 1861894856
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The cockroach could not have scuttled along, almost unchanged, for two hundred and fifty million years – some two hundred and forty-nine before man evolved – unless it was doing something right. It would be fascinating as well as instructive to have access to the cockroach’s own record of its life on earth, to know its point of view on evolution and species domination over the millennia. Such chronicles would perhaps radically alter our perceptions of the dinosaur’s span and importance – and that of our own development and significance. We might learn that throughout all these aeons, the dominant life form has been, if not the cockroach itself, then certainly the insect. Attempts to chronicle the cockroach’s intellectual and emotional life have been made only within the last century when a scientist titled his essay on the cockroach "The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach", and artists as radically different as Franz Kafka and Don Marquis created equally memorable cockroach protagonists. At least since Classical Greece, authors have brought cockroach characters into the foreground to speak for the weak and downtrodden, the outsiders, those forced to survive on the underside of dominant human cultures. Cockroaches have become the subjects of songs (La Cucaracha), have competed in "roachraces" and have even ended up in recipes. In this accessible, sympathetic and often humorous book, Marion Copeland examines the natural history, symbolism and cultural significance of this poorly understood and much-maligned insect.

Breathing Space

Author: Gregg Mitman
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300138320
Format: PDF
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Allergy is the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. More than fifty million Americans suffer from allergies, and they spend an estimated $18 billion coping with them. Yet despite advances in biomedicine and enormous investment in research over the past fifty years, the burden of allergic disease continues to grow. Why have we failed to reverse this trend? Breathing Space offers an intimate portrait of how allergic disease has shaped American culture, landscape, and life. Drawing on environmental, medical, and cultural history and the life stories of people, plants, and insects, Mitman traces how America’s changing environment from the late 1800s to the present day has led to the epidemic growth of allergic disease. We have seen a never-ending stream of solutions to combat allergies, from hay fever resorts, herbicides, and air-conditioned homes to numerous potions and pills. But, as Mitman shows, despite the quest for a magic bullet, none of the attempted solutions has succeeded. Until we address how our changing environment—physical, biological, social, and economic—has helped to create America’s allergic landscape, that hoped-for success will continue to elude us.

Pandora s Garden

Author: Clinton Crockett Peters
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
ISBN: 0820353205
Format: PDF
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Pandora's Garden profiles invasive or unwanted species in the natural world and examines how our treatment of these creatures sometimes parallels in surprising ways how we treat each other. Part essay, part nature writing, part narrative nonfiction, the chapters in Pandora's Garden are like the biospheres of the globe; as the successive chapters unfold, they blend together like ecotones, creating a microcosm of the world in which we sustain nonhuman lives but also contain them. There are many reasons particular flora and fauna may be unwanted, from the physical to the psychological. Sometimes they may possess inherent qualities that when revealed help us to interrogate human perception and our relationship to an unwanted other. Pandora's Garden is primarily about creatures that humans don't get along with, such as rattlesnakes and sharks, but the chapters also take on a range of other subjects, including stolen children in Australia, the treatment of illegal immigrants in Texas, and the disgust function of the human limbic system. Peters interweaves these diverse subjects into a whole that mirrors the evolving and interrelated world whose surprises and oddities he delights in revealing.

Che s Chevrolet Fidel s Oldsmobile

Author: Richard Schweid
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807888621
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Vintage U.S.-made cars on the streets of Havana provide a common representation of Cuba. Journalist Richard Schweid, who traveled throughout the island to research the story of motor vehicles in Cuba today and yesterday, gets behind the wheel and behind the stereotype in this colorful chronicle of cars, buses, and trucks. In his captivating, sometimes gritty, voice, Schweid blends previously untapped historical sources with his personal experiences, spinning a car-centered history of life on the island over the past century. Packard, Studebaker, Edsel, De Soto: cars long extinct in the United States can be seen at work every day on Cuba's streets. Havana and Santiago de Cuba today are home to some 60,000 North American cars, all dating back to at least 1959, the year the Cuban Revolution prevailed. Though hardly a new part has arrived in Cuba since 1960, the cars are still on the road, held together with mechanical ingenuity and willpower. Visiting car mechanics, tracking down records in dusty archives, and talking with car-crazy Cubans of all types, Schweid juxtaposes historic moments (Fidel Castro riding to the Bay of Pigs in an Oldsmobile) with the quotidian (a weary mother's two-cent bus ride home after a long day) and composes a rich, engaging picture of the Cuban people and their history. The narrative is complemented by fifty-two historic black-and-white photographs and eight color photographs by contemporary Cuban photographer Adalberto Roque.

Infested

Author: Brooke Borel
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022604209X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Bed bugs. Few words strike such fear in the minds of travelers. In cities around the world, lurking beneath the plush blankets of otherwise pristine-looking hotel beds are tiny bloodthirsty beasts just waiting for weary wanderers to surrender to a vulnerable slumber. Though bed bugs today have infested the globe, the common bed bug is not a new pest at all. Indeed, as Brooke Borel reveals in this unusual history, this most-reviled species may date back over 250,000 years, wreaking havoc on our collective psyche while even inspiring art, literature, and music—in addition to vexatious red welts. In Infested, Borel introduces readers to the biological and cultural histories of these amazingly adaptive insects, and the myriad ways in which humans have responded to them. She travels to meet with scientists who are rearing bed bug colonies—even by feeding them with their own blood (ouch!)—and to the stages of musicals performed in honor of the pests. She explores the history of bed bugs and their apparent disappearance in the 1950s after the introduction of DDT, charting how current infestations have flourished in direct response to human chemical use as well as the ease of global travel. She also introduces us to the economics of bed bug infestations, from hotels to homes to office buildings, and the expansive industry that has arisen to combat them. Hiding during the day in the nooks and seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, wallpaper, or any clutter around a bed, bed bugs are thriving and eager for their next victim. By providing fascinating details on bed bug science and behavior as well as a captivating look into the lives of those devoted to researching or eradicating them, Infested is sure to inspire at least a nibble of respect for these tenacious creatures—while also ensuring that you will peek beneath the sheets with prickly apprehension.

Brother Ray

Author: Ray Charles
Publisher:
ISBN: 9780306813313
Format: PDF, ePub
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The world-famous musician talks about his childhood, his blindness, the years on the road developing and perfecting his musical style, and his attitudes toward women, drugs, religion, and death.

The Courtiers Anatomists

Author: Anita Guerrini
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022624833X
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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The Courtiers' Anatomists is about dead bodies and live animals in Louis XIV's Paris--and the surprising links between them. Examining the practice of seventeenth-century anatomy, Anita Guerrini reveals how anatomy and natural history were connected through animal dissection and vivisection. Driven by an insatiable curiosity, Parisian scientists, with the support of the king, dissected hundreds of animals from the royal menageries and the streets of Paris. Guerrini is the first to tell the story of Joseph-Guichard Duverney, who performed violent, riot-inducing dissections of both animal and human bodies before the king at Versailles and in front of hundreds of spectators at the King's Garden in Paris. At the Paris Academy of Sciences, meanwhile, Claude Perrault, with the help of Duverney’s dissections, edited two folios in the 1670s filled with lavish illustrations by court artists of exotic royal animals. Through the stories of Duverney and Perrault, as well as those of Marin Cureau de la Chambre, Jean Pecquet, and Louis Gayant, The Courtiers' Anatomists explores the relationships between empiricism and theory, human and animal, as well as the origins of the natural history museum and the relationship between science and other cultural activities, including art, music, and literature.

Consider the Eel

Author: Richard Schweid
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807899267
Format: PDF, ePub
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Journalist Richard Schweid first learned the strange facts of the freshwater eel's life from a fisherman in a small Spanish town just south of Valencia. "The eeler who explained the animal's life cycle to me did so as he served up an eel he had just taken from a trap, killed, cleaned, and cooked in olive oil in an earthenware dish," writes Schweid. "I ate it with a chunk of fresh, crusty bread. It was delicious. I was immediately fascinated." As this engaging culinary and natural history reveals, the humble eel is indeed an amazing creature. Every European and American eel begins its life in the Sargasso Sea--a vast, weedy stretch of deep Atlantic waters between Bermuda and the Azores. Larval eels drift for up to three years until they reach the rivers of North America or Europe, where they mature and live as long as two decades before returning to the Sargasso to mate and die. Eels have never been bred successfully in captivity. Consulting fisherfolk, cooks, and scientists, Schweid takes the reader on a global tour to reveal the economic and gastronomic importance of eel in places such as eastern North Carolina, Spain, Northern Ireland, England, and Japan. (While this rich yet mild-tasting fish has virtually disappeared from U.S. tables, over $2 billion worth of eel is still eagerly consumed in Europe and Asia each year.) The book also includes recipes, both historic and contemporary, for preparing eel.