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in which the author discussed five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences, by Thomas Armstrong.
If vaccines don’t cause autism, what does? Will whoever knows just stand up and start explaining and end the suspense? Actually, if possible, I’d like to continue pretending that vaccines do cause autism. I was way more psyched when all it took to avoid a major neurological disorder was dispensing with MMR shots, even if that meant compromising our species’s herd immunity (whatever that is). Now, the whole goddamn issue is up in the air again, and I’m not sure what to keep my daughter away from first: BPA, lead, raw milk, Ugly Kid Joe records, or Jim Carrey movies.
2. The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, by Sonia Shah.
Meanwhile, there’s (mercifully) not a goddamn debate over whether malaria kills children, so vaccinate away. (Or, I guess, do whatever’s required to eliminate malaria. Kill mosquitoes? Clear swampland? Do I look like I work for fucking USAID?) Blessed malaria: a disease that isn’t vague about what it is, where it comes from, how it’s spread, or how it kills is a disease that I can get down with.
3. Critical Essays, by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Chris Turner.
My existential man J.P. on “Cartesian Freedom”: “Freedom is indivisible, but it manifests itself in different ways, depending on circumstances. To all the philosophers who set themselves up as its defenders, we may ask a preliminary question: in respect of what special situation have you experienced your freedom? It is one thing to feel you are free in the realm of action, of social or political activity or of creation in the arts, and another to experience it in the act of understanding and discovering.” Oh, well. After it passed on my 700-page treatise on the semiotic meaning of “What’s Happening!!” it’s nice to have more proof that the Oxford University Press isn’t a meritocracy.
4. Am I a Redundant Human Being?, Mela Hartwig, translated by Kerri A. Pierce.
I’m not sure, but after I spent the last 45 minutes reviewing Mel Gibson cell phone rants on YouTube, I sure felt like one.
5. Quite a Sightly Place: A Family Dairy Farm in Vermont, by David Middleton.
In the Van Halen composition “Running with the Devil,” groundbreaking lyricist David Roth famously observed, “I found the simple life/wadn’t so simple.” Yet, if you’re chillin’ in Vermont elbows-deep in curds and whey with carton of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer and www.phishlivebootlegs.com bookmarked in your Firefox browser, it seems like the simple life is indeed simple enough after all. (Thus, unto one David Roth, I say: Fuck you.)