Hacking Darwin

“For billions of years, life on Earth evolved through the process of Darwinian evolution via natural selection: Small errors during reproduction propagate from parents to offspring, occasionally offering some a survival advantage to find food or fight enemies. Had reproduction been perfect, the only living creatures on Earth would be single-celled organisms, our 3.5 billion-year-old ancestors.”

The above quote by Marcelo Gleiser, professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth, is stunning, but it’s only a small part of Professor Gleiser’s review of Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity by Jamie Metzel.  What Gleiser, in this article, and Metzel, in his book, are talking about is not science fiction.  They’re writing about what’s happening in genetics today or about things that will be possible in the next 10 years or so.  Will we use genetic advances solely to cure diseases or will we use them to change the very nature of what we humans are?  Nobody knows, but both are real possibilities.

— — — — —

You probably started reading Shakespeare’s plays in high school, but do you know where he got the marvelous ideas for them?  Five Books, a wonderful resource for information on authors and their works offers us some background on where the most influential writer in the English language got the ideas for his 38 plays.  Prepare to be surprised.

In “Shakespeare’s Sources” Robert S. Miola, professor of English and classics at Loyola University Maryland is interviewed by Charles J. Styles.  The conversation begins like this:

Styles: How many of Shakespeare’s plays can we say are wholly original to him and not based on a pre-existing work?

Miola: Two, I think.

Stunning, isn’t it?  Only two . . . perhaps.

Actually, Professor Miola offers six sources for Shakespeare’s plays.  So, the follow up questions to the six sources presented are how in the world did William Shakespeare have access to them, and how did he find time to glean the information – and occasional quotes or near-quotes – he used from them?  Unfortunately, that’s something we’ll never know.

— — — — —

Suzy Taylor

The Living Garden by Suzy Taylor

Suzy Taylor is a “book sculptor” who lives and works in the U.K.  She takes old, discarded books and turns them into works of art.  Colossal offers us a peek at some of her creations.  Keep in mind that all of them are made solely from paper, and glue – with an assist from her impressive imagination.

— — — — —

Of course you know who Bill Gates is, but you probably don’t know much about his wife, Melinda.  She recently published a book, The Moment of Life: How Empowering Women Changes the World, despite the fact that she highly prizes her privacy.  She was recently interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, and if you listen to the interview, you’ll quickly learn that she is a very dynamic, intelligent and forceful woman – forceful enough to convince Bill to drive the kids to school in the morning.  The result of seeing Bill Gates drive his children to school had quite an impact on the other parents.  And that example is central to the main point of Melinda Gates’ book: empowering women, who too often do all of the driving, washing, house cleaning, etc., lifts the entire society.  You can read or listen to the interview, but you should listen to get a full sense of Melinda’s passion.

— — — — —

Sunday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CT I’ll once again be the host of Music on the Sunny Side on WBRH public radio (90.3 FM in the Baton Rouge, LA area and at on the internet).  Highlights will include a set titled “Sue and Johnny Cash: A Love Story;” Ted Weems and his band with a young vocalist named Perry Como, and an “instrumentalist” named Elmo Tanner; and a musical quiz called “What Is That From?”

— — — — —


In Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey women play marginal roles.  The same can be said of Mr. Rochester’s mad wife in the attic in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.  However, women authors have written novels and novellas that tell the stories of the marginalized women in the works mentioned above from their points of view.  Chelsea Leu discusses the subject and some of the books in a very interesting Electric Lit article.

In an article on the Oxford University Press blog, Lilah Grace Canevaro writes about recent translations of Homer’s works by women and more.

— — — — —

Ever heard of the wise-cracking Dorothy Parker?  Regardless of whether you answered “yes” or “no,” you should read a delightful Literary Hub article about this “political activist, melancholic, bootleg Scotch-drinking” woman.  It includes some of her wittiest quotes.

— — — — —

The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, May 5, 2019 from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET.  The featured guest will be professor and author Kathleen Hall Jamieson.  Her books include Packaging the Presidency and Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President.  Book TV airs each weekend from 8:00 a.m. ET Saturday morning until 8:00 a.m. ET Monday morning.  You can find the entire schedule here.  Over 18,000 past presentations can be accessed at the Book TV Archive website.

This entry was posted in Books, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s