If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.Dalai Lama XIV
Ah, the mosquito. Is there any other insect – any creature – more universally despised?* I don’t enjoy hating on things, but the mosquito is one thing I’m at least not particularly fussed about hating. So of course, I had to pick up The Mosquito: A human history of our deadliest predator by Timothy C. Winegard. It’s actually pretty incredible when you consider how much influence mosquitoes, or more specifically, the diseases they carry and for which they are vectors (e.g. malaria, yellow fever, dengue), have had over human history throughout the ages. According to Winegard, they have affected, among other things: the configuration of human DNA (sickle cell being probably the most commonly recognized one), the outcome of the American civil war, slavery, the history of the Roman Republic (the Pontine Marshes being a malarial sink, it both defended and destroyed the Romans), and more! They’re quite the equal opportunity bloodsuckers, so it’s not necessarily that they’ve always helped any particular side. Malaria also happens to be one of those diseases that constantly outmanoeuvers whatever anti-malarial drugs are concocted to defeat it, and at a frighteningly fast pace at that: new treatments might be effective anywhere between 2 and 20 years after being mass-marketed (Winegard). Interestingly, one of the newer treatments, artemisinin, is one that originated from what was rediscovered in an old Chinese text from the 4th century Jin dynasty, uncovered only during Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, but not shared with the world until more recent times (and even then, the study results weren’t embraced by the international community immediately, according to Winegard).
Do mosquitoes kill more humans than humans do? Debatable, but they’re definitely not slacking on that front (not that humans are either…): the year before The Mosquito was published, 830,000 people died of mosquito-borne disease worldwide. Whether mosquitoes will outlast humans or we’ll decide to use the technologies we have at our disposal (e.g. CRISPR) to eradicate the Anopheles mosquito, which is one of the main vectors of mosquito-borne diseases, one thing is for sure: mosquitoes have driven human history and evolution throughout the entirety of our existence.
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Lithub has published their previews for their most anticipated titles for the Fall of 2019 (Adult non-fiction), and so I figured I’d highlight a few of these and offer up some similar titles while we wait for them to be added to our catalogue. All of these titles are on order, so put yourself on hold for them now! Here are a few that caught my eye from all their different lists ranging from Science, Technology, History, Biography, Social Science, Politics, Essay Collections, and Memoir (everything on the Science list sounds A+, especially The Hidden World of the Fox, release date Oct 22):
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson (Beacon Press, Nov 12). My anticipation for this title should come as no surprise if you’ve read any of my previous posts before, but I’m also incredibly interested in this upcoming title because of a fairly recent (beginning of 2019) rupture in the knitting & textiles world when a well known blogger, Karen Templer, wrote a blog post that caused a conversation about race, racism, and representation in the knitting world at large to erupt. This has led to a subsequent apology post, but also to a number of other knitters and crafters speaking up about their experiences and offering up advice for how to be a good ally to BIPOC crafters. One of the posts that has come up, which I’m sure White Negroes on the topic of cultural appropriation will help me to think more critically about, was this one: An Open Letter to White Makers & Designers Who Are Inspired By the Kimono and Japanese Culture by Emi Ito (guest post on Ysolda Teague’s blog). For more on cultural appropriation & more forthcoming titles, see below the cut!
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Karen Armstrong does a good job of summarizing the history of the development of religion & state succinctly in each chapter, linking each of the histories to each other in terms of patterns in government. What really struck me throughout was how effectively autocratic governments have fared throughout the ages – well, they would, not having to go through all the other layers of government in order to get things done, but still! In addition to this, the seeming inability to remove religion from society completely was quite interesting to see: the nation took the place of traditional belief systems, and instead of fighting for those beliefs, people would fight for the sake of their nation. It almost seems like the issue isn’t so much religion in its inspiration of violent devotion so much as humans at large, to be honest. Continue reading →