Hooray for Learning! Boo for Humans! Hooray! Boo!

I am reading two books right now, and it's like riding a mental rollercoaster; one is called How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey; it's a breezy, fun and scientific approach to all the counterintuitive things science has learned about memory, and it is full of handy facts about when to review for tests, the importance of testing on recall, how long after learning something you should review the material, and the percentage of time you should spend reading and the percentage of time you should spend recalling if you want to memorize lyrics or a poem; the other book is called The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man by Michael Tennesen, and while the tone of this book is also breezy and it's full of fun facts (some jungle frogs sit on their eggs like chickens!) it is mainly about how humans have done irreversible damage to the planet and we are really in for it in the near future: our soil is almost tapped out, we can't sustain the growing population, there won't be enough protein for the burgeoning middle class, we are in the midst of a great extinction, and the diminishing biodiversity is having all kinds of awful effects on the planet, with less biodiversity, diseases have an easier time spreading, new microorganisms are resistant to nearly every antimicrobial drug we have (and we aren't rapidly developing more) and the oceans are overfished, acidified, and low on oxygen (which is bad for fish but good for the giant Humboldt squid, which can survive in low oxygen zones, and also good for sperm whales-- which like to eat the squid-- and other breath holders such as elephant seals, and while this part of the apocalypse sounds awesome: an ocean full of giant squid and fish, it's still a major loss in biodiversity . . . and while I like calamari, I'm not sure I want to eat giant squid steaks every time I want some protein).

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