When we make decisions, we’re pretty good at thinking about what they’ll mean for us in the immediate future. But when it comes to the longer-term impact of our decisions, whether taken individually or as a society, we struggle to think further than the next decade or so. Anything beyond that is, as we tend to see it, someone else’s problem.Continue reading
As you know, I usually try to write a quick review of books I’ve enjoyed. On the grounds that, if you like reading my blog, you may well like to read the sort of things that I like to read, too. And also because people who write books (usually) put a lot of effort into what they do, so it seems only nice, if I’ve enjoyed their work, to tell other people about it. I’ve built up a bit of a backlog of books to review, though, so in an effort to clear the decks a little, here are some of the things that I’ve read recently. I really think you’d enjoy reading them, too.Continue reading
Anyone who has a dog will know that their sense of smell is far superior to our own. But how does their nose work? What is it capable of? And what can we learn from our dogs about the world around us?
In ‘Being a dog: Following the dog into a world of smell’, psychologist and animal behaviourist Alexandra Horowitz sets out to answer these questions.
She learns from experts in all things scent and scentwork, from perfume creators to truffle dog trainers. And she observes her own dogs in their scent-based world.
Horowitz also works to improve her own sense of smell, engaging with ‘scent tours’ around the city, participating in experiments and training herself to be more aware of the smells around her.
I really like this book, with its fusion of scientific investigation and personal experiences. Sure, it does go off on a bit of a tangent at times, but overall it’s a highly enjoyable read.
It also provides an excellent overview of the different ways in which dogs can be trained to use their sense of smell, from search and rescue to the detection of explosives, cancer and (my personal favourite) Orca scat (yes, that’s Killer Whale poo).
There are lots of books about how the sense of smell works. And there are plenty about the different ways in which dogs use their sense of smell to help us. But there are very few that explore both. And I have yet to find one that does it as well as this one.
I’m not an economist. But I do know that economics is broken. The economic models of the past have created a world in which human well-being and our planet’s natural resources are being sacrificed on the altar of economic growth.
These models have failed to predict, to prevent or to respond to the financial crises that have shaken our society. They have allowed inequality to flourish. And yet they are still taught in classrooms and lecture theatres across the world.
We need a new way of thinking about economics. And we need it now. Continue reading
If you have recently watched the news, picked up a newspaper or left the confines of your own living room, you may well have noticed that things appear to be far from right with the world. Indeed, they seem increasingly to be crumbling around us. Yet we are told that the answer is to work harder, to consume more and to stop whining. Thankfully, there are people who recognise that this is far from being the answer. And George Monbiot (one of my favourite writers, in case you haven’t already noticed) is one of them. Continue reading