Monday, July 30, 2012

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four MealsThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first read this book in 2007, I gave it 4 stars. Since then I've read other books on the farming-industrial complex, and on a reread I found a lot to appreciate about this book in particular. It's a well-researched, thorough look at different ways we can choose to eat an omnivore diet. It talks about the corn industry, the chicken/egg industry, the beef industry, small sustainable farms and farmers' markets, and hunting and gathering in America.

My reread reminded me to pay more attention to what I'm eating since after 10 years I've slipped back a little to including some processed foods in our diet again.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some very on-point blog posts

A nice little post on how to decide which books to keep and which to donate.

"All you have to do is look at something and see how it makes you feel. If your initial reaction is sadness or guilt or indifference, you don’t keep it. If it makes you feel glad, you keep it. Simple, yes, but effective."

Although, I'm not sure if I actually agree, since looking at my dad's books does make me sad, but I definitely want to keep them, but maybe I can loosely apply this idea.

And a blog that posts photos of New Yorkers reading on the subway! I don't ride the subway much anymore, but when I did, I spent most of the time reading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Polling and the Public by Herbert B. Asher

Polling and the Public: What Every Citizen Should KnowPolling and the Public: What Every Citizen Should Know by Herbert B. Asher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is actually one of my graduate school books, so I figured I would review it before getting rid of it. Since it's 11 years old now, it's probably better to read more recent editions of the book. The main points of the book are probably the same, but newer editions might have more recent examples and perhaps review more advanced poll-taking technology and analysis.

The main points are not that enlightening. Polls can be useful or they can be misleading either by accident or on purpose. It might give the public a way to participate beyond elections, or it can manipulate the public.

Furthermore, some people don't care about the issues they are being polled about, and these "nonattitudes" might be misconstrued by the pollsters. Some people might care very deeply about the issue, but be undecided. Pollsters can mislead through not only question wording, but also question wording, and this is more difficult to detect.

The book also explains sampling error and types of sampling in some detail. This is useful mainly if you're planning on conducting your own poll. A 4% sampling error is usually adequate, but obviously not very determinative when 52% of respondents feel one way (really means 48-56% of respondents feel that way). The error of subsets of the sample might actually be much higher. The method of interviewing affects the results, the timing might affect the results, the release of the poll results might influence the public's actions.

Mostly, I enjoyed the political cartoons in the book. ISBN: 1-56802-582-3.

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