February 15, 2010

Knees and Toes Never Hurt Anybody

Thank god and Monsanto for the genetically modified foods that have made pesticides irrelevant.
The Pesticide Conspiracy: An alarming look at pest control and the people who keep us "hooked" on deadly chemicals

This book was written by: Robert Van Den Bosch, deceased, former professor of entomology at University of California, Berkeley, and "a man who is frankly angry"(p.viii).

What is in this book: Professor Van Den Bosch's criticism of agricultural practices where "the heavy use of pesticides has created an entomological nightmare, bringing in its wake economic ruin, human illness and death, and gross environmental pollution"(p.37), but some formidable opponents are arrayed against him. While trying to investigate pesticide usage among growers, for example:
"Heavy Watergate games were being played to frustrate our little investigation of cosmetic produce. We were obviously on the track of something very rotten. Of course, we knew this from what had already turned up in our investigation, but it was a shock to learn how dirty the game can get when powerful people have something to hide."(p.106)
These unnamed but powerful people have conspired to call the kettle black, dismissing Professor Van Den Bosch's criticism as "a conspiracy against scientific agriculture and agri-business by a coalition of hippies, eco-freaks, organic-food fanatics, and enemies of free enterprise."(p.28)

Wait, he might have been talking about ending up with toes in the OTHER Bloody Mary.What is not in this book: An obsession with hygiene. We are "very fussy about buggy bits that might get into canned, frozen, or bottled produce"(p.99). As a result, "a tremendous pesticide load goes into the environment to assure that we get our pretty produce or to minimize the off chance of an aphid knee or thrips toe surfacing in somebody's broccoli amandine or bloody mary"(p.101), but it's not like extra knees or toes ever hurt anybody. You heard me, Upton Sinclair: Go fuck yourself.

Would you recommend this book to either Buddhists or Catholics? Yes. I think both groups would approve of its pro-life message. Although to most growers, "the sight or even thought of a boll weevil, lygus bug, spider mite, or pink bollworm triggers an automatic reaction: kill it before it grubs a nickel out of your pocket or a crumb from your mouth, or before it milks the treasury of a single peso!"(p.38), Professor Van Den Bosch recommends a policy of integrated control. It is an agricultural equivalent to the rhythm method that is more tolerant of unwanted larvae.

Would you recommend this book to Pepé Le Pew? No, I would recommend that he make friends with a tussock moth willing to be his wingman. This recommendation is based on Professor Van Den Bosch's assertion that for chemical companies, "the tussock moth provided a golden opportunity to pull the DDT skunk out of the EPA garbage can"(p.83). Whatever that means, it sounds like it would be right up Pepé's alley.

This was going to be a picture of a pregnant lady with alt text about UNWANTED LARVAE, but there were concerns about it being in poor taste.
What was interesting about this book? Professor Van Den Bosch's recommendation to reform the business of pest control. "It is abundantly clear to me that the elimination of the pesticide salesman from pest-control advisement is absolutely necessary if we are to develop a better pest-control system. [....] In fact, the medical profession, which recognized this problem quite early in its evolution, does not allow the pharmaceutical industry to dominate diagnosis and prescription"(p.180). Thanks to the medical profession's constant vigilance, commercial concerns have been removed completely from the industry, with doctors focusing on the diagnosis and treatement of serious medical ailments like restless leg syndrome—and the ecosystem has never been safer.

The Pesticide Conspiracy: An alarming look at pest control and the people who keep us "hooked" on deadly chemicals by Robert Van Den Bosch (Doubleday & Company, 1978, ISBN: 0-385-13384-7)

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February 1, 2010

Not That Different

This is the Valentine-themed entry. The February 15 book will have advice on dealing with the morning after.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs

This book was written by: James K. Wangberg, who writes that "much of my early research focused on insect natural history, which entailed countless hours of observing insect behaviors, including their most intimate acts"(p.8). Although some readers may be put off by this insect voyeurism, "the study of insect genitalia is a significant and highly legitimate area of scientific research"(p.63).

What is in this book: Every fetish you can find on the internet, replicated in the insect kingdom. "Long before teenagers discovered favorite spots to park, overlooking romantic city lights, bot flies were congregating in similar locations for much the same purpose"(p.50), and other insects engage in necrophilia (the digger bee, p.126), S&M/Bondage (Chapter 18), orgies (Chapter 19), bukkake (the springtail, p.72), Prostitution (Chapter 20), cosplay (the velvet ant, p.59), vegetable fetishes (the tiphiid wasp, p.80), and even the Wolbachia bacterium can turn wood lice into the equivalent of Thai ladyboys. Insects also have their own equivalent of Axe body spray. "Some insect males may produce their own powerful scent, which they conveniently leave on the body of the female after mating with her. Tainted with the odor of a male, she is no longer recognizable as a sexy female, consequently other males seeking a sex partner bypass her on their mating quest"(p.13).

Illustration from p.74, two bedbugs.
What is not in this book: Concern about upsetting squeamish readers with graphic details. Dr. Wangberg's description of the male feather-winged beetle discusses how:
[Its] sperm are up to two-thirds the length of the beetle himself. The gigantic sperm are so large that they literally fill up the female's reproductive system, leaving no room for others. Mated females have been found with sperm tails protruding from their vaginas, the competing sperm unable to enter(p.70)
Although this might seem to make oral sex a daunting proposition, "with literally millions of insects still to be discovered, imagine the delicious opportunities awaiting biologists, entomologists, and insect voyeurs"(p.133).

Would you recommend this book to Robert Donner or Curt Johnson? No. I respect their work on Minesweeper, which is a solid game, but god help us if they had read about how a male springtail will tend to a sperm field, "eating older sperm droplets and replacing them with fresh ones, to ensure the highest quality sperm for the female that wanders upon his property"(p.72). The resulting game would not have been nearly as popular beyond certain specialized niches.

Illustration from p.112, transgender wood louse.
Would you recommend this book to a Pick-Up Artist? Yes. You know how people tend to read items in a way that will confirm their own biases? Well, after seeing that "virgin females are strongly attracted to sexy sounding males who own nice property,"(p.46) they are going to see what other strategies from this book can be applied to their own lives, and the results will be hilarious.

What was interesting about this book? "The anal hairs on a cockroach can detect the on-rushing tongue of a toad!"(p.19). Now you know.

Six-Legged Sex: The Erotic Lives of Bugs, by James K. Wangberg, with illustrations by Marjorie C. Leggitt (Fulcrum Publishing, 2001, ISBN:1-55591-292-3

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