Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Animal Review

The Genius, Mediocrity and Breathtaking Stupidity That is Nature
by Jacob Lentz and Steve Nash
Finished August 2010

What a funny book. I just ran across it while I was looking for pet books for a bibliography. Apparently, this is based on an unassuming looking blog of the same name. The cover photo is of an alpaca. Interesting... the cover pictured here, which I saved from the blog itself, rates the alpaca a D+. The Book I have in my hand has an F rating, as does the cover shown on Amazon.

This is a humor book. You can learn a little bit about animals, but you'd better take everything with several grains of salt. The authors will make up facts for a laugh. And I laughed a lot.

The premise is that scientists have made animal classification way too complicated. Instead of Kingdom, Phylum, Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, and Species, the authors propose that all animals be divided into four categories: Land, Sky, Water and Other. They can then be rated within each of those categories. To those who feel that giving an animal a grade is a little unfair, the authors say,
"By the way, please try not to feel too bad for the animals that don't get the grade you think they should. The reality is that, no matter how much you might love them, most of them secretly hold you in contempt, and they're usually lying when they tell you that they couldn't call you back because tehir cell phone died. Their cell phone works fine. Trust us."
I was just about to say that I'd rate some of the animals differently than the authors did, but in looking at their complete report card in the back of the book... no I'll have to say that I pretty much agree. The three animals receiving an F: Panda, Alpaca and Locust. Getting a D: Giraffe, Sea Cucumber, Hippopotamus, Peacock, Garden Snail and Sponge. The A list includes: King Cobra, Blue Whale, Sword Fish, Golden Dart Frog, Ladybug.
The Panda review had me laughing out loud:
"After toys with lead in them, food products with lead in them, and lead toys with food in them, pandas are China's fourth biggest export. They are best known for sitting dumbly in zoos around the world while visitors fawn over them and their adorable Chinese names. While about sixteen hundred pandas are alive in the wild, the vast majority (about thirty two) live in foreign zoos, where most of their time is dedicated to not mating...While everyone worries about the panda's future, any objective observer is led to the conclusion that perhaps its time has passed. Maybe Nature is trying to give them the hint that they need to go the way of the dodo, and maybe we should spend our time on a species that at least wants to survive. In the meantime, pandas occupy valuable zoo space and consume prodigious amounts of bamboo that could otherwise be used to produce offbeat furniture. Way to be, GaoGao."
I could keep quoting my favorite passages of the book, but anyone reading this should just go ahead and read the book instead. Or look at the blog. The blog, as I said, is very unassuming. With the book you get color pictures with captions and little fun facts in each chapter.

1 comment:

Julia said...

That was hilarious about the panda! I agree! I'll have to read that book.