Each month in “The Six-Point Inspection,” Future Tense and Zócalo Public Square take a quick look at new science and technology books that are changing the way we see our world.
Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote
The nutshell: Devastated by the death of his beloved dog Merle, the star of the best-selling Merle’s Door, nature writer Kerasote set out to find a successor who would live the longest, healthiest life possible—and to determine the reasons, from genes to food to veterinary care, why dogs live only a fraction of the years that humans do.
Literary lovechild of: John Grogan’s Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog and Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell, and Colin Tudge’s The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You held a funeral for your dog, then had him stuffed and placed in the family room.
Cocktail party fodder: Many of the golden retrievers in the United States today can be traced back to three dogs from the 1970s. In 2010, one of them, champion show dog Misty Morn’s Sunset, had 95,359 registered descendants.
For optimal benefit: Make your kid read this before you agree to get him a puppy for Christmas. He needs more issues.
Snap judgment: Kerasote’s anthropomorphizing can be annoying, and his search for a canine Methuselah seems a little insane—but he’s saved by his extensive research and his genuine affection for animals.
The nutshell: After a string of bad dates courtesy of JDate, Match, and eHarmony, journalist and media consultant Webb decided to two-time the online matchmaking world. She created fake profiles of male daters in order to get a look at how her female competitors were presenting themselves, and she made herself a points scale to rate potential dates. In the end, she figured out what works with enough precision to meet her husband (or, as JDate would have it, beshert). Read an excerpt from Data, a Love Story on Slate.
Literary lovechild of: Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City and Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You’ve tried old-fashioned dating. It’s time to cut the crap.
Cocktail party fodder: The third most common way that couples now meet is via online dating sites (through work or school, or introduced by friends or relatives, are one and two).
For optimal benefit: Read before you play Cyrano Bergerac for your best friend’s JDate profile.
Snap judgment: Webb’s neuroses are hilarious—as are her interfering family members—and while some of ways she “gamed” the system seem obvious, her advice on dating is sound.
The nutshell: Futurist David Houle argues that a new era has dawned on humanity, and it is going to—or rather, has already—changed everything. We’re leaving an age defined by information and entering one defined by consciousness—consciousness of the finite resources of our planet, of the interconnectedness of the globe, and of the power of technology.
Literary lovechild of: Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock and Tim Wu’s The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.
You’ll find it on your bookshelf if: You already own Houle’s Ending the Transformation Age: The New Shift of the Age Era and Transforming the Age Shift: The Information of the New Era Ending.
Cocktail party fodder: In 1985, the United States accounted for nearly 50 percent of all cellphones and 90 percent of all Internet users. In 2005, those numbers were 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
For optimal benefit: Crack this book open whenever globalization’s gotten you down. It won’t necessarily cheer you up, but you’ll look smart.
Snap judgment: Houle breaks down big ideas into easily digestible, entertaining small bites. So what if they’re sometimes a little too easy?
Previous Six-Point Inspections:
January 2013: Contagion, Mankind Beyond Earth, and Raw Data Is an Oxymoron.
December 2012: Saving Babies, Near-Earth Objects, and Learning To Change the World.
November 2012: Netflixed, Discord, and Million Death Quake.
October 2012: The Launch Paid, Regenesis, and The Digital Rights Movement.
September: 2012 Unfit for the Future, Automate This, and This Machine Kills Secrets.
August 2012: Resilience, Interop, and Green Illusions.