Geek Girls Rule #179 – News of the Geek and a Review of Mu(t)an(t)s by Leroi

First off, I apologize, again, for the radio silence.  Yeah, moving, sorting, unpacking, trying to figure out what to get rid of, acquiring things we didn’t have and needed, etc… It all takes so very much more out of you than you realize.  Add to that work stress and various and other stresses, and yeah… I think we should all be very grateful I’m not drooling in a corner right about now.

We will be at DragonFlight this year, we will not be at PAX.  It’s less that I would feel unsafe, and more that while it’s nice that they try to make a place for pen and paper RPG-ers, it’s just not our scene.  The expo hall is pretty fun, but I have yet to come out of there having bought ANYTHING.  Honestly, not even dice.  I’m the girl who can’t walk in the DOOR at DragonFlight or GameStorm without dropping money like it’s a bad boyfriend, and I don’t think I’ve bought anything at PAX ever.  So, we’re going to focus on DragonFlight and Geek Girl Con, and leave it at that.

We’ve been playing the HELL out of Dresden Files Rpg. Honestly, if Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game is Burning Wheel Lite, then The Dresden Files is Spirit of the Century RPG-lite.  Or at least SotC/FATE smoother and more streamlined.  Except for the magic system.  But then again, I don’t think I’ve ever met a magic system I haven’t been annoyed by, so take that how you will.

Yeah, the cover suckered me in, but I really enjoyed the book.

On to the book review.  Being a big giant nerd, I like science.  I like science a lot.  Having formerly worked for a geneticist*, I am also highly, highly interested in genetics, and all the “fun shit” that can go wrong with the human body. In this spirit, I picked up Armand Marie Leroi’s Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body.  Ok, so the cover’s s little lurid, and I did not get what I thought I was getting, which was another catalog of the myriad ways humanity’s genome can fuck up.  What I did get was quite a good attempt at explaining how people with deleterious genetic issues have helped us figure out how humanity develops in utero, and in some respects how we might have evolved.

Some of the language did go a bit over my head, so this might be a bit much for anyone who has absolutely no background in the language of genetics, but I think the author did a pretty good job of laying it out in the simplest terms possible. Chapters focus on various inherited disorders and afflictions, and then he explains what that affliction can or has taught us about human development and heritability.

I burned through this book in four days of lunch hours and bus rides.  He did lose me a bit going in depth into the functions of the “sonic hedgehog” gene, but for the most part the language in the book is accessible and easy to digest.  At least if you have some grounding, like I said, in the language of genetics. If you’re into science, and are interested in very basic embryology and the scientific understanding of mutations, check this out.  It was a quick, enjoyable and educational read.  His last chapter, where he sums up why he thinks we should be studying the genetic differences in humanity is pretty compelling, and includes the following paragraph:

“For my part, I should love to know the genes responsible for human diversity; the genes for the differences – be those differences between men and women who live in the same village or those who have never trodden on each other’s continents.  In part this is simply for the pleasure of knowing.  This is the pleasure that comes from looking at Gabriel Dante Rossetti’s painting La Ghirlandata and knowing that his model, Alexa Wilding, had two loss-of-function MC1R mutations that gave her such glorious red hair.  This pleasure of knowing is partly that which all science gives, but to which is added the pleasure that comes from understanding the reason for something that has been hitherto at once familiar but completely mysterious.”

Remember we’ve got the GGR TwitterTumblr and Facebook page.

 

*Pediatric Immunologist, actually, but part of the team that isolated the genes responsible for a large number of inherited auto-immune diseases.  Seriously, if you ever want to decide not to have children, I can point you to some textbooks that will make your ovaries lock themselves tight.

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