What are you reading?

This topic contains 421 replies, has 53 voices, and was last updated by  Richard L. 12 hours, 27 minutes ago.

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  • 18 May 2017 at 1:18 am #9452

    Richard L.

    Well, BLOOD MERIDIAN can be a tough nut to crack. It sometimes takes several readings before you can begin to appreciate it. Now it might not be worth it in your case. But maybe later it will be.


    Lastly he said that he had seen the souls of horses and that it was a terrible thing to see. He said that it could be seen under certain circumstances attending the death of a horse because the horse shares a common soul and its separate life only forms it out of all horses and makes it mortal. He said that if a person understood the soul of the horse then he would understand all horses that ever were.

    They sat smoking, watching the deepest embers of the fire where the red coals cracked and broke. –Cormac McCarthy, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES

    ALWAYS DREAMING runs in the Preakness Saturday, an odds-on favorite as he should be. He is a handsome colt, runs with his head down in the way of Northern Dancer, to whom he is inbred with three crosses, a couple of crosses to Secretariat through his sire, plus another cross to Secretariat’s dam, Somethingroyal. On back in his pedigree, of course, there are multiple crosses to Native Dancer and Man O War. A pretty pedigree.

    I don’t think that he is much better bred than the thoroughbreds I owned, but he certainly can run faster. I was on hand to see Northern Dancer set the track record in the Kentucky Derby back in 1964, and again was there when Secretariat broke that record in 1973.

    At the time, I believed in the superhorse theory; that is, I believed that because thoroughbreds were selectively bred for speed, that over time they mutated and got faster and faster. You could depend on track records falling again and again.

    I had it all wrong. Secretariat was a very good horse, but there is no such thing as a superhorse. When you ran very good horses on the new steroids back then, they did indeed look like relative superhorses. Despite the selective breeding of horses for speed over two centuries now, the thoroughbred horse is not remarkably faster at all.

    This is because, given the physicality of the horse, he has been bred to the limits of his design. His form, his body is not designed to be tough enough to withstand more speed without breaking down–or at least without medical assistance like drugs that help him breathe or mask the pain. And that’s only a temporary fix, and not genetic gift that can be passed on.

    Secretariat was the Mark McGwire/Barry Bonds of horseracing. He was good, just not that good. He was a good sire, but not a great sire, his strength being that he was only bred to quality mares by whom he had a couple of marvelous fillies and broodmares. But a lot of unremarkable horses too.

    The one rule of breeding that you can bank on is: New foals tend to return to the norm. The norm isn’t bad, it just isn’t exceptional. That’s why there are so many foals born each year, but so few winners of any kind of a race, whatever their breeding. It’s a numbers game, and the odds are always bad.

    I read Tesio’s lost manuscript sometime back, and I was amazed at his opinion that horses have evolved two or three times after becoming extinct. Perhaps, like the fox/dogs in the Russian experiments, the horse is a form that nature likes and will return to again and again.

    I love that McCarthy quote.

    25 May 2017 at 10:10 am #9472

    Richard L.

    Some time back, I mentioned Beth Shapiro’s HOW TO CLONE A MAMMOTH: THE SCIENCE OF DE-EXTINCTION (2015), and later I also read Helen Pilcher’s BRING BACK THE KING: THE NEW SCIENCE OF DE-EXTINCTION (2016). Both are good, but if you can only read one of these, read the former.

    One of the episodes of THROUGH THE WORMHOLE in the current season features Beth Shapiro and her work on cloning. Wow, she has quite a screen presence. If you are interested in this stuff, don’t miss it. I may go back and read her book again, it was that inspiring.

    I don’t think it would be advisable to clone the King (Elvis Presley) or Secretariat, but I do think it might be worthwhile to clone a version of the Mammoth/Elephant and turn it loose on the tundra, as Shapiro suggests. The mammoth once inhabited Kentucky and a few very early hunters claimed to have encountered it, but I think they must have just encountered mammoth skeletons which were still laying about the salt licks here.

    I would not be in favor of returning the mammoth to these environs. It is bad enough that we now have to put up with so many deer and coyotes.

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