Above you’ll see Clifford and Mink pictured on my new Kindle. I’ve written earlier about my struggles with technology. One of the great strengths of the Kindle is its utility as an e-reader. For plain text and simple black and white illustrations, it is great. It can easily be used while walking on a treadmill.
Lest this appear to be an advertisement for Kindle, there are a few serious flaws. As I feared, it is terrible for reading pdfs. The keyboard is also useless unless you are a thumb-twiddling texter—and I have never even owned a cellphone.
But you can e-mail a Word document to Amazon where it will be converted to a Kindle readable document and then downloaded wirelessly to your reader. Very slick. I have yet to insert any figures, but the Clifford and Mink picture looks promising.
Now, of course, the Kindle makes it very easy for you to download books and pay Amazon money. However, if you are clever it is possible to find a large amount of free material. So naturally I downloaded all of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. Now I’m set to while away the odd moment.
I also discovered that Greg Petsko’s Genome Biology essays for the last 10 years are available on Amazon for the princely sum of 98 cents. A steal at twice the price. Some of them are inside baseball, but many are readable with pleasure by the average intelligent layman. I immediately noticed that some of the essays have been written by Clifford and Mink, who sometimes stand in for Greg when he has more pressing obligations like grant-writing or teaching undergraduates. Clifford and Mink are the resident experts on the dog genome.
(For the artsy types who would not ordinarily look at Genome Biology, I recommend one of Greg’s strongest essays: A Faustian Bargain: An open letter to George M. Philip, President of the State University of New York at Albany.)
It is helpful to have friends to cover for you. I have such a person in Dr. Pangloss, who lives at home in my locked basement. Sometimes during the day he manages to get out and posts independently. This has gotten me in a lot of trouble, for example he once got in a flame war with a reader about whether he was a psychiatrist.
Because I thought that C&M might want to expand their repertoire, I wrote to them recently about the arsenic, DNA, and little green men business. To which they replied:
Dear Dr. Gleason,
We thank you for your very nice compliment … Greg, who is typing this for us (our paws are too big for the keys) … told us about the arsenic-eating bacteria and we are skeptical.
Why would anyone eat arsenic when there are pork chops around?
We did think your comments on it were nicely balanced, though.
Do not try to defend the groomer. We hate the groomer.
Happy holidays and two big tail wags from
Mink and Clifford
An earlier version of this post has appeared on the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Illustration by the author.