Hi.

Paperback “We need to talk about this”

Paperback, 5.5" x 8.5", glossy cover. * 182 pages. * Language: English. * Product dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm. * ISBN-10: 1692436414. * ISBN-13: 978-1692436414. * Including shipping. * Shipped by the author.

£18.99

Hi there. Nice to meet you.

I recently wrapped up this third edition of “We need to talk about this”. You can also find it at places like Barnes & Noble and Amazon in print and as e-book.

It’s about the new eugenics and about related topics such as inclusivity (inclusiveness) and diversity in society.

That’s a bioethics topic.

You can download each individual chapter here:

I was stunned to discover that even many colleagues in academia and industry have never heard of CRISPR (gene editing). We so urgently need a public dialogue about this stuff and we need everyone’s engagement so that we can reach a global consensus.

Why,  you ask? Because having national regulations in this area is fairly useless if people can hop on a plane to circumvent them, the way some Brits are already doing when they fly to places like Cyprus because they want a girl or they want a boy, but not either.

The matter is too important for that as it may eventually have a huge impact on our society and is directly related to how we treat each other.

My next book will be about cruelty. (I expect it to be published on 31 August. It is already available for preordering on Amazon. For the background of the photo, see this post.)

book coverWe need a more compassionate world as that would benefit everyone, but the people who need to hear that the most are the people who reject words like compassion and empathy.

Cruelty and callousness are at the far end on the same spectrum (extreme altruism is at the other end), so you can make the world a better place by working on ameliorating and eliminating cruelty. How did cruelty become considered so cool in the UK/England, I’ve been wondering lately. 

My next book after that will be “We’re such animals!”.

Below is more information on my writing activities and you can access my Amazon author profile here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angelina-Souren/e/B005MN5IU2

Article in the Arcadis magazine Elements, about the BioWatch program. The person I talked with about that was Herb Dempsey.

Before I moved to Britain, I was part of the team of Elements, a print magazine published by Arcadis (@ 55 euros per hour, excl. of VAT) as part of my business activities.

At around the same time, I was also editor-in-chief of the newsletter and scientific yearbook of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society of which I was a board member.

For 11 years, I served as associate editor for the international newsletter of the Geochemical Society, which is based in the US.

I have interviewed people all over the world, on location as well as by phone and e-mail, from China to Chile and from Amsterdam to Paris and Oxford. I particularly remember finally being able to catch up with a very busy person (Herb Dempsey, who is now one of my LinkedIn connections) on his mobile phone at an airport somewhere in the US, while he was waiting for his connecting flight.

I also remember speaking with two highly sympathetic people who were based in China at the time, working for Arcadis: Thomas Kustusch who is German and Theo Tombeur who’s Belgian. Talking with Wim Verheugt and Ties van Kempen about the Black Sea particularly stands out as well, of course, in view of my professional background.

Professor Sir Keith O’Nions while I was interviewing him

I remember my interview with Claude Allègre in Paris because I learned several lessons from it, starting with “don’t assume that the other person who is going to be there with you knows a thing or two about interview techniques”. I could have strangled her when she interrupted when I deliberately allowed a silence to stretch, but it was my fault. Before I started interviewing people, I had read up a bit on the techniques that “proper” journalists use. I should have talked strategy with her.

Funny, that. Proper journalists. I met with some resistance – I won’t mention any names – from someone who was convinced that scientists don’t know how to write. The same person then soon forgot that I was a scientist and introduced me to everyone as a “journalist”, which is enough to make most scientists clam up instantly. The label that fits me has not been found yet. That still confuses a lot of people.

Of course, I remember my interview with Keith O’Nions, who had just been knighted and as well as been appointed to become the next Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. He is a kind and highly entertaining person. I had a heck of a sinus headache when I interviewed him and I am sure that it affected my conversational skills badly, but Keith remained enthusiastic.

I was still based in Amsterdam then and combined interviewing Keith in Oxford with giving a talk in Plymouth afterward.

Much later, while I was living in the UK, I wrote some flash fiction that is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Spike Milligan, a Brit who lives in Belgium told me. I think that it only applies to some of it. I discovered that it is probably closer to Donald Barthelme’s quirky style. My flash fiction is available from various online retailers.

Later, I translated one of Richard Bintanja’s books into “The Ultimate Brainchild” of which the topic suits nicely within the context of the new eugenics. It is a well-crafted novel with a Gattaca-style theme though it is very different from Gattaca. It highlights abilities people like Anna Breytenbach use consciously.

I have also contributed considerably to more than a handful of popular science books in the Dutch “For Dummies” series.

My first academic publication, in marine biogeochemistry (in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta), had only me as author and was published as a tripartite discussion with a contribution from Jim Moffett, on whose work my article was a comment, and another one from Brad Tebo. It was accepted without any revisions. In part, it was a rewrite of a shorter article that I had submitted to Science in 1996 and after resubmission was deemed more suitable for a specialized journal.

At around the same time, I convened an AGU conference session in Boston on the role of fungi in the marine environment, supported by a grant from the Dr. Catharine van Tussenbroek Fonds. That got me invited to a conference in Hong Kong, but I only submitted an abstract as I was unable to travel to Hong Kong at the time. Fortunately, I was able to participate in the PICO-III symposium in Plymouth later that year, which I combined with a trip to Oxford where I did the O’Nions interview.

(Lay people are quick to assume that scientists get paid to talk at conferences. Instead, they have to pay. Something similar goes for publishing. That does not mean that your work is accepted as long as you pay. Science is a very expensive profession. Thankfully, some scientific journals don’t charge scientists for publishing in them.)

In 2000, I wrote a review on the environmental chemistry of cyanide, which was cited all over the world. I also contributed a quote about the Mariana Trench for a book in Canada.

(My business website – at a domain that I no longer own – used to contain over 200 pages and was listed on several Wikipedia pages, including the one on the Mariana Trench.)

Article in the Arcadis magazine Elements about the biogas plant at the Bandeirantes landfill (PDF) for which I spoke with Jair Roxo with whom I stayed in contact after that. (So when I found him as a new, week-old LinkedIn connection on 26 August 2018, with a photo that was not Jair either, I was not amused. Jair had been one of my oldest LinkedIn connections. Hacking…)

Other than that, I have written so many bits and pieces here and there (mostly on geochemistry and environmental chemistry, occasionally including health issues, and also on feminism and on women in science), that it’s impossible to list or even remember them all.

I had already started writing stories and articles when I was in primary school. I was on my school’s first newspaper team, went on a typewriting course when I was 18 and purchased my own typewriter shortly after.

As a teenager, I sent a letter to a national weekly – more or less a Dutch counterpart of RadioTimes – about a play by G.B. Shaw that had been aired. They published it.

In the early 1980s, I sent a letter to Tineke Beishuizen (a Dutch writer and columnist) about my mother’s illness and death in response to the passing of someone in Tineke’s vicinity (her mother in law, if I recall correctly).

I received a letter back from Tineke, asking me for permission to use the letter as a column (adapted, of course) in the women’s magazine Libelle, as well as a lot of encouragement to write more. We spoke on the phone; I called her from a phone booth in Hilversum or Baarn as I didn’t have a landline in those days when we weren’t as connected yet as we all are today.

I also submitted an item to women’s weekly Viva, about my cat Tim who I’d adopted from the shelter around the time when I began working on my Master’s. Viva published the item and sent me a voucher in return. (I think it was for 25 guilders’ worth of flowers.)

A bit later in the 1980s, I sent about a dozen letters to the editor of Dutch national daily De Volkskrant, responding to articles in the newspaper. Almost all were published and all or almost all in the Saturday edition. Most were about violence against women and children.

I wrote these letters after I had been raped by an intruder who had climbed onto the balcony of my student flat while I was asleep. Writing the letters was part of my process of working through what had happened. I also signed up for a self-defence course for women at Vrouwencentrum Kenau in Amsterdam and I read books like Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will to try to understand what had happened to me. Right after it happened, my friend Juul Everaars – who was a geology student as well – hopped on her bicycle to be with me to support me and my two siblings drove up from the south. (I called Juul first, the police next.)

The rapist returned half a year later. I woke up, walked to the door in combat stance, but I grabbed a knife along the way and it hit a glass. The sound alerted the guy. When I moved the curtain slightly to be able to look onto the balcony, I found him crouched right there, at the glass door. He jumped up and disappeared over the balustrade. (Police told me I should have grabbed my geologist’s hammer instead.) Building management helped me move to a different flat in the complex after that. I later threw a party to celebrate that I was leaving it all behind me and moving on.

As 8 or 9 out of 10 of my letters to De Volkskrant were published, I did not realise at all that it was quite hard to get letters published in that particular newspaper. I discovered that later, during an evening course at the Netherlands School for Journalism, when the instructor specifically mentioned it as part of the class one evening, as a way of assessing one’s writing skills and as a challenge to set ourselves. In those days, newspapers were still print-only so editors had to be highly selective.

Sadly, I no longer have any of these letters as I had to leave them behind in the US.

I also did a lot of writing for the NIMF foundation in those days and took some time out from my Master’s to focus on my work for it, including symposium organisation and PR, some of that with the amazing Hélène van Pinxteren (RIP) and the brilliant Kine Sittig as well as with Nanne Weber (RIP), Martje Roessing (RIP), Hadass Eviatar, Rineke Verbrugge, Elly Jeurissen and others who are all super women in their own way.

(I took two evening courses at the Netherlands’ School for Journalism in Utrecht while I was completing my Master’s.)

In the mid-1990s, when I was living in the US, I wrote a letter to the editor of an American newspaper (the St. Peterburg Times, which won twelve Pulitzer Prizes since 1964, but later merged into a larger regional newspaper). That too was published, but its content wasn’t spectacular. It expressed enthusiasm about my experiences at the university there.

Its title was something like “Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side”.