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Showing posts from January, 2006

Why do Men have Nipples? – Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg ****

Mystifyingly, the publisher has classified what is actually a totally brilliant popular science book (with just one proviso) as humour. The premise is simple, and summed up by the subtitle: “hundreds of questions you’d only ask your doctor after your third martini.” Those questions that get pressed on medical people after a few drinks at a party, of which the book’s title is just one example. These questions and answers are superb, and we’ll see a little more about them in a moment. But first let’s get that proviso out of the way. The one thing that really lets this book down, is why it doesn’t have 5 stars, and is why the humour classification is so mystifying, is the authors’ vain attempts to be funny in between the answers to the questions. These come in two forms. A fictional party scenario, at which the various types of question might arise, and a series of exchanges between the authors using instant messaging, which are just as inane and boring as anyone else’s ramblings on inst…

Seven Deadly Colours – Andrew Parker ****

Andrew Parker has a mission to show us how important the eye is. This is technically the second book of a trilogy. The first, In the Blink of an Eye portrayed the development of the eye as one of the significant driving factors of evolution, triggering (in Parker’s words) an arms race that continues today. In Seven Deadly Colours, Parker moves on to show the significance of colour in life forms and its relationship with the eye. (Actually he argues that objects don’t really have colour, it’s only eyes that define colour, but this is a little specious, as long as you consider colour to be a measure of the wavelengths of light emitted.) To show how important colour is, he divides the book into seven major sections reflecting the colours of the rainbow (with the unnecessary indigo removed and ultra violet thrown in). Each section also features one particular creature, though there are plenty of diversions and inclusions, and each section details one particular way of producing colour, be…