Books must be read

Some of you have noticed I’ve irked Stuart Pivar with my review of his old book, Lifecode, and as he’s been quick to tell me, he has made substantial revisions in his new version, which has the same name. Anyway, he has left comments




here, and

here, and I’ve got a mailbox full of his frantic hallooing, some of which claims I “have transcended the barrier separating protected commentary from libel.” (Now, now, Stuart — threatening reviewers with lawsuits is not a good way to get a positive review, and also tends to compromise what good reviews you do get. I’ll pretend it wasn’t said.)

He promised to ship me a new copy by the next day last Friday; I’m sorry to say it isn’t here yet, but no fault of Stuart’s — I coulda told him the stagecoach from Sauk Center only comes to Morris twicet a week, and it ain’t never on a Sunday, and the driver always gets drunk in Glenwood on a Saturday night. I’m sure it’ll be here tomorrow, though, and I’ll be sure to read it as soon as possible with the same critical diligence as the last one and put up a new review.

Stuart also threatened promised to send copies to all of my biology colleagues here at UMM. I’m sure they will be thrilled.

Alas, though, all these incoming books remind me that I have a stack sent to me by publishers pending review, and I’ve got about eight at once that I’m trying to read, one for each tentacle, and I’ve got to do something to diminish the pile. I have set myself a goal therefore: this is going to be Book Review Week. I am going to finish at least one a day and put up a review here — five books in five days. I think I can do it if I just get disciplined and apply both eyes to one book at a time until it’s absorbed, and there are a couple that aren’t too weighty and should be readily digestible.

Lifecode Mk II will be one of them, I promise.


  1. Caledonian says

    “have transcended the barrier separating protected commentary from libel”

    Transcended?! So libel is a form of protected commentary, and protected commentary is a form of libel?

    Ooh, I’d love to see the court when he makes *that* argument.

  2. JJR says

    I think he meant to say “traversed”; But transcended…yeah, opposing counsel should have fun with THAT–not to mention the judge.

    Book reviews make such good, fun blog-fodder…looking forward to it…

    Our local Humanist/Freethought meetups in Houston have kind of turned into an informal “show & tell” kind of book club; I always go with another one of my Freethought books under my arm that I haven’t showed off yet, and others are starting to do the same. I need to bring my laptop & show them Pharyngula.

  3. Marion Delgado says

    I am probably at the other end of the Bell Curve from PZ Meyers with respect to/for religion, but as many here probably can also say, I asked Steven Jay Gould about some of this (at public presentations – in Alaska they tend to be small and you get to ask people repeated questions).

    Even as he said he didn’t think evolutionary theory and rational religion were in any conflict, he made it very clear that he was a fairly mainstream evolutionary biologist and advocate. My personal impression was that he would have loved the Steve statement.

    Friends don’t always understand friends or always agree on things. Obviously Gould thought there were enough gaps and/or anomalies to make his punctuated equilibrium theory plausible, but not enough to make Darwinian evolution, including natural selection, questionable.

    Even though this guy was a friend of Gould’s, this seems like an even worse case of abuse of someone being dead than what was done with Al Gore’s climate science professor after he died. People with genuine plausibility don’t need to stop this low.

  4. Jeb, FCD says

    WTF is wrong with these people? How is it that we, the minority, are the psychological normal ones?

  5. says

    WTF is wrong with these people? How is it that we, the minority, are the psychological normal ones?

    Who’re you calling “we,” freakshow?

  6. says

    If you meet your goal, I will again be struck by the awe of the glory that is PZ. I seriously don’t know how you do it. I suspect you have cloned yourself, and you have your doppelgangers in a basement chained to computers or books.

    Seriously, how do you find the time to prep a talk in front of the Minnesota Atheists on neurobiology, read and review five books in five days, plunder the Spanish Main, and feed Christian babies to cephalopods?

  7. llewelly says

    Mike, when deadlines are tight, PZ hands off the duties of plundering and cephalopod-feeding to his numerous sycophants. If you bash enough theists, you too can be rewarded with these honorable duties.

  8. says

    “Books must be read” reminds me of the sign: “Dogs must be carried on this escalator.” People were wondering if you had to get a dog to use the escalator.

  9. says

    Yes, send me a bit and I’ll tell you if it needs editing. Probably only the lightest of touches, although I realize that that’s like asking the barber if you need a haircut.

    P.S. – anyone in the Greater Toronto area – I have two kittens for adoption.

  10. Peter Ashby says

    “I’ve got about eight at once that I’m trying to read, one for each tentacle”

    Are they in Braille?…

  11. Sivi Volk says

    “…stagecoach from Sauk Center…”

    I read “…stagecoach from Sulk Center…”.

  12. Marion Delgado says

    PZ Meyers has made yet another beginner’s mistake here.

    The new Lifecode is not written by Stuart Pivar, but by another person of the same name.