Saturday, April 27, 2013

Some current reading

Mary Roach's books:

    MARY ROACH is the author of

"Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,"

"Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife,"

"Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex,"

"Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void"

"My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places"

"Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal."

I first learned about her, her research and her humor when Lynn started reading "Stiff", about the good many people have accomplished after their death when their bodies were used for scientific research. Parts of the book were so witty Lynn simply had to read them to me.  I first read experienced commentary on the experiences of a cadaver from Richard Selzer in his "Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery".  

I am currently reading Roach's "Bonk", about what science has found out about human sexual intercourse and the difficulties early researchers had in persuading funding authorities that they had serious science in mind and not just voyeur or salacious interests.  She writes with a lighthearted hand on subjects that many people have trouble even thinking about.  She covers such things as "vaginal weight lifting" in some of her writing.

As a friend says, switching here, we are reading aloud "The Vatican Diaries: A Behind the Scences Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church."  The job of serving as the religious focus and leaders of more than a billion people on several continents speaking many different languages is daunting to say the least.

Finally, inspired by discussion with friends, I am more than halfway through "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar", an attempt to illustrate philosophical concepts with jokes.  Many of the jokes are rather old but most are still good ones and most give me a laugh, even if a joke can not contain all the details of any major philosopher's ideas. Here is one I like and can remember but it is only a tickler, not a guffawer:

A: I got a riddle for you. What's green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?

S: I give up.

A: A herring.

S: But a herring isn't green.

A: So you can paint it green.

S: But a herring doesn't hang on the wall.

A: Put a nail through it, it hangs on the wall.

S: But a herring doesn't whistle!

A: So? It doesn't whistle.

Cathcart, Thomas; Klein, Daniel (2008-06-24). Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes (p. 12). Penguin Books. Kindle Edition.

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