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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
Gray Matters - William Hjortsberg - Boy, I will not have you reading pornography in my classroom. Is that understood?

- But sir -

- Is that understood?

- But, sir, it's not pornography. It's not. It really isn't!

- I am interested to hear, boy, that accounts of underage girls having sexual intercourse with dogs are not -

- But sir. Sir. You know how you're always telling us not to take things out of context?

- Ah, yes, I have probably said that a few times.

- Well sir, that's just what you're doing now sir. It's not pornographic. It's about the search for enlightenment. And the nature of reality.

- Am I to understand, then, that passages about women having their breasts whipped with thorny bouquets of roses are actually about the search for enlightenment?

- Well sir, I know it doesn't sound like that sir, but taken in context it is. Sex is just another way to try and reach enlightenment. And it all happens in her imagination sir. She's really a brain in a vat and she's trying to get back into contact with reality.

- Boy, excuse me for asking the question, but are your sexual insights based on theory or practice?

- Ah, so far mostly theory. But this book made me think a lot. Sir.

- You are putting up a spirited defence, boy. You may yet escape without receiving the detention you so richly deserve.

- Thank you sir. It's really about how perception is more than just a flow of neural impulses sir. Sex is about reconnecting with your body and experiencing the real world. A brain in a vat is missing something essential. It's a metaphor for what's wrong with modern society sir.

- Boy, have you been reading E.M. Forster?

- No sir.

- Hermann Hesse?

- No sir.

- Daniel Dennett?

- No sir. Just William Hjortsberg sir. And Commander Pants.

- Well boy, you may occasionally want to read something that isn't trash science-fiction.

- Yes sir. Though it's actually quite well written. You can borrow it if you like sir.

- Really?

- Yes sir. As long as you give it back. My friend wants to read it. Sir.

- Hm. Well, I may accept your gracious offer. Thank you.

- Sir?

- Boy, I have told you before not to interrupt me. Ah, I see what you mean about brains in vats.

- Sir, about my detention -

- Boy, never mind about that. You've got away with it again. Dismissed!