Larry Hosken: New: Book Report: When You were a Tadpole and I was a Fish

What's that you say? The Gathering for Gardner was this last weekend? Then I'm a few days late to be topical with a book report on When You were a Tadpole and I was a Fish. But books are a slow medium, so let's say that I'm not overly late.

It's a book of essays by Martin Gardner. Martin Gardner is, of course, the guy who wrote those excellent Mathematical Games columns for Scientific American. And he's done some cool annotations for geeky books, like The Annotated Alice. And he's written some stuff I wasn't so interested in. This book of essays has some good stuff. But 90% of this book was stuff I wasn't interested in.

I'm glad that there are skeptical people to debunk fraudulent psychics, prophets, and the like. Unfortunately, the frauds keep using the same tricks. So reading more debunkings isn't that interesting. There is some debunking in this book. If you aren't already tired of the stuff, this stuff is high-quality.

There's philosophy of religion. It just goes on. Well, if I were a philosopher, I'd probably think that Gardner was just getting warmed up. But I'm not a philosopher because I don't much like reading this stuff.

There was stuff about G.K. Chesterton. I bet that if I liked G.K. Chesterton's writing, I would have enjoyed that essay. Oh well.

There is some fun math stuff. There was a cool chapter about the Fibonacci sequence. There was a bit about tiling a grid with *ominos, which was fun because Scott Blomquist, the puzzle theory guy, was thinking about a vocabulary for describing puzzly grids at around the same time I was reading it. Yay.

Tags: book puzzle scene
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