40 days and 40 nights

I have been forgetting to mention that Darwin descendant Matthew Chapman’s book 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin®, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania has just appeared in the bookstores. Here is the publisher’s website with background material, an interview with Chapman in New Scientist, the Amazon page, a review, and Chapman’s February 2006 article on the Kitzmiller trial in Harper’s.

I plan to write a review at some point, but let me say right now that Chapman’s version of the Dover battle is hilarious and pretty much every participant gets boiled down to their essence in a witty one or two sentences from Chapman’s pen. I assume Chapman acquired this skill as a scriptwriter. Anyway, to illustrate, here is yours truly on p. 53:

Matzke, by contrast, [specifically, by constrast with AU lawyer Richard Katskee, who “looked as if he had just stepped out of the pages of GQ”], was from Oakland, California, and usually looked as if he had just rolled out of bed. The NCSE staffer initially assigned to the Dover flare-up, he now briefed the lawyers on the arcane ins and outs of science. Bespectacles, in his thirties, he was tall and large and peered down at you with a look of beleaguered doubt, as if to say, “You’re asking me this question about science, but you know and I know that you’re not going to understand my answer, so, although I find this stuff fascinating, wouldn’t you really rather go for a beer?”

True enough I’m afraid…