Sunday, August 21, 2016

How Does Aspirin Find a Headache? (if you really want to know)

     David Feldman. How Does Aspirin Find a Headache? (1993) Feldman made a name for himself as a collector of much-puzzled-over trifles, publishing ten books and working on #11. His website lists all ten titles, all now available as e-books. This one (#6) is a typical collection, answering questions such as the title, and What did Barny Rubble do for a Living?, What’s the Difference between French and Italian Bread?, etc. His humour is too often arch, but insofar as we all come across puzzles we can’t solve, the books fill a need. Unlike many of the answer compilations that people circulate as emails, these are as well researched as possible.
     There’s a section on “frustables”, ie “frustrating imponderables”, in which Feldman not only fesses up about his ignorance, but provides overviews of what is and what is not known about questions such as Does anyone really like fruitcake? (Yes, I do, and I’m not alone, albeit in a minority, it seems. I think that fruitcake has to be soaked in brandy or rum, wrapped in foil and plastic, and allowed to ripen for a year or so.)
     The appetite for trivia will never be slaked. The number of click-bait sites featuring 10 Most Horrifying Worms and similar lists increases daily. Even New Scientist has Questions page, on which readers ask about odd stones or strange organic looking debris for other readers to asnwer.
     Good collection, a nice way to while away a few minutes when you’re too tired for productive work and pleasure, but not tired enough for sleep. ***

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