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Download The Importance of Being Trivial fb2, epub

by Mark Mason

Download The Importance of Being Trivial fb2, epub

ISBN: 1847945171
Author: Mark Mason
Language: English
Publisher: Random House Books (July 8, 2008)
Pages: 224
Category: Puzzles & Games
Subcategory: Humour
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 767
Size Fb2: 1450 kb
Size ePub: 1931 kb
Size Djvu: 1521 kb
Other formats: lrf docx rtf mbr


Is trivia trivial? In his amiable book, Mark Mason examines why some people are fascinated by trivia and tries to pinpoint what makes the perfect fact. He questions what gives certain nuggets of information their appeal and why the people to which they appeal tend to be male.

Is trivia trivial? In his amiable book, Mark Mason examines why some people are fascinated by trivia and tries to pinpoint what makes the perfect fact. He debunks some "facts" that have seeped into the public consciousness (polar bears are not all left-handed) and talks to Professor Simon Baron-Cohen about autism and the idea of the "extreme male brain".

Mark Mason, who wrote an excellent book on walking the London Underground, much earlier in his career . Mark Mason's previous non-fiction includes The Importance of Being Trivial, Walk the Lines, The Bluffer's Guide To Football and The Bluffer's Guide To Bond.

Mark Mason, who wrote an excellent book on walking the London Underground, much earlier in his career, turned his attention to trivia. This book is his attempt to discover why we like trivia, and also a hunt for that most elusive of beasts: the perfect fact. He is also the author of three novels, and has written for most British national newspapers (though never about anything too heavy), and magazines from The Spectator to Four Four Two.

The clever thing about this is how someone managed to string together an amusing book about trivia, just as the clever thing about QI is how . But Mason's examination of the allure of trivia is overwhelmed by the examples

The clever thing about this is how someone managed to string together an amusing book about trivia, just as the clever thing about QI is how someone managed to make a TV programme about i. But Mason's examination of the allure of trivia is overwhelmed by the examples.

Wherever I went, though, I found it was always the trivia that excited me most. The intriguing stuff, the little facts that slip down the back of life's sofa. So I've ended up as the sort of guy who knows that Harrods dropped their apostrophe in 1921 (Sainsbury's still haven't). that Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents. that The Archers theme tune was produced by a young George Martin.

Books related to The Importance of Being Trivial.

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways.

Importance of Being Trivial Mason Mark Random House 9780099521822 : Our love of trivia must reveal .

Mark Mason's previous non-fiction includes The Importance of Being Trivial, Walk the Lines, The Bluffer's Guide To Football and The Bluffer's Guide To Bond.

If you find yourself intrigued by unusual pieces of information (and who isn’t), Mark Mason’s proud book of trivia will intrigue in its exploration of not just truly unimportant facts but also the science and psychology of our fascination with trivia.

Comments:

Phain
"... the only female in Lawrence of Arabia is Gladys the camel ..." ‒ from THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TRIVIAL

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TRIVIAL is author Mark Mason's search for the "perfect fact". Perfect, i.e., as regards to subject matter.

I'd previously read Mason's Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground, and have his Move Along, Please in my unread queue, and I thought this would be an engaging bridge between the two travel essays. Perhaps I was overly optimistic.

I'm as engaged by trivia as the next guy. I remember discovering and becoming absorbed in an earlier edition of Guinness World Records 2015 when I was but a lad, and there were brief frissons of delight when I learned in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TRIVIAL that a zebra's stripes are white on a black background (as opposed to black on white) and that the UK's M2 motorway is the only one that doesn't have a junction with any other. However, to arrive at finding "the perfect fact" Mason considers it necessary to define the general attributes of it; he comes up with seven ‒ including that it must be true, charming and surprising ‒ after interviews with various "experts" and pub mates.

One of my favorite smells is that of pine carried on cold, crisp mountain air. I'm sure there's a physiological reason for this, but I don't need to be bothered to know or understand the reason in order to garner pleasure from the experience. The same with trivia.

To me, the author overthought the topic to produce an often boring narrative just because, well, he could. (Much like this review. The difference being that my review is free for the taking and Mason's wants money in exchange.) Moreover, he admits that the conclusion he reaches was more or less apparent up front, much as it should be for the potential reader.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TRIVIAL isn't awful, just not really worth the time one will spend with it.
Yahm
I have been a quiz buff from early childhood till about a dozen years back.

In the seventies, at 11 am on Sundays we used to stay glued to the radio to hear Amin Sayani conduct the Bournvita Quiz Contest; and get the printed list of questions and answers by mail midweek.

In the eighties, "Book of Lists" by Irving Wallace and "Book of Facts" by Isaac Asimov augmented the love for trivia. Then, it was the monthly quiz event organized in Muscat by "trivia diva" Susi Natraj. We all took turns hosting them at our homes.

Later, it was the annual Dunhill Quiz contest; the questions were tough and prizes very modest. But the champions were held in high esteem.

Dunhill was replaced by the annual Times of Oman contest conducted by Derek O'Brien (held in a Soccer stadium holding an audience in excess of 10,000). The questions were probably only a shade above the average intellect of the crowd to keep the crowd engaged. Boy, the prizes were very attractive. (Dr Satish Nambiar, Nitin Khimji and I won the first championship. It was twice joyous since even the three of us did not think we would make it given the quality of competition. I guess it was the prize amount that motivated a practising doctor, a billionaire businessman and an oil company executive to team up and go gung-ho).

I have often wondered what drives folks to pick up, store, recall and regale trivial information? What explains the joy in doing all this? How does one counter the seemingly innocent and cleverly crafted enquiry of a life partner and friend on what is the use of all this information? Is there a limit to the number of facts we can store and recall? Why do we remember something forever; and forget others quickly?

Mark Mason provides a brilliant analysis in his book.

Some snippets:

1 Our brain has several billion neurons. When a new fact "hits" you, some neurons connect and form synapses (excitatory neuronal feedback systems). A brain of hundred million neurons could trigger a hundred trillion synapses! These connections help you store and recall. ("Cells that fire together wire together").

2 Male brain (53% of males and 42% of females have this) is "systematic". It organizes details bottoms up to strive toward the big picture. Female brain (yes, lots of males have them too) is "empathetic" and feels the big picture instead of going after the details.

3 Mark Mason meets several people to understand what makes a fact "perfect" enough to be "stored and recalled". Several tests are proposed. The fact should be true; should be charming; should be surprising; should help you understand; should be good enough to pass on to children; should link unlinked stuff; should relate to a system etc. In the end, Mark finds his own conclusion. Read the book to know what it is.

Hey, forget the analysis. Mark Mason has several "bombs of delight". Did you know that:

1 When you stand near the Big Ben tower, you can hear Big Ben chime on the radio (live broadcast by Channel 4 in London) earlier than the real chime itself (because light travels faster than sound)

2 Sleuth is the only film where the entire cast was nominated for Oscar (the film had just two actors: Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine)

3 Chicken tikka masala is not an Indian dish. It was invented in Britain to suit British tastes.

4 Monopoly prints more US money every day than US Treasury (over 200 times actually)

5 Elephant and Castle in London got its name from Infanta de Castille, the Spanish princess who lived there (and was engaged to Charles I).

6 When Woodrow Wyatt, the journalist/diarist, was asked by a receptionist in a French Hotel to spell his name, he responded: Waterloo, Ypres, Agincourt, Trafalgar and Trafalgar!

7 The Grand Canyon is big enough to store every human being in the World. Not like canned sardines. We all could have a small room to ourselves!

8 European Union exports more to Switzerland than to China!

9 My favorite: Dustin Hoffman stayed up all night, in true method-actor style, to simulate the exhaustion of his character in "Marathon Man". Hearing this, Laurence Oliver responded: "Dear Boy, Why don't you just act?"

Read for more snippets. Read for insightful analyses: by Mark Mason and by the various folks he meets who share his (your and certainly my) interests in joyous facts!

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