Martin Gardner's latest book may be a hodgepodge of odds and ends, but it still adds up to an entertaining read.
"When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That" is light on his famous mathematical puzzles and problems, and heavy on his opinions on politics, religion, science and literature "? many previously published in assorted periodicals. But don't worry: There's some fun scattered about, too.
Gardner begins the book by ripping ultra-conservative commentator Ann Coulter a new one for her "below-the-belt punches," hate speech and adherence to intelligent design. It might read like the ramblings of an old man, if so many people didn't share his views.
Sticking with pragmatism, the author debunks paranormal activity, pseudoscience and scientific illiteracy. Later, Tulsa's Richard Roberts and anyone who uses "socialism" without knowing its true meaning earn his considerable ire.
On the lighter side, Gardner pays tribute to the works of L. Frank Baum and presents a brain teaser related to Dracula's vodka-and-blood martini. "Tadpole" is admittedly scattershot, content-wise, but he mostly scores everywhere he shoots.