WSJ Historically Speaking: A History of Dubious Hangover Cures

On Dec. 31, 1947, a celebrant at a New York nightclub overindulged. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

New Year’s Eve partygoers know three things: Somewhere fireworks are going off, somewhere a better party is going on, and somewhere there’s another serving of alcohol. After that, there’s the inevitable crashing headache in the morning. Dorothy Parker, one of the great tipplers of the 20th century, had it right: “A hangover is the wrath of grapes.”

The aforesaid grapes appear to have been in a nonstop rage from at least 7000 B.C., when the Chinese were crushing them in a recipe that included fermented rice and honey. Since then, the world’s greatest minds, sober and not, have been searching for a hangover cure, or at the very least a negotiated truce. Continue reading…

WSJ Historically Speaking: Monuments With Staying Power

In Turkey, a subterranean strategy. ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

In Turkey, a subterranean strategy. ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS FUCHS

Mount Rushmore celebrates its 75th birthday this month, with many more to come, according to geologists: They estimate that the granite presidential faces will withstand the forces of erosion for 7.2 million years.

Poets have long bristled at efforts by the rich and powerful to immortalize themselves in stone. In “Ozymandias” (1818), Percy Bysshe Shelley portrayed such attempts as vainglorious and futile. All that remains of Ozymandias, king of kings, is “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone… Near them, on the sand, / Half sunk, a shattered visage lies.” The poem’s ironic message lies in the king’s inscribed command to “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” when all around there is nothing but empty sand. Continue reading…