Published on March 2, 2014
Quizmaster: Pratyush Sinha A quiz about nothing (in particular)
• 4 Finite Pounce Rounds of 12 questions each - +10/0 for direct questions - +10/0 for pounce • 3 written rounds in between – Will be explained as and when they come • Quizmaster’s word is law
On your mark
The Butter Shave • This tradition is erroneously attributed to Harry Truman by many sources. However, there are no documents, speeches etc in the Truman Library that indicate that he ever did this. • John F. Kennedy spontaneously did this ironically just 4 days before his assassination, though it was due to considerations of size and appetite rather than due to empathy. • Reagan was the first President to do this on record, though he had meant it as a joke to distract attention from some other issues. And he wasn’t really consistent about it either. • George HW Bush institutionalised this custom and since then it has been followed by all the Presidents. • Obama demonstrated ‘courage’ while doing so recently.
Ukraine is game to you??! • On 31 January 1990, people in Moscow queued for more than six hours to witness the opening of this place. More than 30,000 people were served on the opening day. • It was one of largest of its kind in the world and for a time remained a tourist destination of sorts in Moscow. • So what was this remarkable place?
People who know the Roman script may recognize whatever is behind the blanked out portion
Super Terrific Happy Hour • In traditional Japanese weddings, people still bless a newly married couple by reciting an ancient proverb that they are the best bride and bridegroom across the three kingdoms of Kara, Tenjiku and Hinomoto. • Kara, Tenjiku and Hinomoto are metaphorically used to refer to something that is far, something that is farther than far and, something that is near respectively. However, they also have (or rather had) a more literal meaning. So what may the 3 words mean?
• Kara – China or Korea • Tenjiku - India • Hinomoto - Japan
Very, very bad man • #FreeX started trending on Twitter in Pakistan in November of 2013. • The official twitter pages of Jamat Ud Dawa and that of its cyber team accused India of employing Israeli oppression tactics in X. • There were also a lot of sympathetic tweets about their dear ‘brothers & sisters’ living in X by a number of Pakistanis. • Curiously, people actually living in X would hardly even know about any such atrocities or even about the fact that there are people in the world who are standing up against such imagined atrocities. • Give me X.
Yada Yada Yada • ‘Sahib,’ they said, ‘you must become a Sikh’. He thanked them for the honour, but he objected that he could not, as a British officer, let his hair grow long. Arur Singh [the Sarbrah or manager of the Golden Temple] laughed. ‘We will let you off the long hair,’ he said. He then offered another objection. ‘But I cannot give up smoking.’ the priest concluded, ‘We will let you give it up gradually.’ ‘That I promise you,’ said he ‘at the rate of one cigarette a year.’ • This was the conversation at the ceremony to confer the above mentioned gentleman with a saropa – a robe of honour – by the priests of the Golden Temple. This event along with previous others strengthened a long standing demand and catalysed the formation of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. • Who was the gentleman being conferred the honour ?
Made out during the Schindler’s List • X is a phrase coined by political theorist Hannah Arendt in her 1963 book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the X’ which is based on her coverage of the trial of former SS member Adolf Eichmann. • Arendt states that aside from a desire for improving his career, Eichmann showed no trace of anti-semitism or psychological damage. She suggested that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and fundamentally different from ordinary people. Eichmann was quite simply “doing his job” while also following the law. • The phrase has caused controversy over the years and has also been criticised by a section of academics.
Simple joke from a simple man • Robert Heinlein's Hugo-award-winning novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) is set on a Lunar colony in the 2070s. • It involves an AI, a High-Optional, Logical, Multi-evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L, which may be the first fictional artificial intelligence written with an attempt to justify its existence scientifically. • However, the protagonist of the story, Mannie addresses the AI by the nickname X, a shortened version of the name of a literary character written (as presumed by the protagonist) by the founder of the IBM, because X does nothing but sit and think. • The nickname X was incidentally cross-referenced very subtly in an adaptation of the work referenced by Heinlein.
The Heart Attack • We’ve all heard of déjà vu. However, there also exists a phenomenon known as presque vu. • It is known to be universal across genders and languages. Most of the languages refer to the same region of the human anatomy while referring to it. In fact, one of the few that does not, the American Sign Language too has a different but analogous idiom to refer to the phenomenon. • So what do we call this phenomenon in day-today usage ?
Tip of the Tongue
• - - - Some of the user reviews of this RAND Corporation book on Amazon: “A great read. Captivating. I couldn't put it down. I would have given it five stars, but sadly there were too many distracting typos. For example: 46453 13987. Hopefully they will correct them in the next edition.” By Fuat C. Baran "The Biblioholic" (New York, NY USA) “This has got to be the most useless set of sudoku puzzles ever. In my copy of the book, all of the puzzles were already filled in which I find really annoying and what is worse, most of them have been filled in wrongly. I have been through the whole book really carefully and only found seven puzzles that had been filled out correctly! Yes, just seven. Well, making the best of a bad job, I am now going through the book trying to correct all of the faulty puzzles and I will then submit my corrections. Perhaps a second edition will be more useful. I did find last week's winning lottery numbers on page 18 though.” By John Peter O'connor “If you gave a million monkeys a million adding machines, they could not create a work better than this masterpiece. It beats The Da Vinci Code cold! In short: It's number 1!” By Jonathan Green
The Good Samaritan • The Indian constitution has borrowed elements from a lot of different constitutions of the world. • For example, Parliamentary system from Britain, Fundamental Rights from US, the Directive Principles from Ireland, and the system of procedure established by law from Japan. • From which constitution was the provision of emergency and the suspension of certain fundamental rights during the same inspired ? • Interestingly, this constitution has been described by some historians as “on paper, the most liberal and democratic document of its kind the twentieth century has ever seen”
Run for your life
He’s a commie • In 1987, Mathias Rust was an 18 year old amateur pilot with a total flying experience of less than 50 hours. • Variously described as being daring, naïve, or irresponsible, a certain act by him contributed greatly to the end of the Cold War. • What did he do ?
So, did you figure out Darryl's... you know? • John Howard Griffin was an American journalist and author, much of whose writing was about racial equality. • He travelled through the Deep South in 1959 to experience segregation and wrote about it in his book ‘Black Like Me’, which went on to become a best-seller. • What was so unique or interesting about his account ? For good measure, I am throwing in a picture of him on the next slide.
Scary stare.. He was actually blind for a part of his life
Whose hands ?
Serenity Now • At an interview at the Harvard University recently, Bill Gates said that this function was a mistake and had he had his way with IBM, users would have been able to do get the same job done with just the press of a key. • What function ?
By this point, I’ve given up on witty headings. • Gary Gilmore was an American criminal who gained international notoriety for demanding the execution of his death sentence for two murders he committed in Utah. He was the first person in the United States executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 and his case left a deep cultural impact. • A disinterested Gilmore not wanting to prolong his ordeal uttered the words “________” just before a firing squad executed him in Utah in 1977. Years later, the phrase became the inspiration for company X’s “Y” campaign. • Y is a slightly tweaked version of the blank. Give me X or Y.
• There are various versions of the story. One of them goes like this. • Amrapali was the most beautiful woman in the whole of Vaishali. She had many suitors, including the undisputed king Manudev, who could even kill each other for the pleasure of having her as the bride. However, to avoid such conflicts, it was decided to make her the Nagarvadhu (‘the bride of the city’), a position which could be best described as a cross between a queen and a courtesan. Smitten by her beauty, Ajatshatru, the king of neighbouring Magadh, burned down the whole of Vaishali. This wanton destruction prompted Amrapali to renounce worldly desires and follow the path of Buddha. • The story of Amrapali has been adapted in films and print in the modern times most notably in the 1966 film Amrapali starring Vyjayanti Mala and the 1948 novel ‘Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu’ by Acharya Chatursen. • More recently the story of Amrapali was referenced in another non-fiction work, though it neither dwelt much on her beauty or her later life. • Which work ?
• Zablon Simintov is an Afghan carpet trader and restaurateur. He leads a pretty lonely life away from his family, who have migrated to another country. He lives in a small room on the Flower Street in Kabul and even butchers his own meat with permission from an Uzbeki, the nearest such person who could authorise him to do so. • What has been so unique about Mr. Simintov for the last 8 years ?
• Afghanistan’s only Jew
• This product maybe facing decline in large parts of the world but not so in Myanmar, where it made a comeback in 2013 after about 50 years. However, a number of competing brands are still struggling to turn up profits owing to a crowded market-place. • A recent survey ranked Myanmar above Malaysia and Singapore and not much far below India on an index that captures the conditions suited for the industry to thrive in 2014. • What product ?
• A X article is a Wikipedia article that ostensibly discusses the nominal subject, but in reality is a cover for a tangentially related biased subject. The nominal subject is used as an empty X, which ends up being mostly obscured by the “Y“ • X is a common object in most western homes, perhaps the first thing you may notice when you enter your house.
• A coatrack
• The Telegraph reported in April 2011 that Durak Aprel, an obscure archipelago located off the Siberian coast in the far north-east of the country had started seeing a surge in tourists owing to its shape. Travel Industry watchers have dubbed this trend ‘shapecation’ wherein people flock to places with have certain shapes, like a heart shaped island in Croatia. • So what was so interesting about this island ? • The Telegraph report mentioned that this trend has in turn raised the popularity of someone/something in Russia, who/which usually has had higher-profile in the West. [Bonus: There was something interesting about the news report itself. Write it down in your answers sheets for a bonus 5 points.]
Gorbachev Birthmark Island Dural Aprel = April Fool :P
• Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States. He had a number of firsts to his name, though. For example, he was the first president born as a US citizen, the first president from New York and the first president not of British or Irish descent. He is also the only President to have a Seinfeld episode named after him. However, there is one distinction that he alone holds among all the Presidents of the United states, before or since. • Perhaps you can draw some hints from thinking about how tumultuous the process of colonization and immigration was and places weren’t always as they are now.
Only President not a native English speaker
• On September 8–10, 1965, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad to find cast members for the TV show: • Madness!! Auditions. Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series. Running Parts for 4 insane boys, age 17-21. Want spirited Ben Frank's types. Have courage to work. Must come down for interview • What followed was later described by one of the chosen guys as “ the equivalent of actor Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan.” • What anthropoidic event am I talking about ?
• Motivated by the relaxation of strict communist controls in the Soviet Union by Nikita Khrushchev, Mao Zedong launched his famous ____________ campaign in 1956. Citizens, including nonCommunists were exhorted to criticize the government’s policy. The criticism grew like a snowball and in Mao’s words transgressed the bounds of ‘healthy criticism’. By early July, an anti-rightist movement was underway and by some estimates about 300,000 to 550,000 were sent to labour camps for ‘re-education’. • Some historians claim that the whole campaign was a ploy to find and eliminate potentially dangerous elements in the society. • The name of the campaign springs from a famous poem from Chinese classical history “Let a ______________ _____; let a hundred schools of thought contend” • I have intentionally left a second blank because the Joycean verb is almost always associated with what was the name of the campaign.
The Hundred Flowers Campaign
Dhoom 3 had heartless corporate greed and one man’s revenge against it as its central theme. The movie may have been very shittily done, lifting elements from random Hollywood cult hits but it did have something that seemed like an (maybe unintentional) Easter egg as far as the main baddie was concerned. What reference to a fugitive from Indian law am I talking about ?
The chief of Western Bank of Chicago is named Warren Anderson
The Marine Biologist! • Lessepsian migration, named after the French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps is a ‘natural’ marine phenomenon that is less than 150 years old. • It has lead to consequences unseen (if there was someone to see) in the last few million years. • What could have caused this ? [Bonus – Write down in your answer sheets what this phenomenon could be]
Construction of the Seuz Canal
• Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main Ghat in Varanasi. Once you get out of there you’d enter a crowded street in a locality called Godowlia. • I don’t know how many of you have ever been to Varanasi but it is very likely that you’d have seen this street, lined on both sides with shops with such typical names as Novelty Silk Store, Paris Beauty Bras, and Shivaganga Garments somewhere before. • Where would you have seen this place ?
• Nando's is a South African casual dining restaurant group famous for its PERi-PER-i chicken. It is quite popular in the United Kingdom with over 280 restaurants there. • The restaurant usually closes at around 11 PM on weekdays other than Fridays. However, in a certain city on a certain Wednesday in May last year, nine local Nando’s restaurants decided to stay open till 11:05 PM • Why ?
• The ____ Generation is a term that refers to the generation of South Koreans born in the 1960s who were very active politically as young adults, and instrumental in the democracy movement of the 1980s. The term was coined in the early 1990s, in reference to what was then the most dominant microprocessor, Intel’s ________, and referring to people then in their 30s, having attended university in the 1980s, and born in the 1960s.
• Prior to the 1990 Gulf War, Iraq’s currency was known as the ______ Dinar. The reason for this is not clear, though there are two main theories. 1. The Printing plates came from this place 2. The pre-war Iraqi Dinar was a stable currency which may have drawn comaprisions to this place’s stable currency. After the war and the subsequent embargoes, new inferior quality notes were produced, though the old currency still remained in use in isolated Kurdish pockets.
• Jakob Maria Mierscheid is a German politician who has been a member of the Bundestag since 11 December 1979. He is Catholic and a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. His biography is that of a backbencher with a list of humble career steps. Yet when the parliament moved to Berlin, the bridge connecting the two new office buildings across the Spree river was nicknamed the ‘Mierscheid Bridge’. Attempts to mark it with an official plate were said to have failed because "the nails were nuts“. He has also been the subject of multiple approved biographies. • Why does this mediocre politician get so much attention? • Btw, Germans, for all their no-nonsense efficient ways, have such parallels in other fields like law and diplomacy as well.
Herr Mierscheid is a bit of a recluse. So here are two photos of his from the official Bundestag website. One a pretty old one and the other a bit more recent but much less revealing
Does not exist. • Germans like to play such pranks. • Friedrich Nagelmann is a known (fictional) lawyer and Edmund F. Dräcker is a known (fictional) diplomat. • Mierscheid, Nagelmann and Dräcker each have a long list of publications which have sometimes really been published in otherwise reputable media (science journals, parliament press)
September 3, 1967, Sweden
Dagen-H • The day on which traffic in Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. • "H" stands for "Högertrafik", the Swedish word for "righthand traffic"
• It was Antonio Pigafetta , the Italian chronicler of the first circumnavigation of the world by the Portuguese explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan , who first mentioned a peculiar incident that had occurred during the voyage: somewhere along the journey a whole ___ had apparently been ‘lost’ • Nearly sixty years later, the same thing was observed by the crew members of the fleet of the English explorer Sir Francis Drake, when in September 1580 they arrived back in Plymouth. • Jacob le Maire also had a similar experience when he reached Java after an arduous journey around the tip of South America. • What was it that these brave men couldn’t help but keep losing ?
Lost a Day! • Crossed the international dateline
• A Caganer is a small figurine hidden in nativity scenes in Catalonia always depicted as doing a particular thing. • Traditionally, the caganer was a peasant wearing the traditional Catalan red cap. Nowadays, you may see celebrities as well. • The word caganer means ******* and if you come to think of it, along with the nickname of a local football club, Catalan culture shows a lot of fixation for some unpleasant things. • There was a public uproar in 2005 when the Barcelona city council did not include a Caganer saying it would set a bad example. • Sadly, such a practice still flourishes in India today. • What’s Caganer’s thing ?
NSFW slide coming
• • • • • • • • • • • Shri G.V. Mavalankar Shri B. Das Shri Hukum Singh Seth Govind Das Shri D.N. Tiwari Shri Jagjivan Ram Prof. N.G. Ranga Shri Inderjit Gupta Shri Somnath Chaterjee* Shri Balasaheb Vikhe Patil Shri Manikrao Hodlya Gavit
• The Lok Sabha Rules Committee, in a major initiative taken by Speaker Meira Kumar, has decided to amend the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. This is a sort of a ‘pilot project’, which will pave the way for similar amendments to all the existing laws. • Recently, the Center tried to get ahead of itself to introduce this amendment to rape laws but the attempt was scuttled amidst protests.
• __________ is a form of is sexual slavery and child prostitution prevalent in Afghanistan since ancient times even though it has been decreed to be against the sharia law. • The two word Persian phrase literally translates to ‘playing with kids’ analogous to the way you’d translate roles for players in cricket.
• ____ _____ ___ is an interjection expressing surprise. • It was also the name of a hit comedy duet by Peter Sellers(an Indian doctor) and Sophia Loren(an heiress) which started off something like this: • Her: Oh doctor, I'm in trouble. Him: Well, _____ _____ ___ • The name of the song in turn inspired the name of a BBC sketch comedy show that explored the various conflicts between traditional Indian beliefs and modern British life.
Goodness Gracious Me
• Since the 19th century, all official US Navy communications had been written in a certain way, a legacy of primitive technology combined with the service's love of tradition. • Recently, the Navy, as part of a modernization drive decided to shun this tradition. • There are ancilliary benefits for the tender feelings of young sailors more accustomed to modern methods of communications. The Navy, however, insisted that it is not going to go soft on its recruits. • What change ? • [Bonus – The order sent updating everyone about this change was pretty ironical. How so ?]
• sailors were "AUTHORIZED TO USE STANDARD, MIXED-CASE CHARACTERS IN THE BODY OF NAVY ORGANIZATIONAL MESSAGES."
• It is election season and LPY and RVP are both back in news.. A bit of a throwback to 2005. • Meraj Khalid Noor is a small-time business man from Patna with no prior political pedigree. In 2005, he suddenly found himself in news when LJP chairman Ram Vilas Paswan started taking him along for political rallies. He later jumped the ship(helicopter, rather) and joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav. • What made these desperate leaders to give so much importance to Mr. Noor ?
Supposedly an Osama lookalike
• 212 was one of the original area codes when they were assigned in 1947, and originally served all of New York City. • The scarcity of available telephone numbers beginning with the 212 prefix (such numbers are no longer readily available from telecom providers), combined with the code's origin as the city's original area code, result in the 212 code having a prestigious cachet in the eyes of some Manhattan residents. • In the Seinfeld episode, ‘The Maid’ , Elaine is pissed off at the fact that she has been assigned a new number beginning with the supposedly inferior 646 code. She even loses a boyfriend as result of this. • A few years after the episode was first screened, a large number of 212 numbers were made available. What could have caused this ?
• The outbreak began in July of 1518 in a street in Strasbourg, with a woman named Troffea. This lasted somewhere between four to six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400. Some of these people eventually died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. • This was one of the most notable examples of this kind of an outbreak which was first noted in 7th century and continued to occur randomly till the 17th century. • Numerous hypotheses have been proposed for its causes. Some of them include: • Ergot poisoning; • Encephalitis, epilepsy, and typhus Some claim that it was all staged. Others have called it a cultural contagion caused due to fear of angry spirits. What ?
I’ve looked into his eyes. He is pure evil. • Band of the Welsh Guards are a British royal institution charged with greeting and playing for foreign dignitaries. They often play popular tunes for tourists or for warming up before actual performances. • During the 2007 visit of the Saudi King to England, Channel 4 decided to have a dig at the emperor who has promoted books such as ‘Women who deserve to go to Hell’ and whose government has a number of human rights cases against it. • They juxtaposed a footage of the arrival of the Saudi King with the tune the guards were playing some time before it. They slyly called it a gift to the sketch writers. A number of people did not get that it was just a joke and actually believed what they saw on television. • Shoddy journalism or a stroke of inspiration, call it what you may, but what was it that Channel 4 showed?
The band playing The Imperial March
• X is a short Gujarati word meaning a small island. • X Y is one such place in the Gulf of Kutch. It is about 30 km from Y. It is believed that this was the place Krishna used to reside. • It is also the place where he was visited by his friend Sudama. The story of the visit prompts many North Indians to think that the name of the place was derived from a similar sounding Hindi word. • Give me X
Bet or Bhet Dwarka • •
• Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, also known as Li Yuese , was a British scientist, historian and sinologist. • He has done pioneering work in biochemistry and in the study of Chinese science. However, like many other great men, his name would be familiar to lay people through something named after him. • ‘Needham’s Grand Question’ or the ‘Needham Problem’, also often misleadingly called the ‘Needham’s Paradox’ was the guiding question behind all of Needham’s later work. The question has been attempted by many scholars since but has still not been settled completely. • What is the Needham’s question ?
• Why did the industrial revolution take place in Europe and not in China (or India)
• Such was the shortage of this thing in the 17th century that William Harvey, the Englishman who discovered the circulatory system, had to make do with his own father and sister. • In the early 19th century medical schools used to hire goons to help them get by. • The famous Burke and Hare murders too were committed for the same reason. • What was thing so much in demand ? [Bonus – The Burke and Hare case was very ironic. How so ?]
• Andrés Bello (1781-1865), a Venezuelan-born polymath, educator, writer and diplomat. • Having spent 19 years in London as an often-unpaid envoy for independence, he moved to Chile, where he ran the foreign ministry and was the founding rector of the University of Chile. He drew up the country’s civil code, which proclaimed the equality of citizens before the law. It was quickly copied in half a dozen countries in the region, and had a significant impact in others— including Brazil and Mexico. He also wrote an influential treatise on international law, which argued for the equal status of nations, as well as a bestselling Spanish grammar for Latin Americans. • This long-dead person was in news recently (better, he was the news and perhaps will stay for a long while). Why ?
The Economists new column on Latin America is called Bello
ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHS ROUND
• This royalty along with her husband was an early patron of the art and technology of photography. • She had a very calculated and strategic understanding of it. To take an example, a portrait of her taken in 1893 impressed her so much that she convinced the photographer to give up his rights on it prior to publication. This shrewd move meant that the image could be circulated without any limits put on by copyright restrictions. • Who is the lady and what was the image ?
• X was a commerce student at Deshbandhu College, Delhi University who later went onto become the President of the Delhi University Students’ Union as an independent candidate. • He later gave up active politics due to failing health and breathed his last in 2004 at the young age of 33. He was the inspiration of a character essayed by Prateik Babbar in a 2011 movie. • Who was the dude/ Give me his claim to fame.
• After his 1941 speech at the Canadian Parliament, X was having a smoke. Photographer Yousuf Karsh wanted a photograph of him and asked him to keep the cigar away for a moment. X refused. So Karsh snatched the cigar from his hand. This made X really belligerent and gave Karsh the ideal opportunity to take a picture. The picture later went on to become iconic, cementing X’s image as a ‘roaring lion’. • Which image ?
Reportedly her then-husband was present when this picture was shot just above a subway grate. He became so enraged with jealousy that he later beat her up. They divorced a few weeks later. Though, this did not stop him from placing a flower at her grave every week after her death.
• • • • • • • • Michael Deas is a renowned graphic artist with 21 of his paintings having been selected as US postage stamps. In 1992, A company X approached him to paint a new version of their logo to give it back a ‘classic’ look. Deas interviewed several models for the assignment, but found none right for the quasi—mythical look. He came across a local newspaper reporter, 28 year old Jennifer Joseph, through an acquaintance and found her perfect for the job. The whole thing was then done in a very rushed and ad hoc manner. In the words of Jenny herself: “So we just scooted over there come lunchtime and wrapped a sheet around me and held a regular little desk lamp, a side lamp, and just held that up and we did that with a light bulb.” Deas then worked on his painting over the next 2 months and the finished product was selected by the company. The logo has stood the test of time in a very transient industry and people have been seeing it for more than the last 20 years. Interestingly this was the only modelling assignment that Jenny ever did. Which company/logo ?
• After an interaction session with about 500 teenagers, this head of state decided to act sponstaneous and took a selfie with some kids. The image went viral and became one of the most iconic of 2013. It has been described as the first ever ____ selfie. • Which image ?
LVC +50/0 +50/-25 And then subtract 5 subsequently and 2.5 from the negatives
Well Done. A round of applause, please
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