Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting March 17, 2014)

Happy Holy!
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. Name this gentleman, one of the founders of the Western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of comparative religion. He wrote both scholarly and popular works on Indology, a discipline he introduced to the British reading public. One of his great achievements was 'Sacred Books of the East', a massive, 50-volume set of English translations prepared under his direction. His name is commemorated in cultural institutions operated by his country's government in several cities in India.

2. One of the early WW sets had a question on the Quakers. What related term – applied as a mocking description of their rituals of trembling, shouting, dancing, singing, and speaking in tongues – was given to The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, a Protestant religious sect that originated in 18th-century USA?

3. In Greek myth, he was the first of the Protogenoi (the 'first-born' gods, who preceded the Olympians) and the god of the air.  His name means 'gaping void' in Greek. What now-common English word?

4. Simple one – watch this video of a man speaking of facial hair. What's his real name, and what's the honorific he is generally known by? [Half points for each part]

5. On the April 6, 1941 edition of his popular radio programme 'The Catholic Hour', what did American Bishop (later Archbishop) Fulton J. Sheen refer to as the "double cross", implying that siding with its proponents would be a "double-crossing" of Christianity?

6. The events of the Robert Rodriguez film 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' take place in a short timespan leading up to which festival, whose origins can be traced to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl? The movie climaxes appropriately with much mayhem during the festival itself, depicted in the above still from the film.

7. Built in 629CE and named after the Chera king Cheraman Perumal, this edifice is generally considered to be the first of its kind in India. Peruman himself is supposed to be the first person in India to have taken what has now become a contentious step. Tell me (a) what 'first' is connected with the building; and (b) what related 'first' is associated with Cheraman Perumal. [Half points for each part]

8. What was created in 2005 by a physics graduate named Bobby Henderson as a satirical protest against the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public schools? Arguing that any conceivable entity could fulfill the role of the unspecified "Intelligent Designer", he called for his theory of creation to be allotted equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution.

9. In the mythology of its original tribes, this land was discovered by a great chief called Kupe, who left his cousin Hoturapa to drown during a fishing expedition and kidnapped his wife, Kuramarotini, with whom he fled in her great canoe Matahourua. During their subsequent journeys, they overcame numerous monsters and sea demons, including a great octopus named as Te Wheke-a-Muturangi. When they first came in sight of the land, his wife/hostage cried, "He ao! He ao!" ("A cloud! A cloud!"), taking that as a sign of nearby land. Which place is this?

10. (a) Who is this person, described by a contemporary chronicler as "The hammer of heretics, the light of Spain, the saviour of his country, the honour of his order"? (b) Among other things that he was famous for, he was one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree of 1492, which called for what? [1 point each]


1. Max Mueller

Yes, the country in question is actually Germany, not England.

2. The Shakers, from 'Shaking Quakers'

3. Chaos or Khaos

4. (a) Jaggi Vasudev; (b) Sadguru

5. The swastika

Mention of the Nazis earns half points.

6. The Day of the Dead

The word 'Dead' in the answer gets half points.

7. (a) First mosque in India; (b) First Indian to convert to Islam

This is the Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid today.

8. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, aka Pastafarianism

9. New Zealand, which in the Maori language is referred to as Aotearoa, meaning 'land of the long white cloud'

10. (a) Tomás de Torquemada, the first Inquisitor General of Spain; (b) The expulsion of all Jews from Spain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting March 9, 2014)

Used, Misused, Abused
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. Profoundly affected by a case in which he was one of the attending doctors, neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns undertook an in-depth study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle dispatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets, initially by military motorcyclists and later in civilian life as well. Who was the victim in the case that set this ball rolling?

2. Which Indian company was set up in 1945 in Amalner in the Jalgaon district, Maharashtra, initially manufacturing products under brand names such as Kisan, Sunflower and Camel, and named simply for its geographical location?

3. The first over-the-counter product of its type sold in the United States, it was launched in 1914 and by 1921 was already falsely marketing its product. Declaring itself a cure-all for common cold ailments like sore throats and coughs, a dandruff preventative, an anti-shave tonic, and a safe way to protect yourself from cuts, bruises, wounds, and stings, it was slapped with numerous false advertisement lawsuits. In 1975, the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company to spend $10 million in corrective advertising, seeing as their product was no more effective in treating colds than gargling warm water. In 2005, the company was slapped with another lawsuit because it claimed it was as “effective as floss” after rigging clinical trials. What product?

4. In 1797, London haberdasher John Hetherington was hauled into court on charges of breaching the King’s peace, found guilty, and ordered to pay a £50 fine. His crime, as it was described in court, was one of “appearing on the public highway wearing upon his head a tall structure having a shining lustre and calculated to frighten timid people”. According to contemporary reports, people booed, dogs barked, women fainted, and a small boy suffered a broken arm after a crowd formed around the hapless Mr. Hetherington. What did he have on his head, which was outlawed in London for a time after that, only to gain popularity some 50 years later, when Prince Albert took to wearing one?

5. This ad, purportedly meant for internal circulation only, made it into the public eye, leading to the resignation of JWT India's chief creative officer and managing partner Bobby Pawar. Name the car brand.

6.  Listen to this piece by a specialised ensemble from Stanford University that goes under the name MoPho, and tell me (a) what is their primary musical instrument; and (b) what is the composition they are (kind of appropriately) mangling? [1 point each]

7. This is a picture from 1968 of the 'inventor' of a device called the Electrometer using it to determine whether tomatoes experience pain. His work led him to the conclusion that tomatoes "scream when sliced". However, it's what originated in the 1950 magazine article shown alongside – and was detailed in the book that followed – that has brought him long-lasting fame/notoriety. Either name him, or this most successful 'invention' of his.

8. In 2012, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) shocked Indian Ayurveda practitioners by placing the Azadirachta indica species on its Negative Ingredient List, a move that has the potential to severely limit the trade and use of the plant and its parts. In Ayurveda, the species is known as 'sarvarogasamhari', an equivalent of 'panacea'. What is the common name of the species?

9. The "Mark Sense Pencil Lead" was developed and trademarked by IBM, but has since come to be used as a generic term. These are most commonly used in conjunction with products made by Scantron, another American company whose name is also now used generically. In what context would you see their products used together?

10.  What is this 60-dollar kit sold by the California-based Gladd Group meant to be used for? The main component of the kit is the plastic bag called a 'helium hood'.

1. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), who died as the result of a motorcycle accident. 
Yes, I know, LoA has been quite the flavour of the month in these quizzes, but as far as I can tell, that's the last of these snippets about the man's life.
2. Western India Products Ltd, later abbreviated to Wipro.
It continues to use a sunflower in its logo in tribute to its origins.
3. Listerine
4. Top hats
5. Ford Figo
6. (a) Mobile phones (in specific, iPhones); (b) "Memory" from the musical 'Cats'
Here's more on the MoPho orchestra:
7. American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology
8. Neem
9. Exam papers and other forms whose contents are processed digitally.
'Mark sense' is the technology that allows marks made to be processed using either optical mark recognition or electrographic technology. Scantron produces the machine-readable forms that are amenable to the marks made being recognised by the relevant scanners.

10. Committing suicide
Ordering the product, which you can do online, gets you a plastic hood, some tubing and an instruction booklet titled 'Final Exit' (helium tanks are not included). Helium, in its pure form, is lethal, but breathing it renders one unconscious before suffocation sets in, making it a rather painless 'exit strategy'.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting March 2, 2014)

Games People Play
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. Re Test cricket, what is this an exhaustive list of: Hansie Cronje (South Africa), Ujesh Ranchod (Zimbabwe), Ruwan Kalpage (Sri Lanka), Mark Ealham (England), Neil Johnson (Zimbabwe), Jacob Oram (New Zealand), Monty Panesar (England), Cameron White (Australia), Peter Siddle (Australia) and Peter George (Australia)? For a bonus point, how is Ujesh Ranchod unique in this list?

2. The documentary whose cover is shown at right follows the exploits of Steve Wiebe, the guy on the left, during his successful quest to become the world record-holder – at what?

3. What was the contribution of the Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal from Amravati in Maharashtra to the 1936 Berlin Olympics?

4. Though the surname of this fictional boxing champion had first appeared as a word in American English in 1924, it started becoming widely used because of the comic by Ham Fisher, which debuted a few years later. The character became a symbol of patriotism in 1942, when he stepped down from the ring to enlist as a private in the United States Army. He was such a hero that when the US limestone industry planned to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1948, it decided to reproduce his likeness (statue at right). The typically American slang word, however, has taken a bit of a beating, and its meaning today in the Merriam-Webster ditionary reads thus:
1 :  an inexperienced or incompetent boxer
2 :  oaf, lout
What's the surname/word?

5. In Greek mythology, Apollo lusted after the nymph Daphne, who turned into a bay tree just as Apollo approached her. Undeterred, Apollo embraced the tree and declared it sacred. One other thing that he did caused the Greeks to adopt a certain tradition in the Pythian Games, which were held at Delphi in honour of Apollo every four years from the 6th century BC. It's a tradition that then became very popular and copied widely. The tradition has also led to at least one famous English idiom related to a lack of performance. (a) What tradition began at the Pythian Games and (b) what is the English idiom I'm talking of? (Half-points for each part).

6.  What is this a partial list of?
Oct 30, 1977: Renato Curi, Perugia vs Juventus
Aug 12, 1989: Samuel Okwaraji, Nigeria vs Angola
Jan 4, 1997: Hedi Berkhissa, Esperance Sportive de Tunis vs Olympique Lyonnais
June 26, 2003: Marc-Vivien Foe, Cameroon vs Colombia
Jan 25, 2004: Miklos Feher, Benfica vs Vitoria
Oct 27, 2004: Serginho, Sao Caetano vs Sao Paulo
Dec 5, 2004: Cristiano Junior, Dempo Sports Club vs Mohun Bagan
Aug 28, 2007: Antonio Puerta, Sevilla vs Getafe
Dec 29, 2007: Phil O' Donnell, Motherwell vs Dundee United
April 14, 2012: Piermario Morosini, Livorno vs Pescara

7. Somewhat appropriately, 4 points to be had for this question. This amazing magic square is believed to be the first seen in European art. The sum 34 can be found in the rows, columns, diagonals, each of the quadrants, the center four squares, and the corner squares (of the 4x4 as well as the four contained 3x3 grids). This sum can also be found in the four outer numbers clockwise from the corners (3+8+14+9) and likewise the four counter-clockwise, the two sets of four symmetrical numbers (2+8+9+15 and 3+5+12+14), the sum of the middle two entries of the two outer columns and rows (5+9+8+12 and 3+2+15+14), and in four kite or cross shaped quartets (3+5+11+15, 2+10+8+14, 3+9+7+15, and 2+6+12+14). Your four questions: (a) Who is the artist? (b) Name the painting. (c) and (d) What two self-referential bits of data are contained in the numbers on the lowest row of the magic square?

8. What sporty pair was named after (a) the village in Shropshire which held an event in 1850 which are said to have inspired the modern Olympic Games; and (b) the hospital in London at which the precursor to the Paralympic Games were held in 1948? For an additional point, give me the two relevant names.

9. What two-word concept, crucial to game theory, is being explained in this video clip (right-click and 'Save as...' for best results)? The concept is named after the central character in the film (the one doing the explaining).

10.  Mentioned in 'Ain-e-Akbari', this city in Haryana was founded by the Rajput King Neem Singh who named it after after his wife Bhani. It came into the limelight in 2008, as four of the five sportspersons who represented India in a particular sport at the Beijing Olympics were from here. That success was largely thanks to Sports Authority of India coach Captain Hawa Singh (who has since passed away), who is credited with making a centre known locally as the "BBC" a powerhouse of the sport. Name the city and the sport (half points for each).

1. Bowlers whose first wicket in Tests was Sachin Tendulkar (he had an extraordinary knack of getting out to new bowlers). In Ranchod's case, Sachin was his only Test victim.
2. Donkey Kong
3. They demonstrated the sport of kabaddi at the Games.
4. Palooka
5. Apollo cut off a branch to wear as a wreath, so the Greeks presented laurel wreaths to winners in the Games (the bay tree is also known as the laurel). The idiom is 'to rest on one's laurels'.
6. Football on-field deaths
7. (a) Albrecht Dürer's engraving (b) Melencolia I. (c) The two middle digits in the last row, '15' and '14', give the year in which it was painted. (d) Flanking them are '1', which stands for the Roman letter 'A', and '4', standing for 'D', together making up the artist's initials!
8. The two mascots of the 2012 London Olympics – Wenlock and Mandeville, named after the village of Much Wenlock and the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
9. Nash equilibrium. 
That was Russell Crowe playing mathematician John Forbes Nash in 'A Beautiful Mind'.
10. Bhiwani, boxing
The BBC is the Bhiwani Boxing Club.