Bad days for geography quizzers

Geography used to be a stable subject which did not need much updating. For many years the only genuine new country formed was Bangladesh, and the dubious Republic of Northern Cyprus a little later.

But quizzers in this line took a long time to recover from the twin shocks of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, which meant about 23 new countries which had to be memorized along with their capitals. The reunification of Germany and (earlier) Vietnam at least helped to REDUCE the number of countries to be studied.

Then people had flights of fancy, changing Swaziland to Eswatini (to encourage E-commerce?) Its neighbors had earlier made the switch from Bechuanaland and Basutoland to Botswana and Lesotho. Meanwhile a few other new countries such as Eritrea and South Sudan sneaked in when nobody was looking.

Then we have the renaming of cities in India. Many of them involved reverting from the British pronunciation to the original pronunciation (as in Calcutta-> Kolkata, Calicut -> Kozhikode and so on). This topic is enough for a few doctoral dissertations.

Now the rulers of India have bigger ideas, playing around with the names of larger entities. The creation of the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir AND Ladakh was hailed as a masterpiece. So next comes a mini-masterpiece, the Union Territory (yes, just one) of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu:

https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/bill-to-merge-uts-of-dadra-nagar-haveli-daman-diu-passed-by-lok-sabha-150241

(It will take a while to figure out where the “and” and “&” will be used). Also, the people in these places do not seem to have asked for this reunification of the smaller bits of Portuguese India.

Perhaps there is a point here. How many of you can find D & NH on a map? Even if you can, do you know WHY it is an Union Territory? (Another interesting point is why Chandernagore is a part of West Bengal and not an Union Territory like the rest of French India); see

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/oddities-in-indian-history-chandernagorechandan-nagar/

75 years ago-the Fugo bombs

There were many things happening in World War 2 75 years ago. One of them was Japan launching their little-known weapon against the US. This started on Nov 3, 1944.

You may have heard of Japan’s Fugu fish:

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18065372

But the Fugo bomb was something else.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fu-Go_balloon_bomb

This was then the weapon with the longest range, as they successfully crossed the Pacific to land on the west coast of the US.

And they were the only example of an enemy attack causing fatalities on the US mainland during wartime. 9/11 was not a wartime attack.

Now for the Ig-Nobel prizes

You must have had enough of the Nobel Prizes. Now for something different.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ig_Nobel_Prize

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ig_Nobel_Prize_winners

There is one instance of someone winning an Ig-Nobel as well as a Nobel Prize-for more details look at the frog illustrated in the top right of the first link. (Read up on Andre Geim): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Geim

Go through the list of past winners. There are a few Indian names there. And many famous names like Dan Quayle,  Erich von Daniken and assorted financial fraudsters.

There is at lease one case of Indian scientists claiming to have received an Ig-Nobel Prize, although it does not seem to appear in the “official”  lists above. I am providing the link to give you an idea of what is required:

http://www.ildidu.altervista.org/ignobel/immagini/elephant.pdf

I can see how this would be useful in a place like Kerala. Any time you may be met by an elephant demanding to be painted blue or pink. Or gold, if it was from Thrissur. This way, you can quickly estimate how much paint is needed before the elephant gets impatient.

Probably many economists, politicians and other notables in present-day India have good chances of winning prizes in the near future.

One such award should go to the godman who claims he declined the Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone a little familiar with the workings of the awards will realize this is rubbish.

The longest-lived US President and other obscure facts

On October 1, James Earl Carter Jr (born October 1, 1924) becomes the first US President to celebrate his 95th birthday. On March 22 this year he became the longest-living US President when he crossed the mark set by George Herbert Walker Bush.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Carter#Longevity

More about George Bush Sr here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_and_state_funeral_of_George_H._W._Bush

He passes one more landmark on October 17, when his marriage to Rosalynn will become the longest-lasting of Presidential unions. (See update at end). They were married on July 7, 1946. They will cross the record of 73+ years of George Bush Sr (again!) which ended with Barbara’s death on April 17, 2018.

However, Rosalynn Carter (born August 18, 1927) is now 92+ and has some time to go before she can overtake Bessie Truman (97, 1885-1982) as the longest-lived First Lady. She also has to overtake others such as “Lady Bird” Johnson (94), Betty Ford (93) and Nancy Reagan (94).

There are, however two Vice-Presidents who have lived longer than any President. They are Levi Morton (96, 1824-1920 and VP to Benjamin Harrison in 1889-93), John N Garner (98, 1868-1967, VP to Franklin Roosevelt in 1933-41). Walter Mondale (91+, VP to Carter in 1977-81) is still in the fray.

An interesting thought: If either Bernie Sanders (born 8 Sep, 1941) or Joseph Biden (20 Nov, 1942) succeeds in the 2020 elections,  the winner will be the oldest person to become President surpassing Ronald Reagan’s 73+ at the start of his second term in 1985. Donald Trump (born Jun 14, 1946) is so far the oldest to become President for the first time at 70+, just edging out Reagan’s accession in 1981.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II (born April 21, 1926) continues to break longevity records as the longest-lived British monarch (93+) with the longest reign (67+ years). It only remains to be seen if Prince Philip (born 10 June, 1921) scores a century. They were married on 20 Nov 1947 and thus trail the Carters by 16 months.

As pointed out earlier here, Queen Elizabeth’s reign has seen 13 US presidents and 15 British PMs (including Harold Wilson twice). It is very likely that she will see the successors of the present incumbents.

Also: “Significant events have included her coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, and 2012, respectively. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. She is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world’s longest-serving female head of state, oldest living monarch, longest-reigning current monarch, and the oldest and longest-serving current head of state. ”

English cricket fans will remember major Ashes victories at home in the Coronation year (1953) as well as the Silver Jubilee (1977).

Update on Oct 18: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/18/politics/jimmy-rosalynn-carter-longest-married-presidential-couple-trnd/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0p1wv5QHBMvldYhpeLIOQyY1iZycCwu_pzGDWLMDeOph7pLxf8uEXmlhE

Quiz answers (29 Sep)

1. Why did Morarji Desai celebrate his first birthday when he was eight years old?

He was born on Feb 29, 1896. Thus his birthday appears only in leap years. There is also a rule that a century year such as 1900 is a leap year only if it is divisible by 400. Thus he saw Feb 29 only in 1904, when he was 8 years old.

2. There was a West Indies cricketer named Sewnarine Chattergoon. What would the original first name and second name be if his family had remained in India?

Sewnarine = Shivnarain is simple enough. Chattergoon is derived from Shatrughan, according to a Trinidadian friend of Indian ancestry.

3. Which famous American writer has a close connection with Halley’s Comet?

Arthur Hailey was a nice guess. However, the answer is:

Mark Twain

(This used to appear on US aerograms some years ago).

4. Which American President has lived the longest?

Jimmy Carter, who will celebrate his 95th birthday on Oct 1.

Earlier this year he overtook George Bush (Sr) who passed away last year at 94+.

5. Which presently famous town in Pakistan was a part of Oman until 1957?

Gwadar. See more details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwadar#Omani_rule

6. What does Mukesh Ambani have in common with British politician Keith Vaz?

They were both born in Aden, then a British colony and now a part of Yemen. There used to be a sizeable Indian population there.

7. You have heard of Christ and Antichrist. Which state in India has an (almost) anti version in the form of another country?

Goa and Antigua (strictly, Antigua and Barbuda).

8. The Karakoram Highway does not pass through the Karakoram Pass. Which pass does it go through?

The Khunjerab Pass. See this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakoram_Highway

9. Which popular German band had a name which is the German for “power station”?

Kraftwerk (known for electronic music since the 1970s)

10. Back to 1. Morarjibhai was not the longest lived PM of India. Who was?

Remember that Gulzarilal Nanda does appear in the list of Indian prime ministers.

See this chart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prime_ministers_of_India

Both Morarji Desai and Gulzarilal Nanda crossed 99. If you look at their individual articles, you can see that the latter lived for 99/06/12, overtaking the former who reached 99/01/13. Manmohan Singh is a youngster who has just celebrated his 87th birthday. Next in line is HD Deve Gowda who is 86+. AB Vajpayee crossed 93.

11. The only non-human ape native to India is the Hoolock gibbon. How did it get this name?

The official answer appears to be that this is the Assamese name for it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoolock_gibbon

However, other sources mention that this is related to the sound they make. Google for audio/video of the animal and decide.

If you have heard of the Rafflesia and Russell’s Viper, you would be excused for thinking that it was discovered by an Englishman named Hoolock (as in Jackson Pollock and Shaun Pollock).

 

 

Hamilton Masakadza at Hamilton

Today (Sep 20) marked the last international appearance of Hamilton Masakadza, who captained Zimbabwe in this T20I match.

As you can see, he played a major role in the victory:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19449/scorecard/1197144/afghanistan-vs-zimbabwe-5th-match-bangladesh-twenty20-tri-series

This was Zimbabwe’s first T20I victory against Afghanistan.

More details about his career:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/zimbabwe/content/player/55608.html

He made his debut in 2001. At that time he was a little short of his 18th birthday, and was then the youngest to make a century on debut. Later this record was taken by M Ashraful.

He has played in 38 Tests, 209 ODIs and 66 T20Is.

He played only one Test in New Zealand, which was not at Hamilton.

His ODI career was somewhat more satisfactory, as he did play one ODI at Hamilton during the 2015 World Cup. While Zimbabwe did lose to South Africa, he was top scorer with 80:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/scorecard/656403/south-africa-vs-zimbabwe-3rd-match-pool-b-icc-cricket-world-cup-2014-15

He also played precisely one T20I at Hamilton in 2012. Here Zimbabwe lost to New Zealand, though he did score a fifty:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/12620/scorecard/520596/new-zealand-vs-zimbabwe-2nd-t20i-zimbabwe-tour-of-new-zealand-2011-12

We now turn to his brothers who also played for Zimbabwe.

Shingirai Winston Masakadza played in 5 Tests, 16 ODIs and 7 T20Is. While he did not have a city in his name, he did play one T20I at Hamilton.

Then came Wellington Pedzisai Masakadza . He played one Test, 17 ODIs and 9 T20Is. Let us see if he got to play at Wellington.

However, none of his matches were in New Zealand.

 

Quick quiz – Birthplaces

A trivia quiz on non-obvious birthplaces:

The real challenge is getting the answer without referring to the net.

Answer in Facebook’s comments page. I will post the correct answers after about 24 hours-say 2200 IST on 1 Sep.

  • In which city was Shashi Tharoor born?
  • Which recent US Presidential candidate was born in the Panama Canal Zone?
  • Which prominent tennis player from the US was born in Germany in 1959?
  • Which town in Austria was Adolf Hitler born in?
  • Which country was the Australian cricketer and coach Dav Whatmore born in?
  • Which state of the US was Barack Obama born in?
  • Which prominent politician from Tamil Nadu was born in Kandy in Sri Lanka?
  • In which city was Rajiv Gandhi born?
  • Which Nobel-prize winning physicist was nominally a Tamilian but was born in Lahore?
  • On which Greek island was Prince Philip, (the present Duke of Edinburgh) born?
  • In which city was General Pervez Musharraf born?
  • In which city was Field-Marshal Manekshaw born?

Answers:

  • London, UK
  • John Mc Cain (Obama’s opponent in 2008)
  • John McEnroe
  • Brunau (or Brenner)
  • Sri Lanka
  • Hawaii
  • MG Ramachandran, CM for several years.
  • Mumbai
  • Chandrashekhar (Nobel Physics winner in 1983)
  • Corfu
  • Delhi
  • Amritsar

References: these birthplaces can be checked from Wikipedia or other standard references in the articles on the concerned persons.