September 2007 Archives

links for 2007-09-30

And The Answers To The Cold War/Eastern Europe Quiz...

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Question 1: Where is this sign?

This is a replica of the original Checkpoint Charlie sign that’s been erected right next to a replica of the original Checkpoint Charlie hut (you can see a bit of the hut’s roof in the corner of the picture), at, guess where, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin. The original sign is in the Checkpoint Charlie museum; you can see pictures here and here.

Question 2: The phrase “Velvet Revolution” is used to describe what political event?

That would be the relatively painless overthrown of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia and the subsequent renaming of the country into “The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.” That was shortly followed by the Velvet Divorce, wherein the Czechs and the Slovaks went their separate ways.

bela_lugosi_aka_dracula__15.jpgQuestion 3: The name of what region of Romania translates as “across the forest”?

Transylvania, home of… well, you know.

Question 4: Despite winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, which author’s only published work in his homeland for nearly 30 years was One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, most famous for writing The Gulag Archipelago. He has turned into a bit of a fruitcake in post-Soviet Russia, unfortunately…

Question 5: When students of the Cold War talk about Fishbed, Flanker, Fulcrum, and Flogger, what are they referring to?

Soviet-era fighter planes, specifically the MiG-21, the Su-27, the MiG-29, and the MiG-23. “Essqueue O’Peetie” pretty much nailed that one, though he left out the bit about words beginning with “F” being fighter planes, “B” designating bombers, and so on.

Question 6: Name what’s missing from the following list: Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

What’s missing is Slovenia, the sole province of the former Yugoslavia to exit Yugoslavia with relatively little strum und drang, and thus, the one that everyone forgets about.

Question 7: What hit pop song was about the accidental start of World War III and the subsequent destruction of the world?

“99 Luftballons” (or, in English, “99 Red Balloons”) by Nena. You know, for a song about the end of the world, it’s surprisingly peppy.

Question 8: What was, quite literally, Josip Broz’s life work?

Josip Broz was better known as Tito, who was given the title President for Life in 1974, after having been elected President of Yugoslavia six times between 1945 and 1971. Thus, his life’s work was being President of Yugoslavia. Interestingly enough, Tito was one of the relatively few Presidents for Life who actually managed to serve out their term in office.

Question 9: What do the Russian cities of Nizhy Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg have in common (other than the obvious, i.e. that they’re all Russian cities)?

They were all renamed by the Soviets after Soviet heroes and then subsequently re-renamed. See the chart below:

Nizhy Novgorod —> Gorky (1932) —> Nizhy Novgorod (1991)
St. Petersburg —> Petrograd (1914) —> Leningrad (1924) —> St. Petersburg (1991)
Tsaritsyn —> Stalingrad (1925) —> Volgograd (1961)
Yekaterinburg —> Sverdlovsk (1924) —> Yekaterinburg (1991)

Question 10: General Wojciech Jaruzelski did what on December 13, 1981?

That was the day that the General, who was Polish Prime Minster at the time, declared martial law. His explanation was that he did it to avoid a Soviet invasion (ala Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968). While this is at least a semi-plausible excuse, it doesn’t really hold up under closer viewing.

Next week: World Literature!

New Hooverphonic Video/Album

Well, the long-awaited (well, at least by me) new Hooverphonic album has finally been released, with a new video (see below) and a somewhat new sound.

Yes, the band that started off as a trip-hop quartet, then mutated into an orchestral pop trio, then released an acoustic album, then went electronic again… has turned itself into a psychedelic rock band.

At this rate I figure the next album will be country…

1.10: General Wojciech...

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Question #10: General Wojciech Jaruzelski did what on December 13, 1981?

At this point, you should also be able to answer what the basic theme of the questions were, too...

(see this post for details)

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links for 2007-09-28

1.9: What Do...

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Question #9: What do the Russian cities of Nizhy Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg have in common (other than the obvious, i.e. that they’re all Russian cities)?

(see this post for details)

1.8: What Was...

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Question #8: What was, quite literally, Josip Broz’s life work?

(see this post for details)

links for 2007-09-26

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1.7: What Hit...

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Question #7: What hit pop song was about the accidental start of World War III and the subsequent destruction of the world?

(see this post for details)

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links for 2007-09-25

1.6: Name What's...

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Question #6: Name what's missing from the following list: Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

(see this post for details)

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1.5: When Students...

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Question #5: When students of the Cold War talk about Fishbed, Flanker, Fulcrum, and Flogger, what are they referring to?

(see this post for details)

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1.4: Despite Winning...

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Question #4: Despite winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, which author's only published work in his homeland for nearly 30 years was One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich?

(see this post for details)

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1.3: The Name...

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Question #3: The name of what region of Romania translates as "across the forest"?

(see this post for details)

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links for 2007-09-21

1.2: The Phrase...

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Question #2: The phrase "Velvet Revolution" is used to describe what political event?

(see this post for details)

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1.1: Where Is...

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Ok, so the way this is going to work is that I’m going to post one question a day for the next 10 days, all built around a common theme. I think that answering in the comments is the simplest way to handle the answering problem, though I guess that I’m going to have to take it on faith that no-one’s cheating and/or looking up the answers on Google.

I’m going to try to start with the easiest question and then work my way up in difficulty, though, as has been pointed out in the past, I’m not necessarily the best judge of the difficulty of some of my questions. At least the theme should be pretty obvious. Anyway:

Question #1: Where is this sign?

April, September, Whatever.

So I got a bit distracted:

  1. What product garnered the famous review “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.” upon its initial release? That was the Slashdot commentary about the original iPod.
  2. What was Kurt Vonnegut’s first published novel? Player Piano.
  3. “Tiny Bubbles” was what entertainer’s signature song? Don Ho.
  4. Cava is the Spanish version of what famous beverage? Champagne, or perhaps more generally, sparkling white wine.
  5. How do Syrah and Shiraz wines differ? In spelling only. They’re made from the same grape, which is called either syrah or shiraz depending on where it’s grown.
  6. Persepolis is located near what modern city? The city of Shiraz, of course.

Next round is going to be done a bit differently, I think…

links for 2007-09-14

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Oooooops....

Been more than kinda busy with trying to unpack and getting used to working again and driving down to NYC every freakin’ single weekend. Regular posting will resume soon, I promise you.

"There are tenors; and then there is Pavarotti"

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Luciano Pavarotti has died. It was, in the end, cancer that did him in, ironically.

I was lucky enough to hear him live once; it is a memory I'll carry with me forever.

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