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General Ignorance

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9550.  Sun Oct 24, 2004 5:29 pm Reply with quote

Post here when you spot something that'd suit the General Ignorance round. To remind you, this is the round in which we mostly exploit common misconceptions, so we're talking "trick" questions for the most part, and they don't have to start with C.

Let's keep this thread "pure" - just a collection of material with no chit-chat, please.

9552.  Sun Oct 24, 2004 5:34 pm Reply with quote

the U.K is made up of the principality of Wales, Northern Ireland, and The Kindoms of England, Scotland, and Fife (post on

the Kingdom of Fife thing is a bit like the Cornwall being seperate from England, it is really only people from Fife and Edinburgh that look at it like that (laidbacklazyman)

More work needed on this.

10059.  Fri Nov 05, 2004 8:48 am Reply with quote

See the thread on Cockroaches and the thread on Crapper for a couple of nice pieces of general ignorance.

10411.  Thu Nov 11, 2004 6:40 am Reply with quote

Why are the keys on a QWERTY keyboard arranged so oddly?

FORFEIT: to slow typists down

Actually, to speed them up. The layout was the work of CL Scholes of Milwaukee:

When Sholes built his first model in 1868, the keys were arranged alphabetically in two rows. At the time, Milwaukee was a backwoods town. The crude machine shop tools available there could hardly produce a finely-honed instrument that worked with precision. Yes, the first typewriter was sluggish. Yes, it did clash and jam when someone tried to type with it. But Sholes was able to figure out a way around the problem simply by rearranging the letters. Looking inside his early machine, we can see how he did it.
The first typewriter had its letters on the end of rods called "typebars." The typebars hung in a circle. The roller which held the paper sat over this circle, and when a key was pressed, a typebar would swing up to hit the paper from underneath. If two typebars were near each other in the circle, they would tend to clash into each other when typed in succession. So, Sholes figured he had to take the most common letter pairs such as "TH" and make sure their typebars hung at safe distances.
He did this using a study of letter-pair frequency prepared by educator Amos Densmore, brother of James Densmore, who was Sholes' chief financial backer. The QWERTY keyboard itself was determined by the existing mechanical linkages of the typebars inside the machine to the keys on the outside. Sholes' solution did not eliminate the problem completely, but it was greatly reduced.
The keyboard arrangement was considered important enough to be included on Sholes' patent granted in 1878 (see drawing), some years after the machine was into production. QWERTY's effect, by reducing those annoying clashes, was to speed up typing rather than slow it down.

10633.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:10 pm Reply with quote

Q: How did Gandhi best like to prove his chastity?

A: By taking young naked virgins to bed with him at night.

It came to light (When Gandhi was 77 years old) that he was taking young virgins to bed at night with him. He wasn’t warm enough, you see. Gandhi claimed that he suffered from “shivering fits” and that lying naked in bed next to a young naked virgin was the only cure for it. Of course when that story didn’t hold up Gandhi had no choice but to acknowledge the truth.

He was taking the virgins to bed to test his brahmacharya. In other words, or rather, in English words, he was testing his chastity. Wanting to prove to the world that he was “God’s Eunuch”

Sometimes these young women, no older than 16 in most cases, would be close relatives of Gandhi’s. Cousins, Nephews wives…Gandhi didn’t care.

In fact sleeping with him at night wasn’t all that they did. One, Manu Gandhi (a distant cousin) would Bath and shave Gandhi, monitor his physical condition while he was fasting, as well as giving him enemas.

Gandhi swore off sex at the age of 36, didn’t believe that husband and wife should have sex for pleasure, but should live like Brother and Sister, bonking only when they wanted babies.

Surprisingly, no one really cared. In fact women seemed to love Gandhi and thought him a hunk. The few critics who did try to step in and say, “Um..excuse me?” found that no one actually actually cared enough to do anything about it. He was Gods Eunuch!

Gandhi had women sleeping with him at night til the day of his assassination.

Last edited by brackett on Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:34 pm; edited 3 times in total

10635.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:20 pm Reply with quote

Alternatively, What did Gandhi take to bed with him most nights to keep warm?

10637.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:25 pm Reply with quote

It's a great story, but isn't it quite a widely known one? I knew it, anyway...

10640.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:28 pm Reply with quote

Oh damn. Is it?

10643.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:13 pm Reply with quote

Well let's see how many other people know it - perhaps I'm just very very clever.

Or perhaps not.

10644.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:15 pm Reply with quote

No, you are clever. Mitch knew it as well. He mentioned that St. Swithuns did the same. I can't seem to find anything though.

Last edited by brackett on Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:12 am; edited 1 time in total

10645.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:44 pm Reply with quote

Well I found something here:

In the very earliest days of the Christian Church, men and women would live together in the same house in perfect love and perfect chastity. The Greeks had called chaste love Agape, as against sexual love, Eros: so those who lived in this way were called Agapetae. The early fathers, hag-ridden by fears of sex as they were, could not imagine that any such relationship could be pure.(76) St. Chrysostom wrote a polemic Against Those Who Keep Virgins in their Houses. "Our fathers", he begins, "only knew two forms of intimacy, marriage and fornication. Now a third form has appeared: men introduce young girls into their houses and keep them there permanently, respecting their virginity." The pleasure derived from this, he argues, must be "violent and tyrannical" or else the men would not hold their honour so cheap and give rise to such scandal "That there should really be a pleasure in this which produces a love more ardent than conjugal union may surprise you at first," he naively adds, "but when I give you the proofs you will agree that it is so."

The many protests of the Fathers show that this "new refinement of tender chastity, which came as a delicious discovery to the early Christians who had resolutely thrust away the licentiousness of the pagan world" (to borrow Havelock Ellis's phrase) must have been widespread. Jerome, writing to Eustochium, comments on those couples who "share the same room, often the same bed, and call us suspicious if we draw any conclusions." While Cyprian (Epistola 62) is unable to approve those men of whom he hears-and one a deacon!- who live in familiar intercourse with virgins, even sleeping in the same bed with them - for, he declares, the feminine sex is weak and youth is wanton.

In the hands of the saints, the innovation was twisted into a more athletic and masochistic form, becoming the famous "trial of chastity", in which one sought to demonstrate one's self-control by finding the greatest extremes of temptation- perhaps with the unconscious desire that one day one would overstep the mark. It is said that St. Swithin and St. Brendan once engaged in a contest of this kind. Brendan, on hearing that St. Swithin constantly slept in one bed with two beautiful virgins, rebuked him for the risks which he was incurring. Swithin replied by challenging him to emulate his performance (not a very logical rejoinder, but the early fathers were never very strong on logic). This Brendan attempted to do, but found that, though he could resist the temptation, he was unable to get off to sleep, and returned home discomfited.

Taken from

10646.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 6:47 pm Reply with quote

Because you are clever.

10652.  Sat Nov 13, 2004 7:30 pm Reply with quote


10714.  Mon Nov 15, 2004 11:30 am Reply with quote

Even if the panel were presented with a printed version or video display of the long Welsh placename Llanfairpwll......gogogoch and asked to count the letters (see post 9901of Quite Interestings), they'd quite likely all get it wrong (see post 9903).

Last edited by Gaazy on Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

10746.  Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:31 pm Reply with quote

What? Even Alan, the welsh boy from the vallies?


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