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General Ignorance

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Frederick The Monk
2883.  Sun Dec 07, 2003 12:56 pm Reply with quote

I'm just stating to feel a little festive so I thought I'd wing a bit of Christmas General Ignorance your way.

Q: How many Kings does the Bible say came to visit the infant Jesus?

A: - who said three? Actually the Bible makes no mention of the number of Magi, Matthew simply saying:

" Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem . . . "

The number three was probably arrived at as the Bible DOES say that they brought three gifts, so it must have seemed logical to assume that they brought one each. But what if one of them brought all the gifts and the other two (or more) forgot? What if they'd hoped to get something in Bethlehem but arrived after the shops had shut? Perhaps hundreds of Magi came and left Bethlehem looking like New Age Jewellers? And what exactly happened to the gifts? Hmmmm.

Whilst we're having such fun let's have a go at another Magi related tidbit.

Q: Where did the 'three' kings find Jesus?

A: Who said 'in a stable'. Nonsense! Matthew 2:11 says:

" And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him . . . "

See - he was in a house! Perhaps the Inn had a vacancy by then? Perhaps Joseph managed to wangle an upgrade? Either way, it seems that I'm going to have to radically alter my nativity set.

2886.  Sun Dec 07, 2003 1:30 pm Reply with quote

In a letter associated with the Synod of Jerusalem in AD. 836 an incident was related to have happened in AD. 614 when Persian armies invaded the Holy Land destroying Christian Churches. Apparently when they came to the Basilica in Bethlehem they refused to destroy it because of a mosaic depicting the adoration of the Magi. It turns out they recognized them because of their dress; the belted tunics and full sleeves, in trousers wearing Phrygian caps. They were fellow Persians. Clement of Alexandria believed that Persian writings actually refer to the coming of the Son of God. The apocryphal Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 7:1 says in its account of the Magi that they came to Jerusalem 'according the prediction of Zoroaster.' They may have been referring to a doctrine of Zoroastrianism where says that a son of Zoroaster will be born many years after his death by a virgin who will bathe in a lake where Zoroaster's semen is preserved. This son will apparently raise the dead and crush the forces of evil.

2924.  Mon Dec 08, 2003 9:47 am Reply with quote

General ignorance about the Swedes:


The Four S's

Some people think of Sweden as the four Ss: Socialism, Suicide, Spirits and Sex. The image is so powerful that even many Swedes believe in it - even though it's completely inaccurate.

For many years, Sweden had a labor government and business was rigidly regulated. There always was less state ownership of business than in most industrial countries. It's now below 5%, compared to 33 % in France and almost 40% in Italy. The welfare services provided in Sweden are no more extensive than those of other European nations. But the socialist label sticks.

Sweden has the highest suicide rate in the world. In the early 1950s, the American President Dwight D. Eisenhower said so in a speech, based on an inaccurate briefing, and ever since many have accepted it as fact. But statistics compiled for the major countries show that Sweden is in fourteenth place, well behind most industrialized countries. (Hungary is the undisputed leader).

Sweden ranks as 28th in alcohol consumption among those nations that keep statistics. Swedes drink less than people in all industrialized countries except Norway. The French and Germans consume more than twice as much alcohol as the Swedes, the Americans and British about 50 percent more.

Then what about sex? In Germany, Schwedenfilm means a pornographic movie. In the US, advertising copywriters cannot resist the lure of Swedish blondes as a metaphor for sexual abandon. Swedes talk about sexuality openly, without the shame, guilt or religious self-consciousness that so often clouds the discussion in other countries. They feel there's nothing of which to be ashamed. But many foreigners misinterpret what that openness means. In their sexual behavior Swedes are almost puritanical compared to people from the continent. Foreigners who arrive expecting sexual adventures usually leave sadly disappointed.

Hard luck, chaps.

2936.  Mon Dec 08, 2003 3:58 pm Reply with quote

Think there's no difference between a Stradivarius and any other type of violin? Here's one explanation why there might be: post 2935

3192.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:34 am Reply with quote

Q. What did Mussolini do?

3195.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:41 am Reply with quote

Q: Is there a Latin grammatical formulation for a question asked expecting the answer "got the trains to run on time"?

3196.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:45 am Reply with quote

Snopes says:

The Italian railway system had fallen into a rather sad state during World War I, and it did improve a good deal during the 1920s, but Mussolini was disingenuous in taking credit for the changes: much of the repair work had been performed before Mussolini and the fascists came to power in 1922. More importantly (to the claim at hand), those who actually lived in Italy during the Mussolini era have borne testimony that the Italian railway's legendary adherence to timetables was far more myth than reality.

3197.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:59 am Reply with quote

Made the trains run on time

10 point forfeit

Italian trains ran no better under Mussolini to speak of than they had previously, but if they did, it had nothing to do with him.

It is generally thought that any improvements in the Italian railway system began before Mussolini came to power, the question is: 'Where did the myth that Mussolini improved things originate?'

The following information was given to me earlier in the week by John Fortune who is an auto-didact expert on Italian fascism, about which is he currently struggling to sell a documentary. To little avail, it has to be said, because the handbags who run modern television have irrevocably pigeon-holed him as a comedian.

(He's a really good guy, is JF and I've asked him to come over for a QI lunch and talk about that, amongst other things).


In 1922, to the dismay of the average Italian, there was a General Strike in Italy. Mussolini, addressing a crowd of 40,000 Fascists in Naples declared that unless the Government put an end to it, the fascists would do it for them.

"Either the Government will be given to us" he roared " or we will seize it by marching on Rome!!" The crowd started chanting "Roma!Roma!Roma!.

Four days later, the famous March on Rome indeed began, headed by four leading Fascisti known as the Quadrumviri. Mussolini was not one of them. It took place without him goose-stepping at its head. He was back home in Milan, quaking in his jackboots. (Or as the Encyclopaedia Britannica more politely puts it 'still hoping for a political compromise')

The King, however, agreed to the fascists' demands in principle and sent a telegram to Benito saying that, if he were to catch a train to Rome (and provided he didn't wear the silly uniform) the King would appoint him Prime Minister.

Mussolini then called the Mayor of Milan and told him urgently: 'It is VITAL that my train arrives on time!!'. The Mayor called the station master in a panic who called everyone else and yelled at them, and in due course the train arrived promptly.

We can therefore say, without fear of contradiction, that Mussolini made one of the trains run on time...

s John Fortune s: EBR

3199.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 7:19 am Reply with quote

Thanks Flash. (And a good way of phrasing the question, by the way!)

Last edited by JumpingJack on Fri Dec 12, 2003 7:19 am; edited 1 time in total

3200.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 7:19 am Reply with quote

Don't forget we've already looked at this one on post 1068 et seq

3201.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 7:23 am Reply with quote

Thanks for reminding us, Jenny, but I think the snopes answer on its own is a bit too vague and hearsay-ish to make a question stand up in court.

I think John Fortune's story adds real weight to it (especially if I can pin him down to more facts) but we could also use a statement by a real live Italian who was there at the time, I guess...

Sophie J
3214.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:13 pm Reply with quote

Moths are not attracted to candles or other flames.

They are disorientated by them. Apart from the odd forest fire, earthly light sources have been in existence for a very short time in comparison to the moth and moths are therefore used to using only the moon and the sun as light sources to guide them. Because the moon and sun are very far away, the incoming light rays that strike the insect arrive virtually parallel to each other. Moths have therefore evolved to expect to receive light at a fixed part of the eye and as long as they fly in a pretty straight line, this visual pattern stays the same. But when the light source is a nearby candle, the rays of light are coming from all angles. The moth tries to follow a straight line to the source of the light and ends up spiralling in towards it.


Sophie J
3215.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:30 pm Reply with quote

And more Christmas General Ignorance:

Q: Name one of the animals in the manger with the baby Jesus/ How many cattle were in the manger with baby Jesus.

A: Forfeit for any animals named; nowhere in the bible does it claim there were any animals there at all. The closest we get is a mention of nearby sheep in a field in Luke 2:8.
Martin Luther could be largely to blame for the nativity scene we see set up (even in churches) all over the country with cattle surrounding the baby's crib; he penned the carol 'Away in a Manger' which mentions the 'lowing' cattle.

Sophie J
3216.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 12:42 pm Reply with quote

And more, pinched from an on-line Scripture quiz but checked in the bible by me...

Q: What did Mary ride to Bethlehem on?

A: We don't know. It is a long walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem so the assumption is that she did ride an animal but the bible doesn't actually say that she did. (See Luke 2:2-6).


3229.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 4:35 pm Reply with quote

Q: Name one of the animals in the manger with the baby Jesus/ How many cattle were in the manger with baby Jesus.

<pedant> Strictly speaking there could have been no animals in the manger with baby Jesus even if they were mentioned in the Bible, unless they were extremely small animals, as the manger was the container used to hold the hay for the animals to feed from.</pedant>


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