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General Ignorance

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Frederick The Monk
3235.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 5:36 pm Reply with quote

I bet there was spider or two in the manger. Possibly even a mouse. Then again perhaps the baby Jesus had a cuddly toy or two. My daughter takes two bunny rabbits, a bear and a dodo to bed with her.

But we don't make her sleep in a manger.

Not any more.

 
BobTheScientist
3282.  Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:44 am Reply with quote

In the primary school, where I do an evening class, I was amused to see a Dramatis personnae for the nativity play which included:
....
The Manger -- Darren
....

Going to win an Oscar for best supporting actor , our Darren.

 
Jenny
3287.  Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:56 am Reply with quote

Has anybody here ever heard Mike Harding's wonderful piece about a school nativity play? I know he's recorded it, but I saw him do it on stage and practically had to be carried out afterwards I'd laughed so much. He would be an excellent QI panellist, come to think of it. He's a very intelligent man as well as being very funny.

 
Flash
3481.  Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:50 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Flash: This one originated with you elsewhere, and I think it's one we ought to nail.

Q. How many stockbrokers jumped to their death from their office windows during the Wall Street Crash of 1929?


JK Galbraith, no less:

Quote:
Extracts from "The Great Crash: 1929", John Kenneth Galbraith, First Published 1955, Page 148 to 149.
"In the week or so following Black Thursday, the London penny press told delightedly of the scenes in downtown New York. Speculators were hurling themselves from windows; pedestrians picked their way delicately between the bodies of fallen financiers. The American correspondent for the Economist wrote an indignant column for his paper protesting against this picture of imaginary carnage.
In the United States the suicide wave that followed the stock market crash is also part of the legend of 1929. In fact, there was none.
[TEXT AND TABLE OF STATISTICS DELETED]
One can only guess how the suicide myth beame established. like alcoholics and gamblers, broken speculators are supposed to have a propensity for self destruction. At a time when broken speculators were plentiful, the newspapers and the public may have simply supplied the corollary.
[TEXT DELETED]
Curiously, though another myth runs strongly to the contrary, few people in these days followed the classic method of jumping from a high window."

 
Jenny
3486.  Fri Dec 19, 2003 8:56 am Reply with quote

Flash, do you think you could put that on the 'Suicide' thread on the other forum? Or I will, if you prefer. Thanks.

 
JumpingJack
3863.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:41 pm Reply with quote

Well, if you already have, Jenny, so be it. But we have to be careful to keep these precious hard-to-find 'General Ignorance' questions discreet, in case the panellists should come upon them, or even if they get around just because they're so good...

Happy New Year by the way. Hope you're well. (Will reply to the email any min)

 
JumpingJack
3864.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:44 pm Reply with quote

I see from t'other thread Flashy has already done it. Whether we should trouble to delete it I don't know, but I think we have to be a little selfish with such info at least until we finish the series at the end of March.

 
JumpingJack
3865.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:45 pm Reply with quote

Meantime, is this any good?

Q: Where do tulips come from?

 
JumpingJack
3866.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:46 pm Reply with quote

A: Not from Amsterdam

The original wild tulips grew from round the Mediterranean all the way to China, and were first cultivated in about 1000 AD. The first tulips in the Netherlands were imported from Constantinople in 1554

s: AIT

Bit boring and technical, maybe?

 
Jenny
3873.  Mon Jan 05, 2004 7:48 pm Reply with quote

I wonder if there's a question in tulip prices somewhere. Wikipedia comes up with some good info about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_boom

Tulips, first introduced into Europe in the mid-16th century, became so fashonable in Holland after cultivation began there in 1593 that middle-class Dutchmen struggled to outdo each other in possessing the rarest bulbs. Competition escalated until prices reached unsustainable levels during the early 17th century. By 1623 a single bulb of a famous breed could cost up to 1000 Dutch florins (the average yearly income at the time was 150 florins, so this is more than six years' average income).

In 1645, 40 bulbs were sold for 100,000 florins. A ton of butter cost 100 florins and 8 fat swine 240 florins.

By 1636 tulips were traded on the stock exchange, even those that had only just been planted or that traders intended to plant (tulip futures), even though that trade had been made illegal in 1610. However, the bubble burst in February 1637 and thousands of Dutch people were ruined.

A lesser tulip boom happened in England in 1800, when collectors could pay 15 guineas for one bulb - six months' wages for a labourer.

So remember children - tulips can grow down as well as up.

 
Sophie J
3876.  Tue Jan 06, 2004 6:00 am Reply with quote

Tulips get their name from the fact that they look like turbans. The name comes from 'Tul(i)band', which is the Turkish pronounciation of the word 'dulband', which means turban.

s: OED

As for the Tulip Boom, it was so extreme that in the 17th Century an entire brewery in France was exchanged for a single bulb of the variety 'Tulip Brasserie'.

s: EBR

 
Jenny
3902.  Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:20 am Reply with quote

What is the most common last name in the world?
B.J.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Dear B.J.:
A Yahoo! Search on "most common last name" resulted in this pithy article from the good folks who bring us Meriam-Webster's Word for the Wise column*. The world's most common surname (not surprisingly, considering the numbers) is Chang or Zhang.
There are approximately 100 million Zhangs. The name is roughly 4,700 years old. In all of Mainland China, there are only 438 last names. Chinese surnames were originally based on geography.

Here are the top five last names in the United States, according to the 1990 data from the U.S. Census Bureau: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, and Brown. There are around 3 million Smiths in the U.S., and they've held the top spot for the last 13 years.

Zhang ranks pretty low on the list of American surnames -- 2292nd. Perhaps more tellingly, Garcia and Martinez rank 18th and 19th, respectively.

http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20031126.html

* This column goes as follows:

The most common surname in the world is Chang, a fact which reflects the large number of people of Asian ancestry. In all of Mainland China, there are only three hundred different last names.

According to data from the United States Social Security Administration, Smith is the most common surname in the United States, as it is in the rest of the English-speaking world. According to the same source, the ten most common names in the U.S., in order, are Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Martin, Anderson, and Wilson. Where does Chang, the world's most common name, fall on the American list? It's 2292nd.

Plenty of other names fall in between Smith and Chang on the list of common U.S. last names, including those shared by a few of our recent presidents. Ford is 113th on the list, Kennedy is 115th, Nixon comes in at 806th, and Reagan is the 1970th most common name in the United States.

http://www.m-w.com/textonly/wftw/97july/7497.htm

 
Jenny
3903.  Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:23 am Reply with quote

Forfeit answer, presumably, would be the Eurocentric 'Smith'.

 
Jenny
3905.  Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:29 am Reply with quote

The nuggetoid about Muhammed (with its spelling variants) being the world's most common first name is posted on the net on an August 11th 2002 Sunday Post quiz: http://www.sundaypost.com/quiz/quiz2002/aug11.htm

It also appears with a March 2003 date on http://www.coferschapel.com/index.cfm/method/content.946AB491-47A4-4B4A-9EDB790B2BB9A5CC

In fact it appears in several sites of the kind, but I haven't found *where* the information originates yet, and even though it seems quite possible, I'd regard it as 'not proven'.

Incidentally it does not follow that 'Mohammed Chang' is the world's most common name. If you google it, you only get 35 hits, most of which are commenting on this fact.

 
Frederick The Monk
3929.  Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:38 pm Reply with quote

Q: Where does French Toast originate?

A: Italy - the earliest recipe (that I can find - and I challenge you to find an older one) is in the 1st century AD culinary text De Re Coquinaria by the Apicius who wrote his treatise probably in Rome and refers to the dish, not suprisingly, as 'Roman Toast'.

s:Edwards, John. The Roman Cookery of Apicius

 

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