Forget The Cold War, The Summer Is Here

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2nd cold war

The world breathed a great sigh of relief when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, but somehow we’re in the middle of another cold war that nobody wants or needs.

How did that happen?

As most things do, it all started with a huge mistake. That mistake was the West, particularly America, treating Russia like a defeated country after 1991, instead of the formidable nation that it still was despite the breakup of the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev has acknowledged that fact.

Unfortunately Americans have no clue about foreign affairs and never have had. That, plus a ton of arrogance, led us to the Ukraine which America thought it could more or less capture as an ally to be slotted into NATO. They wanted a fully armed NATO nuclear arsenal on the Russian’s doorstep.

The Americans quite rightly didn’t like it when the Russians tried to do it to them in Cuba way back in the early 1960s, so what idiot thought that the Russians would like it when they did it to them?

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Whoever formulated the plan, it was heavily influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor during President Carter’s administration. His theory was that the only way to prevent Russia becoming a great power again was to remove the Ukraine from its sphere of influence.

Thus America initiated an eastward expansion of NATO, using the EU to present the Ukraine with a choice between Russia and Europe. Some Ukrainians, like those in the Crimea favored Russia and others in other parts wanted closer ties with the EU.

Like many other countries, the prospect of joining the EU is attractive to a significant proportion of Ukrainians. But the way America tried to bring it about was just a step too far. The Ukrainian President, who had been duly elected, was removed in what would have been called a “coup d’etat” had it happened elsewhere, or had Russia been the culprit.

That is why a lot of the tensions between the West and Russia is centered on the internal troubles within the Ukraine.

If one looks into the history of the Ukraine another significant part of the puzzle presents itself.

ukraine-map

In much the same way as stupid English bureaucrats redrew borders in the Middle East without any consideration for the people who lived there, (for example, the Kurds), which resulted in wars and upheaval ever since, when the Soviet Union broke apart somewhere in the region of 25 million Russians were left outside the borders of Russia. A lot of them were in the Crimea in the Ukraine.

But the Ukraine had only been independent for three years in its history (1917-20), after the collapse of the tsarist armies.

The post-December 1991 Ukraine was thus a composite entity, its western regions had belonged to Poland between WWI and WWII; its eastern regions were Orthodox and Russian-speaking; and its Black Sea coast had been Ottoman.

The Crimea had never been Ukrainian until Nikita Khrushchev decreed it should be in 1954.

Thus, for anyone with any degree of understanding of foreign affairs, the troubles now being suffered by the various peoples in the Ukraine were both predictable and avoidable.

But the stupid bureaucrats in power were not able to predict it and thus the mess became inevitable.

Ukraine crisis

Sadly the situation has now deteriorated into what amounts to a civil war in the Ukraine. On one side there is the Ukrainian army plus “volunteer battalions”, supported by the US and its allies, and on the other the “separatist” militias who draw their support mainly from Russian-speakers in the east, and who are supported by Russia.

Outside of what is happening in the Ukraine itself, the US and EU implemented severe sanctions against Russia which have hurt, but not nearly as much as they were supposed to. In turn Russia announced counter-sanctions on food and looked to emerging markets, particularly China, to diversify its foreign trade and industrial cooperation.

And so the Cold War part two has begun and shows little sign of ending just yet.

In fact it looks like the Ukraine will remain in a mess until it gets its act together and decides whether it wants to remain on friendly economic terms with its huge neighbor Russia, or whether it will settle for becoming subservient to the whims of the US, via some kind of economic agreement with the EU.

It has a third option, though, perhaps its best option, and that is not taking sides, but rather remaining on friendly terms with both East and West.

However, they may never get the chance to choose option three. In plain language, I don’t think that the people who arrange assassinations and coup d’etats will let them do that.

Meantime, summer or not, the chill continues.

snow in summer sun

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Titanic, Tic Tacs And Trailers. It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another fact day at the fasab blob.

Last one for May 2015. Time flying as always.

This selection includes facts about the Titanic Tic Tacs and trailers, and lots more.

Enjoy.

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did you know3

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Light pollution usually doesn’t have a

significant impact on humans but it

causes major problems to many animals.

Birds often confuse days and nights and

scientists found out that light pollution can

change migration patterns in some animal species.

 Light pollution

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The Titanic was so big that 176 men were needed

just to shovel coal into its furnaces

 Titanic boiler room

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Although Tic Tac’s claim to have 0 sugar,

they consist of nearly 98% sugar!

This is because the size per serving is

.49 grams and according to the FDA a food

cannot be labeled “sugar free” unless it

contains less than .5 grams of sugar per serving!

How sweet!

 Tic Tac

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Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe and

it hasn’t changed its name since 681 AD

 Bulgaria map

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When Soviet archaeologists opened the tomb

of Tamerlane, a Mongol descendant of Genghis Khan,

they found an inscription that read,

“Whoever opens my tomb will unleash

an invader more terrible than I.”

It was June 20 1941.

Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22.

 tomb of Tamerlane

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The only part of a Swiss Army Knife not

made in Switzerland is the corkscrew.

It is made in Japan.

 Swiss Army Knife

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Mothers become emotionally attached to their

children prior to birth by the virtue of

carrying the child in their wombs.

According to some studies men won’t become

emotionally bonded to the child for several months

after birth when the infant begins to smile, respond,

and interact with him.

 mother baby bond

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During Peter the Great’s reign in Russia

there was a beard tax which

anyone with a beard had to pay.

 Beard_token

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Nobody knows how the Mayan Empire declined.

Long before the Spanish came many of the great

cities had already been long abandoned and lay in ruins.

Scholars have hypothesized reasons ranging from

drought and famine to overpopulation and climate change.

 Mayan Empire

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JRR Tolkien’s estate only received $62,500

for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy

until a lawsuit was filed.

 Lord of the Rings film trilogy

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In June 2010 Oscar the cat received bionic limbs

to replace his original ones lost in an

accident with a combine harvester.

 Bionic-Cat

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Movie trailers were so named because they

were originally designed to play AFTER the movie,

but when marketers realized that people don’t tend

to stick around when a movie has finished they

started to play them at the beginning of the main movie!

Here’s an example…

 .

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Some Baby Facts Included Today.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, baby facts and a lot of grown up facts too in this selection.

Hope you find something of interest.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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In spite of their crying sounds,

babies tears don’t begin to flow until they

are around 4 to 13 weeks old.

 baby crying

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Anne Parrish, an American writer was browsing

in a Paris bookstore one day when she came across

a book called, ‘Jack Frost and Other Stories’.

She began to tell her husband how she loved

the book when she was a child.

He took the book, opened it,

and inside the cover were written the words

“Anne Parish, 209 N Weber Street, Colorado”.

 Anne_Parrish,_children's_author,_head_shot

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The Titanic had its own newspaper

called The Atlantic Daily Bulletin.

 The Atlantic Daily Bulletin

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The term ‘Geek’ first showed up in northern Britain

in 1876, when it was used to refer to a fool.

Americans tweaked the meaning and by 1957 it meant

‘an unsociable and over-diligent student’.

Of course, once computers turned up in the 80’s,

‘geek’ took on a second meaning as

‘an expert in computers or science’.

 Bill_Gates_Paul_Allen_1981

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The first modern lighter was invented by

German chemist Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner in 1823,

three years BEFORE the match was invented

by John Walker in England.

 Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner

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One of the most iconic military vehicles of all time has to

be the Willys MB Jeep, manufactured from 1941 to 1945.

This small four-wheel drive utility vehicle has

a maximum speed of up to 65 mph (105 km/h)

and an operational range of 300 miles (almost 500 km).

It was used by several countries in WWII,

including the US, UK, France and the Soviet Union.

 Willys MB Jeep

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Technically Europe is not a continent,

it’s separation from Asia was actually a Greek idea.

 Europe map

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While filming Lord of the Rings

in the mountains of New Zealand,

Sean Bean refused a helicopter ride to a set

that was high in the mountains

due to his fear of flying.

He instead hiked up to the set

in his full Boromir armor

every day that they shot up there.

 boromir

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In Indonesia the government has restricted some

lanes of traffic to only cars with 3 or more people

to try to cut down overcrowding on the roads.

Some poor people from the city outskirts

take advantage of this law by offering drivers a

Professional Hitchhiker service,

so they can drive in the fast lanes.

 Indonesia traffic jam

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Genghis Khan believed that a man could be measured

by the number of children he fathered

and consequently his harem included thousands of

women with whom he had a great many children.

So many, in fact, that geneticists have found

that roughly 8% of men in Asia carry his genetic legacy

in their Y-chromosome.

 Genghis Khan  descendents map

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127,000 trees are chopped down every day

in order to keep up with the global demand

for toilet paper.

Holy S***!!!

 toilet paper

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The original ER movie was to be directed

by Steven Spielberg until he became more interested

in another of Crichton’s projects: Jurassic Park.

Spielberg Jurassic Park

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The Quizzes March On!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The quizzes do March on and we are starting this month with a good mix of questions. Some you should get without too much difficulty and some you will have to think about for a while.

Oh yes, and one that I will be surprised if anyone gets the bonus points for. You’ll know it when you see it.

As usual if you do get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

 a) Big D?    b) Steel City?    c) City of Brotherly Love?    d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and five (yes, 5) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan       

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  ‘Solidarity’ was an important Trade Union in which country in the 1980s?

A.  1:  Poland.

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Q.  2:  In lawn bowls (and its indoor version), what is the target ball called?

A.  2:  Jack.

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Q.  3:  Which creature lives on mulberry leaves?

A.  3:  The Silk worm.

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Q.  4:  In the USA what cities are known as the

    a) Big D?      b) Steel City?      c) City of Brotherly Love?      d) Emerald City?

(A point for each correct answer and a bonus point if get all four correct.)

A.  4:  The correct answers are   

a) The Big D = Dallas     

b) The Steel City = Pittsburgh       

c) The City of Brotherly Love = Philadelphia            

d) The Emerald City = Seattle

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Q.  5:  In relation to power what is the equivalent of 746 watts?

A.  5:  746 watts is the equivalent of 1 horse power.

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Q.  6:  What word denoted the new policy of openness adopted by Mikhail Gorbachev’s government in the Soviet Union?

A.  6:  Glasnost.

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Q.  7:  What well known pottery form takes its name from the Italian for “baked earth”?

A.  7:  Terracotta.

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Q.  8:  How long did Rip Van Winkle sleep for?

A.  8:  Twenty years.

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Q.  9:  What term is given to a piece of rock or metal from space that reaches the surface of the Earth?

A.  9:  It is known as a ‘Meteorite’.

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Q. 10:  The suffix ‘stan’ is Persian for ‘place of’ or ‘country’. The names of seven countries end in ‘stan’, what are they? (You get a point for each one you can name correctly and seven (yes, 7) bonus points if get them all correct.) 

a) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan   

b)  _ _ _ _ _ _ stan        

c) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan  

d) _ _ _ _ stan      

e) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan      

f) _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ stan    

g) _ _ _ _ _ _ stan

A. 10:  They are in alphabetical order, 

a)  Afghanistan    

b)  Kazakhstan    

c)  Kyrgyzstan   

d)  Pakistan    

e)  Tajikistan   

 f)  Turkmenistan    

g)  Uzbekistan

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Q. 11:  What color is the most-prized variety of jade?

A. 11:  Green.

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Q. 12:  Whose theorem uses a 3, 4, 5 triangle?

A. 12:  Pythagoras.

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Q. 13:  Piraeus serves as the port for which major city?

A. 13:  Athens.

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Q. 14:  Which insects communicate with one another by dancing?

A. 14:  Bees.

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Q. 15:  What was the name of Captain Nemo’s submarine?

A. 15:  It was called the ‘Nautilus’.

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Q. 16:  What creature is an ophidiophobe afraid of?

A. 16:  Snakes.

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Q. 17:  In the US and the UK what is the name given to the government department responsible for formulating and recommending economic, financial, tax, and fiscal policies?

A. 17:  Treasury.

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Q. 18:  Which of the 12 Zodiac signs start with the letter ‘L’ ?

A. 18:  They are Leo and Libra.

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Q. 19:  Which English politician, when told by Lady Nancy Astor that if he were her husband she’d put poison in his coffee, replied that if she were his wife he’d drink it?

A. 19:  Winston Churchill.

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Q. 20:  What popular song originated as the jingle “Buy the World a Coke” in the groundbreaking 1971 “Hilltop” television commercial for Coca-Cola? (A bonus point is available if you can also correctly name the group.)

A. 20:  “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) by The New Seekers.

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Further Fun Facts For January.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Another round of fun facts, not just for January, but for whenever you feel like it really.

As random a mixture as ever.

Enjoy.

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fact 01

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Las Vegas casinos don’t have any clocks in

them because the owners prefer that

players lose track of time and keep gambling.

Las Vegas casinos

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Clear Coca-Cola was created for the USSR in the 1940s

because Coca-Cola was regarded in the Soviet Union

as a symbol of American imperialism.

A chemist satisfied the request by removing

the soda’s caramel color and the company

put the drink in a clear bottle with a white cap

and a red star and sent 50 cases to Russia.

Coca_Cola_Clear_by_Giluc

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Dogs can be trained to detect

the scent of lung cancer

long before symptoms develop.

Dogs can be trained to detect the scent of lung cancer

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This image of what appears to be

a humanoid on the Moon

is believed to be an optical illusion

created by a rock formation’s shadow.

Certainly not proof of alien life,

or is it!

image of humanoid on Moon

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Liam Neeson was once offered

the role of James Bond,

as were Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds,

but they all turned it down.

Liam Neeson offered the role of James Bond

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The three pyramids in Giza Necropolis

are the most famous Egyptian pyramids

but in fact, as many as about 140 pyramids

in total have been discovered in Ancient Egypt.

three pyramids in Giza

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In October 2006,

Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stocks,

only eighteen months after it was created.

The three founders received big rewards,

Jawed Karim getting $66 million in Google stock,

Steven Chen $310 million,

and Chad Hurley $334 million.

Google bought YouTube

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A Japanese survivor from the Titanic disaster

was shamed when he returned to Japan,

he was told he should have gone down with the ship.

Japanese survivor from the Titanic

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The term ‘Make the grade’ originates from

the world of railroad construction

in nineteenth-century America.

The word ‘grade’ is short for ‘gradient’

as calculations had to be carefully made

to ensure engines did not encounter

sudden steep gradients.

Make the grade

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The polar bear is the only bear species

that does not hibernate;

they are active all year round.

polar bear does not hibernate

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Coffee can cause muscle contractions

along the final part of your intestine,

which can jumpstart your need to use the restroom.

This happens to about 50% of people that drink coffee.

Coffee can cause muscle contractions

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Every day, the heart creates enough energy

to drive a truck 20 miles.

In a lifetime, that is equivalent

to driving to the moon and back.

the heart

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J K Rowling’s publisher suggested

she use initials rather than her real name,

‘Joanne Rowling’,

in order to appeal to male readers.

She chose ‘J.K.’ borrowing the ‘K’ from

her grandmother’s name, Kathleen,

although neither ‘Kathleen’ nor ‘K’

are part of her legal name.

J K Rowling

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Marilyn Monroe had a bigger IQ than Albert Einstein.

Monroe’s IQ was 163, 3 points higher than Einstein.

She also had bigger … never mind …

Marilyn Monroe had a higher IQ than Albert Einstein

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The Beatles song “Dear Prudence” was written

about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence,

when she wouldn’t come out and play

with Mia and the Beatles at

a religious retreat in India.

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The Last Post – Of 2013.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Last Post Of 2013

31st December has rolled round again and so it’s time to bring 2013 to a close.

This is always an appropriate time to reflect on what has happened during the previous twelve months.

These are just some of the things I remember about 2013. It’s a personal choice and you may have thought of other things that could have been mentioned, but, in spite of the fact that the time seems to fly, a lot happens in the space of a year so only so much can be included.

Hope you find something of interest.

Enjoy.

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The Weather

As good a place as any to start since the weather is a constant topic of conversation at all times of the year.

Statistically 2013 appears to have been a year where major weather events were at a minimum. Not much comfort to those at the extreme end of that distribution curve and who suffered hardship and discomfort as the result of extreme weather.

But here are some of what I think are the most memorable weather events of 2013.

In January Malaysia, Indonesia and South-East Africa saw major flooding events caused by monsoon and other heavy rainstorms. It also saw Australia’s hottest month on record.

Malaysia floods

February saw the largest snowfall from a single storm ever recorded in the North-eastern United States. Major winter storms also affected central US states and even the Texas panhandle.

snow-snow-snow

In March New Zealand saw its worst drought in more than 30 years. China had its second warmest recorded March temperature, while in usually sunny Spain they had their wettest March on record with three times the average for the previous three decades.

New Zealand drought 2013

Contrast was the name of the game in the US in April with California experiencing drought conditions while in the Central US there was widespread flooding.

May was the wettest ever seen in China for forty years. Indeed it was a month of extremes with more than 1 million people evacuated from their homes as Tropical Cyclone Mahasan struck Bangladesh, while in the US the widest ever observed tornado hit Oklahoma bringing more than 20 deaths and widespread devastation.

oklahoma-tornado-wallpaper-2013

June was the hottest ever, Portugal, China, Hungary, Finland, and Britain, all recorded heat-waves, and the temperature in Death Valley, California hit 129.2F (54.0C), the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth during June.

In July in the US 19 firefighters were killed trying to contain wildfires in Prescot Arizona.

Arizona firefighters

More contrasts later in the year with the 2013 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season being one of the weakest recorded in 50 years, with no major hurricanes in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic basin. Only Ingrid and Humberto out of the 13 named storms reached hurricane strength.

In the western-north Pacific on the other hand, 30 major storms had been recorded by early November, 13 of them typhoon-strength. The biggest was typhoon Haiyan, possibly the most powerful tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history, which smashed into the southern Philippines, killing at least 6,000 people and wreaking massive damage.  

typhoon Haiyan 2013

The end of the year saw the focus change to Europe, where a major depression moved eastwards from northwest Scotland to southern Sweden bringing strong winds of up to 142 mph and a massive tidal surge that affected coastal areas around the North Sea. In the UK thousands of people had to evacuate their homes along the east coast, where the coastal surge was the worst since 1953 with local flooding and some houses being washed into the sea as cliffs gave way. At least six people died by the time the winds moved finally down over northeast Europe.

storms uk 2013

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Scandals

2013 has been noted as a great year for scandal and corruption. Here are some of the highlights (or low lights perhaps?).

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In the food industry we had the Aflatoxin scandal, where throughout much of Europe contaminated milk and other food products were found to be ‘infested’ with this toxin.

Major supermarket retailers were the subject of another major scandal in the UK when they were found to be selling meat products labeled “100% beef” which were actually horse meat.

horse meat scandal

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In sport several Major League Baseball players were accused of obtaining performance-enhancing drugs, specifically human growth hormone, from the now-defunct rejuvenation clinic Biogenesis of America.

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However, undoubtedly the biggest scandal of 2013 was perpetrated by the US Government.

It was discovered during 2013, as the result of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that US Government agencies, in particular the NSA, had been guilty of a widespread snooping and spying campaign, even on its own citizens.

It was reminiscent of the old Soviet Union and the KGB, but it was happening in the “Land of the Free”. The snooping projects included “PRISM”, a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program that collects stored Internet communications based on demands made to Internet companies such as Google; “Dropmire”, a secret surveillance program of surveillance of foreign embassies and diplomatic staff, including those of NATO allies; “Fairview”, a secret mass surveillance program used to collect phone, internet and e-mail data in bulk from the computers and mobile telephones of foreign countries’ citizens; “Hemisphere”, a mass surveillance program conducted by US telephone company AT&T and paid for by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Administration; “MUSCULAR”, a surveillance program jointly operated by Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA that was used to secretly break into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world; and “XKeyscore”, a formerly secret computer system used by the United States National Security Agency for searching and analyzing Internet data about foreign nationals across the world.

nsa-spying-scandal

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In 2013, the United States Department of Justice, under Attorney General Eric Holder, also came under scrutiny from the media and some members of Congress for subpoenaing phone records from the Associated Press and naming Fox News reporter, James Rosen, a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act of 1917 in order to gain access to his personal emails and phone records.

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And the IRS was also condemned when it was revealed that it had targeted political groups applying for tax-exempt status for closer scrutiny based on their names or political themes.

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All in all a bad year for the reputation and standing of the US Government.

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In other countries perhaps the worst scandal of 2013 was “Danielgate”, a political scandal in which Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, issued a pardon for a Spanish convicted serial child-rapist named Daniel Galván who was serving a 30 years prison sentence for the rape of at least 11 Moroccan children in Kenitra—a city where he had been living in since 2004.

The Pardon sparked unprecedented popular outrage in Morocco where several protests were held denouncing the monarch’s decision.

It was revealed later that this wasn’t the first time Mohammed VI had pardoned a convicted foreign paedophile, having pardoned Hervé Le Gloannec, a French citizen convicted of child rape and child pornography in 2006.

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In India a Ponzi scheme operated by the Saradha Group financial Group, a consortium of Indian companies that was believed to be running a wide variety of collective investment schemes, collapsed causing an estimated loss of INR 200–300 billion (US$4–6 billion) to over 1.7 million depositors.

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In politics there was the usual sex and drugs scandals during 2013. In May videos were exposed that showed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine and commenting on political issues. Rob Ford consistently denied the existence of the video, and denied that he uses crack cocaine, remaining Mayor despite calls for him to step down. On November 5, 2013, Ford eventually admitted to smoking crack cocaine “probably in one of my drunken stupors”, and to hiding his drug abuse from his family, his staff and the people of Toronto, but pledged to continue on as Mayor.

Toronto Mayor Bob Ford

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Back in the US former member of the United States House of Representatives from New York City,  Anthony Weiner, was involved in another sexual scandal relating to sexting, or sending explicit sexual material by cell phone. First caught in the Weinergate scandal in 2011 that led to his resignation as a congressman, this idiot has learned nothing. During his attempt to return to politics as candidate for mayor of New York City,  Weiner admitted having sexted again, after more explicit pictures were published in July 2013.

Weiner Scandal Headlines

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Departures

As every year, 2013 saw many departures. Here are some of the better known faces that passed on during the year.

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Astronauts, C. Gordon Fullerton and Scott Carpenter.

astronauts fullerton-carpenter

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From politics, Ed Koch, U.S. Representative from New York (1969–1977) and Mayor of New York City (1978–1989), later a television judge in “The People’s Court”.

ed_koch 

Margaret Thatcher aka “The Iron Lady”, daughter of a greengrocer who became the first woman Prime Minister of the UK. 

 Margaret Thatcher

Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan politician and military officer and President since 1999.

Chavez

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Television and the movies also lost many well known characters including,

Conrad Bain, Canadian born and usually cast as the erudite gent, advice-spouting father or uptight, pompous neighbor, included roles in “Diff’rent Strokes”.

conrad-bain 

Michael Winner a director best known for dramatic and violent movies like “Death Wish” starring Charles Bronson.

Michael Winner 

Richard Briers, television comedy actor well known on British sitcoms such as “The Good Life” and “Ever Decreasing Circles”.

Richard Briers 

Dale Robertson who, after service during WWII in North Africa and Europe, became an actor and made his name in television Westerns in the 1950s and ’60s.

dale-robertson 

Richard Griffiths, a British character actor who came from radio and the classical stage.

Richard Griffiths 

Steve Forrest began his screen career as a small part contract player with MGM and made his name as an action man in the 1960’s and 70’s. He is a brother of star Dana Andrews.

Steve Forrest 

New Jersey-born James Gandolfini began acting in the New York theater, making his Broadway debut was in the 1992 revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin. James’ breakthrough role was his portrayal of Virgil the hitman in Tony Scott’s “True Romance”, but the role that made him a household name was as Tony Soprano in the award winning television series “The Sopranos”.

James-Gandolfini 

Gary David Goldberg was born in Brooklyn, New York but moved to Hollywood to try to make it as a writer. He was responsible for the hit series “Spin City”.

gary_david_goldberg 

Although Dennis Farina did not start acting until he was 37 years old, he achieved success as a character actor, often being cast as a cop or gangster.

Dennis Farina 

Eileen Brennan was a supremely gifted, versatile player who could reach dramatic depths, as exemplified in her weary-eyed, good-hearted waitress in “The Last Picture Show”, or comedy heights, as in her sadistic drill captain in “Private Benjamin”. Perhaps one of her best remembered performances was in the hit movie “The Sting” with Paul Newman and Roberts Redford and Shaw.

Eileen Brennan 

Lisa Robin Kelly first made her acting debut, at age 21, in a 1992 episode of “Married with Children”, and went on to guest-star in many popular television shows, such as “Murphy Brown”, “The X Files”, “Sisters and Silk Stalkings”. She got her biggest break in “Days Of Our Lives”.

Lisa Robin Kelly 

David Frost achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic, first in the UK and then in America. He is most remembered for his political interviews, particularly those with former US President Richard Nixon.

David_Frost 

In a film career that has extended for over four decades, Ed Lauter has starred in a plethora of film and television productions since making his big screen debut in the western “Dirty Little Billy”.

ed-lauter 

Hal Needham was the highest paid stuntman in the world. In the course of his career suffered many injuries breaking 56 bones, including his back twice, punctured a lung and knocked out a few teeth. His career has included work on 4500 television episodes and 310 feature films as a stuntman, stunt coordinator, 2nd unit director and ultimately, director. He wrote and directed some of the most financially successful action comedy films.

Hal Needham 

Robin Sachs, 61, was an English actor who made it into American television series such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Galaxy Quest” and “Babylon 5”.

Robin Sachs 

Frank Thornton, was a British actor best remembered fot his role as “Captain Peacock” in the long running sitcom “Are You Being Served?”. He also appeared in “Last of the Summer Wine” and “Gosford Park”.

frank-thornton-capt-peacock 

Bryan Forbes, was another Briton and an accomplished actor (“The League of Gentlemen”), director (“The Stepford Wives”) and screenwriter (“Chaplin”)

brian_forbes 

Lewis Collins, was most famous and best loved for his role as action man “Bodie” in the television series “The Professionals”. He also starred in the terrorist hostage movie “Who Dares Wins” loosely based on the dramatic Iranian Embassy siege in London in 1980.

Lewis-Collins 

Paul William Walker who was killed in a car accident was an American actor and the founder of Reach Out Worldwide. He became famous in 1999 after his role in the hit film “Varsity Blues”, but later garnered fame as “Brian O’Conner” in “The Fast and the Furious” film series. His other well known works are “Eight Below”, “Running Scared”, “The Lazarus Project”, “Into the Blue”, “Joy Ride”, “She’s All That”, “Takers”, and “Hours”.

Paul-Walker 

Peter O’Toole, was a British-Irish actor with a reputation as a bit of a hell-raiser. Among his movie credits he starred in “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Lion in Winter”, “Becket”, and “Troy”.

Peter O'Toole

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The music scene too has lost a few well known names during 2013. They include,

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Patti Page (born Clara Ann Fowler) toured the US in the late 1940s with Jimmy Joy, and notably sang with the Benny Goodman band in Chicago.

patti-page 

Patty Andrews and her sisters, Maxene and Laverne, were “The Andrews Sisters”, an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. They accumulated 19 gold records and sales of nearly 100 million copies.

 patty_andrews_sisters

Lou Reed formed the group “The Velvet Underground” with Welsh multi-instrumentalist John Cale, second guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Maureen Tucker in New York in 1965. The group soon became a part of Andy Warhol’s Factory scene, which housed a great number of experimental artists at the time.

 lou-reed

Never as famous as his namesake Elvis, Reg Presley was a British singer and songwriter. His group was called “The Troggs” and among many other hits, he composed “Love Is All Around” which was first a hit for the Troggs but made real fame by the group “Wet Wet Wet” when it featured in the movie “Four Weddings And A Funeral” and spent 15 weeks at number one in the UK charts in 1994.

reg-presley

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Sports best known departure during 2013 was former WBC world heavyweight champion boxer Ken Norton, remembered for his trilogy of fights with Muhammad Ali. He defeated Ali in their first bout by a fifteen round split-decision, a fight in which Norton famously broke Ali’s jaw. Norton also fought a classic battle with Larry Holmes over fifteen brutal rounds in 1978, a fight which ranks as one of the greatest heavyweight contests in boxing history. 

KEN_NORTON

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The world of Pubishing & Books saw several famous departures during 2013.

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Tom Clancy whose fiction works, “The Hunt for Red October”, “Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger”, and “The Sum of All Fears”, have been turned into commercially successful movies with actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck as Clancy’s most famous fictional character “Jack Ryan”.

Tom_Clancy_at_Burns_Library 

Robert Kee, British writer, journalist and broadcaster best known for his historical works on World War II and Ireland.

Robert Kee 

Steven Utley, was an American writer of poems, humorous essays and other non-fiction, but best known for his science fiction stories.

Steven Utley 

Dave Hunt was a Christian Evangelist speaker, radio commentator and author, in full-time ministry from 1973 until his death. He wrote numerous books on theology, prophecy, cults, and other religions, including critiques of Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, and Calvinism, among others.

dave hunt 

Richard Matheson, was an American author and screenwriter, primarily in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres. Known best as the author of “I Am Legend”, a 1954 horror novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, five more of his novels or short stories have also been adapted as major motion pictures, namely “The Shrinking Man”, “Hell House”, “What Dreams May Come”, “Bid Time Return” (filmed as “Somewhere in Time”), “A Stir of Echoes” and “Button, Button”. Matheson also wrote numerous television episodes of “The Twilight Zone” for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. He later adapted his 1971 short story “Duel” as a screenplay which was promptly directed by a young Steven Spielberg, for the television movie of the same name.

Richard Matheson

William Stevenson, was a British-born Canadian writer, whose 1976 book “A Man Called Intrepid” was a best-seller and made into a 1979 mini-series starring David Niven. Stevenson followed it up with a 1983 book titled “Intrepid’s Last Case”. He published his autobiography in 2012. Stevenson is also noted for having set a record with another 1976 book, “90 Minutes at Entebbe”, about Operation Entebbe where Israeli commandos secretly landed at night at Entebbe Airport in Uganda and succeeded in rescuing the passengers of an airliner hi-jacked by Palestinian militants, while incurring very few casualties. The remarkable record is that in the pre-internet age Stevenson’s “instant book” was written, edited, printed and available for sale within weeks of the event it described.

Wm Stevenson

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Other notable people who died during 2013 include,

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Mikhail Kalashnikov, a Russian arms designer responsible for the AK-47 rifle, millions of which have been produced.

Mikhail Kalashnikov 

Roy Brown Jr., an American car design engineer responsible for designs such as the Edsel, and the much more successful Ford Consul and Ford Cortina

Roy Brown Jr with the Edsel

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A Festive Bumper Edition Of Our Monday Quiz!

 “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes folks, this being Christmas week we have a bumper Christmassy edition of the quiz.

All the questions have a Christmas theme and there are plenty of them this week, so this quiz should keep you going over the holidays.

As usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but NO cheating please!

Merry Christmas and enjoy.

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Christmas Quiz

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Q.  1:  If you were born on Christmas day, what would be your Zodiac sign?

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Q.  2:  In which century was Christmas first celebrated?

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Q.  3:  What significance is holly in celebrating Christmas?

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Q.  4:  In the familiar song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, what is the gift on the fourth day?

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Q.  5:  In the 1998 movie what actor whilst out Christmas shopping suddenly finds himself an “Enemy of the State”?

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Q.  6:  Who discovered Christmas Island in 1777?

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Q.  7:  Who wrote the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”?

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Q.  8:  Plus or minus one year, how long does it take a Scotch Pine Christmas tree to reach a typical retail height of 6 to 7 feet?

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Q.  9:  One of the most popular floral gifts at Christmas is the Poinsetta, but what country did Poinsettias originally come from?

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Q. 10:  At the end of the war in Vietnam, when Saigon fell, the signal for all Americans to evacuate was what song by Bing Crosby being played on the radio?

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Q. 11:  What was Scrooge’s business partner called?

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Q. 12:  When exactly is ‘The Twelfth Night’?

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Q. 13:  Why was Boxing Day so named?

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Q. 14:  Who composed the music for the festive season ballet ‘The Nutcracker’?

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Q. 15:  Which Italian cake, popular at Christmas, belongs to Tony?

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Q. 16:  What job was first taken by James Edgar in 1890?

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Q. 17:  In which celebrated movie does James Stewart attempt suicide one Christmas?

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Q. 18:  The Bible doesn’t say when Jesus was born. Pope Julius I made this decision in which year? 

            a) 50 AD      b) 350 AD      c) 750 AD      d) 1250 AD

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Q. 19:  Mr and Mrs Hilton had a little boy who was born on Christmas Day 1887, and went on to found of one of the world’s largest Hotel chains, but what was his first name?

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Q. 20:  The names of which two reindeer mean ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’?

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Q.  21:  What is the name of the fruit sauce which is a traditional accompaniment to the Christmas Turkey?

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Q.  22:  The American ad writer Robert L. May invented which colorful Christmas character in 1939?

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Q.  23:  The German Christmas song ‘Tannebaum’ is translated into English as what?

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Q.  24:  What does the word ‘Bethlehem’ mean?

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Q.  25:  Before Pope Julius I decided that December 25th was the day Jesus was born, on which day did early Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus?  

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Q.  26:  Coca Cola made our modern Father Christmas for an advertising campaign, but prior to that, what color robes did he wear?

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Q.  27:  Which ‘Christmas’ word means ‘turning of the sun’?

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Q.  28:  Complete the title of each of the following Christmas movies.

            a) Holiday… b) We’re No… c) The Bells of… d) It’s A Wonderful…

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Q.  29:  What was the name of Scrooge’s clerk in a Christmas Carol?

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Q. 30:  Advent candles are a popular Christmas tradition in many cultures. What does the word advent mean?

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Q. 31:  Which nickname for Hollywood sounds Christmassy?

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Q. 32:  Which pudding with a misleading name was banned by English Puritans because it was deemed to be ‘sinfully rich’?

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Q. 33:  The Greek word for ‘Messiah’ was ‘Xristos’(Christ). What do all of these words mean translated?

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Q. 34:  In the movie ‘Die Hard 2’, which airport did the terrorist take over on Christmas Eve?

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Q. 35:  Many people claim that the first unofficial football (soccer) international between Germany and a Scotland-England side was played on a Christmas Day. The pitch or playing field was found between what?

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Q. 36:  In which country does an ugly old witch named ‘Bafana’ deliver presents on the 6th of December?

           a) Australia      b) Austria      c) Italy       d) Mexico

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Q. 37:  There are two ‘Christmas islands’, in which oceans are they located?

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Q. 38:  In which city is Kevin left ‘Home Alone’ at Christmas? (the first Home Alone)

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Q. 39:  “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephan”.  What is the name of the country where Wenceslas was king? (Will accept either the ‘old’ or ‘modern’ name of the country.)

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Q. 40:  Which Christmas tradition, said to have originated in Germany, was banned in the Soviet Union until 1935?

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Q.  41:  In which country is St. Nick called ‘Sinterklaas’?

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Q.  42:  Which Christmas gift of the very highest quality, also known as ‘Oil of Lebanon’, comes from Oman?

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Q.  43:  Why was December 25th chosen as Christmas Day?

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Q.  44:  Who said, “You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose “?

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Q.  45:  Which popular poem did Clement Clark Moore write for his six children in 1822?

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Q.  46:  The following all mean ‘Merry Christmas’ in which language? (A point for each!)

             a) Hyvaa joulua    b) sung tan chuk ha    c) froehliche weihnacten   

             d) mele kalikimaka    e) god jul    f) boas festas    g) kala christouyenna

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Q.  47:  Superstition dictates that when making mince pies for Christmas one should always stir in which direction?

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Q.  48:  Which Christmas tradition did the very busy Sir Henry Cole introduce in 1843?

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Q.  49:  The Christmas movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ has been remade many times. Who won a best supporting actor Oscar for the role of Kris Kringle in the original 1947 movie and which two time Oscar winner played Kris in the 1994 remake?

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Q. 50:  Which song begins with “Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall”?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  If you were born on Christmas day, what would be your Zodiac sign?

A.  1:  Capricorn.

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Q.  2:  In which century was Christmas first celebrated?

A.  2:  In the 4th century.

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Q.  3:  What significance is holly in celebrating Christmas?

A.  3:  The early church banned mistletoe, so holly was substituted.

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Q.  4:  In the familiar song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, what is the gift on the fourth day?

A.  4:  4 Calling Birds.

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Q.  5:  In the 1998 movie what actor whilst out Christmas shopping suddenly finds himself an “Enemy of the State”?

A.  5:  Will Smith

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Q.  6:  Who discovered Christmas Island in 1777?

A.  6:  Captain Cook.

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Q.  7:  Who wrote the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”?

A.  7:  Irving Berlin.

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Q.  8:  Plus or minus one year, how long does it take a Scotch Pine Christmas tree to reach a typical retail height of 6 to 7 feet?

A.  8:  7 years.

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Q.  9:  One of the most popular floral gifts at Christmas is the Poinsetta, but what country did Poinsettias originally come from?

A.  9:  Mexico.

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Q. 10:  At the end of the war in Vietnam, when Saigon fell, the signal for all Americans to evacuate was what song by Bing Crosby being played on the radio?

A. 10:  White Christmas.

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Q. 11:  What was Scrooge’s business partner called?

A. 11:  Jacob Marley.

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Q. 12:  When exactly is ‘The Twelfth Night’?

A. 12:  The evening of the 5th of January.

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Q. 13:  Why was Boxing Day so named?

A. 13:  After the custom of giving Christmas Boxes/Tips to workmen/tradesmen.

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Q. 14:  Who composed the music for the festive season ballet ‘The Nutcracker’?

A. 14:  Tchaikovsky.

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Q. 15:  Which Italian cake, popular at Christmas, belongs to Tony?

A. 15:  Panettone. (Anthony or Tone’s bread).

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Q. 16:  What job was first taken by James Edgar in 1890?

A. 16:  He was the first department store Santa.

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Q. 17:  In which celebrated movie does James Stewart attempt suicide one Christmas?

A. 17:  It’s A Wonderful Life.

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Q. 18:  The Bible doesn’t say when Jesus was born. Pope Julius I made this decision in which year? 

            a) 50 AD      b) 350 AD      c) 750 AD      d) 1250 AD

A. 18:  Answer b) 350 AD.

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Q. 19:  Mr and Mrs Hilton had a little boy who was born on Christmas Day 1887, and went on to found of one of the world’s largest Hotel chains, but what was his first name?

A. 19:  Conrad.

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Q. 20:  The names of which two reindeer mean ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’?

A. 20:  Donner and Blitzen.

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Q.  21:  What is the name of the fruit sauce which is a traditional accompaniment to the Christmas Turkey?

A.  21:  Cranberry.

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Q.  22:  The American ad writer Robert L. May invented which colorful Christmas character in 1939?

A.  22:  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

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Q.  23:  The German Christmas song ‘Tannebaum’ is translated into English as what?

A.  23:  Christmas Tree.

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Q.  24:  What does the word ‘Bethlehem’ mean?

A.  24:   House of meat (Arabic) or House of bread (Hebraic)

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Q.  25:  Before Pope Julius I decided that December 25th was the day Jesus was born, on which day did early Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus?  

A.  25:  The 6th of January or feast of the epiphany. (Greek for appearance or revelation).

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Q.  26:  Coca Cola made our modern Father Christmas for an advertising campaign, but prior to that, what color robes did he wear?

A.  26:  Green. (As a sign of the returning Spring.)

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Q.  27:  Which ‘Christmas’ word means ‘turning of the sun’?

A.  27:  Yuletide (Yule means wheel in old Norse language).

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Q.  28:  Complete the title of each of the following Christmas movies.

            a) Holiday… b) We’re No… c) The Bells of… d) It’s A Wonderful…

A.  28:  a) …Inn        b) …Angels     c) …St. Marys     d) …Life

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Q.  29:  What was the name of Scrooge’s clerk in a Christmas Carol?

A.  29:  Bob Cratchit.

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Q. 30:  Advent candles are a popular Christmas tradition in many cultures. What does the word advent mean?

A. 30:  Arrival.

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Q. 31:  Which nickname for Hollywood sounds Christmassy?

A. 31:  Tinseltown.

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Q. 32:  Which pudding with a misleading name was banned by English Puritans because it was deemed to be ‘sinfully rich’?

A. 32:  Plum pudding. (Incidentally, there are no plums in plum pudding, just sugar, raisons, suet, flour and various spices boiled in a bag till ‘plum’)

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Q. 33:  The Greek word for ‘Messiah’ was ‘Xristos’(Christ). What do all of these words mean translated?

A. 33:  The ‘annointed’ one.

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Q. 34:  In the movie ‘Die Hard 2’, which airport did the terrorist take over on Christmas Eve?

A. 34:  Dulles International Airport (Washington DC).

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Q. 35:  Many people claim that the first unofficial football (soccer) international between Germany and a Scotland-England side was played on a Christmas Day. The pitch or playing field was found between what?

A. 35:  Between the trenches in no mans land, Christmas 1914.  (No match report is available but it seems the Germans won 3-2.)

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Q. 36:  In which country does an ugly old witch named ‘Bafana’ deliver presents on the 6th of December?

           a) Australia      b) Austria      c) Italy       d) Mexico

A. 36:  Answer c) Italy. 

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Q. 37:  There are two ‘Christmas islands’, in which oceans are they located?

A. 37:  The Pacific and Indian oceans.

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Q. 38:  In which city is Kevin left ‘Home Alone’ at Christmas? (the first Home Alone)

A. 38:  Chicago.

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Q. 39:  “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephan”.  What is the name of the country where Wenceslas was king? (Will accept either the ‘old’ or ‘modern’ name of the country.)

A. 39:  Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic.

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Q. 40:  Which Christmas tradition, said to have originated in Germany, was banned in the Soviet Union until 1935?

A. 40:  Christmas trees.

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Q.  41:  In which country is St. Nick called ‘Sinterklaas’?

A.  41:  Holland.

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Q.  42:  Which Christmas gift of the very highest quality, also known as ‘Oil of Lebanon’, comes from Oman?

A.  42:  Frankincense.

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Q.  43:  Why was December 25th chosen as Christmas Day?

A.  43:  To compete with a pagan celebration.

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Q.  44:  Who said, “You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose “?

A.  44:  Scrooge to Bob Cratchit in Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

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Q.  45:  Which popular poem did Clement Clark Moore write for his six children in 1822?

A.  45:  A visit from St. Nicholas (The night before Christmas) “It twas the night before Christmas when all through the house……”

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Q.  46:  The following all mean ‘Merry Christmas’ in which language? (A point for each!)

             a) Hyvaa joulua    b) sung tan chuk ha    c) froehliche weihnacten   

             d) mele kalikimaka    e) god jul    f) boas festas    g) kala christouyenna

A.  46:  Answers   a) Finnish    b) Korean    c) German    d) Hawaiian    e) Norwegian

             f) Portugese    and,    g) Greek

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Q.  47:  Superstition dictates that when making mince pies for Christmas one should always stir in which direction?

A.  47:  In a clockwise direction.

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Q.  48:  Which Christmas tradition did the very busy Sir Henry Cole introduce in 1843?

A.  48:  The sending of Christmas wishes on mass produced Christmas cards.  The first cards depicted a family toasting an absent friend with the words “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you”.

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Q.  49:  The Christmas movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ has been remade many times. Who won a best supporting actor Oscar for the role of Kris Kringle in the original 1947 movie and which two time Oscar winner played Kris in the 1994 remake?

A.  49:  Edmund Gwenn and Richard Attenborough.

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Q. 50:  Which song begins with “Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall”?

A. 50:  Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody.

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