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Trivia

Neighbors

China and Afghanistan share a border. The Wakhan Corridor, a slender panhandle only 40 miles wide, reaches between Tajikistan and Pakistan to touch Afghanistan’s eastern border.

Because China does not use conventional time zones, that border requires the greatest time change of any international frontier — travelers must reset their watches by 3.5 hours.

Neighborly

Located in Texas’ northwest corner, the town of Dalhart is closer to six other state capitals than to Texas’ own capital, Austin.

As the crow flies, Dalhart is 201 miles from Santa Fe, 281 miles from Oklahoma City, 289 miles from Denver, 375 miles from Cheyenne, 434 miles from Topeka, and 458 miles from Lincoln, but 491 miles from Austin.

In driving distance, it’s 263 miles from Santa Fe, 343 miles from Oklahoma City, 348 miles from Denver, 448 miles from Cheyenne, 461 miles from Topeka, and 540 miles from Lincoln, but 579 miles from Austin.

Trivium

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ed_state_map.gif

The names of two U.S. state capitals end with the same eight letters. What are they?

Click for Answer

Fate Fall

Triple Divide Peak, in Montana’s Glacier National Park, sits at the meeting of two continental divides (red and green on the map above). A drop of rain that lands on the mountain might arrive at any of three oceans — the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Arctic.

Like Father, Like Son

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hoover_Dam_01.jpg

The first person to die in the construction of the Hoover Dam was J.G. Tierney, a surveyor who drowned in the Colorado River on Dec. 20, 1922. Thirteen years later, to the day, his son Patrick became the last man to die when he fell from one of the intake towers.

The first conscript in World War II was the son of the first conscript in World War I. Alden C. Flagg Jr., of Boston, held the first number drawn in the U.S. peacetime draft lottery of 1940. His father, Alden C. Flagg, had drawn the first number in the draft of 1917.

Surrounded

Travel due north, south, east, or west from Stamford, Conn., and you’ll find yourself in New York state.

Misc

  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.
  • EMBARGO spelled backward is O GRAB ME.
  • The numbers on a roulette wheel add to 666.
  • The fourth root of 2143/22 is nearly pi (3.14159265258).
  • “A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.” — Aeschylus

Six countries have names that begin with the letter K, and each has a different vowel as the second letter: Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan.

(Thanks, Danny.)

Mundane

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View_from_the_Apollo_11_shows_Earth_rising_above_the_moon%27s_horizon.jpg

Earth is the only planet not named after a god.

Twos-Day

There were 214 Tuesdays between Jan. 1, 1700, and Jan. 1, 2014.

(Thanks, Josh.)

Misc

  • Fathers can mother, but mothers can’t father.
  • The Mall of America is owned by Canadians.
  • Neil Armstrong was 17 when Orville Wright died.
  • LONELY TYLENOL is a palindrome.
  • 258402 + 437762 = 2584043776
  • “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” — Plutarch

Edward Gorey’s pen names included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Regera Dowdy, D. Awd­rey-Gore, E.G. Deadworry, Waredo Dyrge, Deary Rewdgo, Dewda Yorger, and Dogear Wryde. Writer Wim Tigges responded, “God reward ye!”

A More Perfect Union

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:National-atlas-blank-state-outlines.png

The names of the 48 contiguous United States fall neatly into the two halves of the alphabet:

state names alphabetized

16 start with A-L, 16 with M-N, and 16 with O-Z.

Misc

  • WEALTH is an anagram of THE LAW.
  • U.S. Navy submarines observe an 18-hour day.
  • Joaquín Rodrigo wrote his compositions in Braille.
  • 45632 = –45 + 63×2
  • “Thy modesty’s a candle to thy merit.” — Henry Fielding

Eye and Ear

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/778197

Paul McCartney never learned to read music. “I don’t have any desire to learn,” he said. “I feel it’s like a voodoo, that it would spoil things if I actually learnt how things are done.”

Misc

  • Alexander Pope was 4 foot 6.
  • SOCIAL INEPTITUDE is an anagram of POTENTIAL SUICIDE.
  • 6! × 7! = 10!
  • Is the correct answer to this question no?
  • “Do something well, and that is quickly enough.” — Baltasar Gracián

Relatively Speaking

The Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge across the Seine.

Pont neuf means “new bridge.”

Noted

The towns of Dull, Scotland, and Boring, Oregon, became sister cities in 2012.

“One of the things our communities share is the weather,” Boring journalist Jim Hart told the BBC. “We get a lot of rain and snow every year.”

Misc

  • Only humans are allergic to poison ivy.
  • GUNPOWDERY BLACKSMITH uses 20 different letters.
  • New York City has no Wal-Marts.
  • (5/8)2 + 3/8 = (3/8)2 + 5/8
  • “Ignorance of one’s misfortunes is clear gain.” — Euripides

For any four consecutive Fibonacci numbers a, b, c, and d, ad and 2bc form the legs of a Pythagorean triangle and cdab is the hypotenuse.

(Thanks, Katie.)

Abuse of Power

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JGCannon.jpg

One hot summer day in 1904, Speaker of the House Joe Cannon of Illinois visited the House dining room and asked for a bowl of bean soup. He was told that, in view of the sultry weather, it had been omitted from the menu.

“Thunderation!” Cannon roared. “I had my mouth set for bean soup! From now on, hot or cold, rain, snow, or shine, I want it on the menu every day.”

And so it has been, ever since. The recipe was published on the menu in 1955:

2 lb. No. 1 white Michigan beans.
Cover with water and soak overnight.
Drain and re-cover with water.
Add a smoked ham hock and simmer slowly for about 4 hours until beans are cooked tender. Then add salt and pepper to suit taste.
Just before serving, bruise beans with large spoon ladle, enough to cloud. (Serves about six persons)

As Time Goes By

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1188156

A piano keyboard can be used as a calendar mnemonic: If the notes in the chromatic scale from F to E are assigned to the calendar months from January to December, then the white keys correspond to months with 31 days, the black keys to those with 30 days or fewer.

Misc

  • The first child to be vaccinated in Russia was named Vaccinov.
  • Every treasurer of the United States since 1949 has been a woman.
  • 15642 = 1 + 56 + 42
  • up inverted is dn.
  • “Life well spent is long.” — Leonardo

Misc

  • AWE and WONDER are synonyms, but AWFUL and WONDERFUL are antonyms.
  • The Czech word for guest is host.
  • Abraham Lincoln is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
  • Ravel described Boléro as “a piece for orchestra without music.”
  • “In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.” — Coleridge

(Thanks, Alec.)

Tacet

William Bliss’ 1949 book The Real Shakespeare concludes with a “Shakespeare examination paper for reasonably advanced students.” It includes this question:

5. What character (and in what play) has the shortest part; appears only once (and that in a stage direction); and says nothing — and yet is essential to the plot?

I thought this might make a good puzzle — but I don’t know the answer! Bliss withholds his, and despite a lot of fumbling research I can’t find a significant player in Shakespeare who says nothing at all. Maybe the bear in The Winter’s Tale? I’ll leave it here as an open-ended riddle.

UPDATE: In the messages I’ve received, the most popular candidate is Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth. Banquo appears alive and speaks early in the play, but Macbeth has him murdered in Act III and his ghost haunts Macbeth silently thereafter, plaguing his conscience. In the stage directions, the ghost is called “Ghost of Banquo,” so arguably this is a distinct character.

09/13/2013 Another possibility: the corpse of Henry VI in Richard III. He appears once, carried in a coffin while Richard woos the mourning Lady Anne; he certainly says nothing; and his death and the victory of the Yorkists set off the events of the play. (Thanks, Josh.)

En Garde!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DF-SD-08-05994.JPEG

The modern pentathlon comprises five events: show jumping, fencing, 200-meter freestyle swimming, pistol shooting, and a 3-kilometer cross-country run.

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, conceived the sport to reflect the skills needed by a Napoleonic cavalry officer: He must ride across unfamiliar terrain; engage an opponent at swordpoint; swim a river that his steed cannot cross; exchange fire with his enemies; and run across country.

Coubertin believed that this event, more than any other, “tested an athlete’s moral qualities as much as their physical resources and skills, producing thereby the ideal, complete athlete.”

(Thanks, Julius.)

Presidential Timber

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ronald_Reagan_in_Knute_Rockne-All_American_1940.jpg

In 1940 Ronald Reagan was voted a “Twentieth Century Adonis” by the University of Southern California’s Division of Fine Arts for having the “most nearly perfect male figure.”

He posed for student sculptors there.