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Britain’s Red Baron

Winner: Frank, followed by the Driver and Carol

Frank seems to be getting the hang of this, winning for a second week in a row. Tied with the Driver in regulation, he needed only one round in the playoffs to win tonight’s game.

If truth be told, the Driver just gave away the game, missing a very easy question – who did 87% of Cubans in Florida vote for in the 1980 election? Why it was Ronald Reagan, of course, not George H.W. Bush.

Good Question!: Name the legless fighter pilot of World War II.

Choices: a. Red Baron  b. Douglas Bader   c. Ernst Udet   d. Tex Hill

Answer: Douglas Bader

SIR DOUGLAS BADER, WORLD WAR II ACE

Sir Douglas R.S. Bader, Britain’s legendary legless fighter pilot of World War II, was credited with downing 24 German planes in 1940-41.

He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1930 at the age of 20 and lost both legs when his Bulldog fighter crashed during an aerobatic display near Reading in November 1931.

He was discharged from the Air Force in 1933, but was determined to fly again. He had artificial legs made at the Roehampton center for limbless ex-servicemen in South London and learned to walk on them while working for an oil company.

When war broke out in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, Britain was desperate for pilots and he persuaded the R.A.F. to take him back as a pilot, where he flew fighter sorties in the Battle of Britain.

He attributed his success in aerial combat to the three maxims of German ace Erich Hartmann:

If you had the height, you controlled the battle.
If you came out of the sun, the enemy could not see you.
If you held your fire until you were very close, you seldom missed

He flew Hurricanes and Spitfires, fighting his first action during the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk in May and June 1940 after France capitulated.

He got his first ”kill” there with his Spitfire, downing a Messerschmitt 109. He was made a squadron leader and then wing commander, leading the first R.A.F. fighter squadron with all Canadian personnel.

Sir Douglas destroyed an estimated 30 enemy planes, of which 24 were officially confirmed. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, both with bars, for courage and leadership. He was also decorated twice by the French.

In August 1941, his Spitfire collided with a Messerschmitt over Bethune in France, and he was captured after parachuting to earth. He was held prisoner by the Germans, despite four escape attempts, until he was freed by American troops in April 1945.

Sir Douglas R.S. Bader, Britain’s legendary legless fighter pilot of World War II, died in 1982 from a heart attack. He was 72 years old.

To see Bader’s Spitfire, the plane that won the battle of Britain (a short clip) :

For those with plenty of time, here is a fascinating and quite touching “This is Your Life” British TV piece on Bader:

 

 

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Winner: Frank, followed by Carol St. Martin, Tall Paul, and Allie

Frank wins in only his second attempt, and he already knows the secret of the game – it’s the questions that make a winner.

After a long absence, Bud “the Bug Man” returned. He had spent his time away honing his trivia skills and thought he was ready for a big game. Alas, he finished back in the pack. He even missed the question on the Colorado beetle. C’mon Bug Man, you have to do better.

One of the questions we all missed was Harry Houdini’s real name – Erich Weiss.

Good Question!: Sabotage is French. What did the saboteurs use?

Choices: a. swords   b, shoes   c. flour   d. brandy

Answer: shoes

This was quite a surprise. The word “sabotage” appears in the beginning of the early 20th century from the French word “sabotage”. It is sometimes said that some workers used to throw their wooden shoes, called “sabots” (clogs) in the machines to break them, but this is not supported by the etymology. Rather, the French source word literally means to “walk noisily,” and wearing wooden shoes is an example of walking noisily. Originally this was used metaphorically to refer to labor disputes, not damage. At the end of the 19th century it really began to be used with the meaning of “deliberately and maliciously destroying property.”

Value of sabotage in wartime

In World War I

On 30 July 1916, the Black Tom explosion occurred when German agents set fire to a complex of warehouses and ships in Jersey City, New Jersey that held munitions, fuel, and explosives bound to aid the Allies in their fight.

Fragments from the explosion traveled long distances, some lodging in the Statue of Liberty. The explosion was the equivalent of an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Philadelphia. Windows were broken as far as 25 miles away, including thousands in lower Manhattan and some windows in Times Square were shattered. Property damage from the attack was estimated at $454,000,000 (in 2017 dollars.) Who knew!

In World War II

The French Resistance ran an extremely effective sabotage campaign against the Germans during World War II. Many sabotage attempts were against critical rail lines of transportation. German records count 1,429 instances of sabotage from French Resistance forces between January 1942 and February 1943. From January through March 1944, sabotage accounted for three times the number of locomotives damaged by Allied air power.

In December 1944, the Germans ran a false flag sabotage infiltration, Operation Greif, which was commanded by Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny during the Battle of the Bulge. German commandos, wearing US Army uniforms, carrying US Army weapons, and using US Army vehicles, penetrated US lines to spread panic and confusion among US troops and to blow up bridges, ammunition dumps, and fuel stores and to disrupt the lines of communication. Many of the commandos were captured by the Americans. Because they were wearing US uniforms, a number of the Germans were executed as spies, either summarily or after military commissions.

My fave WWII sabotage operation – “The Guns of Navarone” – A specialized commando team organized in1943 to sabotage and put out of commission the Axis firepower on the mountainous Greek island of Navarone in the Aegean Sea.

Modern Era

A modern form of sabotage is the distribution of software intended to damage specific industrial systems. For example, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is alleged to have sabotaged a Siberian pipeline during the Cold War, using information from the Farewell Dossier. A more recent case may be the Stuxnet computer worm, which was designed to subtly infect and damage specific types of industrial equipment. Based on the equipment targeted and the location of infected machines, security experts believe it was an attack on the Iranian nuclear program by the United States and Israel.

 

 

Winner: Rosebud, followed by Chau, 10 O’Clock Bill, Pluto, and Almond Joy

Log jam at the top tonight. Initially Almond Joy was declared the winner, but always a man of character, he acknowledged that he had an additional wrong answer, which dropped him into a five way tie for first place. The play off quickly developed into a two-way contest between newbie Chau, visiting from LA, and old timer Rosebud – a classic East Coast versus West Coast battle. After nine tough rounds Rosebud emerged victorious, when only she knew that the largest North American rodent was the beaver.

Good Question!: True or false: the temperature on the moon is roughly the same all day?

Choice’s: a. True   b. False

Answer: False

“Are you planning a trip to the Moon and you’re wondering what kinds of temperature you might experience. Well, you’re going to want to pack something to keep you warm, since the temperature of the Moon can dip down to -153°C during the night. Oh, but you’re going to want to keep some cool weather clothes too, since the temperature of the Moon in the day can rise to 107°C.

“Why does the moon’s temperature vary so widely? It happens because the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere like the Earth. Here on Earth, the atmosphere acts like a blanket, trapping heat. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere, and warms up the ground. The energy is emitted by the ground as infrared radiation, but it can’t escape through the atmosphere again easily so the planet warms up. Nights are colder than days, but it’s nothing like the Moon.

There’s another problem. The moon takes 27 days to rotate once on its axis. So any place on the surface of the Moon experiences about 13 days of sunlight, followed by 13 days of darkness. So if you were standing on the surface of the Moon in sunlight, the temperature would be hot enough to boil water. And then the Sun would go down, and the temperature would drop 250 degrees in just a matter of moments.

To deal with this dramatic range in temperature, spacesuits are heavily insulated with layers of fabric and then covered with reflective outer layers. This minimizes the temperature differences between when the astronaut is in the sunlight and when in shade. Space suits also have internal heaters and cooling systems, and liquid heat exchange pumps that remove excess heat.” (universetoday.com)

Enough of the science, let’s listen to the Dark Side of the Moon:

 

Two Prancing Horses

Winner: Cheryl, followed by Jake, and Rosebud

Cheryl, a first-time player, was very quiet back in the bleacher seats. She may have been quiet, but she answered more questions right then anyone else. SchaeferMan, who was going for a triple crown, felt the pressure and finished back in the pack. Maybe a bad sign for Justify.

Tonight we learned that until coffee gained popularity, beer was the breakfast beverage of choice in some parts of the US. When you used to walk in to Gunther’s at noon you knew that continued right here.

Good Question!: Which car company’s logo features a black prancing horse on a yellow background?

Choices: a. Ferrari   b. Bugatti  c. Lamborghini   d. Mustang

Answer: Ferrari

OK, this wasn’t the toughest question tonight but I was interested in why Enzo decided to put the prancing horse on his cars.

Ferrari’s symbol can be traced to the Italian fighter ace Francesco Baracca who painted the horse onto the fuselage of his plane. He recorded 34 kills and was killed in 1918, becoming a national hero. In 1923, a car loving Italian from Modena called Enzo Ferrari met the mother and father of Baracca. Baracca’s mother told Ferrari to paint the prancing horse on his cars as it would give him good luck. Ferrari did so and added the splash of yellow, the color of his birthplace, Modena.

There are several theories as to how Baracca came to use the horse on his plane, one very interesting theory is that it came from a shot down German plane onto which the German Pilot copied the coat of arms of Stuttgart, hence the similarity to the logo of Stuttgart based company Porsche.

 

Had never made that connection before – two iconic, high-performance auto companies both using the same prancing horse.

Maybe Danica should’ve been driving a Ferrari in Sunday’s Indy 500.

 

The Immortal One

Winner: SchaeferMan

An epic battle between two of next gen’s finest. Tied in regulation, their playoff went 12 rounds before SchaeferMan defended his title and took out TJ.

Yeah, that’s the same TJ we have been trying to ship out of town for the last month. He assures us that this was his swan song. He’s headed to Vegas to start his career and look for a high stakes trivia game.

The final question that decided the game? What animal is on the bottle of Gordon Gin? It’s a boar. Every label and bottle top of Gordon Gin bears a depiction of a wild boar. According to legend a member of Clan Gordon saved the King of Scotland from the animal while hunting.

Good Question! : Which creature is actually immortal?

Choices: a. clam   b. sea urchin   c. koi   d. jellyfish

Answer: jellyfish

Immortal Jellyfish

“The good news is that you can be immortal. The bad news is that you have to become a floating blob of jelly to do so. Scientists have discovered a jellyfish which can live forever.

Turritopsis dohrnii, a jellyfish found in the Mediterranean, is now officially known as the only immortal creature. The secret to eternal life, as it turns out, is not just living a really, really long time. It’s all about maturity, or rather, the lack of it. The immortal jellyfish (as it is better known popularly) propagate and then, faced with the normal career path of dying, they opt instead to revert to a sexually immature stage.

Their tentacles retract, their bodies shrink, and they sink to the ocean floor and start the cycle all over again. Among laboratory samples, all the adult Turritopsis observed regularly undergo this change. And not just once: they can do it over and over again.

Thus, the only known way they can die is if they get consumed by another fish or if a disease strikes the jellyfish.”

“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

For some reason, all this talk of jellyfish makes me think of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Who can forget James Mason as Captain Nemo.

 

 

                                                      OR

Winner: SchaeferMan, followed by Droppin’, Judge Judy, and Brian

SchaeferMan was very happy to win, but even happier to finally beat his pal Gina. On a night with lots of tough questions Dave really crushed it. Who knew that the giraffe is the land mammal with the longest tail, or that there are 118 elements in the periodic table?

Good Question!: Who has the highest number of subscribers on YouTube?

Choices: a. Ed Sheeran   b. PSY   c. PewDiePie   d. Justin Bieber

Answer: PewDiePie

Most of us dinosaurs answered Justin Bieber because we’re just not hip, I guess. Turns out it’s some character who calls himself PewDiePie.

Felix Kjellberg, the 28-year-old Swedish YouTube sensation is better known as PewDiePie. Kjellberg plays video games for a living. His YouTube channel’s over 62 million subscribers — larger than the population of Canada — assemble to watch his over-the-top reactions to onscreen characters pummeling zombies, botching surgeries, ensnaring dinosaurs or just running around distant worlds in search of a booty to smack. Recently his channel became the first ever to surpass 10 billion views. According to Forbes, he made $12 million in 2016. By most accounts, he is the biggest star on the Internet. Who Knew?

There’s more to Kjellberg’s appeal than gaming skills. He scripts, produces and stars in all of his own content. He reads and responds to comments and tweets, and uses an online chat program called Omegle to talk to fans one-on-one. In his “Fridays with PewDiePie” videos, he does whatever fans ask him to do, which is mostly play games they suggest. He is unabashedly goofy onscreen— and often funny — but in a way that seems personal rather than performative. He calls his army of fans his “Bros;” their official sign is the “Brofist;” and both genders are equally represented within its ranks.

An interesting recent critique of this YouTube star can be found in The Guardian: “What’s up PewdiePie? The troubling content of YouTube’s biggest star”

Let’s watch a couple of his videos to better understand (or not) the PewDiePie phenomenon:
(Actually, watching only one, or even just part of one is plenty)

mm

 

Goldfinger

Winner: TJ, followed by Tall Paul and TomTwin

Two weeks ago TJ won and told us he was headed to Las Vegas to start a new career. We wished him well. Tonight he showed back up and wins again. So we chipped in to buy him a one-way ticket to Las Vegas and told him to stay there this time. Let someone else win.

Tonight we learned that Columbus, who had only three ships on his first voyage to America, was in charge of 17 ships on his second expedition. Who knew?

Good Question!: Where is the world’s largest gold depository?

Choices: a. Denver   b. Manhattan   c. Fort Knox   d. West Point

Answer: Manhattan

Too many of us remembered James Bond’s “Goldfinger” and so we answered Fort Knox.

You remember Goldfinger, don’t you:

The New York Fed’s gold vault is on the basement floor of its main office building in Manhattan. Built during the construction of the building in the early 1920s, the vault provides account holders with a secure location to store their monetary gold reserves.

Much of the gold in the vault arrived during and after World War II as many countries wanted to store their gold reserves in a safe location. At its peak, the vault contained over 12,000 tons of monetary gold. Since that time, gold deposit and withdrawal activity has slowed and the vault has experienced a gradual but steady decline in overall holdings. However, the vault today remains the world’s largest known depository of monetary gold.

As of 2015, the vault housed approximately 508,000 gold bars, with a combined weight of approximately 6,350 tons. The vault is able to support this weight because it rests on the bedrock of Manhattan Island, 80 feet below street level and 50 feet below sea level.

Safekeeping

Once inside the vault the bars become the responsibility of a control group consisting of three representatives: two members of the New York Fed gold vault staff and one member from the New York Fed internal audit staff. These three individuals must be present whenever gold is moved or a compartment is opened in the vault—even to change a light bulb. This helps ensure proper safekeeping and maximum security for the gold.

All bars brought into the vault for deposit are carefully weighed, and the refiner and fineness (purity) markings on the bars are inspected to ensure they agree with the depositor instructions and recorded in the New York Fed’s records. This step is vital because the New York Fed returns the exact bars deposited by the account holder upon withdrawal—gold deposits are not considered fungible.

Following the verification process, the gold is moved to one of the vault’s 122 compartments, where each compartment contains gold held by a single account holder (meaning that gold is not commingled between account holders). Each compartment is secured by a padlock, two combination locks and an auditor’s seal. Compartments are numbered rather than named to maintain confidentiality of the account holders.

BTW, every year tens of thousands of visitors from around the world visit the gold vault as part of a free, public tour of the New York Fed.

If you interested in getting your hands on some gold bullion better read this:

The 5 Greatest Gold Heists in History (kind of long)

OR

The 15 Greatest Gold Heists of All Time (Infographic, much easier to get through)