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Archive for April, 2016

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Winner: Pluto

Well, Mistress Daphne is back with a vengeance. All the good vibes she exhibited after two weeks meditating with Swami Vivekananda in India have worn off. Although Pluto was badly treated in tonight’s game, he shook it off and was able to edge Dotti and Rosebud.

There was some controversy over a question which named “Hamilton” as having won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Heck, everyone knows “Hamilton” is a musical, but apparently not the Pulitzer Prize people. Another question that stumped us – identify the country with the largest per capita chocolate consumption. We looked around the bar at everyone chomping on the delicious chocolate brownies Darin served us and figured it must be America. Turns out it’s Switzerland.

But this question confounded all of us (and apparently, scientists and oceanographers too). Which river has a massive coral reef covering about 3,600 mi.²? It’s the Amazon and the Guardian has a fine story about it here.

Good question!: The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, one of the worst man-made disasters in history, took place 30 years ago this week in which country?

Choices: a. Russia  b. Ukraine  c. Estonia  d. Latvia

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Answer: Ukraine

April marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On April 26, 1986, technicians conducting a test inadvertently caused Nuclear Reactor No. 4 to explode. The accident released radiation 200 times greater than that released by both atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Several hundred staff and firefighters then tackled a blaze that burned for 10 days and sent a plume of radiation around the world in the worst-ever civil nuclear disaster. More than 50 reactor and emergency workers were killed at the time. Authorities evacuated 120,000 people from the area, including 43,000 from the city of Pripyat.

But the workers and their families, who lived in the nearby town of Prypyat (built especially for them), were not evacuated until 40 hours later. By that point, a majority of people had suffered nuclear poisoning. The government’s message during the Soviet Union-era was clear: All is perfect behind the Iron Curtain. It had to be protected at all costs. Human lives were never considered to be more significant. That is why it took so long for the evacuation to begin. The Soviet government wanted to deny—to the world, but more importantly to its people—that such a disaster ever took place.

Because Ukraine built the reactor right on the border with Belarus, the prevailing winds caused 75% of the Chernobyl radiation to fall on Belarus and large areas of the country were contaminated. President Lukashenko, the last dictator left in Europe, not only didn’t provide his people with the necessary instructions for protection, but this evil man made the people, as usual, take part in the 1st of May outdoor celebrations. Bastard!

The Chernobyl disaster was a unique event and the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power where radiation-related fatalities occurred. However, it led to major changes in safety culture and in industry cooperation, particularly between East and West before the end of the Soviet Union. Former President Gorbachev said that the Chernobyl accident was a more important factor in the fall of the Soviet Union than Perestroika – his program of liberal reform.

TIME magazine has a good first person account in their April 30 issue.

The Atlantic has a very good slideshow on their website.

 

 

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Winner: Babs

A big crowd vied for top honors at Main Street last week – 20 players under Daphne’s firm hand, hoping for glory and a week of feeling smart. But in the end only Babs could claim victory. She edged out Eric, Pete and Droppin’, all tied for second place. Our winner was both humble and gracious in victory: “I finally beat those smart-asses,” she gloated. Ouch!

The game was a real mash-up of topless swimsuits, geometry, and Mormon polygamy, but the most interesting, and controversial question was the lottery question.

Good question!: “The Revolutionary War was the first war the U.S. took part in that was partially financed with what?”

(Never mind that the U.S. did not yet exist)

Choices: A. Private money   B. US bonds       C. Levy of taxes     D. Lottery dollars

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Answer: D. Lottery dollars

Imagine George Washington pulling numbered ping pong balls out of a rotating barrel. Probably not. I’m not sure of the exact mechanism employed in that long ago lottery, but history does record their use in funding the war.

Both individual states and the Continental Congress held lotteries. In fact, they had been in use well before the war by the individual states to pay for building of roads and other civic improvements. Harvard and Princeton Universities were partly funded this way as well. England used lotteries to raise funds starting as early as 1612 to help found the Virginia colony. Although the lotteries certainly played a part in raising funds, they were not overly successful, probably because they were viewed as a kind of tax. And, as you may remember, taxes were a sore subject with the colonists.

Lotteries continued to exist after the Revolutionary War, but by the late 1800s had an unsavory reputation for mismanagement and fraud. They were banned by the US government in 1900. But as all of us who bought chances for the record Powerball payout of 1.5 billion in January know, they’re back.

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It turns out that George Washington was personally involved in the lottery, hoping for a big score himself. Rare lottery tickets signed by him still exist, and are worth about $15,000 today. Now that’s a winner.

A favorite lottery movie is “Waking Ned Divine” where an elderly gent dies from the shock of winning the lottery, only for his closest friends in their tiny Irish village to rally round and prevent the news of his death spreading too far, so they can attempt to claim the money. If you are headed to Ireland next month, you will want to watch this one:

blogger’s note: this post was carefully crafted by Droppin’ Dave. thank’s Dave.

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