May 31, 2011


The American musician and song-writer Bob Dylan turned 70 in May 2011, and was the subject of a TIME Magazine list. Two in fact, one for his best songs and one for his worst songs. 'Rainy Day Women #12 & 35' was voted his worst ever song, while 'Like a Rolling Stone' was voted his best song.

'Like a Rolling Stone' had been named the best ever song (not just by Dylan but of all time) on several occasions. One magazine in particular put it on top of their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. The TIME article says "they might be a little biased, but we're confident in saying it's the best thing Bob Dylan has ever done."

Which magazine?

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May 30, 2011


Since 1985, the Japan Prize Foundation has selected scientists and technologists from around the world for the Japan Prize for their achievements. In particular, to those who have "advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind". Past winners include the likes of Tim Berners-Lee and Benoit Mandelbrot.

The award ceremony is held in the presence of the Japanese Emperor and takes place during the "Japan Prize Week". However, due to the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan in March, the 2011 ceremonies were cancelled. Instead, members of the foundation travelled to meet and honour the awardees.

Among this year's winners are two Japanese, Dr. Tadamitsu Kishimoto (bioscience) and Dr. Toshio Hirano (medicine). The other two are Americans whose names are often taken together, for they together built an influential operating system and one of the earliest successful chess playing programs. Who are they?

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May 29, 2011


Veteran film historian critic Chidananda Dasgupta passed away recently. The father of actress-director Aparna Sen (and thus grandfather of actress Konkona Sen Sharma), we was an influential figure in the setting up of film societies in India. In particular, the Calcutta Film Society, which he co-founded along with the likes of Satyajit Ray in 1947.

For their first ever screening, they chose a landmark 1925 film, which is made of five chapters. Translated into English, these are called "Men and Maggots", "Drama on the deck", "A Dead Man Calls for Justice", "The Odessa Staircase" and "The Rendezvous with a Squadron".

Which film was this, which documented a significant event in Russian history?

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May 28, 2011


According to radio show host Harold Camping, this event has partly occurred on 21 May, 1988 and 7 September, 1994. A follow-up will occur on 21 Oct, 2011. What?

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May 27, 2011


Simon Johnson is a well-known economist who was briefly the Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. In a 2010 article, he wrote a critique of the current IMF policies and in particular, of its (then) Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (now in the news for all the wrong reasons). In the article, Johnson argued that DSK was using the current economic situation in Europe to "relaunch his political career in France" and that his objective was to "cast himself as the savior of Europe".

The article was titled "____ with a Blackberry". The blank had the name of a 19th century German politician, who was a leading diplomat of his time. To quote Johnson:

"Prince ___ worked long and hard to manoeuvre countries and people before and after 1815, cynically and cleverly building a system of interlocking interests that suited him – and his employer, the Austrian/Habsburg Emperor. Is there a modern ____ now at work? Most definitely: Yes."
Who was Strauss-Kahn being compared to?

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May 26, 2011


This is a poster designed for a recent event. The design is by the French artist Barthélémy Toguo and depicts a "universal tree" as a metaphor for the subject of the event. This tree comes from the soil of the region and offers "fruits" for people.

What event?

(Image: Wikipedia)

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May 25, 2011


Karl Marx could said to be associated (not surprisingly) with a hammer and a sickle. In the same way, C. N. Anna Durai would be matched with a pair of leaves. This means Biju Patnaik would be linked to a conch.

So whose name would you thus associate with a ceiling fan?

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May 24, 2011


He trained as a civil engineer in the 1940s and worked in town planning. Much later, in 1992, he finished a post-graduate degree in literature. He established an influential drama group called "Third Theatre", whose aim was to make theatre extremely accessible to the common person. Instead of staging plays in auditoriums with paid seating, they performed on streets, in parks, and during lunch-hours during the working week.

His most famous play (Bengali) was "Ebang Indrajit", translated as "Evam Indrajit" outside. His first name was Sudhindra, and he passed away recently. By what name was he better known as?

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May 23, 2011


Ubuntu, the freely available open source operating system, gives its releases a version number and a catchy name. The name is an alliteration and involves the name of an animal.

For instance, v 4.10 was "Warty Warthog" and 5.10 was "Breezy Badger". After 5.10, the sequence has followed an alphabetical order, such as "Dapper Drake", followed by the likes of "Edgy Eft" and "Feisty Fawn".

The latest release (11.04) is called "Natty ___". The accompanying image shows the animal chosen. It is a type of whale, and the most prominent feature is the presence of a tusk (seen in males). It is usually found in the Arctic region. It has found mention in the book "Moby Dick".

Image: Wikipedia

Which marine animal is this?

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May 22, 2011


This is a question about two terms - you wouldn't find either of them in a dictionary yet. Let's call them X and Y.

Both X and Y refer to groups of people who believe in two separate American (where else?) controversies.

X is the older of the two, having been around for a couple of years. It was coined principally in opposition to one person. The term's associated controversy flared up once again in the end of April, but has significantly died down since. Partly because of events associated with Y. Y was coined in early May 2011 (by online media).

Both X and Y are coined from nouns, which are the exact opposite of each other. Which two words are these?

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May 21, 2011


This book begins with the story of Carla Reed, who is thirty years old and works as a teacher in Massachusetts. On May 19, 2004, Carla wakes up with a severe headache which she describes as "a sort of numbness in my head. The kind of numbness that instantly tells you that something is terribly wrong".

Which book?

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May 20, 2011


This is an image from the opening minutes of the first semi-final at the recent Madrid Open, between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Why has Rafael Nadal got a black ribbon pinned to his chest?

Image: and Getty Images

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May 19, 2011


This Roman God lords over the sea and is usually depicted with a beard and not much else. His name appears in association with many fields such as astronomy, sea-faring, geography, and the military.

Why was his weapon of choice in the news a couple of weeks ago?

Image: Wikipedia

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May 18, 2011


This recent release was not made or planned using conventional filming methods. Instead, it emerged from material created over several weekends from a regular children's theatre and film workshop conducted at Holy Family High School in Andheri (Mumbai). Which film?

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May 17, 2011


On May 12th of this year, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom became the second-longest reigning monarch in British history, passing King George III (a.k.a "Mad King George"). Only her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, has had more days on the throne.

She is also second on the list of longest serving current monarchs. A similarly well-regarded king, who ascended to the throne about five years before her (he is a year younger to her), is on top of this list. Who and from which country?

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May 16, 2011


The "Copa America" is the continental tournament for football teams in South America, and its latest edition will be held in Argentina in July 2011. In addition to its ten members, CONMEBOL (the body that governs football there) had invited two more countries from outside the continent to participate. Mexico was one of them. The other's participation is in some doubt, partly because of certain events there in recent times, and partly due to contractual issues.

Which country?

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May 15, 2011


"River of Smoke" will be the next (second) book in his Ibis Trilogy. The name "Ibis" stands for a ship, whose passengers and journey (via the Indian Ocean to Mauritius) are the focus of the trilogy, which is set in the mid-1800s during the times of the Opium Wars. The first was called "Sea of Poppies", and the second is set to release in the middle of 2011.

Who is the author?

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May 14, 2011


(Picture: LIFE)

Just like the Russians a few weeks ago, the USA is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of an astronautical first - the first time they put a man in space (seen on this LIFE poster). A decade later, he also made it to the Moon.

Which American hero?

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May 13, 2011


Just like Wikileaks, several media organisations have been setting up sites to accept content submissions, particularly for leaks and whistle-blowing attempts. Al Jazeera has already created one, and the New York Times and Washington Post are reportedly considering the same.

The most recent such site was by Wall Street Journal, which came in for a lot of criticism because even though submitters can request for confidentiality, the site does not guarantee to protect their identity.

The name of this site refers to a common concept in law enforcement circles where it may be offered to an informant. What concept?

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May 12, 2011


Simon Cowell is a British music and tv producer who made his name rudely judging shows such as Pop and American Idol. He's recently announced a new game show which he describes as "'not [being] about talent or skill it is just down to luck. This has never been done before. It is big event TV."

The show is named after two colours, the same colours that you would see in the game of fortune that is the basic model for this show. Which two colours?

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May 11, 2011


It was announced recently that veteran director K. Balachander would be the next recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award. Richly deserved because of his great contributions to Tamil, Telugu, and other Indian language cinema, K. Balachander is also known for the many actors and technicians that he backed through their initial forays into cinema.

His films (including the ones he produced) have won several National Film awards (for Best Film, Best Screenplay, and for Social Issues). Two of his films have won the Nargis Dutt award for Best Film on National Integration. One was "Rudraveena" starring Chiranjeevi, in 1988. The other, in 1992, was produced by his Kavithalaya Productions. Which film?

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May 10, 2011


Inspired by the success of the IPL model, some people along with the Maharashtra Association for this sport have organised a similar league comprising of six teams in Maharashtra (complete with player auctions). The teams are named as Daring Doves, Gorgeous Gannets, Fabulous Falcons, Inspiring Eagles, Flamboyant Flamingoes, and Sensational Skylarks.

The matches are being held in Pune (appropriately) and in Navi Mumbai. For which sport?

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May 9, 2011


The Indian Air Force is planning to purchase over a hundred "Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft" and had received bids from six aviation companies. Recently, the Ministry of Defence effectively shortlisted only two of the vendors, and left out bids for the Russian MiG-35, SAAB's Gripen (Swedish), and two American bids (from Boeing and Lockheed Martin), much to the chagrin of the US government.

One of the shortlisted bids is from a European consortium selling the Eurofighter Typhoon. The other is built by the French firm Dassault and gets its name from the French for "gust" or "squall". Which aircraft?

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May 8, 2011


Greg Mortenson was once a mountaineer and is now better known as a writer and for running a charity organization that works in education. He shot to fame for his book "Three Cups of Tea", which describes his adventures after an unsuccessful mountaineering attempt in Pakistan. Lost and in poor health, he reached a village where he was nursed back to health. (He also described run-ins with the Taliban.) To thank the villagers, Mortenson returned to the US to raise funds for setting up a school there, which later became his life's work.

Recently, an investigation by the television channel CBS has revealed several inaccuracies in his story as well as allegations of misused funds, which has caused a lot of controversy.

Which peak was Mortenson aiming to scale, which serves as a starting point for this tale?

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May 7, 2011


In 1974, he was granted honorary citizenship of every country that is a member of the United Nations. However, recently, he announced his desire to give up the citizenship of the country he belongs to. This is after he attended protests in a country which is politically very opposed to his own.


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May 6, 2011


This newspaper attaches a "Mr." or "Mrs." (or any other relevant honorific) to the name of any person mentioned in its articles. Thus its style guide is similar to that of "The Economist". However, people noticed that articles about the death of Osama Bin Laden had omitted the "Mr." for "Mr. Bin Laden" (unlike before), sparking speculation that the paper made the omission as the subject wasn't very respectful to many.

The paper later clarified that it is their stylistic convention to drop the title for any deceased person. (However this rule is inconsistently followed as the obituaries of Ronald Reagan and even Saddam Hussein had "Mr.", while Hitler wasn't given much respect even when he was alive.)

Which newspaper?

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May 5, 2011


Beatification is one of the steps in the process of 'canonising' (or declaring a person as a "saint"), in the Christian religion. Recently, Pope John Paul II was beatified. During this ceremony, a vial of his blood (drawn during his last days) was used as one of the relics of the late Pope.

The honour of carrying this object was given to Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun (seen in the picture). Why was she accorded this honour?

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May 4, 2011


The 1980 Moscow Olympics was heavily boycotted by Western countries, and so this country's women's hockey team received a 11th hour call up to join 5 other teams. (This was also the first time women's hockey featured in the Olympics.) To everyone's surprise, they remained undefeated and won the gold.

This team was led by Ann Grant, who later also coached the English women's hockey team. She was from a sporting family, with her brothers also having represented their nation at another sport. One of these brothers was in the news recently.

Which country and who is the brother?

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May 3, 2011


This is the Spix's Macaw, a type of parrot, and is one of the most critically endangered birds in the world. It is named after a German naturalist who discovered it in South America. Apart from the usual reasons of hunting and loss of natural habitat, the bird is also said to have been endangered by the presence of the Africanized bee in the area.

Why has this bird come into attention once again in recent times?

Image: Glogster

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May 2, 2011


This cup is awarded for a competition that began in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Alfonso XIII. After this year's edition, the original cup had to be replaced by a replica after it suffered damage. The cup's name has changed over the years, sometimes even to reflect the various political systems in that country, but what is it currently referred to as?

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May 1, 2011


Mathematician John Milnor is the latest recipient of a prize touted to be the Nobel Prize equivalent for the field (pun not intended; by the way, the Fields medal is restricted only to those not above the age of 40). Though the idea of such a prize has been proposed as early as 1902, to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the person it is named for, it wasn't until 2003 that the first prize was actually given out.

Named after an outstanding mathematician from Norway, what is this prize?

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