Sep 30, 2012


Given the number of marathon matches in men's tennis in recent times, the ATP has announced some changes to tennis rules. One of them will be trialed in the first quarter of 2013 on the Challenger Tour. This change is unlikely to speed up matches dramatically, but should improve the rhythm of service games.

Some critics wonder whether this will add an additional factor of luck to the outcome of points, but others feel it will all even out. What tiny yet significant change is this?

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This day last year: Q.365

Sep 29, 2012


For ten years, Kunioki Kurihara, a Japenese businessman, was collecting rent from the Japanese government for these three places, to the tune of about 25 million yen a year. Eventually, in September 2012, he sold the three (namely, Minamiko-jima, Utsori-jima, and Kitako-jima) to the government.

The sale has kicked off an incredible row, with a hate triangle involving Japan, China, and Taiwan. What's the fuss all about, and what are these places part of?

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This day last year: Q.364

Sep 28, 2012


The second leg of its final journey (planned for October 2012) will be a 12 mile journey through the Californian cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles. A team of experts, including people who know a lot about trees, were put together to figure out the logistics of the actual procession.

Give the dimensions of what is being transported, the plan is to move street lights and power lines etc. out of the way. If trees are going to be removed, then either they will be replanted or replaced (take it easy, all you tree-huggers), or they were already part of a different urban plan to move them.

What is being moved?

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This day last year: Q.363

Sep 27, 2012


This American sitcom actress has been nominated twelve times for the Emmy Awards, for three different TV series. Ten of these were for "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series" for the first of these three series.

She has won Emmies thrice, one each for these TV series. The latest was for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series" in the 2012 Emmy Awards, for "The Veep". Her previous win was in 2006 for "The New Adventures of Old Christine". Which actress?

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This day last year: Q.362

Sep 26, 2012


In July 2012, why did nine physicists Nima Arkani-Hamed, Alan Guth, Alexei Kitaev, Edward Witten, Ashoke Sen, Juan Maldacena, Maxim Kontsevich, Andrei Linde, and Nathan Seiberg receive a large sum of money each, thanks to the venture capitalist Yuri Milner?

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This day last year: Q.361

Sep 25, 2012


This name, though applied to a group of three municipal wards in Seoul, technically belongs only to one of them (the other wards are Seochu and Songpa). Now the whole pop-culture world is aflutter with it, when earlier it was just a very posh (and snobbish) part of the Korean capital.

What name?

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This day last year: Q.360

Sep 24, 2012


In this picture (taken on Sept 02, 2012), you see Australian sports minister Kate Lundy, an avid rower, who has just finished rowing 1000 meters at the rowing course at Eton Dorney, in England. Curiously, she is wearing Team Great Britain colours (red and blue).

Why is that so?

Image: AFP/The Australian

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This day last year: Q.359

Sep 23, 2012


Sky1, the television channel, has a new TV series called "The Gloves Are Off", planned for the end of 2012. This will feature the professional boxing debut of this person; his opponent is not yet known, but producers have promised he will be 'a credible opponent'.


Image: The Telegraph

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This day last year: Q.358

Sep 22, 2012


What will McDonald's add to its menus in all its locations in the United States from mid-September onwards? (The company seems to be doing this to steal a march on most of its competitors, especially because of what the Government has asked all of them to do from 2013.)

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This day last year: Q.357

Sep 21, 2012


They marched on Sept 11 2012 demanding what they have been for about a century: independence. People of this European province held massive demonstrations in their provincial capital, reiterating their claims. In part, the current wave of protests has been fuelled by the economic mess the country has been in for the last few years.

In this visual, you see a picture of one such protestor. Which province and which country?

Image: Kippelboy/Wikimedia Commons

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This day last year: Q.356

Sep 20, 2012

The Infinite Zounds 2012 Survey

We're past 155. Survey's open for the last few days.

17 Sept update: I have received 135 responses. Since not all readers visit the blog that regularly, I will keep the survey open for a week and bump it up in the order of posts so that you, my irregular heartbeat of a reader, can tell me all. Thanks :-)

Hello there. You may have noticed that Infinite Zounds is now in the 700s, and if you do the numbers, you'll know the blog is also a couple of weeks away from notching up two years on the board.

Milestones such as these always inspire some introspection: we at IZ aren't immune to this tendency. To help us understand you, our reader, better and to take a few more steps in what looks like the right direction, we have a little survey for you.

OK, "little" is perhaps not the most apt adjective, for there are more than a few questions in this survey. But they aren't very taxing (at least, not as taxing as IZ questions :-) ), and you should be done in a jiffy. I can't emphasise how useful the value of your input will be to us.

So could we get you to click on this link and take the survey when you have some minutes to spare?

Thank you,


A vIZual question on an official visit by a head of state:

Image: Reuters

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This day last year: Q.355

Sep 19, 2012


"The Man Who Made the Elephant Dance" is an audio-book released on September 6, 2012. In fact, it's the audio version of a book called "I Too Had a Dream", the biography of a famous Indian. During the function, N. R. Narayana Murthy remarked:
"A civilised society must show gratitude when people can sense it, or it is no gratitude at all and if our country does not stand and salute [him] with a Bharat Ratna, I don't know who else deserves it."

About whom was he talking about?

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This day last year: Q.354

Sep 18, 2012


The US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, died in the American consulate in Benghazi on Sept 11, 2012, as a tragic result of an attack protesting a film. He was the eighth US Ambassador to die while still in office.

The last Ambassador to die in harness was Arnold Raphel, who died in a plane crash in 1988. You probably remember the Head of State who died in the same crash. Who?

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This day last year: Q.353

Sep 17, 2012


This in-the-news term traces its etymology from Old French, Latin, and Middle English. In Latin, it means "civil disorder" or "dissension", and is literally formed from the words for "going apart" i.e. "separation".

Which word?

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This day last year: Q.352

Sep 16, 2012


The iPhone 5 smartphone was unveiled to the world in September 2012 and boasts of being the thinnest smartphone ever. As usual, its announcement was marked with catchy Apple promotions.

According to Apple's slogan for this promotion, the iPhone is "the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since ___". What?

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This day last year: Q.351

Sep 15, 2012


This pose was invented by the sports presenter Clare Balding during the sports-themed game show "A League of their Own" so that one of her fellow panelists could use it at the Olympics. It came about after an impromptu suggestion from the show's anchor James Corden, who also gave the pose its name.

Inspired by the one of the moves in the dance to the "Y.M.C.A" song, what pose is this?

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This day last year: Q.350

Sep 14, 2012


"Legoland Malaysia" is LEGO's first ever amusement park in Asia and opens on September 15, 2012 in Johor, Malaysia. Among its many attractions are scale models of well-known Asian landmarks, including the Taj Mahal.

Here are two such replicas: identify both these landmarks.

Images: AsiaOne Relax, Macaron Magazine

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This day last year: Q.349

Do you know the 2012 IZ survey is in progress? Do give us your feedback about this blog - the survey is here.

Sep 13, 2012


Shortlisted for a Booker Prize (with five other books) in September 2012, the poet Jeet Thayil's debut novel "Narcopolis" is set in Bombay among addicts and gained praise from some critics while others thought it gimmicky, especially because of what he does in the opening line of the book, which reads as:

"Bombay, which obliterated its own history by changing its name and surgically altering its face, is the hero or heroin of this story, and since I'm the one who's telling it and you don't know who I am, let me say that we'll get to the who of it..."

which is just the beginning of something very unusual - so my question is, what's so different about the opening of the book?

(I should have been playing Shankar Mahadevan's "Breathless" while writing this)

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This day last year: Q.348

Do you know the 2012 IZ survey is in progress? Do give us your feedback about this blog - the survey is here.

Sep 12, 2012



* Bossa Nova: a distinctive style of Brazilian music; influenced by both jazz and samba music; known for distinctive rhythms.

* Carnavalesca: an adjective meaning "of or related to the carnival"

* Brazuca: an informal term for a Brazilian; can be used to denote 'national pride in the Brazilian way of life'.

Brazuca won, by the way.

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This day last year: Q.347

Sep 10, 2012


"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet.", he said on this occasion. What was the occasion (timeline: August 29, 2012)?

Image: The Telegraph

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This day last year: Q.345

Sep 9, 2012


Featuring songs such as "Aao Naa" and "Lekin Mera Dil", this 1981 album is best known for its title song that was the year's smash hit. It was a family enterprise, with the pop-star's pop getting the album made and her bhaijaan contributing to its creation. Biddu Appaiah composed music for most tracks.

Now set to return to the Indian cultural scene this year, what was this album's song-of-the-year?

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This day last year: Q.344

Sep 8, 2012


This Olympiad, the fortieth of its kind, began on 27 August and will run until the 10th September of 2012. It has two events, one for men and one for women. The city hosting the Olympiad is Istanbul. Like with many other big events, the awarding of this Olympiad to Istanbul was embroiled in controversy, with some reports suggesting voters were made monetary and material favours.

Which Olympiad is this?

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This day last year: Q.343

Sep 7, 2012


In August of 2012, this country organised a "Medical Hub Expo", an event aimed at promoting its health-related businesses and medical tourism. During this event, a new record entered the Guinness Book of Records: one for the biggest mass massages. Six hundred and forty one people received massages from masseurs, beating an earlier record held by a team from Australia.

Which country was showcasing its talents thus?

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This day last year: Q.342

Sep 6, 2012


The Delhi Government announced in August 2012 that the bird, whose scientific name is "Passer domesticus indicus", will be Delhi's State Bird. This is expected to provide a boost to efforts in conserving this bird whose population in Delhi has been coming down over the years.

What is the more common name of this bird?

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This day last year: Q.341

Sep 5, 2012


These two former Soviet republics have been bitter enemies for much of the last hundred years. After leaving the USSR, their enmity has only deepened. This has affected their relations with other countries as well. An example is Hungary.

In 1994, during a NATO training course in Budapest, a soldier named Ramil Safarov from one of these two countries killed a soldier (Gurgen Margaryan) from the other country. He was sentenced by Hungary. However, in August 2012, he was extradited back to his home country after that country promised to continue his sentence, much to the protests of Margaryan's country. But, in a provocative gesture, Safarov was not only pardoned, but promoted and feted in his home nation.

The other country has now broken off all diplomatic relations with Hungary. Which are these two countries?

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This day last year: Q.340

Sep 4, 2012


In late July 2012, Sushilkumar Shinde became India's latest Home Minister in a shuffle after Pranab Mukherjee moved upstairs to the Presidency. Earlier, Shinde had been Maharashtra's Chief Minister from January 2003 to October 2004.

Incidentally, Shinde was preceded and then succeeded as CM by the person. He too was in the news a couple of weeks later. Who?

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This day last year: Q.339

Sep 3, 2012


There have been, till date, seventeen of them in all. Many of them have had tumultuous times in office. The latest is Raja Pervez Ashraf. Makhdoom Shahbuddin was to be the 17th, but a last-minute non-bailable warrant against him put Ashraf in the chair.

What post?

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This day last year: Q.338

Sep 2, 2012


It doesn't take much to get the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu angry. This time, she went public with her displeasure at the Central Government overlooking some of her recommendations for the Padma awards in 2011.

This occured during a programme where a veteran Tamil music director duo were being felicitated. Jayalalitha mentioned how she had requested that their names be considered, but that had been ignored. Several of her movies had had music by the duo, arguably two of Kollywood's greatest music figures.

Which pair?

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This day last year: Q.337

Sep 1, 2012


This is not only an observation tower, but also a work of sculptural art. Designed by the artist Anish Kapoor and the designer-architect Cecil Balmond, and located in the Olympic Park, London, the "Orbit" was shown to the world in May 2012, in time for the London Olympics. Apparently the biggest piece of public art in Britain, it was also considered as a possible destination for the Olympic flame.

Principally funded by Britain's richest person, the name prefixed to "Orbit" is one of his best known companies. What's the full name of this sculpture?

Image: you_only_live_twice/Wikimedia Commons

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This day last year: Q.336


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