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Stuff I just can’t remember

January 28, 2015 in Thoughts

pulling-your-hair-outFor the first few years of this site’s existence its modus operandi was to be a repository (for me, mostly) of questions I had gotten wrong at quizzes.  If I went to the bother of writing them down, not only would it give me content for a website but it should also reinforce the correct answers, hammering them into my brain for future use.

Almost all the time, it worked.  Then again, that could be down to the way my brain works anyway.

However, within this grouping (let’s call them “John’s wrong answers”) there are several repeat offenders.  Of course, it’s not the question/answer that’s commiting the offence, it’s me, but let’s not be too pedantic.

Why is it that certain facts will not stick?  I presume everyone has some of these and they will vary from brain to brain but here are a few of mine*:

  • Alfred Wegener, the man who proposed the theory of continental drift in 1912.  This man should be as prominent as Charles Darwin but, invariably, I end up searching around with “he’s got a German name, I think” being the best thing I can come up with.
  • Talc is is the softest known mineral and listed as 1 on the Mohs hardness scale.  This actually came up on the Hot 100 recently.  Could I remember it? No, I could not.
  • The headquarters of OPEC is situated in Vienna.  Whilst I know it’s (rather counterintuitively) in Europe, I always seem to plump for Paris or any one of several Swiss cities.
  • Sucre, the real capital of Bolivia (as opposed to La Paz, the seat of government).
  • Dexter and sinister.  I can always remember sinister means left.  Never the ‘right’ answer though…
  • Catherine Howard, then Catherine Parr.  Not the other way round.
  • The various subgroupings within the periodic table.  One of these days…
  • Anything to do with horseracing. That probably isn’t going to change.
  • Finally, Martin Cooper, the inventor of the mobile phone and someone I’ve actually met!  Oh dear.

However, all is not lost.  I know of one or two cases where I have turned it around.  This one is quite stupid but for years, whenever I was asked about what animal is referred to by the word ovine, I would confidently put down pig.  However, ovine refers to sheep.  I eventually kicked this habit but reminding myself that the word porcine exists and that definitely (consider pork, Porky Pig etc.) refers to pigs.  Once I remember that, I know that ovine mustn’t refer to pigs and, my haste to answer paused, I then arrive at sheep.  Hurray!  One point for me.

Feel free to let me know if you have any such ‘blind spots’.

* Obviously, the hope is that writing this article will cure me.

Goodbye Mooney’s Money

January 17, 2015 in Culture

Derek mooneySo, back in December the news broke that Derek Mooney was leaving his mid-afternoon show on RTÉ Radio One.  Since then, Ireland’s cultural commentators have been breathless in following the dominio effect this has caused with Ray D’Arcy leaving Today FM to replace him and Anton Savage, in turn, getting D’Arcy’s old job.

Personally, I’m not too bothered about all this ‘deckchairs on the Titanic’ shuffling of Ireland’s broadcasting cards.  Mooney isn’t actually leaving RTÉ.  He will now be given free reign in his field of choice: nature programming.  So, whilst the show he fronted for the past eight years is gone, he is not.

Gone with it too is a feature which daily raised my ire: Mooney’s Money.  Each day listeners were invited to take their chance and see if they could win “€1,000 of Mooney’s Money”.  The annoying thing for me was that this game purported to be a quiz.  To take part, the listener simply had to call a premium rate number and answer the daily question.  The thing was, the question was always appallingly easy.  Examples come to mind such as “Who is the President of Ireland?” and “Kerry is located in which province?” Even better, they generally gave you two options: one correct, one laughably wrong.

As of now, this compeition’s dedicated web page is still online and features a perfect example.  Have a look here.

Others more knowledgeable in the law than I can explain the exact statute which must be obeyed but my layman’s knowledge tells me that whilst a lottery or raffle needs a specific licence, a game of skill does not.  The ‘skill’ in this case was clearly the knowledge to answer the question but when the question is generally the equivalent of being asked to declare the colour of the sky on a cloudless day surely everyone gets it right?  That being the case, if 100% of the hopeful participants in a game of skill pass ‘the test’ doesn’t that mean that the skill level is set too low?

As a final thought, consider the daily prize of €1,000.  The competition site linked to above informs players that calls would “cost €1.02 (incl VAT) and from a BT landline will cost GBP £1.02”.  The best estimate I can find is that the broadcaster would received between 40 and 50 cent per entry.  So that would mean that competition just needed somewhere in the region of 2,000 to 2,500 entries each day to break even.  In 2013’s JNLR figures, the show had an average of 225,000 listeners.

This sham quiz was probably quite the golden goose for RTÉ.  Let’s wait and see if the debut of the replacement show features a section called “D’Arcy’s Dough”…

Getting back to it

January 13, 2015 in Housekeeping

Ok, it’s time. Happy new year to all.  I will recommence blogging this very week.

brain-is-full