Your RDA of Irony

Your RDA of Literacy

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The Twelve Answers to My Christmas Quiz

1. Bethlehem is “house of bread” (answer c). If this was intended to be a franchise, it didn’t work.

2. Nicholas managed to be both a saint and a bureaucrat (answer b). In fact, Nicholas was a bishop, which is a bureaucratic job in itself. Furthermore, bishops in the late Roman Empire were part of the civil service, handling the judicial and supervisory responsibilities of their dioceses. The emperor tended to trust the clergy more than his relatives.

3. There would be no office Christmas parties under Oliver Cromwell (answer b). He outlawed the celebration of Christmas: It smacketh of Popery! Nonetheless, it is fun to imagine John Milton (Cromwell’s PR flack) getting drunk and poetically propositioning Mrs. Cromwell.

4. The answer is d: three sons. Don’t worry; Herod still had four sons to spare. He also executed one wife and one son-in-law. None of his daughters were so honored. To his credit, Herod never executed any of his grandchildren.

5. Magi were priests of the Zoroasterian religion, the dominant faith of the Parthian Empire (answer a). Peloponnesia (southern Greece)  Phoenicia (alias Lebanon) and Phrygia (central Turkey) were Roman provinces, and their versions of wise men would have been Hellenized sophists.

6. Prince Albert (answer d), the German-born husband of Queen Victoria, introduced the tannenbaum to England. He also may have introduced both intelligence and hemophilia into the Royal Family. The hemophilia made more of an impression.

7. The Pompeii REIT (answer b) would have been a good investment until AD 79. Being Augustus’ heir would be a terrible bet. All of his heirs had mysterious accidents or succumbed to surprise diseases. The Janus Theology Fund didn’t turn a profit until the fourth century, when a small-cap religion known as Christianity got Emperor Constantine’s celebrity endorsement. While philosophy was the first artificial intelligence, Microsophist would have been too ahead of its time.

8. Unfortunately, the answer is b. Berlin’s first memories were of the Cossacks’ version of “The Easter Parade.” Encouraged by the anti-Semitic policies of Czar Alexander III, the vicious mob could have been called “Alexander’s Rage Time Band.”

9. Would you try growing cotton in December? Neither would Sally Field’s character in Places in the Heart (answer a). In The Lion in Winter, the Plantagenets gather to celebrate Christmas and kill each other. In The French Connection, one of Gene Hackman’s transparent guises was as a street-corner Santa. Between planning escapes and beating up William Holden, the prisoners of Stalag 17 celebrated Christmas.

10. Alexandria (answer d) was the think tank of the Roman world. Its scientists developed the Julian calendar and correctly calculated the Earth’s circumference. One of them, Hieron, invented the first jet engine; however, he had no idea how to use it. Alexandria’s scientific community also successfully promoted a chronological concept called the “week.” The seven-day period once had been dismissed as just another Jewish idiosyncrasy. But when Alexandria adopted the idea, everyone loved it.

11. The Oracle of Delphi (answer c) offered incomprehensible utterances and was worshipped for them. Mr. Greenspan’s unique style of rhetoric would have hindered his career as a messiah. Imagine his version of the Golden Rule: “A proactive behavioralistic mode should be vectored to an optimalized spectrum with expectational reciprocity.”

12. The leaders of the rebellion hated to give up power (answer d). Unfortunately, the Maccabees were better soldiers than kings. The history of the dynasty is a sorry series of conspiracies and civil wars. Maccabee rule and Jewish independence ended in 63 B.C. when two princes were fighting over the throne. Each unable to eliminate the other, the brothers asked Rome to judge who should rule Judea. The Romans accepted the invitation, marched in, and didn’t leave.

Scoring Key

Now add up your correct answers and find your place in the Nativity.

12 correct: The center of attention
10-11: Star of Bethlehem
8-9: Host of angels
6-7: Wise men
4-5: Kindly shepherds (bewildered by Latin-singing angels)
2-3: Kindly sheep
1: Innkeeper

  1. Joan Stewart Smith says:

    Hey, Eugene, loved the quiz. Alas, I am but a kindly shepherd bewildered by Latin-singing angels.

  2. Peggles says:

    I am also a kindly shepherd bewildered by Latin-singing angels. That explains why I come up with so many “sheep” answers in the Jeopardy! thread’s Think Different games.

    An interesting and fun quiz, Eugene.

  3. Eugene Finerman says:

    Joan and Peg,

    For taking the test, you automatically receive one upgrade. Isn’t that what Oprah would do? (Actually, she would also throw in a free trip to Bethlehem.) So now you are wise women; magiettes doesn’t seem polite.

    Betsy is promoted to Host of Angels. And Leah is a Star of Bethlehem, as well as Jeopardy.

    Your Deus ex Machina

    • rio imamura says:

      I was waiting for the answers to the 12 questions you raised.
      I enjoyed them very much. I wish to thank you for your kind
      email and comment about WW1 German POW camp in Japan. rio

  4. Joan Stewart Smith says:

    Whew! For a second, I thought you were making me a “wise man” – with a little gender adjustment required. Anyway, thanks for the upgrade, Eugene. Now I finally understand the Latin-singing angels.

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