Monday’s loss and yesterday’s tie have knocked me down three spots — climbing out of the basement is looking more and more unlikely. And my match yesterday was particularly spastic, with both competitors screwing up the defense to a comical degree. 5(2)-5(3)? Sheesh.
1. What is the imperial unit of measure, today in very limited and specific use, which is the equivalent of 220 yards? One of them equals an eighth of a mile, while five of them approximate one kilometer.
I went with my first thought: fathom. Not a terrible guess, but the correct answer is furlong.
2. The philosophical concept known as the categorical imperative, which states (in small part) that one must act according to the maxim that one would wish all others to follow, as if it were a universal law, comes from 1785′s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, by what German philosopher?
It’s become something of a tradition: When a question contains the words “German” and “philosopher,” I answer Immanuel Kant. It’s never been right, but he’s my go-to guy. Persistence has finally paid off: Kant finally came through for me!
3. Of the 50 U.S. states, which has the highest percentage of non-Hispanic whites (nearly 95%), as well as the greatest proportion of residents who speak French at home?
I was pretty darn foolish, going with Louisiana. 95% white?! Come on. But the French part of the question snagged me — I couldn’t think of any other state that might come out on top of that ranking. I should have gone with Maine.
4. Genetically engineered organic robots known as replicants (also known derisively as skin-jobs), produced by the Tyrell Corporation, are central to the plot of what science fiction film?
The one solid gimme in the lineup (except for my opponent — so much for my zero). Blade Runner.
5. Name the singer who was the world’s best-selling recording artist of the 1990s and, with 1999′s Heartbreaker, became the first (and still only) artist to have a number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 each year of a decade.
I was proud that I removed Britney Spears from the blank: Did she have that many number one hits? And by the end of the 1990s, she was already on the path to her new career as a troubled person, right? So I discarded that first thought and reconsidered. Alas, I then went with the equally wrong Christina Aguilera. The correct answer, Mariah Carey, never crossed my mind.
According to Wikipedia, this video cost $2.5 million dollars to make. How the? What the?
6. This term is defined as a ship owned by an individual or company, but authorized (or commissioned) by a government to attack foreign vessels during wartime — corsairs are a specific French example. The term is also used for the commander of such a ship.
I’m positive I read an article about this not that long ago, but the word I needed was always a couple of inches out of my grasp. Sometimes I can let go of the question, get my mind all serene, and then the answer will drift into place. And other days I can’t help but say, again and again, “ARRGH, IT’S RIGHT ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE, WHAT IS THIS WORD, ARRRGH.” And that, of course, never gets me anywhere. The word I couldn’t find is privateer.