breathe and reboot

Quando avrò avuto la pazienza di leggere tutte le soluzioni allora potrò dire di essermi “acculturata”…archiviato nella sezione: consapevolezza, alla voce: limiti & buoni propositi. -Via The Indipendent

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Our 2008 Quiz of the Year

Sherlock Holmes used it to crack codes, Churchill relied on it to get him through the Blitz. For 140 years, Whitaker’s Almanack has been the definitive source of facts, trivia and ephemera. So who better than its compilers to test your knowledge of 2008? Fingers on buzzers…

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Art & design

1) Which art gallery reopened in new premises on the King’s Road in Chelsea in October?

2) How did 51-year-old Sue Tilley become worth £17m this year?

3) Why did two of Mark Rothko’s artworks attract particular attention in an exhibition at Tate Modern?

4) What was the “Cans Festival” and where was it held?

5) A company from which country designed “airbags for the elderly”, which inflate when the wearer falls over?

6) What did Tim Knox, the director of Sir John Soane’s museum, describe as “horrors and Frankenstein monster memorials”?

7) Who gave away 1,000 of his paintings by leaving them on the streets of London?

8) Where in the world did the new Museum of Islamic Art open?

9) Which Roman Emperor featured in a blockbuster exhibition at the British Museum?

10) Which twisted supermodel became a golden girl?

11) Which nation announced plans to build a 1km-high skyscraper?

12) Which recent exhibition in London featured a boating lake on the roof?


1) What replaced the unprofitable spoken-word radio station, Oneword, and attracted more listeners?

2) Which well-known TV presenter resigned after discovering that their fee was to be cut by 90 per cent?

3) Who will replace Terry Wogan as the presenter of the Eurovision song contest?

4) The BBC Olympics coverage title theme was composed by which music artist?

5) Virgin radio changed its name, to what?

6) Which US newspaper’s managing editor stepped down only four months after it was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp?

7) Which superhero’s alter ego was killed in an issue of a comic this year?

8) Which British TV comedy series did US magazine Variety criticise, noting that the show’s wit “seldom rises above what’s scrawled on a school bathroom wall”?

9) What linked the two programmes Echo Beach and Moving Wallpaper?

10) Name the Blair-era figures who wrote the following in their memoirs:

a) “Each culture brings its problems. In countries where sexual activity is rife, you have HIV/Aids.”

b) On Gordon Brown: “frustrating, annoying, bewildering and prickly”.

c) “He [Peter Mandelson] started to leave then came back over, pushed at me, then threw a punch, then another.”

11) What was it that linked Voluptua to Lesley Douglas?

Business & the economy

1) If February was 5.25 per cent, October was 4.5 per cent and November 3 per cent, what is December?

2) Which holiday company collapsed in September stranding around 85,000 holiday-makers abroad?

3) What was raised to £175,000 for a period of one year from 3 September?

4) Which company caused around 2,000 recently married couples to be rather short on wedding gifts after it went into administration in August?

5) What is the name of Iceland’s second-largest bank and parent company of Icesave, which went into receivership and was nationalised in October?

6) Which bank, founded in Alabama, USA, in the 1850s, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September?

7) Which German-owned retailer reported a 20 per cent increase in sales in June?

8) Why was it hoped that shoppers will be more likely to spend, spend, spend between 1 December 2008 and 31 December 2009?

International affairs

1) What landmark ruling did the US supreme court make in June regarding the legal rights of Guantanamo Bay inmates?

2) Which two countries established formal diplomatic relations for the first time?

a) China and Taiwan

b) Israel and Iran

c) Syria and Lebanon

3) Which was the first nation officially to recognise “internet addiction” as a clinical psychological disorder?

4) Whom did Vladimir Putin threaten to “hang by the balls” in an overheard conversation with Nicolas Sarkozy in August?

5) Which country’s prime minister was forced to step down because of his cookery show?

6) Name the ailing Communist leader who retired from public life and, secondly, the ailing Communist leader who was apparently Photoshopped back into it?

7) In the week after his election win, President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush to bail out which three stricken carmakers?

8) Who are Jigme Thinley and Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk?

9) What may or may not be the world’s newest nation state – depending on who you ask?

10) Which waterway has become known as “pirate alley”?

a) The Gulf of Aden

b) The Gulf of Carpentaria

c) The Persian Gulf

11) Who mounted and lost a court case against the manufacturer of a voodoo doll in his likeness, the packaging of which is now legally bound to carry a warning that piercing it with needles “constitutes an attack on the personal dignity of ___”?

12) What did George W Bush admit to being unprepared for during an “exit interview” on ABC News in December?

a) Historically low approval ratings

b) War

c) Swallowing that pretzel rather than chewing it a little more


1) Why did the Queen and Prince Philip have to see A Bunch of Amateurs?

2) Which two US presidents featured in eponymous movies released this year?

3) Which actress was condemned by the Communist Party of St Petersburg for aiding “the killer of hundreds of Soviet people and their allies”?

4) Which ageing adventurer went looking for a crystal skull?

5) Which brothers scooped four Oscars for a film at the 2008 Academy Awards?

6) Name the three actors who played the “fathers” in Mamma Mia!

7) What links the 2008 films Be Kind Rewind, Kung Fu Panda and Tropic Thunder?

8) In what film did the character Two-Face feature this year?

9) It “proposes, conventionally enough, that war is a nightmare, yet few films have evoked the texture of nightmare so specifically”. Which film, directed by Ari Folman, was being described by the critic Jonathan Romney?

10) Where are two hapless Irish hitmen, played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, sent to in the 2008 film of the same name?

11) Put the following people in the order that they appeared in the Hollywood Reporter’s 2008 list of highest-earning female actors:

a) Julia Roberts

b) Reese Witherspoon

c) Angelina Jolie

12) “She has made a movie so incredibly bad that Berlin festivalgoers were staggering around yesterday in a state of clinical shock, deathly pale and mewing like maltreated kittens.” Whose new film was the critic Peter Bradshaw describing back in February of this year?


1) In a survey for the Association of British Teachers, 60 per cent of the teachers interviewed said their pupils aspired to be like which celebrity?

2) Which fruity member of the British bratpack did Chester French frontman Max Drummey marry in Las Vegas after a month-long relationship?

3) Which couple named their newborn twins Knox and Vivienne?

4) Who won the 2008 series of The Apprentice, despite their “reverse pterodactyl” impression?

5) What do Robert Kilroy-Silk, Joe Swash and Martina Navratilova have in common?

6) Which British celebrity entered the Indian version of the Big Brother house this year?

7) How did the pianist André Tchaikowsky make an unconventional cameo appearance in the RSC production of Hamlet?

8) Such was the success of her debut fashion designs, stocked by Selfridges, that there were accusations that she had the help of designer Roland Mouret. Who is the designer?

9) Who had to be carried out of one awards ceremony earlier this year, and had a spat with co-host Sir Elton John at another?

10) Princess Beatrice enrolled at Goldsmiths College in September. What is she studying?

a) History of Ideas

b) Maths

c) Textiles

11) What links Lily Cole, Gary Barlow, David Jason and Macy Gray?

12) Match the celebrities to the Christmas lights they switched on:

I) Oxford Street, London II) Regent Street, London III) Banbury, Oxfordshire IV) Bond Street, London V) Newcastle-upon-Tyne

a) Cheeky Girls b) Hairy Bikers c) Kelly Brook d) McFly e) Sugababes

Environment & science

1) Which country planted its flag on the Moon for the first time this year?

2) Which US entrepreneur won the right to build a billion-pound golf course in Aberdeenshire, despite opposition from locals?

3) How were the results of a 20-year study, released in January, good news for moderate drinkers?

4) What did Boris Johnson want to relocate to the Thames Estuary?

5) Which of the following was not a 2008 theory about Stonehenge?

a) It was a centre of healing

b) It was a cemetery for a single ruling dynasty

c) It was an early form of “theatre in the round”

d) It was the site for a “bring your own beef” barbecue

6) Why was the world going to end on 10 September?

7) Thomas Beatie became the first man to:

a) Get a national identity card

b) Achieve a government-accredited zero-carbon lifestyle

c) Give birth

8) Where did Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper drop her tool bag?

9) Eddie Adcock had brain surgery to correct a hand tremor in 2008. How did he help doctors to monitor the operation’s progress?

10) Which of these medical milestones was not achieved this year?

a) First successful double arm transplant

b) First successful womb transplant

c) First successful trachea transplant

d) First ovary-transplant recipient to give birth


1) X Factor winner Leon Jackson reached No 3 in the charts earlier this year. Whose song beat him to No 2?

2) Which legend of British pop music resigned as life president of Watford Football Club in November?

3) Who became the first British female solo artist to release an album that went straight to No 1 in the US charts?

4) Sheikh Abdulla, second son of the King of Bahrain, claimed that he had written new music for which pop star?

5) Which new album was denounced as part of a Western plot to “grasp and control the world using democracy as a pawn”?

6) Who achieved the biggest first-day album sales of the year with their album The Circus?

7) Which anarchic musician starred in an advertising campaign for butter featuring the slogan, “It’s not about Great Britain, it’s about Great Butter”?

8) Which synthpop group were named as best artists of 2008 by

9) Which band announced that their first live performances since 2002 would be on 2 and 3 June 2009?

10) What particularly dismayed Noel Gallagher about Glastonbury?

Go figure

Why were these numbers in the news in 2008? Match each with the correct description

9.69 seconds


22 miles

1,500 metres


231 million per cent

89.7 sextillion (1,021) per cent

a) Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate (as a percentage) as of 14 November 2008, according to a study by the Cato Institute

b)The highest ever one-off prize (in US dollars) awarded for a team sport, to the winners of the Stanford Super Series Twenty20 cricket tournament

c)The length of the world’s largest ostrich sandwich (in metres), made in Tehran

d) Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate (as a percentage) as of July 2008

e) The time (in seconds) in which Usain Bolt won the 100m race and set a new world record at the Olympics

f) The distance (in miles) travelled by “Fusionman”, Yves Rossy, who became the first person to cross the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing

g) A snapshot of the US national debt (in dollars) on 30 September


1) Choose the fake book title from the real shortlist for the 2008 Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year:

a) I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen

b) If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs

c) Cheese Problems Solved

d) The Essential Guide to Chechen Farming Equipment

2) Which cookbook published in 2008 weighed about a stone (6.3kg)?

3) What links the novels East of the Sun, The Pirate’s Daughter and Down River?

4) Whose new book is aptly called Why Do I Say These Things??

5) Why did authors Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson, JK Rowling and Terry Pratchett all sign a petition this summer?

6) Why did Katie Price cause controversy at the British Book Awards?

7) Who may have caused a politician to blush by winning the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award?

8) Whose autobiography discussed a lack of “contraceptive equipment”?

9) The phrase “too isolated, too insular” caused a literary firestorm at a major prize. Who said it, at which prize, and to what did the description refer?

10) Which Booker-shortlisted novel featured the Chelsea Hotel, estranged marriage, cricket and post-September 11 New York?

11) Why did Rhodri Glyn Thomas, then Welsh Minister for Heritage, have to apologise to author Tom Bullough?

US election

1) Which of the following is not a Sarah Palin-related scandal to which the media gave the “-gate” suffix:

a) Babygate

b) Troopergate

c) Hockeygate

2) During the campaign, lipstick was famously applied to which two animals?

3) Put these four failed candidates for the Republican nomination in the order in which they dropped out of the race:

a) Rudy Giuliani

b) Mike Huckabee

c) Ron Paul

d) Mitt Romney

4) In which state did Hillary Clinton famously come close to tears, and later win, during the primaries?

5) What is the “Bradley effect”?

6) Who was Barack Obama repeatedly accused of “palling around with”?

a) Bill Ayers

b) Bill Clinton

c) Bill Cosby

7) Who came up with the following phrases:

a) “Drill, baby, drill!”

b) “Bomb, bomb, bomb … Bomb, bomb Iran” [to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”]

c) “I can see Russia from my house”

8) Which was the only battleground state won by John McCain?

9) Which US intellectual berated David Dimbleby during the BBC’s election-night coverage?

10) By approving Proposition 8, what did voters inCalifornia choose to ban on 4 November?

11) Which of the following is not the name of one of Sarah Palin’s children: Track, Aspen, Bristol, Willow, Trig, Piper


1) Which soul singer, who died in August, found fame in later life providing the voice of “Chef” in the cartoon comedy South Park?

2) The Austrian politician Jörg Haider died in a car crash in October. What is the name of the far-right political party he founded in 2005?

3) Famous for her comical paintings of large, often naked people, which artist died in May?

4) Which actor, who died in January, played roles as diverse as Ned Kelly, Casanova and Bob Dylan?

5) Name the author of the novel Infinite Jest and the essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, who died in September.

6) The crash site of adventurer Steve Fossett’s plane was eventually discovered in which mountain range in early October?

7) Whose obituary was accidentally published online by the Bloomberg business news wire while they were still very much alive?

8) Which former guitarist with the Manic Street Preachers, missing since 1995, was officially “presumed dead” in November?

9) Which Russian writer, who died in August, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970?

10) Which American author, historian and broadcaster, who died this year aged 96, won a Pulitzer Prize for The Good War: An Oral History of World War II?


1) What was revealed to be the most common name among female members of the BNP, and how did we discover this information?

2) What mode of transport did Lembit Opik use to deliver a petition to the Department for Transport?

3) “Conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office” and “aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office”: who was arrested on suspicion of these offences?

4) At the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards, who presented Lord Mandelson with his award for Newcomer of the Year?

5) In January, what did 38 MPs admit to doing?

6) Which politician discovered that he was distantly related to King George II during the filming of a TV series?

7) Why was an image of Gordon Brown with a red flower tucked behind his right ear projected on to the Houses of Parliament in February?

8) How did Home Secretary Jacqui Smith attract criticism while touring Peckham, her own constituency?

9) Who became the first married couple to serve as Cabinet members?

10) Where did a Cabinet Office employee leave secret documents containing intelligence on al-Qa’ida?

11) Which politician reportedly became the highest-paid public speaker in the world?


1) In tennis, to whom did Andy Murray lose at the US Open, his first ever grand slam final?

2) Which snooker player made the ninth maximum break (147) of his professional career in April?

3) Which means of communication did Roy Keane allegedly use to quit as manager of Sunderland FC?

a) email

b) text message

c) newspaper interview

4) Brian Lara’s record as highest-ever run scorer in the history of cricket was beaten earlier this year, by whom?

5) How many grands prix did Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton win in 2008, and how many did world championship runner-up Felipe Massa win?

6) Which poet won a third Ascot Gold Cup in June?

7) Which Formula One team became the first casualty of the global financial crisis?

8) The governing body of which major UK sport became the first to sign up to a gay equality in sport campaign run by the pressure group Stonewall?

9) A legend of football became the new manager of his national side. Who was it?

10) Which marauding darts player announced his intention to make a comeback after losing ten stone since his collapse at the World Championships in January 2007?

11) For how many fights has boxer Joe Calzaghe been unbeaten?

a) 42

b) 46

c) 52

12) Which Premiership football manager was fuming after his team captain was pictured smoking a cigarette outside a nightclub?

13) Which famous cricket personality is the subject of a new musical?


1) What was the nickname given to the iconic Beijing National Stadium?

2) Michael Phelps won the greatest ever number of gold medals at a single Olympics, collecting eight in Beijing. Whose record did he beat?

3) How did the South African swimmer Natalie du Toit make history in Beijing?

4) Who quit his role as artistic adviser for the Olympic Games in protest at the Chinese government’s handling of the Darfur conflict in Sudan?

5) The British team came fourth in the Olympic medal table, its best result in a century. What was the equivalent medal-table position achieved by the British Paralympians?

6) The men’s team from Hungary won a ninth gold medal, with six players experiencing Olympic glory for the third time. In which sport?

Gift horses (and other beasts)

Each of the animals below were given as gifts this year. Can you match each to its correct recipient?

1. A Lipizzaner horse

2. Two pandas

3. A goat and a deer

A. China

B. Vladimir Putin

C. Barack Obama & family

D. The Queen

D. Taiwan

5. A Peruvian hairless dog

4. A Siberian tiger cub

Un pensiero riguardo “breathe and reboot


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