The Sarge Answers to General Ignorance

by Darren Rigby



The answers (both incorrect and correct) to the questions are:

  1. What do they call the police force in France? - GENDARMES

    No. It's just "police". The gendarmerie is a uniformed police force, but they are military police, not the civilian force. The gendarmes do police work in public, not like American MPs, but they work separately. It would be like saying the National Guard are policemen.

    They do crowd control, counter-terrorism, security at airports, and coast guard work -- basically any police job that requires many well-trained, heavily-armed men. Other countries have police forces that use the name "gendarmerie", including Canada. The French name for the RCMP is "Gendarmerie royale du Canada". The word "gendarme" itself comes from the French for "men-at-arms".

  2. This is the ground floor of the White House. What's that elliptical room at the front called? - OVAL OFFICE

    No, it's the Diplomatic Reception Room, whose function is pretty much what it sounds like.

    There are actually several rooms in the White House stacked on top of each other that are this shape, but the Oval Office is in the... [for a handful of negative points for watching network television] West Wing. The design of the Oval Office was inspired by these rooms, and the design was implemented in 1909 when Theodore Roosevelt had the expansion for the West Wing built.

    Oval rooms were actually popular in 18th-century neoclassical architecture

  3. Who rode across the countryside calling, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" - REVERE
  4. Not if he knew what was good for him. Paul Revere's ride was meant to be secret, so he wouldn't be yelling anything while moving across the countryside. The area was filled with patrols, so Revere only gave the message to the people he trusted. By the end of the night, there were possibly as many as 40 riders spreading the word, all on horseback.

    The poem by Longfellow, "Paul Revere's Ride," doesn't have the line either. It speaks of "his cry of alarm" but doesn't put any words into his mouth. Accounts of the time say that Revere actually said "The regulars are coming out" -- many of the people of the time still considered themselves British citizens, so even the quote is misleading.

    We get a lot of wrong ideas about Paul Revere from Longfellow's poem, which also claims that it was Paul who hung the lanterns in the Old North Church -- he didn't; he told Robert Newman to do it in case he was captured.

    So through the night rode Paul Revere;
    And so through the night went his cry of alarm
    To every Middlesex village and farm,---
    A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
    A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
    And a word that shall echo for evermore!

  5. What did Vincent van Gogh cut off and give to a prostitute? - EAR

    Not quite. He only cut off the lower part of his left earlobe. A researcher recently put forth the theory that he did this because his brother was about to get married, and Vincent would lose the financial and emotional support he got from him, but no one is entirely certain what his motivation for doing so was.

  6. In the Bible, what was the sin of Onan? - MASTURBATION

    Not according to the book, it wasn't. It was coitus interruptus. Here is the biblical account of Onan's "sin," from Gen. 38: 8-9 (King James translation):

    And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife and marry her,
    and raise up seed to thy brother.
    And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass,
    when he went unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the
    ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

    Dictionaries list coitus interruptus as one meaning for onanism, while conceding that "masturbation" is what what it is commonly taken to signify. Roman Catholic interpretations of the Bible agree that onanism is not the same as masturbation.

  7. Finish this quote from the movie Casablanca with a single word: "Play it _____, Sam." - AGAIN

    No, "once", said by Ilsa. The full quotation is "Play it once, Sam, for old time's sake."

    "Nothing" isn't a valid answer either because that's not a word. This trivia question trap is usually phrased as how Rick stated the line, and for this, there is no correct answer. The closest he comes is, "You played it for her, you can play it for me...if she can stand to listen to it, I can. Play it."

    The misquote was likely popularized by the title of the Woody Allen movie, Play It Again, Sam, or by a misquotation from the Marx Brothers parody A Night in Casablanca.

  8. What country do Danishes come from? - DENMARK

    -- Austria, originally, though they were inspired by Turkish baklava. The name comes from the person responsible for making them popular in Western Europe and America: Danish chef L.C. Klitteng.

    In much of Central Europe, they're known as Viennese bread or Viennese pastry, and in Denmark itself, they're called Golatschen.

    Our sources say that "during the Islamic cartoon controversy of 2006, Danish pastries were renamed 'Roses of the Prophet Muhammad' in Iran, due to its association with the offending country." Much better than "freedom fries".

  9. What was wrong with John F. Kennedy's famous speech in Berlin in 1963? - EIN

    -- Nothing, actually. [Okay, not nothing. One audience member told us that when Kennedy pronounced his famous phrase on the carefully written card he'd prepared, he skipped over the first R in Berliner: "Beh-leener".] While you may learn in German class that nationalities and other descriptions of where you are from shouldn't have an article like "ein", it's just as understandable to use one as if you said "I'm an American" rather than "I'm American". Since Kennedy was speaking figuratively rather than literally, the "ein" is preferred.

    One American journalist printed the quote from a Len Deighton novel in which the myth was started and people treated it as gospel. In Germany, people don't believe Kennedy made a mistake. They consider him a hero. There are recordings of Kennedy giving the speech, and no one is laughing or booing.

    On top of that, "Berliner" is not the term for a jelly donut, but "Pfannkuchen". At least in Berlin itself.

  10. Which country originated the 419 scam? - NIGERIA

    -- Although it's named after the article in the Nigerian penal code under which it's prosecuted, the first instance of the scam was called the Spanish Prisoner con. A businessman would be contacted by someone claiming to be from a wealthy family whose son was bein imprisoned in Spain, and could you help to get the heir back so that the heir's fortune would be realized, and oh, that escape attempt failed, please fund another, and so on. The surprising thing about the Spanish Prisoner con is that it dates back to 1910s or earlier -- Cosmopolitan ran a short story detailing a group of men who'd been caught up in it.

    David Mamet wrote about the scam twice: Once in The Spanish Prisoner and once in House of Games.

  11. Name the categories of the Nobel prizes. - ECONOMICS

    -- No, just physiology, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The prize for economics is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, but it's not from Nobel's original fund, and Nobel's descendants have even asked that they stop using his name. Nobel never established any kind of a fund to recognize advances in mathematics -- and no one knows why.

    One winner of the prize for economics, Robert Lucas, who won in 1995, was force to split his prize with his ex-wife. There was a clause in their divorce settlement which said "Wife shall receive 50 per cent of any Nobel Prize." This clause would have expired the year after Lucas won.

  12. How many constellations make up the zodiac? - TWELVE

    -- Careful! There are twelve signs, but thirteen constellations along the ecliptic - the path of the sun across the sky - with Ophiuchus the Snake-Handler being the extra one. Even Ptolemy acknowledged this.

    One main disctinction between the astronomical zodiac and the astrological one is that the astrological one is divided evenly among the twelve signs, but the astronomical one has some constellations that take up large portions of the ecliptic while others, like Ophiuchus only have one foot in.

The critical part of the game was not the points, but the wrong answers that set off the alarm.

  • Gendarmes
  • Oval Office
  • Revere
  • Ear
  • Masturbation
  • Again
  • Denmark
  • Ein
  • Nigeria
  • Economics
  • Twelve

The first letters of these incorrect answers spelled out the historical change GORE MADE NET.

Upon completing this event, the following link to supplementary information is revealed on the index page: