Why do pencils have erasers? - Alcyonenews

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Posted January 3, 2020

Why do pencils have erasers?

My column “Mind the past but pursue the future” in the December 20 Marketplace carried a bad typo: Instead of “a chain”, I garbled “achin”. I do not mean to downplay it,  to insinuate this is the first typo I made, nor do I promise a typo-less future. Was I to say either, I would be laughed out of town.

A typo is no big deal really but somehow this one gave me a “handle” of sorts and I grabbed it. After managing self-pardon and failing self-absolution, I saw in that typo a chance for redemption though reviewing the epidemic of cowardice-fueled intransigence we now endure all over the map. Nobody seems willing to face “accountability” but everyone “demands “ever more pay  for the “responsibility” the posts they “occupy” ostensibly makes them bear.

As it happens, I have an amusing little story illuminating that “epidemic”. It is a  story of an error made in Maclean’s, our “national mag”. It is a story of the Maclean’s QuizMaster refusing a ladder out of a deep “Fake Fact” sinkhole and, instead, resume digging.

Specifically, in the June 15, 2019 issue, the QuzMaster posed the question (“Round 2, item 3):

“Built in the 17 Century the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the “Blue Mosque”, is in which city?”

A picture of the “Mosque” figures is in the upper right corner of the Quiz page, leaving no doubt about what the quiz item is all about.

The “answer” is provided upside down in a footnote textbox, rolled over to dissuade cheating and to facilitate verification or discreditation of answers, as  applicable.  In this instance the “correct” response reads: “Istanbul”.

This is a serious screwup and the good Samaritan I am, I sought to help the QuizMaster out of the hole. I emailed as follows:

Instant-Bull:  QuizMaster afoul of History

The Maclean’s  Quiz Master got it all wrong in the June issue, supplanting inexplicable  ignorance for the scholarship expected from members of the Quiz Master’s Guild.

We are not talking about something trivial –  this is fake news about one of the Seven Wonders of the Mediaeval World, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire and the  seat of the Orthodox Christian Church which fueled the Byzantine Empire.  Given the sacred aspect  of this  matter, the QuizMaster must quickly repent, lest he/she be declared persona non-grata in Paradise and exiled to Hell.

To put it succinctly,  the picture illuminating  “Round 2. Prodigy question 3", shows Hagia Sophia, the Basilica built in the sixth century BC, which is a millennium and a century before the QuizMaster said it was built – eleven centuries is hard to miss. Moreover, it was not built in Istanbul as this did not exist until some 14 centuries later, and happened by “name change” as distinct from being built.

For the record, the pictured Basilica was built in Constantinople (“City of Constantine” the Great) . After the “Fall of Constantinople” this being a significant historical event,  the conquerors desecrated Hagia Sophia and turned it into a mosque so as to avert “diversity”. Later on, they changed the name of the city as well, from  Constantinople to Istanbul,  the latter being of indeterminate etymology. Just like changing the name of Haida Gwaii to Queen Charlotte Islands – name changing is popular with conquistadores.

On a lyrical note, the name-change of the historic city was reviewed in the song  “Istanbul  was Constantinople”. My favourite rendition of it being that by Frankie Laine (Quiz: “lead singer” of what group Laine was?)   Ok, never mind ...  but listen to it on Youtube, it is nice.

Tom Varzeliotis, upon Booth Canal, SaltSpring Island, far out, West.” [This was removed from the printed version to avert confusion]

In my rush to be brief, I did not mention that the structure at issue is no longer a mosque, either. It has been turned into a revenue-producing “Museum of Agia Sophia”.  The name-restoration is unrelated to “reconciliation” – it simply relates to  commercialization, tourist-ification and profit-maximization.

Lacking it appears what would take to admit an error and to  benefit from the facts thrown into his lap,  the QuizMaster opted for a cover up, as if doing that would launder the fake facts, this being a thoroughly unrealistic expectation. The QuizMaster went on digging himself deeper in the “hole”. In  the August edition, of the Mag, Quiz  Round 1, item 1 reads:

“The name of what large Eurasian city comes from a Greek phrase meaning “in the city”?

You guessed it right: “Istanbul”, of course! But the Quizmaster is again wrong

To begin with, the “Greek phrase” is misquoted – In Greek, “polis” is a city, any city, but “Polis” is a moniker for Constantinople (Constantinopolis) and, therefore in the context used comes with a capital ”P”.  Then this error mitigation, is made worse by that the Quiz-Wizard had been told that  “Istanbul” is “of indeterminate etymology”.

Wishing us all, and the Quiz-Wisards too, our  dreams come true in 2020.

TomV  “upon Booth Canal, SaltSpring Island, far out  West” (for consistency).

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