Thursday, October 1, 2009

NPR Puzzle -- 09/27/09 What's in a name?

This week's puzzle:
Take the family name of a famous world leader in history. Drop the last letter, then switch the last two letters that remain. The result will name the country that this leader led. Who is it and what is the country?
The answers are CHIANG Kai-Shek and CHINA.

As I said on Sunday, Ross and I had a couple problems with this puzzle. One's the name, and the other is the country. Other than that, of course, it's GREAT!

Let's start with the name. Clearly, solving this puzzle requires one to know that the family name comes first in Chinese names. That part's good -- we should all be aware of cultural differences among countries and their peoples. The difficulty is, we require transliteration to get from a name in Chinese characters to a name in our alphabet. As anyone old enough to remember when the capital of China was Peking knows, these things are a bit fluid. According to Wikipedia, Chiang Kai-shek had lots of names, many with the family name Jiang. That's just a difference in transliteration.

But, okay, most Westerners would know him as Chiang Kai-shek. But whose country is he most associated with -- China or Taiwan? He was the leader of both countries, but the puzzle is worded to suggest he led only one. I'm no diplomat, but even I know it can get sticky if one says Taiwan is China. I suspect NPR will get an email or two in protest.

I'm not suggesting the puzzle is wrong, just a bit simplistic. But enh -- it's a puzzle, not the UN. Let's move on.

Here are some asters, the wildflower for autumn around here -- well, discounting golden rod, which makes people sneeze and so is justly reviled! These particular asters were growing just along our little dirt road last October -- really the only bit of color all year long in that spot. Such a simple flower except for the color, which the photograph doesn't really do justice. You're just going to have to trust me.

Here's the value added puzzle for this week. Working off the theme of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I clued two-word phrases (with one exception) where U appeared once in the first word, and P appeared once in the second. Here are the answers:

Ben Franklin founded this (with "of") (10, 12) University of Pennsylvania (I'm an alumna; I had to include it, despite its not being two words!)

There's one in Cape Canaveral (6, 3) launch pad

Nanny from Europe (2, 4) au pair

A bunch of girls doing everything but sleep (7, 5) slumber party

This eliminates two runners (6, 4) double play

An error in communication that reveals more than one intended (8, 4) Freudian slip

Shiftless TV addict (5, 6) couch potato

Used to prevent frost in the orchard (5, 4) smudge pots

Trains, buses, and the subway (6, 14) public transportation

McDonald's offering (7, 7) quarter pounder

Flat with up and down? (6, 9) duplex apartment

Eat here & get gas? (5, 4) truck stop

You can tell it holds eight ounces (9, 3) measuring cup

Foodie's facial hair? (6, 5) mutton chops

Kind of stock? (4, 4) blue chip


Natasha said...

I waited for my call. Alas, another week without one. Enjoyed your discussion of the puzzle answer.

Dan said...

I was asked to post the answer I thought was right, in my head, but in a rush to prepare my accounting lesson; Roxie got it, after I submitted, and I was humbled.

MSG: Simón Bolívar, Bolivia

Magdalen said...

Thanks, Natasha.

Dan -- Wasn't Bolivar actually British or something funky like that. {Cue the muzak while I check Wiki...} Nope, I'm dead wrong on that, but while looking that up, I discovered the South American liberator/dictator (it's a fine line...), Bernardo O'Higgins. Helped to liberate Chile. Bolivar was born in Caracas; O'Higgins elsewhere in S.A.; his ancestry was Irish and Basque, but he never lived in Ireland.

At lunch today (I serve on the Board of Directors for a not-for-profit health provider locally; the annual luncheon was today) I sat next to a new board member who, through his job in the state health department, had worked with indigenous people in Mexico and Central America. On the other side of him was another new board member, a lovely woman from Bogota, Colombia. At one point my lunch companion asked her how she felt about Hugo Chavez. "I just love him," he announced with pride. (Chavez does a lot of outreach to the indigenous people in Venezuela.) She blanched in horror and sternly instructed him not to mention that name!

Elsewhere at the table was a former board member (roughly in her 70s, I would guess) who was all worried that Rio was going to be unsafe as the host city for the Olympics because of all the "gamines" in the area. I'm pretty sure she'd never actually been south of Mexico.

Hopefully we'll all learn more about South America as a result of the 2016 Olympics so that some of our North American assumptions can get corrected. But that's still not going to make Bolivar the answer to the puzzle. Sorry, Dan!

henry.blancowhite said...

Aunt Jane once told me that when she lived in Singapore, in the local dialect of Chinese he was pronounced "Jongky Shaw." Is Taiwan China? Legally, it is "Taiwan, Republic of China." Historically, it is the only part of Nationalist China that was not overrun by the Communist People's Republic of China (which is how Taiwan got Chiang). Politically, the PRC government gets very upset if anybody suggests that Taiwan is *not* part of China, because the PRC wants to absorb Taiwan, and that's much harder if they admit it's an independent country.