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Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:25 am
by Cheynem
The Penn Bowl discussion thread prompted me to start this thread. What are non-academic, non-traditional ways you have learned things for quizbowl (i.e., don't say things like "I read it in a book!").

Here's three for me:

1. I used to own a CD-ROM version of Risk, which actually was more enjoyable for playing a version of the game that had nothing to do with the familiar board game of Risk but was more of a straight up wartime scenario game. Most of the scenarios had to deal with the Napoleonic Wars in some way, and I usually played one scenario that required (if you were the French) to put down the "Vendee Counter-Revolt" before doing anything else. So that's how I've buzzed on the Vendee.

2. There is an episode of the Twilight Zone called "The Seventh is Made Up of Phantoms" about some modern day soldiers who travel back in time and die at Custer's Last Stand. For some reason, the modern day soldiers know like everything about Custer's Last Stand and before they realize what is happening, they keep commenting about the battle, mentioning things like "Reno" and "Benteen," which are both names I have buzzed on in several Little Big Horn tossups.

3. I used to watch the TV show "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." On one episode, Brisco works as a defense lawyer for one of his friends on trial for murder. I forget exactly how it goes, but at one point, he tries to use fingerprints in his defense. The judge asks him what evidence there is that such theories are true and Brisco's friend points out "Mark Twain said so in Pudd'nhead Wilson!" I actually own a copy of Pudd'nhead Wilson now (haven't read it), but I still remember that line very clearly. The episode had a chapter title (yes, Brisco County Jr. episodes were divided into chapters) called "Runaway Twain" too.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:06 am
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
I've told this story before, but it remains my favorite, and now that we are in the college section and I am not restricted against using profanity I can tell it in full:

At some point when I was an undergrad and didn't yet know much about eastern european history, my team was playing against Illinois A and got some bonus about Janos Hunyadi. We didn't do very well on it, but after hearing some of the clues, I made a remark to the effect of "wow, Janos Hunyadi sounds like a great man".

At which point Mike Sorice chimes in with "Oh yeah? If he's so great, why did he lose that one battle...fuck...what's it fucking called...fuck...fucking...(substantial pause)...FUCKING VARNA".

I went home that night, looked up the Battle of Varna, and the rest is history.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:44 am
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
I don't have a lot of specifics right now, but i just want to add that i cannot tell you how many actual academic clues (or, okay, pseudo-academic clues) i have picked up from The Simpsons.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:12 am
by ValenciaQBowl
I learned what "force majeure" is after hearing Bart declare it to be in effect to his friends when the washing machine went crazy and started chasing them.

As a kid in the mid-70s, I read Doonesbury in the paper and pored over my brothers book collections of that strip, which led me to learn a lot about Watergate, Vietnam, and other people and issues of that era that I still remember. And then there's Marvel Comics of that time period, particularly Thor, which provided the basis for my interest in Norse myth.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:56 am
by marnold
I have gotten multiple history toss-ups because I really, really like the game show Match Game - just looking up their jokes and references is unbeatable for learning late 70s and early 80s political current events.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:10 am
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
ValenciaQBowl wrote:And then there's Marvel Comics of that time period, particularly Thor, which provided the basis for my interest in Norse myth.
Oh yeah. This reminds me of the usefulness of the TV show Stargate SG-1, which I have gotten multiple mythology buzzes from.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:03 pm
by Habitat_Against_Humanity
To keep us busy during summer vacations when I was a kid, my step-dad who's a bit a military history fan, gave my brothers and me little historical/geographical worksheets, which included famous battles and capitals of the world and whatnot. The prize for successful completion was often a pack of 1992 Donruss Baseball cards, of which he had a never-ending supply, but this kept us motivated to the point where our battles for our home's historical atlas frequently resulted in fisticuffs. This (the knowledge skills rather than the fighting skills) enabled me to dominate middle-school and a good chunk of terrible high-school quiz bowl history and geography. He also introduced me to Civilization as well as the WWII game, Panzer General II, from which I've been able to glean what happened in the Battle of Suomassalmi and thus get Winter War tossups. Anyway, thanks for allowing me to wander aimlessly down memory lane.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:12 pm
by Red-necked Phalarope
One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:16 pm
by cornfused
Atlee Hammaker wrote:One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.
All of my Isambard Kingdom Brunel knowledge comes from Hark! A Vagrant.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:30 pm
by Papa's in the House
Reading Clive Cussler books has taught me many things, such as everything I know about quipus, Atahualpa, and Huascar (from reading Inca Gold).

I learned about Ken Saro-Wiwa by reading a case for my BADM449 (Business Policy and Strategy) course and have picked up tossups/bonus parts on him because of that.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:44 pm
by Susan
In the finals of ACF Nats in 2008, I got my team a bonus part on Catharine MacKinnon due to my early-90s reading of Sassy. Since that ended up being a five-point game, it's possible that had I chosen a less excellent magazine to subscribe to when I was 10, we might have lost the tournament.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:45 pm
by Rufous-capped Thornbill
Paging Peter Komarek.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:49 pm
by grapesmoker
Susan wrote:In the finals of ACF Nats in 2008, I got my team a bonus part on Catharine MacKinnon due to my early-90s reading of Sassy. Since that ended up being a five-point game, it's possible that had I chosen a less excellent magazine to subscribe to when I was 10, we might have lost the tournament.
:(

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:54 pm
by ValenciaQBowl
I learned about Ken Saro-Wiwa by reading a case for my BADM449 (Business Policy and Strategy) course and have picked up tossups/bonus parts on him because of that.
I'm intrigued--why would Saro-Wiwa come up in a case for such a business class? Did it have to do with his protests against Shell Oil?

I still won't get gas at a Shell because of their complicity in his execution. Bastards.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:59 pm
by ryanrosenberg
ValenciaQBowl, updated for a new generation of quizbowlers wrote:As a kid in the early 00s, I read Doonesbury in the paper and pored over my dad's book collections of that strip, which led me to learn a lot about Watergate, Vietnam, and other people and issues of that era that I still remember.
Just to poimt out how ridiculously long-lasting Doonesbury has been.
Edit: autocorrect sucks

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:02 pm
by Cheynem
An essential component of any education as a youngster of my generation is MAD Magazine, which due to the bizarre reprint strategy at times allows one to be exposed to stuff from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. I learned about Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude through a delightfully esoteric MAD Magazine parody which was something like "If Eugene O'Neill wrote the TV show Hazel" and the point of the parody was that the characters would talk to each other and then make snide Strange Interlude like asides to the audience all the time.

Doonesbury's helped a bit, mostly just through rote name association of people involved in various administrations. I keep waiting for trash questions to use clues about the symbols used to represent politicians in Doonesbury, but alas.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:12 pm
by marnold
Cheynem wrote:I keep waiting for trash questions to use clues about the symbols used to represent politicians in Doonesbury, but alas.
Haha, I wrote a bonus with this for my CO Trash but ended up scrapping it and just making it a toss-up instead.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:20 pm
by Important Bird Area
2009 VCU Open round 2 wrote:8. One poem by this author states “A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough / without ever having felt sorry for itself”, “Self Pity”. While in another, the sound of a woman singing in the dusk brings back childhood memories of the narrator sitting at his mother’s feet as she played and sang, “Piano”. More famous perhaps is one in which the title figures are described as “darkening the daytime, torch-like, with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s gloom”, “Bavarian Gentians”. But perhaps his most anthologized poem appears in his collection, Birds, Bees, and Flowers, and is about the narrator’s failure to kill the title creature, which “trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down over the edge of the stone trough”, “The Snake”. FTP, who is this English poet and novelist who wrote two novels about the Brangwen sisters and one about Constance Chatterly?
ANSWER: David Herbert Richard Lawrence
I answered this on the first clue (while playing against Andrew's team). Not because I'm a D.H. Lawrence expert (hahaha no), but because I saw that line of poetry in the signature of this birdforum.net poster.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:08 pm
by Papa's in the House
ValenciaQBowl wrote:
I learned about Ken Saro-Wiwa by reading a case for my BADM449 (Business Policy and Strategy) course and have picked up tossups/bonus parts on him because of that.
I'm intrigued--why would Saro-Wiwa come up in a case for such a business class? Did it have to do with his protests against Shell Oil?
Yes. The case focused on RDS's operations in Nigeria.

EDIT: If you couldn't guess, the case wasn't particularly pro-Saro-Wiwa activities.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:19 pm
by nandangokhale
A great way to learn Greek mythology is the old Sierra city-builder "Zeus: Master of Olympus" and its expansion, "Poseidon."

Another good way (no shame) is the Percy Jackson series by Riordan. Similarly, Plillippa Gregory's books are a very good source of Tudor history knowledge.

Probably why I get some questions about mythology and history and never any about literature.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:27 pm
by Edward Elric
Monty Python is pretty helpful for people who don't know anything about European History.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:58 pm
by DumbJaques
Papa's in the House wrote: Yes. The case focused on RDS's operations in Nigeria.

EDIT: If you couldn't guess, the case wasn't particularly pro-Saro-Wiwa activities.
Yeah, it sure was inconsiderate of him to ruin Shell's rope with his neck.

On a more relevant note, this.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:02 pm
by mhayes
I've learned quite a few things from Google's front page banners.

Consider today, for example. I now know stuff about Heinrich Hertz.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:57 pm
by The Ununtiable Twine
Any love of mythology that I have came from wondering what certain things in RPGs were named after. Consequently I have nontrivial knowledge about those things. Tales of Symphonia is a great source of Norse myth answerlines.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:00 pm
by The Ununtiable Twine
Fellow club member Seth Juneac also notes that he powers the occasional history tossup from clues based on games in the Assassin's Creed series and he powered the Book of Enoch once because he had played El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Video games are very educational, people!

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:06 pm
by Fond du lac operon
Atlee Hammaker wrote:One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.
I've gotten a tossup on "laying of the transatlantic cable" from the same strip.

I've also gotten bonus parts on Paul Grice (he's dead now) due to reading Dinosaur Comics.

I learned about Operation Gladio from last week's Archer, but it didn't come up at ACF Regionals :(. Maybe it will at Penn Bowl or something... (I did learn that Karl Landsteiner discovered blood groups from the same show, and that came up in practice once, so: still worth it.)


EDIT: Oh, and the only reason I know who Cesare Borgia is is that he's mentioned in Killah Priest's "B.I.B.L.E." at the end of GZA's Liquid Swords, and I've managed to snag tossups at the end because I know he's the "second son of Pope Alexander." I should probably look him up for real, though.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:16 pm
by ACPackers
I've learned quite a bit of mythology just by reading The secrets of the immortal nicholas flamel series

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:23 pm
by Chimango Caracara
I've gotten two tossups on Prague because I've been to Prague.

I got a bonus part where the answer was "Josiah Bounderby" without knowing that he was from Hard Times because as a kid my dad would often affect a pompous voice and say, "I'm Josiah Bounderby, of Coketown."

Most of my knowledge of medieval British history is derived from Shakespeare. And I got a tossup on The Mill on the Floss without knowing anything about it because of jokes from the Thursday Next series. So I guess I read those things in books but they weren't the right books so they are probably odd enough to be discussed here.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:02 pm
by The Ununtiable Twine
What is it like to be a Batman? wrote:
Atlee Hammaker wrote:One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.
EDIT: Oh, and the only reason I know who Cesare Borgia is is that he's mentioned in Killah Priest's "B.I.B.L.E." at the end of GZA's Liquid Swords, and I've managed to snag tossups at the end because I know he's the "second son of Pope Alexander." I should probably look him up for real, though.
Or you could play Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and that'll give you a sufficient amount of Cesare Borgia knowledge.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:07 pm
by itsthatoneguy
Therizinosaurus wrote:I've gotten two tossups on Prague because I've been to Prague.
Yeah, definitely going to places helps. I remember getting a tossup on Fallingwater at PACE NSC after visiting it the day before on the drive down to Fairfax. This also really helps when playing visual tournaments such as Eyes that Do Not See.

Spongebob is always enlightening as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcC8Nnut5ag

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:12 pm
by cornfused
I still get a good 20% of my literature buzzes from Wishbone.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:35 pm
by touchpack
itsthatoneguy wrote:
Therizinosaurus wrote:I've gotten two tossups on Prague because I've been to Prague.
Spongebob is always enlightening as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcC8Nnut5ag
I will see your Spongebob, and raise you an American Dad

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:54 pm
by cornfused
touchpack wrote:and raise you an American Dad
aaand now I'm going to be humming that for the rest of the day.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:25 pm
by AKKOLADE
cornfused wrote:
Atlee Hammaker wrote:One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.
All of my Isambard Kingdom Brunel knowledge comes from Hark! A Vagrant.
I'm pretty sure these are the only reasons I'm aware of anything that's actually useful in any way.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:46 pm
by Gaterion
I have a reputation for this because I've answered a lot of really strange things. The problem is that I hardly remember what I get at tournaments. I know about the now-obscure but famous-in-his-time French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau because I follow the blog of James Gurney, who wrote Dinotopia. He writes about realist artists a lot, which is really interesting because no one cares about those people in modern art. I also know about Journey to the West because of a comic book adaptation of it I read as a child. There are definitely more examples of this, but these are all I could think up right now.

Basically, I have broad interests and read a lot of blogs. If I recall any more instances, I'll be sure to let you know.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:01 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
Susan wrote:In the finals of ACF Nats in 2008, I got my team a bonus part on Catharine MacKinnon due to my early-90s reading of Sassy. Since that ended up being a five-point game, it's possible that had I chosen a less excellent magazine to subscribe to when I was 10, we might have lost the tournament.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:58 pm
by Black-throated Antshrike
Papa's in the House wrote:Reading Clive Cussler books has taught me many things, such as everything I know about quipus, Atahualpa, and Huascar (from reading Inca Gold).

I learned about Ken Saro-Wiwa by reading a case for my BADM449 (Business Policy and Strategy) course and have picked up tossups/bonus parts on him because of that.
This applies for me too, until I finally realized that all of his Kurt Austin and Dirk Pitt books have the same exact plot. Also, the Isaac Bell series is pretty good to pick up on things around the turn of the century, XKCD is pretty good for picking up random sciency things, and House is pretty good for coming up with obscure diseases. Also, I've learned a lot of things from watching British and Japanese television shows.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:42 pm
by Charbroil
cornfused wrote:
Atlee Hammaker wrote:One of my better buzzes, powering Isambard Kingdom Brunel at Gunpei Yokoi, was actually an artifact of my deep Achewood knowledge.
All of my Isambard Kingdom Brunel knowledge comes from Hark! A Vagrant.
Mine comes from Railroad Tycoon.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:14 am
by grapesmoker
DumbJaques wrote:On a more relevant note, this.
The comment mentioned in point 6 was in fact by me, for the record.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:19 pm
by Fond du lac operon
Therizinosaurus wrote:Most of my knowledge of medieval British history is derived from Shakespeare. And I got a tossup on The Mill on the Floss without knowing anything about it because of jokes from the Thursday Next series. So I guess I read those things in books but they weren't the right books so they are probably odd enough to be discussed here.
If that's allowed, I'll note that I've gotten questions on Bernini because of long digressive discussions of Ecstasy of St. Teresa and The Rape of Proserpina in Infinite Jest. Maybe when I finally get a copy of Broom of the System it'll plug the holes in my 20th-century philosophy knowledge. (And The Pale King will teach me about... the IRS? I don't know.)

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:38 pm
by mhayes
I don't know if this counts, but I've learned a few things from the Mathematics Genealogy Project. I'm a descendent of mathematicians like Karl Weierstrass and Andrey Kolmogorov, so I read more about them because of this.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:46 pm
by Scaled Flowerpiercer
I like learning things as a result of reading these quizbowl fora, I got a question recently [In practice I believe, not a tournament] on Auden as a result of reading that very long argument about that first line buzzer race and picking up a few facts through that.

I also like learning things less from strange media but by strange coincidence of hearing about it / it coming up around the same time, as the below shows:

soon before last year's national history bowl, a teammate of ours, Dan, got a sort of obsession with historical figures named Dan, and thus, after listening to him talk about Daniel D Tompkins for a week, we got the one question about him at the Nationaly History Bowl.,

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:58 pm
by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region
I was definitely introduced to/learned about the following things because of pro wrestling, and I credit getting several tossups on these subjects to internalizing them at a fairly young age. Off the top of my head:

Bolshevism/Khrushchev/Zhukov/Communism in general
Samoa/Iran/the Sudan/Uganda/several other countries
The capitals/major cities of Canadian provinces
The Diet of Japan
The flag of Lebanon
Zeus and Hercules
Berzerkers
My Dinner With Andre

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:58 pm
by tintinnabulation
I picked up a question about Langley, VA from reading SKELETON KEY, one of the Alex Rider books. Something about a receipt. Also, we won a championship tiebreaker on a question I answered about the Gershwin Award, which I had just watched on TV the previous month. I didn't think that it was worth knowing about at the time.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:35 am
by Holla!
I successfully identified Fiddler on the Roof from a song or namethat I heard from the episode (Jews and Chinese Food) of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai and Luke are working on the set of the Stars Hollow Elementary production of Fiddler and Kirk is starring as Tevye.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:59 am
by cornfused
MNtoNU wrote:I successfully identified Fiddler on the Roof from a song or namethat I heard from the episode (Jews and Chinese Food) of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai and Luke are working on the set of the Stars Hollow Elementary production of Fiddler and Kirk is starring as Tevye.
I award you ten points and my compliments, sir.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:14 pm
by Rufous-capped Thornbill
MNtoNU wrote:I successfully identified Fiddler on the Roof from a song or namethat I heard from the episode (Jews and Chinese Food) of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai and Luke are working on the set of the Stars Hollow Elementary production of Fiddler and Kirk is starring as Tevye.
Oh my God this is the best.

I guess I should add something instead of just gushing. The amount of tossups I got through reading comics, especially in high school, is pretty absurd, including powering Heimdall from having read the short "Tales of Asgard" sections in old Thor comics and buzzing in on a Chopin tossup thanks to reading a Captain America comic from the 40s where the Red Skull played Chopin's funeral march before killing people.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:28 pm
by Chimango Caracara
nandangokhale wrote:A great way to learn Greek mythology is the old Sierra city-builder "Zeus: Master of Olympus" and its expansion, "Poseidon."
Oh man, I loved those games. Also, "Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom" is a good source of Chinese history/mythology knowledge. And you can keep saiga antelope and giant salamanders in your menagerie.

"Age of Mythology" is an even better way to learn about mythology.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:24 pm
by tintinnabulation
I'm just waiting to get something historical off of an episode of Doctor Who. It's bound to happen sometime.

Re: Odd Ways of Learning Things

Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:48 pm
by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode
Therizinosaurus wrote:
nandangokhale wrote:A great way to learn Greek mythology is the old Sierra city-builder "Zeus: Master of Olympus" and its expansion, "Poseidon."
Oh man, I loved those games. Also, "Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom" is a good source of Chinese history/mythology knowledge. And you can keep saiga antelope and giant salamanders in your menagerie.

"Age of Mythology" is an even better way to learn about mythology.
I learned a good amount of my norse myth knowledge from reading a guidebook for age of mythology :/