We'll lead off with our annual winter quiz. And remember, all seven in the win column rates you as a Renaissance Person for the season in your neighborhood and up the next block. (Ever wonder if scratching your head works? Give it a try.)

1. He was a Phi Beta Kappa and All-American football player at Rutgers; a concert singer and a stage and screen actor. His name was A) Morgan Freeman; B) Paul Robeson; C) John Raitt; D) Harry Belafonte.

2. Which one of these rivers flows eastward? A) the Missouri; B) the Tennessee; C) the Columbia; D) the Ohio.

3. All else being equal, on which planet would a high jumper have the most difficulty leaping?

A) Mars; B) Venus; C) Mercury; D) Saturn.

4. Our scientists first split an atom in December 1942 in a laboratory located A) in the New Mexico desert; B) under the stadium at the University of Chicago; C) in a concrete bunker outside Orlando, Fla; D) at Mission Control in Austin, Texas.

5. Whose sport is played with the smallest ball? A) David Beckham's; B) Michael Jordan's; C) Eli Manning's; D) Rafael Nadal's.

6. The famous Three Stooges were Moe, Curly and A) Chub-Chub; B) Blinky; C) Itchy; D) Larry.

7. Which Shakespeare character was told to beware of the Ides of March? A) Macbeth; B) Hamlet; C) King Lear; D) Julius Caesar.

(Answers further down)

MEANWHILE, it may be time to resurrect that adage about people not remembering history being doomed to repeat it. There's a fellow in Washington encouraging Congress members to limit their decision-making concerning taxes and government spending.

The suggestion is that by turning the calendar back to pre-Teddy Roosevelt days of 1900 most of our government activities and regulations would be trimmed enough to save billions upon billions. Plus, there was no income tax then. But then, there weren't a lot of other things, either: no child labor laws in most states: 12-year-olds could quit school and work 12-hour days in a factory or a coal mine. Why not? No regulations prevented it.

No Meat Inspection Act. Read Upton Sinclair's book, "The Jungle," and learn about unhealthy meat packaging and canning in the early days. Workman's compensation? There were no government regulations bothering company owners about things like that. Workers just had to be careful. After all, accidents slowed down production. And Social Security was still 35 years in the future. People were supposed to save for their old age! Oh, and try hard not to get sick!

Of course, there can be too much government regulation at times. But how much is too much? It may depend on whether one is writing or receiving the paychecks.

Quiz answers: 1-B; 2-A; 3-D; 4-B; 5-D; 6-D; 7-D.

Concerning No. 1, watch the film "Showboat" and listen to Paul Robeson singing "Ol' Man River" ... a moving musical treat!

Contact Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.