Questions for October 2013

My quiz for October 2013 – please have a go and post a comment! (As I already know the answers, I prefer wit or sarcasm). I have to moderate the postings to avoid spam (and abuse), but I will try to do that quickly. The real answers will appear in November.

  1. Brazil exports 9 million barrels of ethanol to the USA annually, of which only 7 million are used; what happens to the other 2 million?
  2. Captain Beefheart came to disown his later pop-style efforts such as Bluejeans & Moonbeams – what did he tell fans to do with this record?
  3. Evelyn Waugh, as a young journalist got a brilliant scoop on Mussolini’s forthcoming invasion of Abyssinia, so for security he telegraphed it in Latin to the Daily Mail in London – where did they run the story?
  4. When Lord Castlereagh committed suicide, his motive for doing so was variously guessed as: overwork, temporary insanity, blackmail, and what else?
  5. In hara-kiri (Japanese suicide by beheading), optimally the head is not cut right off but a small flap of skin is left joined up – why?


    1. Those 2 million barrels are exported back to Brazil.
    2. Told fans to take the record back to the shop & ask for their money back.
    3. They didn’t – not understanding what on earth it was about, they ditched it.
    4. “Eating too much hot buttered toast for breakfast”
    5. So that the detached head does not roll across the room in an unseemly fashion. (and yes, I meant seppuku)

  2. Presume that was only when George Bush was in power then?

    To make a rapid sexual departure and take the record with them.

    Back in the 1930s one of the Mails more infamous headlines was “Hurray for the Blackshirts” so they probably wouldn’t have run it at all. Mustn’t offend Adolf and Benito you know.

    He’d just been informed another Dan Brown was coming out.

    Never too late to change your mind you know….

  3. 1. Brazil of course exports millions of Litres of ethanol annually. But it is a volatile substance. First there is much evaporation as the US importers convert Litres to liters (a risky process because of flammability), secondly loss also occurs as the liters are converted to U.S. Gallons. A US gallon of course is less than an imperial gallon (3.79L vs 4.576L). It was widely believed that to make the process easier and avoid such evaporation the Brazilians exported the ethanol in US gallons, but the USA then imported the ethanol in imperial gallons thus accounting for the missing millions of litres. The real reason of course is that the sailors on the bulk carriers are all drunks and run a cheap sly grog trade.
    2. Captain Beefheart was of course inspired by British homosexual foreign secretaries and took his name from the inspiring poem by Percy Shelley (vide infra). Seeking commercial success by writing music that would sell to the masses the magic band produced the forgettable albums to which Bob refers. But overcome with LSD inspired chaotic emotions le vie repudiated the best music he ever produced because the band was musical instead of shaking the listeners from their torpor. Anyway to get publicity he suggested consumers seek financial redress.
    3. Evelyn Waugh converted to Catholicism in 1930. He did have a scoop but sent it to the daily mail for whom he worked in Latin (apparently a common trick used by the british foreign services) knowing fully that only the catholic countries would have the resources to translate the ‘scoop’. This of course meant that those bastions of freedom (Spain and Italy) would know of him blowing the ‘secret’ well before anyone in Engnand. However the daily mail still withheld the story in case it destroyed Mussolini’s surprise advantage in driving out Haile Sallassi. (Whom Waugh ridiculed in ‘Black Mischief’)
    4. Gout – terrible disease makes your joints excruciatingly painful you know. A more likely reason of course is GPI – general paralysis of the insane. A form of tertiary syphilis that filled the mental institutions of Europe and which might develop 15-60 years after the primary infection. This is much more likely than other forms of psychosis, but the aristocracy would not like the luetic branches of their noble trees identified. Note that Shelley wrote a poem in which Stewart was distributing beef hearts to fattened sycophants –
    5. Suicide by beheading – rally Dr Bob – a bit technically difficult unless one rents a guillotine or similar device. What did happen with seppuku is that a faithful retainer might strike off the head after the suicide had attempted to severe his abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava using a short sword with ricepaper wrapped around the blade to protect the hand. Leaving a strip of skin attaching the head can really only be accomplished if a blade and sawing action is employed. Chopping with a sword or axe may leave intact skin muscle or bone of the instrument is insufficiently sharp, or enough force is not used. decapitation with a knife is achieved by cutting through the intervertebral disk, and the ligaments of the posterior facet joints. Chopping relies upon having sufficient force to break the bone of the c-spine, and sufficient sharpness to cut the ligaments.

  4. Aha! A trick question at last! Hara-kiri is NOT beheading, but disembowelment. Now trying to find a circumcision gag to relate “head” and “small flap of skin” but I’m not as clever as you, Bob.

    And as for your Evelyn Waugh story, Bob – believe what you read in the Daily Hate Mail (as it’s commonly called in England due to its extreme negativity) at your own peril. In any language. Quo usque tandem abutere, Roberto, patientia nostra? (Loose translation: How much longer, Bob, do we have to listen to this crap?).

  5. 1. The ethanol is converted into ceremonial headgear for christian fish symbol adherents, namely replica trout masks.

    2. The good Captain Beefheart, (a.k.a. Rehab Face Patient) implored his fan (you know who you are) to recycle them into ethanol. Hakuna Matata.

    3. In the music review section, mistaking it for the latinised version of the 1938 Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal classic “Abyssinia in all the old familiar places”.

    4. The fear that Lord Byron wanted to initiate him into the “pleasures” of golden showers and a General Obsession with Unimportant Trifles.

    5. To prevent the head flying off and landing in the various noodle dishes prepared for the post-mortem wake. This embarrassing loss of face is known as chop sooeycide

  6. 1. They don’t get used. Duh.
    2. Soak them in alcohol and mail them to Abyssinia. Then commit hara-kiri for reasons of permanent insanity (being a Captain Beefheart fan qualifies people for that).
    3. Religious matters. Not because of the Latin – because it was the Daily Mail, and it was about Mussolini.
    4. Loneliness – no one wrote to him because they could not spell his name
    5. Because full beheading is for common criminals. What did they do to double murderers? There’s only one other head left to cut off…

Have a go!

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