Questions for January 2016

Another new year, another new month, another set of silly questions. Feel free to post comments. Answers next month.

  1. How many times does the word “and” occur in the text of Moby Dick?
  2. How did Peter the Great encourage his peasants to visit his new museums in (his new) St Petersburg?
  3. At the end of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, a children’s choir emotionally sang “Goodbye, sweet Misha” while a giant balloon in the shape of Misha, the cute bear mascot of the Games, floated up and out of the stadium. Whatever happened to Misha?
  4. What unusual message was the Town Crier of Goslar, Germany obliged to announce on certain days?
  5. The Joneses have two children; I know that their elder child is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too? The Smiths have two children and one of them is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too?
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11 comments

  1. Dr Bob’s Answers –

    1. 6,295 times. Arrhhh, aha, have ye seen a Whoite Whale?

    2. He gave away free tea with vodka in it (or a glass of wine) for all visitors

    3. Poor Misha floated out of the stadium, across Moscow and drifted to land in an outer suburb some hours later, where it was stored in a warehouse. Nobody knew what to do with him and eventually (or, possibly, rapidly) he was eaten by rats.

    4. He had to remind people not to urinate in the river, on the day before beer was to be made.

    5. 1/2, and then 1/3. Unless any of them become transgendered.

  2. 1. In the unexpurgated version the line “Then I found an odd sock under my hammock and I saw it was odd because it wasn’t full of seamen” was thrown overboard by the editor.

    2. And where would we be without these innovative, agile 21st Century entrepreneurs? The bikini clad, parking meter paying strumpets. Dragged them in by the thousands.

    3. Tested positive for performance enhancing helium and was banned for life.

    4. Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale.

    5. {w+x-4xy – 12g } x [A4 / f3 ] Where w = who, g = gives, A= a and f=fuck.

  3. 1) Using my amazing powers of deduction plus a basic word processor (of failing that, Microsoft Word), the answer is 5912 for the complete text of the book. But I would also start to wonder… WHY, Dr Bob, do you need to know this information? Something to do with an Icelandic Hitler on the Titanic?

    2) The obvious, and incorrect, answer is Peter-the-Gr8 had the peasants forced to visit the museums at the end of a whip. What actually happened was he piqued their bovine curiosity by collecting a whole lot of examples of malformed foetuses and stillborns and put them on display as examples of natural deformities. It preceded the Barnum and Bailey freak shows by centuries. Some of the freakier examples in the collection have since gone on to become US Republican presidential candidates in 2016.

    3) Misha the inflatable bear went into gulag orbit for 34 years, first on one of the later Salyut space stations, then Mir, and finally he was quietly exiled to a sealed off section on the ISS. He returned for a mawkish encore at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the insistence of the (amazing, brilliant, courageous, strong, p.b.u.h.) leadership then in effect. Even the Russians tried not to puke.

    4) They, both men and women criers, were required to exclaim the following spell against bad beer: “Hiermit ward bekannt gemaket, dat kaaner in die Gose kaket, denn morgen wird gebraut.” Very loosely translated, it means if you shit in the beer then YOU get to drink it. Germans are particular about their beer, which is an excellent thing. Prosit!

    5) The surname Jones tends to be associated with Welsh heredity, whereas Smith is more Midlands UK in origin. Based entirely on hearsay and biased negativities, the conclusion can be drawn that there will be most likely two official girls in the Jones family home but a lot more in other homes to whom the Jones DNA has been contributed. The Smith family will have only one girl. That’s all that is needed in any family.

    Dr Bob, it is I, the inscrutable Dave Hawley! I intend to return every month from now on – a New Year’s resolution. Huzzah!

  4. Well there’s something in that if they pool their resources. At the end of The Guns of Navarone which I saw in 1963 – yes, I have a memory like that of an elephant – the German big guns fire two shots and the shells land symmetrically each side of the leading ship. OK it’s a miss … but not good news.

  5. Further to TF Siaf’s comments about statisticians, did you hear the gag about the 3 statisticians who went target shooting? They were hopeless at it. The first one’s shot went a metre to the right. The second one’s shot went a metre to the left. At which the third one yelled out “YES, GOT HIMMMMMMM” LOL

  6. 1. Originally none, but by the time the editors had finished with it, who knows?

    2. PTG’s museum had more in common with Barnum & Bailey’s circus than a museum as we know it. Peasants were given the chance to be embalmed and displayed if they were odd enough in appearance to draw the attention of a curious public.

    3. Misha became a prop in a Flaming Lips Concert. I recognised the noble beast at the Palais on Friday night.

    4. ‘We’re brewing today so we don’t need your piss as well.Piss off!” I believe that the populace ignored the direction to piss downstream of the brewery, and after a taste test colloquially referred to the local product as ‘piss’. The name has stuck.

    5. My principal stats lecturer at uni was a Mr Jones. who defined a statistician as a person who saw someone with their head in the oven and their feet in the fridge and concluded they were ‘on average quite comfortable ‘. The other lecturers were Mrs Jones and Mr Smith, which on average are the sorts of names you’d expect for stats academics. None of them had kids so I can’t answer the question from personal observation, but I’d guess on average 1 in 2..

  7. 1.How many times does the word “and” occur in the text of Moby Dick?

    Doctor to glum-looking sailor. “You’ll have to stay out of those knocking shops when in port as you have a severe case of Moby Dick”.

    2.How did Peter the Great encourage his peasants to visit his new museums in (his new) St Petersburg?

    “So you scummy peasants don’t want to see my lovely museum then? Just remember I’m the same guy who sentenced his own son to be executed that’s all”

    3.At the end of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, a children’s choir emotionally sang “Goodbye, sweet Misha” while a giant balloon in the shape of Misha, the cute bear mascot of the Games, floated up and out of the stadium. Whatever happened to Misha?

    Putin shot it.

    4.What unusual message was the Town Crier of Goslar, Germany obliged to announce on certain days?

    “Vee haf vays und means off making you tock. Sorry guys, just kidding.”

    5.The Joneses have two children; I know that their elder child is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too? The Smiths have two children and one of them is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too?

    I really do know a Jones with 3 kids – all boys and a Smith – no kids at all. So please how about some real-world accuracy here Doctor B?”

  8. 1. Trick question. In the first edition, there was a typo, the book finished with ‘The And’.
    2. In Russia, the museum comes to you.
    3. There were a lot of references to ‘Misha’ or something close to it in Star Wars episode I, which no doubt contributed to the popularity of that movie.
    4. Before he gave the traffic report, he was the first person to include ads.
    5. Since slightly more boys are born than girls, this will change the odds. Especially if you include the probability of identical twins. Or if Smith and Jones were born in a society that prefers one sex in their children over another, and so on.

  9. (1) deroff -w mobydick.txt | grep -ic ‘^and$’ # Is this the most geeky answer ?

    (3) Disqualified for taking anabolic steroids? I mean, how else is a bear going to float? Huh? Huh?

    (5) Well the correct answer based on only that information is 50-50 for both parents, but more importantly, what names were they given? Something reasonable like Sue or Jane, or something completely wanked like Ikthea or Kyyyliiiie?

  10. 1. 8,000. Moby and Dick occur 90 times each, but Moby Dick only 89 times. It is spelled Moby-Dick once.
    2. By not having them put to death.
    3. The balloon was shot down as a hazard to air traffic.
    4. That Krampus would eat them if they were bad.
    5. 1/2 and 1/3.

  11. 1.How many times does the word “and” occur in the text of Moby Dick?
    A1. If ‘and’ appeared anywhere you would not ask the question, Dr Bob, so I plump for none.

    2.How did Peter the Great encourage his peasants to visit his new museums in (his new) St Petersburg?
    A2. By offering free hermitage for all his wine drinking peasants.

    3.At the end of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, a children’s choir emotionally sang “Goodbye, sweet Misha” while a giant balloon in the shape of Misha, the cute bear mascot of the Games, floated up and out of the stadium. Whatever happened to Misha?
    A3. Misha became the first module of the International Space Station, thus enabling the cunning Russkies to get back at the boycotting Yanks by forcing later US astronauts to acknowledge Russian space superiority as they entered Misha’s airlock.

    4.What unusual message was the Town Crier of Goslar, Germany obliged to announce on certain days?
    A4. It is a little known fact that the Goslar town crier’s cry was the inspiration for Monty Python’s ‘bring out your dead’ sketch, except the Goslar bloke wasn’t joking.

    5.The Joneses have two children; I know that their elder child is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too? The Smiths have two children and one of them is a girl; what is the chance that the other one is a girl too?
    A5. All depends on Mr Jones and Mr Smith’s genes or DNA or something, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m sure the Smiths and Joneses all enjoyed themselves creating their children and probably did not give a solitary stuff about girl or boy chances.

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