Answers for October 1999

From a wide field of excellent answers it was difficult to pick a winner, but this month’s Bent Banana of Skepticism goes to

Fred Pilcher

Question 1

If a Japanese man’s body is heavily tattooed, then he is probably either a gangster or … what?

Correct Answers:

  • Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. Please go on with the question.
  • … not a gangster. ‘Struth, they’re easy this month.
  • Another gangster.
  • A FORMER gangster.
  • A fire fighter or carpenter. It seems that Edo firefighters had a predilection for full body tattoos, normally featuring protective water dragons or carp, etc.

Alternative Correct Answer That Was News to Dr Bob:

  • One of the Ainu, the indigenous inhabitants of Japan that live in Hokkaido. Tattooing is a VERY highly developed art there, and is considered a “gift from the gods”.

Answers That Paint an Alternative Picture:

  • A comic book. The Japanese are among the world’s largest consumers of comics and some of them are such hard-core fans that they have their favourite comics permanently tattooed on their bodies. What is particularly interesting is that the comics are tatooed from right to left, rather than from left to right as we tattoo our comics in the west.
  • A hypochondriac who has been treated with dirty acupuncture needles.
  • A masochist … those needle really hurt.
  • A victim of severe anthropogenic subdermal anthracosis.
  • An idiot. Every heavily tattooed person I have met has either been a Japanese gangster or an idiot. Okay, so I haven’t met any Japanese gangsters but I have met some heavily tattooed people.
  • Hoping to become a lampshade.
  • One of the Illustrated Men. Beware!
  • Proof that New Zealanders can swim further than Tasmania.
  • A Chichichurian laborer
  • Regretful

Question 2

After the first emperor of China (Ch’in) had the Great Wall built, he was taken to inspect it. Why did his procession of vehicles also carry fish?

Correct Answers:

  • Near the end of Ch’in’s life, he toured the country, including an inspection of the Great Wall. Sadly, his life was closer to the end than he expected and he died on the journey. To conceal his death until his return to the capital, his body was covered in salted fish to hide the smell of rotting flesh.
  • The fish traveled along with his sealed conveyance because it was hot and various courtiers felt that the local populace might figure out from the smell that the First Emperor was actually the ex-First Emperor, and decide to well up in rebellion before said courtiers figured out which among them would be Second Emperor. Then a Han peasant eventually came along and . . . but that’s another story.

Alternative Answers Exploiting a Weakness in the Question:

  • They had no other way of getting there.
  • Because they weren’t well-trained enough to follow along behind, like the pandas.
  • Because the Chinese didn’t have any bicycles, so the fish had to be carried.
  • Because the fish weren’t willing to get out and walk on their own. What is your source? [Bearnaise] I doubt that any contemporary cargo inventories are still available.

Equally Fishy Answers:

  • Because it was a titanic construction. [Groan … This reminds me, I haven’t found any more questions to ask about that doomed vessel lately – probably done the lot]
  • Having the fish meant he didn’t have to walk all the way back home again for lunch, and he could also share them with his cormorant companions.
  • He had a lot of cats.
  • He had designed the Great Wall as a fish restraining device, a la the Australian dingo fence. He was attempting to empty all the fish in China over the other side.
  • He had to remind himself of one of his concubines – who he always regarded as a “cold fish”.
  • He liked fish.
  • He took fish with him, knowing how many of his loyal country men had given their all, to create such a wonderful wall. He wanted to show his gratitude for their hard work by rewarding them with a girft of meaning and practicality. I don’t know about you but to him there was only one gift that could do such a thing…… fish!
  • In case they got hungry on the way. The Great Wall is quite long, after all. [Very considerate to care for the fish in this way. But what would the fish eat? – other fish I suppose … maybe that’s why they took so many fish]
  • Is this a surrealist question? I’m sure I remember some joke that went “How many people did it take to build Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s Great Wall?” and that the surrealist answer was “fish”.
  • Because his advisors kept CARPing about the cost – So he could SCALE the heights – To make sure it was FINished – When they gave him the bill, he wanted to MULLET over before he paid it – To make sure he had a WHALE of a time – The PORPOISE is lost in the mists of time. (I realise the last two weren’t actually about fish, but no-one’s perfect)
  • Something about an ancient and very secret Chinese fish-slapping dance
  • They didn’t – it was the fish that carried the vehicles. The ancient Chinese never domesticated the horse. Instead, by years of selective breeding, they developed a species of carp that breathed air, had legs, and was strong enough to pull wagons. Perhaps not surprisingly, these carp looked remarkably like horses as the famous terracotta statues of them show. Sadly, none of these remarkable fish have survived through to modern times.
  • They only started of with a couple of fish and some loaves, but they picked up this Jewish bloke on the way, and he insisted on doing his party trick for them.

Question 3

What is wrong with the Biblical story that Moses as a baby was found in a basket of bulrushes floating on the river Nile?


Lots of things, including

  • Bulrushes aren’t found in the Nile.
  • Bulrushes and babies don’t float.
  • The crocodiles would have eaten him long before.
  • Moses was a mythical character anyway.
  • He would have died from all the toxins, effluent, bilharzia and assorted nasties floating in that open sewer.
  • How could they have known his name was Moses, it could have been Pappy Russ or anything.
  • Moses was meant to have written the book that describes the story of his own miraculous survival. Not that that sort of minor detail is unusual in the Bible – he also wrote the book that describes his death and also the one describing what happened while he was away on Mt Sinai getting the first installment of the 10C.
  • The same thing that is wrong with the rest of the Bible. There are inconsistently reported events, factual errors, and evidence that the stories were modified to suit their audience.
  • Pharoah was an extremely gullible man. How many other men would accept their daughter’s claim that they “found the baby floating in a basket on the river”. “Basket”, one would think, is a particularly appropriate word.
  • What’s wrong with it? Good god man, if you can’t see what is wrong with the idea of casting infants into raging torrents aboard craft with highly questionable buoyancy and stability factors ….

Apocryphal Answers:

  • Biblical scholars believe that he was actually found at the bottom of a box of cornflakes as part of the ‘free religious icon with every packet give-away’
  • Had the Nile known what he was going to do with it later I’m sure it would have parted and reformed on top of the little shit. He obviously liked it there though, he spent the rest of his time living there (in De Nile that is)
  • It’s not Politically Correct. At least half the material should have been cowrushes.
  • It isn’t what the Biblical story says. My copy says the basket was laid in the flags (reeds?) by the river’s bank with his sister watching over him. Pharaoh ordered that the boy children be thrown in the river. He didn’t say they couldn’t be taken out again afterwards.
  • My Bible says the basket was made of papyrus. But my Macquarie Dictionary says that bulrushes and papyrus are the same thing. Wow, this is the first time I have ever researched an answer for this quiz and I still don’t know the answer.
  • Nothing! The Bible is inflapable .. unfallable .. infathomable … um, its litirarily .. litter .. illiterary, oh bugger, Its true cos The Big Guy inspeared … aspired … wrote it Himself on the 8th day and its no fib! (Anon. Creation Sciencetoss … er, Scientist!) Perhaps the story is a myth as some theological scholars believe that Moses was a creation of the ancient Hebrew’s binding together their own national epic from the tales of neighbours, eg, the narrative of Sargon of Akkad (see (Anon. Skeptic)
  • You can’t make a joint out of bulrushes.

Question 4

What is incongruous about the name “Jerusalem artichoke”?

Correct Answer:

It actually refers to that little concave part at the base of your throat where it meets the collarbone. Nothing to do with Jerusalem OR artichokes.

Intended Correct Answer:

It is not from Jerusalem (it’s from North America) and it is not an artichoke (it’s a sunflower). I have no idea where the name came from, but since the plant is from the USA is it any wonder? See . (PS. this is the only answer I will submit that is an attempt at facts!)

A Droll Alternative:

Nothing at all when compared with such misnomers as British lion, French bean and Turkish delight.

The Rest of the Menu:

  • Artichokes, having no non-cloven hooves and therefore not kosher, refuse to grow in the Holy Land.
  • Great band … their rendition of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ is a classic.
  • I’m afraid this leaves my mind completely blank – devoid of all answers and wit [So what’s new?]
  • It encourages flatulence, which is frowned upon in the Holy City.
  • It is a little known wrestling hold, discarded by the Iron Sheik before he adopted the camel clutch
  • It is not a good name to give to one of your kids.
  • It is not an artichoke and it doesn’t originate from Jerusalem. It is a species of Sunflower and comes from Dubbo. But “Dubbo Sunflower” wasn’t as appealing as “Jerusalem artichoke”, so there you go. A bit like those New Zealanders and their Kiwi fuit I suppose. [What’s a fuit? Can I have one?]
  • It makes good anagrams, like ‘Calamitous jerk here’ or ‘Mark, jealous heretic’ or ‘thrice jealous maker’, which are of course in better taste than the article as a food product.
  • It means chichichurin in Arabic? It’s the 100th name of Allah and is only pronounceable by camels? It was the type/name of the iceberg that sank the Titanic? It grows at the South Pole in frozen husky poo? Hitler called Stalin a Jerusalem artichoke so he would scowl in the photographs?
  • It’s actually a very slow-moving mollusc. Jerusalem Artichokes Kilpatrick was served as the entree at the Last Supper.
  • That it is found in recipe books and menus, perpetuating the myth that these things are edible.
  • The word “Jerusalem” is Aramaic for “artichoke”, so Jerusalem artichokes are really “artichoke artichokes”. Equally surprisingly, the word “artichoke” is French for “Jerusalem”.

Question 5

Was the Last Supper a sudden idea, or was it organised in advance?


Today’s Lesson is Mark 14:12-16:
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?
And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him.
And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
And he will shew you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us.
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
Recent scholarship indicates it was J.Iscariot’s place – and that Judas was “the disciple whom Jesus loved the most” in the Gospel according to John.

Highly Logical Deduction:

  • It had to have been organised in advance, because you can’t organise things in arrears.

Exegetic um, Stuff:

  • It was organised. He knew he was about to sign off so he got the apostles to organise a piss-up. They only had to bring water, 5 loafs and 2 fish.
  • Any believer in the infallibility of biblical texts will tell you that God has already planned everything, so it must have been organised in advance. The corroborating evidence is that the disciples all knew there was going to be a photographer there, and they all posed while he rapidly painted them on the dining room wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan. If Walther Hewel were looking for Jewish ears then this would have been THE place.
  • At Passover in Jerusalem, Jesus and his crew had about as much chance of getting a reception room without a booking as you do of getting one in Melbourne for midnight on the millenium. He booked the room in advance and sent Peter and John in, early in the day, to set it up for the party.
  • I would imagine that a painting like that would have required a great degree of planning, probably even several years. You don’t just whip up a masterpiece like that in a few minutes you know.
  • In advance. It takes much time to plan the menu, organise the wine, ferret out Aunt Maude’s best china, find the good silver, decide on a seating plan (Thomas won’t sit *anywhere* near Judas for example), send out the invitations, wait for RSVP’s, etc etc etc
  • It was posited rather than planned, though it was Peter who said ‘We should do this every year’ as he (being a rock) had been given the franchise. Thomas was shunting Percy in the goods shed. ‘Stop that’ cracked the Fat Controller. (Sorry, channeling again)
  • Now this sounds just like my wife. “Are you mowing the lawn today or playing golf?” (Pointed look) Any reasonable person can see that one doesn’t necessarily preclude the other. The suddenness of an idea surely refers to its duration rather than its timing. As a wee lad, Jesus may have had a sudden idea that it would be nice to have a dinner party shortly before he was crucified, in which case he would have been sure to organise it well in advance. As he seemed to know quite a lot about himself and was very well organised, I have no reason to believe that his sudden idea did not result in years of careful planning. Oh, er golf dear.
  • Of course it was organised in advance. Have you ever tried to get a table for 13 at any restaurant on the spur of the moment, especially in the days leading up to a public holiday such as Easter? The important question is, “Was the Last Supper BYO?” Of course the ecclesiatical censors have deleted all reference to the Second Last Supper, which consisted of home delivered Pizza round at Simon’s (aka Peter) place. Jesus refused to convert the tap water into a robust little Jordan Valley cabernet with a hint of brimstone on the afterburner, claiming that such tricks were “a pretentious wank”. Then a minority of the disciples, led by Kev, one of the lesser known ones, claimed that pepperoni was non-kosher, a claim hotly (no pun) disputed by the majority faction under the sway of Darren. Finally, Judas, the treasurer, didn’t have the money to pay the Strippergram lass, Mary Magdalene and the police (Sanhedrin) were called. It was a real shambles, and though this story appeared in the Gospel According to Ralph, this vital chapter of church history was deleted from the canon at the Council of Nicea. Bloody wowsers.
  • Of course it was organised well in advance. They did try the Great Wall Chinese takeaway and Seafood Parlour (all the fish you can eat for 20 shekels – artichoke sauce extra) first but it was still under construction. Judas wanted to get the Advance booking discount for the room and anyway, given it was coming up to Easter, all the rooms in town would have booked by tourists.
  • The last supper has not been held yet. However if you are not busy on 30/12/99 you could come to ours. [Yes I’ll be there John – I want to see the look on your face when you realise there are 31 days in December … like a cult member coming down from the mountaintop the day after the world was supposed to end/]
  • The last supper was actually the celebration of passover and was planned well in advance as there was a room to be hired, grog to buy, the sops of bread , seating, wenches for serving etc etc. All this could work out a tad expensive especially if your treasurer (Judas istcostcutter) had a bit of a dip in the till and the ministry got caught a bit short. This is why the JC group booking of the upper room wasn’t renewed the following year, they skipped without paying the bill, some excuse about the leader levitating into a UFO.
  • The last supper was originally called the monthly supper. A booking was made for the first Tuesday in every month at Happy’s Bar & Grill. The monthly nosh up was discontinued after the annoying tag-along-Jesus gatecrashed the party. The apostles all decided to change venues to a once a week piss-up at Toby’s Tavern. Judas made sure that Jesus would never bother them again.
  • You know how it is. You’re sitting in front of the telly, just about to eat. The doorbell rings, you open it. Your buddy walks in sits down says “oh food… how luch am I. I’m just in time. Can I use your phone?” 5 minutes later the doorbell rings again. You open it 11 more of your pals are there. They say “hey Simon just called us. He said you’re having a party.” They come in, eat your food, drink your wine and then one of them betrays you.

Comments This Month:

  • As you can see, I’ve spared no time or effort on these answers 🙂
  • Been a while since I’ve had a go at this. Must admit I’m a bit rusty. Any particular reason for all the Bible-related questions?
  • Can we possibly leave the spleen motif behind us now and move on, please?
  • Dear Dr. Bob, Cool quiz–just found it wile checking out
  • Do you question whether the effort needed to compose the questions is worthwhile? That is, do you get paid a straignt salary or by the number of questions composed?
  • Dr. Bob, if you liked my last entry for question one, could you change the “subdermal” to “intradermal”? Thanks.
  • During the last supper on new years eve we will be sitting quietly at midnight watching the computer tick over.
  • First attempt at answering some questions (still not done with the archives). As you can see, I have made no attempt whatsoever to enlighten myself by actually looking up the questions, preferring instead to rely upon my paltry wit to garner me a place in infamy on your site. I hope you’re happy. [oh yes – see next comment]
  • Another splendid effort, and your questions were good too.
  • Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads, Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up – Yum!
  • Hartelijk dank voor de leuke prijsvraag die u elke maand weer verzorgd, dokter Bob.
  • I did not get 5 right by accident – I remember it as a long yarn that kids got told when I was a child. as, the flickering gaslight, the cry of the pterodactyls, it’s all coming back to me now…
  • I visited this site on the 1st, second, third and fourth of October, and you still hadn’t updated it, Dr. Bob!
  • Just a reminder to vote Yes for a democratically elected Monarch to write a preamble for a republican constitution.
  • Keep up the good work Dr. Bob – your quizzes are a highlight of my month, just as my answers aren’t a highlight of yours. [Oh, I don’t know, Fred – the rest of my month is pretty tedious]
  • My dad snores, does yours? [Not any more]
  • Once again Dr. Bob you have delayed submission of part of my honours thesis. I really must stop coming here when things are due.
  • Please avoid making typing errors in my answers this month. [Osrry]
  • So you’re a Dr, eh? Well can you tell me how I can overcome this niggling pain I get behind the eyeballs every time I try to write answers in the piddly little boxes you provide? [We doctors call this “tight box syndrome” and it results from having a head too big to fit in the box. If still in pain, see a doctor]
  • Very enjoyable questions!
  • What is it about this quiz that brings out the worst in everybody’s sense of humor?
  • Where does your mind travel to find these questions? Strange but enjoyable. [Yes – my mind is exactly like that]
  • Whoah! Did you spit the dummy at us last week or what! I was actually scared to do this month’s in case you start naming names! The 100th name of God was very “enlightening” too; here’s me thinking the smug look on camels’ faces was something to do with their being ships of the desert/full of arab seamen.
  • Why so many biblical questions. I’m an atheist. [Oh – sorry to dent your religion]
  • You are slipping Dr Bob, none of these are particularly obscure except the one about the Chinaman and the fish. Are you sure it isn’t the set up line for a dirty joke?