Answers for July 2000

ANSWERS FOR JULY Collated by the Late Dr Bob My excuse is that earlier this month I went to Western Western Australia (Fremantle) and have only recently recovered. I was in a taxi that went along a coastal road. Me: “Wow! Is that the Indian Ocean?” Driver: “Dunno” Our winner this month is

Norm Poyser

Who has been elected President of the Lara Procrastination Society, and will take office later this year, or possibly next year. They have reached an agreed position on my January 1997 quiz and are going to get around to sending the answer one of these days. Sorry Norm, as you have not provided an ABN, I have to withhold 48.5% of the prize.

Question 1

In what journal did the Wright Brothers write up their first flight of 1903?

Correct Answers:

  • That would bee (groan) the Jan 1, 1905 edition of Gleanings in Bee Culture (there being no aviation journals at the time, aviation not having been invented – until then). The editors thought it might shed light on the way bees fly, which took a lot longer to work out.
  • Strictly this article was written by the Bee Culture editor A.Root, and the Wright bros actually themselves wrote a) a patent application b) an article in Century magazine (1908).
  • In Orville Wright’s diary (the December 17, 1903 entry).

Standby Fares:

  • “UFO”. (They tried the Journal of Flight Science, but they forgot to put in the necessary forms in triplicate before takeoff).
  • The *first* write-up about their first flight appeared in the American Medical Journal, and dealt with Wilbur’s reaction to his packed lunch. The ensuing nausea resulted in Wilbur’s problems getting the flyer off the ground, so Orville took over, avoided the in-flight meal, flew and went down in history…
  • They had tried other journals, but they didn’t have any good friends on the editorial board of Nature, had too much self respect to submit to Lancet, and because no royal children or ex-olympians were involved New Idea wasn’t interested.
  • Century Magazine,after a speech given at the Society of Western Engineers in Chicago. This consisted of Aaaaagh!
  • Civil Aviation Monthly, but only one copy was produced and as it only contained one article, the publisher went bankrupt. It is not widely known [fortunately] that the editor of this magazine was Barry Williams -III, the grandfather of the present editor of the Skeptic, and arguably just as mad. Of somewhat more interest was where did the Write Brothers wright up their first flight of 1902? That was in the Journal of Unreproducable Results.
  • If you don’t include the letter to Octave Canute saying “We told you so”, & “ner ner ner”, it was either the Qantas in flight magazine or L’Aerophile. I found it odd there were aeronautial magazines 10 years before the first flight. What did they write about? Their perfect air safety record (excluding Icarus).
  • It was in the medical journal, Their moteh rhad iyt handy. [Journal of Dyslexia obviously]
  • Modern Powered Aviation (1903) Vol. 1(1).
  • Orville wrote it up in his diary. He wanted to use the flyleaf but he had aired other matters on that page.
  • Penthouse. It started out with the immortal line “I always thought the stories in your magazine were made up until…”
  • Punch
  • The Answers in Genesis (AiG) website
  • The Answers in Genesis (AiG) website says that the Wrights were publicly ridiculed for publishing that they had flown a heavier-than-air flying machine. And since the Wrights were stout Christians, this proves conclusively that the AiG crowd is absolutely correct in their view that evolution is an evil that will destroy the world as we know it today. Never mind the facts that the Wrights weren’t ridiculed at all, and regardless of being Christian, they actually used good scientific research to get themselves into the air. And where evolution comes into this scenario is beyond me entirely!
  • The Journal of Inventors with Silly First Names
  • The Journal of Irreproducible Results, a publication still limping and skipping like the Wright flyer to this day.
  • Edition #1 of ‘Aviation Week and Space Technology’.
  • The May 1904 swimsuit issue of National Geographic. Kitty was the centrefold. [Wouldn’t the water leak in through the staple holes?]
  • The Red Baron and His Conquests – Published by the Wrong Brothers.
  • In the pilot’s log book of course!
  • They added an addendum to Revelation – “And lo, we flew above the firmament and He was nowhere to be found”, necessitating minor revisions to the other books.
  • Well, Wilbur wrote “flew around a bit today” in his diary between doodlings of “Wilbur Wright + Betty Happshatz = Luv” in the margins, and Orville’s Wife, who kept a lovely little Scrap Book took a few pictures and a scrap of his flight scarf to keep as momentoes. Sweet woman. Oh, and some magazine may have written about it as well, I don’t recall.

Question 2

How thick is the ice at the North Pole?

Polarised Answers

  • Assuming we’re talking about the True North Pole here, the ice is pretty thick, varying between ‘a few inches’ and ‘ten feet’, according to the US Navy (hence the non-metric measurements and large variation…) In fact, whenever the navy submarines are under the North Pole they sometimes get permission to surface and look at the barber’s pole stuck there. In those cases, the ice would break therefore the thickness would be zero.
  • Further information required – please specify: 1) which planet, 2) what time of the year and 3) magnetic (wandering) or geographic (fixed) north pole. (oh, all right – according to, the pack ice of earth’s central arctic region averages 0.000007 ocrametres thick).
  • This is, of course a trick question. Do you mean the frozen ice or the melted ice?
  • It’s approximately 2 to 3 metres thick SOMETIMES. Otherwise submarines could not punch holes in the weak spots and cracks to surface at the North Pole. Other times it has thick ice floes over it, and they can reach up to half a kilometre deep or more.
  • 16 to 23 feet thick, but I imagine it will vary…Incidentally, a polar bear’s blubber is 114mm thick. Much like myself.
  • Approximately twice as thick as a creation “scientist” AFTER he has undergone a brain augmentation procedure, which includes paralleling the brain with a cucumber.
  • As thick as my boyfriend! [ooo, which part of him … oh never mind Jason]
  • Density or depth? [or Viscosity]
  • It depends how hot the weather is at the time of measuring
  • How thick do you have to be to try and do a quiz such as this? Actually it is about 3 KM if you are on Mars! (You didn’t specify a planet now did you.)
  • I rang Santa and he says he doesn’t know. [There are lots of things Santa doesn’t know. If he knew what I did behind the bike sheds in 1958 he wouldn’t have brought me that Meccano set]
  • I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that the term “pole” is obviously biased towards spherical earth theorists. If I were to answer the question, I would tell you that the ice at the northern edge of the earth 1800 cubits thick.
  • It doesn’t matter as long as they keep filling up the Ice Machines.
  • Not “Thick” at all. The ice at the north pole is a lot shrewder than people give it credit for. I managed to procure a sample recently and, using a series of tests devised by a group of my friends (college psychology grad students all) I have found that the ice is far more intelligent than people give it credit for. The only reason that this isn’t common knowledge is that conventional I.Q. tests are unfairly biased toward a European, white, Protestant and, most importantly, non-inanimate object oriented upbringing and cultural background.
  • Not as thick as the people who visit it
  • Not as thick as the search engines I used trying to find the answer to this question on the Web.
  • Since Peary and Hanson, arguing over conjugal rights to Eskimo women, were no longer on speaking terms when they got there, the air was “as thick as ice.”
  • The average thickness of the Arctic ice pack is about 9 to 10 feet, although in some areas it is as thick as 65 feet, with pressure ridges extending downward into the ocean as much as 125 feet. The atomic submarine NAUTILUS passing beneath the North Pole on August 3, 1958, measured a pressure ridge extending 25 feet down. The depth of the ocean at the North Pole was recorded as 13,410 feet; depths as great as 13,776 feet have been recorded near the Pole. Ice floes ranging from 7 to 13 feet in thickness have been reported in the Arctic. Icebergs, which are pieces of glacial ice floating in the sea, are many times thicker than sea floes. Sources: Engel, Leonard and Editors of LIFE; The Sea, Life Nature Library, Time, Inc., 1961; Soule, Gardner, The Ocean Adventure, Appleton-Century, 1966. [Thank you Paul, and good night]
  • The Northern end of the Earth’s axis, lying in the Arctic Ocean, about 450 miles (725 km) north of Greenland. This geographic North Pole does not coincide with the magnetic North Pole to which magnetic compasses point and which in 1993 lay west of Ellef Ringnes Island, in the Queen Elizabeth Islands of extreme northern Canada (at about 78º27′ N, 104º24′ W) or with the geomagnetic North Pole, the northern end of the Earth’s geomagnetic field (about 79º13′ N, 71º16′ W). The geographic pole, located at a point where the ocean is 13,410 feet (4,087 m) deep and covered with drifting pack ice, experiences six months of complete sunlight and six months of total darkness each year. The North Pole is mostly covered by pack-ice (frozen sea-water) averaging three meters thick, but thicker where pressure ridges have developed. In the summer the ice is less thick and the edge of the pack retreats northward 100 miles or more. [Thank you, another Paul, and good NIGHT!]
  • The carbon dioxide ice is about 0km thick.
  • There is no ice at the North Pole proper. The North Pole area gently curves inwards to become the entrance to a secret inner world. It is from this inner world that flying saucers come from and the makers of crop circles actually live.
  • To my amazement, approx. 4 metres. Then where do icebergs come from? Greenland? Where does Father Christmas live? Is the ice strong enough for the reindeer and all the toys? Can the elves swim? These questions were not answered by the Canadian ice thickness measuring team.
  • What makes you think it’s ice? [Well, passing ships break a bit off to put in their whisky]
  • Who the hell’s gonna measure it? Eskimos have enough trouble keeping alive let alone giving to whims of finding out how ‘thick the ice is’! [Eskimos are VERY interested in how thick it is, so they can fish. OK OK, a joke. Swedish ice-fishing team caught 5 fish but the Norwegian team caught none and protested “they cheated – they made a hole in the ice”]

Sea-Bottom-Scraping Answer

About 30km? (Conventional wisdom says 3km – but I bet they forgot that only 10 percent is above the surface – leaving an additional 27km below!)

Question 3

Facing almost certain defeat by the Persians in 480BC, Themistocles consulted the Delphic oracle and was told he would lose and should flee immediately. What did Themistocles do next?

Historically Correct Answer, Showing the Wisdom of Themistocles

He asked again, until he got an answer that he liked.


  • Ignored the oracle, and went on to victory.
  • He got a new oracle – his own reason.
  • He stayed, he fought and he won. He interpreted the Oracle’s dire warnings as an ill omen for the other side. Just goes to show that ya can’t trust psychics.
  • He won. So much for fortune-tellers.
  • If he’d been dumb enough to listen to someone stoned claiming divine inspiration, he’d have fled anyway.
  • Said “Bugger!”, sacked the oracle, and beat the Persians with his navy.
  • Sorry Boss, mis-interpreted They as he. Can we go back and try again?
  • The Delphic oracle spoke in codes. Maybe the message was divined incorrectly.
  • Bared his bum and proceeded to kick the shit out of them.
  • He ate lunch.

Perhaps He Took A More Conventional Military Approach

  • Killed the oracle. (The oracle knew it was a dangerous job when he took it.)
  • Killed the oracle. Standard govt practice when offered unwanted advice.
  • As the saying, “Don’t kill the messenger” had not yet been coined, he killed the oracle. Once she was dead and unable to ensure her prophecy came true, he was able to defeat the Persians.
  • He had the Oracle put to death immediately and found a new one. Hopefully one who foresaw the fact that she would be put to death if she did not tell Themistocles what he wanted to hear. I swear, oracles never see that sort of thing coming. Some sort of blind spot in the precognition, i suppose.
  • Being male probably one of the following; a) Killed the Oracle b) Found another oracle with an opinion he did like c) He died d) both a & b and then c

Alternative Explanations Of How The Persians Came to Get So Walloped

  • All I could find was that he was told to ‘hide behind a wall of wood.’ Themistocles made the obvious connection and declared that the oracle wanted the Greeks to build a huge navy and defeat the Persians on the water. Just to show he wasn’t the only crazy guy and also evidence that perhaps recreational use of mind altering substances has being occurring for longer than we thought, the government of the day agreed with Themistocles and established a navy which, after inflicting a defeat on the Persians, went on to gain quite a fearsome reputation. They never took measurements of the ice thickness at the North Pole, though.
  • Being a sceptical sort of chap, Themmi declaimed “Bugger Delphi! I’ll beat the bastards at Salamis or die in the attempt!” And he did – another triumph of skepticism over soothsaying. (Themmi went and worked for the Persians about 10 years after defeating them at Salamis, but that’s another story.)
  • Changed his underwear? He threatened to stay in the temple and die there (Thereby polluting it unless the Oracle came up with a better prediction. It did and they won)
  • Counted his lucky stars for the prior warning, turned to run but slipped on some chicken entrails and hit his head. When he came to, muttering about choosing a fleet, his trusty assistant Baldricles put a cunning plan into action. The rest is history.
  • Decided that he would reinterpret the “Wooden Wall” referred to by the Oracle (who was probably receiving regular brown-paper bags from the Persians) as the fleet. (That was right after he stopped screaming and running round in circles saying “I’m a teapot, I’m a teapot!”)
  • Drones on and on and on and on. And Herodotus bangs on and on and on. Its a wonder Xerxes and his boys didn’t give up out of boredom. Anyway, after waffling for ages, he decides, with the help of other Greek cities, to have a go. Down pops Artemisia from Mt Olympus and between them they whup some Persian ass. Then Xerxes cut some people’s heads off because he was cross.
  • Having first persuaded the Greeks to build an armada of triremes, Themistocles reacted to the oracle’s pronouncement by persuading the entire population of Athens to flee with him in any ship they could find. They lay in wait for the numerically superior (but aquatically inferior) Persian army to make an appearance, and whipped their butts. Ironically, Themistocles, the man responsible for a plan which is considered pivotal in the development of Greece and Western Europe, died in the Persian empire, having been exiled from Greece.
  • He came up with a clever naval strategy. And then he beat the Persians [as well?]
  • He fled. But cunningly. Themistocles persuaded the Athenians to leave town; then told Xerxes (Persian opposition) that they were leaving; the Athenian fleet ambushed Xerxes and won the battle at Salamis. Themistocles then got a bunch of leaves to wear on his head and went on to other acts of deviousness.
  • He got into the two hundred unfinished ships he had commissioned and took them to Salamis. He tricked Xerxes (King of Persia) by sending him a message saying that the Athenians were fleeing and then he proceeded to defeat the entire Persian navy in the narrow straits of Salamis. This is of course crazy talk. What he really did was change his name to something easier to spell and became Admiral of the Royal Australian Navy. Who else would want to command a fleet of incomplete ships?
  • He interpreted the oracle favourably, stayed put, lost the city, and then went on to win the Navel Salami Battle – an ancient test of manliness that involved guys poking each other in the belly with sticks of dried horsemeat.
  • He made a puddle at Delphi because he misunderstood and thought the oracle said “pee immediately.”
  • He pinched the bridge of his nose which was his tell-tale habit of frustration after reading bad news from an oracle that reads like stereo instructions. He would have remarked quite loudly, “This thing reads like stereo instructions”, if stereos had been only invented. Instead people now comment “this thing reads like the Delphic oracle”.
  • He pulled the rug from under the Persians.
  • He put on a lime green leotard, a black bustier, lip gloss and some smashing faux pearl earrings, headed for the hottest club in Athens, “Sonny Salami’s Cool Hot Dance Spot,” and boogied till he dropped.
  • He realized the Delphic oracle was a fraud. This was the only time they had given a non ambiguous (can’t loose either way) answer. He then invented the Skepticks, Athens Branch, and got exiled for blasphemy.
  • He refused to leave and secretly told the Persians (who thought that all their Christmases had come at once) to attack. Of course, they got utterly destroyed and discovered that it was not good to trust gift bearing Greeks.
  • He turned to Kevin Sorbo and said “You can take it from here, can’t you?”, and ran away to hide?
  • He gave loads of bribes to the Oracle, who proceeded to tell everyone who visited them to help Themistocles. Even if they’d only come to ask for directions
  • Naa na, na na na! <tune: Days of Our Lives theme> Tune in same time, same channel tomorrow, when we find out what Themistocles did when faced by the Oracle of Delphi. Meanwhile, here’s an ancient Greek TV commercial by a guy in a very badly fitting black wig made of a donkey’;s tail, trying to sell you pitted kalamata olives. <I’ve GOT to get my prescription checked!>
  • The great naval battle of Salamis was fought between the Greeks and Persians in 480 BC in the narrow straight between Salamis and Attica. This was one of the last battles of the Persian Wars. The Greek forces were led by Themistocles, an Athenian statesman, who was responsible for devising the strategy used during the battle. Although Themistocles came up with the strategy to lure the Persians into the straight, he was not the general who carried it out. This was done by Eurybiades, a Spartan commander. The Persian forces were led by Xerxes, Darius’ successor. During the battle, Xerxes watched from a distance as his men fought the Greeks. His fleet outnumbered the Greek ships three to one, and he expected an easy victory. Though the Greeks were greatly outnumbered by the Persian ships, they had the advantage of their speed and knowledge of the waters and the battle plan. Another practical advantage that the Greeks had was their ability to swim. The Persians could not swim and when their ships were sunk, they drowned because they could not get to shore. Using Themistocles’ strategy, the lighter Greek ships rowed out in a circular formation and rammed the front of their ships into the clumsy Persian vessels. At the same time they continuously threw darts and stones upon the men. The Greek war galleys were specially designed for this kind of fighting- long and slim, packed with rowers below and soldiers on the light upper deck. Using this attack plan, about two hundred ships were sunk, some were captured and the rest fled back to the bases in Asia Minor. [Then he said, “Where’s that oracle now eh?]]
  • Themistocles, who was almost as thick as an unaugmented creationist, misunderstood the instruction and hied himself off to the local vet, Dogrates, where he demanded some Frontline. When informed that this remarkable anti-flea preparation was not due to be invented for another 2,470 years, he fled to Iceland where he set up in business with a distant ancestor of the Rev Canaan Banana, with the intention of breeding drought-resistant cactus. Not surprisingly, the business went cactus. Subsequently, the courts froze their assets, hence the ancient Greek national anthem “Freeze a Jolly Good Fellow”. Isn’t history amazing? [yes – especially when you rewrite it]
  • Went to the toilet … these oracle sessions really take a long time and the oracles incessantly serve you tea or coffee. BUT THEN he persuaded the Athenians to build up their navy, and it was his strategy that brought about the decisive Athenian victory over the Persians at Salamis (480).
  • He handed over his Athenian Express card to pay for the consultation.

Question 4

What is remarkable about the piece 4 minutes 33 seconds composed by John Cage (d. 1992)?

Correct Answer

A More Detailed But Less Succinct Response

  • It’s crap

Equally Correct Critical Appraisals

  • It consists entirely of silences of various lengths, in 3 movements. Well… It’s better than country music.
  • A pianist comes onto the stage, sits down at the piano and plays absolutely nothing for four minutes and thirty three seconds, and then gets up and leaves. Pretty damn stupid if you ask me, but then I am not a music critic so what would I know?
  • I actually know this one. No, really I do. It was 4’33” of silence. Given some of Cage’s work, silence would be like music.
  • I’m listening to it right now. And I don’t even own a stereo!
  • It has a silly name.
  • That he actually found someone who was willing to “play” this piece (4m 33s of total silence) without dying of embarrassment.
  • It is a piece in 3 movements, usually played by a pianist but all the notes are silent. The pianist uses a stopwatch to keep the tempo. Cage thought it should be played by multiple pianists with other instuments as well.
  • It is completely and utterly indidstinguishable from a piece written by me some weeks earlier (and updated recently) He obviously copied my piece. When I tried to copyright it they said I was not famous enough to get away with that.
  • It is four minutes and thirty three seconds of not playing a piano. I am hoping that Britney Spears will do a cover version of this as her next single, because frankly I’m sick of hearing her (can’t wait for the techno remix!!!)
  • It is not widely known, especially by uncultured buffoons like the compiler of this quiz, that this piece is frequently played during the intervals in operatic and concert performances, after the orchestra has left the pit for a quick piss-up in the Green Room. It loses nothing, musically, for the lack of players, some music critics have even been heard (after a few in the Green Room) to say it’s finest renditions are often achieved after the musicians have gone home for the night, or are on their annual holidays. Further to that, it is the only piece of music that sounds exactly the same since it was composed as before.
  • It is remarkable that anyone would actually pay to sit and listen to absolutely NOTHING and call it art. You could achieve the same effect sitting in your living room. What a great scam!
  • It is silent. 4’33” of silence, or perhaps audience program rustling tones, coughing, chattering and nervous laughter.
  • It is so boring nobody really cares when the copyright expires and worse, it only goes for 4 minutes 32.67 seconds.
  • It is totally silent. Although unfortunately for Mr Cage the critics were not.
  • This is the one that is 4 minute and 33 seconds of silence! Do they put a timer up on the stage so the audience knows when it’s over? How else do they know when to applaud? [Er, perhaps they don’t applaud]
  • On a CD, it is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. On a vinyl record, it is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence punctuated by hiss, crackles and assorted other noises. On a cassette, 8-track cartridge or other tape-based recording, 4 minutes and 33 seconds of white noise. What a pretentious wanker.
  • Sounds just like “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin mixed with “Anarchy in the UK” by The Sex Pistols, plus a touch of Michael Jackson’s “Ben” thrown in for added taste. Sung by Pavarotti. On acid. In a well. In Tierra del Fuego.
  • That it inspired Simon and Garfunkel to write another song, as a tribute to Cage’s opus. (“Hello darkness my old friend …”)
  • The fact that it is the basis of the only question this month for which I have no glib, too clever by half joke answer.
  • The piece was, to the profound relief of Cage’s neighbours, entirely without sound. O that Metallica would do likewise.
  • This piece was played at Carnegie Hall by an invisible pianist on a piano. Nobody heard it. The audience had to listen to their surroundings. Fortunately it was heard by two buskers, young Paul and Art, who wrote the smash hit The Sounds of Silence.
  • When performed properly, it actually lasts for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, unlike that bogus “Minute Waltz”.

An Interesting Alternative Interpretation of the Piece Which I Must Catch

  • It is 4 minutes and 32 seconds of silence and 1 second of unexpected flatulence.

Question 5

In the UK Midlands, the Oxford, Cambridge and Regional examination group’s syllabus requires knowledge of the ocrawatt and ocrajoule. How many watts are in an ocrawatt?

0 This Is Beautiful

  • Ah, the power of the GLOBAL CHANGE command – it is a two-edged sword, as members of the former Midlands Examining Group will attest.
  • Ah come on, you made this up!! Or did the “Oxford, Cambridge and Regional” group decide to make up some new words? The committee must have been made up of egotistical men with delusions of grandeur! [10/10. Elephant Stamp]
  • As the Director of the former Midlands Examining Group said, “Find out who did this and replace them!”
  • If its spicy Creole fried ocra, a whole lotta watts!
  • Ocra

No Thanks, I’ll Find Another Electrician

  • 42
  • 1000. That is if you’re planning to make chicken gumbo. If you’re making etouffe’, I’d skip the ocrawatt? and use shrimpwatt? What? Sorry.
  • An ocrawatt is the same as a megawatt, therefore there are a million watts in an ocrawatt. Seems that the examination group used to be called the Midlands Examining Group (MEG) and suffered from the delusion that the megawatt was named after them. so when they changed their name to Oxford, Cambridge and RSA board (OCR) they decided the SI prefix mega had to be changed to ocra. Stuck-up bloody Pommies.
  • As many as can be generated from burning 100 weight of ocra.
  • as many as there are syllas in a syllabus
  • Finally! Someone else willing to stand up to the tyrannical bastards at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), and their numerologically-inspired shackles. Too long, we have had to put up with SI multipliers designed by an organisation with a disturbing fetish for the number three. Such an obsession can only have its origins in numerology, which makes it an inappropriate basis for scientific calculations. In 1995, the Measurement Experts Group (MEG) developed a new system of multipliers based on two orders of magnitude instead of three, and using predictable prefixes instead of random letters from ancient languages. The prefix is made by adding the letter ‘O’ (for Order, and to make it pronounceable), to the letter representing the magnitude (A=10^2, B=10^4, C=10^6, etc…), to either ‘RA’ for positive or ‘TI’ for negative magnitudes. Multiple prefixes can be used (separated by a ‘T’) for very large multipliers – they are viewed as a modified base-26 representation of the magnitude. Some examples: – an ocrawatt is 10^6 watts 10^(3 * 2)- an octimetre is 10^-6 metres 10^(3 * -2)- an ocratokraampere is 10^178 amperes 10^(((3 * 26) + 11) * 2)- an okratocraampere is 10^578 amperes 10^(((11 * 26) + 3) * 2)- on ostitoytitootisecond is 10^-27018 seconds 10^(((19 * 26^2) + (25 * 26) + 15) * -2)Initial acceptance of this superior and versatile system has been slow, but with the endorsement of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA board, widespread use is sure to follow. [Hey that’s a really great idea, but it was only a bulk replace in the word processor after all]
  • I say, don’t you know how many watts are in a ocrawatt, what? An ocra of course, what.
  • If you think the hard-working respondents to this list are going to do your homework for you, laddie, you have another think coming. Now turn that TV off immediately and get back to your books. You are only watching the Ocra Winfrey programme and that will rot your brain.
  • It depends on the hearing. If it is a particular bad hearing day, the ocra may say watt three or four time before it is clearly understood.
  • It’s obviously a New Orleans unit of measurement, about a MEGA gumbo’s worth…
  • Kilo, mega, giga, tera, ato, peta, exa, ocra. Ten to the power 24. I THINK that’s right!
  • Lots and lots.
  • Not enough to fill the egos of the academics who decided to turn a perfectly good word that everyone understood into a completely different word just to confuse trivia quiz addicts
  • Ocra? yum! forget this question and let’s go out for gumbo!
  • Strewth! This one sent me scrambling for the Oxford but ocrawatt is nowhere to be found. Must be a weird Pommy imperial thingy that maybe has something to do with seed-pods used to thicken soups. Sort of like roods and bushels and cwt. Damn, I’m writing crap again.
  • There’s about 20 pieces of okra in a good sized bowl of chicken gumbo. Ahheee! dats good.
  • Well, that’s why I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge I suppose. I’d laugh too hard at the silly names to ever get it right…but that won’t stop me from trying…maybe it’s a billion watts?
  • Well I’m not in the UK and as I foresee, I won’t be going to sit their exams. So do I need to know this? [Oh yes, you do. There is beauty in so many things, but most especially in the Tale of the Ocrawatt].


  • All the world is mad, save me and thee. And even thee’s a little strange!
  • Are you back yet? Are you back yet? Are you back yet? Are you back yet? Are you back yet? Are you back yet? Are you back yet? [There are at least 2 Philip Glass fans in existence – me and thee]
  • But once I give you my optional comments, they become your optional comments, so I can’t give them again because they aren’t mine anymore!
  • Can we have some questions for the brainless of the world? Like, I have five kids and I want something to really test my mind… please… [OK. How about “What unusual use did the ancient Egyptians find for crocodile dung”]
  • Can you believe that I actually hope to make a living as a comedy writer? Pathetic, isn’t it? [They are laughing at you already]
  • Do I win? [Yes – we all win. This is a win-win quiz. You have won 25 points]
  • Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven, thereby startling the pundits at the weather bureau.
  • Guess what Dr Bob, I am following your excellent example and moving to Orstrilia. [OK here goes. Four men – Scotsman, Cuban, Australian, New Zealander stranded on desert island; they see a helicopter approaching. Scot has hoarded a bottle of malt whisky, takes 1 swig and throws bottle into the sea – “plenty more of that at home”. Cuban takes 1 puff at best cigar, throws into the sea. Australian throws NZ’er into the sea.]
  • Hey this is fun! Just like the conversations I get into at work! [Gosh – they talk to you at work?]
  • Hi
  • How much do you really want that Hawkwind video? I may even let you see the Philip Glass documentary should I win. (I didn’t tell you about that one, did I?)
  • How do I know you are really there? [I’m not. I’m here now]
  • I left this space intentionally vacant first, then some plagarist copied me, this happens to me a lot, see Cage above.
  • I think that I wont get a mention as this seems too easy to find all this stuff on the internet and I’m really useless at using the net for find anything.
  • If I can’t win the quiz, can I at least win this Thursdays Tatts draw? Please? [OK – done. However you forgot to buy a ticket]
  • Is beer an acceptable bribe? [Yes if it’s flat and warm]
  • Keyboard error. Press any key to continue.
  • My 16 y/o daughter is reading T Pratchett’s Discworld series…she has just finished the Science of Discworld and gave it to me. Given the utter drivel available to 16 yo girls I was most impressed with this book. I’d recommend it to all 16 yo boys and ‘grlls’
  • My first time and I am reading to learn the puns and wit of the skeptics, not that I am one of course, well at least I could be, but then…
  • My goal in life is to start a small dictatorship and see where it leads me. Any help would be appreciated. [Well – avoid the Uuurg Aargh Club, Yak St, Ulan Bator]
  • My oracle said I should get a new oracle. What should I do? If he is right I shouldn’t because it means he is a good oracle (and they are pretty rare), but if he is wrong I shouldn’t either because I shouldn’t listen to a bad oracle. In either case therefore, I’ll stick with my oracle. (Self-fulfilling “Guru” argument No. 137.)
  • On the third day out of Charlottesville, I got to thinking: Did I turn the bathroom light off? [Does Charlottesville have only one bathroom?]
  • Sydney’s train commuters are so incensed at the problems they are experiencing that they were about to run NSW Transport minister Carl Scully out of town on a rail – until someone pointed out the obvious.
  • This comment intentionally left.
  • Too much already….I had to cheat for all of these!
  • What did I have for breakfast on Sunday July 9th, 2000? [Oh, that’s easy. Coffee latte, eggs and bacon, sausage, tomato, and later on another latte. I should know, I paid for it]
  • Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
  • Your name isn’t really bob is it? No one believes you when you tell the principal someone’s name is ‘bob’. Wonder why…

The Last Word

  • Thanks for that hint in the June answers about reading New Scientist! It made this month’s quiz a doddle…
  • Getting two questions, the Wright Brothers and the ocrawatt from the same edition of New Scientist makes this month’s quiz a bit easy don’t you think?
  • Hmmm.