Answers for August 2003

WINNER this month is a long overdue award to one who has often set me straight, either on things to do with Finland, or not. Take it away –

Jouko Koppinen

Usually you don’t know who the WINNER is until you reach the Finnish.


Question 1

How many things have a mass of exactly 1 kilogram?

Correct Answers:

  • I did have a block of lead that weighed exactly one kilogram. Unfortunately I determined its mass so precisely that due to the laws of quantum physics, it could now be anywhere in the universe.
  • Only one recognised object is exactly 1 kg (because that is how the kg is defined) – the international prototype of the kilogram held in Paris. I can’t see how another thing could be made to be “exactly” 1 kg.

Equally Weighty Answers:

  • A kilo of weed, man!
  • About a dozen or so. Maybe six. Hang on, 44 rings a bell for some reason. Anyway, how ever many of those big shiny ball bearings the French hand out. We (Aussies) have got one somewhere.
  • About the same number as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on a beach. Proof that God was an engineer [and a rather bad engineer at that]
  • Ahhh… an easy first question. None. [“To every question there exists a simple answer that is wrong”]
  • Depends where you are surely. Gravity being a moveable feast and all [No – gravity affects weight; mass is independent of gravity]
  • Either none, one or an infinite amount, you may circle the correct answer [in order to frighten it, before homing in and attacking it]
  • Exactly one. It’s a platinum-iridium navel piercing worn by Kofi Anan.
  • Here on earth? or in the universe in general. Do you know that 1,000,000,000 evangelists weigh 1 Billigram ?
  • Are you trying to trick us with the confusion between mass and weight here Dr Bob? Apparently there is only one thing with a mass of exactly 1 kg – the lump of platinum-iridium known as the international prototype of the kilogram. Bloody pedantic scientists!! My kids can tell the infinitesimal difference between a 1 kg bag of lollies and one of slightly less mass. No problem.
  • Hmm, that shiny thing in Paris was supposed to set the exact standard so maybe the answer is ‘one’ because all other things would be at least an atom or two heavier or lighter. Then again, the first kilogram of every object with a mass >1kg must be exactly 1 kg so maybe the answer approaches infinity. Or maybe Dr. Bob is just having a lend of us suckers (again) and he’s really referring to a mysterious but weighty Catholic rite, in which case I do not have a clue.
  • I don’t know – my sister’s wallet and the cumulative weight of the inlaws’ brains, but aside from that its anybody’s guess.
  • If you mean exactly 1 kg, that is within a 1 molecule margin, it is probably only the standard kg in Paris. And how many catholics have a mass of exactly 1 hour?
  • I’m not sure what you asking in this question. The only “things” I know are – The two things from the Addams Family, the first was played in the series by Ted Cassidy (who also played Lurch) but he died in 1973, the second was Christopher Hart in the two movies. And then there were the other movies The Thing (1982), The Thing With Two Heads (1972) and Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964). I’m pretty sure none of these things have a mass of exactly 1 kilogram. So the answer is ZERO. (I think) [or thingk]
  • In an infinite universe an infinite number of things will have a mass of exactly 1 kilogram.
  • None. kilogram being a WEIGHT measurement, not mass. [Wrong!!]
  • None. Matter can’t be sequested in ‘exact’ (ie intrinsic) chunks of things for western science to measure. Everything is part of something else.
  • None: Kilogram is a measure of weight and mass is…I forget my high school Physics but somehow linked to gravity I think [You’re damn right! You forgot your high school Physics.]
  • Oh – it’s either an infinite number, or it’s impossible to actually get to precisely 1 kg so zero. I’ll go with the halfway point, infinity.
  • One, because all the other chunks of metal differ by up to 1 milligram. One milligram! How can they expect to accurately measure out cocaine with that?
  • One. The item used as the exact measure of a single kilo will never be quite matched… okay, that’s a load of rubbish. [No! It’s correct!]
  • One. The international 1 kilogram prototype. A cylinder of platinum and iridium held in France. I guess if the mass of this varies then it is still a kilogram – everything else will be wrong. [This is correct. It must feel at home in France]
  • Only one! The device that is defined as 1 KG. Anything else can only be said to be within certain limits…. My god, what a boring answer, I’d better just stop.
  • Supposedly the International Prototype – a cylinder of platinum-iridium alloy kept in France. Even this supposedly stable alloy must lose or gain the odd electron from time to time, but as this particular sample is Official, its variations in weight don’t count.
  • Technically, the word “have” means to possess, which would include anything that equals OR EXCEEDS 1kg mass. Although many things will actually far exceed this arbitrary measure, they would still meet the above criteria absolutely precisely. So my answer is “lots.”
  • That is such a stupid question.
  • The Bledisloe Cup weighs about that, but who cares if it weighs more, or what else might, ‘cos we’ve got it back. And it will be bleddy slow going back over the Tasman.
  • The brains of all anti-evolutionists?
  • The International Bureau of Weights and Measures has a platinum-iridium cylinder in France whose weight is used as the international standard for the kilogram. I’ll say there are two items weighing precisely one kilogram, because surely they’d have another one just in case.
  • The sum total of 1 kilogram masses perhaps, but is it possible to have a mass of exactly 1 kilo? I mean if one measured out to the nearest possible number of atoms, could one have a 1 kilogram mass? And even if you did, could one be sure of having gone to the sufficient number of decimal places? And what do about our frame of reference when it comes to motion and acceleration? As Einstein said: E=mc^2 so therefore m=E/c^2. In other words, like beauty, mass is in the eye of the beholder (and his/hers frame of reference in relation to said mass). So finally, with sufficient acceleration, that which was less than one kilo, could become exactly on kilo, and that that was exactly one kilo could become more than on kilo for a given frame of reference. So in answer to your question, the question is unanswerable because it is not specific enough.
  • There’s a lump of metal in Paris and others based off that around the world, but its weight is fluctuating so I’d say zero.
  • Three things: the piece of platinum at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, the flask with a liter of water next to it, and the GBP after euro-conversion.
  • Where? and more importantly, why?

Question 2

Do cats miaow at other cats? [‘miaow’ being how a Pom spells the noise that cats make. In this imperfect world, some colonials may spell it differently. Or maybe they have different cats. Look, the question was hard enough to begin with.]

Correct Answers:

  • No
  • Cats meow primarily at people. It is a learned behavior to get the attention of humans. Feral cats don’t communicate this way, but domestic cats will meow to each other if they spend too much time with humans and start to treat another cat as a short, furry human. Dogs, by the way, learned to bark to get the attention of humans also.

Probably Better Answers, at least in the Opinion of Cats:

  • Absolutely. My cats miaow at each other and chase each other with chainsaws.
  • Any halfway decent dog will growl at other dogs so a halfway decent cat should meow or even miaow at other cats. Then again, there’s no such thing as a decent cat or even a halfway decent cat so the answer is probably ‘no’. Cats are miserable, predatory creatures. Cat owners should be shot. [Do I detect a hint of negative attitude here]
  • Cats do make a noise to other cats but I’m not sure if its a miaow as such. They make a noise like they’re coughing up a hairball. Maybe I just know the wrong cats.
  • Cats only miaow at humans because we don’t understand their language. If we could understand feline then we would hear things like, “I see New Zealand’s won the Bledisloe cup back, as well as the Tri Nations.” Purr! Show claws! Scratch!
  • Come to think of it, they don’t appear to miaow, do they? [Mine appears to eat. That is, whenever the cat makes its presence known, it does so in order to dine. And it expects food to have been served for this purpose]
  • Cornell University says “seldom”, apparently the vocalization is almost purely a cat-human interaction thing. [Surely the vocalisation must be due to a hitherto unknown process by which buildings can utter sounds]
  • Dunno about miaowing, but our one makes a bit of noise while punching other cats in the head.
  • Dunno. But I had a cat once that used to miaow at my dog when it wanted the dog to look after it’s kittens while it went walkabout. (Absolutely true!)
  • Hmmmmmmm . . . I’ve never seen Jazz artists do this, so I guess not.
  • I bet you think you’re just the cat’s miaow asking questions like this, Dr Bob! The familiar “miaow” is used mainly for communicating with humans as we are evidently too thick to understand anything other than kitten-talk. Or do you mean “miaow” as one of at least thirteen different categories of sound made by cats: caterwaul, chatter, chirrup (chirp), cough-bark (rare in pet cats), growl, hiss (with or without spit), meow, mew (of kittens), purr, scream, squawk, yowl and idiosyncratic sounds (i.e. sounds peculiar to an individual cat) – see http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk2.htm
  • I couldn’t find a definition of “miaow” ANYWHERE!!!!! [presumably not even at http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk2.htm] As a result, I am under the impression that cats could very well speak in a language unknown to me. *SIGH* they wouldn’t be the first sentient beings to pull that trick.
  • I have just read the rules of this quiz for the first time. You want answers that are funny AND cute. Funny is easy (note my inherent modesty), cute… Cats are cute. Will that do? The answer is: quite possibly, but most of the time they just screech and snarl and spit. The short answer is no.
  • I know cats that meow at other cats, not so sure about miaow though.
  • If by miaowing, you mean do cats offer each other infantile whining to elicit food from each other, the anwser is no (except of course kittens to their mothers).
  • Miaow is mainly for humans. Cats communicate with other cats through posture, expressions and at times hisses.
  • Miaows are typically directed at humans however a mother will sometimes miaow at her kitten. http://www.thecatsite.com/behavior/talk.html
  • Mine certainly do – but maybe it is more of a “yow!” sound than a real meow. What constitutes an actual meow as apart from hissing, yowling, etc?
  • Most seem to screech and claw, especially when stuck in a bag together.
  • Nah.
  • No
  • No – they miaow at humans
  • No because cats lack the lips for a proper “MMM” sound! They mainly “eeow” at humans though
  • No, although they do meow at other cats (as well as hiss and screech)
  • No, cats believe other cats are paper cutouts made by monkeys and will be carried away by their wind goddess. Miaows are pleas to the goddess to hasten this event.
  • No, cats generally quack at other cats so they can have a big laugh when the duck hunter arrives.
  • No, just to let humans know when they are hungry and when they want to come in… basically the miaow is reserved for annoying humans.
  • No, only at humans.
  • No, only at people when they want food or affection
  • No, they actually “Meow”.
  • NO, they use this for humans because we are too dumb to understand their more complicated inter-cats language.
  • No. They use their over-developed sense of mental telepathy to communicate with each other of the feline species. This is why YOU usually get the disdainful look from your cat – you have simply failed to pick up on its mental wavelength AGAIN with its request to go open the cat food tin NOW. Remember that dogs have owners, cats have staff.
  • No. They use only visual cues to greet each other. If they don’t like each other then hissing and spitting is de rigeur in cat society. Except for kittens who miaow for attention from their mothers. So cats miaowing at humans is a learned kittenish behavior encouraged by their owners.
  • No: miaow is a word invented by humans to imitate the feline yowl: cats would not recognise it and they cannot read, despite cat’s eyes.
  • Of course, how else would they know which neighbour has the tastiest morsels in their rubbish bags
  • Oh wow thay sure do man and its like coool. When this cat miaows his kitten purrrrs and its like all coool daddyoh.
  • Only if one’s stolen the other’s hash, man.
  • Only if the other cat can feed them or let them in.
  • Only if they are friends, even cats know not to talk to strangers.
  • Only if they think the other cat is a human person. Which is why cats have made it as semi-parasites in our neighbourhoods. I grew up studying in a household which was like the Asylum at Charenton. I can read in the middle of a football stadium on grand final day [maybe that’s why they put the scoreboard up there, it’s so people have something to look at while those ballerinas kick a ball around]. I am able to perform mental arithmetic in the most crowded shopping centres. But if I am trying to get a job finished, I will fail if a cat wants my attention. The miaow is pitched at exactly the irritation point of each owner’s individual range. And the failure of older people’s hearing is demonstrated in the much closer distance kept between them by their cats; the cat needs to annoy with touch to get the same irritation level as the miaow. There is some thought that the kitten’s open-mouthed ‘silent miaow’ often presented to its dam is ultra-sonic to humans. So for completeness: yes, a kitten will direct a ‘silent miaow’ at its mother.
  • The ones in my backyard do when arguing, but in general they use more gentle forms of communication. Only when addressing humans do cats speak out loud, much like humans shout at a deaf person.
  • They do indeed but not when they can see the other cat.
  • They probably don’t need to, since they are naturally solitary and not pack animals, and “miaow” usually means “move your human bones and feed me/let me in/let me out/let me climb up your leg”. (Bit like a husband, really.)
  • ummm…..Desperately trying to work in a clever “pussy” joke here. (Back four days later: Not only couldn’t I come up with the joke, the only thing I learnt was that Americans spell miaow as “meow”.) Sorry, I’m rambling: my answer is YES.
  • Very rarely. Normally they just hiss, spit and purr.
  • Very seldom. Meowing (US spelling) is often assumed to have developed as a means for domestic cats to gain the attention of humans. There seems little evidence that wild cats spontaneously meow.
  • Well, they wouldn’t wolf whistle, so i’d have to guess definitely maybe.
  • Yeah man, I miaowed at a Voodoo Chile just yesterday. that Hendrix is one cool cat.
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • yes
  • Yes and no. Mother cats use some miaow like sounds with their kittens, however adult cats very rarely use miaows to communicate they generally communicate with scent or body language. This of course doesn’t in any affect my complete hatred of cats and my wish for their annihilation.
  • Yes they do, and bloody loud too as I discovered early this morning after having drunk too much trappist beer. [You were lucky not to be visited by the family von Trapp]
  • Yes they do, sometimes it’s more of a groan though. Sort of a “miaow, get out of here” thing.
  • Yes, as domestication cannot produce anything that wasn’t already biologically predisposed. All domestic traits are modifications/co-opted forms of other evolved traits.(Genetically co-opted, not ‘created’, as in special creation)
  • Yes, to do their catcalls!! Rieow!
  • Yes. For varying definitions of a miaow
  • Yes. You cannot convince me otherwise, Dr Bob, because I’ve seen it. In my experience, cats will meow at anything – including other cats, televisions, fish tanks, postmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses – if they think it will get them fed. [I feed JW’s to one of my pet cats – specifically, the big one with yellow and black stripes] Maybe I’ve just had weird pet cats. On reflection, is there any other sort of cat?
  • Yes. As a show of defence, jealousy and mating call.
  • Yes. Kittens use it to communicate it to their mothers, but more notably males cats use it to ward competitors off – “That’s my pussy over there, that is”
  • Miaow.

Question 3

When was the girl’s name “Wendy” first used?

Oh Cripes:

  • *Dr Bob Trick Question Alert*: urban myth incorrectly suggests that it was invented by J.M. Barrie in 1904 for that entirely dreadful kids’ story, Peter Pan. But according to http://straightdope.com/mailbag/mpeterpanwendy.html the name was in use in the UK and the US by the 1880s (as evidenced by census data). I’d always understood it to be a diminutive of Gwyndolyn or Gwynwhyfar or Gwynadd, which suggests welsh origin, and an age of considerably more than 100 years. I also heard it used as a euphemism for female genitalia in the mini-series ‘The Dunera Boys’ (which I watched because my double bass teacher was in it) by that dippy blonde whom I think was also a dippy blonde in ‘Neighbours’ which I don’t watch not because no teachers of mine are in it but because it’s ghastly although I think Miss Nankervis might’ve had a bit part as Bouncer the dog.
  • 1904 _Peter_Pan_ by James M Barrie
  • 1904 in the book Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I must be wrong I did not even look anything up.
  • 1904 in the play “Peter Pan and Wendy”. The name was made up by the author.
  • 1904, in J. M. Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’.
  • 1904, in Peter Pan.
  • 27th December, 1904. First performance of ‘Peter Pan’. JM Barrie was some girl’s ‘fwiendy-wendy’ so he returned the favour prolly. And has managed to make very many more than himself vomit over the years.
  • According to The Wendy Web http://www.wendy.com/wendyweb/history.html Wendy was popularised by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in 1904, however there is evidence of it being used in the 1840 census. There is an earlier usage of Wendy as far back as 1797 – but as a boy’s name.
  • As Wendy’s first name.
  • First used in the book Peter Pan, of course. Her original name was “Windy the Demon Bean Daughter”. Everybody knows that.
  • Hey, wow, I had no idea it was invented in 1904 for the play Peter Pan (came from an overly cutesy person who called the playwright his “friendy-wendie”).
  • I reckon it would have to be Sister Wendy’s mother at her baptism (ten-sixty-when?)
  • I think a South African prop called his opposite marker, All Black Richard Loe, something along those lines. As this Springbok spat out three teeth, he muttered “Bleddy Loe”. Which reminds me……miaow.
  • I’m sure whoever first used it is dead now and we’ll never know for sure. How do you know Dr Bob? [Well there are some Neanderthal graffiti “Wendy was here” but the Freemasons have hushed it all up] I suppose Cap Cook discovered Australia in your view? I don’t know who first officially used the name Wendy but I’m sure someone somewhere used it before you say it was first used.
  • In 1904, by writer James Matthew Barrie. A ‘young friend’ called him fwendy-wendy. Makes one wonder what sort of relationship it was.
  • In all honesty, I don’t know. But I can tell you that the story that states the name Wendy only came into use after the publication of “Peter Pan” is false. The name is of Teutonic/Celtic origin, and means “Fair-complexioned” or “A wanderer”.
  • In England in 1840 (a boy was apprenticed in 1797, but that is not a girl)
  • In that joke about the Jamacian guy with the “W.Y.” tattoo on his penis – Welcome to Jamaica, have a nice day! Ha ha ha ha….. ahem! The name was invented and first used in 1904 by the pervert, I mean person, who wrote “Peter Pan” – J.M. Barrie. [I knew this one as about a Welshman with “Ludo” but it was actually Llandudno. Or possibly Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch]
  • Knock knock / Who’s there? / Wendy / Wendy who? / Wendy moon, shines over the mountain…. [Knock knock / who’s there? / Sam and Janet / Sam and Janet who? / <ahem> Sam and Janet Evening, You may See a Stranger, Across a Crowded Room]
  • Once upon a time this boy named Wendy realised how wussy and demeaning his name sounded. Wendy then swapped names with his sister, Jack, and both lived happily ever after. After shooting their idiot parents, that is.
  • One I can answer!!! Wendy was first used by J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan. I cannot remember the real name of the book and I am in too much of a rush to “Google” for it, but it is something like “20,000 Leagues Under the Journey to the Centre of Never-Never Land”. Which is somewhere out near the Elsey in the Northern Territory. Did you know that Barrie wrote another version of the tale in which Wendy falls heavily for Peter Pan who is both stupendously endowed and can keep going all night, like most male fantasies. Wendy is insatiable and even takes on Tinkerbell, who straps on a gigantic, etc., etc. It was, of course, never-never published.
  • Peter Pan – this may well be the first quiz question for which I have actually known the answer.
  • Peter Pan! HA! I BET I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT KNOWS THAT STRAIGHT OFF, Oh well. It was first used in the novel Peter Pan. Haven’t u asked this before Dr Bob? [No, and I never want to ask it again either]
  • Peter Pan. Short for Wednesday for the old English or Anglo-Saxon Wodens Day (day of Woden).
  • Peter Pan. The author invented the name rather than using a real name, which shows that some people just can’t work with what they’re given
  • Serious answer, it was a name invented for “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie.
  • Somewhere in the sixth century, by Sir Lancelot when he addressed his boss’s wife thus.
  • The legend goes that it was J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan, but then it appears in both the 1880 US and 1881 British censuses. It is probably a Welsh derivation of the name Gwendolyn or Gwendolen. It also appears as a male name in both aforementioned censuses, thus joining the ranks of Beverly, Lesley, Shirley and Vivian as a name you might get shot if you gave a son.
  • We don’t know as there was no written record before about 2000BC. To assume western society records the ‘first’ use is highly western-centric. Also, the use of female names is older than our species.
  • WENDY (female) First used in J. M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’ in 1904. It was from the nickname fwendy “friend”, given to the author by a young friend. (Yes I know I cheated)
  • Wendy Welsh first thought of it, of course.
  • When a New Zealander mentioned how windy it was on 4th April, 1879.
  • When de cows come home?
  • When Peter Pan said ‘Hey Wendy, check out my fly! er, my flying!’.
  • When she was very young and could start responding to it. From then on it was usually said in capital letters with an exclamation mark on the end as a warning that she had transgressed in some way, as in “WENDY!” As she grew older, this exclamation was reduced to a capitalised-only form, and was often proceeded by an exclamation of pleasure, as in “Oooh, Wendy!”
  • When the first girl named Wendy got into trouble.
  • When the girl was first called Wendy. Which girl? Wendy!
  • Research has found references to two different emperors in China who have the name “Wendi” (sometimes also referred to as Wen-Ti):
  • Is this a trick question Dr Bob? It seems too easy. “Wendy” was first used by J. M. Barrie in “Peter Pan”. [I suspected it was too easy too. Look what happened]

Question 4

Scandinavian food: Why are cloudberries more expensive than lingonberries?

One of these is right:

  • Because cloudberries cannot be farmed and have to be picked wild.
  • Cloudberries obviously grow on clouds and getting to them is not so easy. Berry pickers are forever falling to their deaths from balloons, and off the wings of gliders and small aircraft. Needless to say, they tend to drop their baskets of berries on the way down. Extra money must be charged for cloudberries to cover funerals and ongoing labor recruitment and this makes them very expensive indeed. Sometimes cloudberry pickers land on lingonberry pickers, which ruins the lingonberries too, but more often they fall into bodies of freezing water.

Also

  • <Dr. Bob – please insert an incredibly witty joke or erudite answer here on my behalf.>
  • Because they are special and the merchants can charge whatever they like.
  • Because it’s harder to get to clouds than lingons. (No relation to lingamberries one would hope – ugh! It’s yoni a joke.)
  • Because lingon berries are cultivated but cloudberries are harvested in the wild. Maybe. [No – Definitely]
  • Because lingonberries are unlucky. They have 13 letters in their name. Duh!
  • Because loudberries only come from the far north of Scandinavia, whereas Clingonberries are scattered throught the galaxy at large and are an unpleasant, warlike berry.
  • Because no-one wants to hear Swedish a cappella – check out http://www.thelingonberries.com/
  • Because Odin needs larger gross profits than Loki.
  • Because of the Law of Supply and Demand.
  • Because the cloudberry is the most wild and rare berry in the arctic wilderness. Lingonberries are plentiful in the polar forest.
  • Because the cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus is only picked at the end of July/beginning of August and grows only in bogs – very rare. Lingonberries are grown commercially in large quantities. Then the laws of supply and demand kick in….
  • Because they are mostly packaged as jams for the tourists to buy. As we know, all prices go up when a tourist walks past. Actually, they are just more rare, the rarest of all the arctic berries.
  • Because they have to be hand-picked out in the arctic wilderness, risking attack by bear, elks, or the evil reindeer.
  • Because, lingonberries produce two abundant crops a year. Cloudberries don’t produce as much berries and will not produce berries at all if there are frosts during flowering time.
  • Cloud berries only sprout once a year whereas lingonberries do twice a year.
  • Cloudberries are harvested by Lear Jet, thus the expense. They also taste a bit like jet fuel.
  • Cloudberries grow only in the wild. They need precise meteorologic pattern to fruit up. Frost at the wrong developmental stage will wipe out all crop for a year. A single berry per stem would also make them sparse. Lingonberries are in contrast highly cultivable, have few special nutrient needs and have two flowerings each year; early spring and summer. Frost is not a threat to a whole year’s crop in this case. So if cost is proportional to rarity this alone would explain why the former is more expensive.
  • Cloudberries have silver linings, unlike the dark cloud of gloom hanging over the Australian continent as you know what returns to the Land of the Long White Cloud (with silver linings).
  • Cloudberries is a far cooler name.
  • Cloudberries only produce one berry to each plant stalk, whereas lingonberries produce…..ummm…..errr…..73 berries per stalk?
  • Cloudberries require particular weather conditions before they will yield high numbers of berries, thus the amount of berries can vary considerably year to year which makes them a scarce resource. Whereas lingonberries are quite easy to produce and are a major export from Scandinavia, in much the same way as Scandinavian backpackers are a major export from those countries.
  • Dunno about lingonberries but those lingamberries imported from India sure are a smash hit with the blokes in Scandinavia, what with all them pneumatic blue-eyed blondes frolicking nekkid in the sauna and then rolling in the snow and then…
  • Economics suggest a supply/demand ratio dictates prices. The question is now why are cloudberries more popular than lingonberries? [Because they cost more of course]
  • Err, because they are rarer. [That’s no excuse for making a mistake]
  • Firstly, Google’s first two hits are the question page and then this page. Stop messing with those of us trying to cheat! Secondly, because the marshes are harder to get to than the highlands.
  • I assume this is typo (you’ve moved the C) It should read “loudberries more expensive than Clingon berries) and the reason is because the loudberries have to wear really bright bermuda shorts whereas the Clingonberries don’t exist because Gene Rodenberry (himself a relatively inexpensive fruit) made them up (and miss spelt them)
  • I do not really have an idea, so I say the opposite of whatever my brother says. [And your brother said it’s my turn to buy him a beer]
  • It takes millions of cloud berries to produce even a drop of juice whereas lingonberries are plump full of juicy goodness.
  • Lingonberries bear more berries per plant, and contain the natural preservative benzoate. Cloudberry harvests are more chancy as well.
  • Lingonberries fruit twice a year while cloudberries fruit only once.
  • Lingonberries grow easily in cold winter conditions and are usually very fruitful. Cloudberries are rare in the first place and they don’t grow so well in the scandinavian conditions.
  • Market forces in Lapland? The Lapp Stock Exchange had a run on them? Very picky reindeer? Cloudberries are a verminous yellow colour, whereas lingonberries are just bilious puce?
  • Mmm – there is a group there called Cloudberry Jam so perhaps commercialism has taken over until ABBA reinvent themselves as Lingonberry Pickles?
  • Not here they’re not – can’t get them for love nor money.
  • Obviously, cloudberries only come down in showers of rain while lingonberries are imported from India. The “on” ending replaced the “am” ending because of the linguistic differences between Sanskrit and the Scandinavian languages. So “lingamberries” were festooned around temples to Shiva of which there are millions thoughout India.
  • Pistils and stamens in different plants, require pollination by insects
  • Presumably it’s a simple supply-and-demand situation: cloudberries are less plentiful and/or more difficult/expensive to harvest, presumably because they grow on clouds – it would take an entire afternoon of repeated parachute jumps just to pick a decent punnet’s worth – whereas lingonberries grow on, er, lingons, which are fast-growing and as common as muck in Scandinavia (some mornings you need a machete to hack through them bloody lingons just to get out your front door).
  • Reason one: cloudberries have to be picked on mosquito-swarming marshes. Reason two: they are so good, sweet and golden Nordic produce. It’s hopeless to try to sell them to Americans and Japanese, though, as they have pips [which may explain certain idiosyncracies of the American or Japanese character. The speaking clock has pips too. As does the 8 of diamonds. But I digress]. By the way, lingonberries are yammy too, especially with blood pancaces, a Finnish delicacy.
  • Scandinavian people like to trick us into eating their yucky cloudberries by raising the price so that we think cloudberries are more nutritious.
  • Supply and demand. They are the much less common, and apparently both are delicious.
  • Supply demand relation. Otherwise niche-value marketing (or something like that).
  • The Cloudberry Marketing Board has spent a lot of money to get people to recognize the superiority of cloudberries over lingonberries and the campaign has resulted in people willing to spend the extra krone [euro ?] for the cloudberry.
  • The economics of supply and demand. Cloudberries are used to make Eskimo icecream. This peculiar food is about as popular as a saharan sauna. While demand is low, the price is lower bounded to support the frivolous lifestyles of scarcely numbered cloudberry collectors. On the other hand, plentiful Lingonberries are used to make a sweet sweet jam which, in some circles, is very popular on cold winter nights.
  • The sheer effort of getting to the clouds to get the berries!!
  • They are imported from the southern region of Scandinavia where fruit is rare
  • They grow higher up and are harder to get to, thus increasing the labour required, thus increasing the required value of sale to cover costs and make a profit.
  • They’re from a lot higher up
  • They’re rarer and there are restrictions about who can pick them and when they can be picked.
  • If you have to ask you’ll never know.

Question 5

If you fall from a ship in Arctic waters, what should you do?

Answer

(from some people, probably consultants, who have obviously never done it) Since death by freezing is believed to be worse than drowning, swim like mad for the bottom.

Better Alternatives:

  • Be wearing an immersion survival suit with a GPS beacon. Don’t thrash around, you’ll just lose body heat quicker; activate your beacon, curl up into a ball in the water and wait to be rescued. Use the time to a) compose a dramatic headline for the story that you’re going to sell to New Idea or Womens Weekly, e.g. I Survived Terrifying Plunge Into Icy Ocean Of Death (don’t forget the capitals), and/or b) plot revenge on the bastard who pushed you overboard.
  • Bounce off the water and land back on the ship.
  • Check for broken bones, if none found and weather is good, try hailing ship if possible. If you have fallen into the ships wake, ie icy water, and the weather is foul, nice knowing you, mate.
  • Check if you have broken anything after falling onto the ice.
  • Climb back onto the ship.
  • Count slowly to 60 and then drown
  • Crack open your clothes to get them off
  • Depends on context. Should, like ought, is a value judgement. There is no prescribed universal ‘ought’ (eg Hume).
  • Depends, If you fell from the ship onto another ship, you could just jump back over.
  • Evolve. Quickly. (Luckily Ah already have enough insulation, so Ah’d just have to float on the surface and wait for someone to harpoon me.)
  • Find a friendly dolphin to take you somewhere warmer and safe or kill the friendly dolphin and use it as a nice warm bathing suit
  • Firstly, hope you are wearing a PFD (personal Floatation Device)… then get into the HELP position, where you get into a fetal like position, to protect the groin, chest, armpits and backs of the knee from excess heat loss.
  • Follow the advise of the ghosts of Richard III: despair and die.
  • Freeze for the photo shot. Or wake up from your dream – I did not know that there were ships or water in the Arctic. Thought it was all that frozen stuff.
  • Freeze or drown or both [Probably both]
  • Freeze to death. Alternatively, and assuming you can get to some kind of “dry” land you should roll in snow, it will soak the water off you. Getting naked (preferably with a member of the opposite sex, depends on your preference obviously) never hurts either, ideally this person should be your spouse or some other attractive sort.
  • Get a new travel agent.
  • Grab hold of Kate Winslet (I know I would).
  • Grab hold of the railing before completing your fall.
  • Hmm, the obvious response is “get back on board and down a stiff brandy” but that’s too sensible an answer for Dr. Bob. On reflection, one would be frozen in milliseconds (unless one fell from “Titanic” and one’s name is Kate Winslett) so the correct answer is “die”.
  • I’d suggest screaming for help as loudly as possible. Then some intensive praying while rapidly treading water. If that doesn’t work, I would look for a passing seal to cling to for warmth. I think you have about 3-5 minutes before you freeze to death so there won’t be time for much else.
  • If you are going to roast in eternal hellfire after you die, be grateful for your last dunk in cold water, forever.
  • Just totally spaz-out like a total hypermaniacal spaz-o-zoid
  • Make sure the Arctic waters have moved, via trans oceanic currents or bulk ore carrier or jumbo jet, to tropical climes and are well warmed.
  • Make sure you already have an immersion suit on and a raft to get onto immediately. And don’t have less than superb vascular fitness. And make sure you fall in feet first and don’t get your head wet. Otherwise you won’t have to worry about what to do because you will most likely drown in the water which your first gasp takes in, or in the water which you take in during the next few minutes of hyperventilation, or in the throes of a heart attack triggered by the cold shock. If all fate is with you and you are taken out of the water alive, don’t let anyone make you stand up until a thermometer up your bum reads normal. The stupidest bit of film footage I have seen since Chuck Heston reached into the burning bush was the scene in ‘a Perfect Storm’ where a fisherman is hooked by a stray longline hook attached to a diving swordfish in northern canadian water and not only manages to hold his breath for more than a minute but is joined by a rescuing mate with a knife and peripheral control sharp enough to locate his mate in murky water and both without full immersion suits. I was kicked out of the show for laughing.
  • Make sure you are wearing a wetsuit at the time, or, make sure there is a rubber dinghy under you, or, a friendly passing seal to give you a tow, or, scream very loudly, HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLP
  • Miaow?
  • Pack some ice onto your broken leg and call for help.
  • PANIC!
  • Pray that you don’t break a leg when you hit the snow and ice, then start running after the ship (ice breaker?)
  • Preferably, land on a marginally smaller ship. Alternatively, try to stay afloat, swim as little as possible, keep your arms close by your sides or crossed over your chest, keep your back to the waves and pray.
  • Roll up in a ball and piss yourself, thus heating the surrounding water.
  • Shiver
  • Shiver. Scream for help. Make yourself into a tight ball to reduce heat loss. Die from hypothermia.
  • Shout ‘Oi, I’ve fallen overboard!’ and hope for the best.
  • Sink? Or swim? Or avoid getting eaten by a polar bear?
  • Stop breathing and die.
  • Sue the cruise line as they will not travel down there. Not much to do as your muscles would freeze almost immediately and you would have no movement (although I have a family member who supposedly did the polar bear swim-100 yards nude in antarctica)
  • Swim I guess. However, unless you have a good immersion suit you will not be swimming for long as the freezing water temperature would probably kill you fairly quickly.
  • Swim south until you reach a nice warm current.
  • Take off your clothes quick as, because you’re never going to float with all those waterlogged Antarctic-weight clothes on.
  • Thank the good lord that this icy embrace is nothing like the welcome back in Australia as the Wallabies empty out the trophy cabinet. Brrrr!
  • Think about how great your media empire was, and how people will only ever remember the nice things you did, and how the name Maxwell will be revered forever.
  • Tread water and keep your head out of the water as much as possible.
  • Try not to look like a seal
  • Walk home on the ice?
  • Well, brush off the snow and stand up, the water is likely frozen. If you managed to fall on thin ice or between broken ice, then a quick prayer to the supernatural being of your choice would be in order.
  • Well, the best way would appear to be to find a gap in the railing on the ship’s side and simply launch yourself outwards and into the water (making sure the ship is actually not still tied up at the wharf at the time). Was that what you had in mind, Dr Bob? [No, more the opposite]
  • Yes, what should you do? Any hints are welcome. When you go ice-swimming, you realise that doing much anything is not much of an option in +2 degree water.
  • You mean apart from panic? Hope that it is winter and the sea is frozen, so all you get is mild concussion instead of quick and painful death by hypothermia. Scramble back on board via the nearest ladder, pronto.
  • You should assume the Heat Escape Lessening Posture. Not a very fortunate acronym, however: Person #1: “I’ve fallen into arctic waters!” Person #2 (on ship): “HELP” Person #1: “Stop panicking! What should I do?” Person #2: “I’m telling you! HELP” etc.
  • You should start enjoying the images of your life passing in front of your eyes.
  • Look at the bright side. Some people pay an awful lot to have their heads removed and cryonically frozen after death. You can have your whole body done, for free!
  • Kiss your ice good-bye.

Question 6

Who wrote this?

Answer

Elvis Presley

We Neither Confirm Nor Deny

  • Apparently there was a Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On at the time, because the writing is All Shook Up. If anyone sent me such a messy missive, I’d mark it Return To Sender immediately. (I refuse to use that e-word out loud Dr Bob, even for you, because I really, really, REALLY hate the music.)
  • A better question, who can read it?
  • A cat named Wendy
  • A doctor [Well, it was someone who could assuage the soul, at least. Someone who kept a lot of doctors and drug mfrs. in business. Maybe the handwriting transfers after a few thousand consultations.]
  • A human being
  • Buggered if I know, I can only make out a few words but I’m willing to chuck up Ben Franklin or Albert Einstein.
  • By the look of it it was me after the 6th G & T. (Actually my writing is worse that this; it takes half a dozen G & T’s to steady my hands enough to write this well.) Or maybe it was E.A.P. Hard to know after 6 G & T’s.
  • Captain Scott
  • Dr. Bob’s optometrist.
  • Someone applying for a job with the FBI. He was concerned with drugs and crime wasting youths. Ironically, his music once was believed to do the same.
  • Elvis Presley to Richard M Nixon, volunteering to be an undercover Federal Agent. Nixon secretly accepted and provided Elvis with a false identity and a fake death a few years later.
  • Elvis Presley to Richard Nixon… received by Nixon December 21, 1970. His handwriting is crap – just as well he could sing [and it was a pity he didn’t follow that as a career instead of becoming President of the United States]
  • Elvis Presley, to Richard M. Nixon, offering his services against drug abuse and Communist brainwashing.
  • ELVIS!!!! Uh-huh-huh
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Florence Nightingale. Such a stab in the dark I’m in danger of losing the knife
  • From: Elvis Presley To: Richard Nixon When: 21 December 1970
  • George Orwell, in “Homage To Catalonia.” (1938)Adolf Hitler, in “A Letter From The Front Line – Ypres.” (1916)George W Bush, in “Letter From The Front Line – Desert Storm” (1991)Ron Hubbard, in “A Letter Home From A Serving US Navy Ship” (1946)
  • Hankle Pinkleberger II, who had a grudge against the Presley clan over a bike he sold to Mr and Mrs Presley for which he was never paid.
  • How did you get ahold a that letter, Sir? That there’s a matter between Me and the rightful President of the United States. Ah am not dead. Ah have been on federal undercover business since 1977. Ah don’t believe there’s any harm in ya’ll knowing I was in Afghanistan throughout the eighties and nineties, and Ah narrowly escaped being blowed up by the Taliban in lieu of a Bamiyan Buddha.
  • I did, at the pub last week. At least I think I did…
  • I don’t know, but judging from the handwriting, right handed (eg unstrained), egocentric (messy, hard-to read, content) short (no high characters), corrupt-political or shady-business minded (incorrect use of capitals, illegible), shady profession (content, incorrect grammar, unstructured sentences), written off the cuff.
  • If I could read what they were saying I might be able to tell you
  • Isn’t that an extract from the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  • Jerry Garcia
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • Looks like my shopping list.
  • My guess would be George W, but there seems to be some punctuation.
  • No one, it’s a picture. Maybe you should ask who took this picture?
  • No, he was on first.
  • Not a doctor- I can read it. The sentiment expressed makes me guess Mother Therese (except for the reference to technique) but probably the writer is male. Ergo do not know.
  • Not me, honest.
  • Pugsly from the Adams family.
  • Richard Nixon [no, he read it]
  • Robert Scott
  • Shane Warne
  • Some idiot with bad handwriting.
  • Somebody with really bad handwriting. Given the arctic theme of the previous few questions, I’ll guess either Admiral Byrd or Peary or some other arctic explorer.
  • Someone who pulled a feather out of a goose. I’ve been “right in the middle of the whole thing”, too, and I can tell you it’s not pleasant!
  • Someone who was really drunk at the time.
  • The handwriting looks bad enough to be L. Ron Hubbard’s. Certainly his grasp of reality was as good as his grasp of handwriting.
  • The poor penmanship would seem to indicate G. W. Bush, President of the United States.
  • The winning entry in the Australian lousy handwriting contest (a doctor, like Bob, always wins).
  • This is part of a letter written by Jon Burrows – woops -Elvis Aaron Presley to Richard the Turd Nixon. Entering “I am glad to help just so long as” got me a hit in one on google. Is this a famous thing anywhere except the silly USA? Pretty standard output I should have thought for a gross drug abuser.
  • This looks like a hand written (since his cell phone got confiscated) message from Shane Warne offering his public relations skills to the Australian Rugby Board in their hour of need whilst in the middle of his suspension from the middle, as it were.
  • Wasn’t me, guv! I wasn’t anywhere near that wall. It was anuvver geezer. Honest. Pretty bad writing. Somebody famous. Shaw, Wilde, Churchill, Wellington, Browning, Wordsworth, [yes someone famous but, um, how shall I put it, not in quite the same way as these persons] Hezekiah Pipstraw. Sorry, give up.
  • Wendy.
  • You did Dr Bob, you Plagiaristic Pig!
  • You can’t pin this one on me, Dr. Bob. I have much nicer handwriting. Good luck finding out who sent you this blackmail letter.

Comments:

  • “Recreational” Mathematics Collection (gasp, wheeze, gag… pardon me!) at the U of Calgary and uses The Ladies’ Diary as an example of mathematical puzzles from the early 1800’s. http://www.maa.org/mathland/mathland%5F7%5F14.html. There is no extra charge for this research service. It is an honor to serve you, Dr. Bob! [Many people have said that. Some of them even go into details – about my head on a plate, etc]
  • My book says “The Ladies’ Diary was first published in 1704, and initially was full of recipes, drawings, education and health stuff. In a few years, the previous arguments were abandoned, and the magazine started the publication of riddles, questions and math problems … Several men started to write to the journal, solving and proposing new problems; they often used a feminine pseudonym … In 1738 the editor claimed that “foreigners would be amazed if he showed to them about 500 letters from women containing math problems and solutions” … In the following years, problems became so difficult that they were solved mainly by the most famous mathematicians of XIX century … When the Ladies’ Diary ended publication, the articles and problems migrated into a column of “The Educational Times”: great names as Hermite and Hardy published there, and their articles were also republished in their own opera omnia”. That’s all…. but, maybe, the American Mathematical Monthly has begun its life coming from “the Educational Times”…. or maybe not, who knows? Anyway, it is clear that, at least, the Ladies’ Diary has been really and mainly a math magazine. You’re no more alone, Dr Bob, in Q2 of July.
  • Another welcome opportunity to take a break from work.
  • Bit of dodgy penmanship there, send the poor scribe a laptop so that the notes will be legible in the future.
  • Couldn’t think of anything funny to say, so took the serious line. Hope you aren’t too offended.
  • Do you know any attractive yet virtuous woman of marriagable age and disposition in Australia? [Now THAT is a very hard question. Delete the word ‘virtuous’ and it would be easier]
  • Do you want people to do some research on these questions, or just to make wild guesses off the top of their heads? [Well … better from there than from other parts of the anatomy]
  • Dr Bob…The questions weren’t so obscure this month. It didn’t take much googling to get the majority of answers. Have a good one mate, I’m off to warm up with a port or two.
  • Dr. Bob, I need your help on a religious issue! In front of my workplace is this white stick sort of thing, about 2 meters high, pointing to the sky. Some of my co-workers and students gather there for orgies of praying for peace. (Yes, we all know how well THAT works.) Anyhow, isn’t heaven under the planet Earth as well as above it? Shouldn’t this prayer stick thing point both ways? Should I bring this to the attention of Jesus Junior, the school president? [Well they would have had to sharpen both ends of the stick to get it in the ground, so it DOES also point downwards. Have you read “Lord of the Flies” … You should form your own cult and be seen worshipping the stick as a downward-pointing entity. When praying, lift hands downwards etc.]
  • Gettin’ easier Bobbie… so are the questions, you old tart.
  • Greetings from the war mongering tribes of the northern hemisphere. Some know that this once great place is in rapid decline. You may expect a horde of expats, in the near future. Cheers
  • Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better.
  • Huh?
  • I could get a high score on this one – but probably every bastard has got the cloudberries one by now.
  • I don’t believe there are many right or wrong answers in your quiz this month Dr Bob so I demand to be the winner
  • I don’t like the comments making fun of Americans. Those comments imply all Americans are stupid when the person making the comment can’t possibly know all Americans. Please reserve your derisive comments for the truely stupid Americans [and bad spellers] like me.
  • I have a belly button.
  • I have a penny.
  • I know, I never call, rarely write, take my prize and run. By the way, I’ve been meaning to tell you, OH means Ohio, not OOOH, YEEESSS, Dr. Bob! (You’d have to buy me dinner and a few drinks to get the latter response.)
  • I used to be a 199-pound middle-aged besom with a mind full of unfunny limericks. But thanks to Dr Bob’s Skeptical Quiz (TM), I now have the body of a gorgeous 19-year-old supermodel and the brain of a Rhodes scholar! I keep them in a pit under the house.
  • If less than 2 people enter this quiz, I am bound to win.
  • If you have time for all this banter, why are the July quiz results not yet posted??? I do so want to see my name once again gracing the top of your page… [Well *I* have time, well, I don’t have time but I can FIND the time by postponing well-paid work to get the answers done and engage in wit and repartee, and indeed how better to spend one’s time, so that even the earning of vast amounts of money loses its appeal … however you should not hold your breath waiting to see your name up there again, there is a big backlog of worthy winners]
  • Imagine combining Jaws, Moby Dick & Titanic. During WWII.
  • Insert comment here —-> X [Ouch!]
  • Mad rush this month. I could have left it completely, but I liked the questions. All are answerable, after a fashion. I love the comments section. Some of the references are so abstruse that I can only assume they are in jokes. It is not that I mind being humiliated by a superior cruciverbalist, what I do object to is not even understanding the preamble. Cheerio!
  • Now once more with Google^H^H^H^H^H^Hfeeling
  • obscurity rules
  • Oh dear – I think someone has attached me to a dimmer switch and is turning it in the wrong direction.
  • Peter Pan’s no fool. He’s got Wendy licked. [But the bad guy soon got her hooked]
  • Skiing was a bummer. Wife tore muscles in leg and cant ski for at least a month. [Oh what a pity. You must have anguished no end as you shimmied down the beautiful mountain slopes day after day, pausing to assist young ladies learning how to ski, etc]
  • Sorry I haven’t done your quiz for months, but I’ve been busy with work, marriage breakdown etc. (I know these are paltry excuses for missing the quiz, but it’s the best I can do.)
  • Sorry to be pedantic, but current research-state-of-mind accepts no sloppiness.
  • Sorry, Dr Bob but I’ve had to wait several years for this, especially since that ‘Oviphiliac” crack of April 2000! Vengeance is mine saith the lord, and the Bledisloe Cup is ours! See you at the World Cup.
  • Sorry. As always.
  • Thanks Bob.
  • There. Who needs Google anyway. 🙂
  • These questions are WAY too hard!!!
  • This month was too easy Dr. Bob. Having said that, I have this niggling feeling in the back of my head that in fact I have just removed my right foot and put my left foot into my mouth.
  • Well, it’s 9:30pm. Guess I better make a start on that English assignment due tomorrow, eh? [it must be the one that improves your grammar]
  • What the hell was that? [I find that many females say this to me]
  • Wherever there is a will, I want to be in it.
  • Why did this only take an hour? And my brain isn’t hurting? Please don’t say the obvious. Thanks for a more interesting lunchtime.
  • You’re a strange, strange man [yes – especially at lunchtime]
  • Don’t you have anything better to do with your life????? Can I have your job??? [Yes – you can set the next set of questions, and be told off for being late with the answers YET AGAIN]
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