Answers for October 2003

Not many entries got Q2 Q4 or Q6 right, and nobody got Q1 properly. Best (and first) among these was

Stephen Merdith

who moved some months ago from Big Pond to another ISP. So you win twice, Stephen.

Question 1

Why was the Linux computer operating system given its dual-boot facility?


Because when Linus Torvalds was developing Linux, he also wanted to play the DOS game Prince of Persia and he had only one computer

Pretty close:

  • Economy, I guess. Usually the most important features arrive just because someone is poor and need to invent something. Maybe Linus Torvalds was needing two machines, and mixed the two in one?
  • The sensible answer would be “So to reduce the impact of swapping to a new OS”, but realistically, considering the original users of Linux, “So they could play games, since so very few are ported to Linux” [none, in fact, at the time Linux was being developed]

Mundane but Sort of Correct Answers:

  • A very practical reason: Since Windows is so universal, to allow the convenience of also booting Windows and Linux from the same disk. Is this too simple an answer?
  • An easy one for a change. Wait for it Dr Bob…wait for it! Roll on the drums!!! One for each foot. (You need only respond if you have received less than 150 answers along this line.) The real answer is not nearly as much fun. The dual-boot facility is to enable a computer to run with two operating systems, i.e. a quality one like Linux and that Windows based rubbish out of Redmond, which you still might need to play Tetris or D & D. They are loaded in separate partitions. Technically, because Microsoft and Bill Gates think they are the centre of the universe, known and unknown, Windows has to be loaded in the first partition, but there are ways of fooling Windows into thinking that it is in the first partition when it isn’t so that your Linux machine does not have to be replaced. I know this kind of stuff.
  • Because the money grubbers at Microsoft have (had) a lock-up on software; Linux needed ability to go with MS compatible as well as Linux compatible SW
  • Because with one boot, it kept leaning to its left side.
  • Because with only one boot it couldn’t run – it would have had to hop…
  • Because you can’t go anywhere (today) wearing only one shoe. Ba-ba-ba-bawowowo!! Never underestimate the Power of the Dark side, change to Linux today.
  • But Linus (NB your misspelling) is a ‘Peanuts’ cartoon character with a penchant for good music, so why are you waffling on about dual boots when it is obvious to all that Linus wears two bloody SHOES. You are a worry, Dr Bob.
  • Coincidentally my dad LINUS had a dual-boot facility too. He often gave you a second one up the backside for extra measure.
  • Games! The only Unix games were ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Vi vs Emacs’. Boring text stuff. Only DOS had Cmdr Keen.
  • Gnu and BSD based operating systems are not alone in having a multi-boot option. In fact, MS Windows is one of the only ones without. In the olden days, it was thought that you may need to use one OS for working, and one OS for play, and hardware was too expensive to warrant having multiple computers – hence multi-boot. OS/2, BeOS, Linux, BSD, Solaris/x86, and many other PC operating systems keep this function. MS Windows and MS DOS never had it. Secondly, in the interests of pedantry, Linux is a Kernel. Not an operating system. The Linux Kernel is part of the Gnu/Linux OS, which is most often called a Unix-like operating system. It’s not a UNIX ™, but is mostly the same. In fact GNU actually stands for Gnu’s Not Unix … not sure where the gnu came into it, but I think it had something to do with Flanders & Swann (or maybe that was a-g-nother gnu).
  • I have read umpteen pages on Linux (if they want to pronounce it that way, why don’t they call it Linnux?) dual boot facilities. All of them are incomprehensible. I did find out that Windows has a dual boot facility as well and sometimes Windows and Linux can have a multi-boot facility and that a Red Hat comes into it somewhere. My opinion is that anyone with any expertise in computer programs should have a ghost writer to translate whatever they want to say into English. Linux has a dual boot facility because the nerds that created it have two left feet.
  • Incredibly, this can be answered with EXACTLY the same reply I used in my Philosophy examination in a question on Descarte’s notion of Cogito ergo sum: “As part of the boot process, dual booting runs a program and gives you a menu from which you can choose the operating system you wish to boot…”(Unfortunately, the exam question had specifically asked about first-person formulation in the Second Meditation, so my mark suffered a bit on that one. Fortunately, however, the Philosophy examiner liked my use of the word “Existential” in the margin, so I didn’t actually fail…)
  • It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • Linus Torvalds had two feet.
  • One for the left foot, one for the right
  • People using Linux set up a dual boot facility on their PC because nowadays Linux is extremely popular with the ant-Gatesian brigade, but it doesn’t always run software written for Windows. It is fashionable these days to run alternative operating systems. However people are discovering that the most popular forms of anti-windows do not support everything or make those things easy to setup. The solution that has been built into most alternatives is dual booting. This allows you to run anti-windows and windows, all at once.
  • Since Linux was tweaked by thousands of hackers (open source code), they needed to be able to boot to either Linux (that they were working on) or their usual OS (Operating System).
  • So it can kick both boots up the arses of its slow poke operating systems.
  • So it could have each foot in different operating systems, or possibly because Linus Torvalds was a great admirer of the Leyland P-76.
  • So Mr Gates could still be present.
  • So people could switch from the original bug-ridden, command-line driven interface to… Windows or DOS. Can’t win them all.
  • So that you could give it a good kicking.
  • So you can boot up Windows 98 and 2000 simultaneously, or whatever other combination of programs take your fancy. Also handy if your computer has feet.
  • The Linux is a heeled boot, so if you don’t have the pair, you limp along.
  • The programmers were all schizophrenics?
  • The second boot is sort of like a “snooze” button on an alarm clock, if it feels like it doesn’t want to start up for another 10 minutes, the snooze option is activated
  • This question has kept me awake nights as I ponder the reasoning behind the dual-boots. Oh, I don’t have a clue as to what a dual-boot is unless it means getting kicked in the behind twice.
  • To allow access to another os on the same HD. You couldn’t buy a pc with /Linux only/ loaded as the “legal” operating system when Torvalds began the project. Linux is particularly useful when you need to access a Win os which has been locked with “passwords”.
  • To put it on an equal FOOTING with Windows – geddit? Yeeehaaaa, a pucking fun, Dr Spooner.
  • To ward off evil spirits.
  • Why not?

Question 2

Who said in the 1960s something like “Tell the Russians that they can now sleep in peace”


[Only 2 people got this; the text below is from, so perhaps the town is part of Scotland after all. Sorry, I had to re-word the quote to foil easy hitting with Google]: Even Henry VII’s final capture of the town in 1482 didn’t entirely simplify matters. Under the Treaty of Perpetual Peace between Henry VII of England and James IV of Scotland in 1502 (just 11 years before the Scottish army and nobility was destroyed by the English at the Battle of Flodden) Berwick was given a special status as being “of” the Kingdom of England but not “in” it. As a result the town thereafter needed special mention in royal proclamations. This had one odd effect. When Queen Victoria signed the declaration of war on Russia in 1853, she did so in the name of “Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and the British Dominions beyond the sea.” But Berwick was not mentioned in the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Crimean War in 1856, leaving the town technically still at war with Russia. A peace treaty was only finally signed by a Russian diplomat and the the Mayor of Berwick in 1966. As the mayor said at the time: “You can tell the Russian people that they can now sleep peacefully in their beds”.

More Answers

  • A person who was blinded by low cloud and couldn’t see the missile silos
  • Art Linkletter, in one of his Craftmatic Adjustable Bed commercials.
  • Ayn Rand wrote longer and more soporific books than Dostoevsky.
  • Bond, James Bond.
  • Castro (before Cuban Missle Crisis was resolved with missles in place aimed at U.S.). Remember, the reds were as afraid of the yanks as the yanks were of the reds
  • Castro said this, however, due to his very thick Cuban accent, the real meaning, “Tell the Russians they can now slip in peas” was lost. This was, of course, a reference to the slip coefficient of certain Russian military footwear and recent shipments of wet Cuban peas to the Motherland.
  • Dr Strangelove.
  • Harold Holt after being taken on board the Russian submarine.
  • Hmm, Sean Connery in ‘From Russia With Love’, as I recall. Certainly wasn’t Sean Connery in ‘Dr. No’.
  • How much like it do you need? In the sixties I remember telling my mum I wouldn’t get pissed on Fridays at work. Is that close enough? Was it me?
  • I can find no reference to this at all in any dictionary of quotations (though I did find a Dan Quayle quotation site. Now I know where George W. gets his ideas from). As, however, you have asked “something like”, I suspect that either you have no idea what the real quotation is or it is written in a language that you do not understand, like Swahili or Sanskrit or English. It sounds almost like a line from 1960’s protest song.
  • I don’t remember anything from the 60’s
  • It sounds like something Churchill would have said, but being the 60’s it was probably JFK.
  • James Bond in one of his movies – Thunderball or goldfinger, starring the incredibly spunky Sean baby!
  • JFK – bit of a slip up from the old diplomat there.
  • John F Kennedy – Adlai Stevenson – Nikita Kruschev – Who knows? The russkis and yanks always rewrite everything.
  • Lee Oswald? Or maybe Jack Ruby?
  • Kennedy, who actually said “The Russians can now rest in peace”, as he pressed the big red button. He was later assassinated to cover all this up.
  • Kutuzov
  • Mandrake Montgomery the famous hypnotist, while touring the workers’ clubs of the USSR would say to his interpreter “tell the Russians they are getting sleepy” followed by “tell the Russians they will wake up when I click my fingers.”
  • Me.
  • Neil Armstrong, after he’d been to the moon first, saying that the Rooskies could relax now, they wouldn’t now make it to the moon first (but we all know the moon landings were hoaxes, don’t we, which raises hopes of an Australian being the first true person to the moon).
  • Nostradamus, predicting the Chernobyl incident.
  • Sounds like a Reaganism. Or Nixon. Or JFK. Or some other Australian President.
  • Stalin, in a seance.
  • Teng Hsiao-p’ing
  • The CEO of Tontine after expanding their monopoly of the global pillow market into Russia.
  • The father of Anna Kournikova telling his country he would deliver something of enormous value to the world.
  • The great hypnotist Markham (older baby boomers will remember).
  • This was a toughie, Dr Bob. The Mayor of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Councillor Robert Knox. Due to an ancient dispute between Scotland and England, no one could decide who Berwick-Upon-Tweed really belonged to, so various proclamations authored before 1885 referred to “England, Scotland and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed”. Apparently “Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions” declared war on Russia in 1853 , but Berwick-Upon-Tweed was left off the peace treaty in 1856. They eventually let the Russians off with a severe tongue lashing in 1966
  • Your saying “something like” tells me one of three things. Either you cannot remember the exact quotation and can’t be bothered looking it up; or you have deliberately distorted the exact quotation to stop people Googling it too easily; or it is a translation. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and presuming you are neither lazy nor mean so I’ll go for the translation….. [Ha!! Wrong!!! Try ‘mean’…].

Question 3

There is a ball 12 feet in diameter on top of a pole 60 feet high. On the ball stands a man whose eye is six feet above the ball. How much ground beneath the ball is invisible to him?


39 x 39 x pi square feet = 4778.36 sq ft. (Neglecting the curvature of the Earth which would add about 0.000018 sq ft, depending slightly on what latitude this was at).

More useful observations:

  • Why on earth is some guy standing on a 12 foot diameter ball on top of a 60 foot pole? And how did he get up there? If he has any sense, he will NOT be looking down for fear of getting dizzy. But then, if he has sense, what is he doing up there in the first place?
  • Does he have the courage to look down at all?
  • If it’s a crystal ball, he can see into the future <picture of man sliding off slippery crystal ball …arrghhh!>
  • (a) A circle 78ft in diameter (b) all of it – he’s got his eye closed
  • 4775.94 circular feet or conversely, all of it
  • About 6370sq. feet
  • According to my dodgy maths its 6371.2 square feet assuming the earth is flat and the man looking doesn’t lean over and peek.
  • All of it (assuming you meant he is standing on said ball, although its quite a feat for him to be able to do this)
  • All of it (the ground DIRECTLY beneath the ball is not visible no matter how good your vision or how close to the ball you are. It is true that more ground NOT DIRECTLY beneath the ball is less visible, the closer you are to the ball).
  • All of it! The man is lying prostrate on top of the ball with his eyes closed praying for salvation. There are too many unknowns to give any other answer. Is the ball solid or hollow? Of what material is it made, soft or hard? How heavy is the man? We need to know that so one can work out the amount of compression and how much the diameter of the ball has been reduced. Does the man have only one eye? Is it in his head or is he, in fact, a 12 foot high man with a single eye in his navel? How wide is the pole? Is it in fact 13 or 14 foot wide? Is it stuck in the ground or floating several feet above the ground? A few more clues would help, Dr Bob.
  • All of it, because the man is too busy screaming “get me off of this”!
  • All of it, plus some. (Any ground that is visible to the man isn’t strictly speaking “beneath” the ball). Unless, of course, the ball and pole are glass or perspex, in which case none of it is invisible. A bit distorted, but not invisible.
  • All of it. The man, quite correctly for someone balancing on a ball 72 feet off the ground, had his eye(s) shut tightly. He was heard to plead: “Oh, Lord!….”. To give some form of quantitative answer would require much more data eg – Was the pole in a hole? Was he looking down? Which eye was he using? How was his peripheral vision? Which hand was he holding his eye in? What’s his inside leg measurement? etc etc
  • all of the ground **beneath** the ball is invisible to the man – so long as the man’s eye is perpendicular to the point where the ball touches the pole and the pole is perpendicular to the ground.
  • All the ground beneath the ball is invisible to him, unless it’s a crystal ball. However, the question may be badly phrased. If one assumes 1) the man isn’t blind 2) he is standing perfectly straight so his eye is above the centre of the ball 3) he has full 360 degree vision (most unusual) 4) the earth is flat where the pole is (!!!!) 5) He cant see through the ball 6) The balls gravity has a negligable effect on the light passing by it 6) He has only one eye and it’s open … Then the question could possible be construed to mean how much ground area can’t he see. Answer: about 6371 sq ft (591.9 sq m or 23.4 perches in the old scale)..
  • Approximately 6378 square feet would not be visible to him.
  • Can the bloke turn around on the ball? Move his head? Jump up and down? Is there fog between his eyes and the ground? Is his view partly blocked by an erection? If so, is it his and what size is it? Etc. Tch, Dr Bob – not enough information in your conical question. Too many variables. (And anyway, what’s with this Imperial feet rubbish? Use good old traditional Aussie metric, which we’ve known and loved since, er, 1974, is what I say…)
  • Depends how fat he is. For Homer Simpson (particularly in the episode where he got so fat he had to work from home) he would see nothing except yellow flesh.
  • Depends on if he’s looking up or down…
  • er, some of it? Is this a trick question?
  • Geez, I have better things to do than figure out that 4,778.36 square feet of the ground is invisible (assuming the pole is perpendicular to the ground, the curvature of the earth is neglible, and that my basic maths skills hasn’t deserted me – entirely possible).
  • Given a few fanciful assumptions (the man cant bend in any direction and he suffers from cyclopia), my high school mathematics calculates the area as 2028 x pi sq. feet, or approximately 6371 sq. feet
  • High school trigonometry suggests 26 X sqrt(3). But since that is more than the diameter of the ball, a trick answer emerges: “All of it!”. In the same sense as: “Q:How many months have 29 days? A:All of them”.
  • I am a maths teacher without a calculator or pen and paper, I refuse to answer that question. But as a guess… 40 feet. [Dear oh dear. Feet are linear – an area would have to be in square feet. I worked this out without a calculator, pen or paper. And there’s no need to guess – an accurate answer must exist. Must try harder, 1/10]
  • I could work this out with a pencil (like the constipated mathematician) and/or trigonometry – sorry too lackadaisical this month, must be the laxatives.
  • I don’t think this question is anatomically possible. I have measured, and my eye is two and one half feet above my ball. And although my math isn’t so good, I do notice that I have two of each of the aforementioned body parts.
  • If he is not blindfolded then a circle with a diameter of 72 feet is invisible to him.
  • More importantly, was he running a Russian running Linux?
  • Most of the earth beyond the horizon.
  • None if he’s Superman. Use the x-ray vision son!
  • None if his eye is shut.
  • None of it if it’s a (Philip) glass ball. I trust that that purely gratuitous reference gets me a bonus… [Yes it’s been a good month, beyond my wildest dreams I was able to get tickets to see Akhnaten at the very last minute]
  • None, if there is a very low cloud.
  • None. He is a blind cyclops with an extraordinarily well developed sense of balance.
  • Not so fast. What is the ball made of? If it is opaque then 4778.3624 square feet of ground cannot be seen but if it is clear, you won’t miss anything.
  • There are no Poles who are 60 feet high. Equally, feet are of no significance in these metric days. Anyway, if the ground is beneath the ball then he can’t see any of it.
  • With clairsentience? All of it.
  • Wouldn’t that depend on whether the ball was opaque or not? Assuming that it is opaque, that the ground beneath the ball is flat, that the man does not bend over and that he is not too completely terrified to even look at the ground, I wouldn’t have any bloody idea.

Question 4

What is the significance of the above problem?

Lofty Answer

Because problems like this might inspire people to enjoy mathematics. A noble ambition, but one for which I am forced to note with regret that my audience has left me somewhat disappointed.

Real Answers

  • Gawd, it’s your obsession with the “The American Mathematical Monthly” again. It inspired its creator.
  • Benjamin Franklin Finkel, founder of American Mathematical Monthly, that rag of previous Quiz torture, reports having encountered the problem while still unable to solve it. He included a “problems” section in the Magazine. In the official history of the American Mathematical Monthly, this point was made in just about the most prolix manner I’ve yet met in similar amateur histories. Unlike my answers, which are invariably terse.
  • Oh, Dr Bob, what a torturous web you weave! It inspired one Benjamin Franklin Finkel to a career in mathematics. By a strange coincidence, the aforementioned Mr Finkel was also the first editor of the “The American Mathematical Monthly”
  • Well, if one someday finds oneself standing on a giant opaque ball balanced on a tall pole, it would be useful to know how big the nasty monster hiding under the ball waiting to eat you up could possibly be, wouldn’t it? Actually the significance of the above is that it was the problem that got a teenaged Benjamin Franklin Finkel really excited about problem-solving and mathematics in general… apparently it took him years to solve it, which makes me feel a bit better. BFF went on to become a maths teacher, and in 1894 founded the journal American Mathematical Monthly, from whence the Mathematical Association of America sprang.
  • Assume the Earth is a sphere… We’re trained to approach it as a mathematical problem instead of caring about the mental state of the poor guy who’s gotten himself stranded somewhere very uncomfortable – and probably quite slippery.
  • Being that tall with only one eye he must suffer from poor depth perception.
  • Could have practical applications for space travel, satellite coverage, etc.
  • Dont overeat or you wont be able to see the ground when you are on top of a ……oh this is stupid!
  • Doubtless something arcane to do with moons and planets and eclipses and stuff. (Oops, gotta go. The Low Interest Warning Light flasheth on my computer screen.)
  • Dr. Bob likes American baseball and wants to know if the hitter can see the runner on 2nd base (or vice versa) with the pitcher being in the way. But … that is why they lead off Dr. Bob! [Er, hitter? runner? pitcher? lead off? We have pitchers here in Australia, but we keep beer in them. Well, not for long. “Lead off” sounds like some sort of sexual objective … to my filthy mind, anyway].
  • Dunno but it sounds like a cool obstacle to have at a mini golf course.
  • For one-eyed, mentally deranged men, I would say that this presents a significant problem of BALANCE. Suffice it to say, I sure hope your “I dared a one-eyed, deranged man to stand on the top of a 12 foot diameter ball, 60 feet in the air” insurance is paid up. The other significant thing is that this puzzle isn’t in Metric – how antediluvian of you.
  • He may lack clairsentience.
  • I give up.
  • If anyone ever gets stuck on top a 12 foot ball on a pole 60 feet high and they only have one eye …
  • If some Australian skeptics with weird senses of humor stick you up a tall pole on top of a big ball, be prepared to do some screaming.
  • If you want to film a football match from a blimp it is better to have the camera underneath the blimp pointing down rather than on top of the blimp unless the blimp is made of see-through material.
  • It appeared in Dr Bob’s Quiz.
  • It highlights the necessity of checking the weather reports for low cloud prior to conducting experiments.
  • It shows Foster’s cans aren’t big enough to nurse through a quiz anymore.
  • It shows that you teach maths.
  • It’s Dr Bobs subtle Philip Glass question of the month. (He’s a one-eyed fan of the gentleman)
  • Must be a tall man ie approximately 6ft 6inches (depending where he keeps his eyes). Anyway, more details needed – at night no ground visible, if he is blind? etc….
  • Nothing, Dr Bob was just using this to fill in questions. He’s running out of material [Oh ho really?]
  • Oh, it’s terribly important. Next time you are planning on spending a weekend on a 12 foot diameter sphere on top of a 60 foot pole, you’ll know to take enough mirrors so that you have some warning of the soldier ants mounting an attack. Otherwise, if the ball is glass, it will look like the Demon Ants from Hell are climbing the pole to get you.
  • That a poorly worded question will always create confusion in regard to finding an answer.
  • The astounding dexterity and balance of a man who can stand on a ball on a pole 60 feet above the ground. Either that or similar triangles.
  • The negligence of the field of optics to address the special needs of cyclops everywhere.
  • The significance is that Dr.Bob is again back to astronomy school, studying eclipses.
  • To discover whether or he could dual-boot.
  • Trick question. The above problem is of no significance to me or any other right thinking person. Anyone who finds it significant needs an eye viagra. They need to take a long hard look at themselves. [Groan]
  • Two things. First, the man’s name is Cyclops. Second, it’s from an American source: why else would such bizarre units of distance be used?
  • Uhh, I’m thinking that you are describing some sort of statue or monument of those dimensions, and near wherever that s or m is, this question is asked in high school maths.
  • When a one-eyed man stands on a ball on a pole a lot can happen under his ball.
  • Why is it that die-hard devotees of the Imperial System only seem to be able to talk in multiples of 6 when quoting measurements? Has anyone else noticed this? [runs in cricket, eggs, beer cans, …]
  • You want to see how many of us can still do geometry? [And was suitably disappointed by the result]

Question 5

Why did Guy de Maupassant often decide to eat his lunch at the newly-built Eiffel Tower?


Because he could not see the newly-built Eiffel Tower from there.

Better answers:

  • Because he was peckish
  • A real knee-slapper, this one! He ate there so that he could not see the tower. Must have thought that the insides of the tower were somehow disconnected from the rest of the tower huh?
  • How did he get there without looking at it?
  • To pick up chicks. They’re always impressed by big erections.
  • You would think, wouldn’t you, that a writer would have enough imagination to find another place in Paris without a view of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Midday tucker at the Tower among all the English and American tourists is guaranteed to send anyone nuts, a desirable state to which Guy aspired in 1889 and achieved three short years later.
  • Because he was a real food mooch and would gobble up people’s leftovers before the waiters could remove them. Drove the waiters and other diners nuts!
  • Because it was the one place in Paris he could get some peace. The building was so hated, no-one ever went there.
  • Because it was the only place in gay ol’ Paris that he couldn’t see the offensive thing. Some people just don’t appreciate lumps of metal.
  • Because it was the only place in Paris where he couldn’t see “this offensive structure”. But as a syphilis sufferer, he he probably didn’t like the look of an effective erection (boom boom as Basil Brush would say).
  • Because it was the only place in Paris where he couldn’t see the thing, which he thought monstrous – a “giant ungainly skeleton”.
  • Because McDonalds hadn’t been invented yet…
  • Because wearing his lunch on the Eiffel Tower would just be strange…Wait, didn’t he used to collect his urine in jars? Maybe wearing it wouldn’t be so strange for him.
  • Being an artiste, he didn’t want to look at great engineering. (But was quite happy to sit in the restaurant underneath).
  • Big Bad Guy didn’t like the Eiffel Tower at all, so he often went there to eat his lunch because he claimed it was the only place in Paris he could be and not have to look at the Tower.
  • Guy de Maupassant often ate his lunch at the Eiffel Tower because he hated it, syphilis makes a man do strange things.
  • He claimed, allegedly, that it was the only place in Paris he couldn’t see the Tower. He was not stupid, however. I imagine the ground floor restaurant where he ate put on a good lunch at a reasonable price.
  • He didn’t like it, and claimed it was the only place in Paris he didn’t have to look at it from. (Some one had also described it as a “Metal Asparagus” but I don’t think that was what stimulated his appetite”) He obviously never had to pay the prices they charge at the kiosk these days.
  • He liked the breeze and the view.
  • He said it was the only place in Paris where he didn’t have the tower ruining his view. But this is silly because he could have eaten in a windowless dive or just faced the other way.
  • He said that it was the only place in Paris from which he could not see the offensive thing. He ate on the ground floor and his grammar is immaculate – how many people today write “from which”?
  • He was hungry at the time.
  • Heaven, a rare question I know the answer withou google! There must be a trick… anyway, Guy hated the Tower, and he ate there because that place was the only one in Paris in which the ugly tower was not visible. In other words, Dr.Bob is saving his mind: Q3, Q4 and Q5 are almost the same question (My god! maybe even Q1, Q2, and Q6? I have to verify…)
  • Hey, that is where the hookers (ladies of the evening) hung out (Remember, he had syphilis) or …. according to one reference I found “The author Guy de Maupassant left Paris permanently to avoid looking at its ‘metallic carcass'”. He supposedly ate there so he could turn his back on it.
  • I could make a joke in here about viewing large erections at lunchtime but my mum brought me up better than that.
  • No idea. No reference on various biographical websites. That means Plan B, the wild guess. His pox doctor lived nearby and he used to stop on the way for pain bagnat or something before each visit. I did discover that Maupassant worked as a public servant, in Treasury and the navy, and it occurred to me that he might have worked nearby and so used to eat his cheese and vegemite sandwich at his desk while scribbling the odd horror story. Unfortunately he resigned in 1880 and the Eiffel Tower was not built until 1889. Maybe he liked to watch it being built. Maybe his family were involved in the design and he used to visit his cousin Clothilde while it was being constructed. Maybe he found a cafe there which would still give him credit. Or finally, one of the legs was built through his living room and he really had no choice except to go out to lunch.
  • It was too open to be assassinated in.
  • Poor Guy was quite mentally ill by the time the Eiffel Tower was built, he’d been amongst the objectors to it and thought he’d eat it
  • Simply, anyone who could pen such a poem as “Boule De Suif” (“Ball of Fat”) probably wasn’t all that bright and found that sitting on (in?) the Eiffel Tower was somehow preferable to having rotten fruit thrown at him by people who preferred intelligent poetry, like that of Victor Hugo…
  • The cafe finally opened.
  • The Eiffel alien is a transmitter for alien mind control.
  • The pigeons hadn’t heard of this new tower, therefore Guy didn’t get shit all over his lunch.
  • To look up women’s dresses as they walked overhead.

Question 6

<lord.jpg> What has motivated the lady in the shower to say “Oh, Lord”? (2 reasons)

Dr Bob’s Answer

This scene from Tarkovsky’s amazing film “The Mirror” is set in Russia in 1935; she is a typesetter <insert joke about character actors here>. Now, two things probably went wrong all the time in Russian showers in 1935, and we have both of them here: (A) The water has just spontaneously stopped flowing – as one might expect from the standard of plumbing in Russia in 1935 and (B) because she has just been typesetting the Collected Works of Stalin, and has realised that she mistyped “man of steel” as “man of shit”.

Two Answers Bang On:

  • Relief. She thought she had overlooked a “blasphemous” misprint in an article about Stalin, where “Stalin” (Man of Steel – hey, Johnny!) was mispelt as “Shralin” (to shit). In fact she had not, and is taking a shower to “wash away” her fear. B. Ummm…. depending on where in the USSR she is, it’s possible that there is no hot water coming out of that shower. Or perhaps someone turned the tap on in the kitchen.
  • I think it’s because (a) she has just realised that she make have accidentally typed Shralin (to shit) for Stalin, (hello, Sigmund) and (b) because she has just caught sight of herself many years hence in the mirror. Either that, or it was a really rough night last night. Either way she’s sworn off the vodka with breakfast. Just how many shower scenes are in that movie, anyway? [Well there’s that one. But it rains outside A LOT, as it often does in scenes in Tarkovsky’s films, and everyone gets soaked, so I suppose that counts. At least nobody comes in wielding a great big knife. That’ll be in December’s quiz]

Not Far Off

  • The script tells her to say that.
  • 1.Orgasm. 2.The hot water’s run out. [Well I’d have an orgasm if I got the chance to be in a Tarkovsky film. Looks like I have missed my chance now. For films, that is.]
  • Cold water.
  • She just ran out of hot water.
  • She just realised she’s appearing in a badly subbed movie.
  • Like all normal people she enjoys a good sing in the shower and in this case she’s a Janis Joplin fan :- Oh Lord! won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz / My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends…….
  • Reason the first: She has just realised that the water has dissolved two of the fingers on the hand she is holding up. Reason the second: Immaculate conception is not without its pleasant side effects…
  • She is using “Herbal Essences” Shampoo.

Equally Plausible, but These Were Not in the Film:

  • She dropped the soap. And when she dropped the soap and saw it on the ground she saw a _____________(fill in the blank, e.g. spider,snake,man,etc.)
  • She’s a prisoner who’s dropped the soap
  • She’s dropped the soap twice.
  • Dropped the soap?
  • Dropped the soap on her foot, and just realised what Leviticus 18 is all about.
  • The cake of soap she was using had just formed a foam later face of the Christ.
  • She is having an orgasm. Or she is giving someone (unseen in the picture) an orgasm. (In the USA, a shampoo called Herbal Essense depicts in its TV commercials women having orgasms in the shower from using the shampoo . . . and for some strange reason, it’s the hair on the women’s heads that is depicted as being shampooed . . . )
  • Unhappily, she’s just discovered a lump. and 2) She forgot her drain was clogged and water was flooding out onto her already damaged bathroom floor.
  • A surprise of some sort. Do I get bonus points??? [No but here’s a surprise – you don’t win this month. OK, it’s not much of a surprise]
  • Bonus points please. Here’s why. Reason #1. ‘Cos her visible hand is an apparition of the Virgin, just like you see on Coogee fenceposts and on mountainsides at Springsure in central Qld. Miraculous. Reason #2. ‘Cos her invisible hand is stimulating her to the point of her crying “Oh, Lord”. (Can you work that one out for yourself, Dr Bob, or do you want all us quiz tragics to enter into a mass debate on the subject?)
  • Did you know..More people die while praying in showers than get killed by rabid Amazonian saber tooth gerbils….actually I made that one up
  • Don’t know why Debbie said that. I’ve never seen the movie. Maybe she had just finished lunching at the Eiffel Tower with some Guy. Oh hang on, wrong movie.
  • Dr Bob, I am getting concerned about your last two quizes and the seemingly slow divulgance of your soft porn collection that we are being subject to.
  • Her partner is performing cunnilingus upon her…..And she just remembered today is my birthday and she hasn’t sent me a card.
  • Not sure but whatever it is she’s loving it
  • Oh deity of choice, I haven’t seen the flick and I haven’t got a broadband connection. If it’s Tarkovsky, she will have something at once profound and mundane as motivation: “there goes the water down the plughole, clockwise as usual” OR [and more likely with Tarkovsky] “here comes the water up the plughole, anti-clockwise and I don’t remember seeing THAT before!!”
  • Only shower scene I know, like most people, is the one from “Psycho” and my inward thoughts would have been couched in slightly different language (no do not be smart, I do not mean Russian or Transylvanian).
  • Satan’s influence.
  • She is praying for divine intervention as she contemplates the rather small and disappointing size (as indicated by the distance between her thumb and index finger) of something anatomical just out of the photo.
  • She is praying for her football team to win, that’s the only reason I’d be calling to God.
  • She just realised that she could read the whole novel backward and it’s really a demonic heavy metal text advocating suicide and drugs.
  • She just realized that she has started her menstrual cycle. 😦 [as this was in the USSR, I could make some witty observation here about the Red Flag]
  • She realised that her photo has been taken while she’s in the shower.
  • She’s a god addict going through opiate of the masses withdrawal.
  • She’s undergoing a baptism.
  • The clue helps not at all. I was going to say that first she has just realised that there is a camera in the shower and second, that she is going to appear as a question in Dr Bob’s quiz, but is too well brought up to use stronger language.
  • Transmission of electrons through her neural network
  • There is someone else in the shower with her. I will not go into salacious details in a family quiz such as this. [No, but I will. There must be at least … the cameraman, the lighting and sound guys, and a very soggy Tarkovsky]


  • You said I got 1 correct – Please make them more difficult – I like to have 100% failure.
  • A bit of hurry even this month, Bob. But my average score is not too affected by hurry, uh?
  • Aha! I win!
  • Another diverting hour. You beauty Bob. [<wait for it>… Yes but can you get on with the quiz now please]
  • Another good quiz Dr Bob. Thank you. I only wish I could answer the questions. I am tempted to change my name to Dave Hawley to see if that helps. [Well, it would increase your performance in the quiz but I think you would find there would be all sorts of other problems that make it not really worthwhile]
  • Just because I was too busy to find the one web site that explained the Romany name Beshaley, does not give you the right to edit out one of my best jokes [which involved the phrase “Up there, Beshaley” – sorry, a slip of the keyboard]
  • Any more than 30 minutes spent on this quiz is a criminal waste of time punishable by the sack (if you are at work) or withdrawal of internet access. I’ve just achieved a PB of 27 minutes 34 seconds! [Which is definitely better than withdrawal]
  • Clues on 20 October? You must have known that that fortuitous date is my dear old mum’s 88th birthday and also the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House. Spooky, eh?
  • Dr. Bob, I know all of your answers but am embarrassed to give all correct responses for fear of your skeptical mind wondering if I am you, or you are me. There are other options, this could be a parallel universe time rift, or …
  • First you have paintings of naked ladies, now you have photographs of naked ladies in showers. Please stop putting pictures of naked ladies on your website. [At least I have depicted one fascist and one communist lady – please credit me for my delicate sense of political balance]
  • Give CLUES Dr Bob?? Have you been to Queensland, North of Rockhampton or something?? Has the sun addled your brains?? Are you weakening?? Oh, Lord!!
  • Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to Leonnn. Happy birthday to me.
  • Hello Dr. Bob, I have just found this Website through convoluted means and enjoyed what I have seen so far. Does this make me easily amused, or is there more like this at other times?
  • Hi Doc! Hey, does it piss you off when lunatics answer hundreds of times under stupid pseudonyms?
  • I said naked MEN dammit. Next month you’d better have a photo of Brad Pitt in the buff reading a book or in the shower or I’m packing up my bat and ball and going home!!!
  • I thought Dave Hawley had been banned. If not, can he be? He makes the rest of us look thick [and if you knew how thick Dave was, you’d be even more worried]
  • It’s over 3 years since I last won – I’ll have to try harder…
  • Maybe there would’ve been more correct answers to Question 1 last month if you’d phrased the question in the past tense. As it is, no ash _is_ being handed out, regardless of the daily ten tonnes that _was_ being handed out. Tsk tsk tsk for shame!
  • Most frustrating
  • My mind is going, I can feel it…
  • Thanks, Dr. Bob. Your quiz is a gift to the born procrastinator (and not without some intellectually nutritional content, unlike daytime television).
  • This group of questions was too much for me, Dr. Bob. Am I getting more stupid or were they harder this time?
  • This is great fun. I could do it again next month. [… no, I won’t say it]

Special Project: Development of Skeptical Safety Fly

Kathy Artus says: I have been thinking about Question #3 from the September quiz (that 70% of bodies found in the ocean have their flies undone) and come to the conclusion that undone flies are definitely a safety hazard for people on boats or people who hang out near the water. If we could invent a very, very secure fly, there wouldn’t be so many tragic drownings. Now, I’m not quite sure how to create this new safety fly but I do have a name for it: The Australian Skeptics Extremely Secure Safety Fly for The Prevention of Drowning in the Ocean. As soon as this badly needed fly is created, maybe Sam Ross could test it. Think of all the money we could make! Think of the full-page ads!! Think of selling the safety flies to the U.S. Navy for $500 each!!!
Sam Ross added: Before designing the Skeptical Safety Fly (TM), we must establish whether or not this causal link exists. I am not proposing to undertake testing myself; I must place myself outside of the universe of discourse, primarily because my knowledge of the reason for the testing would represent a potential source of skewing of any result – I will have to observe various randomised sample populations taking to the water in 1) pants with flies (done up, and not done up), 2) pants without flies (perhaps track pants), 3) pants with placebo flies that are not actually functional as flies, perhaps cargo pants with so many zips that it’s impossible to tell whether any of them actually have any function, and 4) no pants at all, then record how many of them drown. I’m sure that Dr Bob would be prepared to assist with experimental design if we asked nicely. Obviously, this will be a very large project, requiring extensive international travel to as many exotic locations as possible, for many months. It will entail spending many hours lounging around on beaches, but that’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make for science. If you’d like to put your name on the grant application as a collaborator, that would be great – international research efforts are always well received.