Answers for April 2008

ANSWERS for April 2008. A bit short on replies this month, nevertheless there were some good ones by some of our regulars … but our WINNER this month is a new name on the list:

Bob Bills

A reminder to everyone. Your answers are forwarded by the Webmaster’s automatic gnome and I do not receive ANY other data, except what you guys fill out in the form’s fields. So I really can’t tell who any of you are, except through textual analysis, which is expensive and I can’t be bothered. I can recover your e-mail addresses only through psychic power, and if that worked I’d be drummed out of the Skeptics, although at least $1,000,000 richer.

Question 1

The earliest recorded garden gnome was one placed by Sir Charles Isham in 1847 – why did he do that?


He believed that it would attract real gnomes

Additional Answers

  • (a) To add a bit of colour to his garden.(b) They were hunting decoys; he hated the little b******s and were trying to lure more of them into his garden where he would dispose of them with his trusty rifle
  • As the world’s first-ever specialist pediatrician, Isham wanted to draw Victorian England’s attention to his new and revolutionary Baby Elf Centre.
  • Because every time he had the royals around for dinner the corgies humped his leg and he got sick of it so he decided to make a decoy, put in the garden and well, quite frankly the idea took off. But today, just coz they have gnomes doesnt mean your favourite in-laws have royal friends around for dinner!
  • Because he believed they led miners to valuable minerals. Why he wanted miners to dig up his garden is unknown.
  • Because it matched the family motto GNOMEN EST OMEN [Hey, what a great idea for a motto. I’ll carve it on the blade of my sundial]
  • Because vulcanised rubber was yet to be invented, and hence the “tyre flamingo” as a tasteful and elegant garden ornament was about 60 years off.
  • Chuckie was a spiritualist who actually believed that there were real living gnomes. He believed that his figures represented the gnomes of the spirit world
  • Easier than getting a work visa for illegal migrant gardeners
  • Gnomes are supposed to help in the garden at night
  • He actually believed that they were living.
  • He believed they would attract real gnomes. He was of course eccentric (English aristocracy-speak for barking mad)
  • He was fond of them
  • His wife wouldn’t let him keep “that thing” in the house.
  • Let me consult my arcane sources: Charles Isham has two relevant anagrams: Him’s Rascal! Eh? And Reclaims Hash
  • Protection from evil garden spirits.
  • Sir Charles brought 21 gnomes from Germany for his garden at Lampton Hall. The only survivor is ‘Lampy’ (see below). Isham’s supposed innovation was to put these tchatchkes outdoors—this seems doubtful, if gnomes were ‘earth spirits’ who encouraged fertility etc. Even if the pre-Isham gnome industry was intended for indoor environments some other crank(s) might have put them outdoors.As for Sir Chuck’s motives? Aside from generic woo-wooism, who knows? We might suggest some political/economic statement, as the 21 originals were posed in a rock garden as miners. “grouping them into scenarios, with signs and tableaus of striking miners. Isham was a spiritualist, and believed that his figures represented the gnomes of the spirit world.”
  • The battery had gone flat.
  • To become famous for the second-earliest recorded garden gnome. Some people do anything for fame (like what I did with the long S in the feb quiz.)
  • To cover a hole in the garden path.
  • To scare and keep away the fairies from the back garden. They used to come up at night and get frisky with the neighbouring fairies and Sir Charlie coundn’t sleep with all the noise
  • To scare away the crows stealing from his vege patch.
  • Well, there are two reasons that I can think of– One to add some colour to his rock garden– but he was spritual and beleieved that there were real living gnomes so when he was in Germany he decided to bring some back with him — at the time they were good luck charms! So, any or all of those reasons
  • What else would a baronet’s wife say when he’d bought 20 pieces of twee German pottery but shove them in your rockery.
  • Why does Sir Charles have to have a reason for placing a garden gnome!? Mind your own business!
  • Why would somebody keep track of every person who keeps a garden gnome in their garden.

Question 2

Why did the clock on the UK Houses of Parliament (“Big Ben” is the hour bell) fail to keep correct time at one point in 1945?


A flock of starlings stood on the minute hand – German bombing having failed to stop the clock working all throughout WW2 (this could be a hidden Hitler question)

Additional Answers

  • (a) a bunch of birds wanted to rest their wings and enjoy the view without having to do all that flapping (b) Ritchie Blackmore was born
  • A flock of starlings landed on the minute hand putting the back or out or whatever by five minutes.It seems that history has also recorded this as occuring in 1949 so just bear that in mind if you mark me wrong
  • A flock of starlings perched on the minute hand and slowed the clock down 5 minutes
  • Attlee had just beaten Churchill in the 1945 UK election, which distracted the worried clock keeper from monitoring and correcting the displayed time. He was concerned that his Big Ben would now be displaced by the bells of St Clement’s.
  • Because it got rusty.
  • Because it got the crap bombed out of it, well actually, it was because some guy got handcuffed to the big hand on his bucks night and they had to shut it down for a bit while he wasted enough to slip the cuffs…..but thats a whole different story
  • Because the guy who used to wind it every morning slept in one day because he had a massive night out on the cans and didnt wake up till after the clock had stopped
  • Big Ben back then was known as Big Richard (aka Big Dick) and due to some premature events, time could not be taken so accurately.
  • Blitzkrieg baby.
  • Hit by a bomb
  • I’m a Queenslander, I’m sick of you people who diddle with the time on a yearly basis for the sake of “daylight savings”. For the Sake of a Non-Existent Entity, won’t you people stop fucking with the time. Now thats off my chest, I wouldn’t have a friggin clue about Big Ben.
  • In August 1945 the stars on the pointers ‘braked their continuation’
  • It was a cunning German plot to delay the end of the war by sending specially trained flocks of sturnus vulgaris over to sit on the hands and slow it up. It didn’t work – mostly because the war had been over for 5 years by the time they arrived in 1949. The inventive genius of the country was called upon, and for three years the starlings were attacked with a series of frightening devices – including rice puddings fired from catapults (a frightening device) suggested to Neddie Seagoon by one Major Bloodnok as I recall.
  • No idea, but a more interesting question is: how does the british gummint arrange for it to _accurately_ accept the occasional leap second that modern science requires to be inserted occasionally into the space-time continuuuuuum?
  • Starlings on the minute-hand? But that was in ’49. In January of the 1944-5 ‘Hunger Winter’ the clock froze long enough for the error to be noted.
  • Struck by lightning.
  • The exciting prospect of winning the war got too much for the clock. Even the clocks in Britain were madly patriotic back then.
  • There are no “points” in time, since it is not a quantised value. Therefore, no clock is ever entirely correct.
  • There was a bug in the mechanism,….a doodlebug.
  • VE Day got in the way
  • When somebody played a stupid joke.
  • Winston Churchill smoked it out.

Question 3

The most decisive election result in history was in North Korea with 100.00% turnout and 100.00% vote for the Workers Party.  When & where was the _second_ most decisive election result in history?


Albania, 14 Nov 1982 – with 1,627,968 voters a 100% turnout and either 1 or 9 spoilt papers (and 1 or 9 people’s careers not exactly moving upward)

Additional Answers

  • Iran, 2007 thieves guild general meeting, when asked for a show of hands to accept the minutes. 100% turn out, no votes for.
  • 1950 South Korean Army voted with its feet to retreat back across the 38 parallel
  • 1968. St Ives Australian Rules Football Club with 99.3% of votes cast for as Season best & fairest
  • According to North Korea only had a 99.9% turnout and 100% vote for Kim Jong Il in 2003, while Saddam Hussein received a stunning 100% of the votes cast by 100% of the Iraqis in 2002, which happens to be exactly the same result that was reached back in 2004 when my wife asked if I wanted to marry her
  • Bill Clinton had an election when on a state visit to China. He had quite a few, in fact. And all were decisive, according to the later secret testimony of Chow On Liar, the young Beijing intern assigned to handle Bill during his relaxing oriental sojourn.
  • Charles Dunbar Burgess King of Liberia. It was said that King had 234,000 votes, however, at the time Liberia had only 15,000 registered voters mmmmmmm, someting wrong with dat one
  • Either in Iceland, Finland or Melbourne, sometime in the 20th century.
  • Hang on, Dr Bob, I thought this quiz was not a place for ideological teachings for make benefit glorious nation USA.
  • In The Corporations’ Democratic Dicatorship of Giberia, the 2003 General Election, where any ballot papers voting against the Free Money Party were bought off and burnt for power generation, decreasing Gibberish national greenhouse emissions by over 300%. Now how can you beat that?
  • Iraq. 30.000.000 for, 5 and a half against (those Iraqi executioners are awfully quick).
  • Last time parliament voted on pay rises
  • Let me consult my arcane resources: From Nostradamus: In the land of the quizmaster’s infatuation there will arise a leader so just that near all will call their support. And this shall come to pass one score and twelve years after the eastern flame is quenched in the city of lights. So, there you have it. Iceland’s 2040 presidential elections will be the second most lopsided election in history.
  • North Korea may itself be in a multi-member tie for second place—most rigged elections have to top out at 100%. In 1927, Charles D.B. King was elected to the presidency of Liberia with 234,000 votes. Unfortunately, Liberia had only 15,000 registered voters.I eagerly await news of the _third_ most impressive electoral majority.
  • Poland
  • Saddam / Iraq / Oct 2002
  • Same place. Different time. Same dills.
  • Sorry I suck at history… is this a history question?
  • South Korea.
  • That would probably be one of Joe Stalin’s. The man who the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (and Jeb Bush) look to for inspiration: To quote good old Uncle Joe – “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
  • The election for how awesome I am. 100% turned up and 99.9999% voted that I am superior. One person dies of “dehydration”
  • The election that resulted in your admission to Oz Skeptics, peut-etre?
  • The Presidency of the Rooty Hill RSL, whilst hotly nominated for in 1975, was ultimately won on a 99.99 % basis by a Fred Nirk, Esq. on a platform of retaining the $1.80 lunchtime roast of the day (lamb on a Tuesday, possibly rabbit every other day) amd and the 20 cent pot.
  • The USA does not allow for GW brazilian to stand again and I reckon that everyone would turn out and vote to get rid of that guy (why is it that americans will travel halfway round to world to fight for democracy yet not walk accross the street to vote!!!)
  • Well, the jury’s still out. You see, Zimbarbwee is still going and I think they have counted 267% of the vote so far but its too close to call. And then there was the year that Saddam got back in in Iraq, but he was the only one that voted in the whole country so either or.
  • When George W. Bush beat Al Gore in Florida in 2000
  • When the missus makes a decision, she gets a 100% of votes (or else).
  • Workers Party Election 2 – the sequel

Question 4

To which man have the most statues been raised?


Gautama, the Buddha

Additional Answers

  • David the Gnome
  • Don’t you mean statues errected *hee hee* Big Ben of course 😛
  • Gautama Buddha
  • I dunno who, but it’s definitely not Dr Bob.
  • I have to think that its about that guy on the cross, or perhaps some other religous figure
  • I think Buddah
  • JC on the cross, of course, sweeping aside the question of whether this is a statue to a “man”. Buddha is disqualified on the technicality that statues to him are not usually “raised” in the same way as crucifixes are.
  • Jesus
  • Jesus Christ
  • Johnnie Farnham
  • Le p’tit pissoir? Jebus? I’ll say Siddhartha
  • Let me consult my arcane resources: I shall enter a trance using a techniques I learned from a Tibetan monk. Perhaps while in this trance the answer will come to me. Ohhm. Ohhm. Ohmm. . . . .Children stop fighting over the #$%#@^ computer. Ohm . . .Ohm . . .Will someone get the %^$#&%$# phone Ohm. . .Ohhm . . . Well tell him to call back!!!Ohmm . .. Ohmm . . . Oh just forget it. We’ll never know the answer Dr. B.
  • Morris Iemma – oops, sorry, they’re not statues, they’re his cabinet and caucus members.
  • Not Dr Bob.
  • Now, now, Dr Bob. I didn’t think it of you that you’d use such a word as “man” in this quiz. It is very anti-feminist, since, by stating that the person with the largest number of statues is a man, you are implying that men are superior to women. I shall probably have to report you for sexual discrimination.
  • Prince Gautama, a.k.a., Buddha
  • Probably Buddha – although Malcolm Fraser seems to have had a really solid local following on Easter Island.
  • References to morning glory aside, probably Lenin.
  • Ronald McDonald, without a doubt
  • Speedy Gonzales?
  • That seems like a religous question to me — I say Jesus because there are lots of places where you that guy on the cross, come to think of it there are bloody heaps of them everywhere…..
  • The G.I. who was the model for the very first Army Man. They are tiny, but they have to count.
  • The guy with the crane who is standing in front of the them doing the raising. Derrrrr.
  • The marlborough man!! well, do headstones count as statues?
  • Thomas Patrick Levit, inventor of .. ..
  • Wally
  • What with prostitute’s cribs, rapper’s neck chains and car dash-boards, it would have to be Jesus. If you include all the gruesome crucifixes. Unless it was Mao, or Lampy?

Question 5

Willie Darden killed a shopkeeper in 1973; he was interviewed for TV some time before being executed.  What happened, that interrupted this interview?


Power failure, due to voltage drop when the electric chair was being tested in the next room. Rather poor taste, really.

Additional Answers

  • ‘Ol Sparky took priority.
  • A blackout? ironic since the whole case seems to have been based on race. was it that the guards changed shifts? did he have to go to his cell? mmmmmmmm, perhaps he or the interviewee was late?
  • A cigarette commercial? He was had a stay of execution . . . again?
  • A distraction.
  • Advertising
  • Bloody commercials.
  • Darden repeatedly tried to nail horseshoes to his feet, so he could be hung like a horse.
  • Darden was only executed on his 8th execution date. Which interview?
  • Did he now. Seems to be a bit of disagreement on the nature of Willie’s involvement; but hey let’s make fun of it.
  • Do you really think I CARE? Seriously, man.
  • He probably got a stay of execution part way through the interview (but he still got executed later despite two witness who gave him an alibi)
  • He realised he hadn’t got the correct change
  • He was executed. Sorry, I no can come up with more original.
  • He was handed a Logie
  • He was shot
  • I guess that he was electrocuted by the mike or something hilarious like that, ha ha, fate you gotta love it. If not maybe a crazy person just walked up an shot him? nah, i like the mike idea better
  • I think that the US supreme court rejected his final application for appeal; thus making it “final”Well, a few thousand volts running through you makes it pretty “final” dont you recon?
  • I’d guess there was some sort of electical power cut or surge. Other than that, it could be the 50 clairvoyants appearing on the show who claimed to have spiritual proof of his guilt
  • Probably an ad break. The lack of which is one of the reasons I watch the ABC, apart from the fact I can say to the kind of people who watch Big Brother, in a hoity toity voice, “oh, I dont watch COMMERCIAL television, I find it doesn’t..stimulate me”.
  • Someone sent in a video of a skating dog.
  • Sorry, I live in the 21st century.
  • The big blackout of 1973!
  • The shopkeeper walked in pointing at willie and said “Your on candid camera!” It got a bit ugly after that
  • Then up rode The Governor in his carriage and sticks / Saying “Where is that young man whose coffin is fixed? / Set him free from his irons and let him go free
  • Visit from his murder victim in a ghost like apparition.
  • Willie enjoyed the company of women and the network made the mistake of sending a female reporter…

Question 6

What is noteworthy and famous about this page from an old book?


The margin is not wide enough (yes it’s THAT margin; Fermat, 1640)

Additional Answers

  • It looks like a copy [that’d be because it is] of the 1621 edition of Diophantus of Alexandria ‘s Arithmetica.This particular page is famous for the margin scribblings of Fermet where he claimed to have a proof of the proposition (Fermet’s last Theorem):”If an integer n is greater than 2, then the equation an + bn = cn has no solutions in non-zero integers a, b, and c”.Unfortunately the margin was too narrow for him to write the proof and we had to wait nearly 350 years for someone else to prove it
  • It was the page of Diophantus’ Arithmetica on which Fermat wrote: “… generaliter nullam in infinitum ultra quadratum potestatem in duos eiusdem numinis fas est dividere, cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem fere detexi. Hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet.”
  • A quick Wiki-ing suggests that this might be the first discussion of the principle of mathematical induction.
  • Absolutely nothing, I find it a perfectly normal recipe for lamingtons.
  • All greek to me, if one discounts the hic haec hoc stuff on the left. Probably a maths exam for Carthaginians.
  • By the look of it, it asserts that you can divide a square into two smaller squares.
  • Fermat’s Last Theorem.
  • From Maurolycus – If s is any class and zero is a member of it, also if when x is a cardinal number and a member of s, also x-}-I is a member of s, then the whole class of cardinal numbers is contained in s.
  • I’ll have to wait a month for this one
  • I think that the whole book is an early form of the theory of evolution; the author went to the trouble of apologising to the Pope of all people.But its an interesting read, you know talks about nature and stuff and how everything is round. But it still does not answer why a Triangle is unique, or not a real shape (in my view anyways)
  • In Latin and Greek.
  • It has u’s instead of v’s?
  • It is noteworthy that I dont have any idea about why this page is more famous than the rest of the book, perhaps it has page number 85 and that would make is as unique as each page before and after it? maybe its because its chapter 14 and 15 or maybe because they have not worked out which number system to use??
  • It is the first time someone has written a book after taking an Ecstasy tablet.
  • It is the least boring part of this entire mathematics snorefest. Accordingly, it was ripped out by fun-hating monks. Weirdoes.
  • It’s all Greek to me
  • It’s in Latin and Greek.
  • It’s unreadable except by Cicero, who was a skilled Latin & Greek scholar. Pity, he was dead at the time of publication.
  • It’s not in English
  • It’s the original recepies for coka cola, KFC, I cant beleive its not butter, and a few others, the only thing is no one can read it so its pretty frustrating for all.
  • Let me consult my arcane resources: The spirit of Hypatia has answered. Oh shit. She has answered in Greek. I don’t speak Greek.
  • My latin is a bit rough– perhaps its not the right page number? maybe its lost? it might be some famous theorum– pythagarus perhaps?
  • The poor quality of the scan
  • The sum of two 4th powers can’t be a 4th power and the difference of two distinct non-zero 4th powers can’t be a 4th power.
  • This is Diophantus’ Arithmetica, which unfortunately had too narrow margins for Fermat’s last theorem… He simply couldn’t squeeze it in there! Pity.
  • what page? (this is very confusing.)
  • When you lick it, it tastes like snosberry.


  • As an out-of-work librarian, can I list you as a reference? [Yes, willingly, for an old lag. Here’s my name, address and phone: (…) ]
  • I will hold an exorcism for the website demons. And I will check to make sure the little numbers are loading before I make up answers next time so I do not have to send an email like this again. Unless I forget.
  • Brutal [Ooooh I am. I suppose you are Caesarean?]
  • Can one win the quiz with no research and no sense of humour? [Numerous examples attest to the veracity of this proposition]
  • Good one Dr Bob. A bit tougher.
  • Hi Doc, hope Wagga x 2 was good.
  • Hoi Hein, zullen we volgend jaar langs gaan bij de goeie Dr Bob als we toch in Australië zijn?
  • I don’t get how some people stubbornly believe in democracy, even after being confronted with a government like this (and like the previous ones, too). One is reminded of creationists.
  • I just read the answers given for the last quiz, what a crack up.
  • I solved the first question with Wikipedia. You should really hide your answers better.
  • I told you last time that I’d never do this quiz again sober – honestly you’re driving a woman to drink.
  • Keep ’em coming!
  • Long live Dear Leader George W Bush and the Splurge Idea.
  • No offence doc but I didnt like you’re quiz – 2 many history questions.
  • Now that its cold and raining does this mean global warming is over? what is the next thing they are gonna pull out that is going to doom us all???
  • Seeing as how you like Latin and philosophy, an example of infite recursion that you may enjoy is the expansion of “cogito ergo sum” to “cogito que cogito, ergo cogito que sum” and then beyond in the same vein. But of course you knew that.
  • Statues, Starlings (and the wrong year). And I wish I could remember my latin and greek better. I can’t get must past agricolae with hastae any more – but I can still read the back of an ouzo bottle.
  • Tim Flannery is very quiet now that the weather is colder… Perhaps he’s only active above a certain temperature.
  • Wot, no theme this month, Dr Bob? Must say it’s been a relief recently not to battle P. Glass and Iceland. But I miss the Hitler questions. Not that it matters – I write crap regardless. [Ha! Future themes with questions already prepared include: Numbers, Food, Music, Philip Glass (the same question 5 times), the Titanic (deeply hidden in all the questions), the Complutensian Polyglot, British Politics, Jokes, a particular village in Sweden, Medieval Art & Culture, Questions containing “10” stolen from “The Tencyclopedia”; and of course: King Zog, Albanian Kings of the 20th century, Kings that start with Z, People called Zog who were kings, and the little-known stopover of the Titanic at Reykjavik to drop off Hitler and collect Philip Glass. What has all this to do with skepticism? – well, one should be skeptical about all things, including skepticism].