Arnt Richard Johansen's home page

Answers part 3: Short takes

In libraries, do they put the bible in the fiction or non-fiction section?

They put it in the non-fiction section. In the Dewey Decimal Classification, it's sorted under 220.

If a king is gay and marries another guy what is that guy to the royal family?

If a queen regent marries a guy, he usually becomes a prince. I suppose that if this were to happen, the same would be the case. Note that the only monarchies that have same-sex marriage are the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. None of these have an unmarried king or an unmarried crown prince.

If croutons are stale bread, why do they come in airtight packages?

To keep them from getting soft.

Why do birds bob their heads when they walk?

Because their eyes point to the side, instead of straight forward like our eyes do. Bobbing their heads keeps the image on the retinas still for long enough that they can perceive it.

If nobody buys a ticket to a movie do they still show it?

No, why should they? Showing a film requires work: the projectionist has to calibrate the projector and change the reels. There is no reason for a cinema to incur those costs if they don't get any income from it.

I remember one time back home, years ago, when I was one of only three people showed up at the cinema and bought tickets for the film. The manager decided to call it off, and refund everyone's tickets.

What shape is the sky?

It is shaped like a dome.

[Tuesday, May 15, 2007 @ 13:08] | [answers] | # | G

Answers, part 2: Atheists in court

This time we look at three questions from that all have to do with the practice of having witnesses swear on the Bible before they testify. Practices on this vary throughout the civilised world, so for the sake of simplicity, the answers will be a bit U.S./Common Law-centric.

When Atheists go to Court, they can't swear on the bible, can they?

They can, but they can also refuse. Usually, they are given the opportunity to make a solemn affirmation instead. Statements given under affirmation have the same legal effects as statements given under oath, in that both kinds of statements carry the penalty of perjury.

Does it really count in court when an atheist is sworn in under oath using a Bible?

According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in 1993 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a testimony by an Atheist who swore to God. In earlier times, this was not so. Irreligious people were routinely barred from testifying in court, since it was believed that, since they did not fear punishment in the afterlife, they could not be trusted to tell the truth. As late as 1939, five U.S. states and the District of Columbia excluded the testimony of people who declared themselves to be atheists.

If a Jewish person goes to court and is asked to put their right hand on the Bible, do they use a Torah instead?

Observant Jews cannot swear because their religion prohibits them from doing so. Instead, they make an affirmation.

[Thursday, May 10, 2007 @ 17:21] | [answers] | # | G

Another reverse dictionary

The Internet oldtimers among you might remember Casey's Snow Day Reverse Dictionary, an online service that was able to suggest a word if you typed its definition (Wayback machine link). Unfortunately, that web page has long since disappeared, and was last seen some time in 2003. It was a great help for word troubles, and I have missed it. Roget's thesaurus helps, but only to a certain extent.

Recently, I discovered OneLook's reverse dictionary, which seems to be a very good replacement. Or what do you think of these examples?

Of course, if you feed it strange queries, the results might be a bit odd (but in this particular case we Babylon 5 fans tend to agree).

[Thursday, May 10, 2007 @ 14:38] | [language] | # | G

Answers part 1: If we had a president that was a woman, would her husband be the first man?

Hello there. I haven't posted here for quite some time, but by popular demand, I have decided to get going again. I now begin a series of blog posts that give answers to some of the questions from In the first installment, we look at a seemingly innocuous question concerning U.S. politics.

If we had a president that was a woman, would her husband be the first man?

Not really.

Even though many people think so, the wife of the President of the United States does not become First Lady ex officio, so to speak. Strictly speaking, the title First Lady of the United States refers to the hostess of the White House. Usually, the wife of the President and the First Lady have been one and the same, but as Wikipedia says, many First Ladies were not the President's Wife.

Nevertheless, if a woman were to become President, the press and the public would likely refer to her husband as First Gentleman, as has indeed happened to some husbands of U.S. Governors.

[Friday, May 04, 2007 @ 15:13] | [answers] | # | G