Kid Stuff


Profess Something

A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it.

- Alistair Cooke

You moon the wrong person at an office party and suddenly you're not "professional" any more.

- Jeff Foxworthy

Subject: Fwd: Are You a Professional?
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2000 23:10:54 +1300
From: Cody Hatch
Organization: Canterbury University
To: Ruth Hatch

This is a forwarded message.
============Original message text===============

Are You a Professional?

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and tells whether you are qualified to be a professional.  Scroll down for each answer.  (The questions are not that difficult.)

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?











Correct answer:  Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe and close the door.

This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?











Wrong Answer:  Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant and close the refrigerator.

Correct Answer:  Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door.

This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your actions.

3.The Lion King is hosting an animal conference.  All the animals attend except one.  Which animal does not attend?











Correct Answer:  The Elephant.  The Elephant is in the refrigerator.

This tests your memory.

OK, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your abilities.

3. There is a river you must cross, but it is inhabited by crocodiles.  How do you manage it?











Correct Answer:  You swim across.  All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting.

This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Andersen Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all four questions wrong but many preschoolers got several correct answers.  Andersen Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of 4-year-olds.

============End of original message text==========

Also see:

bulletBrain Games (in the Animation section) - requires a fast connection and Flash.
bulletAnswer Me! - 4-question Mensa quiz (contained in Brain Games, above).
bulletIQ Test - for an example of the cultural assumptions involved in assessing someone else.
bulletCan This Be True? - short visual test of an area problem (also contained in Brain Games, above).
bulletPassing the 8th Grade, 1895 - and includes history and world affairs questions drawn from The Economist (the latter are also included in Brain Games, above).

The bottom four sites above are all elsewhere in this section if you really like taking tests.  In other sections are:

bullet100 Facts (in the Oddities section) - I'll bet you don't know most of them...
bulletThanks, Mom, for the Brains (in the section on Men) - articles which discuss the genetic basis for IQ

A Professional's Opinion

Opinionated - and Proud to Admit It

by Stephen Bayley

I love opinions so much, I keep on having more of them.  The famous Telegraph journalist Colin Welch had lots, too.  His critics called him "viewy", a term that cheered him greatly.  Interesting opinions are surprisingly rare so, when the timorous come across them, they are often alarmed.  That rarity has real value.  Yet although opinions are valuable, they can be disturbing.  The best ones almost certainly are.

But how odd that to be called "opinionated" is to be insulted.  It's always happening to me.  Some years ago, I expressed unpolitical views about the dire practical and æsthetic deficiencies of a candidate for an award in the Design Council's Millennium Products scheme that I was judging, along with a lot of po-faced high-ups.  Someone said, "That's just your opinion," as if to undermine my credibility.  So I explained that my opinion was based on a lifetime's experience of looking at things.  Of course, this is a posture that threatens rudely to disturb the ripple-free pool of consensus that surrounds polite - or politically ambitious - people.

The academic and literary critic George Steiner is also a man of strong opinions.  Explaining why he knew his subject better than others, Steiner wrote a bravura sentence designed to lose him what few friends he might have had among the legions of limp, multicultural relativists who inhabit Britain's universities, "The difference between the judgment of a great critic and that of a semi-literate censorious fool lies in its range of inferred or cited reference, in the lucidity and rhetorical strength of articulation or in the accidental addendum which is that of a critic who is a creator in his own right."

Steiner, a Jew, also cheerfully trod in the dangerous territory between fact and opinion when he once pointed out that no worthwhile mathematical discovery has been made by a native of sub-Saharan Africa.  He thus made the direct link between opinions and outrage all too clear for the faint-hearted.  But the truth is that opinions require knowledge and a quest for knowledge is a defining characteristic of civilisation.  Yet total knowledge, let alone complete understanding, always escapes us; it is an elusive destination.

Gustave Flaubert made this subject his own more than a hundred years ago, when he compiled his Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues (A Dictionary of Platitudes).  His intention was to satirise the lazy, conventional, conformist ideologues of his day.  He soon realised the problems of cataloguing opinions.  The whole process involves corrosive reflections that can be intellectually and physically exhausting.  Trying to catalogue opinions was a disturbingly ambiguous intellectual adventure which drove Flaubert to moan: "Je doute de tout, même mon doute" (I doubt everything, even my doubt).

There are perhaps three types of opinion.  The first is the educated man's opinion that certain popular beliefs are stupid.  The second is the sort that drove Flaubert to near madness, the opinion that certain original thoughts are stupid.  Third, there is the conventional "wisdom" about what is correct.

Opinions flourish only in periods or cultures without a dominant religion.  A medieval monk in his Cluniac abbey or a contemporary mullah in his mosque and, indeed, a fine Victorian gentleman, had little use for original opinions.  The collective opinions of religion are inflexible dogma, not interesting expressions of private thought.  The best opinions are contrarian, not conformist, although that is in itself a matter of opinion.

It is this irreverent quality that attracted Flaubert, the perpetual adolescent.  And it was for the same reason that the Duke of Wellington disapproved of his soldiers cheering because this was very nearly an expression of a personal opinion and, by suggestion, insubordination or even mutiny.

Great minds think alike and fools, it is said, never differ.  That is a collective opinion.  But in my opinion, it is wrong: the fact is, great minds are almost always singular.  Alexander Pope's "confederacy of dunces" slipped easily into the language, rather suggesting a general acknowledgement that stupidity is commonplace.  Certainly that was what Flaubert believed as he battled against the entrenched boorishness of the middle-classes, with their platitudes and their dull, unathletic minds.  Better be mentally fit and jump to conclusions.

We have some great opinion-makers today, but they are not politicians.  Politicians are too timid.  Instead, the statesmen of ideas who metabolise our lives are the talented misfits who sit more comfortably outside the system.  Will Self is an example.  Self once told me that love and sex have only a vicarious relationship.  It is fine, he said, to have sex with someone you hate.  In Self's opinion, the only sin is to be indifferent to your sexual partner.

And then, of course, there is John Mortimer, our national living treasure, a rich source of humane, life-enhancing opinions.  Mortimer should have his own radio channel and broadcast his endearing opinions on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness 24-7.  He should be the National Curriculum.

Among women, business and the media are better incubators of opinion than the universities (where proper academic conventions and improper fashionable fallacies combine to inhibit free expression of interesting ideas).  The slightly dotty Anita Roddick is one of our very best opinion-makers, a reminder that success often reveals infirmities that failure would allow to remain hidden.  And then there is the divine Nigella who has forged an intellectual relationship between fairy cakes and lascivious eroticism at least as odd - and as compelling - as Roddick's association of foot-balm with environmental awareness.

Opinions make you think, or at least stop you being stupid.  Or perhaps, less charitably, help to disguise it.  Certainly, whatever the interpretation, they provide comfort.  Sometimes, passionately held opinions are stupid ones.  But Wittgenstein believed that

if people never did stupid things, nothing intelligent would ever happen.

In this sense, human progress depends on the continuing practice of forming opinions.  So progress, or at least a form of it, is assured.  And so it is enchanting to consider the etymology of "idiot".  Nowadays meaning someone of deficient intellect, it originally meant an independent person with ideas of his own.  So if you are idiotic, you are civilised.  Some may find that a challenging opinion.

Stephen Bayley is the author of A Dictionary of Idiocy (Gibson Square Books)

Source: 1 December 2003

Seven Questions

  1. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and grey when you throw it away?
  2. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?
  3. This is an unusual paragraph.  I’m curious as to how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it.  It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it - in fact, nothing IS wrong with it - though still, it is unusual.  Study it and think about it - but you still may not find anything odd.  Work at it a bit and you might find out why.  (Try to do so without any coaching!)
  4. You are participating in a race.  You overtake the second person.  What position are you in?
  5. If you overtake the last person, then you are…?
  6. (in your head!) Take 1000 and add 40 to it.  Now add another 1000.  Now add 30.  Add another 1000.  Now add 20.  Now add another 1000.  Now add 10.  What is the total?
  7. Mary’s father has five daughters:
    1. Nana
    2. Nene
    3. Nini
    4. Nono.
    What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Now how many could you answer?  Scroll down for answers:











< />>Answers:

  1. Charcoal.
  2. Yesterday, today, tomorrow.
  3. The letter “e”, the most common letter in the English language, does not appear once.
  4. If you answer "first", you are incorrect.  If you overtake the second person and take his place, you are then second.
  5. If you answered "second to last" you are wrong.  How can you overtake the LAST person?  It's a bad question.
  6. Did you get 5,000?  The correct answer is 4,100.  If you don’t believe it, use a calculator.
  7. Nunu?  Of course not.  The 5th daughter is named Mary.  Read the question again...


Easy Test

  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?
  3. From which animal do we get catgut?
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?
  6. The Canary Islands are named after what animal?
  7. What was King George VI's first name?
  8. What color is a purple finch?
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries, sometimes called Kiwi fruit, from?

All done?  Check your answers below..












  1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?  116 years
  2. Which country makes Panama hats?  Ecuador
  3. From which animal do we get cat gut?  Sheep and Horses
  4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?  November
  5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?  Squirrel fur
  6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?  Dogs
  7. What was King George VI's first name?  Albert
  8. What color is a purple finch?  Crimson
  9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?  New Zealand (they are sometimes called kiwi fruit)

Source: The Dull Men's Site - not really dull at all - they thanked to Sam Bali for sending this to them)

For more articles, tests and visual amusements click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Intellectual and Entertaining section.

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