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War of the Minds - Archive - War II

An Internet Contest

We have a winner of War II

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has accumulated 660 points.


Archives - War II


Archives of Previous Battles - War II

War II - battle 15
1. Forestry
What is a relascope? What is its use?
see Answer
2. Computers
WMF is to BMP as MIDI is to ---?
see Answer
3. Philosophy
Canaan, son of Ham, and all his descendants were cursed. By whom and for what reason?
see Answer
4. Culture
A South African film with a cult following, it is about the quest of an aborigine named Ki to throw a Coke bottle off the edge of the world. What is the name of the movie and why did Ki want to get rid of the Coke bottle?
see Answer
Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has a sweep with 160 points for answers to all four questions:
and with this Soumen wins War of the Minds II
Soumen's answers were dated Fri, 1 Aug 1997 02:53:36 -0400 (EDT)
1. Forestry
A relascope (or relaskop) is an instrument for measuring diameter, height and basal area of a tree. I'd liken it to a cross between a surveyor's theodolite and the multiple scales of a slide rule. Others may disagree (especially if they know what they're talking about). You can get an idea of the proper use, design, and utility of the relaskop at this page"
Further, the Deponent sayeth not
2. Computers
I never thought about it before, but a WMF (Windows Meta File) bears a relationship to a BMP (BitMaP) as MIDI does to digitized audio. Note, if you had said .MID, I would have replied .WAV, since WMF and BMP are both Microsoft formats -- MIDI is platform-independent, so I can't show any bias in my answer.

A Bitmap is the most basic common format used for computer graphics -- and possibly most wasteful, in terms of redundant information (though in a world that can create a computer language like Intercal 'most wasteful' is a constantly moving target). Bitmaps just list the color value for each individual pixel on a screen -- so a solid black screen might take just as much space as a true color photo of your favorite member of Your Favorite Sex.

WMF, on the other hand, is the native vector graphics format for the Windows operating systems. WMF files are actually a collection of GDI calls (Graphics Device Interface) which are built into the Windows environment. When a WMF file is "played back" (typically using the Windows PlayMetaFile function) the graphics is rendered. "Vector Graphics" specify the initial point, direction, color, width and length of lines that make up the image. A few parameters can specify a lot of pixels (though the format was intended as an easy way to re-draw pictures, not primarily as a compression format)

Similarly Digitized Audio (e.g. .WAV, .AU) files specifiy the exact analog (sound pressure, voltage, current, whatever) value at each point in a time during a piece of music or sound effect -- the most basic, yet over- specified and redundant method of describing a sound.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a method of constructing sounds (usually music or a reasonaable facsimile thereof) by specifying notes, durations, 'voices' (instruments or characteristic relations of sounds) and other qualities. Technically, a MIDI file consists of a sequence of events (begin high 'c' in piano ... begin f sharp above c in flute ... etc.) possibly preceded by of a set of definitions (of the instruments used in the piece). It is analogous to vector graphics in specifying "what, where, and how long' etc.

The truth, of course, is much more complicated... and I hope I am not being hopelessly kitschy if I suggest that "The Truth is Out There. (and here... and a million less technical places) Midi describes a general outline of how a piece of music is intended to sound, and leaves the reconstruction to the hardware of the listener -- much as a web page does.

3. Philosophy
Genesis 9:14 is one of my favorite verses of the entire Bible, because it illustrates how the Bible is to be read -- something that I won't get into here (though it is a mainstay of theology which is well-ducumented in many great texts) because it will most certainly offend many people's most cherished beliefs.

The story of Canaan's curse follows immediately after...

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the 
bow shall be seen in the cloud: 

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every
living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood  
to destroy all flesh. 

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may
remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of
all flesh that is upon the earth. 

17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have
established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. 

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham,
and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 

19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he
drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told
his two brethren without. 

23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their
shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father;
and their faces
were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done
unto him. 

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto
his brethren. 

26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his

27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and
Canaan shall be his servant. 

28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 

29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died. 
Following, as it does, the great elucidation of the esoteric method (i.e. the rainbow story), I think it's fairly clear that the story is not meant to be taken literally. Indeed, it makes little sense if taken as a verbatim truth. I have always interpreted it to mean that the slavery of Ham's descendants was a great shame that did not bear close examination -- just as Noah's drunkenness and nakedness were.

Those more interested in the subject of Biblical interpretation could do much worse than to refer to the Introduction to Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed (Shlomo Pines did a masterful translation), "Persecution and the Art of Writing" by Leo Strauss (or other Strauss writings). Then I'd compare Maimonides' Guide with Aquinas' Summa Theologica (okay, you don't have to read all -- was it 300+ volumes?) and the works of Al-Farabi. No matter how you approach it, the truth of the Bible, Torah, and Quran seems the same -- and IMHO it ain't what the Fundamentalists of any of the sects claim it is...

I will say no more, for fear of treading on toes...

4. Culture
The movie is "The Gods Must be Crazy", and the best description I can give for Ki wanting to rid himself and his family of the object is that it seemed to be a 'wrong thing' that should be returned to the gods because it caused too much trouble in the world of the mortal.

This time I will say no more, for fear of ruining the movie for those who haven't seen it. Its a hilarious, charming romp -- as with the very best trips, in the end, it isn't the route or the destination, but the experience of the travel (i.e. experiencing the movie) that ends up meaning the most. This is one flick that Cliff's Notes couldn't touch without ruining it. Rent it and see if you don't agree.


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War II - battle 14
1. Forestry
What is the scientific (Latin) name of the tree which has leaves like this?
It is a deciduous tree common in the Eastern United States with bark that is broken into long shaggy plates. It is considered an important mast producer for wildlife.

see Answer
2. Computers
Why does my fast modem connect at a slower speed and why would I set my COM port at 38.4k or higher if my modem is only 28.8k?
see Answer
3. Philosophy
Born in Italy in 1548, he first became a Dominican priest, later a writer and philosopher. He wrote of an infinite universe and could not conceive that God and nature could be separate and distinct entities as taught by Genesis, as taught by the Church and even as taught by Aristotle. Eventually he was burned alive by the Catholic church for teaching that Copernicus was right and Earth was not the center of the Universe. Who was this little known martyr?
see Answer
4. History
In the nineteenth century Fisk and Ramsey fought from Albany to Binghamton. Eventually Ramsey won. Over what did they fight?
see Answer
Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 80 more points with his answers to questions:
Soumen's answers were dated Wed, 16 Jul 1997 13:30:39 -0400 (EDT)
1. Forestry
Thanks for reminding me of hickory! While a few species grow more over a wider geographical range (one species even ventures as far as eastern China), I will always associate the hickory with the Southeast US, and the many hours I spent as a pre-teen Boy Scout in the woods of Georgia. Just seeing the leaves brought back memories that I hadn't even realized were lost!

While I hadn't realized until just now how richly Southern the Hickory is (though its close relative, the pecan, is even more a Georgia icon than the more publicized 'peachtree' that half of Atlanta is named for), one look at your foliage drawing made me realize how much I'd missed that tree, so seldom seen in northern forests

I'll admit I never thought of the mast value of hickory. I remember its outstanding strength and flexibility. (As a feckless pre-teen, I saw little use for hiking poles, but a hickory shaft I picked up on the Appalachian Trail was the only staff I ever found worth carrying. Much later, I developed an unreasoning fond-ness of a linden stave that I picked up on a mountainside in Switzerland, but i can't say that even it came close to the young hickory in sheer material characteristics) I'll also admit a fond-ness for the searing smoke-free heat and subtle flavor that hickory coals give a proper Southern BBQ, though I suspect that this admission is vaguely un-PC by New England standards.

You want a Latin name? How about Carya ovata (shagbark hickory). Latin (as much as I love it) doesn't seem the right language for the charm of the hickory. I prefer the old-fashioned yet contemporary description I found at Forest Stewardship in North Carolina -- a style as English and medieval as Arthur himself, sprinkled with startling reminders of the modern world we all inhabit today.

2. Computers
There are many reasons why you may not be able to get full modem speed on a given connection: the phone line may be noisy; the modem or server on the other end may be slow; your modem and the other modem may be unable to negotiate on a high transmission speed, even if the phone connection would support it; or there may be a problem in your configuration.

A word on modem negotiations: While it would seem that simple trial and error should consistently lead to the highest initial connection speed, the truth is that the art of modem negotiation is almost a black art. It might make sense that two different brands of modems might have different ideas on how to negotiate (and therefore fail to squeeze maximum benefit from a given connection) but US Robotics modems (to cite an example) have often been demonstrated to consistently connect at higher speeds with other brands than those brands connect with themselves! (I have no idea if this is still the case for modems with the latest drivers and flash upgrades). For this reason, USR is probably the top modem used by Internet Service Providers.

Why should my port speed be set higher than my modem's rated speed? There are two primary reasons. First, if your computer is set up to supply data faster than the modem can transmit, you eliminate one of the possible causes of sub-optimal transfer: your computer may still have to wait for your modem, but your modem will never have to wait for your computer. The second reason is compression: if the data can be compressed by the modem, then it can transmit more data with fewer acoustical bits. This means that the DATA throughput can be up to twice as fast as the actual bit transfer rate. If you don't supply your modem with data at that faster rate, you lose this advantage

Incidentally, serial port settings are primarily important for external modems. Internal modems manage their own transfer rates, so even though your system may *think* an internal modem is a COM: port with a 19.2Kb transfer rate, the modem will still receive information over the ISA bus at speeds in the MHz range. It will receive and store a handful of bytes at once, then ask the system to wait while it transmits them.

Finally, without going into details, you can't trust most connect speeds reported by modems. Frequently it's just reporting the connection speed you requested, not the connection speed it achieved. There are few programs that accurately report true connect speed, much less measure true modem throughput (especially as it fluctuates in real time). My rule is: if the modem (or server) reports good performance, smile indulgently and condescending say "That's nice". If it reports POOR performance, believe it and root out the cause (usually re-dialling will fix it)

If this sounds like the rule some people use in dealing with other people's children, it's no accident. The truth is that when people become too attached and invested in their modem and its performance, they become convinced of its inherent superiority -- just as with children. I've seen people convinced they were experiencing blazing speed when they were actually badly misconfigured. The unsettling uncertainty of the technical side causes some people to devoutly wish -- and thence believe -- that their modems are functioning fine, then well, then extraordinarily (since extraordinary performance precludes any need for upgrading or reconfiguration). There is little middle ground with modems -- you either love yours ferociously or secretly hate it.

For more information than you ever realized you needed on the subject of modems and transfer speeds, John Nava's Modem FAQ has always been an excellent and reliable source.

The recent 56K modems raise another problem for serial ports. They are capable of transmitting up to around 15,000 characters per second, but even most newer serial ports tap out at around 10,000. (when we say 28.8K we mean kiloBAUD, not kiloBYTES -- the baud rate is roughly equivalent to the BITS per second, so a 28.8K modem sends only about 7000 characters (bytes) per second, even with compression)

Some of you may remember the old 16450 UART -- a serial port chip that had performed admirably in PCs until modem speeds shot up. There was a rush to serial boards with the new, faster 16550 chip -- which alas, was faulty in some of its early production versions.

If you lived through this with your external modem in the past, I apologize ... because you may have to go through it all again. You see, you'll need the new USB (Universal Serial Bus) to pull maximum performance out of an external 56K modem -- and, as hot as I'm sure your system is, it didn't come with USB. In fact, as of a few months ago, *no* systems with USB had shipped yet. I imagine a few are out there today -- but its time for an EISA add-in for 99% of you.

You might consider an internal modem - cheaper to buy, and no USB add-on board required. Furthermore, the 16550/A/AF/AN debacle has made me cautious about buying any USB before it has a track record. You'd think that a serial board would be simple to get right -- but the 16550 (which was just a fancier version of a proven chip) proved that it isn't necessarily true.

3. Philosophy
Giordano Bruno? A 'little known martyr'? Little known? I guess I'm out of touch with mainstream America on this one. I guess I'll have to spend tomorrow on the beach reviewing Billboard's "America's Top 50 Martyrs" -- but if David Karesh ends up on the list, I may retch.

While Kepler and Galileo had little good to say about Bruno (despite his writings in defense of Copernicus), he seems to be one of those guys who crops up *continually* on the edges of my readings in history/philosophy -- a characteristic that I've always felt was the true -er- Rennaisance Man (if I may call him that). Perhaps I simply overestimate his significance out of sheer green-faced jealousy (he has a prominent crater on the moon named after him -- formed by what is believed to have been a human-observed impact on June 18, 1178, and I am an ardent space enthusiast)

So, I have to admit that it may merely be sour grapes when I report that many of the sources I've read indicate that even though Bruno was reputed to have died for his views on Copernicus' heliocentric universe and extraterrestrial life, he may not have *understood* these theories very well. His books on the subject are supposedly riddled with errors compared with the details of the theories of his time.

Of course, we don't really know *why* he was martyred. All records of his actual hearings were lost. It might just have been really bad breath.

4. History
Joseph H. Ramsey was President of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad. "Jubilee Jim" Fisk tried to buy a controlling interest in the railroad. But when Fisk thought he had a controlling interest, Ramsey refused to give up control. Both men then hired men to seize control of the railroad by force. Read the whole story on the "Old News" web site.
This question went unanswered during the War of the Minds War II.

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War II - battle 13
1. Forestry
What is the scientific (Latin) name of the tree which has leaves like this?
It is a deciduous tree common in moist soils in the Eastern United States.

see Answer
2. Computers
DOS and the original version of Windows 95 used a 16 bit FAT in which a 2 gigabyte FAT partition used 32k clusters. Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2 supports 4k clusters on 2 gigabyte hard disk drives. What fundamental change in the OS allowed this and what are the advantages? Disadvantages?
see Answer
3. Philosophy
What was the crime of Onan?
see Answer
4. History
The original Drug Czar was Lin Tse-hsü. When and where?
see Answer
Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has a sweep of this battle and 160 more points with his answers to questions:
Soumen's answers were dated Wed, 2 Jul 1997 07:17:39 -0400 (EDT)
1. Forestry
Well, this is clearly some sort of maple (Acer) and my first reaction was scarlet maple, because the ones I tend to see up here tend to have those 3 prominent lobes and the two less fully developed ones. However, the serrations are usually more regular than the ones I see pictured. However, it *is* a hardy tree which enjoys moist soil, and is tolerant of a wide variety of drainage conditions, making it quite common.

I can't rule out Sugar maple (Acer saccarum), which can have 3-5 lobes though that species seems to have better developed lower lobes (much like a Ferengi) on average. However, while sugar maple can enjoy some moist soils, as you specified, it really doesn't tolerate poor drainage very well.

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides) are 5-lobed -- and while this specimen could qualify as 5- lobed, I don't think that they match up. Besides, while Silver maple does well in soil that is downright wet, Norway maple prefers dry to moist.

None of the Asian origin species (which aren't "common" compared to the native and European species) have that classic 'maple-leaf' shape -- some are so deeply trilobed that they are essentially tri-folate, one has an very prominent distal lobe, with two small side lobes, and all lack the kind of serrations pictured here.

Well, like they told us in school -- go with your first instinct...

Scarlet Maple (Acer rubrum) aka red maple, soft maple, swamp maple, white maple... and many other names

An appropriate tree for July 1, "Canada Day"!

From Duane: This question was really kind of ambiguous because the lack of serrations on the lobes of the leaf was not well defined in the picture. The answer was supposed to be Sugar Maple, the tree of Canada, but due to the quality of the picture Red Maple is an equally valid answer.

2. Computers
Win95 OSR2 uses the so-called FAT32 (vs. the FAT16 of Win95, Win3.1, and DOS)

Disks (both hard and floppy) are recorded in a number of concentric tracks. Each track is divided up into sectors, so that the data can be stored more efficiently in smaller, more managable units.

The "FAT" in FAT32 and FAT16 is the "File Allocation Table", a list of the files on the computer, and the sectors that they are stored on (as well as the free sectors available for recording new data.

Thanks to the FAT, the operating system doesn't have to store all the sectors in a file in sequential sectors (which would require the drive to reorganize the entire disk to create an empty area at the end of a file if time you wanted to add to a file. How tedious!)

Instead, the OS simply grabs an available sector anywhere on the disk, and writes on it, then scrupulously keeps an accounting of what sectors the file uses (and in what order). This generally speeds up the process of reading and writing to disks, but it can also lead to the sectors of a file being scattered all over a disk. Jumping from track to track takes a lot of time in computer terms: generally an average of about 10 milliseconds nowadays -- or a million clock cycles on a 100Mhz computer! Therefore, it is a good idea to defragment your disk periodically, so that the data can be rearranged to minimize the jumping around.

The operating system has to give each sector a unique 'name' to perform the magic of keeping this database of locations straight. When designing FAT16, the programmers made some choices that seemed reasonable at the time: they set aside a certain number of bits for the name of each sector. Unfortunately, this put a limit on the number of tracks and sectors that the FAT could address -- but at the time, that limit was far more than any user could ever expect to reach.

As drives grew larger (and programs grew more greedy for disk space), those original limits grew to be *very* limiting. The effective limit was raised several times, using a number of tricks in new versions of the operating system. One trick was to address sectors in groups (called clusters) instead of individually -- so that a bigger drive could be completely addressed with fewer names. However, using clusters meant more wasted space -- entire sectors may be left empty at the end of a file. To minimize waste, smaller drives use smaller clusters, and larger clusters are only used when the number of available 'names' would run out.

This is not a mere theoretical consideration -- if you have a 1.2 Gigabyte drive (drives smaller than 1 gigabyte are no longer even manufactured!) under FAT16, you will usually have more usable space if you discard (ignore) 200+ megabytes and tell your system that the drive is just under one gigabyte, so that you can take advantage of the smaller cluster size! (Drives under 1 Gig use 16K per cluster, while drives over 1 Gig use 32K per cluster). Even if you use the largest cluster size, FAT16 still runs out of names at 2.1 Gig -- and you end up resorting to 'partitioning' -- or dividing your large physical hard drive into smaller 'logical' hard drives.

FAT32 uses longer 'sector names' so it can name many more unique sectors -- since 32 bits provides 65,536 times as many names as 16 bits, FAT32 can address up to 8 gig using only a 4K cluster size (very frugal), or directly address an entire 2 *terabyte* disk (a terabyte is 1024 Gigabytes) using larger clusters

As a famous kiddie TV announcer is reputed to have said: "That oughta hold the little b*****ds for a while".

FAT32 has some other benefits as well. Since the FAT is clearly the central key to recovering data from the drive, an error in the FAT file could seriously screw up your ability to read your disk -- FAT32 lets you keep multiple copies of your FAT file, and use them as backup. (Under FAT16, that FAT file had to be kept in a certain place on the disk and accessed in special ways)

Another limitation under FAT16 is the number of root directories that you can have on a drive. While FAT32 doesn't currently eliminate that limitation, it has that capability, and is scheduled to address this problem in the future (what is the point of having over 2,000,000,000,000 bytes of data storage, if you can't organize it in a sensible way? 2 Terabytes can hold 500 million single spaced typewritten pages -- you'll need a lot of folders to organize all that!)

Of course, when you make such a fundamental change, you upset a lot of assumptions that a generation of programmers built into their programs. this means that a lot of existing programs won't work with or on a FAT32 disk. Microsoft's own disk compression, for example, won't work under FAT32. (Actually, while Drivespace and Drivespace 3 won't work under FAT32, I believe that Drivespace 2 will.)

Another disadvantage is more overhead. FAT32 forces the computer to think more about each sector it reads. For some of todays computers, this is no problem -- their processing power is so much faster than their disk speed that overall performance will actually improve slightly. For others, there will be a "modest degradation" of speed.

FAT32 will also confuse other operating systems, so dual boot systems should be particularly careful. If you buy a new computer and it comes with FAT32 (Win95 OSR2) you *might* be better off reverting to the older FAT16 depending on your needs -- and it definitely isn't something you want to upgrade to by yourself (unless you're *way* too expert to listen to my opinion!)

3. Philosophy
Onanism is 'self-abuse' or masturbation. However, the actual story of Onan is a bit more complicated. To quote Genesis 38:
1  And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren,
   and turned in to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.
2  And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was
   Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.
3  And she conceived, and bare a son; and he called his name Er.
4  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she called his name Onan.
5  And she yet again conceived, and bare a son; and called his name Shelah:
   and he was at Chezib, when she bare him.
6  And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar.
7  And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the
   LORD slew him.
8  And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her,
   and raise up seed to thy brother.
9  And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when
   he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground,
   lest that he should give seed to his brother.
10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him
From Duane:
Actually, although Onanism has come to mean masturbastion, the crime of Onan was spilling his seed upon the ground as quoted above from the Bible. Theologians though have argued whether spilling his seed was a crime because God disapproves of birth control or because Onan did not do as he was told which was to produce a child for his brother, Er.
4. History
Lin Tse-hsü (1785-1850) was the Chinese Commissioner of Canton, who precipitated the Opium Wars (1839- 1842) by the Cantonese equivalent of the Boston Tea Party.

Although opium had been available in China for centuries, the opening of the Dutch and English tea trade led to the availability of such large quantities that opium addiction became a widespread problem. When The Emperor's own son died of an overdose, Lin Tse-hsü was sent to negotiate an end to the trade.

Alas, the English were not inclined to cooperate, so Lin seized the stock of opium in Canton, and had it dumped out at sea.

The Chinese were soundly defeated in the ensuing war, and were forced to sign a humiliating treaty which included full legalization of the opium trade. As a result, Lin was dismissed from office in disgrace and sent into exile.

Only in recent decades was Lin 'rehabilitated' in the eyes of the Chinese government. He is now considered a hero, and I believe that statues in his honor are planned in Tiananmen Square -- and already stand in at least one American city (I may have the details wrong -- I heard about the statues briefly during the Hong Kong sign-over ceremony)

Lin warned Queen Victoria of his intent in a remarkably frank letter (especially given the polite and circumspect nature of Chinese diplomacy), but there is some doubt as to whether Queen Victoria ever read the letter.

For more information see OLD NEWS - Opium Wars


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War II - battle 12
1. Forestry
I have 100 acres of northern red oak trees, Quercus rubra. The average circular spacing between trees is 37 feet. These trees when 50 years old were 70 feet tall. They have an average merchantable height of two 16 foot logs per tree. If these trees are 22 inches dbh and have a form class of 78 and if this grade of red oak is selling at the local sawmill for $600.00 per mbf, International 1/4 inch log scale and if the total cost of felling, skidding, bucking, loading and hauling to the mill is $100.00 per mbf., what is the total dollar value (to the nearest $1,000) on the stump of this tract of timber? Is this a good site for growing Quercus rubra?
According to Mesavage and Girard a Form Class 78, two log tree with a dbh of 22 inches contains 368 board feet International 1/4 inch log rule.
2. Computers
The maximum compression ratio for a V.42bis modem is 4:1. Does this mean that a 9600 bps modem with V.42bis can download a GIF file at 38,400 bps? Explain.
3. Philosophy
In 1885, a serious epidemic of smallpox broke out in Montreal Canada. Few Protestants died, but the Roman Catholic parishioners died in great numbers. Why was the epidemic so much more deadly to Roman Catholics?
4. Culture
It is the late 1950s. You are approached by a stranger. He introduces himself. He is Michael Anthony. He gives you a tax free check for $1,000,000.00. He says it is from an anonymous benefactor and that the money is yours to do with as you wish subject to two conditions. You can tell no one the amount of the gift or where you got it. If you do you will forfeit whatever amount remains. Who is your anonymous benefactor?
Question 1 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

The average circular tree spacing is 37 feet. Thus by A=pi*R^2 each tree takes up 18.5*18.5*3.14=1074.66 sq. feet. At 43,560 sq. ft. per acre there are about 40.53 trees per acre or 4053 trees on 100 acres. 4053 * (368 bd. ft. per tree) * $0.50 per bd ft. ($500 per 1000) = $745,800.

As for the quality of the stand 70 feet in height at 50 years of age is considered a good but not outstanding site index for Northern Red Oak. Remember the 70 feet is total height, not merchantable height. In a normal stand a yield of about 15,000 bd ft per acre as in this example would be reasonable at about 80 years of age. Foresters define a normal stand though not as an average stand but as an ideal stand, unlikely to occur in actual practice.

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 20 more points with her answer to question:
4. The anonymous benefactor is J. Beresford Tipton, from the TV show "The Millionaire."
John Beresford Tipton never actually appeared on the show but his voice was played by an actor named Paul Frees.

Anne's answer was dated Thu, 19 Jun 1997 18:16:32 -0400 (EDT)

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 40 more points with his answers to questions:
2) GIF is a compressed format. [It's a smaller restatement of a bitmapped file] One usually gets only a modest decrease in size compressing an already compressed file, even if you use very different compression schemes. While the exact degree of to which I can further compress a GIF varies according to the GIF itself, I am *not* going to get that theoretical maximum .

As a general rule, it is better to transfer precompressed files (ZIP, HQX, .Z, LZW, etc.) than to use V.42bis on uncompressed data because
a) compressing 'on-the-fly' as you transmit slows down your system and rarely gives as good compression as the stored compressed files;
b) storing pre-compressed files saves hard drive space as well as transmission time; and
c) you can do other clever things when you pre-compress (like grouping related files togethr into a single file)

As a result, most systems store all but the smallest files in compressed formats, making v.42bis considerably less useful than one might think. Of course, it's still better than MNP 5 (which was its major competition) because when MNP-5 tried to compress an already compressed file, the result was often *larger* than the original pre-compressed file. Yoicks.


In a previous universe, I ran the Library of Congress. Due to storage constraints, I compressed all my digital documents down to one bit. The US Constitution for example, compressed down to "1". Unfortunately, the Letters Column of April's Penthouse also compressed down to "1". Since a bit is a bit is a bit, when I uncompressed the "1" representing the US Constitution before a Constitutional Convention, I got the April Penthouse column.

After the resulting social collapse, my successor, Bambi Guccione, decided I was too radical, and compressed everything down to 1 megabyte instead. Alas, while the 268,435,456 possible bit combinations is a lot of combinations, it wasn't enough to represent all the documents (and the works of the billion monkeys in the next Universe over who were trying to create Shakespeare) Eventually, someone tried to retrieve the National budget and got a copy of the May Penthouse.

The resulting Civil War (Females seceded from the Union in disgust) lasted over a thousand years and destroyed that universe and significant chunks of the next one over.

As a result, it was decided that compression limits should be size, scheme, and content dependent, and that this time around Shakespeare would be an organism descended from the monkeys. "How like an analogy is man..."

Well, 'ordinary data' usually has a certain degree of "redundancy". Which means that you can usually re-state the data using fewer bytes. That's what compression does. Some compression schemes (like GIF, HQX, ZIP, etc.) are lossless, meaning that you get an exact duplicate of the original when you de-compress. Other compressions schemes like JPEG and MPEG are "lossy" -- you trade compression for detail. (If I use JPEG to compress a digital picture of a friend down to half size, I probably won't notice the difference. At one-tenth size, I'd definitely notice the loss in quality. At 1/100 the file size, I might recognize it was a person but not be able to immediately recognize who.

Lossless compression is used for documents and programs. Typos are bad enough without having compression induce them. Lossy compression is used for pictures, audio, and other data that doesn't need to be exact. It can compress far more than lossless and maintain acceptable quality

Let's say you have a telephone book. Pretty dense random data, right? Of course not. For one thing, instead of spelling out each last name, I could simply pick a byte, say 00000111, and make it mean "UH, this entry has the same last name as the one before -- thereby saving myself the trouble of typing (or transmitting) all the letters of all those names. Since the Phone book is alphabetical, this works very well.

The Icelandic Phone book does precisely this. They *don't* retype every single name for every entry. They also group similarly pronounced names together, and suggest alternate spelling groups to check. The Icelandic clearly know a lot of things we don't -- don't get me started.

I could also note that there are an awful lot of people named John, Jane, etc. and assign single bytes to represent common names. This would save me having to retype those names.

Eventually, you hit a wall -- the minimum number of bits necessary to describe the data. For example, a phone number in ASCII takes 8 bytes (e.g. 634-2708= 00110110 00110011 00110100 00101101 00110010 001100111 00110000 00111000 = 64 bits) but I can record the number 6342708 as a binary number in 23 bits: 11000001100100000111100 Since there are less than 2^23 (838,8608) valid 7 digit phone numbers, but more than 2^22 valid phone numbers, I can't compress a seven digit phone number in a phone book to less than 23 bits. Similarly, in a nation of 250 million people, I couldn't use less than 28 bits to describe the person the phone number belonged to.

Uh -- the ANSWER to question #2 is "No"

I gave the explanation, but not the answer!

3. Philosophy
In 1885, a serious epidemic of smallpox broke out in Montreal Canada. Few Protestants died, but the Roman Catholic parishioners died in great numbers.
Why was the epidemic so much more deadly to Roman Catholics?

The "Medical" answer is: the Catholic clergy of the time generally opposed vaccination.

I used the word 'vaccination' instead of "inoculation" because the very word "vaccination" comes from the Latin word "vaccinia" meaning "cowpox" [Technical purists may quibble over whether the two are the same -- let them] Every school child has at least heard the story of Edward Jenner's admiration of English cowgirls (and their lovely unscarred complexions) and how that admiration led to the discovery that exposure to the harmless cowpox conferred a degree of immunity to the scarring and dangerous smallpox.

"Inoculation" is the term used by many to describe that process now, since Jenner used an 'innoculum' or aliquot of virus-laden material scratched into the skin rather than a modern vaccine. I say that since Jenner invented the word, he should have some say in its usage!

It's amazing how the usage of medical terms has changed. It makes it rather difficult to track exactly what physicians practiced or even believed, in very significant ways. Few people are aware of these distinctions, and even historians can slip, and much of the richness the history of man's struggle against disease and disability is lost or misinterpreted as a result

However, to answer the question of "WHY" the Catholic clergy opposed inoculation, we have to get back to philosophy:

According to the website http://www.religioustolerance.org

"Early in the 17th Century, physicians in France and Great Britain promoted inoculations to prevent small pox. Theologians were quick to respond. Rev. Edward Massy in England preached a sermon blaming the distemper experienced by Job in the Bible upon an inoculation by Satan. Other clergy preached that the technique was being promoted by sorcerers and atheists. Smallpox was regarded as "a judgment of God on the sins of the people......to avert it is but to provoke him more". Inoculation was "an encroachment on the prerogatives of Jehovah, whose right it is to wound and smite."

That all sounds very reasonable. But I wonder if the author knew that until vaccination became mandatory, the commonfolk of England had an entirely different meaning for the word inoculation: when an infant contracted smallpox, another infant might be placed in the crib with them to contract the infection (much as modern mothers often deliberately infect their young children with chickenpox by taking them to play with an infected playmate). Many works including Dicken's "Bleak House" ranging as late as "Dartmouth Idylls" (1896) mention inoculation, but I believe that even contemporaneous accounts refer to entirely different practices. Dartmouth Idylls, for example is practically twentieth century but mentions the 'shared crib method' (actually, a shared cabinet drawer) of inoculation.

Since Jenner lived from 1749-1823, these preachers of the "early 17th century (1600's) couldn't have been talking about *Jenner's* inoculation, which changes my entire view of what these theologians were railing against. While an exposed infant might enjoy some degree of "passive" immunity from antibodies passed in the mother's breast milk. In the 1600's immunity and antibodies were unknown -- and a clergyman who had presided over even a single "needless" infant death due to inoculation could be forgiven for railing against the practice.

Remember, immunity from inoculation is invisible. The complications of inoculations are very visible and seem needless. Today there is a groundswell of opposition to vaccination, because educated, loving, almost-21st century parents see the rare vaccine complications but not the invisible protection it offers.

While there is considerable merit to the criticisms of current vaccines, the diseases themselves are far worse. We just don't see these diseases now because enough children are still immunized to keep the risk of infectious sources low. We may eventually pass below a critical threshold, where enough children are unprotected to allow an epidemic to spread.

But to return to the 1885 epidemic:

"Jenner's development of vaccination was similarly opposed on religious grounds. By preventing the spread of disease, they were "bidding defiance to Heaven itself - even to the will of God." In 1885, a serious epidemic of smallpox broke out in Montreal Canada. Few Protestants died because they had been mostly vaccinated. However the Roman Catholic clergy were generally opposed to the practice; their parishioners died needlessly, in great numbers.

(again from http://www.religioustolerance.org/past_mor.htm)

So, folks ... it's happened before. It will happen again. The only thing I can say is ... I hope it doesn't happen to you.

PLEASE CHECK YOUR KIDS IMMUNIZATION RECORDS (Whether you decide to immunize or not, there's no excuse for not *knowing*! The vast majority of unprotected kids are unprotected because the parents didn't realize or didn't get around to it.)

Sorry. Medical fervor can be just as annoying as religious fervor.

Soumen's answers were dated Fri, 20 Jun 1997 02:33:10 -0400


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 11
1. Forestry
What is likely to happen when Pinus spp. is interplanted with Juglans nigra?
2. Computers
Why does the standard keyboard on an IBM-PC compatible computer have the cursor movement keys including [HOME], [END], [Pg Up], and [Pg Dn] duplicated on the numeric keypad?
3. Philosophy
In the late summer of 1960 he accepted an appointment as research professor in the Center for Personality Study at Harvard. On his way from Berkeley to Harvard he took a side trip into Mexico. His experience there together with his reading of Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" and his subsequent association with Richard Alpert changed his outlook on life and made him one of the most controversial figures of the last half of the twentieth century. Who was he and what happened to him in Mexico?
4. Sports
A league leading pitcher, he was the second major league baseball player ever to throw a perfect game. After his pitching arm went bad he became the best shortstop of his era. He invented the pitcher's mound and the intentional walk. He earned a law degree from Columbia University and was the President of the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players. Who was this baseball pioneer?
Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 20 more points with her answer to question:
1. If the Black Walnut, Juglans nigra, is interplanted with pine trees, pinus spp., a condition called allelopathy may result, wherein the toxic substance juglone released by Juglans nigra will hinder the growth of the pine trees.

In addition to pine trees, rhodendrons, azaleas, and tomatoes are also susceptible to allelopathy from Black Walnut trees. As a general rule, it is suggested that other species not be planted closer than one and one half times the height of the Black Walnut tree.

Anne's answer was dated Sun, 1 Jun 1997 11:15:07 -0400 (EDT)

Question 2 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

The reason has to do with backward compatibility. The first microcomputer keyboards were simply typewriter keyboard layouts with the addition of a "hold" or "pause" key and four "arrow" cursor movement keys. Later on to satisfy requests from data entry people used to ten key calculators, a numeric keypad was added. IBM in the interests of economy combined the functions of the numeric keypad and cursor movement. In doing so they added the "home", "end", "insert", "delete", "pg up", and "pg dn" keys. This was fine for word processing people but caused a problem for data entry people. Most people who use the numeric keypad for data entry do not like using the numeric keypad for cursor movement also. 1. It is more difficult because you have to press either the shift or the numlock key to use them and that confuses the purpose of the numeric keys and 2. Data entry screens usually automatically move the cursor to the next data entry field when the [ENTER] key is pressed and cursor movement is not used much especially when compared to an activity such as word processing.

Later on, to satisfy the data entry people, the cursor movement keys were put on a separate area of the keyboard. However, by that time, a number of people had become accustomed to the old arrangement, software manuals referred to the old arrangement and some software was written specifically with that arrangement in mind. Thus, although there was no longer any need for the cursor keys on the numeric keypad, they were left for people and software already accustomed to that arrangement.

has 20 more points with his/her answer to question:
3. timothy leary...an incredibly interesting figure in american history, no? oughtta be studied right alongside george washington...anyway, his trip to mexico in 1960 marked his first personal experience with psychedelic drugs...he took mushrooms grown there, and subsequently developed a fascination with psychedelics which led to his research at harvard, where he dispensed lsd and other mind-altering substances to students during his research program...his original concept included the use of these drugs to prevent war...he believed their effects expanded human consciousness & could be used in many ways...leary and his contemporaries contributed much to our understanding of the effects and mechanisms of those drugs...

This answer was dated Sat, 7 Jun 1997 17:34:29 -0400 (EDT)

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 more points with his answer to question:
4. While I'll probably have my Y-chromosome (not to mention my American citizenship and my right to eat hot dogs and apple pie or drive a Chevrolet) snatched away for admitting this, I've never been particularly interested in spectator sports of any kind -- not even Baseball of the Golden age (1880's).

Therefore, you can all breathe a collective sigh of relief when I simply answer "John Monte Ward".

Okay, some trivia for those of you who care. Ward was to achieve prominence as captain/player in the NY Giants, but this perfect game was pitched when he was just starting out, in a game between Providence and Buffalo.

Alas, the second perfect game, was pitched only five days after the *first* perfect game in the major leagues (June 12, 1880 by Lee Richmond). I wonder how Ward felt about that -- especially since the feat wasn't duplicated for 24 years (Cy Young pitched the third perfect game, May 5, 1904).

Did Ward think that perfect games would become commonplace, and therefore of little account. Or did he kick himself for not getting his stuff to peak form a week earlier and snagging the first perfect game? How did he feel as years ticked by (an entire generation) without another perfect game?

This answer was dated Sun, 1 Jun 1997 12:07:35 -0400 (EDT)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 10
1. Forestry
A member of the Ebony family in North America, this forest tree has a fruit that is delicious after frost but if eaten before a good frost the bitter fruit will cause the mouth to pucker. Give the scientific name of this tree and tell the use of its wood in sports.
2. Computers
Using MS-DOS 6.22 a driver is loaded in conventional memory. Use of the MEM command shows that the driver occupies 24,622 bytes. It also shows 25,155 bytes free in upper memory. Therefore you decide to load the driver in upper memory freeing space to be used by your programs. However, use of the LH command in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file to load the driver into upper memory results in an "insufficient memory" error message and the driver loads low. Why?
3. Philosophy
Author of "The Social Contract"?
4. Sports
The only player in Major League Baseball to die as a result of an injury suffered on the field during a Major League baseball game was a batter hit by a pitch. Who was the batter? Who was the pitcher? In what year did this occur? What teams were involved?
Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 more points with his answer to question:
1. Since I was born in GA, question 1 was a walkover for me.

Since childhood, I've always picked the least ripe-looking persimmon at the store, in an unsuccessful effort to find out what they meant by the old GA expression "It'll turn your mouth inside-out". Now that you've told me that it simply means "you'll pucker", I can stop trying. Thanks!! (I've never managed to be around a fruiting persimmon tree with someone who I trusted to identify the tree as a genuine persimmon. I don't know about the fresh fruit, but I've never cared for the store bought ones I see here in MA -- they're huge and almost flavorless, not unlike a cross between a bland apple and a potato.)

Now I can stop buying them! (but wait! I have a sudden urge to search the web to see if they are available for Down Under -- I seem to recall they are inedible before first frost. Worse still, I find that my urge to sample the unripe is re-doubled. AAAARRGGH!)

Oh the masochistic things I'll do in the pursuit of knowledge

1) Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) aka "isbara bara", "boawood", "butterwood", "cylil date plum", "date plum", "eastern persimmon", "echtes persimmon", "Florida persimmon", "plaqueminier", "possumwood", "seeded plum", "simmon", "Virginia date palm", "winter plum" is one of the traditional woods for making golf clubs. (perhaps not surprising since it's related to ebony)

However Common persimmon grows as far north as Connecticut west to at least Ohio, while, if I recall correctly, the 'fruit' persimmon to which you alluded is largely confined to the 'Deep South' from Florida to Texas. The common persimmons I've seen in the Northeast produces a hard chestnut-sized fruit, which I have never tested for edibility (since frost damages the tree, I suppose this could be the same tree that produces the southern fruit. It may not produce commercially viable fruit at the northern extremes of its range.)

Diospyros texana (known by many names including black persimmon, yellow wood, spanish chapote, and texas persimmon) is grown for fruit, but when I've travelled in Mexico and the Southwest, the fruit I've seen called "chapote" is distinct from (but clearly related to) the fruit we called "persimmon" in Georgia. The Oriental Persimmon is also grown for fruit, especially in Japan -- but I imagine trying to sell *that* in Georgia would have lead to an outbreak of Dixie Flag-waving 'Buy American' beer breakfasts (for fundraising purposes only, of course). However, neither of these have a sports tradition, so far as I know.

This answer was dated Tue, 20 May 1997 00:41:37 -0400 (EDT)

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 more points with his answer to question:
2. Well, that question doesn't open a whole can of worms, does it?

First off, you didn't say that the "Largest Available Free Block" in upper memory was 25155 bytes. You simply said that there were 25115 bytes of total available memory. (picky, I know) The driver might not fit because there isn't enough *contiguous* free memory

Well, the fourteenth possibility that came to mind is that some drivers change size when loaded into upper memory (e.g. smartdrv does this, for example). It probably should be my first thought, but since there's little I can do about it directly, I rarely think about this possibility.

Then there are a few drivers that simply *won't* load into upper memory (or only do so with great coaxing/manipulation) They can return very misleading error messages

The other 12 possibilities seem to be about equally likely. For example, the best way to make efficient use of space is to load the larger drivers first (size -- and order-- matters, because DOS 6.22 uses the largest available blocks of UM first, whether or not the driver needs it). You see, it isn't good enough to just have the bytes available -- you have to have enough contiguous space.

(It just occurred to me that the remark about loading the largest driver first was only a general principle: for example, if you had a 4K block and a 3 K block, and you wanted to load a 3K driver and two 2K drivers, the obvious solution would be to load the two 2K drivers into the 4K block and the 3K driver into the 3K block.

Unfortunately, in order to do this (given DOS 6.22's rule for using the largest available block), you'd have to load one of the 2K drivers first, then the 3K, and finally the remaining 2K.)

This answer was dated Sun, 25 May 1997 01:49:03 -0400 (EDT)

Adam Nelson
has 20 points with his answer to question:
3. The Social Contract is by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

This answer was dated Mon, 19 May 1997 09:30:31 -0400 (EDT)

has 20 points with his/her answer to question:
4. The only baseball player to die of an injury suffered on the field during a major league baseball game was Ray Chapman, batting for the Cleveland Indians. The pitcher was Carl Mays, of the New York Yankees. The death happened in 1920.

This answer was dated Tue, 20 May 1997 18:31:00 (EDT)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 9
1. Forestry
On the topographic map below the circle marked one designates a hilltop. If a person walks East from one to the place marked four is he walking, in general, uphill or downhill and when he arrives at four how much will his elevation have changed? Answers to the nearest 100 units are fine.

2. Computers
A week to ten days after Christmas 1987 people using the TRS-80 microcomputer and running Radio Shack's TRSDOS hard disk operating system began calling Tandy's help line because of problems with their computer. The help lines soon became swamped with calls. What problem caused this?
3. Philosophy
4. History
He unified his warrior people in the 13th century and by the time of his death had established the largest empire the world has ever seen. Feared as a barbarian, he was known for his cruelty. He is said to have slaughtered at least 39 million people. He nonetheless is considered to have been the founder of a basis for a cultural awakening, expanded trade, and freedom of religion in a time of religious repression. Who was this mighty conqueror?
Kris Green - email: keg@greenhse.netkonect.co.uk
has 40 more points with her answers to questions:

1. On my reckoning a person walking from point 1 to 4 will in general be walking uphill (after a loss of elevation) and will end up 100 units higher at between 1900 and 2000 compared with the starting point of between 1800 and 1900.

4. Genghis Khan

Kris's first answer was dated Thu, 1 May 1997 14:17:31 -0400 (EDT)
and her second Thu, 1 May 1997 14:10:53 -0400 (EDT)

has 20 points with his/her answer to question:
2. I didn't have to personally deal with this, but apparently some or all versions of TRSDOS would only display year dates between 1980 and 1987, inclusive...so when 1988 rolled around the problem really became noticable, and all the panic-stricken users who thought the world just might be ending resorted to actually dialing the provided help-lines...
Comment from Duane:

Until 1985 to 1987 when the IBM PC and compatibles began dominating the 
personal computer market most small businesses computerized in this country 
used TRS-80s.  In 1987 a great number of these businesses were dependent for 
their accounting on these TRS-80 systems that they had been using for three 
to six years.  Many of these programs were, of course, dependent on accurate 
dates.  When Radio Shack made hard disk systems available for their TRS-80 
model 3 computers, they did not have a hard disk operating system.  Thus they 
licensed an operating system called LDOS and marketed it with hard disk 
drives as TRSDOS version 6.  The problem was that LDOS was written in such a 
way that it would not accept any date on or after January 1, 1988 as a valid 

Radio Shack did not address the problem because they had already discontinued 
the TRS-80 line of computers.  I modified the accounting programs I had 
running on the TRS-80 systems so that they used a date input within the 
program itself rather than the system date.  Many of my customers thus used 
their accounting systems for several more years but businesses using other 
accounting systems suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves without an 
accounting system.

I consider this a preview of the massive problem to come on January 1, 2000 
when many computer systems in the world will not recognize the date or use it 
properly in date dependent calculations.

This answer was dated Sat, 17 May 1997 15:02:05 -0400 (EDT)

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 more points with his answer to question:
3) Kyogen told of a man hanging by his teeth from a tree over a precipice who was asked a question.
Knowledgable in zen koans, the man knew that by saying nothing, he could both answer the question and preserve his life.
Poligrip denture adhesive saves lives.
Suspended from the rope he should have used to rescue the man, the questioner was boiled in oil by villagers he'd annoyed with his questions.
The man smiled a pearly white smile, and bit an apple.

The necessary words in this answer were koan and zen

Soumen's answer was dated Wed, 16 Apr 1997 19:07:59 -0400 (EDT)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 8
1. Forestry
What is the scientific (Latin) name of the tree which has leaves like this?
It is a deciduous tree common in moist soils in the Eastern United States.

2. Computers
The Interpreted Basic for the 4k TRS-80 microcomputer Model I had very primitive graphics and the Basic graphic commands made most animation too slow for realistic movement of very many pixels at once. A high school teacher named Leo Christopherson was the first to write a game in this language using a technique to move several pixels at once producing realistic movement. Some of the games he wrote using this technique included "Android Nim", "Bee Wary", "Dueling Droids", and "Dancing Demon". What technique did he use?
3. Philosophy
A professor of psychology at Harvard in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, he wrote "Principles of Psychology" and "Varieties of Religious Experience". Who was he?
4. Mythology
The Norse Goddess of love and beauty, she was also a warrior goddess. Who was she? What animals pulled her chariot? How did she acquire her precious Brisings' necklace?
Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 80 more points with his answers to questions:
1. Platanus occidentalis (Eastern sycamore aka American sycamore aka planetree aka "whaddya mean it ain't a maple" aka "Remember that tree that used to shed bark over the garage roof before the blizzard?" aka "killer-of-lawnmowers")

3. William James

4. I had to double-check the name on this one -- I wasn't 100% sure that Freya, Frigg, and other variations were the same goddess (and if they weren't, I didn't want to pick the wrong variant)

It turns out that there is no real single "correct" name, so...

Freya simply means "Lady"; her original name is not known.

Who is she? Well isn't "Norse Warrior-Goddess of Love" description enough. Okay, I'll admit that this description wouldn't get you far with a credit bureau, but that's just because so many women I know choose to go by similar descriptions. When you're *actually* a goddess you don't show ID, even at Studio 57.

Freya is the "wild woman" among the deities of the North, so I could into real trouble by trying to define her by her relationship with a male figure (as is so often done). She was the mistress of Odin (and was infuriated by an attempt to marry her off against her will), but she was free with her sexual favours, which she bestowed her upon a number of other Norse mythological notables (gods, men, and others) -- so that hardly seems to be a defining description for this goddess skilled at the form of ecstatic, consciousness-altering, and sometimes malicious magic called seidhr; and chooser of half the slain on the battlefield (Odin gets the other half). As Gullveig (which translates to "Gold-Drunkenness"), she came among the Aesir to cause trouble. She was stabbed and burnt three times, but arose from the flame each time; through this torment, she transformed herself into Heith ("the Glorious"), mistress of magic, in a typical shamanic initiation. This also seems to have started the war between the Aesir and the Vanir.

Freya is sometimes called a fertility goddess, but I don't believe she was called on to bring fruitfulness to fields or wombs. Rather, she is a goddess of riches, whose tears are gold (her "daughters", in the riddle-poetry of the skalds, are precious objects). However, the giants are always trying to take her away from the gods, and it is clear that this would be a great disaster: she seems to have been the embodiment of the holy life-force on some level. Perhaps because of this, Wagner gave her some of Idunna's attributes, making her the keeper of the golden apples without which the folk of Asgard would wither and die.

Enough of that -- Who is she, indeed!

She drives a wagon drawn by two forest-cats (like lynxes), and is seen today as the patron goddesses of cats and those who keep them. As a battle-goddess, she also rides on a boar called Hildisvini (Battle-Swine).

Freya acquired her Brislings necklace (called Brisingamen) from four dwarves at the price of four nights of her love. This necklace is sometimes seen today as embodying her power over the material world. (necklaces have been the emblem of the earth-goddess since the earliest times)

Soumen's answers were dated Wed, 16 Apr 1997 19:07:59 -0400 (EDT)

Question 2 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

The technique used by Christopherson was "string packing". He would load a string with graphics rather than text characters. Printing strings was a relatively fast operation. So by planning the pixel positions and having various strings preloaded with all the possible positions for the animated object it was possible to get enough speed to simulate movement.


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 7
1. Forestry
What silvicultural tool can be used both to enhance germination of lodgepole pine seeds and to help control brown spot disease in the grass stage of longleaf pine?
2. Computers
Those familiar with the early days of microcomputers in the early 1980s have probably read these words:
        "You're in a hidden grove."
        "You're in a dismal swamp."
        "*DRAGON EGGS* (very rare)"
Where are these words found and who is the author?
3. Philosophy
If he had said, "I think not.", he might have promptly disappeared. Who was he?
4. Literature
His father was Mudjekeewis, the West-Wind. His mother was Wenonah, daughter of Nokomis. When his father deserted his mother she died of anguish, so he was raised by his grandmother, Nokomis. When he reached manhood he sought and found his father on the gusty summits of the Rocky Mountains. His father said,
    "Welcome, to the kingdom of the West-Wind!
    Long have I been waiting for you!
    Youth is lovely, age is lonely,
    Youth is fiery, age is frosty;
    You bring back the days departed,
    You bring back my youth of passion,
    And the beautiful Wenonah!"
Who was this fictional boy of nature and environmentalist?
Who wrote what epic poem in which we read of his life?
Don Barnes - email: drbarn1@pop.uky.edu
has 80 points with his answers to questions:
1. The answer to the forestry question is fire.
Lodgepole pine requires fire to open the serotinous cones.
Fire kills the spot disease without harming the sprout.

3. "I think, therefore I am" thinking that the answer is Descartes.

4. I think that the name of the poem is The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Don's answers were dated Tue, 1 Apr 1997 09:30:13 -0500 (EST)

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 20 more points with her answer to question:
2. These phrases are from the computer game, Adventureland, developed by Scott Adams, ca. 1979.

Anne's answers were dated Wed, 2 Apr 1997 16:53:12 -0500 (EST)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 6
1. Forestry
What is the term used for the ratio of the diameter of a tree inside bark at the top of the first 16 foot log to its diameter outside bark 4 1/2 feet above the ground?
2. Computers
Bruce Artwick was first known for developing what computer simulation?
3. Philosophy
He tried to grok the fullness of Life and God with his water brothers. They included Jubal Harshaw, Ben Caxton, and Gillian Boardman. Who was this character, in what book, written by what author? It raised many questions about humans and their social, political and religious customs and beliefs.
4. History
On April 12th and 13th, 1861, Confederate troops under Brigadier General Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort was defended by Union troops under Major Robert Anderson. The fort was burned and later surrendered. In spite of the heavy artillery fire from both sides during the two day battle no one was killed on either side. However, two union soldiers were killed and three wounded the next day during the formal ceremony of surrender. They were firing their cannon in salute to the American flag when a pile of cartridges exploded prematurely. What is the connection between this battle and the game of baseball?
Don Barnes - email: drbarn1@pop.uky.edu
has 20 points with his answer to question:
1. The answer to the Forestry question is form class.

Don's answer was dated Tue, 1 Apr 1997 09:50:02 -0500 (EST)

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 40 more points with her answers to questions:
2. Bruce Artwick is known for developing Microsoft Flight Simulator.

3. The character is Michael Valentine Smith, in "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein (my all-time favorite science fiction book).
NOTE: Brian Crabtree has pointed out that the character's name was Valentine Michael Smith. Thanks to Brian for correcting the error which I had missed.

Anne's first answer was dated Wed, 19 Mar 1997 15:41:50 -0500 (EST)
and her second Wed, 19 Mar 1997 15:49:27 -0500 (EST)

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 points with his answer to question:
============================From a MS encyclopedia====================
Abner Doubleday 1819-93, alleged originator of BASEBALL and Union general in the U.S. Civil War; b. Saratoga co., N.Y. A friend, A.G. Mills, heading a commission (1907), reported that Doubleday invented (1839) the game at Cooperstown, N.Y. The report has been generally discredited and it is now known that a children's game similar to baseball had existed long before Doubleday's time.
During the battle of Fort Sumter, Captain Abner Doubleday was second in command of the Union forces and directed the defense of the fort.

Soumen's answer was dated Mon, 7 Apr 1997 04:21:49 -0400 (EST)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 5
1. Forestry
What is the scientific (Latin) name of the tree which has leaves like this?
It is a deciduous tree from Asia common as an ornamental in the United States.

2. Computers
If I write a TSR program that takes control of Interrupt 5 on an IBM-PC system, what will trigger the execution of my program? (This is software Interrupt 5, not IRQ 5 often used by peripherals such as the Sound Blaster.)
3. Philosophy
In the year 632 A. F. (After Ford) the World State's motto was "Community, Identity, Stability". Bokanovsky's Process enabled up to Ninety-six identical twins to be created from one fertilized egg. This was one of the major instruments of social stability because diversity obviously has a destabilizing effect on society.
Imagine the folly of allowing children to play games that require nothing more than a few sticks, a ball or two and perhaps a bit of netting when they could so easily be conditioned to play games which require elaborate and expensive apparatus and thus increase consumption.
The author of the novel containing these ideas felt that it was quite possibly true that humans were given free will in order to choose between insanity on the one hand and lunacy on the other. Name this writer/philosopher?
4. Literature
Alec Leamas, George Smiley and Liz Gold were characters from what novel written by what English diplomat who was once an Intelligence officer in Austria?
Question 2 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

Use of the [PRINT SCREEN] key causes execution of Interrupt 5.

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 40 more points with her answers to questions:
1. This is the Ginkgo Tree, Ginkgo biloba.
(The characters Daigaku (university) on a ginkgo leaf form the Icho Mark, the symbol of the University of Tokyo.)

3. The writer is Aldous Huxley, and the book is "Brave New World."

Anne's first answer was dated Sat, 1 Mar 1997 16:36:04 -0500 (EST)
and her second Sat, 1 Mar 1997 16:25:26 -0500 (EST)

Kris Green - email: keg@greenhse.netkonect.co.uk
has 20 points with her answer to question:
4. "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" by John le Carre

Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 4
1. Forestry
In point sampling with a wedge prism, Basal Area Factor 10, the plot radius factor is 33. If a tree is 10.8 inches in diameter breast height and it is located 30 feet from the plot center, will the forester measure this tree in his variable plot radius cruise if he is using a BAF 10 prism? Why or why not?
2. Computers
First developed in 1967 as a tool for learning, this computer programming language often involves the Turtle and is used, among other things, to teach elementary programming concepts to school children. What language is this?
3. Philosophy
"You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. And whether it is clear to you or not, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
It was originally written in 1927. Who was the writer and what was the title of the larger work from which this excerpt is taken?
4. Literature
The Devil, we're told, in hell was chained,
And a thousand years he there remained,
And he never complained, nor did he groan,
But determined to start a hell of his own
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being chained to a prison pen.

So he asked the Lord if he had on hand
Anything left when He made the land."

Well it happened that the Lord did have plenty on hand but he told the devil that "the stuff is so poor, I don't think you could use it in hell any more."
But the devil went down to look at the truck,
And said if it came as a gift, he was stuck;
For after examining it careful and well
He concluded the place was too dry for hell.
So in order to get it off his hands
God promised the devil to water the lands.
Where was this God forsaken place?
Don Barnes - email: drbarn1@pop.uky.edu
has 20 points with his answers to question:
1. The tree would not be counted. The plot radius factor is 2.75. In other words, the tree needs to be within 2.75 feet * the diameter of the tree in inches. The center of the tree needs to be closer than 29.7 feet from the point.

Don's answers were dated Tue, 1 Apr 1997 09:40:01 -0500 (EST)

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 80 more points with her answers to questions:
2. "Turtle" is used in the computer programming language LOGO.

3. This is a quote from DESIDERATA by Max Ehrmann:

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others you will become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is. Many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you perceive him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."
("Desiderata" was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). In 1956, the rector of St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of mimeographed inspirational material for his congregation. Someone who subsequently printed it asserted that it was found in Old St. Paul's Church, dated 1692. The year 1692 was the founding date of the church and has nothing to do with the poem. --From the alt.usage.english FAQ file)

4. Well, this sounds like West Texas to me!
(All I know for sure is that it's definitely not describing the land here in the snow-covered Green Mountain State of Vermont!)

It's from a poem by an unknown author called "Hell in Texas". Johnny Cash converted it to a song and it appears on his album, "Mean as Hell, Ballads from the True West".

Oh, the Devil in hell they say he was chained,
And there for a thousand years he remained;
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But decided he'd start up a hell of his own,
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being shut in a prison pen;
So he asked the Lord if he had any sand
Left over from making this great land.

The Lord he said, "Yes, I have plenty on hand,
But it's away down south on the Rio Grande,
And, to tell you the truth, the stuff is so poor
I doubt if 'twill do for hell anymore."
The Devil went down and looked over the truck,
And he said if it came as a gift he was stuck,
For when he'd examined it carefully and well
He decided the place was too dry for a hell.

But the Lord just to get the stuff off his hands
He promised the devil he'd water the land,
For he had some old water that was of no use,
A regular bog hole that stunk like the deuce.
So the grant it was made and the deed it was given;
The Lord he returned to his place up in heaven.
The Devil soon saw he had everything needed
To make up a hell and so he proceeded.

He scattered tarantulas over the roads,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sands with millions of ants
So the man that sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jackrabbit's ear;
He put water puppies in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.

He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees,
He mixed up the dust with jiggers and fleas;
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer is a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the devil and too hot for men;
And all that remained in that climate soon bore
Cuts, bites, stings, and scratches and blisters galore.

He quickened the buck of the bronco steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede;
The wild boar roams in the black chaparral
It's a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.
He planted red pepper beside of the brooks;
The Mexicans use them in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Mexican and then you will shout,
"I've hell on the inside as well as the out!"

Anne's answers were dated Sun, 16 Feb 1997 11:16:10 -0500 (EST)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 3
1. Forestry
On the same subject:
An alidade is used for triangulation. How and for what purpose?
What are a pulaski, a mcleod, and a council rake used to construct?
Why are we told to "Never undercut with the line"?
All the above questions must be answered completely, specifically and in terms relevant to the subject.
2. Computers
In the fantasy town of Binary the Lord Ruler first assigned a number 1 to 8,000 to each of the 8,000 citizens. He then ordered the royal data master to construct a database using the minimum amount of memory possible to keep information on each citizen. The Lord Ruler required that for each citizen the data master be able to keep sex (male or female), hair color (red, blonde, brown, or black), weight in whole pounds (0 to 511) and eye color (blue, brown, or green). Then he realized that there were a few blind citizens of indeterminate eye color and required that they be accounted for in the database also. What is the minimum number of bytes necessary to carry out the Lord Ruler's instructions?
3. Philosophy
A 16th century political philosopher, he said that the three good types of government are a principality, an aristocracy, and a democracy. But, he continued, they easily turn into a tyranny, an oligarchy, and anarchy respectively. Who was this guy?
4. Literature
A prolific writer she spent most of her life in her house until her death in 1886. She had a very close (some said romantic) relationship with her brother's wife. Who was this well known author?
Question 1 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

An alidade is an instrument in a fire tower which is used to sight on a smoke observed. The alidade reading then gives the compass direction to the smoke. A fire dispatcher with a map of the area at fire headquarters can use alidade readings radioed in from at least two, and preferably three, fire towers to locate the fire. He does this by constructing lines on the map from each tower in the direction of the smoke. The intersection of the lines then determines the map location of the source of the smoke which may be a forest fire.

Pulaskis, Mcleods, and council rakes are digging and cutting tools used to construct a fire line in controlling forest fires.

To "undercut" in construction of a fire line is to construct the fire line downhill from the fire. If this is done burning material is likely to roll or fall from the burning area across the fire line to unburned area enabling the fire to escape the containment line.

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 points with his answer to question:
2. Well, first, I'm going to assume that when you say that there are "a few blind citizens of indeterminate eye color" that you mean "blind citizens are considered to have an indeterminate eye color" and not "some citizens are blind, and some blind citizens have indeterminate eye color"

If I make this assumption, the minimum deterministic number of bits that could be used to describe the required data for each citizen would be 14. One for gender [two options], two for hair color [four options], nine for weight [512 options], and two for eye color (blue, brown, green, and blind+indeterminate] Therefore, 14 bits*8000citizens / 8 bits per byte = 14000 bytes.

If I don't make this assumption, then I'll require one additional bit to indicate 'sighted vs blind' for a total of 15000 bytes.

The reason I specified the 'minimum deterministic number of bits' is because it is possible that the dataset could be "compressible" due to special characteristics of the dataset actually encoded. In other words, the bit pattern '0101' might occur very frequently or it might turn out that all females in the kingdom have red hair. While a compression algorithm could compress this datafile, the exact size would depend on the specific data -- so as people went blind or dyed their hair, the size of the compressed dataset would change. The size I gave was the minimum unvarying size.

Which was exactly the size required by the question. The very terms of the question implied that the Lord Ruler wanted to be able to account for all the possibilities specified not the characteristics which actually occurred. According to the specifications, if a blue haired individual actually turned up he would have to be classified as either black, brown, blonde, or red.

Your assumption is right but even if you did not make that assumption you would still require only 14,000 bytes because if only some blind citizens had indeterminate eye color then, as to the characteristic "eye color", they would fit into one of the other categories and would not require an extra bit.

Soumen's answer was dated Sun, 2 Feb 1997 15:28:31 -0500 (EST)

Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 40 points with her answers to questions:
3. The philospher was Nicolo Machiavelli, born May 3, 1469 in Florence, Italy, died June 22, 1527.

He was the author of "The Prince" (1513) and "Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius" (1513-1521).


4. The writer was Emily Dickinson, born December 1, 1830 in Amherst, Mass., died May 15, 1886 in Amherst.

Emily had persistent eye trouble, and she spent several months in 1864 and 1865 in Cambridge, Mass., for treatment. Once back in Amherst, she never travelled again and after the late 1860s never left the boundaries of the family's property.

Although Emily wrote 1,775 poems and nearly as many letters, no collection of her poems was ever published in her lifetime.

Anne's first answer was dated Sat, 1 Feb 1997 10:27:57 -0500 (EST)
and her second Sat, 1 Feb 1997 10:47:31 -0500 (EST)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 2
1. Forestry
What is the scientific (Latin) name of the tree which has leaves like this?
It is a deciduous tree common in the Eastern United States.
The leaves are palmately compound.
Carrying the fruit of this tree is said to bring good luck and/or prevent arthritis.

2. Computers
According to Arthur C. Clarke what event of significance to Dave Bowman happened on January 12, 1997?
3. Philosophy
Who was the prosecuting attorney in the Scopes monkey trial? Where did it take place and in what year? Who was the defending attorney?
4. Culture
That toddling town that Billy Sunday could not shut down?
Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 40 points with her answers to questions:
2. The computer HAL was activated in the movie "2001."
Actually the date Jan. 12, 1997 was in the book by Clarke. The movie used the year 1992 for HAL's activation.

4. Chicago

Anne's answers were dated Thu, 16 Jan 1997 08:32:07 -0500 (EST)

Michael McColm - email: memccolm@bconnex.net
has 40 points with his answers to questions:
1. Forestry - The tree is Aesculus hippocastanum, a.k.a. the Horse Chestnut.

3. Philosophy - The prosecuting attorney was William Jennings Bryan. The trial took place in Dayton, Tenn. in 1925. Clarence Darrow was the defending attorney. William Jennings Bryan prosecuted teacher John Scopes, a 24-year-old science teacher, under The Butler Law for teaching evolution as part of his biology course. (See http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/inherit/1925home.html)

Michael's answers were dated Thu, 16 Jan 1997 02:57:56 -0500 (EST)


Jump back to the top.
War II - battle 1
1. Forestry
What are Naval Stores? They are produced in what area of the United States? What species of trees are mainly involved?
2. Computers
What hole in Gnu-Emacs did a hacker use to obtain system manager privileges? How was the atrun program involved? What type of system was vulnerable to this type of attack?
3. Philosophy
John Ed Pearce was said by the editor of a major newspaper to be the newspaper's "best writer - ever". What newspaper? Is Mr. Pearce's political philosophy considered to be liberal or conservative?
4. History
It started on a late Saturday night in September in a baker's shop on Pudding Lane. The fire was spread by a dry wind and burned the bridge across the river on Sunday. By the time it burned itself out on Wednesday, it had destroyed 13,200 houses, 87 churches, a custom house, a post office and a cathedral. Where was this great fire and in what year did it occur?
Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com
has 40 points with her answers to questions:
1. Naval Stores are products such as turpentine, pitch, and rosin obtained from resinous conifers, especially pines [fr. their former use in the construction and maintenance of wooden sailing vessels].

Naval stores are produced in the southeastern United States, especially Florida, with its "longleaf-slash pine timberlands of the naval stores belt."

4. This was the Great Fire of London, September 2, 1666.

Anne's first answer was dated Wed, 1 Jan 1997 11:01:39 -0500 (EST)
and her second Wed, 1 Jan 1997 11:44:30 -0500 (EST)

Question 3 was unanswered during War of the Minds II. The answer is:

John Ed Pearce was a liberal columnist for the Courier Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky. He is now retired.

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com
has 20 points with his answer to question:
2. I don't know what specific hacker incident you are referring to, but atrun *used* to set the privileges of its scripts to superuser and/or supergroup in Linux (and other ) Unix implementations. I believe there are patches available to prevent this in all major implementations nowadays, but that's not in my current range of interests.

The technique was to write a script in Emacs that would either gain you superuser privileges, or allow you to gain access to the passwords of existing operators. You would then set that script for delayed execution (e.g. with chron). Later -- when you're not even on-line, atrun would run your script -- with *its* superuser privileges instead of your paltry privileges -- and your script would be authorized to do almost anything it wanted.

(Just writing a script to copy the password file would not work, since the passwords in that file are *stored* in encrypted form. When you enter your password, your entry is encrypted and the *encrypted* form is compared to the *encrypted* form of the password stored in the pass- words file -- in other words, even UNIX doesn't know your password, it only knows how to prove a password *isn't* right.)

Gnu-Emacs would let a user move a file into a protected systems area such as that where atrun was located because Gnu didn't check privilege before moving the file.

Soumen's answer was dated Thu, 2 Jan 1997 13:39:24 -0500 (EST)


Jump back to the top.

Standings in the War - II

Soumen Nandy - email: snandy@nandy.com - 660 points
Anne Lurie - email: ALurie6171@aol.com - 340 points
Don Barnes - email: drbarn1@pop.uky.edu - 120 points
Falling@aol.com - 60 points
Kris Green - email: keg@greenhse.netkonect.co.uk - 60 points
M McColm - email: memccolm@bconnex.net - 40 points
Adam Nelson - 20 points
Jump back to the top.

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