Silly Questions: The long and the short of it

THE QUESTION of why trousers are measured in even numbers for the waist and odd for the leg has aroused great interest. David J White thinks it helps avoid confusion. 'If you can remember 34/31, you do not have to remember which is which, as the 34 - being even - must be the waist, and the 31, being odd, must be the leg.'

Peter Lawson writes: 'I have a consistently even number from top to bottom (or foot) and an increasingly odd number round the middle. Assuming I am the exception, this would explain why most gentlemen from the United States, where trouser lengths have an even number of inches, wear their trousers to the ankle rather than the instep.'

We return, following Mr Lawson's problems with his foot and bottom, to last week's item on why the bottom is in the middle of the body. Stuart Cockerill denies mankind's schismatic transition from four legs to two. He suggests an intermediate tripedal stage when our ancestors toppled over backwards and the bottom became the third foot, functioning as a basal pseudopodium. 'Bottoms have to be in the middle,' says Stuart Grant, 'otherwise we'd still be standing up every time we sat down.'

We move on to how many Silly Questions answerers it takes to change a dark bulb. The numbers 42 and 10-to- the-42nd occurred in several answers, though never with any attempt at explanation.

James McLaren says it is at least 11: 'One to change it, four Yorkshiremen to complain about how new bulbs aren't what they used to be, and at least six Creativity column correspondents to find something to do with the other bulb.'

Mark Walmsley points out that a dark bulb only fails once in a blue moon, 'but when it does, it requires one Silly Questions answerer to change it, and several dozen to ruin their productivity by thinking about it laterally for a couple of days.'

H Francis Reed PhD points out that a dark bulb emits UV light which is not visible to the human eye, so we'd never realise it needed changing. Even if an observed change in the effector system were to suggest a change in state of the bulb, it might not be possible to determine any significant difference between a possible random event and a real effect, thus making it impossible to prove that the bulb needed changing.

Stuart Cockerill says: 'It is the ethos of the Silly Questions answerer not to change things, merely to analyse them.' So we'd fax for an electrician. His wife Christine, rather than putting pen to paper, puts Stuart to keyboard to say: 'The only light they notice is radiated from the computer screen and must be a very good source of vitamin D, otherwise they'd suffer from rickets or repetitive stress syndrome, or something like that.'

Which is as good a note as any on which to take our summer holiday. Only rhetorical answers will be accepted for the next fortnight at: The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk