Dear Pea Green Answer Man,
What would happen if an irresistible force met an immovable object?
Polly Pureheart

Dear Polly,
This question presupposes impossible conditions, according to all known laws of matter and energy. The terms irresistible force and immovable object are mutually exclusive. If a force is irresistible, it will move any object in its path; or, in other words, there can be no immovable object in respect to an irresistible force. On the other hand, if an object is immovable, no force can move it; which is another way of saying that there is no irresistible force in respect to an immovable object. Since the existence of the two conditions cannot take place at the same time, it is impossible to say what would happen if they did exist. The question is reduced to an absurdity by a careful definition of the terms. You cannot conceive of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object any more than you can conceive of two men, each one taller than the other.
Pea Green Answer Man
Dear Pea Green Answer Man,
When did the United States Government use camels for military purposes?
Prince Fizzle
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Dear Prince,
Before the Civil War, the Federal Government attempted to introduce camels into the United States for use on “the great American desert.” It was believed that communication across the continent could be greatly facilitated by the use of camels, which could carry heavier loads than horses or mules, travel greater distances and go longer without water. The experiment was in charge of the War Department, Jefferson Davis, who was then Secretary of War, being one of the most ardent advocates of the scheme. In 1856 and 1857 two shiploads of camels—seventy-five in all—were imported from Egypt and Asia Minor and landed at Indianola on the coast of Texas. Greek and Turkish camel drivers were brought over from the Near East to drive the animals. A station for the camels was established at Camp Verde, sixty miles west of San Antonio. Tests showed that camels were fitted for work in that region. On one expedition, they crossed Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to the Colorado, and their behavior was highly commended by the Army officer in charge. The camel experiment failed, however, because of adverse public opinion and because of the outbreak of the Civil War. Some of the camels were sold to circuses or individuals, while the rest were turned at large. For many years some of these “wild camels” were occasionally seen in the mountains of Arizona. Notwithstanding reports to the contrary, it is believed that the animals are now extinct.
Pea Green Answer Man

Dear Pea Green Answer Man,
What does biting the thumb at mean?
Fingers Malone
Silverton, CO

Dear Fingers,
Biting the thumb at another was an old method of expressing defiance and contempt with a view of provoking a quarrel. The manner of expressing the insult is explained by Randle Cotgrave in his French-English dictionary, first published in 1611. Under the word nique, signifying a sign of mockery or contempt, Cotgrave says biting the thumb at means “to threaten or defy by putting the thumbed nail into the mouth and with a jerk (from the upper teeth) make it to knack.” During the gesture, the eyes were fixed on the person at whom the insult was aimed. In Shakespeare’s day, it was a regular practice among the young swashbucklers of London to start quarrels by biting their thumbs at rival factions as they strolled on St. Paul’s Walk. It was a disgrace to let such an insult pass unnoticed. In Romeo and Juliet the great dramatist makes Sampson say, “I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.” If the person thus insulted had a drop of honor in his blood, a duel or battle resulted, such as was often fought on the streets of fair Verona between the households of Montague and Capulet.
Pea Green Answer Man

Dear Pea Green Answer Man,
How often is the White House painted?
Sarah P.
East Dakota

Dear Sarah
It is customary for the Government to have the exterior of the White House painted every second year. Many people erroneously suppose that the building is whitewashed. The paint used is composed of white lead, linseed oil, and turpentine. Two coats are applied. Before any paint is put on, the surface is brushed with steel brushes and then sandpapered and dusted to remove all loose and weathered paint, dirt and other deposits of foreign matter. No application of paint is made until the surface is thoroughly dry. The paint used for the first coat is made by breaking up one hundred pounds of pure white lead of the best quality in about three and a half gallons of thinner composed of equal parts of pure linseed oil and turpentine. For the second coat one hundred pounds of white lead is broken up in three and a half gallons of pure linseed oil to which one pint of turpentine is added.
Pea Green Answer Man

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