Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Straight Dope

The firefox extension “Stumble” is great for when you have a need to be distracted.  Last night I hit it and stumbled upon The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams.  Looks like he’s been doing the question and answer thing for considerably longer than I.  I read some of his classics.  Maybe I’ll pick up his method of answering (some might say — I already have from time to time!)

From the sound of one hand clapping we pick up on the great two part approach to answering a question.  That of, you are either a) an idiot and if so, here is the answer or b) you are a person of exceeding wit and ingenuity and if so, here is the answer.

You can move onto the question If all Chinese jumped at once, would cataclysm result?  The opening phrase says it all Amazing as it may seem, I am actually going to answer this incredibly retarded question. But first Uncle Cecil wishes to have a word with his devoted readers. “.  It gets better from there (me thinks that Cecil sometimes gets up on the wrong side of the bed!).  But he did actually attempt to answer the question at the end.

Be careful though, if you read this in a public place, people will wonder why you occasionally laugh out loud.  Take the question Why does Heinz ketchup say "57 varieties"? I only see one variety.   He begins “Fifty-seven varieties doesn't mean 57 varieties of ketchup, you dope, it means….”  You might enjoy the comment that ties the Illuminati in with Ketchup (way before Dan Brown).  I have noticed however that Cecil seems to not think too highly of Baltimore MD natives (my birthplace)!  Recurring theme of his.

Anyway, thought his stories were funny and the next time someone accuses me of being rude in an answer (most of it goes back to communication, but some days — I might be “terse”) I’m going to point them right to that site.  Ok, one more, the question Why is there no Channel One on Television?  He answers with “I'm glad we're finally getting around to the Fundamental Mysteries, Sandy. With some of the questions I get I have to ask, where are these people's PRIORITIES?” Ouch :)

I’d just like to say though — I get no dumb questions, I do not answer like that (really!).  I’m not comparing the questions I get to these questions.  I just found his site incredibly amusing!  I enjoy receiving and answering the questions on asktom.

Well, time about time to get in the plane to go to NYC.  Speaking tomorrow at the New York OUG.  Getting to do the “Things we know” talk.  It is one I enjoy doing every now and then — a bit funny (he hopes) and a bit technical.  And I get to involve the audience on stage.  Meeting some friends for dinner tonight – should be a good trip.



Anonymous Kashif said....

Tom -

Stumbled upon this one recently, it's ridiculously long, totally unrelated and non-technical, but it cracked me up like a walnut! And now he has a mailing list!! Anyway, thought I'd share it...


P.S. I think I have been waiting for "The Straight Dope" without ever knowing it!! It was hilarious.

Wed Jun 08, 02:51:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Niall said....

there is a book as well, which is the blog/newspaper column in Novel form. I suspect that the ability to do this stuff well in 3 different media means that Mil is both very intelligent and deeply strange. All in all a recommendation.

Wed Jun 08, 04:12:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Man, there is at least another hour or two of distractions.

I read the first couple, *funny*

Wed Jun 08, 04:49:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

Of course, anyone with an interest in science must ask

He gave me a gold star for my question, a long time ago.

Wed Jun 08, 07:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Bill S. said....


If you haven't found this one yet, it can be a real hoot:

I figure you eat out enough, you've probably encountered some of these situations yourself. Not terribly intellectual, not technical - just real life and, sometimes, real funny.

Wed Jun 08, 11:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Martin said....

You can move onto the question If all Chinese jumped at once, would cataclysm result?

well, we dutch people must be really retarded because we actually tried this. :-D

The link is in dutch but you will get the idea

Thu Jun 09, 08:13:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Martin, you should let Cecil know and see what come back he might have :)

Thu Jun 09, 09:07:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


Put your most recent blog entry (title of it and link) on the bottom section of (instead of "no longer a question of if I will be blogging")

Thinking automated via a web service...

asktom is my home page but I would like to know of latest blog entry on that page...just a thought

Thu Jun 09, 09:17:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Martin said....

Martin, you should let Cecil know and see what come back he might have :)

Tom, Yes that could be fun, i'll try that later

Thu Jun 09, 09:21:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

thinking automated web service

do you do RSS? asktom and the blog are RSS enabled, your browser can do this for you already.

Thu Jun 09, 09:25:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

> Looks like he’s been doing the
> question and answer thing for
> considerably longer than I.

Cecil Adams is a constructed personality of the "Chicago Reader", and has been the byline of The Straight Dope (also syndicated in many alternative newspapers) since about 1970 or so. A variety of people have held the job, including the late Gene Siskel at one time I believe. The guy who runs the web site now has been at it continuously since around 1980 and is listed as the "ghostwriter" of the 3 books.


Thu Jun 09, 10:03:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

constructed personality

fascinating turn of phrase, a constructed personality :)


Thu Jun 09, 10:47:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous denni50 said....

give my regards to Broadway!!

(miss my home town some times, sigh!)

Thu Jun 09, 02:07:00 PM EDT  


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