Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mail Call!

Time to dip into the old Random Human Neural Firings Mailbag!

...wait. What do you mean we don't have a mailbag?

...we don't get mail? say to stop repeating everything you say for the sake of exposition?


Okay okay, fine. I still want to do a mailbag. But we'll need to find people asking questions that we can answer. Where can I... ooh! I know. We're going to fire up Google, and type in single words that commonly begin questions: who, what, where, when, why, how, are, is, can, which, did.

What will then happen is Google AutoComplete will come into play and show some trending searches. Naturally, they'll predominantly be questions. We'll answer some of those questions.

"who framed roger rabbit"

Judge Doom. It wasn't obvious from his name? He's named JUDGE DOOM for Pete's sake.

"what does smh mean"

It means "shaking my head", not that I have ever once seen anyone use this acronym. I never get tired of this. You see these big lists of Acronyms You Must Get Familiar With Immediately Before Your Kids Have Sex With Online Strangers Right Through The Computer Monitor, and then at least two-thirds of them are these acronyms you've never, ever seen before and will never see again because everyone you know actually types those things out if they say them which they often don't anyway.

Take this list of "50 More Internet Acronyms Every Parent Need To Know". Of the 50, I myself see the following in actual regular usage:

brb= be right back
diaf= die in a fire
lbgt= lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, which isn't even an online-only expression so much as the mainstream, offline, semi-official term used by those fighting for increased rights for those groups
lol= laughing out loud
rotfl= rolling on the floor laughing, though these days everyone lops off the T
so= significant other

That's it. Six out of the 50. (Maybe a seventh, ttfn= ta-ta for now, but that one's usage is rare where I go.) The others, if I see them at all, only get used if you are mocking someone's stupidity, want to be roundly mocked by the group for being stupid yourself, or if you want to possibly even be formally punished for not using proper English. You don't substitute 'you are' with UR or 'later' with 'l8r' unless you have a damn good reason or are actually text-messaging or tweeting someone, in which case you have the excuse of needing to be economical with your character count.

Seriously, if someone is using 'banana' as a slang term for penis, that is mild. You're infinitely more likely to actually hear the word penis. Or any of a gazillion other, much more colorful terms.

"why are manhole covers round"

Ah yes, the infamous (alleged) Microsoft job-interview question, actually recently answered offhandedly on-air by Adam Savage of Mythbusters, in the middle of testing the myth that a methane explosion in a sewer could launch manhole covers into the air. (Confirmed, by the way.) The answer Microsoft is looking for (allegedly) is that it's the only shape that won't fall into a like-shaped hole. The Straight Dope, back in 1984, went into a lot more detail, noting further that you don't have to spend any time trying to line up a circle with its hole- like you would have to do with, say, a square or triangle- and that there's a certain type of triangle that also fits the won't-fall-in-the-hole criteria, a Reuleaux triangle. The way you make a Reuleaux triangle is, you take three circles, make a three-way Venn diagram out of them, and if you've lined them up perfectly, the shape in the middle is a Reuleaux triangle.

The key here is that both shapes have what's called a curve of constant width. What that means is that you can take the shape, put it into a square of the relevant width, and no matter how you rotate that shape, it will always be able to touch all four sides of the square at a single point without intersecting the boundary of the square. The Wikipedia page on the concept demonstrates with a Reuleaux triangle.

"when is halloween"

October 31. Honestly now.

"when is thanksgiving"

Fourth Thursday in November. You kidding me?

"when is cyber monday 2011"

The Monday following Thanksgiving, after all the shoppers have been given societal permission to flip the hell out on Black Friday and people have been pepper-sprayed over a discount hair dryer in four different states.

"how to delete facebook"

Quite the ambitious person we have writing in! Unfortunately, or perhaps very fortunately, the average person does not have the ability to wipe Facebook from the face of the virtual Earth, but there are three ways to go about it. First, be Mark Zuckerberg and shut the site down. Second, wait until some other social networking site comes along and steals so many of Facebook's users that the site gets closed down for lack of interest a decade down the road. Third, steal into the building or buildings containing the site's server and engage in the most violent orgy of destruction until such time as the archives have become completely irretrievable. (NOTE: This third method is illegal in at least 16 states. Check with local authorities first.)

"are vampires real"

Unless you are referring to vampire bats: no. No, they are not.

"are shingles contagious"

Not in the sense that someone with shingles can give shingles to someone else. They can, however, give someone chicken pox.

"are the packers undefeated"

No, but we have the 1 seed. That's all that matters. Suck it, Bears!

"why is a raven like a writing desk"

The question has no answer. When Lewis Carroll wrote it into Alice in Wonderland, he intended for there to be no answer. Not that even an outright statement from Carroll to this effect- because people wouldn't stop bugging him for the answer- itself stopped anyone from just going ahead and coming up with their own answers.

It was supposed to be a joke. You people ruined it. Nice work.

"is selena gomez pregnant"


"is jessica simpson pregnant"


"is justin bieber a father"

No. Technically we're waiting on that DNA test, but seriously, no.

"is aaron rodgers married"

No. He's taken, though.

"is anderson cooper gay"
"is daniel tosh gay"

The hell does it matter if they are?

"can dogs eat apples"

Yes. You might want to cut them up first, though. The link mentions that the apple seeds contain a tiny bit of cyanide that could end up harming the dog, but in reality, it's such a tiny amount that you'd have to go way out of your way to eat enough for them to have any actual effect (think thousands of them), and besides, apple seeds are really pretty tough, so you won't have much to worry about anyway. How many people do you know that died from improperly eating an apple anyway?

"which pokemon are you"

I'm Spoink. I have to bounce on my springy tail constantly because every bounce restarts my heart and if I ever stop bouncing, even while sleeping, I shall die. I also balance a pearl on my head while doing so and if I drop the pearl I shall quickly weaken and may also die. My every moment is spent in constant mind-shattering mortal fear and also I have a stupid name.

"which disney princess are you"

(checks pants) Next question.

"did lil wayne die"


"did he make the putt"

No. Lil Wayne is a terrible golfer. We have time for one more...

"why is my poop green"

Seriously? ...okay, apparently seriously. Well, in that case, it actually has several different valid answers. It could be your diet (most foods turn brown, but not all), it could be the use of antibiotics, it could be food coloring. You can turn your stool all sorts of different colors with food coloring, including pink. Pink stool is most closely associated with the original Franken Berry cereal, which debuted alongside Count Chocula in the 1971. It was a reddish-pink that wound up scaring the parents enough to take them to the doctor, thinking there was some sort of internal bleeding, and pink poop ended up gaining the medical slang term "Franken Berry stool". It was, specifically, the dyes Red #2 and Red #3.) Franken Berry has since been reintroduced, with a more digestible dye. Count Chocula probably had the same problem, but it's not like anyone's going to notice brown food coloring in that context.

This concludes this mailbag. Stay tuned for next week, when I kidnap random people off the street and force them to ask me about the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.


Pinyan said...

Wait, really? I thought "SMH" was "so much hate".

Aaron Allermann said...

Well, that's what it says on the list. Again, never once seen it actually used either way. You're telling me you actually have?

Pinyan said...

I work with teenagers. I have seen a bunch of former students post things they don't like with "SMH". Also, some former classmates who are my age. [shrug]
Clicking through to the "acronyms parents need to know", yeah, those are stupid. I&I is the funniest stupid one and "NAZ - Name, Address, Zip (also means Nasdaq)" is the funniest alternate definition. The only ones I've ever used are BRB, FB (for facebook), LGBT (they managed to not get the standard acronym in two tries), LOL, NM (never mind), SO. I've also used "TMRW" for tomorrow in text messages, where, as you mentioned, space is valuable.
The dumbest thing about this list is how it treats children as capable of only one level of thought.
Kid: My parents are standing right behind me, so I can't say "I'll have sex with you". I'll just say "IMEZRU".
Parent: What does IMEZRU mean?
Kid: Uhhhh....