Thursday, December 31, 2009

58 - Answers

Q: Matt - Since I'm both lazy and fed up with the pop-culture-obsessed society we are members of, I haven't really been following the Tiger Woods story. All I know is that he crashed his car after possibly being beaten up by his wife because he cheated on her with some skank, but it seems like there might be more details of the story that I haven't paid attention to. Could you give me/us a synopsis of what's been happening with golf's golden boy?
A: Before I tackle the full answer (and trust me, this is going to take a while), I have to give you credit for summarizing the Tiger Woods Saga (or, as Bill Simmons has called it, "Tiger Zoo") better than anyone else in the media. You've pretty much nailed the important details of the story in one simple half sentence. Of course the truth of this sad affair is far more complex and nuanced than that, but still, bravo!

OK, so let's get started with this. I think the first thing we need is a timeline of facts. On December 3rd the L.A. Times provided a good timeline of the first few days of the saga, and I'll be using that to help fill in some details.

1. On Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 Tiger Woods leaves a voicemail on the phone of Jaimee Grubbs, a 24 year old cocktail waitress in LA. In the message he tells the woman that "My wife went through my phone and may be calling you." He asks the woman to remove her name from her voicemail account.

2. Thanksgiving Week the National Enquirer breaks a story about Tiger Woods allegedly having an affair with a woman named Rachel Uchitel.

3. At 2:25am on Friday, November 27th Tiger Woods left his house and drove his Cadillac Escalade SUV into a fire hydrant and then into a tree.
- The Florida Highway Patrol say that alcohol was not a factor in the accident.
- Tiger's wife Elin broke the rear windows of the car with a golf club.
- He had cuts in his lips and blood in his mouth, but was otherwise unharmed.
- Neighbors report that Tiger was in and out of consciousness after the crash.

4. Over the weekend of November 26th:
- Tiger Woods puts off making statements to the Florida Highway Patrol regarding the incident. He schedules a news conference for Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 during a charity golf tournament that he is sponsoring.
- He releases a statement about the incident saying that "I'm human and I'm not perfect" and asking for privacy.
- Finally on Monday he withdraws from the tournament and cancels the news conference.

5. On Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 Tiger Woods is fined $164 for "careless driving" and the Florida Highway Patrol closes its investigation.

6. On Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 Us Weekly publishes a story revealing the voicemail that Tiger left Jaimee Grubbs. He releases a statement in which he says, "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."

7. Over the next few days over a dozen women come forward claiming to have had affairs with Tiger Woods. The number is somewhere between 11 and 17.

8. On Monday, December 11th, 2009 Tiger Woods announces that he is taking an "indefinite break" from golf.

9. Sponsors begin to drop Tiger from their advertising, including Gatorade, Gillette, Accenture, and AT&T.

So that's where we stand right now. To me the most interesting question is why it took so long for this to come out? I believe that the answer is money, pure and simple. Tiger Woods the celebrity endorser is (or at least was) worth a LOT of money. His face was on billboards and television commercials and video games. His name adorned all manner of products. He had an image of a squeaky-clean family man, cultivated and maintained and good. But what did we really know about him? The image of Tiger Woods was one thing, but the man Tiger Woods now appears to be something else entirely. It's an interesting study in public relations and media management that could easily take months to unravel and analyze.

Another reason it took so long to come out was that there was an active effort to keep the story quiet, dating all the way back to 2007. A article entitled "How Tiger Protected His Image" was printed in the Wall Street Journal on December 18th. In it the author reveals how Tiger Woods' affairs were discovered by the National Enquirer in 2007 and that he was able to keep the story quiet by doing an exclusive piece for Men's Health, which is owned by the same publisher as the National Enquirer. This tells me that not only did people know about Tiger's affairs, but that that knowledge was fairly widely known. Because Tiger Woods' image was so valuable it was in people's best interests to keep it cleaned and buffed as much as possible.

But now the story is out there. 2010 is going to be a very interesting year in the world of golf and for golf's biggest name. We'll just have to keep watching and talking and gossiping all the way through it.

Q: Rani - Should anyone ask the Eliot Spitzer call girl for advice?
A: I admit that I was unaware that the Eliot Spitzer call girl (Ashley Dupre) had an advice column. I just read one of her pieces and I'm actually impressed at her writing ability. That having been said I personally don't think that anyone should ask her for advice. Then again I don't think anyone should be asking me for advice either. The people to best ask for advice are your friends and family. They undoubtedly know you better than a stranger writing a newspaper advice column or a random guy who writes an online question-and-answer website.

Q: Sam - was it irresponsible for me to spend the $$ i had been saving for a new computer on another guitar?
A: This depends on a number of factors. In fact, this question would probably be best answered with a flow chart, but since I don't have the time or inclination to create one I'll just break the variables out in a quasi-programming language. This should be fun.

if (your old computer works) then (NOT IRRESPONSIBLE)
else if (your old computer has gone tits up) then
if (you need a computer) then IRRESPONSIBLE

Note that this analysis is using only your need for a computer as a variable. If your need for a guitar is greater than your need for a computer then you'll have to adjust the code a bit to suit your needs. But judging from the wording of your question I'd say you've already made your choice.

Q: Tara - What kind of red wine goes well with Ham for christmas dinner? And, any suggestions on a menu for 8 adults and 4 picky children? Also - do you think that Tom Brady's baby number 2 is making him play poorly due to lack of sleep?
A: Three questions for the price of one!

1. I am not generally a fan of red wines, but lately I've been expanding my palate. I think with a Ham you're going to want to go with a not-quite-as dry red wine. I would suggest a general red table wine, or maybe a blend of different red wines (Cab-Sav or Cab-Franc).

2. I would suggest ignoring the needs of the picky children and instead focus on pleasing the 8 adults. In my experience children are very difficult to please when it comes to food, so I would instead try and find something that will satisfy the 8 adults. I think you'll get more return for your efforts that way.

3. An interesting theory, but I think that Brady's recent decline in performance is the fact that he's been injured for a few weeks. The current injury report on Tom Brady lists his "right shoulder/rib/right finger", and those same areas have been on the injury report since the second week in December. I think that those injuries have contributed to his not-quite-as-spectacular performance of late. I wouldn't go so far as to say he's playing "poorly", but he's definitely not the Tom Brady of 2007. Time will tell if he can rally himself for the playoffs. I certainly hope so.

Monday, November 30, 2009

57 - Answers

Q: Matt - Ok, someone has to ask this so it might as well be me. What's your take on the Belichick debacle?
A: It's been about four weeks since the "Belichick debacle" as you called it, and frankly I'm more stumped now that I was when I was sitting in stunned silence alone on my couch watching my Patriots blow a game in the fourth quarter. I knew that something bad was going to happen when the Patriots turned the ball over in the red zone in the second and third quarters. You can't just give away points in the NFL, and especially not against a talented and driven quarterback like Peyton Manning. But it wasn't until the Patriots had the ball deep in their own zone and had to drive out to secure the win that I became truly nervous. The Patriots ran three plays and ended up with a 4th and 2 on their own 28 yard line. They went for it, they failed. That decision was subsequently debated on sports talk radio, the Internet, and in offices everywhere.

At the time I thought that it was a foolish decision. Better to punt in that case and make Peyton Manning march down the field. Then I remembered how Peyton Manning was giving the Patriots' defense the business. Maybe it was the right call to go for it, especially since there was only a couple of minutes left on the clock. Just get the first down and run the clock out. It was risky, and as it turns out too risky.

Oddly this scenario repeated itself in Week 12 against the Saints and then again Week 13 against the Dolphins. All three games featured 4th-and-something calls that ended up going poorly for my Patriots. In the Saints game that didn't really matter since the Saints were able to dissect the Patriots' secondary like a high school student dissecting a frog. And it was that dissection that gave me some clarity to the situation. When Belichick went for it during the Colts game one of the theories at the time was that he didn't trust his defense. Since this has now happened in subsequent games I think this might be close to the truth. I think the Patriots are weak on defense, that Belichick knows it, and that he has been leaning on his offense to make up the difference.

So that's my take on it. I'm not feeling that great about the rest of my Patriots' season. I think we'll win the AFC East pretty easily but as for farther ambitions in the playoffs I don't think we have what it takes this year.

Q: Bill - Fixed or variable price option this winter?
A: I admit that I haven't thought at all about my RG&E bill in quite some time. As it turns out it doesn't matter because as your wife correctly pointed out:

Lisa: Bill, fixed is no longer an option if you stay with RG&E

A smart woman, that Lisa. You were right to marry her, Bill.

Q: Rani - I just found out that there will be a Lobo (DC comics) movie, and am thrilled, but read it's trying to get rated PG-13, by Guy Ritchie who directed Lock, Stock, and Two Smokin' Barrels and Snatch. Will this movie get ruined, if the rating sticks?

Lobo is generally a DC equivalent of Deadpool (Marvel) didn't really find a good link to describe, so found this as clean of a reference as possibly (work safe)

If either unknown to you (somehow), use the Guy Ritchie as a reference, and what would happen if he made a PG-13 movie, to my knowledge all of his movies are generally violent

A: I happen to be a fan of Guy Ritchie. In fact, the only reason I will go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie is that he is the director. The next movie that he is officially attached to is called Gamekeeper, but various websites report that he is going to begin production of Lobo sometime in early 2010.

I didn't know anything about the comic character in question prior to your question, and based on the little I've read it sounds like his story is pretty violent. Given that I would say that a PG-13 rating might ruin the movie if the director is not careful. Knowing what the rules are will presumably allow him to craft the story within those rules. Yes, this constricts the creative mind, but he's going into this with eyes open. So my answer is a definite maybe.

Q: Kristian - In regards to Bud Selig not having a spine, I mean that he doesn't enforce anything. Why is he such a pansy?
A: Bud Selig, like the commissioners of all the other major sports, has a fine line to walk in his job. There are many competing interests in baseball and not all of them have the same bottom line:

- Television: Getting the most viewers who will buy the most products from their advertisers and generate the most revenue.
- Teams: Acquiring the best players to give themselves the best chance at making the playoffs and winning the World Series.
- Owners: To maximize the amount of money that they make
- Fans: To be entertained, to get value for their entertainment dollar, and to root for a team.
- Players: Both to make money and to play for a team that will make the playoffs and win the World Series.

I think that these interests are always in the front of Bud Selig's mind. Therefore when an issue arises in baseball (steroids, instant replay, etc.) he must run it through each of those filters before he can decide what to do. This can lead to all sorts of confusing results and outcomes. I also think this is why it seems like he has no spine. He is reluctant to upset the status quo or to offend any of those interests. I sympathize, but he is also the head of a major sport and thus must sometimes make tough decisions. I'd rather he own up to his responsibilities and make those decisions with less regard for the interests in question.

Q: Kristian - Best Winter Olympics sport?
A: As has become tradition with Ask Mitssob the Jolinko community has weighed in on this subject and so I'll give them the first word:

Jon: your mom
Brett: Biathlon. Next question.
Bill: No way, biathalon takes too long.
Eric: skis+shotguns=win
Brett: You meant rifles.
Eric: them too
Matt: Actually, I think that could make things a lot more exciting. Instead of a regular shotgun competition where you stand in one place and shoot at moving targets, have the targets stationary and have the shooter moving, i.e. skiing and shooting at the same time.
chris: extreme downhill biathlon?
Phil: shit just add shotguns or rifles to all winter sports, imagine curling with shotguns or speedskating with snipers on the roof
Kristian: Phil, I'm liking your ideas. You sould bring them up to the Olympic Committee

First, I'd like to say what a great idea adding guns to Olympic Events is. The possibilities boggle the mind. Imagine Curling in a Crossfire. Or downhill skiing straight out of a Bond movie. This is a fantastic series of ideas and must be explored.

With that out of the way the best winter Olympics sports (in my humble opinion) are the ones that you don't normally get to see. I enjoy watching curling (even without the crossfire), hockey, and speed skating. But the "best" for me is the Super G. It combines speed, danger, cool camera shots, and spectacular crashes. It's also a sport I only watch during the Olympics, which makes it a special treat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

56 - Answers

[Editor's Note: Tim has been working on these answers for the better part of a month now. Unfortunately it's NaNoWriMo season again so he's more pressed for time than usual. Honestly I don't know what that man does with his time. He could be running a meth lab out of his basement for all I know. What I do know is that he finally came through with the second-longest set of answers in Ask Mitssob history. It's not his best work, but it'll do.]

Q: Bill - Why do trees rot from the inside out?
A: Despite several minutes of research on the topic I have no idea why trees rot from the inside out. I learned a bit about tree rot in general. Heart Rot Tree Disease, for example, "is caused by fungi which have entered the tree through open wounds and bare exposed wood." I also found this site that explains how to evaluate trunk cavities. I would guess the answer is that the rot attacks the oldest wood first, and that wood is found at the center of the tree. I suggest tracking down an arborist if you want a more complete answer.

Q: vanessa - Why do people carve pumpkins for Halloween? (I've actually heard 'why' but I'd like to see what you dig up!)
A: From the site PumpkinCarving101:

On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles.

Today people carve pumpkins as a way to celebrate the holiday, to enjoy the feeling of pumpkin guts on their hands, and to provide targets for malicious youths wishing to rebel against society by smashing the hard work of others.

Q: Eric Democko - What is the temperature in Honolulu in October?
A: It is a lovely mid-80s at the time I am writing this. The palm trees are swaying in a gentle breeze and the ocean looks like something out of a postcard.

Q: Bill - What do I do to make facebook applications with all these flash/java animations run faster on my computer? Is it RAM? Video Card? Processor?
A: There are a few things to do that can make your computer run faster.

1. Eliminate background processes. Things like virus scanners, search-engine-toolbars, etc can slow your computer down if there are enough of them.
2. Defragment your hard drive.
3. Uninstall programs that you no longer need or use.
4. Clean out your registry. [Ed. - Isn't he already married? Not that kind of registry, you computer-illiterate nay-sayer.]

This last one is something that I've overlooked in past conversations with you about this subject. The Windows registry is where applications store information that they use while running. When you first do an install of Windows your registry is fairly small and clean, but over time the registry can get bloated with extra information from old applications that you've uninstalled, or outdated information from applications you no longer use. As the registry grows larger and more complex it takes longer for applications and Windows itself to scan it and find the information that they need to run. Thus you should clean it out from time to time to help your computer run faster.

On that topic, while I was researching this question I found a utility called CCleaner. I used it on my Dell D600 laptop as a test to see if it would help make it run faster, and I have to say that it seems to have done the job well so far. It got rid of about 500MB worth of temporary files, plus it cleaned out 232 registry entries that were no longer needed. My laptop boots noticeably faster now and seems to run smoother too. I suggest giving it a shot. If you'd like a house call then let me know and I'll swing by sometime.

Q: Brett - I might have already asked this, but it is a good question; Do you think Bob Seger ever made it to Kathmandu?
A: You did in fact ask me this question earlier this year. It was part of Episode 43 of Ask Mitssob. As I said then, I do think that he made it.

Q: Brett - If I already asked that, then never mind, but here is a new question also concerning Mr. Seger: If Bob Seger was from Detroit, why did he call his band the Silver Bullet band? Was Bob Seger a werewolf hunter? Or just a fan of Coors Light?
A: I do not have the faintest idea why Bob Seger named one of his bands the Silver Bullet Band. It's entirely possible that he was a werewolf and/or vampire hunter and used the name of his band as a sort of reverse camouflage to deflect attention away from him. The name could also be meant to inspire vampire/werewolf hunters around the greater Detroit area.

I find it hard to believe that a love of Coors Light was the reason for the name of his band. For one thing, one of his early singles with the Silver Bullet Band was called "Get Out of Denver." Why would he advocate getting out of a place that produced the beer he'd named his band for? To paraphrase the Chewbacca defense, that does not make sense.

I think that it's more likely that the name of the band is a reference to the common meaning of the term "silver bullet", which is a one-shot, simple solution to a complex problem. Am I right? I have no idea. You'll have to ask Mr. Seger that question to get the real story.

Q: Jesse - how much sex is too much?
A: I made the mistake of asking my coworkers this question one night in Hawaii as we walked to dinner.

Coworker 1: If you start needing blue pills.
Coworker 2: If your genitals get covered in puss.

And those were the only two responses that I can actually post here. The rest were just too graphic for a family site. I'm trying hard to forget them myself.

The glib answer to this question would be, "Too much sex? What, are you crazy? There's no such thing!" In fact I think that there are definitely cases where there can be too much sex. For example, I've heard that if you are trying to conceive then too much sex can lead to diminishing returns, that is your odds of conceiving actually go down. That's one case where there is such a thing as too much sex.

Also, and not to get overly graphic here, but I imagine that the physical limitation on sex in the, um, lubrication department depends on each individual. I won't add any more to that. In fact, let's just move on.

There is also a psychological angle to this question. Sex is as much about the mind as it is the body. If you have lots of sex with multiple partners, aside from the obvious physical hazards from STDs, there is the danger of depression and other psychological ailments.

Ultimately it's dependent on too many variables to give a single answer. Normally this is the part of my answer where I'd say to go ahead and find out the limit for yourself, but in this case I'll hold back that advice. I'll just say that you should have as much sex as you and your partner are comfortable with. Good luck out there, people.

Q: Anonymous - mitsob, I am an average guy trying to seduce better than average women. Recently I was propositioned by one young lady to "Talk nerdy to me." What should I say?
A: Frankly I'm afraid to touch this question. I am both an acknowledged nerd and a well-below-average ladies man. In other words, I can speak nerd but can't guarantee that anything I come up with will help you make inroads with the opposite sex. So rather than strain my brain I will turn this answer over to my close personal friend the Internet.

First, I came across this article at It's got some good advice, including a couple of pickup lines like "Hey, we can make beautiful .wav files together." And speaking of pickup lines, a collection of 50 nerdy pickup lines can be found here. I just read them and am speechless. Some of them might actually work for you, amazing as that sounds. I found another good pickup line on twitter: hey babe, wanna come over to myspace and twitter my yahoo 'til I google all over your facebook? Simple, direct, and clever. Finally, for more inspiration you might try reading the book "Talk Nerdy To Me" by Vicki Lewis Thompson.

By the way, if any of these lines work please let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Q: Jesse - what is a better way to wake up in the morning so I am not late to work?
A: Before I give my answer let me share a quick anecdote. I'm writing some of these answers from lovin' cup, a coffee/wine/beer bar and restaurant next to RIT's campus. It's a pleasant place to do a little writing, and I thought by coming here that I would be left alone. Well just as I started writing this answer a blonde haired young man with a scraggly beard and a Grateful Dead necklace moseyed over to me and asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing answers to questions, and that one was about how to wake up better. His suggestion was to "make sure some bitch is there to give you a fuckin' blowjob when you wake up." After giving that answer he drifted off, then came back asked me if I would like a Xanax to "help you mellow out." Judging from his demeanor I'd say he can't have many to spare.

Anyway, now that that's over with let me get on with the answer. I will divide up this answer into two categories: sleeping, and morning routine.

First, some suggestions on how to improve your sleeping routine:
- Go to bed earlier. An average adult requires at least 6 hours of sleep per night. If you're not getting that much then it can be harder to wake up.
- As Matt suggested: "Don't drink so much the night before." Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but you won't sleep as deeply or as well, and thus will have a harder time waking up in the morning.
- Try reading for a while in bed before actually trying to sleep. It can help you relax and get you more ready for sleep.

Next, here are some ideas on how to change your routine so as to maximize the amount of time that you can stay in bed every morning.
- Shower the night before.
- Sleep in the clothes you plan on wearing to work the next day. That will save you at least a minute.
- If you bring your lunch with you to work, make it the night before.

Finally, it wouldn't be a true Ask Mitssob answer without some random silliness thrown in for good measure:
- Move closer to work.
- Sleep at your desk at night.
- Quit your job and work from home.

Q: Matt - What are your thoughts on Congress getting involved with sports? They had the giant steroids debacle, and now they're having hearings about NFL injuries. Should they be sticking to issues like fixing healthcare and the economy, or is this a legit topic for them?
A: I think that Congress should stay out of sports unless we allow those persons under investigation in sports the opportunity to meddle in the affairs of Congress. Seems fair to me.

On a more serious note I do not think that Congress should get involved in the issues surrounding injuries in the NFL. Professional sports in general are privately run and privately owned enterprises. Any issues that do not affect the public sphere should not be the business of Congress. Now, if an NFL team engages in criminal activity such as laundering money or murdering players who don't perform well then Congress would be right to investigate. But player health issues fall under the NFL's umbrella. If the NFL is not doing a good job of taking care of its players then that's an issue between the players and the NFL, not Congress.

More to the point, is it the role of Congress to look at these issues? The United States Constitution is pretty clear about the roles of the three branches of government. Nowhere is it mentioned that Congress should get involved in the recreational affairs of the citizens, nor in the legal business practices of private companies.

Q(A): Bill - NFL injuries? Really? I think they should mandate that quarterbacks not be treated like porcelain dolls. These roughing the quartback-contact to the head calls are getting ridiculous.
Q(B): Kristian - Aaron Rodgers got cracked in the helmet last night and nothing was called. I was shocked. And the reason they're treated like porcelain dolls is because of Brady.

A: I agree with both up to a point. Yes, quarterbacks are being overprotected in today's NFL, and yes, part of the reason that they're treated like "porcelain dolls" is because of the injury that Brady sustained last year. But why are quarterbacks being treated that way? The logic behind protecting quarterbacks is that they are generally the most visible and high-profile football players on any particular team. They often make the most money and thus represent the biggest investment a team makes as far as players go. So when a team's quarterback gets injured the team as a whole suffers greatly. Thus there is an interest on the part of the teams to lobby for greater protection of the quarterbacks.

Now, has the pendulum swung too far in the direction of quarterback protection? I think so, yes. Personally I'd like to see the line come down as follows:
1. A quarterback should be subject to the same "dirty hits" rules as every other player. Late hits, facemasks, spearing, etc. should be called the same regardless of what position you play.
2. Eliminate "roughing the passer" and "roughing the kicker" penalties altogether. Yes, they are in "helpless" positions from time to time. My answer: if you don't want to get hit then go be a golfer. Otherwise accept the fact that you play a rough sport.

Q: Kristian - Going along with the sports topic, why does Bud Selig not have a spine?
A: I am not exactly sure what you are referring to. If you wouldn't mind, could you give me some specific instance of his lacking a spine? I'm not trying to duck the question, but I don't want to answer until I know what you're asking about. Sorry. See you next time.

Q: Eric - instant replay in baseball: will it ever happen for more than just reviews of home runs? also, why do the umps in the world series suck so bad?
A: Instant replay in baseball will expand to other aspects of the game sooner rather than later. It might come as soon as next year but I would guess that it'll be more like three years before the next change in instant replay happens. The next area of the game to get attention will be calls on the bases, particularly close calls at first base and during steals, and also fair and foul balls.

As to why the umps in the world series suck so bad, I think it's a combination of factors. Despite the fact that we all want them to be perfect Umpires are human. They make mistakes. Did this world series contain more mistakes than normal? I know that it seemed that way judging from the quantity and voracity of reactions from fans of both teams. Another factor could be the crowds themselves. I think that umpires are more susceptible to pressure from a vocal crowd than they admit. And that's a very human reaction to their job. They want to make everyone happy, and I suspect that that failing contributes to some bad calls.

Finally, people of a more conspiratorial mindset than me will say that the umps are fudging calls in the game so as to give one team an advantage over another as part of a larger plan (such as making sure the series goes longer). I personally do not believe this, but I also know that there's a wide range of people who do. Maybe I'm looking at the sports world in general with rose colored glasses, but I believe that it's more likely that umpires either make mistakes or are influenced by a home crowd than in some grand conspiracy.

Q: Matt - The Sprint Cup series race at Talladega on the weekend was complete horseshit. A lot of people including myself blame the lack of exciting racing on the implementation of the restrictor plates designed to make the top speed slower and hence accidents that are less harsh. On the flipside, the cars are bunched up so close that now it's almost impossible to have a race without having one or more big big crashes. The Truck Series race was also held at the same track on the same weekend with much better racing and much fewer wrecks as well. So I ask, are the plates really doing that much good?
A: A disclaimer: I am not a racing fan. I know very little about the sport, and care about it even less. Normally I use "Ask Mitssob" as a way to expand my knowledge about a particular subject and come to some kind of educated and informed opinion about things I don't know much about. I confess that my desire to be educated on this subject is pretty low, so I'll be relying on common knowledge, intuition, and guesses for this answer.

As far a I can tell the rules in NASCAR are set up for two reasons. The first is safety. By limiting the top speed that a race car can be driven that means that the top speed that it can strike an object is limited and the risk of injury to the driver is reduced. The second reason to make the cars as equal as possible so that the race comes down to the driver. That's a very noble goal, but teams are going to try and bend those rules as much as possible to gain some kind of mechanical edge. The smarter the crew chief, the more likely that they will find some way to eek out an edge within the rules.

In my opinion when the rules of sports are rewritten to make things more "fair" then the sport itself tends to suffer. In the case of NASCAR the rules put in place to level the playing field are in fact creating more dangerous and less competitive conditions. Is that good? No, I don't think so.

Let me turn the question around and ask what the purpose of the restrictor plate really is. As you point out the cars have a lower top speed, but cars are more bunched up as a result. When cars are more bunched up there is a bigger danger of large and spectacular wrecks. Big crashes are one of the reasons that people tune in to watch racing. So it begs the question: could it be that the actual purpose is to cause more dangerous racing conditions? I know that sounds conspiratorial, but it's something to consider.

Q: Sarah LaBombard - Are you moving to Hawaii?
A: No. I enjoyed my three weeks in Hawaii very much. Ultimately, though, it reminded me that I am a cold weather creature. I have said before that I would have trouble living in a place that didn't have four seasons and three weeks in Hawaii did not change that. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast and I will certainly go back in the future, but as for a permanent relocation I will pass.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

55 - Answers (Part 2)

Q: Rani - Yes, what are rapists and what do they rape for?
A: The dictionary defines a rapist as "one who commits rape". The first two definitions of the word "rape" are the ones that fit this discussion and are as follows:
1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

So to be clear, a rapist is a person who forces sex on another person.

The second part of your question is more complex. I recently read a book called "Whoever Fights Monsters" by Robert K. Ressler. Mr. Ressler is the man who brought the art of profiling murderers to the FBI. He spent 20 years of his career interviewing serial killers and developing psychiatric profiles of them. It's a fascinating book and one I highly recommend.

So what does this have to do with rape? What I learned from reading this book is that many serial killers derive a sexual satisfaction from their murders. They do not fit in with society at large and with people in general. They still have the same urges as all humans, but because they do not fit in they have trouble finding outlets for that sexual energy. They will construct elaborate fantasies in their minds, then slowly build up to these fantasies. They will often return to the scene of the murder or keep certain things from the scene in order to relive the experience.

I also learned that many serial killers begin as rapists. Now, do all rapists become serial killers? No. I don't believe that even a majority of rapists are capable of morphing into serial killers. But I do believe that share some traits, most notably a less-than-human view of other people. If you do not believe that other people are in fact people then you will not treat them as such and will be more predisposed to take sex by force from them.

To pull it all together, my view is that rapists rape for sexual satisfaction which is caused by an inability to fit in with society at large.

Q: Jesse - How many more hockey players will rape minors before our season starts?
A: There was a story concerning this subject in early September. Three attendees of Clarkson's summer hockey camp were charged with having sex with a 16-year old without her consent. I am not certain whether it is one girl or several girls; the story doesn't explicitly say. One of the players has plead not guilty (I do not know about the other two).

It would make me happy to say that no more hockey players would rape minors before the season starts. And for all I know it's a true statement since additional incidents have not been reported by the local media. I believe that these three are the exception, not the rule. Am I being naive? Perhaps. Stories and rumors about the sexual escapades of hockey players are wide and varied. We'll have to follow this story to see if any other accounts of this kind of behavior surface.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

55 - Answers (Part 1)

[Editor's Note: Tim asked me if he could divide up this week's answers into two parts. I thought he was just stalling again since he was already running late and running out of excuses. But then he told me that there were two questions posed about a very serious topic and he wanted the chance to answer them separately. I saw the questions and agreed with him. This time.]

Q: Michaele-Lynne - What are your predictions for my Maple Leafs this year? Will they make the cut for playoffs or be a complete disappointment as per usual?
A: I asked the only other Maple Leafs fan that I know (a coworker named Nick) this question and he just chuckled. He told me that it had been over 40 years since they'd won a Stanley Cup and that they'd missed the playoffs for the past five years, and it sounded like he didn't expect that trend to be broken this year.

I have not done any pre-season research on the NHL this year so I turned to ESPN to help me out. I read the NHL preview for the Maple Leafs (found here) which was pretty informative. It looks to me like their GM is making some smart moves but I'm not sure just how quickly these changes can help. For example, they've acquired star forward from the Bruins named Phil Kessel, but he's out with a shoulder injury until at least November.

In the end I'll go out on a limb here and say that yes, Toronto will make the playoffs this year. They'll get crushed in the first round but at least they'll make it to the dance. Best of luck this season!

Q: Bill - Who's the republican favorite for president in 2012? And if you say Sarah Palin I will burn your house down and possibly cut off what nuts you may or may not have.
A: As of this date (September 26, 2009) there is no clear favorite for the Republican candidate for President. The most recent polling information that I could find was a poll done of self-declared independent voters put out by the Clarus Research Group. A PDF of their survey can be found here. Among likely Republican candidates the poll shows that Mitt Romney is the current favorite with 30% of the vote. Mike Huckabee is second with 22% and Sarah Palin gets 18%.

A second indicator came during the annual Values Voters Conference that happened the weekend of September 18th in Washington, DC. Several of the likely Republican presidential candidates spoke there including Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Pence. At the end of the event a straw poll was held among participants. The winner of the straw pole was Mike Huckabee with 29% of the vote. This surprises no one, me included. He was the clear favorite among the more religious conservatives in the 2008 race. He is also the reason that we ended up with John McCain as our nominee, but that's a topic for another time. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Pence all received about 12% of the votes, with the remaining votes going for other candidates like perennial nut Ron Paul and the up-and-coming-but-still-too-early Bobby Jindal.

My final answer is that there is no Republican favorite for President in 2012. At least not yet. Assuming I'm still doing this in 2012 you'll just have to ask me then.

Q: Jarsh - Why don't Canadian quarters work in US vending machines. To my naked eye they are the same size.
A: Below is a table comparing the two quarters:

Mass5.670 g4.4 g
Diameter24.26 mm23.81 mm
Thickness1.75 mm1.60 mm
Edge119 reedsmilled
Composition91.67% Cu, 8.33% Ni94% steel, 3.8% Cu, 2.2% Ni plating

The physical dimensions of the two quarters are nearly identical, so your naked eye isn't lying to you. The difference comes in the weight. There is a 1.27 gram difference between the weights of the two quarters, and that's enough for the vending machines to tell the difference between them. Personally I find it annoying that I can't use Canadian quarters in vending machines.

The metal in the two quarters is also different, which Adam commented on:
Adam: I watched a show about how coin sorters work last night, conveniently. Canadian quarters aren't made of the same metal that American quarters are. They don't displace the magnetic field (that distinguishes what type of metal the coin is made of) in the same way, so they aren't usable.

Very interesting stuff, guys. Thanks.

Q: Jesse - use washers?
A: Occasionally, yes. I've never tried to use them in vending machines as a substitute for real money, but I've used washers for other purposes.

Q: Rani - Speaking of washers, is mankind's greatest enemy water?
A: In my opinion water makes the list, but it is by no means mankind's greatest enemy. Water can either be the bringer of life or the bringer of destruction depending on the situation. Our bodies are roughly 70% water and we cannot survive for more than a couple of days without it. Then again water is a very powerful natural force. Over time water can carve spectacular landscapes. It can also destroy cities in the form of tidal waves, storm surges, or even just excessive rain. But water enables man to grow crops and feed himself. In the end I think that there are too many upsides to water for it to be our greatest enemy.

On a final note, I was discussing this with my colleague Jeff as we drove from the Kansas City airport to Junction City, Kansas and he informed me that "Humidity created the snowman but it was sunshine that destroyed him." True on both counts, though I'm not exactly sure what that has to do with this question.

Q: vanessa - yes, how many alumni will wanna come to my halloween party in Oswego? the over/under is set at 2.
A: I'll take the over and go with an official prediction of 4.

Q: Bill - When would said party be? Will there be adult beverages served?
A: I'll turn the microphone over to Vanessa to answer this question:
"halloween party = halloween night. beeeeerrr."

Q: Jarsh - Ask Mitssob has become Random Thread v2 apparently
A: I'm not sure I expected this development but I'm certainly happy about it. Having a community to help me answer questions is a big help. [Ed - And it helps cover up the fact that you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Now that's just plain mean.]

Q: Bill - Question: Now that breast implants are made with saline, do they act differently than the old silicon ones?
A:Breast implants (link is Wikipedia but still NSFW) are used primarily in breast augmentation surgeries. Other uses include breast reconstruction following a mastectomy or as part of a sex change procedure. The two most common types are saline enclosed in a silicone shell and all silicone. The all silicone varieties were banned in the United States in the late 90's and that ban was lifted in 2006.

I have never been with a woman with breast implants, so that makes me unqualified to evaluate the behavior of either type of implant. Now that I think about it I'm not sure that I know any women with breast implants. It has never occurred to me to ask the women I know whether or not their breasts are real. Seems kind of rude and overly personal now that I think about it, so it's probably best that I just keep on not asking.

Anyway, according to the above link the silicone variety provides a superior look and feel to the saline variety. This makes sense to me. Silicone is a more solid substance than saline and would probably blend better with the natural breast tissue. I would imagine that the saline variety might move in a more unnatural fashion. Again, I'm just not an expert on this subject. Sorry.

Q: Jesse - How big will the random thread get?
A: As of this writing the Random Thread consists of 1776 pages and 44383 entries. It has gone on for just over 5 years. How much longer can it go on? Technologically I don't have an exact answer. Eventually the hard drive on the server that host Jolinko could fill up and that would bring it to an end.

My guess is that the Random Thread will break through 100,000 entries sometime in the year 2013. Time will tell if I'm right.

Monday, September 7, 2009

54 - Answers

Q: Jeff - Any questions?
A: I do have some questions, but since this is "Ask Mitssob" and not "Mitssob Asks" I'll keep them to myself.

Q: vanessa - Do you think "thats what she said" is overused? Along with that, how about quotes from such popular comedies as Anchorman, SuperBad, The Hangover, etc...are those overused as well?
A: "That's what she said" is just one of many of overused humorous responses to otherwise innocent statements. For example, I could say something like, "I don't like being confined in tight spaces for long durations." A response of "That's what she said!" would probably elicit a laugh from anyone honored to hear it. But if that becomes your response to EVERY innocent statement then you have officially become annoying and must be shown the error of your ways.

Along those lines, I think that quotes from popular comedies can easily become overused, but in moderation they add spice to conversation. For example, many of the people in my group at work are big fans of the Mel Brooks movies Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles, and will occasionally use quotes from those movies to lighten the mood. But again, moderation is key. Use them only when the situation warrants it, and when the humor will be appreciated by those around you.

Those of you who know me know that I am guilty of this, and have been for most of my life. I tend to latch onto a quote or saying and ride it for a long time, often far too long. Therefore I can't judge people who do this. I can only offer the warning that overusing quotes can lead to annoyance and un-funny looks from those around you. And no one wants that.

Q: Brett - Does a rising tide raise all boats?
A: A fine esoteric question. In the literal sense of the words, if a tide is high enough then it will raise all boats, including those under construction on dry land. Of course that would have to be a flood of epic proportions.

The phrase was used by John F. Kennedy in a speech defending the federal funding of the Greers Ferry Dam in Arkansas. The full text of the speech can be found here, and the relevant passage is quoted below:

"These projects produce wealth, they bring industry, they bring jobs, and the wealth they bring brings wealth to other sections of the United States. This State had about 200,000 cars in 1929. It has a million cars now. They weren't built in this State. They were built in Detroit. As this State's income rises, so does the income of Michigan. As the income of Michigan rises, so does the income of the United States. A rising tide lifts all the boats and as Arkansas becomes more prosperous so does the United States and as this section declines so does the United States. So I regard this as an investment by the people of the United States in the United States."

More recently the phrase "A rising tide raises all ships" has been used by advocates of conservative economic policies. The basic idea is that if you encourage economic growth (the "rising tide") then that growth will benefit all Americans ("ships"). I think that this makes sense. If you grow the economy then more jobs are created which means more people can be self-reliant and pursue happiness in their lives.

Q: Nate - Why did we all blow on NES cartridges thinking that would make them work?
A: I know that I blew on the NES cartridges in an effort to get dust out of them. This probably wasn't the real reason why this particular fix worked. My guess is that the moisture in your breath gets onto the metal contacts in the cartridge and makes a connection more likely. I'll also attribute some of this blowing to the placebo effect. We blew on these cartridges, hit the units, powered them off and on, etc., all in an effort to get them to work. When they did finally start working we probably just attributed it to one of these fixes, regardless of whether or not the fix worked.

A random thought concerning this question: If you were to ask a current college student this question would they know what you were talking about? My guess is no. Blowing on an NES cartridge is probably just as anachronistic to a college student today as making mix tapes is.

Q: Kristian - Who is worse, Red Sox fans or Yankee fans? This is assuming you are not a fan of either team.
A: Your assumption is invalid. I am a lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox. Still, I'll try to be objective in my answer.

Oh who am I kidding? I can't be objective about this. Sorry. I will provide an answer, and at least now you know where I'm coming from when I give it.

Yankee fans are worse (I know, shocking, right?). The biggest problem that I have with Yankee fans is their sense of entitlement. Every season must inevitably lead to another World Championship. Yes, I know that all teams feel this way, but the difference is that most other fans don't expect it as a birthright. As a fan of the Red Sox, I want them to win the World Series. Yankee fans think that they should win the World Series. In fact, the playoffs are just a formality to them. Just crown them champions and let everyone get on with their lives.

Am I painting an accurate picture of Yankee fans? As a biased Red Sox fan I don't know. This is just how I see things. I'm sure that if you ask a Yankee fan they would disagree with my statement. But I don't know of fans of any other team that feel this way. Cubs fans? Royals fans? Angels fans? They all seem to want their team to win, but not expect it. And that's the difference between Yankee fans and other fans.

Are Red Sox fans perfect? Of course not! Red Sox fans are still nursing the bitterness of the fact that the Yankees have many many times more championships than the Red Sox. Despite the two World Series this century they still hold onto a sense of fatality and despair when their team isn't doing well. "The sky is falling" mentality dies hard. This makes us annoying. I know it, I embrace it, and I'm not going to change.

A note about the fans of both teams in general. Any successful franchise is going to attract a certain number of bandwagon jumpers (see also Boston Celtics, Detroit Red Wings, and LA Lakers). In the mid to late 90's the Yankees won a string of championships that brought a huge number of fans to their doorstep. People love to root for a winner, and when your team continues winning then that just makes it better. Then in the early 2000's an interesting thing happened: people started rooting for the "underdog" Red Sox. This culminated in the playoffs of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, and the Red Sox finally winning the World Series in 2004. This, in turn, led to a huge number of recent converts to the Red Sox. "Red Sox Nation" became a rallying cry to beleaguered fans everywhere. I welcome converts, but I also know that they are a fickle bunch who will probably jump right off the bandwagon if another lovable loser comes along.

As of this writing the Yankees have a 7.5 game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East. I am very unhappy about this as a devoted Red Sox fan. However, there's one thing about this development that I find heartening: the return of the "Yankee Fan Swagger". I never thought I'd miss the cocky, arrogant, smug and entitled Yankee fan, but they've been sadly missing for most of this season. Now that they're back I find myself amused at their return because watching their dreams get crushed in the agony of defeat is one of the best things in the world.

Q: Kristian - Why do douchebags pop their collars?
A: This is something I've been wondering for a long time. Generally speaking the following rule applies: Not all douchebags pop their collars, but everyone who pops their collars is a douchebag. Because of this rule I tend to think of the collar popping as a signal to the rest of humanity for purposes of socializing and mating. For example, if a girl were looking to pick up a douchebag in a bar then the popped collar would certainly help her find said douchebag. In fact, she'd probably have her choice of douchebags.

So how did this start? I have no idea, and the Internets aren't particularly helpful. It could be that one douchebag (let's call him Douchebag Alpha) forgot to fix his collar after ironing his shirt. Another douchebag noticed this (Douchebag Beta), said, "Hey, man, that's fly!" and popped his collar to match. Soon it had spread throughout the land of douchebags and became common practice.

Finally, I'll use your question as an excuse to post a link to one of my favorite websites: Hot Chicks With Douchebags.

Q: Jesse - what would happen if I walked up to a girl at the bar and said "you, me, the backseat of my car, now"?
A: I actually thought about trying this out while on my last trip for work. I decided not to, mostly because I am a very shy person, but also because that's just not the kind of guy I am. I do not have any experience picking up girls in bars, and I didn't want my first attempt to be so nakedly direct.

Since I don't know you I can't judge how your proposal would play to the girl in question. Are you normally a smooth guy (ie. Nate D)? Do you have much experience picking up girls in bars? Have you tried other methods in the past?

The type of bar also comes into play. If you were in a sports bar watching a big game, and you and the girl shared an interest in the same team, and that team won, then she might be more willing to take the plunge. On the other hand if the bar were a strip bar and you tried that line on a stripper, you might get lucky, or you might get your ass kicked by Vinny the Bouncer.

In the end there's only one way to find out the answer to this question: you're going to have to try it. Good luck and let me know how it turns out for you.

Q: Jesse - what's the difference between peanut butter and jam?
A: Peanut butter is a food spread made from mashed up peanuts mixed with a little salt and sugar. Jam is a spread that is made from fruit juice, bits of fruit, and a gelatin mix. Jelly, by contrast, does not contain bits of fruit in it, only the flavor of the fruit.

Q: Brett - You guys are bad at this.
A: Oh I don't know about that.

Q: Bill - Not just bad...terrible
A: Come on, Bill. Give them a little time.

Q: Matt - Terribad. But on a serious note, I do have a question. Why is it that for most sports, the clock counts DOWN from a certain time (say, 20:00 for hockey) whereas for soccer the clock counts UP to 90:00?
A: Imprecise time management of is one of many things about soccer that bugs me, but it's this imprecision that leads us to the answer to the question. The reason that the clock counts up is that the clock is not stopped for interruptions in the game such as goals, injuries or streakers (the link is safe for work, I assure you). The refs decide how much time is needed to account for those things and simply tacks that time onto the end. For example, if they decide that the game needs to go on for an additional three minutes, then the total time will be 93 minutes rather than -3 minutes.

Also, as Jon Otter correctly pointed out: "The clock counts up to 20:00 in international hockey. You should watch the Olympics more often." I agree on both counts, though I admit that I'd forgotten that tidbit about international hockey.

Q: Matt - Coke or Pepsi?
A: When I still drank sugared sodas on a regular basis I always preferred Pepsi to Coke. I don't know why exactly, but I just liked it better. Pepsi also makes my favorite caffeinated beverage: Mountain Dew. All throughout college it was my energy drink of choice. Before most hockey games I would purchase a large Mt. Dew to fuel my hyperactive drumming in the pep band. Senior year found me spending lots of time in the computer engineering lab, and to sustain myself I would snack on peach rings, KitKat bars and Mt. Dew.

When my sister developed Type 1 diabetes my family started buying diet sodas. She prefers diet Coke to diet Pepsi and so do I. Later on in my life I decided to stop drinking sugared sodas to reduce the amount of calories in my diet and have switched over to diet Coke and diet Mountain Dew.

I don't drink energy drinks on a regular basis since they tend to make my heart skip, but when I do I prefer the Monster Lo-Carb, which is owned and managed by Coca-Cola.

Q: Sam - will you be my friend?
A: The word "friend" has different connotations today than it did even 5 years ago. Thanks to the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Jolinko, the word "friend" has come to include casual online acquaintances as well as genuine friends. I know of people who have hundreds of "friends", though I sincerely doubt that they consider all of them friends in the traditional sense of the word. So if you would like to be my "friend" on Jolinko (or Facebook or Twitter) then sure, why not? Maybe if we get to know each other in the online realm then we can create a genuine actual friendship from it. It could happen.

Q: Jesse - why doesn't google maps give me directions from NYC to London anymore, when it used to tell me to swim across the Atlantic?
A: I didn't know that GoogleMaps did that, but I'm not surprised. Google has been a fairly fun-loving bunch over the years. But I guess they wanted to be a little more professional so that little bit of humor had to go. Bummer. I wish I'd seen it.

Q: Bill - I'm sure Otter will have an answer for this one too...The "progressive" setting on my DVD player doesn't seem to change the picture on my tv. From what I recall, analog tv was 240 lines of resolution, DVD was 480, and HD is 1080. So is the DVD player automatically sending 480 through the component cables? Would progressive take it to 960?
A: I don't know exactly what type of DVD player you have, but I suspect that the "progressive" feature of your DVD player will simply switch from interlaced (normal) to progressive scan. A good article explaining this can be found here, but here's a quick version: A DVD player displays at 480 lines of resolution, either interlaced (every other line, switching at a given frequency) or progressive (all lines at once). Your television is an HD set, however, which means a resolution of 720 or 1080 depending on the quality of the set. By default the DVD player won't take up the full screen. If your DVD player is an upconverting one (as I suspect it is) then you have to find the setting that lets you change the resolution to either 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. That will make the DVD take up the full screen and improve the quality of the image for you.

If I've misread your question then please tell me and I'll do my best to answer it next time. Good luck!

Q: Jarsh - I can answer the progressive question too...
A: Perhaps "Ask Jarsh" would be a logical progression for this feature. Or maybe "Ask Jolinko" (or in keeping with the backwardsness, "Ask Okniloj").

Q: Robert - I am looking for a good eye-opener recipe for use on the early leg of certain trips. I'm looking to add Kahlua, and Baileys Irish Cream to Coffee. What proportions should I use?
A: I've never tried adding alcohol to coffee before. I would trust the opinions of fellow Ask Mitssob aficionados with their suggestions. Below are the comments that followed this question:

Eric (Carney): I usually use a shot of each plus a shot of Irish Whiskey.
Sam: i usually go kahlua OR bailey's, and always heavier on the whiskey
Robert: I've had Kalhua and Bailey's in 1:1 proportion by themselves... It was delicious. I just figure it'd be good with coffee too.
Eric (Democko): Carney- that is your coffee recipe for weekdays. what would you add on the weekends?
Eric (Carney): hookers.
Jake: Now THAT is coffee I would drink.
Rani: I thought it's supposed to help get the taste of hookers out of your mouth though on weekends

I must say that I'm proud at how quickly this commentary degenerated into hookers. Where else but Jolinko is such a thing possible? It makes me wish I'd listened to my editor and put this feature out in public sooner. [Ed: I told you, Tim. Why don't you ever listen to me? Because you, like the other voices in my head, are not generally to be trusted.]

The only random thought I might add would be to make a White Russian and pour coffee into it. Of course this might anger the Lebowski Gods, but I'd be willing to risk that for the sake of this answer.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Basement is cold, bedroom is warm. Grok no like.
A: Based on both your statement and the logic of Goldilocks and The Three Bears the first floor of your house must be just right so you should live there until this season passes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

53 - Answers

Q: Bill - What's new in roofing technology? Can you fill me in on some greener alternatives?
A: There is a company out of Santa Ana, CA called ArmorLite that has developed a new lightweight roofing material. A press release outlining their new technology can be found here. Their big claim to fame appears to be a drastic weight reduction. Their material weighs 70 pounds per 100 sq ft, whereas normal material weighs 600 pounds per 100 sq ft.

For "greener alternatives" I have two suggestions. First up is an organic roof, described in detail at GreenRoofs. As near as I can tell this involves planting grass, shrubs and other organic matter on your roof. With a sloped roof I'm not sure how this works, but the people on the site are pretty dedicated so maybe they've got ideas for you. Second would be to place solar panels over your existing roof. Yes, I know this isn't exactly new roofing technology, since I don't think that you can buy a roof that is made exclusively of solar panels. But someday that might be possible so you might as well get ahead of the curve.

Q: Jeff - Will this winter be a bitch?
A: Longtime "Ask Mitssob" devotees know that my history of prognostication is poor at best. But I'll take a crack at this one. If this summer has been any indication of temperatures then I think that this winter will feature some bone-chilling cold. I think that we will break record cold temperatures across much of the country, especially in the northern plains and midwestern states. As far as storms and chaos and such I'm not as certain. But cold? Definitely. Does that make it a "bitch"? That depends on your definition of "bitch". Personally I like the cold, so the prospect of a colder-than-average winter doesn't strike me as that unpleasant.

Q: Rob - if you were to buy a bus what kind of a bus would you get
A: I think I would buy one of those buses that hotels use as shuttles to and from airports. I know that's more of a "van" than a "bus", but I stand by my answer. I know that I would be uncomfortable driving a big bus, either a school bus or a large passenger bus. The shuttle bus is typically built on a commercial van's powertrain, and thus I think I'd be better driving it.

I'm not exactly sure WHY I would get a bus. I've had a romantic notion of buying a conversion van for many years. Maybe an old shuttle-bus would be a good platform to use for me to build my own. I'll have to think about that.

Q: Bill - Sticking with the green we have a ton of waste paper here at work. Instead of throwing it out, I am hording it to try to find something more creative than recycling to do with it. Ideas?
A: Partly this is going to depend on the quantity of paper, what kind of paper it is, etc. I'll assume that you're talking about normal white paper with a mix of black-and-white and color printing on it. Below are my quick, off-the-cuff ideas for your dilemma.

- One word: fire. In fact, I'm a little surprised that you even had to ask me about this given your status as an out-of-the-closet pyromaniac. The problem with burning this much paper comes down to efficiency. It's hard to take a stack of paper and just burn it. There are two solutions to this problem. First, you could crumple the pages up. That's very time consuming and not very much fun. Second, you could use a newspaper log roller to create more dense "logs" of paper that would burn hotter and be more suitable for a fireplace.
- Cheap insulation: This would be VERY cheap insulation. Plus, as with the bonfire idea, you'd have to crumple up the paper first, and that's definitely not worth the effort.
- Recycle it yourself: This article from eHow outlines how to create pulp from used paper and create your own new fresh paper. Another article from Bright Hub can be found here. This idea might appeal to Lisa given her calligraphy business. She could create her own custom paper for her clients. Just a thought.

Q: Matt - Charcoal or propane? I already know where I stand on this.
A: I prefer propane. I know that charcoal gives you more of an authentic grill taste and smell, but I personally prefer the convenience of propane. It lights instantly, you have a greater degree of control of the cooking surface, and it turns off just as easily as it lights. I recently purchased my first propane grill and have been very satisfied with it so far.

So where do you stand on this question? I'd be interested to hear responses from the "Ask Mitssob" community at large. I know it can be a heated (HA) topic of discussion, so have at it!

Q: vanessa - What will be the biggest story of the summer of 2009?
A: Let me start by sharing something with those of you new to "Ask Mitssob": I will occasionally answer questions according to the wording of the question rather than its intended meaning. I do this deliberately, both to try and promote clarity in the world at large and also to tick off the people who ask me questions. I thought about doing this for your question but instead I'll provide answers based on my two readings of the question. I'm not exactly sure which you meant, so I'll cover both angles. You're welcome.

Interpretation 1: "Looking back, what will have been the biggest story of the summer of 2009?"
Answer 1: The death of Michael Jackson. It's been the subject of so much discussion (Is he really dead? What did his doctor know and when did he know it?), so much media time (hundreds and hundreds of hours by Larry King and Geraldo Rivera alone), and so much random speculation (Will he emerge from his coffin during the funeral and re-enact Thriller?) that I think it's the clear winner.

The only thing that comes close in my opinion is the ongoing national debate about health care/insurance reform. President Obama had an original deadline of the first week of August for Congress to pass a health care/insurance reform bill. That deadline has come and gone, and Congress has gone home on recess to the spectacle of townhall meetings with hundreds of their constituents. It's a big national story, and one that will continue into the fall. Is it bigger than Michael Jackson's death? I don't think so, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Question 2: "Looking forward, what will be the biggest story of the summer of 2009 that hasn't happened yet?"
Answer 2: Unfortunately the only thing that could top the Michael Jackson fiasco would involve death and destruction on some significant scale. We've already had the deaths of Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcitt, and Walter "Uncle Walt" Cronkite. In my opinion there really isn't another public figure death that could top those unless a major current political figure kicks the bucket (and for the record I am NOT endorsing, condoning, or hoping for that to happen).

I think the only thing that could possibly happen to be a bigger story than the aforementioned Jackson Death Saga would be a natural disaster in or a terrorist attack on the continental United States. Again, I am not wishing or hoping for this to happen. I'm just saying that those would have to potential to dethrone the King of Pop's death for top story of the summer of 2009.

Q: Brett - Are people asking questions because they want hard hitting answers, or because they feel bad for you?
A: I am under no illusions here: people feel bad for me. And they really shouldn't. I'm doing just fine, thanks.

Oh, and the only way you're going to get "hard hitting answers" is if I come over to your house and answer your question in person and then punch you. [Ed - And even then it won't be hard hitting. I hang my head in shame at your insult.]

Q: Jesse - are puppies immune to bullets?
A: Immune to bullets? If by "immune" you mean that they won't die if they ingest a bullet then maybe. I've never known a puppy to eat a bullet and so I don't know what would happy if it did. It would probably just pass it as though it were any other lump of metal. Getting to the probable meaning of your question, I'm reasonably sure that puppies encased in kevlar are impervious to gunfire. Unfortunately a naked puppy is no more immune to bullets than you or I are. Sorry.

Oh, by the way, I know I shouldn't even have to say this, but for the love of God, do NOT try and test this out IN ANY WAY! It will not go well for you. You've been warned.

Q: Jarsh - Will you tell us the next time you go see Mrs. Skanotto?
A: Sure thing. In fact I'll do it right now. The next appearance by mrs. skannotto will be at the Montage Live Music Hall on September 11. This will be Gordo's last performance behind the microphone, so come on out and give him a great last show!

Q: Karyn Graves - How much does a Cake Boss cake cost?
A: The Cake Boss is actually a man named Buddy Valastro. He is the master baker at Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ. Carlos Bakery itself provides the answer here. Basically the cost is between $8 and $18 per person depending on the complexity of the cake. Sadly they do not ship their cakes, which means that if you want one you're going to have to go to New Jersey to collect it. And who would want to go there?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

52 - Answers

[Editor's Note: This is the shortest Ask Mitssob since we've been doing this, and Tim STILL couldn't get it done in less than a week. I'm not sure what's on that man's mind but he definitely ain't right. In fact, I felt so bad for him that I slipped him a bonus question at the last minute to see if I could snap him out of it. Judging from his answers I don't think it worked.]

Q: Sam - are you my mommy?
A: No. First, I am of the wrong gender for this to be even possible. Second, I see from your Jolinko profile that you were born in 1987, making you 8 years younger than me. Therefore I would have had to be sexually active at age 8, which I wasn't. So no, I am not your mommy.

Q: Editor - You've been to see a lot of movies this year. How would you rate them?
A: Wow, when my editor has to submit questions that means it's been a really slow week. But since he signs my paychecks I guess I'll have to answer. [Ed. - Who are you kidding? You don't get paid for this! I know. I'm just hoping that an agent reads this and takes pity on me.]

I've always been a fan of the movies. Back in high school I came up with my own rating system which I've modified a couple times as I've gotten older. It's probably not original, but it's served me well lo these many years. Let me say at the outset that this system is not always a representation on the quality of a movie but rather a statement of how a fan of movies in general should spend their money and time.

Theater - In order to be truly appreciated the movie must be seen in a movie theater. Generally reserved for big-budget action with big-budget special effects.
Rental - A good movie and one that should absolutely be seen, but one that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. This category has grown in recent years with the advent of large widescreen televisions.
Cable - See it when it hits TNT, FX, TBS, or whoever decides to show it first. It's alright, you might be entertained, and the commercials and censorship won't take away from the experience.
Illegal Download - If you simply MUST see this movie then I encourage you to download it illegally so that no one profits from your viewing. The people who made it should not be encouraged to continue making movies of such poor quality.
Don't Bother - As the name implies, don't bother seeing it. In fact, don't waste the bandwidth on the internet to download it. Just move on with your life and be glad that you were not subjected to it.

Below are the movies that I've seen this year in chronological order:

Push - Illegal Download - Alright acting, poor writing, incoherent plot, and an unsatisfying ending. Other than that it was still pretty bad, but if you must see it then don't encourage them to make a sequel. Please.
Watchmen - Rental - A very well done movie with deep characters, great writing, a good story, and great visuals. This is one that I would have given a "Theater" to 5 years ago, but with Blu-Ray and a good widescreen you'll get a more than adequate experience.
Knowing - Rental - A surprisingly deep movie without taking itself too seriously. Nicholas Cage was good, as was the supporting cast. The ending was a little over-the-top but still good.
Fast and Furious - Cable - A direct sequel of The Fast and the Furious, and if you liked that movie then you might like this one. Good action sequences, surprisingly good acting, but overall it was just a predictable mess. It'll be on constant rotation on FX within the next couple months so just wait until then.
I Love You, Man - Rental - A co-worker dragged me to this one and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. There were a few too many awkward moments for my tastes but it was funny, heartfelt, and had good character arcs for everyone involved.
Crank: High Voltage - Illegal Download - I loved the first movie. It was a great chase movie with an over-the-top plot and hilarious acting by Jason Statham and Amy Smart. This movie ranks among the worst sequels I've ever seen. Ever. There are very few redeeming qualities to this film. You've been warned.
Star Trek - Theater - The best movie I've seen this summer. By a quirk of fate I ended up seeing it three times and enjoyed it more each time. The writing, acting, special effects and story were all fantastic. If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend it.
Terminator: Salvation - Rental - Seeing an 8-foot-tall Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike fight with Christian Bale is just one reason to see this movie. Christian Bale does a good job as an adult John Connor, and if you're a fan of the franchise then this movie is worth seeing.
The Taking of Pelham 123 - Rental - Great performances by Denzel Washington and John Travolta combined with a very well written story make for a great movie. Unfortunately the ending is just plain unsatisfying and left me very disappointed.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Theater - This is one of the worst movies I've seen this year. So why do I give it a "Theater" recommendation? Because it is also the best spectacle of the summer. I saw this movie in IMAX and it was glorious. Terrible, but glorious.
Public Enemies - Rental - Johnny Depp carries this movie as far as it can be carried, which ultimately isn't far enough. I like Michael Mann's movies and the gunfights were up to his high standards, but the movie was a little long and dragged on a bit too much.

I've got at least five more movies on my plate this year and I'll report on them as I see them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

51 - Answers

Q: Nate - Where do babies come from?
A: How is it that you've gotten through this much of your life without an answer to this question? Didn't they have health class in Connecticut? Maybe now that you're a married man (and belated congratulations to you and Mrs. D, by the way) you have a need for an answer. Well I'm here to help!

Contrary to popular myth babies do not come via air-lift from a large winged bird. The scientific answer is that babies come from the pairing of sperm and egg, followed by gestation, followed by birth. So how do sperm and egg get together, you ask? That would be through what I will delicately call the "physical act of love" (see also: horizontal mambo, bedroom Olympics, and "I'm Nate D, who the hell are you?"). Hope this helped in some small way.

Q: Matt - I just got over a case of the swine flu. Long story short, my doctor prescribed a 5-day regimen of Tamiflu. It was only 10 pills (2 every day), but the prescription cost $115. Why are prescription drugs so expensive?
A: There are many factors that go into the cost of prescription drugs. During my research I found a very good article put out by the people at PHRMA, which can be read in PDF form here. I learned a few interesting things about the development of drugs, including the fact that only 5 out of every 10,000 potential drugs ever make it to clinical trials, and only 1 out of those 5 ever become drugs. Therefore the cost of the drugs that are produced must make up for those "failed" drugs. Another factor in the cost of drugs are the many layers of regulation that the drug must go through prior to being approved for use by the public.

In the specific case of your prescription for Tamiflu I'm going to blame good-old supply and demand. The outbreak of the Swine Flu earlier this summer had the effect of a major increase in the demand for Tamiflu. As a result supplies grew scarcer, and thus price went up. I don't read anything nefarious into the price increase, though there may in fact be some profit-taking by the drug companies.

Q: Bill - I'm interested to hear how political the answer is.
A: Me too. My editor was a little worried that I'd go overboard with another patented Tim Rant about government and spending and all that nonsense. Luckily for my editor I'm too busy and too tired to go off. Maybe next time.

Q: Bill - I know it's been explained to me before, but I was younger and didn't pay attention: Where did horsepower originate and how is it calculated?
A: The term horsepower was created by James Watt in the late 18th century. His goal was to come up with a way to compare the energy output of steam engines with the energy from draft horses, which are horses used for heavy labor such as farming. The original calculation was done by counting how many times a horse could turn a mill-wheel in an hour. By this method one horsepower is 33,000 foot-pounds of force per minute, or 550 ft-lb/sec. In modern times horsepower is still used as a way to represent the power of piston-based (and other) engines.

Q: Jon - 1 hp = 745.699872 watts
A: You are correct, congratulations.

Q: Matt - Watt's a watt?
A: Yes, a watt is a watt. Thank you for pointing that out to the Ask Mitssob audience. You've done us all a service.

Q: Bridget - I have a question.....Yoohoo....what IS it, and why is it so fucking good?
A: Yoo-hoo is a chocolate beverage originally developed in the 1920s in New Jersey. An even more literal definition of what Yoohoo is can be found below:

Water, dairy whey, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, non-fat ilk, cornsyrup solids, cocoa processed with potassium carbonate, soybean oil (partially hydrogenated), sodium caseinate, salt, tricalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, xanthan gum, guar gum, mono and di glycerides, vanillan, lecithin, calcium ascorbate, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, niacinamide, vitamin D, riboflavin.

Click here for a detailed history of the beverage in question.

As to why it is "so fucking good", that's hard to say. I would say that it's because of the combination of ingredients. Anyone can make chocolate milk, but there are special bottling techniques used in making Yoo-hoo that probably contribute to the taste.

Q: Rob - Why on the Jolinko home page area does it continue to display a single person under the friend finder for me? It alternates between a list of people I don't know, and only one persons icon, yours Tim.
A: Apparently Jolinko is attempting to recommend me as a friend for you, Rob, despite the fact that I'm not sure I've ever met you. Still, Jolinko is all-powerful and all-knowing, so maybe our friendship was meant to be. Who knows?

Q: vanessa - mine is the same way!
A: Well if I'm being recommended to two different people then my plans for world domination must be further along than I thought! I guess I'll have to advance my plans to take over the world's financial system and...

Oh wait, is this thing on? Whoops!

Monday, June 8, 2009

50 - Answers

Q: Vanessa - Which is better? Living in the city/town you work, and driving at LEAST an hour to see any of your friends....OR living where your friends are and commuting to work?
A: This question generated a small debate on Jolinko after you asked it, with three answers standing out:

1. Brett: I would live in Rochester and commute to work in a heartbeat if I was allowed to.
2. Rob: it's an easy decision if you get rid of your friends
3. Eric: i would live in seneca castle and commute to rochester if i could

Of my friends I think that Brett is best qualified to answer this question. He currently lives and works in Seneca Castle and travels up to Rochester (a drive of at least 40 minutes) to see friends and participate in a wide variety of sports. When I asked him which he preferred he echoed his comments on Jolinko, adding that "I'd rather drive home sober than drunk." This is wise advice of the caliber I've come to expect from Brett.

The question of which is "better" depends on the person. If you are a very social person and have many friends then you will likely want to commute to work and live closer to your friends. Personally I would rather commute to work and live near friends. I am lucky enough that I can do both. I have a 20 minute commute to work and live within about a half-hour drive of most of my friends.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Buy a new car or used with an extended warranty?
A: I'm going to tackle this question from a number of different points of view. I'll give my verdict at the end of each section with a "NEW" "USED" or "UNDECIDED".

Economic (initial) - A new car looses a significant percentage of its value the moment it is purchased and driven off the lot. Therefore economically it makes more sense to purchase a used car that has an extended warranty attached to cover any major issues that might hit right away. (USED)

Economic (long-term) - This depends on the reliability of the used car that is purchased. Your caveat of an "extended warranty" (and by the way this is the second notice that the factory warranty on your car may have expired) will catch any major problems with your new used car, but as cars age they develop more problems. The total cost of ownership, in terms of repairs, service, etc. will be higher on average with a used car than with a new car over the same ownership period. (NEW)

Environmental - Old cars, on average, pollute more than new cars. Therefore if you'd like to pollute less you should buy the newest car that you can. (NEW)

Safety - Newer cars have the latest safety measures installed in them. Many of these safety measures are present in used cars as well, but on average newer cars are going to have more safety measures in them than used cars. Still, used cars can be safer than new cars due to increases in the miles-per-gallon requirements for all car manufacturers (better known as CAFE). To make cars that meet these new standards car companies are making lighter cars which are generally less safe than heavy cars. Still, I think that the newer safety features outweigh those detractions. (NEW)

Gas Mileage - Newer cars are going to get better fuel mileage than older cars. Period. (NEW)

Quality - I was initially going to say that you should buy a new car if you want one of the highest quality. But as I thought about it I realized that when you purchase a used car you have the benefit of historical knowledge about that car. Let's say you're interested in buying a used Subaru Legacy station wagon. You can go to sites like Consumer Reports, CarMax, or Kelley Blue Book and get a picture for how reliable that make and model of car will be for a particular year. You may discover that there is a string of years where the quality is above or below average and base your decision on that.

On the other hand, when you buy a used car you are buying someone else's problems. A used car has been, by definition, used by someone else. It probably has quirks to it that a new car will not have. Because of these variables I'll have to go with UNDECIDED.

So the final total is:
NEW: 4

I know that my list is by no means complete. You'll have to decide what weight to apply to each factor behind the purchase. Good luck with your decision.

Q: Jarsh Beckstein - Will "Cash for Clunkers" help GM at all, or just companies with decent hybrid technology(Honda, Ford, Toyota)?
A: The "Cash for Clunkers" program is basically a credit that the government will provide to a person who trades in an old car that gets 18MPG or less for a new, more environmentally friendly car that gets at least 4MPG better than their current car. The credit will go to the dealer who conducts the transaction, and will be between $3500 and $4500 depending on how much of an MPG improvement the new car is compared to the old one. A good FAQ on the program done by USA Today can be found here.

I think that the only way that the "Cash for Clunkers" program can help GM is if the government combines it with incentives to buy GM cars. Now that the government has a 60% ownership stake in GM they have a special incentive to sell GM cars. Combining a tax credit for the purchase of a GM car with the "Cash for Clunkers" trade-in program would be one way to increase sales.

Assuming that the government does not do such a thing I think that the car models that are best helped by this program will be Toyota, Ford, Chevy and Honda. Toyota produces the wildly popular Prius and has several other models that make use of hybrid technology. Ford currently has the Fusion and Escape hybrid cars. The benefit to Chevy will center around the Volt, which has a great deal of hype around it. Honda has been making hybrids for years, and has recently released the new Insight as direct competition with the Prius.

Allow me to take a bit of a detour into a pet peeve of mine. I dislike the idea of the government providing incentives or disincentives for people to do anything. For example, I am opposed to the federal tax rebate for people who buy hybrid and/or electric vehicles. Those vehicles should be allowed to succeed or fail without the government's meddling. Similarly I am opposed to the tax incentives provided for people who buy SUVs and trucks above a certain weight. This was originally designed to help small business people, but as SUVs got larger and larger more and more of them fell into the category. Again, these vehicles should be allowed to succeed or fail in the marketplace without the government choosing. I put the "Cash for Clunkers" idea in the same category as those tax incentives. Whether or not I agree with the sentiment behind the idea (getting old cars off the road in favor of new, greener cars) is not the point. I simply don't think the government should be in the business of engineering the behavior of the citizens.

In the end I don't think that "Cash for Clunkers" will help GM more than any other hybrid-producing car company unless the government provides further incentives for Americans to buy GM.

Q: Todd - So China wants all PC's sold in their country to include software that block porns (see How is that even technically feasible?
A: What China basically wants is for all computers sold in the country to have Internet filter software installed. This software blocks "objectionable" content on the Internet. Why do I put "objectionable" in quotes? For many years China has been controlling the flow of the Internet to its citizens. (A very detailed article on the subject can be found here.) Until now they've been using ISP-based filters that block access to websites to all citizens. In my opinion this new requirement is just another way for the Chinese government to exercise control over what its population sees on the Internet. The notion is to block pornography, but the same technology can be used to block access to any site that the government doesn't want people to see. I understand the desire for this kind of software, especially for people with young children. But there is a difference between a parent blocking websites for their children and a government blocking websites for its citizens.

To answer your larger question as to how this is possible, there are many different Internet filters available to the public. One site with good explanations is, and a basic description of how they work can be found here.

There are basically three kinds of Internet filters:
1. Blacklist - Websites that are on a "bad" list are blocked.
2. Keyword - Looks for certain keywords on a web site and blocks access to that site if the keywords are found. [Ed - Didn't this site fall victim to this kind of filter once? Yup, Sarah told me that her computer at work blocked me as "objectionable" after my answers to Barn's question about the legalization of marijuana.]
3. Whitelist - Websites that are not on an approved list are blocked.

For a review of a large collection of Internet filter software you can go here.