Ask Alex - January 6, 2017
Welcome to the first ever "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
Submitted by: Harry Bergeron (2 Questions)
In what State was the "49th State Record Company" located?
TBH I already know, but I want you to be able to win some bar bets with Alaskans who know that Alaska is the 49th State.
Someday, someone will win thousands of dollars in a major global trivia contest by answering the question “Who submitted the first ever ‘Ask Alex’ question?” So, just in case that is going to be you, take note of Mr. Bergeron’s name.
The answer, for those who are too lazy to Google, is Hawaii. This is somewhat confusing, since Alaska (1/3/1959) is the 49th state, and Hawaii (8/21/1959) is the 50th. As the label was founded in 1944, 15 years before statehood, record store owner George Ching and producer Johnny Almeida were doing a little bit of projecting when they named their record label. They were either anticipating statehood ahead of Alaska, or making a political statement in support of eventual statehood. There is no word on whether or not this confusion contributed to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
As far as winning bar bets from Alaskans, I appreciate the sentiment but will probably try to avoid that. A very wise friend from Washington once told me “Everyone I ever met who was going to Alaska was running away from something.” The obvious exception to my fear of Alaskans, of course, is Merry Christmas Kathryn Raindrop Brown, my very favorite Alaskan. #TeamRainy.
You know what you are going to learn, though? Some really useless shit about flags. First of all, stars are added to the flag on the July 4th immediately after a new state is admitted to the Union. As such, on July 4th, 1959, the US commissioned a 49 star flag, which flew for exactly one year (albeit a 366 day year) until Hawaii’s star was added on July 4th, 1960. Also worth noting: old flags are never retired and can be flown over any official US building or event in perpetuity, even after they are no longer the most current version.
So, if you really, really hate Hawaiians, you can fly a 49 star flag to register your protest at their admission to the Union. But why do you hate Hawaiians? Have you never met @mel_lific? If you haven’t, you should because she’s awesome. If you are a vexillophile, however, you can buy a 49 Star US Flag (with seven rows of seven stars instead of the staggered rows of 5 and 6 stars) for about $200, though.
Speaking of those stars, there have been at least 44 “official” US flags, with the stars arranged in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and patterns. All but two of them, however, have 13 stripes for the 13 original colonies (proposal: one extra electoral vote for every stripe on the flag!). The exceptions were two versions created in 1795 and used for 23 years after Vermont and Kentucky were admitted as the 14th and 15th states. When the next five states were added in 1817-18 (Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee), we went back to a 13 stripe flag, thereby de-striping the Green Mountain and Bluegrass Folk.
Suck it, Vermont and Kentucky!
Why can’t we get real sarsaparilla anymore? Without it, @molratty is doomed to that imitation root beer she favors?
First of all, I would have sworn up and down that it was “SASparilla”, but the word is in fact “SARSaparilla” (never mind that this sounds like some kind of music festival celebrating avian bird flu.)
Second, I think that sarsaparilla lost much of its appeal when cowboys discovered that it is not, in fact, a cure for venereal disease.
I do, however, have some great news…you can, in fact, get sarsaparilla from a moderate number of US-based microbreweries, including from the Maine Root Soda company, which I have personally tasted and can confirm that it tastes exactly like dusty tumbleweed and boomtown prostitutes.
Submitted by: @LunaticRex
If a canoe rolled into your back yard and all six wheels fell off, how many pancakes would it take to build a dog house?
Oh, someone brought a wise guy, did they? Well, jokes on you, Rex…I don’t even have a backyard!!!
This did get me thinking, though, about building a dog hour out of pancakes. First, it is probably worth noting that pancakes make a very poor building material. I mean, I will defer to the engineers in the building (looking at you, BrownSkin) but it doesn’t seem like pancakes have a very good weight/strength ratio, they don’t act predictably, they have no ability to stand up to even the slightest bit of moisture and they will be summarily consumed by a wide variety of wild animals, including both children and the dog we are trying to house.
That said: here is how I would do it. My basic method of constriction would be to use the pancakes like flat bricks, laying down a row of them on the ground, and then a second row on top of them, staggered to increase the structural integrity. We’re going to lay the dog house directly on the ground…so, no need for a floor. From there, I’d just keep stacking until we are at the right height. I feel like the size we want to work with is about 3 inches in diameter. Larger pancakes make for easier building, but they are also wasteful…since the walls will be as thick as the pancakes.
A standard dog house with a single door and a peaked roof (as in: the very first one that I found when I googled “How big is a dog house”) is about 36 inches deep, 36 inches tall and 30 inches wide. We’re going to aim for that size, just for argument’s sake. I am going to make an unsupported but seemingly reasonable estimate that the side walls will be about 20 inches tall, and the roof will rise to the 36 inch peak from there. Ergo, our two side walls will each be 20x36 (720 sq. in.), and our front and back walls will, geometrically, consist of a 20x30 square with a 20x16 triangle on top (760 sq. in.)
We’re going to make the batter pretty thick to make denser, thicker pancakes, which I think will come off the griddle about half an inch thick and will compress to ¼ inch when stacked (the truth is that the ones on the bottom will be thinner and the ones on the top thicker, but for the purposes of this inane exercise, just assume they are all ¼ inch thick). Also, @molratty, how do you make thick pancakes? Is it just less water or milk in the batter? I am assuming you know…
Anyway, that gives us a pancake with a profile of ¾ sq in. If we need to produce 1,480 square inches of walls, then we are going to need 1,973.33 pancakes. BUT WAIT!!! There’s a door in the front wall, which, if we make the door 18x16, eliminates the need for 384 of those pancakes. So, with absolutely zero waste, you can build the walls with 1,589.33 pancakes.
We still have a roof to build, which my Pythagorean Theorem tells me will need to be 21.932 inches tall (and 36 inches wide per the depth of the house). We will want some overhang, though, so we are going to build them 26x40, which will require another 1,386.67 pancakes each.
Leaving out the obvious problems of constructing pancakes in a manner that will both maintain its wall-like structural integrity when mounted at a slightly-greater-than 45 degree angle AND not collapse the frame of the dog house, we’ve now reached a grand total of 4,362.66 pancakes. There will be some waste, however, so I would like to build in a 10% allowance for half-pancakes, broken pancakes and, of course, snacks. Rounding up by about one pancake, that gets us to 4,800 pancakes.
And there is your answer. Now, a question…how much will it weigh?
Submitted by: @danieltobin
Need an opinion on this: Feminists knit “Pussy Hats” for the anti-Trump march on Washington
Summary: in an effort to bring further attention to the fact that our newly elected President basically hates women, some well-meaning but apparently humorless feminists have crocheted hats with cat ears. I’m sure that they think of this as an amazingly sharp and original way to criticize Donald Trump, and surely he will be oh-so-shamed by their witty critique.
There are, however, a couple of problems. First, searching Amazon for “pink cat ears hat” returns four thousand four hundred and forty results. They haven’t invented an edgy and shocking “pussy hat”, they’ve added one more to a long line of existing hat products. Turns out that pink hats with cat ears are a wildly popular article of clothing for young girls.
I’m going to stop here and point out just one for you, because it is the most adorable thing I have seen all day. If you’re looking to send me a late Christmas present, look no further. That will let you troll the President-elect AND KEEP YOUR HANDS WARM!!! Without having to worry about where your mittens are!
Second, it is a lame message. “My pink kitty cat ears mean I don’t like Trump?” Come on, ladies, if you want to make a statement, make an actual statement. Wear a real pussy hat. Also, punch that guy in the face if you see him, because holy shit is that creepy.
More to the point, the whole idea of trying to insult someone is to hit them in a place that really hurts them. And with Mr. Trump, there isn’t a shred of evidence that his well-documented dislike of women is at all a sensitive subject with the orange one. In fact, as a fat old guy sporting a ridiculously hot younger wife, he probably feels good about the way he treats women.
No, the way to get under Trump’s skin is to hit him where it hurts. Point out his demonstrably small hands. Note that, by any objective standard, he is shitty real estate developer. Or, take note of the one thing that he has confirmed is his most sensitive personal area: suggesting that he isn’t as rich as he says he is. In a world full of rich people who fudge their wealth downwards to minimize estate and gift taxes, this buffoon insists on puffing his upwards for the sole purpose of…well, I don’t actually even know.
Here then, is your free advice. You want to really irritate Cheeto Jesus? Start working on some T-shirt slogans like:
Submitted by: BrownSkin
Who drew the "line" that people cross and why is it so hard for them to see it until after they've crossed it?
It has been my experience that the line is usually drawn by the guy who brought the coke, or at least the guy who has the mirror and the razor blades.
And the reason they can’t see it is pretty obvious…it’s under their nose.
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Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.