We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files


Thank you for agreeing to participate in our user survey. You be the user part. By doing so you get the chance to win up to five thousand dollars in slightly worn gift cards. It should be noted that, according to a free-market hypothesis-endorsing economist who broke into our offices and is holding a sharpened blackboard pointy stick with the rubber tip shaved off at us, if it were actually possible to win a big cash prize in this survey someone would have already won it before you did. We have no explanation for this phenomenon.

  1. How would you rate your customer experience with us?
    1. I would use a scale of one to ten.
    2. I would use a scale of one to five.
    3. I would use a Pareto chart if these actually existed and were not attempts to cover up having heard the words “parrot chart” incorrectly, possibly as part of song lyrics.
    4. I would use a series of allusions and metaphors.
    5. Maybe hand puppets?
    6. I would use a simple thumb-up/thumb-down.
    7. I am not so judgemental as that and if you were sensible you would not be either.
    8. Open-ended Richter scale or bust.
  2. Which parts of routine maintenance have you performed on or against your product to date?

    1. I have meant to clean it after every use. And have done so exactly once. While doing so I lost the cloth rag to go along with it.
    2. I have dusted it once when company was coming over, and then another time when I thought I would get everything under control by putting in ten minutes every day to dusting, only to learn later on that “dusting” traditionally means “removing dust”.
    3. On four separate occasions I have hit it on the side, and only on the third was this followed by the sound of plastic shards slipping off and falling deep into the interior.
    4. The product was a vending machine ice cream cone.
    5. While the product was a vending machine ice cream cone I found it needed to be rebooted from a recovery flash drive, and then I had to spend twenty minutes downloading updates. The ice cream was a gelatinous goo. This is not to say it was bad.
  3. How do you indicate that you should not presently be taken seriously?

    1. I have heard of your Earth concept of “serious” and it fascinates me. Tell me more.
    2. I have spoken of “sheeple”.
    3. I say things like “I have heard of your Earth concept of “serious” and it fascinates me. Tell me more.”
    4. I have never been not taken seriously except by accident when I meant it, and good luck figuring that out.
    5. Have you taken a good look at me, ever?
    6. I bring every conversation around to how there is a Big Brown Bat, and it is one of of the microbats. I mean the American Big Brown Bat, not the Asian Big Brown Bat, which I don’t know whether is a microbat or not but is smaller than the Big Brown Bat that is a microbat. I can come in again.
  4. Which body parts has your use of our product lead you to conclude are funny to mention?

    1. Spleen.
    2. Inguinal ligament.
    3. Monoclonal antibodies.
    4. h3 tags.
    5. Tenocytes.
    6. Pelvic brim.
    7. Hipster’s metatarsals.
    8. Fingernails.
    9. Galloping protease.
  5. What logical fallacies have you developed while using this product?

    1. I’ve used “affirming the consequence” with a side of “continuum fallacy”.
    2. I remind people anytime any study anywhere finds a link between two things that “correlation does not imply causation”, and therefore do not connect this habit to how people don’t talk with me anymore.
    3. I never use fallacies, but I do stand off to the side waiting for people to say they are “begging the question” when they mean to invite a question, which has nothing to do with how people only talk in a resigned, exhausted voice around me anymore.
    4. I want to say “modus ponens”, which I’m not sure is a logical fallacy, but which is a lot of fun to say and has few applications, unless you are discussing logic or are poorly translating it into “The Mode Of Ponies” to get people talking to you about that.
    5. I am still working through a 24-pack of logical fallacies picked up in the past, and have not even opened up the box of quantificational fallacies in the pantry.

Thank you for your valued contributions to whatever it is we are really up to, which you do not really want to think about. Contest winners should they exist will be notified. Send help, the economist won’t leave.

What’s That?


A thing to understand about my area of mid-Michigan is that there are sandwich shop chains. Particularly there are two sandwich shop chains with a New Jersey theme. There are good reasons for this. If you know them please submit them in writing care of an office. These events happened while I was eating lunch in one of them.

There was a kid sitting at the table next to mine. Well, sitting in the way that a young kid does, which is, hovering around the table and hopping onto and off of the chairs and putting her chin on the back of a chair and then calling out to an adult who existed somewhere about the prospect of having a cookie. She didn’t talk about the “prospect” of a cookie. That’s me putting words into her mouth, as she only had the promise of a future cookie. I’m not sure how old she was. Once they’re old enough to stand up reliably all kids look to me like they’re either four, ten, or sixteen. This kid was at the four-year-old level.

I wasn’t worried about the kid. Whatever she was up to, it wasn’t my fault, and the worst that you can really do at that age in a sandwich shop is spill your soda. She didn’t have a soda, so she must have got around to spilling it before I even got in. And then suddenly she asked me, “What’s that?”

I would have been happy to know what what she wanted the that to. I’m sorry, I feel seasick and have to lie down a bit. Okay, I’m back. I guessed she was pointing to the picture on the wall and tried to explain it was a woman sunbathing. This seemed to satisfy the kid so I thought, great! I’ve had my unplanned interaction with a stranger for the week. Now I don’t have to talk to anybody anymore. On later examination it turns out to be a picture of a woman on a sailboat.

“What’s that?” asked the kid again, pointing at about the same spot. I tried to follow her finger and guessed maybe she meant what the woman who was not sunbathing was part of. It’s a replica of one of those “Welcome To ____” postcards. This seemed like a vast conceptual universe to get across to a kid. I did my best: “It’s a picture of Point Pleasant. That’s a town on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a neat place. They used to have a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster and a beautiful merry-go-round there.” I was bluffing. But, like, it’s a Jersey Shore town. If they didn’t have a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and a merry-go-round they weren’t even trying. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Jenkinson’s Boardwalk! No, that’s in Point Pleasant Beach, a technically different borough in the same part of the Barnegat Peninsula. The kid was very interested in all this right up until I started answering. Still, she seemed satisfied so the world was all in order.

“What’s that?” the kid then asked again and I was running out of things to that about. My book? “It’s a book about Popeye,” I said and hoped that the kid would not be at all interested. I mean, I’d love for someone not-old to be interested in Popeye. But the book had a collection of strips from the 30s and 40s. And in those days comic strips had about eighteen panels each weekday, none of them with fewer than 600 words per panel. If the kid had any idea I was looking at comics she might want to read along and I won’t live long enough for that. But I could at least give an answer and hope that satisfied.

“What’s that?” she asked again. And I gave up. And now I must face knowing that, for all I think of myself as a self-confident and self-assured person, any four-year-old kid can break me with one question repeated four times. Maybe five if I wasn’t quite listening to start with. “What’s what?” I asked back and the kid wasn’t intersted in whatever I had to say.

She perhaps felt she had triumphed. She did not ask me “What’s that?” again. Instead she sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. When she reached the end, I told her, “That’s a very nice song. Did you make it up?” She didn’t dignify me with an answer. Fair enough although I’m like 85% sure my niece would have let me get away with asking that when she was four years old. I was honestly intending to give her the chance to call me silly for thinking she had made that up, or let her get away with saying she had. She’s the one who out-thought me entirely.

So I have to credit the sandwich shop kid for handily winning whatever social game she was playing with me. I’m completely defeated and I might never be allowed to buy a sandwich from anyone ever again.

A Question I’m Not Able To Answer


I’m sorry to go back to the dream-well so often but there’ve been a bunch of updates recently. So, suppose I have some vaguely related young kid, the kind that’s at the age where he communicates mostly with enthusiastic shouts or muttered words barely coaxed out. I admit that’s kind of how I talk too, although without the enthusiasm, because I got over enthusiasm when I was in college. Anyway, the kid’s question is, “if I had a brother how would I know which to choose?” It’s important enough to be repeated until I give an answer. And I don’t want to put any pressure on you all but I kind of get the sense that if I give the wrong answer the world may end. So, you know, any advice you’ve got, I’ll consider, but if it does end the world I’m naming sources.

And This Week’s Question


Bit of overhead first. There was a mathematical comics roundup on my other blog back on the 4th, and if that wasn’t enough, another one on the 7th. Sorry to just get around to mentioning this now, but you know how stuff backs up.

Otherwise. Well. I’ve seen several little essays mentioning how important it is for a blogger to encourage reader interaction and engagement, and that as an author I have to go out looking for it when it doesn’t spring up naturally. These essays seem trustworthy, what with their being grammatically correct and getting over 184 comments each. So I want to try directly asking you readers something and giving space for answers and that hoping this doesn’t leave everyone feeling awkward instead.

The question foremost in my mind, though, probably only makes sense to people of my generational cohort and possibly only in the United States, although I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if it were understood in Canada and the United Kingdom. Maybe I’m wrong and readers in, say, Belarus will know what I’m talking about. It’s just I know how silly it is an attempt at reaching out to the readers is probably going to exclude some and I can’t help that.

Anyway, here goes. When you were a kid, did you just assume that Peak Freans would be around when you were a grown-up as planned, or did you take measures to assure they would be? If not, why?

I just know I’m going about this all wrong.

Mandrake Gets More So; Also, Math Comics


Last time I had a bunch of mathematics comics to show off I mentioned how Mandrake’s father was being depicted as seeing by his supernatural powers strange worlds where caterpillar-creatures listen to the radio over earphones headsets. I’ve got a fresh batch of mathematics comics to talk about over on that appropriate blog and so I want to point again at Mandrake, as run on the 24th of December this year, and just ask you the question:

Mandrake the Magician's father seems to see alien robots with a six-legged dog.
Fred Fredricks’ Mandrake the Magician rerun the 24th of December 2014: Mandrake’s father describes alien life.

Does that alien robot have dreadlocks?

It’s easy to ask why the alien robot has dreadlocks, although asking it answers the question. We’re almost forced to ask why any alien robots wouldn’t have dreadlocks. I think the bigger question is how does the alien robot have dreadlocks, but that’s only longer if you use certain variable-width typefaces which kern the ‘h’ and ‘y’ together a bit tightly. The real question is why the alien robot dog has six legs when the alien robots seem to have only four limbs, although I bet it’s one of those “why does Goofy walk on two legs while Pluto walks on four if they’re both dogs” kinds of questions.

Not Because They Were Eaten, That Would Be Silly


Why look at unimportant questions? Because it’s possible the reasons they’re unimportant might be important. So here are some.

  1. Why aren’t artichokes? Artichokes are, so the question is pointless.
  2. Are you enjoying sofa work? This question is irrelevant to everyone who is not furniture, and the task of being furniture has been almost completely automated thanks to the modern steam-powered couch. It thus lacks the general application or consequences needed to be important.
  3. Why aren’t there people with purple or green skin? The only role served by purple- or green-skinned people is to allow persons to insist they aren’t racist because of how eagerly they would hire or even, if absolutely unavoidable, befriend people who are like the people they don’t hire or befriend except for not existing. This role is sad and depressing, so we rule it out as an important question because we don’t like being saddened and depressed by questions.
  4. With hamsters upon the rock-rimmed ride? This isn’t even a question at all, despite a valiant effort to give it the shape of one. Thus, it can’t possibly be an important question. It’s barely even a sentence, although that alliterative r stuff at the end makes it enough fun to bother looking at.