The Answer Guy: No Question Too Arcane

(The Answer Guy takes pride in answering your questions about all the nooks and crannies of life. We don’t bother with the big picture. No question is too small or arcane for The Answer Guy!)


Dear Answer Guy: What are those two little holes in the prongs of electric plugs?

Dear Reader: So funny you asked that! I was wondering the same thing myself, so I looked it up. Turns out that the receptacle for those plugs have little bumps that settle into the prong holes, ensuring a tight fit and keeping the plug from slipping out accidentally. Good question!

Dear Answer Guy: I’ve been a baseball fan for 65 years, ever since my dad took me to a game on my second birthday (it was a Cubs game and they lost). I can’t figure out what the young kids today are doing wearing those flat-brimmed baseball caps. I used to curve the bill in my caps by wrapping them around a baseball. The kids today look like they’re wearing plates. And they don’t take the manufacturer’s sticker off the brim! What gives?

Dear Reader: It saddens me to say that this trend started out as a crime. That’s right. It may be politically incorrect to say but back in the day, about 20 years ago, when gangsta rap was just starting out, guys would go into stores and walk out with hats without paying. They kept the brims flat and the stickers on as a sort of trophy. As often happens in American life, what starts out as a transgression often becomes part of mainstream culture, sort of like Donald Trump. You know what they say about ugly buildings and prostitutes — they become respectable if they last long enough! But not to worry, my spies tell me the curved brim is making a comeback. Kendrick Lamar has been spotted wearing one!

Dear Answer Guy: Why is gasoline priced in 1/10 of a penny?

Dear Reader: The answer is shocking. It dates back to 80 years ago when a one-cent change in the price of gas was a big jump and fuel dispensers had become sophisticated enough to measure out precise volumes. The shocking part, of course, is that at one time gas was so cheap that a one-cent jump was a big deal! But it’s also shocking that the industry still hangs on to this practice. A better alternative would be for gas stations to post a breakdown of the costs that go into a gallon of gas, including state, local and federal taxes. But I also wish that Santa Claus was real.

Dear Answer Guy: The other day, President Biden gave a speech about his tax plan and he said he was tired of “billionaires and trillionaires.” How many trillionaires are there, and who are they? How can I become one?

Dear Reader: There are no trillionaires. In fact, as I write this, Word is flagging trillionaire as a misspelling. The richest person in the world is Jeff Bezos and his estimated net worth is $177 billion, more than $800 billion less than $1 trillion. You didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway: I don’t know how President Biden came up with this idea about trillionaires. Maybe he figures it will get people angry enough to support his gigantic tax package. Or maybe it was a typo on the teleprompter. As to your last question of how you can become one, I have two words for you: quantum computing.

Dear Answer Guy: Why do some people drive in the passing lane in the freeway all the time? Don’t they know it’s supposed to be just for passing?

Dear Reader: Well, as H.L. Mencken once said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” Some people just don’t know what they’re doing, especially people who do the speed limit in the passing lane. This is a frequent catalyst for the phenomenon we now identify as road rage, which Mencken also foresaw when he said, “Every normal person must be tempted, at times, to spit on their hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” Of course, I must here acknowledge the band Phish for trying to resolve this source of anger and conflict on America’s freeways. On the eve of Y2K, during their New Year’s Eve show, front man Trey Anastasio had this to say: “I want to send a message of peace and love in the 21st century, a simple message that will keep everyone happy. Please remember the right lane is for traveling and the left lane is for passing. Stay in the right lane unless you are passing, and let’s have some peace and harmony in the 21st century. Thank you.”

Dear Answer Guy: I’m 55 years old and starting to feel my age a little. I’m 5’9” and 210 pounds and looking for love. I still have all my hair and recently put on a goatee, which I think makes me sorta cool. I’m wondering how you feel about skinny jeans. Would they make me look hipper and younger?

Dear Reader: No.

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