How Pants Work
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How Pants Work

Straight Answers to Some Popular Rhetorical Riddles

The kind your aunt forwards to you. Because they’re “hilarious.”

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

Of course, but only if the parsley farmer is ordered to pay money damages to the plaintiff and the parsley farmer, as judgment debtor, in fact receives monetary compensation from a third party (which is unlikely, as a matter of fact, farmers typically being sole proprietors/independent contractors, not employees). Note that in four U.S. states — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas — wage garnishment is not permitted except in a few very narrowly defined circumstances.

Is there another word for synonym?

There are several, including alternate, alternative, equivalent, euphemism, and substitute, and that’s just in English.

Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

This is a deceptively complicated question, in part because of wide variation in the definition of “vegetarian.” A simple answer might be: Yes, if those crackers contain no animal meat, rennet, or gelatin (assuming that the person avoids consuming only the by-products of animal slaughter; a vegan would not eat animal crackers made with eggs or milk or tested on animals before marketing).

If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?

Only if the police intend to question the mime. Contrary to popular belief (perpetuated in large by inaccurate portrayals of police work in movies and on television), an arresting authority is not required to advise an arrestee of his or her Miranda rights upon arrest. Rather, the advice (mandated by the seminal case of Miranda v. Arizona) that one has the right to remain silent and the right to have legal counsel must be given before any interrogation (to protect the suspect from unwitting self-incrimination or admissions), but not before mere detention.

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

Wrapped bread. This is a fact: The hyperbolic expression “the greatest thing since sliced bread” derives from an 1928 advertising slogan that described sliced bread as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.”

If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?

Probably not. Hunger is the feeling experienced when one needs to eat food (as distinguishable from appetite, being the desire to eat). Feeling hungry is the result of one’s hypothalamus releasing hormones that target receptors in the liver. The fluctuation of leptin and ghrelin levels results in motivation of a living organism to eat food. When the organism does eat, adipocytes trigger the release of leptin, increasing levels of which results in a reduction of one’s hunger.

Whose cruel idea was it for the word ‘lisp’ to have ‘s’ in it?

In a way, it was the first lispers themselves. Or it was the English. The word “lisp” comes from the Old English “wlisp” (an adjective meaning stammering). Wlisp is of imitative origin — that is, whoever first coined the term did so intending to imitate the way a lisping person spoke. If this seems counterintuitive, consider that there are four kinds of lisp recognized (by those who recognize types of lisp): interdental; lateral; dentalized; and palatal… and it is possible that the stammerer who inspired the word “wlisp” did not have trouble pronouncing the sound of the letter s properly.

Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?

Sour cream is sour, but it is not spoiled — just as a lemon is sour even when it is ripe and not yet rotten. Sour cream is not fully fermented, and therefore must be refrigerated. Food authorities, such as the USDA, advise that sour cream with visible mold should be discarded, as it may be contaminated below the surface and could contain dangerous mycotoxins. Like other dairy products, sour cream is typically sold with an expiration date stamped on the container; whether this is a “sell by,” “best by,” or “use by” date varies with local regulation.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

Then all questions would concern only actual circumstances existing at the time of the posing of each respective question, and both science fiction and law school examinations would become things of the past.

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

You have succeeded… by failing… so you have failed. Oh, I see what you did there.

Originally published at www.mcsweeneys.net.

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Matthew David Brozik

Matthew David Brozik

Novelist. Copywriter. Lawyer. Lone punman. Visit imdb.name