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Miscellaneous Questions

Most Recent 15 Questions Answered

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Question 1:

How is it that "how come" came to mean "why"? How come?

Answer :

Dear Grammatical Nuance Galore
QB was astounded by your question, because QB had never thought about this query before! After all, words that people say every day are most likely the ones that are probably the least questioned by the speakers (and the least changed over time: just try reading some Anglo-Saxon poetry). But lucky for you, QB is willing to delve into the weird world of commonly used words, and figure out just how come “how come” has come to mean why.

QB decided that before doing any research at all, a definition was needed. After all, it’s hard to research the history of a word without knowing precisely what it means! And lucky for you, University of Illinois has access to the full Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which puts “how come” as the 19th listed definition under “how.”

From the OED, QB learned that “how come” is a colloquial phrase--a phrase not generally used in literary or formal circumstances. The first definition of “how come” reads “how did (or does) it come about (that)?” Not that helpful in answering your question…
But the OED also lists quotations from as far back as the first use of the word or phrase, and that sparked QB’s attention. After all, what’s better than a definition from the 1800s? And that brings QB to The Dictionary of Americanisms, accessible via HathiTrust. J.R. Bartlett defines "how come" as "How-come? Rapidly pronounced huc-cum, in Virginia. Doubtless an English phrase, brought over by the original settlers… The meaning is, How did what you tell me happen? How came it?" So QB has at least knows that the Americans thought that "how come" was an English phrase…
After some more serious searching, QB could find very little. The one thing that every dictionary appears to agree on is that the first instance of "how come" as a phrase was in 1848 and that it may or may not be connected to the phrase "how does/did it happen that." Unfortunately, it appears that QB wasn’t the only one surprised by your interest in a common, colloquial phrase. It appears that very few people are! But QB can at least clear up one grammatical nuance floating in your question: "how come" does differ from "why." When writing a why statement, such as "Why didn’t you marry?" the word "didn’t" comes before the subject, "you." In the "how come" statement, "How come you didn’t get married?" the subject will always come first.

Awaiting a question about middle English,

Sources :

"how come." The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2013. www.oed.com. Web. 30 Aug. 2013
Bartlett, John Russell. The Dictionary of Americanisms. Cambridge: Allan and Farnham, 1859. Print.
"How Come." - Wiktionary. Wikimedia, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2013.

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Question 2:

What is twerking? Why do people dance like that?

Answer :

Dear Just Gotta Dance,

Being an inanimate object affixed on the wall of the UGL, QB has not joined in on the recent dance craze called "twerking." However, because walls seem to be involved in an advanced display of this raunchy romp, and QB is, in fact, affixed to a wall, QB has a vested interest in discovering the answer to your question.

In an effort to answer your query, QB turned to the Oxford Dictionary Online, which can be found in the library’s reference collection. The ODO just added the verb "to twerk" in August 2013 due to the recent popularity of this bodacious boogie--just in time for QB to answer your question. According to the ODO, "twerk" means to "dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance." The recent addition of this definition caused quite a stir; when reported, newspapers and media outlets were not clear as to which one of the Oxford Dictionaries the verb "twerk" was added. But never fear. Language elitists may rest at ease--the verb "twerk" was actually added to the Oxford Dictionary Online, from which words may be easily added or deleted. This is in contrast to the Oxford English Dictionary, the leading and comprehensive authority on the English language, from which words are never deleted. In either case, no one is quite sure where the word "twerk" originated from, although there is speculation that it is a combination of "twist" and "jerk" or "work"--the best of both worlds, some might say.

So, why do people dance like that? In the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History, QB discovered that dance has long been considered a form of courtship and sexual expression for young people, fraught with controversy. Even the waltz was considered scandalous at its inception and "attracted considerable comment owing to the unprecedented physical intimacy it permitted the dancing couple." Although twerking has only recently come to the forefront of popular culture, QB discovered that the dance has its root in the mapouka, a sexually provocative dance popular in the Ivory Coast during the early 90s. Although this dance was banned from television in 1998 due to its sexually explicit nature, the similarities to today’s "twerking" are undeniable. Twerking came to party in the USA in 1993; the first documented use of the word is credited to DJ Jubilee in his song "Do the Jubliee All," in which he instructs listeners to 'twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk." Beyonce popularized the term in her 2006 hit "Check On It," featured on the Pink Panther soundtrack, when she enticed her audience to "dip it, pop it, twerk it, stop it." Most recently, the dance has been adopted by Miley Cyrus, who can be seen twerking…well, basically anywhere.

If your urge to twerk just can’t be tamed and you want to join in on the fun, whether in public or in your dorm room, QB requests that you practice safe twerking. Just ask Jimmy Kimmel--unsafe twerking can lead to being set on fire.

Back, Back, Backing it up,


Sources :

Newman, Sally. Ian Merrilees. Lana Thompson. "D." The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History, Volume 5: The Nineteenth Century. Ed. Susan Mumm. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2007. ABC-CLIO eBook Collection. Web. 19 Sep 2013.

Onishi, Norimitsu. "Dance has Africans shaking behinds, and heads." New York Times 28 May 2000: 4. Academic OneFile. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.

Stein, Joshua David. "Twerking, A User's Guide." New York 46.25 (2013): 38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.

"twerk". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 19 September 2013. .

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Question 3:

What are my chances of marrying the Royal Baby?

Answer :

Dear wannabe royalty,

QB was wondering the same thing! But, being a board, QB probably doesn’t have much of a chance of wedding the young prince, handsome though QB may be.

But perhaps QB should back up just a second. Baby George isn’t the only royal babe around. Are you indeed referring to the newly snuggled Prince George of England, born July 22, 2013? Or perhaps you pine after adorable and gorgeous Princess Estelle of Sweden, born February 23, 2012. Or maybe even one--or both--of the beautifully swaddled twins Princess Josephine and Prince Vincent of Denmark, born January 8, 2011. Or the stunningly gorgeous Muneerah Madhul, who being born on January 2, 2011, was a New Year’s present to the Crown Prince of Brunei and his wife.

But, given that you asked your question just days before baby Prince George Alexander Louis was born, QB assumes you mean Prince George, who is set to inherit quite a large kingdom. So, to address your question, QB has to take some factors into consideration. Firstly, QB assumes that you are, in fact, a commoner. This presents somewhat of a problem, although not one that the British Royalty hasn’t tackled before. Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, born in 1819 faced an arranged marriage he wanted nothing to do with…so he married for love! His wife, Sarah Louisa Fairbrother, nicknamed Mrs. FitzGeorge, was a commoner and beautiful dancer and was said to be very graceful--but George’s family didn’t care about her wonderful qualities. His marriage wasn’t recognized, and his children were not granted titles. Not good news for you!

Edward VIII, uncle of the current Queen Elizabeth II, faced a similar problem in his love-life. After taking the throne he fell in love with a commoner, and wanted to marry her. He told his family and the Parliament…who forced him to abdicate the throne, although he was given the title Duke of Winsor. So, if your goal is simply to marry young Prince George and not care about the throne, your chances are slightly higher!

The good news lies with little Prince George’s own father, Prince William. Prince William married Catherine Middleton, called Kate, who was, in fact, a commoner! In this case, the marriage was approved, and she was given the title of Duchess of Cambridge, and her son, of course, is now third in line for the throne, after his father and grandfather. So there is some good news!

Now for the really devastating part of QB’s answer. You’re 1 person in over 7,000,000,000 people. QB is going to go ahead and use 7 billion, just for a nice round number. Thanks to the recent law in Britain allowing same-sex marriage, QB doesn’t have to divide anything in half, and can get right down to doing some percentages. Your chance of marrying the Royal Baby of England, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, third in line for the British throne is 1.4286*10^-10. That’s a LOT of zeros before any numbers…but there is a chance!

Best of luck in your wooing pursuits,
The Royalty of The UGL,

Sources :

"Edward VIII." The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Credo Reference. Web. 21 August 2013.

"The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall." The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Name Their Baby. N.p., 24 July 2013. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Adil, Yusra. "Top 10 Recent Royal Births." Rich Income Ways. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Brown, Raymond. "Royal Baby Named as Prince George of Cambridge." Cambridge News. Cambridge Newspapers, 24 July 2013. Web. 21 Aug. 2013.

Edward M. Spiers, ‘George, Prince, second duke of Cambridge (1819--1904)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33372, accessed 21 Aug 2013]

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Question 4:

How would you propose in Europe?

Answer :

Dear Ready for More,
Your question caused quite a conundrum because as a board, though QB loves all those who come calling to the lower level of the UGL, that love is in the spirit of friendship and intellectual exploration, rather than romance. But of course QB is happy to help answer your question about proposing in Europe. The way your question is phrased could mean several different things: For one, you may be interested in the traditions of different European cultures when it comes to asking for a person’s hand in marriage. On the other hand, perhaps you are inquiring about a specific place in Europe that may be ideal for popping the question.

To address the first possibility, QB had quite the task. There are a lot of countries in Europe, and that makes for a wide variety of courting and marriage rituals. You could consider early 19th century practices of asking your intended’s father for her hand in marriage, which, according to the Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality (available in the Library’s Online Reference Collection) was then often proceeded by financial negotiations to ensure the security of the bride and future children should the husband die first. However, QB realizes the thought of bartering with your future fiancé’s father over money is a bit objectionable to people today. Another courting tradition in Europe, and one that is not as dated, comes from Ireland. As described in the book Marriage Customs of the World, during a Leap Year, and more specifically, on Leap Day, a woman can break with tradition and ask for her man’s hand in marriage. For a funny, romantic take on this tradition, consider checking out the movie Leap Year, which you can find by searching the Library’s online catalog. If you’re interested in learning about more marriage traditions in Europe and other parts of the world, the book Marriage Customs of the World is available in the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library.

If, however, you are inquiring about potential places in Europe for a romantic proposal, you have many options. QB first recommends that you think about the person to whom you would like to propose. Does he/she have a dream vacation spot in Europe? Or is there a place that holds some significance for your love and his/her family? You can do something over-the-top romantic like propose on top of the Eiffel Tower, of course, but if you future fiancé is afraid of heights, QB might not recommend that option. Other popular European engagement destinations, according to theknot.com, one of the most popular wedding websites in the world, are the Luxembourg Gardens (also in Paris, France) or Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. Truly, the possibilities are endless: maybe a mountainside in Greece, a pub in Dublin, or a library in Austria. QB encourages you to think about what would be unique and special for you and your intended.

There are also some practical considerations you want to keep in mind if you’re planning to travel abroad to propose. First, if you plan to propose with a ring, be aware of customs requirements when transporting expensive jewelry. When packing, theknot.com recommends putting the ring in your carryon, wrapped in a medium-sized non-descript box, so that if you do get stopped, you don’t have to pull out the ring box and spoil the surprise. You may also plan for where and when, so that you can make sure you bring the ring with on the right day and right time. In some countries in Europe, pick-pocketing is not uncommon, so you may not want to carry your bauble with you the entire trip, lest it be lost. No matter where you choose to go, or how you choose to pop this most important of questions, QB wishes you luck, love, and happiness.

Forever yours,

Sources :

Monger, George. (2004) Marriage customs of the world: from henna to honeymoons. Santa Barbara, Calif.:ABC-CLIO

Theknot.com. (2013) 9 romantic places to propose. Retrieved from http://wedding.theknot.com/getting-engaged/marriage-proposals/articles/9-good-places-to-propose.aspx

Theknot.com. (2013) Marriage proposals: destination proposal pointers. Retrieved from http://wedding.theknot.com/getting-engaged/marriage-proposals/articles/wedding-proposal-destinations-pointers.aspx

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Question 5:

Why is folklore included in the DDS?

Answer :

Dear Obscure Observer,

QB was interested by this question, as folklore is always intriguing. Unfortunately, this question really had to be tackled in two parts, the first being what is DDS? This turned out to be a tough nut to crack. Using Gale’s "Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary" and some Web searching, QB quickly learned that DDS might be an:

- abbreviation for Dillards, Inc on the New York Stock Exchange.
-abbreviation for Doctor of Dental Surgery.
-abbreviation for Disability Determination Service, a government agency.
- abbreviation for Department of Developmental Services.

And this is just a partial list. QB then went to Google, a great place find results for unknown knowledge, and a quick search of dds, folklore yielded about 2,580,000 and no help. Somewhere along the way QB deduced that DDS might stand for Deep Diving System. According to J. Orzech’s article "The Use of Deep-Diving Systems in Marine Research," these systems allow divers to reach deeper depths and provide an environment for divers to decompress. Power, water, and air are provided by the ship they are tethered to topside.

Or DDS could stand for the Dewey Decimal System, a classification system you might be familiar with if you visit the library. QB looked within the book Tables and index of the decimal classification written by Melvil Dewey himself (which can be found online in the catalog) and learned the folklore is interesting classified in the 300’s (398 to be exact) with the social sciences than in with the literature. Ponder that dear reader.

However, no amount of searching could lead QB to find a firm link between folklore and anything with an abbreviation of DDS. So, dear reader, please write with more information so QB can continue the search!

With Questions,


Sources :

"Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations Dictionary," Gale Virtual Reference Library. 2011. (Online)

Dewey, Melvil. "Tables and index of the decimal classification," 1885. (Online)

Orzech, J. "The Use of Deep-Diving Systems in Marine Research," OCEANS 1984 , vol., no., pp.1005-1009, 0-0 Sept. 1984 (Online)

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Question 6:

What characteristics must be present for something to be considered a "salad"? E.g. Tuna salad, macaroni salad, potato salad...

Answer :

Dear Desperately Seeking Salads,

QB was quite intrigued by your question, for it was not until that moment QB had considered the vast multiplicity of salads that exist. Though QB has never tasted salad of any variety, being without mouth, stomach, and everything else that facilitates eating, QB was determined to find an answer.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a salad can be made up of pretty much anything. Generally, salads are composed of "small pieces of food (as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin." Another definition is "a usually incongruous mixture" or a "hodgepodge." Using these definitions, QB imagines endless concoctions may be called salads. Throw anything you want into a bowl, add some mayo, and voilà (that’s French for "way to go")! You're a salad creator.

In case you also found yourself wondering about the etymology of the word, QB discovered that "salad" comes from the Latin word "sal" or salt. Unfortunately, how humankind went from salt to tuna salad cannot be explained by this board on the wall.

If you’re interested in making some of your own salads, QB recommends you check out the cookbook collection at UGL. Make yourself a nice tomato salad using "Tomato: a Fresh-From-the-Vine Cookbook" or try something with a Southwestern kick from "Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook." If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, visit the Guinness Book of World Records website, get a few friends together, and try to best K.E.D.I Public Benefit Municipal Enterprise of Ierapetra. On June 19, 2010 the group created a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, green peppers, feta cheese, olive oil, oregano, and salt, all combined and weighing over 29,000 pounds. Or you can try to out-salad the Canadians, who on August 28, 2012 put together an 11,000 pound fruit salad in an inflatable swimming pool.

Don’t let the Canadians put you to shame. Visit UGL’s Pinterest page (http://pinterest.com/askundergrad/) where there are two boards dedicated to entirely to cookbooks to kickstart your salad making career!

Wishing you the best in your salad endeavors,

Sources :

Flay, Bobby. (2007). Bobby Flay’s mesa grill cookbook: explosive flavors from the southwestern kitchen. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers.
Call Number: TX715.2.S69 F575 2007

Guinness world records. (2013). Retrieved January 22, 2013 from http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/

Lawrence, Davis-Hollander. (2010). Tomato: a fresh-from-the-vine cookbook. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub.
Call Number: TX803.T6 D38 2010
Salad. 2013. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/salad

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Question 7:

What was the first pub food? What was the first pub to serve food? Where is pub food from?

Answer :

Dear Famished Traveler,

QB was positively floored by your question because, although QB cannot enjoy pub food being merely a board on a wall, QB is admittedly a hopeless Anglophile and loves all things British.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a pub, or public house, is "a building whose principal business is the sale of alcoholic drinks to be consumed on the premises." Another word used to describe such a venue is tavern, which is derived from the Latin word "taberna." As it turns out, pubs began as Italian wine houses. Tabernas were brought to the United Kingdom when that rotter Julius Caesar invaded Britain around 55 BC.

It must be confessed that QB assumed food was always served in pubs. However, the OED explains that food was not present in many pubs until the late 20th century, and even then it was usually only available for lunch. Perhaps the most traditional English pub fare is the Ploughman’s Lunch: a thick piece of cheese, bread, and a pickle served with a cold pint. Ian McEwan even wrote a book titled The Ploughman’s Lunch (which QB imagines has little to do with the food itself); the book and the DVD based on the book can be found at UGL.

Not until recently did pubs become what they are today. Most pubs now serve a variety of dishes ranging from pretentious to classically British. Some of the classics include:

*Bangers and Mash: Even though the title of this dish harkens to mind dirty jokes, QB has heard only delightful things about this meal of sausage and potatoes.

* Fish and Chips: QB is well-versed in British and is happy to report that chips are simply French fries.

* Cornish Pasties: Think of this as an English hot pocket.

*Steak and Kidney Pie: Yes. They mean actual kidney.

If you’re interested in making some of these dishes at home, QB recommends The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook; why not get one or all of the Harry Potter movies from UGL and start saying things like “Cor blimey!” while you’re at it? Or if you’d rather go out for a bite, try Dublin O’Neill’s in Champaign. QB recommends the fish and chips, Gouda mac & cheese, and a friend to share the meal with (because QB has heard that the servings are gigantic). If you’re traveling to Old Blighty, visit The Victoria, The Fox and Anchor, or The Black Lion for an authentic and undoubtedly charming pub experience.



Bucholz, D. (2010). The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes To Knickerbocker Glory--more Than 150 Magical Recipes For Wizards And Non-wizards Alike. Avon, Mass: Adams Media.
Call #: 641.59 B854un (Residence Halls Busey-Evans Circulating Collection)

Eyre, R. (Director). (2005). The Ploughman's Lunch [motion picture].
Call #: DVD PN1995.9.S6 P56 2005 (Undergraduate Library Media Collection)

McEwan, I. (1985). The Ploughman's Lunch. London : Methuen.
Call #: 822 M158P (Music & Performing Arts Library and Oak Street Facility)

Rowling, J.K (Writer). Harry Potter and…. [motion picture].
Call # DVD PN1997.2 .H37797… (Undergraduate Library Media Collection)

Sources :

1) (2012). Independent guide to traditional english pubs. Retrieved 24 Oct 2012 from http://www.pubs.com/index.php

2) United Kingdom. (n.d.) In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 24 Oct. 2012 from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/615557/United-Kingdom/44733/Bronze-Age

3) Public house. (Sept. 2012). In Oxford English dictionary online. Retrieved 24 October 2012 from http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/154062?redirectedFrom=public+house

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Question 8:

How do I know the light in my refrigerator goes off when I close the door?

Answer :

Dear Quantum Cat,
What a fantastic question! QB was very excited to see such a multi-faceted query. QB was especially interested in the sub-questions this question introduces, such as: “does food move around when the door is closed?” which led to “do clothes move around in the closet when the door is closed? Toys?” Which of course makes QB to want to watch Toy Story, the thrilling conclusion of which is housed in the Undergraduate Library Media Collection, right across from QB’s home!
But of course, this does not answer your question. There are two answers to this question, and QB is determined to provide both.
Firstly, this question closely resembles the famous Schrodinger’s Cat problem, which the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy states as “a cat is confined in a closed chamber containing a radioactive atom with a fifty-fifty chance of decaying in the next hour. If the atom decays it triggers a relay that causes a hammer to fall and smash a glass vial holding a quantity of prussic acid sufficient to kill the cat.” In other words, the cat has a fifty-fifty chance of being dead at the end of this crazy experiment. The problem continues by saying that the cat is neither alive nor dead (this poor cat!) until the box is opened. The simple act of observation determines the result—not random chance.
Of course, this does not help you, because you cannot see into your refrigerator while the door is closed. So the other answer is simply that somewhere on the outer rim of your refrigerator is a small button or switch, which controls the light in your fridge. You can find it and test it! And if you watch closely, and close the door slowly, you can see the edge of the door touch that switch and turn the light off.
QB also guesses that you could simply remove the light from your refrigerator, which would mean that you would never have to worry about your light misbehaving again! Of course, then you might start to worry about your food hatching plans, just like Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and Mr. Potato Head.

Wishing your cat the best of health,

Sources :

The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, s.v. “quantum mechanics also called quantum theory,” accessed October 13, 2012, http://credoreference.com/entry/cupdphil/quantum_mechanics_also_called_quantum_theory

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Question 9:

Why do most women consider denim shorts (or "jorts") on males to be unfashionable? Is this a psychological or neurological phenomenon? Also, are there any known health effects associated with wearing denim shorts?

Answer :

Dear Fashion Forward:

QB was quite pleased to get your question. Not having legs, QB has never worn a pair of jorts, although QB suspects they may be quite comfortable. To start with, QB thought it might be wise to get some background information on denim in general, so QB turned to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. As you may know, Levi Strauss is credited with making denim a widely popular choice for gold miners in the 1850s. It wasn’t until around 1900 that denim because associated with the widely known indigo dye we associate with the fabric today. Since then, denim has exploded into the nearly ubiquitous fashion implement we know today.

When it comes to issues of taste and psychology, QB’s views tend toward the social constructionist; that is, there’s not necessarily anything inherent about fashion that makes it appealing or unappealing. Rather, it’s a set of rules that people have constructed in the commons and choose to live by in a specific time, place, and context. Valerie Steele’s preface to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion confirms QB’s suspicion: "the study of fashion has been revolutionized, as scholars from other disciplines began exploring the intersections between dress, body, and the cultural construction of identity." Think about Renaissance codpieces and the breeches of the American revolution: you'd have a hard time being taken seriously wearing those today. QB's research in American Menswear from the Civil War to the Twenty-First Century suggests that men's pants in this day and age are considered most fashionable when they show off the desirable qualities of men's legs. Since denim is a clunky, bulky fabric, jorts often have wide cuffs that make men's shins seem skinnier. QB suspects that this may be one reason why denim shorts aren't viewed as attractive.

That isn't to say that jorts couldn't be fashionable. QB turned to EBSCO's Newspaper Source database to find up-to-date fashion information about denim shorts. QB was surprised to find several articles in fashion-forward publications like DNR and Out advertising jorts as trendy wear for the summer set, albeit jorts of the slim-fit and knee-length variety. According to Tony Sanchez of the Fox Racing brand, in the "Short Cuts" article in DNR October 13, 2008, "These are definitely not dad's denim shorts."

As for your question about health, QB could find no adverse effects from wearing denim shorts from a search for "denim" and "health" in EBSCO's Health Source Academic, although QB is not a doctor and you should consult a physician if you have a real health concern. Indeed, since denim is thick and durable, it's widely used as a protective option for clothing. QB did find that there might be adverse effects for the people manufacturing your jorts: denim sandblasting has been shown to cause lung disease in factory workers in Turkey. QB has also heard anecdotal evidence from dubious analyst and therapist Tobias Fünke that denim cutoffs have proved successful in treating "never nude" syndrome. However, QB finds no record of "never nude" in the DSM-IV, the standard reference for psychological disorders, and suggests this evidence be taken with a grain of salt...

In jort...er, short...there's no real reason for you not to wear your jorts. QB encourages you to develop your own style and make your own fashion choices. However, QB wouldn't be the first to suggest that just because something is socially constructed doesn't mean it isn't real, so if you're particularly desirous of catching a lady's eye in the warmer months, may QB suggest a nice chino short?

Corduroy-ly yours,


Sources :

Dickson, C. A. (2005). Denim. In Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Vol. 1, pp. 359-360). Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Steele, V. (2005). Preface. In Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Vol. 1, pp. xv-xviii). Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Hill, D. D. (2011). American menswear from the Civil War to the twenty-first century. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press.

Pallay, J. (2008, October 13). Short cuts. DNR (The Daily National Record), 38.41, 30.

Anonymous. (2007, July 30). Key spring '08 trends from Project New York. DNR, 37.31, 17.

Anonymous. (2007, May). The power of the body. Out, 15.11, 64-71.

Ozmen, C. A., Nazaroglu, H., Yildiz, T., Bayrak, A. H., Senturk, S., Ates, G., and Akyildiz, L. (2010). MDCT findings of denim-sandblasting-induced silicosis: A cross-sectional study. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source (9), 17-24.

Hurwitz, M. (Producer). (2003). Arrested development [Television series]. Beverly Hills: 20th Century Fox

Call Number :

GT 507 .E53 2005 v. 1

GT 605 .H55 2011

DVD PN 1992.77 .A7747843 2004

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Question 10:

My little sister loves the show Ghost Hunters on SyFy and swears it's real. I've heard rumors, though, that everything on the show is rigged. Is this true?

Answer :

Dear Ghost-buster,
Your spooktacular question interests QB, but because the UGL media collection does not include Ghost Hunter DVDs (a travesty on par with faking phantoms), QB is not as familiar with the show, or Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson--the plumbers-turned-purveyors of the paranormal--as your sister. However, a quick Google search for Ghost Hunter fan communities (including the message boards on The Atlantic Paranormal Society's site, the ghost hunting group Hawes and Wilson formed) showed that you are correct about one thing: Ghost Hunters is a polarizing show that has both its adoring fans and those who believe it's built on editing, staging and sleight of hand. While there is no way to tell for sure without candidly speaking with someone on the production crew (QB is still waiting for a response from Pilgrim Films), it may come down to one thing: do you believe in ghosts?

QB knows this isn't a very satisfactory answer, though, so look at the criticism. Based on an entirely unscientific survey taken from YouTube clips, the 7-hour, live Halloween special in 2008 seems to draw the most skepticism. During this episode, Wilson allegedly has his jacket collar pulled down three times by some unknown entity. However, skeptics have analyzed this clip to death (pun intended), showing that Wilson is carrying a large camera in his right hand in one scene, and then inexplicably doesn't have it in the next, but instead leaves his right hand next to the hem of his jacket, his fingers curled into a fist. Detractors say this is not only an awkward way to walk, but it would also allow Wilson to pull a string attached to his hood to make the fabric pull down. After investigating Wilson's hood, Hawes thumps his buddy's back in encouragement--also causing the hood to go down (possibly because he bumped the string).

JacketGate 2008 is just one of many questioned incidents in a show that's now in its eighth season, but while Ghost Hunters has plenty of detractors, Hawes and Wilson claim to be the biggest debunkers of them all. "If it may be haunted, we try to disprove the haunting," Wilson told the New York Times in 2009 about their mission when going into a hunt. Only when they can't discover alternate explanations for strange occurrences will the duo cede that a paranormal activity--or even a haunting--may be happening.

QB also thinks it's relevant to point out that the SyFy network describes Ghost Hunters as a "docusoap," or a documentary that has personal story lines and narratives, and is still a form of entertainment--regardless of whether the hunts themselves are real or staged. Also, this show has spawned three spin-offs, has a merch line available from SyFy, and was originally created by the dudes behind American Chopper. Would it be reasonable to assume that the show needs to remain entertaining with a certain level of creep-factor to maintain this success? QB thinks yes. However, Hawes and Wilson have been investigating paranormal activity since the early '90s through TAPS, so QB also recognizes that they have a lot of experience (scientific or not), and have more than likely encountered some events they couldn't explain.

Either way, this brings QB back to the question: Do you believe in ghosts? It's going to be nearly impossible for QB to prove either way if Ghost Hunters has any staged components. However, QB can point you in the direction of resources for your own further research. UIUC has an extensive collection dealing in the paranormal. The Mandeville Collection in the Occult Sciences--most of which is housed in the Main Stacks or the Education & Social Sciences Library--covers physical phenomena and research, including apparitions and mediumship. Perusing some of this collection, QB came across Ghost Hunting: How To Investigate the Paranormal and How to Hunt Ghosts: A Practical Guide, each of which outline types of hauntings and spirits, recommended equipment and tips for hunts, and how to record what you see (or don't see). QB also recommends thumbing through The Skeptic's Guide to the Paranormal, which is available in the ESSL reference collection, and offers scientific explanations for everything from spontaneous human combustion to poltergeists. Now that you're armed with a few guides, QB suggests you actually go out and get your ghost hunter on: Pick up a copy of Field Guide to Illinois Hauntings, also available in ESSL, for a list of places to stake out in the area--starting with the University's very own English building, the central foyer of the Psychology building, or the basement of the University YMCA (all listed as haunted hot spots). Perhaps what you find will further your opinion on the authenticity--or artificiality--of Ghost Hunters.

Yours here and from the beyond,

Sources :

"The Atlantic Paranormal Society." http://www.the-atlantic-paranormal-society.com/

Auerbach, L. (2004). Ghost hunting: How to investigate the paranormal. Berkeley, CA: Ronin.

"Ghost Hunters" on SyFy. http://www.syfy.com/ghosthunters/

Graczyk, J. & Boonstra, D. (2001). Field guide to Illinois hauntings. Alton, IL: White Chapel Productions.

Kelly, L. (2004). The skeptic's guide to the paranormal. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press.

Stelter, B. "'Ghost Hunters' Seeks Spirits and Ratings." The New York Times. Nov. 10, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/arts/television/11ghost.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&sq=ghost%20hunters&st=cse&scp=1

Warren, J.P. (2003). How to hunt ghosts: A practical guide. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Call Number :

133.1072 Au34g
133.109773 G753f
130 K295s
133.1 W251h

Location :


Date Answered :


Question 11:

Is saying that a man invested in you a weird thing to do?

Answer :

Dear Investment Dater,

Although in the business world the term investment refers to “the acquisition of an asset for the sole purpose of producing future monetary income” (i.e. putting money in, getting money out), it’s not weird to say that you invested in a man, or a woman, or that they invested in you. The phrase “investing in someone” is an idiom: you “invest” in people of all types, from work relationships to romantic relationships. The idiomatic use expands the financial definition of investment to include different types of input and output: investing in someone means “to put money, time, effort, etc., into someone or something, hoping for a return.”

But why do we use this particular monetary idiom to talk about relationships? The metaphor makes sense! You don’t need an MBA to make an emotional investment (and, side note, you don’t make nearly as much money from your relationship investments as those Wall Street folks do), but it’s not all that different from a monetary investment.
A relationship, like a retirement fund, house or car, is something you put money, love, time, etc. into, hoping to get money, love, time, etc. in return—this is called return on investment and is a basic principle of finance. Furthermore, investment also implies risk. When you put money into something you risk losing it all, when you put emotional dollars (or even just time) into something, you similarly risk losing it all—and wind up with that sinking feeling that you’ve wasted your time. In spite of risk, you still make investments if you can determine that the ROI will be worth it. In business terms, this idea is referred to as the risk-return tradeoff and has been much-studied in order to determine optimum levels of both risk and return for various types of investments.
QB is willing to bet the risk-return tradeoff and all the rest of the fancy pants analyst theories and equations can actually explain why humans invest in other humans. Think about it: the risk is that you’ll be crushed by your crush, but the return is that you will have a successful, monogamous, relationship possibly resulting in the onward march of humankind (whether you procreate, adopt, foster parent, or anything else!). Pretty big return for what, in the end, is not too big of a risk.

Financially yours,

Sources :

The Free Dictionary http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/investing
"Risk-Return Tradeoff." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 255-256. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
"Investment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Ed. Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 495. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.

Call Number :

Location :


Date Answered :


Question 12:

I’m considering buying my girlfriend some jewelry and I am all about saving money. Can girls honestly tell the difference between real diamonds and cubic zirconium? What are the odds she will find out that the cubic zirconium is not real diamond if I tell her that it is a real diamond?

Answer :

Dear Cheap & In Love,

You pose an interesting question -- one that tightwad boyfriends the world over have pondered since at least 1976, when the cubic zirconia was first used for the production of jewelry stones (Sheppard). And while on the surface your question is fairly straightforward (can the average person tell the difference between fake and real diamonds?), even a spendthrift like QB can’t afford to ignore the ethical implications it raises.

But let’s start out with the easy stuff. What is the cubic zirconium (or, "CZ", as it’s been popularly rebranded, a la KFC), anyway? According to Merriam Webster, the cubic zirconium is a synthetic gemstone of zirconia resembling a diamond. Sounds promising, right? But what’s the difference in look and feel between diamonds and CZ’s? To find the answer, QB turned to the e-book _How Products are Made: An Illustrated Guide to Product Manufacturing_ (which you can access via Gale Virtual Reference), which explains that "on the hardness scale for stones, the genuine diamond is a 10 compared to a hardness ranging from 8.5-9 for CZ. And, CZ has a refractive index (the ability to refract a ray of light into colors of red, orange, green, yellow, violet, and blue) of 2.15-2.18, compared to 2.42 for genuine diamond."

Based on those stats, you’re probably half way to the Home Shopping Network, for who can tell the difference between a couple of tenths of a point on the refractive scale? But hold your horses, Cheap. For starters, jewelers can tell. So while the falsies might fool your girl at first, the minute she takes them to get appraised (which QB hears ladies often do, especially when they want to insure their jewels), she’s in for a big let-down. And even if she doesn’t get the gems appraised, won’t she find it kind of funny that her skinflint of a boyfriend suddenly felt compelled to shell out the hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars real diamonds often cost?

Practical considerations aside, do you really want to be the guy who lies to his girlfriend about the cost of his gifts? For while you may be Cheap, you’re also In Love. And though there’s nothing wrong with buying your girlfriend a nice piece of jewelry made with CZs, there is something wrong with lying to your love about their authenticity. Even if your girl never finds out her favorite diamond jewels are actually fakes, you’ll know, and the knowing is bound to cost you a big chunk of guilt. When it comes to love, Cheap, honesty really does tend to be the best policy. Chances are, you’re a college undergrad. Do you think your girlfriend doesn’t know you’re broke? If you really want to impress her, give her a gift from the heart. Short on ideas? Why not check out _The Idiot’s Guide to Making Great Gifts_, available here in the Undergrad Library. Not the crafty type? Remember, ladies like jewels of all kinds, not just diamonds. Not sure what your lady would love? Talk to her friends, who will likely possess a wealth of knowledge about her taste in jewels (and who will also think you’re pretty awesome for asking). For as QB’s librarian friends have demonstrated, a great pair of silver earrings can be just as stunning as diamond studs.

Authentically yours,

Sources :

1) "cubic zirconia also cubic zirconium." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2004. Credo Reference. Web. 07 March 2012.

2) LeBon, Marilee. The Complete Idiot's Guide To Making Great Gifts. Indianapolis, Ind. : Alpha, 2001. Print.

3) Sheppard, Laurel. "Cubic Zirconia." How Products Are Made: An Illustrated Guide to Product Manufacturing. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. 128-132. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.
Document URL

Call Number :

1) n/a
2) TT157 .L328 2001

Location :

1) online 2) Undergrad Library 3) online

Date Answered :


Question 13:

Do blondes have more fun?

Answer :

The idea that blondes have more fun raises several important questions for QB, and for the philosophers who have no doubt been exploring the question at least since the rise of the Hollywood Blonde in the mid-20th century: why would hair color impact one’s ability or opportunity to have fun? Furthermore, is a natural blonde always a blonde, regardless of his or her decision to change their hair color? And, that raises the question of whether or not a brunette or a red-head could truly have fun like a blonde simply by lightening their locks? (Nevermind the host of other tangentially related questions including: do gentlemen really prefer blondes?) In order to become illuminated like a freshly highlighted head of blond hair, QB sought some answers.
Fortunately, QB happens to know a natural blonde who has also experimented with other hair colors. This blonde stated that she has had a steady level of fun regardless of hair color, leading her to believe that fun is not inherently tied to dye. However, as QB previously pondered, did she have fun when her hair was other colors because at heart she was always a blonde? QB thinks not, as QB also knows many folks with different hair types, colors, and amounts, and all seem to rank their fun similarly. Look at the Kardashians, for example. QB would guess that these ladies of the long brown locks have fun that is equal or greater to that had by bleach-blond Paris Hilton (at least based on their respective reality shows).
But why do we even have this notion that “blondes have more fun”? In the 1970s and 80s, beauty product company Clairol had as one of their slogans, “Blondes have more fun!” They, in fact, may have been the first to say it (Gibson, 141). To get deeper into the matter,however, QB looked further back into history. In a note at the beginning of her book, On Blondes, Joanna Pitman notes that the word “blonde” used as a noun entered the vernacular via the vampish sirens of 1930s Hollywood. These platinum ladies—think Jean Harlowe and Marilyn Monroe—epitomized fun and glamour. According to Pitman, blond hair has ranged from a symbol of sexual allure, a la Monroe, to a symbol of racial superiority (and simultaneously disgust) as epitomized in Nazism.
Pitman notes that only one in 20 white Americans and Northern Europeans is naturally blond. The rest are faking it, presumably in order to get in on the fun. Pitman hypothesizes that ladies (and gentlemen) reach for the bleach in order to appear more youthful. Youth equals fun—a carefree sexiness—so therefore blond equals these things, too.
QB would thus posit that it’s all about perception. In Western culture, people have decided that blond is fun and have shared that cultural notion with the world. It may be, and it may not be, truly more fun to be blond. The world will never know.
Dying to meet you,

Sources :

Pitman, Joanna. On Blondes. London: Bloomsbury, 2003. Main Stacks
Gibson, Pamela Church. Concerning Blondeness: Gender, Ethnicity, Spectacle and Footballers’ Waves. Hair: Styling, Culture and Fasion. Ed. Geraldine Biddle-Perry and Sarah Cheang. Oxford: Berg, 2008. p. 141-148.
Tremper, Ellen. I’m No Angel: The Blonde in Fiction and Film.

Call Number :

391.5 P683o, GT2290.H25 2008, PR868.B56 T74 2006

Location :

UGL and Main Stacks

Date Answered :


Listen to a Podcast of this Question

Question 14:

Is it bad to leave your laptop plugged in all the time?

Answer :

Dear Plugged In,

What a wonderful question! QB is always concerned with helping students get work done more efficiently and what better way to get research done then on a smoothly running laptop; especially one from the UGL’s loanable technology collection (see more here: http://www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/about/LoanableTechnology/laptops.html) Besides the effects on the laptop, plugging in can also have some big effects on the environment.

Since QB is no Al Gore, QB needed to start off with some hard facts, or statistics, about how much energy difference there is between using the laptop battery and using the laptop AC adaptor (the thing you plug in). QB first went the UGL’s statistics help guide (found at: http://www.library.illinois.edu/ugl/find/findstatistics.html) and searched in Statistical Universe. This resulted in a 2003 study by Foster and Calwell about how much energy laptop computers really use. First of all, dear reader, you are already saving energy by using a laptop; did you know that replacing a desktop system with a laptop system could save 470 kWH/yr (about $40 annually)? In relation to the energy used when plugging in a laptop, you are better off staying plugged in because, on average, about 20% more AC energy is required to operate a computer in battery mode and then recharge it, compared to simply leaving it plugged in.

Carlson backs up this point in a 2004 article about laptop batteries with a warning about always staying plugged in. It can save energy but may drain your battery quicker. Carlson notes that if you always plug your laptop into the wall while you work, the battery doesn't discharge; its electrons stagnate, and the battery's life span is reduced. Even if you usually use an AC adapter, make a point of working from the battery once a month and then recharging.

So, concerned laptop user, the good news is that keeping your laptop plugged in saves energy. However, you should unplug at least once a month to extend the battery on your laptop. Furthermore, if you have just been leaving your laptop on and plugged in all the time, you may also want to consider shutting off the laptop when you are not using it to save even more power. Gowan mentions that turning off all your equipment at night can cut annual energy usage by 100 to 400 kWh per computer!

Yours throughout the life of your laptop battery,


Sources :

Carlson, J. (2004). Laptop Battery Smarts. Macworld, 21(11), 76-77.

Foster, S., & Calwell, C. (2003). Laptop Computers: How Much Energy Do They Use and How Much Can We Save? Natural Resources Defense Council. Retrieved from http://www.efficientpowersupplies.org/pages/SeptNRDCLaptopSummary_digital.pdf

Gowan, M. (2007). 8 Ways to Go Green. Macworld, 24(6), 66-6

Call Number :

Location :

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign’s Online Database Collection

Date Answered :


Question 15:

Tell me more about puns. Anything and everything. And make it punny.

Answer :

Dear Pun-Loving Friend,

Every professor, researcher, armchair intellectual, run-of-the-mill-nerd and expert-on-anything and has a dream-question in the back of their minds that they hope will one day be asked of them (preferably by an admiring, starry-eyed, potential soul-mate).

Asking QB about puns is like asking a teenager who loves Dungeons & Dragons to tell you about the time his dwarf character took out 50 goblins without losing a single hit point. In other words, Pun-Lover, you’ve tapped into QB’s dream-question, and now you’re going to have to sit back and allow the pun-love to gush forth. But don’t get your hopes up, Pun-lover, admiring and starry-eyed though you may be, QB can’t see you as a potential soul-mate, because QB only has one true love, and that is the love of knowledge.

But moving "write" along! So what’s a pun? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a pun is "the use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more meanings or different associations, or of two or more words of the same or nearly the same sound with different meanings, so as to produce a humorous effect; a play on words." And let QB be clear: puns are humorous. Perhaps if you hate laughter, you’ll be able turn your nose up to puns such as this: "As the big chimney said to the small chimney, 'You’re too little to smoke!'" But as H.W. Fowler notes in the _Dicitionary of Modern English Usage_, "The assumption that puns are per se contemptible-- betrayed by the habit of describing every pun not as a pun but as a bad bun or a feeble pun--is a sign at once of sheepish docility and a desire to seem superior. Puns are good, bad and indifferent, and only those who lack the wit to make them are unaware of the fact" (474). Wit-havers like you and QB know that puns are funny, and that being punny is fun. If puns are, as has been said, the lowest form of humor, QB proudly admits to liking it down and dirty.

And QB’s not the only one. Take, for example, a certain Will Shakespeare, who not only never "bard" himself from using puns in his plays, but was by one fan’s account responsible for carrying out "at least ten hundred and sixty-two puns" throughout his works (Redfern). Though it’s hard to decipher when puns began, Blyth notes that "in ancient Sanskrit literature there is an almost unbelievable amount of punning" (5-6). Ever a believer, QB has begun to polish up those sanskrit skills in the hopes of one day basking in the ancient rivers of old-timey puns.

As Walter Redfern notes in his seminal work Puns, "Punners are such intellectual do-it-yourselfers and verbal handymen, (they’ll use) whatever is 'at hand', recycling odds and ends" (34).

So put on your DIY hat and pun it up, Pun-Lover, for punning’s apparently not only good for the mind and soul, it’s also good for the planet!

(all puns intended),

You can check out these punny resources available at the UGL and other UIUC libraries:

_Puns_ by Walter Redfern, http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_696382

_Crosbie’s Dictionary of Puns_ by John S. Crosbie, http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_240330

_The Pun Also Rises: How the humble pun revolutionized language, changed history, and made wordplay more than some antics_ by John Pollack, http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_6544596

_3650 Jokes, Puns and Riddles_ by Anne Kostick, http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/vf-uiu/Record/uiu_4446690

Sources :

1) Blyth, Reginald Horace. (1959) Oriental humour, Tokyo: Hokuseido Press.

2) Fowler, H. W., Gowers, Ernest,Greenwood, J. Arthu. (1965) A dictionary of modern English usage, New York: Oxford University Press.

3) Redfern, W.D. (1984) Puns, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Blackwell.

4) "pun, n.1". OED Online. March 2012. Oxford University Press. 19 March 2012 .

Call Number :

1)895.08 B629
2) 423 F82d1965b
3) 809.82 R247P

Location :

1) Main Stacks 2) Oak Street Facility 3) Main Stacks

Date Answered :