CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!

February 17, 2018 (permalink)

Q: Too much of everything?  (Popular Mechanics, 1934)
A: Too much of most everything, yes.
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January 23, 2018 (permalink)

Q: "Is this monster locomotive a 'he' or a 'she'?"  (From Popular Mechanics, 1930.)
A: Where's the cure for cancer, eh?
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December 30, 2017 (permalink)

From The Judge, 1916.
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November 15, 2017 (permalink)

"Are things as good as they used to be?"  (In full disclosure, we reoriented the question mark.)  From Popular Mechanics, 1930.
Answer: No.
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October 6, 2017 (permalink)

Our answer to this question is "Yes," because our income has actually gone down over the last ten years, so keeping the same salary for a decade would be preferable.  From Popular Mechanics, 1927.
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July 19, 2017 (permalink)

Q: What is anything worth—a house, a suit of furniture, an automobile?
A: It is worth what it is worth.
From The Dental Quarterly, 1915.
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July 6, 2017 (permalink)

From Popular Mechanics, 1925.
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July 4, 2017 (permalink)

From Popular Mechanics, 1924.
Our answer to these rhetorical questions: "Hit the snooze button."
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June 6, 2017 (permalink)

Q: "What's back of the man who wins?"
A: See image from Popular Mechanics, 1926.
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May 24, 2017 (permalink)

"It's all psychic paranormal stuff at the moment. Who knew that shit would catch on?"

"The psychics knew, presumably," St. Just said mildly.

Death and the Lit Chick, by G. M. Malliet [via Jonathan Caws-Elwitt]

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May 11, 2017 (permalink)

From Ambition magazine, 1911.
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May 7, 2017 (permalink)

Which came first, the abbot or the monastery?  Here's your answer, from The Abbot, Being the Sequel to The Monastery by Walter Scott, 1832.
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April 21, 2017 (permalink)

Q: How would Bibendum answer the phone?
A: "Yes, I'm Bibendum."
From a Michelin ad in Illustrated London News, 1912.
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March 14, 2017 (permalink)

Q: "Who is responsible?" —Judy, Or The London Serio-Comic Journal, 1886.
A: "In all likelihood, the responsibility lies with both of you – even though your role and your faults have only been those of passive neglect." —Ernest Dichter and Motivation Research
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February 23, 2017 (permalink)

Q: "Can you capture the spirit of a typewriter? Because as I understand it the spirit of a typewriter is that it is a shitty version of a computer and/or the only thing keeping the Whiteout family in business" (Alex Shephard).
A: Yes, as we see in Jugend, 1909.
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February 19, 2017 (permalink)

We've done that, too -- asked "where" before we even knew "what."  The text reads, "Where is cobalt?  What is cobalt?  These are queries from every point of the compass."  From Hearst's International, 1906.
A: From the German for "demon, imp," cobalt is a byproduct from nickel and copper ores and is used as a component of magnetic alloys.  In the context of the article, the "where" is the area formerly known as New Ontario.
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December 14, 2016 (permalink)

A: "Well, if you don't know, then who the hell does?  Why are you even telling us this now if you're not sure?  And when will you be sure?" —John O'Neill, Baby Girl Lauren, 2012
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November 14, 2016 (permalink)

Courtesy of literary humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

Now, isn't that just the cutest little doggie!

A. Yes.

B. No.

C. Objection! Counsel is leading the witness.

D. Do you really want an honest answer to that?

E. Now? Yes. But if a cuter little doggie comes along in a minute or two, you're out of luck.

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October 8, 2016 (permalink)

Q: How many people can get inside a book?
A: One hundred million can crowd into a book, all in the same two hours, by twenty million lamps thousands of miles apart.
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September 15, 2016 (permalink)

Q: "A question for the Darwinians.  If nature develops limbs and faculties in response to the demand, why isn't a Dutch hound provided with feed amidships?" —Grip, 1891.
A: Ask again once the Darwinists account for that pesky organism that hasn't evolved for over 2 billion years (beyond desperately calling it the exception that proves the rule).  (And don't bring up the horseshoe crab's 450-million recess from evolution.)
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