David Jaggard's

Quorum of One

Issue number 31     September 10, 2000


Wet humor on the Web since 2000

Quorum of One is intended for adult readers   


This issue:

Ask Professor Knowitall


Professor Knowitall is not actually a professor of anything, and of course his real name is not Knowitall. But for all the good it will do, you can write to him and ask virtually any question and he'll answer it in this column. That is, if he knows the answer.


Settle bets! Win arguments! Prove to other people that you were right all along! All based on what some half-baked, nameless, credential-less self-styled "expert" has to say about it!

Hey, it's your stamp.


Send your questions to:

"Dear Prof. Knowitall" in c/o This Publication


Dear Prof. Knowitall:

        How come there's lots of people named Shepard and some people named Coward, but hardly anyone named Goatard, Swinard or Goosard?
        Come to that, why are there so many people named Johnson, Williamson, Thomson, Richardson and Harrison but no one named Bruceson, Butchson, O'Skipper, MacBubba, or Fitzkathy?

Kathy Cholmondeleyson


Prof. Knowitall says:

        Our tradition of family names dates back to the Middle Ages. Back in the 12th century, no one had a last name. Since almost everyone lived in small villages and never left them, no one needed more than one name, if that. Everyone was just called John or whatever. Yes, "whatever" (with a lower-case w) was a common woman's first name in those days. In fact, the surviving census reports from 12th century England indicate that from 1103 to 1188, all the men in Staffordshire were named John and all the women whatever.
        Then in the 14th century, with the Hundred Years War, the newfound (although forced and in most cases fatal) mobility of the population suddenly created the need for ways to distinguish between Johns. King John's first army mustered to invade France was made up entirely, from monarch to ministers to officers to foot soldiers, of men named John. This made it very difficult to assign latrine duty. So they decided to differentiate themselves by each choosing an additional name based on a distinguishing personal attribute such as their father's name, the trade they practiced or an outstanding physical characteristic. That's why the family names "Johnson", "Baker", "Miller", "Short", "Long", "LongwhereitcountsifyouknowwhatImean", "Everard", and "Twentytimesanight" are so very common today.

Dear Prof. Knowitall,

        Please settle a bet. My friend says that if your second toe is longer than your big toe, you have some Chinese blood in your family. I say that she's a frizzy-haired little shit for what she said to Melissa at Eric's party last Friday. Who's right?

Tiffany Tailleferro


Prof. Knowitall says:
        Speaking of names, you probably didn't know that the name "Cholmondeley" is pronounced "Chumley". There are a great many fascinating anomalies of pronunciation in English proper names. Here are just a few more: "Featherstonehaugh" is pronounced "Fotheringay", "Fotheringay" is pronounced "Fanshaw", "Coraghessan" is pronounced "Tommy", "Bush" is pronounced "Clinton", and "How about sex?" is pronounced "How about dinner Friday night?". Interesting, isn't it?
Dear Prof. Knowitall,

        How come we "hear" with our "ears" but we don't "heye" with our "eyes"? Huh? Sometimes I just want to give up. 

H. E. Pidermis

Prof. Knowitall says:

        You win: hummingbirds aren't actually birds. They're a fruit of the genus classicus barbets,
and are therefore more closely related to sycamore "helicopters" than to birds.

Dear Prof. Knowitall,

        The other night at a party somebody came up with this brain teaser and nobody could answer it. I know you'll be "up to the challenge"! Here's the question:
        How can you draw a perfect square in only three strokes without lifting your pencil from the paper, produce virtually unlimited ultra-low-cost electrical energy through non-polluting, totally safe cold fusion, desalinate seawater in quantities sufficient to irrigate the entire planet, wipe out all poverty and disease, halt global warming and institute lasting peaceful socio-political stability in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and the Middle East?
        So what's the solution?

Thanks in advance,
Tennyson Terhooks

Prof. Knowitall says:
        This is a classic poser that's been stumping puzzle buffs for years. You'll be surprised when you find out how simple the answer is. Shocked, even. You'll probably kick yourself. In fact, you'll probably kick yourself repeatedly wearing steel-toed cowboy boots, smack your forehead so hard you'll give yourself a concussion and leave an indelible handprint like a tattoo, and let out a groan of self-loathing that will wake up people sleeping on the other side of the Earth. In fact, for your own safety I better not tell you. I'm sure you'll get it eventually, though. Think about it.

And now:

Common Misconceptions


Each week in this section of his popular column, Prof. Knowitall takes a popular myth and just blows it all to hell.

This week's widely-held misbelief: The Sky is Blue

Prof. Knowitall says:
         Most people say that the sky is blue. FOOLS! They only say
the sky is blue because they think the sky is blue, simply because when they look at it they perceive the color that everybody calls "blue".  Well that doesn't mean anything. Actually, the sky has no color at all because it's not there. I mean, the sky is made of air, which we can't see and which is therefore COLORLESS. As well as some clouds, which needless to say range in hue from white to dark gray (note: NOT blue), plus a smattering of birds, airplanes, balloons, kites, etc., some of which it must admitted are blue, but they are not the sky. So stop saying that the sky is blue, you ovine idiots.

Dear Prof. Knowitall,
Do fish ever drink?

I got a thousand of 'em

Prof. Knowitall says:
Also, at night the sky is not blue but black. Ever think of that?

Dear Prof. Knowitall,
Do plants ever get a sunburn? How about rocks?

Make that a million


Prof. Knowitall says:
Oh, and I forgot: if you were blind, or even just color-blind, you wouldn't go around saying that the sky is blue, unless of course you were only saying it because you heard everybody else say it. The dolts. So the next time you hear some dimwit say that the sky is blue, feel free to guffaw loudly and wetly directly into his face from less than two inches away. Yelling at the top of your lungs, call him a babbling simpleton and pull out a copy of this column to prove it. Then run.

Next week's widely-held misbelief: the Pope is Catholic





¨©2000 by David Jaggard