July 11, 2004

Q and A

Spot the stupidity in this lede about that guy who just keeps winning and winning and winning on "Jeopardy!":

LOS ANGELES (AP) - If the answer is Ken Jennings and his record $920,960 so far in "Jeopardy!" winnings, the question must be, how does he do it?

I'm trying to envision the scenario in which this makes sense. Perhaps you are discussing a fabulous new cleaning product distilled from the sweat of Ken Jennings and combined with ground-up dollar bills from his winnings:

"Wow, Dave sure does keep his kitchen floor sparkling clean. How does he do it?"

"Ken Jennings and his record $920,960 so far in 'Jeopardy!' winnings, of course!"

"Wow. I'm switching to Ken Jennings and his record $920,960 so far in 'Jeopardy!' winnings today!"

Posted by Francis at 09:32 PM

Along these lines, there is an ad for bond brokerage Lebenthal that runs every week in New York during CBS Sunday Morning, which uses a simliar maddening construction. I quote from memory. Alexandra Lebenthal is addressing an unseen interlocutor.

"If the answer is yes, then what is the question? The question is: Is this a good time to buy municipal bonds? The answer is always yes if you're in a nasty tax bracket."

This is not strictly nonsense, although it is the most pained way imaginable of conveying this message. What is close to nonsense is the way the commercial ends. We return to the script.

"The best thing about the free bond kit from Lebenthal is that it helps you decide yes or no."

What the hell? I thought the answer was always yes!

Posted by: Jim at July 13, 2004 11:57 AM

Maybe the bond kit helps you decide if you're in a nasty tax bracket or not.

Posted by: Francis at July 13, 2004 12:02 PM

Maybe they just haven't read Eats, Shoots, & Leaves yet. The gift that keeps on giving.

Posted by: kevin at July 13, 2004 11:00 PM