Ask Chips: third time's a charm

Oct. 8, 2004, midnight | 18 years, 8 months ago

Editors return wiser and more smartest than ever

Answers compiled by Vivek Chellappa, Jeffrey Dunn, Allison Elvove, Ely Portillo and Katherine Zhang.

Confuzzled asks: "Is it pronounced tomato or tomato?"

If you're from Georgia, it's pronounced, tomayto. If you're from Boston, it sounds like tomahto. For an example, "Throw some tomahtos at the cahr on the way to the bahr." Ely says tomato. Allison says tomahto. But Katherine says it's an alien fruit so, "Let's call the whole thing off."

Reader asks: "What are some good books that Chips recommends?"

So many good books, so little time!

To start off, Chips suggests local author Brad Meltzer's legal thrillers. A graduate of Columbia Law School and co-creator of the new WB drama Jack and Bobby, Meltzer is simply a story-telling genius. His works focus on lawyer-type yuppies who, through some innocent accident or mistake, find themselves facing life-threatening danger, creepy stalkers and government conspiracies. Meltzer's books are filled with unexpected plot twists and intricate detail that takes the reader into the hidden passages of the White House, the basement hallways of Capitol Hill and 8,000 feet deep into an old coal mine. The novels are compelling and engrossing. Works by Brad Meltzer include The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires and The Zero Game.

For a bit of lighter reading, Chips recommends author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice series. Meet Alice Kathleen McKinley, a teenager who lives in Silver Spring (no kidding) with her father and brother. Alice faces the everyday troubles of teenagehood, including boys, hard classes and changing friendships. Naylor deftly focuses in on the essence of teenage life in these novels, creating a series that is truly wonderful and realistic. Recommended titles include Alice Alone, Simply Alice and The Grooming of Alice.

Finally, the classics. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell beats all. Set in the raging 1860s, the novel is filled with the fast-paced story of the struggle and transformation of Southern belle Scartlett O'Hara as she faces the realities of the Civil War and the Reconstruction. Mitchell combines lifelike characters and a wonderful saga with detailed snapshots of history, forcing readers to keep those pages turning until the very last word.

Killer Bunny asks: "What is the air speed velocity of an unleaden swallow?"

We think you mean "unladen" swallow.

Anyhow, a Mr. Jonathan Corum investigated this very question. According to his website, assuming the bird is a European swallow, it will probably flap its wings about 15 times per second and travel at a rate of 0.22 meters per beat. According to Corum, one method to determine the air speed velocity is to plug these values into the following equation:


where f is the number of times the swallow flaps its wings per second and A is how far it travels per flap. Insert our values for f and A into the equation, and you have:


Hence, the air speed velocity of an unladen European swallow is about 9.9 meters per second.

If you must know the air speed velocity of an African swallow, we have no idea. We suggest asking that guy on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

For more information and other methods of calculating the air speed velocity of an European swallow, visit Corum's website.

Curious asks: "How do you guys know how many cars pass Blair daily? It was one of your chips indices."

This Chips Index answer was tabulated by a research organization that dropped a wire over University Blvd to tabulate the number of cars that drove on the road. Their result was that 438,500 cars a day pass University Blvd.

little boy writes: "how much is that puppy in the window?"

You meant the one in that brown, spotted one in the window over there right?  Cuz that one is $50.32.  But, go to the pound and pick one up.  Save a life.

Curious asks: "What about all of those comments from conservative sources? Where did they come from?"

As we are, obviously, on the Internet, we get plenty of readers outside of the Blair community. Silver Chips Online is also a part of Google News and other Internet search engines. According to some tracking software that we use, 12% of viewers look at our site through Internet search engines.

Researcher asks: "What are the differences between MLA and APA and why do we actually need two ways to cite things?"

MLA is used for literary papers, such as for English and history, while APA is used for scientific research papers. For citing a book in MLA format, the following is the correct format:

Author's last name, first name. Title. Place published: name of publisher, date.

For APA format:

Author's last name, first name (date published). Title. Place published: publisher.

For more examples of citations, check out the Media Center's

Who cares? My idea is good asks: "Can you guys compile a list of scholarships, essay contests, etc. that college-bound students can compete for? That would be awesome."

All five editors have met for ten hours last night and carefully discussed this issue. We have concluded that we should direct you here for the best results.

Chips Alum asks: "If Chips were pie, what kind would it be?"

Chips is of course tasty, sweet, with a light sugary crumbling on top. We're as American as baseball and apple pie - our favorite, of course.

Jennifer D'Ascoli asks: "Blueberry Pie: Friend or Foe?"

See the above answer. Blueberry pie is our sworn enemy and diehard nemesis.

Interested asks: "Why is it that in the last 2 Ask Chips articles you have used integrals? Is this just to show off to the rest of us who have no idea what you're talking about?"

While we do of course enjoy showing off our massive intelligence (and good looks), we care even more deeply about answering all of our loyal readers' questions. Our readers apparently are very interested in integrals, so we assembled the best talent the magnet has to offer to satisfy their curiosity.

A guy asks: "What's with all the pink in the last Ask Chips?"

Cuz it's like totally the best color, ever.  Like…duh!

Someone asks: "answer analogy: peanut butter to jelly as rice to what?"

Again, the editors have met to think about this delicate issue. Katherine says, "There is no answer to this question! You can't have peanut butter without jelly, but there's nothing you can't have without rice."  Vivek refuses to comment on this topic.  Ely says calmly, "Yogurt."  Allison is tired of being told what to type but would have to go with "ricecakes!"

Disillusioned Senior writes: "It's now the 21st century. Where's my Flying Car?"

Actually, flying cars do exist. Several models have been created including the Convair flying car and Molt Taylor's Aircar. In 1950s, Ford explored the possibility of mass producing flying cars as the next generation of transportation technology. However, when Ford approached the FAA, there were many apparent regulation issues especially since the forms of air traffic control at the time were insufficient for massive numbers of flying vehicles. However, the possibility exists of such a technology emerging in the future as computerized versions of traffic control with directional allocation by altitude would resolve regulation problems.

Information compiled from

v asks: "is the v in varsity capitalized?"

Only at the beginning of a sentence…

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