Problem questions get problem answers October 27, 2010 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Criticizing a question is not the same as insulting the asker. It's also not necessarily derailing.

The asker took (apparently personal) offense to my answer to this question, which I had started by saying the question itself was ridiculous. I also said what he/she was asking was meaningless, which another answerer said as well.

I understand the idea that if the question is "What model Toyota should I buy," it's not helpful to say, "What a stupid question! You shouldn't buy a Honda!" But my answer was intended to be helpful by pointing out how the question itself breaks down under scrutiny.
posted by overeducated_alligator to Etiquette/Policy at 10:56 AM (150 comments total)

I never say 'eponysterical', but this is sooo eponysterical.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on October 27, 2010 [46 favorites]


To be fair, your comment didn't just call the assertion by the OP "ridiculous" what you said was "This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard." and then called the question meningless. And frankly, I was inclined to let it go. Maybe you're right. But a bunch of people flagged it and then the OP responded in-thread complaining about it and I figured it would be easier to remove the answer and drop you a MeMail saying you could repost without the snark and we'd be fine. But I am still finishing my lunch. If you'd like I can MeMail you the content of your comment and you can respost and leave the snark off?

As we've said before, you want to question the assertions of an AskMe question? Great, feel free, but be careful in your language and mindful of your tone. Jumping all over someone's question, which was how your response appeared, is not really okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


But my answer was intended to be helpful by pointing out how the question itself breaks down under scrutiny.

Had you said that, perhaps the offense could have been avoided. I would be inclined to take offense if someone called my question "ridiculous."

It can be fine to explain why another way of considering the problem might be more helpful to the questioner, but you have to be careful when you do it that you aren't simply being provocative.
posted by OmieWise at 11:00 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


ask metafilter is at its base a resource for the asker. if you can't answer the question in good faith, just move on. how is calling someone's question ridiculous not an insult to the person that asked it, especially in the context of something utterly impersonal like the internet?

besides, people with fancy degrees and lots of grant money have been asking this same question since we started studying animals.
posted by nadawi at 11:02 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, the pattern where people wnat to be rude or attack the asker on ask, get knocked over, and then come over to MeTa so they can keep being rude is tiresome.
posted by rodgerd at 11:05 AM on October 27, 2010 [33 favorites]


I'm going to go ahead and revel in the relative freedom of MetaTalk and say that it was a really poorly thought out question and I can't believe people actually bothered to answer it. I started to, but ultimately felt it was a waste of time, so I didn't.

Though a lot of the answers did seem to point out (helpfully) why the question as-asked was essentially meaningless.
posted by hermitosis at 11:07 AM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


besides, people with fancy degrees and lots of grant money have been asking this same question since we started studying animals.

Cite please?
posted by John Cohen at 11:07 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


OmieWise: "Had you said that, perhaps the offense could have been avoided. I would be inclined to take offense if someone called my question "ridiculous."

Agreed. The question is getting interesting comments and it's not helpful to be so dismissive.
posted by victoriab at 11:09 AM on October 27, 2010


I think it's okay to question or illustrate how an Asker may be starting from a faulty premise, but your response was jerky.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:10 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ridiculous questions are often my favorite questions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, it IS a ridiculous question that can't really be answered. But I agree with the others that stated that you really shouldn't be pointing it out. Just skip it or flag it if you think it's really that bad (though I don't think it's worth flagging). If a question was REALLY RIDICULOUS, then nobody would answer it and the asker would probably get the hint. As it stands, some people were "able" to "answer", though I don't think many of those answers are of any use (other than, perhaps those that say domesticated farm animals are probably "dumber"). Really, they're trying to apply a human metric, "intelligence", to non-human animals, which doesn't really make any sense.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:16 AM on October 27, 2010


...also, criticizing a question pretty soon becomes the same as doubting whether the asker is actually capable of asking a good question, which in its turn can easily be construed as personal criticism, which people sometimes take as an insult.
In this scenario, using the term 'ridiculous' pretty much pre-defines the course of the argument-to-follow.

(and...the eye-of-the-beholder thing. Criticizing never feels quite the same for him-who-criticizes as for him-who-gets-criticized. "I didn't mean it" doesn't count)
posted by Namlit at 11:16 AM on October 27, 2010


I'm going to go ahead and revel in the relative freedom of MetaTalk and say that it was a really poorly thought out question and I can't believe people actually bothered to answer it. I started to, but ultimately felt it was a waste of time, so I didn't.

While I understand better why my comment was deleted, hermitosis gets at what prompted it. The category of "dumb animal behavior" invites urban-legend type answers (of which there are already several in the thread, as well as other people to come in and debunk them). The OP even opens by saying the thing about turkeys is a myth.

I have a personal sore spot for scientific misconceptions and urban legends, so I tend to get carried away and overly snarky when I see them. But I also think that can be helpful.

Flashback digression alert: My own transition from a somewhat credulous younger person to a bigger skeptic happened mostly because of interactions I had with extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face. For me, those are more positive (though bittersweet) memories related to learning, feeling stupid but then smarter.

I understand more that it's not reasonable for me to expect everyone else to respond that way, when it can be obnoxious and jarring. No personal offense intended to the OP.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:18 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree that the question is unanswerable. But saying that the question is ridiculous, is different from explaining why it can't be answered. The latter is helpful to the asker, the former is just insulting.

(I didn't see you answer before it was deleted. You may have also included an explanation.)
posted by nangar at 11:20 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


criticizing a question pretty soon becomes the same as doubting whether the asker is actually capable of asking a good question

Huh?
posted by John Cohen at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2010


If you can't handle the ridiculous with good humor, you really shouldn't be on the internet.
posted by inturnaround at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2010


I guess the big question here is which is smarter, a chupacabra or a bigfoot? I heard a bigfoot can't see upside down. A friend of mine has a bigfoot, and says it's true. (I petted the bigfoot also, which was pretty cool)
posted by Greg Nog at 11:23 AM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I tend to get carried away and overly snarky when I see them. But I also think that can be helpful.

Not on a site which asks you to refrain from that sort of thing, no.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Bigfoot's got a fancy college degree, but the chupacabra has street smarts.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


criticizing a question pretty soon becomes the same as doubting whether the asker is actually capable of asking a good question

Huh?


Right. Er.
Calling a question stupid is sorta like calling the asker stupid. Better?
posted by Namlit at 11:25 AM on October 27, 2010


Well, it IS a ridiculous question that can't really be answered. ... If a question was REALLY RIDICULOUS, then nobody would answer it and the asker would probably get the hint.

Slight contradiction there, considering that people did give answers and the OP marked best answers.

But I agree, it is a ridiculous question. There's no problem to be solved, and it's not at all clear what the question even means. I'm surprised it stayed up, considering some of the quite reasonable questions I've seen that have been deleted.
posted by John Cohen at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, while Bigfoot adores a minuet, the ballet russes and crepes suzette, the chupacabra feasts on the precious vital fluids of helpless goats.

What a wild duet!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:27 AM on October 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


"Here are some of the things I think you're not taking into account in framing this question..." educates both the asker and the rest of us a lot more than "this question is stupid."

(A lesson that jessamyn and cortex had to teach me the hard way, BTW.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Calling a question stupid is sorta like calling the asker stupid. Better?

Yes ... but the word was "ridiculous," not "stupid."

Sometimes, a post on (Ask)Metafilter is simply ridiculous and should be deleted. In my opinion, this is one of them. I don't think we should be prohibited from pointing this out because it might hurt the OP's feelings.
posted by John Cohen at 11:30 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who ask questions don't consider them ridiculous, else they would not ask them.

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"
posted by blue_beetle at 11:35 AM on October 27, 2010


Calling a question stupid is sorta like calling the asker stupid. Better?

Yes ... but the word was "ridiculous," not "stupid."


Comeooon. I tried making sense of my own previous woids. Last bid: 'Calling a question ridiculous is also quite sorta like calling the asker ridiculous.' And it ain't a deep thought either, so let's move on please.

[for full disclosure, I didn't find the question overly brilliant, no, and so I didn't answer it]
posted by Namlit at 11:35 AM on October 27, 2010


I don't think we should be prohibited from pointing this out because it might hurt the OP's feelings.

might i suggest you read the rules for ask metafilter? i mean, you don't even have to go off the question's page -r ight there at the bottom Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer.

but if you did bother to click through the FAQs you'd see Ask MetaFilter comments should address the main question being asked. Common reasons for comment removal are wisecracks, derailing/ranting/axegrinding, picking a fight with or heavy chastising of the question asker, single word posts (yes, no, DTMFA &c.) and other non-answers that should probably be brought to MetaTalk.

so - you are pretty much explicitly prohibited from saying that and not because it hurts the OP's feelings (although, as a human, that should be one of your considerations) but because it's disruptive to the site.

as to Cite please? - i'm not going to dig up every biological study that examines the intelligence of animals as related to humans or other animals, and it confuses me as to why you'd question the sheer depth of that particular vein of inquiry.
posted by nadawi at 11:38 AM on October 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't really see what's so ridiculous about this:

There might not be a scientifically proven answer, but is there a set of cognitive measurements that can determine which few animals might rank lowest on the intelligence scale (not compared to humans, but simply intelligent qua intelligent)?

The answer may be "there's not really clear concept of what intelligence means, even for humans, and what it might mean in animals may be different again, so no, there are no cross-species intelligence tests", but the question is not, on its face, completely out to lunch, especially if you have a conventional rather than academic understanding of intelligence and intelligence testing.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:39 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sometimes, a post on (Ask)Metafilter is simply ridiculous and should be deleted. In my opinion, this is one of them. I don't think we should be prohibited from pointing this out because it might hurt the OP's feelings.

Then please continue avoiding commenting in such questions. Flag, move on.

Sometimes a question is not asked all that well but there's an answerable core there and we'll let it be and let people try to go after that core. As far as that goes, people can make an effort to address assumptions about what animal intelligence is, what sort of research exists on that topic, why straight-across comparisons to anthrocentric notions of intelligence or stupidity are tricky, and so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand how the question is ridiculous. Would asking which animals ranked highest on the intelligence scale be ridiculous? Considering the asker allowed for the fact that a cross-species intelligence scale might not exist or be extremely arbitrary I think she would have welcomed a zoologist's clarification of what "intelligence" really means in this context.
posted by otio at 11:40 AM on October 27, 2010


My own transition from a somewhat credulous younger person to a bigger skeptic happened mostly because of interactions I had with extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face. For me, those are more positive (though bittersweet) memories related to learning, feeling stupid but then smarter.

I agree and this speaks to a certain chunk of my biography as well. That is, I will be forever thankful to all the geniuses who impatiently, insensitively called me on my bullshit way back when, slapped me around, told me grow up and get a handle on how the world really works ...

Sometimes I think we're too NICE here at MeFi (particularly AskMe), that too often someone else's sensitivity stomps insensitively all over my sensitivity to lame and trivial bullshit (asking who's the dumbest animal of them all while people are getting curb-stomped in Kentucky, for instance). But ultimately, them's the rules and MeFi works, particularly the part about Flagging-it-and-moving-along.
posted by philip-random at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2010


I love the best-answer notion that horse brains lock up when confronted by corners. They're sort of the opposite of the hounds of Tindalos, presumably.
posted by Drastic at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I expressed the opinion that an AskMe was ridiculous every time I saw an AskMe I consider to be ridiculous, I wouldn't get a lot of work done. I'd get a lot of AskMe responses rightly deleted, though.
posted by Decani at 11:47 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


funny. my brain gets cornered when confronted with locks
posted by Namlit at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Drastic: thank you for that reference to The Hounds of Tindalos. Haven't read that in years, but I still get your reference, which pleases me far more than it has any right to, :-)
posted by Decani at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2010


I love the best-answer notion that horse brains lock up when confronted by corners.

Also, once they start biting down, they can't open their jaws again until they've bitten all the way, so if one bites your finger, they will have to bite it off completely. This is completely 100% a true fact.
posted by not that girl at 11:51 AM on October 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Help! I'm trapped in a tiny snowglobe!
posted by Askr at 11:52 AM on October 27, 2010


Also, once they start biting down, they can't open their jaws again until they've bitten all the way...

(Pony request: don't bite)
posted by Namlit at 11:55 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


overeducated_alligator: ... interactions I had with extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face.

Did some of those interactions involve snarky people telling you why they thought you were wrong? That you actually learned something from it suggests they did.

Simply telling someone they're stupid, that what they think is ridiculous or nonsense, just tells them that you think they're they're inferior to you and don't like them. It's not actually criticism.

Saying "this is complete nonsense because blah, blah, blah" is a completely different matter.
posted by nangar at 11:58 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Helpfulness in tone and in content is the key to all ask.metafilter questions.
posted by Brent Parker at 12:00 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Simply telling someone they're stupid, that what they think is ridiculous or nonsense, just tells them that you think they're they're inferior to you and don't like them. It's not actually criticism. Saying "this is complete nonsense because blah, blah, blah" is a completely different matter.

I did. There was a long explanation.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:02 PM on October 27, 2010


...alligators can be quite dangerous. They are instinctual living machines. An alligator's brain weighs only 8 or 9 grams and would take up only one-half of a tablespoon. This lack of brain power means there is no such thing as a "nice alligator".
posted by Floydd at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]



Well, it IS a ridiculous question that can't really be answered. ... If a question was REALLY RIDICULOUS, then nobody would answer it and the asker would probably get the hint.

Slight contradiction there, considering that people did give answers and the OP marked best answers.

But I agree, it is a ridiculous question. There's no problem to be solved, and it's not at all clear what the question even means. I'm surprised it stayed up, considering some of the quite reasonable questions I've seen that have been deleted.


Uh, sorry, what I meant to say was that it's ridiculous enough that it never should have been asked/allowed to stay IMO, however if it was SO UTTERLY AND OBVIOUSLY RIDICULOUS/STUPID then nobody would have even bothered to answer it in good faith. So, it's not a great question or reasonable question by any means, and it cannnot *truly* be answered, but apparently some people thought that they could answer it.

I'm not complaining about it, but I don't really see why it stayed up since it's not really answerable as-is. There is no real answer to the question and to restate it in any other way (like: what do you THINK the dumbest animal is and why?) is going to be chat-filter/pure speculation.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:27 PM on October 27, 2010


Yeah, as I said overeducated_alligator the response you gave was on the line and honestly if you'd just said "this is unanswerable for these reasons" and included the rest of your response, we'd be fine. Telling people off has the unfortunate but completely predictable consequence of getting them annoyed and further derailing the question. I'm in favor of questioning people's question assumptions, but we're sort of sticklers for that being helpful first.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:28 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think we should be prohibited from pointing this out because it might hurt the OP's feelings.

Well, you are.

If you think this policy should be changed, make a compelling case for it. As it is, you have the flagging queue and the email-the-mods option at your disposal and this seems to work in almost every case. Making a stand in a question for the deletion of that question is almost always a terrible idea.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:29 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


You don't get to decide what's ridiculous. Either answer the question or flag it.
posted by iconomy at 12:32 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ye mods!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:34 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


as to Cite please? - i'm not going to dig up every biological study that examines the intelligence of animals as related to humans or other animals, and it confuses me as to why you'd question the sheer depth of that particular vein of inquiry.

I think he's just griefing.
posted by slogger at 12:34 PM on October 27, 2010


This question is starting to seem like one that fits the topic at hand. Thread-hovering to the max, over a pretty dumb question IMO.
posted by hermitosis at 12:37 PM on October 27, 2010


Yeah, as I said overeducated_alligator the response you gave was on the line and honestly if you'd just said "this is unanswerable for these reasons" and included the rest of your response, we'd be fine.

Sorry to bring this to MetaTalk. I didn't know there were procedures (like you mentioned above involving MeMail). I have seen other posts of this type on MetaTalk and thought this was the proper forum for my objections.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:39 PM on October 27, 2010


Oh no, you're fine posting here, just making sure you understood why we did what we did. It's fine not to like it and talk about it here.

hermitosis: yeah I was going to use that as an example of politely refuting the OP's premises.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:41 PM on October 27, 2010


This question is starting to seem like one that fits the topic at hand. Thread-hovering to the max, over a pretty dumb question IMO.

You know, at first I thought it was just a person taking kind of the wrong approach to starting their day and unintentionally sounding like they have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but the more they hovered and the more they posted, the more I started to wonder.

This sort of came to a head when they said, "I mean, if I said I was considering having an espresso in the morning, would I be getting concerns about my mental health?"

Because yikes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:44 PM on October 27, 2010


I had a beautifully worded comment all previewed and ready to go, all about how just like the animals referred to in the question, different people are smart about different things. And how I, personally, find most of the relationship questions and the "should I eat this?" questions to be ridiculous, but everyone has different experiences and that's how humans learn, is by asking. And then I went to post it and the browser ate my post.

But my whole comment was really just an excuse to say that the dumbest animal alive has surely got to be my kitty, Henri, who is absolutely adorable but has the IQ of a turnip.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:55 PM on October 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


I have a personal sore spot for scientific misconceptions and urban legends, so I tend to get carried away and overly snarky when I see them. But I also think that can be helpful.

My experience, both professional and personal, is that is the exact opposite of the truth. Humour, especially sarcasm, often implies mockery to the listener. It can also seem patronizing. Your intention does not matter. Attempting humour can often get in the way of clarity when emotion is involved.

If you're trying to make a point, you want to avoid any emotional or value statements in your reply. If you can't do that, think very carefully if you need to reply at all. Humour can be gasoline if used badly.
posted by bonehead at 12:56 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling a question stupid is sorta like calling the asker stupid. Better?

No, that's much, much worse. Intelligent people can make the stupidest comments, and often do.

Pointing out how stupid the comment is is in no way calling the commenter stupid. One's a criticism of an idea or its expression, the other is an ad hominem attack. They are and must be separate.

If they are not, then nobody can criticize anyone's ideas or statements because OMG YOU'RE ATTACKING ME PERSONALLY!
posted by Aquaman at 12:59 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


the dumbest animal alive has surely got to be my kitty, Henri, who is absolutely adorable but has the IQ of a turnip.

I have to fight you on this. Our cat, utterly misnamed before we adopted her as Mellow, is surely the stupidest animal on the planet. She has the IQ of a terrified rutabaga.
posted by bearwife at 1:03 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to fight you on this.

Meet me on the playground after school at three o'clock. And bring your cat. We'll settle this once and for all.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:10 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flashback digression alert: My own transition from a somewhat credulous younger person to a bigger skeptic happened mostly because of interactions I had with extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face. For me, those are more positive (though bittersweet) memories related to learning, feeling stupid but then smarter.

Hey, I think I know those guys! I call them "assholes".

There are plenty of ways to correct an uneducated opinion that don't involve snark.
posted by Evangeline at 1:14 PM on October 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


> I did. There was a long explanation.

I'll take your word for it. I didn't see your deleted response. Apparently Jessamyn thought your tone was too hostile. It might have otherwise been OK.
posted by nangar at 1:15 PM on October 27, 2010


This gives me the opportunity to share my favorite new gag:

Q: What's the sound of a horse that is not very good at math, being asked "What is 2+2"?
A: (clop) (clop) (clop)
posted by jbickers at 1:17 PM on October 27, 2010


Dude, do you remember the guy who asked how to work pockets? He later asked why we shouldn't stare at the sun. I feel your pain.
posted by Biru at 1:18 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do wonder how that could possibly be "the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard." A bit over the top, that.
posted by smackfu at 1:22 PM on October 27, 2010


I'm not complaining about it, but I don't really see why it stayed up since it's not really answerable as-is.

I wouldn't really be surprised if some animal researches had done studies on "relative cognitive ability of mammals vs. brain size", and that would be a decent enough answer.
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on October 27, 2010


which is smarter, a chupacabra or a bigfoot?

Ask that question of both of them. Whichever gives you the better answer, that's the one.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:27 PM on October 27, 2010



Meet me on the playground after school at three o'clock. And bring your cat.


She only responds to her name 25% of the time. Even when there is food involved. I win! I win!
posted by bearwife at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2010


Calling a question stupid is sorta like calling the asker stupid. Better?

No, that's much, much worse. Intelligent people can make the stupidest comments, and often do


Okay another try. I wrote something that John Cohen didn't get because I screwed up grammatically. I come back and dumb my original content down, with a tongue-in-cheek flag, "sorta kinda", inserted. "Better" here addresses my attempt of re-phrasing, and not the content I'm trying to express.
The fun thing is that I totally agree with you, from top to end. Geez I might even myself be one of those stupid people who occasionally write an intelligent comment. What I'm trying to get across (not my day apparently) is much better expressed in bonehead's recent:

Your intention does not matter.

So "Calling a question ridiculous will almost automatically prompt the OP to feel ridiculous and to react offended, no matter the original intentions of the caller, and no matter what we others think about it."

Still not such a deep thought. What I seriously don't believe is that snark makes people understand how a question is not well-phrased. In disagreement with some things said up-thread, I believe that the confrontation-kick of being called a whatever (even if one has acted as a whatever) is substantially less enlightening than a patient explanation (that is, if one wants to act the Besserwisser at all). If one can't provide that service it's better to stay away from a thread.

And what the mods say. Read the manual before you press those buttons.
posted by Namlit at 1:33 PM on October 27, 2010


overeducated_alligator: "Flashback digression alert: My own transition from a somewhat credulous younger person to a bigger skeptic happened mostly because of interactions I had with extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face. ."

The key point here is you knew and respected these skeptics. The OP doesn't know or respect you, so it probably won't have the same enlightening impact you're looking for.
posted by victoriab at 1:34 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Q: What's the sound of a horse that is not very good at math, being asked "What is 2+2"?
A: (clop) (clop) (clop)


Actually it would be "what is 2 plus 2?" with perhaps some quiet horse whinnying or breathing noises in the background.
posted by phearlez at 1:34 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since we're talking cat's food. Is it time for recipes yet? I've picked some mushrooms...
posted by Namlit at 1:34 PM on October 27, 2010


I win! I win!

Henri had to be taught how to jump up onto a chair. (He has no physical problems preventing him from doing it. He's just stupid.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:35 PM on October 27, 2010


We can't adequately assess Henri and Mellow for brassica intelligence equivalence without pictures.
posted by tangerine at 1:36 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't really be surprised if some animal researches had done studies on "relative cognitive ability of mammals vs. brain size", and that would be a decent enough answer.

Except, the question was about "intelligence" not brain size, and the two aren't *necessarily* linked. Also, what is "intelligence"? We can barely find a fair, scientific way to quantify it for humans, who are able to speak and write and answer questions, let alone animals.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2010


Henri had to be taught how to jump up onto a chair. (He has no physical problems

That's me all over again
posted by Namlit at 1:42 PM on October 27, 2010


I had a pic of Henri in my first comment. But here's a fresh one.

sorry it's blurry. 2nd generation iphone pic.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:57 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


But I have different eyes
posted by Namlit at 2:00 PM on October 27, 2010


Henri had to be taught how to jump up onto a chair.

I was going to concede, but then I remembered that we never manage to teach Mellow that. Sometimes she leaps onto the table where her food is, sometimes we have to lift her.

I often wonder how her little brain manages to keep her breathing.
posted by bearwife at 2:02 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have an overthought pea under my ill considered mattress.
posted by y2karl at 2:19 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


extremely snarky people I knew, who never sugar-coated their opinions of things I believed - including calling some of it "Nonsense" to my face

But you can do that without being snarky or putting people down. That's just something some people add because they like being cruel. Like House, the justification is "I'm just telling them the truth" but you can do that in a nice way or a mean way and thats up to you.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:59 PM on October 27, 2010


How bout these two with 'fainting goat' syndrome...
posted by gman at 3:03 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sometimes she leaps onto the table where her food is, sometimes we have to lift her.

I often wonder how her little brain manages to keep her breathing.


I dunno, sitting there until the beautifully trained human picks you up seems like a perfectly adaptive behavior to me.

And overeduated alligator, thanks for bringing that question to my attention so I could flag it as offensive and move on. "Lolanimals R dummies, amirite?"
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:04 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is a ridiculous question?

Is it a question about common knowledge -- one that you "should" already know the answer to? Like if I ask, "Who is Elvis Presley?" Is that a ridiculous question? Because I might really not know. If it's about common knowledge, who gets to define the set of what's common knowledge, particularly on site read by people of all ages and countries?

Is it a question that is self-contradictory, like "What is the the furriest animal that doesn't have any fur?" I would agree that this is ridiculous, but the question we're discussing here isn't self-contradictory, is it?

I also think this is a ridiculous question: "What's the difference between a chair and the number five?" But I don't think our question resembles that.

Is it a question that one could answer oneself with a tiny bit of thought (or googling)? "What's 34 + 2?" That's an easy question. It seems a bit strange, to me, to call it a "ridiculous" questio though because, generally, the word "ridiculous" has connotations of "absurd" or "over the top," doesn't it? In any case, the question we're talking about isn't like this, right?

The questioner was asking about ranking intelligence: I've read a lot of psychology and neurology books, so I know that's a complex issue that involves some ill-defined terms, but popular culture is rife with references to intelligence ranking -- in people and animals. ("Pigs are smarter than dogs," etc.)

Is a question ridiculous if it can't be answered? "What happened before the big bang?" How is the questioner supposed to know if his question is answerable or not. If he's well-educated on the subject, he probably wouldn't ask the question to begin with.

Is a question ridiculous because it contains faulty logic (or erroneous information)? "How does drinking water cause cancer?" If the answer is "it doesn't," does that necessarily make the question ridiculous?
posted by grumblebee at 3:06 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


But you can do that without being snarky or putting people down. That's just something some people add because they like being cruel. Like House, the justification is "I'm just telling them the truth" but you can do that in a nice way or a mean way and thats up to you.

I've noticed that while there are (at least) three ways of telling someone he's wrong...

1) You know, you're such a smart person, but I think, maybe you're mistaken about this point. But that's okay. We all make mistakes...

2) You're wrong, because...

3) You idiot! You're wrong, because...

... many people don't seem to understand the difference between 2 and 3. They say, in a defense of the third option, "I said it because I don't believe in sugar-coating things!"

But clearly they believe in turd-coating things.

The third option is not just "telling it like it is." It's that PLUS adding in a gratuitous insult. It's just as gratuitous as "you're such a smart person, but..." Both response 1 and 3 say "this isn't just about information; it's also about you."

If the questioner here was violating the spirit of AskMe by asking a "ridiculous" question, the answerer was also violating it by not just giving an answer. The question wasn't "Is this question ridiculous or not." You can answer a question without editorializing about it.
posted by grumblebee at 3:14 PM on October 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


> How bout these two with 'fainting goat' syndrome...

That's freaking heartbreaking. With fainting goats it's kind of funny, because...well, goats. But not teh kittiez.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:21 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno, sitting there until the beautifully trained human picks you up seems like a perfectly adaptive behavior to me.


It would seem that way, wouldn't it? But for the fact that she is so utterly stupid about everything.

Our other cats are normal to very bright, and indeed they do train us whenever possible. I am well programmed, for example, to deliver kitty treats when requested in AMs. (Stupid Mellow, who loves treats, can't figure out that a kitty who wants them has to stay in the vicinity of treat distribution to receive them. Ergo she rarely gets treated.
posted by bearwife at 3:33 PM on October 27, 2010


there's an answerable core there and we'll let it be and let people try to go after that core.

The question for the mods then becomes whether it's their job to get in ahead of time for inelegant questions, or instead to prune out people making inelegant efforts to re-pivot those questions. The line between "going after the core" and "saying something that gets you flagged and/or deleted" is just as blurry.

As asked, that question is borderline chatfilter, which meant that it needed people to get in early to prevent it from being a "dumb stuff my cat does" thread, and since there are lots of people who are pretty flag-happy towards any response that doesn't hold an OP's question as sacrosanct, that's not ideal.
posted by holgate at 3:42 PM on October 27, 2010


Oooh, is this Cute But Stupid Cats time? I've got one! Tangerine is cute as a button and runs into walls at full speed.
posted by sonika at 3:43 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The line between "going after the core" and "saying something that gets you flagged and/or deleted" is just as blurry.

We are forever burdened with blurry lines around here. Barring some fundamental change to how this place operates, there's no getting away from the fact that almost nothing in the guidelines is a strict binarism and there will always be posts and comments and questions and answers that are sort of grey-area stuff that we have to deal with case-by-case, based on our feel for the situation and our available resources at that time.

As far as that goes, though, if we see someone landing on the wrong side of that line as a one-off thing, it's not a big deal. They may get their comment deleted, that's about the worst case scenario. Someone who regularly seems to be landing on that wrong side, we'll probably talk to if they don't ask us first.

If there are flag-happy people doing what we consider pointless or inappropriate flagging, they're going to have to deal with their flags not leading to action, and so it goes.

If, for any of that, someone is curious what the deal is, they can write to us or post to metatalk and we'll totally talk it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:49 PM on October 27, 2010


She has the IQ of a terrified rutabaga.

Could we try and keep away from the rutabaga stereotyping, please. Rutabagas are warm, sensitive and surprisingly bright vegetables who really don't deserve our scorn.



They're tasty, too.



I'm going to hell, I know. But I couldn't resist. :D
posted by zarq at 4:10 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love the best-answer notion that horse brains lock up when confronted by corners.

Also, once they start biting down, they can't open their jaws again until they've bitten all the way, so if one bites your finger, they will have to bite it off completely. This is completely 100% a true fact.
posted by not that girl at 2:51 PM on October 27 [3 favorites +] [!] No other comments.


that is way scarier than the snapping turtles I know who, once they've bitten you, are unable to tarn loose until the sun goes down or it thunders
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:33 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


also: Turd Coating
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:33 PM on October 27, 2010


Oooh, is this Cute But Stupid Cats time? I've got one! Tangerine is cute as a button and runs into walls at full speed.

Tangerine is a replicant of Mellow. Does she also refuse to come inside after meowing pitifully at the door because it is raining/snowing/cold?

zarq, I notice you didn't stick up for turnip warmth and intelligence and tastiness. Did you know rutabagas are a form of turnip?
posted by bearwife at 4:41 PM on October 27, 2010


I find it helpful to type out "This is ridiculous because _________" and then delete the first four words.

"This is ridiculous because it's not really helpful to askers to have their questions randomly insulted"

becomes

"It's not really helpful to askers to have their questions randomly insulted."

It's everything after "because" that the askers will find helpful. Your frustration with the asker is not useful for anyone. Totally and completely understandable, but not useful.
posted by ErikaB at 4:45 PM on October 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


And I, too, am fond of grumblebee's turn of phrase "turd-coating."

I never wondered "what's the opposite of sugar-coating," but there it is.
posted by ErikaB at 4:48 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does she also refuse to come inside after meowing pitifully at the door because it is raining/snowing/cold?

She's an indoor-only girl. Except for when she decides that "7AM When The Lady Human Is Leaving Is TOTALLY The Time To Explore the Hallway!" and no, won't go inside.

But that's not stupidity. That's just because she's also a psychotic jerk. In addition to being dumb.

(And cute. I guess that's why we keep her. The cute.)
posted by sonika at 4:59 PM on October 27, 2010


This lack of brain power means there is no such thing as a "nice alligator".

"My Mama says that alligators are ornery because they got all them teeth and no toothbrush." - Bobby Boucher (The Waterboy)
posted by amyms at 5:19 PM on October 27, 2010


(And cute. I guess that's why we keep her. The cute.)

I must admit Mellow is a good looking kitty. Female orange tiger cats seem fairly unusual, too. Although I think my husband appreciates that more than me -- I mostly see the utter vacancy in her pale green eyes.
posted by bearwife at 5:35 PM on October 27, 2010


We have turnips all over downtown Oakland. Beets too.

Penelope the Clever taught herself to play fetch and in my experience it's only the smart cats that manage to do that, so I can't take part in the "my cat is so dumb..." conversation. I think she thinks I'm the one who's not too bright.
posted by Lexica at 5:35 PM on October 27, 2010


I wouldn't really be surprised if some animal researches had done studies on "relative cognitive ability of mammals vs. brain size", and that would be a decent enough answer.

There is definitely research out there about the relative intelligence of various animals. Biologists test things like tool use, social cooperation, etc. to measure, at least in some vague way, the g (general intelligence) of various species. I'm not aware of any work on the least intelligent animals though (but my knowledge of the field has been acquired in the most glancing way), so I didn't answer the question. I don't think it is unanswerable at all, though the answer may well be that we haven't done much research on that question.
posted by ssg at 5:45 PM on October 27, 2010


What is a ridiculous question?

Who's your favorite war criminal?
posted by philip-random at 5:46 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mostly see the utter vacancy in her pale green eyes.

Ours has eyes the same color as her fur. Which is redonkulously cute. And yes, completely vacant and often CRAZY.

Here's a good example of the blend of stupid/psychotic that we have going on: we live on the 5th floor and our windows don't have screens installed*, so if they're going to be opened from the normal bottom-up way that people open windows, they can't be opened more than half an inch because THAT MORON will take a running start and run at a pigeon. We've found her on the ledge a few times and it's only because she's had to squeeze herself out there and not because she had the advantage of a running start that she never fell off.

And no, she won't come inside. You have to open the window all the way, stick YOURSELF out the window while cursing the cat, and physically GRAB her. Idiot.

*Yes, I say "Let's install screens! We'll go to Home Depot! I'll help!" and my husband says "tehiaoghiobahoiefheia'roeao" and it never happens.
posted by sonika at 5:59 PM on October 27, 2010


What is a ridiculous question?

Who's your favorite war criminal?


Sarah Palin's answer: All of 'em. Any of 'em that are put in front of me.
posted by amyms at 6:15 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


..but back to Chupacabra and Bigfoot, what's interesting to me is that they're cousins! identical. cousins. And you'll find, they laugh alike; they walk alike; at times they even emit that high pitched squee ..alike. you could lose your mind.. when you realize that Chupacabra and Bigfoot are two of a kind.

Thank You,
the_auditor
posted by The_Auditor at 6:15 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sonoma, our cats are clearly related. We're a little worried ours will starve while we are on vacation due to her panic whenever our kind and loving sitter comes by. She's not even entirely OK when its just me dishing dinner.
posted by bearwife at 6:22 PM on October 27, 2010


My brother likes to kill what limited brain cells my dog actually has, but damn, he's a good looking boy.
posted by gman at 6:24 PM on October 27, 2010


Sonika I meant of course. Thank you, officious spell checker.
posted by bearwife at 6:26 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rutabaga, turnip; they are all just lonely and want to hear from you.

Call any vegetable
And the chances are good
That a vegetable will respond to you-hoooo

Ruta-bay-ay-ayga
Ruta-bay-ay-ayga
Ruta-bay-ay-ayga
Ruta-bay-ay-ayga
Ruta-bay-y-y ...


Also the original question was chatfilter, but since this isn't my playground I'm not gonna let it bother me tonight.
posted by TedW at 6:27 PM on October 27, 2010


Is it wrong that I actually have a favorite war criminal (where "favorite" = "the one I find most fascinatingly horrifying")?

::crickets::

::crickets::
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:29 PM on October 27, 2010


Oh hi guys
posted by The Whelk at 6:37 PM on October 27, 2010


Sidhedevil, do tell.
posted by amyms at 6:46 PM on October 27, 2010


So hey, who has the stupidest toddler? When my niece was 2 or 3, she was as dumb as a post. Heck, she couldn't even operate the gas grill properly or be trusted alone in the bathtub for 10 minutes. She got lost in a store once, and did she answer the PA system page? No, she just sat there and sniffled until someone found her. What a narcissistic dolt. We were going to buy her a car seat, but we couldn't find one that matched the upholstery. I really can't believe she's about to graduate from college this year -- it must be those dimples and blue eyes that are getting her through, bless her heart.

What I learned in MeTa this week: it's hilarious to insult your pussycat, as long as you don't call it a pussy.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:47 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Henri had to be taught how to jump up onto a chair.

My cat Thor got lost in an open box. Walked in, freaked out, started scratching at the back, meowing frantically all "AAAAA I CAN'T GET OUT!" I bent down behind him and said "Thor?" and he turned around and bolted out, like "Oh my GOD you FIXED IT!"

He has done this three or four times.

My friend Emma wrote, to the tune of Jonathan Coulton's "Ikea":

Long ago, in days of yore
It all began with a cat named Thor
He was fuzzy and cute and got lost in a box on the floor. . .
posted by KathrynT at 6:48 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Cat The Cat somehow figured out that standing on my feet and mewing would make me pick her up, and she enjoyed this. She expressed her desire to go places by digging her claws into my back the further I got from her desired location. She liked to do this outside, so it lead to a lot of "Oh hey Cat, you want up? Aw there you go, lets go by the creak oh NO NO NO okay by the Big tree OW OW NO okay the house? you want to go to the house? Okay ah good yes OW OW OW okay not the bathroom, here's the living room, go ..ow.."
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 PM on October 27, 2010


I find it helpful to type out "This is ridiculous because _________" and then delete the first four words.

No lie, probably five percent of all my ask.metafilter comments have started with some variation of, "You idiot, ____" and then deleting the words, "You idiot"

PS The Whelk you can't tell stories about a Maine Coon without posting pics
posted by Greg Nog at 7:00 PM on October 27, 2010


We are forever burdened with blurry lines around here. Barring some fundamental change to how this place operates, there's no getting away from the fact that almost nothing in the guidelines is a strict binarism and there will always be posts and comments and questions and answers that are sort of grey-area stuff that we have to deal with case-by-case, based on our feel for the situation and our available resources at that time.

posted by cortex at 6:49 PM


I feel like I have this and similar statements from you and jessamyn a bunch of times in the last couple weeks. Maybe add something like that to the "before you hit post" page of Metatalk?

Hang in there.
posted by marxchivist at 7:00 PM on October 27, 2010


Penelope the Clever taught herself to play fetch and in my experience it's only the smart cats that manage to do that, so I can't take part in the "my cat is so dumb..." conversation. I think she thinks I'm the one who's not too bright.

Roswell fetches. Sometimes, he brings me the toy when I'm in the middle of something, and can't play with him. Then, he'll pick up the ball, go to the railing in the hallway, and drop the ball down the stairs himself. Then run down after it, bring it up, repeat. Pretty sure he thinks I'm not too bright.
posted by rtha at 7:44 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I learned in MeTa this week: it's hilarious to insult your pussycat, as long as you don't call it a pussy.

I can't figure out why this is the lesson you learned, because in the thread to which you refer, we specifically did discuss the difference between referring to a cat and a person as a pussy. Not to mention, I've yet to meet the non human variety of cat that reads Metafilter and could or would be upset by seeing a negative reference to its intelligence.

Penelope the Clever taught herself to play fetch and in my experience it's only the smart cats that manage to do that, so I can't take part in the "my cat is so dumb..." conversation. I think she thinks I'm the one who's not too bright.

Roswell fetches. . . . Pretty sure he thinks I'm not too bright.


Our brightest cat, Gigi, has us entirely wrapped around her paw. When she wants pets, play, or extra crunchies, we hop to it. One thing I especially love about her is how dramatic she is. She will position herself near, for example, a closed door and caterwaul in tones of misery how lonely she is. We promptly open up! Or she'll stretch herself full length in her cat bed, extend her paw as far as it will reach, and stare at us with sorrowful intensity. Petting ensues at once.

It is good that she deals gently with our moronic inability to anticipate these needs before they arise.
posted by bearwife at 8:17 PM on October 27, 2010



PS The Whelk you can't tell stories about a Maine Coon without posting pics


Cat the Cat and Me, age 10ish

Cat in a thing

She lived to be six fucking teen teen and was The Best Cat.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on October 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


i'm not going to dig up every biological study that examines the intelligence of animals as related to humans or other animals, and it confuses me as to why you'd question the sheer depth of that particular vein of inquiry.

The question wasn't about studying the intelligence of animals. It was about finding the dumbest animal. You don't need to dig up every study—you only need to find one.
posted by grouse at 8:26 PM on October 27, 2010


My cat just got put down last month, while I was on a short trip to Ontario :-( She was 18 years old, her name was Taffy and she was bought for us "kids" by my now-deceased Dad. He always said that cat would outlive him, and he was right. She was smart but EVIL. She would make grown, burly men run out of the house screaming when she was young. And she was declawed (Yes, I know, don't even go there!). I was one of the few people who could do anything to her. Well, she would occasionally bite me or scratch with her back claws (the kick of death) but mostly she let me get away with bugging her or picking her up. Though I do have quite a few permanent scars on my hands and arms from her.

I just got her cremains back, and she's now sitting on a jar on my shelf :-S I don't know whether I should keep her or scatter her ashes on my Dad's grave (just to piss him off lol) or bury the urn somewhere.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:36 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and this is the brilliant Gigi, while this is our cretin Mellow.
posted by bearwife at 8:41 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


by saying the question itself was ridiculous
said what he/she was asking was meaningless

/eyeroll

learn some diplomacy, it's not that difficult and it goes a long way in interacting with people

it's not just you. it makes polymodus very sad to see it so often.
posted by polymodus at 9:19 PM on October 27, 2010


All these stupid cat stories make me sad. I think we need a stupid Dog story.
posted by maudlin at 10:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude,

No matter what the mods would prefer, sometimes ask is a place for bullshit discussion.

Ive realized that i have a low tolerance in the wah-wah relationship problems, and the woo-woo type questions that claim to have a basis in science.

Just stay away from the types of questions that bother you.

Also, the question is bullshit. The OP claims that 'sponge' is a best answer...if that was the case, then unicellular organisms would be the answer he is looking for.

And if he really wanted to know the answer...he could have used google, figured out what criteria he wanted to use, and find an organism based on that.

Dont worry, op of this thread...that question was bullshit.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:55 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dont worry, op of this thread...that question was bullshit.

While that's great and all, the MeTa and most of the discussion aren't so much a referendum about the question, which most seem to acknowledge was lackluster, as it is about appropriate responses. The point is that even if a question was bullshit doesn't make an inappropriate response okay. But I sort of doubt you give a rat's ass either way.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:33 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


OP, a small percentage of people actually respond really well to snarky putdowns of their stupidity. It is a really small percentage, however. I have had to learn, as a teacher, to restrict my use of snarky putdowns to the students who enjoy (at least in retrospect) and more importantly, gain educational benefit from them. The vast majority of people (and I must admit this disappoints me) respond in exactly the opposite way when they feel like they are being called stupid or ridiculous. On the internet, it's a good idea to assume that a given individual falls within that majority, unless you have good reason to believe otherwise.
posted by bardophile at 12:57 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Panda is obviously the stupidest animal.
posted by Loto at 5:16 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We also have a smart cat. Wensleydale (though she is infamously a dick) is the brains of the operation. She's smart enough that she won't bother to actually chase the laser pointer because duh, it's that thing in your hand, stupid human, why would I burn a calorie chasing that? She will swat at the little dot if you bring it near her, but she will not go after it. Oh no. She will just wait. And wait. And wait.

She's also pathologically lazy. And fat. The reason she's so fat is mostly because she refuses to burn a calorie, not because she overeats. And yes, we could open our windows as wide as we please and she wouldn't ever dream of jumping out and you can just forget about the idea of a "running start." That would involve running.
posted by sonika at 5:40 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The OP claims that 'sponge' is a best answer...if that was the case, then unicellular organisms would be the answer he is looking for.

Most unicellular organisms are not animals, but apparently (learn something new every day) there are a few that are. Still, do you have either a citation or an argument that sponges are more intelligent than unicellular animals? Given that neither has a nervous system of any sort, that might be a difficult argument to make.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:46 AM on October 28, 2010


One of the other problems that we have in Ask is that people ask a "just wondering" sort of question about an area that they only sort of understand and then get people answering who are actually experts in that area [self-proclaimed or otherwise] who pick apart the question, the answers, and the best answers given to such a level that they basically stomp all over the question the OP was actually asking. I know it's proabbly annoying as hell to see people sort of go LALALA on your topic of interest and ignore your totally correct answers, but that's sort of what happens. The OP had a general question and if she thinks "sponge" answers the question as she heard it in her head, or gave her the information she was wondering about, then that's fine. This sortof thing happens in the library every single day, I guess I just got used to the disconnect between what people say their question is and what their question actually is.

People who insist that the OP is asking the wrong question -- after basically saying some version, politely of "I think you are asking the wrong question and this is why...." -- and can't leave it alone are sort of wrecking the place. Let it go.

I am sorry about your cat 1000monkeys.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just came in to say: YAY HENRI!
posted by everichon at 8:31 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


scatter her ashes on my Dad's grave (just to piss him off lol)

I VOTE THIS ONE.

Also, in the realm of stupid cats, I would just like to put in a word for Caliban Party Ghost. This morning, I saw that he was lying on top of my seven-foot-tall bookshelf, just chilling out sleepily. "Hey, little guy!" I said brightly, "What are you doing up there!"

He yawned, stretched out lazily, and rolled over -- straight off the edge of the shelf, eyes suddenly snapping wide as he frantically pulled down eight or nine books during his fall.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So hey, who has the stupidest toddler?

I have the opposite problem. I think mine are plotting against me.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a female black Burmese (what a gorgeous cat) who was a genius. Utterly placid on the outside, she was terribly jealous of any woman who came into my space with her. Many stories, but my favorite actually involved my mother, who was traveling (in those days pre 9/11) with big knitting needles and a skein of yarn in her zipped up suitcase. She dropped her luggage at my place and we went out. When we came back she was getting into the guest bed when she discovered the (sharp) needles and the entire skein of yarn unraveled under her comforter, carefully hidden.

We never figured out how the cat got them out of her suitcase, but had she not looked, she would have been stabbed and ensnared getting under the covers. And this was fairly typical of this cat.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:33 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Cat the Cat and Me, age 10ish

Cat in a thing

She lived to be six fucking teen teen and was The Best Cat


Oh, you are making me simultaneously smiley and sad. I had my Best Cat (ignore the blurriness and hideous my-mom-picked-it-and-I-was-too-young-to-protest haircut pls) too, the same window of time (what IS it with the cat you grow up with around, say, 8 years old to after you leave college??). I still can't think of her without wanting to cry. G'ah, that little cat...

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the two who live with me now, I will declare that the cat who grows up alongside you really is The Best Cat (I hear from my husband it tends to work similarly with dogs...).
posted by ifjuly at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2010


I will declare that the cat who grows up alongside you really is The Best Cat

I don't know . . . I loved the cats I grew up with, though some more than others. I especially adored our first cat, our ferocious calico Chi Chi, who we got from the pound as a kitten and who moused our whole house in a week, then ruled us all with an iron paw the rest of her life.

But I also adore the aforesaid brilliant and histrionic Gigi, as well as our king tabby cat, and have a very large soft spot for our roly poly completely round tabby cat.

I'd add that although I still miss my First Dog, I am besotted with my Aussie, who is alive and well and probably thinking about where to re-bury his bone right now.
posted by bearwife at 10:53 AM on October 28, 2010


I can't believe you folks don't know how this works.

LATE CATS are the BEST CATS.

CATS LIVING WITH YOU NOW are to be regularly reminded that they are the WORST CATS EVER.
posted by everichon at 11:44 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also applies to dogs.
posted by everichon at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2010


Our old dog Joshers was The Best of All Possible Dogs. And we knew it at the time. Now that my parents have three ill-behaved Pekingese... oh man do I ever miss that dog.

As for cats, Wensleydale is currently my Favorite Cat of All Time and that includes the cat I grew up with, who was nearly as stupid as our Other Cat. He was also, like she is, orange. I wonder if there's a correlation between orange cats and low IQ...
posted by sonika at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm moved, in some way, to learn that sonika apparently named her stupid, cute cat after me.
posted by tangerine at 1:06 PM on October 28, 2010


I'm moved, in some way, to learn that sonika apparently named her stupid, cute cat after me.

Well, I'm sure you're darn cute! Just be careful not to fall out of fifth story windows.
posted by sonika at 1:18 PM on October 28, 2010


I am sorry about your cat 1000monkeys.

Thank you, Jessamyn!
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2010


I saw this question too and thought that it was somewhat pointless. But there is no rule against ridiculous questions in AskMe (so I didn't flag it) and I didn't have the patience to write an articulate answer explaining why this question was flawed. Instead, I got up, left my office and walked to the water cooler. Then I saw cute new girl at work, made small talk, and asked her out for drinks. She said "How about Friday?"
!
Then I walked over to the mail room and got the last home made cupcake before returning to my desk.

So in summary, ignore ridiculous question = cupcake + hot date #win
posted by special-k at 4:56 PM on October 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


We call my cat Jessica Simpson because we can't decide if he's really stupid or secretly brilliant at making us think he's stupid. Either way, that cat has got the life. And a big ass (also like Jessica Simpson).

Is my cat both the smartest and dumbest animal?
posted by 26.2 at 10:22 PM on October 28, 2010


Something about a male cat being called Jessica Simpson just makes me want to pee my pants a little. Too funny!
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:47 PM on October 28, 2010


Ooh, so it's cat picture time ? Well, then, this is Grace. She may not be the smartest cat with whom I have lived but she is by far the sweetest tempered and her behavior has been the most endearing.

But, alas, the news of late is not the best: I will asking my own question or questions soon about living with cats with chronic renal failure.
posted by y2karl at 10:37 AM on October 29, 2010


But, alas, the news of late is not the best: I will asking my own question or questions soon about living with cats with chronic renal failure.

OH NOEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!
posted by sonika at 12:28 PM on October 29, 2010


:-(
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:06 PM on October 29, 2010


I wish I was a nihilist, just so I could answer every single question in MeTa with "This question is ridiculous. Reality is an illusion!"
posted by qvantamon at 3:09 PM on October 29, 2010


Ack. I meant AskMe, not MeTa. I can always do that in MeTa.

By the way, this MeTa is ridiculous. Reality is an illusion.
posted by qvantamon at 3:10 PM on October 29, 2010


Q: What's the sound of a horse that is not very good at math, being asked "What is 2+2"

A horse that is not very good at math will be just fine, but if you ask that to a horse that is GOOD at math, it'll just lock up.

Because you see, 4 is a perfect square, and horses don't do squares.
posted by qvantamon at 3:16 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


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