The Burning Questions Mailbag


So we all know that I’ve established the Burning Questions brand. The random questions that pop into my head that need answering. I’ve taken other people’s Burning Questions occasionally, but only a couple times. Well, that doesn’t seem fair, does it? I decided I had to open up the Burning Question Hotline and take #BurningQuestions from the public. I have no idea what to expect. These Questions could be literally anything. I’m not sure if I’m emotionally ready, but let’s get into it.

Brian asks: What’s the point of tax returns?

Alright, I couldn’t resist. I had to start with one of my own. Having just done my taxes (before April, nbd), this is fresh in my mind. I pretty much have the lowest possible return- No kids, I didn’t get married, I didn’t buy a car or house, I don’t have any business expenses, as popular as this site is, it’s not quite a religion yet, no student debt or anything. I’m literally the definition of a bare bones tax return. And I still got half of my taxes back. So what’s the point of it all? If someone like me gets it all back, why even tax me at all? Or just tax me half as much and save me the ten minutes it takes to do my returns. Do they want to make sure everyone gets annoyed at doing something that is practically automated in 2017? Make us all be active members of society? It just makes no sense to me. You should just alert the government when something that effects your taxes happens then they should adjust accordingly. No one should have to do tax returns. So I’m supposed to feel good about getting half the money the government took from me back? Just don’t take it in the first place! Or is that too logical for a bureaucracy?

JoeyGSp0t asks: With so many birds out there, why do you rarely see dead birds?

Without go too deep into the natural life cycle of carbon-based lifeforms, I’d say the fact that the mostly live in places people don’t live is a big reason. Although now that I think about it, I grew up surrounded by trees, and I never saw dead birds either. Never really saw skeletons, either. So where do the dead bodies go? Are they so light they just decompose faster than everything else? Hmmm, you may be on to something here, JoeyGSp0t.

BlacktopLebron asks: If the NBA had a real-life fantasy draft what would the top 5 look like?

Always good to #embracedebate like this. Not only do I know how NBA teams think like the back of my hand, but I’ve played enough NBA 2K to know my way around NBA fantasy drafts, and I can say with confidence this is what the top ten (could’t limit it to five) would look like:

  1. Lebron James
  2. Karl-Anthony Towns
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. Anthony Davis
  6. Russell Westbrook
  7. Giannis Antetokounmpo (spelled it right the first time, not to brag)
  8. James Harden
  9. John Wall
  10. Steph Curry

Crazy that Westbrook would go so low and that Steph Curry is barely top 10, but NBA teams always have been and always will be obsessed with size, length, and athleticism (what idiots, right?), so freaks like KAT, Kawhi, and Giannis get priority. Something I always think about is every single player who ever played in the NBA was in the draft, but all we knew about them was what teams knew before the draft, what would that top 10 look like? In other words, at the time they were drafted, who did everyone think had the highest potential. People knew Lebron and Shaq would be amazing, where guys like Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry were unheralded. So in this scenario, guys like Tyrus Thomas and Kwame Brown who were highly touted would go way ahead of Curry and Leonard, even though both those players are future Hall of Famers. Actual draft position doesn’t matter, since many times the player with the highest upside isn’t taken number one overall. Obviously I can’t account for teams’ poor decision making, but I think the top ten would look something like this:

  1. Shaquille O’Neal
  2. Lebron James
  3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  4. Patrick Ewing
  5. Hakeem Olajuwon
  6. Kevin Durant
  7. Michael Jordan (people forget MJ was taken #3 overall. Teams don’t know what his career will be)
  8. Magic Johnson
  9. Tim Duncan
  10. Anthony Davis

Anyone complaining about the lack of guys like Oscar and Wilt- it’s impossible to judge the talent of the 50s and 60s to today. Wilt was averaging 50 and 25 against teams with five guys that looked like me. What would he do against a team with David Robinson (who absolutely deserved to be in the top 10 of that draft) and Tim Duncan? I’m not saying he’ll suddenly become Jah Okafor, but he’s not gonna get 50. Same with Oscar. Kareem is pretty much my cutoff, because his skill set translates to the modern game. Wilt was just bigger and stronger than everyone he faced. Would his ceiling be Dwight Howard or something more?

BlacktopLebron also asks: Who are the five best coaches in all of sports?

For this to work, you have to determine which sport coaches have the most impact on. In my mind, that’s football and basketball. Baseball has too many uncontrollable variables, and soccer and hockey are more freeform than the other sports. Due to the smaller number of players and court size, I’d say basketball coaches have the highest potential for micromanaging, the cardinal sin of coaching. Therefore, I’d posit that basketball coaches have the greatest impact on their sport, followed by football, soccer, baseball, and hockey. Then there’s how you judge things like recruiting for college coaches, roster moves, off-the-field player management, how much their players like them, and so on and so forth. I value in-game decision making most, so here’s what I think:

  1. Bill Belichick (who else?)
  2. Gregg Popvich
  3. Brad Stevens
  4. Coach K
  5. Joe Maddon

soaringeagle52 asks: What’s the most underrated fruit?

Hmmm, that’s a decent question. I suppose it all hinges on which fruits you consider overrated and properly rated. And are rare tropical fruits that no one’s ever eaten underrated or just unknown? First, let’s establish the mainstream fruits. Apples, bananas, strawberries, cherries, oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, watermelon, tomatoes and pineapple all have established positions in the fruit hierarchy. Ever since the term superfood was invented to make people feel better about themselves for eating obviously healthy fruit, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and avocados have gotten plenty of hype. There’s not a ton left. There’s known fruits that are rarely talked about like pears, but I’ve never been a pear guy.  Maybe something like mangos? I love mango flavored things but I wouldn’t write home about actually eating one. Grapefruit maybe?  I don’t really know what else is out there. I don’t eat pomegranates or açai berries. Dragon fruit seems kind of gross. You know what? I think I’m gonna say cantaloupe. Think about it: it’s a key part of every fruit salad ever made. How many times in your life have you eaten cantaloupe? A hundred? A thousand? And how many times have you said “oh, man, I love me some cantaloupe?” Probably never. It’s time we start appreciating cantaloupe, the bread of the fruit world.

WhiteKong asks: Could you get away with murder?

With all due respect to my friend WhiteKong, I’m going to alter this a little bit so I don’t wind up on any FBI watch list. I’m instead going to ask my own question, how did anyone get caught for a crime before like, 1975? No one had any way to prove anything. Like unless someone saw you in the act, who’s to say whether or not I really robbed that 1800s General Store? And don’t get me started on the Dark Ages. I could go back in time and kill at least 1,000 people in the 1300s. If you just kept moving from town to town no one would ever catch you. Ancient police was totally clueless. They burned people for being witches because they didn’t like them, for crying out loud! I think I could outsmart them.

XtothaG asks: In 50 years, with the rise of non-state actors and a global society, will the traditional “states” still matter?

Ummm, maybe?

XtothaG also asks: Why is pepperoni so overrated? I get that it’s iconic in terms of pizza, but c’mon there’s so many better options to put on pizza.

That’s more like it. First of all, let’s ease up on the pepperoni slander. Second, I actually think this in an interesting study in group-think and the power of reputation. I’m sure pepperoni was used as a topping in the early days of pizza. Someone told someone else it was good. Next thing you know, it’s the most popular topping ever. I’m an open pepperoni lover, but what if it really isn’t the ideal topping? What if the ultimate topping is really dried haddock or something? What if we, as humans, are missing out on the best version of pizza simply because our forefathers decided pepperoni was the base topping? That’s why something like Hawaiian pizza is met with such scorn-it’s different than what everyone’s used to (it’s easily the most divisive thing in the world of pizza, so it’s important that I say I love Hawaiian pizza and you’re weak minded if you refuse to try it). Maybe it’s all just a conspiracy by Big Pepperoni to keep the other toppings down. If I had the willpower, I might suggest trying a ton of other toppings to try and spread the love a little, but I know that’s not realistic. Heck, I’ve already mentally committed to getting some pepperoni pizza tonight. Maybe I’m just putty in pepperoni’s hands, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Stay woke, as they say.

KingRichard1911 asks: Why is the speed at which the Universe expands increasing as opposed to decreasing?

In other words, how can something that’s already infinite keep expanding? Well, if I had the answer to that, I probably wouldn’t be writing this, so consider yourselves lucky. I don’t get how the universe expands at all. They say everything is moving away from the center of the universe. How can something that has no limits have a center? How do we even know if the universe has limits? What if it isn’t infinite, it’s just a little bit bigger than what we’re capable of detecting? What’s at the edge of the universe? What’s outside the universe if it has edges? Why is it getting bigger in the first place? What force is driving entire galaxies to move? How insignificant are humans, really? What’s the meaning of life? Let’s move on before I get too depressed.

WhiteKong also asks: What if there’s other things out there that we can’t detect because we don’t have the organ capable of sensing it?

Oh, nice some more light discussion. Maybe this is why we don’t know why the universe is expanding. We just physically don’t have the capability of sensing it. There might be some Galactus-style being who is just pushing the galaxies outwards. Maybe there’s something like another color spectrum out there. Maybe wind doesn’t even exist, it’s just the wings of some giant bird whose feathers are a color we can’t see. What if water is actually the most flavorful think on Earth and our taste buds can’t comprehend it? Are we even really on top of the food chain? Is Godzilla real and we can’t see him? What if every unexplained death an disappearance was really just some invisible thing killing people? Is it even safe to leave my house anymore? I can’t really be certain.

WhiteKong also asks: What if nothing ever existed?

Damn, man, you trying to make my brain explode? Well, I can say with a certain amount of confidence that if nothing ever existed we wouldn’t be here. I don’t really even know what would happen if nothing ever existed. But what if whatever creation event you believe in (be it God or the Big Bang or whatever) happened like two minutes later? Would anything change? Two minutes is such an insignificant amount of time, but what about two hours? Two years? Did time even exist before it happened? If everything was set back a little, would all the Mass Extinction events have still happened? Would humans have ever evolved if dinosaurs were still around? Would dinosaurs even exist if all the random invertebrates and bacteria were still around? Would life have ever developed? If the creation event was even slightly delayed would it have even happened at all? Would the universe itself even exist? Most importantly, would this website have ever been founded? I’m beginning to think maybe not.

I think I’ll stop here to keep my mind from getting tied into an inescapable knot. Some good questions here, though. My ears are always open to the Burning Questions of my readers. It’s good to get them out of your head before they drive you crazy. Remember, if you have a Burning Question that needs answering, you know where to find me.

4 thoughts on “The Burning Questions Mailbag”

  1. hi brian with all due respect I have respect for the work of others and copyrights restriction is it okay to use your burning sign question for my t-shirt so you know it is for a commercial use. please let me know when you can you can contact me

    thank you for your time


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