Ask Ceil – The News That Isn’t

This Week: News that Isn’t


Dear Ceil,

I just saw a news story about burger meat being made from poop. Is that true?

Freaked out in Fresno

Dear Freaked,

Holy cow! I mean, holy crap! I mean, that’s incredible!

It is incredible, in the same way that it is not credible.

Calm down, and put down the toilet bowl porcelain shiv. I know this thing ran around the internet like sewage running down a pipe, but I swear to you now: no one will make you eat poop. I promise.

But I am curious—What makes this story so, um, appealing? (Though I’m not feeling that’s the right word.) I mean, poop burgers? I suppose if you see the headline “Japanese Scientists Create Meat from Poop”—and you’ve just got to click on it. Same goes for “Japanese Scientist Makes Poop Burger”. Thinking about it now, that is exactly the kind of story you print out and chase your brother around the house with. If you’re ten.

Armed with this knowledge, then, I really feel like I have a future in journalism. I think I can appeal to the average ten-year-old, while at the same time literally making stories out of crap. I have a theory. I think you can make a story out of any of the following four words, put it on Twitter, and it gets picked up. Here are the words: Poop, meat, vampires, Lady Gaga.

So let’s try it out:

“Poop Being Reanimated; Turns Into Vampires”. Shows promise.

“Vampires Eat Meat to Impress Lady Gaga.” Closer…I’ve got it:

“Lada Gaga wears Meat Dress to Awards Show”. Oh, wait. Sigh

(If you haven’t seen the video, you have to go to the HuffPo website and watch it. Note that the refrigerator in the laboratory reads—in English—“Shit Burger”. Here is the Salon.com story, debunking this crap: The mystery of the Japanese “poop burger” story)


Dear Ceil,

I understand the Oxford comma is obsolete. Why do I care?

Punctuated in Plano

Dear Punctuated,

You strike at my very heart. You have to care. It’s unpatriotic not to care. About the placement of a comma. Being dictated to us by Great Britain. (We tell them “No taxation without representation!” and they tell us “No serialization without punctuation!” See what nice guys they are?) But I digress.

This is an issue that affects all of us. The Oxford comma lets us know whether Mary is “lovely, plain and simple” or “lovely, plain, and simple”. I think Mary would appreciate the distinction. And so might anyone going on a blind date with Mary.

What if someone said to you, “Sure, you can get that surgery. It’ll cost you your sanity, and an arm and a leg.” Compare that to “It’ll cost you your sanity, an arm, and a leg.” In the second sentence, I am assuming that it is some kind of lobotomy-and-limb-replacement program. You could go in there thinking you’ll be getting a mole removed, and “…where the heck are my arms?! Why can’t I think?” See? This is important stuff.

Thankfully, Oxford is not obsoleting my beloved serial comma. Salon.com once again comes to my rescue, stating that Oxford University Press is continuing its practice of putting commas absolutely everywhere (thank goodness!). Apparently, it was a mistake made regarding their policy on press releases, which makes sense because this totally sounds like something an MBA student would screw up. (To my MBA friends: Love ya! Mean it!)


In a life marked by crippling indecision, Ceil Kessler has worked too many types of jobs to count, and is finally in her own business, consulting on business intelligence software. Ceil also markets and publishes the magazine “Business Perks”. Like everyone else in the world, she is working on a couple of novels. She also runs the Laurel Highlands Vegetarian Society, plays pool in her increasingly rare free time, and is an appreciator of fine wines and single-malt scotches.

If you have questions for Ceil, please send them along questions@askceil.com, or you can use the Ask Ceil-o-matic form.

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One thought on “Ask Ceil – The News That Isn’t

  1. Love the poop burger story…about as much as one should ever “love” a story about poop, I suppose. A couple of years ago, there was a restaurant in Sydney that was alleged to have served ice-cream made from poop – not what was on the menu, mind you! The restaurant guests complained of a foul smell and taste (why they would still put it in their mouths after smelling the foulness is beyond me, but there you go). I have not dared order chocolate ice-cream since.

    As for the comma, I sure hope it is not obsolete! How about we make exclamation marks obsolete? I really hate it when people are yelling at me! It is just not right! I mean it! And what about the apostrophe? I am so sick of people not knowing where it belongs that some days I wish it would go away, then my OCD would stop working in overdrive all the time (sigh).

    P.S. I would never make fun of a fellow MBA grad…oh wait, that’s a lie. I might. I would. I often do, but not anyone I know 🙂

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