Since Ctein has patently introduced the subject of Big Mysteries in the previous post, I'd like to review a strange case that has to do with our very own Universe, i.e. the internet. There is on the internet a blog called The Dilbert Blog that is written by a man who is signs himself "Scott Adams." Opinion is divided, but the growing concensus seems to be that Scott Adams cannot be the Dilbert Blog Writer, also called "D." S. Adams (the reason for the use of the first initial will become clear in a moment) is a cartoonist who is only "just good enough" at drawing, which is one of the main things a cartoonist does. Almost nothing is known about him apart from a few tantalizing details such as the fact this his tie flips up at the end for no apparent reason (see photo). According to the so-called "Identity theorists," who are surprisingly numerous, Scott Adams cannot be the author of the Dilbert blog. Their case seems persuasive, at least on the surface. First of all, cartoonists don't have to write much. The most words that the real Scott Adams is called upon to write in a day might approach eighty, and then only on Sundays. It is even rumored that the real Scott Adams refused to speak at all for some number of months, hardly likely to be a characteristic of a blogger who goes on an on all the time about a lot of crazy stuff, like how there is no such thing as Free Will and that we are all programmed but not by DNA. (Today, for example, "Scott Adams" seems to make the case that he is not rich, which seems to bolster the case that "D" cannot be Scott Adams, the cartoonist, who is third down from Oprah on the "Has All the Money" list.)
Searches have been made to determine the identity of the actual Dilbert Blog author, but the problem so far has proven remarkably robust and resistant to solution. Amateur sleuths amongst online aficionados have advanced a number of theories, and passions are running ever higher amongst the various schools of thought. Books have been written advancing various theories. Each book seems plausible, while you are reading it. But then, each proposed candidate seems to have at least one big problem that seems, on the surface, insuperable. I'll mention just the main proposed candidates:
• The Majority Douglasite Position: This group holds that the Dilbert Blog is written by Douglas Adams. On the plus side, he is a writer; he has the right last name; he clearly has the needed imagination to write about lots of whacky fictional ideas; and he was prolific, so the burdens of daily blogging would probably be a workload he could handle. Problem: he is dead. That is explained by "Douslasites" using some rather convoluted arguments: to wit, that he is not really dead, but only faked his own death by staggering around and clutching at his heart like Fred Sanford before being taken away by some out-of-work actors dressed as EMTs. Bolstering this theory is "his" suspiciously plain, uncreative headstone in Highgate Cemetery.
• A minority of Douglasites believe that Douglas Adams actually did die at that Montecito gym, but that he wrote all of the Dilbert Blog entries in advance for gradual release in the future. Problem: the Dilbert Blog occasionally makes references to events that have occurred since May 11, 2001, when D. Adams died. This requires further explanations like the positing of a living henchperson to insert the contemporary references, which for one thing violates Occam's Razor, besides requiring a successful ongoing conspiracy of silence (and as we all know, conspiracies of silence can only be successful when they're imaginary). It is possible that Douglas Adams was psychic, and knew what was going to happen before it happened, although his record in that regard falls far below that of George Orwell. And some things just don't seem predictable, like how weird Michael Jackson was going to get.
• The "Oxfordians." Some people believe that a cartoonist who flunked out of art school could not have the high level of verbal skills evinced by "the Dilbert Blog Writer." They note that the supposed writer's IP address was briefly exposed by hackers for four hours in 2007, and that the IP address thus revealed was that of one Earl Oxford, a flamboyant* Summa Cum Laude graduate of Harvard and the multimillionaire owner of the "Duke of Oil" chain of oil-change shops. Although of course not witnessed by reporters, Earl Oxford allegedly starred in lots of Hasty Pudding shows in the Arena where he showed a dazzling gift for witty repartée. Problem: like, er, "some" other Harvard students, Oxford is known to be toweringly egocentric and a profligate braggart. If he is writing the Dilbert Blog, why would he try to pass himself off as "Scott Adams" rather that taking the credit for himself?
• Barryism: Some believe that the Dilbert Blog writer is Dave Barry. Problem: Barry has his own syndicated column, and, as a humorist himself, could be considered a competitor of Scott Adams. Why would he write mini-columns in another blog under a different name? Why not just do something other than links on his own blog? Barryism is the least popular of the Identity theories.
Of course, there are a few people who believe that the obvious solution is also the true one, namely, that Scott Adams actually writes his own blog. They get shouted down at conventions, however. The mystery lives on.
*This word means "gay."
P.S. We really are going to have to get back on topic, before we lose every single reader we have left.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Kevin Bourque: "My money is on Charles Addams, who is 1) a cartoonist and 2) no less dead than Douglas Adams. Besides, can you prove I'm wrong?"
Featured Comment by Paul Pomeroy: "I can't seem to find the link to it now but I was just reading about this woman in San Francisco named Vivian Maloof who was either at an estate sale or dumpster diving when she discovered 16 crates containing nearly 100,000 unpublished Dilbert cartoons and a box full of pens (with a note explaining that these were actually undeveloped cartoon strips).
"She wasn't sure who the cartoonist was or if they were actually any good, the article said, but had started a conversation up on Snickr in the Street Cartoonists group to get some feedback. Seems no one there found them all that interesting, though. The conversation had quickly drifted off topic and, of all things, they'd ended up discussing which small cameras they loved most.
"It could be worse, I suppose, but probably not much weirder."
Featured Comment by Archer Sully: "Everyone in Silicon Valley was sure that Scott Adams worked at our respective companies. Although I think there was an Eddie de Vere at SGI, where I worked."