Chat with author and all-time "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings
12:46
The Oregonian: 
Welcome to our live chat. Ken will join us at 1 p.m., but you can go ahead and send in questions and comments now. Once we get started, there will be a short delay between the submission of your question/comment and its appearance in the chat.
Thursday January 10, 2013 12:46 The Oregonian
1:00
The Oregonian: 
We'll get started as soon as Ken logs in. He's out on a book tour, so he has lots going on. He'll be appearing at Powell's on Burnside next Thursday, January 17.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:00 The Oregonian
1:02
Ken Jennings: 
Hello, everybody! FYI I will not be answering in the form of a question.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:02 Ken Jennings
1:02
The Oregonian: 
Hi Ken, thanks for joining us. Your new book is called “Because I Said So!” Have you used this common parental declaration on your own children? And does it carry more weight because you’re famous for knowing almost everything?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:02 The Oregonian
1:04
Ken Jennings: 
My game show record carries no weight whatsoever in my own house. But that's probably because my kids know I can never find my own car keys, remember if it's the week to take out the recycling or not, etc.

I do find myself saying "Because, okay?!" sometimes when my kids are on their fifth "Why?" in a row, but I do feel guilty about it. Kids are naturally curious and deserve a real answer. That's mostly why I wrote the book.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:04 Ken Jennings
1:05
The Oregonian: 
We'll get to reader questions in just a moment. Ken, the book tackles myths like the “five-second rule” about dropped food. But you point out that some of these old sayings are true. Which true one surprised you the most?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:05 The Oregonian
1:07
Ken Jennings: 
Eating chicken soup for a cold always struck me as the randomest, old-timiest kind of Old World superstition. Well-meant but scientifically indispensable. In fact, there have been studies from Nebraska and Miami both showing that chicken soup does ease cold symptoms more than other hot liquids. Mom was right all along.

Unfortunately, the Nebraska test ALSO found that some canned store brands are more effective than Grandma's homemade matzo soup. :(
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:07 Ken Jennings
1:07
Ken Jennings: 
Oops... "indefensible," not "indispensable."
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:07 Ken Jennings
1:08
The Oregonian: 
I misspell that one all the time too. OK, here come some reader queries.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:08 The Oregonian
1:08
[Comment From jessejesse: ] 
My literature knowledge is horrible what advice would you give me to increase my trivia knowledge for literature (without having to read 1000's of books)?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:08 jesse
1:10
[Comment From @kevinebaugh@kevinebaugh: ] 
Have you ever met anyone named Jen Kennings?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:10 @kevinebaugh
1:10
[Comment From TylerTyler: ] 
Yo
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:10 Tyler
1:10
Ken Jennings: 
Yeah, literature is a toughie. You can slide through high school reading maybe 5-10 novels tops. Then suddenly Jeopardy thinks you should know the plots to hundreds!

There are books like the "New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy" that are very good for giving tiny plot summaries of the most trivia-essential literary works. Failing that, you could just do what I do and watch the movie version. But I once got in trouble on a book report in elementary school for talking about the pirates in Swiss Family Robinson. Turns out the pirates are only in the Disney movie, no the book. Oops.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:10 Ken Jennings
1:11
[Comment From Ben StoryBen Story: ] 
Hi Ken! My question is highly polemic so I was hoping you could shed some light on it. Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:11 Ben Story
1:11
[Comment From HowardHoward: ] 
Hi, welcome to Portland. I was on Jeopardy 25 years ago, lost narrowly. I think the contestants today are much less smart than those of the 80s, 90s and 00s. You implied that a few months ago when you said in Parade magazine that you don't necessarily enjoy watching Jeopardy any more. I find it very difficult sometimes to watch (my competitive instinct) and see 3 people stand there and not ring in on what I think is a simple question. If it's one that I too don't know, I usually blurt out, "Ken Jennings would have known that."
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:11 Howard
1:11
Ken Jennings: 
I have never met anyone named Jen Kennings but my new line of denim-wear, Ken's Jeggings, will be hittng stores in the spring.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:11 Ken Jennings
1:13
Ken Jennings: 
The reason why I have a hard time with Jeopardy has nothing to do with contestant quality...I just get very tense when I hear the theme music and Trebek's cool Canadian tones. I think I have some kind of post-traumatic game show stress disorder.

I don't really know if the questions are getting easier or not. Maybe you're just getting smarter, Howard. Isn't that really the subtext of your "Help, I get too many correct answers on Jeopardy!" question?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:13 Ken Jennings
1:14
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Ken, how much do you help your kids with their homework? It must be tempting for them to treat you like their living encyclopedia.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:14 Guest
1:15
Ken Jennings: 
I spend a lot of time helping my son with his math, but he's getting close to the age where I'm going to start struggling with that. "Area of a hexagon? What the...?" Not too much call for simplifying fractions and factoring polynomials on Jeopardy.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:15 Ken Jennings
1:15
[Comment From Nick DolanNick Dolan: ] 
Hi, Ken! Do you think there is a moral imperative to learn things? Does learning something count for anything in its own right or is it only action that counts?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:15 Nick Dolan
1:16
The Oregonian: 
Some of the "myths" Ken tackles in "Because I Said So": "Don't cross your eyes or they'll stay that way," "Feed a cold, starve a fever," "Never run with scissors," "Don't look in the microwave while it's running" and ... "This will go down on your permanent record!"
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:16 The Oregonian
1:18
The Oregonian: 
He also takes on conventional wisdom about compound interest. Turns out it might not make us rich. And apparently parents shouldn’t try to be so creative when it comes to their children’s names. Weird names (or weirdly spelled versions of common names) might actually hurt children!

Thursday January 10, 2013 1:18 The Oregonian
1:18
Ken Jennings: 
I think there is a moral imperative for learning, but only because it will lead to right action. Imagine someone trying to make an informed decision about anything--where to have dinner, what to major in, who to vote for--without having learned the right facts. They'll be out of luck.

There's also a lot of social utility in having facts right at hand rather than having to look them up. If you meet someone for the first time (job interview, airplane seatmate, first date) and they tell you they're from Fargo, North Dakota, it's cool to be able to say, "Hey, wasn't Roger Maris from Fargo?" or something like that. "Hold on, let me look up Fargo on my phone so I can have a follow-up comment here" is not so cool.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:18 Ken Jennings
1:18
[Comment From PeterPeter: ] 
Hands down, the funniest person on twitter. Did you every try to display your irreverent humor on Jeopardy? I saw most of your episodes and you seemed like a smart, down to earth guy, maybe a bit geeky. Never expected I'd get some many laugh out loud moments from you. Also, what kind of comedy did you enjoy as a kid that helped inform your sense of humor?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:18 Peter
1:20
[Comment From lizajanelizajane: ] 
mr. jennings, thank you so much for doing this. when i was in high school, i would rush home to watch jeopardy during your streak. i admit that we even had a party at game #50 and we made cupcakes that spelled our your name. my tagline in emails and posts was "death. taxes. ken jennings."... three constants in life. you taught me at an impressionable age that trivia was not trivial. i truly appreciate you and i am thrilled at the opportunity to tell you that.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:20 lizajane
1:21
Ken Jennings: 
Peter, thanks for the very nice compliment! I am @kenjennings on Twitter and I'm sorry to say I mostly tell jokes instead of edifying America with trivial knowledge.

Jeopardy just isn't the right format for joke-telling, I think. There's just too much going on. The contestant who tries to tell jokes just looks like a dork. Much better to let Trebek be funny. (Or the nearest Trebek equivalent to "funny.")

My sense of humor as a kid mostly came from the Marx brothers and Spy magazine.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:21 Ken Jennings
1:21
Ken Jennings: 
Thanks lizajane! I'm very sorry that I was easily outlasted by both death and taxes.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:21 Ken Jennings
1:21
[Comment From BlaireBlaire: ] 
Hi Ken! When I watch jeopardy from home, I'm pretty good at it and I read a lot too. Until last night, I thought I was pretty good at trivia games. But then I went to bar trivia and I was terrible! I'm wondering how you are at bar trivia? (And if you know this one that stumped me - What misspelling of a dutch word for an african animal is now the name of a popular sneaker brand).
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:21 Blaire
1:22
[Comment From MashaMasha: ] 
What kind of books (history, science, fiction, etc) do you find yourself reading most eagerly? Any recommendations for good ones you've recently read?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:22 Masha
1:23
Ken Jennings: 
Blaire: that's a rhebok/Reebok. I'm okay at bar trivia (but certainly beatable, depending on the sports-and-reality-TV-to-everything-else ratio) but I don't play that much. I feel like I should be wearing a disguise, like a mustache or something. Win or lose, it's sort of awkward to be Hey It's That Guy From Jeopardy at trivia night.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:23 Ken Jennings
1:23
[Comment From lizajanelizajane: ] 
i know you addressed this in Maphead, but do you have any ideas of how to get girls more interested in geography? as a female maphead, i feel in the minority, and i have no idea how to reach out to the younger generation without looking like a complete lunatic.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:23 lizajane
1:24
Ken Jennings: 
Masha: I mostly read fiction when I'm just reading for kicks. I just finished Ben Fountain's first novel, a sort of Catch-22 of the Iraq war kind of thing, and it's phenomenal.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:24 Ken Jennings
1:25
The Oregonian: 
"Maphead" is one Ken's earlier books, about his love of geography. http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781439167175-5
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:25 The Oregonian
1:25
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What part of the brain does map-reading engage? My husband loves maps and has an easy time reading them, whereas I prefer ground-level directions.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:25 Guest
1:25
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Me too! Middle school math is a killer. Multiple variables are brutal.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:25 Guest
1:26
Ken Jennings: 
lizajane: I think one of the keys to getting kids into geography is to let them explore more. Technology can help: my 5-year-old daughter is into geocaching HARDCORE, for example. Make any walk into a treasure hunt. I think too many parents have the (generally mistaken) idea that it's unsafe for kids to explore their own neighborhoods and other local geographies.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:26 Ken Jennings
1:26
[Comment From KristinKristin: ] 
How old are your kids and are there any subjects where they really do know more than you?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:26 Kristin
1:27
[Comment From SkullturfSkullturf: ] 
Do you have any areas of trivia that you have a mental block about or that you can't make "stick"?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:27 Skullturf
1:29
Ken Jennings: 
My son is 10 and knows more about Minecraft and Pokemon than I do. Or any other person living does. He tries to tell me about the video game Minecraft but I always hear this: "## ### Minecraft ### ###### # ### ## Minecraft ## ####..." Dad of the Year!

My 5-year-old daughter is an expert on butterflies, Harry Potter, and drama. Not Greek drama or anything, just regular 5-year-old-girl drama.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:29 Ken Jennings
1:29
[Comment From AmyAmy: ] 
I think that thing about not swimming right after you've eaten is ridiculous. What's the truth about that?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:29 Amy
1:30
[Comment From Nick JantzNick Jantz: ] 
Ken, in your book Brainiac you mention studying like crazy for Jeopardy. How much of the material you crammed for would you say you still know?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:30 Nick Jantz
1:31
Ken Jennings: 
Amy: you are correct! There's never been a single reported case of anyone drowning from post-meal stomach cramps, and the Red Cross doesn't include food in its (long) list of swimming dangers. In fact, long-distance swimmers are often fed snacks right in middle of marathon swims, to keep themselves nourished. The whole thing is bogus.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:31 Ken Jennings
1:31
[Comment From BillBill: ] 
I love following you on Twitter, Ken! Have any of your tweets ever gotten you into trouble?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:31 Bill
1:31
The Oregonian: 
We have a lot of questions in the queue. Ken will be with us for about another 15 minutes, and we'll get to as many as we can.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:31 The Oregonian
1:32
Ken Jennings: 
Nick: I was still in my 20s when I was cramming for Jeopardy and today I'm almost 40. So yeah, stuff is starting to go. I knew all the vice presidents and their dates at one time...since then I'm sure I've forgotten all the lame ones (i.e. 90% of them)
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:32 Ken Jennings
1:32
Kevin Caldwell
[Comment From Kevin CaldwellKevin Caldwell : ]
Ken, was there ever a moment where you didn't feel like you could continue on Jeopardy! any longer and wanted to give up?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:32 
1:32
[Comment From @kevinebaugh@kevinebaugh: ] 
What kind of music do you listen to?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:32 @kevinebaugh
1:33
Ken Jennings: 
Kevin Caldwell: Yes, often! But then during a commercial break I would take a swig of delicious, refreshing Lipton Iced Tea and I was ready to get right back out there. Lipton: the Pick-Me-Up of Champions! (*sponsored post)
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:33 Ken Jennings
1:34
[Comment From WynnWynn: ] 
Did you consider trying to sneakily unplug Watson with your foot during the show? Or spill a glass of water on it? Maybe try to convince it to open a few tabs at once, causing it to run to slowly to be competitive?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:34 Wynn
1:34
The Oregonian: 
I assume Watson was the computer you did battle with, Ken...
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:34 The Oregonian
1:34
Ken Jennings: 
kevinebaugh: tons of music, but mostly pop/rock, mostly indie. I have the second Deerhunter record on right now as I'm typing this.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:34 Ken Jennings
1:35
[Comment From Tim 1Tim 1: ] 
Hi! I'm here with my Computer Science class, and we were talking about the supercomputer!
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:35 Tim 1
1:35
Ken Jennings: 
Wynn: I didn't want to annoy Watson unnecessarily because an IBM told me that it had recently become sentient and was just a few digits away from figuring out the missile launch codes.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:35 Ken Jennings
1:35
[Comment From GingerGinger: ] 
Hi! I'm a ginger!
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:35 Ginger
1:36
[Comment From SageSage: ] 
What was your best supject in middle shcool/
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:36 Sage
1:36
Ken Jennings: 
Ginger: ugh I'm so sorry about your handicap
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:36 Ken Jennings
1:36
[Comment From BlaireBlaire: ] 
Thanks Ken and Oregon Live :)
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:36 Blaire
1:37
Ken Jennings: 
Sage: English, Earth Science, and Introduction to Awkward Conversations with Girls.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:37 Ken Jennings
1:37
The Oregonian: 
I aced that last one, too!
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:37 The Oregonian
1:37
[Comment From JoshJosh: ] 
Do you ever have crazy dreams where you are president and solve every problem ever with trivia?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:37 Josh
1:37
[Comment From SageSage: ] 
If you had to have any type of cat, what would it be?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:37 Sage
1:38
[Comment From Tim 2Tim 2: ] 
Hello right now I am in a computer science class, and we were talking about the super computer that you faced in jeapordy! So just warning you for many others commenting.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:38 Tim 2
1:38
Ken Jennings: 
Josh: this is actually the piich for my new ABC Family series President Nerdburger Explains It All HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS?!?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:38 Ken Jennings
1:39
[Comment From NikoleNikole: ] 
Did you think you'd become who you are today?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:39 Nikole
1:39
[Comment From SageSage: ] 
Did you think all this fame would come to you?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:39 Sage
1:39
Ken Jennings: 
Nikole: Yes except when I'd picture it as a kid I'd be wearing a top hat and a velvet sash reading "JEOPARDY CHAMPION"
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:39 Ken Jennings
1:40
[Comment From G KyleG Kyle: ] 
Are you a fan of any football teams? (Maybe the Oregon Ducks?)
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:40 G Kyle
1:40
[Comment From kaelkael: ] 
hi how old wher you when you whent to collage
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:40 kael
1:40
[Comment From AdamAdam: ] 
Ken, you sarcastically yelled at me once on Twitter with regard to world quad points. I want to let you know that it made my day.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:40 Adam
1:41
[Comment From ArranArran: ] 
Hi Ken! I want to second (or third now because I type slowly) the compliment on your hilarious twitter account. Do you have any plans or ideas for your next book?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:41 Arran
1:41
Ken Jennings: 
G Kyle: I grew up in Seattle and went to UW for a while. I'm a Husky fan, sorry. But I did used to spend summers in Eugene, so I'm more of a duck guy than a beaver guy. Wow that came out wrong I think.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:41 Ken Jennings
1:42
[Comment From SageSage: ] 
How did you study for Jeopardy? What were your stratigies and methods
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:42 Sage
1:42
[Comment From kaelkael: ] 
my friend reece says hi man
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:42 kael
1:42
Ken Jennings: 
Arran: I'm currently writing a series of amazing-fact books for kids: The Junior Genius Guides. The first two entries, Maps & Geography and Greek Mythology will be out from Simon & Schuster next spring.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:42 Ken Jennings
1:42
[Comment From MikeMike: ] 
Arran, you mean the book he's promoting at this exact moment, "Because I Said So"?? :)
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:42 Mike
1:42
Ken Jennings: 
kael: Reece can buzz off, he knows what he did
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:42 Ken Jennings
1:43
The Oregonian: 
Ken, we're coming up on 45 minutes. Do you have to leave us? Want to take on one more question?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:43 The Oregonian
1:44
Ken Jennings: 
Okay one more question. FINAL JEOPARDY.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:44 Ken Jennings
1:44
Ken Jennings: 
As it were.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:44 Ken Jennings
1:44
[Comment From TheresaTheresa: ] 
If given the opportunity, would you be the host of Jeopardy?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:44 Theresa
1:47
Ken Jennings: 
Theresa: Absolutely. That's a cushy job. They tape a full week of shows in one afternoon, so Trebek comes in like 4-5 days a month. Plus you get all the answers right in front of you so you can look like a total genius. "Oh no, I'm sorry. It's 'King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden,' of course."

My guess is they will be interviewing ACTUAL TV HOSTS and not former Jeopardy contestants when Alex decides to pass on to the great game show set in the sky (or possibly just retire to his estate in the Valley). But if I did get the call I wold take that job in a heartbeat.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:47 Ken Jennings
1:47
The Oregonian: 
Ken, thanks so much for answering questions today. It was a lot of fun. I'm going to go follow you on Twitter now.

For the rest of you: Ken will be live and in person at Powell's on Burnside next Thursday, reading from and singing his new book. http://www.powells.com/
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:47 The Oregonian
1:48
Ken Jennings: 
Singing?
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:48 Ken Jennings
1:48
The Oregonian: 
Oh, OK, you can just sign your books. You did say you liked indie music. Very Portland.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:48 The Oregonian
1:49
[Comment From LoganLogan: ] 
I look forward to listening to his captivating soprano
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:49 Logan
1:49
[Comment From @kevinebaugh@kevinebaugh: ] 
SINGING! I'll be there.
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:49 @kevinebaugh
1:49
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Great chat. Thanks, Ken!
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:49 Guest
1:49
[Comment From AmyAmy: ] 
I think you would be an ideal Jeopardy host, Ken. Thanks for the chat!
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:49 Amy
1:49
Ken Jennings: 
No now I will be singing the whole thing. "♪♪ Don't you swim-after-eating, baby! Don't you swim-after-eating oooo-ooh."
Thursday January 10, 2013 1:49 Ken Jennings
 
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