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Why are we here? Is there life on other planets? Where do we go when we die?

These are some of life's great questions. But some questions are even greater. Some questions invade our lives. Some questions nag at our brains. Some questions corrupt our dreams.

I came to college to get answers to these questions. This is my final semester, but, after four years and scores of thousands of dollars, I'm still searching for answers.

So because I love you (yes, you), and because Penn failed, below I've found the answers to some of these vexing questions myself.

1) Why doesn't Penn have more a cappella groups?

There are three things we need to survive. Food, water and a cappella. It's the instrumentless pop music that keeps us young and happy. But Penn's administration doesn't agree.

"This is off the record," said student activities co-chairman Dick Peter, "but Jesus Christ, there are so many a cappella groups. Last week someone tried to start a South Korean Lesbian Christian Women's a cappella group. First of all, what does where your grandparents were born have to do with singing? Second, how many a cappella groups do you need?"

"I'd like to see the money go toward more sorority-staff mixers."

Penn, this is a disgraceful attitude. As students, we have a fundamental right to a cappella the same way we have a fundamental right to 15 percent off our Amtrak tickets. Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me a cappella or give me death.

2) What's the last sentence of this column?

And finally:

3) How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

The great mystery of the Tootsie Pop and its elusive yet chocolatey center has long gone unsolved. Unsolved, that is, until a group of inspired Penn students and professors solved it.

"I saw the commercials when I was little," said College senior Paul Crocker. "But mom wouldn't let me have any - said they were bad for my teeth. Anyway when I got to Penn the one thing I wanted to find out was how many licks it actually does take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop."

With no Tootsie Pop classes offered and no student groups addressing the issue, Crocker started his own, the "Pop Suckers," last November.

"I thought it was an excellent idea," said member Brian Jacobs, an Engineering senior and virgin.

"I never leave my room except to go to class and pick up a Hustler, so this was a great excuse to get out and talk to other human beings," he said as he offered me an Oreo.


The group had a slow beginning, and it was only when Crocker enlisted the help of 16 Wharton professors that things really got going.

"We saw this group as a terrible investment," said the Pop Sucker's chief faculty advisor, Management professor M. Miyagi. "I contacted the contacts of my colleagues, they contacted the contacts of their colleagues, and they contacted the contacts of their colleagues' colleagues' colleagues. And we all agreed. This group had a strong downside potential and no room for growth.

"But we wanted to help them. So we told Penn that if they didn't fund the group we'd stage a sit-in," he said, offering me a hit of some seriously heavy shit.

"We stuck it to the man, man."

The Pop Suckers worked throughout the winter, and published their findings last week in several respected journals, including Time, Vogue and the New England Journal of Medicine.

"We were very excited that Penn got mentioned in the news for something other than murder and sexual predators," said Penn President Amy Gutmann. "Speaking of which," she growled, "I'm still mad at you, Allie, for telling the entire campus we had sex. There will be no more happy fun time for the rest of the week."

The Pop Sucker's conclusion as published was unexpected. "The data was there months ago" Crocker said, "but we wanted to make doubly sure. I had sex with a panda just to see if it might produce a different result. But in the end, the extra effort went for naught.

"So? How many wicks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" I asked Crocker as we sucked on the chocolate pops.

"We realized," he replied, "the world may never know."

Made you look.

Alex Weinstein is a College senior from Bridgeport, W.Va. His e-mail address is Straight to Hell appears on Thursdays.

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