Questions

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Questions  edit   (Category  edit) .


I enjoy asking questions. I also believe that asking good questions can be very educational (especially for the asker ... but others can certainly learn too).



Contents

Software-related

What are RFCs (Request For Comments)?

Tyler (2006-07-07 23:29)

Who came up with the idea?

Why do they all look the same?

And why are they treated as standards? The name seems to suggest that it's still just in a discussion stage, but yet a lot of RFCs seem to be treated as if they are "the standard".

Is it just a misnomer?

Do RFCs have different statuses, different levels of finality?

Is a software product really just the sum of its features?

If so, then one need only copy all the best features from a popular application (Google Maps, Gmail, Microsoft Office, etc.) and maybe add a couple new ones and you could actually compete against some of the leaders...

Last time I checked, copyright law only protected the expression of an idea (the work of software containing the features), not the ideas (features) themselves. This seems to imply that one could just re-implement one's own nearly-identical version of, say, Microsoft Word and one could start competing directly with it... Right?

Wait. There are a couple obstacles to that...

  • Patents. Nasty, icky software patents. Don't get me started.
  • Graphics. Right, so I couldn't copy any of the icons and stuff from the application I was copying from...

But assuming there were no patents in said code and I wasn't copying any of the graphics or proprietary map data (or whatever), it would be possible, right?

Implementation/copying features is pretty straightforward. All you need is a team of skilled programmers.

Anyway, back to my original question, though... Would the copy-cat product be just as much of a winner assuming it had all the same features (and possibly more, 'cause more is better, right?)?

What else besides features makes a software product "good"?

The user interface? Well, that could be considered a "feature"...

The snazzy graphics?

The performance?

...



Government / Political science / Politics

Who actually benefits from the European Union (and similar unions)?

(Also the proposed North American Union)

Hypothesis: It's not the people/citizens themselves who benefit as much as a small group of powerful people, such as bankers and owners of large corporations.

  • Who benefits/profits?
  • In what ways?
  • Who is negatively affected?
  • In what ways?

Direct democracy vs. representative democracy -- which is better?

Is direct democracy better because it directly reflects the wishes of the people? Or is it better to have elected leaders who control their respective domain? (Representative democracy)

Does direct democracy just have too many other problems? Like what? Ignorant voters skewing the votes? Too many voices requiring simply too much time to deal with all of them and treat all of them equally?


Should laws/legislation be decided based on the majority?

Should everything be controlled by the majority?

Is the majority always right? Are they right more often than the minorities?

More to the point, even if the majority were Christian, does that mean the laws should favor them? And if the majority were atheist, does that mean the laws should be biased in their favor?

How do you respect the "Christian ideals" "upon which this country was founded" while still respecting those of other belief systems?

evolution / Christian

homosexuality / marriage

Tyler (2006-06-23 23:28)


History

How can we trust the historians? How do we know what really happened?

Especially when, for example, an entire nation/civilization is conquered by another empire? Couldn't the new ruling empire kind of, you know, destroy the true history of the conquered people and then write their own fictional account?

I suppose there would be a few difficulties if they tried to do that:

  • neutral observers (surrounding unconquered nations) may have seen and recorded the true history
  • it would be hard to make sure you destroyed all accounts of the true history; the conquered people could probably find ways to hide things so they wouldn't be destroyed
  • there would have to be only one new fictional account; if there were several different accounts which contradicted each other, then nobody would believe it
  • it would be hard to brainwash people who knew the truth to believe anything else; the oral tradition would be passed on and would persist

In short, it appears it would be next to impossible to completely "change history".

I'm sure that hasn't stopped people from trying though. (Rewriting history (category))


How much evidence do people need before they'll believe something is historically true?

For example (but not limited to): the Bible, and the life of Jesus Christ.


How did it come to be that most of the world used BC/AD for their years?

It's almost as if the life of Jesus Christ was seen as a significant event to everyone on the planet. But I highly doubt that was the case. So why is all of history separated into "before Christ" and "from Christ"?



[Church-State (category)]

Was the USA really founded on Christian values?

Tyler (2006-06-23 23:28)



Science: Physics

Why is the sky blue?

I've heard the answer before, but can't remember...

The earth's core is made of what??

Tyler (2006-05-07)

How can the earth's core be made of molten material / magma / etc.? What keeps it burning? How come it doesn't run out of fuel?

How does the color white keep things cool?

Tyler (2006-07-09 18:05)

Also: Is the color white only useful in keeping things cool when dealing with solar energy?

White is good because it reflects all the colors of light. But it's not the visible light that causes heat, is it? Wouldn't it be the infrared rays or ultraviolet rays or something? What kind of electromagnetic radiation does it apply to then?

Anyway, if you're, say, inside where there are no direct rays of sunlight and you have some food you want to keep cool, there wouldn't be any benefit and putting it in a white container over a black container, would there?

Also, the fact that I'm wearing a black shirt indoors won't make a bit of difference to how hot I feel, right?

Apparently it's not just solar energy where color makes a difference. I recently read in CHIP Chat that you're supposed to bake certain foods in dark containers that absorb the heat.

Wouldn't shiny thinks reflect the radiation more than white things? I mean, wouldn't the shininess make more of a difference than the color? A lot of car windshield sun reflectors are very shiny.

How best to keep the lunch cool in a hot car?

Tyler (2006-04-28)

This is assuming that you had to leave it in the hot car at all, and couldn't bring it with you to someone cooler. This is also assuming you don't have any ice to put with your food in the lunchbox.

Would it be better to leave the food inside of a lunchbox/cooler (in the shade) or would it be better to not put it in anything (but still put it in the shade)?

Why does a car left in the sun warm up inside to feel even hotter than the air outside?

Tyler (2006-07-22 13:28)

Science: Biology

Yogurt

Tyler (2006-04-26)

What is yogurt? How much of it is bacteria? Why doesn't it look like bacteria? How does it keep? How many different strains of bacteria can be considered yogurt? On what basis? How are they different from other bacteria?

Insects

Do insects have brains? Ants? What's the smallest animal that has a brain?


Flies

Spiders

Ants

Tyler (2006-05-21)

Do ants have eyes? How many? How complex? What is their range of vision (side to side, up and down)?

Life purpose

What are flies looking for and how do they expect to find it by flying aimlessly around the room in circles? —Tyler (2006-05-15)

Lifespan

Do flies really only live for 24 hours? If so, they would have to reproduce (lay eggs?) every day just to keep their race from becoming extinct. What about the monts when you don't see flies? Where are they then? How do flies (some of them) get so big so quickly? —Tyler (2006-05-21)

See also: Projects/Animal lifespan comparison

[Business (category)]

How can they afford to charge so much for concerts?

Tyler (2006-05-11)


Business: Retail

Are Wal-Mart(Great Value)-brand products actually identical to their "competition", just with their label on it?

My hypothesis: Wal-Mart does not have their own food-, cosmetics-, etc.-manufacturing plants for all of their Great Value-brand products. That's highly unlikely. Instead, Wal-Mart simply works out an agreement with the actual manufacturer (their "competitor") to have them manufacture it and let them put the Wal-Mart label/packaging/brand on it. The manufacturer still gets paid for this, so they're happy (it doesn't matter which packaging you buy--the real producer still gets approximately the same cut), and Wal-Mart is happy because they can get people to buy "their" product by pricing it very aggressively (lower than all their "competitors" but high enough so that they still make a profit).

Examples:

  • GV Premium Shells and Cheese and Kraft Velveeta Shells. I looked at the ingredient lists of both and they are identical. The Great Value brand shells said they used "Cheddar Cheese" and Kraft said they used "Velveeta" cheese, but the ingredients of both are the same, so I'd venture to guess they are actually they same.
    • "But this cheese tastes different than normal cheddar!" Yep, it sure does. That's because it's actually Velveeta, I bet you. Only they couldn't call it Velveeta because that would totally blow their cover: it would be too obvious and unambiguous that this product is identical to the Kraft product.
      • How so? Because Velveeta is a trademark of Kraft, I think, and using that trademark would be implicitly saying that Wal-Mart and Kraft had agreed to work together on that product.
      • Why would that be bad? I think it would be bad for Kraft because then the Kraft brand wouldn't seem as special; their product would be redundant, because everyone would know that the GV product was identical and so they would just buy that. It's probably better for Kraft to have a little bit of ambiguity so that folks don't even realize the products are identical, so that (1) those who believe the Kraft brand makes it a better product can continue to buy that, and (2) those who are more economically minded can buy the GV brand and feel good inside that they're getting a better deal than the Kraft product (which they probably still assume is actually a different product).
  • GV soymilk and Silk soymilk. Same product, different label, I say.

Business hours

Why does the USPS operate on Saturday but not Sunday?

Tyler (2006-06-17)

What if all the employees of a particular post office were Sabbath keepers and had no problem with working on Sundays but could not work on Saturdays? Could they in that case change their business hours in order to accommodate the convictions of their employees? Is there some kind of law that requires them to be open on Saturday?


How does it work?

...

Cooking

Why preheat the oven?

Wouldn't it be faster just to let it cook as it's heating up? Then all the time it takes to get to up to the right temperature won't be wasted.

Is it just to make cooking directions more consistent and reproducible? Since everybody's ovens probably heat up at a different rate, it would probably result in different degrees of cookedness if people were instructed to put in their pizza for 14 minutes starting without first waiting for it to preheat.

But if you don't care so much about reproducibility -- for example, if you plan on keeping a careful watch on your pizza as it's cooking and you just want to get it cooked as quickly as possible -- then I don't see why it would be a problem.

On the other hand :-

When something is placed in a hot oven, the outside instantly crisps, and keeps in moisture. When it heats slowly, much more moisture will escape gradually as it is heated.

[Food (category)]

Is spicy food bad for your stomach?

I've heard that vinegar is, for instance, because it wears away your stomach lining or something...

But would about simply hot foods -- chile oil, cayenne, jalapeno peppers, and all the other spicy, hot foods that I can't think of --? Is there any long-term risks of eating lots of them?


Why do onions come in mesh bags?

Tyler (2006-07-22 13:31)

Is it a good idea to keep them in those bags?

What's the best way to store onions? Refrigerated so they become milder?

Cars

Why have both AC and Max AC settings in cars? What's the difference? What's "Max AC" for?


Transportation

What does a "5% grade" mean?

Tyler (2006-05-07)

Cities

Why do I sometimes see street lights and lamps go off for no reason?

This is at night that I've seen it happen, sometimes while there's still a little light left in the sky, but not always. It's happened often enough that I don't think the bulb died. It seems more likely that there was a problem with the light sensor (that I assume is there) that decides when to turn the light on or off.

City logistics

Recycling

Can windowed envelopes be recycled?

What happens if there's tape on the paper? Staples? Paper clips?

How differently is cardboard, newspaper, etc. treated from "normal paper"?

What happens to rejected stuff for recycling? (Like paper that was too dirty, etc.)

How expensive is recycling? More expensive than landfills?

Sewer

What happens to it?

Does it all get "treated"? What does that mean? Then what?


Christianity

How can people keep finding new things to write about?

The basis of Christianity -- the Bible and the history of Jesus Christ -- is already there, and nothing more can really be added to that (until the Son of God returns again to this world). The history has already been written. God has for the most part revealed as much as he's going to reveal to us, in the Bible, which does not grow.

So what can there possibly be to write about?

  • New interpretations of passages the Bible? I doubt it. I'm pretty sure everything in the Bible has already been figured out by now and any new interpretations (except for creative new incorrect interpretations, which I suppose there would be no limit to) are really not possible.
  • New ways to make Christianity practical and relevant to changing cultures of the world (or new cultures where Christianity is only recently being discovered)? Sure, I suppose there's some sense in that, perhaps, and some new things to to be talked about, but not a whole lot, and I doubt most of today's Christian literature is really about that...

So what is most of today's Christian literature actually about? Many new Christian books continue to be written and published each year. Many Christian magazines are produced and sent out each month... About what? Thousands of new sermons are delivered each week.

But do they really have anything new to say?

I highly doubt it. It will all be old news, what they have to say. At least 94% of it.

It may be worded differently -- perhaps using new, more "accessible", more "modern" wording. It may be packaged differently, with new bright shiny packaging, by today's top-notch graphic designers, produced for and delivered via new media that wasn't even available 50 years ago...

But the content and the message of this "new" material will not be new. How could it be?

I guess I'm okay with this, for the most part. It's okay that people keep producing new content with the same old message, as long as it remains faithful and true to what the Bible says. Maybe our new packaging, our new marketing attempts will more effectively win souls than the old stuff. If so, more power to them.

I only have a slight personal problem with all this recycled material, and it's probably just that -- a personal problem. That problem is my tendency to want to be comprehensive in my research and "read it all", which is an overwhelming prospect and not even possible. It also gets slightly tedious to read the same thing over and over. So I guess I simply need to be reasonable and wise in what I read and what I do not. Another area of irk is simply how the body of information seems as a result so unorganized and fraught with duplicate/redundant information; the organizer/information specialist in me feels it ought to be simplified, de-duped, canonized, normalized, organized.

I guess there is no limit to the extent people will desire what is "new". It is probably just the human nature that is built into us. People have always (?) and will continue to seek, go after, and prefer that which is new (or appears to be new -- somethings that are "new" are actually decades, centuries, or millennia old). People watch, read, or listen to the "news" -- they want to hear current events, and are probably not as interested in what happened 1000 years ago. (Even if the same sorts of things that happened then are now happening again, since history repeats itself...) People have to have the latest car or gadget, they keep up with new fashion trends, etc.

I think part of it, too, has to do with the fact that people like to hear things from their contemporaries more than from some old dead guy. So even if some guy said the same thing 1000 years ago, if some new guy starts saying those to you now, they might seem more relevant and you might be more included to listen or to believe what you hear.

Article metadata

Article Metadata: Overlap

Overlaps at times with Problems and Solutions because often the question is implicitly asking "which solution best solves this problem?"



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