Tag Archives: World

Since the Coca Cola recipe is a secret, isn’t it illegal to not list all the ingredients for a product?

They do list ingredients, as required by (U.S.) law.


But the law does not require them to spell out exactly what all those “natural flavors” are, nor the exact proportions, nor the processes they put the ingredients through – for Coca-Cola, or anything else.

The more interesting case is wine, which does not have to list ingredients in the U.S., as the law contains an exemption for wine.


Why do some cops in big cities like New York still use horses?

Horses offer a number of benefits in city environments that make them an ideal partner in many situations. They allow a rider to sit up high for a better view of what’s going on.

They can turn around or maneuver in tighter spaces than a car could. They are used where a car just wouldn’t be practical, like a wilderness areas or a very large grassy park, for example, Central Park in New York.

Horses are great for dealing with crowds as well, because they’re big animals and if they push you, you’re going to move. There’s also a bit of natural fear that humans have of a big animal that may trample them, so people tend to respect a horse much more than they respect a police car. Adding to that, some people won’t think twice about smashing a cop car window, but it’s a whole different story if you’re attacking an animal. Especially if that animal can fight back.

When did “Hands up!” become “Hands behind your head!”?

When it was realized that ‘behind your head’ takes a lot less effort to do, so can be held for longer periods.

As an example, try standing on both positions and see which is most comfortable to hold for longer.

So if someone were to be told to stand with their hands above their head, after a short while they will tire and their arms will begin to drop, which to the police could be either fatigue, but also starting to reach for a weapon. Behind your head can be held comfortably a lot longer, so unwanted movement is a lot more obvious.

What are noir and neo-noir genres of movies?

Film noir is a genre of movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s. These movies were pessimistic, gritty, and dark (noir is French for dark). The characters, even the protagonists, were often corrupt in some form, such as being alcoholics, lonely, or depressed. Common characters were corrupt policemen and corrupt politicians. The plot was often crime based, such as police or a private investigator trying to solve a crime.

The protagonist would often fail to accomplish his goals during the movies, sometimes thwarted by a femme fatale, or by a friend he trusted. The cinematography would be dark and menacing, for example, a dark and smoky alley in a big but empty city.  Movies like Double Indemnity and the Malatese Falcon are examples of film noir.

Neo-noir is a modern recreation of those movies. It follows the same theme is a noir film, but was made after the 1950’s.  Movies like Chinatown and LA Confidential are set in the time period of noir films (the 30’s, 40’s, and 50s), but were made outside of that time period. Blade Runner has the theme of a noir film, but set in the future. Another example is Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which is a noir film set in the 50’s, but has cartoon characters.

In short, if a movie has dark cinematography, corrupt protagonists, an unsolvable mystery or conflict, and if the villains win or at least force the “good guys” to do bad things, then it is noir.

Why are coins historically round and not square?

There’s quite a few reasons relating to different time periods, but interestingly there are actually several examples of square-shaped coins.

The most obvious reason is ease of use, so to say. It is easy to pick up round coins and scoop them up, put them into tightly packed bags, etc, without any worry of corners causing issues.

Then there’s the fact that coins are intended to be hard wearing and semi-permanent, since there are coins likely older than you or me still in circulation. A round shape is less likely to wear down unevenly since no one part of it sticks out further than the rest from any angle.

A little historically, a lot of coins were made by pressing down a small ingot with a pre-made stamp. This typically forces the metal into a rounded shape anyway and means less work to finish the coin – and coins had to exist in relatively large quantities.

In a modern day setting, arguably cutting coins into squares from a metal sheet would be more efficient, but it’s not too much extra work to take the leftover metal and melt it down to use in the next batch. A key modern reason for rounded coins is that round coins are convenient for transport within vending machines, etc, since they will roll easily.

Why is handwriting from the past so much prettier than writing now?

People didn’t have much in the way of alternatives before the typewriter was invented. There was a great emphasis on having clear, legible handwriting.

People either wrote by hand or not at all. So there was a lot of emphasis on having good handwriting in letters and documents and people just got better at through sheer amount of practice they were getting.

Now since the advent of keyboards no one cares about handwriting anymore and it has been antiquated outside of signatures. Keyboards do the same thing perfectly every time with less effort.

Why doesn’t the United States have a high speed rail system?

When it comes to rail in the U.S., there’s basically two places: The Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington corridor, and the rest of the country.

Rail used to be the main way to get between cities in the U.S., but the Interstate offered faster and more convenient travel for those with a car, and really long distances like going from one coast to the other can only be done quickly by air. (For instance, even the fastest high-speed trains wouldn’t be competitive for the New York to Los Angeles route.)

Amtrak, the national rail company, doesn’t own its tracks in most of the country, so its trains often have to wait for freight trains to go first. Coverage and routes are limited. If you live in Memphis, you can go to Chicago fine, but getting to St. Louis might take days even though it’s only four hours by car.

For the big cities between Boston and Washington, rail is still ideal. Traffic is bad, many people don’t use cars, and airports are far from the city center. Traditional rail still does pretty well, and high-speed rail would be incredible. There’s still two problems. One is crash-test regulations, which force trains to be heavier and slower than foreign counterparts. (Other countries don’t have such strict regulations; rail collisions are quite rare, and traveling by train is much safer than by automobile anyway.) The other is simply the cost of building rail lines in that area which can handle high-speed rail. Amtrak’s proposal for true high-speed rail in that corridor is projected to cost over $100 billion.

Why do Asian countries have a much smaller rate of obesity than the US?

There are genetic predispositions involved in obesity, but also considerable differences in diet and culture.  

Obesity has been growing a lot in China, as its food supply industrializes and Western practices like using cheap, non-natural sugars in packaged foods increase.  

However, it doesn’t seem to be an issue in Japan or South Korea, where cuisine is strongly cultural and not just based on economics.  Food preparation and balance is taken very seriously, in ways that are similar to French and Italian culture, but with very small portion sizes.

There is also a cultural emphasis on shame, so an obese person is more motivated to take whatever measures may be necessary to lose weight, whereas there is more of a rationalizing and individualist view in most Western societies.  

Shaming a fat person is unethical in Western culture while being one is ethically neutral (except in that maybe you cause people who care about you to worry for your health), whereas in Japan, being fat could be considered mildly unethical because you may be embarrassing your family and the people you’re associated with.

What is the difference between an Empire, Kingdom, Duchy and Republic?

A republic is not like the other three at all. They are not ruled by a monarch, but rather by elected officials.

Now that that’s out of the way, the other three are very similar but of different ranks. Emperor is as high as you can get as a monarch, and usually but not always is a collection of nations ruled by one nation, which is not to be confused with one person being a king of multiple nations. An emperor might have kings under his command. A kingdom is lesser than that, with a king as the leader and generally has dukes under the king’s rule. One person can be king of multiple kingdoms without being an emperor though because the kingdoms are still technically independent and only linked by their king. A duchy is less than a kingdom, and usually not an independent state. Most duchies are parts of larger kingdoms with dukes listening to kings.

That being said, there is a lot of overlap between the three which makes it complicated, and the differences are mostly in the name.

Why do Asian tourists in the West wear medical face masks?

In Japan (and most likely some other East Asian countries), it is considered polite to cover your mouth and nose when you have a cold or are ill in some way. This is to prevent the sick person from breathing/sneezing/coughing on and infecting other people. They may also use masks to prevent themselves from catching viruses from other people, when out in public.

When tourists from the countries where this is normal practice go to the West, they often bring this custom with them as it is a cultural norm for them.