We all probably know by now why the sky is blue. We also know the difference between a cow and a bull. School was great! We learned a lot. And if we walk around this world with our ears and minds open, there is no end to what we can take in, absorb and pass on to others.
But then there are other questions. Other itching curiosities. Ones that you probably thought about Googling once or twice, but then got distracted, or lazy or just forgot.
Here are some answers to those burning questions.
You're welcome. Now go forth and spread the knowledge!
What's the deal with classified documents? Who classifies them? How do they work?
We've all seen news reports that talk about classified documents. Those pieces of paper with black lines all over the place that make them relatively unreadable. What's the deal? Well, there are four types of classification for information: Unclassified, Classified, Secret and Top Secret.
What determines the classification? The degree of threat to our national security. The more harmful information is, the more classified it will be labeled and handled. Different governmental agencies determine the level of classification, depending on where the material came from and who needs to know.
What's a hedge fund?
The battle of Wall Street vs. Main Street is being waged once again as we head towards the upcoming primaries and elections. One of the denizens of Wall Street is the woolly hedge fund. You've probably heard of them, but most likely you are neither part of one, nor know what one is exactly.
Hedge funds are privately-managed funds consisting of a small number of very rich investors. The investors come together, pool their money and put it under the control of a hedge fund manager. The manager's job is simple: to make sure that the investors make an incredible return on their investment.
These aren't penny stocks. We're talking large piles of money. Hedge funds are generally a risky venture that make a varied number of investments, doing whatever it takes to make money. They also aren't available to the general public. So it may not do you much good, but at least now you know what they are!
Why do we need two-income households now? What happened to the good ol' days?
Once upon a time in America, households were able to survive and thrive on one breadwinner. Now, we're lucky if both parents working can make ends meet. What happened?
Simply put, the cost of living has grown wildly over the past 40 years due to inflation. Unfortunately for us, wages have not kept in sync. Because of this, we now need to bring in more money via more people in order to pay for the same stuff that less money once took care of. Boo!
Why do rugby players suffer fewer instances of brain damage than American football players, even though they don't wear helmets?
Contact sports are a dangerous business. But this is a good question! Rugby and American football are both tackle-oriented sports. So why do the guys with more protection suffer worse fates than those who basically wear the equivalent of a lightly padded winter hat on their heads?
It's an unfortunate irony that explains this: because football players are more protected, they tend to be more physical and rough with one another because they feel safer. When you are unprotected, you will modify your behavior, administering softer hits and taking better care of your vulnerable body.
Perhaps if we were to ban helmets and protective gear, football players wouldn't destroy their bodies as much. Perhaps.
Why did Chairman Mao Zedong butcher so many of his people, including teachers?
In the Evil Hall of Shame, Chairman Mao is certainly one of the worst. He was once quoted as saying "Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed." Mao, on rising to power, began a systematic campaign of brutal murders of monks, teachers, Kung Fu masters and other such individuals.
Why? Because he was on the warpath against what he called "The Four Olds," in the hopes of reinventing China. He wanted to obliterate old ideas, old customs, old culture and old habits. A senseless, bloody, and evil purge.
Why doesn't Listerine kill 100% of the bacteria in our mouths?
You've no doubt heard and seen ads for Listerine that boast the destruction of 99.9% of the bacteria in our mouths. What's with that last 0.1%? Is a super-bacteria growing inside of us that will end up becoming resistant to our mouthwash?
Relax, that's not the case at all. This missing 0.1% actually accounts for bacteria hiding out in cracks and crevices and corners of our mouths that the Listerine cannot reach. And, no, don't worry about bacteria growing resistant to the burning green (or blue) stuff. Listerine is so powerful that it literally detonates bacteria. Nothing survives. We'll be just fine.
Why are most sniper rifles not semi-automatic?
A majority of sniper rifles are bolt-action. Why is this? Because the bolt-action set-up of the firearm reduces any possible movement when it is fired.
This is important in the case of a sniper rifle because every millimeter of unnecessary deviation could result in the sniper missing their target. The bolt-action mechanism in a sniper rifle allows for movement only when reloading between rounds, which promises a cleaner, more accurate shot.
Why am I paying taxes for my local for-profit sports stadium?
Ah, capitalism! You're paying annually for your local stadium for one reason: your local leaders do not want to deal with the backlash of letting your team move somewhere else.
Stadium and team owners are very aware of the power they have over the public and government. In times when teams wanted a new or upgraded stadium, and local leadership pushed back, rabid fans filled the airwaves with resounding condemnations against those politicians. These days, we very rarely hear about teams picking up and moving to another city or state. And you get to foot the bill for those $13 foot-long dogs. Go team!
Why do animals get away with eating basically the same food all the time while I need to have a diverse diet?
I have good news for you: you don't need to have a diverse diet! You can literally eat the same thing day and night, like a monkey or cow, and you will be okay. I also have bad news: you will probably die relatively quickly.
Most animal species do not live anywhere near as long as humans do. Do you want to live to be 90 and see your great grandkids and the invention of the jetpack? Make sure you've got the right amount of protein, veggies, fruits and grains. So, yeah, mom was right. You should listen to her more often and stop asking such ridiculous questions.
(H/T: Freakonomics, Khan Academy, Caveman Circus)