10 Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

January 28, 2015 | 1 Comment » | Topics: Answers, Interesting

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It seems like “everyone” is getting cancer. Has it always been this way, or is this something new?

Cancer is what kills you if nothing else gets to you first. We’ve made long strides in general health and treatment of many diseases, which has caused us to live longer, which makes cancer a larger percentage of total deaths than it was further back in history.

Cells that make up your body need to regenerate and every mitosis carries a chance something will go wrong, that’s why most cells have a set limit before they can’t replicate. If something goes wrong in a way that will cause them to get rid of the limit, you have a cancerous growth.

It also explains why certain times of cancer, like colo-rectal, lung or gastric are much more common – cells in those areas can get stressed by your lifestyle more than others and need to replicate more often to keep up, so the chance something will go wrong goes up.



Why doesn’t In-n-Out Burger open a locations on the east coast?

For one, In-N-Out doesn’t franchise any of its stores, which the chain argues helps it maintain control over “food quality, restaurant cleanliness and its overall image,” the OC Register explains.

Second, none of the restaurants have freezers or microwaves, so all of its food comes fresh from two distribution facilities, one in California and one in Texas. Opening up locations in areas that are farther away would result in a need for more distribution facilities and a big change to In-N-Out’s supply chain.

– Lynsi Torres, In-N-Out President



Why could Dennis Rodman get so many rebounds when he was just 6 feet 7 inches?

I don’t think there’s ever been a basketball player who has ever been as focused on things other than scoring as Dennis Rodman. Ben Wallace is probably the only one who is even close. 

(I’m not counting players who were only in the NBA because of their height – Manute Bol, Gheroghe Muresan, Shawn Bradley…)

Early in his career, Rodman was focused on being the greatest 1-on-1 defender in NBA history. That was all he did, and I’ve never seen anyone like him. The Dennis Rodman who played for the Bulls wasn’t even close to being as good a defender as the one that played for the Bad Boys championship teams. He was still better than 99% of the NBA, but he wasn’t as good.

That’s because, by that point, he had switched his focus to rebounding. It cost him a little bit defensively, but no one had ever worked harder on rebounding than Worm. He knew how every offensive player blocked out. He knew how every shot from every angle was going to bounce off the rim and where he needed to be to grab it. He knew precisely which way to tip a ball so that he would be in position to run it down.

Dennis, obviously, is wired a little differently than the rest of us. Early in his career, he was terrified of being in the spotlight, so he was happy to do the grunt work – rebounding and defense – on a team that rewarded that. This was the guy who was unable to speak at the Pistons’ championship rallies, or when he got the Defensive Player of the Year awards. He just wept uncontrollably when he was handed the microphone.

Later on, he found a coping mechanism that allowed him to deal with public attention – he created a persona that was the exact opposite of the real person. The guy with the purple hair and the wedding dresses isn’t Dennis Rodman any more than “Prime Time” is the real Deion Sanders.

Luckily for NBA fans, especially in Detroit and Chicago, Dennis Rodman the basketball player was formed before he discovered that coping strategy. That’s how he turned himself into an almost unique player in basketball history.

(For Wallace, it was just a matter of wanting to be an NBA player, and being willing to work harder than any human being alive in order to make that happen. Ben had the same work ethic that made Jerry Rice the greatest player in NFL history. He would lift more weights than anyone else, he would practice harder than anyone else, and he would play harder than anyone else. Ben Wallace is a terrible basketball player – his shooting range was six inches, he couldn’t handle the ball, and he finished his career with the worst free-throw percentage in league history, despite shooting more free throws in practice than anyone alive. The only thing he could do was make a few decent passes out of the high post. But he outworked everyone, because that was the only way he had a chance to make it.)

Dave Hogg



How do companies such as Twitter, which has yet to turn a profit since it’s creation and has lost $165 million this year so far, continue to run and how can they pay employees?

Twitter has raised a tremendous amount of money: 1.82 billion, to be precise. This has been done by selling off bits of their company to investors. They also raised a shitload in this IPO.

They also have a tremendous amount of revenue – $317M last year.

So the main issue is that they are actually spending more than they take in, but given all the extra money they have from investors, that is more than enough to cover the gap.

In general, however, when a company is “running in the red” (i.e., spending more than they make, and numbers in the negative on income statements and balance sheets are typically put in red, hence the phrase), there are only a few possible situations that explain how they are sustainable:

  1. They have cash reserves which they are spending down. This is the case of twitter.
  2. They have a credit line which they are borrowing against. This is more typical for established companies with a substantial credit history – less so for internet startups. Just too volatile to properly assess from a credit-risk perspective.
  3. They are flirting with insolvency.

Amazon, for instance, doesn’t post good profits, if they post profits at all, because they spend all their revenue re-investing in the company. Twitter, however, is not really comparable – while Amazon is making major capital investments that are non-recurring and building out its infrastructure, Twitter’s costs are likely almost all recurring, and consist of payroll and IT. This is why so many people are skeptical about Twitter – it has the stock performance of a much larger, more established company with an order of magnitude more revenue, but its underlying financials do not support this valuation from a traditional perspective.



Why do countries such as Korea have such insane internet speeds, yet countries such as the US don’t have the same, if not better?

Short Answer: South Korea is a much smaller country making it much easier to wire up and maintain connections.

Longer Answer: American companies have limited to no competition when it comes to wire telecommunication services. For instance although my hometown has about four mobile carriers it only one cable provider and one telephone provider. Although both of these companies offer internet, telephone and television services they have a virtual monopoly by having a standing contract with my city. Which means they have no real incentive to make their services better. I have to take their service and pay whatever they tell me or take nothing.

In sort since their is little to no competition there is no reason to improve services or lower prices. You take what they offer you or go without.



Why is printer ink so expensive, while wildly coloured labels/product packages are abundant and apparently cheap?

The reason printer ink is expensive is that the ink is where the printer manufacturers make their profit.

A company will sell you a color printer very cheap with little/no margin, or possibly even at a small loss. They make these printers so that they only work with the proprietary ink cartridges made and sold only by themselves. These ink cartridges are expensive and have a very high margin, and are where the company makes all of their money. Without the ink your cheap printer is useless, so if you want to use it you are forced to pay out for the expensive cartridges.




Why does the USA spend so much money on her military, compared to other countries? $682Bn compared to $166Bn by China, the second biggest spender

There are a few big factors at play.

First, the US came out of WWII relatively intact. Unlike most of the rest of the developed industrial world, we did not have a major war fought right on top of us. Our industrial centers were not bombed into oblivion, so we were in a good post-war position to be the political, military and economic counter to the rising Soviet empire.

Second, the problem of communism – which, remember, was determined to “defeat” capitalism – required a military sufficiently strong to dissuade communist aggression. Not to defeat it directly, but to make it obviously futile or counter-productive, so that it would not expand into more and more theaters of potential conflict. However, the Cold War policy of containment would not work if it was just the US defending itself. It would be like trying to deal with an ant infestation with only enough pesticide for one room. So we needed a bigger military to not only extend the umbrella, but also to persuade potential allies to back our play.

That leads to the third factor. The US building a massive, global defense system allowed other countries to reduce their own defense budgets. This was good, to the extent that it limited regional volatility, but it also meant that a significant reduction in the US defense capacity could create a power vacuum that our allies were not entirely capable of filling. If the US substantially drew down the defense umbrella, a lot of countries would feel the need to ramp up their own defense spending. This makes it a lot more likely that previously-containable conflicts could blow up into all-out wars.

Think of it like your local police. Without a central police force, everybody would be directly responsible for their own protection. That would mean a lot of guns, a lot of paranoia and probably some warlords. The existence of a police force reduces the likelihood of that potentially volatile situation.



Why does College tuition continue to increase at a rate well above the rate of inflation?

In part, because they can. The availability of government-guaranteed student loans means that their customers have access to more money than they otherwise would, which allows colleges to increase prices.

Colleges spend the increased cost on (a) administration, (b) reduced teaching loads, (c) nicer student facilities. (b) helps to attract faculty, which attracts students, and (c) helps attract students. Whenever you go to a college and see a new student center with ultra-nice athletic facilities, for example, think about where the money comes from — directly from students, but indirectly from federal student loans.

So, why does it keep going up? Because the Feds keep increasing the amount you can borrow! You combine that with the changes to the bankruptcy laws in ’05 which prevent borrowers from being able to discharge private loans in bankruptcy, and you see a lot of money made readily available to students.



Why is it so easy to notice bad acting? What are good actors doing that makes them seem more natural? Is there a scientific explanation for how we tell the difference?

Humans are social animals. If you want to have a cushy life in the group, you have to pick up on lots of little cues. Body language, tone of voice, facial expression, every little detail is important and we are trained to pick up on discrepencies. A good actor has to fool you on all of these fronts. A bad actor might only fuck up on one. His smile doesnt reach his eyes. His voice doesnt sound as angry as his face looks. His face is scared but his body language says hes calm. He fucks a line or his voice cracks. Theres a million ways for his act to be off in just a tiny way, but you pick up on it because social cues are important.



Why is it so common for people, while speaking on the telephone, to arbitrarily wander from room to room and about the house?

You do your best thinking when you walk.

It’s well known that your mind is stimulated when you are active and upright. Many scientists and composers adopt this method for idea generation and some of the greatest artists and thinkers from Darwin to Britten were at work whilst walking:


When you are on the phone and focused on the conversation your mind switches to focus on the ‘place’ where the phone call is happening. If you watch people who are deep in conversation they will also be facing downwards and very slightly huddled. As a result you become far less aware of your surroundings and subconsciously your body is telling you to go for a wonder so you can do some thinking – as a sort of coping mechanism. It’s the same as people rubbing their chin or wringing their hands in a meeting (although this is a stress relief). Stress balls also perform this task.


In the UK driving whilst on the phone causes more crashes that drink driving and is banned.

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