FAQS

How Far is Earth from the Sun?
The distance from Earth to the sun, known as an astronomical unit, or AU, has been defined as 149,597,870,700 meters (92,955,807 miles)

Beatles or Stones?
Mmmm. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy?
Much easier. I love Lev, but it’s Fyodor Mikhailovich in a walkover.

Is there a socially recognized hierarchy of the arts?
Of course, though it corresponds to the social hierarchy of consumers. Art and cultural consumption are predisposed to fulfill a social function of legitimating social differences.

What would it take to notice that American democracy had turned into an Authoritarian system?
We haven’t [noticed] yet, but the premise might begin with a scenario where a reality TV star doofus was elected President.

I feel like I should do more to fight terrorism, but I’m just one person. What can I do?
If you have money, take a vacation to Paris, enjoy the museums and cafes, spend lavishly on delicious food, wine, even tchotchkes. This can be accomplished even with a modest income, as, say, a substitute for visits to Disney World or similar. Your vacation in the cultural heart of the universe will enrich you beyond measure and demonstrate courage to the yokels on every side who would rather you cower in fear.

Does “180 Gram Vinyl” actually sound better than 140g, 160g, or even 220g?
Vinyl record weight has very little to do with the sound quality of the music engraved in the grooves. The technical standard by which grooves are modulated and cut on the record surface is exactly the same on all vinyl records regardless of weight grade. The dimensions of the grooves can only be cut within the scope of that standard, extremely small dimensions at the micro-metric scale such that tiny variations of any vinyl weight above 100 Gram (and probably less) provides the necessary physical support for pressing sound grooves according to the standard industry specifications.

Why did Rome fall?
For a long time, massive out-migration was mentioned as the biggest reason for the collapse of Rome. But it really was a process of decline. Rome had always had its fair share of bad emperors, e.g., Caligula, Nero, Commodus. But there always followed good emperors to correct their errors. At Rome's end however, there was really no good rulers. Also important to the weakening of the Romans was that they began to get more and more civilized. Civilized people were not as good warriors on the battlefields as barbarians. Also, Rome was spending more than it could afford – free food rations for the poor of Rome and Constantinople were costing a fortune, exotic spices and silk from the orient meant that over time Rome was spending its gold on overseas luxuries. Soon Rome didn't have enough gold to produce coins.

And then the plagues brought in from the east swept across Europe, killing vast numbers among the population of the empire.