kottke.org posts about Quora
Quora user Murali Krishnan sifted through Q&A site Quora for the best answers and found 270 of them. Among the topics covered are technology, gender, the meaning of life, mathematics, travel, and looks like almost everything else, including some fascinating examples of ancient technology. Looks like one of my favorites didn't make the cut: Domhnall O'Huigin's answer to What is the political situation in the Mario universe?
Quora is full of questions college students ask each other while high, except that sometimes they get answered seriously. Case in point: What is the political situation in the Mario universe? The top answer starts out:
Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.
For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.
Also, Bowser is probably a fascist.
I have no idea how I ever got subscribed to it (automatically?) nor can I find a way on Quora's site to subscribe to it, but my favorite weekly email newsletter by far is my Quora Weekly Digest. Wren Lanier wrote an appreciation of their weekly email last January:
And yet every week, without fail, the most interesting email that lands in my Inbox is the Quora Weekly Digest. It's a simple email, just 5 Quora questions along with the first hundred words of the "best" answer. But what makes the Quora Weekly Digest so awesome is that those 5 questions were chosen just for me, and every week at least one of them teaches me something I didn't even know I wanted to learn.
Topics covered in this week's newsletter include "Could a professional fighter survive an encounter with a fully grown healthy gorilla determined to kill him, without feigning death?", "What is the smartest thing a child has ever said?", and "What can humans learn about fighting/self defense strategy from the other animals and beings?"
Here's a Quora answer about how those claw arcade games work. You know the ones, you've probably won once, but just once. My inclination was to call this a 'fascinating Quora answer,' but upon thinking about it, it's not fascinating. The machines work exactly how you think they would. The operators can vary the strength of the claw to screw you just bad enough you keep sliding in your dollar bills.
Basically, most crane games are designed so the claw is randomly (and only once in many games) strong enough to let players win. Some even weaken in strength after a short time so players get close to victory only to see it slip from their grasp! Since the manuals for many skill games are available online, this is not hard to verify.
The answerer then goes on to link to many manuals so you can see for yourself. (via @sunilnagaraj)
Remember when a Reddit thread about an imaginary military situation was turned into a movie? I think this could be Quora's chance. The top answer by USMC Sergeant Jon Davis is filled with detailed charts and seems like it might work. The extreme dissonance that results from mixing Disney World landmarks with descriptions of military maneuvers is delicious.
The next phase would be the first two infantry companies sneaking in through the wooded area in the Southeast between Tomorrowland and Mainstreet, USA. Their primary targets are the train station and entrance to the park (to prevent enemy escape or reinforcements.) The Tomorrowland company's objective is to secure the square and and buildings, as well as any advanced technologies it may hold. Marines and soldiers are advised to not use the teleporters. They're a trap. They will only kill your unit and replace him with an evil alien. Their main attack route will be through the stage. Also important is that troops remember to take all underground entry points and gas them to prevent surprise attacks from the tunnels.