The Explainer questions we never answered in 2008.

Answers to your questions about the news.
Dec. 17 2008 6:57 AM

The Questions We Never Answered in 2008

Digging through the bottom of the Explainer mailbag.

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The Explainer has completed another year of valuable community service. Over the last 12 months, we've told you how to interrogate a small child and given instructions for turning a human skull into a sweet bong. Regular readers learned how to survive a 47-story fall and why you can't survive falling into a black hole. And we had the final word on whether terrorists really bump fists to say hello.

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But, for all that, the column managed to address just a tiny fraction of the 8,500 messages that arrived in our mailbox. Today, as part of our Explainer holiday tradition, we present an assortment of inquiries culled from the voluminous backlog. Below are the reader questions that Slate felt ill-equipped or unwilling to answer in 2008.


Once again, we'd like you to let us know which of these unanswered questions is most deserving of an answer. The one that receives the most reader votes will be designated the Explainer Question of the Year for 2008 and will be addressed in an upcoming column.

Click here to vote for the Explainer Question of the Year.

The Explainer's Unanswered Questions From 2008

•  What is the most disloyal dog breed?

•  Why does some music make you want to shake your butt?

•  Could you please explain why it is that squirrels are capable of such amazing athletic feats? What is it about their brains and, to a lesser degree, their bodies that allows it? I watch them at my house and have seen some amazing things.

•  Why do women like soup? Is it for perceived health benefits? Is it because it's a quasi-comfort food?

•  Is it just me, or do all national anthems the world over, no matter how rich and exotic the culture, seem to sound like European marching-band music? Wouldn't one expect China's national anthem be more "plinky"? Shouldn't Iraq's national anthem sound a little more "Arab-y"?