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Jan. 25 2015 7:11 AM

How Can I Get My Cat to Like Me More?

Answer by Madalyn Zimbric, graduate student at University of Michigan and aspiring cat lady:

Many people have trouble with their cats because they don't understand or speak cat language. It's kind of like an English speaker attempting Mandarin but not knowing about tones. You're attempting to say “Hi! I really like you! Let's be friends.” But in Cat what you're saying is “Hey, you jerk. You'd better stay away or I'll kick your ass.”

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Jan. 23 2015 7:32 AM

What Is the Typical Relationship Between a Japanese Married Couple?

Answer by Steve Wright, coordinator of international events at Bibai City Hall in Hokkaido, Japan:

This is a very interesting question, and I'm glad to have a chance to offer my ideas. It's been my good fortune to live in northern Japan since 1989, and I still feel as if every day is a learning experience. My bride of the last 24 years and her parents are my main models for understanding married couples here, but I have a few other close (married) friends, so I'd like to talk a little about some main issues.

Jan. 22 2015 7:44 AM

What Does It Feel Like to Cancel Your Wedding?

Answer by Tracy Wang, software engineer at Google:

It's been more than two years since I canceled my wedding, and I think it was the best decision I could have ever made in my life. Both of us are way better off. It was a complicated situation, but I can recall exactly what it felt like to cancel the wedding chronologically:

Relief: I had been debating it for a long time; I even talked to my ex-fiancé about it, and my gut was telling me to leave, but logically, I felt like the problem was not insurmountable. Fact is, just understanding the problem was profoundly difficult and confusing (because the problem involved family who had their own serious problems).

Jan. 15 2015 7:17 AM

Why Are the Middle Ages Often Characterized as Dark or Less Civilized?

Answer by Tim O'Neill, M.A. in medieval literature and have studied most aspects of the period for many years:

It's clear that there was a collapse in learning and much technical capacity as a result of the fragmentation and chaos that followed the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe. In places such as southern Gaul or northern Spain, this collapse was a slow decline over several hundred years. In others, such as Britain, it was much more sudden and catastrophic. Modern surveys of archaeological and documentary evidence, such as those summarized by Bryan Ward-Perkins in The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization show that this means a clear decline in material culture and technical capacity between the later Roman era and the seventh century.

Jan. 14 2015 7:57 AM

What Period of History Do Chinese People Most Admire?


Answer by Kaiser Kuo, dabbler in history:



Many Chinese are very admiring of the Tang (618–907), especially the years before the An Lushan Rebellion that broke out in 755.



The Kaiyuan Shengshi, the first part of the emperor Tang Minghuang (Xuanzong), who ruled from 712 to 756, was considered to be the apogee of Tang splendor. During this time the Tang capital at Chang'an was the largest city in the world, with a roughly square city wall with a perimeter of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a population of more than 1 million. It was an extremely cosmopolitan city, sitting as it did at the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, and people from all over the known world of the day could be found there. There were Nestorian Christians, Manicheans, some Arab Muslims, Indian Buddhists, and even some Jews living in Chang'an. You could encounter Central Asians from as far west as Persia to the easternmost reaches of the steppe corridor, Japanese, Koreans, Malays and more in the great markets.


Jan. 11 2015 7:24 AM

How Do I Become a Faster Runner?

Answer by Steven Walling, product manager:

Mechanically, there are only two ways to run faster: Increase the length of your stride, or increase your number of steps. That's really it. The hard part is doing this correctly. To accomplish both of these things you need:

Jan. 9 2015 7:17 AM

What’s the Difference Between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment?

Answer by Kaiser Kuo, dabbler in history:

The Renaissance was a cultural and intellectual movement that peaked during the 15th and 16th centuries, though most historians would agree that it really began in the 14th, with antecedents reaching back into the 12th, and really didn't end until the 17th. Its chief feature was a heightened interest, to near obsession, with classical (that is, Greco-Roman) learning and culture, much of which had gone into eclipse, at least in Western Europe, during the early Middle Ages.

Jan. 7 2015 7:21 AM

How Does a Transgender Woman Shop for Clothes in Stores?


Answer by Tamara Wiens, I am happy now:


Being transgender can present some particular challenges when shopping for clothes, particularly when first starting. In general, I would say that, unless you are in a jurisdiction that has laws and penalties for being in the "wrong" bathroom, change room, etc., just do it. If you are in a situation where you are going to transition to full time, you need to start doing it sooner or later, and as others have said, it can still be nerve-wracking after you are full time. And if you plan on ever going out in public "en femme," even without transitioning, the same argument applies.


Jan. 6 2015 7:21 AM

Are Shakespeare’s Characters the Most Interesting and Universal?

Answer by Joshua Engel, director and actor, The Rude Mechanicals:

Well, here's a slightly weird perspective on the question: I don't think Shakespeare's characters are all that great.

Recently I was talking with some fellow actors after a rehearsal of Julius Caesar. My co-star in the show was quite livid about King Lear. She finds Lear totally unsympathetic and has no interest in the play. She would much rather see Henry IV Part 1 for a better treatment of the same themes.

Jan. 5 2015 7:48 AM

What’s It Like to Be the Only Cuban in Iceland?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Leonardo Moran, author of Cuba: A Leap of Faith and the blog Cuban Lives:


In 2001, I found myself in an awkward situation: I was Iceland’s only Cuban. One day I got a call from the Office of the President. This honor is not as unusual as you might think. Iceland’s population then numbered 285,000, not counting puffins. You could run into him at the public swimming pools, at a bar, even at McDonald’s.

The Buena Vista Social Club was coming to Reykjavík. He was holding a reception in their honor at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence. I was invited because “you’re our only Cuban.”

Icelanders invited to the reception numbered perhaps 30, plus me. The band was late. “This is quite normal,” I explained to first lady Dorrit Moussaieff. “They are Cuban, after all.” The bus finally pulled up. In trotted two dozen beaming musicians and handlers. Rubén Gonzalez, Omara Portuondo, and Ibrahim Ferrer were in the lead. The president gave a brief but elegant welcoming speech. His wife made gracious introductions. It being too early in the day to be inebriated, the other Icelanders reverted to type. Terminally cool, they for the most part stood aloof and did not approach or speak to the Cubans. It was very un-Cuban and (to us) a bit rude. So I stepped up.

“Am I the only guy here from Santiago?” I laughed to Ibrahim. He was then 74 years old and like me, a santiaguero. He lit up with a big smile. Before you knew it we were chatting away like old friends. Omara, still beautiful at 71, was elegant, sophisticated, and flirtatious. She would have been a seductress back in the day. Pianist Rubén Gonzalez was 81. His hands on the keyboard, he said, did not obey his will as they once did. Despite that, all three musicians were spry and chipper as children. My father always said that you don't know who you are until you find out who you're not. That day I finally figured out what he meant. Whatever else I may become, for better or for worse, I am Cuban first.

They played two sold-out shows at Laugardalshöllin, then Iceland’s largest venue, capacity 5,000. When the band started “Candela” the crowd was cheering and on its feet. Even the president was dancing at his seat.

I later asked another Icelandic friend how he enjoyed the show. Bear in mind, he was (when sober) like many of his kin: big, tough, cold, reticent, and without a trace of sentimentality.

“Leo,” he admitted, “we cried.”

“Why did you cry?”

“Because ... I’ve never in my life felt so much love coming from the stage. So we cried!”

I'd underestimated my Icelanders. He was right. Buena Vista was filled with love. Listen for yourself.

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