ELI5: What is Dungeons and Dragons? by Riggerman10 in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Think of it as collaborative fiction in a fantasy setting.

You have one person, the dungeon master, who is in charge of the setting, what kind of world is it, the key players, sources of conflict, overriding plot, etc.

Everyone else is a character in that story and gets to decide what those characters do. It is completely open-ended, but to make it a little more structured than pure make-believe, dice are used to determine success or failure. You can say "I try to know the sword out of the bad guy's hand, but if you roll poorly, you might get stabbed.

Different characters have different professions and abilities which modify the chances of success, and as you play, you progress along your career path and your abilities improve.

ELI5: Why were the Mongols the only military power to defeat Russia? by [deleted] in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Because it wasn't Russia yet.

It was a bunch of tiny states that were easily conquered one at a time. The Russians trace their heritage back to the Rus' in Kiev, but it was just one of many Slavic tribes that would eventually coalesce into Russia. In fact, the Mongol conquest probably help create Russia, as older cities such as Kiev and Vladamir were all but destroyed, allowing Moscow to emerge and dominate the region and after the Mongol empires declined.

Eli5: The difference between fractional reserve banking and a Ponzi scheme? by asaltandbuttering in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

No, it depends on their capacity to give the money back.

You could be the nicest guy in the world and mistakenly run a Ponzi scheme through naiveté. There is some evidence to suggest that although he wasn't necessarily a nice guy, Charles Ponzi thought his scheme could work, and just got in over his head before he realized the truth. There is a good chance Bernie Madoff thought the same.

A Ponzi scheme can't work, no matter what. You tell your investores to give you $1000, and they will get $1100 back next year. But they only way to do that is to find another investor, an use part of his $1000 to make up the difference.

With a bank, your are telling one guy, give me $1000, and I'll pay you back $1100, then finding another and say, I'll loan you $1000, but you have to pay me back $1200. $1200 > $1100, so both customers are happy and you have $100 profit.

You can look at a banker as a broker who matches people who want to lend money and people who want to borrow it, and take a commission for their trouble. They just have so many customers they no longer need a 1 to 1 correspondance.

ELI5: Why is it that 0÷Inf=0 but 0×Inf=NaN? Shouldn't they both be 0? by Metomorphose in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

No, sorry, it was meant to be multiplication.

Always hard to show math correctly without the proper markup.

ELI5: Why do most pickup trucks use rear-wheel drive? by redd_mage in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Because they carry load and/or tow.

That distributes a lot more weight on the back of the truck, so it gets better traction with rear wheel drive.

ELI5: What does constitutional and unconstitutional mean? by anomracrasec in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

A country typically has two kinds of laws, those established by its constitution and those by the legislature. Constitutional law takes precedent.

Sometimes it isn't clear whether legislated law contradicts the constitutional law, and when that happens, the courts make that determination. A law that has been overturned is unconstitutional. A law that has been upheld is likely, but not necessarily constitutional. Laws typically have multiple parts that can be challenged on multiple grounds, so one particular court ruling doesn't prove constitutionality.

The terms also can be sure to express an opinion about a law, about how a court would or should rule on its constitutionality.

ELI5: Out of Africa - How does that explain the diverse cultures, body types, eyes, and skin colors present today? by Ohm_eye_God in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Those features are pretty superficial and prone to genetic drift. Skin color is about climate, and there are a lot of features that hide in recessive genes are not obvious until there is some adaptive pressure.

The fact of the matter is there is more genetic diversity inside Africa than out.

ELI5: Why is it that 0÷Inf=0 but 0×Inf=NaN? Shouldn't they both be 0? by Metomorphose in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

You saw the part where I said 1 = 2, right? I'm not doing real rigorous math here.

In this case, the limit of the product is equal to the product of limits, so it is all good. The point wasn't to get full points on my homework assignment, it was to show something that looks like 0 x ∞ but does not equal 1.

ELI5: What exactly is a dependent triad or "devil's tritone" in music and how does it work? by csrabbit in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

It simply means you can't end on a dependent tritone. It depends on additional notes and chords to achieve resolution else the music will sound incomplete.

Whether a particular tritone is dependent or not is more of a matter of opinion and history than anything. There are some measurements you can apply to the resulting sound wave to say whether it is more or less consonant, but at the end of the day music is an aesthetic, and opinions will vary.

Eli5: The difference between fractional reserve banking and a Ponzi scheme? by asaltandbuttering in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

With fractional reserve banking, the banks actually lend out many times more money than you deposit

Not even a little bit true. Banks have to keep a 10% reserve, so the most they can lend out is 90%. Actually, it can exceed that, as some of the profit they make on loans can be relent, but it is going to be in that neighborhood. But never "many times".

Eli5: The difference between fractional reserve banking and a Ponzi scheme? by asaltandbuttering in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

I think everyone knows a business that does stupid things risks failure.

The difference is that a Ponzi scheme is unsustainable and will always fail, eventually. A prudent bank will stay in business indefinitely, some have been around for centuries.

Eli5: The difference between fractional reserve banking and a Ponzi scheme? by asaltandbuttering in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

they seem structurally identical.

They aren't, not once you understand them.

Ponzi scheme doesn't just mean shaking looking investment, it is a specific thing. In a Ponzi scheme, the underlying business is a sham. There is no return on investment, the only way to earn money is to recruit new investors and use their principal to create a false return.

A bank has a legitimate business, lending money. If there were no depositors and the bank just had a huge wad of cash, they would still earn money by loaning out money and charging interest. Depositors are just a way to get the huge wad of cash, and interest is the way to make them give it to you. So long as the bank gets more money from borrowers than it gives to lenders, and that difference is enough to keep the lights on, it is a sound business.

ELI5: Why is it that 0÷Inf=0 but 0×Inf=NaN? Shouldn't they both be 0? by Metomorphose in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Protip, use x instead of * for multiplication and your reddit markup will turn out a lot better. :)

ELI5: How does federalism work in Canada, since is not a federal republic (like most big countries in the Americas) but a constitutional monarchy? by tumadre22 in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Criminal law is the under the exclusive domain of the Canadian Parliament, as is matters involving trade, banking, immigration, and interprovincial disputes. In theory, they could make laws that applied to provinces differently, but I am not aware of any.

It is possible for potential low to differ on civil law, your muffler might be too loud in Ontario and thus illegal, but perfectly fine in Saskatchewan.

ELI5: What's the difference between self worth, self esteem, and self concept? by HaughtySpirit in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Sell esteem is what you think about your self and your qualities, more of an observation than an evaluation. It tends change with circumstance, you are going to feel better about your bowling after your roll a strike than after a gutterball.

Self-worth is your evaluation of yourself and your qualities. You might know you are a great bowler, but feel low self-worth because you can't find a job or a date.

Self-concept is your general awareness of your self, almost your existential philosophy about what it means to be you. Some people just work and react and don't think about it too much, others a prone to deeper contemplation

ELI5: Why is it that 0÷Inf=0 but 0×Inf=NaN? Shouldn't they both be 0? by Metomorphose in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Infinity is not like regular numbers and doesn't follow the rules of arithmetic. Also, we aren't really saying 0/∞, instead it is the limit of 0/x as x approaches ∞. It is a subtle but important distinction. Finally, NaN is not a mathematical thing, it is a design consideration included with the IEEE standard of floating point arithmetic, which is what most computers and calculators follow.

0/∞ = 0 because every limit that reduces to 0/∞ will converge to zero. This is not true for 0 x ∞, it can approach 0, ∞ or any number in between. For example:

f(x) = 1/x; g(x) = x 
lim f(x) x->∞ = 0; lim g(x) x->∞ = ∞
However, lim f(x) * g(x) x->∞ = 1
Therefore, 0 * ∞ = 1, right?
h(x) = 2x
lim f(x) * h(x) = 2
Therefore, 0 * ∞ = 2, and 1 = 2?

This shows both why 0 * ∞ = NaN and why you can't treat infinity like an ordinary number.

BTW, you were able to find the obelus(÷) but not the lemniscate(∞)? :)

During the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Colbert debate, Ricky makes the excellent point that if all science and religion books were destroyed, in a 100 years science facts would be returned intact but not the religious texts. But wouldn't the concept of God likely be created? by cisco54 in atheism

[–]kouhoutek 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It would, but in a completely different way.

We'd eventually figure out F = ma because we can derive it from the same world Newton did. We might see the same general progression from animism to polytheism to monotheism, but there is no reason to expect the next God will have created the world in seven days.

Why do some athiests avoid debate? by ryu238 in atheism

[–]kouhoutek 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Because it is short-sighted to mistake "winning" for finding a good outcome.

Most debates are performances, not discussions, and winning or losing one proves shows about as much about God as arm wrestling would.

Need advice with starting a secularism club at my school. by svenskarrmatey in atheism

[–]kouhoutek 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If you want an atheism, skepticism, or free thinking club, call it one of those. Your posters do not describe a secularism club.

Secularism is the belief that religion should be separate from government. Some secularists are religious, some question evolution, and some do not support climate change.

ELI5: How do we scientifically explain the “spiritual high” or “burning in the bosom” that religious people feel? by twob3three in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Humans are social creatures, and rhythmic, emotionally charged rituals illicit a response that encourages social bonding. Under the right circumstances, you can get the same feeling on the dance floor, at a rock concert, or from a drum circle.

ELI5: how the westward expansion of the United States created this sense of “less government is better” mentality that we still see today from people living in the midwest? by defcon330 in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

The interior west of the US is lightly populated, and what population there is tends to be concentrated into large cities. Many have counties the size of some European countries that have less than a thousand people living there. That's not enough tax revenue to have a full-time police, firefighter, or hospitals, and it is not enough of an economic base to have grocery stores or shopping malls. This has led to a spirit of self-reliance that you don't see in places further away from their pioneer roots.

ELI5: How is cape town in South Africa running out of water? by KevinHeaven87 in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Not only is desalination very expensive, it only solves half the problem. Most water distribution systems rely on gravity, it rains uphill. water flows downhill and is diverted to where it is needed. Desalinated water winds up at sea level, which is as downhill as you can. You still need to find a way to transport that water uphill to a million thirsty people.

ELI5: how does paying for college work? by Tiny_Angel_ in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

You typically have to pay per semester/quarter, and in advance, although some colleges allow partial payments throughout the semester.

You also pay by the class, although many colleges have a fixed tuition if you take a full load, which usually works out to 3-6 classes.

ELI5: Why is propane in liquid form in a tank, but gas form in a bottle or bucket? by pista-chio in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

When a gas is under pressure, its boiling point goes down and it remains a liquid at higher temperatures.

Propane becomes liquid at about -40 F under normal pressure, but this rises to over 100 F at 12 atm.

ELI5: How is it that scientists were able to completely eradicate smallpox, but they cant do that with other diseases? by jimmiekosmo in explainlikeimfive

[–]kouhoutek [score hidden]  (0 children)

Smallpox had a few things going for it:

  • there aren't really carriers, you are only infectious after you have symptoms, making it easier to detect and contain
  • there is no animal reservoir that allows it to evolve and reinfect humans
  • smallpox has a huge impact, in terms of death and disfigurement, so the motivation is higher compared to, say, mumps or measels
  • the vaccine is highly effective, compare to the hit or miss vaccine we have for malaria and influenza, and it is cheap and easy to produce