I've been saving these questions for a long time.

Hey, I can’t believe I found you on the web, 10+ years ago I first got a Straight Dope book, second hand in a bookstore in Bangkok, two years later I found More Straight Dope, under similar circumstances in Kathmandu! I live in the great white north and had never heard any more of his greatness. Well, I’ll have you know that in the intervening years several questions have been occupying space in my brains, questions I have been saving, waiting to one day hear of y’all again. I just stumbled onto The Triumph of… at my local bookstore. I was convinced my questions would appear in those pages. But, alas, not so. I’m hoping you can help me with these perplexing problems. Here goes:

  1. How do they make those mandarin orange segments you can buy in tins. Do they peal them? Is it, I hope not, a chemical process or what? It could be that chinese slaves are responsible for this.
  2. How come commercial aircraft are not equiped with big parachutes ala space shuttle. You’d still crash, I’m sure, but with luck you wouldn’t be going so fast. Surely this could save lives.
    3.Why does Machu have only one ‘p’, while Picchu has two?
  3. Why does Bolivia have a Navy?
    I have been carrying around these questions a long time and feel enormous relief knowing that the teaming millions have taken over the task of answering them.

well, some of these questions are obviously not worth answering, but here’s two that are moderately serious:

Commercial airlines DO have emergency chutes. They don’t always deploy since the crash often happens in such a way that they don’t have a chance to deploy. But commercial jets DO have emergency chutes… Just thi spast weekend my girlfriends flight was delayed 3 hours because one went off on teh runway before takeoff.

Because it used to have a coastline. As a result of numerous 19th century wars (most significantly the “Gran Chaco War” and “The War of the Pacific”) Bolivia lost it’s coastline to neighboring Peru and Chile. It’s Navy may now be vestigal, but it once had a true coastline to patrol. Remember the Austrian Admiral von Trapp from “The Sound of Music?” Same deal… Until World War I, Austria controled a considerable coastline along the Adriatic and the Black Sea, but of course by the time the Sound of Music was produced, the Admiral had become a walking anachronism.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

re question #2:

There are any number of lifesaving devices that could be installed on commercial aircraft but they unfortunately have the side effect of making the aircraft no longer commercially viable. As an extreme example, why not put another airplane on top of each airplane built? That way, if something should go wrong the passengers could just move to the other airplane, jettison the one with the problem and fly home safely. This sometimes gets posed as the semi-serious question of the airplane’s “black box”. If it can survive a crash, why not build the whole airplane that way? Because then the airplane would be prohibitively heavy.

So for each potential lifesaving idea the engineers (and businessmen) have to balance the cost (in the most general sense – not just manufacturing costs but loss of revenue from displaced passengers, higher maintenance and operating costs, etc.) with the benefits. If they can save 1 life in 100 years at the cost of $1 million per airplane, will they do it? Would you?

This isn’t entirely a hard-hearted business decision. Low-cost commercial aviation undoubtedly saves lives. Think of organ transplants, rescue operations, famine relief, etc. And a perfectly safe aircraft is unattainable – at what point do you draw the line?

So buckle your seat belt and sit in the back of the plane. Or else walk. :slight_smile:

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”

Not an answer, just an observation.
You know, most of these questions are stupid, but by GHOD and all that’s unholy, they ARE original, and any new questions are always welcome.

You mean C’s in Machu Picchu? When you send your questions to Cecil, pay attention to detail. I never do, and he never answers mine. I think I gave up. But, feel free to come up with a few more questions, and we’ll tell you if you have any good ones. Just don’t take ten years this time, the threads go down to the …bottom in a few days.

  1. The oranges are peeled by the same Fruit Processing Elves that halve the peaches in heavy syrup.

  2. If there weren’t any aviation accidents, passengers wouldn’t feel as good when the plane lands safely and then the airlines would get fewer repeat customers.

  3. I assume you mean “c”. It’s because they built Machu before the double-c was introduced to the Inca empire, but the Picchu part came after trade was established with the double-c bearing Quechua.

  4. So that Bolivian women don’t flock en masse to hang out with Paraguayan sailors, thus creating a population crisis.

“Anything is peaceful from one thousand, three hundred and fifty-three feet.”

Jay ron, I’m curious as to which commercial aircraft have parachutes. The DC-9 doesn’t that I know of (I worked at a DC-9 Maintenance & Engineering facility as a co-op). I’m kind of surprised that any commercial A/C would have one, given the cost - financial, weight (parachute + surrounding structure) - vs the benefits. Would that sort of thing be referenced in Jane’s? I don’t disbelieve you, I’m just surprised.

I think we’re missing the bigger question here; How was a person who was able to find Straight Dope books in Thailand and Nepal unable to locate them in Ontario?

Well, that explains the Loco, I guess… :smiley:

At the risk of posting something reasonably accurate to this thread:

2: As already noted, the weight required for a parachute that could support the plane (even if you could arrange for the wings to conveniently drop off) would be prohibitively expensive, making airline travel too expensive to bother with. More to the point: how often have you heard of a plane falling out of the sky? Planes generally crash on landing or takeoff when you could not deploy a chute in any effective manner.
3: Machu Picchu has the appropriate number of Cs (not Ps) to be pronounced locally as MAH chew PEEK Chew. Note the K in the PEEK syllable that speakers of English slur into the following sound.


No, no, don’t help me…each word has an invisible ‘P’ in it, right? ::laughs hysterically for several minutes:: Oh, God, who put something in my Pepsi? That ain’t funny at all! ::beats herself senseless::

“It’s bacon!!”

it was a smallish commerical jet, on the order of a 757 or some such jobber. And, IIRC the chutes are present not to slow the plane in flight, but in the case of emergency landing (i.e. short or no runways). I have first person, eye-witness testemony that there was indeed a large poofy parachute hanging out of the back of my girlfriends plane that caused them to have to deboard and wait for it to be fixed.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

Hmmm…I think I’ve heard about parachutes used for slowing A/C in the manner you described. Now if they would just put one into the 737’s for when the rudder actuates during cruise and sends the plane into a nosedive! (Yes, I know. They’ve fixed that now.)

I like your nomenclature, jayron. The drawing title in that case would be “Parachute, poofy, large.” :slight_smile:

“Mandarin orange” is another name for “tangerine,” so named because the supply route for them in the early days went through Tangiers. Some varieties, notably the Clementine, have very loose peels that do not adhere to the fruit segments therein. There is probably a washing step that removes any remaining bits of loose pith (the white stuff that makes black coffee taste sweet).

I don’t know if they are peeled by hand or not, but the delicate nature of mandarin orange segments would seem to argue against machine processing.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

Well, the white stuff that makes my black coffee taste sweet is called “sugar”! :slight_smile:

I am virtually certain that no modern commercial passenger jets have parachutes like this. In the years I have been flying I’ve never seen a single report in any magazine or safety bulletin that ever mentioned them. I’ve never seen a control for this in a cockpit, either. If they were there, it would require safeguards to prevent their deployment in flight, a method of cutting them away if they did deploy in flight, etc. Given the mass of a large airliner, I don’t think they’d be of much help in stopping anyway.

Other methods have been proposed to stop big jets on the runway, mostly involving erectable barriers of some sort. One promising but expensive method uses a new type of crushable concrete in the overrun which puts a lot of drag on the wheels and causing the jet to stop quickly but in a controlled manner.

Could your girlfriend have meant chutes as in “ladders?” AKA slides. I know many modern commercial aircraft have inflatable chutes to debark planes in an emergency.

I once worked as a statistician for a major airline. I was involved with union monitoring. Slides are occasionally deployed by the flight attendants. Sometimes it’s a accident, sometimes it’s self help.

Ha ha…you’re a card, you should be dealt with…

I suppose I should have said “the white stuff in comparison with which black coffee tastes sweet.” Smartass.

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

Wow ! I am stunned by the prompt and witty responses to my questions. Sorry about the typo (c’s in Machu Picchu). Your explanation of why Bolivia has a navy was on the money, I’d never have thought of that. Spaceshuttle parachutes on commercial planes, I’m not entirely convinced they are not a good idea I did think it was probably a cost issue. And the Machu Picchu questions, well I was looking for the straight dope in South America and couldn’t find it anywhere so that question just stayed with me. But I really feel you have inadequately addressed my whole Mandarin orange issue, which was the closest to my heart. I love those little orange segments but never open a tin that I don’t ponder how they achieve such a task. I find it difficult to believe it is done by machine, the segments are such varied sizes and once the outer membrane has been removed they are quite delicate. By hand? This seems equally implausable.
By the way, each of the books I purchased while travelling I paid less than $3 for, secondhand, and got $1.50 back when I traded them in the next day. Whenever I acquire my reading material in such a shop I can’t help but wonder how many travelers have read this book before me. It’s not uncommon to pick up such a book and discover that it came from a second hand store in Delhi, you bought in it Kathmandu and traded it in while in Bangkok. I’m sure authors must hate to hear stories like this as it seems unlikely they have received their due royalties. Still those books, each store has maybe two shelves, pass through thousands of hands. Stay in any one place too long and you’re soon reading material you’d normally never touch. I guess travelling does broaden your horizons.