Why does an "X" stand for a kiss?Which fruits are in Juicy Fruit® gum?Why do people cry at happy endings?Why do you never see baby pigeons?
Pop-culture guru David Feldman demystifies these topics and so much more in Why Don't Cats Like to Swim? the unchallenged source of answers to civilization's most perplexing questions. Part of the Imponderables® series, Feldman's book arms readers with information about everyday life from science, history, and politics to sports, television, and radio that encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs just don't have. Where else will you learn what makes women open their mouths when applying mascara?
About the Author
David Feldman is the author of ten previous volumes of Imponderables®. He has a master's degree in popular culture from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and consults and lectures on the media. He lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
What is the difference between "partly cloudy" and "partly sunny" in a weather report?
The expression partly sunny was brought to you by the same folks who brought you comfort station and sanitary engineer. As a technical meteorological term, partly sunny doesn't exist. So while you might assume that a partly sunny sky should be clearer than a partly cloudy one, the two terms signify the same condition. You have merely encountered a weathercaster who prefers to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Actually, most of the meteorological terms that seem vague and arbitrary have precise meanings. The degree of cloudiness is measured by the National Weather Service and described according to the following scales:
|Percentage of Cloud Cover||Term|
Where does "fair" weather fit into this spectrum? Fair weather generally refers to any day with less than a 50 percent cloud cover (thus even some "partly cloudy" days could also be "fair"). But even a cloudy day can be termed fair if the cover consists largely of transparent clouds. On days when a profusion of thin cirrus clouds hangs high in the sky but does not block the sun, it is more descriptive to call it a fair day than a partly cloudy one, since one thick cloud formation can screen more sunshine than many willowy cirrus formations.
You might also have heard the aviation descriptions of cloud cover used in weather forecasts. Here's what they mean:
|Percentage of CloudCover||Term|
Not many people know what the weather service means when it forecasts that there is a "chance" of rain. Precipitation probabilities expressed in vague adjectives also have precise meaning:
|Chance of Precipitation||National Weather Service Term|
|0-20%||no mention of precipitation is made|
|21-50%||"chance" of precipitation|
|80-100%||will not hedge with adjective:"snow," "rain," etc.|