Questions that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this, your section,
and be answered by other readers. Please address your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.

If ‘crack’ cocaine is more potent than cocaine powder why is it cheaper?

Cocaine comes mainly in two forms: as cocaine hydrochloride powder and as non-ionized free-base cocaine rocks, known as ‘crack’.

Originally drug traders turned cocaine hydrochloride into ‘crack’ because more doses could be sold per quantity of cocaine hydrochloride and so it was more profitable. It became customary to smuggle cocaine in this form and soon most dealers began to sell ‘crack’ rather than hydrochloride. Demand did not increase markedly, but supply did and the price went down as result. Now demand has grown a bit – due to the lower prices – but it will have to increase a lot before the price of crack rises to that of hydrochloride.

Dr J Barrett
London, England

What is the origin of the expression ‘a different kettle of fish’?

A ‘kettle’ is, in origin, any deep pan for boiling food in water. A fish-kettle is a large, two-handed, oval saucepan, long enough to take a salmon full-length. In Scotland parties were held at the riverside to cook and eat salmon and so a ‘pretty kettle of fish’ ironically refers to a picnic that gets out of hand and a ‘different kettle of fish’ is a separate affair, like ‘a whole new ball game’. See Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, fourteenth edition.

Alison Adcock
Oxford, England

Which country has been under colonial rule for the longest time?

What about the Kurds? They have been subject to someone else forever. If they ever achieved a nation-state, wouldn’t they automatically win the title? One may also consider the Moorish colonization of the Iberian peninsula, which lasted almost 700 years.

And what about the countries that came under papal domination? The papal states (aka ‘the Roman Catholic Church’ or the ‘Holy Roman Empire’) terrorized many parts of Europe from about 800 AD to the end of the nineteenth century. With an openly proclaimed program of world domination, pursued though an ideological terror campaign of torture and brainwashing, this ‘country’ dominated many governments in Europe until they were able to free themselves from its clutches.

Greg Erwin
Aylmer, Canada

What is the title and publisher of JB Priestley’s novel
about two men who founded the ‘Institute of Imagistics’ ?

It’s The Image Men published by Heinemann, UK.

Jean Unwin
Seascale, England

awaiting your answers

Has anyone calculated the extent to which Britain’s former colonies helped make Britain a ‘developed’ nation? What has been their economic impact over the centuries?

David Salter
Cardiff, Wales

Where does the Eastern Hemisphere end and the Western begin? Where is the vertical Equator? Is this just another variation on the First-Third World, North-South division? If so where do Turkey and Mexico belong?

Claire Thomas
Ankara, Turkey

If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities, New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK, or to your local NI office (see inside front cover for addresses).


[image, unknown] [image, unknown]
Big Bad World POLYP cartoon [image, unknown]
POLYP cartoon [image, unknown]
Cartoon by P J POLYP

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995

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