Author Archives: Melissa

That Time the Citizens of Prague Literally Threw Their Politicians Out of Office (From the Upper Floors)

defenestration-prague

Providing a unique wrinkle to the phrase, “throw the bums out of office,” twice, first in 1419 and again in 1618, frustrated citizens of Prague (today in the Czech Republic) literally threw their leaders out of the upper story windows of their public buildings. The word for throwing someone or something out of a window, defenestration, is also sometimes used […]

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McRefugees and the Cyber-Homeless

homeless-man

With rents for even the smallest quarters exceeding the equivalent of $1000 monthly, a relatively large number of working class people in Asia’s largest cities have become, essentially, homeless. Rather than being completely destitute, as many homeless are, a not inconsiderable number of these individuals earn enough to otherwise support themselves outside of being able to afford housing. To solve […]

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The Vampire of Cinkota

Bela_Kiss'_barrels

Other than the fact that he killed at least 24 people, drained them of blood, pickled them in alcohol-filled metal drums and was never caught, there isn’t a lot to say about Bela Kiss- the Vampire of Cinkota… Kiss’ story begins in the town of Cinkota, Hungary (at the time about 7 miles or 11 kilometers outside of Budapest) in […]

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Why “C” is the Default Hard Drive Letter in Many Computers

hard-drive

Julie N. asks: Why is “C” the default drive letter in computers? For nearly as long as hard disk drives have been placed in personal computers running certain popular operating systems (notably MS-DOS/Windows), the primary hard disk has been designated with the letter “C”.  But why? The idea for designating different storage devices with simple letters is generally attributed to […]

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The United States v. Paramount and How Movie Theater Concessions Got So Expensive

movie-theater

Walter K. asks: Why are movie theaters allowed to make their concessions so expensive? In 1948, the Supreme Court ended the stranglehold Hollywood studios and distributors had on the U.S. movie market. Declaring the big eight a monopoly and ordering them to divest of their ownership of movie theaters and cease other non-competitive practices, with U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, et […]

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Avenging His Dog: The Story of Famed Congressman “Good Time Charlie” Wilson’s First Foray Into Politics

Charlie_Wilson_with_Afghan_man

As well-known for leading a flamboyant, playboy lifestyle as being the mastermind responsible for funneling $5 billion dollars (about $12 billion today) to Afghan rebels (when they were on our side) in their fight against the Soviet Union, Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson was a larger than life character who serves as a stark reminder of how different the political landscape […]

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Duty Free

duty-free

Jeremy W. asks: Why do we call non-taxed items duty free? Why is this allowed? Is this really the case or are you supposed to pay taxes anyway on items to your home country? Providing shoppers with a chance to buy and transport goods across international boundaries without paying local and national taxes, duty-free shops are found in airports and […]

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When Lincoln Was Almost Assassinated Nine Months Before He was Assassinated

abraham-lincoln

In August 1864, the Sixteenth President of the United States of America was nearly assassinated about nine months before he was actually assassinated. This is the story. The Soldier’s Home Throughout the Civil War (1861-1865), President Abraham Lincoln and his family spent the summer and fall in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home in the country outside […]

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