Author Archives: Melissa

Why is it Called “Going Dutch” When You Pay for Yourself?

going-dutch

Michael W. asks: Why is splitting the tab and paying for yourself called Dutch? The idea of paying for yourself when out with friends being referred to as some expression including the word “Dutch,” seemingly incorrectly is often connected to the fact that for several centuries beginning in the 17th, the word Dutch had a negative connotation in English, variously […]

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From Titanic Survivor and Near Amputee to Hall of Fame Tennis Champion- The Story of Dick Williams

richard norris williams

In the early morning of April 15, 1912, 21-year-old Richard “Dick” Norris Williams II was washed off the deck of the doomed RMS Titanic and into the icy water of the North Atlantic. Rescued by a lifeboat, but almost up to his waist in near-frozen water for several hours, Williams suffered such extreme frostbite that medical personnel wanted to immediately […]

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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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