Nov
02
2014
0

What is Quidditch?

Quidditch huddle (photo by John Loo - CC-BY)The millions who have read Harry Potter books will recognize the word Quidditch. I haven’t read the books, but now understand that in the books there are witches flying around in some sort of competition. That was, however, only after I saw a group of Ivy League students in a pick-up game of some sort [more...]

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Aug
03
2014
1

What are some statistics about cats in the U.S. and Canada?

Cats (photo by kwc909 - CC-BY)How many cats are there in the United States? 45.3 million U.S. households own a cat 95.6 million cats are owned in the United States Annual expenses for cat owners $382     Surgical Vet Visits $193     Routine Vet $203     Food $36       Food Treats $337     Kennel Boarding $77       Vitamins $20       Groomer/Grooming Aids $23       Toys Source: American Pet Products Association [more...]

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Jul
28
2014
3

What are some global statistics about death?

Yeah, it happens.You may not go gentle into that good night, but go you shall. We all do, eventually. Death is the inevitable end game of life. But how we go is a different matter entirely, as there are thousands of ways to die. Here’s what the statisticians at the World Health Organization, the CIA and elsewhere [more...]

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Jul
09
2014
2

Is there a place named after Uclue.com?

Welcome to Ucluelet! (photo by Tourism Ucluelet - PD)Is there a place named after Uclue.com? It would have to have been fairly recently named, of course, and hence a still small place, maybe named “Ucluelet”. Wouldn’t that be nice: Uclue.com honored by its own little town? Mountain View hasn’t been renamed Googletown—yet. Ucluelet does exist, and it is a nice, small settlement on [more...]

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Jun
23
2014
1

Why was the English football side unsuccessful in Brazil?

Goal (photo by grassrootsgroundswell - CC-BY)Why was the English football side unsuccessful in the Brazil World Cup, when England is the home of soccer? There are several reasons: The team had use of the best training facilities in Rio de Janiero. They were accompanied by an entourage of 72 people, including a psychiatrist. Their sweat production was managed with designer [more...]

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Jun
23
2014
2

Why, unequivocally, do Italians call a cup of coffee “espresso”?

Expressing espresso (photo by Scott Schiller - CC-BY)An espresso is a shot of coffee made by forcing nearly-boiling water through ground coffee beans, at up to 10 times normal atmospheric pressure. At this pressure, the temperature will be higher than the normal boiling point of water, which causes more of the flavor to be extracted from the coffee grounds. The machine and [more...]

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Jun
23
2014
5

What did you want to know about sex but were afraid to ask?

Archaeological sex (photo by أشرف العناني - CC-BY)Here is a compact set of answers to the questions you may have wanted to ask about sex, but were too afraid. Sex is Latin for six. A person who has not had sex is known as a virgin. “Virgin” is the trademark for Richard Branson’s branded venture capitalism. Most sex occurs between a male [more...]

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Jun
15
2014
2

Why does the oldest Italian brand of coffee have a German name?

Hausbrandt Coffee (photo by Hausbrandt Trieste 1892 S.p.A. - CC-BY-SA)The oldest name-brand Italian coffee is “Hausbrandt” and dates from 1892. For German speakers, “Hausbrandt” suggest an old-fashioned spelling of “Hausbrand,” a word that can mean either fuel for a house oven or stove, or one for the burning of a house. It could also suggest the product of a private distillery, the product of [more...]

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Apr
28
2014
5

What is the Most Common Phrase in the English Language?

"Google" peaked in the '40s, thanks to Barney Google cartoons, and again in the 1990s (image used with permission from Google)You probably already know the most common letter in the English language is the letter e. It accounts for about 12% of all the letters you’re likely to see on a given page (go ahead…count ‘em!). On your keyboard, only the venerable space bar gets more of a workout than the letter e. On a [more...]

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Apr
08
2014
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Is etymology fun?

Etymology of "mother" from "The Story of Mankind" by Hendrik van Loon (PD-EXP)I think etymology, the study of the history of words, is fun. That is probably only because I don’t have to study words. I am just curious about some words, when I suddenly have a question about one. If you are reading this, you probably know the feeling and also probably recognize the similarity of [more...]

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