Mar
31
2012
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What does your printer do for the government?

yellow-dotsDoes your printer simply receive data from your computer and spit out printed pages? Or does it do more than that? At least nine printer manufacturers make printers that do more than just print your page: Canon Brother Casio HP Konica Minolta Mita Ricoh Sharp Xerox According to a 2012 request under the US Freedom [more...]

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Mar
26
2012
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What happened to the cast of Hogan’s Heroes?

bob-crane-sigrid-valdisHogan’s Heroes was a sitcom that aired from 1965 to 1971. It was set in a WW2 German POW camp, where the American POW Colonel Hogan led a group of Allied prisoners in an ongoing series of escapades against the Germans. Colonel Klink, the camp commandant, together with Sergeant Schultz, tried to maintain order but [more...]

Mar
22
2012
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Where is King John’s Treasure?

reclaimed land fensKing John, noted for his signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, has for centuries been generally regarded as an all-round bad monarch. He is also famous for supposedly losing his personal treasure and crown jewels. In 1216 King John was fighting a civil war against the Barons who had forced him to sign the [more...]

Mar
21
2012
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Where does the government get the money it spends?

blood-and-taxesMuch of the money that the government spends comes from taxation. Taxation includes income tax, social security or national insurance levies, sales taxes or goods and services taxes, import tariffs, excise taxes, property rates or council taxes, stamp duty, death duties, and many more. In the past, there were taxes on such symbols of wealth [more...]

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Mar
16
2012
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Who should get a knighthood instead of Fred Goodwin (formerly “Sir Fred”)?

knight-and-pawnFred Goodwin, former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2004 for “services to banking”. A few years later, RBS was plunged into insolvency following unwise investments overseen by Goodwin, including the purchase by RBS of its rival ABN Amro for 49 billion pounds in 2007. The taxpayers [more...]

Mar
11
2012
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Should the world’s best brain surgeon and fastest typist hire a secretary?

brain-and-keyboardSam is the world’s most skilled brain surgeon. Sam also happens to be the world’s fastest typist. Should Sam hire a secretary to type up all the patient notes and research papers, even though the secretary will take twice as long as Sam to finish the typing? A little reflection shows that it makes very [more...]

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Mar
06
2012
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Why do vases come in different shapes?

quirky-vasesA vase is a container for the display of cut flowers. Vases come in many shapes. Is the choice of shape purely a stylistic preference, or are there reasons to prefer certain shapes? Suppose you wish to display a single rose. You would probably want the rose to stand vertically, so naturally you would choose [more...]

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Mar
01
2012
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How did Hollywood portray authority figures from 1934 until the 1960s?

hollywoodIn the 1920s, the output of Hollywood studios was largely unregulated. In 1930, faced with increasing calls for government regulation of movie plots, the U.S. movie industry’s trade bodies adopted a policy of self-regulation based on the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code after Hollywood censor Will Hays. The Hays Code [more...]

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