Archive for April, 2012

30
Apr
12

Movie Gadgets You Wish Were Real

5 Of The Best “Wouldn’t Life Be Cooler If…” Inventions

1. Who needs a Segway?

The time-traveling DeLorean in Back to the Future is top of a lot of people’s lists of coolest movie gadget ever — not only is it a time machine, it’s a DeLorean! But from a day to day standpoint, the hoverboard that Marty McFly used in Back to the Future 2 might come in a bit more handy.

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2. Takes a licking and keeps on clicking?

Well beyond helping these kids learn to tell time, the watches in Spy Kids were simply awesome. Not only did they come with TV and internet access, they shot handy laser beams at the unwary and unsavory.

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3. Maybe not all that useful, but so cool

Although not necessarily as handy as HBO and Google on your wrist, a handle that pops out with a controlled laser beam that can slice, cut and melt just about anything — and makes a nifty sound going on and off. What would Obi Wan Kenobe be without his lightsaber?

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4. A whole new meaning to “air traffic”

From the Jetsons to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to The Fifth Element, flying cars are a popular movie modernization. Wouldn’t your daily commute be nicer if you could just get above it all for a little bit?

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5. Why go first class? When you could just… go?

Someday, the eptiome of wealth won’t be the image of sliding into the back of a luxurious car and murmuring “home, James” — it will be the notion of stepping onto a little disk and saying “beam me home, James.” The teleporter from Star Trek, like the machine that Willy Wonka uses to send actual chocolate to people’s television sets, could change everything.

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19
Apr
12

7 Fun Facts About Earth Day

1. Of the earth’s entire surface, only 11% is used to grow food.

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2. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 by 20 million people across the United States.

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3. San Francisco is named after Saint Francis, the patron saint of ecology.

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4. The Peace Bell rung at the United Nations every Earth Day was given to the UN by Japan in 1954 — it is made from coins collected by people from 60 different countries. The bell is also rung every September 21st, the International Day of Peace.

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5. In 1969, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted it burned — a year later, the percentage of citizens citing cleaning up air and water as a “top three” political party rose to 53% from 17% just five years earlier.

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6. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded in 1970 — a result of the efforts started that year with the first Earth Day.

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7. The UN declared April 22nd “International Mother Earth Day” in 2009 — the date was chosen in 1970 because it fell on a Wednesday, a day organizers felt it would be most likely for people to be able to get off work to participate.

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12
Apr
12

Why Isn’t Thursday the 13th Unlucky?

13 Facts About Friday the 13th

1. 2012 is a REALLY unlucky year

Tomorrow is the second of three — count ‘em, 3 — Friday the thirteenths this year. That is the most a single year can ever have. The first one was in January and the next one will be in July.

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2. Friday the 13th is expensive

Adding up absenteeism, train and plane trip cancellations, postponed medical procedures and other behavioral modifications, Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in morbid and irrational fears, estimates that fear of Friday the 13th could be responsible for nearly $1 billion in lost revenue for American business.

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3. Paraskevi-what?

The technical term for the fear of Friday the 13th is paraskevidekatriaphobia (para-skevi-deka-tria-phobia) — considered to be the most wide-spread superstition in the U.S.A. The general fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia.

4. Tuesday the 13th

In Spanish-speaking countries, it’s Tuesday the 13th that people dread.

5. Even presidents get spooked

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was thought to suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia — refusing to travel or host a dinner on Friday the 13th. He also refused to host a dinner with 13 guests.

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6. Apollo 13 exploded on a Monday, but…

After launching at 13:13 CST on April 11th 1970, Apollo 13 crashed on April 13th – which was a Monday.

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7. Happy Birthday, Butch Cassidy!

Butch Cassidy was born on Friday the 13th, 1866 (Paul Newman was born on a Monday, the 26th — which happens to work out to two times thirteen). Fidel Castro, Christopher Plummer and the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley were also born on Friday the 13th.

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8. Yes to wood, no to black cats

According to superstition, crossing your fingers, avoiding black cats, touching wood and throwing salt over your shoulder are all ways to stave off bad luck.

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9. The building isn’t that tall

Most buildings in the U.S.A. don’t have a floor numbered 13, nor do most airline terminals have a Gate #13.

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10. Drive carefully

The risk of being in a car crash on any Friday (not just the 13th) is higher than any other day of the week — something people who believe in unlucky Friday the 13ths might want to consider before hitting the road. Indeed, the British Medical Journal did a study comparing the incidence of traffic accidents on Friday the 6th with those on Friday the 13th — “the risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%.”

11. We’ll pay you to join us for dinner

In France, hosts used to hire a “quatrorzieme” — a 14th guest for dinners where only 13 guests were in attendance — to avoid bad luck.

12. 13 is the deadliest number

There are 13 knots in a hangman’s noose, 13 steps to the gallows, 13 feet that the guillotine falls, the number of the Death Card in the Tarot deck.

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13. It even scares Stephen King

In an interview last year, the famed author admitted to being scared of cell phones, insects, elevators, and — yes — the number 13.

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05
Apr
12

Tax Facts You Won’t Believe

15 Strange, Mind-blowing, and Maybe Even Helpful Facts

 

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1. Americans spend about $28 billion doing their taxes.

2. More than half of Americans pay no federal income tax.

3. One woman legitimately claimed more than $1,000 worth of Evian water as a tax deduction, as it had been prescribed by her doctor.

4. You can deduct your moving expenses when you relocate for a job — even if it’s your first job out of college.

5. The U.S.A. has the lowest tax burden than any other country in the “rich world.”

6. IIn 1915, the U.S. tax code was 400 pages long — since then, it has expanded 16,775% to well over 70,000 pages.

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(image from Political Calculations)

7. 90% of people employing babysitters and housekeepers end up cheating on their taxes.

8. If Mark Zuckerberg follows through and exercises $5 billion of his stock options this year, his tax bill for 2012 could be close to $2 billion — the single largest tax bill ever.

9. If you’re currently employed, you can deduct the cost of looking for a new job in your same profession.

10. General Electric historically files the country’s largest tax return every year — more than 50,000 pages.

11. The easy tax form — the 1040EZ — comes with 33 pages of instructions.

12. The IRS has more than 110,000 employees — that’s more than the FBI and CIA.

13. Weird tax laws abound from the Atlantic to the Pacific — 

  • Anyone who grows, handles, sells, processes or in any way touches a Maine blueberry from field to store must pay a penny and a half per pound.
  • Illegal drugs are taxable — if you are arrested with illegal drugs in your possession, you are required to pay tax on them.
  • Although soft drinks in a bottle or can are taxed at 3% in Chicago, fountain soda drinks are taxed at 9%.

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14. Between 1996 and 2000, 61% of U.S. corporations didn’t pay income taxes.

15. It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

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These facts and more gathered from: