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Seven Things I’ve Learned Recently

1. The northeastern Australian state of Queensland is four times the size of California but has only 3.5 million people – about the size of Connecticut, or one-fifth the size of New York City.

2. You’ve heard of 3-D printing, right? Well, now there is 4-D printing. This involves printing 3-D items that have the ability to build themselves into something if they are immersed in, say, water. This proves that the world is a very weird place, although that was proven beyond a doubt back in the ’60s by the existence of Capt. Beefheart.

3. You know those European-style oval bumper stickers people put on their cars? GB and F are pretty easy to guess – Great Britain and France. Some are a little tricky – CH is Confederation Helvetia, better known as Switzerland. Some, however, are impossible to get, especially because they don’t refer to countries, but tourist spots. OBX is Outer Banks (of North Carolina). One that has irked me for years is “AUK.” Finally, after doing some Googling and other digging around (including asking a company that sells them, and them guessing that it was referring to the seabird), I have an answer to this question that has plagued me all this time: it is the airport code for NAntUcKet Island. Couldn’t they just use NAN?!

4. People use the short-video-clip-sharing tool Vine to post trailers of movie trailers – and apparently Hollywood looks at these trailers-of-trailers for potential talent.

5. Corn (as we call it here in the US) is weird. Scientists have determined that of all the world’s crops, corn / maize is the one that no one knows the origins of. Some historians and archaeologists have concluded that the creation of corn by mesoamerican cultures is one of the hardest to explain engineering feats in the history of the world.

6. Just before the American Revolution broke out, the northeastern US states of New Hampshire and New York nearly went to war over the settlement of the future state of Vermont. (The royal governors of both had been busy getting filthy rich selling the land rights to hapless settlers, even though the area now known as Vermont was claimed by by both New Hampshire and New York.) The Vermonters were protected from the predations of the evil “Yorkers” by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. Allen – truly a character if ever there was one – was one of the first public figures in the American colonies to proclaim his disbelief in Christianity, which did not make him particularly popular with his neighbors, which explains the fact that he moved quite a lot.

7. Last but not least, the Hudson Bay Company still exists! It was founded in 1670 and is North America’s longest continually operated company. I thought it went kaput back in the 1700s sometime. (They go by “HBC” now.) They own the department store Lord and Taylor.

– Bill Siever

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