America Just Can’t Make It Anymore.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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USA industrial economy

The statement in the title is not true, except that it is.

If you are a little confused stay with me and let me clarify.

The United States used to be the industrial power house of the world. Its industries generated unprecedented wealth for the country, creating the world’s first self-made billionaires and productive wealth creating jobs galore for everyone. The whole country prospered.

Today, however, the United States has become the world’s second biggest importer of goods. Worse than that, even though America still exports billions of dollars’ worth in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. This creates a trade deficit ($471 billion according to recent figures).

US Trade Deficit

So what are all these imports into the US?

Well, they include industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion), automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($309 billion), miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services ($201 billion), cell phones ($90 billion), travel passenger services ($86 billion), pharmaceuticals ($84 billion), computers ($65 billion), chemicals ($61 billion), other transportation services ($59 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), telecommunications equipment ($54 billion), royalties and license fees services ($42 billion), apparel ($49 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion), fuel oil ($44 billion), industrial supplies ($29 billion), U.S. Government service imports primarily defense ($25 billion), fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion), and vegetables ($11 billion).

Cartoon imports

If you are a bit shell-shocked by all those figures let me phrase it a bit differently using as examples the types of goods you would tend to buy.

  • 100% (almost) of the shoes bought in the U.S. come from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico;
  • 90% of white goods (washers, fridges, etc.) and consumer electronics are imported;
  • 85% of household furniture is imported;
  • 80% of cars on U.S. roads come from Canada (31%), Japan (24%), Germany (16%) and Mexico (12%); and,
  • 65% of U.S. clothing is imported from China (37%), Vietnam (9.4%), Indonesia (7.2%) and Bangladesh (6.7%).

Probably the saddest part is that even things you thought were “American” are now actually made overseas and imported.

I remember while on a business trip to the US many, many years ago I bought a gift for the young son of a friend of mine. He was a big sports enthusiast so I reckoned that one of the most iconic symbols of sport from America would be a baseball. I bought one in Wal-Mart. It was marked with all the different holding positions for the various ways to throw a baseball (fast ball, curve ball and all that). The perfect gift.

I gave it to him on my return feeling ever so pleased with myself. The kid opened it, showed momentary delight, then looked up at me accusingly. “It says ‘Made in China'” he told me.

Baseball made in China

But it’s not only baseballs. Similar types of product that you would think are all-American, like Converse All Stars, Levi’s, Huffy bicycles, televisions, Monopoly, Etch-a-Sketch, Radio Flyer wagons, Barbie dolls, and last but by no means least, most of those American flags just ain’t American no more.

modern monopoly board

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Apple, for example, doesn’t have to become the richest company in the world by manufacturing its products in China and storing its vast hoards of cash overseas.

Or does it?

Everything on the lists above could still be made in the US and surpluses exported to other countries. But the US government and its moronic bureaucrats are spending their time and our money thinking up new ways, not to help American businesses, but to add ever-increasing amounts of rules, regulations and bureaucracy on to American companies.

American businesses can no longer compete, because their own government has ensured that the deck is stacked against them.

In the mind of a bureaucrat losing a million productive wealth creating jobs, for example, in the automotive industry, and replacing them with a million more administrative jobs that cost the country money evens things out.

It doesn’t. Simple math will tell you that. Every time it happens things get worse and America gets poorer.

So America just can’t make it anymore, but not because China has stolen the jobs. It’s because the US government bureaucrats gave them away.

Put the blame where it should be.

StimulusBureaucrats

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Sign Language Is Very Handy.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I would sign at you that this is Pun Day, but what would be the point you can’t see me.

Instead I’ll just keep quiet and let you get on with reading this latest selection of word plays.

As always….

Enjoy or endure!!

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Sign Language Is Very Handy.

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If anyone ever tells you they’ve lost their voice,

They’re lying.

lost voice

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I experimented with drugs while I was in university.

I’m now a fully qualified pharmaceutical engineer.

pharmaceutical engineer

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The most common surname in China is Chang,

correct me if you think that’s Wong.

Wong

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I bet the bloke who threw the first boomerang

didn’t see that coming.

boomerang

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All my friends hate using cliche phrases.

Even Steven.

cliche

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Want to keep the doctor away?

There’s an apple for that.

apple

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I’ve just been given two weeks to live.

The wife’s gone away for a fortnight.

two weeks

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Eleventeen percent of people

make up words.

make up words

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I’ve never been told

I am a bad listener.

bad listener

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My football team is sponsored by Apple.

So now there is an ‘I’ in team.

'I' in team

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If I had a crystal ball

I’d sit down very carefully

crystal ball

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Finally for today,

here’s a bit of advice for you.

Advi.

Advi

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Would You Buy An Expensive Lock If Someone Else Had The Key?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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encryption-lock

 

Apple and Google recently enabled full-device encryption by default on their mobile operating systems – and big brother doesn’t like it – not one bit. As always he talks about things like ‘National Security’, ‘terrorist threats’, etc., and that there will be total chaos in the streets if ordinary citizens are allowed their right to privacy.

Some of the stuff that has hit the media has been ridiculous and would be laughable except these idiots are actually intent on total control.

For example, the head of the FBI has issued dire warnings of children dying if ordinary people are allowed their privacy via encryption programs. The secretary of Homeland Security used the deaths of the 168 people killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as ‘proof’ that, while privacy was important, encryption should not be allowed to stymie US law enforcement.

Big Brother wants to stick his nose into EVERYTHING. Anything that makes that harder to do frustrates the hell out of him.

big brother is watching poster

 

So he continues with the stupid excuse that the necessity to snoop on law abiding people is because criminals and terrorists might use encryption tools as well.

It’s a bit like saying that no one should be allowed to drive a car because someone, somewhere, sometime, might get drunk and cause a fatal accident.

Then there’s the EnnEssEhh director who wants mandatory “front doors” to be built into all cryptographic technology used in the U.S., so that you can’t have secrets it can’t spy on. His idea is for all encrypted software and hardware used in the U.S. to have one encryption key for the user (you) and another that would be made available to the government bureaucrat spooks any time they wanted it.

This is complete nonsense. And they know it. But still they persist.

They have already got the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which removed the right of a purchaser to use their goods as they see fit. This legislation means that digital products continue to be the property of the seller – not (you) the buyer who paid for them. And it makes it illegal for buyers of digital goods to circumvent any features that allow snooping.

Going back to my car analogy, that is like a car dealer selling you a car on the condition that you never open the hood to see how it works, or perform your own modifications.

In practical terms this means that if you buy a new phone or computer, the manufacturer can have a spy device pre-installed in its hard components or its software and you would be forbidden by law from finding out about it or fixing it.

If Big Brother thinks he can enforce stupidity like this then he is even crazier than I think he is – and I think he is completely crazy already!

Big Brother can legislate all he wants, but we all know that the only people who will abide by these new laws will be the law abiding people. The criminals and terrorists will find ways round it, through it, over it, or under it.

It’s the same flawed logic as in the continued cry from liberals to take legally registered guns away from law abiding people so that only the criminals are armed.

Neighbor Wants Guns Banned

 

Then there is, not the probability – but the FACT – that if a government spook friendly encryption system was created, it would immediately be attacked by hackers – including hackers employed by foreign governments, some of them friends of the terrorists that the legislation is supposed to be there to defeat.

And what about the practical commercial aspect to it all? When you think about it, who in their right mind is going to pay good money for an encryptiuon system that they know can be broken?

Would you buy an expensive lock if someone else had the key?

I think not.

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RIPIE, YIPEE!!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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In my post last Friday that I called ‘Looking Through The Windows’ (click here if you want to read it)   I mentioned that the demise of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser was imminent and Windows 10 would see a whole new ‘streamlined’ internet browsing system bundled with it.

Now it’s official.

Microsoft is indeed ditching Internet Explorer. If fact it is getting rid of the entire brand.

Microsoft has confirmed that it was re-branding its new browser, currently known as ‘Project Spartan’, when it is released in summer.

Microsoft-s-Spartan-Browser

As usual, the need to kill off Internet Explorer is Microsoft’s own fault. They have released a series of bloated and buggy versions of IE over recent years, every one worse than the previous one. Now IE has attained a very negative reputation with internet users, particularly experienced ones.

But IE’s death will not be a quick and painless one. Instead a lingering demise is planned. Why I don’t know.

Some versions of Windows 10 will apparently still be shipped with IE still on board. Presumably you will have to go through the rigmarole of deleting it and replacing it when the new version is ready. Possibly a reason not to buy the new Windows 10 system until they get their act together.

internet-explorer-9

On the positive side, the new browser will be free. Not because Microsoft likes to give things away for free (that’s not what made Bill Gates the richest man in the world), but because they started that trend when they were trying to kill off Netscape, which they successfully did.

Since then no one pays for a browser. Apple, Google, Mozilla, Opera and the rest are all freebees these days. Inadvertently I suppose Microsoft did us all a big favor.

The only thing that scares me is the hype coming from Microsoft.

Statements like, “Microsoft’s change in direction is a smart, albeit bold, and a symbolic gesture.” don’t fill me with confidence. It is the same type of nonsense that preceded the release of ‘Windows Vista’ and ‘Windows 8’, and if you read last week’s post you will know what disasters I thought they were.

So will a change of name, or re-branding as Microsoft calls it, mean that their new browser will be a good one? The jury is still out on that. Like everything else we will have to wait and see. If they stick with the name ‘Spartan’ the implication would be that the new browser will be slick, fast and not memory hogging. That would indeed be good and a welcome changes from recent versions of Internet Explorer.

Having said that, I don’t think Google Chrome is in any imminent danger though.

Spartan Browser 2

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I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

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November’s Quizzes Begin Here.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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First Monday of November and the first quiz of November.

It may be a different month but the format remains the same. Twenty random questions to test you general knowledge.

And as usual, if you get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz 05

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Q.  1:  How are you related to the sister-in-law of your dad’s only brother?

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Q.  2:  There has been a TV series and a movie named “The Equalizer”, which actors played the leading characters in each?

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Q.  3:  What are the names the capital city of New Zealand and its most populous city and on which island are they situated? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q.  4:  If a doctor gave you 5 pills and asked you to take 1 pill every 30 minutes, how many hours would it take you to consume all the pills?

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Q.  5:  In what country was the game ‘Chinese Checkers’ (or ‘Chinese Chequers’) invented?

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Q.  6:  What are the three main types of Whiskey, defined by how they are distilled?

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Q.  7:  Where were the first modern Olympic Games held?

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Q.  8:  If 5/8 of the children in a school are boys and the school consists of 2400 students, how many girls are there?

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Q.  9:  How many meters, yards or feet are there in a ‘nautical mile’?

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Q. 10:  ‘Marble’ is a form of which type of rock?

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Q. 11:  Where would you find a chicken’s ‘oysters’?

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Q. 12:  In what US city was the original TV series ‘NCIS’ based, and what are the locations for the two spin-off series? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 13:  A related question to the previous one, what do the letters ‘NCIS’ stand for?

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Q. 14:  Approximately what proportion of the continental land mass is located in the Northern Hemisphere?

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Q. 15:  Which chemical element has the highest melting point at normal pressure?

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Q. 16:  What artist was famous for his paintings of matchstick men?

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Q. 17:  What is the study of birds called?

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Q. 18:  What metal, often used by sculptors, is an alloy of copper and tin?

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Q. 19:  What is produced by the rapid expansion of atmospheric gases suddenly heated by lightning?

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Q. 20:  Finally one for all you vintage gamers, where did you find cherry strawberry orange apple grape bird?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  How are you related to the sister-in-law of your dad’s only brother?

A.  1:  She’s your mom.

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Q.  2:  There has been a TV series and a movie named “The Equalizer”, which actors played the leading characters in each?

A.  2:  Edward Woodward in the TV series and Denzil Washington in the recent movie.

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Q.  3:  What are the names the capital city of New Zealand and its most populous city and on which island are they situated? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  3:  Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and Auckland is its most populous city with approximately 1.4 million inhabitants. Both are situated on the North Island.

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Q.  4:  If a doctor gave you 5 pills and asked you to take 1 pill every 30 minutes, how many hours would it take you to consume all the pills?

A.  4:  2 hours. You took the first pill as soon as the doctor gave them to you.

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Q.  5:  In what country was the game ‘Chinese Checkers’ (or ‘Chinese Chequers’) invented?

A.  5:  Germany (in 1892, called Stern-Halma, a variation of earlier American game Halma.

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Q.  6:  What are the three main types of Whiskey, defined by how they are distilled?

A.  6:  They are ‘Scotch’, ‘Irish’ and ‘Bourbon’.

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Q.  7:  Where were the first modern Olympic Games held?

A.  7:  They were held in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England in 1850 and annually for a while afterwards, inspiring the Athens Olympiad of 1896 and the Olympic movement. (You get a point if you said ‘England’ and three points if you knew the exact location.)

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Q.  8:  If 5/8 of the children in a school are boys and the school consists of 2400 students, how many girls are there?

A.  8:  900 (If 5/8 of the children in a school are boys, then 3/8 of the children in that school are girls. (5/8 + 3/8 = 1) 3/8 of 2400 = 3/8 * 2400 = 900)

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Q.  9:  How many meters, yards or feet are there in a ‘nautical mile’?

A.  9:  A nautical mile is a unit of distance that is approximately one minute of arc measured along any meridian and by international agreement has been set at 1,852 metres exactly, or approximately 2,025 yards or 6,076 feet.

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Q. 10:  ‘Marble’ is a form of which type of rock?

A. 10:  Limestone.

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Q. 11:  Where would you find a chicken’s ‘oysters’?

A. 11:  Chicken Oysters are two small, round pieces of dark meat on the back of poultry near the thigh. Some regard the “oyster meat” to be the most flavorful and tender part of the bird, while others dislike the taste and texture.

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Q. 12:  In what US city was the original TV series ‘NCIS’ based, and what are the locations for the two spin-off series? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 12:  The original NCIS TV series was set in Washington DC and the spin-off shows are set in Los Angeles and New Orleans.

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Q. 13:  A related question to the previous one, what do the letters ‘NCIS’ stand for?

A. 13:  They stand for ‘Naval Criminal Investigative Service’.

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Q. 14:  Approximately what proportion of the continental land mass is located in the Northern Hemisphere?

A. 14:  Approximately two-thirds.

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Q. 15:  Which chemical element has the highest melting point at normal pressure?

A. 15:  ‘Tungsten’ is the chemical element with the highest melting point, at 3687 K (3414 °C, 6177 °F)[4] making it excellent for use as filaments in light bulbs. The often-cited carbon does not melt at ambient pressure but sublimes at about 4000 K; a liquid phase only exists above pressures of 10 MPa and estimated 4300–4700 K.

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Q. 16:  What artist was famous for his paintings of matchstick men?

A. 16:  Laurence Stephen Lowry, better known as ‘L.S. Lowry’ (Nov 1st 1887 to Feb 23rd 1976).

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Q. 17:  What is the study of birds called?

A. 17:  The study of birds is called ‘Ornithology’.

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Q. 18:  What metal, often used by sculptors, is an alloy of copper and tin?

A. 18:  Bronze.

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Q. 19:  What is produced by the rapid expansion of atmospheric gases suddenly heated by lightning?

A. 19:  Easier than you thought, it’s ‘thunder’.

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Q. 20:  Finally one for all you vintage gamers, where did you find cherry strawberry orange apple grape bird?

A. 20:  Pac Man. Want to have a go?

http://www.knowledgeadventure.com/games/pac-man/

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Just Been On Holiday In The South Of France….. It Was Nice!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A nice holiday in Nice, how nice.

Yes, pun day again folks.

Strap yourselves in and…..

Enjoy or endure!

. rofl

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Working as a cake waiter at a wedding,

I saw the most beautiful girl from across the room.

I immediately took a fancy to her.

fancy

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What berries do fat people enjoy the most?

Cadburys!

Cadburys-Dairy-Milk

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Guess what is in the middle of nowhere…

‘h’

 

nowhere

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I got bullied as a child for having glasses.

Every other kid in the neighborhood could only afford paper cups.

disposable-paper-cups-glasses

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A female police officer used a taser gun on me yesterday.

She was stunning.

taser

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Two hours ago I told my kid to shut his mouth and eat his supper.

The poor boy is still sitting at the table trying to figure out how to do it.

cartoon kid mouth shut

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I was supposed to go for a job interview

as a camouflage expert last week.

I didn’t turn up, and I got the job!

camouflage expert

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Did you hear the one about the depressed frog?

He wanted to kermit suicide.

kermit

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I caught my wife with another man last night.

Don’t worry though, it’s a trapeze act.

trapeze act

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I accidently left an apple outside my local Doctor’s surgery.

Now I’m worried he won’t be able to get in.

an apple a day keeps the doctor away

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I’m considering becoming a mind reader.

What are your thoughts?

mind reader

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I’ve just invented a machine that can immediately

tell you what condition a painting is in.

It’s state-of-the-art technology.

state of the art

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When you type

“Missing medieval servant”  

into Google it comes up with

“Page not found”

Page

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A man walked into a bar and ordered half a coke.

The barman said “OK”.

half a coke

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I went into the music store earlier and asked the guy

behind the counter if they had anything by Run DMC.

“Walk this way,” he replied.

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