Tag Archives: Chicago

Taxes: The Bad, The Ugly and the Absolutely Moronic

Russia's Peter the Great, 1672 - 1725

Russia's Peter the Great, 1672 - 1725

Fun Facts About Dumb, Annoying, Crazy or otherwise Controversial TAXES

BeardBeard Tax

To Shave or Not to Shave? Peter the Great taxed all (non-clergy) facial hair in 1705. As much as 90% of Peter the Great’s tax revenue used for military. (also taxed souls)

Facial Hair Tax

Massachusetts has a law on the books that makes it illegal to have a goatee without first purchasing a license to do so. A small fee must be paid in order to wear the facial hair in public, and one can be fined if a license is not presented to a law enforcement official upon request.

UrinalUrine Tax

Nero and Vespasian taxed collections from latrines. (used for textiles)

BribeBribe Tax

According to Page 87 of the IRS code, “if you receive a bribe, [you must] include it in your income.”

Mahatma GhandhiSalt Tax

Worth your weight in salt. 1930 Ghandhi’s first steps toward Indian Independence.

Ski Resort

Amusement Tax

In most states including Massachusetts and Virginia, is considered a tax on the patrons of places such as ski resorts, craft shows, and golf courses, but in reality is collected from the operators of such places. The government taxes the owners of places that offer “amusement” and in return those businesses pass the aforementioned taxes on to us.

Fountain sodaFountain Soda Drink Tax

Illinois has on record a tax rate on fountain drinks of 9 percent, as opposed to the standard sales tax of 3 percent.

Chinese take outTake-out Tax

Little did you know some areas levy a 0.5 percent tax on all take-out food. Chicago and Washington, D.C. both have enacted a tax on fast food, purportedly to pay for the removal of litter often accrued with the purchase of burgers and dogs. This tax applies to everything take-out, from your morning egg McMuffin to your late night cheese steak.

BlueberriesBlueberry Tax

In Maine, “anyone who grows, purchases, sells, handles, or processes the fruit in the state” makes those persons eligible for a ¾ cent per pound tax.

Playing cardsPlaying  Card Tax

Alabama has in place a 10 cent tax on the sale of all playing cards with 54 cards or less.

sparklerSparkler and Novelties Tax

West Virginia imposes a special fee on all businesses selling sparklers and other novelties. On top of the state’s 6 percent sales tax you can expect to pay an additional fee courtesy the state.

Illegal drugsIllegal Drug Tax

11 states in the U.S., including North Carolina and Nevada, tax citizens on possession of illegal drugs. After acquiring an illegal substance in North Carolina you are supposed to go to the Department of Revenue and pay a tax on it. In exchange, you will receive a stamp to affix to your drug which serves as evidence that a tax was paid.

NudityNudity Tax

In the State of Utah, taxpayers that own businesses where “nude or partially nude individuals perform any service” have to pay a 10% sales and use tax. It applies to all revenue from admission fees as well as the sales of merchandise, food, drink and services. These expenses are paid by the business owners who likely pass along the additional costs to their customers.


Special thanks to Huffington Post: A Dozen Dumb Taxes (from a compilation by Nick Sabloff)

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Toronto: Canada’s Bustling Metropolis and Jewel of the North

Toronto, Capital of Ontario Province, Canada

Toronto, Capital of Ontario Province, Canada

Fun Facts About Toronto

  • Southern Ontario
    Southern Ontario

    Toronto was founded in 1793, by the British because of its protected harbour as well as advantages of vast forests, countless river valleys and fresh water lakes in its territory.

  • Toronto (GTA) is Canada’s largest city and is home to over 5.7 million Canadians.
  • Toronto is the capital city of Ontario, and the most important city in Canada.
  • Toronto is located in Southern Ontario which has shorelines on four of the five Great Lakes.
  • Also, Southern Ontario is located, further south than parts of ten, northern states of the USA.
  • The province of Ontario (415,000 square miles, in area) is larger than the state of Texas (267,000 square miles, in area) located in the southern USA.
  • Toronto residents hold more university educations than in any other country in the world, based on percentage of the population, as referenced from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and last compiled in 2003.
  • Within an afternoon drive from Toronto, seven million, more Canadians live and prosper.
  • Ontario highways are well maintained and link with major freeways connecting Toronto with all of Canada and the USA.
  • Toronto is the largest, financial centre in Canada and the fourth largest, economic centre in all of North America. Only, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, USA have larger economic centres.
  • Toronto is Canada’s cultual, educational, entertainment, financial, high tech, commercial and industrial centre. Toronto is also, the “Silicon Valley” of Canada, and Toronto is known as “Hollywood North”. Los Angeles and New York are larger film and television centres.
  • Toronto’s famous, theatre district is second in size only, to New York city, in the USA.
  • Award-winning, theatre productions enjoy long runs, large audiences and world premieres in the theatre and entertainment district of downtown Toronto.
  • Toronto’s Police Force is one of the most efficient, friendly and respected of all police forces in the world. Also, with respect to your safety and security, the city of Toronto is one of the most clean, safe, peaceful, large, cosmopolitan cities in the world.
  • All major federally chartered, Canadian banks have world headquarters in downtown Toronto, including, the Bank of Montreal which is located at “First Canadian” Tower, in Toronto’s financial district. As well, all foreign banks have their Canadian headquarters in Toronto.
  • Casa Loma (Home on Hill)
    Casa Loma (Home on Hill)

    Canada’s largest general, life and re-insurance companies and other financial institutions have their world headquarters in downtown Toronto. Canada’s version of “Wall Street” is called “Bay Street” in the centre of Toronto’s financial and business district.

  • Within an hour’s drive of downtown Toronto is the greatest concentration of industry and auto manufacturing in Canada. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda and others have Canadian head offices, and large manufacturing plants in the Toronto GTA.
  • Toronto has the only, real castle in all of North America. Most people never forget “Casa Loma” (home on hill) with vista views of the downtown skyline of Toronto, and of Great Lake Ontario.
  • Toronto has beautiful islands protecting its natural harbour. The islands are a mix of parklands, nature reserves and protected wetlands, maintained by the Parks Department responsible for this unique, natural resource. No private vehicles are permitted on the Toronto islands.
  • The Toronto Islands are reached by public ferry boats crossing the Toronto harbour.
  • On the islands, the city seems far removed, and a feeling of being in the country prevails just a mile offshore from Toronto’s exciting, vibrant downtown.
  • English is the primary, and first language spoken in Toronto and in Canada. “French-Canadian” (an old dialect) is Canada’s second, official language. Other minority groups speak over 100 languages in Toronto.
  • The laws of Toronto, and Canada are based on British law and English parliamentary system of government except for the separatist “state” of French Quebec, located three hundred miles (500 km) to the north and east from downtown Toronto.
  • Less than a two hour drive, north of Toronto is the “Muskoka Lakes” Region where beautiful lakes, rivers and forests are set in the wilderness, and as it looked, many hundreds of years ago.
  • One of the wonders of the world, Niagara Falls is just, an hour away by car from Toronto.
  • People are amazed at the great volume of water that spills over the (Canadian) Horseshoe,
  • Niagara Falls, each second, as they stand, less than 20 feet (3 meters) from the “Brink”.
Special thanks to www.personaltours.ca

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The Whisky-a-Go-Go: LA’s Contribution to Rock ‘n Roll History

The Iconic Whisky-a-Go-Go Exterior

The Iconic Whisky-a-Go-Go Exterior

Fun Facts About LA’s Whisky-a-Go-Go

  • The Whisky A-Go-Go, at 8901 Sunset Blvd at Clark, West Hollywood, CA became the principal hangout of Sunset Strip musicians and hipsters in the 1960s
  • The 1967 film The Graduate features Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin running out its doors into the street
  • Johnny Rivers was the first sensation to come out of the club, soon after it opened
  • The ‘trend’ of having a mini-skirted girl dancing above the crowd in a cage got its start at the club
  • The Whisky always had two or three bands playing, but they were not always billed.
  • Often the unbilled bands were simply local bands, but it being Hollywood and all, sometimes unbilled local groups acting as the house band went on to become hugely famous (like The Doors)

  • At times, the billed bands couldn’t make it, and another band was substituted. While this is common in nightclubs, what was uncommon about the Whisky was that the band substituting could be just as good or better, and possibly even better-known, than the band it was replacing
  • It was not uncommon for a group to be booked for a week at the Whisky and then to skip a night for a larger gig
  • The Whisky, in its heyday, was open six or seven nights a week
  • When no one well-known was billed, local groups from LA would play
  • A partial list of the acts that played at the Whisky – it is literally a “Who’s Who” of Rock ‘n Roll:
    • Johnny Rivers
    • The Doors
    • The Turtles
    • Otis Redding
    • Jefferson Airplane (later Jefferson Starship/Starship)
    • The Byrds
    • Sam & Dave
    • The Rascals
    • The Jimi Hendrix Experience
    • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
    • Cream
    • Eric Burdon & The Animals
    • Them
    • Steppenwolf
    • John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
    • The Hollies
    • Lemon Pipers
    • Traffic
    • Canned Heat
    • The Nazz
    • Three Dog Night
    • Ten Years After

    • Alice Cooper
    • Steve Miller Band
    • Chicago Transit Authority (later Chicago)
    • Velvet Underground
    • Taj Mahal
    • Led Zeppelin
    • Pink Floyd
    • Bob Seger
    • Flying Burrito Brothers
    • Linda Ronstadt
    • Dr. John
    • Blues Image
    • Count Bassie
    • Junior Walker
    • Buddy Rich
    • Mountain
    • The Zombies
    • Chuck Berry
    • Little Richard
    • The Kinks
    • King Crimson

    • Grand Funk Railroad
    • Humble Pie
    • Fleetwood Mac
    • Golden Earring
    • Iron Butterfly
    • Sha na na
    • Billy Preston
    • The Five Stairsteps
    • Mott the Hoople
    • Redbone
    • The Beach Boys
    • Black Sabbath
    • Allman Brothers
    • BB King
    • Sugarloaf
    • J Giles Band
    • Ted Nugent
    • Brownsville Station
    • Mothers of Invention
    • Yes
    • War

    • Elvin Bishop
    • Quicksilver Messenger Service
    • Edgar Winters
    • Little Feat
    • LaBelle
    • Badfinger
    • ZZ Top
    • Nazareth
    • Looking Glass
    • Flo and Eddie
    • Foghat
    • Stevie Wonder
    • Steely Dan
    • Roxy Music
    • Focus
    • Status Quo
    • Chambers Brothers
    • Climax Blues Band
    • Iggy and the Stooges
    • Rufus (featuring Chaka Khan)

    • New York Dolls
    • Funkadelic
    • Bachman Turner Overdrive
    • Aerosmith
    • Lynyrd Skynyrd
    • Rick Springfield
    • Van Halen
    • Motley Crue
    • Guns ‘n Roses
    • and many, many more…


Special thanks to www.ckickenonaunicycle.com


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The Sears/Willis Tower: A Mainstay of the Chicago Skyline Since 1973

The Sears tower (now known as the Willis tower)

The Sears tower (now known as the Willis tower)

Fun Facts About the Sears Tower/Willis Tower

  • The tower was originally named after Sears, Roebuck and Co., an American chain of Department Stores which was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA. In 1993, Sears sold the building after moving to the suburbs.

    Sears Department Store

    Sears Department Store

  • The building’s name was left unchanged until July 16, 2009, when it was renamed Willis Tower for one of the skyscraper’s tenants, a British insurance firm. The move was met with local opposition, however, and some even started online petitions to protest the name change.
  • The tower was designed by Fazlur Kahn and Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM)
  • At the time the Sears tower was constructed in 1973, it was the world’s tallest building, eclipsing New York’s twin-towered World Trade Center by 25 meters (83 ft).
  • It would keep the title of tallest building in the world until the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia were constructed in 1997.
  • There was much discussion on whether the Petronas towers are actually taller than the Sears tower as the height of the antennas on the Petronas towers are included in the total height, while the height of the antennas are not included in the height calculation of the Sears tower as they are not considered an actual part of the building. With the construction of the 508m high Taipei 101 tower in 2004 this discussion became irrelevant.
  • The Sears tower is still the tallest skyscraper in Chicago, exceeding the height of the number 2, the Trump International Hotel and Tower by 27 meters (89 ft) and the Aon Centerby 96 meters (315 ft).
  • The Sears tower is also still the tallest building in North America.
  • The building consists of nine framed tubes, which are actually nine skyscrapers on themselves taken together into one building.
  • The nine tubes all reach forty-nine stories. At that point, two tubes end. The other rise up to the sixty-fifth floor. From the sixty-sixth to the ninetieth floor, the tower has the shape of a crucifix. Two tubes, creating a rectangular, reach the full height of 442 meters (1451ft).
  • Originally, the plan included no less than 15 tubes, but when the planned hotel was
    taken out of the project, only nine tubes were used in the final designs.
  • The Sears Tower covers two city blocks and has 101 acres (4.4 million square feet) of space.
  • The foundation and the floor slabs have some 2,000,000 cubic feet of concrete – enough to build an eight-lane highway 5 miles long.
  • A 106-cab elevator system (including 16 double decker elevators) divides the Tower into three separate zones with skylobbies in between.
  • The Sears Tower’s observation deck – known as the skydeck – is one of Chicago’s most popular attractions. At 412 meters (1,353 ft), it’s Chicago’s highest observatory, besting the John Hancock Center’s by 98 meters (323 ft) .
  • The most spectacular attraction at the skydeck is ‘the ledge’, a glass balcony extending 4.3 ft where you can look straight down. It will make most people feel uneasy at first but the balconies offer spectacular views over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River.

Special thanks to  http://www.aviewoncities.com and www.about.com

The Skydeck

The Skydeck


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The Ferris Wheel: Engineering Marvel Turned Amusement Park Attraction

Ferris Wheel
Modern-day Ferris Wheel

Fun Facts About the Ferris Wheel

  • The Ferris Wheel debuted on June 21, 1893 for the Chicago World’s Fair and was invented by George Washington Gale Ferris, a bridge builder.

    George W.G. Ferris

    George W.G. Ferris

  • In 1890, Congress decided to celebrate the discovery of America by Columbus by hosting the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The director of the corporation in charge of the event was given the task of coming up with something to be the icon of the event, as the Eiffel Tower was to the 1889 Paris Exposition.
  • The director presented the problem at an Engineer’s Banquet in 1891, and Ferris presented the solution sketched on a cocktail napkin – a giant revolving wheel that people could ride in.
  • A structure of this size and shape had not yet been built, which meant that the science behind it had never been tested. In fact, the Saturday Afternoon Club, a group of engineers and architects of the time, called Ferris a fool and proclaimed that he would never be able to build the giant wheel. He obtained permission in spite of this and began building.
  • The first Ferris Wheel was 264 feet high. The wheel spun on an 89,320-pound axle, which was forged in Pittsburgh. The 45 ½-foot axel carried two 16-foot cast-iron spiders that turned the machine.
  • It was turned with a 1000 hp reversible engine using ten-inch steam pipes. A second engine stood in reserve in case the first broke. An air brake stopped the contraption when needed.
  • The original Ferris WheelOnce the device had performed one complete revolution on June 9, 1893, the cars were hung.

    Ferris' wheel at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1892

    The original Ferris Wheel

  • The original Ferris wheel could carry 60 passengers in each of the 36 cars, for a total capacity of 2160 passengers per rotation.
  • The wheel would take 20 minutes to make one complete revolution.
  • You could ride the first Ferris Wheel for only 50 cents. In 1893, fifty cents was the equivalent of $10.52 today. A day’s pay in 1893 was about $1 per day, or $5 per week. To take your family of 5 for a ride on the first Ferris Wheel, it would have cost you half of your weekly salary!
  • The first Ferris Wheel cost $380,000 in 1893. By today’s value that would be the equivalent of $8,223,266.
  • Between its opening and the end of the expo on November 6 th , the wheel earned $726,805 dollars, which turned into a profit of $395,000 for the company that commissioned it.

    The Star of Nanchang - the world's tallest wheel

    The Star of Nanchang

  • After the Fair, the wheel was moved to a new site in Chicago. However, it did not bring in the patrons they expected, and the company quickly went bankrupt. The wheel was sold at auction and transported piece by piece to St. Louis for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition . Here it brought in less money, and on May 11, 1906, it was blown up.
  • The largest Wheel in the World today is the Star of Nanchang, which cost 7.1 million dollars to build in 2006. It stands 541 Feet high, twice the height of the original Ferris Wheel. Though this Wheel is not a “Ferris” Wheel, it would certainly rival the first one ever made.
  • The Ferris Wheel’s legacy lives today in modern-day wheels. Today’s wheels are not powered by steam, but the structure and turning mechanism are quite similar to the first one.
Special thanks to  www.shootingstar.ca and www.allstays.com

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