Stuff You Wonder About

January 23, 2015

Reader and good friend Dick Luebke wondered about the origins of the bucket list. The term refers to those things you want/need to do or see before you die. The bucket list derives from kick the bucket, but where that term comes from is in dispute. The link will take you by beams, Shakespeare, holy-water buckets, a Latin proverb, etc. In other words, who knows! That all aside, my favorite “kick the bucket” moment comes early in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and like every scene in the movie, it’s very, very, very, very funny!

When the weather report says there’s a 50% chance of rain, do you know what that means? Really? Per the National Weather Service, the actual term is PoP, or “probability of precipitation.” Measuring PoP requires a forecast area (usually a metro area), and is the product of: (a) the likelihood that there will be measurable precipitation (rain) somewhere in the area; and (b) the percentage of the area that will get rain. So if rain is a 50/50 proposition, and it might cover 50% of the area, the PoP or chance of rain is 25%.

I know you’re wondering just exactly how many estates actually pay the estate death tax in America. You read yesterday’s post and you know my comment that the estate tax only catches the wealthiest of the wealthy is wrong. Right? In fact, The Tax Policy Center reported in 2011 that in 2009 one in 73 estates had to file an estate tax return, and only one in 166—less than 1% of all estates—paid any estate tax. And in 2009 the exclusion, now at $5,430,000, was $3,500,000, suggesting even fewer estates are taxable now.

Since we cleared up one myth, here’s another. Americans think we spend a big portion of the annual budget on foreign aid. How big? Ezra Klein, in The Budget Myth that Just Won’t Die: Americans Still Think 28 Percent of the Budget Goes to Foreign Aid, written for the Washington Post in November 2013, reports on a Kaiser Family Foundation survey showing that Americans on average believe foreign aid accounts for 28% of our annual federal budget. For the real facts, read Penny on the Dollar: US Foreign Aid is About One Percent of Spending by Lindsay Koshgarian.

Were you at the 1964-5 World’s Fair in New York? I was and I think almost every person I know—of a certain age—was too. I still remember the trip to New York, the fair, It’s a Small World, getting lost in Greenwich Village, eating at Lundy’s in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, etc. (One of the Peterson woman posted a picture of two of them and their mom Cele at the fair; well-dressed they were, and that is no surprise.)

So what happened to the world’s fair? After New York the United States hosted fairs in San Antonio, Spokane, Knoxville, and New Orleans. (The Seattle fair, which produced the Space Needle, predated New York by two years.) I think all of the U.S. fairs were financial failures. Bottom line? The last world’s fair in the United States happened 30 years ago, and the last one in North America was in Vancouver 28 years ago. (Almost 20 have been held, though, since New Orleans.) For details, check out List of World’s Fairs from Wikipedia.

Finally, and this is the teaser, do you know Dick Tuck? Do you know his name? Tuck turns 91 on Sunday, and he’ll be the story at MRW. Check it out, for Tuck’s story is amazing.

Leave a Reply