HR842, the Pro Act

I’ve just sent the following letter to my Congressional representatives, expressing concern over a portion of this bill, which has already passed the House, and is currently in the Senate (if you’re interested in reading the bill for yourself, see this link):

I’m writing because I’m concerned about H.R. 842, titled “An act to amend the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, and for other purposes.”

I’m especially concerned about one of the definitions. It is in Title I, Section 101 Definitions, subsection (b) Employee, specification (B), which says “[an individual… shall be considered an employee… and not an independent contractor, unless] the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer…”

This concerns me both as a freelance writer and as the owner of a small publishing company. As a writer, I write stories and articles for which I am paid as a freelancer and which appear in magazines and books. The companies which publish my work are in the business of publishing content like that which I write, which certainly sounds like “the usual course of the business.”

As a publisher, I hire freelance cover designers and freelance editors to help craft the books that I publish. Putting the books into publishable form is the usual course of my business (and of course, the writers themselves are not my employees). None of those writers, editors, or cover artists are tied only to my company: they can and do use their talents for many companies, which is as they and I want it.

This clause may not apply to me, but it’s not a stretch to read it as applying emphatically and specifically to my various endeavors. Can you please see about rewriting it or otherwise emphatically noting that those of us in the freelance writing, editing, and publishing fields will be explicitly exempted from any such burdens? Thank you.

Tough Trivia, 4/26/21

Today’s Tough Trivia question: There are 24 active aircraft carriers in the world (of the horizontal take-off and landing type, not counting those which are strictly vertical take-off, or helicopter carriers). Five countries have one (France, India, Russia, Spain, and Thailand [though the fighter wing was retired from service in 2006]), four countries have two (Australia [though they don’t have any carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft], China, Italy, and the UK), and the United States has eleven. Name the active US aircraft carriers… in the order they were commissioned.

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18869-3Friday’s question was: Currently, the US Mint produces and circulates six coin denominations: cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. But those aren’t the only denominations the US has minted: in past years, there were several other denominations. How many others can you name? Bonus points if you know which years they circulated.

The answer is:

Half cent, 1793–1857.
Two cents, 1863–1873.
Three cents, 1865–1889.
Half dime (worth five cents, but considered a different denomination than the nickel), 1792–1873 (the nickel entered circulation in 1866).
s-l1000Twenty cents, 1875–1878.
Gold dollar, 1849–1889.
Quarter eagle ($2.50), 1849–1889.
Three dollars, 1854–1889.
Half eagle ($5.00), 1795–1929.
Eagle ($10.00) ,1795–1933.
Double eagle ($20.00), 1849–1933.

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Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

Tough Trivia, 4/23/21

Pierre_de_Coubertin_Anefo2
Pierre de Coubertin

Yesterday’s question was: Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863–1937) founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, which lead to the first modern Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The Games were held every four years, and were only cancelled during the World Wars, in 1916, 1940, and 1944, and postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 1924, the number of sports in competition expanded with the commencement of the winter Olympics (first held in Chamonix, France). The years of the winter and summer games were split following 1992, with the then-next winter Olympics held in 1994. So, the questions are: Which five countries hosted the most Olympic games? And how many different countries have hosted the Olympics? Bonus: which years were the Olympics held in the United States?

The answer is:

1. With eight already in the books and one planned, far and away the most popular country to host the Olympics is the USA. The summer games were held in St. Louis in 1904, Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984 (and planned for LA in 2028), Atlanta in 2002. The winter games were in Lake Placid in 1932 and 1980, Squaw Valley in 1960, and Salt Lake City in 2002.

2. France has hosted the games five times, with another one planned: Paris in 1900 and 1924 (and planned again for 2024), and winter games in Chamonix (1924), Grenoble (1968), and Albertville (1992).

3. Three countries are tied, hosting the Olympics four times. Germany in Berlin in 1916 and 1936, Munich (West Germany, during the Cold War) in 1972, and winter games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.
Italy has hosted three times, with one more planned: Rome in 1960, and winter games in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956, Turin in 2006, and Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo planned for 2026.
Japan has hosted three times, with one coming up soon: Tokyo in 1964, winter games in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998, and the 2020 Summer Olympics planned for Tokyo have been postponed due to the pandemic.

Twenty-three different countries have hosted Olympics: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany (and West Germany), Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Russia (and the USSR), South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

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Today’s question is:

Currently, the US Mint produces and circulates six coin denominations: cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. But those aren’t the only denominations the US has minted: in past years, there were several other denominations. How many others can you name? Bonus points if you know which years they circulated. (Remember, Tough Trivia takes the weekend off, so the answer will be posted Monday.)

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Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

 

Tough Trivia, 4/20/21

Yesterday’s question was: Only one US President has also served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Who was it? Similarly, only one US President has also served on the Supreme Court. Who was that?

The answer is:

11polk
James Knox Polk

James Knox Polk (1795–1849) represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives from 1825 to 1839, and served as the 13th Speaker from December 7, 1835 to March 3, 1839. He did not seek re-election in 1838, and instead was elected Governor of Tennessee, serving one two-year term (1839–41). He lost the election of 1841.

When the 1844 campaign season opened, Polk hoped to win the Democratic nomination for Vice President under former President Martin Van Buren. Former President Andrew Jackson, however, had a break with his former protégé Van Buren, and supported Polk for the top slot. On the ninth ballot, Polk won the nomination, and in the election, Polk took 49.5% of the popular vote, and 170 of the 275 electoral votes. He was, however, the first president to win the election while losing his state of residence (Tennessee) and his birth state (North Carolina). Polk kept his campaign promise, and served only one term as president. He died in June 1845, a scant three months after leaving office.

27taft
William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 15, 1857. His father, Alphonso, served as the 31st Secretary of War (March 8–May 22, 1876), the 34th Attorney General (May 22, 1876–March 4, 1877), the US Minister to Austria-Hungary (1882–1884), and the US Minister to Russia (1884–1885). William attended Yale and then practiced law. In 1887, at the age of 29, he was appointed to a judgeship on the Superior Court of Cincinnati, and then later elected to a full five-year term on the court. His professional goal was always a seat on the Supreme Court, and in 1889, Ohio Governor Foraker suggested Taft for the vacancy on the Supreme Court (he was 32). President Benjamin Harrison chose someone else, and in 1890, appointed Taft Solicitor General of the United States. In 1892, he resigned when he was appointed to a newly created judgeship on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1900, President William McKinley asked Taft to resign, in order to head the commission to organize a civilian government in the Philippines, which he did. In July 1901, Taft became the civilian governor of the Philippines. In late 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt offered Taft a seat on the Supreme Court, but Taft refused, saying his work as governor was not yet done. In January 1904, Roosevelt appointed Taft the 42nd Secretary of War. Roosevelt offered Taft Supreme Court appointments in 1905 and 1906, but by this time, Taft had come to terms with the likelihood he would be the next Republican nominee for President (a position both Roosevelt and Taft’s wife Helen had been pushing him toward). Taft did indeed win the nomination, and handily won the election.

During his one term as President, his policies diverged from those of his friend and mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, and when Roosevelt returned to the United States, he challenged Taft for the nomination. Taft was renominated, so Roosevelt formed his own party to run for the presidency, split the Republican vote, and Taft became the only incumbent President to place third in his bid for re-election. After his presidency, Taft returned to Yale as a professor.

Chief Justice Douglass White died on May 19, 1921, and President Warren Harding considered several others to replace him before finally settling on Taft, who had told him months earlier that he wanted the position. On June 30, 1921, Harding officially nominated Taft, and the Senate confirmed his appointment the same day, by a vote of 61–4, without any committee hearings and only a brief debate in executive session. Taft was sworn in on July 11, the only person to serve as both President and Chief Justice. In failing health, he resigned February 3, 1930, and died on March 8.

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Today’s question is: Colors in fireworks are usually generated by pyrotechnic stars. Pyrotechnic stars are pellets of which may contain metal powders, salts, or other compounds that, when ignited, burn a certain color or make a certain spark effect. Burning the proper metal can produce any of the colors of the rainbow. Which metals produce which colors?

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Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

Tough Trivia, 4/19/21

Friday’s question was: Cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. The US has six circulating coin denominations. List them in order of the longevity of the current design. Bonus points if you can name whose face is on each obverse, and what design is on the corresponding reverses.

The answer is:

proofset2017Dime, 1946. The year after he died, the Mercury dime was phased out in honor of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with a new torch, oak branch, and olive branch design on the reverse.

Half dollar, 1964. John Kennedy was assassinated in late 1963. In 1964, he bumped Benjamin Franklin off the half dollar, appearing with the seal of the President on the reverse. In 1976, the seal was replaced with an image of Independence Hall for the Bicentennial, but then the seal returned in 1977.

Nickel, 2006. In 1938, Thomas Jefferson’s portrait first appeared on the nickel, paired with his home, Monticello, on the reverse. In 2004 and 2005, there were four special designs honoring the bicentennial of Lewis & Clark’s expedition. In 2006, Monticello returned to the reverse with a new portrait of Jefferson on the obverse.

Cent, 2010. Abraham Lincoln’s portrait was placed on the obverse in 1909, with a wheat stalk reverse design. In 1959, the reverse was changed to an image of the Lincoln Memorial. In 2009, there were special reverse designs honoring Lincoln’s bicentennial. And in 2010, the current shield design first appeared on the reverse.

Quarter, less than three months ago. In 1932, George Washington first appeared on the obverse of the quarter, with a heraldic eagle on the reverse. In 1976, the quarter (and half dollar and dollar coins) had a special Bicentennial reverse design: a colonial military drummer. The eagle returned in 1977. In 1999, the State Quarter Series debuted, with a redesigned obverse, and five different reverses minted during the year, representing each of the states. After ten years, the Mint realized the changing designs were popular, and continued, covering DC and the territories in 2009, and then representing national parks and landmarks starting in 2010 (still, with five new designs each year).

Dollar, 2009 (sort of). In 2000, the smaller-than-a-half dollar sized, silver colored dollar coin with Susan B. Anthony’s portrait was replaced by the same-sized, gold colored dollar coin with Sacagawea on the obverse and a bald eagle in flight on the reverse. Starting in 2009, the reverse was changed to several different Native American themes. Since 2012, the Mint has only produced these coins for collector sets and stockpiles, because of their unpopularity. At the same time (2007–2016, plus more coming), the Mint produced Presidential dollar coins, with images of deceased Presidents on them. Again, for circulation, but since 2012, newly minted coins have not been released into circulation because of a lack of demand. Finally, beginning in 2018, the Mint began producing American Innovation dollars, with the State of Liberty on the obverse, and four different images (representing four different states) on the reverse. The Mint claims these are coins for circulation, but the lack of demand keeps them from entering circulation as normal.

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Today’s question is: Only one US President has also served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Who was it? Similarly, only one US President has also served on the Supreme Court. Who was that?

***

Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

Tough Trivia, 4/16/21

Yesterday’s question was: “Name the US Space Shuttles. How many missions into space did each Space Shuttle fly? Which Shuttle is now at which museum?”

IMG_5251The answer is:

  • Columbia (OV-102), first flew on April 12, 1981. Completed 27 missions, and disintegrated during re-entry on its 28th mission, on February 1, 2003.
  • Challenger (OV-099), first flew April 4, 1983. Completed nine missions, and exploded 73 seconds after launch on its 10th mission, on January 28, 1986.
  • Discovery (OV-103), first flew on August 30, 1984. Completed 39 missions, landing for the final time on March 9, 2011. Discovery is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport, Fairfax County, Virginia.
  • Atlantis (OV-104), first flew on October 3, 1985. Completed 33 missions, landing for the final time on July 21, 2011. Atlantis is on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Merritt Island, Florida.
  • Endeavour (OV-105), first flew May 7, 1992. Completed 25 missions, landing for the final time on June 1, 2011. Endeavour is on display at the California Science Center, Los Angeles, California.
  • Enterprise (OV-101) was built as a test vehicle, without engines or a functional heat shield, and thus, not capable of spaceflight. It flew in the atmosphere after, being released from its Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, five times between August 12 and October 26, 1977. Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York, New York.
  • Pathfinder (unofficially known as OV-098) is a Space Shuttle test simulator made of steel and wood. Constructed in 1977 as an unnamed facilities test article, it was used to check roadway clearances, crane capabilities, and so on. After the Space Shuttle program no longer needed it, it was sold to the America-Japan Society, which displayed it in the Great Space Shuttle Exhibition in Tokyo from 1983 to 1984. Then it returned to the US, and is on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Today’s question is: Cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. The US has six circulating coin denominations. List them in order of the longevity of the current design. Bonus points if you can name whose face is on each obverse, and what design is on the corresponding reverses.

***

Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock