There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Car

Italian media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi began his political career in 1993, as leader of the Forza Italia party, and in 1994 he became Italy’s Prime Minister. No. In actual fact, Berlusconi had already dipped his big toe in the pool of Italian politics ten years earlier, in 1983. To ensure his election in 1984, he promised that every Italian who …

The Great Equalizer

For decades, starting in 1933, Guyatone was a moderately successful Japanese manufacturer of electric guitars and various guitar paraphernalia. Their biggest seller was the Volume Box: an effects pedal that allowed electric-guitar players to change the volume of their instrument on stage -since the sound man never got it right. The Volume Box was an oblong metal box with a …

Pigtails, Duckbills and Roasted Guinea Pigs

The invention of the duckbill speculum in 1845 revolutionized gynaecology. Up until then, doctors had been using the bills of actual ducks (usually dead ones). American doctor and animal rights activist J. Marion Sims felt there had to be a better way and set out to find it. After numerous experiments on volunteers (South Carolina slaves volunteered by their owners, …