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Can I Sell That on eBay?

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They say you can buy or sell anything on eBay, but if you wade through the site's terms and conditions, the definition of "anything" becomes a bit narrower. Some forbidden items seem pretty obvious: many states in the U.S. regulate the sale of firearms, booze and tobacco to some degree or another, and bootlegged movies and knockoff handbags are as frowned upon on the site as they are on the street. But what about escargot? Stalactites? A massage?  We spent some time digging through eBay's rules. Here are some of the more obscure items that can only be auctioned under certain conditions, or can't be found at all.

Catalogs listing items that you're offering for sale are a no-no. Catalogs that are collectible memorabilia and don't offer current merchandise for sale, like old Montgomery Ward catalogs, are fine.

Intangible items are a no go, so if you want to sell your soul for a quick buck (or the ability to play the blues), you'll need to go down to the crossroads at midnight.

Humans and human body parts can't be listed, with two exceptions: 1) items that contain human scalp hair (like wigs) and 2) clean, articulated, non-Native American skulls and skeletons intended for medical education. Any other bones, plus organs and blood, are forbidden.

"¢ With animals and products derived from them, things get a little complicated because of U.S. and foreign government regulations.

  • If you have any necessary permits and can guarantee safe over shipping, you can list"¦Crickets, worms and some other insects, as long as they're to be used for bait or food for pets; hatching eggs from animals that aren't endangered species, migratory birds, snakes, or turtles if they're being shipped within the U.S.; shellfish to be eaten; snails or slugs that are known as domestic aquatic snails or one of eBay's five allowed edible types.
  • Endangered species, migratory birds, noxious insects, pets and sharks are forbidden.
  • Pelts, furs and any body parts from an endangered species or from cats and dogs are not allowed. Non-endangered animal pelts and skins are OK if you state the species in your listing and follow applicable state laws.
  • Stuffed or mounted waterfowl or gamebirds can be listed only if the birds were bred in captivity.
  • Any and all products made from bears or mountains lions are not allowed.

"¢ Certain fossils and historical artifacts and relics can be listed, but with a few restrictions. They can't come from federal or state public land or Native American land and have to match the time-period category they're listed in. If the item is reworked, modernized or is a reproduction, this has to be fully described in the listing.

"¢ Legislation on the sale of event tickets varies from state to state and eBay users have to abide by their home state's laws. In Missouri, for example, you can't resell tickets to sporting events for more than face value. On concert tickets, though, you can make a nice little profit.

Cave formations can't be taken from caves on federal land, and other listings must adhere to The Federal Cave Protection Act.

Items in the style of Native American art or crafts, but not made by Native Americans, must be categorized as such and cannot be described in a way that may suggest the item was made by a Native American.

Grave-related and funerary items like burial plots, caskets and gravestones can be listed as long as they haven't been used.

"¢ You can list cell phone service contracts by themselves or bundled with a phone as long as you're an authorized reseller of cell phone services, offer a full refund within 10 days of payment to a buyer who is rejected for a service contract, state in your listing what parts of the country are serviced by the plan, and follow a few other guidelines.

"¢ Most used clothing, except undergarments, is OK, as long as the listing states that the item is used.

Inactive or expired credit or debit cards can be listed as long as 1) the expiration date on the face of the card is at least 10 years old, 2) the listing blocks or blurs the name and part of the number on the card in a picture and includes the expiration date in the description, and 3) the issuing card company allows the sale of expired cards.

Government documents like antique (100+ years old) birth certificates/marriage licenses and expired U.S. passports issued 20+ years prior to the date of the sale can be listed. Current vehicle license plates, driver's licenses, passports, fake IDs, government-issued medals and VIN plates cannot.

Expired coupons can't be listed because they could be used to commit fraud.

"Murderabilia" related to serial killers over 100 years old (like Jack the ripper) and outlaws of the Old West are allowed. The personal belongings or letters or artwork created by convicted violent felons, items related to the Zodiac Killer or Black Dahlia murder case, and items from notorious crime scenes are not permitted.

"¢ Fitness training, dance and music lessons, video editing and many other services can be listed in eBay's Specialty Services categories, but not if the listing in any way offers or suggests sexual contact.

"¢ You cannot list offers for personal relationships, online or off, or Facebook friendship.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you've ever tried to buy or sell something and got shot down, or know of some more interesting items that are prohibited or restricted, speak up!

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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