1. Archive

Meaning behind the numbers

Question: How does the government determine the first three numbers on your Social Security card?

Answer: The first three digits of the number are what the Social Security Administration calls the area number. That number indicates what state the number holder lived in when the number was issued or the state the individual lived in when the number was applied for.

When the Social Security system became operational in 1937, that area number indicated the district office that the Social Security number was issued from, said Suzanne Bouldin, assistant district manager of the Atlanta office.

Question: Are the American troops in Saudi Arabia receiving combat or hostile-fire pay at the present time?

Answer: Yes, the troops in Saudi Arabia are receiving hazardous duty or hostile-fire pay, according to Lt. Col. Deb Bosick, a Pentagon spokesman.

Question: A picture of the running of the bulls in Spain had a Basque separatist flag in the corner that resembles the British flag. Can you tell me why?

Answer: The flag of the Basque province of Spain, Pais Vasco, bears a slight resemblance to Britain's Union Jack, but only slight. The Basque flag has a red background with a simple green cross running diagonally to the corners of the square and a similar-sized white cross superimposed over the green running to the midpoint of each side.

Carlos Rey, an information officer at the Spanish Embassy, said there is no relationship between the designs of the Union Jack and the Basque flag.

Question: My daughter says people in her office read in a New York newspaper that O.J. Simpson owned 80 percent of the Honey Baked Ham Co. I've never heard this. Is there any truth to it?

Answer: The Honey Baked Ham Co. is family-owned and -managed, with 250 retail stores across the United States. Simpson is a minority shareholder in four retail stores in Los Angeles, according to Linda Elliott, president of the Original Honey Baked Ham Co. of Georgia.