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Quote of the Day

  • Miguel de Cervantes
    Can there be hope where fear is? Discuss
  • Joseph Conrad
    The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it.
  • W. Somerset Maugham
    We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.

Word of the Day

  • habiliment
    Definition: (noun) A covering designed to be worn on a person's body. Synonyms: clothing, wearable, vesture, wear. Usage: The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. Discuss
  • paltry
    Definition: (adjective) Contemptibly small in amount. Synonyms: petty, trivial, trifling, beggarly, derisory, measly, piddling. Usage: The miserly millionaire was criticized for his paltry donation, but even public shaming was not enough to make him part with more money.
  • statuesque
    Definition: (adjective) Suggestive of a statue, as in proportion, grace, or dignity. Synonyms: stately. Usage: She was of majestic form and stature, her attitudes were imposing and statuesque, and her gestures and movements distinguished by a noble and stately grace.

Today’s Birthday

  • Ginger Rogers (1911)
    Rogers was an Oscar-winning American actress and dancer—most notably as Fred Astaire's partner. Their first appearance together was in 1933's Flying Down to Rio. Though they were not given star billing, they stole the show and went on to make nine more films together. Rogers also starred in several non-musical roles and, by 1945, was one of the highest paid performers in Hollywood. She was honored by the Kennedy Center in 1992. Why were parts of the event prohibited from being televised? Discuss
  • Linda Ronstadt (1946)
    Ronstadt is an American popular-music singer and record producer. She embarked on a solo career in the late 1960s and became known for her interpretations of folk songs and collaborations with artists from a diverse array of genres. She became one of the most successful female singers of the 1970s and branched out in the 80s with award-winning Spanish language albums. One of her grandfathers was an inventor who made a fortune by patenting what widely used household item?
  • Owen Wister (1860)
    Wister was an American author who is best remembered for his contributions to western fiction. A well-to-do Harvard graduate, he suffered from ill health and summered in the American West, where he gained much inspiration for his writings. His popular 1902 novel The Virginian is regarded as the first western. It tells the tale of a cattle rancher who depends on a harsh code of ethics, and it helped establish the cowboy as an American folk hero. To whom is the book dedicated?

Article of the Day   (article source)

  • The Cigar-Box Guitar
    The cigar-box guitar is a primitive, usually homemade, string instrument that uses a cigar box as a resonator. It originated in the southern US at around the time that the modern cigar box was introduced—about 1840. Other salvaged materials, such as screen wire (for strings) and broomsticks (for necks), are also often used in the making of these instruments. Recently, there has been revival of cigar-box instruments. What world-famous musicians have jumped on the cigar-box guitar bandwagon? Discuss
  • Gegenschein
    The gegenschein is an oval patch of faint light directly opposite the sun in the night sky. It is so faint that it can only be seen in the absence of moonlight and is lost in the light of the Milky Way except in the spring and fall. It is thought to be caused by sunlight reflecting off dust particles in space that may be part of Earth's tail of dust and gas. Danish astronomer Theodor Brorsen published an account of the phenomenon in 1854, about 50 years after it was observed and named by whom?
  • The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary
    The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was a fanciful plant from Central Asia that grew lambs as its fruit. The stalks bent down to allow the lambs to graze nearby, and when the lambs ran out of food, the plant would die and the lambs could be harvested. The plant is described in a much-embellished 14th-century travelogue attributed to Englishman John Mandeville. Though the story of a wool-bearing plant was used to explain the existence of cotton, what other actual plant inspired this legend?

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