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Quote of the Day

  • W. Somerset Maugham
    I'll give you my opinion of the human race in a nutshell...their heart's in the right place, but their head is a thoroughly inefficient organ. Discuss
  • Jerome K. Jerome
    If you are foolish enough to be contented, don't show it, but grumble with the rest.
  • Henry James
    God's creature is one. He makes man, not men. His true creature is unitary and infinite, revealing himself, indeed, in every finite form, but compromised by none.

Word of the Day

  • silver-tongued
    Definition: (adjective) Having or exhibiting the power of fluent and persuasive speech. Synonyms: eloquent, smooth-spoken, fluent, facile. Usage: The silver-tongued politician trounced his opponent in the debate and earned enthusiastic applause from his supporters. Discuss
  • hamartia
    Definition: (noun) The character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall. Synonyms: tragic flaw. Usage: Many a noble literary character has been brought low by his hamartia.
  • remodel
    Definition: (verb) Do over, as of (part of) a house. Synonyms: redo, reconstruct. Usage: We were on a tight budget and bought the fixer-upper knowing that it would take us years to completely remodel the house.

Today’s Birthday

  • Henry Fielding (1707)
    Fielding was an English novelist and dramatist known for his humor and satire. He settled in London in 1729 and began writing comedies, farces, and burlesques, including Tom Thumb. Two of his satires attacked the Walpole government and provoked the Licensing Act of 1737, which initiated censorship of the stage and ended his career as a playwright. He thereupon turned to writing novels, publishing his most popular work, Tom Jones, in 1749. Why did he travel to Portugal in 1754? Discuss
  • Max Weber (1864)
    Weber was a German sociologist and political economist whose most famous and controversial work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, examines the relationship between Calvinist—or Puritan—morality, compulsive labor, bureaucracy, and economic success under capitalism. Weber also wrote about social phenomena such as charisma and mysticism, which he saw as antithetical to the modern world and its underlying process of rationalization. What other important works did he write?
  • Philippe Pinel (1745)
    After moving to Paris in 1778, Pinel, a French physician, was appointed director of the Bicêtre and Salpêtrière hospitals. His experiences there prompted him to advocate for the humane treatment of mentally ill persons—then called the insane—and for the empirical study of mental disease. He further contributed to the development of psychiatry by establishing the practice of thoroughly documenting psychiatric case histories for research. What initially inspired Pinel's interest in mental illness?

Article of the Day   (article source)

  • Nickelodeons
    In the early days of motion pictures, screenings were part of vaudeville shows and arcades. However, in 1902, a California shop that showed only moving pictures had great success. Soon, "movie houses" were springing up nationwide. The first movie theater, complete with luxurious accessories and a piano, was built in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1905. A nickel was charged for admission, and the theater was called the nickelodeon. In general, how long were the films screened at nickelodeons? Discuss
  • Avalanches
    Avalanches are sudden falls or slides of large masses of material down the side of a mountain and are classified by their content, such as snow, ice, soil, rock, or a mixture of these materials. They can reach speeds of more than 200 mph (320 km/h), pushing destructive air masses, known as avalanche winds, ahead of the falling debris. The actual impact of avalanche material, meanwhile, can also cause major devastation. What can trigger an avalanche, and what measures might help prevent one?
  • Click Consonants
    Clicks are speech sounds used in many African languages, particularly in the Khoisan family of languages. They are produced by raising the back of the tongue to make contact with the palate and simultaneously closing the lips or touching the teeth or alveolar ridge with the tip and sides of the tongue. The only non-African language known to use clicks as regular speech sounds is Damin, spoken by certain Aboriginal Australians. What click sound is used in English to express disapproval or pity?

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