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Quote of the Day


Word of the Day

  • hard-bitten
    Definition: (adjective) Tough and callous by virtue of experience. Synonyms: hard-boiled, pugnacious. Usage: He graduated from college a naïve idealist, but just a few years of chasing down stories had turned him into a cynical, hard-bitten journalist. Discuss
  • uncouth
    Definition: (adjective) Lacking refinement or cultivation or taste. Synonyms: rough-cut, vulgar, coarse, common. Usage: He was an uncouth fellow, ragged and dirty and unshaven.
  • grinder
    Definition: (noun) A large sandwich made of a long crusty roll split lengthwise and filled with meats and cheese (and tomato and onion and lettuce and condiments); different names are used in different sections of the United States. Synonyms: hoagie, Italian sandwich, poor boy, sub, Cuban sandwich, zep, torpedo, wedge, bomber, hero. Usage: I usually have a salad for lunch, but today I am going to treat myself to a carb-laden, ham-stuffed grinder.

Today’s Birthday

  • Anders Celsius (1701)
    Celsius was a Swedish astronomer who published observations of the aurora borealis and supervised the building of an observatory at Uppsala, Sweden, where he pioneered the measurement of the brightness of stars. Today, however, he is better known for an invention that has been adopted by almost the entire world—the centigrade, or Celsius, thermometer. Originally, his temperature scale had 0 as its boiling point and 100 as its freezing point. Who reversed the numbers after Celsius died? Discuss
  • Saint Katharine Drexel (1858)
    The niece of a wealthy Philadelphia banker, Drexel inherited a vast fortune and used it to address racial injustice and educational inequality in the US. She established mission schools across the American West and founded Xavier University, the only historically black, Catholic university in the US. In 1891, after becoming a Roman Catholic nun, she founded a society of nuns to aid Native Americans and African Americans. The second US-born saint, Drexel is known as the patron saint of what?
  • Virgil Thomson (1896)
    An influential American music critic and composer, Thomson studied in Paris. There, he met Gertrude Stein, with whom he wrote the operas Four Saints in Three Acts and The Mother of Us All. He also wrote several film scores. As music critic for New York's Herald Tribune, he delivered gracefully written criticism that was respected for its concern with music rather than the performers. What unusual method of composition was Thomson known for reviving?

Article of the Day   (article source)

  • Sati
    Sati is an Indian funerary practice in which a widow immolates herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Though its stated purpose is to purge the sins of the couple and ensure their reunion in the afterlife, the practice has been encouraged by the low status of widowhood. Practiced since the 4th century BCE, sati became widespread in India in the 17th and 18th centuries, and not all instances were voluntary. Today, it occurs rarely, and mostly in remote areas. When was the practice outlawed? Discuss
  • Carhenge
    Built in western Nebraska in 1987, Carhenge is a replica of England's Stonehenge—made of vintage American cars instead of stones. The 38 cars that make up the monument are painted gray, closely matching the current, deteriorated condition of Stonehenge. Some are embedded in the earth standing on end, with others welded on top of them to form arches. Today, there is a visitor's center at the site, and Carhenge has even been featured on television and in film. It was created as a memorial to whom?
  • Oracle Bones
    Oracle bones—often the shoulder blades of oxen or turtles’ shells—were used for divination during China's Shang dynasty, which dates to the 18th century BCE. They were inscribed with questions, then heated to produce cracks from which answers were somehow derived. A small number of them are inscribed with the answers to their questions and eventual outcomes. The inscriptions are some of the earliest examples of Chinese writing. When they were first discovered, what were they believed to be?

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