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Quote of the Day

  • W. Somerset Maugham
    Charm and nothing but charm at last grows a little tiresome...It's a relief then to deal with a man who isn't quite so delightful but a little more sincere. Discuss
  • Washington Irving
    There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

Word of the Day

  • saltation
    Definition: (noun) A light, self-propelled movement upwards or forwards. Synonyms: leaping, bounce, bound, spring. Usage: The kangaroo's effortless saltation was balletic and graceful. Discuss
  • tangential
    Definition: (adjective) Only superficially relevant; divergent. Synonyms: digressive. Usage: His tangential anecdotes added much-needed humor to the talk, though some found the digressions tiresome.
  • monition
    Definition: (noun) A warning or an intimation of something imminent, especially of impending danger. Synonyms: admonition, warning, word of advice. Usage: Verily, all too well do I understand the dream's portent and monition.

Today’s Birthday

  • William Safire (1929)
    Safire was an American journalist and a speechwriter for US President Richard Nixon, who once ordered Safire's phone be tapped. In 1973, Safire became a syndicated political columnist for The New York Times, a post he held until 2005. A master of wordplay, he also wrote regularly on language-related topics. After Safire wrote a column in which he insulted a first lady, a White House aide remarked that if the president were not the president, he would have responded in what way? Discuss
  • Jane Austen (1775)
    Austen was a prominent English novelist whose writing is noted for its wit, realism, shrewd sympathy, and brilliant prose style. Though she received little public recognition in her own lifetime—her books were published anonymously—she is now regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel. Several of her works, including Pride and Prejudice, have been adapted for film. Before her death, Austen suffered from a protracted, unexplained illness. What might have caused it?
  • Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 CE)
    Nero became emperor of Rome by murdering his mother and step-brother. His respectful treatment of the Senate made him a popular emperor in the east, but his reign was marred by unemployment and a major revolt in Britain. After a fire ravaged Rome in 64 CE, he persecuted the Christians as scapegoats. With his reign in decline, Nero went on a murderous rampage, was condemned by the Senate, and chose suicide over execution. According to legend, Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. Is it true?

Article of the Day   (article source)

  • Sydney Opera House
    Distinguished by its roof of white concrete "shells," Australia's Sydney Opera House is one of the world's most distinctive and famous 20th-century buildings. Danish architect Jørn Utzon's design, which was among the first to use computers for structural analysis, was chosen in 1957 from among 233 competition entries from 32 countries. The Opera House was formally completed in 1973 at a cost of $102 million—10 years late and $95 million over budget. Why did Utzon resign from the project in 1966? Discuss
  • The Antonine Plague
    Lasting from 165 to 180 CE, the Antonine Plague was a pandemic, either of smallpox or measles, brought to the Roman Empire by troops returning from campaigns in the Near East. The epidemic killed off entire towns and claimed the lives of two Roman emperors—Lucius Verus and his co-regent Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, whose family name was given to the plague. It resurged again nine years later and had drastic social and political effects throughout the empire. What was its estimated death toll?
  • Moai
    Moai are the monolithic human stone sculptures of Easter Island. The massive statutes are generally thought to be representations of the deified ancestors of the Rapanui people, who likely produced them between 1250 and 1500 CE. Carved from soft volcanic tufa, the statues range from 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 meters) high, with some weighing more than 80 tons. Nearly half are still at the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported and set on platforms around the island. How were they moved?

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