Quote of the Day

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me. Discuss

Jerome K. Jerome
We drink one another's health and spoil our own.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.

This Day in History

Botswana Gains Independence from Britain (1966)
The 1867 discovery of gold in Botswana excited interest from several European powers. In 1885, the British created the Bechuanaland Protectorate there as a defense against the Boers. Although this spawned no nationalist movement, Britain granted it internal self-government in 1965 and full independence as Botswana the next year. Seretse Khama became its first president. Botswana's economy has developed rapidly since independence. Why is a member of the main tribe of Botswana called a Motswana? Discuss

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II Is Excommunicated (1227)
Prior to being excommunicated the first of several times, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II had planned to go on a crusade. However, an epidemic waylaid him and a large part of his army, delaying the conquest. As a result, he was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX. He eventually went on the postponed crusade and became king of Jerusalem. With Italy as the center of his power, Frederick, a religious skeptic, was in frequent conflict with the papacy. Frederick wrote the first book on what subject?

Norman Conquest of England Begins (1066)
In 1066, King Edward the Confessor of England died childless. His cousin William of Normandy claimed that he had been promised the throne years earlier, yet Harold, duke of Wessex, was crowned instead. William then assembled a force of 5,000 knights and invaded. He was crowned less than three months later, following a swift and brutal conquest that had a profound and lasting effect on English life. When William landed at Pevensey on September 28, Harold's forces were busy elsewhere—doing what?

Word of the Day

Definition: (noun) Renunciation of your own interests in favor of the interests of others. Synonyms: self-denial. Usage: The monks took to abnegation and scourging as expiation for the sins of the world. Discuss

Definition: (noun) Fighting with the fists. Synonyms: boxing, pugilism. Usage: We used to settle our arguments with fisticuffs, but now that we are mature adults, we talk out our differences instead of punching each other.

Definition: (adjective) Excessively forward. Synonyms: assumptive. Usage: You might think it presumptuous of me to offer you relationship advice when we barely even know each other, but please hear me out.


Elie Wiesel (1928)
Wiesel is a Romanian-American Jewish author, lecturer, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. As a teen, he was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps—Auschwitz and later Buchenwald—where his family perished. After the war, he became a journalist and later settled in the US. His extensive works, including his most famous novel, Night, focus on keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. Yet, for years after the war, Wiesel refused to write about his experiences. What changed his mind? Discuss

Gene Autry (1907)
Probably the most successful "singing cowboy" in American film, Autry began performing on the radio during the 1920s in Oklahoma. He moved to Hollywood in the early 30s and went on to star in nearly 100 films, becoming America's top Western star from 1937 to 1943. He usually played a singing hero astride his famous horse, Champion. He wrote and recorded hundreds of songs, including his signature song, "Back in the Saddle Again." What well-known Christmas song was Autry's biggest hit?

Max Schmeling (1905)
Schmeling was a German boxer who, in his greatest upset, knocked out future world heavyweight champion Joe Louis—then an unbeaten 22-year-old contender—in 1936. When they met again in a hugely hyped 1938 match, Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round. The rivals later became fast friends. When Louis died in 1981, Schmeling helped pay for the funeral. Though lauded as an Aryan idol in Germany, Schmeling was neither political nor racist. How did he save two Jewish children from the Nazis?