Israeli Submarine Dakar Disappears without a Trace (1968)

Israel bought the INS Dakar from the UK in 1965. The submarine departed for Israel on January 9, 1968, but disappeared en route with its entire crew. An international search mission yielded no answers. Over a year later, a fisherman found the stern emergency buoy marker from the Dakar on the coast of what is now the Gaza Strip, but further searches failed to turn up anything. The exact cause of the submarine’s sinking remains unknown. Where and when was its wreckage finally found? Discuss

Robert Burns (1759)

Burns, a Scottish poet, wrote some of the best-known poems in the English language—like New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne” and J.D. Salinger’s titular inspiration “Comin’ thro’ the Rye.” However, he struggled to get published during his lifetime and became not only discouraged but poor and dissipated—carrying on several simultaneous love affairs. His first poem was published in 1786, but he did not get to enjoy his success for long; he died of rheumatic fever at 37. What is a “Burns Supper”? Discuss

The May 13 Incident

After the creation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, tensions grew between the wealthy Chinese—who controlled much of the Malaysian economy—and the poorer Malays. On May 13, 1969, Kuala Lumpur exploded with violence as Malay rioters killed hundreds of Chinese. Widespread arson and destruction added to the chaos, and a state of emergency was declared. Parliament was suspended and did not reconvene until 1971. Following the incident, what was instituted as a way to foster Malaysian unity? Discuss

sweetheart

valentine – Formerly a person chosen as a sweetheart or special friend, named for either of two Italian saints. More…

bully – First meant lover or sweetheart, then fine fellow, then blusterer, then “person who harms or threatens weaker people.” More…

leman – An old word for “sweetheart, lover.” More…

piggesnye – An old term of endearment for one’s sweetheart, literally “a darling pig’s eye.” More…

Soviet Satellite Breaks Up upon Reentry, Scattering Nuclear Debris (1978)

Cosmos 954 was a Soviet reconnaissance satellite that used radar to observe ocean traffic. It was launched in September 1977 and quickly began to experience problems. Within months, it had deviated from its designed orbit. A malfunction prevented the safe separation of its onboard nuclear reactor, so when the satellite reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, it scattered radioactive debris over northern Canada, necessitating an extensive clean-up operation. How much did Canada bill the USSR for this? Discuss

Farinelli (1705)

Farinelli was an Italian castrato—a singer castrated in boyhood to create an artificial soprano or alto voice. Renowned for his vocal power and agility, he became the greatest opera star of his time but abandoned the public stage for the court of Philip V, where he received an astronomical fee for his only duty: singing the same four songs to the king each night. After retiring, Farinelli received illustrious guests like Mozart at his villa in Bologna. Why were his remains exhumed in 2006? Discuss