Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Great Blondin Crosses Niagara Falls on Tightrope (1859)

Best known as “The Great Blondin,” Jean François Gravelet was a French tightrope walker and acrobat famous for making multiple crossings of Niagara Falls on a tightrope on several occasions. Balancing 160 feet (48 m) above the water on a 1,100-foot (335-m) tightrope, Blondin dazzled crowds by using a different theatrical variation each time he crossed, performing the feat blindfolded, in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man on his back, and sitting down to do what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

National Basque Festival

This sports-music-dance-barbecue celebration of Basque heritage has been held annually since 1962 in Elko, Nevada. Participants in the festival wear the traditional red, white, and green of the Basque provinces of Spain. The men also wear the traditional Basque beret. The festival begins on Friday with social and exhibition dancing. On Saturday there’s a parade of more than 50 floats, and major contests of weightlifting, sheepdog-working, and dancing the native jota. On Sunday, the events wind up with a big barbecue of steak, marinated lamb, and spicy chorizo sausages. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

World War I Poison Gas

The use of poison gases—ranging from disabling chemicals like tear gas and mustard gas to lethal agents like phosgene—was a military innovation put into use during WWI that had a major impact on warfare. Although the killing capacity of gas was limited—only 4% of combat deaths were due to gas—the proportion of non-fatal casualties was high, and gas remained one of the soldiers’ greatest fears. What were some of the early, crude countermeasures developed to defend against the use of poison gases? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Algerian Leader Muhammad Boudiaf Assassinated (1992)

Boudiaf was an Algerian political leader and a founder of the National Liberation Front, which directed the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962) against France. Boudiaf was captured in 1956 and imprisoned. He was freed after Algeria gained independence, but his opposition to the new regime led to a 27-year exile. In 1992, he was invited back to head the government and deal with rising religious influence in politics. Months later, he was assassinated by a bodyguard while doing what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Giacomo Leopardi (1798)

Leopardi was an Italian poet and scholar who suffered throughout his life from chronic physical ailments and dashed hopes. Despite these challenges, he was devoted to philosophy and the classics from early childhood and became one of the most formidable linguists and writers of his time. His pessimistic poetry is admired for its brilliance, intensity, and musicality. He is considered among the great Italian poets of the 19th century. What are some of his most famous works? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The History of Saffron

Spanning cultures, continents, and civilizations, the history of saffron in human cultivation and use reaches back more than 3,000 years. Saffron, a spice derived from the stigmas of saffron crocus plants, has been used as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine and has remained among the world’s costliest substances throughout history. After saffron spread to America in the 18th c, demand grew so much that its price on the Philadelphia commodities exchange matched that of what precious metal? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary