Monthly Archives: October 2017

Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier (1947)

Days before becoming the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, Yeager, a US Air Force test pilot, broke two ribs riding a horse. Afraid of being taken off the mission, he kept his injury a secret, even though it limited his movement so much that he had to reach with a broom handle to close the hatch on the X-1 experimental aircraft. Launched mid-air from a modified bomber, the X-1 broke the sound barrier, and Yeager became a legend. How fast was he flying when he went supersonic? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ralph Lauren (1939)

Lauren began designing ties while working as a tie salesman and opened his own business in 1967. His first menswear line, under the Polo name, debuted the next year, and the mesh sport shirt—featuring an emblem of a polo player—would become his signature piece. His expensive creations evoke the look of the English aristocracy as adopted by the East-Coast American elite. His label also appears on furnishings, tableware, and luggage. What made him change his last name to Lauren? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Vajra

The Vajra is a ritual object that holds a symbolic significance to Buddhists and Hindus. The scepter-like implement, whose name means both “thunderbolt” and “diamond” in Sanskrit, is said to have the ability to cut through ignorance like a thunderbolt and be indestructible like a diamond. In Buddhist rituals, it is often employed in conjunction with a bell in order to achieve enlightenment. In Hindu mythology, the vajra is the weapon of the god Indra and is said to be made of what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Cornerstone of the White House Is Laid in Washington, DC (1792)

Originally called the “President’s Palace,” the residence of the president of the United States was designed by Irish-American architect James Hoban with guidance from President George Washington, whose term ended before he was able to move in. Slaves and free African-American workers performed much of the construction. Today, the White House is the oldest public building in Washington. Very little of the original structure survived an 1814 fire, set by British troops in retaliation for what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Carberry Day

The students and faculty at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, celebrate the fictitious academic exploits of Professor Josiah Stinkney Carberry every Friday the 13th. On Carberry Day, small brown jugs appear around campus, and students and teachers fill them with change. The money goes to a book fund that Professor Carberry has set up “in memory of my future late wife, Laura.” Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Mary Henrietta Kingsley (1862)

Kingsley was an English explorer and writer who challenged and influenced European ideas about Africa. Following the deaths of her parents, Kingsley travelled to West Africa to complete her father’s unfinished book. There, she studied local customs and explored uncharted territory. Returning to her native England, she criticized missionary efforts and defended traditional African culture—including aspects such as polygamy. Another female explorer introduced her to what murderous tribal custom? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

William S. Burroughs

Burroughs was an American novelist, essayist, social critic, painter, and spoken-word performer whose two dozen books controversially blend homosexuality, science fiction, drug use, and underworld depravity. Much of his work is semi-autobiographical, drawn from his experiences as a long-time opiate addict. A primary member of the Beat Generation, he was an avant-garde writer whose style and ideas influenced popular culture as well as literature. Who did Burroughs accidentally kill in 1951? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary