Monthly Archives: February 2018

NATO's First Military Action (1994)

Founded in 1949 by the US, Canada, and 10 European countries as a security pact against the Soviet bloc, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization did not actually perform any military operations for its first 45 years in existence. With the fall of the Soviet Union, however, its focus shifted to regional peacekeeping—and thus, in 1994, NATO forces took action in the Bosnian War. After the September 11 attacks, NATO invoked Article 5 of its charter for the first time in history. What is Article 5? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ta'anit Esther (Fast of Esther)

The Fast of Esther commemorates the three days that Queen Esther fasted before petitioning her husband, King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) of Persia, to spare the Jews of her country from destruction by Haman, the Persian prime minister, in the sixth century BCE. Ordinarily observed on the 13th day of the Jewish month of Adar, this date was originally a minor festival commemorating Judah Maccabee‘s defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor, known as the “Day of Nicanor.” In time it gave way to the present Fast of Esther. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Michel de Montaigne (1533)

On his 38th birthday, Montaigne retreated to his library in a tower of his family’s French château, and there he spent most of the next decade thinking, reading, and writing. The result was Essais, or Attempts, a series of short prose reflections on many subjects that form one of the most captivating and intimate self-portraits ever written. Montaigne’s Essais established the essay as a literary form. What personal tragedy may have prompted Montaigne to begin writing? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Chang and Eng Bunker

The term “Siamese twins” originated with conjoined twin brothers Chang and Eng Bunker, who were born in 1811 in Siam, which is now Thailand. After touring with P. T. Barnum’s circus for many years, they settled in North Carolina and married two sisters: Chang to Adelaide Yates and Eng to Sarah Anne Yates. The two fathered a total of 22 children and died within hours of each other in 1874. Would the Bunker brothers have been able to be separated using today’s surgical techniques? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ireland Legalizes Divorce (1997)

The culture of Ireland has long been strongly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, to which most of the country belongs. Thus, until 1997, the Republic of Ireland had no legal provision for divorce—and though many couples were living apart, they were not free to remarry other people. Once the divorce legislation was passed, the number of separated couples in Ireland did increase but not dramatically. Despite the position of the Church in Ireland, what pagan customs still persist there? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Equirria

Tradition holds that Romulus, one of the mythical founders of Rome, began the Equirria. This festival was held on both February 27 and March 14. The Equirria mainly involved racing horses and was dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war. Scholars don’t know why there were two annual Equirrias little more than two weeks apart from each other, but one theory is that these were occasions to publicly begin training horses and men for the military excursions Roman soldiers undertook in the spring. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Alice Hamilton (1869)

A pioneer in industrial toxicology and the first female faculty member at Harvard University, Hamilton became an authority on lead poisoning and a worldwide specialist in occupational diseases. Her services as an authority on industrial conditions, ailments, and poisons were eagerly sought by government agencies, and her reports on substances such as lead and rubber resulted in improved safety standards in industrial workplaces across the US. Her name was once included in what unlikely list? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary