Monthly Archives: October 2018

Harry Houdini Makes His Final Escape (1926)

Born Erik Weisz, Harry Houdini was an American magician and escape artist. He was famous for escaping from locks, handcuffs, straitjackets, and even sealed chests underwater, thanks to his incredible strength, agility, and skill at manipulating locks. His strength likely carried him through his last performance on October 24, 1926, while suffering from acute appendicitis. He was hospitalized and died on October 31. What strange occurrence in his dressing room contributed to his death? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Halloween (United States)

Halloween has its ultimate origins in the ancient Celtic harvest festival Samhain, a time when people believed that the spirits of the dead roamed the earth. Children go from house to house in costume—often dressed as ghosts, skeletons, or vampires—on Halloween saying, “Trick or treat!” Though for the most part the threat is in jest, the “trick” part if they don’t receive a treat may include marking the house’s windows with a bar of soap or throwing eggs at it. Most receive treats in the form of candy or money. Halloween parties and parades are popular with adults as well. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Natalie Clifford Barney (1876)

Though she was a writer for all of her adult life, Barney is not widely known today for her poetry, plays, novels, or epigrams. Instead, she is remembered for her strong support of female writers and for her openness about her homosexuality. For more than 60 years, she hosted an international salon at her Paris home. The well-attended gatherings frequently featured women’s works. She also wrote proudly about her love of women in a way that few, if any, had since what 6th-century BCE Greek poet? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ancient Roman Sanitation

The sophisticated sanitation system in ancient Rome has been the subject of study by historians and archeologists for centuries. Antiquity’s largest city, imperial Rome counted well over a million inhabitants at its height. The city was supplied with water—from as far as 57 miles (92 km) away—by its many aqueducts, most of which were underground conduits. Some of the more famous stone arch versions are still standing. Rome also had a complex system of sewers. Where did they empty? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Bridge Spans the Bosphorus to Connect Europe and Asia (1973)

The shores of the Bosphorus Strait were once lined with fortifications built by Byzantine emperors and Ottoman sultans protecting Constantinople. Today, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges spans the Bosphorus, linking European Turkey with Asian Turkey. The bridge was completed on October 30, 1973—one day after the Turkish republic’s 50th anniversary. A second bridge was finished in 1988. What is not allowed to cross the Bosphorus Bridge? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ezra Pound (1885)

A major shaper of 20th-century poetry, Pound was one of the most famous and controversial modern literary figures—praised as a subtle and complex poet, dismissed as a naive egotist and pedant, and condemned as a traitor and reactionary. He was a founder of the imagist poetry movement, an editor of several periodicals, and a mentor to many noted writers of his day. Arrested for treason in 1945, he was deemed insane and committed. What did he write during his 12 years in a US mental institution? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The History of Ferrous Metallurgy

Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and likely a major component of its core, but it is rarely found in a readily usable form in nature except in meteorites. For that reason, it is likely that the use of iron in its free state began in prehistory with iron taken from meteorites—a fact supported by ancient words for iron referring to gods or a metal that has fallen from the sky. Ferrous metallurgy is alluded to in what sacred text? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary