Monthly Archives: December 2018

Queen Victoria Chooses to Make Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's Capital (1857)

First inhabited by indigenous tribes, the city that became Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1827 by John By, an engineer in charge of construction of the Rideau Canal linking Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River. In the 1850s, the city was renamed Ottawa—after the Algonquian-speaking Ottawa tribe—when it fell into competition with major cities like Montreal and Toronto to be named capital of the Province of Canada, which comprised modern-day Ontario and Quebec. Why did Queen Victoria choose Ottawa? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

First Night

First Night originated in Boston as an annual New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts. This citywide festival was first held in 1976 to change the drinking and partying that have traditionally marked New Year’s Eve celebrations in most American cities into a night of family entertainment. To bring both inner city and suburban communities together, 1,000 artists in Boston offer a wide variety of artistic events and performances at 70 indoor and outdoor sites in Boston’s Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, downtown, and waterfront areas. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez (1930)

The subject of the acclaimed 1988 film Stand and Deliver, Escalante was a math teacher who, with his unconventional teaching style, dedication, and complete faith in his students’ potential, created a successful advanced placement—or college level—calculus program at a high school in a poor East Los Angeles neighborhood. In 1982, when 18 of his students received perfect or near-perfect scores on a national exam, they were accused of cheating. What happened when 12 retook the test? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Tactical Media

Tactical media is a modern form of activism that uses mass media to oppose and criticize a target, usually one that occupies a certain position of power, such as a government, politician, or corporation. It is characterized by its use of current technology and short-lived media campaigns and is made possible by the availability of inexpensive technology and by open forms of distribution like the Internet. Who are some of the infamous practitioners of tactical media? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Iroquois Theater Fire (1903)

Billed as “absolutely fireproof,” Chicago’s Iroquois Theater was filled with mostly women and children—out of school for the holidays—for a matinée on December 30, 1903, when a curtain caught fire. One actor tried calming the audience, but panic spread. Many escape routes were unmarked, and a stampede ensued. As people fled, the cold air they let in fed the inferno. More than 575 people died—a death toll more than double that of the famed 1871 Chicago Fire. What show had packed the theater? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Titus (39 CE)

The son of Roman emperor Vespasian, Titus gained renown as a military commander and was given command of the Praetorian Guard after repressing the Jewish rebellion in Judea. Upon succeeding his father in 79 CE, he pursued a policy of conciliation and sought popular favor. A benevolent ruler, he halted prosecutions for treason and spent lavishly on subjects, a practice that earned him goodwill in Rome but caused his successor financial trouble. What two disasters struck during his reign? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fasting Girls

In the Victorian era, “fasting girls” were young females, usually preadolescent, who were purportedly capable of surviving for long periods without consuming any food. In many accounts, the fasting girls not only refused nourishment but also drew attention to their fasts by claiming to have special religious or magical powers. Their ability to survive was often attributed to saints or thought of as miraculous. What special abilities did Mollie Fancher, the “Brooklyn Enigma,” claim to have? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster (1876)

As the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway train plowed ahead through deep snow on December 29, 1876, a bridge over Ohio’s Ashtabula River fractured with a loud crack, plunging every train car except the lead engine into the river about 70 ft (21 m) below. The wooden cars, equipped with kerosene lamps and stoves, became an inferno. Ninety-two people died, many burned beyond recognition. The accident initiated the standardization of bridge inspection. What became of the bridge’s designers? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary