All posts by Ian Grieve

US Invades Grenada (1983)

After a left-wing government took control of Grenada in a 1979 bloodless coup, relations between the tiny Caribbean nation and its neighbors became strained. In 1983, the government was overthrown by radicals from within the same movement. Concerned about Grenada’s leanings toward Cuba and the Soviet bloc, the US invaded. World leaders were outraged, and the UN voted 108 to 9 to condemn the invasion. How did US President Ronald Reagan respond when asked whether the lopsided vote concerned him? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Rama Leela Festival

The Hindu festival of Dussehra, observed on the 10th day of the waxing half of Asvina, celebrates the victory of the legendary hero Rama over the demon Ravana. The Rama Leela (or Ramalila) is a cycle of pageant plays based on the Hindu epic, Ramayana, which details the life and heroic deeds of Rama. Around the time of Dussehra, therefore, the Rama Leela is performed in towns and cities through northern India. The performances last between seven and 31 days, during which the Ramayana is constantly recited to the accompaniment of music. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Georges Bizet (1838)

A French composer, Bizet became disgusted with the frivolity of French opera and decided to change it. In 1875, his masterpiece, Carmen, premiered. Though its harsh realism repelled many, it eventually won international acclaim and is now one of the most popular operas in history. Sadly, Bizet did not live to see Carmen‘s success, dying just months after it premiered. Foul play was initially suspected, but the apparent gunshot wound on his neck was eventually attributed to what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

European Heat Wave of 2003

The 2003 European heat wave was one of the hottest summers on record in Europe. Tens of thousands of people—mostly elderly—died in the extreme weather, with more than 14,000 perishing in France alone. Melting glaciers caused avalanches in Switzerland, and deadly forest fires wreaked widespread destruction in Portugal. In Germany, the lowest river levels in a century hindered shipping traffic. Wheat crops across Southern Europe failed. What agricultural product actually benefited from the heat? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Zambia Gains Independence (1964)

The area that is now Zambia came under British control in the early 1900s with the development of the copper mining industry. After decades of nationalist struggle, the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia became the independent Republic of Zambia. Kenneth Kaunda, a former schoolteacher who had been jailed for nationalist political activities prior to independence, became its first president. Zambia may have been the first country to do what during the Olympics? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Annie Edson Taylor (1838)

On her 63rd birthday, Taylor became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The interior of the barrel was cushioned and the air was compressed with a bicycle pump. Before her trip, Taylor sent a cat over the falls in her barrel—and it lived. Days later, she drifted over the falls in the same barrel and walked away from the plunge with minor injuries. However, she did not significantly profit from the stunt. According to some accounts, her barrel was stolen by whom? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Beverage-Can Stove

A beverage-can stove is a homemade, lightweight, portable, reusable stove made from aluminum beverage cans. Popular among backpackers, it requires more fuel than some commercial stoves but is incredibly lightweight and easy to make. It is also said to be fail-proof even in difficult environments. Beverage-can stoves burn denatured alcohol and are nearly silent when operating. Their basic design dates back more than a century. How long does it take a beverage-can stove to boil two cups of water? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Hungarian Republic Is Officially Proclaimed (1989)

The defeat of the Central Powers in WWI brought the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary to an end and led to the creation of an independent Hungarian republic, which, in 1949, came under Communist control. Though a 1956 uprising was suppressed, Hungary became the most tolerant of the Soviet bloc nations of Europe and finally replaced Communism with a multi-party democracy with free elections in 1989. Hungary’s relative freedom compared to other Eastern bloc countries led to what satirical nickname? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary