All posts by Ian Grieve

Rule of Thumb

Now used to refer to a convenient principle with a broad application not intended to be strictly accurate in every situation, the term “rule of thumb” first appeared in print in Sir William Hope’s The Compleat Fencing-Master in 1692. The phrase is thought to have originated with woodworkers who used the length of their thumbs, rather than rulers, for measurements. However, it is often erroneously claimed that the term originally referred to a law that limited the thickness of what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Nine-Year-Old Cynthia Ann Parker Kidnapped by Comanches (1836)

Parker was a young girl when Comanches raided Fort Parker—located in what is now Texas—and massacred its inhabitants, capturing her in the process. Raised by her captors, she was adopted into the tribe and went on to bear the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker. At first, Quanah led raids on frontier settlements, but after his defeat and surrender, he learned to live alongside his white neighbors and eventually became the richest Native American in the US. What became of his mother? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ho Chi Minh's Birthday

Ho Chi Minh was born on May 19, 1890. Referred to as the “father of modern Vietnam,” he spearheaded the Vietnamese revolt against French and Japanese occupation. In 1954, after the French and Japanese left, the United States entered the scene; it was during this struggle that Ho Chi Minh died in 1969. In 1975, North and South Vietnam united into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. On Ho Chi Minh’s birthday each year, people hold parades in cities, carrying posters depicting him. Many women wear the áo dài, a traditional Vietnamese garment. Speeches about Ho Chi Minh often follow the parades. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Lorraine Hansberry (1930)

At just 29 years of age, African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry secured her place in theatrical history when she became the first black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. Her acclaimed A Raisin in the Sun, a penetrating psychological study of a working-class African-American family in Chicago, was inspired in part by the discrimination and legal battle Hansberry’s own family faced upon buying a home in a white Chicago neighborhood. Why was her literary career cut short? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Colored Rains of Kerala

In July 2001, red-colored rain began falling in the Indian state of Kerala. For the next two months, it returned intermittently. A number of theories explaining the origins of the coloration were proposed, including that it was contamination from a dust cloud, debris from a volcanic eruption, and even extraterrestrial cells. The Indian government initially speculated that the red rain was caused by an exploding meteor but later issued an official report asserting that it had been caused by what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Bath School Bombing (1927)

Over the course of several months leading up to May 18, 1927, disgruntled school board member Andrew Kehoe hid hundreds of pounds of explosives inside the Bath Consolidated School in Bath Township, Michigan. That day, after destroying his farm—which was slated for foreclosure—he detonated the explosives inside the school and set off a bomb in his vehicle. The massacre is considered the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in US history. How many people were killed? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary