Category Archives: Article of the Day

Dorus Rijkers

Rijkers was a Dutch lifeboat captain and folk hero who became famous for his sea rescues of nearly 500 shipwrecked victims. His life-saving career began in 1872 while he was captain of his own boat. While at sea, he saved all 25 crew members of the ship Australia from drowning. He later joined a Dutch lifeboat society as a volunteer and saved hundreds of people during dozens of rescue operations over three decades. How did Rijkers get the nickname Opa, which means “Grandpa”? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Phonograph Cylinder

The first machine to reproduce recorded sound, the phonograph, was built by Thomas Edison in 1877. Edison’s “records,” as they were called, were first made of tin foil wrapped around cylinders. Since tin foil was not a practical recording medium for everyday use and commercial production, cylinders made of wax, and later plastic, were introduced and dominated the market until the advent of disc records in the early 20th century. What band released a track on wax cylinder in 2010? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Pattens

Pattens are various types of wooden-soled footwear, such as sandals or clogs, worn by men and women of the Middle Ages to increase their height or to keep their feet out of the mud or dirt of the street. In use until the early 20th century, pattens were worn outdoors over normal shoes and held in place by leather or cloth bands. Their name is derived from the Middle English word patin, which may come from the Old French word pate, meaning what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Charles Peace

Peace was a notorious mid-19th-century English burglar and murderer whose life spawned many romanticized works of fiction, including dozens of novels and films and even a comic strip. After stints in prison and a criminal career spanning decades, Peace was finally captured and imprisoned on charges of burglary and the attempted murder of a police officer. He was then tried for a past murder and was sentenced to death. Peace is mentioned by name in what Sherlock Holmes short story? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Blackbirding

Blackbirding refers to the recruitment of people through kidnapping and fraud to work on plantations, particularly the sugar cane plantations of Fiji and Queensland, Australia, in the latter half of the 19th century. Those “blackbirded” were kidnapped from the indigenous populations of Australia or nearby Pacific islands. In 1872, the British Parliament passed a law in an attempt to curtail the practice, but it continued until the turn of the century. How did blackbirding get its name? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Neopaganism

Neopaganism is an umbrella term for a variety of modern religious movements, particularly those inspired by the pre-Christian traditions of the Egyptians, Greeks, Norse, and Celts. Neopagans fall into two broad categories, nature-oriented and magical groups, and often engage in arcane and elaborate rituals. Two of the movement’s most influential thinkers were Alphonse L. Constant and Gerard Encausse, who helped popularize the movement in the 19th century. What is the largest Neopagan religion? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Hobo Nickel

Hobo nickels are sculptural artworks created on small denomination coins, particularly US nickels, long favored by coin engravers because of their size, thickness, and softness. When the Indian head, or buffalo, nickel was introduced in the US in 1913, its large, thick profile gave artists a larger template to work on and allowed for finer detail. Due to its low cost and portability, this medium was particularly popular among hobos, hence the name. What images appear on classic hobo nickels? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

White Elephants

A “white elephant” is an expensive possession that is a financial burden to maintain. The expression derives from Southeast Asian monarchs’ practice of making gifts of rare albino elephants, which, although sacred in South Asia and a sign of the ruler’s favor, were very expensive to keep and could not be sold or used for work. White elephants were thus both a blessing and a curse. According to tradition, what role did a white elephant play in the birth of the Buddha? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

ALH84001

ALH84001 is a Martian meteorite that was found in Allan Hills, Antarctica, in 1984. It made headlines in 1996, when it was announced that it could contain trace evidence of Martian life in the form of fossils of bacteria-like life forms. There has since been much debate about whether the structures in question are truly evidence of extraterrestrial life. Some believe that the microfossils resulted from contamination by earthly biofilms. How long was ALH84001 on Earth before it was discovered? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Maenads

Also called bacchantes, maenads were female followers of the Greek wine-god Dionysus. The name “maenad” comes from a Greek word meaning “mad” or “demented.” During the rites of Dionysus, maenads roamed the mountains and forests performing frenzied, ecstatic dances and were believed to be possessed by the god. While under his influence, they supposedly had extraordinary strength, and it was said they could tear animals—or people—to pieces. This was the fate met by what mythological figure? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary