Leap Year Day

The Earth actually takes longer than 365 days to complete its trip around the Sun—five hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds longer, to be precise. To accommodate this discrepancy, an extra day is added to the Gregorian calendar at the end of February every four years. The year in which this occurs is called Leap Year, probably because the English courts did not always recognize February 29, and the date was often “leaped over” in the records. There was an old tradition that women could propose marriage to men during Leap Year. The men had to pay a forfeit if they refused. Discuss

Dinah Shore (1916)

Shore was an American singer, actress, and TV personality who enjoyed widespread popularity during the Big Band era of the 1940s and 50s. She was the first singer of the era to achieve success as a solo artist, producing over 80 hit songs, including “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” before beginning a four-decade career in television. Shore was a hit with TV audiences as well and went on to earn nine Emmys, a Peabody Award, and a Golden Globe. How did Shore, born Frances Rose, earn the stage name Dinah? Discuss


In the late 1930s, psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich publicized his theory of universal life energy, a force he called orgone energy. He claimed that orgone fills all space, has a blue hue, and can be accumulated and used to restore psychological well-being. Most experts believe his hypotheses to be pseudoscience, and his books on the subject were burned following a court decision intended to prevent health-fraud. What renowned scientist agreed to participate in Reich’s experiments? Discuss

Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme Is Assassinated (1986)

Palme served as prime minister of Sweden from 1969 to 1976 and from 1982 to 1986. In 1971, he led Sweden’s rejection of a bid for membership in the European Community. A pacifist, he criticized US policy in the Vietnam War, creating a diplomatic rift that ended in 1974. Palme also opposed the nuclear arms race and South African apartheid. He was assassinated in 1986, and his murder remains unsolved. What did US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reportedly say about his relationship with Palme? Discuss

Taiwan Peace Memorial Day

Following the end of World War II, the island of Taiwan won independence from Japan, and the Chinese Nationalist government officially took over the island. On February 28, 1947, misunderstandings between the new government and the native residents led to an uprising that was brutally suppressed. February 28 has been named Peace Memorial Day and is marked by memorial services for the victims, concerts, art exhibitions, and group runs. Taiwan’s president attends a ceremony in which he rings a ceremonial bell and bows to the victims’ families. Discuss

Samuel Joel "Zero" Mostel (1915)

Mostel was an American comic actor who combined a large paunch with acrobatic grace and an expressive face. He initially worked both on Broadway and in film but was blacklisted in Hollywood for his political views and worked primarily in New York City theater after 1955. He had lead roles in the musicals A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof. In 1968, he starred in the Oscar-winning Mel Brooks film The Producers. What was Mostel’s real name? Discuss

Anesthesia Awareness

In a rare subset of patients undergoing general anesthesia, the anesthetic is inadequate to keep the patient unconscious during an operation. This is a condition known as anesthesia awareness. The patient may feel the pain of surgery and hear the conversations of surgical staff but is often unable to communicate because a muscle relaxant or paralytic has also been administered. Having which hair color may indicate that someone will require a higher dose of anesthesia? Discuss