Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a set of three spectacular waterfalls located on the US-Canadian border. The Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls are renowned for their beauty, and Niagara Falls as a whole is both a valuable source of hydroelectric power and a challenging project for environmental preservation. It is also a popular site for daredevils. In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to go over the falls in a barrel. She survived and had what to say about the experience? Discuss


flout, flaunt – Flout means “defy, ignore” and flaunt means “show off.” More…

ignore, disregard – Ignore is properly used of things that are present in one’s surroundings; for things like rules, conventions, stipulations, and contracts, the right word is disregard. More…

stet – Latin for “let it stand,” a notation to ignore a correction made to a text. More…

pretermit – To pass over or ignore something. More…

State of Israel Proclaimed (1948)

In November 1947, the UN approved the Partition Plan for Palestine. Britain had governed Palestine since 1920, but the Partition Plan called for the formation of two states—one Jewish and one Arab—as well as a small, internationally administered zone in formerly British territory. The Arab leadership rejected the plan, but on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was declared. The next day, five Arab states declared war on Israel. How did the war end? Discuss

Liberia National Unification Day

This annual observance in Liberia draws attention to the animosity between the Americo-Liberian elite and the indigenous majority. Under the leadership of President William V. S. Tubman, who led from 1944 to 1971, the divide between these two groups was diminished. Tubman introduced the National Unification Policy, which featured among other things an extension of the vote to women and the country’s indigenous people. The anniversary emerged as a means to draw support for the policy. The day reminds Liberians to remember what they hold in common and not to dwell on how they diverge. Discuss

George Lucas (1944)

Lucas is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter famous for his epic Star Wars saga and the Indiana Jones film series. Though Lucas has become one of the American film industry’s most successful filmmakers, he initially aspired to be a racecar driver. A serious car accident in high school led him to rethink this, and he instead turned to moviemaking, channeling his passion for cars into his 1973 film American Graffiti. What was his first feature-length film? Discuss

The Breakers

Built to serve as the summer home of American socialite and businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the Breakers is a 70-room mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The home was constructed in the 1890s at a cost of more than $12 million and is deemed the archetype of the Gilded Age, during which socially ambitious Americans sought to imitate the European aristocracy. Today, it is Rhode Island’s most visited attraction. Why did Vanderbilt insist that wood not be used in the Breakers’ construction? Discuss