Quote of the Day

Ambrose Bierce
November, n.: The eleventh twelfth of a weariness. Discuss

Jerome K. Jerome
Everything looms pleasant through the softening haze of time. Even the sadness that is past seems sweet.

Jerome K. Jerome
To the boy of twenty it seems impossible that he will not love as wildly at sixty as he does then ... His love will never fall, whoever else's may. Nobody ever loved as he loves, and so, of course, the rest of the world's experience can be no guide in his case.

This Day in History

Coney Island's Dreamland Park Burns (1911)
Dreamland was, for a brief time, one of the many attractions in Coney Island—a popular New York seaside resort area. An amusement park, Dreamland featured rides and exhibitions of curiosities, including caged animals, and, more bizarrely, a display of premature infants in incubators. In 1911, a fire sparked by light bulbs ripped through the largely wooden park, creating chaos as animals escaped. Fortunately, the babies were carried to safety, and no one was killed. What became of Dreamland? Discuss

First "Witch" Executed in the British American Colonies (1647)
Nearly 50 years before the infamous trials that resulted in the execution of 20 people as witches in Salem, Massachusetts, Alse Young of Windsor, Connecticut, became the victim of the first recorded execution for witchcraft in the American colonies. Although she may have had a daughter who was also accused of witchcraft 30 years later, very little is known about Young's life, except that she was hanged at Meeting House Square in Hartford. A mention of her execution is recorded in whose diary?

"Spider Dan" Scales 110-Story Sears Tower (1981)
After witnessing a deadly high-rise hotel fire, Dan Goodwin resolved to call attention to the need for better skyscraper firefighting and rescue techniques. Six months after the blaze, he donned a homemade Spider-Man suit and, using suction cups and climbing gear, began an ascent of Chicago's Sears Tower—then the world's tallest building. He reached the top seven hours later and was promptly arrested. What structure—formerly the world's tallest—did he climb with no equipment, twice in one day?

Today

Julia Ward Howe (1819)
An American author and social reformer, Howe wrote and lectured on behalf of women's suffrage, African-American emancipation, and other causes and helped found a world peace organization. In November 1861, after watching Union troops march into battle during the US Civil War, she wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," her most famous work. Published in February 1862 in The Atlantic Monthly, it became the semiofficial song of the Union Army. Where did the music for the song come from? Discuss

Mamie Smith (1883)
Smith was an African-American vaudeville singer, dancer, and actress, but her most enduring legacy is a single she recorded in 1920 for Okeh Records. The first recording of vocal blues by an African-American artist, "Crazy Blues" quickly—and somewhat unexpectedly—became a bestseller. Its success opened record executives' eyes to a previously neglected market—African-American buyers—and ushered in the era of the "race record." Smith's "Crazy Blues" was accorded what honor in 2005?

Igor Sikorsky (1889)
After studying engineering in Kiev, Sikorsky devoted himself to developing the helicopter. In 1910, after failing to build a workable model, he turned to fixed-wing airplane design, and, several years later, he built and flew the first multi-motored plane, a four-engine aircraft with an innovative enclosed cabin. Sikorsky immigrated to the US in 1919 and had continued success designing airplanes. How long would it be before he finally realized his dream of building his first working helicopter?