Quote of the Day

W. Somerset Maugham
The philosopher is like a mountaineer who has with difficulty climbed a mountain for the sake of the sunrise, and arriving at the top finds only fog; whereupon he wanders down again. Discuss

Wilkie Collins
One of our first amusements as children (if we have any imagination at all) is to get out of our own characters, and to try the characters of other personages as a change—to be fairies, to be queens, to be anything, in short, but what we really are.

George Bernard Shaw
A married man forms married habits and becomes dependent on marriage just as a sailor becomes dependent on the sea.

This Day in History

The American Civil War Ends at Appomattox Court House (1865)
The first major engagement of the US Civil War was the First Battle of Bull Run, fought in 1861 partly on the farm of Wilmer McLean in Manassas, Virginia. A few years later, McLean moved to Appomattox Court House, a town which, coincidentally, would soon be the site of the war's effective end. It was there that Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in McLean's parlor. Why did Grant stop Union troops when they began to celebrate the victory? Discuss

Tennis Player Arthur Ashe Announces He Has AIDS (1992)
Ashe was the first African-American male to reach prominence in tennis and was thus a very public figure, even after his retirement, which followed a 1979 heart attack and quadruple-bypass surgery. In 1983, he contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during a second heart surgery. He kept it a secret until 1992, when a newspaper threatened to publish a story about his illness. His subsequent openness about AIDS helped combat the disease's stigma. What did he say about asking "Why me?"

The World Health Organization Is Established (1948)
World Health Day is observed every year on April 7 to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN agency whose main objective is to promote "the highest possible level of health" in all people. Coordinating international efforts to prevent, control, and treat illness, it has worked to successfully eradicate smallpox and has made notable strides in checking polio, leprosy, cholera, and malaria. What steps has it taken to promote tobacco-free work environments?

Today

Eadweard J. Muybridge (1830)
Muybridge was an eccentric photographic innovator who left a vast and varied body of work. He is best known for his pioneering use of multiple still cameras to photograph the stages of motion. Hired by Leland Stanford to answer the question of whether there is a moment during a horse's stride when all four of its hooves are off the ground, he developed a special shutter for his cameras and a method for triggering them sequentially. Why was he acquitted of murdering his wife's lover? Discuss

Sonja Henie (1912)
Henie began ice skating at the age of eight and won the first of six straight Norwegian figure-skating championships within two years. Starting in 1927, she won the world's figure-skating crown 10 straight years, the European title six times, and the Olympic gold medal three times. She introduced music and dance into free skating, greatly broadening its appeal, and turned professional in 1936, earning millions starring in films and ice shows. Why did many Norwegians consider her a quisling?

Eleanora Fagan, AKA Billie Holiday (1915)
Despite a deeply troubled upbringing, Holiday became one of the most celebrated and influential singers in jazz history. She was also one of its most tragic figures. She debuted in the 1930s and, after performing with Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw, embarked on a successful solo career. However, she suffered many personal setbacks, complicated by the drug addiction that eventually destroyed her career and hastened her death. How did she choose her stage name?