Merry Christmas

Christmas is for sharing.  That is the message of British grocers Sainsbury’s.

We agree.

If you are not familiar with the story of the Christmas truce, see the video below.

Above all, have a MERRY CHRISTMAS.

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Today’s Geography Lesson

This video illustrates the changes to Europe’s political map over the last 1,000 years.  It’s not news, but it is interesting.

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Could Salisbury Use an “Extreme Makeover” Downtown?

It’s been tried in San Antonio.  This weekend it will be tried in Norfolk.  Perhaps Salisbury could benefit from a quick and dirty “Extreme Makeover”?

This weekend a group of volunteers and the urban planning firm Team Better Block will unveil a temporary “makeover” of a neglected section of Granby Street (once Norfolk’s vibrant main thoroughfare).  The key word in this is “temporary”.

Why would a municipality spend thousands of dollars to temporarily fix-up a section of town?  It gives people a chance to not only visualize, but actually experience, a re-vitalization plan.  Rather than spend hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars on a plan that may be good … or bad, Team Better Block’s approach is simple:

  • Do Something
  • Do it CHEAPLY
  • Do it QUICKLY

People get to see the potential of an area.  Potential developers / investors can be attracted.  Bureaucracy is curtailed.  The advantages are almost endless.

[Read more…]

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This Day in History – August 29, 2012

1828 – A patent was issued to Robert Turner for the self-regulating wagon brake.

1833 – The "Factory Act" was passed in England to settle child labor laws.

1842 – The Treaty of Nanking was signed by the British and the Chinese. The treaty ended the first Opium War and gave the island of Hong Kong to Britain.

1885 – The first prizefight under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules was held in Cincinnati, OH. John L. Sullivan defeated Dominick McCaffery in six rounds.

1886 – In New York City, Chinese Ambassador Li Hung-chang’s chef invented chop suey.

1892 – Pop (Billy) Shriver (Chicago Cubs) caught a ball that was dropped from the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.

1944 – During the continuing celebration of the liberation of France from the Nazis, 15,000 American troops marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

1945 – U.S. General Douglas MacArthur left for Japan to officially accept the surrender of the Japanese.

1949 – At the University of Illinois, a nuclear device was used for the first time to treat cancer patients.

1957 – Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina set a filibuster record in the U.S. when he spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 29, 2012

bumper crop (noun)

BUM puhr crahp

an exceptionally abundant harvest

When Robert Lowell’s Lord Weary’s Castle appeared, in 1946, it was as welcome as a bumper crop. The sheer gorgeousness and encrusted bookishness of this poetry startled readers used to the plain talk of Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams. The book — the first of his to find a general publisher — won Lowell a Pulitzer Prize at twenty-nine.
Peter Davison     July/August 2003

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 29, 2012

“A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.”

– Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), (attributed)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 28, 2012


1609 – Delaware Bay was discovered by Henry Hudson.

1619 – Ferdinand II was elected Holy Roman Emperor. His policy of "One church, one king" was his way of trying to outlaw Protestantism.

1774 – The first American-born saint was born in New York City. Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized in 1975.

1811 – Percy Bysshe Shelley and Harriet Westbrook eloped.

1830 – "The Tom Thumb" was demonstrated in Baltimore, MD. It was the first passenger-carrying train of its kind to be built in America.

1833 – Slavery was banned by the British Parliament throughout the British Empire.

1907 – "American Messenger Company" was started by two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan. The company’s name was later changedto "United Parcel Service."

1916 – Italy’s declaration of war against Germany took effect duringWorld War I.

1917 – Ten suffragists were arrested as they picketed the White House.

1922 – The first radio commercial aired on WEAF in New York City. The Queensboro Realty Company bought 10 minutes of time for $100.

1922 – The Walker Cup was held for the first time at Southampton, NY. It is the oldest international team golf match in America.

1939 – The first successful flight of a jet-propelled airplane took place. The plane was a German Heinkel He 178.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 28, 2012

bumble (verb)

BUM buhl

to blunder; stumble; botch (“bumbler” is the noun)

Only once in modern history has the substance of a presidential candidate’s comments in a debate mattered politically. That was in 1976, when the incumbent, Gerald Ford, appeared to say that Poland, then part of the Soviet bloc, was not subject to Communist control. A fair-minded observer could parse what Ford was trying to say — that the free spirit of the Polish people would never be quashed. But the episode fit Ford’s image as a bumbler and gave Jimmy Carter a decisive debate “win.”
James Fallows     July/August 2004

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 28, 2012

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”

– Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 27, 2012

1660 – The books of John Milton were burned in London due to his attacks on King Charles II.

1789 – The Declaration of the Rights of Man was adopted by the French National Assembly.

1828 – Uruguay was formally proclaimed to be independent during preliminary talks between Brazil and Argentina.

1858 – The first cabled news dispatch was sent and was published by "The New York Sun" newspaper. The story was about the peace demands of England and France being met by China.

1859 – The first oil well was successfully drilled in the U.S. by Colonel Edwin L. Drake near Titusville, PA.

1889 – Charles G. Conn received a patent for the metal clarinet.

1889 – Boxer Jack "Nonpareil" Dempsey was defeated for the first time of his career by George LaBlanche.

1892 – The original Metropolitan Opera House in New York was seriously damaged by fire.

1894 – The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act was passed by the U.S. Congress. The provision within for a graduated income tax was later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1912 – Edgar Rice Burroughs’ "Tarzan of the Apes" was published for the first time.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 27, 2012

bulwark (noun)

BOOL werk

a powerful defense or safeguard

In our schools we attempt to teach the best literature, to inculcate ideals of good music and sound art. We open museums and establish free libraries. Why? For the simple reason that we believe, and rightly believe, that a knowledge and love of these better things is a bulwark of our civilization.
Walter Prichard Eaton     January 1915

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 27, 2012

“Why be a man when you can be a success?”

– Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 15, 2012

1057 – Macbeth, the King of Scotland, was killed by the son of King Duncan.

1848 – The dental chair was patented by M. Waldo Hanchett.

1877 – Thomas Edison wrote to the president of the Telegraph Company in Pittsburgh, PA. The letter stated that the word, "hello" would be a more appropriate greeting than "ahoy" when answering the telephone.

1911 – The product Crisco was introduced by Procter & Gamble Company.

1914 – The Panama Canal was officially opened to commercial traffic as an American ship sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

1918 – Diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Russia were severed.

1935 – Will Rogers and Wiley Post were killed in an airplane crash in near Point Barrow, AK.

1939 – "The Wizard of Oz" premiered in Hollywood, CA. Judy Garland became famous for the movie’s song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 15, 2012

bullheaded (adj.)

BOOL hed id

blindly stubborn

The proper education of an umpire is directed toward the development of three capacities — sharp sight, instant decision, and resolution enough to make the decision stick. Resolute, of course, does not mean bullheaded. A good umpire is not to be intimidated, not even by the bleachers spilling onto the field, roaring; yet if they pull the rule book on him, he has humility enough to reverse a wrong decision gracefully.
Gerald W. Johnson     January 1964

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 15, 2012

“Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level.”

– Quentin Crisp

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 14, 2012

1248 – The rebuilding of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, began after being destroyed by fire.

1756 – Daniel Boone married 16-year-old Rebecca Bryan.

1805 – A peace treaty between the U.S. and Tunis was signed on board the USS Constitution.

1848 – The Oregon Territory was established.

1873 – "Field and Stream" magazine published its first issue.

1880 – The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany was completed after 632 years of rebuilding.

1888 – A patent for the electric meter was granted to Oliver B. Shallenberger.

1896 – Gold was discovered in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Within the next year more than 30,000 people rushed to the area to look for gold.

1900 – An international force, consisting of eight nations, lifted the siege of Peking. It was an end to the Boxer Rebellion, which was aimed at purging China of foreigners.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 14, 2012

bugbear (noun)

BUHG bair

a needless fear; originally, a hobgoblin that devoured naughty children

Oddly enough, the same Americans who do not hesitate to confuse, misuse, duplicate, and miscegenate words remain absurdly conventional about grammar, especially in print. On second thoughts, there is nothing odd about it, for it is part of the same uncertain desire to show off knowledge, fostered in this case by the etiquette of the “Write It Right” books and editorial style sheets. Yet when everybody “knows enough” not to split an infinitive, or makes some similar bugbear equivalent to a knowledge of the mother tongue, it is perhaps time to reconsider what the schools and the books should teach as good English.
Jacques Barzun     January 1946

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 14, 2012

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”

– Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 13, 2012

1521 – Present day Mexico City was captured by Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortez from the Aztec Indians.

1704 – The Battle of Blenheim was fought during the War of the Spanish Succession, resulting in a victory for English and Austrian forces.

1792 – French revolutionaries took the entire French royal family and imprisoned them.

1784 – The United States Legislature met for the final time in Annapolis, MD.

1846 – The American Flag was raised for the first time in Los Angeles, CA.

1867 – "Under the Gaslight", by Augustin Daly, opened in New York City, NY.

1876 – The Reciprocity Treaty between the U.S. and Hawaii was ratified.

1889 – A patent for a coin-operated telephone was issued to William Gray.

1907 – The first taxicab started on the streets of New York City.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 13, 2012

buffet (verb)

BUH fit

to struggle against

A birch canoe is the right thing in the right place. Maine’s rivers are violently impulsive and spasmodic in their running. Sometimes you have a foamy rapid, sometimes a broad shoal, sometimes a barricade of boulders with gleams of white water springing through or leaping over its rocks. Your boat for voyaging here must be stout enough to buffet the rapid, light enough to skim the shallow, agile enough to vault over, or lithe enough to slip through, the barricade.
Theodore Winthrop     September 1862

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 13, 2012

“Here’s a rule I recommend: Never practice two vices at once.”

– Tallulah Bankhead (1903 – 1968)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 12, 2012

1676 – "King Phillip’s War" came to an end with the killing of Indian chief King Phillip. The war between the Indians and the Europeans lasted for two years.

1851 – Isaac Singer was issued a patent on the double-headed sewing machine.

1865 – Disinfectant was used for the first time during surgery by Joseph Lister.

1867 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson sparked a move to impeach him when he defied Congress by suspending Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

1877 – Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and made the first sound recording.

1879 – The first National Archery Association tournament took place in Chicago, IL.

1898 – Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. Hawaii was later given territorial status and was given Statehood in 1959.

1898 – The Spanish-American War was ended with the signing of the peace protocol. The U.S. acquired Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Hawaii was also annexed.

1915 – "Of Human Bondage", by William Somerset Maugham, was first published.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 12, 2012

browbeat (verb)

BROW beet

to intimidate with harsh words or threats; bully

In the typical case, FBI agents do not initially take a man into custody for questioning, but interview him at his home or place of work. They ask him casually about the offense, not probing too deeply on the first try. The agents do not bully or browbeat the suspect into incriminating himself. They operate on precisely the opposite theory, that the suspect’s normal reaction will be to try to exculpate himself. Rarely will the suspect refuse to talk at all, for he fears that this will be taken by the agents as an admission of guilt.
Robert Cipes     September 1966

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 12, 2012

“Don’t stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.”

– George Burns (1896 – 1996))

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 11, 2012

1860 – The first successful silver mill in America began operations. The mill was in Virginia City, NV.

1874 – A patent for the sprinkler head was given to Harry S. Parmelee.

1877 – The two moons of Mars were discovered by Asaph Hall, an American astronomer. He named them Phobos and Deimos.

1896 – Harvey Hubbell received a patent for the electric light bulb socket with a pull-chain.

1909 – The American ship Arapahoe became the first to ever use the SOS distress signal off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC.

1924 – Newsreel pictures were taken of U.S. presidential candidates for the first time.

1934 – Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay, received federal prisoners for the first time.

1941 – The Atlantic Charter was signed by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

1942 – During World War II, Pierre Laval publicly announced "the hour of liberation for France is the hour when Germany wins the war."

1945 – The Allies informed Japan that they would determine Emperor Hirohito’s future status after Japan’s surrender.

1951 – The first major league baseball game to be televised in color was broadcast. The Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Boston Braves 8-1.

1954 – Seven years of fighting came to an end in Indochina. A formal peace was in place for the French and the Communist Vietminh.

1962 – Andrian Nikolayev, of the Soviet Union, was launched on a 94-hour flight. He was the third Russian to go into space.

1965 – The U.S. conducted a second launch of "Surveyor-SD 2" for a landing on the Moon surface test.

1971 – Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins got his 500th and 501st home runs of his major league baseball career.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 12, 2012

brood (verb)


to hover or loom as if to envelop; hang low

It is nine o’clock upon a summer Sunday morning, in the year sixteen hundred and something. The sun looks down brightly on a little forest settlement, around whose expanding fields the great American wilderness recedes each day, withdrawing its bears and wolves and Indians into an ever remoter distance, — not yet so far but that a stout wooden gate at each end of the village’s street indicates that there is something outside which must stay outside, if possible. It would look very busy and thriving in this little place, to-day, but for the Sabbath stillness which broods over everything with almost an excess of calm. Even the smoke ascends more faintly than usual from the chimneys of these abundant log-huts and scanty framed houses, and since three o’clock yesterday afternoon not a stroke of this world’s work has been done.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson     September 1863

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 11, 2012

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

– Joseph Heller (1923 – 1999) (Catch-22)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 9, 2012

1678 – American Indians sold the Bronx to Jonas Bronck for 400 beads.

1790 – The Columbia returned to Boston Harbor after a three-year voyage. It was the first ship to carry the American flag around the world.

1831 – The first steam locomotive began its first trip between Schenectady and Albany, NY.

1842 – The U.S. and Canada signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which solved a border dispute.

1848 – Martin Van Buren was nominated for president by the Free-Soil Party in Buffalo, NY.

1854 – "Walden" was published by Henry David Thoreau.

1859 – The escalator was patented by Nathan Ames.

1892 – Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.

1893 – "Gut Holz" was published. It was America’s first bowling magazine.

1910 – A.J. Fisher received a patent for the electric washing machine.

1930 – Betty Boop had her beginning in "Dizzy Dishes" created by Max Fleischer.

1936 – Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Berlin Olympics. He was the first American to win four medals in one Olympics.

1942 – Mohandas K. Gandhi was arrested Britain. He was not released until 1944.

1942 – CBS radio debuted "Our Secret Weapon."

1944 – The Forest Service and Wartime Advertising Council created "Smokey the Bear."

1945 – The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The bombing came three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. About 74,000 people were killed. Japan surrendered August 14.

1945 – The first network television broadcast occurred in Washington, DC. The program announced the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan.

1956 – The first statewide, state-supported educational television network went on the air in Alabama.

1965 – Singapore proclaimed its independence from the Malaysian Federation.

1973 – The U.S. Senate committee investigating the Watergate affair filed suit against President Richard Nixon.

1974 – U.S. President Richard Nixon formally resigned. Gerald R. Ford took his place, and became the 38th president of the U.S.

1975 – The New Orleans Superdome was officially opened when the Saints played the Houston Oilers in exhibition football. The new Superdome cost $163 million to build.

1981 – Major league baseball teams resumed play at the conclusion of the first mid-season players’ strike.

1984 – Daley Thompson, of Britain, won his second successive Olympic decathlon.

1985 – Arthur J. Walker, a retired Navy officer, was found guilty of seven counts of spying for the Soviet Union.

1988 – Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton Oilers) was traded. The trade was at Gretzky’s request. He was sent to the Los Angeles Kings.

1996 – Boris Yeltsin was sworn in as president of Russia for the second time.

1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin fired Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and his entire cabinet for the fourth time in 17 months.

2001 – U.S. President George W. Bush announced he would support federal funding for limited medical research on embryonic stem cells.

2004 – Donald Duck received the 2,257th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2004 – Trump Hotel and Casion Resorts announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

from On-This-

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Word of the Day – August 9, 2012

bromide (noun)

BROH mighd

an unoriginal remark spoken at what seems to be the appropriate moment for it; commonplace or conventional expression; trite saying; platitude

Chances are that more than a few bromides you utter originated with Longfellow. Indeed, they may have originated in one of the more than sixty poems he published in this magazine. “The patter of little feet:” — “The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small,” “One, if by land, and two, if by sea,” “This is the forest primeval,” “Ships that pass in the night,” “Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, / and as silently steal away,” are famously his; but so are “Into each life some rain must fall”; “footprints on the sands of time,” and “a boy’s will is the wind’s will,” famous thanks to Frost.
Peter Davison     February 2001

Although he did not invent the word bromide, the American humorist Gelett Burgess popularized the word with his 1906 article, “The Sulphitic Theory, or Are You a Bromide?,” in which he separates people into the Bromides, who think conventionally, and the Sulphites, who do their own thinking. “The accepted Bromidic belief,” he wrote, “is that each of the ordinary acts of life is, and necessarily must be, accompanied by its own especial remark or opinion.” Among the examples of bromides Burgess offered were “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like,” and “It isn’t the money — it’s the principle of the thing.”

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 9, 2012

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

– Lenin (1870 – 1924)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – August 1, 2012

1498 – Christopher Columbus landed on "Isla Santa" (Venezuela).

1619 – The first black Americans (20) land at Jamestown, VA.

1774 – Oxygen was isolated from air successfully by chemist Carl Wilhelm and scientist Joseph Priestly.

1790 – The first U.S. census was completed with a total population of 3,929,214 recorded. The areas included were the present states of Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

1834 – Slavery was outlawed in the British empire with an emancipation bill.

1873 – Andrew S. Hallidie successfully tested a cable car. The design was done for San Francisco, CA.

1876 – Colorado became the 38th state to join the United States.

1893 – Shredded wheat was patented by Henry Perky and William Ford.

1894 – The first Sino-Japanese War erupted. The dispute was over control of Korea.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – August 1, 2012

broadside (noun)

BRAWD sighd

a vigorous or abusive volley of criticism or denunciation: a figurative use of the tactic of simultaneously firing all the guns on one side of a warship

In 1939 the Dancing Masters of America recruited Irene Castle, the doyenne of American ballroom dancing, to deliver a broadside at their annual convention. “Jitterbug dancing is neither graceful nor beautiful,” she proclaimed. “One should float to the music.” Meanwhile, the Dancing Teachers Business Association warned that Lindy dancing was “a form of hysteria that will prove harmful to the poise of the present generation.”
Robert P. Crease     February 1986

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – August 1, 2012

“Bureaucrats write memoranda both because they appear to be busy when they are writing and because the memos, once written, immediately become proof that they were busy.”

– Charles Peters

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – July 30, 2012

1502 – Christopher Columbus landed at Guanaja in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras during his fourth voyage.

1619 – The first representative assembly in America convened in Jamestown, VA. (House of Burgesses)

1729 – The city of Baltimore was founded in Maryland.

1733 – The first Freemasons lodge opened in what would later become the United States.

1898 – "Scientific America" carried the first magazine automobile ad. The ad was for the Winton Motor Car Company of Cleveland, OH.

1932 – Walt Disney’s "Flowers and Trees" premiered. It was the first Academy Award winning cartoon and first cartoon short to use Technicolor.

1937 – The American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) was organized as a part of the American Federation of Labor.

1942 – The WAVES were created by legislation signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The members of the Women’s Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service were a part of the U.S. Navy.

1945 – The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship had just delivered key components of the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the Pacific island of Tinian. Only 316 out of 1,196 men aboard survived the attack.

1956 – The phrase "In God We Trust" was adopted as the U.S. national motto.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson signed into law Social Security Act that established Medicare and Medicaid. It went into effect the following year.

1968 – Ron Hansen (Washington Senators) made the first unassisted triple play in the major leagues in 41 years.

1974 – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon for blocking the Watergate investigation and for abuse of power.

1987 – Indian troops arrived in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, to disarm the Tamil Tigers and enforce a peace pact.

1990 – In Spring Hill, TN, the first Saturn automobile rolled off the assembly line.

1998 – A group of Ohio machine-shop workers (who call themselves the Lucky 13) won the $295.7 million Powerball jackpot. It was the largest-ever American lottery.

2000 – Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were married.

2001 – Lance Armstrong became the first American to win three consecutive Tours de France.

2003 – In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagon Beetle rolled off an assembly line.

from On-This-

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Word of the Day – July 30, 2012

broach (verb)


to bring up for conversation or discussion; introduce

It was in New York that it was first suspected that Charles Dickens would not be likely to approve American slavery; he had also at the Hartford dinner broached the very unpopular subject of an “international copyright law”; and the newspapers began extensively to exhibit that unfriendly feeling toward him which afterward became so violent and even malignant.
George W. Putnam     October 1870

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – July 30, 2012

“In modern America, anyone who attempts to write satirically about the events of the day finds it difficult to concoct a situation so bizarre that it may not actually come to pass while the article is still on the presses.”

– Calvin Trillin (1935 – )

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – July 28, 2012

1821 – Peru declared its independence from Spain.

1865 – The American Dental Association proposed its first code of ethics.

1866 – The metric system was legalized by the U.S. Congress for the standardization of weights and measures throughout the United States.

1868 – The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was declared in effect. The amendment guaranteed due process of law.

1896 – The city of Miami, FL was incorporated.

1914 – World War I officially began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

1932 – Federal troops forcibly dispersed the "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington, DC. They were demanding money they were not scheduled to receive until 1945.

1941 – Plans for the Pentagon were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

1942 – L.A. Thatcher received a patent for a coin-operated mailbox. The device stamped envelopes when money was inserted.

1945 – A U.S. Army bomber crashed into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building. 14 people were killed and 26 were injured.

1951 – The Walt Disney film "Alice in Wonderland" was released.

1965 – U.S. President Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.

1973 – Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett were married.

1982 – San Francisco, CA became the first city in the U.S. to ban handguns.

1991 – Dennis Martinez (Montreal Expos) pitched the 13th perfect game in major league baseball history.

1994 – Kenny Rogers (Texas Rangers) pitched the 14th perfect game in major league baseball history.

1998 – Bell Atlantic and GTE announced $52 billion deal that created the second-largest phone company.

1998 – Serbian military forces seized the Kosovo town of Malisevo.

1998 – Monica Lewinsky received blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with U.S. President Clinton.

2000 – Kathie Lee Gifford made her final appearance as co-host of the ABC talk show "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee."

2006 – Researchers announced that two ancient reptiles had been found off Australia. The Umoonasaurus and Opallionectes were the first of their kind to be found in the period soon after the Jurassic era.

from On-This-

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Word of the Day – July 28, 2012

bristle (verb)

BRI suhl

to react with irritation, anger or fear; display temper or indignation (“bristling” is the noun)

I recall a scene the morning after my first fight with Jack Dempsey as one of the strangest I ever experienced. It had me disconcerted, as well as considerably embarrassed. After that bout in the rain in Philadelphia it seemed to me proper to go and pay my respects to Jack. He had been severely punished, and must feel pretty blue after losing the championship. The next afternoon I went to his hotel. He had a suite of rooms, and when I got there Jack was in an inside bedroom. In the outer room were gathered the Dempsey entourage of manager, handlers, trainers, and disappointed followers. They greeted me with an instant bristling of hostility. I was the focus of scowls and angry, sullen glances. Gene Normile was in tears. Jerry the Greek came to me, shook his fist, and mumbled hoarsely, “You can’t licka the ‘Chump,’ you can’t licka the ‘Chump.’” Jack Dempsey always inspired loyalty, and this was it. They bitterly resented my defeating him.
Gene Tunney     June 1939

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – July 28, 2012

“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.”

– P. J. O’Rourke (1947 – )

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – July 16, 2012

1765 – Prime Minister of England Lord Greenville resigned and was replaced by Lord Rockingham.

1774 – Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed the treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji, ending their six-year war.

1779 – American troops under General Anthony Wayne capture Stony Point, NY.

1790 – The District of Columbia, or Washington, DC, was established as the permanent seat of the United States Government.

1791 – Louis XVI was suspended from office until he agreed to ratify the constitution.

1845 – The New York Yacht Club hosted the first American boating regatta.

1862 – David G. Farragut became the first rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.

[Read more…]

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Word of the Day – July 16, 2012

bridle (verb)

BRIGH duhl

to restrain; hold back

If jazz is a reflection of life, as it seems to be, why then has it aroused such antagonism among many people? First, I think, because it challenges complacency. Secondly, because it refuses to be bridled by the accepted and equivocal standards of society. Thirdly, because it is never still; it does not hesitate to press forward on every boundary of the emotions no matter how they may be denied. But most of all it has tried to speak without guile or circumvention to the troubled mind and bewildered heart. As long as doubt and loneliness exist this music will try to speak to them.
Arnold Sundgaard     July 1955

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Quotation of the Day – July 16, 2012

“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”

– Michael Crichton (1942 – 2008) (Caltech Michelin Lecture, January 17, 2003)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – July 12, 2012

1096 – Crusaders under Peter the Hermit reached Sofia, Bulgaria. There they met their Byzantine escort, which brought them safely the rest of the way to Constantinople. by August 1.

1543 – England’s King Henry VIII married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.

1690 – Protestant forces led by William of Orange defeated the Roman Catholic army of James II.

1691 – William III defeated the allied Irish and French armies at the Battle of Aughrim, Ireland.

1790 – The French Assembly approved a Civil Constitution providing for the election of priests and bishops.

1806 – The Confederation of the Rhine was established in Germany.

1862 – The U.S. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor.

1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln witnessed the battle where Union forces repelled Jubal Early’s army on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

1912 – The first foreign-made film to premiere in America, "Queen Elizabeth", was shown.

1931 – A major league baseball record for doubles was set as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs combined for a total of 23.

1933 – A minimum wage of 40 cents an hour was established in the U.S.

1941 – Moscow was bombed by the German Luftwaffe for the first time.

1946 – "The Adventures of Sam Spade" was heard on ABC radio for the first time.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a highway modernization program, with costs to be shared by federal and state governments.

1954 – The Major League Baseball Players Association was organized in Cleveland, OH.

1957 – The U.S. surgeon general, Leroy E. Burney, reported that there was a direct link between smoking and lung cancer.

1960 – The first Etch-A-Sketch went on sale.

1974 – John Ehrlichman, a former aide to U.S. President Nixon, and three others were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Daniel Ellsberg’s former psychiatrist.

1982 – "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" broke all box-office records by surpassing the $100-million mark of ticket sales in the first 31 days of its opening.

1982 – The last of the distinctive-looking Checker taxicabs rolled off the assembly line in Kalamazoo, MI.

1984 – Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale named U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York to be his running mate. Ferraro was the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket.

1990 – Russian republic president Boris N. Yeltsin announced his resignation from the the Soviet Communist Party.

1998 – 1.7 billion people watched soccer’s World Cup finals between France and Brazil. France won 3-0.

1999 – Walt Disney Co. announced that it was merging all of its Internet operations together with Infoseek into

2000 – Russia launched the Zvezda after two years of delays. The module was built to be the living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS.)

2000 – The movie "X-Men" premiered in New York.

from On-This-

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Word of the Day – July 12, 2012

bravura (noun)

bruh VYOO: ruh

a display of skill and technique

With maturity Cash grew into his voice. To read his obituaries, one might think that his credibility as a singer depended entirely on his credibility as a man. True, he never developed his upper range to the point where he could trust it, and the clear emphasis he gave every single word would have precluded gliding from note to note even if he had been able to. Among the singers of his own generation he lacked the bravura and the sheer lung power of such country Carusos as Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Ferlin Husky, and the young Waylon Jennings. We tend not to value deep voices as much as we do high, soaring ones, perhaps because the effort involved in producing a low note is less apparent. Something about hearing a singer go low strikes most ears as a trick, a human special effect. The bass singer does the grunt work in doo-wop and rhythm and blues, sometimes literally. There is a style of country music, however, in which a male singer’s descent to a virile low note at the end of a phrase, or for the closing chorus, supplies the same payoff as a soul singer’s falsetto — one conveys masculine certainty and the other uncontrollable passion, but each signifies a moment of truth. No country singer was better at this than Cash, and few singers in any field of music have been as expressive or as instantly recognizable.
Francis Davis     March 2004

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Quotation of the Day – July 12, 2012

“You get fifteen democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions.”

– Senator Patrick Leahy (1940 – ) (May 1990)

… from the Quotations Page

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This Day in History – July 10, 2012

1609 – The Catholic states in Germany set up a league under the leadership of Maximillian of Bavaria.

1679 – The British crown claimed New Hampshire as a royal colony.

1776 – The statue of King George III was pulled down in New York City.

1778 – In support of the American Revolution, Louis XVI declared war on England.

1821 – U.S. troops took possession of Florida. The territory was sold by Spain.

1832 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson vetoed legislation to re-charter the Second Bank of the United States.

1866 – Edison P. Clark patented his indelible pencil.

1890 – Wyoming became the 44th state to join the United States.

1900 – ‘His Master’s Voice’, was registered with the U.S. Patent Office. The logo of the Victor Recording Company, and later, RCA Victor, shows the dog, Nipper, looking into the horn of a gramophone machine.

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Word of the Day – July 10, 2012

bracing (adj.)

BRAY sing

stimulating; invigorating

Geneva is a glaciated Paris. Here the mechanics of banking, diplomacy, and sophisticated bourgeois living have asphyxiated passion. The silvery blue of Lake Leman suggests money and oblivion. Geneva: I think of Calvinism and gray stones and too many jewelry shops. Despite the bracing winds and the swans, Lake Leman seems but another enclosure. The wrought iron, the pollarded trees, the conical hedges, the crystalline dawn haze where Lake Leman meets the Rhone, the Gothic monuments and gabled roofs, the marble fireplaces and the valences in my hotel room — all are exquisite, but it is an austere and hollow beauty. Joseph Conrad called Geneva “the very perfection of mediocrity.”
Robert D. Kaplan     January 1999

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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Quotation of the Day – July 10, 2012

“Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.”

– Italian Proverb

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This Day in History – July 9, 2012

0118 – Hadrian, Rome’s new emperor, made his entry into the city.

0455 – Avitus, the Roman military commander in Gaul, became Emperor of the West.

1540 – England’s King Henry VIII had his 6-month-old marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, annulled.

1609 – In a letter to the crown, the emperor Rudolf II granted Bohemia freedom of worship.

1755 – General Edward Braddock was killed when French and Indian troops ambushed his force of British regulars and colonial militia.

1776 – The American Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Gen. George Washington’s troops in New York.

1789 – In Versailles, the French National Assembly declared itself the Constituent Assembly and began to prepare a French constitution.

1790 – The Swedish navy captured one third of the Russian fleet at the naval battle of Svensksund in the Baltic Sea.

1792 – S.L. Mitchell of Columbia College in New York City became the first Professor of Agriculture.

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Word of the Day – July 9, 2012

boondoggle (noun)

BOO:N dah guhl

a trifling or pointless project financed by public funds

Denver International Airport: a $4 billion ghost field. Until computerized robotic baggage handlers can be made to function properly, the airport’s towers, hangars, and shops will lie idle, awaiting the first pulse of commerce. Denver International can scarcely be invoked in the press without being tagged one of the costliest boondoggles ever.
J. E. Lighter     March 1995

Boondoggle was originally a Boy Scout term for a wood or bone ring through which scouts slipped a neckerchief, or for a braided leather lanyard they made from which to hang whistles, compasses and keys. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the word’s origin as unknown, but there is reason to believe an American scoutmaster, Robert H. Link (d. 1957), coined it. The word acquired its political meaning in 1935, after a New York Times article described an investigation into the wasteful spending of government money in New York City during the Depression. It was headlined: “$3,187,000 Relief Is Spent to Teach Jobless to Play.” A sub-headline read, “Boon Doggles Made.” A city commission learned that the money was spent teaching people on relief pastimes such as ballet and tap dance. One witness said he taught boon doggles, which he described as “gadgets” such as leather belts.

… from More Words That Make A Difference

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