Words! Words! Words!

Presidential heroes and a celebrity zero.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jun 12, 2018 7:30:10 AM

On June 12, 1944, Lieutenant John F. Kennedy received the U.S. Navy’s highest honor for gallantry for his heroic actions as a gunboat pilot during World War II. The future president also received a Purple Heart for wounds received during battle. On June 12, 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenged Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany. And on June 12, 1994, “someone” murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in California. That someone has never been convicted in a criminal court.

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Topics: vocabulary, vocabulary quiz

Stella was bad. Very bad.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   May 8, 2018 10:03:57 AM

On this day in 1988, Stella Nickell was convicted on two counts of murder. She was the first person to be found guilty of violating the Federal Anti-Tampering Act after putting cyanide in Excedrin capsules in an effort to kill her husband.

Stella and Bruce Nickell married in 1976, shortly after seven people were killed in Chicago, Illinois, from poisoned Tylenol pills. According to Stella’s daughter from a previous marriage, Stella had begun planning Bruce’s murder almost from the honeymoon. The Chicago Tylenol incident (which was never solved) had a lasting impact on Stella, who decided that cyanide would be a good method of murder.

On this day in 1792, Congress passed the second portion of the Militia Act, requiring that every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years be enrolled in the militia.

And on this day in 1963, with the release of Dr. No, moviegoers got their first look–down the barrel of a gun–at the super-spy James Bond (codename: 007), the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary quiz

To the moon and back in a Mustang, all on $100.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Apr 17, 2018 7:30:00 AM

On this day in 1970, with the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returned to Earth. The Ford Mustang, a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, was officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York in 1964. That same day, the new car also debuted in Ford showrooms across America and almost 22,000 Mustangs were immediately snapped up by buyers. On this day in 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at age 84.

Let’s see how you’ll go down in vocabulary history today.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary quiz

Now here’s a quiz you can’t refuse.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 27, 2018 11:44:04 AM

On March 26, 1973, the actor Marlon Brando declined the Academy Award for Best Actor for his career-reviving performance in The Godfather. The Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather attended the ceremony in Brando’s place, stating that the actor “very regretfully” could not accept the award, as he was protesting Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans in film. Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of the Toyota Motor Corporation, which in 2008 surpassed America’s General Motors as the world’s largest automaker, died at the age of 57 in Japan on this day 1952. The University of Oregon defeated The Ohio State University 46–33 on this day in 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Final Four, as the tournament became known, has grown exponentially in size and popularity since 1939. Take our quiz and see if you’re the godfather of vocabulary, the captain of quality, and the overall champion.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary quiz

It’s March 20. Get ready to put some spring in your step. But first some dark history.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 20, 2018 9:11:41 AM

According to scholars at the University of Paris, the Black Death is created on this day in 1345, from what they call “a triple conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius, occurring on the 20th of March 1345.″ The Black Death, also known as the Plague, swept across Europe, the Middle East and Asia during the 14th century, leaving an estimated 25 million dead in its wake. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published on this day in 1852. The novel sold 300,000 copies within three months and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” And on this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln’s sons, Willie and Tad, are diagnosed with the measles, adding to the president’s many troubles.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary, vocabulary quiz

Key to survival: Rock and roll with the punches

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Mar 13, 2018 7:30:00 AM

On March 13, 1965, guitar legend Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds to chase the Blues. On this date in 1992, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck in Turkey, killing (by some estimates) 2,000 people. And on this date in 1868, the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson began. Let’s see how unshakable your vocab skills are today. Will they stand up to trial? Will you strum a positive chord?

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Topics: vocabulary, vocabulary quiz

A New Queen…and Other 20th Century Hits

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 6, 2018 11:10:16 AM

Queen Elizabeth IIOn this day in 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the older of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her father’s death; she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at age 27.

On this day in 1911, President Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, served for two terms from 1981 to 1989. Known as The Great Communicator, he was the first actor to be elected president after two centuries of mainly lawyers and soldiers.

On this day in 1937, John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, the story of the bond between two migrant workers, was published. He adapted the book into a three-act play, which was produced the same year. The story brought national attention to Steinbeck’s work, which had started to catch on in 1935 with the publication of his first successful novel, Tortilla Flat.

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Topics: vocabulary quiz

Today in History

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 23, 2018 7:59:09 AM

Dog with FrisbeeOn January 23, 1968, the U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo, Commander Lloyd Bucher as skipper, was seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and confidence in the foreign policy of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

On this day in 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company rolled out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees.

And on this day in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell was granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary quiz

A last call, a jazz hall, and a departing know-it-all

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 16, 2018 8:32:22 AM

jazz playerOn this day in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was ratified and became the law of the land. The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. By the late teens, the ill effects of alcohol were rampant throughout America. Some say the 18th Amendment was just in time.

Jazz has been called “America’s classical music,” a label that does more than just recognize its American origins. The label also makes the case that jazz is worthy of aesthetic consideration alongside music usually thought of as “classical.” In the current era, when programs of Duke Ellington and J.S. Bach often draw the same highbrow crowds, that argument hardly seems controversial. In the 1930s, however, the notion was almost laughable, which is what made Benny Goodman’s January 16, 1938, concert at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall so revolutionary. Goodman and his supporting cast claimed a new place for jazz on the American cultural scene that night, in what has come to be seen as the most important jazz concert in history.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary, vocabulary quiz

Let’s explore some words today.

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Jan 9, 2018 7:30:00 AM

Christopher ColumbusOn this day in 1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, saw three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and described them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Typically depicted as having a woman’s head and torso, a fishtail instead of legs and holding a mirror and comb, mermaids live in the ocean and, according to some legends, can take on a human shape and marry mortal men. The classic rags-to-riches story got a macho spin in the Oscar-winning Rocky, which was written by its star, Sylvester Stallone, and began filming on this day in 1976. In 1887, on one of the worst days of the “worst winter in the West,” nearly an inch of snow fell every hour for 16 hours, impeding the ability of already starving cattle to find food. Montana ranchers alone lost an estimated 362,000 head of cattle, more than half the territory’s herd.

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Topics: vocabulary test, vocabulary, vocabulary quiz

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