Santiago, Chile, Founded (1541)

Santiago is the capital and the largest city of Chile. Just months after it was founded on the banks of the Mapocho River by Spanish conquistadors, the settlement was nearly wiped out by the indigenous Mapuche peoples. Today, it is one of the largest cities in South America, having survived the 1647 earthquake that leveled the city, frequent flooding from the Mapocho, and a number of other calamities. What meteorological phenomenon traps smog in the city? Discuss
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Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is a mixture of silver particles and water that has antimicrobial properties. Formerly used on external wounds and burns to prevent infection, colloidal silver is cited by some alternative-health practitioners as a beneficial nutritional supplement and a powerful antibiotic that is relatively safe for human consumption. However, most members of the mainstream medical community warn users that it can lead to argyria, a rare but permanent condition that turns the skin what color? Discuss
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Lateran Treaty Signed Between Italy and the Vatican (1929)

The Lateran Treaty ended the political dispute between the Italian government and the Papacy that began when Italy took Rome as its capital in 1871 and limited papal sovereignty to just a few buildings. The treaty created Vatican City and gave the Holy See sovereignty there. Though Italy was under fascist control when the treaty was signed, successive governments have upheld the agreement. The Lateran Treaty established Roman Catholicism as the state religion of Italy. When did this change?
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The Murders at Wright’s Taliesin

Famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright led a turbulent life rife with personal tragedy as well as several failed marriages. In 1909, Wright left his first wife and eloped to Europe with Mamah Cheney, who was also married at the time. When the pair returned to the US, Wright began building a new home, called Taliesin. In August 1914, while Wright was away, one of his workers set fire to Taliesin and murdered 7 people with an axe, including Cheney and her 2 children. Who survived the attack? Discuss
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St. Sarkis’s Day

In Armenia, St. Sarkis is associated with predictions about love and romance. It is customary for young lovers to put out crumbs for birds and watch to see which way the birds fly off, for it is believed that their future spouse will come from the same direction. It is also traditional to leave some pokhint—a dish made of flour, butter, and honey—outside the door on St. Sarkis’s Day. According to legend, when St. Sarkis was battling the Georgians, the roasted wheat in his pocket miraculously turned into pokhint. Discuss
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Tightrope Between the Towers

Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained fame for his illegal 1974 walk between the former Twin Towers in New York. After six years of planning, Petit used a 450-pound (204-kg) cable and a 26-foot (8-m), 55-pound (25-kg) balancing pole to make eight crossings between the still unfinished towers—walking, jumping, and lying down on the wire for more than an hour before being arrested when he returned to the tower roof. What punishment did Petit receive for his stunt? Discuss
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Jules Gabriel Verne (1828)

Verne was a French novelist credited with originating the modern genre of science fiction. Early on, he was interested in theater and wrote librettos for operas. Later, he drew upon his knowledge of science and geography to write romances of extraordinary journeys, which quickly became very popular. He wrote more than 50 books in his lifetime, including A Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. One of his books explores a five-week journey by what? Discuss
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Émile Zola Is Put on Trial for Publishing “J’Accuse” (1898)

A Jewish officer in the French army, Alfred Dreyfus was falsely convicted of treason in 1894. When officers discovered that the evidence against Dreyfus was false—and that he was most likely a victim of anti-Semitism—they covered it up. Writer Émile Zola exposed the scandal by publishing in a newspaper an open letter titled “J’accuse.” Zola was tried and convicted of criminal libel but fled the country, which was divided by the scandal. What happened to Dreyfus and Zola? Discuss
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Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (1867)

Wilder was the American author of a classic series of children’s books based on her childhood. Born in Wisconsin after the Civil War, she traveled with her pioneer family throughout the Midwest by covered wagon for years before settling in the Dakota Territory. As a farmer and mother she struggled for years. Her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods was not published until 1932, when she was 65. How many of her books, which spawned a popular TV show, were published after her death? Discuss
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Diplodocus

Due to a wealth of fossil remains, the first of which was found in the late 1870s, Diplodocus is one of the best-studied dinosaurs. The herbivorous dinosaur roamed western North America about 145 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period, walked on four legs, and had an extremely small brain and skull. One of the longest known sauropods, Diplodocus could grow to be 88 ft (27 m) long, most of which was neck and tail. With what man-made structure is it often compared? Discuss
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Charles Lindbergh (1902)

In 1927, Lindbergh, an American aviator, made the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic in 33.5 hours, landing in Paris to a hero’s welcome. He returned to the US a celebrity but moved to England in 1932 to escape the media frenzy surrounding the kidnapping and murder of his son. Returning to the US in 1940, he faced criticism for opposing US entry into WWII. Still, he flew combat missions for the US during the war. He helped invent what device that made open-heart surgery possible? Discuss
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Street Art

Street art is any art developed in public spaces and includes traditional graffiti, stencil graffiti, sticker art, video projections, street installations, and posters. Though it usually refers to art of an illicit nature, the term is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art. Some street artists have even achieved mainstream recognition and commercial success. Who are some prominent street artists? Discuss
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Quebec Winter Carnival

The celebration of winter that has been held since the mid-1950s in Quebec City ranks among the great carnivals of the world. It begins with the Queen’s Ball at the Château Frontenac and a parade of illuminated floats. More than 40,000 tons of snow are trucked in to construct a large snow castle, which is illuminated at night and which serves as a mock jail. Bonhomme Carnaval, the festival’s seven-foot-high snowman mascot dressed in a red cap and traditional sash, roams the streets teasing children and looking for people to lock up in the Ice Palace. …read more

Norman Rockwell (1894)

Rockwell was an American illustrator whose idealized scenes of family life in small-town America gained enormous popularity with the public. His illustrations appeared in major periodicals such as Collier’s and Life. From 1916 to 1963, he produced 317 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, and during WWII his patriotic posters were distributed by the government. What unusually serious subject did the sentimental illustrator cover for Look magazine later in his career? Discuss
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Harold Macmillan Delivers “Wind of Change” Speech (1960)

British statesman Harold Macmillan held several government posts during World War II, including minister resident in North Africa. After serving in several other positions, he became prime minister in 1957. Macmillan accelerated Britain’s decolonization, especially in Africa. In a memorable speech to the South African parliament in 1960, he said a “wind of change” was sweeping across Africa, which was experiencing a growth in national consciousness. What were the reactions to the speech? Discuss
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onism – n. the awareness of how little of the world you’ll…

onism – n. the awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience

Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

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onism n.

the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

Mourning Sickness

Disparaged by critics as the new opiate of the masses, “mourning sickness” is the relatively recent phenomenon of collective public grieving for murder victims and celebrities who have died. Princess Diana’s death in 1997 prompted one of the most widespread examples of this in the UK, where makeshift memorials quickly became gathering places for public displays of mourning. The advent of the Internet provided the public with a new forum in which to share their grief. Who was Anna Svidersky? Discuss
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George Halas, “Papa Bear” (1895)

Halas was a pioneering football player, coach, and owner of one of the 11 original teams in the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the Decatur Staleys. Founded in 1920, the APFA went on to become the National Football League (NFL) in 1922—the same year Halas moved his team to Chicago and renamed it the Bears. Under his leadership, the Chicago Bears won seven NFL championships. In addition to coaching, Halas also played what position during the 1920s? Discuss
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