Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, AKA John Paul (1763)
The son of a German pastor, Richter initially planned to follow in his father's footsteps, but after studying theology at university, he found a new passion in writing. He published two poorly received satirical works before suffering a spiritual crisis that profoundly altered his outlook and writing style. His next book, Die unsichtbare Loge, The Invisible Lodge, a romance published in 1793, was the first of his many works to receive acclaim. Who inspired his pen name, Jean Paul? Discuss

Burrhus Frederic "B.F." Skinner (1904)
Forgoing his early goal of being a writer, Skinner earned his doctorate in psychology at Harvard, where he later spent much of his teaching career. A leading exponent of the behavioral approach to psychology, Skinner maintained that learning occurs as a result of an organism responding to, or operating on, its environment, a phenomenon he called operant conditioning. Skinner did extensive research with animals and, during WWII, worked for the US government training what animal to guide missiles?

Sir Richard Frances Burton (1821)
Burton lived a life of adventure and scandal as an explorer, translator, fencer, ethnologist, poet, and spy. He spoke at least 25 languages and put these skills to use translating works like the Arabian Nights and Kama Sutra into English. His linguistic skills also helped him pass himself off as a Muslim so that he could visit the forbidden holy cities of Mecca and Medina. After he died, his wife burned 40 years' worth of his diaries. What caused the distinctive scars on his face?

This Day in History

The First Rock Major Concert Is Held, Gets Shut Down (1952)
On the night of March 21, 1952, more than 20,000 fans tried to pack into the Cleveland Arena, which had an actual capacity of about half that number. Consequently, authorities shut down that evening's concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, just minutes into the opening act, Paul Williams and his Hucklebuckers. The show is considered to have been the first major rock concert in history. It was promoted by Alan Freed, the Cleveland disc jockey believed to have coined what term? Discuss

US Approves Antiretroviral Drug AZT as a Treatment for AIDS (1987)
Though it was originally developed as an anticancer drug in 1964, azidothymidine (AZT) was never approved for that purpose. Two decades later, however, it was discovered to be effective in fighting HIV. At the time, thousands of people were dying of AIDS, and no other treatment was forthcoming. For humanitarian reasons, the drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in a matter of months, rather than the usual eight to 10 years. How does the drug prevent HIV from reproducing?

Nevada Legalizes Gambling (1931)
Though unregulated gambling had been common in early Nevada mining towns, it was outlawed in 1909, and for many years, the state's economy was carried by mining. However, with the mining industry in decline amid the Great Depression, state lawmakers agreed to re-legalize gambling in order to strengthen the state's finances. Today, the state economy is dominated by tourism and gaming. Nevada has the unusually high ratio of approximately one hotel room to how many state residents?

Quote of the Day

Henry David Thoreau
It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. Discuss

Oscar Wilde
Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.

Charles Dickens
Money and goods are certainly the best of references.

Word of the Day

Definition: (adjective) (Used of persons or behavior) characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity. Synonyms: mingy, tight, mean. Usage: The necessity of disbursing passage money for all his tribe seemed to disturb him in a manner that was the more striking because otherwise he gave no signs of a miserly disposition. Discuss

Definition: (verb) Rise up as in fear. Synonyms: uprise, stand up. Usage: The creaking of the house at night makes the hair on the nape of my neck bristle.

Definition: (adjective) Denoting or deriving from or distinctive of the ways of living built up by a group of people. Synonyms: cultural. Usage: In my family, holidays are celebrated with lavish meals featuring ethnic foods that remind us of our ancestors' Eastern European roots.