Today

Joseph Bonanno, AKA Joe Bananas (1905)
Born in Sicily, Bonanno came to the US illegally in 1924. He settled in Brooklyn and became a bootlegger and mob enforcer. In 1931, he founded the Bonanno crime family, one of five families that dominated organized crime in New York City. He ruled the family for decades, and although his empire stretched across the country and involved gambling, loan sharking, and drug trafficking, he was never convicted of a serious crime. He died in Arizona at the age of 97. What was the "Banana Split"? Discuss

Anne Brontë (1820)
Though often overshadowed by her more famous sisters, Charlotte and Emily, Anne Brontë was a novelist and poet in her own right. She possessed a style distinct from the romanticism of her sisters, and her works—which include Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall—have been praised for their realism and moral force. Like her five older siblings, Anne died of tuberculosis at a fairly young age. After she died, who prevented her controversial second novel from being reprinted?

Dian Fossey (1932)
Fossey was an occupational therapist when, on a trip to Africa in 1963, she met famed anthropologist Louis Leakey, who encouraged her to pursue her dream of studying gorillas. In 1966, she began living a solitary life in the mountains of central Africa, gradually gaining the acceptance of the gorillas she observed and building a vast body of knowledge about their habits, communication, and social structure. In 1985, she was found hacked to death in her Rwandan forest camp. Who murdered her?

This Day in History

Legionnaire's Disease Mystery Declared Solved (1977)
In July 1976, members of the American Legion veterans association who were gathered at a Philadelphia hotel began falling ill with a mysterious respiratory ailment that sickened 221 and killed 34. Months later, the US Centers for Disease Control announced that a new bacterium—Legionella pneumophila—had been identified as the culprit. It had spread through the hotel's air conditioning system. In 2010, it was reported that 20% of Legionella infections may come from what surprising source? Discuss

US Supreme Court Declares Home VCRs Legal (1984)
After Sony introduced the Betamax home video tape recorder in the mid-1970s, Universal Studios sued, alleging that Betamax facilitated copyright infringement by allowing users to make copies of television programs. After an eight-year legal battle, the US Supreme Court ruled that using the new technology to "time-shift" one's television viewing constituted fair use. By then, Betamax had been eclipsed by the VHS format. What later case concerned the "space-shifting" of media?

Prohibition Era Begins in the US (1920)
By January of 1919, members of the US temperance movement had been campaigning against excessive drinking for a century. Their efforts resulted in the 18th Amendment, which, when it went into effect in 1920, prohibited the sale—but not the consumption—of liquor. Prohibition spawned what John D. Rockefeller called "a vast army of lawbreakers" who profited from the illegal sale of alcohol, and the failed ban was repealed in 1933. What was delivered to the White House immediately after the repeal?

Quote of the Day

Oscar Wilde
My experience is that as soon as people are old enough to know better, they don't know anything at all. Discuss

George Eliot
Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending.

Upton Sinclair
There is one kind of prison where the man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where the things are behind the bars, and the man is outside.

Word of the Day

voracious
Definition: (adjective) Having or marked by an insatiable appetite for an activity or pursuit; greedy. Synonyms: rapacious, ravening. Usage: She was a voracious reader and loved to spend her afternoons at the library. Discuss

specious
Definition: (adjective) Based on pretense; deceptively pleasing. Synonyms: gilded, meretricious. Usage: "You are a specious fellow," returned Sir John, fixing his eyes upon him, "and carry two faces under your hood, as well as the best."

torrent
Definition: (noun) A heavy, uncontrolled outpouring. Synonyms: deluge, flood, inundation. Usage: She frowned and overwhelmed Pierre with a torrent of reproaches and angry words.