Fun Stuff

Ellen DeGeneres

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00pm
"What you look like on the outside is not what makes you cool at all. I mean, I had a mullet and wore parachute pants for a long, long time, and I'm doin' okay."
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00pm
"He is indebted to his memory for his jests and to his imagination for his facts."
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Johnny Carson

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00pm
"Nancy Reagan fell down and broke her hair."
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Max Frisch

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 6:00pm
"Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn't have to experience it."
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whilom

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 4, 2016 is:

whilom • \WYE-lum\  • adjective

: former

Examples:

I was pleased to find an interview with the whilom president of my alma mater in the local paper.

"On the eastern side settlement and agriculture have all but obliterated the whilom tallgrass prairie, so that it is hardly visible to anyone who would not seek it out on hands and knees...." — William Least Heat-Moon, The Atlantic, September 1991

Did you know?

Whilom shares an ancestor with the word while. Both trace back to the Old English word hwil, meaning "time" or "while." In Old English hwilum was an adverb meaning "at times." This use passed into Middle English (with a variety of spellings, one of which was whilom), and in the 12th century the word acquired the meaning "formerly." The adverb's usage dwindled toward the end of the 19th century, and it has since been labeled archaic. The adjective first appeared on the scene in the 15th century, with the now-obsolete meaning "deceased," and by the 19th century it was being used with the meaning "former." It's a relatively uncommon word, but it does see occasional use.



Categories: Fun Stuff

February 04, 1974: Patty Hearst kidnapped

This Day in History - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 11:00pm

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California, by two black men and a white woman, all three of whom are armed. Her fiance, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbor who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbors who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape.

Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a “prisoner of war.” Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Patricia Hearst. Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if the girl was released unharmed.

In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will.

On May 17, Los Angeles police raided the SLA’s secret headquarters, killing six of the group’s nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA’s leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.

Finally, on September 18, 1975, after crisscrossing the country with her captors–or conspirators–for more than a year, Hearst, or “Tania” as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on March 20, 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.

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Robert Redford

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:00pm
"If you stay in Beverly Hills too long you become a Mercedes."
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Cindy Gardner

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:00pm
"What's the difference between a boyfriend and a husband? About 30 pounds."
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A. J. Liebling

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:00pm
"People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."
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Richard Feynman

Quotes of the Day - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:00pm
"I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy."
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reminisce

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 3, 2016 is:

reminisce • \rem-uh-NISS\  • verb

: to indulge in the process or practice of thinking or telling about past experiences

Examples:

Justin met up with some of his college buddies to reminisce about old times.

"Most of us have a comfort food we eat when we are reminiscing, sad or depressed." — Marion Goldberg, The Poughkeepsie (New York) Journal, 16 Dec. 2015

Did you know?

Reminisce and its relative reminiscence come from the mind—that is to say, they come from the Latin word for "mind," which is mens. A root related to mens teamed up with the prefix re- to create the Latin verb reminisci ("to remember"), an ancestor of both words. Reminisce is one of several English verbs starting with re- that mean "to bring an image or idea from the past into the mind." Others in this group include remember, recall, remind, and recollect. Reminisce distinguishes itself from the others by implying a casual recalling of experiences long past, often with a sense of nostalgia.



Categories: Fun Stuff

February 03, 2005: Gonzales becomes first Hispanic U.S. attorney general

This Day in History - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:00pm

On February 3, 2005, Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general despite protests over his record on torture.

The Senate approved his nomination on a largely party-line vote of 60-36, reflecting a split between Republicans and Democrats over whether the administration’s counterterrorism policies had led to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere. Shortly after the Senate vote, Vice President Dick Cheney swore in Gonzales as attorney general in a small ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. President Bush, who was traveling, called to congratulate him.

Gonzales was born in 1955 in San Antonio, Texas, the son of migrant workers and grew up in a small, crowded home in Houston without hot water or a telephone. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating high school. Following a few years of service, Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy.

After leaving the military, Gonzales attended Rice University and Harvard Law School before Bush, then governor of Texas, picked him in 1995 to serve as his general counsel in Austin and in 2001 brought him to Washington as his White House counsel. In this new role, Gonzales championed an extension of the USA Patriot Act.

After Gonzales became attorney general, he faced scrutiny regarding some of his actions, most notably the firing of several U.S. attorneys and his defense of Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program. The firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007. Concerns about the veracity of some of his statements as well as his general competency also began to surface.

Democrats began calling for his resignation and for more investigations, but President Bush defended his appointee, saying that Gonzales was “an honest, honorable man in whom I have confidence,” according to an Associated Press reportfromApril.

A few months later, however, Gonzales decided to step down.

On August 27, he gave a brief statement announcing his resignation (effective September 17), stating that “It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice.” He gave no explanation for his departure. In his resignation letter, Gonzales simply said that “. . . this is the right time for my family and I to begina new chapter in our lives.”

Gonzales and his wife Rebecca have three sons.

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Jacques Derrida

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:00pm
"To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend."
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Fritz Perls

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:00pm
"I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine."
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Jane Wagner

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:00pm
"Reality is nothing but a collective hunch."
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Woody Allen

Quotes of the Day - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:00pm
"When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room."
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foliage

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:00pm

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 2, 2016 is:

foliage • \FOH-lee-ij\  • noun

1 : a representation of leaves, flowers, and branches for architectural ornamentation

2 : the aggregate of leaves of one or more plants

3 : a cluster of leaves, flowers, and branches

Examples:

A trip to the local conservatory was just the thing to beat my winter blues—the bright flowers against the backdrop of verdant foliage was rejuvenating.

"The builders are charging up to $100 million for apartments that offer helicopter views of lush foliage, jagged skylines, soothing rivers and angelic clouds." — Max Frankel, The New York Times, 31 Dec. 2015

Did you know?

The English language has its share of common but disputed usages. One such example is the pronunciation of foliage as FOH-lij or, even more irksome to some, FOY-lij. The first of these two pronunciations, though frequently disparaged, is consistent with the pronunciation of the -iage ending in marriage and carriage, as well the less common but widely accepted pronunciation of verbiage as VER-bij. The second of these is often more fiercely denounced, in part because of its association with the nonstandard spelling foilage. Oddly enough, foliage traces back to Middle French foille ("leaf"), which is also the source of the English word foil (as in "aluminum foil"). When adopted by Middle English speakers, foil originally meant "leaf."



Categories: Fun Stuff

February 02, 1887: First Groundhog Day

This Day in History - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:00pm

On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks and whose scientific name is Marmota monax, typically weigh 12 to 15 pounds and live six to eight years. They eat vegetables and fruits, whistle when they’re frightened or looking for a mate and can climb trees and swim. They go into hibernation in the late fall; during this time, their body temperatures drop significantly, their heartbeats slow from 80 to five beats per minute and they can lose 30 percent of their body fat. In February, male groundhogs emerge from their burrows to look for a mate (not to predict the weather) before going underground again. They come out of hibernation for good in March.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray popularized the usage of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated over and over. Today, tens of thousands of people converge on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each February 2 to witness Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Benjamin Franklin

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 6:00pm
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
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Kelvin Throop III

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 6:00pm
"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?"
Categories: Fun Stuff