Fun Stuff

legerdemain

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 26, 2015 is:

legerdemain • \lej-er-duh-MAYN\  • noun
1 : sleight of hand 2 : a display of skill and adroitness

Examples:
The company's accountants used financial legerdemain to conceal its true revenues and avoided paying $2 million in taxes as a result.

"U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is trying for a bit of late-session congressional magic to finally get some movement on proposals to increase federal timber harvests in western Oregon. The Oregon Democrat has pulled off some last-minute feats of legislative legerdemain in the past, so it's not at all out of the question that he can do it again…." — The Associated Press, November 17, 2014

Did you know?
In Middle French, folks who were clever enough to fool others with fast-fingered illusions were described as leger de main, literally "light of hand." English speakers condensed that phrase into a noun when they borrowed it in the 15th century and began using it as an alternative to the older sleight of hand. (That term for dexterity or skill in using one's hands makes use of sleight, an old word from Middle English that derives from an Old Norse word meaning "sly.") In more modern times, a feat of legerdemain can even be accomplished without using your hands, as in, for example, "an impressive bit of financial legerdemain."

Categories: Fun Stuff

January 26, 1788: Australia Day

This Day in History - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 11:00pm

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.

Australia, once known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a penal colony. In October 1786, the British government appointed Arthur Phillip captain of the HMS Sirius, and commissioned him to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts. With little idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land, Phillip had great difficulty assembling the fleet that was to make the journey. His requests for more experienced farmers to assist the penal colony were repeatedly denied, and he was both poorly funded and outfitted. Nonetheless, accompanied by a small contingent of Marines and other officers, Phillip led his 1,000-strong party, of whom more than 700 were convicts, around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, claiming the deaths of some 30 men.

The first years of settlement were nearly disastrous. Cursed with poor soil, an unfamiliar climate and workers who were ignorant of farming, Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive. The colony was on the verge of outright starvation for several years, and the marines sent to keep order were not up to the task. Phillip, who proved to be a tough but fair-minded leader, persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility and oversight. Floggings and hangings were commonplace, but so was egalitarianism. As Phillip said before leaving England: "In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves."

Though Phillip returned to England in 1792, the colony became prosperous by the turn of the 19th century. Feeling a new sense of patriotism, the men began to rally around January 26 as their founding day. Historian Manning Clarke noted that in 1808 the men observed the "anniversary of the foundation of the colony" with "drinking and merriment."

Finally, in 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia. And, as Australia became a sovereign nation, it became the national holiday known as Australia Day. Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Puzzle - January 25

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 8:31pm
BrainBashers Daily Puzzle

A business man was in BrainBashers Village for a meeting. He had time to spare before the meeting, so he decided to get a haircut.

He looked at a street map and was surprised to find that there were only two barbers in town, right across the road from each other.

He walked across the village and came to the two barber shops.

He went into the first one and was shocked by the dirtiness and the hair everywhere.

The place was a mess! He looked at the barber and the barber had a really messy haircut all in his face and uneven.

He went across the street to the other barber and saw the place was immaculate, clean and shining like new.

The barber was nicely dressed and had a dazzling haircut: it was perfect.

However, the man walked across the street and got his haircut at the shabby barbers.

Why?

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Sudoku - January 25 - Easy

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 8:31pm
BrainBashers Daily Sudoku



Complete the grid such that every row, every column, and the nine 3x3 blocks contain the digits from 1 to 9.

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Game - January 25

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 8:31pm
BrainBashers Daily Game

Puzzle Express
   With a twist. Fill the cargo trains with shapes.
[Played on the BrainBashers Games website]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Mario Andretti

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 6:00pm
"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough"
Categories: Fun Stuff

Pablo Picasso

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 6:00pm
"There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Don Juan Manuel

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 6:00pm
"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Edward Gibbon

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 6:00pm
"All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance."
Categories: Fun Stuff

constellate

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Sun, 01/25/2015 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 25, 2015 is:

constellate • \KAHN-stuh-layt\  • verb
1 : to unite in a cluster 2 : to set or adorn with or as if with constellations

Examples:
"The members of the family seemed destined to constellate around a table, held by the gravity of our affection for each other." — Elsa M. Bowman, Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 1996

"The band is currently a three-piece, led by guitar-wielding singer Brett Kerr, 24, of North Muskegon. The group originally constellated around his songwriting in 2009." — Lou Jeannot, Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle, July 1, 2010

Did you know?
It's plain that constellate is related to constellation, and, indeed, things that "constellate" (or "are constellated") cluster together like stars in a constellation. Both words derive ultimately from the Latin word for "star," which is stella. Constellation (which came to us by way of Middle French from Late Latin constellation-, constellatio) entered the language first—it dates to at least the 14th century. Constellate didn't appear until a full 300 years later.

Categories: Fun Stuff

January 25, 1905: World's largest diamond found

This Day in History - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 11:00pm

On January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the "Cullinan," it was the largest diamond ever found.

Frederick Wells was 18 feet below the earth's surface when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall just above him. His discovery was presented that same afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine. Cullinan then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII as a birthday gift. Worried that the diamond might be stolen in transit from Africa to London, Edward arranged to send a phony diamond aboard a steamer ship loaded with detectives as a diversionary tactic. While the decoy slowly made its way from Africa on the ship, the Cullinan was sent to England in a plain box.

Edward entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Asscher, who had cut the famous Excelsior Diamond, a 971-carat diamond found in 1893, studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. On his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion.

The Cullinan was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, valued at millions of dollars all told. The largest stone is called the "Star of Africa I," or "Cullinan I," and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the "Star of Africa II" or "Cullinan II," is 317 carats. Both of these stones, as well as the "Cullinan III," are on display in the Tower of London with Britain's other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Puzzle - January 24

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 8:17pm
BrainBashers Daily Puzzle

The following words have had their vowels removed, can you find some animals?

ln
ntlp
gzll
strch
wl
rbn
rdvrk
dr
clt
bs

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Sudoku - January 24 - Easy

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 8:17pm
BrainBashers Daily Sudoku



Complete the grid such that every row, every column, and the nine 3x3 blocks contain the digits from 1 to 9.

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Game - January 24

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 8:17pm
BrainBashers Daily Game

Pearl Hunt
   Get 10 pearls through the maze before the time runs out.
[Played on the BrainBashers Games website]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Buzz Aldrin

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 6:00pm
"I believe that every human has a finite number of heart-beats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises."
Categories: Fun Stuff

J. R. R. Tolkien

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 6:00pm
"It's a dangerous business going out your front door."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Evelle J. Younger

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 6:00pm
"An incompetent attorney can delay a trial for months or years. A competent attorney can delay one even longer."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Dame Rose Macaulay

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 6:00pm
"It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them."
Categories: Fun Stuff

evitable

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Sat, 01/24/2015 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 24, 2015 is:

evitable • \EV-uh-tuh-bul\  • adjective
: capable of being avoided

Examples:
The investigator determined that the accident was certainly evitable and would not have happened if the driver hadn't been negligent.

"Books, journals, conventions, and electronic networks have made provincial isolation easily evitable…." — James Sledd, English Journal, November 1994

Did you know?
British author T. S. Eliot once gave a lecture at Trinity College (Cambridge, England) in which he spoke about "the disintegration of the intellect" in 19th century Europe, saying, "The 'disintegration' of which I speak may be evitable or inevitable, good or bad; to draw its optimistic or pessimistic conclusions is an occupation for prophets . . . of whom I am not one." Evitable, though not common, has been in English since the beginning of the 16th century; it's often found paired with its opposite, inevitable, as in Eliot's passage as well as in this self-reflection by Liverpool Echo writer Gary Bainbridge in March of 2014: "I have been thinking about my inevitable death, and decided I would like to make it a bit more evitable." Both words were borrowed from similar Latin adjectives, which in turn are based on the verb evitare, which means "to avoid."

Categories: Fun Stuff

January 24, 1935: First canned beer goes on sale

This Day in History - Fri, 01/23/2015 - 11:00pm

Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production.

By the late 19th century, cans were instrumental in the mass distribution of foodstuffs, but it wasn't until 1909 that the American Can Company made its first attempt to can beer. This was unsuccessful, and the American Can Company would have to wait for the end of Prohibition in the United States before it tried again. Finally in 1933, after two years of research, American Can developed a can that was pressurized and had a special coating to prevent the fizzy beer from chemically reacting with the tin.

The concept of canned beer proved to be a hard sell, but Krueger's overcame its initial reservations and became the first brewer to sell canned beer in the United States. The response was overwhelming. Within three months, over 80 percent of distributors were handling Krueger's canned beer, and Krueger's was eating into the market share of the "big three" national brewers--Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz. Competitors soon followed suit, and by the end of 1935, over 200 million cans had been produced and sold.

The purchase of cans, unlike bottles, did not require the consumer to pay a deposit. Cans were also easier to stack, more durable and took less time to chill. As a result, their popularity continued to grow throughout the 1930s, and then exploded during World War II, when U.S. brewers shipped millions of cans of beer to soldiers overseas. After the war, national brewing companies began to take advantage of the mass distribution that cans made possible, and were able to consolidate their power over the once-dominant local breweries, which could not control costs and operations as efficiently as their national counterparts.

Today, canned beer accounts for approximately half of the $20 billion U.S. beer industry. Not all of this comes from the big national brewers: Recently, there has been renewed interest in canning from microbrewers and high-end beer-sellers, who are realizing that cans guarantee purity and taste by preventing light damage and oxidation.

Categories: Fun Stuff