Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 29, 2016 is:
obstreperous \ub-STREP-uh-rus\ adjective
1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous
2 : stubbornly resistant to control : unruly
After two months at sea with dwindling food supplies and declining confidence in the captain, the ship's crew became obstreperous and began to plot a mutiny.
"It is Rob she calls for when crankily refusing to go to bed, and when Alan attempts to calm her she grows only more obstreperous." — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times, 9 Nov. 2015
Did you know?
The handy Latin prefix ob-, meaning "in the way," "against," or "toward," occurs in many Latin and English words, often in alternate forms. Obstreperous comes from ob- plus strepere, a verb meaning "to make a noise," so someone who is obstreperous is literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. The word has been used in English since around the beginning of the 17th century. Strepere has not played a role in the formation of any other notable English words, but ob- words abound; these include obese, obnoxious, occasion, offend, omit, oppress, and oust.
On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects its first members in Cooperstown, New York: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson.
The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway.
In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939–thought by many to be the centennial of baseball–the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound.
Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball. It has elected 278 individuals, in all, including 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires and 28 executives and pioneers.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 28, 2016 is:
jeremiad \jair-uh-MYE-ud\ noun
: a prolonged lamentation or complaint; also : a cautionary or angry harangue
Mrs. Whinge waggled a finger at us and launched into a doleful jeremiad about how we would come to no good end.
"[Pope Francis's] now-famous jeremiads as pope against today's culture of excessive consumption and environmental degradation are rooted in a thrift ethic that he acquired early in life and never abandoned." — David Blankenhorn, The Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City), 11 Dec. 2015
Did you know?
Jeremiah was a Jewish prophet who lived from about 650 to 570 BC. He spent his days lambasting the Hebrews for their false worship and social injustice and denouncing the king for his selfishness, materialism, and inequities. When not calling on his people to quit their wicked ways, he was lamenting his own lot; a portion of the Bible's Book of Jeremiah is devoted to his "confessions," a series of lamentations on the hardships endured by a prophet with an unpopular message. Nowadays, English speakers use Jeremiah for a pessimistic person and jeremiad for the way these Jeremiahs carry on. The word jeremiad was actually borrowed from the French, who coined it as jérémiade.
At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challengerâs launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.
Seventy-three seconds later, hundreds on the ground, including Christaâs family, stared in disbelief as the shuttle broke up in a forking plume of smoke and fire. Millions more watched the wrenching tragedy unfold on live television. There were no survivors.
In 1976, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) unveiled the worldâs first reusable manned spacecraft, the Enterprise. Five years later, space flights of the shuttle began when Columbia traveled into space on a 54-hour mission. Launched by two solid-rocket boosters and an external tank, only the aircraft-like shuttle entered into orbit around Earth. When the mission was completed, the shuttle fired engines to reduce speed and, after descending through the atmosphere, landed like a glider. Early shuttles took satellite equipment into space and carried out various scientific experiments. The Challenger disaster was the first major shuttle accident.
In the aftermath of the disaster, President Ronald Reagan appointed a special commission to determine what went wrong with Challenger and to develop future corrective measures. The presidential commission was headed by former secretary of state William Rogers, and included former astronaut Neil Armstrong and former test pilot Chuck Yeager. The investigation determined that the disaster was caused by the failure of an âO-ringâ seal in one of the two solid-fuel rockets. The elastic O-ring did not respond as expected because of the cold temperature at launch time, which began a chain of events that resulted in the massive loss. As a result, NASA did not send astronauts into space for more than two years as it redesigned a number of features of the space shuttle.
In September 1988, space shuttle flights resumed with the successful launching of the Discovery. Since then, the space shuttle has carried out numerous important missions, such as the repair and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and the construction of the International Space Station.
On February 1, 2003, a second space-shuttle disaster rocked the United States when Columbia disintegrated upon reentry of the Earthâs atmosphere. All aboard were killed. Despite fears that the problems that downed Columbia had not been satisfactorily addressed, space-shuttle flights resumed on July 26, 2005, when Discovery was again put into orbit.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 27, 2016 is:
proscribe \proh-SCRYBE\ verb
1 : to publish the name of as condemned to death with the property of the condemned forfeited to the state
2 : to condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful : prohibit
The town passed an ordinance that proscribed the ownership of snakes and other exotic pets.
"Military law may proscribe conduct which is otherwise protected in the civilian world due to the different character of the military community and of the military mission." — Capt. Anne C. Hsieh, quoted in The Herald Democrat (Sherman, Texas), 18 Oct. 2015
Did you know?
Proscribe and prescribe both have Latin-derived prefixes meaning "before" attached to the verb scribe (from scribere, meaning "to write"). Yet the two words have very distinct, often nearly opposite meanings. Why? In a way, you could say it's the law. In the 15th and 16th centuries both words had legal implications. To proscribe was to publish the name of a person who had been condemned, outlawed, or banished. To prescribe meant "to lay down a rule," including legal rules or orders.
On January 27, 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C., for “the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”
The 33 men who originally met and formed the National Geographic Society were a diverse group of geographers, explorers, teachers, lawyers, cartographers, military officers and financiers. All shared an interest in scientific and geographical knowledge, as well as an opinion that in a time of discovery, invention, change and mass communication, Americans were becoming more curious about the world around them. With this in mind, the men drafted a constitution and elected as the Society’s president a lawyer and philanthropist named Gardiner Greene Hubbard. Neither a scientist nor a geographer, Hubbard represented the Society’s desire to reach out to the layman.
Nine months after its inception, the Society published its first issue of National Geographic magazine. Readership did not grow, however, until Gilbert H. Grosvenor took over as editor in 1899. In only a few years, Grosvenor boosted circulation from 1,000 to 2 million by discarding the magazine’s format of short, overly technical articles for articles of general interest accompanied by photographs. National Geographic quickly became known for its stunning and pioneering photography, being the first to print natural-color photos of sky, sea and the North and South Poles.
The Society used its revenues from the magazine to sponsor expeditions and research projects that furthered humanity’s understanding of natural phenomena. In this role, the National Geographic Society has been instrumental in making possible some of the great achievements in exploration and science. To date, it has given out more than 1,400 grants, funding that helped Robert Peary journey to the North Pole, Richard Byrd fly over the South Pole, Jacques Cousteau delve into the sea and Jane Goodall observe wild chimpanzees, among many other projects.
Today, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions. National Geographic continues to sell as a glossy monthly, with a circulation of around 9 million. The Society also sees itself as a guardian of the planet’s natural resources, and in this capacity, focuses on ways to broaden its reach and educate its readers about the unique relationship that humans have with the earth.