Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 8, 2017 is:
carceral \KAHR-suh-rul\ adjective
: of, relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison
"The door opened, whining, rattling and groaning in keeping with all the rules of carceral counterpoint." — Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading, 1959
"We are in the midst of a debate around criminal justice right now…. In the midst of such debates it is customary for pundits, politicians, and writers like me to sally forth with numbers to demonstrate the breadth and width of the great American carceral state." — Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, 8 June 2015
Did you know?
Our earliest known evidence of carceral—an adjective borrowed directly from Late Latin—dates to the late 16th century, with evidence of incarcerate ("to imprison") appearing shortly thereafter; they're both ultimately from carcer, Latin for "prison." The English verb cancel is also linked to carcer via Latin cancelli, a word meaning "lattice" that likely developed from an alteration of carcer. Carceral is a word that is generally not found outside the confines of academic or legal contexts.
On this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. The American victory paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands.
Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons, a group of 992 islands and atolls, 347 of which are inhabited, in the South Pacific Ocean. The Solomons, which are located northeast of Australia and have 87 indigenous languages, were discovered in 1568 by the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana de Neyra (1541-95). In 1893, the British annexed Guadalcanal, along with the other central and southern Solomons. The Germans took control of the northern Solomons in 1885, but transferred these islands, except for Bougainville and Buka (which eventually went to the Australians) to the British in 1900.
The Japanese invaded the Solomons in 1942 during World War II and began building a strategic airfield on Guadalcanal. On August 7 of that year, U.S. Marines landed on the island, signaling the Alliesâ first major offensive against Japanese-held positions in the Pacific. The Japanese responded quickly with sea and air attacks. A series of bloody battles ensued in the debilitating tropical heat as Marines sparred with Japanese troops on land, while in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, the U.S. Navy fought six major engagements with the Japanese between August 24 and November 30. In mid-November 1942, the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, died together when the Japanese sunk their ship, the USS Juneau.
Both sides suffered heavy losses of men, warships and planes in the battle for Guadalcanal. An estimated 1,600 U.S. troops were killed, over 4,000 were wounded and several thousand more died from disease. The Japanese lost 24,000 soldiers. On December 31, 1942, Emperor Hirohito told Japanese troops they could withdraw from the area; the Americans secured Guadalcanal about five weeks later.
The Solomons gained their independence from Britain in 1978. In the late 1990s, fighting broke out between rival ethnic groups on Guadalcanal and continued until an Australian-led international peacekeeping mission restored order in 2003. Today, with a population of over half a million people, the Solomons are known as a scuba diver and fishermanâs paradise.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 7, 2017 is:
nexus \NEK-sus\ noun
2 : a connected group or series
The new art exhibition is devoted to those artists whose work first began to form a nexus between high art and popular culture.
"Starting a weekly column about the nexus between media, technology, culture and politics in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign was like parachuting into a hail of machine-gun crossfire." — Jim Rutenberg, The New York Times, 26 Dec. 2016
Did you know?
Nexus is all about connections. The word comes from nectere, a Latin verb meaning "to bind." A number of other English words are related to nectere. The most obvious is connect, but annex (meaning "to attach as an addition," or more specifically "to incorporate into a political domain") is related as well. When nexus came into English in the 17th century, it meant "connection." Eventually, it took on the additional meaning "connected series" (as in "a nexus of relationships"). In the past few decades it has taken a third meaning: "center" (as in "the trade nexus of the region"), perhaps from the notion that a point in the center of an arrangement serves to join together the objects that surround it.
On February 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York’s Kennedy Airport–and “Beatlemania” arrives. It was the first visit to the United States by the Beatles, a British rock-and-roll quartet that had just scored its first No. 1 U.S. hit six days before with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” At Kennedy, the “Fab Four”–dressed in mod suits and sporting their trademark pudding bowl haircuts–were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot when the boys stepped off their plane and onto American soil.
Two days later, Paul McCartney, age 21, Ringo Starr, 23, John Lennon, 23, and George Harrison, 20, made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, a popular television variety show. Although it was difficult to hear the performance over the screams of teenage girls in the studio audience, an estimated 73 million U.S. television viewers, or about 40 percent of the U.S. population, tuned in to watch. Sullivan immediately booked the Beatles for two more appearances that month. The group made their first public concert appearance in the United States on February 11 at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C., and 20,000 fans attended. The next day, they gave two back-to-back performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and police were forced to close off the streets around the venerable music hall because of fan hysteria. On February 22, the Beatles returned to England.
The Beatles’ first American tour left a major imprint in the nation’s cultural memory. With American youth poised to break away from the culturally rigid landscape of the 1950s, the Beatles, with their exuberant music and good-natured rebellion, were the perfect catalyst for the shift. Their singles and albums sold millions of records, and at one point in April 1964 all five best-selling U.S. singles were Beatles songs. By the time the Beatles first feature-film, A Hard Day’s Night, was released in August, Beatlemania was epidemic the world over. Later that month, the four boys from Liverpool returned to the United States for their second tour and played to sold-out arenas across the country.
Later, the Beatles gave up touring to concentrate on their innovative studio recordings, such as 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, a psychedelic concept album that is regarded as a masterpiece of popular music. The Beatles’ music remained relevant to youth throughout the great cultural shifts of the 1960s, and critics of all ages acknowledged the songwriting genius of the Lennon-McCartney team. In 1970, the Beatles disbanded, leaving a legacy of 18 albums and 30 Top 10 U.S. singles.
During the next decade, all four Beatles pursued solo careers, with varying success. Lennon, the most outspoken and controversial Beatle, was shot to death by a deranged fan outside his New York apartment building in 1980. McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his contribution to British culture. In November 2001, George Harrison succumbed to cancer.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 6, 2017 is:
extremophile \ik-STREE-muh-fyle\ noun
: an organism that lives under extreme environmental conditions (as in a hot spring or ice cap)
"Beetles with antifreeze blood, ants that sprint on scorching sand and spiders that live high up Mount Everest. These incredible creatures are the extremophiles: animals that survive some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth, and sometimes even further." — Christopher Brooks, BBC.co.uk, 26 Mar. 2016
"[Andrew] Czaja said research into extremophiles in general gives scientists confidence that life can exist anywhere where the appropriate building blocks, including a liquid medium (such as water) and a source of energy, exist." — Stephanie Margaret Bucklin, Astronomy Magazine, 8 Dec. 2016
Did you know?
No, an extremophile is not an enthusiast of extreme sports (though -phile does mean "one who loves or has an affinity for"). Rather, extremophiles are organisms—mostly microorganisms—that thrive in environments once considered uninhabitable, from places with high levels of toxicity and radiation to boiling-hot deep-sea volcanoes to Antarctic ice sheets. Scientists have even created a new biological domain to classify some of these extremophiles: Archaea (from Greek archaios, meaning "ancient"). These extremophiles may have a lot in common with the first organisms to appear on earth billions of years ago. If so, they can give us insight into how life on our planet may have arisen. They are also being studied to learn about possible life forms on other planets, where conditions are extreme compared to conditions on Earth.
On this day in 1952, after a long illness, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was in Kenya at the time of her father’s death; she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at age 27.
King George VI, the second son of King George V, ascended to the throne in 1936 after his older brother, King Edward VIII, voluntarily abdicated to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. During World War II, George worked to rally the spirits of the British people by touring war zones, making a series of morale-boosting radio broadcasts (for which he overcame a speech impediment) and shunning the safety of the countryside to remain with his wife in bomb-damaged Buckingham Palace. The king’s health deteriorated in 1949, but he continued to perform state duties until his death in 1952.
Queen Elizabeth, born on April 21, 1926, and known to her family as Lilibet, was groomed as a girl to succeed her father. She married a distant cousin, Philip Mountbatten, on November 20, 1947, at London’s Westminster Abbey. The first of Elizabeth’s four children, Prince Charles, was born in 1948.
From the start of her reign, Elizabeth understood the value of public relations and allowed her 1953 coronation to be televised, despite objections from Prime Minister Winston Churchill and others who felt it would cheapen the ceremony. Elizabeth, the 40th British monarch since William the Conqueror, has worked hard at her royal duties and become a popular figure around the world. In 2003, she celebrated 50 years on the throne, only the fifth British monarch to do so.
The queen’s reign, however, has not been without controversy. She was seen as cold and out-of-touch following the 1996 divorce of her son, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana, and again after Diana’s 1997 death in a car crash. Additionally, the role in modern times of the monarchy, which is largely ceremonial, has come into question as British taxpayers have complained about covering the royal family’s travel expenses and palace upkeep. Still, the royals are effective world ambassadors for Britain and a huge tourism draw. Today, the queen, an avid horsewoman and Corgi dog lover, is one of the world’s wealthiest women, with extensive real-estate holdings and art and jewelry collections.