Fun Stuff

James Branch Cabell

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 7:00pm
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true."
Categories: Fun Stuff

parlay

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 17, 2016 is:

parlay • \PAHR-lay\  • verb

1 : to bet in a parlay

2 a : to exploit successfully

b : to increase or otherwise transform into something of much greater value

Examples:

"Leong said she parlayed a measly $5 winning ticket into her big bonanza. First she exchanged the $5 winning ticket for another that won $10, and with that she bought a $10 ticket that won $100. She decided to try her luck two more times and used the winnings to buy two $20 tickets, one of which hit the mother lode." — Megan Cerullo & Nancy Dillon, The New York Daily News, 8 June 2016

"Johnson parlayed the experience she gained while writing her own fashion and lifestyle blog into her first job at New York social media marketing agency Attention." — Samantha Masunaga, The Waterbury (Connecticut) Republican-American, 13 June 2016

Did you know?

If you're the gambling type, you may already know that parlay can also be used as a noun describing a series of bets in which a person places a bet, then puts the original stake of money and all of its winnings on new wagers. But you might not know that parlay represents a modified spelling of the French name for such bets: paroli. You might also be unaware that the original French word is still occasionally used in English with the same meaning as the noun parlay. Be careful not to mix up parlay with the similar word parley, meaning "to discuss terms with an enemy." Although the spellings are very close, parley comes from the Latin word for "speech."



Categories: Fun Stuff

July 17, 1955: Disneyland opens

This Day in History - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 11:00pm

Disneyland, Walt Disney’s metropolis of nostalgia, fantasy, and futurism, opens on July 17, 1955. The $17 million theme park was built on 160 acres of former orange groves in Anaheim, California, and soon brought in staggering profits. Today, Disneyland hosts more than 14 million visitors a year, who spend close to $3 billion.

Walt Disney, born in Chicago in 1901, worked as a commercial artist before setting up a small studio in Los Angeles to produce animated cartoons. In 1928, his short film Steamboat Willy, starring the character “Mickey Mouse,” was a national sensation. It was the first animated film to use sound, and Disney provided the voice for Mickey. From there on, Disney cartoons were in heavy demand, but the company struggled financially because of Disney’s insistence on ever-improving artistic and technical quality. His first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938), took three years to complete and was a great commercial success.

Snow White was followed by other feature-length classics for children, such as Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942). Fantasia (1940), which coordinated animated segments with famous classical music pieces, was an artistic and technical achievement. In Song of the South (1946), Disney combined live actors with animated figures, and beginning with Treasure Island in 1950 the company added live-action movies to its repertoire. Disney was also one of the first movie studios to produce film directly for television, and its Zorro and Davy Crockett series were very popular with children.

In the early 1950s, Walt Disney began designing a huge amusement park to be built near Los Angeles. He intended Disneyland to have educational as well as amusement value and to entertain adults and their children. Land was bought in the farming community of Anaheim, about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and construction began in 1954. In the summer of 1955, special invitations were sent out for the opening of Disneyland on July 17. Unfortunately, the pass was counterfeited and thousands of uninvited people were admitted into Disneyland on opening day. The park was not ready for the public: food and drink ran out, a women’s high-heel shoe got stuck in the wet asphalt of Main Street USA, and the Mark Twain Steamboat nearly capsized from too many passengers.

Disneyland soon recovered, however, and attractions such as the Castle, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Snow White’s Adventures, Space Station X-1, Jungle Cruise, and Stage Coach drew countless children and their parents. Special events and the continual building of new state-of-the-art attractions encouraged them to visit again. In 1965, work began on an even bigger Disney theme park and resort near Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney died in 1966, and Walt Disney World was opened in his honor on October 1, 1971. Epcot Center, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom were later added to Walt Disney World, and it remains Florida’s premier tourist attraction. In 1983, Disneyland Tokyo opened in Japan, and in 1992 Disneyland Paris–or “EuroDisney”–opened to a mixed reaction in Marne-la-Vallee. The newest Disneyland, in Hong Kong, opened its doors in September 2005.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Michael Crichton

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 7:00pm
"I am certain there is too much certainty in the world."
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 7:00pm
"There is nothing more dreadful than imagination without taste."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Sir Francis Bacon

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 7:00pm
"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Alexander Hamilton

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 7:00pm
"A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing."
Categories: Fun Stuff

caesura

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 16, 2016 is:

caesura • \sih-ZYUR-uh\  • noun

1 : a break in the flow of sound usually in the middle of a line of verse

2 : break, interruption

3 : a pause marking a rhythmic point of division in a melody

Examples:

"The Anglo-Saxon idiom of Beowulf sounds particularly alien to modern ears: four stresses per line, separated in the middle by a strong pause, or caesura, with the third stress in each line alliterating with one or both of the first two." — Paul Gray, Time, 20 Mar. 2000

"Whenever anyone asks what I studied in school, the caesura of a deep breath inserts itself before the next line—the time it takes to summon the strength it takes to summon the word: 'poetry.'" — Michael Andor Brodeur, The Boston Globe, 14 June 2016

Did you know?

Caesuras (or caesurae) are those slight pauses one makes as one reads verse. While it may seem that their most obvious role is to emphasize the metrical construction of the verse, more often we need these little stops (which may be, but are not necessarily, set off by punctuation) to introduce the cadence and phrasing of natural speech into the metrical scheme. The word caesura, borrowed from Late Latin, is ultimately from Latin caedere meaning "to cut." Nearly as old as the 450-year-old poetry senses is the general meaning of "a break or interruption."



Categories: Fun Stuff

July 16, 1945: Atom bomb successfully tested

This Day in History - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 11:00pm

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass-a nuclear explosion-and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Finally, on the morning of July 16,in the New Mexico desert120 miles south of Santa Fe, the first atomic bomb was detonated. The scientists and a few dignitaries had removed themselves 10,000 yards away to observe as the first mushroom cloud of searing light stretched 40,000 feet into the air and generated the destructive power of 15,000 to 20,000 tons of TNT. The tower on which the bomb sat when detonated was vaporized.

The question now became-on whom was the bomb to be dropped? Germany was the original target, but the Germans had already surrendered. The only belligerent remaining was Japan.

A footnote: The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Anais Nin

Quotes of the Day - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 7:00pm
"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
Categories: Fun Stuff

John H. Patterson

Quotes of the Day - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 7:00pm
"An executive is a person who always decides; sometimes he decides correctly, but he always decides."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Henry David Thoreau

Quotes of the Day - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 7:00pm
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

Quotes of the Day - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 7:00pm
"In America any boy may become President and I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes."
Categories: Fun Stuff

ostracize

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 15, 2016 is:

ostracize • \AH-struh-syze\  • verb

1 : to exile by ostracism

2 : to exclude from a group by common consent

Examples:

Athletes who cheat risk being ostracized by their peers and colleagues—in addition to suffering professional ruin.

"Hateful speech is employed to offend, marginalize and ostracize. It's replaced reasonable persuasion by those too lazy or ignorant to be thoughtful." — Tom Fulks, The San Luis Obispo (California) Tribune, 26 Dec. 2015

Did you know?

In ancient Greece, prominent citizens whose power or influence threatened the stability of the state could be exiled by a practice called ostracism. Voters would elect to banish another citizen by writing that citizen's name down on a potsherd. Those receiving enough votes would then be subject to temporary exile from the state (usually for ten years). The English verb ostracize can mean "to exile by the ancient method of ostracism," but these days it usually refers to the general exclusion of one person from a group at the agreement of its members. Ostracism and ostracize derive from the Greek ostrakizein ("to banish by voting with potsherds"). Its ancestor, the Greek ostrakon ("shell" or "potsherd"), also helped to give English the word oyster.



Categories: Fun Stuff

July 15, 1971: Nixon announces visit to communist China

This Day in History - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 11:00pm

During a live television and radio broadcast, President Richard Nixon stuns the nation by announcing that he will visit communist China the following year. The statement marked a dramatic turning point in U.S.-China relations, as well as a major shift in American foreign policy.

Nixon was not always so eager to reach out to China. Since the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Nixon had been one of the most vociferous critics of American efforts to establish diplomatic relations with the Chinese. His political reputation was built on being strongly anti-communist, and he was a major figure in the post-World War II Red Scare, during which the U.S. government launched massive investigations into possible communist subversion in America.

By 1971, a number of factors pushed Nixon to reverse his stance on China. First and foremost was the Vietnam War. Two years after promising the American people “peace with honor,” Nixon was as entrenched in Vietnam as ever. His national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, saw a way out: Since China’s break with the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s, the Chinese were desperate for new allies and trade partners. Kissinger aimed to use the promise of closer relations and increased trade possibilities with China as a way to put increased pressure on North Vietnam–a Chinese ally–to reach an acceptable peace settlement. Also, more importantly in the long run, Kissinger thought the Chinese might become a powerful ally against the Soviet Union, America’s Cold War enemy. Kissinger called such foreign policy ‘realpolitik,’ or politics that favored dealing with other powerful nations in a practical manner rather than on the basis of political doctrine or ethics.

Nixon undertook his historic “journey for peace” in 1972, beginning a long and gradual process of normalizing relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. Though this move helped revive Nixon’s sagging popularity, and contributed to his win in the 1972 election, it did not produce the short-term results for which Kissinger had hoped. The Chinese seemed to have little influence on North Vietnam’s negotiating stance, and the Vietnam War continued to drag on until U.S. withdrawal in 1973. Further, the budding U.S.-China alliance had no measurable impact on U.S.-Soviet relations. But, Nixon’s visit did prove to be a watershed moment in American foreign policy–it paved the way for future U.S. presidents to apply the principle of realpolitik to their own international dealings.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Peter Borden

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:00pm
"Most advances in science come when a person for one reason or another is forced to change fields."
Categories: Fun Stuff

George Bernard Shaw

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:00pm
"The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Sam Levenson

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:00pm
"Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Billy Wilder

Quotes of the Day - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:00pm
"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty."
Categories: Fun Stuff

éclat

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 12:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 14, 2016 is:

éclat • \ay-KLAH\  • noun

1 : ostentatious display : publicity

2 : dazzling effect : brilliance

3 a : brilliant or conspicuous success

b : praise, applause

Examples:

"The … protagonist is a familiar archetype, that washed-up star who can't quite reclaim the éclat of decades past." — Kevin Zawacki, Paste, 25 Aug. 2014

"A woman, a hostess, could play an important subterfuge.… She could serve dinner with éclat, put people at ease, and spice the conversation with the wit that obscured the politics in political discussions." — Louisa Thomas, New York Magazine, 14 Apr. 2016

Did you know?

Éclat burst onto the scene in English in the 17th century. The word derives from French, where it can mean "splinter" (the French idiom voler en éclats means "to fly into pieces") as well as "burst" (un éclat de rire means "a burst of laughter"), among other things. The "burst" sense is reflected in the earliest English sense of the word, meaning "ostentatious display or publicity." This sense found its own idiomatic usage in the phrase "to make an éclat," which at one time meant "to create a sensation." By the 1740s, éclat took on the additional meaning of "applause or acclamation," as in "The performer was received with great éclat."



Categories: Fun Stuff