Today in History (March 31st):
1596: Birthdays: French philosopher Rene Descartes.
1732: Birthdays: Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn.
1809: Birthdays: Poet Edward FitzGerald.
1878: Birthdays: Boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American to hold the heavyweight title.
1889: The Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by its designer, Gustave Eiffel, during the Universal Exhibition of Arts and Manufacturers.
1906: The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later renamed the National Collegiate Athletic Association, was established.
1915: Birthdays: Comedian Henry Morgan.
1918: Daylight saving time went into effect in the United States for the first time.
1922: Birthdays: Actor/singer Richard Kiley.
1924: Birthdays: Author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia.
1927: Birthdays: United Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez; Actor William Daniels.
1928: Birthdays: Hockey Hall of Fame member Gordie Howe.
1929: Birthdays: Fashion designer Liz Claiborne.
1932: Birthdays: Author John Jakes.
1934: Birthdays: Actor Shirley Jones; Actor Richard Chamberlain.
1935: Birthdays: Trumpeter/bandleader and music entrepreneur Herb Alpert.
1942: Birthdays: Political commentator Michael Savage.
1943: Birthdays: Actor Christopher Walken.
1945: Birthdays: Actor Gabe Kaplan.
1948: The U.S. Congress passed the Marshall Aid Act, a plan to rehabilitate war-ravaged Europe. Birthdays: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore Jr.; Actor Rhea Perlman.
1950: Birthdays: Actor Ed Marinaro.
1954: The U.S. Air Force Academy was established at Colorado Springs.
1959: The Dalai Lama fled Chinese-occupied Tibet and was granted political asylum in India.
1968: U.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn’t seek re-election and simultaneously ordered suspension of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.
1971: U.S. Army Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the deaths of 22 Vietnamese civilians in what was called the My Lai massacre. Birthdays: Actor Ewan McGregor.
1991: The Warsaw Pact formally ended as Soviet commanders surrendered their powers in an agreement between pact members and the Soviet Union.
1992: The U.N. Security Council voted to impose air traffic and weapons sanctions against Libya for not surrendering six men wanted by the United States, Britain and France in the bombings of a U.S. jetliner and a French plane.
1994: A state of emergency was declared in the South African Zulu homeland of KwaZulu following deadly fighting before the country’s first universal-suffrage elections.
1998: The U.N. Security Council voted to impose an arms embargo on Yugoslavia after unrest in the Serbian province of Kosovo turned violent.
2001: Serbian police and security forces attempted to arrest former President Slobodan Milosevic at his home in Belgrade on charges of corruption while in office. Supporters forced a stand-off that lasted until the next day when Milosevic surrendered.
2003: Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri called on U.S. and British forces to withdraw immediately from Iraq because Iraqis were determined to inflict the final defeat.
2005: Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state since 1990, died, 14 days after removal of her feeding tube amid a legal struggle over her fate reaching to the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court.
2006: Rescue workers searched for victims of a capsized cruise boat during a Persian Gulf party. Fifty-seven people were reported dead and 67 rescued.
2007: Pakistan successfully tested its Hataf-II Abdali ballistic missile, believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
2008: The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,262.89, down 7.6 percent since the end of 2007. It was the worst quarterly performance in five years.
2009: A year later, the Dow Jones industrial average closed the month at 7,608.92, up 7.7 percent, while the Standard and Poor’s 500 rose 8.5 percent, closing at 797.87 and the Nasdaq composite rebounded from six-year low and closed at 1,528.59, a one-month gain of 11 percent.
2010: U.S. President Barack Obama announced an expansion of offshore development and exploration on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico and support for areas of Alaska’s North Slope as part of a broad new energy security plan.
2012: Japan announced its military was standing by to shoot down a North Korean missile if necessary. North Korea announced plans to launch a satellite into orbit sometime in April aboard a military missile. The government in nearby Japan was concerned the vehicle could crash into its territory.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)
“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.” – J. W. Fulbright
“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (1918-2008)
“The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you’ll know when to cringe next time.” – Anonymous
“I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.” – Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)
“Pride, like laudanum and other poisonous medicines, is beneficial in small, though injurious in large, quantities. No man who is not pleased with himself, even in a personal sense, can please others.” – Frederick Saunders, librarian and essayist (1807-1902)
(1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist:
“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”
“At the time, my grandparents told my mom, “Lordy, what is Shannen doing?” Now I’ve calmed down.”
“Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.”
“Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.”
“Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems.”
“Everything is self-evident.”
“Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.”
“I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.”
“I think; therefore I am.”
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
“Illusory joy is often worth more than genuine sorrow.”
“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”
“Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.”
PRONUNCIATION: (PREE-shuns; PREE-shee-uns; PRESH-uns; PRESH-ee-uns; PREE-see-uns; PRES-ee-uns)
MEANING: (noun), Knowledge of events before they take place; foresight.
ETYMOLOGY: Prescience is from Latin praescientia, from praescio, praescire, to know beforehand, from prae, before + scio, scire, to know.
USAGE: “Mel spent entirely too much time beating himself up over not having had the prescience to acquire the Microsoft stock when the company first went public.”
MEANING: (adjective), Generous or forgiving, especially towards a weak rival.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin magnanimus (great-souled), from magnus (great) + animus (soul, mind). Ultimately from the Indo-European root meg- (great), which also gave us magnificent, maharaja, master, mayor, maestro, magnate, magistrate, maximum, magnify, mahatma, magisterial, mickle, and hermetic. Earliest documented use: 1547.
USAGE: “Breslin was magnanimous in victory, paying tribute to the efforts of Glenavon.” – Gordon Hanna; Cliftonville in Cruise Control; Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland); Mar 19, 2013.
Explore “magnanimous” in the Visual Thesaurus.
MEANING: (noun), Unwanted or uninteresting printed matter such as governmental forms, legal documents, junk mail, promotional pamphlets, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: Short for bum fodder, slang for toilet paper. Earliest documented use: 1889.
USAGE: “A mortgage loan can generate 200 pages of bumf, most of it so boring and repetitious that no one has the energy or the time to read it all.” – John Gilmour; Lenders Use The Hoover Principle; The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); Jan 20, 2001.
Explore “bumf” in the Visual Thesaurus.
MEANING: (noun), World view; philosophy of life; a framework through which to interpret the world.
ETYMOLOGY: From German Weltanschauung (world view), from Welt (world) + Anschauung (perception).
NOTES: When we bring in a word from another language, sometimes we borrow it and at other times make a loan translation. The word weltanschauung appears so useful that English has borrowed the original form and also made a loan translation: world view.
USAGE: “Gwyneth Paltrow summed up her weltanschauung thus: ‘My life is good because I am not passive about it.’” – Richard Dorment; Gwyneth Paltrow Feels Good — And So Can You; Esquire (New York); Sep 16, 2009.
Explore “weltanschauung” in the Visual Thesaurus.
MEANING: (adjective), Not producing fruit; sterile.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek akarpos, from a- (not) + karpos (fruit). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kerp- (to gather or harvest) which is also the source of harvest, excerpt, carpet, and scarce.
USAGE: “According to the doomsayers, if a satellite doesn’t clobber you into the next millennium, there’s always the danger its plutonium payload will turn your neighbourhood area into an acarpous wasteland.” – Adrian Bradley; Space Junk Roulette; The Australian (Sydney); Nov 19, 1996.