" Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated. "
Gilbert Chesterton

Back in the day


General Tom Thumb Marries Lavinia Warren

General Tom Thumb, born Charles Sherwood Stratton, began touring with circus pioneer P.T. Barnum in 1843 at the tender age of five. Stratton's short stature—he was a mere 3 feet, 4 inches (102 cm) tall when he died—and his comedic impersonations quickly made him an international success. In 1863, Stratton married Lavinia Warren, another performer in Barnum's show. Their marriage was front-page news, and thousands joined them at their wedding reception. What now marks Stratton's grave?



Bricks of Tea

Dried, compressed blocks of tea leaves have been used in Asia as a source of food, component of beverages, and form of currency for centuries. In Ancient China, tea was often mixed with binding agents—including flour, blood, and manure—to increase its durability, thus fortifying the tea brick against the physical demands of its use as currency. Siberian nomads preferred tea-brick currency over metal coins and continued to use the edible money until what period?

Born on a day like today


Mark Spitz

During the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, Jewish-American swimmer Mark Spitz took home seven gold medals, a feat unequaled by any other athlete in a single Olympiad. Spitz also set new world records for each of the seven events in which he took the gold. He retired from swimming at the age of 22, but about 20 years later, filmmaker Bud Greenspan offered to pay him one million dollars if he succeeded in qualifying for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. Did Spitz qualify?

Last updated on Sunday, 10th February 2008

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