" I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards ... the Almighty will turn to Peter and say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.” "
Virginia Woolf

Back in the day


Earthquake Destroys Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas is the capital of Venezuela, located in the northern part of the country near the Caribbean coast. In 1811, Venezuela declared its independence from Spain, signing a declaration to that effect in Caracas on July 5. Less than a year later, the city was destroyed by an earthquake, prompting authorities to portray the disaster as divine punishment for those who rebelled against the Spanish Crown. What does the red color on the flag of Caracas represent?



The History of Opium Use

The medicinal properties of opium have been known for millennia, and by 4000 BCE, both Sumerian and European cultures were using it as a narcotic. Early in the 19th century, British merchants began smuggling opium into China, and by 1905, more than a quarter of China's male population was addicted to the drug. The generous use of opium-derived morphine in treating wounded American Civil War soldiers also produced many addicts. How much morphine does one gram of poppy seeds contain?

Born on a day like today


Joseph Priestley

Priestley was an English theologian and scientist. He prepared for the Presbyterian ministry but gradually rejected orthodox Calvinism for Unitarianism. His History of the Corruptions of Christianity, published in 1782, was officially burned in 1785, and he emigrated to the US in 1794. As a scientist, his manipulation of gases enabled him to investigate their properties and discover new gases, including "dephlogisticated air," a gas that was later named what?

Last updated on Wednesday, 26th March 2008

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