" It takes two flints to make a fire. "
Louisa May Alcott

Back in the day


Battle of Taranto

This battle, which took place during World War II, marked the first all-aircraft naval attack in history. The results were definitive, as British planes destroyed much of the Italian fleet anchored in Taranto. The battle is seen as a turning point in military history, marking the end of the reign of "big-gun" battleships and leading to the rise of naval air power. Certain aspects of the attack were studied as part of the planning for what other notorious aerial bombardment?



Snake Oil

Snake oil is a traditional Chinese remedy for joint pain and inflammation. Imitations with unidentified or mischaracterized ingredients have caused the term "snake oil" to become synonymous in Western culture with a class of remedies marketed as miraculous panaceas but which actually provide little health benefit. Authentic snake oil, however, is thought to be a plausible treatment for joint pain since it is derived from the Chinese water snake, which is the world's richest known source of what?

Born on a day like today


Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky was a literary giant whose works exhibit an uncanny grasp of human psychology and offer penetrating analyses of the political, social, and spiritual state of the Russia of his time. His best known works include Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov and concern the problem of evil, the nature of freedom, and the craving for faith. Which great Russian novelist reportedly burst into tears when he learned of Dostoevsky's death?

Last updated on Wednesday, 11th November 2009

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