" A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. "
Washington Irving

Back in the day


Siam Is Renamed Thailand

Thailand's origin is traditionally tied to the short-lived kingdom of Sukhothai founded in 1238. After contact with the west in the 16th century, adroit diplomacy enabled Siam to remain independent of European colonization, the only country in Southeast Asia able to do so. A mostly bloodless revolution established a constitutional monarchy in Siam in 1932. Seven years later, under Pibul Songgram's military dictatorship, the name Thailand was adopted. What does the word thai mean?




A gerontocracy is system of oligarchical rule in which leaders are significantly older than most of the adult population. In gerontocracies, political power often accumulates with age. While those holding the most power may not hold formal positions, they often dominate those who do. Such forms of rule are common in communist states where the length of one's service to the party is among the main qualifications for leadership. In what works of fiction have gerontocracies been depicted?

Born on a day like today


Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Münchhausen

Münchhausen was a German baron who became legendary for his fantastic stories about his adventures as a hunter, sportsman, and soldier. Sent in his youth to serve as a page, he later joined the Russian military and served until 1750, taking part in two campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. Returning home, Münchhausen acquired a reputation as an honest businessman but also as a teller of tall tales. He claimed to have ridden cannonballs, travelled to the moon, and escaped a swamp by doing what?

Last updated on Wednesday, 11th May 2011

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