" Wit is educated insolence. "

Back in the day


The Battle of Bunker Hill

Early in the American Revolution and soon after the battles of Lexington and Concord, colonial troops laid siege to Boston. When they began occupying hills overlooking the city, newly reinforced British troops attacked. After two failed assaults, a third charge dislodged the Americans, who had run out of gunpowder. Though the British technically won, their unexpectedly heavy casualties were a psychological blow, and American morale soared. On what hill was the battle actually fought—and why?



The Ainu

Pushed north by the Japanese people over the last 2,000 years, the remaining Ainu—the original inhabitants of Japan—today live principally on the island of Hokkaido. Though a great deal of assimilation has occurred, the Ainu are physically and culturally distinct from ethnic Japanese. They have paler skin and more hair. Their religion is animistic and centers on a bear cult. The virtually extinct Ainu language has no known relationship to any other language. Where might they have originated?

Born on a day like today


Charles François Gounod

Gounod was French composer who also studied for the priesthood and worked as an organist. Throughout his life, he remained torn between the theatre and the church. His reputation largely rests on his hugely popular 1859 opera, Faust, but he also wrote 15 lesser-known operas, 17 masses, more than 150 songs, and two symphonies. One of his short pieces, "Funeral March of a Marionette," became well-known—albeit not by name—as the theme to what popular TV show beginning in the 1950s?

Last updated on Sunday, 17th June 2012

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