" Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues. "
Ambrose Bierce

Back in the day


Thomas Cromwell Is Executed

Arguably the architect of the Reformation, Cromwell was an English statesman who gained nearly complete control of the government as the closest advisor of King Henry VIII of England. Cromwell abused his power but only fell from Henry's favor after convincing him to marry Anne of Cleves, whom Henry found unattractive. After the marriage fizzled, Anne was sent away with a generous pension, but Cromwell was beheaded—on the same day that Henry did what?




Parallax is the apparent change in the position of an object resulting from a change in the position of the observer. The effect is useful in calculating the distances of stars from Earth, as stars appear to shift in relation to each other from different points in Earth's orbit. Parallax can affect the accuracy of photographers and snipers, who may see a target from an angle different than that of their instruments. What does parallax have to do with why pigeons bob their heads?

Born on a day like today


Malcolm Lowry

Lowry was an English writer known for his articulation of the spiritual desolation of the modern individual. His reputation rests on the semi-autobiographical 1947 novel Under the Volcano. Set in Mexico—from which Lowry was once deported—it recounts the last day of a dispirited, alcoholic, former British consul. Though critically praised, it received popular recognition only after Lowry's death—probably from the effects of alcoholism—at 47. What is listed as his official cause of death?

Last updated on Saturday, 28th July 2012

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