" Connoisseur, n.: A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else. "
Ambrose Bierce

Back in the day


Cornerstone of the White House Is Laid in Washington, DC

Originally called the "President's Palace," the official residence of the president of the United States was designed by Irish-American architect James Hoban with guidance from President George Washington, whose term ended before he was able to move in. Some slaves took part in the construction, which lasted eight years. Today, the White House is the oldest public building in Washington. Very little of the original structure survived an 1814 fire, set by British troops in retaliation for what?




A funicular is a steep passenger railway whose cars are pulled by cables, often up the side of a mountain. Funiculars usually have two counterbalanced cars, so that as one ascends, the other descends. The funicular must therefore have at least one section of track where the cars can pass each other. Such railways are found around the world. Some are scenic attractions, while others are used in public transport. Which funicular was repeatedly destroyed by the volcano upon which it was built?

Born on a day like today


Mary Henrietta Kingsley

Kingsley was an English explorer and writer who challenged and influenced European ideas about Africa. Following the deaths of her parents, Kingsley travelled to West Africa to complete her father's unfinished book. There, she studied local customs and explored uncharted territory. Returning to her native England, she criticized missionary efforts and defended traditional African culture—including aspects such as polygamy. Another female explorer introduced her to what murderous tribal custom?

Last updated on Saturday, 13th October 2012

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