" Patriotism is like charity—it begins at home. "
Henry James

Back in the day


World's First Communications Satellite Launched

Today, communications satellites are widely used to provide internet access, TV and radio broadcasting, and mobile telephone service, even to areas where traditional cable service is unfeasible. The first such satellite, launched by the US Air Force, was Project SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment). It was equipped with two tape recorders—each with a four-minute capacity—and batteries that would last for 12 days. What was the first message broadcast from the satellite?




Elam was an ancient country situated in what is today western Iran. The Elamite population was neither Sumerian nor Semitic, and their language—unrelated to any other—survives in a copious cuneiform literature. Elam seems to have maintained its independence through numerous invasions and counter-invasions, and a distinct Elamite culture flourished from the 13th century BCE. Though Elam was eventually absorbed in the rise of Persia, its culture persisted. What religion did the Elamites practice?

Born on a day like today


Joseph Grimaldi

Grimaldi was an English actor who is considered the inventor of the modern clown character. He made his debut as a young child at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, and for years he performed there and at Drury Lane. By the time he starred in Harlequin Mother Goose at Covent Garden in 1806, he was a legend. He is credited with introducing the white makeup now commonly worn by clowns. Exhausted by the physical exertion of clowning, he died in 1837. What famous author edited his memoirs?

Last updated on Tuesday, 18th December 2012

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