" Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. "
Mark Twain

Back in the day


Christmas Island Discovered by Captain James Cook

Though Captain James Cook was certainly not the first person to set foot on Christmas Island—the atoll had been visited by native Pacific Islanders in the past—it was uninhabited when he found it. Both the UK and US later laid claim to the atoll, and they vied for power there for the next 100 years or so, until it gained independence as part of the 33-island Republic of Kiribati and was renamed Kiritimati. Before it gained independence, the US and UK used the atoll as a testing ground for what?



Cock Throwing

Widely practiced in England until the 19th century, cock throwing was a blood sport in which people took turns throwing heavy sticks at a rooster tied to a stake until it died. If a rooster became too injured to stand, it could be propped up on sticks for the remainder of the game. It was a popular pastime for people of all classes, particularly among the young, and was traditionally practiced on Shrove Tuesday—even after it was banned. What were some variations on the brutal game?

Born on a day like today


Kit Carson

Carson was an American frontiersman, trapper, scout, Indian agent, and soldier. He ran away from home as a teen to join an expedition to the Southwest, embarking on a lifetime of adventure that earned him an almost mythical status in the annals of the American West. Much to his dismay, fictionalized versions of his daring exploits were published in a series of popular novels. He was haunted by the knowledge that a lady who had been kidnapped and killed had had such a book in her possession. Why?

Last updated on Monday, 24th December 2012

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