" A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others. "
Ambrose Bierce

Back in the day


General George Washington Crosses the Delaware in a Surprise Attack

By December 1776, the morale of American colonists fighting in the Revolution had been severely weakened by a string of losses to the better-equipped British. On Christmas Day, Washington crossed the partially-frozen Delaware River with thousands of troops, overnight and during an ice storm, to surprise and overwhelm Hessian mercenaries at Trenton. There were few casualties, and the bold move restored hope of an American victory. What secret phrase signaled the start of the crossing?



Iranian Pottery

A crossroads of ancient civilizations and home to some of the world's oldest human settlements, Iran has a rich and storied history. Modern-day excavations have uncovered an almost continuous record of that history in the form of pottery, which transformed stylistically as a reaction to cultural and political changes. For example, following the 13th-century Mongol domination of Persia, Islamic pottery clearly began exhibiting a Chinese influence. During which dynasty were ceramic coffins used?

Born on a day like today


Conrad Nicholson Hilton

As a boy, Hilton helped his father turn the family's home into an inn for traveling salesmen. After serving in World War I, he began to buy hotels in Texas and soon graduated to such grand establishments as Chicago's Palmer House and the Waldorf-Astoria of New York. By the late 1940s, Hilton's company had expanded overseas, and at the time of his death in 1979, Hilton controlled the world's largest hotel company. Aside from the Bible, what book was once stocked in all of Hilton's hotel rooms?

Last updated on Tuesday, 25th December 2012

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