In his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce describes the protagonist's heart as having "withered up like a flower of the desert that feels the simoom coming from afar." A simoom is a strong, dry, dust-laden wind that blows in the deserts of Arabia and North Africa. True to Joyce's simile, a simoom is the epitome of hot and dry—its temperature may exceed 130°F (54°C), and its humidity level may fall below 10 percent. "Simoom" comes from an Arabic word meaning what?
Jerome K. Jerome
Back in the day
During his 61-year rule as monarch, King Sobhuza II of Swaziland had 210 children by at least 70 wives. When Sobhuza died in 1982, one of his sons, Prince Makhosetive Dlamini, was selected as his successor. Four years later, Dlamini was crowned King Mswati III—just months before he was scheduled to take his final exams at his private English boarding school. Mswati's power as monarch is nearly absolute, and he has been criticized for abuses of his rule and for what personal indulgences?
Born on a day like today
Mortimer was imprisoned in 1322 for opposing King Edward II, but he escaped to France. When Edward II's queen, Isabella, came to France in 1325, Mortimer became her lover. Together they invaded England in 1326 and routed Edward, whom they forced to abdicate and later had murdered. Having secured the crown for young Edward III, Mortimer, with Isabella, virtually ruled England and acquired great wealth. In 1330, he was seized by Edward III, convicted by Parliament, and executed by what means?