" It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it. "
Mark Twain

Back in the day


First Successful Trial Run of a Steamboat

John Fitch was a man plagued by misfortune. His first foundry was a failure and his second was destroyed in the American Revolution. During a short-lived career as a surveyor in the early 1780s, he was captured by Native Americans. His luck finally seemed to turn around in 1786, when he built the first steamboat in the US, and in 1787, when he demonstrated his aptly named Perseverance on the Delaware River for an audience from the Constitutional Convention. Was his good fortune to last?




Borrowed from carnival slang, "kayfabe" is a term used in professional wrestling to describe the portrayal of staged events as real. Breaking kayfabe is frowned upon, but it can occasionally be unavoidable, as when a wrestler suffers an unscripted injury. The line between reality and kayfabe is sometimes blurred, such as when real-life spouses "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth "wed" in the ring. What was the Montreal Screwjob, perhaps the most infamous kayfabe-breaking moment?

Born on a day like today


Denis Papin

Unappreciated in his time, Papin was a French physicist and inventor who significantly advanced the development of steam power. In 1679, he invented a steam digester that was the forerunner of the pressure cooker, in the process demonstrating the influence of atmospheric pressure on boiling points. His observations of his digester then led him to design a steam-driven piston that became the basis for early steam engines. Despite his innovations, he died in relative obscurity. Where is he buried?

Last updated on Thursday, 22nd August 2013

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