" Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. "
Arthur Conan Doyle

Back in the day


Gertrude of Merania Killed by Discontented Hungarian Nobles

The first wife of Andrew II of Hungary, Gertrude played an active role in the political machinations of his early reign. She used her influence to advance her German relatives at court and gifted Hungarian lands to them, angering the Hungarian nobility and inciting them to action. While her husband was off on a military campaign, Gertrude was murdered by a group of discontented nobles. The unsavory affair served as the inspiration for what Hungarian composer's famous opera, Bánk bán?




A uniquely Japanese phenomenon, Dekotora—or "Decoration Trucks"—are dump trucks, tractor-trailers, or buses that have been customized with large amounts of lights, metallic ornamentation, and elaborate artwork. Popularized in the 1970s, Dekotora are retrofitted to reflect their owners' tastes, incorporating intricate chrome and steel work and designs ranging from dragons to flowers, mountain scenes, Buddhist symbols, pop stars, and anime characters. What 1975 film made Dekotora popular?

Born on a day like today


Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Born free in Baltimore, Maryland—where slavery was still in place—Harper was raised by an abolitionist uncle and published her first volume of poetry when she 20 years old. In 1854, she gave her first anti-slavery lecture. Her second volume, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, made her the best known African-American poet of the era. Her short story, "The Two Offers," was probably the first such published work by any African American. How old was she when she published her first novel?

Last updated on Tuesday, 24th September 2013

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