" It is a good lesson—though it may often be a hard one—for a man who has dreamed of literary fame ... to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of all significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at. "
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Back in the day


Billionaire's Grandson Found Alive—But Maimed—after Kidnapping

In 1973, 16-year-old John Paul Getty III—grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty—was kidnapped in Rome. His family initially dismissed a $17-million ransom demand as a joke by the rebellious teen, but a second note convinced his father to ask J. Paul to pay it. He refused. The frustrated kidnappers then cut off John's ear and sent it along with a note saying he would "arrive in little pieces" if their demands were not met. At this, the elder Getty relented, paying over $2 million on what condition?



Eton Wall Game

Every year to mark St. Andrew's Day, England's Eton College holds the Eton Wall Game, in which scholarship students square off against non-scholarship holders. In this unusual type of rugby with rules so complex and mysterious that spectators are often confused, players try to win goals by getting the ball into the opposing team's "calx," designated by a chalk line on a wall at one end of the field and by a mark on a tree at the other. Goals are extremely rare. When was the last one scored?

Born on a day like today


Ludwig Lazarus "L. L." Zamenhof

Born and raised in Bialystok, a city on the Polish-Russian border populated by Poles, Germans, and Belarusians, Zamenhof was profoundly affected by the ethnic conflict he witnessed all around him. In his estimation, the primary cause of such conflict was mutual misunderstanding. Thus, he reasoned, removing communication barriers would foster peace. To this end, the young doctor and linguist devoted himself to developing an international language called "Esperanto," which means what?

Last updated on Sunday, 15th December 2013

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