" All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions ... I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. "
Henry David Thoreau

Back in the day


US Brigadier General James Dozier Kidnapped by Italian Terrorists

In 1981, US Brigadier General James Dozier was kidnapped from his apartment in Italy by men posing as plumbers. The kidnappers were members of the Red Brigades, an extreme left-wing terrorist organization that sought to undermine the Italian state and pave the way for Marxist upheaval. Dozier, who was serving as deputy chief of staff at NATO's Southern European land forces headquarters in Verona, was the first American general ever abducted by a terrorist group. How long was he held captive?



The Ambulocetus

Though similar to crocodiles in appearance and behavior, Ambulocetus was actually an early cetacean—a member of the mammalian order that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. However, unlike today's cetaceans, Ambulocetus had legs and so could walk as well as swim. These and other key adaptations of the "walking whale" have helped scientists piece together the way in which whales evolved from land mammals. Ambulocetus lived 50 million years ago in what part of the world?

Born on a day like today


Gabrielle-Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet

The wife of a French marquis, du Châtelet defied convention in both her personal and professional life. She was a mathematician and physicist and wrote a number of scientific treatises as well as a translation of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica. She had several extramarital affairs—the most enduring of which was with philosopher and writer Voltaire, who once described her as "a great man whose only fault was being a woman." How did she once think her way out of a gambling debt?

Last updated on Tuesday, 17th December 2013

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