Before he became the 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis was a general in the U.S. Marines Corps. He earned his nickname of "Mad Dog" with his characteristic bluntness and determination. He famously advised fellow Marines, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."
The most valuable item known to have been shipped by U.S. mail was the Hope Diamond. It was shipped from a New York City jewelry store on November 8, 1958, and sent to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. The Hope Diamond has long been rumored to be cursed. According to legend, the diamond... Continue Reading →
Few military maneuvers instill as many thoughts of heroism and daring as the cavalry charge. Rushing at full speed against an onslaught of enemy forces has inspired such poetic works Alfred, Lord Tennyson's as "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and have launched political careers, as did the Battle of San Juan Hill for U.S.... Continue Reading →
Greek philosopher Gorgias of Epirus (c. 485 BC - c. 380 BC) narrowly avoided being buried alive on the first day of his life. Gorgias was born inside his recently-deceased mother's coffin. The pallbearers heard him crying as they carried the coffin to the grave and discovered the newborn when they investigated.
Readers of Commonplace will not be surprised to learn that one little mistranslation from one language to another can be embarrassing. Whether it is one misplaced letter when cheering General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent interpreter for a US President, or slip of a tongue during an word of encouragement from a member of the royal family, one... Continue Reading →
Sir Walter Raleigh’s life came to an end on October 29, 1618. On orders from James I, the executioner took Raleigh’s head from his shoulders (although needing two strikes of the axe to finish the job). It then fell to his wife to bury his body -- well, most of it, anyway. Having removed Raleigh’s... Continue Reading →
One of the most famous assassinations in history took place on March 15, 44 BC. Julius Caesar was attacked by a group of Roman senators and stabbed to death. William Shakespeare famously records his last words as, “Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar!” (Julius Caesar). Others say his last words were Greek, “Καί σύ, τέκνον.”... Continue Reading →
Regicide is the term used to describe to killing of a monarch. History records kings and queens who have been poisoned, stabbed, shot, beheaded, and blown up. The animal kingdom boasts a kinder way to remove the sovereign: death by cuddling. When the queen of a bee colony becomes too old or unproductive, the worker... Continue Reading →
Death is one thing we can all count on, but we try not to dwell on it. Although it is a certainty for everyone, it always seems to take us by surprise. It shouldn’t, because it is all around us — at an astonishing rate. According to the World Health Organization, 55.3 million of your... Continue Reading →
Many have speculated about what was going on inside Albert Einstein's brain. The author of the Theory of Relativity and one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists of all time possessed a brain that came to be synonymous with the word genius. While the mystery of his brain's inner workings continues to be a topic of... Continue Reading →
People go to amusement parks for thrill rides and to get an adrenaline fix. The excitement comes from the sensation of danger, accompanied by the assurance of safety. Patrons of New Jersey's Action Park got adrenaline -- and more -- from the sensation of danger, accompanied by the real thing. Action Park's safety record was... Continue Reading →
If things get so desperate for you that you contemplate killing someone to collect on insurance, be sure you find a cooperative victim. That lesson was learned the hard way by the men who tried to kill Michael Malloy. Tony Marino, Joseph "Red" Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg came up with a... Continue Reading →
The People's Republic of China prohibits reincarnation without prior permission of the government. The 14-part regulation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs is aimed at limiting the influence of Tibet’s exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama, and at preventing the re-incarnation of the revered monk without approval from Beijing. source
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) knew the value of a faithful friend. Maybe that's why he acquired a yellow mixed-breed dog in 1855 when he lived in Springfield, Illinois. The future President named the dog Fido, and they quickly became inseparable. Their connection would unite them in life -- and in death. Fido accompanied Lincoln everywhere in... Continue Reading →
Fans of Wallace and Gromit mourned the passing of Peter Sallis (February 1, 1921 - June 2, 2017) at the age of 96. This versatile actor was beloved as the voice of Wallace in the claymation series Wallace and Gromit. Whovians tip their hat to Sallis as having a featured role in the 1967 Doctor... Continue Reading →