August 29th, 1911 – The Last of the Old World

  One-hundred and seven years ago today, a member of the Yahi band of the Yana people of Northern California walked out of the wilderness and into his place in history. The man, who was estimated to be about fifty years old, was foraging for food in a slaughterhouse in the small town of Oroville….

February 28th, 1939: A Dord by Any Other Name is Still Not a Word

  One of the areas of history that I’ve always¬†found fascinating is etymology – the study of where words come from and, sometimes more importantly, why they become part of our culture. There’s a reason, for example, why in addition to saying we have bad dreams, we also say we have nightmares: a “mare” in…

February 14, 1779- Captain Cook is Killed in Hawaii

    Talking about Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day would be too easy, so let’s instead turn to everyone’s favorite subject: death and dismemberment! Today’s victim: Captain James Cook, British explorer responsible for beginning the cultural erosion of the Hawaiian islands by setting into motion a complex series of social, cultural, and biological exchanges and…

February 12, 1554 – Lady Jane Grey is Beheaded

    Nine days. That’s all Lady Jane’s reign as Queen of England lasted.¬† Two-hundred and sixteen hours, give or take, from the time she was usurped and arrested. Seven months later, she would be dead. Historians still have a hard time classifying Jane Grey’s role in the English monarchy – specifically whether she was…