British Parliament Expels John Wilkes for Libelous, Racy Writings (1764)

Despite his notoriously dissolute reputation, Wilkes became a champion of the freedom of the press as a journalist and politician. While a member of the British Parliament, he repeatedly published criticisms of King George III, riling the monarch. During the 1760s, he was variously arrested, prosecuted, shot in the stomach, and expelled from Parliament multiple times, ostensibly for his racy writings. When a constituent told Wilkes that he would rather vote for the devil, how did Wilkes respond? Discuss
Continue reading “British Parliament Expels John Wilkes for Libelous, Racy Writings (1764)”

Legionnaire’s Disease Mystery Declared Solved (1977)

In July 1976, members of the American Legion veterans association who were gathered at a Philadelphia hotel began falling ill with a mysterious respiratory ailment that sickened 221 and killed 34. Months later, the US Centers for Disease Control announced that a new bacterium—Legionella pneumophila—had been identified as the culprit. It had spread through the hotel’s air conditioning system. In 2010, it was reported that 20% of Legionella infections may come from what surprising source? Discuss
Continue reading “Legionnaire’s Disease Mystery Declared Solved (1977)”

US Supreme Court Declares Home VCRs Legal (1984)

After Sony introduced the Betamax home video tape recorder in the mid-1970s, Universal Studios sued, alleging that Betamax facilitated copyright infringement by allowing users to make copies of television programs. After an eight-year legal battle, the US Supreme Court ruled that using the new technology to “time-shift” one’s television viewing constituted fair use. By then, Betamax had been eclipsed by the VHS format. What later case concerned the “space-shifting” of media? Discuss
Continue reading “US Supreme Court Declares Home VCRs Legal (1984)”

Prohibition Era Begins in the US (1920)

By January of 1919, members of the US temperance movement had been campaigning against excessive drinking for a century. Their efforts resulted in the 18th Amendment, which, when it went into effect in 1920, prohibited the sale—but not the consumption—of liquor. Prohibition spawned what John D. Rockefeller called “a vast army of lawbreakers” who profited from the illegal sale of alcohol, and the failed ban was repealed in 1933. What was delivered to the White House immediately after the repeal? Discuss
Continue reading “Prohibition Era Begins in the US (1920)”

Otho Begins His 3-Month Reign as Roman Emperor (69 CE)

Otho and Roman Emperor Nero were once friends. Then, Otho’s wife became Nero’s mistress, and Nero dispatched Otho to the remote province of Lusitania. After patiently governing the province for a decade, Otho joined a revolt against the emperor in 68 CE. Nero committed suicide, and Otho took over. However, a rival soon challenged him for the throne. Just three months into his reign, Otho killed himself, presumably to avoid a civil war in his empire. How did he bid farewell to his friends? Discuss
Continue reading “Otho Begins His 3-Month Reign as Roman Emperor (69 CE)”