This Day in History

Napalm Incendiary Bombs Dropped for First Time by US Air Force (1944)
Napalm is an organic compound used to thicken gasoline for use as an incendiary in flamethrowers and firebombs. The thickened mixture burns more slowly and can be propelled more accurately and farther than gasoline. When it comes in contact with surfaces, including the human body, it sticks and continues to burn. It was developed and first used by the US in World War II. Its use in the Vietnam War became highly controversial. "Napalm" is a combination of what two words? Discuss

Saddam Hussein Becomes President of Iraq (1979)
Hussein was president of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. He joined Iraq's Ba'th Party in 1957 and fled to Egypt after participating in a failed attempt to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister in 1959. He returned to Iraq when the Ba'thists gained power in 1963 but was jailed when they were overthrown. He escaped and helped reinstall the party in 1968. A decade later, he took over the presidency with the aim of replacing Egypt as leader of the Arab world. How many wars did Iraq fight during his tenure?

Fire Ravages Rome's Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (1823)
In 1823, a worker repairing the roof of Rome's Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls accidentally started a fire that resulted in its almost total destruction. The church, built under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, had retained its original character for nearly 1,500 years. Reconstruction work began almost immediately with the aim of recreating the original structure. The viceroy of Egypt contributed alabaster pillars to the rebuilding effort, while the Russian emperor sent what?

Today

S.Y. Agnon (1888)
Agnon was an Israeli writer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Hebrew novelists and short-story writers. Born into a Polish Galician family in what is now Ukraine, Agnon settled in Palestine in 1907. His fiction explores Jewish life from the late 18th century to the post-WWI period. The Day Before Yesterday, perhaps his greatest novel, examines the problems faced by the westernized Jewish immigrant to Israel. In 1966, Agnon shared the Nobel Prize in Literature with whom? Discuss

Saint Clare of Assisi (1194)
Born to a noble family, Chiara Offreduccio, now St. Clare of Assisi, was deeply influenced by fellow Assisian St. Francis. Refusing to marry, she instead fled to a chapel where he received her vows. She later became abbess of a female religious community that included her sister and mother. The Second Order of St. Francis, or Poor Clares, adopted the absolute poverty of St. Francis but was strictly cloistered, unlike its counterpart, the Franciscans. Why is Clare the patron saint of television?

Jacques Derrida (1930)
Derrida was an Algerian-born French philosopher whose critique of Western philosophy encompasses literature, linguistics, and psychoanalysis. In his famously dense and complex writings, he attempted to take apart, or "deconstruct," the edifice of Western metaphysics and reveal what he deemed its incompatible foundations. His thought is based on his disapproval of the search for an ultimate metaphysical certainty. Why was Derrida so controversial among many of his fellow philosophers?