An 82-year-old retired teacher was surprised by a group of former students who sang holiday carols at his home this week. Vincent Gibbs, known to his neighbors as "Mr. Christmas," taught drama for 20 years at Maryland's Peary High School. Gibbs has spent his retirement honing his holiday spirit but was unable to do his usual decorating this year due to ongoing cancer treatment. About 100 Peary
alumni, some of whom graduated 50 years ago, brought the Christmas cheer right to his door.
The Federal Trade Commission ruled on December 19 that Epic Games must pay $520 million after it violated privacy policies and
duped users into making unintentional purchases. The agency said the company, which created Fortnite and other video games, tricked children into buying outfits for their game characters using their parents' credit cards.
Dupe was originally thieves' jargon, from
de huppe, or "of the hoopoe," an infamously unintelligent bird.
Following the latest scientific prediction that a million plants and animals currently risk
extinction, 190 countries signed a broad biodiversity protection plan on December 19. The agreement, organized by the United Nations, pledges to protect a third of the world's oceans and land by 2030 in an effort to save as many species as possible from dying out. The Latin root of
extinction means "quench or wipe out."
At the end of the movie
Titanic, after the ship sinks, a character dies because there isn't room for him on a raft. The film's director, James Cameron, said this week that a
forensic study proved that Jack wouldn't have fit on the floating door with Rose without tipping them both into the frigid water, contrary to a fan theory that he could have saved himself. Details of the scientific analysis by a "hypothermia expert" will be broadcast on television in February.
Much of the United States experienced unusually bitter weather this week, as Arctic air moved south.
Frigid temperatures dipped as low as minus twenty degrees in Montana and North Dakota. The cold stalled air traffic in Seattle, where flights were canceled; forecasters predicted more travel delays across the Midwest. Parts of every state in the continental U.S. are likely to experience freezing temperatures on December 24.
Frigid derives from a root meaning "cold."
In Australia, products containing spinach were recalled after dozens of people fell ill. The tainted green caused symptoms including rapid heartbeat and
hallucinations. Scientists suspect that the spinach was contaminated by a nightshade weed that can alter brain chemistry, affecting vision and memory. Resulting visual delusions can include realistic visions of deceased relatives, familiar places, and other apparitions. The root of
hallucination means "wander in mind."
New research suggests that taking up a
hobby can help ward off dementia. Regular activities done for fun often involve concentration and repetition, both of which help keep the brain nimble according to scientists who study cognitive decline in older people. Learning new skills and being actively engaged may stave off memory loss, these experts say.
Hobby was originally
hobbyhorse, from the name of a toy horse that gave the word its meaning of "favorite pursuit."
The January 6 House committee voted in favor of making criminal and ethics
referrals against Donald Trump this week. In their recommendation to the Justice Department, the panel officially accused Trump of inciting insurrection, as well as three other federal crimes connected to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. It's the first time in U.S. history that Congress has referred a former president to be criminally charged.
surveyed Twitter users this week, asking them to weigh in on whether he should step down as CEO of the social media site; nearly 60 percent responded that he should. Musk had promised to abide by the results of the 12-hour poll, and on December 20 he said he would resign "as soon as (he finds) someone foolish enough to take the job," but that he would continue to run many vital parts of the company.
A two-year-old in Uganda survived after nearly being eaten by a hippopotamus. The toddler, Iga Paul, was playing outdoors when the hungry hippo attacked, partially
swallowing him before a bystander scared the animal off. Before running away, the hippo regurgitated and spit out the child. Iga was treated for minor injuries and rabies.
Swallow is from the Old English
swelgan, "imbibe or absorb," from a root that means "gulp."
A shortage of large animal
veterinarians has grown worse since the start of the pandemic. It's increasingly difficult for farmers in rural areas to find trained animal doctors. The situation has become critical, as most new vets enter practices that focus on caring for pets like dogs and cats, and few choose career paths that include treating cows, pigs, and other livestock animals.
Veterinarian's Latin root means "beast of burden."
Argentina, led by its star player, Lionel Messi, defeated France in the final game of the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament on December 18. The match went into overtime, with a final score of 4 to 2. It was Argentina's first World Cup
victory since 1986, and the only win for Messi, who is widely considered to be one of the best players of all time. The Latin root of
vincere, "to overcome or conquer."