Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 2011

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January 1

The ceremony for the naming of Canberra, 12 March 1913

The history of the Australian Capital Territory as an administrative division of Australia began after the Federation of Australia in 1901. The region has a long prior history of human habitation before the Territory's creation, with evidence of Indigenous Australian settlement dating back at least 21,000 years. Following the colonisation of Australia by the British, the 19th century saw the initial European exploration and settlement of the area and their encounters with the local indigenous peoples, beginning in 1820 and shortly followed by settlements in 1824. In 1908, the region was selected as the site of the nation's future capital city. The territory officially came under government control as the Federal Capital Territory on 1 January 1911. The planning and construction of Canberra followed, with the Parliament of Australia finally moving there in 1927. (more...)

Recently featured: Georges VézinaLaplace–Runge–Lenz vectorLaurence of Canterbury

January 2

Bob Marshall

Robert Marshall (1901–1939) was an American forester, writer and wilderness activist. He developed a love for the outdoors during his childhood and became one of the first Adirondack Forty-Sixers. He also traveled to the Alaskan wilderness and wrote numerous publications, including the 1933 bestselling book Arctic Village. A scientist with a Doctor of Philosophy in plant physiology, Marshall became independently wealthy after the death of his father. He held two significant public posts during his life: chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, from 1933 to 1937, and head of recreation management in the Forest Service, from 1937 to 1939. Defining wilderness as a social as well as an environmental ideal, Marshall was the first to suggest a formal, national organization dedicated to the preservation of primeval land. In 1935 he became one of the principal founders of The Wilderness Society. Marshall died of heart failure at the age of 38. Today, Marshall is considered largely responsible for the wilderness preservation movement. Several landmarks and areas, including The Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana and Mount Marshall in the Adirondacks, were named in his honor. (more...)

Recently featured: History of the Australian Capital TerritoryGeorges VézinaLaplace–Runge–Lenz vector

January 3

Title page from Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is a deeply personal travel narrative by the eighteenth-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. It covers a wide range of topics, from sociological reflections on Scandinavia and its peoples to philosophical questions regarding identity. Published by Wollstonecraft's career-long publisher, Joseph Johnson, it was the last work issued during her lifetime. Wollstonecraft undertook the tour of the three countries in order to retrieve a stolen treasure ship for her lover, Gilbert Imlay, believing that the journey would restore their strained relationship. However, over the course of the three-month trip, she realized that Imlay had no intention of renewing the relationship. The twenty-five letters which constitute the text, drawn from her journal and from missives she sent to Imlay, reflect her anger and melancholy over his repeated betrayals. Using the rhetoric of the sublime, Wollstonecraft explores the relationship between the self and society in the text. Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is both a travel narrative and an autobiographical memoir, and was Wollstonecraft's most popular book in the 1790s—it sold well and was reviewed positively by most critics. (more...)

Recently featured: Robert MarshallHistory of the Australian Capital TerritoryGeorges Vézina

January 4

An ocellated Antbird

The antbirds are a large family of passerine birds found in forests across subtropical and tropical Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina. There are more than 200 species, known variously as antshrikes, antwrens, antvireos, fire-eyes, bare-eyes and bushbirds. They are related to the antthrushes and antpittas (family Formicariidae), the tapaculos, the gnateaters and the ovenbirds. Antbirds are generally small birds with rounded wings and strong legs. They have mostly sombre grey, white, brown and rufous plumage, which is sexually dimorphic in pattern and colouring. Some species communicate warnings to rivals by exposing white feather patches on their backs or shoulders. Most have heavy bills, which in many species are hooked at the tip. Insects and other arthropods form the most important part of their diet, although small vertebrates are occasionally taken. Most species feed in the forest understory and midstory, although a few feed in the canopy and a few on the ground. To various degrees, around eighteen species specialise in following columns of army ants to eat the small invertebrates flushed by the ants, and many others may feed in this way opportunistically. Thirty-eight species are threatened with extinction due to human activities. The principal threat is habitat loss, which causes habitat fragmentation and increased nest predation in habitat fragments. (more...)

Recently featured: Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and DenmarkRobert MarshallHistory of the Australian Capital Territory

January 5

The Town Hall of Mangalore

Mangalore is the chief port city of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is located about 350 kilometres (217 mi) west of the state capital Bangalore. Bound by the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountain ranges, Mangalore is the administrative headquarters of the Dakshina Kannada district in south western Karnataka. Mangalore developed as a port on the Arabian Sea – remaining, to this day, a major port of India. Lying on the backwaters of the Netravati and Gurupura rivers, Mangalore is often used as a staging point for sea traffic along the Malabar Coast. The city has a tropical climate and lies on the path of the Arabian Sea branch of the South-West monsoons. Mangalore was ruled by several major powers, including the Kadambas, Vijayanagar dynasty, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, and the Portuguese. The city was a source of contention between the British and the Mysore rulers, Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan. Eventually annexed by the British in 1799, Mangalore remained part of the Madras Presidency until India's independence in 1947. The city's landscape is characterized by rolling hills, coconut palms, freshwater streams, and hard red-clay tiled-roof buildings. (more...)

Recently featured: AntbirdLetters Written in Sweden, Norway, and DenmarkRobert Marshall

January 6

"Homer's Enemy" is the 23rd episode of the eighth season of American animated television series The Simpsons. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 4, 1997. The plot of the episode centers on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's hiring of a new employee named Frank Grimes. Homer attempts to befriend Grimes; however, Grimes takes an instant dislike to Homer, angered by his laziness and incompetence, and eventually declares himself Homer's enemy. The episode was directed by Jim Reardon and the script was written by John Swartzwelder, based on an idea pitched by executive producer Bill Oakley. The episode explores the comic possibilities of a realistic character with a strong work ethic placed alongside Homer in a work environment. The show's staff worked hard to perfect the character of Frank Grimes. He was partially modeled after Michael Douglas as he appeared in the film Falling Down. Hank Azaria provided the voice of Frank Grimes, and based some of the character's mannerisms on actor William H. Macy. "Homer's Enemy" is considered to be one of the darkest episodes of The Simpsons and is a favorite of several members of the production staff. Although Grimes makes his only appearance in this episode, he was later named one of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral characters" by IGN. (more...)

Recently featured: MangaloreAntbirdLetters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

January 7

Portrait of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales

Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796–1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. Instead, she died following childbirth at the age of 21. Charlotte's parents disliked each other from before their pre-arranged marriage and soon separated. As Charlotte grew to adulthood, her father pressured her to marry William, Hereditary Prince of Orange, but after initially accepting him, Charlotte soon broke off the match. This resulted in an extended contest of wills between her and her father, and finally the Prince of Wales permitted her to marry Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later Leopold I of Belgium). After a year and a half of happy marriage, Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son. Charlotte's death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and a contrast both to her unpopular father and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. As she had been King George III's only legitimate grandchild, there was pressure on the King's unwed sons to marry. King George III's fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual heir, Queen Victoria. (more...)

Recently featured: "Homer's Enemy" – MangaloreAntbird

January 8

Bob Dylan in 1963

"Like a Rolling Stone" is a 1965 song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (pictured). Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned exhausted from a gruelling tour of England. During a difficult two day's pre-production, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was recorded without success as a waltz. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known. However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song's length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when, a month later, a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, "Like a Rolling Stone" reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit. The track has been described as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylan's voice, and the directness of the question in the chorus: "How does it feel?". "Like a Rolling Stone" transformed Dylan's career and is today considered one of the most influential compositions in post-war popular music and has since its release been both a music industry and popular culture milestone which elevated Dylan's image to iconic. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Wailers and Green Day. (more...)

Recently featured: Princess Charlotte of Wales – "Homer's Enemy" – Mangalore

January 9

A portrait of John L. Helm painted by his granddaughter Katherine

John L. Helm (1802–1867) was the 18th and 24th governor of Kentucky, although his aggregate service in that office was less than fourteen months. He also represented Hardin County in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly and was chosen Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives four times. In 1838 his sole bid for national office ended in defeat when his opponent, Willis Green, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After his service as governor Helm became president of the struggling Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Although he openly opposed secession during the American Civil War, federal military forces labeled Helm a Confederate sympathizer. In September 1862, he was arrested for this alleged sympathy, but Governor James F. Robinson recognized him as he was being transported to a prison in Louisville and had him released. After the war Helm identified with the Democratic Party, and in 1865 Hardin County voters returned him to the state senate. In 1867 he was the state's Democratic candidate for governor. Despite his failing health, Helm made a vigorous canvass of the state and won the general election. He was too weak to travel to Frankfort for his inauguration, so state officials administered the oath of office at his home on September 3, 1867. He died five days later. (more...)

Recently featured: "Like a Rolling Stone" – Princess Charlotte of Wales – "Homer's Enemy"

January 10

Halobacteria sp. strain NRC-1

The Archaea are a group of single-celled microorganisms with no cell nucleus nor any other membrane-bound organelles. They show many differences in their biochemistry from other forms of life and have an independent evolutionary history. In the three-domain system, they are classified as a separate domain from the phylogenetically distinct Bacteria and Eukaryota. Archaea are divided into four recognized phyla, but many more phyla may exist. Of these groups the Crenarchaeota and the Euryarchaeota are most intensively studied. Classification is still difficult, since the vast majority have never been studied in the laboratory. Archaea and bacteria are quite similar in size and shape, but a few archaea have very unusual shapes. Despite this visual similarity to bacteria, archaea possess genes and several metabolic pathways that are more closely related to those of eukaryotes: notably the enzymes involved in transcription and translation. Initially, archaea were seen as extremophiles that lived in harsh environments, such as hot springs and salt lakes, but they have since been found in a broad range of habitats, including soils, oceans, and marshlands. Archaea are now recognized as a major part of Earth's life and may play roles in both the carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle. (more...)

Recently featured: John L. Helm – "Like a Rolling Stone" – Princess Charlotte of Wales

January 11

Angelina Jolie

Changeling is a 2008 American drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski. Based on real-life events in 1928 Los Angeles, the film stars Angelina Jolie (pictured) as a woman who is reunited with her missing son—only to realize he is an impostor. After she confronts the city authorities, they vilify her as an unfit mother and brand her delusional. The film explores the political fallout and the episode's connection to the "Wineville Chicken Coop" kidnapping and murder case. Principal photography took place in 2007 in Southern California; in post-production, scenes were supplemented with CGI skylines, backgrounds, vehicles and people. Changeling premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim. Its October 2008 theatrical release met with a more mixed reaction; the acting and story were generally praised, while criticism focused on the conventional staging and lack of nuance. Changeling earned $113 million in box office revenue worldwide; it received nominations in three Academy Award and eight BAFTA Award categories. (more...)

Recently featured: ArchaeaJohn L. Helm – "Like a Rolling Stone"

January 12

William Longchamp (died 1197) was a medieval Lord Chancellor, Chief Justiciar, and Bishop of Ely in England. He first served an illegitimate son of Henry II of England, but quickly transferred to the service of Richard I, King Henry's eldest surviving son. When Richard became King of England in 1189, Longchamp paid £3,000 for the office of Chancellor, and was soon named to the bishopric of Ely and appointed legate by the pope. Longchamp governed England while Richard was on the Third Crusade, but his authority was challenged by Richard's brother, John, who eventually succeeded in driving Longchamp from power and from England. Longchamp's relations with the other leading English nobles were also strained, which contributed to the demands for his exile. When Richard was captured on his journey back to England from the crusade and held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor, Longchamp travelled to Germany to help negotiate Richard's release. Although Longchamp regained the office of Chancellor after Richard's return to England, he lost much of his former power. He did, however, retain Richard's trust, and was employed by the king until the bishop's death in 1197. Longchamp wrote a treatise on the law, which remained well known throughout the later Middle Ages, but he aroused much hostility among his contemporaries. (more...)

Recently featured: ChangelingArchaeaJohn L. Helm

January 13

The Forksville Covered Bridge over Loyalsock Creek, as seen from the south

The Forksville Covered Bridge is a Burr arch truss covered bridge over Loyalsock Creek in the borough of Forksville, Sullivan County, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It was built in 1850 and is 152 feet 11 inches (46.6 m) in length. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The Forksville bridge is named for the borough it is in, which is named for its location at the confluence or "forks" of the Little Loyalsock and Loyalsock Creeks. The Forksville bridge is a Burr arch truss type, with a load-bearing arch sandwiching multiple vertical king posts, for strength and rigidity. The building of the Forksville bridge was supervised by the 18-year-old Sadler Rogers, who used his hand-carved model of the structure. It served as the site of a stream gauge from 1908 to 1913 and is still an official Pennsylvania state highway bridge. The United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration uses it as the model of a covered bridge "classic gable roof", and it serves as the logo of a Pennsylvania insurance company. The bridge was restored in 1970 and 2004 and is still in use, with average daily traffic of 224 vehicles in 2009. Despite the restorations, as of 2009 the bridge structure's sufficiency rating on the National Bridge Inventory was only 17.7 percent and its condition was deemed "basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action". (more...)

Recently featured: William LongchampChangelingArchaea

January 14

The Hitmen posing as a team on the ice with a trophy

The Calgary Hitmen are a major junior ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Hitmen play in the Western Hockey League. They play their home games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Their name is derived from local-born professional wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart, a founding owner. Established in 1994, the team has been owned by the Calgary Flames hockey club since 1997. They are the third WHL team to represent Calgary, preceded by the Centennials and Wranglers. The Hitmen have had the best record in the WHL four times, and have qualified for the playoffs every season since 1998. In 1999, they became the first Calgary team to win the President's Cup as league champions, and the first to represent Calgary in the Memorial Cup since the Calgary Canadians won the national junior title in 1926. The Hitmen hold numerous WHL attendance records, and in 2004–05 became the first team in the Canadian Hockey League to average 10,000 fans per game. Thirty-two former Hitmen players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League. The Hitmen are the defending league champions, winning their second title in 2009–10. (more...)

Recently featured: Forksville Covered BridgeWilliam LongchampChangeling

January 15

Wikipedia is celebrating its tenth anniversary! To mark the occasion, Wikipedia is showcasing a special selection of content not normally featured on the Main Page:

A quadruple transit of the moons of Saturn captured by Hubble Space Telescope

Today's featured list: The moons of Saturn are numerous and diverse, ranging from tiny moonlets less than 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) across to the enormous Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury. Saturn has sixty-two moons with confirmed orbits, fifty-three of which have names, and only thirteen of which have diameters larger than 50 kilometers (31 mi). Saturn has seven moons that are large enough to become spherical, and dense rings with complex orbital motions of their own.

The American aircraft carrier USS Wasp burns after being struck by Japanese torpedoes.

Today's featured topic: The Guadalcanal Campaign was fought between August 1942 and February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Allied forces, predominantly American, landed on the islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida in the southern Solomon Islands, overwhelming the Japanese defenders and capturing an airfield (later named Henderson Field). The Japanese made several attempts to retake Henderson Field. Three major land battles, five large naval battles, and continual, almost daily aerial battles culminated in the decisive Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in early November 1942. The Guadalcanal campaign was a significant strategic combined arms victory by Allied forces over the Japanese in the Pacific theatre.

Listen to
The first movement of Spring, from The Four Seasons

Today's featured sound: The Four Seasons, a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. Performed by John Harrison and the Wichita State University Chamber Players.

January 16

I. M. Pei in 2006

I. M. Pei (born 1917) is a Chinese American architect, often called a master of modern architecture. Born in Guangzhou, in 1935 he moved to the United States. While enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he became unhappy with the school's focus on Beaux-Arts architecture, and spent his free time researching the emerging architects, especially Le Corbusier. After graduating, he joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design and formed a friendship with the Bauhaus architects Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Pei spent ten years working with New York real estate magnate William Zeckendorf before establishing his own independent design firm that eventually became Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Among the early projects on which Pei took the lead were the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC, and the Green Building at MIT. His first major recognition came with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado; his new stature led to his selection as chief architect for the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. He went on to design Dallas City Hall and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In the early 1980s, Pei was the focus of controversy when he designed a glass-and-steel pyramid for the Louvre museum in Paris. Pei has won a wide variety of prizes and awards in the field of architecture, including the 1983 Pritzker Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize of architecture. (more...)

Recently featured: Moons of Saturn, Guadalcanal Campaign, and The Four SeasonsCalgary HitmenForksville Covered Bridge

January 17

Wintjiya Napaltjarri (born c. 1923) is a Pintupi-speaking indigenous artist from Australia's Western Desert region. She is the sister of artist Tjunkiya Napaltjarri; both were married to Toba Tjakamarra, with whom Wintjiya had five children. Wintjiya's involvement in contemporary Indigenous Australian art began in 1994 at Haasts Bluff, when she participated in a group painting project and in the creation of batik fabrics. She has also been a printmaker, using drypoint etching. Her paintings typically use an iconography that represents the eggs of the flying ant (waturnuma) and hair-string skirts (nyimparra). Her palette generally involves strong red or black against a white background. A finalist in the 2007 and 2008 National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Wintjiya's work is held in several of Australia's public collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. (more...)

Recently featured: I. M. PeiMoons of Saturn, Guadalcanal Campaign, and The Four SeasonsCalgary Hitmen

January 18

Flag of the German Empire

The unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War. Unofficially, the transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states occurred over nearly a century of experimentation. Unification exposed several glaring religious, linguistic, and cultural differences between and among the inhabitants of the new nation, suggesting that 1871 really only represents one moment in a continuum of the larger unification processes. Historians debate whether or not Otto von Bismarck, the Minister President of Prussia, had a master-plan to expand the North German Confederation of 1866 to include the remaining independent German states into a single entity, or whether he simply sought to expand the power of the Kingdom of Prussia. They conclude that factors in addition to the strength of Bismarck's Realpolitik led a collection of early modern polities to reorganize political, economic, military and diplomatic relationships in the 19th century. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of German dualism. (more...)

Recently featured: Wintjiya NapaltjarriI. M. PeiMoons of Saturn, Guadalcanal Campaign, and The Four Seasons

January 19

Sacrifice is a video game developed by Shiny Entertainment for the Windows 98 platform. Published in 2000 by Interplay Entertainment, it was the first commercial video game to take advantage of video graphics cards that can process transform, clipping, and lighting instructions. In the real-time strategy game, players control wizards who fight each other with summoned creatures and spells. The wizards collect souls to summon creatures, and their mana—energy for casting spells—constantly regenerates. Players customize their attacks by choosing from spells and creatures aligned to five gods. To defeat an opponent, the player's wizard sacrifices a friendly unit at the opposing wizard's altar, thereby desecrating it and banishing the enemy wizard. Aside from a single-player campaign, up to four players can play against each other over computer networks in a multiplayer mode. Sacrifice was praised by reviewers for the novel designs of its creatures and for its humorous content. The high level of attention needed to manage its frenetic combat was mentioned as a flaw. Despite winning several awards, Sacrifice was not a commercial success, and no sequels are planned. (more...)

Recently featured: Unification of GermanyWintjiya NapaltjarriI. M. Pei

January 20

A yellow and white Volkswagen T2 campervan

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama film. The road movie plot follows a family's trip in their Volkswagen T2 Microbus to a children's beauty pageant. Little Miss Sunshine was the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by first-time writer Michael Arndt. It stars Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, and Alan Arkin, and was produced by Big Beach Films on a budget of US$8 million. Filming began on June 6, 2005 and took place over 30 days in Arizona and Southern California. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2006, and its distribution rights were bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for one of the biggest deals made in the history of the festival. Little Miss Sunshine received critical acclaim, and had an international box office gross of $100.5 million. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won two: Best Original Screenplay for Michael Arndt and Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin. It also won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature, and received multiple other accolades. (more...)

Recently featured: SacrificeUnification of GermanyWintjiya Napaltjarri

January 21

Captain John Margrave Lerew, circa 1946

John Lerew (1912–1996) was an officer and pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War II, and later a senior manager in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). As commander of No. 24 Squadron, he became famous in Air Force history for his irreverent response to orders by RAAF Headquarters during the 1942 Battle of Rabaul. After being directed to assist in repelling the invading Japanese fleet with his one serviceable bomber, and to keep his bombed airfield open, Lerew signalled headquarters with the ancient Latin phrase used by gladiators honouring their Emperor: "Morituri vos salutamus" ("We who are about to die salute you"). He also defied an order to abandon his staff in Rabaul. In February 1942, Lerew led a raid on enemy shipping in New Guinea; he was shot down but evaded capture, returning to safety nine days after being reported missing. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, he later commanded the RAAF's first flying safety directorate. After leaving the Air Force in 1946 as a Group Captain, he joined the newly formed ICAO in Canada. He was responsible for administrative and technical reforms, and rose to Chief of Flight Branch. Retiring in 1972, he travelled extensively before settling in Vancouver. (more...)

Recently featured: Little Miss SunshineSacrificeUnification of Germany

January 22

Original 1919 cover of the novel, Lad: A Dog

Lad: A Dog is a 1919 American novel written by Albert Payson Terhune and published by E. P. Dutton. Composed of twelve short stories first published in magazines, the novel is loosely based on the life of Terhune's real-life rough collie, Lad. Born in 1902, the real-life Lad was an unregistered collie of unknown lineage originally owned by Terhune's father. Lad's death at the age of 18 was mourned by many of the story's fans, particularly children. Through the stories of Lad's adventures, Terhune expresses his views on parenting, obtaining perfect obedience without force, and the nature and rights of the "well-bred". After a slow start, the novel became a best seller in the adult fiction and children's fiction markets, having been repositioned as a young adult novel by Grosset & Dunlap in the 1960s and 1970s. Selling over one million copies, it is Terhune's best-selling work and regarded as the one that propelled him to fame. In retrospective reviews, critics considered that the novel had aged badly. Terhune himself considered the novel "hack writing" and did not understand why it was so popular. Warner Brothers released a film adaptation in June 1962. (more...)

Recently featured: John LerewLittle Miss SunshineSacrifice

January 23

Lightning Bar (1951–1960) was an American Quarter Horse which raced and later became a breeding stallion. He was bred by his lifelong owner Art Pollard of Sonoita, Arizona, and was the offspring of Three Bars, a Thoroughbred, and a Quarter Horse mare from Louisiana, a stronghold of the breeding of sprint horses. He raced ten times, with four victories and four other top three finishes, but his racing career was cut short by illness after only one year. After racing, he became a show horse for two years. As a breeding stallion he sired seven crops, or years, of foals, among which Doc Bar was the best known. Lightning Bar died of a viral infection in 1960, at the age of nine. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association's Hall of Fame in 2008. (more...)

Recently featured: Lad: A DogJohn LerewLittle Miss Sunshine

January 24

A black and white photo of The Black Crowes onstage

Lions is the sixth studio album by American rock band The Black Crowes. It was released in 2001 as their first album on V2 Records following their departure from Columbia Records, and is their only studio album to feature guitarist Audley Freed. Lions was recorded in New York City in January and February of that year, and was produced by Don Was. Bass guitar duties were shared by Rich Robinson and Was, as Greg Rzab had left the band and was not replaced until the tour that followed the release of the album. The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at its peak position of 20, selling more than 53,000 copies in its first week. Lions received mixed reviews; although the overall sound of the album generally garnered praise, a frequent complaint was the lack of "memorable" songs. The critics who rated Lions lowest considered it a poor imitation of the band's influences, such as Led Zeppelin. The band supported Lions with two North American tours (one with Oasis co-headlining), and a short tour of Europe and Japan in between. Soundboard recordings of several concerts were available for download to those who owned the album. Following the tour, the band went on hiatus until 2005. (more...)

Recently featured: Lightning BarLad: A DogJohn Lerew

January 25

An aeriel view of Little Thetford looking north-east

Little Thetford is a small village 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Ely in Cambridgeshire, England, about 76 miles (122 kilometres) by road from London. The village is built on a boulder clay island surrounded by flat fenland countryside, typical of settlements in this part of the East of England. In 1007, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman named Ælfwaru granted her lands in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, including the "land at Thetford and the fisheries around those marshes", to the abbots of Ely Abbey; the village was still listed as a fishery in the Domesday Book, 79 years later. Little Thetford resisted the Parliamentary Inclosure Acts of William IV for seven years, which may have led to the strong Baptist following amongst the poor of the village. About half of Little Thetford was eventually enclosed under the Parliamentary Inclosure Thetford Act of Victoria. The Cambridge station to Ely station section of the Fen Line passes through the east of the village and the rail journey from Ely to London takes about 75 minutes. Occupying an area of 2 square miles (5 km2), and with a population of 693, Little Thetford is the smallest civil parish in the ward of Stretham; notable buildings in the village date from the 14th century. (more...)

Recently featured: LionsLightning BarLad: A Dog

January 26

Hurricane Kyle on September 26, 2002

Hurricane Kyle was the fourth longest-lived Atlantic tropical or subtropical cyclone on record. The eleventh named storm and third hurricane of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, Kyle developed as a subtropical cyclone on September 20 to the east-southeast of Bermuda. It transitioned into a tropical cyclone and became a hurricane on September 25, then tracked westward for the next two weeks. On October 11, the cyclone turned northeastward and made landfalls near Charleston, South Carolina, and Long Beach, North Carolina, at tropical storm status. After 22 days as a cyclone, it dissipated on October 12 as it was absorbed by an approaching cold front. Kyle brought light precipitation to Bermuda, but no significant damage was reported there. Moderate rainfall accompanied its two landfalls in the Carolinas, causing localized flash flooding and road closures. Kyle spawned at least four tornadoes, the costliest of which struck Georgetown, South Carolina; it damaged 106 buildings and destroyed seven others, causing eight injuries. Overall damage totaled about $5 million (2002 USD, $6.1 million 2011 USD). Though no direct deaths were reported, the remnants of Kyle contributed to one indirect death in the seas off the British Isles. (more...)

Recently featured: Little ThetfordLionsLightning Bar

January 27

Astarte's throne at the Eshmun temple

The Temple of Eshmun is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing. Located near the Awali river, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) northeast of Sidon in southwestern Lebanon, the site was occupied from the 7th century BCE to the 8th century CE. Originally constructed by Sidonian king Eshmunazar II in the Achaemenid era (c. 529–333 BCE) to celebrate the city's recovered wealth and stature, the temple complex was greatly expanded by Bodashtart, Yatan-milk and later monarchs. The sanctuary consists of an esplanade and a grand court limited by a huge limestone terrace wall that supports a monumental podium which was once topped by Eshmun's Graeco-Persian style marble temple. The Eshmun Temple declined and fell into oblivion as paganism was replaced by Christianity and its large limestone blocks were used to build later structures. The temple site was rediscovered in 1900 by local treasure hunters who stirred the curiosity of international scholars. Maurice Dunand, a French archaeologist, thoroughly excavated the site from 1963 until the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. After the end of the hostilities and the retreat of Israel from Southern Lebanon, the site was rehabilitated and inscribed to the World Heritage Site tentative list. (more...)

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January 28

Evelyn Waugh, 1940

The Temple at Thatch is an unpublished novel by the British author Evelyn Waugh, his first adult attempt at full-length fiction. He began writing it in 1924 at the end of his final year as an undergraduate at Hertford College, Oxford, and continued to work on it intermittently in the following 12 months. After his friend Harold Acton commented unfavourably on the novel in June 1925, Waugh burned the manuscript. In a fit of despondency from this and other personal disappointments, he then made a half-hearted suicide bid before returning to his senses. In the absence of a manuscript or printed text, the only information as to the novel's subject comes from Waugh's diary entries and later reminiscences. The story was evidently semi-autobiographical, based around Waugh's Oxford experiences. The protagonist was an undergraduate and the work's main themes were madness and black magic. Some of the novel's ideas were incorporated into Waugh's first commercially published work of fiction, the 1925 short story "The Balance", which includes several references to a country house called "Thatch" and, like the novel, is partly structured as a film script. Acton's severe judgement did not deter Waugh from his intention to be a writer, but it affected his belief that he could succeed as a novelist. For a time he turned his attention away from fiction, but with the gradual recovery of his self-confidence he was able to complete his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was published with great success in 1928. (more...)

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January 29

Everyday Entrance, Temple Israel (Memphis, Tennessee)

Temple Israel is a Reform Jewish congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. It is the only Reform synagogue in Memphis, the oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Tennessee, and one of the largest Reform congregations in the United States. It was founded in 1853 by mostly German Jews as Congregation B'nai Israel. Led initially by cantors, in 1858 it hired its first rabbi, Jacob Peres, and leased its first building, which it renovated and eventually purchased. The synagogue was one of the founding members of the Union for Reform Judaism. It experienced difficulty during the Great Depression—membership dropped, the congregational school was closed, and staff had their salaries reduced—but conditions had improved by the late 1930s. In 1943 the synagogue changed its name to Temple Israel, and by the late 1940s membership had almost doubled from its low point in the 1930s. Rabbi Jimmy Wax became known for his activism during the Civil Rights era. In 1976 the congregation constructed its current building, closer to where most members lived. Wax retired in 1978, and was succeeded by Harry Danziger, who brought traditional practices back to the congregation. He retired in 2000, and was succeeded by Micah Greenstein. As of 2010, Temple Israel has almost 1,600 member families. Greenstein is the senior rabbi, and the cantor is John Kaplan. (more...)

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January 30

Trump International Hotel and Tower and the Chicago River

The Trump International Hotel and Tower is a skyscraper condo-hotel in downtown Chicago. The building, named after real estate developer Donald Trump, was designed by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Bovis Lend Lease built the 92-story structure, which reached a height of 1,389 feet (423 m) including its spire, its roof topping out at 1,170 feet (360 m). The building received publicity when the winner of the first season of The Apprentice television show, Bill Rancic, chose to manage the tower's construction. It is the tenth-tallest building in the world and second-tallest building in the United States after Chicago's Willis Tower. Trump Tower surpassed Chicago's John Hancock Center as the building with the world's highest residence above ground-level and held this title until the completion of the Burj Khalifa. The building includes, from the ground up, retail space, a parking garage, a hotel, and condominiums. The 339-room hotel opened for business with limited accommodations and services on January 30, 2008. April 28, 2009, was the full accommodation and service grand opening. A restaurant on the 16th floor, named Sixteen, opened in early 2008 to favorable reviews. The building topped out in late 2008 and construction was completed in 2009. (more...)

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January 31

Masako Katsura (1913–1995) was a carom billiards player most active in the 1950s who trailblazed a path for women in the sport by competing and placing among the best in the male-dominated world of professional billiards. First learning the game from her brother-in-law and then under the tutelage of Japanese champion Kinrey Matsuyama, Katsura finished second in Japan's national three-cushion billiards championship three times. In exhibition she was noted for running 10,000 points at the game of straight rail. After marrying a U.S. army officer in 1950, Katsura emigrated with him to the United States in 1951, where she was invited to play in the 1952 U.S.-sponsored World Three-Cushion Championship, ultimately taking seventh place at that competition. Katsura was the first woman ever to be included in any world billiards tournament. Her fame cemented, Katsura went on an exhibition tour of the United States with 8-time world champion Welker Cochran, and later with 51-time world champion, Willie Hoppe. In 1953 and 1954 she again competed for the world three-cushion crown, taking fifth and fourth places respectively. (more...)

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