Wikipedia:Today's featured article/November 2007

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November 1

Vidhana Soudha, seat of the state legislature of Karnataka

Karnataka is one of the four southern states of India. The state was created on November 1 1956 with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act. It is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the southwest. It is the eighth largest Indian state by area, the ninth largest by population and comprises 29 districts. Kannada is the official and most widely spoken language. Karnataka has been home to some of the most powerful empires of ancient India. Great philosophers and musical bards patronised by these empires launched socio-religious and literary movements whose ennobling effects have been felt far and wide. Karnataka has contributed significantly to both forms of Indian classical music, the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions. Bangalore is the capital city of the state and is at the forefront of the rapid economic and technological development that India is experiencing. (more...)

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November 2

Ngo Dinh Diem

The Arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm, then president of South Vietnam, marked the culmination of a successful coup d'état led by General Duong Van Minh in November 1963. On the morning of November 2, 1963, Diem and his adviser and younger brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were arrested after the Army of the Republic of Vietnam had been successful in a bloody overnight siege on Gia Long Palace in Saigon. The coup was the end result of nine years of autocratic and nepotistic family rule in South Vietnam. Discontent with the Diem regime had been simmering below the surface, and exploded with mass Buddhist protests against long running religious discrimination after the government shooting of protesters who defied a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag. However, when rebel forces entered the palace, the brothers were not present, as they had escaped the previous night to a loyalist shelter in Cholon. The brothers had kept in communication with the rebels through a direct link from the shelter to the palace, and misled them into believing that they were still in the palace. Soon after, the Ngo brothers agreed to surrender and were promised safe exile; after being arrested, they were instead executed in the back of an armoured personnel carrier by ARVN officers on the journey back to military headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. (more...)

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November 3

The paintings of Four Times of the Day

Four Times of the Day is a series of four paintings by William Hogarth from 1736, reproduced as a series of four engravings published in 1738. They are humorous depictions of life in the streets of London, the vagaries of fashion, and the interactions between the rich and poor of the capital. Unlike many of Hogarth's other series, such as A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress, Industry and Idleness and The Four Stages of Cruelty, it does not depict the story of an individual, but instead focuses on the society of the city. Hogarth intended the series to be humorous rather than instructional; the pictures do not offer a judgement on whether the rich or poor are more deserving of our sympathies: while the upper and middle classes tend to provide the focus for each scene there are fewer of the moral comparisons seen in some other of his works. The four pictures depict scenes of daily life in various locations in London as the day progresses. Morning shows a prudish spinster making her way to church in Covent Garden past the revellers of the night before; Noon shows two cultures on opposite sides of the street in St Giles; Evening depicts a dyer's family returning hot and bothered from a trip to Sadler's Wells; and Night shows a drunken Freemason staggering home from a night of celebration . (more...)

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November 4

A view inside the Interstate Exposition Building during the convention

The 1880 Republican National Convention convened from June 2 to June 8, 1880 at the Interstate Exposition Building in Chicago, Illinois and nominated James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur as the official candidates of the Republican Party of the United States for President and Vice President, respectively, in the 1880 presidential election. Of the fourteen people nominated for the Republican nomination, the three strongest candidates leading up to the convention were Ulysses S. Grant, James G. Blaine, and John Sherman. Grant had twice served as the president of the United States, and was seeking an unprecedented third term in office. He was backed by the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party, which supported political machines and patronage. Blaine was a senator and former representative from Maine who was backed by the Half-Breed faction, while Sherman was the then Secretary of the Treasury under president Rutherford B. Hayes. On the first ballot, Sherman received 93 votes, while Grant and Blaine had 304 and 285, respectively. Many more ballots were taken, but no candidate prevailed. After the thirty-fifth ballot, Blaine and Sherman switched their support to the new "dark horse" candidate, James Garfield. On the next ballot, Garfield won the nomination by receiving 399 votes, 93 higher than Grant's total. The Garfield-Arthur Republican ticket later defeated Democrats Winfield Scott Hancock and William Hayden English in the close 1880 presidential election. (more...)

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November 5

CNET Networks headquarters in San Francisco, California

GameFAQs is a website that hosts FAQs and walkthroughs for video games. It was created in November 1995 by Jeff "CJayC" Veasey and has been owned by CNET Networks since May 2003. The site has a large database of video game information and has been called a place where readers "can get almost any information" regarding game strategies. The systems covered range from the 8-bit Atari platform to the consoles of today, including computer games. The FAQs, cheat codes, reviews, game saves, and credits are submitted by volunteer gamers, and contributions are reviewed by the site's two editors, Jeff Veasey and Allen Tyner. The site hosts a large and active message board community. Every game listed on the site has a board for discussion or gameplay help. Many of the boards are shared between GameFAQs and GameSpot, another CNET website. The site also features a daily opinion poll and related tournament contests. is one of the 200 highest-trafficked websites according to Alexa. (more...)

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November 6

A male Beijing opera performer

Beijing opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics. It arose in the late 18th century and became fully developed and recognized by the mid-19th century. The form was extremely popular in the Qing Dynasty court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance troupes are based in Beijing and Tianjin in the north, and Shanghai in the south. The art form is also enjoyed in Taiwan, and has spread to other countries such as the United States and Japan. Beijing opera features four main types of performers. Performing troupes often have several of each variety, as well as numerous secondary and tertiary performers. With their elaborate and colorful costumes, performers are the only focal points on Beijing opera's characteristically sparse stage. They utilize the skills of speech, song, dance, and combat in movements that are symbolic and suggestive, rather than realistic. Above all else, the skill of performers is evaluated according to the beauty of their movements. (more...)

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November 7


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a 2006 Academy Award-nominated mockumentary comedy film directed by Larry Charles. It stars the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in the title role of Borat Sagdiyev, a fictitious Kazakh journalist, traveling through the United States recording real-life interactions with Americans. It is the second film built around one of Cohen's characters from Da Ali G Show, following Ali G Indahouse, which also featured a cameo by Borat. It was a critical and commercial success, despite an initially limited release in the United States. Cohen won the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor: Musical or Comedy as Borat while the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture in the same category. Controversy surrounded the film even before its release. It has been criticised for having a protagonist who is sexist and antisemitic (although Cohen is Jewish himself), and some who have appeared in the film have criticised and even sued its creators. All Arab countries, except for Lebanon, banned it, and the Russian government successfully discouraged cinemas there from showing it. (more...)

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November 8

The Webley Mk IV

The Webley Revolver was, in various marks, the standard-issue service pistol for the armed forces of the United Kingdom, the British Empire, and the Commonwealth from 1887 until 1963. The Webley is a top-break revolver with automatic extraction; breaking the revolver open for reloading also operates the extractor, removing the spent cartridges from the cylinder. The Webley Mk I service revolver was adopted in 1887, but it was a later version—the Mk IV—which rose to prominence during the Boer War of 1899–1902. The Mk VI, introduced in 1915 during World War I, is perhaps the best-known model. Webley service revolvers are among the most powerful top-break revolvers ever produced, firing the .455 Webley cartridge. Although the .455 calibre Webley is no longer in military service, the .38/200 Webley Mk IV variant is still sporadically in use as a police sidearm in a number of countries. (more...)

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November 9

Bret Hart

The Montreal Screwjob was the real-life double-crossing of Bret Hart, the defending WWF Champion of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) by WWF owner Vince McMahon during the professional wrestling pay-per-view event Survivor Series held on November 9, 1997. A secretive change of the match's pre-determined finish (known as a "screwjob" in professional wrestling parlance) was devised by McMahon and discussed with Hart's match opponent, Shawn Michaels. The match referee, Earl Hebner, under orders from McMahon, ended the match as Michaels held Hart in the sharpshooter submission hold (Hart's signature finishing move), even though Hart had not submitted, and declared Michaels the new WWF Champion as Hart and the audience were outraged. The screwjob was rooted in Hart's decision to leave the company for its chief competitor, World Championship Wrestling. The event led to the adoption in future matches and storylines of the WWF's Attitude Era and the creation of the widely popular character of the evil boss, "Mr. McMahon". Hart remained ostracized from WWF, while McMahon and Michaels continued to receive angry responses from audiences for many years. However, the relationship between Hart and McMahon healed to a great degree in recent years and culminated with Hart's induction in 2006 into the company's Hall of Fame. (more...)

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November 10

Diagram of the rings of Jupiter

The rings of Jupiter are a system of planetary rings around the planet Jupiter. The Jovian ring system was the third ring system to be discovered in the Solar System after those of Saturn and Uranus. It was first observed in 1979 by the Voyager 1 spaceprobe and thoroughly investigated in the 1990s by the Galileo orbiter. It has also been observed by the Hubble Space Telescope and from the ground for the past 25 years. Ground-based observations of the rings require the largest available telescopes. The Jovian ring system is faint and consists mainly of dust. It comprises four main components: a thick inner torus of particles known as the 'halo ring'; a relatively bright, razor-thin 'main ring'; and two wide, thick and faint outer 'gossamer rings', named for the moons of whose material they are composed: Amalthea and Thebe. The main and halo rings consist of dust ejected by high-velocity impacts from the moons Metis, Adrastea and other unobserved parent bodies. High-resolution images obtained in February and March 2007 by the New Horizons spacecraft revealed a rich fine structure in the main ring. The age of the ring system is not known but it may have existed since the formation of Jupiter. (more...)

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November 11

A bobcat

The Bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including much of the continental United States. The Bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy. With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the Bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller than the Canadian Lynx, with whom it shares parts of its range, but about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name. Though the Bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the Bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. The Bobcat breeds from winter into the spring and has a gestation period of about two months. The Bobcat has been subject to extensive hunting by humans, both for sport and fur, but its population has proven resilient. The elusive predator has featured in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers. (more...)

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November 12

Smoke rises from two Japanese aircraft shot down off Guadalcanal

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal took place November 12November 15, 1942, and was the decisive battle in a series of naval battles that took place between Allied (primarily U.S.) and Japanese forces during the months-long Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands. The battle consisted of a sequence of combined air and sea engagements spread over four days, most of them in the vicinity of Guadalcanal. All of the engagements were directly related to a single effort by the Japanese to reinforce their land forces on Guadalcanal, and are all therefore considered to be different parts of the same battle. In two extremely destructive nighttime surface warship engagements, both adversaries lost numerous ships. Also, U.S. daytime air attacks over several days sank or damaged several Japanese warships and transport ships. The sum of these engagements was that the U.S. was successful in turning back Japan's last major attempt to dislodge Allied forces from their positions on Guadalcanal and nearby Tulagi. Thus, the battle resulted in a significant strategic victory for the U.S. and its allies. (more...)

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November 13

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a retired American professional basketball player. Widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he became one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA (National Basketball Association) around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984 and quickly emerged as one of the stars of the league. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the foul line at Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five NBA MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and three All-Star MVPs, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA record for highest career regular season scoring average with 30.1 points per game, as well as averaging a record 33.4 points per game in the playoffs. In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. (more...)

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November 14

The Creation of Adam, restored

The restoration of the Sistine Chapel frescoes constitutes one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica by Pope Sixtus IV and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of famous Renaissance painters of the late 15th century, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508–1512 and with the painting of the Last Judgement, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541. Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most famous works of art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, and in particular, the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed. It has been claimed that "Every book on Michelangelo will have to be rewritten". Others, such as the art historian James Beck, of ArtWatch International, have been extremely critical of the restoration, saying that the restorers have not realised the true intentions of the artist. This is the subject of continuing debate. (more...)

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November 15

Halo: Combat Evolved is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie Studios. The first game of the Halo series, it was released on November 15, 2001 as a launch title for the Xbox gaming system, and is considered that platform's "killer application". Microsoft released versions of the game for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X in 2003, and the surrounding storyline was adapted and elaborated into a series of novels. In Halo's twenty-sixth century setting, the player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced "SPARTAN" super-soldier. The player is accompanied by Cortana, an artificial intelligence who occupies the Master Chief's neural interface. Players battle various aliens on foot and in vehicles as they attempt to uncover the secrets of the eponymous Halo, a ring-shaped structure. Some game magazines have ranked Halo among the best and most important games of all time. Other reviewers criticized the game for repetitive levels and the lack of online multiplayer play in the Xbox release. The game's popularity has led to labels such as "Halo clone" and "Halo killer", applied respectively to games either similar to or anticipated to be better than it. The game inspired and was used in the fan-created Red vs. Blue video series, which is credited as the "first big success" of machinima. (more...)

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November 16
Flag of Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With 3,579,212 residents in 2006, it is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state by land area. Its name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people", and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City. Formed from Indian Territory on November 16, 1907, it was the 46th state to enter the union. A major producer of natural gas, oil and food, Oklahoma relies on an economic base of aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, leading states in gross domestic product growth and ranking third in per capita income growth. With small mountain ranges, prairie, and eastern forests, most of Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains and the U.S. Interior Highlands—a region especially prone to severe weather. Part of the Bible Belt, widespread beliefs in evangelical Christianity make Oklahoma one of the most conservative states, though its voter registration in the Democratic Party exceeds the Republican Party. (more...)

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November 17

Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815. Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, and Henry James, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers. Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, he married Ewelina Hańska, his longtime paramour; six months later, he died. (more...)

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November 18
Small cell lung carcinoma

Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. This may lead to metastasis, invasion of adjacent tissue and infiltration beyond the lungs. Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and the second most common in women, is responsible for 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing (including coughing up blood), and weight loss. The main types of lung cancer are small cell lung carcinoma and non-small cell lung carcinoma. This distinction is important because the treatment varies; non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is sometimes treated with surgery, while small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) usually responds better to chemotherapy. The most common cause of lung cancer is exposure to tobacco smoke. The occurrence of lung cancer in non-smokers, who account for fewer than 10% of cases, appears to be due to a combination of genetic factors. Radon gas, asbestos, and air pollution may also contribute to lung cancer. Treatment and prognosis depend upon the histological type of cancer, the stage (degree of spread), and the patient's performance status. Possible treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. With treatment, the five-year survival rate is 14%. (more...)

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November 19
Image of Sophie Blanchard engraved in 1859

Sophie Blanchard was a French aeronaut. The widow of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard, she was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist. Though nervous on the ground, she was a fearless aeronaut and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, she entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration". Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a couple of occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819 she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. (more...)

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November 20
Nine Inch Nails perform live in Munich

Nine Inch Nails is an industrial rock band, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its musical direction. NIN's music straddles a wide range of genres, while retaining a characteristically intense sound using electronic instruments and processing. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band to perform with him; this live component is a separate entity from Nine Inch Nails in the recording studio. On stage, NIN often employs spectacular visual elements to accompany its performances, which frequently culminate with the band destroying musical instruments. Underground music audiences warmly received Nine Inch Nails in its early years. The band produced several highly influential records in the 1990s that achieved widespread popularity: many Nine Inch Nails songs became radio hits, two NIN recordings won Grammy Awards, and the band has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, with 10.5 million sales certified in the United States alone. In 2004, Rolling Stone placed Nine Inch Nails at 94 on their list of the 100 greatest music artists of all time. (more...)

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November 21
The new 7 World Trade Center

7 World Trade Center is a building in New York City located across from the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The name 7 World Trade Center has referred to two buildings: the original structure, developed in 1984, and the current structure. The original building was destroyed in the September 11 attacks and replaced with the new 7 World Trade Center, which opened in 2006. Both buildings were developed by Larry Silverstein who holds a ground lease for the site from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The original 7 World Trade Center was 47 stories tall, clad in red exterior masonry, and occupied a trapezoid-shaped footprint. On September 11, 2001, the building was heavily damaged by debris when the adjacent twin towers collapsed. Its structural integrity was further compromised by fires which burned throughout the afternoon. The original 7 World Trade Center collapsed at 5:20 p.m. on September 11 due to the combined effect of structural and fire damage. The new 7 World Trade Center construction began in 2002 and was completed in 2006. It is 52 stories tall and situated above a power substation. It was built on a smaller footprint than the original to allow Greenwich Street to be restored from TriBeCa through the World Trade Center site and south to Battery Park. (more...)

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November 22
Electron shell diagram for Francium

Francium is a chemical element that has the symbol Fr and atomic number 87. It has the lowest known electronegativity and is the second rarest naturally occurring element on Earth (after astatine). Francium is a highly radioactive metal that decays into astatine, radium, and radon. As an alkali metal, it has one valence electron. Marguerite Perey discovered francium in 1939. Francium was the last element discovered in nature, rather than synthesized. Outside the laboratory, francium is extremely rare, with trace amounts found in uranium and thorium ores, where the isotope francium-223 is continually formed and continually decays. At least 30 grams (one ounce) exist at any given time throughout the Earth's crust; the other isotopes are entirely synthetic. The largest amount ever collected of any isotope was a cluster of 10,000 atoms (of francium-210) created as an ultracold gas at Stony Brook in 1996. (more...)

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November 23
The Red Barn, scene of the murder

The Red Barn Murder was a notorious murder committed in Suffolk, England in 1827. A young woman, Maria Marten, was shot dead by her lover, William Corder, the son of the local squire. The two had arranged to meet at the Red Barn, a local landmark, before eloping to Ipswich in order to be married. Maria was never heard from again. Corder fled the scene and although he sent Marten's family letters claiming she was in good health, her body was later discovered buried in the barn after her stepmother claimed to have dreamt about the murder. Corder was tracked down in London, where he had married and started a new life. He was brought back to Suffolk, and, after a well-publicised trial, found guilty of murder. He was hanged in Bury St. Edmunds in 1828; the execution was watched by a huge crowd. The story provoked numerous articles in the newspapers, and songs and plays. The village where the crime had taken place became a tourist attraction and the barn was stripped by souvenir hunters. The plays and ballads remained popular throughout the next century and continue to be performed today. (more...)

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November 24
A surface weather analysis for the United States on October 21, 2006

A surface weather analysis is a special type of weather map which provides a view of weather elements over a geographical area at a specified time based on information from ground-based weather stations. Weather maps are created by plotting or tracing the values of relevant quantities such as sea level pressure, temperature, and cloud cover onto a geographical map to help find synoptic scale features such as weather fronts. The first weather maps in the 19th century were drawn well after the fact to help devise a theory on storm systems. After the advent of the telegraph, simultaneous observations of weather became possible for the first time, and beginning in the late 1840s, the Smithsonian Institution became the first organization to draw real-time surface analyses. Use of surface analyses began first in the United States, spreading worldwide during the 1870s. Use of the Norwegian cyclone model for frontal analysis began in the late 1910s across Europe, with its use finally spreading to the United States during World War II. Surface weather analyses have special symbols which show frontal systems, cloud cover, precipitation, or other important information. (more...)

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November 25
Edward II of England

The Ordinances of 1311 were a series of regulations imposed upon King Edward II by the peerage and clergy of the Kingdom of England to restrict the power of the king. The twenty-one signatories of the Ordinances are referred to as the Lords Ordainers. English setbacks in the Scottish war, combined with perceived extortionate royal fiscal policies, set the background for the writing of the Ordinances in which the administrative prerogatives of the king were largely appropriated by a baronial council. The Ordinances reflect the Provisions of Oxford and the Provisions of Westminster from the late 1250s, but unlike the Provisions, the Ordinances featured a new concern with fiscal reform, specifically redirecting revenues from the king's household to the exchequer. Just as instrumental to their conception were other issues, particularly discontent with the king's favourite, Piers Gaveston, whom the barons subsequently banished from the realm. Edward II accepted the Ordinances only under coercion, and a long struggle for their repeal ensued that did not end until Thomas of Lancaster – the leader of the Ordainers – was executed in 1322. (more...)

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November 26
Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy is an Irish film and theatre actor active since 1996. He is often noted by critics for chameleonic performances in diverse roles, as well as for his distinctive blue eyes. A native of Cork, Murphy began his performing career as a rock musician. After turning down a record deal, he made his professional acting debut in the play Disco Pigs. He went on to star in a number of Irish and UK film and stage productions throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, first coming to international attention in 2003 as the hero in the post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later. Murphy's best known roles are as villains in two 2005 blockbusters: the Scarecrow in superhero film Batman Begins, and Jackson Rippner in the thriller Red Eye. Next came two contrasting, widely acclaimed starring roles: his Golden Globe Award-nominated performance as transgendered outcast "Kitten" in 2005's Breakfast on Pluto and a turn as a 1920s Irish revolutionary in 2006 Palme d'Or winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley. 2007 saw Murphy on the London stage in Love Song and onscreen in science fiction film Sunshine. Uncomfortable on the celebrity circuit, he customarily gives interviews about his work, but does not appear on television talk shows or discuss details of his private life with the press. (more...)

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November 27
A winter service vehicle clearing roads near Toronto, Canada

A winter service vehicle is used to clear thoroughfares of ice and snow. Winter service vehicles are usually based on dump truck chassis, with adaptations allowing them to carry specially designed snow removal equipment. Many authorities also use smaller vehicles on sidewalks, footpaths, and cycleways. Road maintenance agencies and contractors in temperate or polar areas often own several winter service vehicles, using them to keep the roads clear of snow and ice and safe for driving during winter. Airports use winter service vehicles to keep runways and taxiways free of snow and ice, which, besides endangering aircraft takeoff and landing, can interfere with communication equipment. The earliest winter service vehicles were snow rollers, designed to maintain a smooth, even road surface for sleds, although horse-drawn snowploughs and gritting vehicles are recorded in use as early as 1862. The increase in motor car traffic and aviation in the early 20th century led to the development and popularisation of large motorised winter service vehicles. (more...)

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November 28
Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope

Andrew Cunningham was a British admiral of the Second World War. He attended several schools and colleges before he was enrolled at a Naval Academy, at the age of 10, where his association with the Navy started. After passing out of Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1898, he progressed rapidly in rank. He commanded a destroyer during the First World War and through most of the interwar period. For his performance during this time he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars, specifically for his actions in the Dardanelles and in the Baltics. In the Second World War, as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, Cunningham led British naval forces in several critical Mediterranean naval battles. These included the attack on Taranto in 1940, the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941. Cunningham was also responsible for the on-going struggle to supply Malta and oversight of the naval support for the various major Allied landings in the Mediterranean littoral. In 1943, Cunningham was promoted to First Sea Lord, a position he held until his retirement in 1946. (more...)

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November 29
Mary Wollstonecraft

A Vindication of the Rights of Men is a 1790 political pamphlet, written by the eighteenth-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, which attacks aristocracy and advocates republicanism. Wollstonecraft's was the first response in a pamphlet war sparked by the publication of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, a defence of constitutional monarchy, aristocracy, and the Church of England. Wollstonecraft not only attacked hereditary privilege but also the rhetoric that Burke used to defend it. Most of Burke's detractors deplored what they viewed as his theatrical pity for Marie Antoinette but Wollstonecraft was unique in her attack on Burke's gendered language. By redefining the sublime and the beautiful, terms first established by Burke himself in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756), she undermined his rhetoric as well as his argument. (more...)

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November 30
Presumed image of Jogaila, painted around 1475–1480, Kraków, Poland

Jogaila was a Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. He ruled in Lithuania from 1377, at first with his uncle, Kęstutis. In 1386, he converted to Christianity, was baptized as Władysław, married the eleven-year-old Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and was crowned Polish king as Władysław Jagiełło. His reign in Poland lasted a further forty-eight years and laid the foundation for the centuries long Polish-Lithuanian union. He gave his name to the Jagiellon branch of the Gediminids dynasty which ruled both states until 1572, and became one of the most influential dynasties in medieval Europe. Jogaila was the last pagan ruler of medieval Lithuania. He held the title Didysis Kunigaikštis. As King of Poland, he pursued a policy of close alliances with Lithuania against the Teutonic Order. The allied victory at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, followed by the First Peace of Toruń, secured the Polish and Lithuanian borders and marked the emergence of the Polish-Lithuanian alliance as a major European force. The reign of Władysław II Jagiełło extended Polish frontiers and is often considered the beginning of Poland's "Golden Age". (more...)

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