Wikipedia:Today's featured article/December 2013

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December 1
Mike Hoolboom

Frank's Cock is a 1993 Canadian short film written and directed by Mike Hoolboom (pictured). The eight-minute production stars Callum Keith Rennie as an unnamed narrator who discusses his relationship with his partner, Frank. The two met while the narrator was a teenager and spent nearly ten years together. Frank has since been diagnosed with AIDS, and the narrator fears his lover's death. The story was based on the experience of one of Hoolboom's friends at People With AIDS, which Hoolboom adapted after receiving a commission to create a short film about breaking up. Shot on a low budget, the work is shown in a split-screen format with interspersed scenes from popular culture, gay pornography, and human creation; this format is meant to symbolise the "fragmentation of the body" experienced by AIDS sufferers. Produced by Alex Mackenzie, Frank's Cock was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including the NFB–John Spotton Award for best Canadian short film at the 1994 Toronto International Film Festival. The script has been republished several times and has inspired a short on LGBT issues in Canada's native community. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Charles-Valentin Alkan – Artur Phleps – Niels Bohr


December 2
William Burges

William Burges (1827–81) was an English architect and designer, and one of the greatest of the Victorian art-architects. He sought in his work to escape from 19th-century industrialisation and the Neoclassical architectural style and to re-establish the architectural and social values of a utopian medieval England. He stands within the Gothic Revival tradition, his works echoing the Pre-Raphaelites and heralding the Arts and Crafts movement. His first major commission was Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork, in 1863. Burges's most notable works are Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, both for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute. Other buildings include Gayhurst House, Knightshayes Court, and St Mary's, Studley Royal. Many of his designs were never executed or were subsequently demolished, and his plans for the redecoration of the interior of St Paul's Cathedral were abandoned. He also designed metalwork, sculpture, jewellery, furniture and stained glass. Art Applied to Industry, a series of lectures he gave to the Society of Arts in 1864, illustrates the breadth of his interests. The revival of interest in Victorian art has led to a renewed appreciation of Burges and his work. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Frank's Cock – Charles-Valentin Alkan – Artur Phleps


December 3
Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore (born 1960) is a British–American actress and children's author. A prolific cinema actress for more than 20 years, Moore has appeared in both art house and Hollywood films, and she is known for her emotional portrayals of ordinary women. She began on television in the 1980s, as a regular in As the World Turns, and then played supporting roles in films throughout the early 1990s. Critically acclaimed performances in Short Cuts (1993) and Safe (1995), followed by starring roles in Nine Months (1995) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), established her as a leading Hollywood actress. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Moore earned four Academy Award nominations, for Boogie Nights (1997), The End of the Affair (1999), Far from Heaven (2002), and The Hours (2002). Other notable appearances include The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), Hannibal (2001), and Children of Men (2006). She has continued to work regularly in the 2010s, including acclaimed performances in The Kids Are All Right (2010) and the television film Game Change (2012), where she portrayed Sarah Palin. Moore has also written a successful series of children's books. (Full article...)

Recently featured: William Burges – Frank's Cock – Charles-Valentin Alkan


December 4
Baker, the underwater detonation of Operation Crossroads

Operation Crossroads was a series of two nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946 to investigate the effect of such weapons on naval ships. They were the first nuclear detonations after World War II, and the first ever to be publicly announced beforehand and observed by an invited audience, including a large press corps. A fleet of 95 target ships was assembled in Bikini Lagoon and hit with two detonations of Fat Man plutonium implosion-type nuclear weapons of the type dropped on Nagasaki, each with a yield of 23 kt (96 TJ). The first test, Able, was an air burst that sank five ships and demonstrated the survivability of ships located more than 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) from the explosion. The second test, Baker, was an underwater explosion (pictured), which effectively destroyed the entire target fleet with radioactive contamination. It was the first case of immediate, concentrated radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion. The fallout from Baker and subsequent Bikini tests still renders the area uninhabitable. Glenn Seaborg, the longest-serving chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, called Baker "the world's first nuclear disaster." (Full article...)

Recently featured: Julianne Moore – William Burges – Frank's Cock


December 5
Ambohimanga

Ambohimanga is a hill and traditional fortified royal settlement (rova) in Madagascar, located approximately 24 kilometers (15 mi) northeast of the capital city of Antananarivo. The hill and the rova are considered the most significant symbol of the cultural identity of the Merina people and the most important and best-preserved monument of the precolonial Kingdom of Madagascar. The walled historic village includes tombs of the Vazimba, the island's first inhabitants, and the residences and burial sites of several key monarchs. It remains a place of worship to which pilgrims come. Founded by King Andriamasinavalona (1675–1710) as the capital of the Avaradrano region, Ambohimanga is one of the twelve sacred hills of Imerina and contains the house of King Andrianampoinimerina (1787–1810), who led the successful effort to unify most of Madagascar under Merina rule. Ambohimanga was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001. Its historic sister city, the Rova of Antananarivo, was destroyed by fire in 1995. Numerous governmental and civil society organizations support the conservation of Ambohimanga by restoring damaged features and preventing further degradation. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Operation Crossroads – Julianne Moore – William Burges


December 6
The Emperor Justinian

The law school of Beirut was a center for the study of Roman law in classical antiquity located in Beirut. It flourished under the patronage of the Roman emperors and functioned as the Roman Empire's preeminent center of jurisprudence until its destruction in 551 CE. The earliest written mention of the school dates to 239 CE, when its reputation had already been established. The school attracted young, affluent Roman citizens, and its professors made major contributions to the Codex of Justinian. The school achieved such wide recognition throughout the Empire that Beirut was known as the "Mother of Laws". Beirut was one of the few schools allowed to continue teaching jurisprudence when Byzantine emperor Justinian I (pictured) shut down other provincial law schools. The school's facilities were destroyed in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that hit the Phoenician coastline. It was moved to Sidon but did not survive the Arab conquest of 635 CE. Ancient texts attest that the school was located next to the ancient Anastasis church, vestiges of which lie beneath the Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut's historic center. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Ambohimanga – Operation Crossroads – Julianne Moore


December 7
Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi

Akagi was the second aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to enter service, and the first large or "fleet" carrier. She was converted to an aircraft carrier while still under construction to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, and figured prominently in the development of the IJN's revolutionary doctrine that grouped carriers together, concentrating their air power. The ship and her aircraft first saw combat during the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late 1930s. During the Pacific War, she took part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the invasion of Rabaul in the Southwest Pacific in January 1942 as flagship of the First Air Fleet. Over the next several months her aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia, assisted in the conquest of the Dutch East Indies, and helped sink a British heavy cruiser and an Australian destroyer in the Indian Ocean Raid. After bombarding American forces on Midway Atoll during the Battle of Midway in June, Akagi and the other carriers were attacked by aircraft from Midway and three American carriers. Akagi was severely damaged, and she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Law school of Beirut – Ambohimanga – Operation Crossroads


December 8
A cross section of anti-de Sitter space

The anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence is a conjecture in theoretical physics that relates two kinds of physical theories. On one side of the correspondence are conformal field theories, including theories similar to the Yang–Mills theories that describe elementary particles. On the other are anti-de Sitter spaces (cross section depicted), which are used in theories of quantum gravity, formulated in terms of string theory or M-theory. Proposed by Juan Maldacena in late 1997, the AdS/CFT correspondence represents a major advance in our understanding of string theory and quantum gravity. This is because it provides a non-perturbative formulation of string theory and because it is the most successful realization of the holographic principle, an idea in quantum gravity originally proposed by Gerard 't Hooft. In addition, it provides a powerful toolkit for studying strongly coupled quantum field theories and has been used to study many aspects of nuclear and condensed matter physics by translating problems in those subjects into more mathematically tractable problems in string theory. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi – Law school of Beirut – Ambohimanga


December 9
Joseph Desha

Joseph Desha (1768–1842) was a U.S. Representative and the ninth Governor of Kentucky. After serving in the Northwest Indian War, he moved to Mason County, Kentucky, and parlayed his military record into several terms in the state legislature. In 1807, he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the first of six consecutive terms in the U.S. House. He was a war hawk, supporting the War of 1812, and commanded a division at the Battle of the Thames. Leaving the House in 1818, he lost to John Adair in the 1820 gubernatorial election. In 1824, he made a second campaign for governor based on promises of relief for the state's debtor class. He was elected by a large majority, and debt relief partisans captured both houses of the General Assembly. When the Kentucky Court of Appeals struck down debt relief legislation he favored, he lobbied the legislature to replace it with a new court. His reputation was damaged when he issued a pardon for his son, who was accused of murder. He also hastened the resignation of Transylvania University president Horace Holley, whom he considered too liberal. Desha retired from public life in 1828. (Full article...)

Recently featured: AdS/CFT correspondence – Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi – Law school of Beirut


December 10
Common Raven

The Common Raven is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids. There are at least eight subspecies with little variation in appearance, although there are significant genetic differences among populations from various regions. It is possibly the heaviest passerine; at maturity, the Common Raven averages 63 centimetres (25 inches) in length and 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) in mass. Common Ravens can live up to 21 years in the wild, a lifespan exceeded among passerines by only a few Australasian species. Young birds may travel in flocks but later mate for life, with each pair defending a territory. The Common Raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years and in some areas is considered a pest. Part of its success comes from its omnivorous diet; Common Ravens are extremely versatile in finding sources of nutrition. Some notable feats of problem-solving have been observed in the species, leading to the belief that it is intelligent. Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art, and literature. In many cultures, it has been revered as a spiritual figure or god. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Joseph Desha – AdS/CFT correspondence – Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi


December 11
Samuel Merrill Woodbridge

Samuel Merrill Woodbridge (1819–1905) was an American clergyman, theologian, author, and college professor. A graduate of New York University and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Woodbridge served several congregations in New York and New Jersey for sixteen years as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. His was the eleventh generation in a large family of English and American clergymen dating back to the late fifteenth century. After accepting a pastoral call in New Brunswick, New Jersey, he was appointed professor of ecclesiastical history and church government at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where he taught for 44 years. He also taught for seven years as professor of "metaphysics and philosophy of the human mind" at Rutgers College (now Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey). Woodbridge later led the New Brunswick seminary as Dean and President of the Faculty from 1883 to 1901—both positions were equivalent to a seminary president. He was the author of three books and several published sermons and addresses covering various aspects of Christian faith, theology, church history and governance. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Common Raven – Joseph Desha – AdS/CFT correspondence


December 12
Tropical Storm Cindy

Tropical Storm Cindy was a weak but unusually wet Atlantic tropical cyclone that caused destructive floods and mudslides across Martinique in August 1993. Cindy formed east of the island and became the annual hurricane season's third named storm on August 14. After attaining maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h), the storm began to weaken from interaction with the high terrain of Hispaniola. It made landfall in the Dominican Republic as a tropical depression on August 16, dissipating the following day. Despite its poor cloud structure, Cindy dropped torrential rain over portions of the northeastern Caribbean. Martinique received up to 12 inches (305 mm) of rain in 24 hours, affecting many northern villages and communes. Le Prêcheur in particular was devastated by an extensive debris flow, which washed away entire structures and wrought $2.7 million in damage. The disaster left two people dead and hundreds homeless on the island. En route to Hispaniola, Cindy affected the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with rough surf and moderate rain. Heavy downpours and flooding killed two people in the Dominican Republic, though the exact extent of the damage there is unknown. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Samuel Merrill Woodbridge – Common Raven – Joseph Desha


December 13
Giant eland

The giant eland is an open-forest savanna antelope. Although it is the largest species of antelope, with a body length ranging from 220–290 cm (87–114 in), the epithet "giant" refers to its large horns. It is also called "Lord Derby's eland" in honour of Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby, by whose efforts it was first introduced to England. As a herbivore, it eats grasses, foliage and branches. It usually forms small herds consisting of 15–25 members, both males and females. Giant elands are not territorial, and have large home ranges. They are naturally alert and wary, which makes them difficult to approach and observe. They can run at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) and use speed as a defence against predators. They mostly inhabit broad-leafed savannas, woodlands and glades. The giant eland is native to Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and South Sudan. It is no longer present in Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Togo. Its presence is uncertain in Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, and Uganda. There are two subspecies, which have been given different conservation statuses by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Tropical Storm Cindy (1993) – Samuel Merrill Woodbridge – Common Raven


December 14
Route marker for NY 28N

New York State Route 28N (NY 28N) is an east–west state highway in the North Country of New York in the United States. It extends for 50.95 miles (82.00 km) through the Adirondack Mountains from Blue Mountain Lake to North Creek. The route is a northerly alternate route to NY 28 between both locations and passes through several communities that NY 28 bypasses. The westernmost 10 miles (16 km) of NY 28N overlap with NY 30 through the town of Long Lake. The rest of NY 28N is designated as the Roosevelt–Marcy Trail, a scenic byway marking the path taken in 1901 by U.S. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt from Mount Marcy to reach North Creek after he learned that President William McKinley had been assassinated. The route has a rather scant history before its designations. It originated as a highway from Warren County to Long Lake. It was used for transportation in the iron ore industry in Newcomb, and for the lumber industry in Minerva. The state gained control of the road in 1909. The NY 28N designation was assigned as part of the 1930 renumbering of state highways in New York, incorporating part of the former NY 10. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Giant eland – Tropical Storm Cindy (1993) – Samuel Merrill Woodbridge


December 15
US Army soldiers land at Arawe

The Battle of Arawe was fought between Allied and Japanese forces during the New Britain Campaign of World War II. The battle was initiated by the Allies to divert Japanese attention away from the Cape Gloucester area of New Britain ahead of a major offensive there in late December 1943. A force built around the U.S. Army's 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team landed at Arawe on 15 December 1943 and rapidly overcame the area's small garrison. Japanese air units made large-scale raids against the Arawe area in the following days, and in late December elements of two Imperial Japanese Army battalions unsuccessfully counter-attacked the larger American force. In mid-January 1944 the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team was reinforced with additional infantry and U.S. Marine Corps tanks, and launched a brief offensive that pushed the Japanese back. The Japanese units withdrew from the area towards the end of February as part of a general retreat from western New Britain. There is no consensus among historians on whether the Allied landing at Arawe was needed, with some arguing that it provided a useful diversion while others judge that it formed part of an unnecessary campaign. (Full article...)

Recently featured: New York State Route 28N – Giant eland – Tropical Storm Cindy (1993)


December 16
Adelaide Anne Procter

Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864) was a British poet and philanthropist. She worked for unemployed women and the homeless, and was actively involved with feminist groups and journals. Procter's literary career began when she was a teenager; her poems were primarily published in Charles Dickens's periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round and later appeared in book form. Her charity work and her conversion to Roman Catholicism appear to have strongly influenced her poetry, which deals mostly with such subjects as homelessness, poverty, and "fallen women". Procter was the favourite poet of Queen Victoria. Her poetry went through numerous editions in the 19th century; Coventry Patmore called her the most popular poet of the day, after Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Nonetheless, by the early 20th century her reputation had diminished. The few modern critics who have given her work attention argue that her work is significant, in part for what it reveals about how Victorian women expressed otherwise repressed feelings. Procter never married, and some of her poetry has prompted speculation that she was a lesbian. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 38. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Battle of Arawe – New York State Route 28N – Giant eland


December 17
Laila Mickelwait

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is a 2011 American documentary film about modern human trafficking, specifically sexual slavery. Presented from a Christian worldview, Nefarious covers human trafficking in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, alternating interviews with re-enactments. Nefarious was written, directed, produced and narrated by Benjamin Nolot, founder and president of Exodus Cry, the film's distributor. Nolot travelled to 19 countries to collect the film's content. Interviewees in the film include Agape International Missions founder Don Brewster, former prostitute Annie Lobert, and Swedish Detective Superintendent Kajsa Wahlberg. Laila Mickelwait (pictured), Exodus Cry's Director of Awareness and Prevention, screened the film in several countries in an attempt to persuade governments to make laws similar to Sweden's Sex Purchase Act, which criminalizes the purchasing rather than the selling of sex. Nefarious has won a variety of film awards, including the Honolulu Film Award for Best Screenplay, the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Award, and the Indie Fest Feature Documentary Award of Excellence. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Adelaide Anne Procter – Battle of Arawe – New York State Route 28N


December 18
Joseph Grimaldi as Clown

Joseph Grimaldi (1778–1837) was an English actor, comedian, dancer, and the Regency era's most successful entertainer. He popularised and expanded the role of "Clown" in the harlequinade that formed a part of British pantomimes during the 1800s, and became a key pantomime performer at the Drury Lane, Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden theatres. While a boy, he appeared on stage at Drury Lane as "Little Clown" in the pantomime The Triumph of Mirth; or, Harlequin's Wedding. Other successful roles at the theatre followed, but he left in 1806 to take up theatrical residencies at the Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells theatres. As he matured, he began performing as Clown, for which character he created the whiteface make-up design still used in pantomime and by many other clowns today. The numerous injuries he received as a result of his energetic performances eventually led to a decline in his health and to his semi-retirement in 1823. Living in obscurity during his final years, he became an impoverished alcoholic. Grimaldi died at home in Islington, aged 59, having outlived his wife and his actor son Joseph Samuel. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Nefarious: Merchant of Souls – Adelaide Anne Procter – Battle of Arawe


December 19
Redback spider

The redback spider is a species of venomous spider indigenous to Australia. It is a member of the cosmopolitan genus Latrodectus, the widow spiders. The adult female has a black body with a prominent abdominal red stripe (pictured). Females have a body length of about 10 millimetres (0.4 in), while the male is much smaller, being only 3–4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) long. Mainly nocturnal, the female lives in an untidy-looking web in a warm sheltered location, commonly near or inside human residences. It preys on insects, spiders and small vertebrates that become ensnared in its web. Males and spiderlings often live on the periphery of the female's web and steal leftovers. The redback is one of few arachnids that usually display sexual cannibalism while mating. It is widespread in Australia, and inadvertent introductions have led to established colonies in New Zealand, Japan and in greenhouses in Belgium. The redback is one of the few spider species that can be seriously harmful to humans. An antivenom has been available since 1956, and there have been no deaths directly due to redback bites since its introduction. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Joseph Grimaldi – Nefarious: Merchant of Souls – Adelaide Anne Procter


December 20

Easy Jet (1967–92) was an American Quarter Horse foaled, or born, in 1967, and was one of only two horses to have been a member of the American Quarter Horse Association (or AQHA) Hall of Fame as well as being an offspring of members. Easy Jet won the 1969 All American Futurity, the highest race for Quarter Horse racehorses, and was named World Champion Quarter Race Horse in the same year. He earned the highest speed rating awarded at the time—AAAT. After winning 27 of his 38 races in two years of racing, he retired from the race track and became a breeding stallion. As a sire, or father, he was the first All American Futurity winner to sire an All American Futurity winner, and went on to sire three winners of that race, and nine Champion Quarter Running Horses. Ultimately, his ownership and breeding rights were split into 60 shares worth $500,000 each—a total of $30 million. By 1993, the year after his death, his foals had earned more than $25 million on the racetrack. Easy Jet was of sorrel color, a light yellowish-red. He stood about 15.3 hands high (63 inches; 160 cm) and had a large star and a stripe on his face. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Redback spider – Joseph Grimaldi – Nefarious: Merchant of Souls


December 21
Oswald Watt

Oswald Watt (1878–1921) was an Australian aviator and businessman. He was born in England and came to Sydney when he was a year old, returning to England for his education. In 1900 he went back to Australia and enlisted in the Militia, before acquiring cattle stations in New South Wales and Queensland. He was also a partner in the family shipping firm. Becoming in 1911 the first Australian to qualify for a Royal Aero Club flying certificate, Watt joined the French Foreign Legion as a pilot on the outbreak of World War I. He transferred to the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in 1916, quickly progressing to become commanding officer of No. 2 Squadron on the Western Front. By February 1918, he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel and taken command of the AFC's 1st Training Wing in England. A recipient of France's Legion of Honour and Croix de Guerre, Watt was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. He left the military to pursue business interests in Australia. In 1921, he drowned at Bilgola Beach, New South Wales. He is commemorated by the Oswald Watt Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in Australian aviation, and the Oswald Watt Fund at the University of Sydney. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Easy Jet – Redback spider – Joseph Grimaldi


December 22
Bryan Gunn

Bryan Gunn (born 1963) is a Scottish former professional goalkeeper and football manager. He spent most of his playing career at Norwich City, and feels that his career peaked with what he calls the save of his life in a 1993 UEFA Cup match against Bayern Munich; The Independent called the game the summit of the club's history. He is one of only nine players to win the club's Player of the Year award twice and was made an inaugural member of its Hall of Fame. He made six appearances for Scotland in the early 1990s. After retiring as a player, Gunn worked for years behind the scenes at Norwich in a variety of roles. He was appointed temporary manager towards the end of the 2008–09 season and confirmed as permanent manager during the summer. However, he lost his job a week into the next season after defeat in the opening game to local rivals Colchester United. Since the death of his young daughter from leukaemia in 1992, Gunn has been extensively involved in fundraising to combat the disease and its effects, raising more than £1 million. The city of Norwich recognised Gunn's charity work and his long association with the city's football club by naming him Sheriff for 2002. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Oswald Watt – Easy Jet – Redback spider


December 23

Mario Power Tennis is a sports game developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo for the GameCube in 2004. The game is the sequel to the Nintendo 64 title Mario Tennis, and is the fourth game in the Mario Tennis series. The game was re-released for the Wii in 2009. It incorporates multiple characters, themes, and locations from the Mario series. The game includes standard tennis matches, but contains variants that feature different scoring formats and objectives. The game consists of 18 playable characters, each categorised by their style of play and each with a pair of unique moves known as "Power Shots". Power Tennis was developed simultaneously with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and the pair shared similar technology and concepts with each other during production. Such similarities include an emphasis on the Mario theme in characters and settings as well as alternative game modes such as "Ring Shot". The game was positively received in general, attaining an aggregate score of 81 percent from GameRankings and 80 percent from Metacritic. Critics praised the game's depth and variety, but criticised the Power Shot animations, which could not be skipped. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Bryan Gunn – Oswald Watt – Easy Jet


December 24
Banksia epica

Banksia epica is a shrub that grows on the south coast of Western Australia. A spreading bush with wedge-shaped serrated leaves and large creamy-yellow flower spikes, it grows as a spreading bushy shrub with many branches, from 30 centimetres to 3½ metres (1–11½ ft) tall. It has grey, fissured bark, and dark green, wedge-shaped leaves, 1½ to 5 centimetres (½–2 in) long. Flowers occur in Banksia's characteristic "flower spike", an inflorescence made up of hundreds of pairs of flowers densely packed in a spiral round a woody axis. B. epica's flower spike is yellow or cream-yellow in colour, cylindrical, 9 to 17 centimetres (3½–6½ inches) tall and around 6 centimetres (2½ inches) in diameter. It is known only from two isolated populations in the remote south east of the state, near the western edge of the Great Australian Bight. Both populations occur amongst coastal heath on cliff-top dunes of siliceous sand. One of the most recently described Banksia species, it was probably seen by Edward John Eyre in 1841, but was not collected until 1973, and was only recognised as a distinct species in 1988. There has been very little research on the species since. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Mario Power Tennis – Bryan Gunn – Oswald Watt


December 25
Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus (7–2 BC to 30–33 AD) is the central figure of Christianity, whom the teachings of most Christian denominations hold to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament. Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that a historical Jesus existed, although there is little agreement on the reliability of the gospel narratives and how closely the biblical Jesus reflects the historical Jesus. Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Jewish preacher from Galilee, was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate. Christians generally believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from which he will return. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three Persons of a Divine Trinity. A few Christian groups reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural. In Islam, Jesus is considered one of God's important prophets and the Messiah. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Banksia epica – Mario Power Tennis – Bryan Gunn


December 26
Tyler Fredrickson kicked the field goal that gave California the victory in the 2003 Insight Bowl

The 2003 Insight Bowl was a post-season American college football bowl game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the California Bears on December 26, 2003. The game was the final contest of the 2003 season for both teams, in which Virginia Tech had come third in the Big East Conference, while California had tied for third place in the Pacific-10 Conference. From the beginning of the game, it was a quick-paced, high-scoring contest. In the first quarter, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 21–7 lead. In the second quarter, California scored two touchdowns but Tech took a 28–21 lead into halftime. Bolstered by an improved defensive effort, California scored 21 unanswered points to take a 42–28 lead into the fourth quarter. Tech evened the score at 49–49 after an 80-yard touchdown drive that took less than two minutes and a punt return by DeAngelo Hall for a touchdown. The post-score Tech kickoff went out of bounds, and with time running out, California began to drive for a game-winning score. The Bears needed just seven plays to advance 47 yards and set up a field goal attempt. As time expired, kicker Tyler Fredrickson (pictured) kicked a 35-yard field goal to give California a 52–49 victory. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Jesus – Banksia epica – Mario Power Tennis


December 27
Daft Punk

Homework is the debut studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo pictured in 2010), released in January 1997 on Virgin Records. Homework's success brought worldwide attention to French house music. According to The Village Voice, the album revived house music and departed from the Eurodance formula. The duo produced the tracks without plans to release an album. After working on projects that were intended to be separate singles over five months, they considered the material good enough for an album. Homework charted in 14 different countries, peaking at number 150 on the United States Billboard 200 and at number 8 on the UK Albums Chart. By February 2001, the album had sold more than two million copies worldwide and received several gold and platinum certifications. Overall Homework received positive critical response. The album features singles that had significant impact in the French house and global dance music scenes. These include the US Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play number-one singles "Da Funk" and "Around the World", the latter of which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 2003 Insight Bowl – Jesus – Banksia epica


December 28
Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson (1894–1972) was an Australian cricket administrator. He was the manager of the Australian Services cricket team immediately after World War II, and of the Australian team that toured England in 1948. The Australian Services team played England in a series of celebratory matches known as the Victory Tests to usher in the post-war era. The series was highly successful, with unprecedented crowds raising large amounts for war charities, and Johnson's men toured British India and Australia before being demobilised. His administration was regarded as a major factor in the success of the tour. The 1948 Australian team earned the sobriquet The Invincibles by being the first side to complete a tour of England without losing a match. Johnson's management was again lauded. However, in 1951–52, the Australian Board of Control excluded Sid Barnes from the team for "reasons other than cricket". Barnes took the matter to court, and at trial, his lawyer embarrassed Johnson, who contradicted himself several times under cross-examination. Following the trial, Johnson resigned from the board and took no further part in cricket administration. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Homework (Daft Punk album) – 2003 Insight Bowl – Jesus


December 29
Major General Robert Howe

Robert Howe (1732–86) was a Continental Army general from North Carolina during the American Revolutionary War. He was one of only five general officers, and the only major general, in the Continental Army from that state. At the outset of the war, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army, and eventually became commander of the Southern Department. His early military career was contentious and consumed by conflict with political and military leaders in Georgia and South Carolina. These confrontations, including a 1778 duel with Christopher Gadsden, and Howe's reputation as a womanizer eventually led to his removal from command over the Southern Department. Prior to the formal turnover of his command, Howe commanded the Continental Army and Patriot militia forces in defeat in the First Battle of Savannah. He later sat as a senior officer on the court-martial board that sentenced British officer John André, a co-conspirator of Benedict Arnold, to death. Howe himself was accused of attempting to defect to the British, but the accusations were cast aside at the time as a British stratagem. He died in December 1786 after being elected to the North Carolina House of Commons. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Keith Johnson (cricket administrator) – Homework (Daft Punk album) – 2003 Insight Bowl


December 30
A T-26 tank on museum display

The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used in the 1930s and World War II. It was one of the most successful tank designs of the 1930s until its light armour became vulnerable to newer anti-tank guns. It was produced in greater numbers than any other tank of the period, with more than 11,000 manufactured, and it was used extensively in the armies of Spain, China and Turkey. Many variants were produced, including different combat vehicles based on its chassis such as flame-throwing tanks, remotely controlled tanks, and armoured carriers. The T-26 together with the BT was the Red Army's main tank in the interwar period. Though nearly obsolete by the beginning of World War II, it was the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played a significant role in the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938 and the Winter War in 1939–40. The T-26 was the most common tank used by the Soviets during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. It was used in the Battle of Moscow during the winter of 1941–42, the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of the Caucasus in 1942–43. The tanks last saw use in August 1945, during the defeat of the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Robert Howe (Continental Army officer) – Keith Johnson (cricket administrator) – Homework (Daft Punk album)


December 31

Áedán mac Gabráin was a king of Dál Riata from circa 574 until circa 609. The kingdom of Dál Riata was situated in modern Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and parts of County Antrim, Ireland. Genealogies record that Áedán was a son of Gabrán mac Domangairt. He was a contemporary of Saint Columba, and much that is recorded of his life comes from hagiography such as Adomnán of Iona's Life of Saint Columba. Other sources include Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and Irish annals; none of the sources are contemporary. Áedán appears as a character in Old Irish and Middle Irish language works of prose and verse, some now lost. Áedán also appears in some Welsh sources, making him one of the few non-Britons to figure in Welsh tradition. The Irish annals record his campaigns against his neighbours, in Ireland, and in northern Britain, including expeditions to the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Man, and the east coast of Scotland. As recorded by Bede, Áedán was decisively defeated by Æthelfrith of Bernicia at the Battle of Degsastan. Áedán may have been deposed, or have abdicated, following this defeat, and the annals report nothing of him until his death around six years later. (Full article...)

Recently featured: T-26 tank – Robert Howe (Continental Army officer) – Keith Johnson (cricket administrator)