Wikipedia:Today's featured article/July 2014

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31  

July 1
Pierre Monteux

Pierre Monteux (1875–1964) was a French (later American) conductor, who directed orchestras around the world for more than half a century. After violin and viola studies, and a decade as an orchestral player and occasional conductor, he began to receive regular conducting engagements in 1907. He came to prominence when he conducted the world premieres of ballets such as The Rite of Spring, Daphnis et Chloé, and Jeux. From 1917 to 1919 he was the principal conductor of the French repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera. He then led the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra (1924–34), Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (1929–38), San Francisco Symphony (1936–52), and from 1961, aged eighty-six, the London Symphony Orchestra. Monteux's chief love was the music of German composers, above all Brahms. He disliked recording, finding it incompatible with spontaneity, but made a substantial number of records. He began to teach conducting in Paris in 1932. After moving permanently to the US in 1942, he founded the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, Maine, which has continued. His students included Igor Markevitch, Neville Marriner, André Previn, Lorin Maazel and Seiji Ozawa. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Pokémon Channel – Kelpie – John Y. Brown (politician, born 1835)

July 2
Seal of the Empress Matilda

Empress Matilda (1102–1167) was the claimant to the English throne during the civil war known as the Anarchy. The daughter of King Henry I of England, she moved to Germany to marry the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. Her younger brother, William Adelin, died in 1120, leaving a succession crisis, and on Henry V's death in 1125, her father arranged for her to marry Geoffrey of Anjou in a strategic alliance. Henry I nominated Matilda as his heir before his death in 1135, but Matilda and Geoffrey faced opposition from the Norman barons and the throne was instead taken by her cousin Stephen of Blois. In 1139 Matilda crossed to England to take the kingdom by force. She captured Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, but London crowds blocked her attempt to be crowned and she was never formally declared Queen of England. Robert of Gloucester, her half-brother, was captured, and Matilda exchanged him for Stephen. A stalemate developed. Matilda returned to Normandy in 1148, leaving her eldest son (later Henry II) to continue the campaign. Thereafter she focused on the administration of Normandy, provided her son with political advice, and worked extensively with the Church. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Pierre Monteux – Pokémon Channel – Kelpie

July 3
Advertisement for a performance of a stage adaptation of Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang

Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang is a 1927 vernacular Malay-language novel written by Kwee Tek Hoay. The book follows a man who leaves his beloved concubine so that he can be married; eighteen years later, he discovers that she had been pregnant, and takes responsibility for his daughter's marriage. The novel has been interpreted variously as promotion of theosophy, a treatise on the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, a call for education, an ode to concubines, and a condemnation of how such women are treated. Inspired by the lyrics to the song "If Those Lips Could Only Speak" and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the book was written as an outline for the stage drama troupe Union Dalia before being published as a serial in Kwee's magazine Panorama. By 1930 there had been a number of stage adaptations (advertisement pictured) – some unauthorised. The work was filmed in 1931 by The Teng Chun and then in 1975 by Fred Young. Though not considered part of the Indonesian literary canon, the book ranks amongst the most reprinted works of Chinese Malay literature, and is Kwee's most popular publication. An English translation by George Fowler, titled The Rose of Cikembang, was published in 2013. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Empress Matilda – Pierre Monteux – Pokémon Channel

July 4
Maya Angelou

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, published in 1986, is the fifth book in African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou's seven-volume autobiography series. Set between 1962 and 1965 and taking its title from a Negro spiritual, the book begins when Angelou is thirty-three years old, and recounts her time in Accra, Ghana. It starts where her previous book, The Heart of a Woman, ends, with the traumatic car accident involving her son Guy, and ends as she returns to America. Angelou (pictured in 2013) upholds the long tradition of African-American autobiography, and at the same time makes a deliberate attempt to challenge the usual structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. As in her previous books, it consists of a series of anecdotes connected by theme. She depicts her struggle with being the mother of a grown son, and with her place in her new home. Angelou examines many of the same subjects and themes of her previous autobiographies, including motherhood, the parallels and connections between the African and American parts of her history and character, and racism. (Full article...)

Part of the Maya Angelou autobiographies series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

Recently featured: Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang (novel) – Empress Matilda – Pierre Monteux

July 5
Nicholas Meyer

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 American science fiction film. The genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), a character from the 1967 Star Trek television series episode "Space Seed", escapes from exile to exact revenge on Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner). The crew of the USS Enterprise must stop Khan from acquiring a powerful terraforming device named Genesis. The film concludes with the death of Spock (Leonard Nimoy), beginning a story arc continued in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. After the poor response to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, series creator Gene Roddenberry was forced out of the sequel's production. Nimoy only reprised his role as Spock because the character's death was intended to be irrevocable. Negative test audience reaction to Spock's death led to significant revisions of the ending over the objections of the director, Nicholas Meyer (pictured in 2008). The Wrath of Khan was a box office success, and critical reaction was generally positive. It is generally considered to be the best film of the entire Star Trek series and is credited with renewing interest in the franchise. (Full article...)

Recently featured: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes – Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang (novel) – Empress Matilda

July 6
Titian - Pope Paul III with his Grandsons Alessandro and Ottavio Farnese

Pope Paul III and His Grandsons is an oil on canvas painting by Titian, housed in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples. It was commissioned by the Farnese family and painted during Titian's visit to Rome between autumn 1545 and June 1546. It depicts the thorny relationship between Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, and two of his grandsons, Ottavio and Alessandro. The painting explores the effects of ageing and the manoeuvring behind succession; Paul was at the time in his late seventies and operating within an uncertain political climate as Charles V came into ascendancy. Paul was not a religious man; he viewed the papacy as a means to consolidate his family's position. He appointed Alessandro as cardinal against accusations of nepotism, fathered a number of illegitimate children and spent large sums of church money collecting art. Titian abandoned the commission before completion, and for the next 100 years the painting languished unframed in a Farnese cellar. It ranks as one of Titian's most penetrating works. The panel contains subtle indications of the contradictions in the character of the Pope, and captures the complex psychological dynamic between the three men. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes – Boenga Roos dari Tjikembang (novel)

July 7
An RAAF Bombardier Challenger 600 from No. 34 Squadron

No. 34 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron, responsible for the transport of VIPs, including members of the Australian government, the Governor-General, and visiting dignitaries. The squadron has a secondary role providing emergency transport during humanitarian operations. It operates Boeing 737 Business Jets and Bombardier Challenger 604s (example pictured) from Defence Establishment Fairbairn in Canberra. The squadron was formed in February 1942 for standard transport duties during World War II, initially flying de Havilland DH.84 Dragons. In 1943 it operated Douglas C-47 Dakotas in New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies prior to disbanding in 1946. The unit was re-established in 1948 as No. 34 (Communications) Squadron at RAAF Station Mallala, South Australia, where it supported activities at the Woomera Rocket Range before disbanding in 1955. It was re-raised the following year, and since the 1960s it has at various times operated Dakotas, Convair Metropolitans, Vickers Viscounts, Dassault Falcon-Mysteres, Hawker Siddeley HS 748s, BAC 1-11s, and Dassault Falcon 900s. The squadron took its present name in 1963, and began using the 737 and Challenger in 2002. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Pope Paul III and His Grandsons – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

July 8
Alexander Cameron Rutherford

Alexander Cameron Rutherford (1857–1941) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the first Premier of Alberta from 1905 to 1910. He began his political career in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. When the province of Alberta was created, Rutherford was asked to form its first government, and then won the 1905 election. The apparatus of provincial government was established under Rutherford, and Edmonton was controversially selected as Alberta's capital over Calgary. The government faced labour unrest in the coal mining industry, and established a commission to examine the problem. It also tried to encourage the development of new railways. Early in 1910, William Henry Cushing's resignation as Minister of Public Works precipitated the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway scandal, which turned many of Rutherford's Liberals against his government. He was forced to resign. He later became chancellor of the University of Alberta, whose earlier founding had been a personal project. A University of Alberta library, an Edmonton elementary school, and Mount Rutherford are named in his honour. His home, Rutherford House, is now a museum. (Full article...)

Recently featured: No. 34 Squadron RAAF – Pope Paul III and His Grandsons – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

July 9
Banksia dentata, drawn in 1773

Banksia dentata, commonly known as the tropical banksia, is a species of tree in the genus Banksia. It occurs across northern Australia, southern New Guinea and the Aru Islands. Growing as a gnarled tree to 7 m (23 ft) high, it has large green leaves up to 22 cm (8.7 in) long with toothed margins. The cylindrical yellow flower spikes, up to 13 cm (5 in) high, appear over the cooler months, attracting honeyeaters, sunbirds, the sugar glider and a variety of insects. Flowers fall off the ageing spikes, which swell and develop follicles containing up to two viable seeds each. Banksia dentata is one of the four original Banksia species collected by Sir Joseph Banks in 1770 (1773 depiction shown), and one of four species published in 1782 as part of Carolus Linnaeus the Younger's original description of Banksia. Within the genus, it is classified in the series Salicinae, a group of species from Australia's eastern states. Genetic studies show it is an early offshoot within the group. Banksia dentata is found in tropical grassland known as savanna, associated with Pandanus and Melaleuca. It regenerates from bushfire by regrowing from its woody base, known as a lignotuber. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Alexander Cameron Rutherford – No. 34 Squadron RAAF – Pope Paul III and His Grandsons

July 10
Jane Cobden

Jane Cobden (1851–1947) was a British Liberal politician and radical activist. An early proponent of women's rights, she was one of two women elected to the inaugural London County Council in 1889, although legal challenges prevented her from being a councillor. Throughout her life she sought to protect and develop the legacy of her father, the Victorian reformer Richard Cobden, in particular the causes of land reform, peace, social justice and women's suffrage. She was also a consistent advocate for Irish independence. In the 1890s she extended her interests to advancing the rights of the indigenous populations within colonial territories. She opposed the Boer War of 1899–1902, and after the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910 she attacked its segregationist policies. Before the First World War she spoke out against Joseph Chamberlain's tariff reform crusade on the grounds of her father's free trade principles, and was prominent in the Liberal Party's revival of the land reform issue. In 1928 she presented the old Cobden family residence, Dunford House, to the Cobden Memorial Association as a centre dedicated to the issues and causes that had defined "Cobdenism". (Full article...)

Recently featured: Banksia dentata – Alexander Cameron Rutherford – No. 34 Squadron RAAF

July 11
Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth (1895–1948) was an American baseball outfielder and pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1914 to 1935. Born in Baltimore, Ruth was sent at age seven to St. Mary's, a reformatory where he learned baseball skills. In 1914, Ruth was signed to play minor-league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. He began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including 714 career home runs. In his fifteen years with the Yankees, Ruth helped them win seven American League pennants and four World Series championships. His big swing led to escalating home run totals that boosted baseball's popularity and made home runs a major factor in the sport. Ruth's unprecedented power and carousing lifestyle made him a larger-than-life figure in the "Roaring Twenties". One of the first five inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture, and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Jane Cobden – Banksia dentata – Alexander Cameron Rutherford

July 12
Cyclists on the M-185

M-185 is a state trunkline highway in the US state of Michigan that circles Mackinac Island, a popular tourist destination. A narrow paved road of 8.004 miles (12.881 km), it offers scenic views of the Straits of Mackinac dividing the Upper and the Lower peninsulas of Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. It has no connection to any other state highways and is accessible only by passenger ferry. M-185 passes several key sites within Mackinac Island State Park, including Fort Mackinac, Arch Rock, British Landing, and Devil's Kitchen. Outside of the downtown area, it runs between the water's edge and woodlands. Traffic on it is by foot, on horse, by horse-drawn vehicle, or by bicycle; motorized vehicles have been banned since the 1890s, and only a few vehicles have been permitted on the island other than emergency vehicles. It is the only state highway in the US where cars cannot drive. The highway was built during the first decade of the 20th century by the state and designated as a state highway in 1933. It was paved in the 1950s, and portions were rebuilt to deal with shoreline erosion in the 1980s. Until 2005, it was the only state highway without any automobile accidents. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Babe Ruth – Jane Cobden – Banksia dentata

July 13
Joel Brand

Joel Brand (1906–1964) was a rescue worker, born in Transylvania and raised in Germany, who became known during the Holocaust for his efforts to save Hungary's Jews from deportation to Auschwitz. A leading member of Budapest's Aid and Rescue Committee, which smuggled Jews out of occupied Europe, Brand was approached in April 1944 by Adolf Eichmann, the German SS officer in charge of the deportations. He proposed that Brand broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain, in which the Nazis would exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks for the Eastern front and large quantities of other goods. Historians believe the SS intended the deal as cover for peace talks that would exclude the Soviet Union. Whatever its purpose, the proposal was thwarted when the British arrested Brand in the Middle East and alerted the media. The failure of the negotiations, and the wider issue of why the Allies were unable to save the 435,000 Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz, was bitterly debated for decades. Brand said shortly before his death: "An accident of life placed the fate of one million human beings on my shoulders. I eat and sleep and think only of them." (Full article...)

Recently featured: M-185 (Michigan highway) – Babe Ruth – Jane Cobden

July 14
1601 sketch of the broad-billed parrot

The broad-billed parrot is a large extinct parrot in the family Psittaculidae that was endemic to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It has been classified as a member of the tribe Psittaculini, and may have been closely related to the Rodrigues parrot. The broad-billed parrot had a large head in proportion to its body, a distinct crest of feathers on the front of the head, and a very large beak that would have enabled it to crack hard seeds. Subfossil bones indicate that the species exhibited greater sexual dimorphism in overall size and head size than any living parrot. A contemporary description indicates that it had a blue head, a greyish or blackish body, and perhaps a red beak. The broad-billed parrot was first referred to as the "Indian raven" in Dutch ships' journals from 1598 onwards. It was first scientifically described from a subfossil mandible in 1866, but this was not linked to the few brief contemporary descriptions until the rediscovery of a detailed 1601 sketch (pictured). The bird became extinct in the 17th century owing to a combination of deforestation, predation by introduced invasive species, and probably also because of hunting. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Joel Brand – M-185 (Michigan highway) – Babe Ruth

July 15
Frank Headlam

Frank Headlam (1914–1976) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force. He joined as an air cadet in 1934 and specialised in flying instruction and navigation before the outbreak of World War II. In April 1941, he became commanding officer of No. 2 Squadron and saw action against Japanese forces in the South West Pacific. After returning to Australia, he held staff appointments and training commands, finishing the war a group captain. Headlam served as Officer Commanding North-Western Area in 1946, and was Director of Training from 1947 to 1950. In 1950–51, during the Malayan Emergency, he was stationed at Singapore as commander of No. 90 (Composite) Wing and, later, RAF Tengah. Promoted air vice-marshal, he successively held the positions of Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Operational Command, AOC No. 224 Group RAF during the Indonesia–Malaysia Konfrontasi, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, and AOC Support Command. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1958 and Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1965, and retired in 1971 following a posting to London as Head of the Australian Joint Services Staff. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Broad-billed parrot – Joel Brand – M-185 (Michigan highway)

July 16
Herman G. Felhoelter

The Chaplain–Medic massacre was a war crime that took place in the Korean War on July 16, 1950, on a mountain above the village of Tunam, South Korea. Operating at the Kum River during the Battle of Taejon, troops of the US Army's 19th Infantry Regiment were cut off from resupply by a roadblock established by North Korean troops of the NK 3rd Division. The roadblock proved difficult to break, and forced US troops to move through nearby mountains to evacuate their wounded. Thirty unarmed and critically wounded US troops were stranded at the top of a mountain along with a chaplain (Herman G. Felhoelter, pictured) and a medic. They were discovered by a North Korean patrol. Though the medic was able to escape, the North Koreans executed Felhoelter as he prayed over the wounded, then killed the rest of them. The massacre was one of several incidents that led US commanders to establish a commission in July to look into war crimes during the war. The same month, the North Korean commanders, concerned about the way their soldiers were treating prisoners of war, laid out stricter guidelines for handling enemy captives. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Frank Headlam – Broad-billed parrot – Joel Brand

July 17
Marcus Trescothick

Somerset County Cricket Club's 2009 season saw the team compete in four English competitions: the first divisions of the County Championship and the NatWest Pro40 League, the Friends Provident Trophy, and the Twenty20 Cup. Somerset were in contention to win the County Championship until the last few weeks of the season, but the batting-friendly pitch at their home ground meant that they finished with too many draws to claim their first Championship title. Somerset were unbeaten in the group stage of the Friends Provident Trophy, but were eliminated in the first knock-out round, and finished runners-up by one point in the NatWest Pro40. In the Twenty20 Cup, Somerset finished as losing finalists, thus qualifying for the international Champions League Twenty20, where they were eliminated in the second group stage. Overall, Somerset had a successful season but fell short of winning any competitions, prompting their Director of Cricket Brian Rose to say "We've had enough of being cricket's nearly men." Marcus Trescothick (pictured) topped the national batting tables and was named by the Professional Cricketers' Association as Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Year. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Chaplain–Medic massacre – Frank Headlam – Broad-billed parrot

July 18
Billy Corgan

"Today" is a song by American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan (pictured in 2010). "Today" was released in September 1993 as the second single from the band's second album and major label debut, Siamese Dream. The song, seemingly upbeat, contains dark lyrics. Corgan wrote it about a day when he had suicidal thoughts, exemplified by the reference to self-mutilation in the chorus. The contrast between the grim subject matter of the song and the soft instrumental part during the verses, coupled with use of irony in the lyrics, left many listeners unaware of the song's tale of depression and desperation. Although Corgan opted for "Cherub Rock", the lead single from the album, to be the opening track, "Today" and its follow-up "Disarm" are credited in AllMusic for popularizing the band and "sen[ding] [Siamese Dream] into the stratosphere". "Today" has been generally well received by critics, and in an article about the song in Blender it was described as having "achieved a remarkable status as one of the defining songs of its generation, perfectly mirroring the fractured alienation of American youth in the 1990s." (Full article...)

Recently featured: Somerset County Cricket Club in 2009 – Chaplain–Medic massacre – Frank Headlam

July 19
McDonald's Cycle Center

McDonald's Cycle Center is an indoor bike station in Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. The city built the center and opened it July 2004. Since June 2006, it has been sponsored by McDonald's and other partners, including city departments and bicycle advocacy organizations. The bike station, which serves bicycle commuters and utility cyclists, provides lockers, showers, a snack bar with outdoor summer seating, bike repair, bike rental and 300 bicycle parking spaces. The Cycle Center is accessible by membership and day pass. It also accommodates runners and inline skaters, and provides space for a Chicago Police Department Bike Patrol Group. Planning for the Cycle Center was part of the larger "Bike 2010 Plan", in which the city aimed to make itself more accommodating to bicycle commuters. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was an advocate of the plan. Suburban Chicago-based McDonald's controversially claimed that their sponsorship of the Cycle Center fit with their efforts to promote health. Environmentalists, urban planners and cycling enthusiasts around the world have expressed interest in the Cycle Center, and want to match its urban planning and transit-oriented development success story. (Full article...)

Part of the Millennium Park series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

Recently featured: "Today" (The Smashing Pumpkins song) – Somerset County Cricket Club in 2009 – Chaplain–Medic massacre

July 20
Australian members of No. 196 Squadron

The Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy involved more than 3,000 military personnel serving under British command, the majority from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) (Australian members of No. 196 Squadron pictured). Others served with the Royal Navy and British Army. After participating in the Allied landings on 6 June 1944, Australian air force and army personnel fought in the subsequent Battle of Normandy between June and August 1944, and an RAAF fighter squadron operated from airfields in Normandy. Throughout the campaign, Australian airmen provided direct support to the Allied ground forces by attacking German military units and their supply lines, as well as forming part of the force which defended the beachhead from air attack. Australians also indirectly contributed to the campaign by attacking German submarines and ships which posed a threat to the invasion force. Australia's contribution to the fighting in Normandy is commemorated in memorials and cemeteries in London and Normandy. (Full article...)

Recently featured: McDonald's Cycle Center – "Today" (The Smashing Pumpkins song) – Somerset County Cricket Club in 2009

July 21
Leo Major and Leo Minor

Leo Minor is a small and faint constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere. Its name is Latin for "the smaller lion", in contrast to Leo, the larger lion (19th-century illustration of both pictured). It lies between the larger and more recognizable Ursa Major to the north and Leo to the south. Leo Minor was not regarded as a separate constellation by classical astronomers; it was designated by Johannes Hevelius in 1687. There are 37 stars brighter than apparent magnitude 6.5 in the constellation; three are brighter than magnitude 4.5. 46 Leonis Minoris, an orange giant of magnitude 3.8, is located some 95 light-years from Earth. At magnitude 4.4, Beta Leonis Minoris is the second brightest star and the only one in the constellation with a Bayer designation. It is a binary star, the brighter component of which is an orange giant and the fainter a yellow-white main sequence star. The third brightest star is 21 Leonis Minoris, a rapidly rotating white main-sequence star of average magnitude 4.5. The constellation also includes two stars with planetary systems, two pairs of interacting galaxies, and the unique deep-sky object Hanny's Voorwerp. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy – McDonald's Cycle Center – "Today" (The Smashing Pumpkins song)

July 22
Peat workings on Chat Moss

Chat Moss is a large area of peat bog that makes up 30 per cent of the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. North of the River Irwell, 5 miles (8 km) to the west of Manchester, it occupies an area of about 10.6 square miles (27.5 km2). Peat development seems to have begun there at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, and the depth of peat ranges from 24 to 30 feet (7 to 9 m). A great deal of reclamation work has been carried out, but a large network of drainage channels is required to keep it from reverting to bog. In 1958 peat extractors discovered the severed head of what is believed to be a Romano-British Celt, possibly a sacrificial victim. Much of Chat Moss is now prime agricultural land, although farming in the area is in decline. A 228-acre (92 ha) area of Chat Moss, notified as Astley and Bedford Mosses, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Chat Moss threatened the completion of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, until George Stephenson succeeded in constructing a railway line through it in 1829; his solution was to "float" the line on a bed of bound heather and branches topped with tar and covered with rubble stone. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Leo Minor – Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy – McDonald's Cycle Center

July 23
USS Guam (CB2)

The Alaska class consisted of six cruisers ordered prior to World War II for the US Navy. They were officially classed as large cruisers, but others have regarded them as battlecruisers. Their intermediate status is reflected in the naming of the ships after US territories and insular areas, rather than states (battleships) or cities (cruisers). The idea for a large cruiser class originated in the early 1930s when the Navy sought to counter German Deutschland-class "pocket battleships". Planning of what became the Alaska class began in the later 1930s after the deployment of Germany's Scharnhorst-class battleships and rumors that Japan was constructing a new battlecruiser class. To serve as "cruiser-killers" capable of seeking out and destroying such ships, the Alaska class was given large guns, limited armor protection against 12-inch shells, and machinery capable of speeds of about 31–33 knots (36–38 mph, 58–61 km/h). Of the six planned, two were completed and a third was cancelled during construction. Alaska and Guam (pictured) served for the last year of World War II as bombardment ships and fast carrier escorts, and were decommissioned in 1947. (Full article...)

Part of the Battlecruisers of the world series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

Recently featured: Chat Moss – Leo Minor – Australian contribution to the Battle of Normandy

July 24
Prince William of Gloucester

Prince William, Duke of Gloucester (1689–1700), was the son of Princess Anne (later Queen of Great Britain) and her husband, Prince George, Duke of Cumberland. William was their only child to survive infancy. Styled Duke of Gloucester, he was viewed as a Protestant champion because his birth seemed to cement the Protestant succession established in the "Glorious Revolution" that had deposed his Catholic grandfather James II the previous year. Anne was estranged from her brother-in-law, William III, and her sister, Mary II, but supported the links that developed between them and her son. Prince William befriended his Welsh body-servant at his nursery in Campden House, Kensington; his memoir of the Duke is an important source for historians. William's precarious health was a constant source of worry to his mother. His death at the age of eleven precipitated a succession crisis as his mother was the only individual remaining in the Protestant line of succession established by the Bill of Rights 1689. To avoid the throne passing to a Catholic, the Act of Settlement 1701 settled the throne on Electress Sophia of Hanover, a cousin of King James, and her Protestant heirs. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Alaska-class cruiser – Chat Moss – Leo Minor

July 25
St James' Church

St James' Church is an Anglican parish church in Sydney, Australia. Named in honour of St James the Great, it is the oldest extant church building in the city's inner region and has been in continuous service since it was consecrated in February 1824. Its original ministry was to the early convict population of Sydney as well as to the administrative élite. In succeeding centuries, the church has maintained a special role in the city's religious, civic and musical life as well as close associations with the legal and medical professions. The church building was designed in the style of a Georgian town church by the transported convict architect Francis Greenway. Worship is in a style commonly found in the High Church and moderate Anglo-Catholic traditions of Anglicanism, in contrast to the majority of churches in its diocese where services are generally in the style associated with Low Church. The teaching at St James' has a more liberal perspective than most churches in the diocese on issues of gender and the ordination of women. Part of a historical precinct, it is listed on the Register of the National Estate and has been described as one of the world's 80 greatest man-made treasures. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Prince William, Duke of Gloucester – Alaska-class cruiser – Chat Moss

July 26
Sign for the premiere

The Simpsons Movie is a 2007 American animated comedy film based on the television series The Simpsons. Directed by David Silverman, it stars the regular cast of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress MacNeille, and Pamela Hayden. It features Albert Brooks as Russ Cargill, the evil head of the Environmental Protection Agency who intends to destroy Springfield after Homer pollutes the lake. As the townspeople exile him and eventually his family abandons him, Homer works to redeem his folly by stopping Cargill's scheme. Previous attempts to create a film version of The Simpsons failed due to the lack of a script of appropriate length and production crew members. Eventually, producers and writers banded together and conceived numerous narrative concepts, one of which was selected for development. The script was re-written over a hundred times, and this creativity continued after animation had begun in 2006. The film premiered in Springfield, Vermont (theater sign pictured), which had won the right to hold it in a competition. It was a box office success, grossing over $527 million, and received critical acclaim. (Full article...)

Recently featured: St James' Church, Sydney – Prince William, Duke of Gloucester – Alaska-class cruiser

July 27
Manta alfredi

Manta rays are large eagle rays belonging to the genus Manta. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7 m (23 ft) in width while the smaller, M. alfredi (pictured), reaches 5.5 m (18 ft). Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. Mantas can be found in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. M. birostris migrates across open oceans, singly or in groups, while M. alfredi tends to be resident and coastal. They are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year, producing live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites. Like whales, they breach, for unknown reasons. Both species are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine, and their slow reproductive rate exacerbates these threats. Only a few aquariums are large enough to house them. In general, these large fish are seldom seen and difficult to study. (Full article...)

Recently featured: The Simpsons Movie – St James' Church, Sydney – Prince William, Duke of Gloucester

July 28
SMS Goeben

SMS Goeben was the second of two Moltke-class battlecruisers of the Imperial German Navy, launched in 1911 and named after the German Franco-Prussian War veteran General August Karl von Goeben. Compared to their British rivals in the Indefatigable class, Goeben and her sister ship were significantly larger and better armored. After her commissioning, Goeben, with the light cruiser Breslau, patrolled the Mediterranean during the Balkan Wars. After the outbreak of World War I on 28 July 1914, Goeben and Breslau evaded British naval forces and reached Constantinople. The two ships were transferred to the Ottoman Empire on 16 August 1914, and Goeben became the flagship of the Ottoman Navy as Yavuz Sultan Selim. By bombarding Russian facilities in the Black Sea, she brought Turkey into World War I on the German side. In later service, she carried the remains of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk from Istanbul to İzmit in 1938. She was decommissioned in 1950 and scrapped in 1973, after the West German government declined to buy her back. She was the last surviving ship built by the Imperial German Navy, and the longest-serving battlecruiser or dreadnought-type ship in any navy. (Full article...)

Part of the Battlecruisers of Germany series, one of Wikipedia's featured topics.

Recently featured: Manta ray – The Simpsons Movie – St James' Church, Sydney

July 29
William Calcraft

William Calcraft (1800–1879) was the most famous English hangman of the 19th century. One of the most prolific British executioners of all time, it is estimated that he carried out 450 executions during his 45-year career. A cobbler by trade, Calcraft was initially recruited to flog juvenile offenders after meeting the City of London's hangman, John Foxton, while selling meat pies near Newgate Prison. He succeeded Foxton, but his controversial use of the short-drop method of hanging, in which the victims were strangled rather than had their vertebrae broken by the fall when the trapdoor on the gallows was released, caused some to consider him incompetent. Many took several minutes to die, and to hasten their deaths Calcraft sometimes pulled on their legs, or even climbed on their shoulders in an attempt to break their necks. Calcraft's antics may have been intended to entertain the crowds of more than 30,000 that sometimes attended his executions before a change in the law in 1868 meant that executions could only take place in prisons. Among his victims were Marie and Frederick Manning, the first husband and wife to be hanged together since 1700. (Full article...)

Recently featured: SMS Goeben – Manta ray – The Simpsons Movie

July 30
Chincoteague pony swim 2007

The human history of Chincoteague, an island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, begins with Native Americans gathering shellfish there. By one popular tale, chincoteague meant "Beautiful land across the water" in their tongue. European settlers began to use the island in the 17th century. It had few residents, and was used primarily for grazing livestock – probably the origin of the feral Chincoteague ponies, which used to roam in the wild. The local fishing and seafood resources began to be systematically exploited in the early 19th century, and oysters became a major industry after the Civil War. Chincoteague's relative isolation ended in 1876 when the railroad arrived at Franklin City, across Chincoteague Bay, and a steamboat service was introduced; a causeway completed in 1922 allowed automobiles to reach the island. The Chincoteague Fire Department was established in 1925 and took over the traditional pony penning to raise funds. The annual carnival, pony swim (pictured), and subsequent auction now attract tens of thousands of visitors. The island, which was publicized by the 1947 book Misty of Chincoteague that became a 1961 film, is a major tourist destination in the area. (Full article...)

Recently featured: William Calcraft – SMS Goeben – Manta ray

July 31
Sir William Gordon-Cumming in court

The royal baccarat scandal was a British gambling scandal of the late 19th century involving the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). In September 1890 he was invited to a house party at Tranby Croft, Yorkshire, the home of Arthur Wilson and his family. During Edward's stay, lieutenant colonel Sir William Gordon-Cumming (pictured) was accused of cheating at baccarat and pressured into signing a document that stated he would never play cards again, in exchange for the silence of the guests. The secret was not kept for long, and Gordon-Cumming demanded a retraction from the Wilson family, who he considered to blame for divulging the news. They refused and he sued for slander. The atmosphere at trial in June 1891 was described as being like a theatre. Edward was called as a witness, the first time the heir to the throne had been compelled to appear in court since 1411. Despite discrepancies in the evidence and a strong closing speech by Gordon-Cumming's barrister, the jury found against him after a summing-up from the judge that was described by some as biased. Gordon-Cumming was dismissed from the army and ostracised from society for life, though public opinion was on his side. (Full article...)

Recently featured: History of Chincoteague, Virginia – William Calcraft – SMS Goeben