Wikipedia:Today's featured article/June 2014

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June 1
Norman Rockwell

The Four Freedoms is a series of four 1943 oil paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell (1894–1978). The paintings—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear—refer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's January 1941 Four Freedoms State of the Union address in which he identified essential human rights that should be universally protected, a theme which became part of the charter of the United Nations. The paintings were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day. They became the highlight of a year-long touring exhibition to promote the sale of war bonds in support of the American war effort, which raised over $132 million. Rockwell (pictured in his twenties) was the most widely known and popular commercial artist of the mid 20th century, but failed to achieve critical acclaim. The four paintings, which are now in the Norman Rockwell Museum, are his best-known works, but critical review has not been entirely positive. However, Rockwell created a niche in the enduring social fabric with Freedom from Want, emblematic of what is now known as the "Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving". (Full article...)

Recently featured: Jane Joseph – Derfflinger-class battlecruiser – Sawtooth National Forest


June 2
Cover of the official guidebook for the 1906 season

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens was a large zoo, amusement park, exhibition hall complex and speedway stadium in Belle Vue, Manchester, England, opened in 1836. The brainchild of John Jennison, the park was intended to entertain the genteel middle classes, with formal gardens and dancing on open-air platforms during the summer, but they soon became one of the most popular attractions in Northern England. Jennison set out a small amusements area in Belle Vue during the 1870s, which was expanded in the early 20th century to become what was advertised as the "showground of the world". Popular rides included the 60 mph (97 km/h) Bobs roller coaster and the Scenic Railway. Grand firework displays were given from 1852 and there was an annual Christmas circus from 1922. The Kings Hall, opened in 1910, housed the Hallé Orchestra for several years and later hosted concerts by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin. At its peak Belle Vue occupied 165 acres (0.67 km2) and attracted more than two million visitors a year. The zoo closed in September 1977 after its owners decided they could no longer afford annual losses of £100,000. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Four Freedoms (Norman Rockwell) – Jane Joseph – Derfflinger-class battlecruiser


June 3
Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis (1808–1889) was President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Born in Kentucky, he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and had a career as a soldier, fighting in the Mexican–American War. As a plantation owner, he employed slave labor—as did many of his peers in the South—and supported slavery. He served as Secretary of War and U.S. senator, arguing against secession, but agreeing that each state had the right to secede. At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Davis was chosen as President of the Confederate States. He took personal charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to defeat the larger, more powerful and better organized Union. He is often blamed for contributing to the fall of the Confederacy. His diplomatic efforts failed to gain recognition from any foreign country and he paid little attention to the collapsing economy. At the end of the war in 1865, he was captured and imprisoned; after his release he left public life. He wrote a memoir, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, eventually became a Civil War hero to many white Southerners and, in later life, encouraged reconciliation with the North. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Belle Vue Zoological Gardens – Four Freedoms (Norman Rockwell) – Jane Joseph


June 4
Fort number 8, Khao Daeng, Singha Nakhon

The Sultanate of Singora was a short-lived port city in southern Thailand and precursor of the present-day town of Songkhla. The city was founded in the early 1600s by Dato Mogol, a Persian Muslim who recognized Siamese suzerainty. From its inception, it was designated a duty-free port and vied with the neighboring Sultanate of Pattani for trade. An important trading center for tin, lead and pepper, Singora flourished during the reign of Doto Mogol's son, Sultan Sulaiman Shah, but was destroyed by Siamese troops in 1680 after decades of conflict. Remains of the city include fourteen forts (example pictured), city walls and the tomb of Sultan Sulaiman Shah. A cannon from Singora bearing the seal of Sultan Sulaiman Shah was captured by Siamese forces. It was seized in the 18th century by Burmese troops and in the 19th century by the British, and is now displayed in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. The sultanate's history was documented in accounts, letters and journals written by British and Dutch East India Company traders; its destruction was discussed in books and reports authored by representatives of the French embassies to Siam in the mid-1680s. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Jefferson Davis – Belle Vue Zoological Gardens – Four Freedoms (Norman Rockwell)


June 5
Jenova Chen

Thatgamecompany is an American independent video game development studio co-founded in 2006 by University of Southern California students Jenova Chen (pictured) and Kellee Santiago. A contracted development studio for Sony Computer Entertainment prior to securing independent funding, it has released three critically acclaimed games for the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network service. The first, released in 2007, was a remake of Chen's award-winning Flash title Flow, with enhanced visuals, sound, and gameplay. The second and third PlayStation 3 games, Flower and Journey, were released in 2009 and 2012 respectively. The company focuses on creating video games that provoke emotional responses from players. When designing a game, Thatgamecompany employees start by mapping out what they want the player to feel, rather than by establishing game mechanics. They have stated that, while they are not opposed to making action-oriented games, they believe that enough such titles are released by the established video game industry. The company does not plan to produce large, blockbuster titles, due to a belief that the pressure for high sales would stifle innovation. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Sultanate of Singora – Jefferson Davis – Belle Vue Zoological Gardens


June 6
A Lancaster bomber

Operations Taxable, Glimmer and Big Drum were tactical military deceptions conducted on 6 June 1944 in support of the Allied landings in Normandy. The operations formed the naval component of Operation Bodyguard, a wider series of tactical and strategic deceptions surrounding the invasion. By towing radar reflector balloons and producing significant amounts of radio traffic, small boats simulated invasion fleets approaching Cap d'Antifer, Pas-de-Calais and Normandy. Royal Air Force bombers, including Lancaster bombers (pictured) from No. 617 "Dam Busters" Squadron, created the illusion of a large fleet on coastal radar screens by dropping chaff in progressive patterns. Glimmer and Taxable played on the German belief that the main invasion force would land in the Calais region. Big Drum was positioned on the western flank of the real invasion force to try to confuse German forces about the scale of the landings. It is unclear whether the operations were successful, due to the complexity of their execution, poor weather, and lack of response from German forces. It is possible they contributed to the overall confusion of D-Day as part of the wider Bodyguard plan. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Thatgamecompany – Sultanate of Singora – Jefferson Davis


June 7
The west front of the cathedral

Wells Cathedral is a Church of England place of worship in Wells, Somerset, dedicated to St Andrew the Apostle, and is the seat of the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The present building dates from 1175 to 1490, an earlier church having been built on the site in 705. With its broad west front and large central tower, it is the city's dominant feature and a landmark in the Somerset countryside. Its architecture is entirely Gothic, mostly of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, differing from most other English medieval cathedrals, which have parts in the earlier Romanesque style. The historian John Harvey considers it to be the first truly Gothic structure in Europe. The Early English Gothic façade displays more than three hundred sculpted figures, and is described by Harvey as "the supreme triumph of the combined plastic arts in England". The eastern end retains much ancient stained glass, which is rare in England. Wells has an exceptional number of surviving secular buildings associated with its chapter of secular canons, such as the Bishop's Palace and the Vicars' Close, a residential street which has remained intact from the 15th century. The cathedral is a scheduled monument and is designated as a Grade I listed building. (Full article...)

Recently featured: D-Day naval deceptions – Thatgamecompany – Sultanate of Singora


June 8
Interior of the Schloßkirche in Weimar in 1660

Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten!, BWV 172, is a 1714 church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, composed in Weimar for Pentecost Sunday. The title translates as "Ring out, you songs; sound, you strings!" It is an early work in a genre to which Bach later contributed complete cantata cycles for all occasions of the liturgical year. Appointed Konzertmeister in the spring of 1714, he composed monthly church cantatas, most to texts by court poet Salomon Franck. The librettist reflects different aspects of the Holy Spirit, including a quotation from the prescribed Gospel reading and a stanza from Philipp Nicolai's 1599 hymn "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" as the closing chorale. The work is in six movements, and scored for four vocal parts, three trumpets, timpani, oboe d'amore and a string orchestra. Bach specified an unusual repeat of the opening chorus after the sixth movement. He led the first performance in the court chapel (pictured in 1660) of the Weimar palace. Bach performed the cantata again several times during his tenure as Thomaskantor – director of church music – in Leipzig, indicating that he particularly valued this cantata. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Wells Cathedral – D-Day naval deceptions – Thatgamecompany


June 9
Thopha saccata

Thopha saccata, commonly known as the double drummer, is the largest Australian species of cicada and reputedly the loudest insect in the world. Documented by the Danish zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius in 1803, it was the first described and named cicada native to Australia. Its common name comes from the large dark red-brown sac-like pockets that the adult male has on each side of its abdomen—the "double drums"—that are used to amplify the sound it produces. The adult double drummer is the largest Australian species of cicada. Broad-headed compared with other cicadas, the double drummer is mostly brown with a black pattern across the back of its thorax, and has red-brown and black underparts. The sexes are similar in appearance, though the female lacks the male's tymbals and sac-like covers. Found in sclerophyll forest in Queensland and New South Wales, adult double drummers generally perch high in the branches of large eucalypts. They emerge from the ground where they have spent several years as nymphs from November until March, and live for another four to five weeks. They appear in great numbers in some years, yet are absent in others. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172 – Wells Cathedral – D-Day naval deceptions


June 10
Frederick Delius

Frederick Delius (1862–1934) was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family, he was sent to Florida in 1884 to manage an orange plantation. Influenced by African-American music, he began composing. After a brief period of formal musical study in Germany from 1886, he embarked on a full-time career as a composer in France, living in Grez-sur-Loing with his wife Jelka. His first successes came in Germany in the late 1890s; it was not until 1907 that his music regularly appeared in British concerts. Thomas Beecham conducted the full premiere of A Mass of Life in London in 1909, staged the opera A Village Romeo and Juliet at Covent Garden in 1910, mounted a six-day Delius festival in London in 1929, and made gramophone recordings of many works. After 1918 Delius began to suffer the effects of syphilis, became paralysed and blind, but completed some late compositions with the aid of Eric Fenby. His early compositions reflect the music he had heard in America and Europe; later he developed a style uniquely his own. The Delius Society, formed in 1962, promotes knowledge of his life and works, and sponsors an annual competition for young musicians. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Thopha saccata – Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172 – Wells Cathedral


June 11
Tom Pryce racing in 1975

Tom Pryce (1949–1977) was a Welsh racing driver. He is the only Welsh driver to have won a Formula One race (the Brands Hatch Race of Champions, a non-championship race, in 1975) or to have led a Formula One World Championship Grand Prix (two laps of the 1975 British Grand Prix). Pryce started his career in Formula One with the small Token team, making his only start for them at the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix. Shortly after an impressive performance at the Formula Three support race for the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix, Pryce joined the Shadow team and scored his first points in Germany in only his fourth race. Pryce (pictured during the 1975 United States Grand Prix) later claimed two podium finishes: the first in Austria in 1975 and the second in Brazil a year later. Pryce was considered by his team as a great wet weather driver, and was the fastest driver in the wet conditions of the practice session for the 1977 South African Grand Prix, his final race. During the race, he collided at high speed with a safety marshal, Frederik Jansen van Vuuren, and both men were killed. A memorial to Pryce was unveiled in 2009 in his home town of Ruthin. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Frederick Delius – Thopha saccata – Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172


June 12
Hubert Lyautey

The Zaian War was fought between France and the Zaian confederation of Berber tribes in Morocco between 1914 and 1921. Morocco had become a French protectorate in 1912, and Resident-General Hubert Lyautey (pictured) sought to extend French influence through the Middle Atlas mountains towards French Algeria. The war began well for the French, but they incurred heavy losses, including over 600 troops killed at the Battle of El Herri. The French retained most of their territory during the First World War, despite the withdrawal of some troops for service at home and continuing raids by the Zaians, who were supported by the Central Powers. After the signing of the Armistice with Germany in November 1918, significant forces of tribesmen remained opposed to French rule. The French resumed their offensive in the Khénifra area in 1920, and entered negotiations with the Zaians. A split between those who supported submission and those still opposed led to infighting, and the French responded with a strong, three-pronged attack into the Middle Atlas that pacified the area. Some tribesmen fled to the High Atlas and continued a guerrilla war against the French well into the 1930s. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Tom Pryce – Frederick Delius – Thopha saccata


June 13
Yellowstone cutthroat trout

The cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki) is a fish species of the family Salmonidae native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean, Rocky Mountains and Great Basin in North America. Cutthroat trout are popular gamefish, especially among anglers who enjoy fly fishing. The common name "cutthroat" refers to the distinctive red coloration on the underside of the lower jaw. The specific name clarki was given to honor explorer William Clark, coleader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Cutthroat trout usually inhabit and spawn in small to moderately large, clear, well-oxygenated, shallow rivers with gravel bottoms. They also reproduce in clear, cold, moderately deep lakes. They are native to the alluvial or freestone streams that are typical tributaries of the Pacific basin, Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Cutthroat trout spawn in the spring and may inadvertently but naturally hybridize with rainbow trout, producing fertile cutbows. Several subspecies of cutthroat trout are currently listed as threatened due to habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species. The cutthroat trout type species and several subspecies are the official state fish of seven western U.S. states. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Zaian War – Tom Pryce – Frederick Delius


June 14
A Centaur IV tank of the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group

Operation Perch was a British offensive of the Second World War between 7 and 14 June 1944. The intention was to seize Caen, a major Allied objective in the early stages of the invasion of northwest Europe. The operation had been planned to start immediately after the beach landings, but when Caen was still in German hands three days into the Battle of Normandy, it changed to a pincer attack using XXX Corps and I Corps. XXX Corps faced strong German forces in a fierce battle for Tilly-sur-Seulles. I Corps's eastern thrust from the Orne bridgehead met determined resistance. With mounting casualties and no sign of success, the offensive was abandoned. To the west, American pressure had opened up a gap in the German lines. The 7th Armoured Division was ordered to advance through it, to try to force a German retreat. After two days of intense fighting, the division's position was untenable and it was withdrawn. Historians generally agree that while an early opportunity to capture Caen was squandered by British command failures, the Germans had had to use their most powerful armoured reserves in a defensive role, incurring heavy losses, rather than in counteroffensive operations. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Cutthroat trout – Zaian War – Tom Pryce


June 15
Kim Deal

"Bam Thwok" is a download-only single by the American alternative rock band Pixies. The song was written and sung by bassist Kim Deal (pictured), and released exclusively through the iTunes Store on June 15, 2004. It was the band's first recording since the 1991 studio album Trompe le Monde; the Pixies broke up acrimoniously in 1993 and reformed in 2004. Frontman Black Francis, the band's principal songwriter, said the recording session "was very relaxed, a nice way to break the ice". Originally composed for the movie Shrek 2, the song was not selected for the final soundtrack. The lyrics display a surrealistic and nonsensical nature typical of the band; Deal's inspiration was a discarded child's art book she found on a New York City street. She commented "This kid had written ... about a party that took place in another universe, about people and monsters that were partying together." The song is structured around a four-beat guitar melody which incorporates major chords throughout. It begins with full instrumentation, over which Santiago layers a short guitar solo. "Bam Thwok" debuted at number one on the first release of the UK Download Chart. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Operation Perch – Cutthroat trout – Zaian War


June 16

Great Eastern Highway is a 590-kilometre-long (370 mi) road linking the Western Australian capital of Perth with the city of Kalgoorlie. A key route for vehicles accessing the eastern Wheatbelt and the Goldfields, it is the western portion of the main road link between Perth and the eastern states of Australia. The highway forms the majority of National Highway 94, with various segments included in other road routes. The highway was created in the 1930s from an existing system of roads linking Perth with the Goldfields, though the name was coined to describe a different route from Perth to Guildford (modern-day Guildford Road). The Belmont section was constructed in 1867 using convict labour, with the road base made from sections of tree trunks. Several bypasses have been constructed, including Great Eastern Highway Bypass in Perth. Over the years the road has been upgraded, with the whole highway sealed by 1953, segments reconstructed and widened, dual carriageways created in Perth and Kalgoorlie, and grade separated interchanges built at major intersections. A future route to replace its current ascent of the Darling Scarp has been identified. (Full article...)

Recently featured: "Bam Thwok" – Operation Perch – Cutthroat trout


June 17
Tadeusz Kościuszko

Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746–1817) was a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He graduated from the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw, Poland, before studying in France. In 1776, he moved to North America, where he took part in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army. An accomplished military architect, he designed and oversaw the construction of state-of-the-art fortifications, including those at West Point, New York. He returned to Poland, and was commissioned a major general in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Army in 1789. Two years after the Polish–Russian War of 1792 had resulted in the Second Partition of Poland, he led an uprising against Russia in March 1794. Russian forces captured him at the Battle of Maciejowice, and the defeat of the uprising led to the Third Partition in 1795, which ended Poland's independent existence for 123 years. He was pardoned by Tsar Paul I in 1796 and emigrated to the United States. A close friend of Thomas Jefferson, Kościuszko wrote a will in 1798 dedicating his American assets to the education and freedom of U.S. slaves. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Great Eastern Highway – "Bam Thwok" – Operation Perch


June 18
Marie Lloyd

Marie Lloyd (1870–1922) was an English music hall singer, comedienne and musical theatre actress, known as the "Queen of the Music Hall". She was best known for her performances of songs such as "The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery" and "Oh Mr Porter What Shall I Do", and was both criticised and praised for her use of innuendo and double entendre. She made her professional debut in 1884 and thereafter frequently topped the bill in London's West End. Between 1894 and 1900, she became an international success when she toured France, America, Australia and Belgium. In 1907, she assisted other performers during the music hall war and protested for better pay and conditions for performers. During the First World War, she helped the war effort and toured hospitals and industrial institutions to boost morale. Lloyd had a turbulent private life that was often the subject of press attention. She also suffered from bouts of ill-health and became alcohol-dependent. In later life, she was still in demand and had success in 1919 with her renowned performance of "My Old Man (Said Follow the Van)". Lloyd was taken ill on stage at the Alhambra Theatre, London, and died a few days later. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Tadeusz Kościuszko – Great Eastern Highway – "Bam Thwok"


June 19
Divisional insignia

The 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama (2nd Croatian) was a German mountain infantry division of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi Party that served alongside but was never formally part of the Wehrmacht during World War II. It was composed of German officers and Bosnian Muslim soldiers. Named Kama after a small dagger used by Balkan shepherds, it was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Formed on 19 June 1944, it was built around a cadre from the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) but did not reach its full strength and never saw action as a formation. Elements of the division fought briefly against Soviet forces in southern Hungary in early October 1944 alongside the 31st SS Volunteer Grenadier Division. They were soon disengaged from the front line in Hungary and had begun a move to the German puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia, to join the 13th SS Division when the Bosnian Muslim soldiers of the Kama division mutinied on 17 October 1944. The cadre quickly regained control, but the mutiny resulted in the division being formally dissolved on 31 October 1944. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Marie Lloyd – Tadeusz Kościuszko – Great Eastern Highway


June 20
Boletus luridus mushroom

Boletus luridus, commonly known as the lurid bolete, is a fungus of the bolete family, found in deciduous woodlands on chalky soils in Asia, Europe, and eastern North America. Fruit bodies arise in summer and autumn and may be abundant. It is a solid bolete with an olive-brown cap up to 20 cm (8 in) in diameter, with small reddish pores on the underside. The stout ochre stem reaches dimensions of 8–14 cm (3–6 in) tall and 1–3 cm (0.4–1.2 in) wide, and is patterned with a reddish meshwork. Like several other red-pored boletes, it stains blue when bruised or cut. Though edible when cooked, it can cause gastric upset when eaten raw and can be confused with the poisonous Boletus satanas. Hence some guidebooks recommend avoiding consumption altogether. Boletus luridus has been implicated in causing adverse reactions when eaten with alcohol similar to those caused by the compound coprine, though laboratory testing has not revealed any evidence of coprine in the mushroom. Boletus luridus is mycorrhizal, forming a symbiotic association with deciduous trees such as oak, birch and beech, and has been found to have a growth-enhancing effect with conifers in experiments. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama (2nd Croatian) – Marie Lloyd – Tadeusz Kościuszko


June 21
The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles (pictured). Released on 1 June 1967, it was an immediate commercial and critical success. After the group retired from touring, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band, and this developed into a plan to release an entire album as a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, the Beatles adopted an experimental approach to composition, writing songs such as "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life". The producer George Martin's innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of signal processing. The cover, depicting the band in front of a collage of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the English pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth. One of the best-selling albums of all time, Sgt. Pepper is regarded as an important work of British psychedelia and an early concept album. Literature scholar and author David Scott Kastan has described it as "the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded". (Full article...)

Recently featured: Boletus luridus – 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama (2nd Croatian) – Marie Lloyd


June 22
Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson

The Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar was an American fifty-cent piece struck in 1925. Its main purpose was to raise money for the Stone Mountain Memorial – a large sculpture in memory of Confederate general Robert E. Lee on a huge rock outcropping near Atlanta, Georgia. The obverse of the coin (pictured) features Lee and Stonewall Jackson; the reverse has the caption "Memorial to the Valor of the Soldier of the South". Stone Mountain and the coin were designed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who, like other proponents, was a Ku Klux Klan member. To appease Northerners, the proposed coin was also to honor the recently deceased president, Warren G. Harding, but all reference to him was removed, by order of his successor, Calvin Coolidge. Extensive sales efforts for the coin took place throughout the South, though these were hurt by the firing of Borglum in 1925, which alienated many of his supporters. A 1928 audit of the fundraising showed excessive expenses and misuse of money, and construction halted the same year—a scaled-down sculpture was completed in 1970. Due to the large quantities issued, the Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar remains inexpensive compared with other U.S. commemoratives. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – Boletus luridus – 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama (2nd Croatian)


June 23
Kronan

Kronan was the flagship of the Swedish navy in the Baltic Sea in the 1670s. When built, she was one of the largest seagoing vessels in the world. After four years of service, the ship foundered in rough weather at the Battle of Öland on 1 June 1676, with the loss of about 800 men (including the navy's acting supreme commander Lorentz Creutz and other senior officers), over 100 guns, and large quantities of silver and gold coin. This was a hard blow for Sweden during the Scanian War (1675–79), as besides being the largest and most heavily armed ship in the Swedish navy, Kronan had been an important status symbol for the monarchy of the young Charles XI. The inexperienced Creutz has been blamed by many historians for the sinking of Kronan, although recent research points to Sweden's general lack of a well-developed naval organization and officer corps at the time. Most of her guns were salvaged in the 1680s, but eventually the wreck fell into obscurity before its exact position was rediscovered in 1980. Yearly diving operations have since surveyed and excavated the site, and many of the artifacts recovered have been put on display at the Kalmar County Museum. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – Boletus luridus


June 24
Child Whispers by Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton (1897–1968) was an English children's writer whose books have sold more than 600 million copies. She wrote on a wide range of topics, but is best remembered for her Noddy, Famous Five, and Secret Seven series. Her first book, Child Whispers (cover pictured), was published in 1922. Following the success of her early novels such as Adventures of the Wishing-Chair (1937) and The Enchanted Wood (1939), Blyton went on to build a literary empire, sometimes producing fifty books a year. Her work became increasingly controversial from the 1950s onwards because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books. Some libraries and schools banned her works, which the BBC had refused to broadcast from the 1930s until the 1950s because they were perceived to lack literary merit. Her books have been criticised as being elitist, sexist, racist, xenophobic and at odds with the more liberal environment emerging in post-war Britain, but have continued to be bestsellers. The story of her life was dramatised in a 2009 BBC film, Enid, featuring Helena Bonham Carter; there have also been several adaptations of her books for stage, screen and television. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Kronan (ship) – Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band


June 25
White-necked rockfowl

The white-necked rockfowl is a medium-sized bird in the family Picathartidae, mainly found in fragmented groups in rocky forested areas at higher altitudes in West Africa from Guinea to Ghana. The rockfowl typically chooses to live near streams and inselbergs. It has greyish-black upperparts and white underparts. Its unusually long, dark brown tail is used for balance. The head is nearly featherless, with the exposed skin being bright yellow except for two large, circular black patches located just behind the eyes. These rockfowl feed primarily on insects, though parents feed small frogs to their young. Rockfowl move through the forest primarily through a series of hops and bounds or short flights in low vegetation. This species rarely flies for long distances. This species is classified as Vulnerable as it is threatened by habitat destruction; conservation efforts are underway in parts of its range. Some of the indigenous peoples of Sierra Leone considered the species to be a protector of the home of their ancestral spirits. This rockfowl is considered one of Africa’s most desirable birds by birders and is a symbol of ecotourism across its range. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Enid Blyton – Kronan (ship) – Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar


June 26
Studios of WINC in Winchester, Virginia

WINC (1400 AM) is a broadcast radio station licensed to Winchester, Virginia, United States. WINC (studios pictured) serves Winchester, and Frederick and Clarke Counties, Virginia. The station's current format, established in 1996, is mainly conservative talk programs and top-of-the-hour news from Fox News Radio; sports at Virginia Tech are also covered. Launched on June 26, 1941, by Richard Field Lewis, Jr., WINC was Winchester's first radio station. Events in its history include a 1947 contest to win "a free pair of nylon hose and a $10 handbag" that knocked out the city's entire telephone system, and country music legend Patsy Cline making her performing debut in 1948. In the late 1950s, the station's chief engineer designed a CONELRAD alarm device for FM stations to warn listeners in the event of enemy attack during the Cold War. WINC had difficulty renewing its license in the early 1970s, as it was exceeding Federal Communications Commission limits on commercials per hour. In 1988, a local prosecutor called one of its promotions an "illegal cash lottery"; a judge disagreed. The station was sold by the Lewis family to North Carolina-based Centennial Broadcasting in 2007. (Full article...)

Recently featured: White-necked rockfowl – Enid Blyton – Kronan (ship)


June 27
Cyclone Joy approaching Australia

Cyclone Joy led to the government of Queensland, Australia, issuing a disaster declaration for about 30% of the state. The cyclone began in late 1990 as a weak tropical low near the Solomon Islands, and initially moved westward. On 18 December, it was named Joy, becoming the 2nd named storm of the season. After turning southwest, Joy strengthened to maximum sustained winds of 165 km/h (105 mph) while approaching Cairns in Far North Queensland. Brushing the city with strong winds, the cyclone soon weakened and dissipated on 27 December. There was torrential rainfall over Queensland for two weeks, and severe flooding caused most of the storm-associated damage. Rains significantly increased water levels on 10 rivers, among them the Fitzroy River, which discharged about 18 trillion freshwater litres (4.9 trillion gallons) into Keppel Bay over 25 days. In turn, the Great Barrier Reef suffered biological damage from coral bleaching and decreased salinity. Overall, Joy killed six people and caused A$300 million in damage. Afterwards, the name Joy was retired from the list of tropical cyclone names. (Full article...)

Recently featured: WINC (AM) – White-necked rockfowl – Enid Blyton


June 28
John Young Brown

John Young Brown (1835–1904) represented Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as its 31st governor. He was first elected to the House in 1859, but was initially too young to serve. Re-elected in 1866, he was denied his seat because of alleged disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. After an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1871, Brown served in the House from 1872 to 1877, and was censured for a speech excoriating Massachusetts Representative Benjamin F. Butler. Brown was elected governor of Kentucky in 1891, but little of significance was accomplished during his term as time was spent adapting the state's laws to the new constitution. He hoped the legislature would elect him to the U.S. Senate after his term ended in 1895, but the deaths of two of his children ended his political ambitions. After the Republicans won the 1895 election, William Goebel was chosen as the Democrats' 1899 candidate, although a disgruntled faction selected Brown. Goebel won the election, but was assassinated in 1900; Brown represented Caleb Powers, an alleged conspirator in the assassination, at his first trial. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Cyclone Joy – WINC (AM) – White-necked rockfowl


June 29
The Kelpie, by Thomas Millie Dow

Kelpie is the Lowland Scottish name given to a malevolent water spirit or demon inhabiting the lochs and pools of Scotland. It has usually been described as appearing as a horse, but can adopt human form. Some accounts state that the kelpie retains its hooves when appearing as a human, leading to its association with the Christian idea of Satan as alluded to by Robert Burns in his poem "Address to the Deil". Almost every sizeable body of water in Scotland has an associated kelpie story, but the most extensively reported is that of Loch Ness, first recorded in the 6th century. The kelpie has counterparts across the world, such as the wihwin of South America, the Scandinavian bäckahästen and the Australian bunyip. The origin of the belief in malevolent water horses may lie in the human sacrifices once made to appease the gods of water, but it also helped to keep children away from dangerous stretches of water and to warn young women to be wary of handsome strangers. Kelpies have been portrayed in their various forms in art (painting by Thomas Millie Dow pictured) and literature, most recently in two 30-metre (98 ft) high steel sculptures in Falkirk, The Kelpies. (Full article...)

Recently featured: John Y. Brown (politician, born 1835) – Cyclone Joy – WINC (AM)


June 30

Pokémon Channel is a 2003 video game in the Pokémon series for the GameCube, developed by Ambrella and published by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. The game's central premise is to watch television with a Pikachu so as to help Professor Oak refine and promote his TV network. It contains elements of adventure, digital pet, and simulation genres. The player can explore full 3D environments, have the Pikachu converse with other Pokémon, and collect various items. The game was developed rather quickly to serve as a sequel to the Nintendo 64 title Hey You, Pikachu! and to promote the Nintendo e-Reader accessory, and uses a novel 3D texturing effect. It was first showcased at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2003 and later at a month-long series of promotional events in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It was released on July 18, 2003 in Japan, December 1 in North America, and April 2, 2004 in Europe. In Japan, the game sold 66,373 copies in its first year. It received mixed reviews, which generally criticized its low level of interactivity and repetitive sound effects, though its collecting aspects and visuals were somewhat better received. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Kelpie – John Y. Brown (politician, born 1835) – Cyclone Joy