Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 2012

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January 1
Sheet music cover of "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"

"On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" was among the best-selling songs of the 19th century in terms of sheet music sold. Written and composed by American songwriter Paul Dresser, it was published by the Tin Pan Alley firm of Howley, Haviland & Co. in October 1897. The lyrics of the ballad reminisce about life near Dresser's childhood home by the Wabash River in Indiana. It remained popular for decades and the Indiana General Assembly adopted it as the official state song on March 14, 1913. The song was the basis for a 1923 film of the same title. Its longtime popularity led to the emergence of several lyrical versions, including an 1898 anti-war song and a Swedish version that was a number one hit. The song was composed during a transitory time in musical history when songs first began to be recorded for the phonograph. It was among the earliest pieces of popular music to be recorded. Dresser's inability to control the distribution of phonograph cylinders led him and his company to join other composers to petition the United States Congress to expand federal copyright protections over the new technology. (more...)

Recently featured: Typhoon TipCharles StewartStar Trek V: The Final Frontier

January 2
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, site of the 2006 Gator Bowl

The 2006 Gator Bowl was a college football bowl game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Virginia Tech Hokies in Jacksonville, Florida on January 2, 2006. Virginia Tech was selected as a participant in the 2006 Gator Bowl following a 10–2 regular season; a loss to Florida State in the inaugural ACC Championship Game gave Tech a position in the Gator Bowl instead of the more prestigious Orange Bowl game. Facing the 12th-ranked Hokies were the 15th-ranked Cardinals, who finished 9–2 during the regular season of their first year in the Big East Conference. Louisville led for much of the game, beginning with an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter by backup quarterback Hunter Cantwell. In the second half, however, Virginia Tech's offense began to have success. Tech earned the only points of the third quarter—a 28-yard field goal from kicker Brandon Pace—to narrow Louisville's lead to 17–13. In the fourth quarter, the game fully turned in the Hokies' favor. Though Louisville scored a touchdown early in the quarter, Virginia Tech scored 22 unanswered points in the final 13 minutes of the game to take a 35–24 lead and earn the win. (more...)

Recently featured: "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" – Typhoon TipCharles Stewart

January 3
Australian troops enter Bardia.

The Battle of Bardia was fought over three days between 3 and 5 January 1941, as part of Operation Compass in the Second World War. Australian Major General Iven Mackay's 6th Division assaulted the strongly held Italian fortress of Bardia, Libya, assisted by air support and naval gunfire, and under the cover of an artillery barrage. The 16th Infantry Brigade attacked at dawn from the west, where the defences were known to be weak. This allowed the infantry and 23 Matilda II tanks of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment to enter the fortress and capture all their objectives, along with 8,000 prisoners. In the second phase of the operation, the 17th Infantry Brigade exploited the breach made in the perimeter. On the second day, the 16th Infantry Brigade captured the township of Bardia, cutting the fortress in two. On the third day, the 19th Infantry Brigade advanced south from Bardia, supported by artillery and the Matilda tanks. Meanwhile, the Italian garrisons in the north surrendered to the 16th Infantry Brigade and the Support Group of the British 7th Armoured Division. The victory at Bardia enabled the Allied forces to continue the advance into Libya and ultimately capture almost all of Cyrenaica. (more...)

Recently featured: 2006 Gator Bowl – "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away" – Typhoon Tip

January 4
A loggerhead turtle at Océanopolis, Brest, France

The loggerhead sea turtle is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. An adult weighs around 135 kilograms (298 lb), with the largest specimens weighing in at more than 454 kilograms (1,001 lb). The skin ranges from yellow to brown in color, and the shell is typically reddish-brown. Found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the loggerhead sea turtle spends most of its life in saltwater and estuarine habitats, with females briefly coming ashore to lay eggs. The loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate and a lifespan of 47–67 years. Omnivorous, the species feeds mainly on bottom dwelling invertebrates. Its large and powerful jaws serve as an effective tool for dismantling its prey. Loggerheads are considered an endangered species and are protected by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Turtle excluder devices have been implemented to reduce mortality of turtles in untended fishing nets. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators has also taken a toll on loggerhead populations. Efforts to restore their numbers will require international cooperation since the turtles roam vast areas of ocean and critical nesting beaches are scattered among several countries. (more...)

Recently featured: Battle of Bardia2006 Gator Bowl – "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away"

January 5
Justus' gravestone

Justus (died between 627 and 631) was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury. He was sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great, on a mission to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism, probably arriving with the second group of missionaries despatched in 601. Justus became the first Bishop of Rochester in 604, and attended a church council in Paris in 614. Following the death of King Æthelberht of Kent in 616, Justus was forced to flee to Gaul, but was reinstated in his diocese the following year. In 624 Justus became Archbishop of Canterbury, overseeing the despatch of missionaries to Northumbria. After his death, he was revered as a saint, and had a shrine in St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. (more...)

Recently featured: Loggerhead sea turtleBattle of Bardia2006 Gator Bowl

January 6
Sarah Trimmer

Sarah Trimmer (1741–1810) was a noted writer and critic of British children's literature in the eighteenth century. Her periodical, The Guardian of Education, helped to define the emerging genre by seriously reviewing children's literature for the first time; it also provided the first history of children's literature, establishing a canon of the early landmarks of the genre that scholars still use today. Trimmer's most popular children's book, Fabulous Histories, inspired numerous children's animal stories and remained in print for over a century. Trimmer was in many ways dedicated to maintaining the social and political status quo in her works. As a high church Anglican, she was intent on promoting the Established Church of England and on teaching young children and the poor the doctrines of Christianity. Her writings outlined the benefits of social hierarchies, arguing that each class should remain in its God-given position. Yet, while supporting many of the traditional political and social ideologies of her time, Trimmer questioned others, such as those surrounding gender and the family. (more...)

Recently featured: JustusLoggerhead sea turtleBattle of Bardia

January 7
The Entombment

The Entombment is a glue-size painting on linen attributed to the Early Netherlandish painter Dirk Bouts. It shows a scene from the biblical entombment of Christ, probably completed between 1440 and 1455 as a wing panel for a large hinged polyptych altarpiece. The now lost altarpiece is thought to have contained a central crucifixion scene flanked by four wing panel works half its length (two either side) depicting scenes from the life of Christ. The larger work was probably commissioned for export, possibly to a Venetian patron whose identity is lost. The Entombment was first recorded in a mid-19th century Milan inventory and has been in the National Gallery, London since its purchase on the gallery's behalf by Charles Eastlake in 1861. The Entombment is renowned for its austere but affecting portrayal of sorrow and grief. It shows four female and three male mourners grieving over the body of Christ. It is one of the few surviving 15th-century paintings created using glue-size, an extremely fragile medium lacking durability. (more...)

Recently featured: Sarah TrimmerJustusLoggerhead sea turtle

January 8
Elvis in 1970

Elvis Presley (1935–1977) was an American singer and one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King". Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 13. He began his career there in 1954 and became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of television appearances and chart-topping records during the late 1950s. Conscripted in 1958, Presley relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973 Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, seen by around 1.5 billion viewers. Prescription drug abuse severely affected his health, and he died suddenly in 1977 from cardiac arrest. With his versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, Presley is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. (more...)

Recently featured: The EntombmentSarah TrimmerJustus

January 9
Sign in Woolpit depicting the two green children

The Green Child is the only completed novel by the English anarchist poet and critic Herbert Read. Written in 1934 and first published by Heinemann in 1935, the story is based on the 12th-century legend of two green children (illustration pictured) who mysteriously appeared in the English village of Woolpit, speaking an apparently unknown language. Read described the story in his English Prose Style, published in 1931, as "the norm to which all types of fantasy should conform". Each of the novel's three parts ends with the apparent death of the story's protagonist, President Olivero, dictator of the fictional South American Republic of Roncador. In each case Olivero's death is an allegory for his translation to a "more profound level of existence", reflecting the book's overall theme of a search for the meaning of life. Read's interest in psychoanalytic theory is evident throughout the novel, which is constructed as a "philosophic myth ... in the tradition of Plato". The story contains many autobiographical elements, and the character of Olivero owes much to Read's experiences as an officer in the British Army during the First World War. The novel was positively received, although some commentators have considered it to be "inscrutable", and one has suggested that it has been so differently and vaguely interpreted by those who have given it serious study that it may lack the form and content to justify the praise it has received. (more...)

Recently featured: Elvis PresleyThe EntombmentSarah Trimmer

January 10
Brad Pitt at the 2008 premier of Burn After Reading

Brad Pitt (born 1963) is an American actor and film producer. Pitt has won one Golden Globe Award and has been nominated on four other occasions, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards. Pitt's first leading roles in big-budget productions came with A River Runs Through It (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994). He was cast opposite Anthony Hopkins in the 1994 drama Legends of the Fall, which earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. In 1995 he gave critically acclaimed performances in the crime thriller Seven and the science fiction film 12 Monkeys, the latter securing him a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination. Four years later he took the lead role in cult hit Fight Club. He starred as Rusty Ryan in Ocean's Eleven (2001) and its sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). His greatest commercial successes have been Troy (2004) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005). Following a high-profile relationship with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Pitt was married to actress Jennifer Aniston for five years and now lives with actress Angelina Jolie in a wildly publicized relationship. (more...)

Recently featured: The Green ChildElvis PresleyThe Entombment

January 11

Mathew Charles Lamb (1948–1976) was a Canadian spree killer. Seventeen days after his release from jail in June 1966, Lamb took a shotgun from his uncle's house and went on a shooting spree around his home-town of Windsor, Ontario, killing two strangers and wounding two more. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in January 1967, so he avoided Canada's mandatory death penalty for capital murder, but was committed for an indefinite time in psychiatric care. He displayed a profound recovery over the course of six years at Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre's maximum security Oak Ridge unit. The Executive Council of Ontario released Lamb in early 1973 on the condition that he spend a year under the supervision of Dr Elliot Barker, his long-time psychiatrist at Oak Ridge. With Barker's encouragement, Lamb volunteered for the Rhodesian Security Forces in late 1973. He served with distinction in the Rhodesian Light Infantry and Special Air Service until he was killed in action on 7 November 1976, soon after his promotion to lance-corporal. He received what Newsweek called "a hero's funeral" in the Rhodesian capital, Salisbury, before his ashes were returned to Windsor. (more...)

Recently featured: Brad PittThe Green ChildElvis Presley

January 12
Cast of a Compsognathus fossil from Bavaria

Compsognathus is a monotypic genus of small, bipedal, carnivorous theropod dinosaur. The species Compsognathus longipes was the size of a turkey and lived around 150 million years ago, the early Tithonian stage of the late Jurassic Period, in what is now Europe. Paleontologists have found two well-preserved fossils, one in Germany in the 1850s and the second in France more than a century later. Many presentations still describe Compsognathus as a "chicken-sized" dinosaur because of the small size of the German specimen, which is now believed to be a juvenile form of the larger French specimen. Compsognathus is one of the few dinosaurs for which the diet is known with certainty: the remains of small, agile lizards are preserved in the bellies of both specimens. Although not recognized as such at the time of its discovery, Compsognathus is the first theropod dinosaur known from a reasonably complete fossil skeleton. Until the 1990s, it was the smallest known non-avialan dinosaur and the closest supposed relative of the early bird Archaeopteryx. Thus, its genus is one of the few dinosaur genera to be well known outside of paleontological circles. (more...)

Recently featured: Mathew Charles LambBrad PittThe Green Child

January 13
Art Ross

Art Ross (1886–1964) was a Canadian ice hockey defenceman and executive from 1905 until 1954. Regarded as one of the best defenders of his era by his peers, he was one of the first to skate with the puck up the ice rather than pass it to a forward. He won the Stanley Cup twice in a playing career that lasted thirteen seasons; in January 1907 with the Kenora Thistles and 1908 with the Montreal Wanderers. In 1911 he led one of the first organized player strikes over increased pay. When the Wanderers' home arena burned down in January 1918, the team ceased operations and Ross retired as a player. After several years as an on-ice official, he was named head coach of the Hamilton Tigers for one season. When the Boston Bruins were formed in 1924, Ross was hired as the first coach and general manager of the team. He would go on to coach the team on four separate occasions until 1945 and stayed as general manager until his retirement in 1954. Ross helped the Bruins finish first place in the league ten times and to win the Stanley Cup three times; Ross personally coached the team to one of those victories. (more...)

Recently featured: CompsognathusMathew Charles LambBrad Pitt

January 14
Queen Victoria holding a Privy Council meeting

The Privy Council of the United Kingdom is a formal body of advisers to the British monarchy. Its membership is mostly made up of senior politicians who are, or have been, members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. The Privy Council is the modern-day successor to the Privy Council of England, and was formerly a powerful institution; its policy decisions are now exclusively in the hands of the Cabinet, one of its committees. The Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the royal prerogative. Together they issue executive instruments known as Orders in Council, which among other things are used to make regulations. The Council by itself also has a delegated authority to issue Orders of Council, which are mostly used to regulate certain public institutions. It advises the Sovereign on the issuing of royal charters, which are used to grant special status to incorporated bodies, and city or borough status to local authorities. (more...)

Recently featured: Art RossCompsognathusMathew Charles Lamb

January 15
High resolution computed tomography (HRCT) images of the lower chest in a 16-year-old boy with diffuse panbronchiolitis

Diffuse panbronchiolitis (DPB) is an inflammatory lung disease of unknown cause. It is a severe, progressive form of bronchiolitis, an inflammatory condition of the bronchioles (small air passages in the lungs). DPB causes severe inflammation and nodule-like lesions of terminal bronchioles, chronic sinusitis, and intense coughing with large amounts of sputum production. The disease is believed to occur when there is susceptibility, or a lack of immune system resistance, to DPB-causing bacteria or viruses, caused by several genes that are found predominantly in individuals of East Asian descent. DPB occurs more often in males, and usually begins around age 40. It was recognized as a distinct new disease in the early 1960s, and was formally named "diffuse panbronchiolitis" in 1969. If left untreated, DPB progresses to bronchiectasis, an irreversible lung condition that involves enlargement of the bronchioles, and pooling of mucus in the bronchiolar passages. The eventual result of untreated DPB can lead to respiratory failure and heart problems. Daily treatment of DPB with macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin eases symptoms and increases survival time, but the disease has no known cure. (more...)

Recently featured: Privy Council of the United KingdomArt RossCompsognathus

January 16
Steven Moffat

Press Gang is a British children's television comedy-drama consisting of forty-three episodes across five series that were broadcast from 1989 to 1993. It was produced by Richmond Film & Television for Central, and screened on the ITV network in its regular weekday afternoon children's strand, CITV, typically in a 4:45 pm slot (days varied over the course of the run). The programme was aimed at older children and teenagers. It was based on the activities of a children's newspaper, the Junior Gazette, produced by pupils from a comprehensive school. In later series it was depicted as a commercial venture. The show interspersed comedic elements with the dramatic. As well as addressing interpersonal relationships, the show tackled issues such as solvent abuse, child abuse and firearms control. All episodes were written by ex-teacher Steven Moffat (pictured), and more than half were directed by noted British comedy director Bob Spiers, who had previously worked on Fawlty Towers. Critical reception was very positive, particularly for the quality of the writing, and the series attracted a cult following with a wide age range. (more...)

Recently featured: Diffuse panbronchiolitisPrivy Council of the United KingdomArt Ross

January 17
Mauna Kea from Mauna Loa Observatory

Mauna Kea is a volcano on the island of Hawaii. Standing 4,205 m (13,796 ft) above sea level, its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii. However, much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10,000 m (33,000 ft) tall—significantly taller than Mount Everest. In Hawaiian mythology, the peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred of all. Mauna Kea can be ecologically divided into three sections: an alpine climate at its summit, a Sophora chrysophyllaMyoporum sandwicense forest on its flanks, and an Acacia koaMetrosideros polymorpha forest, now mostly cleared by the former sugar industry, at its base. With its high altitude, dry environment, and stable airflow, Mauna Kea's summit is one of the best sites in the world for astronomical observation, and one of the most controversial. The Mauna Kea Observatories are used for scientific research across the electromagnetic spectrum from visible light to radio, and comprise the largest such facility in the world. Their construction on a "sacred landscape", replete with endangered species, ongoing cultural practices, and viewplanes used in the traditional Hawaiian measurement of time, continues to be a topic of intense debate and protest. (more...)

Recently featured: Press GangDiffuse panbronchiolitisPrivy Council of the United Kingdom

January 18
Nick Drake's grave in Tanworth-in-Arden

Nick Drake (1948–1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his sombre guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, but now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. Drake released his debut album, Five Leaves Left, in 1969. None of his first three albums sold more than 5,000 copies on their initial release. Drake suffered from depression and insomnia throughout his life, and these topics were often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. He died from an overdose of amitriptyline in 1974 (grave pictured). Drake was credited as an influence by numerous artists during the 1980s, including The Dream Academy, who in 1985 reached the UK and US charts with "Life in a Northern Town", a song written for and dedicated to him. By the early 1990s, Drake represented a certain type of "doomed romantic" musician in the UK music press. In 2000, Volkswagen featured the title track from Pink Moon in a television advertisement, and within a month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous 30 years. (more...)

Recently featured: Mauna KeaPress GangDiffuse panbronchiolitis

January 19

Because of the English Wikipedia blackout, the same article was featured on both January 18 and January 19

Nick Drake's grave in Tanworth-in-Arden

Nick Drake (1948–1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his sombre guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, but now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. Drake released his debut album, Five Leaves Left, in 1969. None of his first three albums sold more than 5,000 copies on their initial release. Drake suffered from depression and insomnia throughout his life, and these topics were often reflected in his lyrics. On completion of his third album, 1972's Pink Moon, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. He died from an overdose of amitriptyline in 1974 (grave pictured). Drake was credited as an influence by numerous artists during the 1980s, including The Dream Academy, who in 1985 reached the UK and US charts with "Life in a Northern Town", a song written for and dedicated to him. By the early 1990s, Drake represented a certain type of "doomed romantic" musician in the UK music press. In 2000, Volkswagen featured the title track from Pink Moon in a television advertisement, and within a month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous 30 years. (more...)

Recently featured: Mauna KeaPress GangDiffuse panbronchiolitis

January 20
Henry Cornelius Burnett

Henry Cornelius Burnett (1825–1866) was a U.S. representative from the state of Kentucky and a Confederate States senator. He represented Kentucky's 1st congressional district during the lead-up to the Civil War. This district contained the entire Jackson Purchase region of the state, which was more sympathetic to the Confederate cause than any other area of Kentucky. Burnett promised the voters of his district that he would have President Abraham Lincoln arraigned for treason. Besides championing the Southern cause in Congress, Burnett also worked within Kentucky to bolster the state's support of the Confederacy. He presided over a sovereignty convention in Russellville in 1861 that formed a Confederate government for the state. The delegates to this convention chose Burnett to travel to Richmond, Virginia, to secure Kentucky's admission to the Confederacy. Burnett also raised a Confederate regiment at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and briefly served in the Confederate States Army. Burnett's actions were deemed treasonable by his colleagues in Congress, and he was expelled from the House in 1861. After the war, he was indicted for treason, but was never tried. He returned to the practice of law, but died of cholera in 1866 at the age of 40. (more...)

Recently featured: Nick DrakeMauna KeaPress Gang

January 21
Bird, Variegated Fairy-wren, Malurus lamberti

The Variegated Fairywren is a fairywren that lives in diverse habitats spread across most of Australia. Four subspecies are recognised. Exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism, the brightly coloured breeding male has chestnut shoulders and blue crown and ear coverts, while non-breeding males, females and juveniles have predominantly grey-brown plumage. Notably, females of the two subspecies rogersi and dulcis have mainly blue-grey plumage. Like other fairywrens, the Variegated Fairywren is a cooperative breeding species, with small groups of birds maintaining and defending small territories year-round. Groups consist of a socially monogamous pair with several helper birds who assist in raising the young. Male wrens pluck yellow petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display. These birds are primarily insectivorous and forage and live in the shelter of scrubby vegetation across 90% of continental Australia, which is a wider range than that of any other fairywren. (more...)

Recently featured: Henry Cornelius BurnettNick DrakeMauna Kea

January 22
James Nesbitt in July 2008

James Nesbitt (born 1965) is a Northern Irish actor. Nesbitt got his breakthrough television role playing Adam Williams in the romantic comedy-drama Cold Feet (1998–2003), which won him a British Comedy Award, a Television and Radio Industries Club Award, and a National Television Award. His first significant film role came when he appeared as pig farmer "Pig" Finn in Waking Ned (1998). With the rest of the starring cast, Nesbitt was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In Lucky Break (2001), he made his debut as a film lead playing prisoner Jimmy Hands. The next year, he played Ivan Cooper in the television film Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shootings in Derry. Nesbitt has also starred in Murphy's Law (2001–2007) as undercover detective Tommy Murphy, in a role that was created for him by writer Colin Bateman. Nesbitt has since appeared in several more dramatic roles; he starred alongside Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven (2009), and was one of three lead actors in the television miniseries Occupation (2009) and The Deep (2010). He also starred in the movies Outcast (2010) and Emilio Estevez's The Way (2011), and has been cast in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit (2012/13). (more...)

Recently featured: Variegated FairywrenHenry Cornelius BurnettNick Drake

January 23

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit organization focused on preserving and promoting rare breeds of livestock. Founded in 1977 through the efforts of livestock breed enthusiasts concerned about the disappearance of many of the US's heritage livestock breeds, the ALBC was the pioneer livestock preservation organization in the United States, and remains a leading organization in that field. It has initiated programs that have saved multiple breeds from extinction, and works closely with similar organizations in other countries, including Rare Breeds Canada. The ALBC maintains a conservation priority list that divides endangered breeds of horses, asses, sheep, goats, cattle, rabbits, pigs and poultry into five categories based on population numbers and historical interest. The organization has published several books, and works with breed registries and other groups on several aspects of breed preservation, including genetic testing, historical documentation, animal rescue and marketing. Preservation of genetic material is of special interest to the ALBC, and for a period of time it maintained a gene bank that was later transferred to the United States Department of Agriculture. It has also developed and published several heritage definitions, including parameters for heritage breeds of cattle and poultry. (more...)

Recently featured: James NesbittVariegated FairywrenHenry Cornelius Burnett

January 24

Thurisind was king of the Gepids, an East Germanic Gothic people, from c. 548 to 560. He was the penultimate Gepid king, and succeeded King Elemund by staging a coup d'état and forcing the king's son into exile. Thurisind's kingdom, known as Gepidia, was located in Central Europe and had its centre in Sirmium, a former Roman city on the Danube River. His reign was marked by multiple wars with the Lombards, a Germanic people who had arrived in the former Roman province of Pannonia under the leadership of their king, Audoin. Thurisind also had to face the hostility of the Byzantine Empire, which was resentful of the Gepid takeover of Sirmium and anxious to diminish Gepid power in the Pannonian Basin, a plain covering most of modern Hungary and partly including the bordering states. The Byzantines' plans to reduce the Gepids' power took effect when Audoin decisively defeated Thurisind in 551 or 552. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian forced a peace accord on both leaders so that equilibrium in the Pannonian Basin could be sustained. Thurisind lost his eldest son, Turismod, in the Battle of Asfeld, where the prince was killed by Alboin, son of Audoin. In about 560, Thurisind died and was succeeded by his remaining son Cunimund, who was killed by Alboin in 567. Cunimund's death marked the end of the Gepid Kingdom and the beginning of the conquest of their territories by the Lombards' allies, the Avars, a nomadic people migrating from the Eurasian Steppe. (more...)

Recently featured: American Livestock Breeds ConservancyJames NesbittVariegated Fairywren

January 25
Warkworth Castle, 2007

Warkworth Castle is a ruined medieval building in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. When the castle was founded is uncertain, but traditionally its construction has been ascribed to Prince Henry of Scotland in the mid 12th century, although it may have been built by King Henry II of England when he took control of England's northern counties. Warkworth Castle was first documented in a charter of 1157–1164 when Henry II granted it to Roger fitz Richard. The timber castle was considered "feeble", and was left undefended when the Scots invaded in 1173. Roger's son Robert inherited and improved the castle. With the outbreak of the Anglo-Scottish Wars, Edward II invested in castles including Warkworth where he funded the strengthening of the garrison in 1319. Twice in 1327 the Scots besieged the castle without success. In the late 19th century, the castle was refurbished and Anthony Salvin was commissioned to restore the keep. Alan Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland, gave custody of the castle to the Office of Works in 1922. Since 1984 English Heritage has cared for the site which is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. (more...)

Recently featured: ThurisindAmerican Livestock Breeds ConservancyJames Nesbitt

January 26
A blue Australian Cattle Dog with black mask

The Australian Cattle Dog is a breed of herding dog originally developed in Australia for droving cattle over long distances across rough terrain. Crossbred in the 19th century from Australian dingoes and dogs from Northumberland, the Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized, short-coated dog that occurs in two main colour forms: with either brown or black hair distributed through a white coat, termed a "red" or a "blue" dog. It has been nicknamed a "Red Heeler" or "Blue Heeler" on the basis of this colouring and its practice of moving reluctant cattle by nipping at their heels. As with dogs from other working breeds, the Australian Cattle Dog has a high level of energy, a quick intelligence, and an independent streak. A robust breed, it has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. It responds well to structured training and forms a strong attachment with its owners. Australian Cattle Dogs now participate in a range of activities beyond the herding they were bred to do, including competing with their owners in dog sporting events and working as assistance dogs. (more...)

Recently featured: Warkworth CastleThurisindAmerican Livestock Breeds Conservancy

January 27

Nebula Science Fiction was the first Scottish science fiction magazine. It was published from 1952 to 1959, and was edited by Peter Hamilton, a young Scot who was able to take advantage of spare capacity at his parents' printing company, Crownpoint, to launch the magazine. Nebula's circulation was international, with only a quarter of the sales in the United Kingdom; this led to disaster when both South Africa and Australia imposed import controls on foreign periodicals at the end of the 1950s. Excise duties imposed in the UK added to Hamilton's financial burdens, and he was rapidly forced to close the magazine down. The last issue was dated June 1959. The magazine was popular with writers, partly because Hamilton went to great lengths to encourage new writers, and partly because he paid better rates per word than much of his competition. Initially he could not compete with the American market, but he offered a bonus for the most popular story in the issue, and was eventually able to match the leading American magazines. He published the first stories of several well-known writers, including Robert Silverberg, Brian Aldiss, and Bob Shaw. Nebula was also a fan favourite: author Ken Bulmer recalls that it became "what many fans regard as the best-loved British SF magazine". (more...)

Recently featured: Australian Cattle DogWarkworth CastleThurisind

January 28

Otto Julius Zobel (1887–1970) was a design engineer who worked for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T) in the early part of the 20th century. Zobel's work on filter design was revolutionary and led, in conjunction with the work of John R. Carson, to significant commercial advances for AT&T in the field of frequency division multiplex (FDM) telephone transmissions. Although much of Zobel's work has been superseded by more modern filter designs, it remains the basis of filter theory and his papers are still referenced today. Zobel invented the m-derived filter and the constant-resistance filter, which remains in use. Zobel and Carson helped to establish the nature of noise in electric circuits, concluding that—contrary to mainstream belief—it is not even theoretically possible to filter out noise entirely and that noise will always be a limiting factor in what it is possible to transmit. Thus, they anticipated the later work of Claude Shannon, who showed how the theoretical information rate of a channel is related to the noise of the channel. (more...)

Recently featured: Nebula Science FictionAustralian Cattle DogWarkworth Castle

January 29
USS Chicago low in the water on the morning of 30 January 1943, from torpedo damage inflicted the night before

The Battle of Rennell Island took place on 29–30 January 1943, and was the last major naval engagement between the United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II. The battle took place in the South Pacific between Rennell Island and Guadalcanal in the southern Solomon Islands. In the battle, Japanese naval land-based torpedo bombers, seeking to provide protection for the impending evacuation of Japanese forces from Guadalcanal, made several attacks over two days on United States' warships operating as a task force south of Guadalcanal. In addition to approaching Guadalcanal with the objective of engaging any Japanese ships that might come into range, the U.S. task force was protecting an Allied transport ship convoy that was carrying replacement troops to Guadalcanal. As a result of the Japanese air attacks on the task force, one U.S. heavy cruiser was sunk, a destroyer was heavily damaged, and the rest of the U.S. task force was forced to retreat from the southern Solomons area. Partly because of their success in turning back the U.S. task force in this battle, the Japanese were successful in evacuating their remaining troops from Guadalcanal by 7 February 1943, leaving Guadalcanal in the hands of the Allies and ending the battle for the island. (more...)

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January 30
Cyathus striatus

Cyathus is a genus of fungi in the Nidulariaceae, a family collectively known as the bird's nest fungi. They are given this name since they resemble tiny bird's nests filled with "eggs". The "eggs", or peridioles, are firmly attached to the inner surface of this fruiting body by an elastic cord of mycelia known as a funiculus. The 45 species are widely distributed throughout the world and some are found in most countries, although a few exist in only one or two locales. Cyathus stercoreus is considered endangered in a number of European countries. The internal and external surfaces of this cup may be ridged longitudinally; this is one example of a taxonomic characteristic that has traditionally served to distinguish between species. Generally considered inedible, Cyathus species are saprobic, since they obtain nutrients from decomposing organic matter. They usually grow on decaying wood or woody debris, on cow and horse dung, or directly on humus-rich soil. The life cycle of this genus allows it to reproduce both sexually, with meiosis, and asexually via spores. Phylogenetic analysis is providing new insights into the evolutionary relationships between the various species in Cyathus. (more...)

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January 31
Liberty head nickel, obverse side, showing Liberty wearing a coronet and wreath

The Liberty Head nickel was an American five-cent piece. It was struck for circulation from 1883 until 1912, with at least five pieces being surreptitiously struck dated 1913. The original copper–nickel five-cent piece, the Shield nickel, had longstanding production problems, and in the early 1880s, the United States Mint was looking to replace it. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber was instructed to prepare designs for proposed one-, three-, and five-cent pieces, which were to bear similar designs. Only the new five-cent piece was approved, and went into production in 1883. For almost thirty years large quantities of coin of this design were produced to meet commercial demand, especially as coin-operated machines became increasingly popular. Beginning in 1911, the Mint began work to replace the Liberty head design, and a new design, which became known as the Buffalo nickel, went into production in February 1913. Although no 1913 Liberty head nickels were officially struck, five are known to exist. While it is uncertain how these pieces originated, they have come to be among the most expensive coins in the world, with one selling in 2010 for $3,737,500. (more...)

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