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Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 2013

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January 1
André Rigaud

The Action of 1 January 1800 was a naval battle of the Quasi-War that took place off the coast of present-day Haiti, near the island of Gonâve in the Bight of Léogâne. The battle was fought between an American convoy consisting of four merchant vessels escorted by the United States naval schooner USS Experiment, and a squadron of armed barges manned by piratical Haitians known as picaroons. A French-aligned Haitian general, André Rigaud (pictured), had instructed his forces to attack all foreign shipping within their range of operations. Accordingly, once Experiment and her convoy of merchant ships neared Gonâve and were caught in a dead calm, the picaroons attacked them, capturing two of the American merchant ships before withdrawing. Experiment managed to save the other two ships in her convoy, and escorted them to a friendly port. On the American side, only the captain of the schooner Mary was killed. The picaroons took heavy losses during this engagement, but remained strong enough to continue wreaking havoc among American shipping in the region. Only after Rigaud was forced out of power by the forces of Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of the 1791 Haitian Revolution, did the picaroon attacks cease. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Terang Boelan – Muckaty Station – War against Nabis


January 2
Mauritius Blue Pigeon

The Mauritius Blue Pigeon is an extinct species of blue pigeon formerly endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. It has two extinct relatives from the Mascarenes and three extant ones from other islands. It had white hackles around the head, neck and breast and blue plumage on the body, and it was red on the tail and the bare parts of the head. These colours were thought similar to those of the Dutch flag, a resemblance reflected in some of the bird's names. It was 30 cm (12 in) long and larger and more robust than any other blue pigeon species. It could raise its hackles into a ruff, which it used for display. Its call sounded like "barf barf" and it also made a cooing noise. It fed on fruits, nuts, and molluscs, and was once widespread in the forests of Mauritius. The bird was first mentioned in the 17th century and was described several times thereafter, but very few accounts describe the behaviour of living specimens. Several stuffed and at least one live specimen reached Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. Only three stuffed specimens exist today, and only one bird was ever depicted when alive. The species is thought to have become extinct in the 1830s due to deforestation and predation. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Action of 1 January 1800 – Terang Boelan – Muckaty Station


January 3
Ngô Đình Diệm

The State of Vietnam referendum held on 23 October 1955 determined the future form of government of the State of Vietnam, the nation that was to become South Vietnam. It was contested by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm (pictured), who proposed a republic, and former emperor Bảo Đại, the head of state. Diệm won the election, which was widely marred by electoral fraud, with 98.2% of the vote. In the capital Saigon, Diệm was credited with more than 600,000 votes, although only 450,000 people were on the electoral roll. He accumulated tallies in excess of 90% of the registered voters, even in rural regions where opposition groups prevented voting. The referendum was the last phase in the power struggle between Bảo Đại and his prime minister. In the period leading up to the vote, campaigning for Bảo Đại was banned, while Diệm's election campaign used personal attacks against him, including pornographic cartoons and rumours that he was illegitimate. Bảo Đại was attacked by the government-controlled media, and police went door-to-door, warning people of the consequences of failing to vote. After his brother Ngô Đình Nhu successfully rigged the poll, Diệm proclaimed himself president. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Mauritius Blue Pigeon – Action of 1 January 1800 – Terang Boelan


January 4

Prosperity theology is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one's material wealth. Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be happy. It came to prominence in the United States during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s and later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Charismatic Movement and promoted by Christian missionaries throughout the world. Churches in which the prosperity gospel is taught are often non-denominational and usually directed by a sole pastor or leader, although some have developed multi-church networks. Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, as well as other Christian denominations, who maintain that it is irresponsible and theologically unsound. (Full article...)

Recently featured: State of Vietnam referendum, 1955 – Mauritius Blue Pigeon – Action of 1 January 1800


January 5
Kenneth Walker

Kenneth Walker (1898–1943) was a United States Army aviator and an Army Air Forces general who had a significant influence on the development of airpower doctrine. Walker graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School in 1929, then served as an instructor there. He supported the creation of a separate air organization, not subordinate to other military branches, and was a forceful advocate of the efficacy of strategic bombardment. He published articles on the subject, and became part of a clique known as the "Bomber Mafia" which argued for the primacy of bombardment over other forms of military aviation. He advanced the notion that fighters could not prevent a bombing attack, and helped develop the doctrine of industrial web theory, which called for precision attacks against carefully selected critical industrial targets. In 1942, during World War II, Walker was promoted to brigadier general and transferred to the Southwest Pacific. He frequently flew combat missions over New Guinea, for which he received the Silver Star. On 5 January 1943, he was shot down and killed while leading a daylight bombing raid over Rabaul, for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Prosperity theology – State of Vietnam referendum, 1955 – Mauritius Blue Pigeon


January 6
Henry Fielding

The Covent-Garden Journal was an English literary periodical published twice a week for most of 1752. It was edited and almost entirely funded by novelist, playwright, and essayist Henry Fielding (pictured), under a pseudonym. The Journal incited the "Paper War" of 1752–1753, a conflict between a number of contemporary literary critics and writers, which began after Fielding declared war on the "armies of Grub Street" in the first issue. His proclamation attracted multiple aggressors and instigated a long-lasting debate argued in the pages of their respective publications. Initially waged for the sake of increasing sales, the Paper War ultimately became much larger than Fielding had expected. Further controversy erupted in June, when Fielding expressed support for a letter decrying the Government's 1751 Disorderly Houses Act in the Journal. His remarks were viewed by the public as an endorsement of the legality of prostitution. The final issue of the Journal was released on 25 November 1752. In its last months, poor sales had resulted in a transition from semi-weekly to weekly release. Ill-health and a disinclination to continue led Fielding to end its run after the 72nd number. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Kenneth Walker – Prosperity theology – State of Vietnam referendum, 1955


January 7
Psittacosaurus

Psittacosaurus is a genus of psittacosaurid ceratopsian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period of what is now Asia, about 130 to 100 million years ago. It is notable for being the most species-rich dinosaur genus. Nine to eleven species are recognized from fossils found in different regions of modern-day China, Mongolia and Russia, with a possible additional species from Thailand. All species of Psittacosaurus were gazelle-sized bipedal herbivores characterized by a high, powerful beak on the upper jaw. At least one species had long, quill-like structures on its tail and lower back, possibly serving a display function. Psittacosaurus is not as familiar to the general public as its distant relative Triceratops but it is one of the most completely known dinosaur genera. Fossils of over 400 individuals have been collected so far, including many complete skeletons. Most different age classes are represented, from hatchling through to adult, which has allowed several detailed studies of Psittacosaurus growth rates and reproductive biology. The abundance of this dinosaur in the fossil record has led to establishing the Psittacosaurus biochron for the Early Cretaceous of east Asia. (Full article...)

Recently featured: The Covent-Garden Journal – Kenneth Walker – Prosperity theology


January 8
Mars

The recorded history of Mars observation dates back to the era of the ancient Egyptian astronomers in the 2nd millennium BCE. Detailed observations of the position of Mars were made by Babylonian astronomers, and ancient Greek philosophers and Hellenistic astronomers developed a geocentric model to explain the planet's motions. Indian and Muslim astronomers estimated its size and distance from Earth. The first telescopic observation of Mars was by Galileo Galilei in 1610. The first crude map of Mars was published in 1840. When astronomers mistakenly thought they had detected the spectroscopic signature of water in the Martian atmosphere, the idea of life on Mars became popular. During the 1920s, the range of Martian surface temperature was measured; it ranged from −85 °C (−121 °F) to 7 °C (45 °F). The planetary atmosphere was found to be arid with only trace amounts of oxygen and water. Since the 1960s, multiple robotic spacecraft have been sent to explore Mars. The planet has remained under observation by ground and space-based instruments and the discovery of meteorites on Earth that originated on Mars has allowed laboratory examination of the chemical conditions on the planet. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Psittacosaurus – The Covent-Garden Journal – Kenneth Walker


January 9
Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon (1913–94) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and Duke University School of Law in 1937, returning to California to practice law. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. He served for eight years as vice president, from 1953 to 1961, and waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy. In 1968, Nixon ran again for president and was elected. He initially escalated the Vietnam War, but ended US involvement in 1973. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations. Though he presided over Apollo 11, he scaled back manned space exploration. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1972. A series of revelations in the Watergate scandal cost Nixon much of his political support in his second term, and on August 9, 1974, he resigned as president. In retirement, Nixon's work as an elder statesman, authoring several books and undertaking many foreign trips, helped to rehabilitate his public image. (Full article...)

Recently featured: History of Mars observation – Psittacosaurus – The Covent-Garden Journal


January 10
A steam locomotive and carriage in a tunnel

The Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground line, was opened to the public on 10 January 1863. It connected the mainline railway termini at Paddington, Euston and King's Cross to London's financial heart in the City using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. The railway was soon extended and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, but the most important route became the line to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 km) from London. Electric traction was introduced in 1905 and by 1907 electric multiple units operated most of the services. The Railway developed land for housing and after World War I promoted housing estates near the railway with the "Metro-land" brand. On 1 July 1933, the Metropolitan Railway was amalgamated with the railways of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and the capital's tramway and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Richard Nixon – History of Mars observation – Psittacosaurus


January 11
A Cracker Barrel in Morrisville, NC

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. is an American chain of combined restaurant and gift stores with a Southern country theme. The company was founded by Dan Evins in 1969; its first store was in Lebanon, Tennessee, which remains the company headquarters. As of 2012, the chain operates 620 stores in 42 states. Its menu is based on traditional Southern cuisine, with appearance and decor designed to resemble an old-fashioned general store. Cracker Barrel is known for its partnerships with country music artists, and has received attention for its charitable activities, such as its assistance of victims of Hurricane Katrina and injured war veterans. During the 1990s, the company was the subject of controversy for its official stance against gay and lesbian employees and for discriminatory practices against African American and female employees. Following an agreement with the US Department of Justice and the implementation of non-discrimination policies, the company has focused on improving minority representation and civic involvement. Company shareholders added sexual orientation to the company's non-discrimination policy in 2002. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Metropolitan Railway – Richard Nixon – History of Mars observation


January 12
Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall is a moated half-timbered manor house near Congleton in Cheshire, England. The earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504–08, and the remainder was constructed in stages by successive generations of the family until about 1610. It remained in the possession of the Moreton family for almost 450 years, until ownership was transferred to the National Trust in 1938. The building is highly irregular, with three asymmetrical ranges forming a small, rectangular cobbled courtyard. Little Moreton Hall and its sandstone bridge across the moat are designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The house has been fully restored and is open to the public from April to December each year. At its greatest extent, in the mid-16th century, the Little Moreton Hall estate occupied an area of 1,360 acres (550 ha) and contained a cornmill, orchards, gardens, and an iron bloomery with water-powered hammers. The gardens lay abandoned until their 20th-century re-creation. As there were no surviving records of the layout of the original knot garden it was replanted according to a pattern published in the 17th century. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Cracker Barrel – Metropolitan Railway – Richard Nixon


January 13
A New Forest pony

The New Forest pony is one of the recognised mountain and moorland or native pony breeds of the British Isles. Height varies from around 12 hands (48 inches, 122 cm) to 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). The ponies are valued for hardiness, strength, and surefootedness. The breed is indigenous to the New Forest in Hampshire in southern England, where equines have lived since before the last Ice Age. The New Forest pony can be ridden by children and adults, can be driven in harness, and competes successfully against larger horses in horse show competition. The population of ponies on the Forest has fluctuated in response to varying demand for youngstock. Numbers fell to fewer than six hundred in 1945 but have since risen steadily, and thousands now run loose in semi-feral conditions. The welfare of ponies grazing on the Forest is monitored by five Agisters, employees of the Verderers of the New Forest. The ponies are gathered annually in a series of drifts, to be checked for health, wormed, and tail-marked; each pony's tail is trimmed to the pattern of the Agister responsible for that pony. Many of the foals bred on the Forest are sold through the Beaulieu Road pony sales, which are held several times each year. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Little Moreton Hall – Cracker Barrel – Metropolitan Railway


January 14
Bill Woodfull

The Adelaide leak was the revelation to the press of a dressing-room incident during the third cricket Test match of the "Bodyline" series of 1932–33 between England and Australia. During the course of play on 14 January 1933, the Australian Test captain Bill Woodfull was struck over the heart by a ball delivered by Harold Larwood (incident pictured). On his return to the dressing room, Woodfull was visited by the England manager Pelham Warner who enquired after Woodfull's health, but to Warner's embarrassment, the latter said he did not want to speak to him owing to England's bodyline tactics. The matter became public knowledge when someone present leaked the exchange to the press; such leaks were practically unknown at the time. In the immediate aftermath, many people assumed Jack Fingleton, a full-time journalist, was responsible. Fingleton later wrote that Donald Bradman, Australia's star batsman, disclosed the story. Bradman always denied this, and continued to blame Fingleton. Woodfull's earlier public silence on the tactics had been interpreted as approval; the leak was significant in persuading the Australian public that bodyline was unacceptable. (Full article...)

Recently featured: New Forest pony – Little Moreton Hall – Cracker Barrel


January 15
Part of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail

The Hudson Valley Rail Trail is a paved 4-mile (6.4 km) east–west rail trail in Ulster County, New York, stretching from the Hudson River through the hamlet of Highland. It was originally part of the Poughkeepsie Bridge Route, a rail corridor that crossed the Hudson via the Poughkeepsie Bridge. Controlled by a variety of railroads throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the bridge was damaged and became unusable after a 1974 fire. The section of the corridor west of the Hudson was acquired from a convicted felon by Ulster County in 1991 and transferred to the town of Lloyd. During the 1990s, a broadband utility seeking to lay fiber optic cable paid the town to pass through the former corridor. The town used part of its payment to pave the route and open it as a public rail trail in 1997. While the trail originally ended at Route 4455, it was extended eastward between 2009 and 2010, intersecting Route 9W and continuing to the Poughkeepsie Bridge. The bridge, now a pedestrian walkway, connects the trail with the Dutchess Rail Trail to the east, creating a 30-mile (48 km) rail trail system that spans the Hudson. The trail is expected to be extended west, where it will border Route 299. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Adelaide leak – New Forest pony – Little Moreton Hall


January 16
Dudley Clarke in 1945

Dudley Clarke (1899–1974) was an officer in the British Army, known as a pioneer of military deception operations during the Second World War. His ideas for combining fictional orders of battle, visual deception and double agents helped define Allied deception strategy during the war. Clarke trained with the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, and then led a varied career doing intelligence work in the Middle East. In 1936 he was posted to Palestine, where he helped organise the British response to the 1936 Arab uprising. Early in the Second World War, Clarke proposed, and helped implement, an idea for commando raids into France. In 1940, he was placed in charge of strategic deception in Cairo, and was called to London in 1941 as his deception work had come to the attention of Allied high command. Throughout 1942 Clarke implemented Operation Cascade, an order of battle deception which added many fictional units to the Allied formations; by the end of the war the enemy accepted most of the formations as real. From 1942 to 1945, Clarke continued to organise deception in North Africa and southern Europe. He retired in 1947 and lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Hudson Valley Rail Trail – Adelaide leak – New Forest pony


January 17
Coat of arms of Rhodesia

The Lisbon Appointment was the decision in 1965 by Britain's self-governing colony in Rhodesia to open its own diplomatic mission in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, which would operate independently from the British embassy there. Britain objected to the proposal when it was put forward in June 1965, and tried unsuccessfully to block it. The affair came amidst the larger dispute between Whitehall and Salisbury about sovereign independence for the colony. Whitehall insisted that there could be no independence before majority rule, which was opposed by Rhodesia's mostly white government. Rhodesia's staunch opposition to immediate majority rule and its disillusionment regarding Britain propelled it towards Portugal, which governed the neighbouring territories of Angola and Mozambique. Portugal, while insisting it was neutral regarding Rhodesia, officially recognised Harry Reedman as "Chief of the Rhodesian Mission" in September 1965. It was careful to avoid provoking Britain, omitting the word "diplomatic" from the titles given to Reedman and his mission, but the Rhodesians still regarded themselves as victorious. Less than two months later, Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Dudley Clarke – Hudson Valley Rail Trail – Adelaide leak


January 18
Anna Torv

"Over There" is the two-part second-season finale of the Fox science fiction drama series Fringe. Both parts were written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, together with showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J. H. Wyman. Goldsman also served as director. Fringe's premise is based on the idea of two parallel universes, our own and the Other Side, which began to clash in 1985, after Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) stole the parallel universe version of his son, Peter, following his own son's death. The finale's narrative recounts what happens when Peter (Joshua Jackson) is taken back to the Other Side by his real father, dubbed "Walternate" (Noble). FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv, pictured) and Walter lead a team of former Cortexiphan test subjects to retrieve him, after discovering that Peter is an unwitting part of Walternate's plans to bring about the destruction of our universe using an ancient doomsday device. Part one aired on May 13, 2010, to an estimated 5.99 million viewers, while part two broadcast a week later to 5.68 million. Both episodes received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with critics lauding the subtle differences between each universe. The finale was selected for multiple 2010 "best of television" lists. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Lisbon Appointment – Dudley Clarke – Hudson Valley Rail Trail


January 19
U2 3D logo

U2 3D is a 2008 3D concert film featuring rock band U2 performing during the Vertigo Tour in 2006. The first live-action digital 3D film, it contains performances of 14 songs, including tracks from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, the album supported by the tour. The concert footage includes political and social statements made during the shows. The project was created to experiment with a new type of 3D film technology pioneered by producer Steve Schklair. After considering shooting American football games in 3D, Schklair's company 3ality Digital decided to create a concert film with U2. The band were hesitant to participate, but agreed to the project mainly as a technological experiment rather than a profit-making venture. Although set in Buenos Aires, U2 3D was shot at seven concerts across Latin America, and two in Australia. After a preview screening at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, U2 3D premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and was released in late January 2008, exclusively in IMAX 3D and digital 3D theaters. It peaked at number 19 at the United States box office, earned over $26 million internationally (ranking as one of the highest-grossing concert films), and won several awards. (Full article...)

Recently featured: "Over There" – Lisbon Appointment – Dudley Clarke


January 20

First inauguration of Barack Obama

Barack Obama taking his Oath of Office
Barack Obama taking the oath of office

The first inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States took place in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first four-year term of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice President. "A New Birth of Freedom", a phrase from the Gettysburg Address, served as the inaugural theme to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth year of Abraham Lincoln. In his speeches to the crowds, Obama referred to ideals expressed by Lincoln about renewal, continuity and national unity. The presidential oath as administered to Obama during the ceremony strayed slightly from the form prescribed in the constitution, which led to its re‑administration the next evening. In addition to a larger than usual celebrity attendance at the inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee increased its outreach to ordinary citizens to encourage greater participation in inaugural events compared with participation in recent past inaugurations. Events included a first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball with free or affordable tickets for ordinary citizens. (Full article...)

Recently featured: U2 3D – "Over There" – Lisbon Appointment


January 21
A set of four B28FI thermonuclear bombs

On January 21, 1968, an accident occurred near Thule Air Base in the Danish-administered territory of Greenland involving a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52 bomber. The aircraft was carrying four B28 nuclear bombs (examples pictured) on a Cold War "Chrome Dome" alert mission over Baffin Bay when a cabin fire forced the crew to abandon the aircraft before they could carry out an emergency landing at Thule Air Base. Six crew members ejected safely, but one who did not have an ejection seat was killed while trying to bail out. The bomber crashed onto sea ice in North Star Bay causing the nuclear payload to rupture and disperse, which resulted in localised radioactive contamination. The United States and Denmark launched an intensive clean-up and recovery operation. USAF Strategic Air Command "Chrome Dome" operations were discontinued immediately after the incident, safety procedures were reviewed and more stable explosives were developed for use in nuclear weapons. Workers involved in the clean-up program have been campaigning for compensation for radiation-related illnesses they subsequently experienced. (Full article...)

Recently featured: First inauguration of Barack Obama – U2 3D – "Over There"


January 22
Satellite image of Typhoon Rusa nearing South Korean landfall

Typhoon Rusa, the 10th typhoon of the 2002 Pacific typhoon season, was the most powerful to strike South Korea in 43 years. It developed on August 22 from the monsoon trough in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, then moved to the northwest, intensifying into a powerful typhoon. On August 26, the storm moved across the Amami Islands of Japan, causing two fatalities. Across Japan, the typhoon dropped torrential rainfall peaking at 902 mm (35.5 in) in Tokushima Prefecture. After weakening slightly, Rusa made landfall on Goheung, South Korea with winds of 140 km/h (85 mph). It weakened while moving through the country, dropping heavy rainfall that peaked at 897.5 mm (35.33 in) in Gangneung. A 24 hour total of 880 mm (35 in) in the city broke the record for the highest daily precipitation in the country. Over 17,000 houses were damaged, and large areas of crop fields were flooded. In South Korea, Rusa killed at least 233 people. The typhoon also dropped heavy rainfall in neighboring North Korea, leaving 26,000 people homeless and killing three. Rusa also destroyed large areas of crops in the country already affected by ongoing famine conditions. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash – First inauguration of Barack Obama – U2 3D


January 23
Dunvegan Castle

Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Its peninsulas radiate from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillins, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country. The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod (Dunvegan Castle, the clan's seat, pictured) and Clan Donald. The 18th-century Jacobite risings led to the breaking up of the clan system and subsequent Clearances that replaced entire communities with sheep farms. Resident numbers declined from over 20,000 in the early 19th century to just under 9,000 by the closing decade of the 20th century. The main industries are tourism, agriculture, fishing and whisky-distilling, and the largest settlement is Portree, known for its picturesque harbour. There are links to various nearby islands by ferry and, since 1995, to the mainland by a road bridge. The abundant wildlife includes the golden eagle, red deer and Atlantic salmon. Skye has provided the locations for various novels and feature films and is celebrated in poetry and song. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Typhoon Rusa – 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash – First inauguration of Barack Obama


January 24
Ranavalona III

Ranavalona III (1861–1917) was the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar. Her reign from 1883 to 1897 was marked by ultimately futile efforts to resist the colonial designs of the government of France. She entered into a political marriage with Rainilaiarivony who, in his role as Prime Minister of Madagascar, largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs. Throughout her reign, Ranavalona tried to stave off colonization by strengthening trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain. However, French attacks ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1895, ending Madagascar's autonomy. The newly installed French colonial government initially permitted Ranavalona and her court to remain as symbolic figureheads until the outbreak of a popular resistance movement led the French to send her into exile. The queen, her family and the servants accompanying her were provided an allowance and enjoyed a comfortable standard of living, but she was never permitted to return to Madagascar despite her requests. She died at her villa in Algiers at the age of 55; her remains were returned to Madagascar in 1938. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Skye – Typhoon Rusa – 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash


January 25
Pinguicula moranensis

Pinguicula moranensis is a perennial rosette-forming insectivorous herb native to Mexico and Guatemala. A species of butterwort, it forms summer rosettes of flat, succulent leaves up to 10 centimeters (4 in) long, which are covered in mucilaginous (sticky) glands that attract, trap, and digest arthropod prey. Nutrients derived from the prey are used to supplement the nutrient-poor substrate in which the plant grows. In the winter the plant forms a non-carnivorous rosette of small, fleshy leaves that conserves energy while food and moisture supplies are low. Single pink, purple, or violet flowers appear twice a year on upright stalks up to 25 centimeters (10 in) long. The species was first collected by Humboldt and Bonpland on the outskirts of Mina de Morán in the Sierra de Pachuca of the modern-day Mexican state of Hidalgo on their Latin American expedition of 1799–1804. Based on these collections, Humboldt, Bonpland and Carl Sigismund Kunth described this species in Nova Genera et Species Plantarum in 1817. It remains the most common and most widely distributed member of the Section Orcheosanthus, and has long been cultivated for its carnivorous nature and attractive flowers. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Ranavalona III – Skye – Typhoon Rusa


January 26
Palm by Bronwyn Oliver

Bronwyn Oliver (1959–2006) was an Australian sculptor, whose works were primarily made in metal. Raised in rural New South Wales, she trained at Sydney's College of Fine Arts (COFA) and London's Chelsea School of Art. She settled in Sydney, where she practised and taught until her death by suicide in 2006. Oliver's sculptures are admired for their tactile nature, their aesthetics, and the technical skills demonstrated in their production. In her later career, most of her pieces were commissions, both public and private. Her major works include Vine, a 16.5-metre high (54 ft) sculpture in the Sydney Hilton, Palm (pictured) and Magnolia in the Sydney Botanical Gardens, and Big Feathers in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall. Recognition of her work included selection as a finalist in the inaugural Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award in 2000, inclusion in the National Gallery of Australia's 2002 National Sculpture Prize exhibition, and being shortlisted for the 2006 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award. Her works are held in major Australian collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Pinguicula moranensis – Ranavalona III – Skye


January 27
An Aldfrith coin

Aldfrith was king of Northumbria from 685 until his death on 14 December 704 or 705. He is described by early writers such as Bede, Alcuin and Stephen of Ripon as a man of great learning. Some of his works and some letters written to him survive. His reign was relatively peaceful, marred only by disputes with Bishop Wilfrid, a major figure in the early Northumbrian church. Aldfrith was born on an uncertain date to Oswiu of Northumbria and an Irish princess named Fín. Oswiu later became King of Northumbria; he died in 670 and was succeeded by his son Ecgfrith. Aldfrith was educated for a career in the church and became a scholar. However, in 685, when Ecgfrith was killed at the battle of Nechtansmere, Aldfrith was recalled to Northumbria, reportedly from the Hebridean island of Iona, and became king (coin pictured). In his early-eighth-century account of Aldfrith's reign, Bede states that he "ably restored the shattered fortunes of the kingdom, though within smaller boundaries". His reign saw the creation of works of Hiberno-Saxon art such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Codex Amiatinus, and is often seen as the start of Northumbria's Golden Age. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Bronwyn Oliver – Pinguicula moranensis – Ranavalona III


January 28
Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra

The reception history of Jane Austen follows a path from modest fame to wild popularity; her novels are both the subject of intense scholarly study and the centre of a diverse fan culture. Austen, the author of such works as Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Emma (1815), is one of the best-known and widely read novelists in the English language. During her lifetime, Austen's novels brought her little personal fame; like many women writers, she published anonymously. At the time they were published, her works were considered fashionable by members of high society but received few positive reviews. By the mid-19th century, her novels were admired by members of the literary elite, but it was not until the 1940s that Austen was widely accepted in academia as a "great English novelist". The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of scholarship exploring artistic, ideological and historical aspects of her works. As of the early 21st century, Austen fandom supports an industry of printed sequels and prequels as well as television and film adaptations, which started with the 1940 Pride and Prejudice and includes the 2004 Bollywood-style production Bride and Prejudice. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Aldfrith of Northumbria – Bronwyn Oliver – Pinguicula moranensis


January 29
The Brazilian battleship Minas Geraes

The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of the kind, the Royal Navy's Dreadnought, had such an impact when launched in 1906 that similar subsequent battleships were referred to as "dreadnoughts". Her design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme and steam turbine propulsion. As dreadnoughts became a crucial symbol of national power, the arrival of these new warships renewed the naval arms race, principally between the United Kingdom and Germany but reflected worldwide, including South America (a Brazilian Minas Geraes-class battleship pictured). The concept of an all-big-gun ship had been in development for several years before Dreadnought's construction. The Imperial Japanese Navy had begun work on an all-big-gun battleship in 1904, but finished the ship as a semi-dreadnought; the United States Navy was also building all-big-gun battleships. Technical development continued rapidly through the dreadnought era and within ten years, new battleships outclassed Dreadnought herself. Most of the original dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. Large dreadnought fleets only fought once, at the Battle of Jutland. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Reception history of Jane Austen – Aldfrith of Northumbria – Bronwyn Oliver


January 30

Bastion is an action role-playing video game produced by independent developer Supergiant Games. In the game, the player controls "the Kid" as he moves through floating, fantasy-themed environments collecting special shards of rock to power a structure, the Bastion, in the wake of an apocalyptic event. It features a dynamic voiceover from a narrator, and is presented as a two-dimensional game with an isometric camera and a hand-painted, colorful art style. The game debuted at the September 2010 Penny Arcade Expo, and it went on to be nominated for awards at the 2011 Independent Games Festival and win awards at the Electronic Entertainment Expo prior to release in July 2011. During 2011, the game sold more than 500,000 copies, 200,000 of which were for the Xbox Live Arcade. It was widely praised by reviewers, primarily for its story, art direction, narration, and music, although opinions were mixed on the depth of the gameplay. Bastion has won many nominations and awards since its release, including several for best downloadable game and best music. The soundtrack was produced and composed by Darren Korb, and a soundtrack album was made available for sale in August 2011. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Dreadnought – Reception history of Jane Austen – Aldfrith of Northumbria


January 31
Drymoreomys albimaculatus

Drymoreomys is a genus of rodents in the tribe Oryzomyini from the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The single species, D. albimaculatus, is known only from the states of São Paulo and Santa Catarina and was not named until 2011. It lives in the humid forest on the eastern slopes of the Serra do Mar and perhaps reproduces year-round. Although its range is relatively large and includes some protected areas, it is patchy and threatened, and the discoverers recommend that the animal be considered "Near Threatened" on the IUCN Red List. Within Oryzomyini, Drymoreomys appears to be most closely related to Eremoryzomys from the Andes of Peru, a biogeographically unusual relationship. With a body mass of 44–64 g (1.6–2.3 oz), Drymoreomys is a medium-sized rodent with long fur that is orange to reddish-buff above and grayish with several white patches below. The pads on the hindfeet are very well developed and there is brown fur on the upper sides of the feet. The tail is brown above and below. The front part of the skull is relatively long and the ridges on the braincase are weak. The palate is short, with its back margin between the third molars. Several traits of the genitals are not seen in any other oryzomyine. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Bastion – Dreadnought – Reception history of Jane Austen