Wikipedia:Today's featured article/June 2010

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June 1
Baltimore City College high school in Baltimore, Maryland

The Baltimore City College is a public college-preparatory high school in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The City College curriculum includes the International Baccalaureate Programme and emphasizes study in the classics and liberal arts. Baltimore City College is a magnet school, and admission to City College is competitive. Applicants from Baltimore and the surrounding area are evaluated using a combination of grades and standardized test scores. Established in 1839 as an all-male institution, City College is the third oldest public high school in the United States, predated by the English High School of Boston (1829) and the Central High School of Philadelphia (1836). The school was located in three different buildings in downtown Baltimore before relocating in 1928 to its current campus at 33rd Street and The Alameda. Following an extensive renovation of the school's main building in 1978, the school became coeducational. City College is a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence (1999–2000), one of only two public secondary schools in Baltimore City to receive the award. In the May 2007 Newsweek report on the top 1200 schools in the US, City College ranked 258. (more...)

Recently featured: Bronwyn BancroftTōru TakemitsuJesus College Boat Club

June 2
A gnarled tree-like Banksia prionotes

Banksia prionotes is a species of shrub or tree of the genus Banksia in the Proteaceae family. It is native to the southwest of Western Australia and can reach up to 10 m (30 ft) in height. This species has serrated, dull green leaves and large, bright flower spikes, initially white then opening to a bright orange. The tree is a popular garden plant and also of importance to the cut flower industry. Banksia prionotes was first described in 1840 by English botanist John Lindley, probably from material collected by James Drummond the previous year. There are no recognised varieties, although it has been known to hybridise with Banksia hookeriana. Widely distributed in south-west Western Australia, B. prionotes is found from Shark Bay (25° S) in the north, south as far as Kojonup (33°50′S). It grows exclusively in sandy soils, and is usually the dominant plant in scrubland or low woodland. Pollinated by birds, it provides food for a wide array of vertebrate and invertebrate animals in the autumn and winter months. It is an important source of food for honeyeaters (Meliphagidae), and is critical to their survival in the Avon Wheatbelt region, where it is the only nectar-producing plant in flower at some times of the year. (more...)

Recently featured: Baltimore City CollegeBronwyn BancroftTōru Takemitsu

June 3
Satellite image of Cyclone Gonu on June 4, 2007

Cyclone Gonu is the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea, and is also the strongest named cyclone in the northern Indian Ocean. The second named tropical cyclone of the 2007 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Gonu developed from a persistent area of convection in the eastern Arabian Sea on June 1. With a favorable upper-level environment and warm sea surface temperatures, it rapidly intensified to attain peak winds of 240 km/h (150 mph) on June 3, according to the India Meteorological Department. Gonu weakened after encountering dry air and cooler waters, and early on June 6, it made landfall on the eastern-most tip of Oman, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula. It then turned northward into the Gulf of Oman, and dissipated on June 7 after making landfall in southern Iran. Intense tropical cyclones like Gonu are extremely rare over the Arabian Sea, as most storms in this area tend to be small and dissipate quickly. The cyclone caused 50 deaths and about $4.2 billion in damage (2007 USD) in Oman, where the cyclone was considered the nation's worst natural disaster. Gonu dropped heavy rainfall near the eastern coastline, reaching up to 610 mm (24 inches), which caused flooding and heavy damage. In Iran, the cyclone caused 28 deaths and $216 million in damage (2007 USD). (more...)

Recently featured: Banksia prionotesBaltimore City CollegeBronwyn Bancroft

June 4
A group of 2009 Penny Arcade Expo attendees playing The Beatles: Rock Band

The Beatles: Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts. It is the third major console release in the Rock Band music video game series and, like other games in the series, it allows players to simulate the playing of rock music by using controllers shaped like musical instruments. The game's soundtrack consists of 45 songs by popular British rock group The Beatles and features virtual depictions of the band members performing the songs. The game was released internationally on 9 September 2009, coinciding with the release of new, remastered compact disc versions of The Beatles albums. It incorporates many of the gameplay features of the Rock Band series; however, it is not an expansion pack for the Rock Band series. Gameplay mechanics differ slightly from previous Rock Band games, including the addition of a three-part vocal harmony system. The game was developed with the blessing and critical input of Apple Corps, including former Beatles members Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. George Harrison's son Dhani helped to bridge discussion between Harmonix and Apple Corps, while Giles Martin, son of The Beatles' music producer George Martin, ensured high-quality versions of The Beatles' songs would be available. The Beatles: Rock Band was well-received by the press, both as a genuine means of experiencing the music and history of The Beatles and as a standalone music video game. (more...)

Recently featured: Cyclone GonuBanksia prionotesBaltimore City College

June 5
Stephen Crane, 1894

"The Open Boat" is a short story by American author Stephen Crane. First published in 1897, it was based on Crane's experience of having survived a shipwreck off the coast of Florida earlier that year while traveling to Cuba to work as a newspaper correspondent. Crane was stranded at sea for thirty hours when his ship, the SS Commodore, sank after hitting a sandbar. He and three other men were forced to navigate their way to shore in a small boat; one of the men, an oiler named Billie Higgins, drowned. Crane subsequently adapted his report into narrative form, and the short story "The Open Boat" was published in Scribner's Magazine. The story is told from the point of view of an anonymous correspondent, Crane's fictional doppelgänger, and the action closely resembles the author's experiences after the shipwreck. A volume titled The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure was published in the United States in 1898. Praised for its innovation by contemporary critics, the story is considered an exemplary work of literary Naturalism. One of the most frequently discussed works in Crane's canon, it is notable for its use of imagery, irony, symbolism, and exploration of themes including survival, solidarity, and the conflict between man and nature. H. G. Wells considered "The Open Boat" to be "beyond all question, the crown of all [Crane's] work". (more...)

Recently featured: The Beatles: Rock BandCyclone GonuBanksia prionotes

June 6
Helmut Lent

Helmut Lent (1918–1944) was a German night fighter ace in World War II who shot down 110 aircraft, 103 of them at night. Lent claimed his first aerial victories at the outset of World War II in the invasion of Poland and over the German Bight. During the invasion of Norway he flew ground support missions before he was transferred to the newly established Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1), a night fighter wing. Lent claimed his first nocturnal aerial victory on 12 May 1941 and on 30 August 1941 was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. His steady accumulation of aerial victories resulted in regular promotions and awards. On the night of 15 June 1944, Major Lent was the first night fighter pilot to claim 100 nocturnal aerial victories, a feat which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 31 July 1944. On 5 October 1944, Lent flew a Junkers Ju 88 on a routine transit flight from Stade to Nordborchen, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Paderborn. On the landing approach one of the engines cut out, stalling the aircraft. All four members of the crew were mortally injured. Three men died shortly after the crash and Lent succumbed to his injuries two days later on 7 October 1944. (more...)

Recently featured: "The Open Boat" – The Beatles: Rock BandCyclone Gonu

June 7
Portrait of Edwin P. Morrow by Boris G. Gordon

Edwin P. Morrow (1877–1935) served as the 40th Governor of Kentucky from 1919 to 1923. He was the only Republican elected to this office between 1907 and 1927. After rendering non-combat service in the Spanish–American War, Morrow graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law School in 1902 and opened his practice in Lexington, Kentucky. He was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President William Howard Taft in 1910 and served until he was removed from office in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1915, he ran for governor against his good friend, Augustus O. Stanley. Stanley won the election by 471 votes, making the 1915 contest the closest gubernatorial race in the state's history. Morrow ran for governor again in 1919. He encouraged voters to "Right the Wrong of 1915" and ran on a progressive platform that included women's suffrage and quelling racial violence. He charged the Democratic administration with corruption, citing specific examples, and won the general election in a landslide. With a friendly legislature in 1920, he passed much of his agenda into law including an anti-lynching law and a reorganization of state government. By 1922, Democrats regained control of the General Assembly, and Morrow was not able to accomplish much in the second half of his term. Following his term as governor, he served on the United States Railroad Labor Board and the Railway Mediation Board. (more...)

Recently featured: Helmut Lent – "The Open Boat" – The Beatles: Rock Band

June 8
Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady is a small oil-on-oak panel executed around 1460 by the Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden. The composition is built from underlying geometric shapes that form the lines of the woman's veil, neckline, face and arms, and by the fall of the light that illuminates her face and headdress. Van der Weyden was preoccupied by portraiture towards the end of his life and was highly regarded by later generations of painters for his penetrating evocations of character. In this work, the woman's humility and reserved demeanour are conveyed through her fragile physique, lowered eyes and tightly grasped fingers. She is slender and depicted according to the Gothic ideal of elongated features, indicated by her narrow shoulders, tightly pinned hair, long forehead and the elaborate frame set by the headdress. It is the only known portrait of a woman signed by van der Weyden, yet the sitter's name is not recorded and he did not title the work. Although van der Weyden did not adhere to the conventions of idealisation, he generally sought to flatter his sitters. He depicted his models in highly fashionable clothing, often with rounded—almost sculpted—facial features, some of which deviated from natural representation. He adapted his own aesthetic, and his portraits of women often bear a striking resemblance to each other. Since 1937, the painting has been held by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It has been described as "famous among all portraits of women of all schools". (more...)

Recently featured: Edwin P. MorrowHelmut Lent – "The Open Boat"

June 9
Diagram showing the Halkett Boat Cloak in use as a boat

A Halkett boat is either of two types of lightweight inflatable boat designed by Lieutenant Peter Halkett during the 1840s. Halkett had long been interested in the difficulties of travelling in the Canadian Arctic, and the problems involved in designing boats light enough to be carried over arduous terrain, but robust enough to be used in extreme weather conditions. Halkett's first design was a collapsible and inflatable boat made of rubber-impregnated cloth. When deflated, the hull of the boat could be worn as a cloak, the oar used as a walking stick, and the sail as an umbrella. This was followed by a two-man craft that was small enough to fit into a knapsack, and when deflated served as a waterproof blanket. Although widely praised by Canadian explorers, the market for Halkett's designs was limited, and he was unable to persuade the Royal Navy that they would serve any useful purpose in general naval service. Efforts to market them as platforms for fishing and duck shooting failed, and they were commercially unsuccessful. Only a single Halkett boat, that of Orcadian explorer John Rae, is known to survive today. (more...)

Recently featured: Portrait of a LadyEdwin P. MorrowHelmut Lent

June 10
Abraham Thornton

Ashford v Thornton was an 1818 English legal case in the Court of King's Bench that upheld the right of the defendant, on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder, to trial by battle. In 1817, Abraham Thornton (pictured) was charged with the murder of Mary Ashford. Thornton met Ashford at a dance, and walked with her from the event. The next morning, Ashford was found drowned in a pit, with little outward signs of violence. Although public opinion was heavily against Thornton, the jury quickly acquitted him, and also found him not guilty of rape. Mary's brother, William Ashford, launched an appeal, and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a medieval usage which had never been repealed by Parliament. Ashford argued that the evidence against Thornton was overwhelming, and that he was thus ineligible to wager battle. The court decided that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial by battle was a permissible option under law; thus Thornton was granted trial by battle. Ashford declined the offer of battle and Thornton was freed from custody. Appeals such as Ashford's were abolished by statute the following year, and with them the right to trial by battle. Thornton emigrated to the United States, where he died about 1860. (more...)

Recently featured: Halkett boatPortrait of a LadyEdwin P. Morrow

June 11
Three dimensional topological map of Loihi Seamount

Loihi Seamount is an active undersea volcano located around 35 km (22 mi) off the southeast coast of the island of Hawaiʻi. It lies on the flank of Mauna Loa, the largest shield volcano on Earth. Lōʻihi Seamount is the newest volcano in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, a string of volcanoes that stretches over 5,800 km (3,600 mi) northwest of Lōʻihi and the island of Hawaiʻi. Unlike most active volcanoes in the Pacific ocean that make up the active plate margins on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Lōʻihi and the other volcanoes of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain are hotspot volcanoes and formed well away from the nearest plate boundary. Lōʻihi began forming around 400,000 years ago and is expected to begin emerging above sea level about 10,000–100,000 years from now. At its summit, Lōʻihi Seamount stands more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the seafloor. A diverse microbial community resides around Lōʻihi's many hydrothermal vents. In the summer of 1996, a swarm of 4,070 earthquakes was recorded at Lōʻihi. This series included more earthquakes than any other swarm in Hawaiian history. The volcano has remained relatively active since the 1996 swarm and is monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Geological Survey. (more...)

Recently featured: Ashford v ThorntonHalkett boatPortrait of a Lady

June 12
Mycena haematopus

Mycena haematopus is a species of fungus in the Mycenaceae family, of the order Agaricales. It is widespread and common in Europe and North America, and has also been collected in Japan and Venezuela. It is saprobic—meaning that it obtains nutrients by consuming decomposing organic matter—and the fruit bodies appear in small groups or clusters on the decaying logs, trunks, and stumps of deciduous trees, particularly beech. The fungus, first described scientifically in 1799, is classified in the Lactipedes section of the genus Mycena, along with other species that produce a milky or colored latex. The fruit bodies of M. haematopus have caps that are up to 4 cm (1.6 in) wide, whitish gills, and a thin, fragile reddish-brown stem with thick coarse hairs at the base. They are characterized by their reddish color, the scalloped cap edges, and the dark red latex they "bleed" when cut or broken. Both the fruit bodies and the mycelia are weakly bioluminescent. M. haematopus produces various alkaloid pigments unique to this species. The edibility of the fruit bodies is not known definitively. (more...)

Recently featured: Loihi SeamountAshford v ThorntonHalkett boat

June 13
Ancient bronze head of a king, most likely Sargon the Great

Sargon of Akkad was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned from 2334 to 2279 BC. He became a prominent member of the royal court of Kish, ultimately overthrowing its king before embarking on the conquest of Mesopotamia. Sargon's vast empire is known to have extended from Elam to the Mediterranean Sea, including Mesopotamia, parts of modern-day Iran and Syria, and possibly parts of Anatolia and the Arabian peninsula. He ruled from a new capital, Akkad (Agade), which the Sumerian king list claims he built (or possibly renovated), on the left bank of the Euphrates. Sargon is the first individual in recorded history to create a multiethnic, centrally ruled empire, and his dynasty controlled Mesopotamia for around a century and a half. (more...)

Recently featured: Mycena haematopusLoihi SeamountAshford v Thornton

June 14

Sydney Newman (1917–1997) was a Canadian film and television producer, who played a pioneering role in British television drama from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. After his return to Canada in 1970, Newman was appointed Acting Director of the Broadcast Programs Branch for the Canadian Radio and Television Commission and then head of the National Film Board of Canada. He also occupied senior positions at the Canadian Film Development Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and acted as an advisor to the Secretary of State for Canada. During his time in Britain in the 1950s and 60s, he worked first with the Associated British Corporation (ABC) before moving across to the BBC in 1962, holding the role of Head of Drama with both organisations. During this phase of his career he was responsible for initiating two hugely popular fantasy series, The Avengers and Doctor Who, as well as overseeing the production of groundbreaking social realist drama series such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play. The website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications describes Newman as "the most significant agent in the development of British television drama". Shortly after his death, his obituary in The Guardian newspaper declared that "For ten brief but glorious years, Sydney Newman ... was the most important impresario in Britain ... His death marks not just the end of an era but the laying to rest of a whole philosophy of popular art." In Quebec, as commissioner of the NFB, he attracted controversy for his decision to suppress distribution of several politically sensitive films by French Canadian directors. (more...)

Recently featured: Sargon of AkkadMycena haematopusLoihi Seamount

June 15
The town square in downtown Grand Forks

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Grand Forks County. Originally called Les Grandes Fourches by French fur traders, the city was founded on June 15, 1870, by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs and incorporated on February 22, 1881. Grand Forks is located on the western banks of the Red River of the North across from where the river meets the Red Lake River, in an extremely flat region known as the Red River Valley; the city is prone to flooding and was struck by the devastating Red River Flood of 1997. In July 2008, its population was estimated at 51,313, and it had an estimated metropolitan population of 97,190. Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or The Grand Cities. Historically dependent on local agriculture, the city's economy now encompasses higher education including the University of North Dakota, defense including Grand Forks Air Force Base, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research. (more...)

Recently featured: Sydney NewmanSargon of AkkadMycena haematopus

June 16
The title page of Tractatus de globis et eorum usu

Robert Hues (1553–1632) was an English mathematician and geographer who made observations of the variations of the compass off the coast of Newfoundland. He either went there on a fishing trip, or joined a 1585 voyage to Virginia arranged by Walter Raleigh and led by Richard Grenville which passed Newfoundland on the return journey to England. Between 1586 and 1588, Hues travelled with Thomas Cavendish on a circumnavigation of the globe, taking the opportunity to measure latitudes. In 1589, Hues went on the Earl of Cumberland's raiding expedition to the Azores to capture Spanish galleons. Beginning in August 1591, Hues travelled with Cavendish again, intending to complete another circumnavigation of the globe. During the voyage, Hues made astronomical observations while in the South Atlantic, and also observed the variation of the compass there and at the Equator. Cavendish died on the journey, and Hues returned to England in 1593. In 1594, Hues published his discoveries in the Latin work Tractatus de globis et eorum usu (Treatise on Globes and their Use) which was written to explain the use of globes that had been made and published by Emery Molyneux in late 1592 or early 1593, and to encourage English sailors to use practical astronomical navigation. Hues' work subsequently went into at least 12 other printings in Dutch, English, French and Latin. (more...)

Recently featured: Grand Forks, North DakotaSydney NewmanSargon of Akkad

June 17
The Star Wars logo

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. It was the second film released in the Star Wars saga, and the fifth in terms of internal chronology. The film is set three years after the destruction of the Death Star. The villainous Darth Vader and the forces of the Galactic Empire are in pursuit of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases Han and Leia across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. Vader uses Luke's friends to set a trap for him, leading to a fierce confrontation between the black-armored Sith and the young Jedi which ends with a shocking revelation. Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980. The film initially received mixed reviews from critics, although it has since grown in esteem, becoming one of the most popular chapters in the Star Wars saga. It earned more than US$538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th highest grossing film of all time. (more...)

Recently featured: Robert HuesGrand Forks, North DakotaSydney Newman

June 18
A B-17 photographed in flight

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) introduced in the 1930s. Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advancements. The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Forces in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial, civilian, and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime area bombing in Operation Pointblank to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for Operation Overlord. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as a superb weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. (more...)

Recently featured: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackRobert HuesGrand Forks, North Dakota

June 19
Hector Berlioz, the first person to use the term "choral symphony"

A choral symphony is a musical composition for orchestra, choir and sometimes solo voices, which in its internal workings and overall musical architecture adheres broadly to symphonic musical form. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz (pictured) when describing his Roméo et Juliette in his five-paragraph introduction to that work. The direct antecedent for the choral symphony is Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which is the first example of a major composer's use of the human voice on the same level with instruments in a symphony. A few 19th-century composers, notably Felix Mendelssohn, Berlioz and Franz Liszt, followed Beethoven in producing choral symphonic works. In the 20th century, notable examples were composed by Gustav Mahler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, and Dmitri Shostakovich among others. The final years of the 20th century and the opening of the 21st century have produced several additions to the genre, among them compositions by Tan Dun, Philip Glass, Hans Werner Henze and Krzysztof Penderecki. (more...)

Recently featured: Boeing B-17 Flying FortressStar Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackRobert Hues

June 20
Tomb of Philippe Pot, governor of Burgundy under Louis XI

Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. Tomb is a general term for the repository, while grave goods are objects—other than the primary human remains—which have been placed inside. Such objects may include the personal possessions of the deceased, objects specially created for the burial, or miniature versions of things believed to be needed in an afterlife. Knowledge of many non-literate cultures is drawn largely from these sources. Funerary art can serve many cultural functions. It can play a role in burial rites, serve as an article for use by the dead in the afterlife, and celebrate the life and accomplishments of the dead, whether as part of kinship-centered practices of ancestor veneration or as a publicly directed dynastic display. It can also function as a reminder of the mortality of humankind, as an expression of cultural values and roles, and help to propitiate the spirits of the dead, maintaining their benevolence and preventing their unwelcome intrusion into the affairs of the living. The deposit of objects with an apparent aesthetic intention may go back to the Neanderthals over 50,000 years ago, and is found in almost all subsequent cultures—the Hindu culture, which has little, is a notable exception. Many of the best-known artistic creations of past cultures—from the Egyptian pyramids and the Tutankhamun treasure to the Terracotta Army surrounding the tomb of the Qin Emperor, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Taj Mahal—are tombs or objects found in and around them. (more...)

Recently featured: Choral symphonyBoeing B-17 Flying FortressStar Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

June 21
An 1888 Punch cartoon depicting Jack the Ripper as a phantom stalking Whitechapel

"Jack the Ripper" is the best known pseudonym given to an unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter by someone claiming to be the murderer that was disseminated in the media. Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involved women prostitutes from the slums whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and extremely disturbing letters from a writer or writers purporting to be the murderer were received by media outlets and Scotland Yard. Mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and because of media treatment of the events, the public came increasingly to believe in a single serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Extensive newspaper coverage bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper. An investigation into a series of brutal killings in Whitechapel up to 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, but the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. The term "ripperology" was coined to describe the study and analysis of the Ripper cases. There are over one hundred theories about the Ripper's identity, and the murders have inspired multiple works of fiction. (more...)

Recently featured: Funerary artChoral symphonyBoeing B-17 Flying Fortress

June 22

The raccoon is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across the European mainland, the Caucasus region and Japan. Their original habitats are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and even urban areas, where some homeowners consider them pests. With a body length of 41 to 72 cm (16.1–28.0 in) and a weight of 3.6 to 9.0 kg (7.9–19.8 lb), the raccoon is the largest procyonid. The dense underfur, which insulates against cold weather, accounts for almost 90% of the raccoon's grayish coat. Two of its most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are also themes in the mythology of several Native American tribes. Raccoons are also noted for their intelligence; studies have shown that they are able to remember the solution to tasks up to three years later. Raccoons are omnivorous and usually nocturnal; their diet consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates. Captive raccoons sometimes douse their food before eating it, which is most likely a vacuum activity imitating foraging at shores. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersion in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their average life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. Hunting and traffic accidents are the two most common causes of death in many areas. (more...)

Recently featured: Jack the RipperFunerary artChoral symphony

June 23

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was an American writer and journalist. His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, influenced 20th-century fiction, as did his apparent life of adventure and the public image he cultivated. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and his career peaked in 1954 when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Hemingway's fiction was successful because the characters he presented exhibited authenticity that reverberated with his audience. Many of his works are classics of American literature. After leaving high school, he worked for a few months as a reporter before leaving for the Italian front to become an ambulance driver during World War I, which became the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. His first novel, The Sun Also Rises, was written in 1924. After divorcing Hadley Richardson in 1927, Hemingway married Pauline Pfeiffer; they divorced following Hemingway's return from covering the Spanish Civil War, after which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940, but he left her for Mary Welsh Hemingway after World War II, during which he was present at D-Day and the liberation of Paris. Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in a plane crash that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and '40s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Idaho, where he committed suicide in mid 1961. (more...)

Recently featured: RaccoonJack the RipperFunerary art

June 24

Captain Jack Sparrow is a fictional character portrayed by Johnny Depp, introduced in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). He appears in the back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest (2006) and At World's End (2007), as well as in a future film, On Stranger Tides (2011). He is the main protagonist in all the films. He is also the subject of a children's book series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow, which chronicles his teenage years, and the character's image was introduced into the theme park ride that inspired the films when it was revamped in 2006. The character has also appeared in numerous video games. Sparrow is one of the Brethren Court, the Pirate Lords of the Caribbean Sea and can be treacherous, surviving mostly by using wit and negotiation rather than weapons and force; although he will fight if necessary, he tries to flee most dangerous situations. Sparrow is introduced seeking to regain his ship, the Black Pearl from his mutinous first mate Hector Barbossa, and attempts to escape his blood debt to the legendary Davy Jones while battling the East India Trading Co. (more...)

Recently featured: Ernest HemingwayRaccoonJack the Ripper

June 25
Michael Jackson in 1984

Michael Jackson (1958–2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and philanthropist. He debuted on the professional music scene as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the "King of Pop" in subsequent years, Jackson became an influential figure in popular music and the first African-American to have a strong crossover following on MTV. He donated and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for beneficial causes, and is recognized by Guinness World Records for supporting more charities than any other musician. Other aspects of Jackson's life—including his changing appearance and personal relationships—generated controversy. Though he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, the criminal investigation was closed due to lack of evidence and Jackson was not charged. In 2005, he was tried and acquitted of further sexual abuse allegations and several other charges. Jackson's achievements include multiple world records—including one for "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time"—the estimated sale of over 750 million albums worldwide, and dozens of awards, which have made him the most awarded recording artist in the history of music. (more...)

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June 26
An ermine robe

The privilege of peerage is the body of special privileges belonging to members of the British peerage. It is distinct from Parliamentary privilege, which applies to those peers serving in the House of Lords, and members of the House of Commons, during and forty days before and after a Parliamentary session. The privileges have been lost and eroded over time. Only three survived into the 20th century: the right to be tried by other peers of the realm instead of juries of commoners, freedom from arrest in civil (but not criminal) cases, and access to the Sovereign to advise him or her on matters of state. The right to be tried by other peers was abolished in 1948. Legal opinion considers the right of freedom from arrest as obsolete. The remaining privilege was recommended for formal abolition in 1999, and may be retained, arguably, by peers whether members of the House of Lords or not. Peers have other rights that do not formally comprise the privilege of peerage. For example, they are entitled to use coronets and supporters on their achievements of arms. (more...)

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June 27
Robert Falcon Scott

The Terra Nova Expedition was led by Robert Falcon Scott with the objective of being the first to reach the geographical South Pole. Scott and four companions reached the Pole on 17 January 1912 to find that a Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen, had preceded them by 33 days. Scott's entire party died on the return journey from the pole; some of their bodies and journals were discovered by a search party in November 1912. The expedition, named after its supply ship, was a private venture, financed by public contributions augmented by a government grant. As well as its polar attempt, the expedition carried out a comprehensive scientific programme, explored Victoria Land and the Western Mountains, and made the first-ever extended sledging journey in the depths of an Antarctic winter (to Cape Crozier, to collect Emperor Penguin eggs). For many years after his death, Scott's status as tragic hero was unchallenged and few questions were asked about the causes of the disaster which overtook his party. In the final quarter of the 20th century, the expedition came under closer scrutiny and more critical views were expressed about its organisation and management. The degree of Scott's personal culpability remains a matter of controversy among commentators. (more...)

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June 28
Elk at the Opal Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

The Leopold Report is a 1963 paper composed of a series of ecosystem management recommendations that were presented by the Special Advisory Board on Wildlife Management to United States Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Named for its chairman and principal author, zoologist and conservationist A. Starker Leopold, the report proved influential for future preservation mandates and reports. After several years of public controversy regarding the forced reduction of the elk population in Yellowstone National Park, Udall appointed an advisory board to collect scientific data to inform future wildlife management of the national parks. The committee observed that culling programs at other national parks had been ineffective, and recommended management of Yellowstone's elk population. In addressing the goals, policies, and methods of managing wildlife in the parks, the report suggested that in addition to protection, wildlife populations should be managed and regulated to prevent habitat degradation. Touching upon predator control, fire ecology, and other issues, the report suggested that the National Park Service hire scientists to manage the parks using current scientific research. The Leopold Report became the first concrete plan to manage park visitors and ecosystems under unified principles. It was reprinted in several national publications, and many of its recommendations were incorporated into the official policies of the NPS. Although the report is notable for proposing that park management have a fundamental goal of reflecting "the primitive scene... a reasonable illusion of primitive America", some have criticized it for its idealism and limited scope. (more...)

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June 29
Mariano Rivera, pitching on July 29, 2007

Mariano Rivera (born 1969) is a Panamanian right-handed baseball pitcher who has spent his entire Major League Baseball career with the New York Yankees. Rivera has served as a relief pitcher for most of his career, and since 1997, he has been the Yankees' closer. His presence in the late innings of games to record the final outs has played an instrumental role in the Yankees' success, particularly the team's late 1990s dynasty. He has won five World Series championships as a Yankee. Rivera has become regarded as one of the best closers in baseball history, having achieved his success by primarily throwing one pitch—a sharp-breaking cut fastball that has been called an all-time great pitch. Rivera is a ten-time All-Star, a five-time American League Rolaids Relief Man Award winner, and a three-time saves leader. He has recorded the second-most saves in Major League history, and in 2009, he surpassed 500 career saves. Recognized as an exceptional postseason performer, he holds Major League postseason records for saves and earned run average, among other records. Baseball writers expect Rivera will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame upon retirement. (more...)

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June 30
Maryland Route 36 near the Mount Savage Castle in Maryland

Maryland Route 36 is a 29.43-mile (47.36 km) state highway located in Allegany County, Maryland. MD 36 runs from its southern terminus at the WV 46 bridge in Westernport to its northern terminus at U.S. Route 40 Alternate near Cumberland. Between Westernport and Frostburg, it is known as Georges Creek Road, and from Frostburg to Cumberland it is known as Mount Savage Road. Like the majority of Maryland state highways, MD 36 is maintained by the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA). MD 36 serves as the main road through the Georges Creek Valley, a region which is historically known for coal mining, and has been designated by MDSHA as part of the Coal Heritage Scenic Byway. MD 36 is the main road connecting the towns of Westernport, Lonaconing, and Midland in southwestern Allegany County, as well as Frostburg, Mount Savage, and Corriganville in northwestern Allegany County. (more...)

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